Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm moving

Thanks so much for all your support but starting today my site is now ! Please check it out!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Traveling While Black: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Brazil

So in the fourth installment of this race and travel mini series I discuss my experiences in warm Spanish speaking cities. I lump them together because my experiences were very similar.
Let's begin with San Juan and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. I've actually been here twice. Great food (and drink), nice weather, definitely a fun destination. But this is about race so I will narrow down my recap to my experiences there as a brown girl. Now Puerto Rican's come in all shades so as a brown girl I didn't stick out. However, like any countries that host the African diaspora, there are issues with color discrimination. My first time going there was during law school for a conference. I was feeling myself so I rented a car to get around. When I drove back to my hotel resort from the car rental place I asked the lady at the gate to direct me where to park. She pointed me to where the employees park. I had to explain to her that I was actually a guest and she looked at me with disbelief. Now again, I won't say that she made an assumption based on my skin tone (and hair, it was in my natural curl) but it was off putting. San Juan area does not host a lot of brown people (most of what I saw were fair skinned like JLO). But that was the only "off" experience I had there. I mean, I went back a few years later. I can't throw any shade on PR, it's a good and welcoming place.  

Then I went to Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Now this is a multi-racial town. Brown of all shades. Mixes of everything (black, white, indian). The people are beautiful. Before I went, I made sure I was in shape. Visions of a bunch of Gisele Bundchens stepping over me like Heidi did Carrie in Sex and the City entered my head. 

But when I got there I blended right in. Color wise and body type. In fact I saw few Giseles! Perhaps they don't reside in Rio! I was stopped several times by people with questions because they thought I was a local. At one point while a friend and I were playing in the water some tourist from Columbia asked to take pictures with us because they thought we were locals. (Okay we were in our twenties so that was flattering). And when some guys from the States met us they were disappointed when they heard us talk and found out we were not locals. Oh, and I found many black hair salons so again, you know that's a mark of acceptance to me!

We came for carnival and I just loved seeing people who looked like me, curls and all in another setting. And the people LOVE them some carnival. The only negative race/color wise was that there was prostitution and a lot of those prostitutes looked like me (brown girls). So there were a few times when I had to signal to the male tourist (usually older white males) that I was not a prostitute (didn't help that my friend and I booked a hotel in the "red light" type district. It was affordable and on Copacabana, what'd we know?) Based on my understanding of the culture, if anything there is more of a history of color discrimination and class issues (the middle class is hard to find).

Finally, a few years ago I went to the Dominican Republic. I once had some friends who are originally from DR mention that when they went back and stayed at a resort chilling by the pool they were treated/spoken to as if they were really the maids and weren't suppose to be there. They are darker toned ladies. I can't recall what part of DR they were in. I went to Cabarete (known for kite surfing) and had no negative experiences with race or color. Many of the people are mid to dark brown and in fact the men often told my friend who is of a light complexion that she needed some sun. I got many declarations of affection while there.  So my description of this town is brief with respect to race. It was just like visiting a Caribbean town.  I felt comfortable. If anything some of the men were too "fresh", to use my old lady term, so I'd say watch out for that and don't wander around alone. But this was my first time that not only my race was of interest in a positive way but my color. Check mark for this place.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick P.S.A. to Men on Online Dating

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've tried the online dating thing...a few times. I've visited many a site and talked to many a friend and after a spirited discussion with some gal pals recently I thought I'd do a post (which I'm sure will have some follow ups) on things I wish men wouldn't do in the realm of online dating.

For this post I will focus on my top three. Some are, admittedly, superficial and I will own up to it.

1) Wearing hats in all your pictures. A couple pics here and there are fine but if all your pics are with hats on (especially baseball caps) then I don't know what I'm getting into.  I once went out with a guy who always wore a baseball cap. He even wore it when we went out to dinner. This was getting ridiculous. Well eventually, I asked him in my Brad Pitt from Seven "What's in the box?" voice.
I just had to know. So he took off the hat...and he looked like George Jefferson. Sigh, it's unfortunate that he had premature balding and I sympathize with that. But holding on to that rim of hair did nothing for him. He wasn't even thirty. Why look like you were ready to move to that "deluxe apartment in the sky?". Just "let it goooo, let it gooo" and sport the bald head. Needless to say, after that,  I always wonder when I see a guy with only pics of him in a hat. (same goes to pics of a guy only wearing sunglasses, no shade to cock eyes, but...well, I don't like surprises)

2) Going ghost. Online dating has made us the laziest people in the world. I just finished reading Pride and Prejudice (and Zombies, I have to take some gore with my silly romance) and it reminded me all the more how we just don't try anymore. Always looking for that "bigger better deal" and not caring how we come across. But one thing I really hate is when you go on a date or two with a guy, chemistry is full on, sweet words/flirts are shared and don't hear from them again. My friend theorized that they must all go to an island. We wonder if it's fun there.

But look-a-here (yeah you know I'm about to make a point when I get southern), don't come back like nothing happened. If you got side tracked because you were dating a bunch of women like you were on The Bachelor and then had to make a decision to narrow it down, I can dig it. On the flip side, we women get our Bachelorette moments. But once you made the decision stick to it. And if you realize that you made the wrong decision and months later want to come back, do it with a little humility. When I get a text or email from a guy I haven't seen or heard from in five months, he gets the side eye. Assuming I even remember the dude (hint, add your name in the text because, crazy thing, I probably haven't waiting by the cell phone for you to call all this time) at least apologize for the disappearance act and come hard with the "courting". A girl likes to feel special!

3)Stalkers.  If you wink or like or favorite me but don't ever write to or respond to my email then I gets uncomfortable. A friend noticed a guy viewing her page almost daily but he never wrote to her. Naturally that creeped her out. I can't tell you how many guys have liked my photo or favorite me but never write. Why? No, honestly, I need to know because in my mind, and many women's minds, you are just viewing our photos over and over again and well...the thought ain't pretty. So if it's really that you are just shy, get pass it, you never know if the woman will like you if you don't bother to write. If you are married and just staring, stop it. And if you are too cheap to purchase a subscription, save up! Morale of the story: Stop creeping us out!

Because the more you know....

Monday, November 10, 2014

Traveling while black: Germany and France

So in part three of my travel and race series I combine Germany and France. I visited these countries during my study abroad in England in the early 2000s. One thing I have noted in my travels is that  some people in other countries are surprised that you, as a person of color, can vacation internationally. This sentiment is changing, however, during that time in Europe I encountered many a person  who could not fathom that I was American.

Now this was after 9/11 and there was a lot of anti-Bush sentiment from all groups so I didn't go shouting it from the roof tops that I was a US citizen. But I swear, people would guess that I was everything but. I got that I was first English, then from a country in Africa (forgot which one), Canadian, Jamaican.
This view is changing slowly but surely now (check out instagram travelnoire for proof) as more and more black people in this country are traveling overseas far and wide. But apparently in the early 2000s this wasn't so? I once again blame the media as I suppose a lot of our television exports of black people were not just Girlfriends and Oprah (I'm looking at you The Wire) so perhaps others simply thought we were too poor to travel? I'd even hear from other black travelers that they'd get mistaken for famous because apparently this is the only way we'd be on travel?

 Let me not get onto my soapbox about the importance of experiencing different cultures if you are lucky enough to be in a position to do this. But, just travel, it'll change your life. Okay so a quick take on Germany and France from the eyes of a person of color.

First Paris, France. I was only here for about 4 days. I did not feel uncomfortable here at all. It's diverse (it attracts a lot of french speaking African people and, therefore, there were places catering to black hair and beauty which is something I'm always kinda sorta checking for when I travel).  This is not surprising as the history of France, although rooted in slavery as well, became more open decades before the U.S. did (it's why Josephine Baker move there, I think, but there were many more black artist who became expats because of the tolerance of the French).  If anything, the main thing I noticed about the French was that they just wanted you to respect their culture and language. They had no problem ignoring you if you asked for directions in English but if you asked for help in some butchered French they were very accommodating and would speak English back to help. I guess it was the effort that counts and we didn't want to be seen as "the ugly American" anyway. Especially not at that time when Americans were such targets. Paris, in the end, is a lovely place and I'd recommend it.

On to Germany. I was here for almost a week in Heidelberg and Frankfurt. I must admit, I was nervous to come here. I mean, with a history of the Holocaust and Neo-Nazis I didn't think a brown girl with the last name Solomon was going to be welcomed. In the airport military/police walked around with rifles which was a first for me so I was even more unnerved. Of course I got "randomly" questioned along with my friend but I wasn't surprised. But, as with many things, time changes attitudes. Of course I've heard current stories of black people facing racism and even assult in Germany. However, for the 4 or 5 days I was there, I felt no racism. I felt stares, lots of them. There are some people of color in Germany but its not a melting pot, at least it wasn't 10 or so years ago. So when a brown girl shows up with natural hair, well I get a couple of looks. But they were looks of interest not distain. I didn't mind the stares since I understood where it was coming from and at least no one asked to touch my hair (this happened to a friend when we were in Spain, however, it was a child so she let her play with her braids).

The music didn't stop when I entered a room. In fact when my friend went to a beauty salon to see if she could get her hair done, although they were not equipped to do "black" hair, they were friendly about trying. My friend opted not to get it done though. When I think of Germany, I think of history, friendly people of today, food, clothes that actually fit me (because they are a curvy people) and a city (Frankfurt) so clean you can eat food off the ground (don't worry, I didn't). Frankfurt of today is not a frightful city to me so it got my stamp of approval.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Traveling While Black: London

In my second post on international travel while being a brown gal we go to England. London to be exact. I studied there for a summer in law school. While there I traveled to other parts of England and also to Germany and France (to be discussed in another post).

I have a strong nostalgia for my time in London but the start was a little shaky. I flew there with many of my class mates and we all were wearing our dorky summer law school program shirts. We got off the plane together. Went through security. Yet I was the one who was randomly stopped and questioned about why I was in the country. Sure I was the only black girl in the group, but I had the same shirt. I stood, embarrassed, as I answered their questions as my class mates stared, walking by me. They asked me several questions. Why was I there? Where was I staying? How long would I be there? What did I do for a living etc.  Was this random? I try not to be super sensitive about this stuff but of course you can't help but have a little voice inside you ask, why, out of all the students was I, the sole black person, picked out and questioned so vigorously? Prior to 9/11 black women were the top group racially profiled on planes (we are drug mules for our drug dealing boyfriends of course). Therefore, the thought did cross my 22 year old mind that perhaps I was being profiled.

I was beginning to wonder if this whole study abroad thing was a good idea.
But I made it to my dorm and hoped for the best since I was going to be there a while and, well, it got better. To be honest, I ended up finding the people of England to be very delightful. They were very friendly to me. It felt like New York (where I stayed in London) but with some southern hospitality. One day I literally stood at a corner with a map opened,  confused about where to go when a nice older white lady asked me if I needed help and then proceeded to give me good directions to my destination.
I mean, people here will help if you ask but they just don't stop and offer, at least not in my experience. And especially not in a big city. That moment always stuck out to me.
I also visited the English country side and beach and Cambridge. All pleasant, racially uneventful experiences.

For a time, and maybe still, I was especially hoping to get back to London.  I enjoyed the diversity and trendiness of the city. It took a while, but I even learned about Brixton, which is an area of London where many black people lived and they even had their own history of racism similar to the L.A. riots. I found a black beauty supply store there so, needless to say, I felt I had it all!

One other thing I enjoy about the British culture is in its media. They aren't as concerned about fulfilling a certain type for their lead roles. I saw way more inter racial couples on TV then (this was early 2000s) than in the US and not all the actresses were thin blondes. Yet the "plain jane" or the brown person was as popular as ever. Before we had a black person leading a mostly a main stream  (Scandal) they had Luther
(Idris and all his accent glory). Only now is US getting in on the game.

Of course I know the history of slavery with this country so I am not saying that racism does not exist here. But for a summer, I was fortunate enough to not experience it and that gets my thumbs up for a city that is safe and comfortable to travel to while black.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bmore Bashing

I am a Baltimore Native. Yes, I grew up in the county but when I moved out from my parents, I moved to the city. I was educated in Baltimore (by way of Loyola and University of Maryland Law), got my culture from Baltimore and had many a good time there. While I no longer live in Baltimore I find a need to stand up for it. So what's there to stand up to, you ask?

Upon my exodus from Baltimore, I cannot tell you the number of times I will tell someone where I'm from and get everything from a raised eyebrow to a "are you packing?" to a "but you don't seem/sound/look like you are from there".  What does that mean? It's so annoying! shocked animated GIF

As if my life in Baltimore was just one long episode of The Wire. It doesn't matter if the person I'm speaking to came from a not so spiffy neck of the woods or are not living so comfortably, they still feel in a place to judge. Why the hate towards Baltimore? I've had people recount many a tale about an unfortunate event they have had in Baltimore and summarize the whole town with that event. Usually said event is in a less than savory area or club.

Sure, there is crime but there are also great things about this town.
  • It's accessible because its small, which for me is a great thing. I love a manageable city (Florence, Amsterdam).

  • It has some really cool areas. Fells Point (cute boutiques, good places to eat and drink), Federal Hill (fun bars), Harbor East (fancy and trendy shopping and eating),Mt. Vernon/Charles Village (hipster), Inner Harbor (touristy but fun for shopping/nightlife), Hampden (quirky).
  • Its artsy. I know people, especially in the music area, who have left their cities to come to Baltimore because of the art scene. (Check out Mt. Vernon and Charles Village area)

  • Movies love us. Sure The Wire, The Corner and Homicide were filmed here. But Wikipedia "films shot in Baltimore" and you will see a host of notables you didn't know were filmed here. Mostly because its a town that has locations that can mimic other cities. Step Up 1 and 2 were filmed here. House of Cards, He's Just Not That Into You, Sleepless in Seattle...

    Just to name a few. If this city was so dangerous, I doubt so many stars would risk their lives coming here.

  • It's a great place to learn. John Hopkins, University of Maryland Grad Schools, Loyola are all top tier schools and there are many others (Towson, Morgan, Coppin, Notre Dame, University of Baltimore...).

  • The people. Sure some folks are "special". But Baltimoreans are a chill, down to earth, non pretentious, fun bunch.

No city is prefect. Not every city can be glamorous. But one thing is certain, judging someone based on where they are from is absolutely ridiculous and you never know what great person you are missing out on by dismissing them because of where they came from.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Traveling While Black: Barcelona

I absolutely love to travel. In my pretend life I'd love to be a black female version of Anthony Bourdain, except with more focus on shopping instead of food ;-) .  But as a female I can't just pick up and go. I don't have a camera crew with me and although certain places sound awesome, when planning a trip I don't just look at what sites there are to see but what the culture is like towards women and African Americans. I'm not into spending my money in a city in which they will go around calling me the N word, nor a town where I fear for my safety.

Regardless of anything, traveling the world as a black female is markedly different than as a white male. If you thought we faced racism and stereotyping in our own country imagine what
a country that is not as diverse or not raised in our history must think of us. How one sided would a person think if their only experience with black people are what shows and news were exported to their country?

I've been traveling overseas, off and on, for almost twenty years (since I was two, yeah two years old) and my experience has changed over time and depending on the countries. I am fairly certain that there is a link between the media's images of black women and how I am treated.

I will be doing a series of posts dedicated to my experiences traveling overseas as a black woman and would love to hear if others experience things differently or the same regardless of race and gender.

First up:

Barcelona, Spain- my first time experiencing out in your face racism. I loved my time in this country (the shopping, the history, the food) but the racism I experienced will always mar my memories of this place. I hope its better there now. But at the time that I went, the 90s, there weren't a lot of exports of black people in the media. Further some European countries that saw an influx of African immigrants did not appreciate it and extended that negative attitude towards tourist of the African diaspora. It boggles my mind how people can just treat others they don't know poorly.

I came to Spain as part of a group of students and we lived in the homes of the locals. I am not sure my Spanish teacher told the couple we were staying with that we were black. She shouldn't have had to but sadly, these things matter. The couple did seemed surprised to find we were black and showed quickly that they were not comfortable with us there. We never had dinner with them, instead they served us after they ate. And the food was not good (some of the meat was bleeding okay?). Deciding that we didn't deserve that, my roommate and I just ate out every night for dinner. They told my teacher we were messy (I was not and the clothes on the floor they claimed were ours were sometimes theirs). We ended up spending the last night in a hotel so we could have one good night there. On our way out we gave the family flowers and a thanks because we were raised right. In response they just asked us for the key to the house.

In contrast my other classmates were fortunate enough to stay in good homes so I won't blame the whole country. It is just sad that we were off the start treated like second class citizens without having done anything wrong. There were other events (being called a monkey, having some club goers throw ice at us in the club) that really tarnish my memories of the place.

In that same time, I also experienced local males (adults) being overtly flirtatious with us, to the point of harassment in some cases. I was a teenager so this was scary. I still blame this on the export of rap videos which, at the time, featured an array of scantily clad black women. If that's all you see of black culture well, if you're closed minded enough, you act on that.

In sum, would I steer black people away from visiting Barcelona? No way. It was a nice time and most of the people were friendly. It's just interesting to note  that even a time of rest and relaxation can be uprooted by people who feel entitled to mistreat you based solely on your race.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What would you do?

The other day I caught a segment on the today show regarding public verbal and physical assault between couples and how bystanders would react. They discuss the difference between most of the public response to Solange/Jay Z on the elevator vs. Ray Rice and his wife. For the former there was laughter and an SNL skit, for the latter, there was outrage and what appeared to be more of a hunt to punish athletes who had assault charges pending.

In the segment they showed fake scenarios where a man was verbally assaulting a woman and then visa versa. In the first, people intervened to stop it. In the second, people did nothing, some took photos and recordings and one even joined helping to hit the guy when the woman was hitting him. It is clear as a culture we have a different standard for violence when it comes to men and women (I'd even venture into race but I'll save that for another day).

So what does that mean? Is it right to let women go around assaulting people unchecked? If there was a video of Syrena Williams kicking her man or knocking him out with her shoe (or whatever) and then getting her bodyguard to drag his body out the elevator would she be suspended from tennis? Even if she was defending herself against his aggression?

How much should we get involved if we see verbal/physical assault? Is it none of our business? I remember some friends and I were out one night and we saw this couple arguing. She was storming away and he kept following her. This went on for a while and she looked extremely upset and he was not leaving her alone. Eventually, one of my friends went up to her and asked if she was ok and needed any help. The woman kind of brushed her off like she didn't want to be bothered. I feel like my friend was being a good human being and the fact that this woman didn't want her help is irrelevant. Whether you are the couple involved in the argument/fight or not, we as a society need to stand up against it all. All types.

This includes letting the victim know that we don't approve either. As support and also as a message that violence is not an action our culture is tolerant of no matter who the aggressor is and how the victim chooses to react to it.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Judgement

Someone posted on facebook that, to paraphrase, women who wear weaves and fake lashes are hypocritical and lack confidence. This got me thinking. The whole issue of black women wearing weaves etc.  and the idea of beauty is big in the black community. I haven't witnessed this as much in other communities even though other races are not strangers to cosmetic changes (coloring hair, implants, tans). We are women, we experiment with different things to make us happy. However, it seems that no other group gets criticized for it more than black women.

The hard core naturals want us all to rock our hair unaltered. The main stream wants us to have long straight hair. If you do one or the other something is wrong. We as brown women are inundated with images of fair complexions, long, straight (mostly blond) hair with hazel/blue/green eyes. We are told that is the beauty norm. This is why I get so excited to see brown women (in positive lights) in the media. It was everywhere when Lupita was on the cover of People's Most Beautiful. And Shondra Rhimes has put brown women in starring roles on TV. Kerry on Scandal and Viola on How to Get Away with Murder and the new character on Grey's Anatomy is a natural girl. Love it.

But let's be clear, these are instances and still not the most popular norm of beauty. In the black community, the men are not chasing after the Lupitas as much as they are the Beyonces
or those of other races. I can love my natural hair but many black men have vocalized that they do not care for it as much as my straight hair or say they like my curl pattern but not more kinky patterns that other women in my community might possess.

We struggle for acceptance from the very men who say "I don't like women with all these weaves or all that makeup" then turn around and say BeyoncĂ© or Kim Kardashian are so hot. I do not in any way state that this is all of the black community but it is a significant enough topic. I threw this up on a board on facebook and got a lot of feedback from women who had encountered this before. Heck even my dad made comments when I cut my long hair super short in high school and upon seeing me lately puts his hands in my head to see if my hair is real or not. But-

Who cares?
How are we defining a black woman on the inside based on what she looks like on the outside? There are numerous reasons a woman will wear a wig, weave, contacts, lashes and many of them have little to do with confidence. We want to put our best face out there to the world, we want to experiment, we want to give our real hair a break from the heat damage, we want to cover hair loss (not just from mistreatment of hair but alopecia or cancer), we just want to be!

And if there are women out there who feel they are not as beautiful because they are not light skin, long haired, light eyed women we can't be surprised based on what media and men of color (be they famous or not) at a larger rate seem to run to. Instead of placing a judgmental post, instead post about the type of women you do like without throwing shade. Black women cannot be all things to all people. We cannot change our color, no matter what the creams say (unless gray is a color you want), our hair may not dry straight. We may want to glam it up. We may want to be "wash and go". Whatever we do to make ourselves smile, let it be just that. Instead of an indictment on our self esteem and values.  


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Should You Teach a Man?

I’m a girl so by definition I will gripe. It’s what I do, it’s why females make the best talk show hosts. We gots thangs to say and we say them…often. So after numerous email, brunch powwows, girlfriend get togethers, soliloquies, I decided once and for all to do a post about a topic that has been haunting me since I first started dating. To teach or not to teach a guy about proper dating etiquette otherwise known as “things his mama or papa should have told him growing up”.

K, so I get torn between the school of “you can’t train/change a man” and the school of “well if you don’t tell him how will he know?”. I feel that women are used to the former but if you think about it a lot of men will say the latter. I don’t think I can change a man BUT I do believe that you can tell a man what you want and if done the right way and with a man who actually cares, you can “inspire” him to change. I seent it (she says in her Craig Robinson voice). The trick is to do it in a way that is not demanding and gives a guy the desire to want to do it because he wants to see you happy not because he doesn’t want to be nagged or fight with you.

So here are some things I and some other females believe a guy should just know especially by the time they hit 30.

 · Walk me to my car after the date
 · Call me on the phone instead of texting all the time
 · First date should be somewhere close to me or at least a middle distance, not close to him
 · Plan a few dates instead of the last minute “what are you up to tonight”, particularly for the first couple of dates
 · If I’m in a jam (car broke down, sick with a non lethal illness) offer to help.

You might have other pet peeves but these are just the ones that grind my gears. So what’s the fix for these? Do you put up with it and gripe to your gal pals or do you tell the guy?
Turn the page.
Tell them!

If they don’t change, then walk away if you can’t deal but at least give them the benefit of being put on notice. And not in an angry way. All they’ll end up hearing is the Charlie Brown teacher voice with a view of the proverbial “angry black woman”.

So here’s my unsolicited, unprofessional advice to the above pet peeves:

 · Mention that it makes you feel safe or special that he is escorting you
 · Mention that you are a better conversationalist via the phone and that texting doesn’t allow you focus your full attention on the conversation since you can be distracted or not hear the text alert
 · If he plans a first date that is close to where he lives mention the extra distance it takes to get there, that you want to devote more time getting to know him instead of cutting the date short due to the drive there and back and offer another area/place to meet with promises that you’d like to try his first spot in the future when you aren’t so pressed for time.
 · Mention that you like spontaneous guys but you also feel really special when a guy takes the time to plan a date for you. Also mention that you are a busy gal so sometimes last minute rings for dates don’t work out because you try to make plans early in the week (especially for weekends)
 · If I’ve been dating a guy a while and I call him with a problem, while it’s nice to think he’ll be all superman, some guys need to be asked.

Scenario One:
 Me: my car broke down
 Him: that’s horrible. Did you call triple A?
 Me: yes
 Him: good, keep me posted
Old me: thinking- seriously dude? You don't want to offer to pick me up or send me a cab, something?
 New me: I have to figure out how I'm going to get home now from here (hint , hint, then ask him directly if that don't work)

 Scenario two:
 Me: cough cough, I’m sick
 Him: oh no. get plenty of rest and take something for it
 Me: I am….
 Him: Ok cool, well keep me posted, I’ll text you later to check in on you
 Old Me: thinking- he don’t care nuthin bout me (yeah in my Ms. Sophia from the Color Purple voice)
 New Me: Well I could use some chicken soup (or more medicine or a burger whatever you need to help). I’m just too weak to go get it. (hint, hint)

 Morale of the story, it’s not so much about teaching and more about sharing. I expect a person not to rob me but there are plenty of robbers out there. We can’t expect everyone to be raised like us and we definitely can’t expect everyone to value the same things as we do. With that in mind, let a guy know so he’s in on what you have going on in your mind.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Get Cute Theme Music

So I'm a girlie girl at heart. So when this gal gets a chance to go out at night, well that's the time I put my armature make up artist/you tube watching skills to use. The other night I was glamming it up with the Beyonce and Jay-Z On The Run concert showing on HBO. I stopped to dance. Broke a sweat and got tried and had to take a seat. As I was sitting down catching my breath and fighting the distinct feeling that I was getting out of shape, I realized that there is something to having music playing to get one ready for a night out.

And who better to take a girl from chill to glam than Ms. B. Now my glam songs will change over time based on the top 40 but this is my top 10 songs list over the years that get me thinking I should be on the cover of a magazine.

  1. Anything Beyonce really. It's totally ridiculous. The woman knows how to put out divalicous hits. And if you don't think listening to Flawless will help you get that smoky eye look going, just give it a try. You will also dance while you do it so keep the fan going so you don't break a sweat.
  2. Pussycat Dolls- Dontcha. - Put on your tight get 'em girl dress (and your spanx if you have to, nuthin wrong with that) and dare yourself not to feel fabulous when getting ready in this song.
  3. Anything by Jennifer Lopez. Like Beyonce she's a queen diva who knows how to make a girlie dance hit (how have they not done a song together?)Get Right is one of my favorites and I will bob my head while flat ironing my hair (then burning myself because I was moving while doing my hair).
  4. Envogue- anything. First there were The Supremes then Envogue. If you were ever looking for a 90s female singing group who knew how to throw glam while hitting a high note, they sure did. And if you don't feel like you about to show off listening to "Hold On" I can only shake my head. The song is like twenty years old and I still can rock to that while putting on my blush.
  5. Mary J Blidge- I'm Fine. This song gets you pumped to put on a heel and strut in the mirror, drop it down low, then have a seat because you know you are too old to be dropping anything and now your knees hurt.
  6. Lady Marmelade - remake version
  7. Britney Spears- Work B*&%!. Mmkay, so this is my workout song. It speaks to me on a real, girl you better get that waist snatched because you got a form fitting dress to put on.
  8. Lady Marmalade- remix with Christina Aguilera n dem. Love it, love it. This is a song you and your friends can glam it up to before heading out and jack up the Lil Kim rap part before taking the group selfie.
  9. Madonna- Vogue. I shouldn't have to explain this one. This is the girl work it anthem of the 90s. Strike a pose. That's what you'll be doing in the mirror when you're all done up.
  10. Janet Jackson -If. I can't think of this song without thinking of the video and that sick choreography. I still try to do it to this day. The song was sexy and a great workout. Yet another song to take a selfie to before you hit the streets.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Blog Tour Week Three

In week three of my tour please look out for the following reviews excerpts and guest posts this week and don't forget to leave a comment at  CLP Book Tours  to be entered to win an Amazon gift card!  Thanks so much for supporting!

September 1 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review
September 1 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post
September 2 – Two Children and a Migraine – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
September 3 – Karma For Life Chick – Review
September 4 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Review
September 5 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
September 5 – Chicks That Reads – Guest Post & Excerpt

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Blog Tour Continues

In week two of my blog tour please look out for the following interviews, excerpts and guest posts this week and don't forget to leave a comment at  CLP Book Tours  to be entered to win an Amazon gift card!  Thanks so much for supporting!

August 26 – The Modern Jane Austen – Excerpt 

August 27 – Little Miss Drama Queen – Review & Excerpt
August 28 – Relatively Yours – Guest Post (on lessons I learned from my dating life)
August 29- Being Mrs.Jones- guest post on dating do-overs and excerpt -http:/

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Final Secret

So I finally finished reading The Secret. Took me a little longer than it should have but I am reading another book at the same time so my attention was divided. Here are my thoughts on it. For the mot part the novel's message was pretty good and I am well into the process of making my best attempts to give the logic a go. Towards the final two chapters they lost me a bit with the metaphysical energy, we-are-all-part-of-the-one talk. Too sciencey and new agey for my blood. But at it's very base concept the message behind the secret is one I think you can't go wrong following. I think our base nature is to go against the logic and shake our heads at people who try it. However, once you have read it and understood it, you might find yourself shaking your head at the people who don't follow it. The message is clear: think, be, act positive. Do what makes you happy. Think happy thoughts, desire happiness. Stop fighting against and strive for.

It actually takes a little more work than I thought. We can easily slide down a path of negative thought but the secret asks that you be conscience of that and stop it. Be in the moment and be aware of your feelings. Not just mentally but physically because negative feelings can affect our bodies. Since reading this book I have become more aware of how my negative feelings affect me physically and try my best to get out of any funk I'm in. Sometimes its just focusing on things I love to do or even watching a quick episode of Golden Girls (which always makes me happy) or just writing down how I'm feeling. Recently I felt bad about something and I sent a couple of friends an email about how I was feeling. Even before I got their responses I was already on the road to feeling better. What I didn't want to do, and what I have been prone to do, is obsess over things enough to keep me up at night. Very draining.

Every day is a work in progress for me but I see it working in small ways and I have absolute faith, to the point that I think some friends think I'm crazy, that the things that I want to come true will come true at the time I need them to. But in the meantime, the things I took from the secret to do are:

visualize my day each morning (I'm better at this during the weekday) down to my commute to and from work, being productive at work, planning social activities, exercising, what i'll eat (I could do better at the last one)

keep checking in on how I'm feeling and avoid negative thought

keep in mind all of the things i am thankful for

make a list of all the things that bring me joy (big and small)

feel and act as if I already have/am the things that I desire

Is this easy? Well if I said no, that would be going against the logic of the secret but well... you decide.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Blog Tour is Coming

My first novel, The Mission, promotion is still in full effect. So, dear readers, join me in my very first blog tour from August 18th to September 8th. Check out the schedule full of reviews, interviews and guest posts and enter to win a gift card with Amazon!

August 18 – Chick Lit Club Connect – Guest Post
August 19 – Second Bookshelf on the Right – Q&A
August 21 – Fiction Dreams – Q&A
August 22 – Doorflower – Guest Post
August 26 – The Modern Jane Austen – Excerpt

August 27 – Little Miss Drama Queen – Review & Excerpt
August 28 – Relatively Yours – Guest Post
September 1 – Keep Calm and Blog On – Review
September 1 – Chick Lit Goddess – Guest Post
September 2 – Two Children and a Migraine – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
September 3 – Karma For Life Chick – Review
September 4 – Ski-Wee’s Book Corner – Review
September 5 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Guest Post & Excerpt
September 5 – Chicks That Reads – Guest Post & Excerpt
September 8 – Book Suburbia – Excerpt

September 8 – The East Village – Review

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back in My Day

I was just listening to the classic 80s song, If You Leave,  that played in Pretty in Pink and it made me think of Molly Ringwald which then made me think of teen movies and I just realized that the kids/teens of today don’t have a lot of fun options out. Unless you have cable and they are still kind of lame to me.  I mean there was Breakfast Club in the 80s then Clueless in the 90s. Those were epic teen movies of their time. I guess the early 2000s had High School Musical but that was only on the Disney Channel and it was still weak comparatively. It made me think of other things late Gen Xers/ early Millennials  had that I don’t think kids/teens fully have now:

1)     TRL- I’d come home in the afternoon and see the latest videos and interviews with stars, before that there was Dick Clark, Soul Train, now what?If you don't catch it on YouTube it's hard to keep up. It used to be the thing to catch the latest Micheal Jackson video on Thursday night and talk about it at school. 

2)     Saturday morning cartoons and teen sitcoms- Yes, I know there is cable now for all that but there was something special about having that Saturday morning line up till 12 then you go out to play. And Although Disney and Nickelodeon have many reincarnations of Saved By the Bell and the Boy Meets World Spin off (thumbs down), it’s not the same feeling when you watch it at random times.

3)     TGIF and Saturday night comedies- If you were a kid and of course weren’t partying it up on the weekend nights it was good to have some TV options everyone else watched. Do kids have that kind of line up now? I mean, it’s the reason I love the Golden Girls because it came on Saturday night and lasted 7 darn seasons. And everyone watched Family Matters. What Friday and Saturday night series are there now?

4)     Music- there was a lot more “teeny bopper” music back then. We had The Boys, ABC, a young Brandy and Monica, Tevin Campbell, Usher. And that’s just the R&B side (Hanson anyone)? Now you have Justin Beiber and some random Beiber like types whose names I don't know. Very limited.

5)     Toys, even those don’t seem as cool. Everything is computer based. If the power goes out, you better make sure you have some old school toys with you or that the battery is fully charged.When I saw a little child touch a book like it was touch screen I realized that things were changing and I wonder if its better, worse or just different.

Or maybe I'm just out of touch with kids and just have no idea what's cool. Do kids still even use the word cool. *cracks back and takes a seat*

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Secret Entry 5: I Got the Power?

I am so sad about what is happening with the news right now. The two Malaysian air flights, one shot down and one still missing. The Algerian plane crash, the war in Israel and the killing of all those innocent civilians, are the girls still missing in Nigeria?, the conflict in Syria. It’s too much and makes me feel so helpless. It really conflicts with the teachings of the Secret. I am torn with wanting to know about what’s going on and trying to help if I can and not wanting to hear such negative news to knock me off my positivity path.
One side issue I have with The Secret is that it fully believes that we allow negative things to happen to us. It does not believe that bad things happen to good people or “it is what it is” type of thing. It believes that if you don’t think out your day and plan for it to go a certain way in detail in your mind then you are opening up the universe to plan your day for you and allow anything to happen. This has met with a lot of criticism from people who were hurt or loss loved ones in mass attacks (9/11) or natural disasters (like Katrina). I struggle with that concept because I find it kind of cold.
However, every morning for the past couple of weeks after my car accident I do a mental picture of how I want my day to go from the time I get in my car to what I will be doing up until I go to bed. It works… But is it a definite? Can you really avoid bad things from happening. Sure you can take things that happen to you and make something positive out of it be it as a role model, lesson learned, new opportunity for something you wouldn’t have done otherwise. But outside of that, what do you do? I think of those girls who were locked in that basement for like ten years. They were teens/early twenties then I believe. I know The Secret is not saying they deserved what happened to them but the explanation for what happened to them can’t be, well they didn’t think out their day so they allowed any random thing to happen to them that the universe threw out them.
I understand the law of attraction but I wonder if we truly have the power to affect everything that comes our way. Yes we have free will but ultimately isn’t it all about what The Creator (however you choose to call him/her) decides? Can you truly believe you can control your life with such detail while at the same time believing that ultimately it’s in God’s proverbial hands? Or is it the belief that whatever you throw out into the universe that you want, even if it’s just to get a parking space, is therefore, the same that God wants for you? Is that too convenient a thought? Do we have the power?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Secret Entry 4: Thinking in the Now

My next challenge is thinking in the now. I can easily say to myself I want to lose weight or I want to be a certain weight or size by a certain date. However according to the Secret, you have to think you have it all now or you’ll forever be in the realm of trying and wanting.

So I have to say, think and feel that I’m already at the weight I want to be or already have the great relationship I’ve been dreaming of. How do you do that without feeling silly or delusional? If your goal is to be married to a wonderful husband, how do you actively feel that way and tell yourself that you already have it and thank the Lord for it? If you see an outfit in a size 6 and you are a size 10 do you get the size 6 because that’s your goal size and the size you tell yourself you are? Seriously how does that work right?

So after reading the chapter on relationships (which I think was way too short and in need of more detail). I discovered that to get the relationship/marriage you desire, you don’t walk around like a crazy person talking about your imaginary Larry boyfriend. You have to be in a loving state of mind. Prepare your life to have room for love (so I guess my collection of stuffed animals on display wouldn’t fly if I was living with a guy so I suppose I shouldn’t keep them propped up- this is an example of course, I really don’t have a pile of stuffed animals I can’t part with…).

Do the things you love to do (and no, saying well I don’t love work so I won’t go, doesn’t work- find something you love about it, like, er, getting paid!).

Think of things and people that you love and of course make sure you love yoself.

And within all this love fest you will, ta-da, attract more love. Because, and it’s taking a moment to click with me, the Secret is all about The Law of Attraction. Everything you say/think/do will act like a magnet to attract more of it. If you call yourself a klutz, low and behold, you will keep being in situations where you trip and knock things over. If you believe you are a great singer then you will find that people around you will think (or at least tell) you are (this explains the people who end up on American Idol auditions sounding a hot mess, no one around them told them they sound like a dying cat).

So don’t just pretend, be it. Or in Yoda’s words “Do or do not, there is no try” or something like that. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Secret Entry 3: Positive Thinking

The main challenge with my journey into the Secret is maintaining positive thinking. I’m not Oscar the Grouch all the time but I’m not skipping around seeing rainbow and butterflies (by the way, I hate butterflies, they scare me- see there I go again). 

The point is thinking lovely thoughts from morning to sleepy time is not an easy thing for me.
But I have devoted myself to putting my all into this for at least 30 days which is how long, I’ve read, it takes to make something a habit.

And let me tell you, this is work. I wake up and before I get out of bed I envision my day down to the small things like what I will eat. Then I go through my morning ritual while giving thanks as I do them (which is no easy task, sometimes, although in theory I am thankful, I don’t feel it in my bones as I side listen to some mass shooting in a state on TV). I also do self checks through out the day. How do I feel? Am I actually feeling content or happy? The part of the Secret that is the kicker is that you can’t just say or think positive, you have to feel it. 

Like how would you feel if you won the lottery? What does that physically feel like? You gotta actually feel that way all the time. Lemme tell ya, not an easy task. So no, I don’t actually go around 24/7 jumping for joy. I do it in spurts and the rest of the time I just try to make sure I feel content and avoid bad feelings as best I can.

I will say it helps. Yesterday when leaving work, I tried the “lotto feeling” as I call it. I was whistling from my office to the car, around the grocery store. I genuinely felt good. I came home. Ate some dinner. Was starting to feel lethargic but I needed to go workout. So I took myself out and still felt ugh (ok, so I had some Cheetos and I know that didn’t help). But I started jogging. I was shaky about whether I could do my 5k jog/walk I usually do after my poor eating choices but I still felt positive and I kept thinking “I got this”. Morale of the story, not only did I have it, I ran my fastest half mile and during the second half of the jog, felt energized, sang along (okay one sentence, I got tired) to my music and was SMILING as I jogged. 

Power of positive thinking.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Secret Entry 2

So after a car accident yesterday in which my NEW car is now in the shop.  I decided its time I start taking these teachings of the Secret seriously. The lessons clearly stated that I should not just let life happen to me but to instead have control over my day. Wake up with a positive mood, give thanks, plan/visualize your day.

I didn't do that yesterday but I made sure before I went to sleep I didn't dwell on the accident or think of yesterday as a negative day. I focused on the good of the day before I went to sleep (day off, got some reading in, cooked, worked out, got some errands done after I got my rental, napped, wrote a blog post and worked on my writing- basically I got an extra day to accomplish things). Right after the accident I was feeling myself getting stressed and tearful but I parked my beat down car, went in my house, made an appointment for the body shop and a rental and proceeded to read some of The Secret until my appointment. I must say my sadness and stress about the situation dissipated and has not returned. I feel like I can handle this and the fiance of it all won't prevent me from doing what I want to do (I have some trips planned and I still feel positive that I will still be able to go).

This morning I visualized my day down to the smaller things: go to work with no accidents, not be annoyed by anything at work, go home and work on my writing, workout. Then from the time my feet hit the floor through washing up I gave thanks for all the things I'm blessed for.
How'd my day  go? No accident, in fact, got to work early. Not annoyed at work, day went pretty quickly. Working on my writing now as I wait for a friend to go workout!

Hmm, next up. Car shop told me I'd get my car back between Friday and Monday. But I'm thinking Thursday after work I'm getting my car back. If anyone ask that's what I'm saying. That's what I believe...

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Secret to My (Hopeful) Success

So a wiser higher up gave me a list of books to read to help lead me to successful leadership. She told me I had to read the list of 10 books in the order she listed them (not sure why yet). The first being the ever popular The Secret. Of course I'd heard of this concept before but being cynical as usual I thought it was a bunch of crap. Positive thinking and you'll just get what you want? Yeah right. Bad things happen because you allow it? Sounds cold to me.

But as I read the book, I can't help but think, some of this stuff sounds good. And, hey, what can it hurt if I go all in and give it a try?

Halfway into the book I've learned these tips so far:
  • Think about what you do want , not what you don't want (ex. I want to lose weight vs. I want to be a size six, the latter is best because it is more exact, the former will just keep you in the loop of wanting to lose weight)
  • Think of the things you are grateful for (focus on your health instead of not liking your shape)
  • Think as though you already have it and really have the feeling that comes with it
  • Ask for what you want and believe it will come (like ordering some shoes on line, you believe they will come, you don't call the store every day to ask them is it coming)
  • Say Thank you every day as often as you can, start your day with it
  • Create your day don't let your day create you, think in the morning how you want your day to go and if something negative happens, think of it in a different light before going to bed to "reset" your mind for the next day (in other words avoid starting a day with negative energy)
  • Visualize what you want ( a vision board helps)
So from time to time, I will post about my journey following the secret. For a "realist" like me, it'll be tough  but I'm ready to give it a try.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pay to Play

So a friend and I were discussing paying while dating and in a relationship. Both of us admitted that we are old fashioned kind of gals and don't care much for the 50/50 bit. We also stated that we don't much care for a guy asking us to pay either. But we aren't stingy. I don't mind paying for dates, I just like to feel like a lady who is being courted. If we are doing 50/50 then it doesn't feel that way. I don't have a formula for what percentage is should be. It differs depending on the guy for various reasons.

The key is that I do like to contribute in a relationship. I don't want a guy to end up asking me to start paying for things but I have found that, inevitabely, this will happen. But here's how it goes:

Date 1 - guy pays, no questions
Date 2- guy pays again
Date 3- I offer to help, he says no, sometimes adds an insulted face or an "I'm the man, I pay"
Sometime during the dating game the guy ask in some way or another when I will pay.
Umm, K. I pay. No problem. And then I find myself paying more and more.

Morale of the story, those guys wanted to show off in the beginining which then lead the woman to be accostumed to a certain behavior. Then the guy may not be able to keep up with the expense or start to feel taken advantage of. The woman, assuming she is not selfish, wants to show she isn't all about self and she agrees to pay. But then she finds herself paying more than she thought. Maybe even 50/50 and she starts to become resentful. And who wants to have that conversation about money? Not comfortable.

So what's the fix? I think women need to be clear about their views regarding financially contributing  when dating. I have a friend who states it point blank early on in dating and she hasn't raised a complaint. I think if you tell a guy, hey, I do like to be courted but I'm not selfish and will contribute from time to time (and then actually do that, maybe, earlier on in the relationship) then everyone should be clear on what's expected. On the guys front, do what you can afford to do and if a woman offers then accept that (although not before the first two dates, real talk- if she offers before that she's just doing what she thinks is nice).

But that's just my thoughts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Youth of a Nation

Recently someone close to me had her house burglarized, not once, but twice. In another part of town a woman heading into her suburban house from her car at night was robbed of her purse. Still another area of the state a person pulls out a gun and starts shooting at people in the middle of the day also in the suburbs.
What do they all have in common?
The perpetrators were all teenagers.
I won't spend too long on my soapbox but I had to get this off my chess. Crime is nothing new. Crime by teens is not new but it seems to be growing. From the much publicized mass killings we hear about on TV by young men to the quieter crimes.
What has happened in our world where some kids are raised not to care about and respect others? Has parenting changed? Is the community less involved which effects the moral development of the child?
This is not a white/black, rich/poor thing. It has crossed all lines. Of course it's not everyone and perhaps part of the problem is that we spotlight and give attention to these criminals which only encourages others who are desperate and disturbed.
What bothers me about the teens who committed the robberies was that they did not respect the fact that these were women who lived in that house and a woman whose purse they snatched. These males weren't concerned about protecting these females. Instead they caused harm. Perhaps this is old school thinking but I'm not giving up on the idea that there should be a certain level of respect that men should have for women. Especially women in their own community.
The whole thing makes me sad really. When and why do some stop caring about their community?
To see people within your own neighborhood/school/job have such little respect for those around them drives me insane. I was blessed with never being in a state of mind where I'd want to harm others or have no respect for the life others have built.
At some point we have to respond differently to these acts. It's not working.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Mission: Get Dolled Up...For the Store

So from time to time I will blog about the rules I wrote about in my novel, The Mission. Most of the rules are things I've heard from family, friends, TV or books and I decided to write a novel about a fictional try at following these popular "suggestions". Some of these rules I have actually tried. Others I am conflicted about.

For instance:

Rule #3: Men can be found almost anywhere; you never know who’s out there so always look your best, even when taking out the garbage!
I met my first date since the “mission” began at the grocery store that Monday evening. Per the rules, I had to make an effort to look good wherever I went, so I dressed up for my weekly grocery shopping. Tight jeans, heels, hair down, make up fresh. I spent less time getting ready for work. 

Personally, this has been my hardship. I am one who will go to the grocery store right after a workout. Sweaty, frizzy haired. Guys still flirt because I have nice gym clothes on (hey, it's half the battle of getting me out the door to workout) and they appreciate someone who works out. I actually feel good and therefore am exuding positive energy. The only negative is that I have my earphones in. If I'm jogging/walking from my house to the store I have to have my music and I carry that into the store. The side effect is that it cuts me off from communicating with those around me. 

On the flip side, when I'm out wearing some heels, made up and the like, my energy is also positive and I have actually met people at the grocery store like that as well. I have a friend who said something to the effect when we might want to go out for drinks, that she wanted to get dressed up and "be seen". In basic terms she was feeling herself when she got dressed up and felt she was hot and wanted others to see her at her best thus attracting their attention. It wasn't just the looks, it was the positive energy that came along with getting all dolled up and thinking she was looking good.

I think the morale is, if you are feeling good about yourself, whether it's in your form fitting Pilate pants after a successful workout or a cute dress, that feel good energy is communicated to those around you. So put your best face forward to the world, you never know who's looking.