Coping with Loss

COPING WITH LOSS

It’s not easy. Never has been, never will be. I will say I am blessed to still have a lot of people around me, but sadly they have all experienced loss in their own way. This year more than ever, the world has experienced such deep losses. The coronavirus has taken so many relatives from us in such a brutal way, and we’ve lost such massive heroes like Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman. It really never gets any easier, but in a way it brings us closer together.

I am extremely lucky to say I still have my mom, dad, and brother. Because not everyone can say that. I do however feel like I had to comprehend death at a very young age, which has always made me look at life a little differently. Though most memories from my childhood are a little foggy, I will never forget the moments before and after I experienced each of these great losses. In September 2001, I had just started a new school and was finally starting 1st grade. It was a pretty pivotal moment in my life! Then a few days later one of the most tragic moments in U.S. history occurred. It was a pretty normal day, I remember I was heading to lunch and then my teacher told me that my dad had come to pick me up from school. I was obviously pretty confused and didn’t want to leave my friends, but my dad insisted that I go get my backpack ASAP and we zoomed home. I still had no idea what was going on, until we got home and turned on the news. Being that I was only six, I couldn’t exactly comprehend what I was watching. Of course, my parents explained to me in the best way they could, as did my teachers the following day. Now that I’m 25, I cannot even imagine having to explain something so traumatic to a group of first graders. What made matters worse, is that because we were all living in New York, several dads would travel back and forth from NYC and unfortunately a lot of them lost their lives. The older I got, the more people I met that’s families were effected by this tragic day. Though decades have passed, I’ll never forget that day, especially as a New Yorker.

Though my family was not effected directly by 9/11, the years after that were pretty tumultuous. My aunt was unfortunately very sick. She was always such a bright spot in our family. I was pretty young when she passed, but I’ve always heard such great stories about her and how she always kept everyone on their toes and always had them laughing. Sometimes my dad even says I remind him of her in certain ways. Once again, even though I don’t remember many personal stories between us, I remember exactly what happened when she passed. We were all in my grandmother’s house gathered as a family, sadly we were all aware that these would be her final moments. I remember my dad bringing my brother up to say goodbye, he was a baby, so of course the memory wouldn’t stick with him. But I remember once she finally passed, my mom removed me from the house so I could remember her at her best. We went on a drive and talked about everything that happened, and how unfortunate it was for my cousins to lose their mother at such young ages. Because my dad had previously experienced a loss of his own parent, he knew exactly what they were going through, and has always made sure to keep a watchful eye on them.

I never got to meet my dad’s dad. But I definitely have seen how it has effected him. My mom and dad had just started dating around the time that my grandfather passed. My dad was finally finding success in his field and was happy to be in a good place in his life. Before my grandfather passed, he and my dad weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. My dad was away for business, but for some reason, my dad felt it in his heart to go back home and apologize to his father and let him know he’ll always love him no matter what issues come up. And soon after that, he passed away. Though all losses are deeply tragic in their own way, I can’t even imagine the grief he would’ve felt had he not made up with him. So that has always stuck with me.

A few years after my aunt passed, my great grandpa and grandpa were both battling cancer. A battle that they both sadly lost within the same year. At this point I was a little older, probably around 8 or 9. So I fully understood what was happening, but I didn’t quite understand why. It didn’t seem fair. These were supposed to be the best times of my life, spending holidays with my big family and making memories to cherish for years to come. But most of my memories of them are visiting them in the hospital. One of my fondest memories of my grandpa was watching the movie Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck. Gosh, that movie was so horrible. But it’s always had a special place in my heart because it’s one of the few moments we got to share before he passed. I actually have not watched that movie since then, because I feel like it will diminish the memory I have with my grandpa. I was learning how to play the piano at that time and was still too shy to play in front of anyone. He would always say one day he’ll get to hear me play. I would tease him and say “nope!”, when in reality I was practicing to make sure whatever I played would be perfect. But sadly, I never got to play for him. And It breaks me up every time I think about it. Though most might now see me as impulsive, because of how long I waited to play one little stupid song on the piano for my grandpa I’ve told myself that if I’m going to do something, I’m not going to waste time and hesitate.

Earlier that same year I lost my great grandpa. From as far back as I can remember, he needed an Electrolarynx to speak. So that’s how I remember his voice in my head. But from all of the stories I heard, he always spoke with purpose and didn’t give a shit whether or not he hurt your feelings. He didn’t have time for tears, not in some sort of strict or stern way. But in the sense that life keeps moving on, so you better take the punches now or never. I’m sure he would be disgusted by Millennials LOL. He was such an important part of my grandma’s life, she was a daddy’s girl. That affection even poured onto my mom. He was tough on them, but they were still his princesses. To have lost both of them in the same year seems unfathomable and unfair. I still don’t understand why, but just like he taught us, we moved on and cherished the time we had with them and still remember them fondly. I can’t speak on what my mom, grandma, and great grandma felt after losing a grandfather, father, and husband. But I know for me, it was a pretty dark time. I kind of felt like there was no point in building relationships if they were just going to be snatched away from me. So I became pretty closed off. But now that I’m older, I understand that isn’t the best method. When you open yourself to make positive memories, you’re able to remember those people in a positive light. And though they may not be there in spirit, the things they left behind can always serve as a guiding light.

By time I got to High School, I experienced losses in other ways. But not in terms of loss of life. High school is hard enough as it is. Everyone is trying to figure themselves out. I remember one kid in particular who was a few years older than me. He was right on track with his life. He was a superstar track athlete and an exceptional scholar. On top of that, he was super nice! I didn’t know him as well as my peers but he and I would always tease one another in the halls. I never really cared about being popular in high school, but it always made me feel good to know that he saw who I was. He didn’t have any ulterior motives, he was just a genuinely nice guy. At the high school I went to, the senior class is allowed to drive off campus to get lunch. Besides all the proms, and graduations, being able to drive off campus was one of the pivotal parts of becoming a senior. At the time, I was in 10th grade, I had just gotten my permit and was learning how to drive. I was excited to be able to drive off campus in two years too. Sadly this very same thing, we all look forward to eventually became something we feared. Because one day this same kind student and his friends were coming back from lunch and got in a car accident which resulted in his death. Once again, it didn’t feel fair. Why would someone with so much potential’s life be cut so short? This was also the first time I experienced someones death that was actually close to my age. I didn’t even want to learn drive anymore. I kept thinking, what is stopping the universe from choosing me next? I remember my dad taking me on a drive, and he took me to the exact spot that the tragic event occurred, letting me know that I would be okay. It helped, but I never used that route after that. Though everyone (especially his family) was grieving, the community was able to come together for once. Our school offered therapy and planned several memorials so we can highlight just how great he was. His brother actually was in our class, and at the time one of his favorite football teams was the Philadelphia Eagles. Our class all worked together to reach out to his favorite player, and it worked! He sent his condolences to our classmate, and though this didn’t change the issue at hand, it definitely made him feel as though he had a community behind him that cared and that he wasn’t alone in his grief. While writing this, I didn’t even realize how much time had passed. This tragic situation occurred almost 10 years ago. Though I’m not personally close with the family, I think about them pretty often and hope that they are doing OK.

When my parents, brother and I moved to California, I was afraid to leave some of my extended family behind. We were so far away, so if something happened we wouldn’t be able to get to them fast enough. Before we left, my great grandma was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This is a pretty common condition, but it’s never easy to see a loved one go through it. She was always such a sassy little lady who loved to bake and dress up. It was really hard to see her lose herself and not be able to do all the things she loved. I always loved going to her house to watch old TV shows like Match Game or Gilligan’s Island. She’s also one of the main reasons I love pop culture! She always had tons of magazines in her house and knew all of the celebrity gossip, she was TMZ before TMZ! I am so grateful I got to spend time with her. I would always brag to everyone that I had a great grandma! I mean how cool is that? I got to be a part of four generations of strong, confident, and well-rounded women. Speaking of well-rounded, I have her to thank for my curvy figure! After my great grandpa passed, she continued to get up and go to work well into her seventies. And that always inspired me. Having a strong work ethic is important, but especially as a black woman. Because I experienced so much loss in my life, I knew in the back of my mind that when we went to visit to the nursing home before we moved, it would be my last time seeing her. Everyday I would pray for her hoping that maybe things would get better, but I also prepared myself so I can be strong for my mom. I’ll never forget the day she passed, it was an average quiet day. My mom, brother and I were all in our own rooms doing our own thing. Then I suddenly heard a scream. My brother and I immediately ran out of our rooms and ran downstairs. We’re a pretty low key family, so we knew something bad had to have happened. I came downstairs to find my mom hysterically crying and she told us the bad news. Obviously I was distraught to hear this, but I switched gears and held on to my mom as tight as I could and made sure was able to grieve while I handled the situation. We called my dad and he raced home. I decided to stay back in California and take care of the house and bring my brother to and from school. I grieved in my own time, but what was more important to me was making sure that everyone else was OK. I made sure I continued to be strong and supportive just like my great grandma and great grandpa taught us.

Most recently the two losses I experienced were my dog Chuck, and our family dog Kobe. I’m sure most people wouldn’t consider the loss of a pet as great as the loss of a relative. But their deaths still leave a hole in your heart. Chuck was my first dog, he was the first thing I could say was “mine”. To be honest, because I was so young when I first got him, I didn’t exactly appreciate him. But once we moved out here he was all I really had. I didn’t have any friends, sure I had my family, but it’s not the same. His original owner was actually going to give him away because they didn’t want to take care of him. I had to beg, but eventually my parents let me take him home. Chuck was always pretty sickly, so I was forced to take extra care with him. After his first hospital visit, I would go to the vet everyday for hours. I would feed him and play music for him until visiting hours were over. He was always in and out of the vet and eventually he was tired, and I totally understood. He was a fighter, that’s why I named him Chuck, just like Chuck Norris. I remember when I said my goodbyes, I couldn’t handle seeing him hooked up to all sorts of tubes and wrapped up in casts. But once he heard my voice, he used all his power to stand up and even tried to jump into my arms. I felt like this was his way of letting me know he appreciated all that I did for him, and that he would be OK. Again, it didn’t feel fair. Chuck was only eight, which is so young for a dog to be so sickly. But I realize Chuck taught me everything I know about how to love, which is why Ozzy is so spoiled. I give Ozzy an excessive amount of attention, because you truly never know how long you have with them. Kobe on the other hand was with us for a while. He passed away during the quarantine. He was nearly 20 years old and was clearly not living the best quality of life. My family decided to put him down because it would’ve been unfair to force him to live a miserable life. Though we loved him dearly, we wanted him to be at peace.

All of the losses I have experienced have been heavy on my mind because it feels like this year has been filled with TOO many. Though we can’t get these people back, we have no choice but to move forward with the lessons they taught us. It’s also important to cherish these people while they’re here because we truly don’t know how much time we have with them. Just like Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman, both of their lives were cut short in the primes of their lives. But they made the best of it while they were here. When doing research for a new tattoo, the concept of “Danse Macabre” came up. This phrase, an allegory from the Middle Ages, basically means that no matter our situation in life, death unites us all. And it’s true, you can be in the prime of your life and it could be cut short or loved one can be taken away. Though it might sound cliche, this is exactly why it’s important to live everyday like it’s your last. I’m sure I’ve given my parents a few frights, but I can’t afford to look back on my life and say I didn’t get to cherish each day.

ICONIC VMA OUTFITS

ICONIC VMA OUTFITS

I LOVED MTV back in the 2000’s. It has always meant so much to me and I credit it as the sole reason for my love of all things pop culture. One of the best times of the year since it’s inception in 1984, was the VMA’s. Every year people would rush to their TV’s and expect a wild ride from start to finish. When you have Britney Spears, Eminem, *NSYNC, Lil Kim, Prince, Madonna and SO many more all together in one room… you can’t possibly expect anything but madness. Besides the show itself, celebrities would ALWAYS show up and make an outrageous fashion statement. I’m sure many of the older generations were appalled by what they saw, but I was always LIVING for it.

Take a look below at some of the most memorable and iconic looks from the MTV VMA’s!

Through Thick & Thin

Through Thick & Thin

Just like relationships, maintaining friendships takes a lot of work. Though friendships aren’t always supposed to be a walk in the park, they shouldn’t be over complicated either. As I reflect on my life thus far, I can say I’ve definitely been able to develop meaningful friendships out of tough situations that have occurred throughout my life. Too often we throw the word “friend” around, and those same people barely even qualify as an acquaintance. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect friends to fight every single battle for me, nor do I expect them to agree with everything I say. But I do think a friend is expected to be there during the ups and downs. Through thick & thin!

As women we tend to bicker, it’s in our nature. We might call our best friend a bitch one day, and be dancing on top of the bar with her the next day. Coyote Ugly Style! My grandma and her best friend have been thick as thieves for over fifty years! Can you imagine?! Sure they don’t always agree on everything (I mean who does?), but at the end of the day, they support and love each other no matter what. If my grandma told her friend that somebody was talking smack, best believe she would bust down the door coming to kick some ass and ask questions later. And I love that! If one silly little disagreement can end a friendship forever, then I don’t believe that friendship was meant to be. Even if some time and space is needed to start speaking again, a good friend will patch things up and move forward, because they know there’s nothing but love at the core.

My mom is extremely picky about who she is friends with. (Definitely where I got it from). My mom is very particular on who she calls her “friends” and who she lets into her personal life. She’s so private that she doesn’t even have social media, and has never had the desire to (sending her memes is so hard though ugh.) Recently she reconnected with someone who she had considered her best friend before I was even born. I never really knew why they had fallen out, I was pretty young when it happened. But I definitely noticed when she stopped coming around. They hadn’t spoken for over a decade, and then one day her friend reached out to my dad and uncle, ironically, through social media. Even though SO much time had passed, my mom always knew her friend was a genuine person. There was never any sort of competition or comparison, just support for one another. Because of this, my mom was more than willing to accept her back into her life. And she’s been a great addition to our lives! She always supports me and my brother’s achievements, she’s definitely one of our biggest hype women LOL. My mom doesn’t tell her to do that, and she doesn’t even have to. But she does it because she’s truly good friend to my mom and she knows how important her kids are to her.

Though I can now say I have a few good friends that I would drop everything for, the road to get here wasn’t easy. Recently when I was starting this blog, I reached out to some people on my friends list and asked if they would mind supporting/following me. I reached out to one particular friend I had gone to prom with, and even spent time with in NYC last time I was there. He definitely has changed A LOT since high school… for the worst. During high school, he struggled with fitting in and with his sexuality, and I would always be there to lend an ear when he needed to vent. Last time we saw each other he discussed some personal family drama he had been dealing with, so after learning this I would try my best to reach out and send his mom my well wishes. But when I realize someone isn’t giving me back the same love… I’m not going to continue doing so. Through the past seven years I have lived in California I have gone through a fucking LOT. One of those MANY things was having a goddamn tumor on the nerves of my face. (I’m tumor free now though, yay!) Did he reach out to me at all to send condolences? Nope! He would see my IG stories and posts everyday, so he can’t say he “didn’t know”. So recently when I reached out to ask for his support on my blog, he had the fucking audacity to say I was “sketch” and using him for followers. Yeah… I’m soooo jealous of your 1,000 followers. SIR… if you don’t get your clout chasing ass a dose of reality ASAP… puhLEASE! He even brought up the fact that he was still mad, (3-4 years later mind you), that I didn’t come meet him in Huntington Beach. My mommy and daddy don’t pay for me sweetie. Sure they help me out with certain things, but I pay my own monthly bills, I pay my own insurance, and whatever else. I have to get up early and go to work as well as save/manage my money properly. So NO, as I already had explained, I am not paying $300-400 on a round trip Uber nor am I driving back alone from Huntington Beach at 2am after a night of drinking in the middle of the week. It’s disgustingly selfish for someone to even get mad about something like that. I even offered to meet somewhere in between on my day off, but that wasn’t good enough. Sure people grow apart, but you’re not going to accuse me of some bullshit. CTRL + ALT + DELTE outta my life!

I hate talking about my middle/high school experience, because truthfully I’m so over those miserable ass WASPY people. But I definitely did learn several lessons both inside and outside of the classroom. When I was in middle school I was friends with a girl who was on the promiscuous side. I mean, no judgement we all express ourselves in different ways… if that makes you happy… pop that thang girl! However people would constantly talk about her to me or say distasteful things when she wasn’t in the room. To which of course I would speak out against, and even mention to her what was said. But once I started to have problems of my own, it felt like I didn’t have the same support. I was a chubby black girl with glasses and braces among a class of skinny little white girls. I constantly dealt with feelings of self hatred and insecurity. I didn’t expect her to solve these problems whatsoever, but sometimes I just needed to know someone was there to listen. She was not. It felt like I was constantly bothering her with my emotions, and that I was only there to clean up all the messes she would make once she’d flirt with whatever guy friend I had at the time (something I’m now realizing was done on purpose). I would always take her to concerts, we would even go backstage! This check met JAY-Z, RIHANNA, AND BEYONCE OKAY. After a while it seemed like it was something she expected, rather than appreciated. Eventually she left the school and our friendship faded. I actually haven’t heard from her in years, I have no clue what she’s doing with her life. To be honest, I have no problem welcoming people back into my life just as my mom recently did, but sometimes people are removed from your life for good reasons.

Once I got to High School, I found a new “best friend”. She was a bit of an underdog. People weren’t very nice to her, but I like to see the good in people so I gave her a chance. For the most part our friendship wasn’t too bad. But I do feel like there was a bit of a cultural gap. For instance, she would come to my house and sit on our kitchen island… black people don’t play that shit. And I feel like that’s something I’d always have to remind her. Like, girl black people don’t go to country clubs. And anytime I WOULD go, I would hear “omg is this your adopted daughter?” Ah yes, because that’s the only way I’d be allowed in this shit hole establishment right? Not to toot my own horn, but I have certainly been in better and more affluent places than a fucking local country club, but I digress. I honestly don’t think this girl was a racist, but she definitely was fucking ignorant. She would constantly make comments about black hair, black people, etc. One time I forgot why this topic even came up, but for some reason I believe she and another classmate were talking about the actress Gabrielle Union. I don’t remember what the rest of the conversation entailed, because the only thing that stood out to me was when her lips had the audacity to form this statement. She looked over, pointed to me and said “Oh yeah, she’s more of a mocha color… like Tiffani!” First of all, I am a fine ass caramel swirl let’s not play boo! Second of all… how ignorant must you be to describe a black person (the same black person who has checked you SEVERAL times about the way you speak about black people) as MOCHA. Not only did I grow tired of her ignorance, I also grew tired of the blatant envy her and her mother possessed towards my family and I. Eventually our friendship faded as well, and I completely understood why. But when I continued to ask her for her side of things, she would act as though nothing was wrong. So the blatant ignorance, constant competition, and lack of communication really was the nail in the coffin for that friendship. Good riddance.

One good thing about that friendship was that it helped me meet one of my closest friends. When I moved to California, I was afraid this particular friendship would eventually fade out just like the others. Of course we’re busy with our own lives and don’t necessarily talk everyday, but we still manage to support one another thousands of miles away. In addition to that, we’ve also grown together. We’ve matured through the years and figured out our own paths while still being there for one another. We started out as two goofy camp counselors in training, and ten years later she’s finished grad school and is living her dreams as a teacher in NYC, while I am living my dreams in Los Angeles and working on reality TV shows. Who would’ve thought?! Not us LOL!

My other close friend, I met because I knocked on her dorm room door and introduced myself. For some reason I knew we would be friends for a while after that initial meeting. We are completely opposite personalities. She is very laid back and relaxed, and I’m always ready to turn up and turn out. But somehow it just works! Actually just the other day she called me asking if she could use my wi-fi to download something for work. Now, if anybody else would’ve called me at 8am asking for help… I definitely would’ve lied and said I missed the text. LET’S BE REAL. But because I know she would do the same for me, I got my ass up, dropped everything and made sure I was able to help in any way I could. I don’t expect anything in return, because I already know if I texted her saying I needed help she’d reciprocate. But also because our personalities differ, I would NEVER expect her to do anything out of her comfort zone, and vice versa. For instance, I know she doesn’t like to party, so I would never beg her to be my plus one at the bar. COYOTE UGLY STYLE!!! (Yes, I watched it recently, please forgive me LOL). But because we share the same sense of creativity and excitement towards life, we’ve been able to maintain a meaningful friendship for five years so far!

Sure friendships fade over time, and that’s perfectly natural. Things like distance and overall life changes can really put a strain on things. But often times, we tend to outgrow people… typically for the best. For example, you and your friend might have the same party mindset during college, but once one friend decides it’s time to get serious that friendship is likely to dissolve. When you realize that certain “friends” are only there for the high points in your life and not the low points, that friendship is also likely to dissolve. And truthfully, they weren’t even your friend in the first place. Because a true friend will be there through your worst times, and try to help you through it. It’s not your friends job to heal you, but it is important that they recognize when you’re struggling. However, if they only seem to bond with you during your low points, they probably don’t want to see you come out of it. As they say misery loves company! It’s normal for people to come in and out of your life, but make sure you find a few friends that will be there through thick and thin. Because those are the ones that’ll stick around forever!

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

Slow & Steady Wins the Race

So many of us thought that when we met the “love of our life” we would just know. Just like a movie, we were made to think that the clouds would part, birds would chirp, and harps would play in the distance. Unless you have two evil step sisters and a fairy god mother, this isn’t real life!

I have a hard time dating. At this point I can predict what will happen each time I meet someone. I can break down the play-by-play better than John Madden. First I’ll meet the guy, sometimes I’ll meet them through a friend or on a dating app. They are beyond eager to meet and are blown away by my electric personality and want to know everything about me (yes, I’m hyping myself up because SOMEBODY has to). Of course, me being a human, I get excited! I think maybe this one is going to work out. We finally hang out one on one… we get along great! Feels like we’ve known each other for years. Then 24 hours later comes “The Freakout”. They text me out of the blue saying they’re going through too much or not in a place to date blah blah blah, a bunch of bullshit. Even weirder, they still keep in contact or want to keep hanging out.

One guy who was a disaster of a human called me an hour after hanging out saying he wasn’t looking for a relationship. Yeah pal, neither was I… especially not with YOU. Plus a possible relationship was never even brought up in the first place. It was just two people hanging out. What was confusing to me, was that even though he didn’t want a relationship… he still wanted me to go see a movie and get dinner with him. You know, like what couples do. We even hung out and watched movies at his place. Only for him to freak out again, and yet still ask if we could still be friends… NO!?!? Honestly, I’m perfectly fine just chilling with someone without labels (I’m a busy lady!), but NOT when they’re constantly overthinking the situation. I don’t have time for indecisiveness. You’re a grown ass man.

Another guy I went on a date with, we went to a local bar had an awesome time filled with plenty of laughter. I asked him if he wanted to keep hanging out and watch a movie. And that’s exactly what we did… watch a movie! There was no pressure, I thought it was perfect. Apparently us cuddling on a DATE was too overwhelming for him. Before he even got home he texted me saying he was going through a lot and was embarrassed that he didn’t make any further moves, and went on this weird tangent saying he didn’t have intimacy issues and that he was just nervous. I reminded him we did exactly what we planned to do… hangout and watch a movie… so I wasn’t exactly sure what the freak out was for. To be honest, he was going through a lot. He had just moved here from Canada and was in grad school for architecture, which he wasn’t exactly doing well in. I get it, we all have drama. But what I DON’T like is when people ghost. Don’t be a f*cking pussy. If you can move to a whole new country, you should also have the balls to tell someone you need time to yourself. Because he assumed I wouldn’t be able to understand, he’d rather not communicate at all. Which is stupid.

Before the pandemic reached it’s full course. I had another movie date night! *rolls eyes* I should’ve known this dude was going to suck when Ozzy kept trying to sit in the middle of us. The date itself went well, we texted for a little while after. But then I stopped hearing from him. When I eventually confronted him to ask for an answer, said he didn’t feel a “spark”. First of all as I said before, that’s not a real fucking thing. Second of all, this guy was full of shit and kept trying to get me to hook up with him. He felt a spark alright… right in his damn pants.

Most recently I went on a date with a guy who on paper seemed perfect for me. We had the same taste in music, same goals in life, similar family background, same interests in documentaries and human rights. But in person, he was just as insecure as all the ones before. Nevertheless, I still thought the date went well, he even asked me to send him the playlist we had been vibing out to, and even asked if we could hang out again to which I agreed. Even though I had a good time… all I kept thinking to myself was “aaaand here comes the freakout!” Like clockwork the next day I get a long text saying that he isn’t in a place to get into a relationship at the moment but would love to keep hanging out one on one and being friends. He even asked if we could go on a hike when he is back in town. SIR! That IS dating.

I’m honestly still trying to comprehend how the fuck that’s any different from “getting to know someone”. And therein lies the issue. SO many people think that from the moment you meet someone, you’re supposed to be blown away, have some come to Jesus moment, and think “I have to marry this person NOW!” That’s not the case. Some of y’all need to stop watching so many movies. Relationships that are rushed and constantly under pressure are doomed from the start. I know someone that is basically living with someone THREE WEEKS after meeting them. She has already met his family… after WEEKS! Because they are a friend, I hope it lasts. But it’s impossible to keep up with that momentum. Also, for me personally, there is so much more I need to know about a person before just jumping into something. I’ve seen way too many True Crime series, I know how that shit ends!!!

Murderers aside, it’s important to know someone on a deeper level before making that full commitment. If you have a good time with someone, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to hang out without a title until you’re 100% sure. So many of my closest friends are in long term relationships with people they probably hadn’t seem themselves with. Not because they didn’t have similar interests, but because they started out just as friends. Some of them had been friends for years before realizing they liked one another. When I asked them all for advice they all gave the same two statements, “the best relationships are made from friendships” and “slow and steady wins the race.”

Oddly enough the two people I’ve known my entire life gave me the same advice… yep, you guessed it, my mom and dad! My mom was not feeling my dad with his trench coat and blond highlight when they first met. I mean girl, I don’t blame you LOL. They had known of each other for years through my uncle, but it was more of a passing friendship. My mom told me when they first started talking, they developed a good friendship first. They would talk on the phone everyday, and got to know each other over time. My great grandma would always say to my mom “Danielle! That boy with the raspy voice is on the phone for you again!” A few years later she ended up marrying that boy with the raspy voice, and in July they celebrated 27 years of marriage!

To be fair, I’ve definitely dodged some bullets with these guys. Sure, I understand that sometimes there simply just isn’t an attraction. Unfortunately that’s something you can’t change. People like what they like! However, when someone says they had a great time, are attracted to me, AND want to keep hanging out… it doesn’t exactly make sense to me. Yes, I know that I can come across very sure of myself and self-aware (well, because I am!), but often times I’m just as nervous and anxious as the next person. One would think being self-aware is a positive attribute, but when it comes to dating it’s more of a crutch. I’ve come to realize that this is what causes “The Freakout”. I wish rather than immediately jump to conclusions, these guys would take the time to know me beyond the surface. Yes I’m serious about my career and goals, but I’m in no rush to get into some whirlwind romance. Hopefully one day someone takes a chance on me and realizes that in fact, slow and steady does indeed win the race.

El Tejano

EL TEJANO

My quarantine situation isn’t too bad. I’ve got everything I need, food, workout videos, Netflix, etc. But some days I’m so eager to go meet my friends at the bar and throw back some drinks! It’s one of the best ways to de-stress in my opinion. When I was living at my parents house, I was so far away from all the bars that my friends were regulars at every weekend, so it was always hard for me to hangout. Now that I’ve moved, I’m just a quick 10 min away from everyone and everything! Howeverrrrrr we are in month 38409238 of quarantine, so I haven’t even been able to appreciate my proximity to all these fun places. Sad times.

Hands down my FAVORITE bar in the area is El Tejano. It’s spacious, has great music, fun games to play, and most importantly, the food drinks are amaaaaazing! Needless to say, I was thrilled when I found out this North Hollywood hotspot was only a seven minute drive away from my apartment!

Looking at the menu, one would think the food and drinks are a bit pricey. But once they bring out the HUGE servings, you’ll realize you’re getting your money’s worth. I know some places are open to guests, but I’d rather stay home and be safe in my own apartment for now. However, as soon as the coast is clear… I’m SPRINTING to El Tejano!

Being Black in the Workplace: The Fine Line Between Losing Your Dignity or Your Job

Being Black in the Workplace: The Fine Line Between Losing Your Dignity or Your Job

Most recently, people are being called out and held accountable for the racist comments they have made in the past. But that doesn’t mean people are necessarily going to stop, especially if they’re never called out for their actions. Sure we are living in the midst of a revolution, that doesn’t mean I forgot about the racist BS Dan* from music has said in the past. Or the things Carl* at the next desk over would say when he’d interject himself into conversations between me and my other black co workers. Being black in the workplace is already a struggle, we’re often juggling multiple titles and trying to break free from stereotypes. All while having to keep our cool when we hear our co-workers constantly spew micro-aggressions. On one hand, you don’t want to rock the boat and lose the opportunity you fought SO hard for. But on the other hand, they might catch you on the wrong day, and they’ll be sorry they ever even opened their mouths once you’re done reading them.

I’ve been dealing with micro-aggressions my entire life, at this point I can laugh the ignorance off. But there’s something different about when people in high places make racist comments… It feels as though they’re aware what they’re saying is fucked up, but they know nobody is ever going to call them out on it due to their position. I’ve worked at gyms and massage clinic’s and dealt with blatant and escalated racism. Honestly it was expected, pretty much anyone can walk into either location so you’re bound to encounter some people that are a unaware of social cues. But when you work somewhere like a notable production company, you’d think people are smart enough to watch what they say… not the case!

I worked at said production company for two years. I started as the receptionist and eventually moved upstairs to the executive floor. As receptionist, I would greet everyone in the morning and throughout the day, as most receptionists do. After a while you start to create a rapport with certain co-workers. One executive in particular would always bring up something hip-hop related anytime he would see me. Yeah, I listen to rap. I mean who doesn’t? Truthfully I listen to rock, house music, and jazz more than anything. It is so irritating when people think they have some sort of “in” with ALL black people. Just because you wear Supreme and have been to Kanye’s Sunday Service doesn’t mean you know ME. This same person even started to talk to me about smoking weed all the time. Not only is that just fucking weird to talk about with the receptionist, but also just because I’m black doesn’t mean I think smoking weed is cool. How about trying to ask me what types of things I as a person am interested in, instead assuming everyone in the black culture enjoys the same things. He even hit me with the “I grew up around a lot of black people…” and the best, “My best friend is black!” Whew, still makes my blood boil to this day. There’s several issues with this. CLEARLY nobody has called this man out! But also as the receptionist, I wasn’t going to be the one to do so. I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers or ruin an opportunity to move up in the future. Luckily, my co-worker finally had enough of this mans ludicrous behavior and called him out. They were restructuring our companies website and there was a call to add more diverse faces to the employee page. This WHITE man had the AUDACITY to say he represented more than enough diversity for the ENTIRE company. WILD!

Once I moved upstairs, the conversations got worse. Thank goodness I had another black women up there, otherwise I wouldn’t have survived as long as I did. It was fine for the first few months because I actually became close with the other assistant. But once they let her go, they immediately hired one of the most chaotic and ignorant human beings I’ve ever met in my entire twenty-five years of life. For starters, he was already given WAY too much praise before even proving his worth (something that came back to bite them all in the ass). Within his first full DAY of working at the office, he was already being included in meetings. I was livid because as someone who was kicking ass at her job, not ONCE was I ever invited into meetings. But because this overhyped white dude comes along, suddenly none of that matters. Turns out, not only was he an idiot, he had also been fired from his previous job and caused a scene so large that security had to escort him out of the building. It took him four months to learn how to answer the phone, which meant I always had to step up and do his job as well.

In addition to literally not contributing anything to the environment, he would constantly make racially insensitive remarks. Honestly, I have tried to block this man out of my memory, but there are several comments that will never go away. I recall him pitching a show idea to my co-worker, who is also white. This man, we’ll call him “Carl”, (although a more appropriate name would be “Cunt”) said that we should do a show that focused on “the help” of wealthy people around the world. However, he started his pitch by saying “Most people are racist and they don’t even realize it… for instance someone might say “look at that negro over there”.) Words cannot explain how badly I wanted to walk over to this mans desk and punch him in the face… but this wasn’t the end of it!

Like I said, he had a LOT of free time on his hands because he was never working, so he would read the news headlines. On this particular day, a video (which you can view for yourself below) of a woman at a CVS screaming the N-word and calling black people monkeys had surfaced on the internet. This man had the audacity to ask me “so how do you feel about all of this?” WHAT! WHAAAAT?! I was so dumbfounded by the ignorance of this question and all I could really say was “It sucks”.

Oh you thought I was done? Nope! My fellow black co-worker and I were having a private conversation about the fact that we’re often overlooked and that these executives immediately include their white assistants into the conversation without them even having to prove themselves like we do. Tell me WHY this dude then went to tell the assistant that the particular situation revolved around that “we didn’t like her”. Completely skewing the conversation to fit his own narrative, a conversation he wasn’t even a part of to begin with. Luckily my co-worker cursed him out and told him to keep her name out of her mouth. The final straw was when that same co-worker and I were having another PRIVATE conversation about black families and how much we praise our grannies. This motherf*cker had the gall to say “I wish I had a black grandma… sometimes my friends and I sit around and talk about how fun it would be to have a black grandma.” I already had enough of him and his ignorance LONG before he made this comment, but this was the final straw. Little did he know, I had been tracking every comment in my phone so I could finally go to HR and make them aware of his remarks.

He eventually got fired a few weeks later for an array of things, but I’m sure his slew of racist comments didn’t help his case either. It’s crazy that these people don’t see anything wrong with making comments like this. It’s even crazier that these are the same people who claim to be allies. Though there is no cure for ignorance, it’s important that we call these people out or else they will never learn. I can only speak on being black in the workplace, because that is my experience. This however goes for people of ALL races, religions, and sexualities. If we continue to apply pressure to these people, it’s possible that we can reframe their mindset so they can think before they speak… or they can at least learn to shut the hell up once in a while!

LOCKDOWN LOOKS

LOCKDOWN LOOKS

IT IS AUGUST. AUGUST! And we are STILL INSIDE. Truthfully I am a bit of a homebody, but I’ve had enough. I ordered so many cute outfits and shoes that are looking back at me like “Girl, what did you buy us for if you’re not going to ever wear us?!” and I say “I KNOW, it’s not me… it’s the Karens, I promise!”

Until we get this sh*t together, there are still other opportunities to flex some fits. You can get cute for your weekly grocery runs, or even the family zoom chat. Check out the outfits below and get ~inspired~ !!

Managing Your Mind

Managing Your Mind

Well, this is probably one of the hardest topics I’ve had to write about. I struggled all day with whether or not I should even discuss this because as I’ve mentioned before I’m not exactly comfortable with being vulnerable. However, I’m hoping that the more open I am with my struggle with mental health, the easier it will be to manage.

For starters, everyday is a struggle with mental health issues. It doesn’t come in waves, it’s not a switch, it’s a cloud that lingers over me everyday. Some days I am able to distract myself from my thoughts, but they never go away contrary to what people think.

When I was working, sure I would have my low days, but it was fairly easy to keep my head up because I was around friends and grateful that I had some sort of purpose or agenda each day. Working is what motivates me. I got my first official job when I was 15, and before that I would ask my dad what I could do around his office to make money. I worked while going to school, and when I finished school I immediately started working a week after my last day of classes. I was eager to continue my path in my field when I was hired for my new job. Up until that fateful day in March that I was told the new company I was working for was forced into a hiring freeze until possibly August (yep, it’s still on hold…) I immediately broke down not only because I would now be jobless, but because I knew how terrifying it would be for me to be alone with my own thoughts in my apartment for that long.

I had already put my two weeks in at the previous job, and was in the final three days of my position. After receiving the news, I asked if I would be able to at least stay on and take less money, because I was going to be unemployed for the unforeseeable future. My boss kept being vague with her responses, and when continued to ask, she said they wouldn’t be able to keep me on because they are “already looking for someone else who knows how to use photoshop and graphics.” Really? In the midst of a FUCKING pandemic I’m SURE you’re interviewing people in between figuring how to keep the business afloat. Please miss me with that. Also – I DO know how to do these things, I was just never asked to do them (even after I would ask how I could help).

I cried for about 3 days straight, because honestly I had no idea what the hell to do. I have never been jobless or not had some sort of agenda, so what was I supposed to do now? I had three days left in the previous job, but I woke up and said fuck it and emailed the HR team to let them know that it would be my last day. I didn’t answer anyone’s messages, because I know the only reason they reached out was to get a response for my boss… NOT because they genuinely cared for my well being. I didn’t really feel the need to answer my bosses demeaning texts after they (who neglected to properly train me), told me about six months into my time there that I wasn’t doing “enough” but they had been afraid to correct my behavior. How the? What the? I can really go on and on about that, but I’m not going to stray from the point of this post. I’m sure many would think my decision to quit was impulsive, but I’m not really sure what type of reaction they expected from me after telling me I basically wasn’t good enough.

For years, I had been able to distract myself by keeping myself busy 24/7. Even if I was burnt out, it was better than having a low moment. I’d like to add that, yes… I know things could be worse, people are dying and losing businesses and homes. But struggling with depression and anxiety on top of being alone, in an apartment, isolated from the world and the busy life I had lived before is no easy feat.

The days after I was officially deemed ~unemployed~ are still a blur. It was a real “oh sh*t” moment. Sure once the unemployment came through I was making double than my previous salary. But as they say money, doesn’t necessarily bring you happiness. There are times that I think to myself, well maybe if I no longer existed this would all just go away. I mean that’s the easiest solution right? Some days I feel so defeated that I rather lay on my couch for a week and be hungry, than go out and get groceries.

Despite all the madness and sadness, something in me still allows me to be optimistic. Most people would consider being a hopeful person something positive. But I sometimes see it as a crutch. Sometimes even smallest instance of false hope is enough to send me into a downward spiral, because I truly like to see the best in people and situations. Month by month I would hype myself up and think, “OK… only a few more weeks and it’ll be all over, your life will be back to normal soon.” Our dumbass government had us under the impression that this all would be knocked out by March. But then came April… May… June… and so on. Each month concluding with disappointment and crushed dreams.

I see so many people making the best of this time by finding love or moving their relationship to the next level. People are getting engaged, even having babies, and it’s beautiful! Because I’m a hopeful person, I figure hey you know what maybe I should check out those apps again. Only to get played by dudes with superiority complexes. I’ve even had to block so many “ex’s” that felt NOW would be a good time to start talking again. Sure I’m lonely, but those people are ex’s for a damn reason. Truthfully it’s a bit frightening and extremely stressful that people still have time to play mind games at a time like this.

On top of this all, the Black Lives Matter movement suddenly blew up with the death of George Floyd. Part of me is relieved that people finally began to listen and understand what the statement really means, but it’s extremely painful to have to relive so many situations from my past. I could barely sleep thinking that I might wake up tomorrow and see my brother as a hashtag. Of course, this is a thought I constantly have in the back of my mind, but the thoughts were now so loud and inescapable. I LOVE that people are speaking out on how black women are constantly neglected and mistreated, but it hurts to keep replaying situations from my life over and over again. It’s like opening up old wounds. So while I want to keep fighting the good fight, it’s painful to relive these things every single day.

Every day I ask myself what my purpose really is supposed to be. If I did everything right up until this point, what was all that work really for? I’m still not sure what the answer to that is yet. But what I do know is that though these are bizarre times, I’m not the only one struggling. This lockdown is not easy for anyone. Truthfully, it’s long overdue that I sit with my thoughts and reflect on my past, rather than constantly try to suppress them. I’m constantly trying to restructure my negative thoughts to positive ones. I would constantly blame myself for certain things falling apart in my life. But this pandemic truly has taught me that I really have no control over these situations, especially not one of this magnitude. I have come to realize that some of the things and people in my life NEEDED to be removed. I needed a full reset to really re-evaluate my relationships and expectations of myself. I’ve kept a wall up for decades so avoid getting hurt, but since teaching myself to be vulnerable in the appropriate situations, I feel like my relationships have improved drastically. Even with this blog, I always thought to myself “nobody cares what I have to say”, turns out people do! My whole life I’ve felt like I was some sort of alien, because I looked at life through a different lens than a lot of the people around me. But honestly what I’m feeling is scary, but relatively normal for someone who actually wants to do better for themselves. I feel like even though some days are harder than others, once this is over I’ll truly be stronger than I was at the start of this.

Finding Comfort in my Roots

FINDING COMFORT IN MY ROOTS

As a woman, hair is something that is very important to me. But as a black woman, hair is something I have always struggled with. Society tells us that our hair should be long, straight, and bouncy. Of course, this is only possible when you are born with a particular texture of hair. This stigma then creates tension within the black community, because of the expectations and societal pressures. There is always constantly a debate about having “good hair”. Chris Rock even made a whole documentary about this, aptly titled “Good Hair”. (A must watch for everyone of all backgrounds).

Though it appears black hairstyles are more accepted and celebrated now, this debate continues every day and has been going on for centuries. Protective and natural styles such as braids, dreads, and bantu knots are seen more frequently on red carpets and in photoshoots. But throughout the years, these hairstyles continue to be banned from schools and workplaces because they are viewed as wild or unkempt. So, to appease the masses, we use things like perms/relaxers and flat irons to straighten our hair, which actually results in long lasting damage. Because black hair is so thick and coarse, when heat is constantly applied to it, it gradually gets weaker and eventually falls out.

In the late 1960’s Angela Davis and Pam Grier’s afros were considered non-conformist behavior. Even when Cicely Tyson wore her braids on the cover of Jet magazine it was met with controversy. Afros even became somewhat of a symbol of rebellion and braids are always looked at as “ghetto”. However, this is the just natural texture of our hair and the styles that work best for us. It’s pretty wild to think that wearing our hair in it’s rightful state is automatically seen as a “political statement”. Sure I guess it could be considered a statement because we are opposing the standards forced upon us. But this is how we were actually meant to wear our hair. If there weren’t rules specifically meant to discriminate us, we would’ve been wearing natural afros and braided styles regardless. 

From as far back as I can remember, hair has always been an issue for me. My mother permed my hair at a young age and would put it in cornrows for the summer. To her this was normal, her mother did the same thing. Even all of my cousins, would show off their cornrows every summer. During the school year, it was easier for me to feel like I fit in with the white girls because my hair would be permed and straightened.

But once the summer came, so did all the questions about the “new” style of my hair. The corn rows on my head seemed like such an alien concept to them. My hair had been in all sorts of braid styles since I was a baby. Hell even Allen Iverson was rocking the straight backs at the time. But still they were so fascinated. Little do they know, people have been rocking all different styles of braids and cornrows for thousands of years. (Yes, THOUSANDS! It didn’t start in 2013 when the Kardashian’s started wearing them.) When I would go to camp, the constant questions and attention would make me SO uncomfortable. It was like they needed to make a point that I was indeed, different. I never understood why, because at the end of the day it’s just hair. But eventually I would let it get to me. And after my mom spent HOURS doing my hair the night before, I would come home with my braids all taken out. Needless to say she was pissed.

I have a LOT of hair, which makes it hard to manage. So my mom thought the best thing to do was to perm it. Eventually my hair broke off from harsh relaxers, so I moved on to wearing weaves to try to protect my hair. It felt amazing to finally have long hair down my like the white girls, but I became so addicted that I stopped giving my own hair the attention it needed. I was more focused on “fitting in” than the health of my hair. To this day, I still deal with aftereffects of wearing such tight weaves. I have developed a type of psoriasis that only occurs on my scalp and have to use a special shampoo once in a while to avoid hair loss. Regardless, I doubt I would have been able to wear any sort of natural styling because our handbook emphasized anyone wearing any outlandish hairstyles would be penalized. I recall teachers going up to the black boys and telling them they needed to get a haircut ASAP to avoid getting a DP (disciplinary point). And god forbid a black girl wear box braids or dreads, I don’t even think I ever saw any girls attempt it. However by the end of our time there, we were all either wearing weaves or suffering from heat damage. The sad part is, I was willing to let the hair on my head suffer just to avoid being the outcast.

For the past few years, I’ve been rocking some natural box braids (Poetic Justice braids as my dad calls them). My hair hasn’t been this healthy since I was about six years old, which is sad. It’s sad that for years I willingly let my hair suffer just because society has some vendetta against black hair. The irony of it all is that they take so much sh*t and make all these discriminatory rules, and then turn around and appropriate the same styles! 

It’s upsetting that black women have to put our hair through so much just to fit societies standards. Though there are still cases where children are reprimanded for wearing natural styles at school, we have certainly come a long way. Many black celebrities are able to wear natural styles without getting called out. (Like that time Giullana Rancic said Zendaya’s dreads looked like they smelled like patchouli oil… yeah I didn’t forget b**ch!) It is always disheartening how styles that have been around for thousands of years are still met with judgement. And for virtually NO real reason. If these styles are so “bad”, then why aren’t they bad when Kylie Jenner turns around and wears them to coachella? When it comes to black women’s hair there have certainly been plenty of strides in a positive direction. But I feel like part of the acceptance is only because white women are wearing the styles themselves. I hope we reach a point that black women are able to celebrate our culture through hair just as it was intended and not just because society has suddenly deemed it acceptable.