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

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.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 16: Enjoy the Journey

photo credit: smashingmagazine.com

Reflecting on this last week, I'll say that overall, it was good. Between the two social networks I'm addicted to, the different blogs, magazine sites, and books I read, I have come across some very life-confirming quotes. The words of these strangers jump out at me, oddly connecting with my current situation and I cannot help but to be amazed as I dissect and digest the message. Scrolling through my Twitter timeline today, I saw this:
"Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle."
 As I let the eight words by Jon Acuff marinate for a while, I realized that that was exactly what I was doing right now. Since I returned home after graduating with a B.A. in English, I've been straddling the fence of sanity and depression when it comes to my life career-wise. I have friends who seem to be advancing in ways that I am not. I feel stagnant all the time despite my job and the little life I do have.

Initially, I thought I just needed a change of scenery; something that would force me to action so I applied to graduate school in New York. Though it seems I made this decision on a whim, I had a plan and was serious about advancing my education. But because things happen in their own time and not when we want them to, I was denied the chance to start living out my dream. At first, I took it very hard because I saw me leaving as my only way out. Everything had been planned out and to have the air knocked from under me when I was already riding high hurt. It didn't help that my best friend had just been accepted into her dream school in Texas and a few other people I knew were living the life I was supposed to be living in New York.

Why am I still here? 
This isn't fair? 
I'm supposed to be there.

 All of this is going through my head each time I see an update on Twitter or scroll past a picture on Instagram. Even with the journalists/writers that have made it in the business, I find myself secretly wanting what they have. I totally respect and understand the hard work they put into this dream as well as everything it cost them to reach the level they're at but I cannot help but want to be in the position they're in. I'm at a point in my life where I need a challenge. I need something else to do and in this capacity I'm in now, I can't. This space is suffocating me.

Before I can fully embrace this life I want, there are things within me that need to change. Things that need to happen. I understand now why God put a hold on my acceptance into grad school. Simply put, I wasn't ready. He's showing things to me now, helping me to realize why I'm going through what I am. There is a much bigger picture than what is set before my eyes and I'm learning to enjoy the journey on the road to my destiny because that is what makes for an amazing story once I'm there.

I will continue to chase my dream and keep these words close by:
"Write your truth. Don't write for the hits, the money, or the accolades. Buckle down, do the hard work, say what needs to be said, not what's popular, and do it consistently. If you build it, they will come." ~Demetria Lucas, interview on The K. Andy Show
I'm just afraid that I'll somehow run out of time...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 15: Are You Comfortable With Yourself?

Interestingly random conversations are the best. When those conversations are actual words said instead of words typed? Even better. Today, I was blessed with this rare treat which turned into a three hour long conversation and I loved all 180 minutes of it.

Between discussing trips to Moscow and battling heavy bouts of depression, we landed on the topic of being comfortable in one's own skin. I listened as the person on the other end of my phone confessed to having to learn how to be alone.

"I always had to be around people. I didn't know what to do with my hands or myself, for that matter," they said. Me being the way I am, could relate to the struggle. Never been one for the spotlight but I do enjoy the company of good people. It took me a while to be okay with being by myself--that was until I realized I could possibly enjoy it a lot more than mixed company.

We both agreed that there was no feeling greater than one's solitude. All I need is my iPod, a book, pen and a pad (or my laptop) and you can leave me to my literary devices for hours. They were the same way.

"When you're alone, you are your true self. It's when you're around others that you begin acting differently." I pondered the claim for a second and slowly nodded my head in partial agreement. I know how I am when I'm around my best friend (a complete and utter fool. She says I hold the #2 spot on her list of Top 5 Funniest People in her life). When I'm in mixed company where there are a people I don't know, I do the shy thing. When I'm at home, alone, it's just me, my iPod and my laptop. I spend hours in silence, thinking, reading or writing and I'm okay with that. 

So what does that mean in terms of me showing my true self? I concluded that I am not just that shy, cerebral being but rather a mixture of all three with a few more quirky nuances interspersed throughout. I don't try to make my best friend want to throw her iPhone out the window as a result of my antics; it just happens that way. I admit, some of the stuff that just flies out of my mouth is quite hilarious. 

picture credit: madamenoire.com
Therefore, I don't see it as acting differently as my phone buddy put it rather than being able to adapt to different instances. There are things about my personality that I would like to see change, one being my sometimes shy demeanor and I know that comes from a lack of self-confidence. I'm working on it. For the most part, I like the person I am when I'm around people. I've always had a mellow disposition and playing it cool fits me.

How do you feel people's actions, or even your own, while around other people as opposed to your own company?

Day 14: Are You Afraid of the Police?

A few days ago, I came across an article in this month's Ebony magazine where writer, Kevin Chappell, discussed NYC's stop-and-frisk policy and how more people feel violated by the officers rather than protected, as their slogan promotes.

"It's called a 'street interrogation' or 'stop-and-frisk'," explains Chappell in the opening sentence. "And some say the New York Police Department's practice of searching people who are walking on public streets--sometimes at gunpoint--has gotten out of control." I've read stories, some of which have been fictional, about minorities being harassed by their city's finest. A plethora of instances where African-Americans have been pulled over simply because of their skin color and I remember thinking, police officers are really doing this??

A few days before, I read a similar blog post, or it could have been a published article, by Demetria Lucas. She shared her story of the many times she was pulled over in the DC/MD/VA area because of her complexion . Like me, she assumed that because she was a woman, she would never experience such foolishness, despite her father's warnings. Six different times, she had run-ins with the police, three of which she admits were her fault (speeding tickets). The others were bona fide BS.

Chappell goes on in his article to inform us that something as trivial as one walking down the street is enough to catch an officer's attention, especially if there is a "suspicious bulge" in the pedestrian's pocket or they seem "suspicious" altogether. At that point, the pedestrian turned victim is now subject to anything "from a simple pat down or handcuffing to officers pointing a gun or administering pepper spray". All this without even finding a weapon on the victim.

I continued to read the article in amazement almost as I couldn't believe that stuff like this actually happened. Like I said before, I was used to seeing this type of stuff play out in television shows. At that moment, it dawned on me that I shared this same apprehension when dealing with police. Growing up, I would always straighten up whenever a cop car was near. There are times when I have to catch myself now as an adult from doing it. Especially, when I know I'm adhering to the rules.

I pray that I never have to endure that type of discrimination and I hurt for ones that already have. Police officers are hired to protect and serve. Hell, it's painted on the side of their cars but to know that there are some who abuse that power is disheartening. Don't get me wrong because with all that this world has become, I know that precaution must be taken but in Chappell's article, he points out the target minority group who are the victims of these random stops.

"Last year, the NYPD conducted 685, 724 street stops. Of that number, 350, 743 (54 percent) involved Black people being stopped," he states.

He even provided statistics from 2011 study that showed Black and Latino males between the ages of 14-24 make up 4.7 percent of the city's (NYC) population; however, they make up 41.6 percent of stop-and-frisks.

To say that it is sad for us to have to still deal with racism and discrimination in 2012 is an understatement. In my opinion, we will forever be viewed as inadequate in the eyes of the majority and the fact that it is based on skin color is even more sad. I would love to see a change but I'm afraid we have reached the point of no return.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 13: Halfway There

Not even at the halfway mark and I'm starting to feel like I'm burning out. This 30 day writing challenge is starting to become just that. In the beginning, it was all exciting because I felt this would be good for me as a writer and in many ways, it has. Each day, I racked my brain, anticipating what my next blog would be about. Then life got in the way. Split shifts at work prevented me from posting on time but I didn't let that stop me. I would sacrifice at least a few hours of sleep in order to have something up as soon as possible.

Thirteen days have passed and I have reached my sticking point. Don't take this to mean that I'll be giving up because I won't. I honestly like the challenge it has become for me because it is forcing me to venture out of the norm. In the past, I have always been scared to try something for fear of failing or being inadequate but as I sat on my couch August 1, 2012, I asked myself what did I have to lose. Just in these past two weeks, I've learned a totally different side to discipline.  I'm on deadline every single night and I really feel bad when I'm unable to post on time.

Choosing journalism as a career was a decision I made a few years ago while still in undergrad and since then, I have learned that this life is not always as glamorous as it appears to be. There will be many late nights and early mornings for me but because I enjoy this, I don't mind. While I was at work today, I kept thinking about how excited I was to come home and finish the story I started. I wake up in the morning and come straight to my makeshift office which doubles as my grandparents kitchen and sit until my eyes can't take it anymore. I can't even remember the last time I've watched television for real.

I appreciate those of you have been encouraging me throughout this challenge, offering up topics for me to write about as well as the few who make sure I've gotten something down before the night is over. Your continued love and support is greatly appreciated.

I've been contemplating whether or not I will stop posting on a daily basis after the challenge is over and for now, it's a no. Maybe I'll find a twist I can add to it because right now, the way we post are completely up to the writer. May have to pull out some old textbooks to get some ideas.

I'm thankful to Aliya King for presenting us with this challenge and I'm glad I was lurking scrolling through her timeline that night to even catch wind of it. I am eager to see how I will grow during this exercise and even after. These are the reasons I love Twitter because it connects millions of people in a way we would have never been able to connect before.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 12: Growing Pains

Sometimes, I can let people's personalities intimidate me. I'm not sure where this came from but for as long as I've known myself, this has always been my personality. This, in turn, has caused me to retreat in other aspects of my life as well. Only recently have I learned that I cannot continue on in that way, especially with the career I'm working my way into.

Dealing with people is inevitable and one has to learn to adapt to different personalities. My mother tells me this a lot and I wish I was able to do it as well as she does. Nothing seems to offend her or knock her off her square and if it does, you'll never know it. Me, I wear my emotions on my sleeve and I hate it. If my feelings are hurt, the offender will know, and not because I cursed them out about it.

Blame astrology for placing me in the Emo Only section of the zodiac but this is definitely who I am. Oftentimes, I sit and observe others who share the Cancerian water sign and there are a few who aren't as soft spoken and reserved as me. Only then am I led to believe that I developed a bit of a complex growing up. Something happened when I was young that still has me adhering to that old rule of "be seen and not heard". Somewhere along the lines, my true self was lost and now I'm this 24-year-old who is afraid speak in front of a room full of her peers.

I see the me I am supposed to be in so many other people and secretly, I hate them. No, that's not true. I resent myself for not standing up for myself. No longer do I want to be afraid to lead a crowd. My opinion does matter and deserves to be heard, like everyone else. It is time for me to let go of being afraid to approach people as well as open up more in conversation.

Simply, it is time that I grew up.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 11: Five Years Strong

* me singing* Dooo you know what tooday isss?? It's my loc-a-versary. Loc-a-versary...

Five years have passed since I made the final decision to loc my hair. Summer was ending and I was off to start my junior year at Grambling State University the following morning. Patiently, I sat while my mom double-strand twisted my thick, kinky coils, blonde highlights intertwining with the otherwise jet black strands. I was excited.

before the transition
There is no deep back story as to why I chose this permanent hairstyle. And although I'm pro-black in most aspects, my decision was not dependent on such. Plain and simple, I love the look. From the varying styles women rock daily to the automatic sex appeal booster it gives to men who take pride in their hair, I wanted to be in the number.

When I initially voiced my interest in this style, my mother was married. My then stepfather simply stated that I could not get them. If I could re-enact the many ways my face scrunched up, I swear I'd snap a pic and post it here. I'm more than positive it said something along the lines of "What the f*ck?!" Like, who was he to tell ME what to do with MY hair, of which HE didn't have to comb? Had I not been apprehensive about starting the process then (I was a freshman or sophomore in high school at the time), I would have done it out of pure rebellion.

My decision to loc my hair was one I made on my own. *Confession time* There are some cases where I have allowed others to think for me or sway my decision. With this, I took the time, weighing the pros and cons. I made an informed decision and followed through. Often times, I'm asked what I am going to do when I grow tired of this look. Will I cut my hair off? Honestly, I didn't think that far. At the time, all I knew was that I wanted the look and that it was conducive to my athletic lifestyle.
recently became a redhead (shout out to Ledisi for the inspiration)

If one day I wake up and I no longer want to deal with this, maybe I'll shave 'em. Maybe I won't. For now, I'll enjoy them.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Day 10: Blessing in Disguise

Things are being revealed to me with each new day. Over the past year and half, my faith has been tested in ways that I could not imagine, patience tried and relationships on the verge of being ruined forever. If it wasn't for the undying faith of my mother, I'm not sure how far my emotions would have taken me. Through her, I've learned to take things in stride, all the while remaining prayerful that God will pull us out victoriously. When she starts stressing is when I'll know the situation just got real.

I witness greatness tonight and in that, I've found somewhat of a silver lining in my situation. My 13-year-old brother and his school's choir hosted their first concert tonight. I called off from work just so I could support him and his choir. The fact that these babies can SANG didn't hurt either. Anyone who has met my baby brother knows that he is a certified character. Where I shy away from the spotlight he runs to it, wanting to have his hand in everything. Since he was a toddler, singing and performing have proven to be his first love. Tonight was the start of his career as a singer and I couldn't be more proud of him.

Having been removed from the traditional Baptist church for over 10 years, I forgot how amazing the choir can be not to mention the theatrics of it all. I honestly had an amazing time watching the entire audience praise the Lord with the choir. I watched as people were touched by the Spirit, causing them to shout in joy. It's one thing to see an adult catch the Holy Ghost but to see a young child is something else. It brought a smile to my face watching them praise with no inhibitions.

Their choir director, a product of the legendary Walt Whitman and the Soul Children, held no punches for his "babies". All their hard work throughout the summer paid off tonight. Mr. Whitman himself even blessed us with his presence but it was when he took the stage to direct the Oakdale Christian Academy choir. If you are unfamiliar with Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, please stop now and direct your attention to Google and Youtube. Only then will you be able to understand the magnitude of the blessing those kids received.

I promise there is a point in all of this. Bear with me.

Two years ago, me, my mom and little brother had to relocate, putting us in a place we didn't really want to be in. Grateful, yes but it'd be a lie if we didn't admit to wanting to get out ASAP. During this time, I've noticed a change within myself that I don't like. My patience is completely shot, irritated by the smallest of things. I try to spend more time out of the house than in. My mom constantly tells me that there's a reason for all of this, we just have to trust God. He has a plan and our job is to just walk on through without complaining lest we miss our blessing.

There is a reason we're still in this space, despite many efforts to get out. There is a reason God had my mother enroll my brother into that private Christian school on the south side, instead of keeping him in these suburban school districts.

Everything we go through is for a reason but, most of the time, we're all so focused on "Why me?" that we don't even realize what God is working on. He is working endlessly to set us up for greatness and all we have to do is acknowledge him. My brother has no idea what just happened to him tonight and it's o.k. because in time, he will. His testimony was confirmation for me though and my mom helped me realize that. In terms of my living situation as well as intended career goals, I have to be patient and learn to wait on God to move. In all the time it's taking for us to find a new place, God is preparing us. He's continuing to bring people in my path that I can connect with to help get me where I need to go.

I didn't understand at first and I was completely against moving into my grandparents' house temporarily but it was all apart of the plan. Things are happening, some of which are on the brink of manifestation and I cannot wait.

Day 9: A Lost Art

Recently, I compared Frank Ocean's songwriting ability to that of the writing genius of Toni Morrison. Wait. Hear me out before you stop reading all together. My homeboy asked me a couple days ago if I could decipher Ocean's lyrics to have them make sense. His question verbatim was:

"On his new cd, do you get what he's talking about in most of his songs? It was pointed out to me that most of them are randomness."

I replied, telling him that I could see how it could be construed as such and agreed that I really have to tune the world out when I listen to his music. The way he approaches a song is definitely unconventional, a total 180 from what we're used to in our juvenile age of music. Despite his complexities, there is still a considerable amount of people who love and appreciate Frank Ocean as an artist.

Me: "I look at his music as an abstract piece of art; everyone won't get the same thing from the same body of work. I like that his style is complicated because it differs from the overly simplistic style we're bombarded with daily."

"Is it really complicated or is it just a bunch of stuff mixed into one?"

"It's just like reading a Morrison novel, in my opinion. Each sentence in her many incomparable works is so loaded with information. You're given a history lesson that is so descriptive to the point where you're lost by the time you reach the end of the page. Now you have to go back to the top and re-read just to keep up with the story line. She does this consistently and she's heralded as a literary great!"

I went on to say that because Ocean has more than one dimension when it comes to song writing, it makes his work complicated to the average ear (one's not accustomed to reading between the lines). "But, this is just my opinion," I offered. "You could be right. He could have been trippin' off the purest of coke while writing these sh*ts."

Me and my friend have these musical debates often and though I'm not an expert on the subject, it does help me in terms of forming my own opinion and learning how to put my jumbled thoughts into coherent words. My question though, is have we reached a point in music where everything must be watered down and straight to the point? Have we done away the art of critical thinking and exercising creative methods of communication?

I do not intend to bash artists who have a simplistic flow (2 Chainz, for example) because their music serves a purpose. Plus, I'm not here to knock their hustle. But in those artists' glorification, are the deep thinkers in the business to be lost in the grand scheme of things? It makes you wonder what people want from music these days

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 8: Black Brotha

Years have passed since I wrote my last poem. It was going to be my audition piece for Lyrical Quest, a group of poets and other like-minded, artistically inclined souls that graced the campus of Grambling State University down in Louisiana. I never got the chance to perform that piece and over time, poetry became my distant lover. Yes, my heart would still skip a beat whenever I heard it's familiar tone but as far as my own pen was concerned...let's just say, the thrill was gone.

The closest I've been to an open mic night was probably during my time at GSU but tonight, that changed. A fellow #GramFam member by the name of Harold Green III, hosts a weekly set on the south side of Chicago called Soul Speak, where artistic souls hold one big jam session, with a lil poetry sprinkled in the mix for good measure. Every Wednesday night at 8:30, J Bistro turns into something out of love jones as people pack into the intimate space until it is standing room only, anticipating a good time.

Harold and his co-host (I feel terrible that I can't remember his name) had me cracking up the entire night. The chemistry those two share is amazing. *sidenote: just realized that I didn't hear Harold spit tonight--yea, he does that too* Although the spoken word I heard from everyone who blessed the stage was amazing (shout out Brandon "Real T@alk The Poet" Williams and Erthe St. James [#GramFam]), that wasn't the best part to me.

There was a brief section where Harold discussed the importance of us playing a role in our children's lives. He is a father himself and I listened intently as he shared with the audience about how his own father is writing a memoir for his grandson (Harold's son) to help him understand why his "Da" (what little Harold calls HG3) is so amazing. Harold gave us a quick background, telling us that his son always talks about how he wants to be strong and cool like his "Da". Almost immediately, you could see the emotion trying to escape as he told us this story. He was seemingly overwhelmed to know that his own father thought he was such an amazing man on so many levels.

Watching him stand up there, beaming about his family, made me think about mine. I wish I had the relationship and shared the love that he did with his family. His father wrote him poems as a young child and I'm sure he gave him plenty of books to read as a way to educate his son in more ways than one. The relationship he had with his father and the one that he is cultivating with his son now made me feel some kind of way about the bond I share with my own dad.

This is not me bashing my dad because most of the times I needed him, he came through in one way or the other but it is no secret that my mother raised me. He was supportive throughout my basketball career up until the day I graduated college, paid for every gym shoe and uniform I ever put on but the other stuff is what I needed him for.

...I feel this turning into something totally different, calling for emotions I'm not sure I'm ready for yet. I've got work in a few hours and no time for puffy eyes.

The point I'm trying to make is that I appreciate men like Harold Green III. Men who play an active part in their childrens' lives, especially our young men, hold a dear space in my heart. I am thank for Harold's father who took the time to write those poems to his son. The same man who is penning a book for his grandson (that is so dope to me!). It's funny now that I think about it but as Harold stepped off the stage and closer to where I was sitting at the bar, I just watched him and I thought to myself, If I am ever to have children (because I don't really want them--'nother blog post for another day) I would want to have them with a man like him. And I say that with all due respect to that special woman in his life.

I don't know him personally but from the few times I've been in his presence and having listened to his music/poems for a few years now, I know the brotha has some sense. I wish I could be around to see the type of man his son grows up to be; how smart and knowledgeable he'll be at such an early age.

I want to be that role model in a young child's life; that person that encouraged them to read books instead of discussing reality television. I want to do my part in helping the generation after me, regardless of how small the task. In the words of Demetria Lucas, "How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time."