Thursday, June 30, 2011

Read Between the Lines

So I posted this article I found on facebook but also wanted to do some commenting here. In summary, a mother sends her soon to be daughter in law a rude email about her etiquette and the daughter in law, in shock, forwards it to her friends who, in turn, forward it all. Now the world has seen this email and call the mother in law "momzilla". But, playing the devil's advocate, I'm not so sure I'm totally angry with this woman. First, here is an excert from the email:
from: Carolyn Bourne
to: heidi withers
subject: your lack of manners

Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat - unless you are positively allergic to something.

You do not remark that you do not have enough food.

You do not start before everyone else.

You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early - you fall in line with house norms.

You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.

You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why. No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.

I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages.)

If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.

One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie.

Now, granted some of this stuff was way harsh and she could have told the woman in person instead of via email but as I read some of the points I'm begining to wonder if the mother in law was really mad about everything up here. Would she have let the daughter in law's late rising in the morning slide if she hadn't demanded a wedding in a castle out of everyone's, including her own family's budget? Would the mother in law not care so much that the daughter in law got seconds without being offered if the daughter hadn't bad mouthed her in public?

Looks like some gray lines here and I'm not so inclined to believe this mother in law is a woman from hell. Seems like her new daughter in law might also be a rude one. Really, I pity the groom.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Romance is Dead ...and It's Our Fault

I remember coming across this Dear Abby question and saved it for later to discuss because the situation the writer presented and Abby's response really struck me. In quick summary (see the full letter and response here), the writer is from another country and is having a hard time dating. The gestures he makes towards the women he dates are seen as too much and they break things off with him. By gestures I'm talking sending flowers to their jobs, buying a book in an area they mention being interested in and telling them he was in love with them after four months of dating. Dear Abby said he needs to slow things down.
Now this kind of bothered me because I find everything he did to be quite appealing in moderation and the only circumstance it wouldn't be is if I wasn't into him. But Abby didn't suggest that, instead she thought he was moving to fast. This just seems odd to me. Moving too fast is getting me a ring after a month of dating or confessing your love after our first date. If a man takes the time to think of things that I would love based on my interest then I'm for it. And I'm still waiting for a guy to send flowers to my job, I don't think it's unprofessional. But is that just me? Or was this guy just going after the wrong girls?

If we think that romance or chivalry is dead, how much do we, women, have a role in that? If you demand a certain treatment, the hope is that you'll get it. But if you don't appriciate something eventually people will stop doing it- kind of like supply and demand.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Make it Last Forever

Had to repost this because the system lost the original post and didn't save, grrr.

I’m a make up gal through and through and the one product I have been searching for forever is long lasting lipstick. Many brands claim to have them but they always wear off as soon as you take a sip of a drink or make your lips dry and peely (I had one unfortunate experience where I was out with a group of friends and then went to the bathroom to try to exfoliate my lips which were covered in spotty pieces of lipstick that was allegedly long wearing, this was a long process and no one believed me when I told them and instead believed I was doing a number two! Grrr). So as you can see I am seriously searching for a solution because I hate reapplying lipstick. But, alas, I have found some brands that I find suitable, although none have lasted the 8-24 hours they claim, these brands do last a very long time and still leave a lip stain color. It’s really all in how you apply it.

1) Maybelline 24 Hour Super Stay- This is my favorite. It doesn’t last 24 hours but color in some degree will remain on your lips. Here’s the key, put on the color side first and then wait until it dries then put on the balm side. You can reapply the balm side as much as you want which helps keep the color strong and keep lips moisturized. But even if you don’t lips aren’t crackly dry and you still keep some color.

2) Clinique Longwear- simple long wearing lipstick, looks more like a stain by the end of the day

3) Loreal Infallible- same as Clinique but cheaper. The colors are creamy and not drying or peeling and last most of the day to some degree.

4) MAC Pro Longwear- same as Maybelline but comes in more "glammy colors"


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I am not Wonder Woman

And she is the only person who needs to be in an invisible plane.

This plane is supposed to be out in the year 2050. Now I'm not a proponent of drug use but that's pretty
much what I'd  be on if you find me riding this thing 40 years from now.

If you want to get back at someone afraid to fly take them on this.

I could maybe be talked into a quick 1.5 hour flight but if you are talking overseas forget it. I don't like to think I'm on a plane as it is, there's no escaping it on this thing.

Let's file this under things to do when you're high, blackmailed, bribed, kidnapped, or near death.

White Teeth- My review

I am an avid reader so sometimes I'll post a book review from time to time. Here's one I posted on Goodreads that I'd like to share.

White TeethWhite Teeth by Zadie Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finally finished reading this. It was tough for me. Smith is a good wordsmith and I believe she created some original and most importantly real characters (not everyone is gorgeous or thin and the drama they encounter is not foriegn to the average person). Perhaps this is what actually was a turnoff to me. I just found the characters so boringly real. And this is a personal thing, afterall I love scifi, fantasy and chick lit so I like to get away from how the real world goes. After all, why read about it when you can live it?

I suppose I'd have appriciated this novel more when I was in college and reading heavily writers from around the globe, especially in my classes dealing race relations. However, although this novel would fall into a culture/race type realm, it doesn't present itself like that on purpose, which I liked.

I think for me, it just was a bit longer than it needed to be. There were some pages that were so randomly unnecessary. Dialouge and background information that I just didn't see as helping the movement of the novel and I found myself skimming over it.

I like to be swept away from a novel and I just found myself counting down the pages until I was done.

I felt bad because this book has won so many awards and therefore, I should love it too but this just didn't do it for me and I can't fake it.

Update: upon reading over reader reviews I am glad to know I'm not alone. I would like to see the movie version though, just out of curiousity. Netflix!

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I Want to Be a Billionaire

So freakin bad! I just had to put my car in the shop for a minor finder bender. This is the second time my car has gone to the auto repair this year. My driving skills, particularly parking, are less than desirable (no worries folks, you are safe on the road with me but if you park your car be afraid, be very afraid). And it’s not just me, other people gravitate towards doing damage to my car. I’ve had my windows smashed two or three times. I’ve had my driver’s side mirror destroyed. I’ve been rear ended. I’ve had branches scrape up my car and let’s not get into what I did to it trying to remove snow (lesson learned: do not use a shovel!).

So all that got me to thinking, I need to be rich so I can hire a driver because I’m pretty much over the whole experience.

This in turn got me to also thinking, hmm, what else would I do if I was rich? Here are some thoughts:

· Pay off every piece of debt I have. I’m talking to you law degree. I refuse to have gray in my hair by the time I’m done paying you off!

· Hire a chef. I cook because I have to but could take a pass on it altogether and since I should be eating healthy a good chef could make those veggies taste good.

· A personal trainer. I should add in also the time to see this trainer. When I have kids one day, I want my body to bounce back like Halle Berry’s so I need someone to help me out and the time to do those two hour workouts every day.

· Start a charter school. Particularly I want middle class kids to have access to a good education. The middle class is the forgotten group. They make too much to qualify for the charter schools for the underprivileged but too little to afford the education costs of good private schools.

· Travel to every continent (except Antarctica) in style. I want to do safaris, shop in high end places, stay at luxury hotels and fly first class!

· Keep regular high end salon and spa appointments- because the rich should look fabulous!

· Give to every charity that tugs at my heart, even those darn ones with the sad looking dogs in their commercials.

· Produce and write quality programming/movies that stars people of color in a positive light.

What would you do?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Misadventures in Italy: The Final Chapter

Day Six: Chonk Chong

Was a busy day, we went to the picturesque and medieval San Gimignano in the Tuscan countryside. If you go, check out the gelato and the Museum of Torture (wicked). We then headed over to a Tuscan winery for a tour and wine and olive oil tasting. Not the best but still an experience. We went out again our last night but didn’t have as much fun. We are the dancing type of girls, not the sit and be seen kind. I want to sip a drink and do a two step or engage in conversation preferably with the opposite sex. We were out on a Wednesday but the places we hit up (Lockness Lounge, Moyo) were all packed. I did encounter the cutie from the previous night but he didn’t stick around too long with me (maybe he was a bit peeved I didn’t call him like he asked?).
Day Seven: Chonk (getting tired)

Was the longest day ever. We were on and off the coach all day. In Italy bus drivers can only drive for 2 ½ hours and then they must get a mandatory break. We hit Pisa and tried to take some creative shots in front of the tower but failed miserably (okay it was hot and we were tired). Then we went to Verona where the real Romeo and Juliet inspiration supposedly came to Shakespeare. Whatever, I could have taken a pass. By the time we got to Venice it was 10 at night. And wouldn’t you know Contiki had the nerve to put us in the suburbs of Venice with no access to nightlife. You had to take a pilgrimage to get to the main islands like San Marco. I mean seriously, I could get to D.C. from Baltimore (assuming no traffic) in less time. Where’s the fun in that? The hotels were a bit better, although no TV stations were in English. You just don’t do young people like that.

Day Eight: Chonk

We traveled to San Marco island in Venice which I loved. We shopped (I bought some Italian leather sandals, so cute! And several Murano glass pieces, what Venice is known for). We also took a gondola ride which was really nice and involved several boats of Asian tourist taking pictures of us. I’d like to believe it was because they thought we were an up and coming girl group but I really suspect it was because they had never seen black people in “real life” and wanted to capture the moment. They were very friendly about it, smiled and waved. We posed for our paparazzi and waved back, what can ya do?

All in all it was a long and tiring day which involved us telling African vendors selling crap to leave us alone. It was incessant. I even saw some of them block the path or grab some tourists by the arm who obviously hadn’t rocked the New York/Baltimore “mean mug” so they wouldn’t bother them. My sister went off on one of them. I was really praying it wasn’t going to be some international black on black crime but he walked away after he dropped the F bomb on her.

Day Nine: Chonk

Back to Rome with the second longest trek ever (and with Contiki kindly NOT booking our extra night like it did ALL the rest of the travelers who had a post stay, we had to book our own hotel and get our own transport to the hotel – i.e. drag our luggage SEVERAL blocks to the taxi stand in which my taxi group paid 10 euros more than others did to get to the same place- seriously think a storm cloud is over my head sometimes). We attempted to grab an early dinner/late lunch but apparently the Italians do not believe in the senior citizen meal time because none of them served dinner until around 630/7pm. So we passed time by going window shopping around Via del Corso. We had our last meal at a lovely outdoor lounge. I still remember that meal *thoughts trailing off*

Okay so we couldn’t leave Rome without trying the night life. But only three of the six had the energy to get out so we got dolled up and hit the town. We caught a cab to a place called La Masion which we heard was good. First thing we noticed, it was down an alley off of another (yet busier) alley. Now most of the cities in Italy seem to have alleys with lots of shops and they will stick a shop in any space they can find (we saw one store literally the size of a bathroom stall) so that didn’t deter us. What did was the swastika spray painted on a wall of the alley. Another sign you aren’t in the U.S. If someone spray painted a sign of hate near your establishment you’d rush to get it off but in a city where diversity isn’t as prevalent and you were actually allied with Nazi Germany, well maybe that just isn’t number one on your mind.

So the place did not look busy and we decided it’d be best to move on. We had drinks at a cute bar called Anima and then headed over to another equally as cute spot called Fluid. We met some more cute Italians and engaged in meaningless conversation the rest of the night. They wanted to take us dancing afterwards but alas, we only had enough euros for a cab ride home. No problem, they said they could drive us. Again, not trying to end up on the strobe doped up on heroine so we declined and parted ways. Still had fun.

But the fun was over. On day ten we flew back to BWI airport. The flight was ridiculously long and to top it off my luggage decided it did not want to come back with me and it was another 12 hours after landing before I saw it again- again US Airways, you suck as per usual.

But I made it back to tell the tale and I hope it inspires you to check out that fabulous place called Italy…just go with another airline… and another tour group.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Misadventures in Italy Part Three

Days Three and Four: Clonk Clong

Note to all considering taking a tour group: Sleep will be little. Each day began with me waking up around 630am in order to make the tour/bus for the day’s activity. Having to drag a huge suitcase several blocks to a tour bus every other day, not so much fun. I had to take a vacation from my vacation!

So we went to see the Roman Colosseum which was cool but we decided at this point not to roll with Contiki anymore unless we had to so we left the tour group after that and then shopped at the Porta Portese flea market. Now if you are a shopper like me then this is a must to hit up. Great place to buy purses, scarves, jewelry, shoes and clothes. Remember to bargain! I am still angry that I bought a purse for 18 euros then walked a little further and found a similar purse for 7 euros. Lesson learned: good things come to those who wait!

That evening we went for pizza (yes again, don’t judge) courtesy of the Contiki package and I got serenaded by the wonderful Italian singer working there (Okay, I’m not special, some of my friends were serenaded too).

The next day we hit the Vatican City, it was just okay for me. I’m not Catholic or a history buff and after a two and a half hour tour, seeing the Sistine Chapel just didn’t hit me as profound. I just wanted to sit down somewhere.

We then traveled on to Florence where we were met with the same less than pleasant accommodations, however at least we didn’t have to hold the shower nozzle! We went for dinner where I had spaghetti with marinara sauce (not a red meat eater) which was still rather tasty. Then we went for karaoke which I love to do in DC so of course I had to try it out in another country at the Red Garter. Had a great time! Then we hit up a bar and some girls in the Contiki group wanted to go dancing so the tour guide took us to a club he heard would be good. My friends took a look around at the crowd and said, no thanks. Looked a little Jersey Shoreish (who incidentally were also filming while we were there). And no we did not see the Jersey Shore cast although some in our tour group did party with them (I’m not hatin though, okay I was bummed. Instead of taking us to a cool bar like he did these other tour group members, our guide sent us to a seedy club!)

Day Five: Chonk Chong (yes I will keep doing this)

We bought ourselves some real Italian leather. I got a nice tan purse which was stained by the blue US Airways blanket I sat it on. Did I tell you how I hate US Airways? I’m still trying to get those stains out but it’s a losing battle. Sigh.

We meant to do some real sightseeing (we did see some buildings) but the famous art galleries were booked. Booked! Who heard of that? Oh well, just a good reason to hit up Florence again (although, side note, you’d think Contiki would have booked one of the galleries for us like they did the Vatican Museum…). Oh and by the way, I guess someone spoke to the guide because this time he did wait for folks and no one got left behind after the first day.

So we did more shopping in the markets, and departments (like Coin and OVS industry) and checked out Ponte Vecchio (great place to by gold), then we were off to a dressy Tuscan dinner. I had the cutest one shoulder strapped dress and got called Shakira by a guy on the street. See profile picture, granted I straightened my hair and got blondish highlights but I look nothing like her (although she’s cute). Did folks just draw a blank on cute brown skinned women?

Anywho, after dinner we kept the party going and headed to a spot called Zoe where we encountered a group of Italian cuties who we engaged in delightful conversation with the rest of the night. Now this is what I came for, haha! One of the cuties gave me his card and wanted to meet up again the next night but I didn’t call him. I didn’t see the point, not a long distance kind of girl and like the Kelly Clarkson song, I Do Not Hook Up.

On a different note, with six women, I suggested we use the buddy method so no one ends up alone. That didn’t always work. My sister who was supposed to be my buddy kindly (kindly because she did say “excuse me”) shoved me out of the way at the end of the night to get into the first taxi that came for us. Did she get out when she found that I could not get in the first taxi? No, she went on her way! Grumble Grumble.

Luckily one of the cuties was a cab driver and drove me and the other two ladies left behind (for free) to our hotel in his taxi. It was a licensed cab and he had his taxi license information. Seriously I cannot afford to get Got, my father, unlike Liam Neeson’s character in Taken, does not have a special set of skills to get me back!

Next up, the conclusion of my trip.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Misadventures in Italy Part Two

Day Two: Chonk Chong (as you will recall that is my Law and Order sound)

I make it in Rome in one piece and without further aggravation. This was actually the first time I was not pulled to the side and given extra questioning or pat downs due to my traveling while being black. Don’t be surprised folks, before 9/11 black women were the number one group to be profiled in airports (because apparently we don’t travel for pleasure or business but to be drug mules for our boyfriends).

So we stayed at a 2 star hotel (American translation means 1 star hotel). Yes, I understand in other countries with more history a lot of the hotels in the city areas are really old and therefore lose space when they try to update their facilities with things like bathrooms and more than one full sized bed in a room but it was still a bit of a shock and a learning lesson. We also had to turn in the key (not card) with a key chain the weight of a boulder to the front desk every time we left the building. Type A Cosmo girl will do no less than a 3, and preferably 4, star hotel for the future. Having to hold the shower nozzle was a bit of a challenge and made me yearn for the days of college dorm bathrooms. And three women to a hotel room is not desirable. Gotta like the gals you’re with and don’t mind getting flashed a few times!

Anywho, friends and I walked a bit of the Roman streets and were greeted with confidence boosting catcalls. My favorite was a guy who called out the window to us “Spettacolare!” (aka Spectacular) (four black women, take that Psych Today!). Our hotel was in the more diverse area because I passed by two! Black hair salons and a black beauty shop.

Now quick backdrop on my limited knowledge of race relations in Italy. It’s not yet a melting pot but it’s getting there, whether folks are happy with it or not. I encountered loads of Africans and Asians (mostly Chinese and Indian/Middle Eastern). Many aren’t too happy with the Africans there due to the constant and pushy nature of vendors selling goods on the street. Get this: it’s not illegal to sell knockoffs on the street but it is illegal (huge fine) to buy them. Translation: we just want to fine the unknowledgeable tourist so we can get some money for our government. Anywho, the diversity was a welcomed surprise yet Italians could tell the difference between the local African Immigrants and tourists of the African diaspora.

Oddly, but often enough, whenever I travel overseas locals never assume I am African American. I (and my friends) have been considered everything from Puerto Rican, Panamanian, Canadian, British and African but never American. Even the cleaning lady for our hotel in Florence who was African herself thought my friend and I were Brazilian. What’s the deal? Who spread the false rumor that Black American women don’t travel? I’ll just put the blame on BET.

Okay, so next we did our TWO hour orientation/check in with Contiki (so unnecessary as we did the check ins on line and if they gave out itineraries, like professionals, things would be so much more smooth and time efficient). Our first stop with Contiki (who I will never recommend even to my worse enemy, well perhaps them, but just them) was a walking tour of some of Italy to see the Pantheon, Trevei Fountain, Spanish Steps. Sure wish I got to see them cause I got left behind. The tour guide did not explain that following him would be like an episode of the Amazing Race. By the end of the tour only 10 people (out of 55) were still with him. Note to Contiki, you have failed if you lose over 75% of your tour group!

But my loyal sister stayed behind with me and we had a fabulous time on our own. I began my two pound weight gain with pizza (the yummy memories still haunt me), pistachio gelato and wine of course. Always wine…(up next, shopping and Florence and boys, oh my)