...welcome to the musings of the flawless amour...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Point of No Return

What happens when the thrill is gone? A change of heart has happened and you're left choking on words that desperately need to come out. The possible reaction from him scares you into silence.

Things are no longer the same and the fact that he should be the ideal choice for you is exactly what you're not sure about anymore. He's too safe for you. What does that even mean? The fact that you believe the statement is even worse.

You feel censored whenever he's around. Yes, you're a lady but from time to time, your inner sailor likes to be set free, allowing curses to flow unabashedly.

Thoughts float around on whether or not you could ever learn to love someone for the sake of having them right now. Your sanity screams HELL NO! That may not be the best option, especially if you're easily agitated. His idiosyncrasies will annoy you. But the romantic in you--the one who keeps you in trouble--persuades you relentlessly, pleading in so many ways how this thing could work.

Don't believe that traitor!

Again, you're left with thousands of unspoken words. Sifting through them in search of the right ones proves to be a task that threatens an incurable migraine. This all is much more than you bargained for the day you watched him cross the parking lot clutching a black leather binder dressed in a light blue button up tucked neatly into a pair of brown dress slacks. You thought he was cute as he adjusted his glasses, making his way to the front door of the building.  The way he kept to himself drew you in to want more. You told yourself that he was someone you needed to know for yourself.

Right before you feel like you've found a sense of sanity, self conscious thoughts saunter into view. What is wrong with you? Why do you always push the good ones away? You swear it's unintentional because you hate being the heartbreaker.

It just sort of happens...

Initial interest is expressed. Dates were had. Boredom has struck, settled in and taken over. Now, you're left, searching for the right way to say, "This isn't working."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Having Options When It Comes to Dating

For the past couple weeks I have been back and forth when it comes to dating--completely different from being in a relationship--more than one person at a time. Being the kind of person I am, feelings of guilt will begin to surface and sooner or later, I'll fade to black on one, if not both, of the suitors.

I fully understand that I'm obligated to neither but something in me still feels wrong while "talking" to two guys when in reality, all I'm doing is getting to know them better. Some of the relationship experts I follow say that you should be honest with whomever you're dating, making sure they know what it is up front. Others think that it's none of the their business--date who you want and if you choose to be intimate, protect yourself.

While I agree with both, I'm not sure which one would fit for me.

While catching up on Anslem Rocque's (aka Naked With Socks On) blog, Date Knight, he hipped me to a new book, called The Gaggle, which encourages women not to focus on just one man when searching for Mr. Right. Instead, the author suggests you cultivate a group of men who fulfill different needs in your life until you find the one.
“You probably have a gaggle of friends, who all play different roles and fulfill different needs for you,” Massa explains. “You might call one friend to go shopping versus another friend when you’re upset versus another friend when you need a serious professional opinion. Your romantic gaggle is just another piece of the much larger, long-term puzzle of how you structure the relationships in your life to feel full, happy and loved.” --Jessica Massa, author
When it comes to dating, I try to follow the Golden Rule and treat people how I would want to be treated but Massa's words make a lot of sense. My issue, then, would be how do I part with the feelings of guilt? Do I let each 'Him' know he's not the only one trying to be the only one or do I keep it to myself? What about when it's time to make a decision?! I have always been the type to care about other people's feelings, especially when it is in regards to me. I don't like being the bad guy. This is both a blessing and a curse and a huge part of the reason that this is such a dilemma for me.

What to do y'all? What to do??

When dating, are you honest about the other people you are seeing? Why or why not? Do you feel guilty if you don't? And if you do choose to share, does it create tension or do things seem easier between you and the people you date? Let's discuss.

*if you want to read the full article on the book, click here*

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Viral Violence

I am so over the Youtube videos showcasing violence, especially the ones where women are the victims. This is not a feminist post or me standing on my soapbox talking about why, in no way, is violence against women okay (although I don't condone it). Nor is this me justifying the behavior of these men. It's just me simply saying that I'm tired of seeing it. This is me being aware of the disconnect in society; me trying to find something to fill these gaping holes in the world we live in.

Just a couple of weeks ago, both my Twitter and Instagram timelines went crazy with links and screenshots of the bus driver who uppercut the shit out of an unruly woman. I watched, in utter disbelief, wondering why. Why no one stopped him (namely the man that was standing next to the woman before she got hit). Why the driver felt the need to respond to the passengers antics at all. And, most importantly, why he felt an uppercut would be most effective. In NO WAY was that blow okay. Hell, boxers, who get paid to punch other boxers rarely use that punch.

This evening, on my way home from a fun night, my friend/coworker sent me a video link, which I knew from the title, would not be something that I would enjoy.

 "Watch Lil Reese #GBE300 Beating Up a B*tch"

I shook my head as I pressed play, as if the title weren't enough.

Here, see for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvKENK5xqm8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

To say that I'm sad would be an understatement. The state of the world we live in is simply terrible. The fact that all but one person was standing around as if this were normal behavior is ludicrous to me. Judging from the conversation, the victim didn't want him (assailant) in what appeared to be a house party because he had a gun. When she confronted him about it, things got way out of hand. Before you're able to really process what the discrepancy is about, all you see are a barrage of punches being thrown as she is backed into the wall, trying to shield herself.

"Get up outta here, b*tch. Get up outta here." 

That's all I heard over another girl repeatedly screaming, "Wait!" as she tried to stop the boy from landing very accurate kicks and punches to the victim's face. In fact, the only person I saw attempt to break up the attack was the girl.

In my opinion, violence towards women is never okay. Hell, no one should put their hands on anyone unless it's your own child that you're reprimanding. Some people believe that if a woman is man enough to put her hands on a man then she deserves what follows. I'm not saying I agree but I let's be clear--I know better than to physically challenge a man.

Having watched the video a few times, I am seriously at a lost for words. What went wrong? Where was the ball dropped? We have become an unruly people who do not respect people, let alone authority. [Respect] has been lost. Long gone. If I didn't fear for our future before, I do now. Most of the youth today are destructive and don't give a damn. It is really enough to bring me to tears when I sit and think about all the lost and hurting souls, roaming aimlessly about the streets.

How do we begin to help them? How can we?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What You Want Vs. What You Need

photo credit: vindicarlo.com
How does this thing work? We meet, date, and fall in love? Well what if it doesn't come right away? Am I supposed to wait for the feeling to settle in the pit of my stomach, fluttering around all crazy like? If I don't feel the butterflies immediately, am I allowed to move on? If not, what's the customary waiting period?

A few months have passed 
and a considerable amount of time has been spent
We both enjoy each other's company 
but I'm afraid that's where it ends with me
What about the other stuff? 

Dating is good. I actually love the idea of it all but let's be real. Humans are physical creatures by nature. We're attracted to what looks good. We have to be turned on in more ways than one. Liking you because you're easygoing and because you make me laugh is cool but I want to lust after you a lot a little.

You see, I learned that the men we date are separated into two categories (word to that Belle up in Brooklyn). The first type is A, aka, boyfriend/hubby material. Then there's the B type. Some would call him the no nothing ass nigga or maybe even a boo thang. Demetria Lucas, a.k.a. Belle, couldn't have said it better in her bookB, at best, is a one-night stand on vacation. 
*she also used a Sex and the City reference; A for Aidan, B for Big, to give you a clearer understanding of the two*

Instead of treating him like such, some of us ladies tend to look past the dysfunction in an attempt to build a solid relationship with him, leaving A blowing in the wind.

My dilemma comes in when I want to lust after A like I would B. What happens if/when I never feel that lust for A? Do I just stick him in the friend zone where he may already be too comfortable? Or do I wait? Belle already warned us to never leave an A for a B (I know Carrie ultimately left Aidan for Big in SATC but look how long it took for them to get it right. Multiple seasons AND two movies,one of which she was stood up at the altar?? Who has that kinda time??).

If the world doesn't stop for A like it does when I'm with or even thinking about B, is that a bad sign? Part of me wants to say no because the thing with B is one based off lust from jump. Everything with him is top speed. You act first and think about the repercussions later with little to no regard. With A, more time is spent digging through the others' layers in an attempt to break through that guarded heart.

Because things are supposed to progress at a slower rate with A, does that include the lusty feelings too?

People always say that the nice guys finish last and from the description of the two types in Belle's book, I totally agree. I know women who will stop the world for their B one minute and be crying the next because he kept pushing with his. Hell, I've been one! As Belle said, everything is different between these two men, one glaring difference being the sex. It's not just about the sex , of course, but with all that emotion, could it be anything other than mountain-moving? It's not the kissy, lovey-dovey, nice only-in-the-bedroom- sex you have with A; this is Pinky-Cherokee--Italia Blue pornographic. And you love it!

This has the potential to be a real dilemma. It's been a question swimming in my head for weeks now. What is it about the B type that is so magnetic? In your sanest of moments, you know that he is no good for you. He'll leave you flustered throughout the day as a result of his inconsistency and evasive speech. Or maybe he's too blunt for you, saying whatever he feels whether it hurts your feelings or not. Either way, you still answer when he calls.

The A type is the one you know you should give a real chance to but for whatever reason, you won't can't. He's the type you wouldn't want to risk a friendship with by taking things further. He's the safety net.

Is it possible that there can be men out there who possess both of these traits? One who's everything that A is with bits of B sprinkled throughout. Could I be asking for too much?

I need answers y'all. Insight. Something!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

You Can Still Be Who You Wish You Was...

As a child, I learned early on not to question adults. My mother made sure that I understood that this was unacceptable. Now, she has never been strict or even overbearing; she simply laid the ground rules early on and because I understood them, she and I continue to foster a good relationship to this day.

Now that I'm older, having experienced a few things in my two and a half decades on this earth, I kind of regret the fact that I followed the rules so succinctly.

Earlier today, I finished Staceyann Chin's memoir, The Other Side of Paradise. In it, she opens up about the most personal events of her life growing up in Jamaica. Her mother abandoned her and her older brother, Delano. Her Chinese father, to this day, never claimed her as his own. As her grandmother grew older she was no longer able to care for the two young children on her own. Eventually, the trio had to split up, landing Staceyann in the house of relatives she hardly knew. She was molested by older cousins and teased for her light complexion by them and peers. Her childhood left a lot to be desired.

I shared her anger and frustration with her family, asking myself over and over 'why do people--children--have to go through this?'

I was first introduced to Chin's work when I read Rebecca Walker's Black Cool, a compilation of essays from writers describing what they thought it meant to be black and cool. In her essay, titled 'Authenticity', Chin tells us how she became the loud, outspoken, Jamaican born lesbian that she is. She makes sure we understand that she is proud of the woman she is and she gives us insight on why it was so important for her to accept who she was, regardless of what others thought.
"I only know that to be me, to remain true to that self I adore, I must say my truth out loud. If I don't I will be someone else. And it has been forever since I have wanted to be that. I have my own cool now" (Black Cool, p. 119).
Having read that essay and the memoir, I can't help but admire her as a woman. I actually wish I was like her in some instances. She challenged everyone on anything, regardless of if it was her business or not. Chin was not afraid to speak her mind, finding herself in a lot of trouble with her elders. The fact that she never showed fear of getting in trouble pissed them off more. Instead of taking the time to explain things so that her young mind could understand, she often received beatings, in an attempt to drive the devil inside of her out.

As for me, I pretty much accepted everything that was presented to me as truth. I refrained from asking questions, especially about Christianity, because you're not supposed to question God and I was a child; I simply did as I was told. As I think back on my childhood, I feel as if I crippled myself. Today, I'm timid. I calculate my movements, avoiding anything that resembles confrontation. I shy away from debates, friendly or heated, because I feel like my opinion won't be valid.

Throughout the entire book, I felt that Chin knew exactly who she was as a woman, regardless of her disconnect with her parents. She didn't let their mistakes handicap her, stifling her growth as a woman. Even after she made the decision to migrate to New York, leaving behind the hypocrisy of her country and her tumultuous past, she found room in her heart to forgive her mother for the way she left things. She even continued to conduct a relationship with her "father", even if it was business-like.

Staceyann Chin could very well be listed as one of my favorite writers now. There aren't many I feel connected to. But I guess that's the point when you pen your life's story; everyone feels like they know you. I'm always thankful when someone feels it is necessary to share their own stories for the betterment of someone else, someone they may never get the opportunity to meet. I'm thankful that she has sparked something in the usually timid Erika, provoking her to be more vocal about what she's feeling. I'm thankful that she has helped her to realize that her opinion does matter.

For whatever reason, I am thankful that she wrote this memoir.

Check out below as Chin talks briefly about her memoir, The Other Side of Paradise:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Inner City Blues: Chaos in The City of Wind

Chicago has made itself a home in the news this summer, breaking records, I'm sure. Between the debacle that is Lil Jojo and Chief Keef to senseless and seemingly never ending gun violence in the city to the Chicago's Teachers Union's decision to go on strike, we just cannot seem to get a break. It hurts my heart to see the city I have grown to love fall apart like this.

Each year, during the summer months especially, the news is filled with stories of senseless deaths due to gun violence. Just this summer alone, there have been over 300 deaths as a result of shootings. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 1,706 shooting since as of September 2. This has become such an issue that it is no longer local news; now, other cities are getting wind of the foolishness that goes on here. It's embarrassing, to say the least. Over the past few days, I've checked Twitter sporadically, each time I watched as others expressed their disdain.

The Chicago Teacher Union's decision to strike has seemed to add fuel to the fire. Parents and school officials alike are outraged that the teachers could be so "inconsiderate", choosing to go on strike the night before the second week of classes were scheduled to start (tomorrow, September 13, will mark the fourth day of the strike).
Michael Butz, CPS Parent: I am the parent of a CPS 3rd grader. I support our teachers 100 percent, but I am terribly disappointed in the CTU's decision to strike after receiving a contract offer which was fair to all parties which have a stake: children, teachers, parents and taxpayers.
People are anticipating more violence during the strike as a result of hundreds of thousands of CPS students now out of school, looking to place the blame on the teachers.

I get that there are two sides to every story. Decisions to implement longer school days so the children can have more time to learn coupled with the decision to have stricter evaluations for the teachers doesn't seem fair. I'm sure that the teachers are not happy that their students are probably out roaming the streets when they could be learning but there is obviously a need that is not being met. Seventy five thousand dollars a year is nearly not enough for what they're are up against in the classroom. I've worked with students who attend Chicago Public Schools; it is NOT an easy task. I understand what these teachers have to put up with for eight hours a day.

I also understand that the city is facing is up against it's own financial crisis. The city is facing an $8.1 billion deficit while the state of Illinois has accumulated $43.8 billion in debt. These numbers make it almost impossible to meet the demands of these overworked and underpaid teachers. What's to be done in this kind of situation?

I hate the impression other cities have of us. I feel as if they fear us in the sense that this a place they'll never want to visit, which is a shame because we have one of the most beautiful cities in North America. Two years ago, the Huff Post ranked us #4 on their list of top 10 best cities. I feel like we're being judged and it doesn't sit well with me.

I have no idea what Mayor Emanuel plans to do or how he plans to go about it but I pray a decision is made soon regarding this strike (for the same of being realistic: by the end of the week). as for this on going violence among each other--I'm at a lost for words. I don't know what could be done to end it altogether short of Jesus' return.

How do we save our city?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Attention Divided: My Stunted Spiritual Growth

photo credit: paintingrecord.blogspot.com
Try as I might, my focus is always compromised when I'm at church. Among our modest congregation, I am able to find a peaceful calm that allows my mind to wander almost unapologetically. Sometimes, I catch myself and return my attention back to the pulpit but most of the time, you can catch my eyes fixated on some place, far off out of everyone else's sight.

During the two hours I spend at church on Sunday mornings, I create To Do Lists that hardly ever get touched throughout the week, making a cluttered mess with the other miscellaneous items found at the bottom of my purse. Other times, I'm relapsing into memories (word to Riv), painfully enjoyable to recall. An idea may hit me and in the next second, the paper I was scribbling sermon notes on turns into a rough draft for a blog post.

For a while, I thought I had a slight case of Attention Deficit Disorder because I would find that I could never remember the message once I got home. Some time ago, my pastor talked to us about being distracted during service and how that can play a part in our lack of spiritual growth. We're not giving ourselves a chance to absorb what's being said. Instead, our mind's are elsewhere, already thinking about dinner for the night and all the other things you have to get done before the week is over. As he chastised us, I tuned back in, secretly scolding my 24-year old self. How dare I not give my undivided attention to the messenger of the God who gave me life?? I've focused longer on other things that weren't feeding my spirit man.

I have realized my lack of growth in the ministry. Having been involved for almost three decades, my walk isn't nearly as good as it should be; looking back, it's almost embarrassing to admit it. I know that no one's walk is perfect but I'm aware that mine could and should be better. Tonight at bible study, the assistant pastor posed a question to us through his message: "Why do you study the word of God?" My first response was, "Because that's what I'm supposed to do." The words, though partially true, tasted sour in my mouth as spoke them under my breath. After 24 years on the right side of salvation, my answer should be a bit more eloquent than that. But, because I've been so lackadaisical, my growth has been stunted, regressing when it should be progressing.

The Christian church is all I know. I went because that's what I was supposed to do. I got baptized because that's what I was supposed to do. I sang in the choir and served on the usher board because that's what I was supposed to do. No matter how late I'm out on Saturday night, I get up for church on Sunday because that's what I'm supposed to do. Church is not and will never be an option as long as I live with my mother.

What scares me is whether or not I'll still be as disciplined when it comes time for me to move out on my own. I can imagine how tempting it will be for me to sleep in on Sunday morning after a long night. Will I feel bad for missing bible study on Wednesday because I'd rather go to the open mic on the south side instead? Because I spend a lot of time lost in my thoughts, I've gone back and forth with thoughts on my salvation many days. There are things I'm starting to realize now that should have been revealed a while ago. I understand now why there are some people who rededicate their lives to Christ--some even getting re-baptized. At nine years old, I was too young to fully understand what I was getting myself into; I did it out of fear and the pressure from my grandmother.

I am, indeed, a work in progress. There are days where I'm extremely happy with the woman I'm becoming and then there are days where I beat myself up for not doing better. With each day God chooses to bless me with a breath, I know that he is real and he is granting me the opportunity to finally get it right.

I also know he won't be generous forever.

Do you have trouble focusing on the pastor's sermon in church? Do you believe one can be forced into a religion? Has your church going habits changed for the best/worst since you moved out on your own?

p.s.: I drafted this in the middle of bible study tonight...I'm gonna do better. Promise

Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 30: To Kiss or Not to Kiss...

The entire night was wonderful. He was a perfect gentleman, anticipating your every move. You admired the way he carried himself, exhibiting the good qualities his mother instilled in him from day one. Slipping your hand into his, the two of you walk up to your front door. You thank him for such a great evening and he insists that this won't be the last time. You feel the warm sensation flooding your body as he stares back at you, flashing that Colgate commercial smile.

This is it. You can sense that he wants to lean in for the kiss and you're fighting everything in your power to wait for him to move. Right as he reaches out to pull you closer, you remember the text from your best friend:

"No kissing on the first date!"

Do you go with the flow and enjoy the moment? I mean, the date was nice and in your mind, he earned it. Or do you hold on, opting to make him work a little harder before you give him the luscious (word to Martin)?

I consulted a few of my friends, both men and women, asking how they felt about kissing on the first date, if they do/don't and why or why not. I asked the men the same question and questioned whether or not they expect a kiss from their date at the end of the night.

I received a mixture of responses, some of which shocked me. One of the ladies said that she's been on either end where she both kissed and made her date wait. "I may, depending on the vibe."

My other homegirl was completely against it.
"I wouldn't kiss on the first date because I wouldn't want the guy to expect more on the next date or feel like I'm easy. Also, guys tend to get the wrong idea [when it comes to kissing on the first date]. What if he's crazy??"
My married friend settled for the cheek kiss. (I wanted to tell her she didn't count because she married her childhood sweetheart but...whatever lol). Those are my personal favorite because it's innocent but shows your date that there may be room for something more down the line. It all boiled down to these young women wanting to feel secure in the fact that there would be more dates after this one. If they were sure they'd see the guy again, nine times out of ten, they would go for the kiss.

As for the fellas...

"People over think. If everything is great, show signs of that. Nothing is wrong as long as your confident, you feel safe and the attraction is mutual."

"Hmmmm...A guy should only expect a goodnight kiss after it's already been established that both parties have an invested mutual understanding of what they are classified as, i.e. dating, friends with benefits, or just plain ol' kickin' it. Or maybe you just can't help but to feel what the other person's lips feel/taste like. Curiosity is a motha! There's no harm in it if you ask me."

Where I agree with some of the viewpoints of the ladies, I think I agree with the two responses I received from the guys. It's not like we're talking about a full out make-out session on the front porch. Just a nice, sweet kiss to end the night. If he's really the gentleman he portrayed the entire night, he'll take that kiss for what it is and keep working towards the good stuff. That may or may not have been a pun.

With that though, you may run the risk of falling into a routine with your date. Will he expect a kiss after each date from here on? I ran into a situation like that...that may be a post for another day. Anyway, relationships are tricky. Getting to know someone is even more tricky. I say do what feels right to you. If you're comfy, roll with it. If it's not there yet, give buddy a hug, bid him goodnight and go to sleep with a smile on your face.

Let's discuss. How do you feel about kisses on the first date?

Day 29: Shop Talk

photo credit: itsablackthang.com
As I sat in the shop, waiting on my little brother to get his usual even cut with a taper in the back, I couldn't help but listen in on the conversation the barbers were having. I was actually the reason for the now lively mood.

A few weeks back, I was there with my mom, again, waiting on little bro. A man walks in with his toddler son, both ready to get fresh for the weekend. He greets everyone, joking and laughing. As he's telling anyone who will listen about his party that night, he spots me, in my own world, admiring the artistry of the barbers.

Long story short: he's pushing up. His barber is trying to warn him on the sly that the woman sitting next to me is my mother and that he should chill but he must didn't know fat meat was greasy. In the midst of me trying to kindly blow him off, I peep a wedding band--on the WRONG hand.

*Big Sean voice* Whoa dere!

When I walked in today, the barber who was cutting married man's hair asked if I ever ran into him after that day, thus starting a hilarious conversation on men who don't know how to "cheat the right way" (i.e. married man. He had been caught up by his wife in a series of dumb efforts of cheating). This spiraled into how men, namely the barbers there, don't trust women eventually ending with why they don't kiss, like, ever.

"I don't even kiss my daughter. I just shake her and slap her high five." O_O. We'll discuss how she'll be relentlessly seeking the affection of men in the coming years in another post...

As usual, I sat in the cut, listening to what everyone had to say and laughing with the only other female in the shop who was working on little bro. Some of you women have definitely ruined it for us with the brothers. Though the conversation was light, I could tell these guys have been hurt up in the past. One of them was really close to crossing over into boyfriend/girlfriend territory with one woman when he got wind of a homemade video of his boo thang engaged in "extracurricular activities" with a few good men.

Another indulged us in his adventures as The Other Man. He received a phone call from the boyfriend of a woman he had been seeing (he already knew about buddy because the girl had been up front from jump; he didn't care). The conversation went like this, let him tell it:
Boyfriend: "Hey, I'm tryna see who this is calling my woman.
Him: "Look man, don't be calling me asking me who I am. Ask your woman; she knows the number when I call." *click*
--boyfriend calls back a few minutes later--
Boyfriend: "Yea, I was just tryna figure who you were and why you're calling my woman."
Him: "Man, that's OUR woman!"
Boyfriend: "What you mean 'OUR woman'?!
Him: "She wasn't with you last night or the night before. Your name's Rashad, right?"
Of  course my face dropped at his boldness, along with everyone else's in the shop. And I'm sure the boyfriend's blood was boiling to the point where he wanted to wring dude's neck through the phone. How are you going to treat the boyfriend, the victim, in this situation?

This guy's story got me to thinking that there are really a lot of people out here who do not honor relationships, dating or married. It's sad how men and women alike are out just to get theirs, perfectly okay with being attached/unattached at the same time.

"I ain't trippin' cuz she ain't my woman/man."

"She Ain't My Girl--Trey Songz feat. Sammie

Too many times have I heard that from men and women and each time, I'm equally amazed. It doesn't matter if the relationship is at a dead end; the fact that it's still a relationship should be honored. I get it, partially. Some people just need a jump off, someone that can break them off from time to time and then return to reality. I've even heard that some actively seek out married/involved people, just so they can avoid the headache of relationship talk.

Call me jaded but I just can't see that kind of life for myself. Has the dating pool become that bad??? I never understood why people cheat. Maybe part of that has to do with the fact that I'm selfish but hey, if it's been working for you, knock yourself out...I guess... *looks away nervously*

Talk to me y'all. What's your view on infidelity? Have you ever been the other man/woman? Have you ever confronted or made a phone call to your boo's side joint?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 28: Good Things Come to those Who Wait

If I was abnormally emotional, I'd probably be crying tears of joy right now but since I'm just regular emotional, I opt for a smile that hints at some of the excitement that is bubbling inside of me coupled with a few eager text messages and phone calls to friends and family.

Today, I got my very first car and yes, I feel like a big girl now *insert cheesy face emoji here*.

Since I graduated from college almost two years ago, my mission was to get some wheels. Nothing extravagant but something I could depend on to get me through my young adult life. Circumstances at my first job compromised my savings and after seven months, I found another job. My plan was to get a used car, buying it out right to avoid a note. I started saving again and as I was reaching a decent amount, I hear that my pastor is planning to give me his old Altima; all I have to pay for is the needed repairs (car had been sitting for two years) and the transfer of the title. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity before I even saw it. I was excited about the possibility and I trusted that my pastor wouldn't give me anything raggedy.

I did not prepare myself for the wait. This was definitely an exercise in patience for me. It's been approximately two months since I found out I was getting the car. In the beginning, I kind of let the information drift in and out of my mind; I do this thing where I get super excited about something and wind up disappointed when things don't go as planned. I didn't want that to happen this time. No one knew about what I had coming until I got word that the car was in the shop. As the days slowly wound down, I allowed myself room to let my excitement set in. I could already see me riding through Chicago, cruising down the Lake Shore Drive with my windows and sun roof open.

Needless to say, I need to gift my pastor with something really nice; both him and his father. They did all the leg work and I just forked over the cash. And when unexpected incidentals came up, they footed the bill. My mom told me before she retired to bed that it's good to have favor and I couldn't agree more. In what world do people just give you a car, virtually free of charge??

I truly am thankful for the people God has placed in my life.
Errbody, this is Nina =)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 27: Losing Faith

photo credit: examiner.com
Every year, when the weather breaks and the sun shines a little brighter, Chicago turns into a war zone. As reported in Huff Post Chicago today, the city that I love so much has beat out the number of troops killed in Afghanistan, tallying up more than 5,000 deaths since 2001 to their 2,000. According to the article, our murder rate has quadrupled New York's and doubled Los Angeles.

It is almost unbelievable to know that every day someone in the city falls victim to senseless violence. I scroll through my Twitter timeline, just shaking my head. It's as if people wake up in the morning, prepared to take a life just because it's hot outside. I thank God that no one I hold dear has been caught in the crossfire and I pray that I won't have to ever get that call.

As disheartening as the situation is, I grow tired of hearing the same thing every single summer. Man, the violence in Chicago has got to stop. We gotta stop killing each other. So on and so forth. Don't get me wrong. I agree 100 percent but  I feel like the city's unrelenting cries for help are falling on deaf ears. Radio personalities hold annual gun rallies where they encourage people to turn in guns in exchange for gift cards up to $100.00 but I feel like that is pointless. Now days, it is so easy to get your hands on a gun it's ridiculous.

I'm beginning to feel like there is no hope left for the families of these many victims. No hope for the residents of the city. People cannot even enjoy the summer festivities without being on guard at all times; young children are held hostage inside their own homes because parents fear stray bullets claiming their innocent little lives.

Where does we even start? Who do we talk to? What do we do?

Day 26: My best friend say...

I would like to take a moment and celebrate the fact that I am single and, for the most part, okay with it.
photo credit: blog.nola.com
For the past few weeks, I've been lending an ear to a friend who's going through a break-up. I don't plan to go too deep into her situation because it's not any of your business but, for the sake of understanding, they've reached a point in their relationship where he is frustrated with her to no end and she is trying to figure out how she can make it better. At the end of the day, the love is there and I vouched for their relationship. He really is a good guy.

I suggested that she give him space to process all that he has going on with school, life, and family and use this time to focus her energy on other things. I assured her that I knew it would be difficult because, for two years, they were all the other knew. She's having a hard time adjusting to the split that is but really isn't and he seems confused on how to process it all and be separate.

Yes, there are two sides to every story and where I would love to hear his, all I have is what she's telling me. In his eyes, she's selfish, arrogant, and asks too many questions. She feels he's an unmotivated competitor who could stand a money management course. As his girlfriend, she tried to be the support system he lacks at home, suggesting tips and things she was taught growing up. Because she's been my friend for about five years, I know her personality. I agree that it can come off a little strong but she means well. For him, it proves to be too much.

Whenever she asks what she should do, I usually give her vague answers, insisting that she do what feels right. No one understands their bond better than they do and I refuse to tell her something, have her follow through and then something backfires. Now, all eyes are on me--the single friend who's assumed to be bitter because she doesn't have a man of her own (which is so not the case).

Me: You can't talk to him like a child. No one likes being talked down to, especially men. And you know how you can get sometimes.

Her issue, which I wouldn't even call an issue forreal, is that she is very smart when it comes to money and being prepared for any possible situation. She was taught early on how to live out of 30% of her income (still amazed by that) and the importance of saving. She noticed that he lacked that type of discipline so, bit by bit, she would hint to him different things he could try. He took offense and instead of discussing his true feelings, he shut her out and off, constantly finding characteristics to add to the list of things she did that brought on feelings of inadequacy.

To a degree, I'm a sensitive person, empathizing with the trials but even I get to a point where I'm like, "Dude! Get over it already." I will only stroke your ego for so long before I'm expecting you to get your bearings in order.

Maybe she was too hard on him. Maybe he's just too sensitive. Either way, he needed to hear everything she had to say because, apparently, no one ever cared enough to push him. He needs to know that someone cares whether or not he's okay. There were things that he told her that she needed to hear as well. I think the break-up is good for them right now. They need to learn how to be alone with themselves.

I did give her a bit of advice though: Do not go back to him unless you see an obvious change in behavior. It makes no sense to go back to a situation only to have to deal with what made you break away in the first place. If he values the relationship, he'll swallow his pride and take heed. If not, then you know that you need to move on.

No one wants to witness their friends going through a tough time. It breaks my heart to see someone who is usually joking and laughing all the time so down. I keep telling her that this is a test for her and that it will get better--or she'll reach a point where she just DGAF anymore. She is a smart girl which is why I know she'll make it out of this just fine.

Do you offer up sound advice when it comes to friends' relationship issues or are you biased? Is there a fine line between belief and support in your mate versus being overbearing and pushy?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 25: ...and really, I think I like who I'm becoming

I love this mental place this writing challenge has placed me in. Because of it, I'm paying closer attention, seeing things deeper than what the surface presents. Throughout each day, I'm constantly throwing topics around in my mind, trying to find a purpose in things I encounter and find a way to turn it into a story.

Naturally, I'm an observer. You can most likely find me lost in my own thoughts in the midst of a crowd. Yes, this can be viewed as rude but to me, I'm absorbing my surroundings. I pay attention to mannerisms; the way people interact with each other and how that differs when they're left to their own devices. I listen to conversations, dissecting the views and opinions of others in my head. Rarely do I join in the conversation; I'm okay with being an observer.

As I type this post, I'm looking out onto the back porch, heavy rain drops saturating the cherry wood deck. It's a pleasant sound. In the ten minutes that I've been sitting here, my mind has traveled from what I did last night to what I expect to happen tonight as I go feed my muse, trying to find a story in everything.

There are five more days left and honestly, I 'm not sure I want it to be over. Despite the pressure I felt to deliver, the disappointment when I didn't, this was good for me. I even came across some new bloggers whose words I enjoy reading. I've been contemplating continuing on past the 31st as a way to further discipline myself.

What have I got to lose?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 24: Express Ya' Self

photo credit: keepitkinky.net
For the past few days, I've been seeing Twitter and the blogosphere up in arms about an issue on the campus of Hampton University. The dean of the popular HBCU, Sid Credle, has placed a ban on the business school students, preventing them from wearing both cornrows and dreadlocs to class. Initially, I was shocked. Reading that someone had the power to tell another individual how to wear their hair caused my neck to jerk back and my eyes to squint so tight you'd think they were closed.

What do you mean you banned dreadlocs and braids???

Credle's argument was based on the premise of preparing these business degree seeking students for a professional career in their field. According to the article in Clutch Magazine, Credle "sees it as an effort to help them land corporate jobs".

I get it. You're grooming your future alumni so they can look the part as they represent your school's name when they're applying for that six-figure gig. But as a proud wearer of locs, I can't help but be a little offended at the absurdity of it all. I cannot imagine what I would have done if my alma mater required me to do away with my beloved locs because they felt it would hinder me in the future. Or even my basketball team. I remember the men's team had to shave all their facial hair for the team pictures as so they would look less intimidating. GTFOH!! Some ludicrous demand like that would have provoked top notch rebellion from me.

I agree 100% with Uriah Bethea, quoted in the Clutch article, when he states that his hairstyle should not matter. "It's my life. I should be able to do whatever I want to do." Especially when it comes to the hair that grows out of one's own head! Instead of adhering to the foolish rule, he stated that he would simply find another major.

We're in an age where natural hair is being glorified all over. Women of all ages are embracing the natural texture of their hair, learning to accept their true selves. Though there are a good percentage of women out there who have decided the natural route isn't for them, should the ones who opt for something different be both criticized and ostracized? Are they requiring the women who rock wild and crazy kinky fros to tame their manes as well?

As for braids: I have a hate/hate relationship with them now. I think their time has passed and should no longer be seen in public. But that's my own personal issue. I would, however, never think a man should be denied an opportunity because of his hairstyle, especially if he's qualified. It's not my place to judge, nor do I care about it. Who's to say these young men will still rock these braids to the board meeting after landing the job? They're in college, exercising their right to be individuals. I'm sure they're aware of the dress code their intended career field requires.

Quoted in the article, Credle states neither of these styles are directly linked to our culture. "When was it that cornrows and dreadlocks were apart of African American history? I mean Charles Drew didn't wear it. Muhammad Ali didn't wear it. Martin Luther King didn't wear it." 

My question to him is: Who gives a fawk?! It's just hair!

I get what Credle is trying to do with this ban but I don't think it is necessary. A good percentage of men and women who decide to loc their hair are doing it as a test to themselves. They're either practicing the art of patience and discipline or simply because they want to try something new. For some of them, the style will not last past five years as a result of absolute boredom with the monotony of it all.

Already aware of the negative stigma dreadlocs hold, I make sure mine are up to par, being washed and re-twisted every 3-4 weeks. I have never experienced any discrimination when it came to my hair and like I said before, I don't know what I'd do if put in that situation. The decision to grow my locs stemmed from a natural affinity for the style. I love the variety available to both men and women. I don't like the idea that in a place that's supposed to glorify being African American and instill a sense of pride and individuality, students are subconsciously being told to conform to society's norms.

Day 23: Disappearing Acts Pt. 3

"Tell me again why you didn't give him your number," Brynn asked. I peered over the salted rim of my classic margarita, looking back at her with my equally classic blank stare. Two weeks had passed since the ride with Kyle and this was the first time I had mentioned him to my best friend. Honestly, the thought of exchanging numbers with him never crossed my mind, although he had piqued my interest.

***If you haven't read parts one & two, click here & here***

"The question is why didn't he ask for my number," I quipped. "When have you ever known me to be that girl?"

"This is true," she started.

"Plus, it wasn't that kind of interaction. We barely said two words to each other the entire ride. It would have been weird."  Brynn looked up from the spinach artichoke dip she was about to dive into. Her icy stare cut straight through my bullshit, causing me to divert my attention to the waiter who nearly dropped a round of drinks.

"So, you're telling me that you don't care if you never see him again?"

Inhale. Exhale. "I'm saying that it would have been weird for us to exchange information after that awkward meeting. That's all. But enough about him. How's the new job going?" I didn't need her playing therapist on me. It was Brynn's first week back in Chicago, having moved back from Texas. We had some catching up to do that didn't involve my lack of a social life.

"Texas is much too hot for people to be alive. I couldn't wait to get back up here," she started. In the back of my mind, I knew this wouldn't be the last of the conversation about Kyle.
Damn Brynn and her inquisitiveness. Since our lunch date my mind kept finding it's way back to the impromptu rendezvous. Prior to today, I had managed to focus on life as it happened around me, not daydreaming about mystery man. It wasn't all bad though because he proved to be a break in the norm for me. His effortless cool was what I found the most attractive. It pulled me in to notice everything else about him like the way his neatly groomed goatee proved to be the perfect frame to his flawlessly sculpted lips. His simple style was refreshing, a nice change of pace from the suited and booted people of the city. It was like he just took life as it came; not a care in the world.

A knock at the door pulled me from my oddly comfortable position on the couch as I watched the rain crashing against my window. I checked the clock as I moved slowly down the hall. I couldn't even get the chain lock off the door before I was met with a barrage of questions asking where I had been all day and why wasn't I answering my phone. This routine was becoming a tiring exercise. I ignored the interrogation and made my way into the kitchen to prepare my tea.


"Why are you yelling?" I asked calmly.

"Where were you all day? I've been calling you!" I watched as the cream swirled around in the chai tea until it became that milky caramel shade. This is the confrontation I had been trying to avoid all day. Marcus and I were, well, Marcus and I. For the better half of a year, we went back and forth between statuses, never able to fully decide what it is we were. A lot of that has to do with his indecisiveness and unwillingness to commit.

"Brynn and I went out after work. I just walked in an hour before you got here. I'm sorry I missed your call." If looks could kill, my next of kin would have been notified in that next second. His face went from mad to pissed the hell off quicker than I could sip and swallow my tea.

"You're sorry you missed my---Yo! What the hell is going on with you? Did I do something?" He almost looked helpless standing in the doorway of my kitchen, his thick brows full of confusion and concern. I took a deep breath, contemplating what I'd say next. It was all very simple: I was tired of being stuck in neutral while he figured out whatever was broken in his life.

"I'm done, Marcus. With whatever it is we're doing--I'm done." I unleashed everything I was feeling as he stood looking dumbfounded, back against the wall, literally and figuratively.
What the two of us shared was never supposed to happen, especially not as fast as it did. As I waited on the red line train, which was six minutes behind schedule, I heard a voice over my left shoulder. 

"This city is much too small for the both of us." From my peripheral, I saw what I knew to be his solid frame. His fresh scent filled my nostrils instead of the usual stench that filled the underground tunnel.

"I agree."

"What's your name?" I turned to face him, finally getting a good look at his six-foot-two inch build. His boyish grin told me that he knew I was checking him out, eyes unabashedly exploring every part of him. A strong gust of wind from the oncoming train caused my hair to blow in my face, obstructing my line of sight. I could see the headlight of the oncoming train just over his shoulder.

"Emory," I replied as my eyes finally reached his gaze. "And you are?"

It started with us meeting once a week for lunch or a walk through the city. Conversations from those daytime outings were revisited over the phone later that night. Before I knew it, a few dates had been had and I found myself in his apartment, waiting for the Chinese takeout to come. Somewhere in the midst of all this, my school girl naivete kicked in, making me believe that this wasn't growing into something serious. It had only been a little over a month since I ended things with Marcus. To be starting something new so soon seemed ludicrous.

Kyle didn't help make much sense of this thing either. Though interest had been expressed, he wasn't pressuring me. I had decided not to tell him about Marcus, further fooling myself into believing what we had was completely innocent. The effortless cool I witnessed the first day we met was still present now. His carefree demeanor made things so much easier for me to enjoy the time I was spending with him.

Born and raised in Chicago, Kyle owned his own clothing store, a small shop in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Fresh out of college, his parents gave him the start up money for his entrepreneurial venture and now at 27, he employed three self-proclaimed fashion gurus and was looking to open a second location on the south side.

Needless to say, I was impressed by his ambition and the fact that he was a little cultured helped matters a lot. That first night, he showed me old pictures of him and the small band he was apart of.

"My dad grew up on the horn and pretty much forced it on me and brothers early on," he remembered. "I never had a problem with it though. I was always one to gravitate towards the different stuff."

"Do you still play?" I asked, eyes focused on a picture of him and his brother cleaning their trumpets.

"Yea, I do. Actually, I'm wrapping up saxophone lessons. Trying to add to the repertoire." He winked at me as he took a long swig of his beer. "Maybe I'll play for you one day."

I returned the photo album to coffee table and leaned back into that comfortable space beneath his outstretched arm. The space was nice and warm, familiar even as I nestled up to him, resting my head on his shoulder. At first, I wanted to ask him if he could play something for me right now but I needed this so much more. I felt his arm slide down from the back of the couch and pull me closer into him. The warm feeling permeated through my body instantly, causing me to close my eyes and just enjoy the moment.

"You tired?" When I didn't answer right away, I felt his soft lips brush against my forehead.

A honking car stirred me from my sleep. Lazily, I opened my eyes, processing my surroundings. In front of me sat two empty Heineken bottles and the opened photo album I had flipped through hours before. The living room was dark except for the light that spilled in from the kitchen. Beneath me, Kyle was snoring lightly. One arm was thrown over his face while the other attempted to hold me in place on top of him. What time is it? I reached for my phone inside of my purse to check.

"No. Stay." Kyle wrapped both his arms around me, forcing me back in to his chest. He held me close so that I couldn't move but loose enough so it wasn't uncomfortable. "It's too late for you to be outside anyway," he offered, placing another kiss on my forehead. My mind rambled for an excuse I could offer up but none came. Honestly, I wanted to stay right where I was.

"Are you trying to hold me hostage?" I asked, smiling into the rise and fall of his chest.

"Are you trying to leave me in the middle of the night?" he returned.

"I didn't want to overstay my welcome. I have a little common courtesy about myself, regardless of what you many think."

"When I want you to leave, I'll show you the door." I looked up into his face. Surprisingly, his was staring down at me. I searched his eyes as best as the dimly lit room would allow, trying to detect any sign of sarcasm. "Until then, you stay." He tussled my curls, which had transformed into a wild fit of something during my slumber. I gave up trying to fight him on the issue, instead choosing to make good use of my time.

My eyes never left his stare as I sat up on top of him. Without a word, I leaned into him, placing a trail of soft kisses from his forehead until I reached my destination. They were exactly how I imagined them to be, full and warm. We soon found a comfortable rhythm in each other and stayed there.

I would soon learn that a lot of things came to him effortlessly...

photo credit: studiosuryayoga.com

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 22: Stumped

photo credit: fitnessmashup.com via google.com
Aliya King, the one responsible for this sweet torture I've been putting myself through for the past three weeks, encourages us to keep writing. With eight days left in this month long challenge, she understands that most of us have reached our sticking point. Still, she pushes us to keep going.

As I lurked perused through her timeline tonight during the one hour she dedicates to questions and answers, I saw a series of tweets that said "Keep writing." It was in response to a question a young lady posed, having obvious doubts about her skill level and if she'll be good enough. King simply told her, "Keep writing. That's the only way to get better."

I let her advice sink in. Those last seven words were my sole reason for participating in #30in30. Of all the extracurriculars I participated in since elementary school, I have never been more passionate about anything as much as I am about writing. But I understand that I must study my craft on a daily basis, as it changes with the same frequency, maybe even sooner. I must constantly be practicing what I love.

When I decided to participate, I did think briefly, "What happens when I run out of things to talk about?" but I quickly dismissed that as a fearful excuse; an attempt to psych myself out. I was strong and proceeded to draft what would be my first post. Like I said though, that was 22 days ago.

Now that I've reached this brick wall holding all the words I need to create hostage, I don't know what to do. Typically, I save what I was working on. I would shut down my laptop and walk away for a few hours. With this, I can't do that because the purpose is, of course, to blog daily (although you are able to double up if you miss one). I am trying to be as disciplined with this as my day job will allow me to.

Today, I drew a complete blank on what to blog about which is how I ended up here. Instead of succumbing to the pressure of there being nothing interesting write about, why not do what King says and keep writing? My eyes are beginning to cross and my fingers are typing on here what I see behind my closed lids.

Time for bed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 21: Moment of Clarity

Today, I wanted to give up. I wanted to quit the challenge and stop writing. Thoughts of inadequacy and what the hell are you doing here? flooded my mind. There was no one to blame but myself though; I asked for the constructive criticism and that's exactly what I got from a like-minded artist. Because he told me something I already knew, the news didn't sting as bad. An amazing writer who I look up to told me the same thing months before.

For so long, I have depended on my peers to stroke my ego for encouragement, prompting their advice but receiving niceties in return. To no specific fault of their own but most just lack the ability to critique my work as it should be. As painful as it may be initially, I need to be told when I'm being loquacious. If I digress, help reel me back in. Whenever people show admiration for something I've done, I always get a little leery. I feel like I could have done something better. Or maybe I left something out.

I'm thankful to that like minded spirit who made me aware of my flaws today, providing me with quotes and well thought out logic to help reaffirm my own faith in self. I was assured that I would not run out of time (my biggest fear) and that the voice I was looking for had already been discovered. I was encouraged to enjoy the peaks and valleys that are my life with emphasis on the valleys because traveling through them are the most time consuming. Metaphorically speaking, knowledge is gained there.

Before this reaffirming conversation ended, I was met with a quote that went something along the lines of, "If you don't remember the journey it took to get here, you're doing something wrong." They couldn't have been more accurate. I took my rejected feelings and turned them into motivation. I can either sulk in my self-induced misery or do something to change my situation...

Day20: The English Degree Holder with the Reading Problem

photocredit: weheartit.com via google.com

Let me tell y'all how Twitter is trying to cripple my entire life and maybe even yours.

As a child, I was an avid reader. I ran through Dr. Seuss and Bernstein Bears books with ease as my mom taught me the art of comprehending. Every day I would sit in my grandmother's salon, which was located in the basement of her house, and read to whoever would listen. One series of books that I grew to love was The Box Car Children. My mom made sure I had each one. Repeatedly, I would read them, treating each time like the first. I admired the careful word choice the author used to describe everything. There was one part where the siblings were preparing dinner for themselves. To this day, I distinctly remember imagining the sweet smell of onions, herbs, and spices, lifting from the pages and infiltrating my nostrils. I felt as if I was there, waiting in anticipation. And I hate everything about onions.

Throughout school, I always excelled in English. I had no issues comprehending what I read although I struggled early on with critical thinking (if it didn't come to me quickly, I wanted nothing to do with it). I was the girl who toted Michael Baisden's Maintenance Man on top of her textbooks to class, having to do endure the endless questions from peers.

"Who's class are you reading that for?"
"This isn't for a class," would always be my reply.
"Wait! You're just reading it to be reading it?"

It's laughable how I still get those same questions today.

It wasn't until I was introduced to social media that my comprehension skills began to dwindle. I feel like four years of college is responsible for this too (I need a scapegoat. Twitter can't take the full blame). You see, in order to survive those four years, one has got to learn how to keep up as well as be concise. Assignments are expected on time by professors who have a few hundred, sometimes thousands of papers to grade. There is just not enough time in a college student's day to sit and read half a novel after a day's worth of lectures, write a 3-5 page literary critique on the text only to have it turned in by a12pm deadline the next day. It's even more difficult if you're a student-athlete.

Instead, you have to learn how to speed read through text to find the relevant information. This generation has become experts in this capacity because for hours upon hours, anyone who's connected can be caught scrolling through their timeline, eyes skimming through the random ramblings of their followers. I began to recognize that the way I was reading words on Twitter, as well as texts for school, was affecting the way I read for leisure and/or general information.

photocredit: readerssoft.com via google.com
Too many times I have had to stop myself, go back to the beginning and re-read an article because my eager eyes always hop down to the action-packed part, instead of taking my time to get the full story. If I, one who reads unassigned texts/articles in my spare time, am struggling with this, I can only imagine how it's crippling those who already despise reading.

 (Even as I re-read what I just wrote, checking for clarity, I'm unable to focus long enough to get through the few paragraphs).

We live in an age where everything is expected at a moment's request. We have been spoiled by the smallest of things and don't even know it. Like the microwave, for example. You mean to tell me I can have a full meal that's been pre-cooked and frozen, ready to eat in less than five minutes?! What!!! And you couldn't tell me nothing after I discovered the scientific calculator *pssh* It was over! See, I tend to get frustrated when something I'm looking for doesn't jump out and greet me. I've always been that way and instead of taking my time to find what I'm looking for, I get flustered and agitated. Over the years, I've gotten a lot better with my impatience but what about the people who haven't quite figured it out?

I've mentioned before the love I have for social media and how beneficial I believe it is for us in this digital age but on the flip side, it scares me in more ways than one. Having worked with young children and teens for most of my working life, I'm noticing with each day how illiterate the human race is. These same people are well-versed in trending topics and Instagram posts. Even in some academic papers I've been asked to proofread/edit for a few of my peers leave me wanting to track down English teachers worldwide just so I can personally snatch their certification.

Before this week, I hadn't really thought about the negative effects of social media or what it was doing to us subliminally. I'm sure there are a plethora of studies out there, providing facts on the percentage of illiterate youth and how Twitter and text messages are changing the way we communicate. Because of my speed reading condition, I probably won't sit still long enough to read through it all, which is why I haven't provided you with any of those statistics. I'm still working on myself. Bear with me.

Are you guilty of being too literate when it comes to social media?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day 19: You Inspire Me

picture credit: orchuterie.wordpress.com
In the previous post, I mentioned a few people who influence me in a good way. Of the few, there is only one that I know personally; the others, I'm familiar with by way of the Internet/print media. As a young blogger/writer, I rely on the latter to guide me indirectly, taking heed of whatever they feel the need to share on their Twitter timelines.

Daily I am amazed at how connected we have become as a people through mediums like Facebook and Twitter. In no other world would we be able to interact with complete strangers and build relationships as we are now. I find inspiration from the writers that I follow and though my efforts may seem in vain, I am able to network and interact with them as often as I'd like. And I love that they welcome this type of interaction, tearing down that wall that once separated us, sharing what they have learned while traveling the road to their destiny.

I have never sat and wondered what life would be like without this type of interaction. With the coming of each day, technology is advancing, making the world smaller as we connect on a larger scale. The Internet has created avenues for both the artistically inclined and entrepreneur alike and we all feed off of that energy created here. Web-based TV shows are appearing left and right since shows like Issa Rae's The Mis-Adventures of an Awkward Black Girl hit Youtube. Since then, we've been blessed with a plethora of great shows that deserve a shot at the small screen. Sites like Etsy and Big Cartel is the hottest thing since thrift shops, providing creatives and the ones who stay hip to the fashion curve a means to get their work to the masses.

*I want to say something but I feel as if it will be an inaccurate generalization. For the sake of a fatigued brain and a lack of words, I'll just say it and hope that you understand the point I'm trying to make.*

Without this type of influential energy we continue to feed off of, I think there would be a lot of miserable unhappy people in the world. We find inspiration in the works of others. We find it in the conversations sparked from the works of others. I like to think that I'm beginning to find myself and my voice when it comes to writing. I'm becoming more open to ideals and even participating in things I would have typically shied away from in the past (this writing challenge, for example). If not for the influence some of these people have on me, I'd be stuck in limbo, trying to find a way out.

This is just the beginning of my journey and as much as I want to fast forward through it, I'm going to enjoy the ups and downs. I'm going to embrace the rejections and use them as fuel to move on into my destiny. I would name the people I look up to in this business but all you have to do is check the archives and you'll see where my loyalties lie.

Day 18: All By Myself

*late post for yesterday for 8.18.2012*

Self reflection is very necessary and vital to one's well-being. Yesterday, I enjoyed some much needed me time after I split from my D.C. brova, @ItzWoodz. He was in town for the Bears/Redskins preseason game (we won. Go Bears!) and I couldn't let him leave without linking up with him. Over buffalo chicken wraps and brews from Sweetwater Tavern (favorite restaurant in the city), we caught up.  Never mind the fact that we met via Twitter almost four years ago and this was only our second time seeing each other. He filled me in on everything he had already gotten into since his arrival, the well-being of his two beautiful daughters, and his plans later that night. I'm still salty I couldn't make that party *insert sad face here*. I fool with this man heavy as he does me, looking out for me all the way from the nation's capital.

photo credit: me

We said our good-byes and he headed down to Soldier Field. It was an absolutely beautiful day in the city and I refused to go home right away. As I made my way over to State Street to do a little shopping, I took in all that Chicago had to offer. I always joke with people that whenever I'm downtown, no one can ever tell if I'm here visiting or not because I act just like a tourist each time. The architecture here is like no other, bringing out the inner photographer in all who wander about the streets. Effortlessly, I blended in with the millions of people who were out enjoying their day. They all seemed so carefree and I loved it.

As I perused the aisles at Nordstrom's Rack, I realized just how much I hate shopping. For as long as I can remember, I've been easily overwhelmed when I'm presented with a lot at one time. I felt weird, sifting through the racks for nothing in particular. As much as I tried to blend in with the other shoppers, it wasn't working. Soon after that, I found myself in Barnes & Noble, again, looking for nothing in particular. Lord knows I didn't need to buy another book, as I just did damage days before on Amazon (smh). I did okay though, leaving out with bell hooks' autobiography and maybe a tinge of buyer's remorse.

It was as I walked through Grant Park that I realized this is what life is about. In those few hours I spent with myself, I didn't worry about the things that usually keep me awake at night. I simply imagined that this was my everyday routine and that I'd return to my fully furnished loft full of black art and notable artifacts, nursing a glass of wine before bed. I was made for this kind of life.

photo credit: me again
Somehow I ended up in a park across from Millennium Park and I found a nice spot, secluded from the rest of the world. I was thankful because my body was beginning to curse me out from hours of non-stop walking. Taking in the skyline beyond a bed of yellow flowers I don't know the name of, I imagined where I see myself in the next few years. Where I plan to be and what it is I want to be doing. I looked to my left and though I couldn't see it beyond the trees, I imagined what was going on in the Ebony/Jet offices straight down Michigan Ave. I have this weird feeling that one day I'll run into the Editor-in-Chief of either Ebony or Jet (Amy D. Barnett & Mitzi Miller respectively) randomly. I've been practicing in my head what I will say if it happened. I'm still finessing it. The same goes for Anslem Samuel (@NWSO) and Starrene Rhett (@GangstarrGirl), two newlywed journalist by way of NY, also known as The Lovers Rocque.

The sky slowly transitioned from a vibrant, clear blue to a welcoming dark one and by 7:45, the sun was completely down and I was headed back to the train. I had been shaken from my daydream once I realized I hadn't secured a ride home from the station once I made it back to the suburbs. My suburban neighborhood isn't one you can just walk freely in after hours.

The ride home was peaceful and at that point, I made a promise to myself that instead of sitting in the house being miserable, I would make time for myself, where I can enjoy being outside. During my field trip the words of my adopted mentor, Rivaflowz, echoed in my head:
There is no muse on Google. Go for a walk. See life.
She could not have been more right. In that short time, I witnessed so many things, little things, that made me smile (there was a wedding photo shoot going on in Millennium Park that I'm convinced I'll see on Essence.com very soon). There were small children out, trying to soak up the last little bit of summer that was left before classes resume this fall. I found small bursts of inspiration in everything last night, even the homeless men who shook super-sized McDonald's cups out for passerbys to drop their loose change in.

I'm glad I got a chance to get out of the house yesterday. Even more glad that I got a chance to hang out with the funniest man I know and blessed that I got to take in the beauty that is God's work. Don't continue to be sucked into this digital world. It's okay to separate for a while and enjoy reality. I promise that you'll feel a lot better.
Buckingham Fountain
"and they say Chi city..."

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 17: Domestic Disturbance in Black-balled Suburbia

Sharp screams broke the silence as I sat sorting through my thoughts last night. I didn't even flinch, assuming the neighborhood teens were out, rebelling against the city-wide curfew of 10:30. They don't respect authority 'round these parts. The screams grew louder but it was the repeated cry for help that froze my fingertips on my laptop's keyboard. I strained my ear to hear. These were not young teens looking for a good time in the middle of the night.

I opened my back door expecting the worst. Flashbacks of the tape from the Trayvon Martin case popped into my head as I stepped out on the deck to see what was going on. Anxiety gripped my heart as I scanned the darkness staring blankly back at me but I couldn't see anything other than the motion lights over garage doors. My mother joined me, already dialing 9-1-1. We listened, only imagining what was happening right on the other side of the privacy fence that separates my grandparent's backyard from the narrow alley. Two women were screaming at the top of their lungs at one man. I could hear a squeaky screen door opening and closing, clashing with the shrill cries for help and someone throwing something heavy, probably the man's belongings.

I was still expecting to hear the all too familiar sound of flesh hitting flesh but it didn't come (thank God). Surprisingly, the man involved was calm, as he called the police himself, trying to explain to the dispatcher what was happening over the screams of these two irate women.

"My girlfriend and her daughter just jumped on me..."

Whatever discarded items lay in the alley were thrown with force fueled by adrenaline, smashing into my neighbor's garage doors and fences. I remember wondering if anyone else was witnessing this. Probably not. Too afraid to get involved, let alone step outside into the dark madness to get a better listen.

The woman doing the most screaming was who I assumed to be the girlfriend. It was only when I heard her state she was on probation and how defiant she was about not going back to jail that I deduced this to a domestic dispute indefinitely. I couldn't decipher from the screams what the reason was behind all of this. Did she catch him cheating? Did he sexually assault her daughter? I knew nothing other than the fact that she needed help (even though she seemed to be the aggressor in this) and demanded that he leave her house now.

"I can't believe no one else is hearing this," my mom said in disbelief. I just shook my head, both at the unfortunate situation and at the fact that the neighborhood watch, usually so quick to report something, had failed to report to duty. My mom (who isn't apart of the watch team) inhaled deeply as she turned on her heels. "Welp. I did my part," she said as she disappeared back inside the house.

I never did hear police sirens. When I got tired of listening, I stepped back inside and locked the door. Now that I think about it, I don't recall even hearing them argue past that point. It's as if the whole thing never happened. This is not the first time I have witnessed a domestic dispute. Actually, from what I heard, this was a fairly mild one.

I'm still in shock as I type by the lackadaisical attitude of the police department. It feels like they knew what type of foolery they would encounter once they got here and just decided not to even show. It is unfortunate that because of the neighborhood we live in, we can't even get the respect of a police visit in an obviously dangerous situation.
photo credit: beyondblackandwhite.com
This type of stuff wouldn't go on in Tinley Park.