Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crossed The Burning Sands Into The Land of Z Phi B: A Thank You

"What the hell is this title about? What is a Z Phi B?"  Let me break it down real quick.

Z Phi B is short for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Yes, I am a sorority girl. I've been part of the Blue & White for 12 years and it is one of the best decisions I've ever made.  Shocking?  I know. Some people who've met me in more recent years (whether we've met in person or just online) don't really know that because I don't talk about it much.  It is a huge part of me - just not something I talk about a lot. But here we go.

As a freshman at Jackson State University, an HBCU in Mississippi, I assumed that sorority life would be big but I wasn't very familiar with any of it. During my junior year in high school, I was part of the Delta Sigma Theta Teen Lift program but solely because we were able to meet kids from other schools and got a virtually free trip to Atlanta for a college tour.  The mentors of the program would often tell the girls about their love for DST which was cute but...I wasn't interested.  When I got to college, I recognized their letters and colors and thought, "OH, they are everywhere." But because sorority life never moved me and was never part of my life growing up, I still didn't care.

Cue the "Welcome to the yard" stepshow.  Between the fraternities and sororities, there seas of colors in pink/green, purple/gold, crimson/cream and black/gold and what sounded like a million calls announcing each organization's presence.  Then there was blue and white.  The Sigmas, as I recall it, came out first to step and "blue phi" into the heavens.  Next up were their "sisters," the Zetas and I was like, "Damn, they can really step." I was entertained but still not that interested after their show was done. Then something happened and I was sold. After their show, they came out into the audience and just kind of welcomed many students who said they were freshmen.  They seemed so approachable and cool that in that moment, I decided I was going to be "one of them."

A year went by but in that time, I watched them. Not just the stepshows but how they moved on the campus and their community service. Don't get me wrong, the stepshows were the shit but that's not what hooked me.  They were actually doing something and not just being "seen." I liked that and with some work and things of that nature, I became a member in Spring 2000.

Twelve years later, I still think back on my initial...let's say, two years in the sorority and I smile.  Honestly, I didn't "need" the sisters (or brothers, if you include the Sigmas), friends or popularity that came with being a member of a sorority: I was already pretty popular and had enough friends.  We worked hard.  We were the third smallest sorority on campus but we were the most liked and quite frankly, we ran that yard. I take a lot of pride in that because when you become part of something, you want to know that what you do is not going in vain. I simply joined because I loved what they stood for. And I still do.  Finances haven't always allowed me to be a financial member (I won't lie - it isn't necessarily cheap but it keeps the organization floating) but I always peeked my head in on my graduate chapter when I'm not able to give financially.  Being part of "my Z Phi" has given me a better appreciation of community organization and service.  I honestly don't know that I would have realized how important that was in my early 20s without Zeta.

And on top of that, I've met some special people. There are some people I've met through the sorority that I love so deeply as family that you wouldn't even know we were Sorors because that's probably the last thing I mention because of them.  I absolutely thank my sorority for that because with it, there would be no us (the "us" being some of the relationships I have).  I'm not as "Soror-ly" as I used to be - meaning I don't run around hugging every Soror I see - but that has played an integral part in my growth when I was in my 20s.

So, I know that some of you reading may hate my obvious view of my love of MY sorority (and to an extent, all sororities) - especially those of you who have strong opinions against them - and that's okay. However my passion for it, I hope, will never die.

"I love my Z Phi B! And in my heart, I couldn't love another 'cuz I love my sorority."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mama's Girl: A Thank You To My Mom

I could probably go on and on but I'll try to stay as focused as possible so rambling won't take over.

My mom is, by far, one of my favorite people.  First of all, let me say that if you knew me but never met her, you'd probably know she was my mother as soon as you saw her.  We pretty much have the same face. Okay, back to doting.  Lil D is very laidback and down to earth.  I'd like to believe she told me that I needed that trait while I was still in the womb because I've picked up those qualities. As I've grown into adulthood, she's taken on the role of friend while not at all diminishing her role as mom and the "I'll knock you out if you get beside yourself" attitude.  She's funnier than she thinks, loveable as she wants to be and nurturing to everyone (all my friends love her - even those who've only ever heard stories about her).  I don't know how she learned it but whatever motherly qualities that people assume all mothers should get - whether they do or not - she absolutely inherited. I mean, she's really good.

For all that closeness and all those soft and coral things, we get on each other's nerves probably every week.  My laidbackness takes a backseat to my "spiciness" sometimes and that attitude does not work well with any mother.  When we're not "on," the best thing for us to do is just turn "off."  The biggest issue we have is that she feels we need to talk everyday. EVERY. DAY. Who needs to speak to someone everyday? Not me (Lawd, I'm never going to get a man with that attitude, huh? LOL).  Everyone says I should oblige her but I'm really not that girl.  So when we argue, its because I don't call enough.  I don't apologize for that and so, we may take a three day break (which really means she isn't calling me) and that allows us to kind of cool off, reiterate our same points but get over it and get back on track.

I've got to say that one of the best things about my mom is that she allows for one thing that some parents don't let happen with their kids: she lets me be myself.  I find that so many parents have these preconceived notions of who their children should be in their careers and what their lives should be like by a certain age but Lil D isn't like that.  Sure, she always hoped I turned out to be a good person but I also wanted it for myself so I never felt like I needed to impress her with that.  I work in radio (well, not currently but by trade) and write on the side, neither of which are extremely stable. But she never pushed for anything else.  She also isn't the "when are you going to get married and have kids" mother.  You know what? Even if she is one or all of those things, she's never said any of it to me and for that, I appreciate her.

See, I told you I could go on and on.  There are truly a million other things I could say but I'm just going to stop and let this breathe. My mom is part of my support system and my soul sister and it's great to know that she's around when I need her - and even when I think I don't. Love you, Lil D!

Monday, December 3, 2012

To All The Artists I've Loved Before...I Thank You

This time, I'm talking about all the singers, rappers, writers, producers...anyone who has helped put together the best verses in my favorite songs.  I've allowed music to take me through every emotion possible and on my worst day, I've depended on it wholly to bring me through a situation.  I'm sure that's selfish to expect that one song should make me feel better about everything that's going on in my life but I do. Sometimes, it helps me more than talking to the people who know me best.

When I went through my "ordeal" with the FP a couple of years ago, the only thing I could do was shed a few tears and turn on some music. No, I didn't listen to a bunch of songs about heartbreak (I've yet to have to press play on that playlist); instead; I just listened to many of my favorite artists who sang their hearts out about whatever was going on in their lives. It wasn't the situation that made me feel better, but rather the emotion that poured out of every line. That alone helped me work out so many thoughts and feelings...and make decisions.

I know, it sounds dramatic. Could I survive my life without music? I mean, as long as I'm breathing I'm surviving and my heart doesn't beat based on a drum so I'm sure I could. However, I can guarantee my life wouldn't be the same.  Knowing that people who don't know me but can sing a song that tells me they still understand is soothing to me.  Hell, knowing that I need a moment to "drop it low" because everything isn't serious all the time constantly gives me a boost and for that, I appreciate all the producers I love in the world. The writers...oh, what a blessing!  I've tried to write a song and it is just something that alludes me to I leave it to those who know it best. But I thank them for taking that time to accept their own emotions or the emotions of the people closest to them and put pen to paper.

For all those involved in the process that gets the finished project to me, all I see is your love (even in the songs I like that were truly made to make a quick buck) and I thank you.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Brotherly Love

I'm not the best sister in the world.  There's no excuse for it and  there's nothing else I can really say besides telling me truth. While I have an older sister, we didn't grow up together at all and never spent any time together so most of my sibling energy went to my brother who's six years younger than me.  We have very different personalities and always have so we kind of grew up as "only" children, with him doing his thing and me doing mine. As we've grown up, he's moved a few hours away and has a family to take care of; I don't call like I should and rarely ever visit. Most of the things I know about him comes from the middle man - our mother.

It bothers both of us that we aren't closer but because he's the more emotional one, it gets to him more than me.  I "try" to work on it but could do better and yet, he doesn't seem to hold it against me.  I get caught in my own world of "nothingness," being fully aware that his life is five times as stressful as mine but I don't even call once a week to give him that "sibling time."  We don't have to be best friends - I don't even think either of us wants that. What he needs, and what I've seem to "refuse" to give, is just a little more of me. I'm genuinely open when we talk but there's just not a lot to say. I don't dig deeper because I often don't feel like dealing with the push back he'll give even though I know he secretly likes that.  It's just become our semi-connected but not really way of doing things.

We press on and move about our lives knowing that the love never changes even if we hardly talk.  He doesn't judge me for being protective from a distance and loving in my own way. Maybe we'll get better and maybe we won't but for all that we are...I thank him.

Monday, August 20, 2012

As The Cycle Continues

I'm in awe of most parents.  Like, I admire the work that most of them put into raising their children into the becoming the best possible adults.  Even when things don't ultimately go the way they planned for their kids and as hurtful as it may be, I still bow down to the work it takes to raise children. If you are a parent, that seems to be the most important job you'll ever have.

But the operative word was "most."  For as much as I love those parents, I am infuriated by the parents who basically do the absolute least and expect the most kudos. I don't want to offend but as I continue to watch some of the parents in my neighborhood, it weighs on my heart and my brain and I need to speak on it.

On an almost daily basis, when I walk home there are groups of people - men and women - hanging outside and their kids are playing with each other. Sounds good, right, seeing the parents outside spending that time with their kids? Eh, not so much.  These parents are often flat out drunk, smoking blunts and cursing up a storm in front of their own children.  This is at any given time on any given day.  They're hardly watching the kids, as sometimes they're all the way on my end of the block which is almost out of their vision and certainly where someone could easily snatch them.  It's almost like they know they have children but they'd prefer if they just went on and did their own thing.

Last week as I was walking to my building, this lady (she looked about mid-20s) must have been talking about her plans for the next day.  Her son said to her, "Ma, what day am I coming back again?" With an attitude she replied, "You coming back whenever I finish partying!"  I cut my eyes over real quick, saw her with her red Solo cup and a blunt while her son just went off to ride his bike. Maybe it wasn't a big deal to him that she responded like that because its something he's used to or maybe it wasn't even a big deal period but it was pretty telling. She was so dismissive and clear more concerned about her plans for the next night.

That example and so many others make me wonder if these parents on my block and others around the world are continuing a cycle or if they're starting one.  From the outside looking in (and I want to be clear that I'm on the outside looking in - been looking for about six years now), it would appear that these kids are growing up with an adult in the house but not a real parental figure. Almost all of them are very "forceful" in their tone and discipline so that the kids know who is in charge but what does it matter?  There don't seem to be any real examples being set. If that's the case, what are the children to go on as they grow into adulthood?  What positive examples will they be able to follow?  Sure, at some point all adults have to figure out their lives despite what they were shown as children but that is very hard. 

When you have kids, you take on that role and despite all of our numerous opinions, I'm sure that role doesn't include being drunk and smoking blunts in front of them on the regular nor does it include cursing them out all the time.  As I reflect on this, I just hope that all kids find positive role models at some point whether they or in or out of the home.

The Wall

It happened. I knew it would but was hoping it would take longer.  I was hoping I'd react differently.

The wall hit me right in my face with my daily posts and instead of believing that I could climb my big behind over it - or at least get a rope to help me up - I let it get the best of me and I stopped writing.

Sure, my biggest problem is coming up with something to say that I want to really share.  I'm pretty open on here but sometimes there are some things a girl just wants to keep to herself, you know?  I mean, I don't have any real "business" anyway but you know what I'm saying!  Then when I do get a topic, I have to think hard about not being too "wordy."  One thing about me: I. CAN. TALK.  My writing is conversational and those who know me can literally hear my voice when they read what I write.  But when reading, there's no time for all that. I have to just get to the point.

Anyway, I say all that to say I haven't given up yet. At all.  While I've lost momentum and the point was to write daily, I still believe I will finish up strong. I'm just disappointed in myself.

Oh well. *slowly starts climbing up and over the wall*

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Talk With Brooklyn

Dear "New" Brooklyn.

We've got to talk.  I know you're enjoying your new found fame but things are changing at a rapid pace and I need to address you before I lose it.  I know you're enjoying your new found fame and I can appreciate it. People are finally realizing what lifelong Brooklynites (or at least those who've been here for at least 20 years) have already known: you are wonderful. You are complex. You get on our nerves.  You are the place we are sad to leave if we must go.  And that's great for you! But slow down son, you're killing us.

First of all, this Barclay's Center.  I just can't support it.  Its built in an already crowded area and despite what the powers-that-be may think, that stadium makes it harder for us to access our grocery stores and retail shops in the area - especially on concert/show/game days.  The stores that have been in the area for years have had to shut down because you ("you" is Brooklyn, by the way) need the space for the stadium.  People were moved out of their homes for the same reason.  Every time I see it, I am reminded that Brooklyn has drastically changed over the last 10 years and this is just the "icing on the cake."

Second and most importantly, Brooklyn? You've allowed these transplants to move here and they actually believe they ARE Brooklyn.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm friends with many people who've moved here from other states and I love them dearly.  But for the purpose of our chat, I have to throw them in the collective. Long gone are the days of going to a party in Brooklyn and not only enjoying the people but the music as well.  Long gone are the days of not having to dress to the 9s (unless you wanted to, of course) just to go dance. Hell, long gone are the days of dancing. Now it seems that to go to a party in Brooklyn, you have to be dressed to the 9s.  You have to sit around and be cute.  You have to almost act as though the music doesn't exist.  By the way, most of the people at these parties aren't even from Brooklyn.  Its the weirdest little...thing.

Before you think I'm attacking you, let me say that I know you're not totally at fault. People from Manhattan moved here because they were financially pushed out. That started the trend and everyone followed suit.  The stores traveled and so came the prices and the Manhattan "attitude."  I guess after that, the natural progression was for Brooklyn to be morphed into some cheaper version of Manhattan.  But that's what we don't want.  We've been in our own little word for so long that we have our own identity. One that we'd like to keep, than you very much.

I don't want to continue to sound like the cranky ol' Brooklyn girl who misses her city.  I am absolutely fine with the idea that things often have to go through some changes, I really am.  I always want my borough to shine as brightly as it can.  Brooklyn has always been the "diamond" of the five boroughs despite what anyone else thinks.

"New" Brooklyn, we as "Old" Brooklyn don't owe you anything.  Don't force us into being what we're not. Take a step into our world and see what you've missed. I'm sure after that we can come to a common ground.


"Old(ie) But goodie" Brooklyn

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Over the years, there have been a lot of jobs and talents I've seen others with that have made me say, "MAN, I wish I could do that."  In my mind, you should look no further than me if you're looking for that everyday, renaissance woman.  I swear, I've done it all in my mind.  But in my heart of hearts, I was truly made to do one thing in another life.


I'm not talking about being an Oh that's catchy-the lyrics are cute-its fun to dance to" type of singer. I'm talking about a slap your mama-tell your life story-bring you to tears type of SANGA, feel me?  Besides actually listening to music, it is quite possible that I love to sing more than anything in this world.

The problem? Yep, I can't sing.  Thanks to the "Women of the Roundtable," which includes me and four of my favorite Sorors, I learned back in college how to harmonize.  They wouldn't let me join in on the singing unless I learned my proper key (you'd have thought hazing was involved) and so, I did.  We would "tweet" (that was our word for singing whenever we would sing along to Tweet's music) on road trips, to the grocery store, in apartments...wherever.  They also knew all the lyrics to the gospel songs and since I wanted to be down (they can all sing), I learned all the words too.  Thanks to them, many people today actually think I have a decent singing voice. I sing all DAY at the 9-5.

I sometimes imagine myself singing background for Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott or any of my other favorites.  The only thing is that when it came time to introduce the band and singers, I wouldn't take the moment that the featured artist gives his background singers to display their skills. Instead, while the other background singers are showing OUT, I just slowly fade to the back until that portion of the show is over. When we're back to the featured singer, I just kind of ease back in. See, I'm just there to keep the harmony.  I don't need to be famous. I just need one good, maybe six city, tour to get this passion out of my system.

But I'm not, so I can't, then I won't but...


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Music Makes Me High

In the month or so that I've been thinking about getting back to blogging full-time, I realized that one thing would likely get lost in the shuffle: music chat.

Although I use this space to talk about virtually anything, I primarily keep it focused on life (mine or the people in my life), love and all that in between.  I love to talk about that kind of stuff and though my life as a whole is due for an overhaul, I can chat about it all day. 

But music is a lifelong love of mine.  As a child, my parents owned crates and crates of albums. (Actually, I guess they really belonged to my dad because my mom got rid of them right after she got rid of him, lol.) I would look at the album covers while the album itself played, always intrigued by who wrote what song, what label the artist was on and played what instruments were played during certain songs.  That trend has absolutely carried into adulthood and before I finally broke down and got an mp3 player, my biggest worry was buying albums online because I was scared I couldn't read the ever important jacket.  Music literally means the world to me.

I knew I couldn't leave it out when I started blogging even though, like I said, that wouldn't be the full focus.  I do, however, take the music posts even more serious than the non-music posts which is why they don't pop up very often.  But lately I've been thinking that I might need to do something more with it so that (1) it won't get lost in the midst of other posts and (2) I can continue to express my own excitement about different aspects of music. I've been thinking about some different ways to do that and nothing is set in stone but just know I'm working some things out in my mind.

For now, during the #30IN30 challenge, there's a good chance you'll still see music posts - especially if something really pulls at me and I need to talk about it. After that, we'll see if something different happens. In the words of Boardwalk Empire's own Chalky White...could be, could be not.

Keep It Cute, Boo: The Lolo Jones Saga Continues

If you're not familiar with Lolo Jones, these are the two things that are always synonymous with her name: (1) she's a track star and (2) at 30 years old, she's a virgin.  While the latter of the two appears more juicy, there's more scandal in the former because of her recent showing at the Olympics.

Here's the quick backstory: Yesterday, Lolo placed fourth in the 100m hurdle finals. This was hard to take, not only because she was hoping to taking home an Olympic medal but also because the media has been especially hard on her lately.   The New York Times ripped her last week for only being visually appealing but not holding any real track achievements.  No, she doesn't have medals but she's maintained some American records over the last couple of years so you can understand her frustration during her interview on TODAY with some members of the media who appear to be all on her back about something that's not really accurate.  You follow me?  Good, so let's move on to the latest and greatest.

Fellow American track team members Dawn Harper and Kellie Wells won the silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the same 100m hurdle race in which Lolo lost.  I'm not really familiar with them as I don't watch track & field year round but was able to read a little bit about each since their wins last night. They both have pretty good stories and we likely haven't heard more about them during the Olympics because they don't have the exotic look or the "perfect" pretty face that the mainstream looks for. The one they found in Lolo.  Can we be honest and acknowledge that these points are valid? Good.  What I noticed at the end of the race yesterday was that Dawn and Kellie were eager to hug and congratulate each other while I didn't notice Lolo come anywhere near them (she was probably off somewhere not knowing how to deal with failure and being a sore loser but its okay).  I gave a quick "hmmph" and shrugged it off because they probably all congratulated each other in the locker room after Lolo collected her emotions.

Then I saw this video this morning.  If you don't feel like clicking the link (I know how it is), long and short is that the interviewer asked both Dawn why she felt she wasn't getting the respect she thought she deserved and Dawn basically told her that she felt she has a compelling story but because their (Note: I guess "their" is referring to advertisers...not sure) favorite didn't win, she was pushed to the side.  However, she feels like NOW people must respect her since after winning the gold medal in 2008, she's now won a silver in this year's Olympics.  The interviewer then asked if there was any fighting amongst the team and for her part, Kellie Wells replied, "Well, I think that, on the podium tonight, the three girls that earned their spot and they got their medals and they worked hard and did what they needed to do, prevailed. And that's all that really needs to be said." Dawn added a "Boom" to put an exclamation point on her girl's statement.


Is that what we do now, throw our teammates under the bus just because we don't like them?  Was there a reason Dawn and Kellie couldn't keep it cute and politically correct?  Did any of us need to know that they pretty much can't stand Lolo? Do either of these women think we want to hear more of their respective stories because they put their feelings on blast? Had they given their answers any thought and remembered any media training they received, they would have smiled it off and gave a very generic and hell, patriotic answer.

Do they think that any companies really feel the need to endorse either of them after making such damning statements? I get it, you feel disrespected by the media, fans and perhaps the track and field community. Hell, maybe even behind the scenes, Lolo throws ya'll much shade. But guess what? We don't know that part of the story nor do we need to.  Don't be mad at her because with or without the accolades you have she's getting the fame.  She didn't do it, her team did.  All their little shadiness did was help her get a little more shine and sympathy so look for a new check from a new endorser any day now.

It's all funny and "you go girl" until you find yourself borrowing someone else's sneakers to race in again (direct shade to Ms. Harper).  Next time, worry about what you might can do better to a cut of what the next woman has. Or better, keep working hard and you'll just get your own.

Self-diagnosis: Baby Fever

Baby fever is real.  Well, either its real or I just love kids even more than I already knew I did.

Here are my symptoms:

-Always smiling at moms with children (up until a certain age because otherwise, that's just be creepy)
-Always ready to strike up a "convo" with a baby or play with them
-Fully ready to babysit anyone with a child up until about age 10
-Constantly noticing kids' clothes and how "cute they'd be" on a little person

I went on a little vacation last weekend and outside of me enjoying the sites, I was most excited to see all the parents out with their kids just enjoying their time together. I had a particularly rousing "conversation" at a restaurant with a 6 month old (roughly) about the joy she was having eating her baby food.  I was even excited for a couple walking by me on the riverfront discussing how excited they were to have their first child.

Do these symptoms mean I really have baby fever?  Before we go on, let's see some other things:

-I have no desire to KEEP anyone's child forever.
-The moments of "I'ma get me one" are almost always fleeting
-I don't have a man to help get the job done

Oh and one last thing...?  I'm 32 and still not concerned about my biological clock.  I don't believe it doesn't exist because Father Time isn't always on our side when it comes to our bodies and levels of stress; I just don't think about the "tick tock" very often.  But I do hope to have children one day and my latest question to myself has been: If I'm not worried about a biological clock, am I very open to adoption one day?  I mean, all children deserve parents who'll love and care for them and I'm pretty sure I will be able to do that when it is my time to have some little ones - or A little one - in my house.

So is this baby fever or am I severely affected by cute kid syndrome? Is there a doctor in the house?

Race Relations...At Work.

How do you know when someone of another race is testing you to see how far they can go before you check them and when they're just aloof and don't know any better?

My co-worker, a white girl from Long Island, and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about some girly thing or another and hair ended up being the topic of discussion. Now, I'm a natural girl and let me tell you, life for me ain't been no crystal stair when it comes to this hair. So for a couple of weeks, I was rocking my Rita Marley - a lil mesh cap - over my hair with a little afro puff coming out on the side.  I was telling her that I don't have long hair but it is thick so I have to be in the right mindframe to do it; for her part, she told me that she hates blowing out her hair.  But to the end of that she added, "...but, and I hope you don't get mad, it wouldn't be as hard as dealing with you hair."  I cocked my head to the side but let it go because maybe she just said that based on me talking about how thick my hair was. Right?

Fast forward to yesterday.

We were talking about a wedding I'm going to soon that's apparently on her side of town when the topic switched over to the best and worst weddings/receptions we've been to. I shared with her the ugly details surrounding a particular wedding I went to and she told me the worst one she's been to. At the end of her story she goes, "But I mean, and no offense, the one you talked about just sounded ghetto.  The one I went to was cheap but what you're talking about is just..."

Screeeeeeeech.  Ghetto?

Being the professional I am, I cocked my head and said, "  Ghetto isn't the word I would use. Why not cheap like you said about the wedding you attended?  The circumstances were worse but all a result of the bride and groom being cheap. So so much."  She immediately goes, "No no, I don't mean like that but I mean, you get where I'm coming from.  Cheap is the better word though, you're right."  She moved the conversation along and then went out for lunch.

Is she testing me? Cruisin' for a bruisin?  Or is she a white girl from Long Island whose only ever really been surrounded by white people from Long Island and doesn't know any better?

Either way, I think it's time to put her on ice for a bit because no matter the reason, she's gotten beside herself.

What say you?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lesson Learned.

Ever think there's a "one who got away?" I don't know if the guy I'm about to discuss fits that title but...well, you be the judge.

It was something like Spring 2000 and me and my line sisters took a trip to New Oreleans for some party reason or another. We'd run into a college friend and his friends which included a quite tall cutie. Some random local felt an urge to keep bothering me and so in an attempt to get him to stop, cutie - we'll call him "B" - pretended to be my man. After my harasser walked away, B and I spoke for the rest of the night about music and traded stories about our respective cities. When the night was over, we hugged and went back with our respective crews without exchanging information.

Months later back on campus, my friend mentioned to me that his cousin had asked how I was doing and to "tell her I said what's up." (In my mind, he said it in his thick Nawlins accent that made me swoon a little the first time we'd met). We exchanged a couple of messages between our friend before he got tired of it and said, "Aight, that's it: here's his number and you give me yours so I can give it to him. Ya'll talk to each other." And so it began.

The conversations flowed freely and it was one of the first times I ever felt like j could be open with a guy (I was a fairly late bloomer when it came to guys). We talked about everything, including how long it would be before we'd see each other again since he was in Nawlins and I was in Mississippi. In my mind all I kept thinking was, "This must be what it is like to have a soulmate." And then I came back home to Brooklyn.

B wasn't my man and I don't think you could classify what we were doing as dating but it was something. So when I started hearing more and more about the "homegirl" he hung with all of a sudden, I raised an eyebrow. When my phone calls were often unreturned because he'd spent the night at her house, I started getting upset. Being the passive aggressive person I was at the time, I wrote him a letter expressing my displeasure but added that I didn't want to talk about it on the phone, just "know I don't like it." Yeah, I did that. He called me to tell me he'd received the letter but following my instruction, we didn't talk about the letter.

It was the last time we spoke.

In hindsight, it may have been fault. I was too scared to talk about it and he may have been annoyed because of it. Even though I believed B was more than friends with his homegirl, my inability to communicate messed it all up. Lesson learned.

I saw him three years later and he'd gained like 40 pounds and was super dusty looking. In my mind, his weight gain was some kind of karma for kind of keeping some things from me. Wrong? Absolutely, but I was 22 and dumb. Don't judge me. Was he one of my soulmates or just a way for me to learn a lesson (learn to communicate or lose out)?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Table For One

I'm officially out of the dating game.

There, I said it.

Only, I've not agreed to be any man's girlfriend.  See, I'm out of the game because I haven't been out on a date in...well, a long time.  It is painstakingly embarrassing to admit that but it is certainly true.  For the life of me, I can't really figure out why I haven't been dating. I can only think of one reason: I don't go out that much.

But women always talk about meeting men on the train, in grocery stores or just walking down the block. To that I ask: what train, what stores and what blocks?  On my main trains, there are only women, children and mentally disturbed folks. No, that's not an exaggeration but really just the way it is. At the grocery store, there are only women and families. And walking down the block? Well, I do get a few shouts here and there from the homeboys who never have anywhere to go or anything to do with themselves.  But these women are talking about "quality" men, or what appear to be quality men upon first convo, and so no, I don't encounter those either.

There was a time  - long ago - when ya girl (that's me in case you're not up on 90s lingo) was always meeting men. Some good, some not so much. But the point is that I could meet a guy at least once a month even if no information was ultimately exchanged.  Ahh, the good ol' days.

Wondertwin (one of my closest friends) said she can't understand why I'm not dating all the time seeing as though I'm a decent looking woman with a great personality (you can call this a pat on the back if you'd like but I really do think I'm kind of dope, lol).  No, I'm not the frilly dress girly-girl (I rock jeans and sneakers) but I do alright for myself. The only reason I can come up with is that I don't go out as often as I used to.  I assume if I got back "out on the scene," there's a chance I'd meet more men.  You certainly can't meet anyone sitting in the house; if that were the case, I'd truly be "off the market" with a ring and everything!

I've got to start from scratch and get back out there. I've never been a good flirt with someone I might actually be interested in so maybe that's something I can add into the new routine I'm working up in my head.  Like, something has got to give because sometimes the silence can be so loud.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results and I really can't afford to go crazy!

Searching For Me

"I'm just trying to do it all tonight, I got plans
I got a certain lust for life, As it stands
Everything is going as it can..." -Drake

My life ain't what it used to be. In the past year and a half, it has taken a bit of a nosedive and I'm desperately trying to swim my way back to the top.

I quickly mentioned in the last post that my job has erred on the stressful side over the last year. Lots of shuffling resulted me in doing the same job for different people and seeing how quickly things can change.  At the previous company, I had lots of support and help. When things changed, I had none of that. After months of sleepless, sobbing nights, it seems I've figured out a way to cope with things since they're likely to stay the same so I can continue to get the job done.

Unfortunately whatever my definition of "coping" is, it has resulted in me losing that piece of me that was a social butterfly. No longer do I really want to go out after work; the best thing for me to do is just go home and decompress. Going out on the weekends? A thing of the past. I need those two days to mentally heal from the previous five days' beatdown.  I don't even talk to most of my friends like I used to. Wait, that's not completely my fault so I won't take the blame for all of it.  But for my part, everything is, "I'm just tired" or "I just want to chill."  I've always appreciated being home and enjoying my own space but this?  I'm on another level of "me time."

Something is wrong. I've got to fix it but I don't know how.  I couldn't even tell you where to go in the city to have a good time.  I'm not even talking about places to meet men because let me tell you, that's another post entirely. I'm just talking about hanging out with your friends and just being able to chat with different folks.  Oh but wait, some of my friends and I seem to barely know each other now.  It's like I'm a freshman away at college learning to find my own way again.  This issue - and trust me, that's what it is - creeps in my mind almost daily.

I'm lost.  And as I finish packing my bag for my first vacation in a year (it's actually only a long weekend but I'll take it), I wonder if this trip will also serve as the start of the yellow brick road on the way back to the old me.

Gotta find my way back.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Here's the thing: It's not that I hate blogging. I actually find it to be fun, helpful and to an extent, therapeutic.  One thing about me is that there's rarely a moment when I don't have something to say. The problem is that I don't always have something to say that belongs in this space.  So I'll come back with a few things to say, say them and then be gone 'til I have something else to write about. For someone who claims to want to write a book one day (been claiming that for eight years), you'd think I could at least get like three blog posts out a week, right?  It's not that easy for me and I've been fighting myself about it.

But just a few hours ago on Twitter, one of my favorite writers, Aliya S. King, posed a challenge to all her followers who are writers or who would like to write: 30 posts in 30 days. My first thought? "SHIT."  My very next thought? "I'm doing it."  The only way to be a writer is to write (and read but hell, you can't be a writer without having written) and I'm not doing it as regularly as I should.  My freelance gig definitely entails writing but I'm limited in that capacity so the other option, besides other freelance gigs, is to use this space.  I mean, that's the reason I started it a few years ago anyway; even if no one ever read what I wrote, I was going to keep on doing it.  I'm doing myself a huge disservice by not sticking to my old rules.

I'm here now though, primarily in thanks to Aliya and her husband (he initiated the challenge). This is going to be hard for me because outside of my admitted laziness, I'm always tired from my day job and its constant stresses.  But if moms with f/t jobs can do it, if bloggers who make big money from it can do it...surely I can. 

*cue Jill Scott* Goddddd, please hear my call, I'm afraaaaiddddd...

Number One.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Self-Reflection: The Peculiar Friendship

"I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn't imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn't always successful." -Frank Ocean (from his "coming out" - or whatever you want to call it - letter)

When I read Frank's "coming out" note on his Tumblr last week, I understood that I was reading a huge revelation. But bigger than that, the story that he was telling was way more moving and it didn't matter what gender he was talking about about. But the above line has stuck with me since I read it last week.  Hell, I've memorized it. It also came at the most interesting time.

The same week I had a chance to spend some time with my "first."  I've mentioned him in the past so no need to go into much detail (though this sums it up quite nicely).  We're still very cool and keep in semi-frequent contact but don't get to see each other often.  We spoke the day before the 4th and we made plans to see each other and catch up.  The whole "catching up" thing didn't work out exactly as planned but we did get to hang out for a couple of minutes and it gave me a chance to get in his business (yeah, we're still that cool).

But like many who see an old flame or whatever he/she may be to you, I did a little reflection as I got home. It wasn't the "I wonder what could have happened if" kind of reflection; it was actually a self-reflection. I realized when I looked in his eyes, I could literally see the 18 year old freshman who knew nothing about boys. The freshman who knew nothing about "game."  I laughed to myself when I recalled how I asked, "Now what," because I knew he wasn't my boyfriend but I didn't know what it meant to have sex with someone who was just a friend.  I shook my head at how crystal clear things were after that first time when I realized, "Shit, I'm not the only one, huh?"

As I recall, I kept up a facade. I'd expressed my little hurt but for the sake of me keeping him around, primarily because I didn't know how to say " I can't and won't deal with this," I held on to the friendship. By a thread. For years.  We'd finally gotten to what I thought was a good place until one straw broke the camel's back and I saw the "friendship" for what it was. I'd had enough and told him so. That, too, last for a few years until he approached me on the humble and we grew the friendship again.  Today, I think we're okay but we only are because I don't feel the need to keep up that friendship with him if it isn't working for me (I can't speak for him).

I don't run up behind him checking on him and seeing what he's up to because I can imagine my life without him. I've had a life without him in it.  So I know Frank's story. I lived it to an extent. I actually went through parts of it again with someone else. It's got to be one of the worst feelings to deal with in terms of relationships but when you get through it?  Now that's some shit to sing about.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nas' "Bye Baby": Freedom of Expression Or Lame Sales Attempt?

A couple of days ago, I saw on the blogs that Nas had a new song called "Bye Baby." I knew before pressing play the song would be about his ex-wife, Kelis.  The best I could hope for was that he would just be expressing his feelings about where their marriage went wrong and how he could have done some things better (because, I mean, he can't speak for her) to maybe make the marriage work.  But, I was wrong. 

Sure, he starts out saying that his wedding day was so awesome and that they tried counseling but that couldn't force him to stay. Great. But in that same first verse he calls out Kelis' issues, according to him, by saying, "Reason you don't trust men, that's your daddy fault/he in the grave, let it go/he no longer livin/said you caught him cheatin' on mom with other women/ fuck that gotta do with us..."  He continues by saying he should have seen the demons when he saw her screaming "Hate You so Much," which was her first single.  The rest of the song goes on to describe the relationship - things that were publicized and some thing that weren't - with the third verse talking about how her lawyers told her what she'd be getting in the divorce proceedings as well as him defending the same relationship in front of people who spoke ill of them being together.  By the very end he was saying he'd get married again when he meets the "truest type."

I'm sorry, Nasir...what?! I'm trying to understand where it's cool to put your ex-wife and mother of your child on blast like this just because you feel the need to get some things off your chest. Sure, we've all heard a song or read a book where a person is expressing themselves about a past relationship and it's very compelling. But there's a way to do everything and this seems wrong. In an attempt to further his sales when the Life Is Good album comes out, he not only used the woman's wedding dress (he says she left it behind when she left him) to be controversial but he put things out about her that I don't recall knowing.  This is not cool.

Yes, there's the idea that it's freedom of speech and the forum that he has can be used in any way he sees fit.  I'm well aware of that as I'm using this space to voice my displeasure. But when the situation is more involved than her having just been a girlfriend, there's a moment where you would think that common sense takes over and you either approach it at a different, more neutral angle don't say anything at all.  Kelis has yet to say anything negative about him; just two weeks ago she address the 'wedding dress' album cover by saying, "My feelings about it are not really relevant, but you know at the end of the day Nas is an artist...I feel like especially for someone in hip-hop to kind of be genuine and honest, whatever the honesty is about, I think it’s awesome."  Is she perfect? Of course not. Does she share the blame for the demise of marriage? I'm sure she played a part.  But she seems to know that they have a kid together and to say anything obviously or subliminally negative about Nas serves no point.  Stakes are high once you've been married and had kids with a person.

Nas, you are back to looking as fine as you were in '94 but does that mean you have to still act like the kid you were then?  Don't let this rap shit get have you making a fool of yourself.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Does 'The Hood' Grow Up?

I'm aware of how long it's been since I've written. Actually, I'm lying. I thought it'd been about four or five months but it's been...longer. I haven't much felt like writing but I'm inspired lately. At least for a little while. Moving on to the point of this post...

I live in Brooklyn in one of those areas that is constantly undergoing a change in terms of its look in terms of the stores and primarily, the racial makeup. Bed-Stuy made a very quick change from being an all black neighborhood to being very mixed with both black and white people. The stores and restaurants, by and large, make you feel like you're in Manhattan. It isn't the Bed-Stuy I grew up around (having went to school there for 10 years and having family there) but for as much as many of us hate the "new" Bed-Stuy, a large majority of it is safer to live than it was 15 years ago.

But back to my hood. The racial makeup here, too, is slowly (and I mean, slowly) changing. White people are moving in more and more because it is still slightly more affordable than Bed-Stuy and other neighborhoods. The new stadium is being built, old establishments are moving or closing down and new buildings and stores are being built to go along with that stadium. I suspect that as the new establishments are created further in the hood, it will actually become more safe. For now, I still believe that I live in a very volatile neighborhood.

When I walk around my neighborhood, I observe the people who grew up here (I actually grew up about five blocks away) and see how they treat their homes. Although there is great potential for growth - with or without white people or new establishments - here, it doesn't seem like anyone wants better for the area. It appears that they'd rather it be the same place it has always been and not become a safer place for children to live. There are still a couple of crack houses on this block, cops coming here weekly to break up a dispute or two and as I've been told, occasional break-ins. There have been block association meetings but for as many people who live on the block which is 75% apartment buildings, not many people every attend.

I've never been afraid to live here. Though where I grew up has made a complete about face in its aesthetics and safety, it used to be just like where I currently live. Part of the change came because white people started moving in but the other part was that people started caring more about where they live. The things that used to be tolerable soon became unacceptable by the residents of maybe a three block radius. I don't want to discount the affect white people moving in had about such change (because that definitely helped) but it just seemed to me that people became tired of the same ol' thing. If you'd been selling drugs on the corner for 15 years, then maybe they couldn't get rid of you completely but maybe you realized it wasn't going to be on the corner anymore. Basically, the hood grew up.

I'm nervous for my neighborhood. The residents don't seem to want change and appear to be totally fine with being resistant to it. I'd say a good 80% of the people who live on the block were born and raised here so therefore, nothing is really going to happen in terms of self-change unless they contribute. What can happen, however, is that the neighborhood can be forced into change. Forget the new stadium and other businesses it will bring; the owners of the apartment buildings on my block and surrounding blocks can decide to go condo and push people out of their homes. The few legitimate mom and pop stores that are still open can have their leases raised making it unaffordable and be ran out. So we'll then mature into the second or third coming of the "new" Bed-Stuy and it'll be the next best place to live.

Why wouldn't a neighborhood, especially in this day, want better for itself? What needs to be done to our mentality to not care about making our neighborhood better to make it appealing to white people but rather, to make us feel better about where we live? Sure we can blame the city and the government but if we all tried a little more then at least we know we've continued to do our part. This whole thing has sort of troubled me for the last two or three years (I've lived here longer but the idea just fully took shape two or three years ago).

Is there some type of dignity, honor or pride in having 'the hood' remain in its oldest and truest form? Is this just...the way it is?