If you couldn’t already tell, this is the same dress in two different colors, and actually two different sizes. Which brings me to one of my many shopping rules: when it comes to building your wardrobe, if you come across a great piece, at a great price that fits you well, get at least two of them in different colors. Those items become your uniform pieces. Meaning these are the pieces you can pull out the back of your closet when you run smooth out of things to wear. They should go well with your existing wardrobe so that you can mix and match, and get the hell to work on time.
Let’s just jump right in. I basically consider myself the spokesperson for single black women who haven’t given up on love, but who aren’t pressed about finding it either. We are a unique breed often spotted in the wild minding our own damn business and flourishing. It burns my biscuits when I see those Instagram accounts devoted solely to telling black women how they should deal with being single and/or what they should do to find a man. They have those nonsensical captions that say shit like, “Keep your head up, your king may be watching from afar.” How about you keep your head up just because you’re supposed to keep your damn head up? But I digress.
On to the point here. Non-single people mean well I’m sure. You approach conversations with your single friends about single life and dating with the best of intentions, yet you seem to end up being kind of a dick about the whole thing. Somehow you end up saying some very problematic things in an effort to “comfort” your single friends. So, as the self proclaimed spokesperson let me just tell you, you have to chill with the following statements:
1) “You have to stop looking for a fine ass dude. I wasn’t attracted to my husband at first, but look at us now.”
First of all sis, stop telling people you low key think your dude is ugly. Even if your husband now looks like Boris Kodjoe to you, as opposed to him looking like a gremlin initially, stop telling people that. Moreover, some of you who say that actually have attractive husbands to begin with. So why should you get to walk around married to Idris Elba, and because I’m single I should just take whatever I can find? What kind of shit is that to tell someone? We all know that a person can become better looking to you as you get to know them (if you like what you’re getting to know) but don’t tell me that I should settle for a dude who looks like Flavor Flav in the face off rip. Second, I consider my children. Won’t someone think of the children?! Life is hard for unattractive kids. I know, because I was one. Lastly, unattractive dudes don’t know they’re unattractive. Why? Because there are sooooooo many chicks who genuinely don’t care about looks (good for you guys). Those girls are willing to date Sloth from the Goonies, and treat those guys like royalty, so those guys really don’t know they aren’t attractive. In fact, they have women lined up for the opportunity to be with someone, anyone. So they too walk around treating the Ciara’s of the world like Future, not knowing they look like burned bacon. In summation, an unattractive guy can be just as trash as a fine guy. It’s a vicious lie that ugly guys treat women better. Have you seen Peter Gunz? He’s a failed rapper who looks like a thumb, yet look at how he’s treated the women in his life. What I need you guys to know is that we aren’t looking for Ralph Angel (although it would be nice) we just wanna be attracted to our significant other, and that’s not too much to ask for. It’s insanely offensive to tell your homegirl to settle for someone she’s not attracted to, just so she won’t be alone. Hard pass bro. Hard pass.
2) “You should read this (insert shitty book filled with shitty dating advice written by shitty person).”
From what I can gather, the happiest marriages are the ones in which two people commit because they want to. There are no romantic comedy like antics. There are no tricks, or rules, or handbooks, or worksheets. If it’s meant to be, it should just happen without us having to use Jedi mind tricks. I don’t want to trick someone into being with me. Those books are trash. Next.
3) “Maybe your standards are too high.”
Rubs temples. Most of us are not asking for much I swear. Why are we always asked to adjust our expectations, but no one is telling guys to step up? We are not viewed as whole to you people unless we are attached to a guy, yet no one is telling these guys to be good guys. You’re comfortable telling women to think like men, but you’re not telling men how to be men? How does that make sense Steve? Believe me when I tell you, most of our standards are really reasonable, so this perpetual desire you people have to fault us for guys not wanting to commit has to stop. At some point, you have to consider that maybe a guy is responsible for his penis, and not me. Just a thought.
4) “Women these days don’t cook and clean like their grandmothers did, that’s why they can’t find a man.”
You gotta stop comparing us to our grandmothers, whom you’ve never met. You cannot expect for women today to behave like the women of yesteryear when you are not the men of that era yourself. I have literally had guys try to explain to me why a woman should offer to pay for the first date, yet those same guys will argue that women should be barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. Where the hell do you expect for this mystical woman to get the damn money from to pay for the date then? If you can’t change a flat tire, fix a broken pipe, or qualify for a home loan, then how is it fair that you want a full turkey dinner by 6:00 PM when I have to work just like you do? If you aren’t providing a life that lends itself to a woman being able to stay home, and be the domestic home maker of your dreams, then how about you shut the hell up? And newsflash, no amount of expertly fried chicken, and meticulously cleaned baseboards is going to make a guy put a ring on it if he doesn’t want to. Will I cook, and clean? Sure, because I too am hungry (constantly) and I too enjoy a clean house. If I am tired from working a 60 hour work week; however, can’t we just order some take out and chill?
The love I bear for my hometown knows no bounds; hence, I cannot begin to express to you the excitement I felt watching a show that so closely depicts what I consider to be the real Atlanta, but I’ll try. I was first introduced to Atlanta’s creator and protagonist Donald Glover as a stand up comedian, and actor (I will admit I have never listened to his music) but I feel a certain amount of pride seeing someone who came from such a mainstream sitcom (Community) go on to create a comedy that’s so true to my experience as a black person from Atlanta. The authenticity of the accents, the jargon, the references, even the J.R. Crickets scene…my soul cried out hallelujah.
Earnest “Earn” Marks (played by Donald Glover) is struggling to get through life and maintain a relationship with the mother of his child, and comes up with the idea to manage his cousin Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles’ burgeoning rap career. Growing up in Atlanta, we have all witnessed (and continue to witness) the struggle rapper life. Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles (played by Morehouse and Yale graduate Brian Tyree Henry) has to cope with unexpected fame, and unwanted attention. Meanwhile, Earn has to figure out how to adult (supes relate-able because hello I still haven’t figured it out). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Paper Boi’s roommate Darius (played by Keith Stanfield). He is the lovable weed head who randomly drops gems of knowledge. Hi-jinks ensue with perfectly timed, and well written comedy. The show also touches on so many relevant issues, but without being “preachy.” People like to be tricked into assessing real life issues especially those we consider to be uniquely black for some reason, and Atlanta slides those right on into your psyche. Issues like the treatment of prisoners with mental disabilities, gun violence and its impact on kids in underprivileged communities, relationships, familial obligations, the fragility of black male sexuality, and finding your way as a 20 something are all explored…in just the first two episodes.
The ever-conflicting ideals of Martin and Malcolm, Du Bois and Washington, Buckhead and Bankhead are the underlying themes I find most intriguing here. I attribute the non existent division of wealth in black communities in Atlanta to what made my friends and I such well rounded people. We have ninja-like code switching skills, because those of us who had were brought up right alongside those of us who didn’t. By the time we reached adulthood, most of us developed a very healthy blend of the totality of the black spectrum. I’m really excited to see Atlanta explore that. Lastly, I have a new life goal: lemon pepper wet wings.
Not Attending: Lena Dunham’s Pity Party
I’ve always felt very indifferent towards Lena Dunham, especially after I realized what her game is. She’s made a career of being self deprecating under the guise of body positivism (but only when it’s convenient) and everyone praises her for her “bravery” and labels her a feminist hero. White women being praised for mediocrity isn’t new, so that in and of itself doesn’t bother me; however, her latest stunt involving the beautiful specimen that is Odell Beckham Jr. takes her from irrelevant to intolerable. Dunham interviewed her friend Amy Schumer (another draining story for another day) in her newsletter Lenny Letter. Dunham is recalling her experience at the Met Gala (which hello, she was invited and I wasn’t? Maybe I’m just bitter) and unleashed a fury of assumptions and insecurities with the following excerpt:
“I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused. The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to f— it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.’ It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, ‘This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.’”
Deep sigh. She reminds me of that girl in high school who would criticize herself openly in hopes that someone would validate her with a compliment, only with Lena, when that validation doesn’t come, then it’s an issue. As someone who speaks openly about how problematic the objectification of women is, Dunhman seemed awfully troubled that Beckham didn’t objectify her in that moment. The most annoying thing about this was her “apology” once the internet ripped her a new one for being draining.
I owe Odell Beckham Jr an apology. Despite my moments of bravado, I struggle at industry events (and in life) with the sense that I don’t rep a certain standard of beauty and so when I show up to the Met Ball surrounded by models and swan-like actresses it’s hard not to feel like a sack of flaming garbage. This felt especially intense with a handsome athlete as my dinner companion and a bunch of women I was sure he’d rather be seated with. But I went ahead and projected these insecurities and made totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking, then presented those assumptions as facts. I feel terrible about it. Because after listening to lots of valid criticism, I see how unfair it is to ascribe misogynistic thoughts to someone I don’t know AT ALL. Like, we have never met, I have no idea the kind of day he’s having or what his truth is. But most importantly, I would never intentionally contribute to a long and often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies- as well as false accusations by white women towards black men. I’m so sorry, particularly to OBJ, who has every right to be on his cell phone. The fact is I don’t know about his state of mind (I don’t know a lot of things) and I shouldn’t have acted like I did. Much love and thanks, Lena
A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on
Girl, we don’t care, and we are not attending your “I’m ‘fat’ and unattractive by the world’s standards so please accept, praise, and compliment me for being regular as hell” pity party. Leave us alone.
Okay, where do I begin? First off my mom worked really hard to keep my brother and I hella fresh. Style, fashion, and appearance are a big thing on my mom’s side of the family. So much so that my grandmother will legit shade you if you are a woman not wearing earrings, or “something on your lips.” I cannot tell you how many times I have heard her shade the hell out of my mom with a casual “oh I guess you ain’t gon’ put nothing on yo lips huh?” This is followed by a sincere stare over her glasses until you comply with her passive aggressive suggestion to put some manner of lipstick on. My dad’s side of the family, not so much. My dad doesn’t place much value on materialistic things at all. I almost think it was a form of silent protest against my mom for him to not give a shit how we walked out of the house looking. Hence, when my brother and I would spend summers with him in South Carolina, it was a fashion free for all. My style was at the mercy of whatever the good Lord put on my spirit to wear that day. This was my time to be experimental with my look. Yeah, we’ll go with that.
99.9% of my family lives in South Carolina. So summers with my dad meant summers with my whole family too. My dad’s family meant well. They truly did. I didn’t realize until I was much older that they just didn’t have a lot. At my dad’s mom’s house we would eat mayonnaise sandwiches, hot dogs, and generic corn flakes with canned milk. We would run around the yard all day playing with bow and arrows my great grandmother made out of sticks and twine. “Now whatever you kill, you have to eat,” she would say. Hence, we never killed anything. At night, my brother would catch fire flies for me, and put them in a mason jar. I begged my grandmother to poke holes in the top so my fire flies could breathe, and she obliged. Before bed, I would lay in the bed with my great grandmother and watch the black and white version of the Beverly Hill Billy’s, because they didn’t have cable. I would always try to get her to admit that she was secretly the granny from the show. I don’t think I realized that woman was white for a long time, but in my defense they looked an awful lot alike. My mom’s parents spoiled us rotten. When we went over there we had all the good snacks, trips to the mall, my Big Ma’s cooking, and I could watch music videos all freaking day. Now this was the 90’s. The heyday of music videos. This is when I realized that Lil Kim was the shit. Her persona, and image were everything to me. I never fully understood her lyrics (thank God, I was a child for crying out loud) but I knew I wanted to command respect like she did. All little black girls who grew up in the 90’s wanted to look like Aaliyah (if you didn’t I don’t trust you) but I wanted to be a boss like Lil Kim. I watched the video for “Crush on You” like it was Shakespearean theatre. I mean I was tuned in. I knew the choregraphy, decided that the blue scene was my favorite, and inadvertently knew all of the lyrics. I never wanted to be overtly sexual like her, but based on what I saw, no one effed with Lil Kim.
Now let me explain to you what I looked like during the summers of my youth. I had a lot of hair. A whole lot. I would’ve been natural hair goals if social media were a thing, and it was cool to be natural back then. I had big dreams of being on a Just For Me relaxer box, but alas my day in the sun never came. There was no edge control, or curl puddings, or YouTube tutorials, or things of that nature back then. I either got box braids, or my grandmother’s best friend would press my hair using Vaseline and a hot comb off the stove. To this day, nothing has ever gotten my hair as straight as good ole Mama Carrie and that Vaseline. I got my first relaxer at 15, and still I swear that Vaseline press out was the straightest my hair ever was, but once that humidity hit it, it was over. Anyway, there would always be about a two week lag between the time I arrived in South Carolina, and when I got my obligatory summer braids. Mind you, I am living with my dad who knows nothing about doing hair, let alone natural hair. Hence, my big head of hair was at the mercy of the sun and humidity of Spartanburg, South Carolina. I was a…interesting looking kid. My brother swears this isn’t true, but you always look better to the people who love you most. Just to add insult to injury, I woke up one day and had boobs. They came out of nowhere, and I wanted nothing more than to hide them from the world and myself. As soon as my grandmother saw that I needed bras, we went to JC Penny’s and bought all of the training bra sets. It should be noted that I grew out of them almost instantly. She made me swear that from that day forward I would wear a bra every day for the rest of my life. Bras
Now that you have a good idea of how unfortunate looking I was, let me set the scene for you. My dad would put us in this summer camp at the same church every year. The cool girls of the camp were the girls who attended the church, and knew everybody. They weren’t particularly pretty, it’s just that I didn’t go there, so I was automatically wrong.
Each morning there was a praise and worship hour. This entailed the pastor of the church making you recite a scripture, and what it means to you. Let me just tell you that as a kid, no scripture meant very much to me. Life hadn’t fully kicked me in the balls yet, so I didn’t have a real understanding of the word of the God. I could recite a scripture, but I couldn’t give you a testimony about how it changed my life, because I had only been living for like ten years. After this embarrassing show of what I didn’t know about God, we would sing hymns, and then it was off to the gym before class started. I am irritated right now thinking about the fact that we had full on school in the summer. Why couldn’t we catch a break? Anyway, during this intermission we would all gather on the stage of the gym, and sing the latest songs, do dances, share gossip, and get roasted. Mostly I always got roasted. But guess why? They roasted me for being flat chested! If you know me now you know how insanely funny that is, because I am faaaaarrrrr from flat chested. I was like dude I’m developing over here, but how was I gonna prove that in church? So I just endured this relentless teasing every day. There I was with puffy hair, spaced out teeth, in the finest biker shorts Wal Mart had to offer, being joned for no good reason. Why didn’t I wear any of the cute stuff my mom packed for me? I don’t know. Again, this was my experimental phase. I think I enjoyed the freedom that came with my dad not giving a shit about appearance, and when in Rome, right? So this one day we are on a field trip, and my size 28B training bra was being the blow. So I dip off to take it off and hide it in my backpack purse (totally breaking my vow to Big Ma. Sorry Big Ma). For some stupid reason I left my purse out unattended, and one of the popular girls saw my bra. I will never forget that bra. It was green plaid, and had a front clasp. So this evil whore pulls my little bra out and starts tossing it around to everybody. And their overriding question was “you don’t have boobs, so why do you have this?” My thing was many of you are overweight, and therefore have boobs by default. My shade game wasn’t up to par back then, so I just sauntered away and cried somewhere. So you see, camp for me was some real bull shit. ‘Twas a cruel, cruel summer.
There we are in the gym once again singing all the hits of the 90’s. The popular girls of course ruled this too. They always sang the good parts of the songs. Let me put it like this, there was no way you could be Monica in the “Boy is Mine” if you wanted to join in. You were Brandy, or you didn’t get to play honey. So they get to “Crush on You” in this unspoken playlist, but they didn’t know the words. “This is my chance, but am I ready?!” I thought to myself. I whispered to one of the popular girls that I knew the words, but I wasn’t fully prepared to perform. They had just made fun of my bra, so this is a tough crowd. Being the little angel that she was, she yells “Jessica knows it!”
So everyone crowds around waiting for me to embarrass myself. “Go ahead, rap it, since you know it so well,” they taunted me. “Okay, but someone has to start off the chorus, so I know when to come in,” I said. So they start singing the chorus, and I am getting into my Lil Kim mode. Then I come in with “ayo shorty won’t you go get a bag of the lethal.” I had her cadence, mannerisms, inflections, and moves down. I nailed it. They were floored. I had redeemed myself to the cool kids, and as long as I was willing to perform Lil Kim’s verses of ”Crush on You” in a church gym, nobody really made fun of me anymore. So there you have it. That is how Lil Kim saved an awkward little black girl’s confidence at a bible summer camp.
Every day I have more than enough of what I need to get through the day. I open my mind, body, and spirit to receive abundance in every area of my life. I repeat this silent prayer to myself over and over again while I walk from Seventh Avenue to Twelfth Avenue to attend an event at Pier 92. My brain is overloading on anxious thoughts about financial liabilities, weight, writers block, career, and the fact that I am now more afraid than ever to be a black woman in a city living alone. I pass by about a hundred NYPD officers, and wonder “is he one of the good ones? Is she?” I pass through a myriad of smells on the homage to what I only now realize is a trade show for menswear. There’s the intoxicating allure of Thai food, ramen, and cookies, which is drowned out by smells of poverty and the people who think they’re too good to pick up their dog’s shit. Isn’t that just like life though? One minute your mouth is watering for the good things in life, and the next you choke back vomit from the shitty parts.
I finally arrive at the Pier, and take the elevator up to the venue space. The room is full of up and coming designers with their minimalist chic designs, and clear acrylic chairs (that I want to steal and take home to my place). The sun drenched space is buzzing with influencers, buyers, and “cool kids” carrying Budweiser bottles, because this is a sponsored event, and basically my main reason for coming. It looks like Solange and Alexander Wang had lots of urban hipster babies, and they all met up to meet their long lost siblings. There are Doc Martens, Yeezy’s, Stan Smith’s, grey dyed hair, and bull nose rings as far as the eye can see. My plus one has yet to arrive, so I take a leisurely walk through the maze of clothes in search of the bar. I finally see an opening to the outside area, and peek my head out to find my way to the booze. “Bar? It’s this way,” says a black girl with long locks. “Oh was it that obvious?” I retort with a laugh and a thank you.
New York is notorious for old industrial sites that someone re-functions into a cool space for hosting random events. I pass by a huge, rusted, metal contraption that I’m sure once served an important purpose here, as I follow the sounds of Future mixed into a Rae Sremmurd track. My calves are burning from my morning run, and lugging laundry up four flights of stairs. There is a pleasant breeze coming off the water, and life feels kind of cool. I grab a beer, even though the last time I drank a regular Budweiser was in college, and it didn’t end well. I sit on a plush white couch adorned with Budweiser logo pillows decorated with the American flag, and text directions to my plus one. As I sit, and vibe to the music, I am filled with pride in my city. It makes me so proud that Atlanta artists and producers basically rule music right now, and then an unexpected rage creeps up inside of me. I look around at all of these non-black people dancing and laughing to our music, doing the dances they’ve seen young, black kids from Atlanta doing on Instagram, wearing and selling our style of clothing, and I feel overwhelmed with anger and jealousy. They get to put our culture on for novelty and profit, enjoying the fruits of what it means to be black to us, and I am angry at their unknown privilege. I wonder if they have any concern for what is happening to the people from which their style and dance originated. I feel angry that they get to turn a blind eye to it, and pretend it’s not their problem. They get to walk the streets without fear, and anxiety of what will happen to them if a rogue police officer plays judge and jury on the street. They get to look at the footage of those men and young boys slain by police officers, and not feel the pain and fear of knowing they could be next. Do they have to fear for their sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, and friends the way we do? Did they spend a difficult week at work surrounded by people who don’t look like them, and have to put on a happy face over the sadness of the weaponizing and devaluing of their skin? They have the luxury of just living their lives without trying to figure out ways to protect themselves, and their children from the people who are supposed to protect them. I just sit there and wonder if they know, or if they care. Every stare feels like an insult. Every fake smile fuels the fire within, and all I can do is hold my invisible crown and think “you do not move me.” All the while I am thinking about all of these things, they continue to dance, and to laugh, and I wonder when we will ever be as free to be black as they are pretending to be black.
I was pleased to receive an unexpected call from you while I was doing my Saturday morning cleaning, in keeping with the tradition of black women from my end of the black spectrum. We laughed and encouraged each other and exchanged I can’t wait to see you’s. I was happy with the current state of things after we got off the phone.
It was deceptively beautiful outside that day. The sun was shining, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, yet it was still cold, ah the treachery. I had plans to meet my best friend Bria for lunch, so I invited another friend, Alice, along to join us. Alice is a damn good time. She’s still new to the city, and I always feel it my obligation to force people to have a great New York experience, so I invite her out all the time. After consuming an obscene amount of Cajun prepared seafood, Alice and I decided to go for margaritas at our favorite spot. I could feel the liquor taking over. Slurred speech didn’t compromise the sincerity of our conversation about life, love, career versus family, etc. When she asked me about you, I felt uneasy. Something in me didn’t feel settled and it wasn’t just the guacamole competing with the tequila in my stomach.
I made my way home and woke up the next day with the same uneasiness. I hadn’t heard from you, and I didn’t care. In fact, I felt like if you never called again I could be perfectly okay with that. Where did this sudden lack of interest come from? Maybe I was just having a moment, and it would pass. Suddenly Sunday turned to Monday as it does if you’re lucky, and then before I knew it Wednesday, and still no word from you. Certain that the sudden distaste I felt would subside, I reached out to you. You were just getting your phone back from Apple, which sounded like a lie, but I didn’t care enough to challenge you on it. I shared with you my concern over my freelance job not paying me on time, and how I wasn’t feeling an event I had to cover that night. I was nervous about paying my rent, and upset that I couldn’t indulge in the simple luxuries that a second stream of income allows for. Instead of offering support, you dismissively asked if I was on my period. The rage that sparked inside me I can’t even put into words. I stopped texting you.
A few days later you asked to see me, and I obliged in hopes that maybe the admiration I felt for you would come back upon seeing your face. With nervous excitement I answered the door. When I saw you I felt nothing. You smelled like weed and alcohol and I didn’t want you to get in my bed. Your imperfect smile was a little less endearing. Your lackadaisical walk lost its appeal, and your presence didn’t excite me in the least. We sat there in silence as I was trying to get the words right in my head to tell you how misogynistic you were for your comment. My argument fell on deaf ears because you refuse to be held accountable for anything. This reminded me of how unsympathetic you were to my cries the night you stood me up. This fueled the rage in me that I tried to keep at bay while the conversation turned into an argument. You patronized, talked over me, ignored my point, questioned my rhetoric, and failed at trying to simplify the situation. The uneasiness turned to distaste, and I wanted nothing more than for you to leave, and when I fell asleep in frustration you did. I breathed deeply with relief when I heard the door close behind you. I took off all of my clothes and stretched out across my bed in sheer bliss over your absence.
Maybe the dislike is permanent. Maybe I’m really over it. But why would I be? Why would I suddenly not want you? You’ve been inconsistent, sure, but am I no longer interested in working through that? What changed? Still I had hopes that there was some sort of stupid ass hormonal glitch and that I would get over whatever caused me to not want you anymore, so I asked you to come over again after you expressed no interest in seeing the new Avengers movie. I disliked you even more when I saw you this time. You were trying to be playful, and I wasn’t interested. You followed me around my small apartment, terrorizing me like the younger sibling I never had and I couldn’t fight it any longer. I asked you to leave. You did so with a kind of righteous indignation that made me even more elated to have your energy removed from my space.
I haven’t missed you. I haven’t been tempted to call or text. I don’t look at my phone in hopes of seeing your number appear, because I deleted you from my contacts. We were two people who gave each other a try, and at some point, for some reason I lost full interest, and maybe you lost interest in me as well. I thought I wanted a relationship so badly. I was so eager for that consistent companionship, and then suddenly I didn’t want it. Or maybe I just didn’t want it from you.
As of last Friday, I am the only one of my three best friends who isn’t engaged. The part of that, which scares me is that I don’t care. I am so turned off by the experience of you that I am now questioning if I even want what I thought I wanted. So now I’m wondering what the hell I want. Maybe I haven’t met the right person. Maybe there isn’t a right person for me. Maybe I secretly want one of those unconventional ass relationships that weirds people out, and elicits statements like “to each his own, but I don’t get it.” Maybe I still want the same ole thing, just with someone else. What I know for sure is that I am much happier without the anxiety and annoyance that you embodied. By no means do I think you’re a bad guy. I just know for a fact that you aren’t the guy for me. I’ve never felt this before. I’m usually the heartbroken girl over some guy who isn’t over his ex, or is afraid of commitment or some cliche shit like that. But this, this feels good. To be certain. To be sure. To be alone, but not lonely.
Why is it cold in here? What time is it? Do I have to wake up already? The sun isn’t up, or is it? Is it going to be an overcast day? You have your arms wrapped so securely around me, like you’re afraid I’ll float away if you don’t anchor me. How do you look the same when you’re asleep as you do when you’re awake? A bit of insecurity creeps in to steal this moment from me. I’m wondering what you think when the night disturbs your sleep and you see me. I remember the text you sent that told me how beautiful you think these moments are, but I don’t allow myself to fully believe you. I’m still guarded. You have yet to fully earn my trust and I wonder if you ever will again. I realize now why it’s cold. You opened the window for me, because you know how hot I get in my sleep. You know that I took two Valiums to kill the migraine I had been fighting against all day, and my body is way too limp to do it myself. The wind is making my shades scrape gently back and forth on the ledge of my window. I want to see what time it is, but if I move too much I’ll kill this moment. So I lay there so comfortable that it scares me. My mind starts to catch up to my body and worry sets in. If it’s morning, then my other job is now 7 days late paying me. My rent is due in a week. I need alternatives. What can I do to figure this out? Laundry. I have so much laundry. Did I work out this week? No. Guilt. I’m supposed to do a photoshoot on Saturday, but I haven’t the money or the body for it. I should’ve done more to prevent this. More guilt. I feel myself slipping back into sleep. I hear you stirring around, but not enough fully wake me. You pull my comforter back over me, and kiss my forehead, and tell me to have a good day. You close my window. You take my trash out when you leave. I hear the drumroll and awake to find that you’re gone, and now I have to face the day. Can I call in? I’m not ready. Snooze. Snooze. Damn I’m gonna be late.
I wonder if she can tell how annoyed I am with her talking to me. There’s something in her teeth, and I won’t tell her out of spite. She’ll figure it out. I’ve been sitting at my desk reading Their Eyes Were Watching God to pass the time. There are so many things to consider about the state of black people. The dynamics between black men and black women. The fact that so much of what was said here still applies now. Was she ahead of her time, or are we behind in our evolution? My thoughts get disturbed by people asking me to do this, or that. Work isn’t so bad. I would still rather be here than some of the other jobs I’ve had, but sometimes I fear the mask I put on to come here wears off. I fear that they can see my dissatisfaction with being the only black person here, and the most junior person here at that. Office politics play out in front of my desk all day, and I feel like I’m the only person in an audience watching a play, because I can’t believe the things they think are important are real. There isn’t enough strife in your personal life, so you come to work to create a little bit of friction just so you can feel alive, and I pity you. I pity you that talking down to people is the only thing you have to get you through. Ain’t you tired?
6:00 PM hits and I rush to the bathroom. I can change into the metallic gold dress I bought, put on my strappy heels, and my red lipstick and take off the mask. Now I can go live my real life. I’m adjusting myself in the mirror of the elevator, and I hope I don’t run into anyone on my way out. I don’t feel like lying about where I’m going, or exchanging pleasantries with “All Lives Matter” types. I want to go feel like myself. There’s a light drizzle, and I can’t really afford to take a cab. The Louboutin store is only a few blocks driving, but it would feel like an eternity walking in heels in the rain. Screw it. Cab it is. I get in and tell him the address.
As we pass by the stores on Madison Avenue, I flashback to three years ago. I was taking a cab halfway to the Louboutin store from school, because I couldn’t afford to pay for the whole ride there. I was terrified to take the subway back then, which is comical to me now. I got out and walked about seven blocks in the most uncomfortable flat shoes ever. It was raining that day too. The humidity had gotten to my edges, so I dipped into a coffee shop to check myself out. I smoothed out my hair and changed into my heels. I walked in on the plush red carpet that covers their floor. Down the stairs I could see a tall, thin blonde with boxes and boxes of red soles scattered about her feet, and sales people fawning over her. I wondered how many of those she’s going to buy, and how much of an impact it probably wouldn’t have on her account. I gave my quick pitch to the manager of the store and hand her my envelope clad resume and cover letter that had been revised a thousand times, going back and forth with my career advisor on campus. She humored me, but I knew in my heart that, that resume and cover letter would never see the light of day. They would stay in that envelope in the bottom of some drawer for years until someone finally tossed it. That was one of about a dozen passive rejections I got that year. As we pass by the Oscar de la Renta store that I had to run to a hundred times during my stint as an intern at the corporate office, I remember the feeling of validation from finally getting that yes a year after all those rejections. A smile creeps across my face.
We arrive at the store where they’re hosting a preview event for their Spring 2016 collection. I am in the back of the cab shuffling between one card or another trying to figure out which one will hurt the least to put this $11 ride on, but the machine is broken. He asks if I have cash, and I regretfully tell him no. We sit there in awkward silence until he finally just lets me out. A free cab ride. I walk into the store and give my name to the publicist working the door. There’s a server standing nearby with a silver tray of champagne and cocktails, as I walk across the same plush red carpet to the same counter, only this time my presence was requested here. I take the envelope of clues given to help us solve the murder mystery which is the premise of the event, and find that they gifted us a free Louboutin polish. I wonder if I can get an extra for Rivea. She would love this. My gold dress is drawing all kinds of compliments, and my red lip always gets a “what color is that?” from a few people. I chat with a girl from Staten Island about our handbag philosophies while an African server keeps refilling my champagne glass. He has very kind eyes, and a beautiful accent. After taking a few Snaps to make sure I get paid for attending this event, I head home.
I’m on the train listening to one of my favorite podcasts, and they’re discussing marriage. I think about how I actually feel about the subject myself. My opinion on it is always changing. I think about Janie as if she is a real person I know, and in a way she is. I think about where I left off in the book. She’s tried yet again to find happiness with a man, and happiness continues to elude her. So many women look at marriage like it’s supposed to complete them, and I wonder if that’s true. Not being married I can’t quite say. In church, they teach us that marriage should be everyone’s goal in life, and that you won’t be complete until you find that person and he finds you. I question that so often now. Have we been sold a lie? I see so few people who are happily married. I see so few people who are getting married who are excited about spending their life with someone. Rather they are stuck between excited for the wedding, and stressed out about paying for and planning it. I have friends who are slaves to the concept of marriage, because until they check that off of their list of things to do they won’t be happy. I think about how we are slaves to our bodies, because if we want to have children that window of time is only but so open. I think about how I never want to be somebody’s “baby mama,” and that Parker* is my only motivation for wanting to be married at some point. I want Parker to grow up in a home with both of their parents loving each other and loving them even more for completing us. I find myself thinking about Parker often. What I want to teach, what I hope to learn. What I hope to give. Parker won’t be able to say “before I was even thought of,” because I have thought of them so often without even knowing where they will come from. By the time I have showered and gotten into bed, I am happy where I am. I feel relieved that I don’t actually have to be either of those women struggling with marriage right now. I’m happy that I can just explore being me for now. I’m happy that when I need him, there’s a man who will come pick me up and make me blush over drinks. Who will hold my hand and stand on the outside closer to the street when we walk. Who will hold me securely as I sleep, and take out my trash when he leaves, and kiss my forehead to wish me well before I face the day without him. And right now, that’s all I need.
*What I’m naming my first child, boy or girl.
“The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.”
The current relevance of those words is piercing. Yet, in the end we see the celebration of black womanhood. It all comes together, and it’s just…magical. It was amazing to see such hoopla made over what is in its essence, at its core, a visual introspection into the complexities of living and loving as a black woman. That shit is dope.
Man. Life comes at you fast. I knew yesterday would be a long day. I had work at my day job, then two events to cover afterwards. It’s easy to get through a long day if I love what I’m wearing. Hence, why I think insurance should pay for my aesthetic upkeep. The way I see it, clothes are a part of the maintenance of my mental health wellness, but I digress. Around 3:00 is when I felt the exhaustion creep up, so I drank a strong cup of black tea to at least keep my eyes open.
When 6:00 hit, I was out the door and en route to the Americano hotel. I was on the 7 train and looked up to find that it was just me and a white business man wearing a cheap suit on the train car as Hudson Yards is now the last stop for that line. He was digging up his nose with such ferocity that I legit got nauseous. I know you see me sitting here. Why do you feel it is appropriate to do that in public? I was outraged and quickly got off the train and emptied almost all of my hand sanitizer into my palm. I emerge from the subway station a little confused and trying to get my bearings. I’m not sure where the hell I am, and I hate that, especially when I’m wearing heels. This happens to me often though, because I have a piss poor sense of direction. Something just told me to turn right, and I instantly knew where I was. I walked right up on the Coach building. The very steps I burst into tears on when I was fired a little over a year ago were right there in front of me. It was like walking into a crime scene. As I get closer to the steps I see a blonde haired woman with a cute little pixie cut and realize that it was the VP of the department I was cut from. She was such a nice woman. When I interviewed for that job, we found ourselves sitting in her large office talking for about an hour about life, love, faith, balancing it all. I have held on to her email address since then, and always wanted to email her just to tell her thank you, but I never did. I guess I was afraid she was disappointed in me or something, or that she probably didn’t give a shit. I walked up to her and said “hi, I’m sure you don’t remember me.” She cut me off and said, “Yes I do. You worked in allocation. How are you doing?” We chatted for a while and I told her how much I appreciated our conversation that day. She asked what I was doing now, and told me how happy she is that I moved on from there. I promised to email her and keep in touch as I scurried off to party.
Tonight’s event was Essence’s Best in Black Beauty Awards. I was headed to the pre-reception, and by the time I arrived Jazmine Sullivan and Elle Varner had already spoken. Sweet treats and hors d’oeuvres had already been picked over. Drinks had started to perspire, and people were slowly filing out to go to the awards. I recognized a few of the faces of bloggers, and influencers and proceeded to get Snaps for work. I felt awkward and immediately regretted not making someone come with me. I am notorious for going to things by myself, but in this moment I felt so self-conscious. I felt my imposter syndrome creep up, and narcissistically thought everyone was staring at me. “Am I out of place? Do I belong here? Do I look out of place? Ugh I have to get out of my own head,” I thought. The publicist running the event who I had been emailing for the past two weeks introduced herself and invited me to ride to the awards with her. She’s a little shorter than me with the cutest little baby bump. PR girls here are the absolute sweetest, and I’m basically nobody in terms of notoriety, so I just assume it’s part of their job. The best are the drunk white PR girls who start spilling the tea about who’s awful to work with.
We arrive at a warehouse venue space decorated like a carnival. There’s a Lady Gaga circa 2011 lookalike on stilts, twirling rings. Girls are walking around carrying trays of caramel, cajun, and buttered popcorn. Cotton candy machines are pumping, drinks are flowing, and the line for the gift bags is growing. I mingle for a while until my feet start to give me major attitude. I meet a guy who swears I can hit him up to use his Tommy Hilfiger discount. A gorgeous little brownie with a face beat for the Gods chats me up in line, and we exchange Instagram handles.
Someone taps me on the shoulder and I assume it is to tell me to get the hell out of the way, but it’s Kela Walker. “I love the way you put this together,” she says eyeing me up and down, and complimenting my dress. “Thank you so much,” I blush. A compliment from her is like next level. We exchange pleasantries and I tell her how I was just hawking over her Instagram looking for inspiration. I mispronounce her name, and she graciously corrects me (so embarrassing). We take a few selfies after we find our lighting, and part ways. Just when my feet are about to give up on me, I find a spot to chill and sit. The DJ’s have started to play Prince music, and an older Trinidadian woman tells me about how she was trying to get over the flu herself a few weeks ago, as she asks me how I feel about Prince’s death. Just as I’m about to change into my flats and head home, I see Tichina Arnold and Teyonah Parris on the step and repeat outside. Tichina Arnold is legend so I have to chat her up! I stalked her for a while to be honest, and finally got to take a pic with her. I need to research if she’s ever made any comparisons between herself and the character she’s most known for, Pam, because I swear that’s how she really acts. She is warm and humble but hilarious. “What do you attribute your longevity and success to in this business?” I ask as people are lined up to get pics with her. “I love what I do. I started when I was young. Show business is like your boyfriend. It can be really good to you sometimes, and it can be not so good to you sometimes. The question is will you still love it even when it’s not good to you?” She is talking to me like it’s just me and her in the room. It’s like talking to your mom’s cool sister who did really well in life. After she gives me a hug and I thank her for her contribution to the culture, I finally feel like I can go home having accomplished something.
It is a perfect Spring evening. It’s warm, but not too warm. The wind blows softly, and I’m a little nervous that I’m gonna have a Marilyn Monroe moment as my dress billows around my ankles. Just a little over a year ago I thought about leaving this place. I thought about giving up. The city had chewed me up, and spit me back out, and I was done. Now I am literally in the midst of my dreams. It’s not easy. It’s not perfect. I am tired as hell, but I am so thankful and so full.
It all started yesterday. I came in to the office super amped up on bulletproof coffee, ready to take on the day and make Tuesday my bitch. As an aside I find Tuesdays are the hardest weekdays to get through, because there’s nothing special about a Tuesday. Monday is the first day of the week, and while some look at it as draining as hell, I try to look at it as a fresh start. Wednesday is the middle of the week, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Thursday is the precursor to Friday, and it’s Shondaland day for a few months. Friday is the best day of the week. You work on Fridays so you have permission to have well-deserved fun. You can stay out late and make questionable decisions without having to wake up early the next day. All good things happen on Friday. Tuesday is just blah, so I think of it as the day you should indulge in something. Break your diet, have a drink, drink a coffee with an obscene amount of calories, just do something to get you through.
Anyway, back to the story. I did my usual morning routine of looking on fashion sites and social media to immerse myself in the social zeitgeist. This gives me inspiration for stories and sometimes life. As I was cruising through Twitter I saw that a fashion blogger I casually know was invited to hang out with a woman who is basically my fairy fashion God mother. I haven’t seen anyone with the actual career I want, but if I had to liken my career goals to anyone’s, it would be hers. I’ve been around her a few times, but was too nervous to say anything, plus I didn’t feel confident in my look at all. How can I present myself as a fashion writer when I don’t look the part? If back in the day when Kanye met Jay and he wasn’t prepared to spit bars, where would we be? There would be no ultralight beams!!! Upon reading this I instantly felt green with envy.
I reached out to a friend who is a publicist to
rant vent about how I feel overlooked in the industry. I RSVP’d attending to my own pity party as I started in on the “maybe I’m not working hard enough, maybe I’m not good enough speech.” She cut me off before I got too deep with it, and gave me some pretty solid, level headed advice. This is what I call a “Relax Bitch” moment. “You need to make you the face of your brand. More of you. Less of them,” she said matter of factly. “Your Instagram is full of other people, but we don’t see you. Look at Karen Civil, and these other people. They have a brand and they are the face of that brand. That’s not the case for you. You’re basically selling two different things here.” I thought long and hard about what she was saying. None of it was foreign to me. I’ve known that I need to do more style pics of myself for a while, but I thought I could skirt around it. I’m just not that confident in my style or my body these days, so putting both of those things on display sounds like the worse thing. People around me tend to think I look great, but how I feel and what they perceive are worlds apart. Style, much like body image is a very personal thing. So even if someone is telling you, you look great, if you don’t feel it, it’s like white noise.
Great style starts from the inside out. Even people who I think look ridiculous can still pull that off because they are comfortable looking ridiculous. I have seen so many girls who don’t have the prettiest faces, but because they carry themselves with a certain level of confidence, and therefore have great style, they appear stunning. They have this great energy that radiates off of them and attracts the right kind of attention. The kind that gets you noticed by the right people. Looks obviously aren’t everything, but having confidence, and therefore great style makes a world of difference in the way the world perceives you. Have you ever noticed how differently people at work respond to you when you like how you look?
I know this sounds insanely shallow, but we live in such an aesthetically driven society these days. For example, I literally got turned down to write for a publication because they said I didn’t have enough Instagram followers. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s valid. Fashion models nowadays actually get hired based on their following. While I have no interest in modeling, I do want a name in fashion, and in order to get that I have to prove my knowledge with my own look. Is that scary? Hell yeah. Is it odd that the success or failure of my brand relies on me promoting how I look? Hell yeah. But this is fashion, and fashion is visual, so I have to give the people some visuals (deep sigh). This means being comfortable with my weight (even while I’m transitioning to a smaller/healthier me) and confident in my style. It’s not just clothes and makeup. It’s really about how I feel about me. That lack of confidence is holding back, and has held me back for a while.
Jealousy will bring all kinds of hidden insecurities to the surface. When you start comparing yourself to others, hating on others, and being jealous, it’s time to self-evaluate. You can sit in it and be one of those people who comments horrible things under celebrity Instagram photos, or you can get to the root of it, and use it to motivate you. Otherwise it will manifest itself in ugly ways. Are you comfortable being Azealia Banks? I think not.
- November 2016
- September 2016
- July 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014