Sunday, April 2, 2017

Currently Reading: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

A couple weeks ago I needed a book for my 20+ flight to Thailand. I quickly spotted a familiar name in the airport bookstore and was excited to support #blackgirlmagic. (I was almost deterred by handsome ass Trevor Noah on the cover of his book but that price-tag, no ma'am. Not on that day)

I'm almost at the end of 'Year of Yes' and I felt compelled to share one of the many gems that fill it's pages. Not only for me but anyone who can find solace in her words:

We all spend our lives trying to follow the same path, live by the same rules.
I think we believe that happiness lies in following the same list of rules.
In being more like everyone else.
That? Is wrong.
There is no list of rules.
There is one rule.
The rule is: there are no rules.
Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. 

 Living my happy life with one rule.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I don't like Christmas yet

I want to. Everyone else does. But this time of year is the hardest time for me. It's weird, I'm fine on my mothers' birthday in September. Honestly I sometimes forget her birthday even though it's tattooed on my rib cage. A couple days after Thanksgiving however I remember Her voice, the call, the terror, the anger, and confusion. 

Poinsettias, bright lights, joyous friends and families begin to engulf my usually quiet life. I do my best to fall in line. I've even made my apartment a muted winter wonderland. But I am not as joyous as I may seem and feel like I have to be. I could have used the word 'passing' instead of 'death' huh. But it's too pretty of a word to describe how I'm currently feeling. I'm ready for the month to be over. Over the past year I've become a lot more honest and open with my feelings. The good and the bad. On one hand, its wonderful for some of my relationships and has brought me closer to some people in my life. On the other hand I've always suppressed and continue to suppress a lot of feelings I have about what happened in 2002. I've worked through some with a therapist but I coined the mantra, time does NOT heal all wounds. 

Today I was having a wonderful time hanging out with friends watching football. My fantasy team was pulling ahead in this weeks match up. My tummy was full of cookies and good baked ziti. A little time passed after my friends' fiancĂ© put on Christmas music and it happened. Tears and tears and tears. After some probing, my friends found out I needed them to turn the Christmas music off. While I want to continue to have the opportunity to participate in the holiday and hang out with friends, I've never gotten over the last Christmas with my mother. She had a stroke at work 3 days prior. The doctor told us that she would recover so I was selfishly annoyed that I had to go to the hospital on Christmas Day instead of eating a home cooked meal. What a selfish brat I was. Little did I know what would happen just two days later. 

I truly hope that one day I can feel joy when this time of year comes around. I know I'll have to for my future kids (who will know that EYE paid for all those wonderful gifts, not some fictional white man). 

But for now, I still don't like Christmas yet. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

I Did Get the Job: A Lesson in Patience

Earlier this year, I kicked myself for not applying to this position. I then went on to apply to several other positions at NYU and wasn't truly sure about how I would fit the culture of the office. Could I do the job? Hell yeah. Would I fit in? Ummmm....

When the Associate Director position opened up in my College, I applied right away and then told no one. I knew I would fit the culture, because I've worked here for the past two years. My normal routine was to tell CT, my little sister and my two best friends about my journey to a road that seemed to always end with no job offer. This time I decided to keep most of the journey to myself. That was until I couldn't hold it any longer. I talk to CT every night and tell him everything going on in my life, so there was no way I could or wanted to hide it from him. I interviewed and discussed my fears of rejection.  I obsessed over every detail of  the process. He listened and continued being the supportive partner I've come to love. After my interviews were over and I had a good feeling I would get the offer, I began sharing with my friends about the opportunity.

After several weeks, the offer finally came late Wednesday afternoon. I was filled with elation that I in fact got the offer and the salary requested.  I was both surprised and disappointed. I didn't have to negotiate because they readily approved my salary request as fair compensation for the new role. I had all of my bullet points ready. I deserve this salary because x, y, z AND a, b, c. My college has known to be a little tight with the purse, but not for me. Not this time. So accepting the offer was a no brainer.

I've spent the last few days doing my current role, training my replacement and actually doing my job. Needless to say, at times I'm a bit overwhelmed. Luckily, I'm too organized and busy to be stressed about any of it. I've been inundated with supportive emails from my colleagues and faculty members who I will be working closely with in my new role as Associate Director. This post is me taking a second to reflect. I graduated just 2 years ago and became an Assistant Director. Just two short years later, I am an Associate.

The email below I just received from a faculty member drove my excitement and gratefulness to another level. It really made me take a second and say, yes this is a great promotional opportunity with a lot of responsibility, but I can do this:

"On one hand, I am sad you are leaving your current position.  I think you are such a fabulous role model during our recruitment open houses. If I were visiting NYU as a potential applicant, I would want to sign up on the spot because I would want to grow up to be like you.

However, I am so happy because you will do a wonderful job as Associate Director, and you are joining our little encove . We have a wonderful group."

OK my me time is up, back to my 3 jobs I go.

Update: A student I assisted also emailed me:

"Congratulations on your promotion. You might not remember the impact you had on my transitioning from high school to college but I am so thankful that you were there to help me last year with all of my many questions and help me transition my credits. May GOD bless you in all that you do, and may you receive many more promotions. Thank you for everything. "

Friday, November 6, 2015

31: A Handful of Aha Moments!

It's very fitting that my 300th post would have a very different tone than the other 299 posts of the past. Silent Scorpion, the Serial Dater, has died. Finally, right?! Parts of her will always be with me but I'm venturing into a new chapter and I love it because I love and fully trust my partner. He's not everything I thought I wanted and everything I didn't know I needed. Like seriously though, he has a beard. He has a full, thick, and soft beard.  I use to HATE beards. Daddy issues.

Since we entered each other's lives I've been met with continuous aha moments.

Aha it can be so simple!
Aha he can get you!
Aha he can love all of those things you don't even like about yourself!
Aha! Aha! Aha!

Over the past several months, I've been very slow to open up with acquaintances/friends (via social media) about him but very quick to share with those closest to me. I shout his name whenever I can and find comfort in knowing that he is as much committed to me as I to him. This was confirmed after my recent trip to his home country of the Bahamas this past weekend. (Of course he's from an island, refer to this post) What a way to bring in my birthday! I got to be with the man I love, as well as with the family he loves and holds near and dear. When we met and he told me no woman had ever met them, I must say I was relieved. Families had always scared me but with him, I found myself wanting to meet them, to see him through their eyes.

When I convey the story of how I ended up at a lunch table with his mother, two sisters, brother and two best friends without him, I fail to mention I could have easily avoided it all. When I was booking my ticket to Nassau, there were two options. Option 1, I could fly into Nassau and then catch a second flight 30 minutes later to Exuma. Option 2, I could fly into Nassau and leave a 5 hour window for what I thought would be awkward meet and greets. I chose the latter.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also nervous to be meeting all of them without him holding my hand, but I was just too excited that a man I had let into my heart, was letting down all preconceived notions of what family interactions might look like and fully allowing me into his. Although there were some awkward moments, as can be expected for such a meeting, the lunch was filled with laughter and sarcasm; my two most favorite things!

During both the car ride from and back to the airport, both of his best friends shared their excitement in meeting me. Really? Me?! Chile. This black girl surely blushed. They confirmed to me what I already knew and for that I am grateful. Even though his words carry so much value, hearing them repeat to me all the things he's already told me was still pleasing to my ears. It was funny to hear them share he feels like since the moment we met, I "got" him. I use the exact same phrasing when describing our initial meeting. Well the second initial one, the first one doesn't count in my eyes since I was busy being my overly friendly (read: disinterested and standoffish) self.

It was refreshing to see a different side of him when we were with the rest of his family on his island. I didn't need to hold his hand as I chatted with his grandmother, but it was nice to be able to look over at him if I needed to. By the end of our trip, I was hanging out with grandma, one on one. Which reminds me, I need to send her my (read: Google's) Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe. The pie I made was a hit with grandma. A cute girl, who can cook?!! She told me to make sure I come back soon. I see you plotting grandma. I promise I'll be back soon!

He whisked me back to Nassau for the remainder of my trip. And by whisked I mean, we almost missed our flight because he is truly a man of the island and time is not of the essence. I promise I'm working on my patience, ya'll. I think I handled our delayed journey to the airport pretty well, but for him I will do better.

Between the water front breakfast, massages, homemade conch salad and pumpkin duff a la his little brother (he heard it was my fav and made it for me), bottle of wine from pop (I get to call his father that now; although I haven't told him yet), drinks on the beach, a gift that screams SILENT! (like seriously he remembered a conversation we had 2 months earlier) and a dinner just the two of us, my 31st birthday was one big AHA moment.

AHA you deserve every bit of this!*

*just go back and read the 299 posts before this if you don't believe me.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Natural High

I wish I could take this feeling I've had for the past couple of months and bottle it up. The feeling of love, support and encouragement. It is such a euphoric feeling to be surrounded by light and laughter all the time.

I'm holding on as tight as humanly possible with both hands. This feeling is better than any feeling the best depressant or stimulant money can provide.

I'm not normally a woman of few words but I hesitate to go any further. So I'll stop right here.

I'll just ride the natural high I'm on for as long as God see's fit.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flash Back Friday: Dear Mr. No Chemistry

Dear Mr. No Chemistry

MARCH 4, 2010
I received a comment on my Facebook status after I expressed grief over the tragic passing of my coworker from a guy I dated briefly. We had gone on a few dates but we both realized we had no chemistry and stopped pursuing each other. In my Facebook status, I also mentioned that we shouldn’t take life for granted and should tell our loved ones how we feel more often.
Sorry to hear about your co-worker. Life is real short. Since we are being vulnerable…I’ve always wanted to tell you I like the Lakers (something we constantly jokingly argued about. He was a vocal Lakers Hater) and our time at [restaurant] was pretty fun. Hope you are ok.
With respect,
Mr. No Chemistry
He also followed up with a personal message in my inbox. The Facebook status comment was heart warming enough but the fact that he put time and effort to send a private message immediately following truly made me feel cared for. He knew that the comment about the Lakers would make me laugh at a time when I didn’t feel like smiling.
Here’s my open letter to him:
Dear Mr. No Chemistry,
When I met you I thought our meeting had the potential to grow into wonderful relationship. Soon after our initial conversation, I could tell you were a man of God, and a true gentleman with a kind heart, and had the potential to become above all else, a real friend.  You had a smile that wouldn’t quit and the ability to keep me laughing even when I  had no desire. Only problem was we had no chemistry. We went on 3 dates and eventually parted ways amicably. Two days quickly turned into 2 weeks before I realized I hadn’t heard from you.
Even though things didn’t work out between us, you have restored my faith in men. I know there is a man or several out there for me, who will be all the things he is supposed to be. I’m opening my heart to the possibility of meeting him one day.
I wish you well in your future endeavors and I hope that you find what you are looking for. It didn’t work between us but I know you’re going to make some other woman very happy. I feel truly blessed to call a man like you my friend.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Thing About Dividing Blacks Based on Skin Color

I recently got into a heated debate with a colleague who is heading diversity recruitment efforts at my Alma mater. We were talking about what he found out after joining a higher education social work consortium. He was enjoying getting to know the network but felt like he needed to do more research on his own so that he could really understand what other schools were doing to diversify their schools. To him, the results were shocking. For me, well I went to 2 PWI's and have worked at the same one for the past few years. It wasn't all that shocking when he told me several highly ranked universities and colleges' websites did not include any persons of color. His exact words were, "they could at least fake like they cared by having just one person of color on the screen." I agreed, I know the statistics, most schools do not care about diversity. For a short while, admissions decisions could legally be based on race. Schools had quotas mandating at least 15% of the admitted class be persons of color. These laws have all but since ended. However, nearly one-third of public and private colleges claim to still consider race in their admission. I work for an institution that touts their diverse numbers in every publication humanly possible so yes for some being diverse is an aim, for others not so much. 

My friend then went on to discuss more websites he had browsed and described a prestigious university who did in fact have a person of color on their homepage. Immediately my not-that dark skin male friend then pointed out that it wasn't enough to have a light skin student on their homepage. He argued that they could have at least selected a dark skin student, if they were going to choose one.Wait, what? You just said no school had a person of color. Now you've found one and they aren't black enough?!  

I agreed that their fair skin could have been the reason, but countered that their could have been more at play. For one, we do not know how students were selected for the photo shoot or how the "candid" shots of students were taken. He insisted they selected this person "who barely looks black" because they were fair skin. 

Had this been 4 years ago I probably would not have engaged him in any deep conversation and just agreed with his argument. Because during that time, I was simple minded too. "But of course they chose a racially ambiguous with fair skin to be the face of their diversity," I would have exclaimed. "I'm not even surprised," would have immediately followed.  He spent the better half of an hour trying to get me to see his point of view. I told him the reasons I did not agree with his focus on the skin tone of the one person instead of the number of persons of color shown. He continued to argue that they ("white people") had chosen this fair skin black person because they racially ambiguous looking. After another exchange of us just not being on the same page, I politely told him we could agree to disagree. Later on in the day at almost 5pm, he asked me if I had changed my mind based on his argument. Since this entire exchange happened over Gchat, I had just gotten busy at work working and left the conversation alone. I ended up logging off for the day before I got his follow up message. When the clock strikes 5, I am usually halfway out the door and the day was no different.

When I was on my way home I reflected about the reasons why the color of the persons skin wasn't my main focal point. Why wasn't I too enraged that a light skin person being the representative for all black people. Normally I would have just gone along, being that I am a dark skin black woman myself. However, things my thoughts about skin tone have changed over the last four years, for good reason. I now have a almost 4 year old nephew who is as fair as they come. He takes after his father who is half white and Belizean, and who's skin makes can't go without sun block in the sunniest of days. This very fair skin tone has been passed on to my adorable nephew. I remember a few years ago when it dawned on me that my love might not so easily be seen as just black. His mother is black, her sister is black. We're all black, why would anyone question his level of blackness. Are there levels to his blackness? Recognizing that he is an individual, I do not automatically assume he will want to share our identity. His father didn't readily, so I don't assume he will either. I want him to embrace being a black man and I'll support and instill those values in him. I'll be damned if anyone questions his black identity because of the fairness of his skin.

My thoughts are no longer so narrow minded to assume that blackness is simply defined by the intensity of melanin. My beautiful mixed race nephew has opened my mind in ways he can't even fathom. I can only ascertain from his few years on Earth that my views will continue to transform as we both grow older and wiser. To my colleagues dismay, I did not concede my argument after he followed up the next day. Much to his chagrin I stood by my belief that separating a race of people by skin tone was just a decisive measure. We all know where it came from, so I wasn't going to participate in that kind of conversation in 2015. We're all a little mixed up anyway. Why does it matter so much that they chose a light skin person? Especially when other schools do not even have just one.

It's more important that they only had one person of color on the website, not that the one person was a fair skin but obviously (to him) black person.

Is diversity important? Hell yeah. My career in admission is focused on being an advocate for diversity. Is the type of skin tone diversity as important, absolutely not. Could the fair skin of the black person be the reason they were selected to be on the page, absolutely. Let's not divide ourselves based on the darkness of our skin, black people. All my black is beautiful.
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