Thursday, April 24, 2014

That Moment When...

Your college calls and asks if you'll be alumni convocation speaker at this year's commencement ceremony. Chile, I couldn't quite hold it together. I'm thinking: Am I speaking before the real speaker? It's like me, then them.

Nope. They said they want to show students that this is where they could be in 10 years. Wait, what? God is good all the time, y'all.


Update on Mentoring

I am so happy I decided to do this, you guys! My first couple of weeks, I wasn't so sure I'd made the right decision. It's hard as hell to leave work on time and be anywhere by 6 p.m. Then I picked a day where the girls don't have "Group," so I was just sitting in the TV room with them, watching BET. Like, how is that helpful.

They all ask me questions and judge me:

Ms. T, are you married? Do you have kids? Do you want to get married? Do you even want kids? Why are you here? Why don't you stay longer like the other workers (Had to tell them the difference between volunteers and paid workers)? How are you going to get married and have kids and you don't even have a boyfriend? Like, what are you doing?

Chile, I have to put on the whole armor of God to go to mentor.

What's worse the girls come and go. So I could see someone this week, who I'll literally never see again.

BUT about 2 weeks ago, I was finally able to break the ice. I thought I was going to be like a teacher, taking them through life's lessons, but that's not my purpose. This group home is the girl's HOME, so my job (as told to me by the mentor coordinator) is to make their lives better. Fam, this is exactly what I'm called to do in ALL situations. I mean, do I not make your life better? ;-)

So one day instead of trying to talk them about condoms and going to college and making good decisions or whatever else, I brought a game of Taboo. It was about seven girls there and only one wanted to play, so I just played with her. But you know how fun Taboo is, by the end of my two hours all the girls were playing and the on-site staff had come in the TV room to play as well.

What's better, is that girls who had been giving me the cold shoulder were smiling and laughing and now they know when Ms.T comes, we're going to have a good time. We've also played Uno, Charades, and some game named Garbage with playing cards.

I also bring them magazines. I bring black mags because some counselor was there when I observed and had all the Glamour, Self, Shape (all white everything) mags. I was like no ma'am. They've started to make requests. Did you know Hip Hop magazine costs $6.99. MF for what?!?!?!?!

I let them use my phone, so I now have teenager selfies all over my phone and I basically just let them run all over me. (Except for foul language. I don't play that.)

One girl pulled up a song on YouTube and said "Ms. T, they curse a lot on this song, ok? Please don't trip."

She also asked me for $20 to which I replied o_O. Oh yes, they try it.

I asked them to show me how to do the Nae Nae. I failed miserably at that, but I tried. 

The point is, I'm really in love with these girls and I'm glad that just showing up and being myself is truly all I have to do to make someone's life better. How dope is that?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Need a Pep Talk

Ok, I'm concerned about my birthday. I remember the one year I had a bad birthday. I was turning 24 and I didn't reserve a bottle at the place we were going. It was super posh and exclusive, hence half of my friends didn't get in. We ended up at some reggae place on Division and my then-boyfriend kept trying to make me smile (in between he was asking me why I had my breasts out for the world to see). Um... it's my birthday. DUH!

I've not had a bad birthday since, but I'm starting to think I should have went home again this year. I decided to have my party at the Posh, fabulous place I found in Pittsburgh, but I don't think my guests are going to make the minimums (that's fine. I can afford the balance). I also just got the contract and it said that if a guest opens a tab and they don't pay, I have to pay for it. Man, wtf?

I don't really know these people in Pittsburgh THAT well to think if they'd skip out on a bill or not, but I know one of these millennials I was hanging out with said she only had $12 until the 30th and my party is on the 25th. People are going to be in there eating up the food I purchased and not drinking anything and even though I KNOW this is going to happen, I'm still going to get upset about it.

And here's the real problem, I'm not convinced that 30 people will come. I maybe have 20 RSVPs. MAYBE people will bring friends, but I highly doubt it. Also, I don't know anyone here well enough to be extremely drunk... but I'm definitely going to get extremely drunk.

THEN, I'm going to say how I really feel about Pittsburgh and then I'm going to hurt someone's feelings and then all of my new friends will be my new frenemies.

Or maybe it'll be just fine.

I don't know. Help me get out of my head. I need a peptalk. I'll start (because when I want to talk to someone with some sense, I consult myself.)

You are fabulous and amazing and your birthday will be awesome because you are awesome.

Ok, your turn.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Let's Go To Court...

Let's run the timeline

September 2013 - Car accident
Every month from then to now - Non-payment of my rental car fees by the other person's insurance
January 2014 - Horrible "We're not paying calls and letter" from the other person's insurance AND the car dealership guy gave me money out of his own pocket.
April 2014 - Someone told me that I should stop trying to figure this out on my own and just have State Farm (my insurance) handle it. I submitted the car rental claim to State Farm to get my money back from Erie Insurance. This isn't payment for the actual accident, so my premiums won't go up. Additionally, State Farm pays 80% car rentals, so when they give me my money back, I'll give the car dealership owner his money back.

THEN it could be another two years depending on court dates and such before I get the other 20%, but State Farm will send their lawyers, so I don't have to worry about it. Erie Insurance may also settle because who wants to go to court for non-payment on three days on a rental car. I surely wouldn't.

Here's the thing. My budget can absorb the money, but why should I have to? I pay insurance fees monthly so State Farm can go to bat for me when other companies try to get over on me. I also am a safe driver and an honest person and there's no reason Erie Insurance should be trying to get over on me for about $150. None at all. Also, this is America people. We can take anyone to court for anything and my right to drive safely was violated in August, so yeah, Erie's going to court.

I'll keep you posted on this saga as it continues.

Please also note that the reason it took me from January to April to actually file this thing is a lack of free time AND mental space to deal with this mess.

Trust me, my money will still spend well when I get it back.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tea's Tangents

1. I really need a professional blog. I have so much to say, but I don't want to attach my company's name to this blog. I also don't want to maintain a separate blog.

2. I ALSO need a dating blog. I say quite a lot here, but I need to go stealth and REALLY give y'all the real deal on these dating situations. This is must-see TV, right here. Well... you know what I mean.

3. Why do body shapers ride up? I think I put this thing in the dryer and the elastic stopped working. Do I need to buy an entirely new one? Can I get this thing repaired? It cost a grip. I'm currently dealing with the worst wedgie in life because the body shaper keeps riding.

4. I know you're thinking: why do skinny people need body shapers. Let me ask you this? When was the last time you saw me? Do you REALLY know how much I weigh? Have you ever put your hand on my stomach? Are you sure that it's flat or was I wearing a fancy undergarment? Do you believe photos? I could be fat. You don't know for real.

5. Someone who's white as snow mentioned to me that he was a person of color. I just assumed he was some percent native American. I don't have time to be exploring wtf he was talking about.

6. Giving up liquor for Lent was perhaps the hardest thing that I've ever given up. It was easier to give up sugar than liquor. I can't believe people do this for 9 months straight. Children are the biggest sacrifice in life.

7. I'm turning into one of those people who doesn't like kids. The idea of children is beginning to turn me off, but mostly for the short term. I think if I had a husband and sanctified sex I would feel differently about it.

8. I mentioned that I don't like having sex with men with kids because I don't want to be the next baby mama. My goofass friends said I think they have SUPER SPERM. Like it's going to jump through the condom on me.

9. The girls I mentor had a sex ed class. It showed how the number of partners you're exposed to goes up as your partners increase. It went from 1:1 to 17:65,000 (or something like that). They're like "Ms. T, you're at least 23, so your numbers must be high." Then another one was like "You're studying that chart really hard. Is your number on the chart."

Sex ed at 30 at Sex ed at 15 bring two COMPLETELY different perspectives. I'm over here averaging, carrying the 1... A true mess.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Emotional Intelligence

Professional Development is super important to me. What I'm finding at my level is that what I know is less important than how I deliver the messages. I read a book called Emotional Intelligence a few years back and found out that I'm not very good at it. On a scale of 50-100, I'm somewhere in the 70s. This means I'm not completely aloof. Like if you're crying I will know something's wrong with you, but if you're having a bad day... I won't necessarily notice and adjust my behavior accordingly. My sixth sense is basically off all the time and especially at work, which can inhibit my ability to be perceived as an effective team member and a caring manager.

I'm working on it by learning more about what it means and becoming more self-aware.

I came across this article about things that emotionally intelligent people won't do and wanted to share.

By Dr. Travis Bradberry

My last article, How Successful People Stay Calm, really struck a nerve. It was one of the most popular pieces in the 12-year history of the TalentSmart newsletter, and it has been read more than a million times on my Forbes blog.

The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people, so I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in order to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.

While the list that follows isn’t exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid in order to increase your emotional intelligence.

They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.

Read the rest here:

Do you know your emotional intelligence score? Do you find yourself working on professional development behaviors like emotional intelligence that aren't necessarily attached to your skill set, but are important to your success? 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

New Friend Coded Language

Medium-sized city life is interesting. What I've learned about Pittsburgh, in particular, is that as a city of neighborhoods lots of people here don't even go outside of their neighborhoods. There's actually a lot of similarities to Chicago in that respect. Some people never leave Lincoln Park. Others never leave Englewood.

I also learned that "moving to Pittsburgh" is a new phenomenon. The city is going through so much redevelopment that is attracting people here and natives don't know what to do with us newbies. And there are a lot of people who move in and out of Pittsburgh (like I intend to do) so people who are staying here forever aren't always welcoming of the transplants. Folks can be nice, but not welcoming, if that makes sense.

Further, the black population is small and the black middle class is smaller, so (again, like Chicago) everyone knows everyone. 

I've always liked meeting new people, but there's coded language that happens with BRAND NEW folks. Most of it is pretty hilarious, but here's my guide to new friend coded language.

What they say: Let's do brunch/lunch/dinner soon.
What they mean and/or what I hear: You need to plan a brunch for us soon or it won't happen.

What they say: What time are you getting there?
What they mean: I'm not leaving my house until you tell me what time you're arriving because I don't want to be alone, but I'm ok with you being alone. I also don't know you well enough to tell you that I'd like for us to arrive together, but that's what I really want.

What they say: Who else is going to be there?
What they mean and/or what I hear: I'm not sure that you're interesting enough for me to go with just you and I'd like to invite other people who I know better so I'm not uncomfortable at any time.

What they say: Who did you go with?
What they mean and/or what I hear: How could you possibly have friends that aren't in "my" friend circle?

What they say: Who is that? How do you know them?
What they mean and/or what I hear: I know everybody, so you couldn't possibly know someone I don't know? Can you introduce me so I can know everybody.

I also had a hilarious situation where me talking to friend A is not enough. Friend B had to confirm. For example I said "I talked to friend A about world peace. I'll let you know what he said." Run into friend A in the streets. "Hey, Friend B called to ask me about world peace before I was able to call you back. It's done." Me: "Oh."

Who else has fun new friend stories?  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Averting a Crisis...

Perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic, but I need your help. I've committed to paying my credit cards down, but then... my birthday is coming up. And then my best friend is having a baby... and then these summer trips are poppin and then...

Well, let's just deal with the first thing. I found the most absolutely PERFECT place to have my birthday party in Pittsburgh. It's chic and posh and fabulous and no one who I'm inviting has ever been there. SCORE! It's also expensive, hard to find parking and has a dress code and guest list limit. Minor details.

So I'm picking the place because I like it and because it's how I like to party. But my guests are basically going to have to foot the bill (20% gratuity on everything they order) and I'll pay the balance. Everyone here is always on a budget, so I have a feeling that people are going to complain about the higher price point of the drinks AND the 20% gratuity.

The way I think about parties (and life) is that it's all about the experience. So I'm thinking I may just want to pay the entire bill to make people have a better experience on my birthday. If you had a budget and then were surprised by a 20% gratuity (instead of 15%)  that could ruin your experience.

Here's the thing. I cannot pay for this party AND pay my student loans down and keep money in my savings. I would, for the first time in three months, be getting off of my plan to pay my student loans down rapidly.

But... the appeal of throwing the perfect, free party is SO alluring. But is it worth it?

Also, my savings is supposed to be for emergencies. Turning 31 and making people happy on my birthday is NOT an emergency.

When I was paying down my credit cards it was all about forming good habits and sacrifice. And even better example of forming good habits is when I decided paying my tithes was nonnegotiable. At one point anytime I wanted/needed more money, I would take it from my tithes first. Today, that's not even an option for me. What has become an option though, is considering not paying down my student loans in order to do other fun things with the money.

And this last point, perhaps, may be the biggest thing. I have to convince myself that people who come out of the house to party are responsible for their own decisions including how much they eat and drink and how much it costs. People are responsible for their own happiness and I cannot manufacture a good time. (I mean, I CAN manufacture a good time, but maybe I can't CONTROL who has a good time and who doesn't.)

And then finally, I have to convince myself that I'm worth celebrating. Like, I know this. I CLEARLY think my birthday is a very big deal and do it up every year. However, here I find myself feeling like I have to pay for other people to help me celebrate, which is just crazy.

Who wants to give me a pep talk and remind me about compound interest and remind me that good habits have rewards?


Monday, March 31, 2014

He Said It. I Didn't...

So Damon Young (aka the Champ) from VSB is from Pittsburgh? Did you know that? I didn't know that. Well, maybe I found out at some point and followed him on my public Twitter profile, but then I forgot.

So I gave up drinking for Lent (I'm going somewhere with this), so I have a lot more free time, so I'm catching up on my blog reading.

I came across the following article on VSB, which then directed to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I was going to share it on Facebook, but coworkers read it. And despite being an individual with my own thoughts and opinions, I always worry that stating what's true, if it's negative, is going to make me look like I'm not an advocate of my job or my company or the city that my company is in.

Given the topic of the article you can really see where I'm coming from, but...

*sigh* here it is:

New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., are wonderful cities that can’t resist preening when passing mirrors to remind themselves just how wonderful they are. Pittsburgh is a wonderful city that doesn’t even see the mirror. It just turns to its buddies and says, “Hey, yinz guys, let’s go have a beer.”
Like many Pittsburghers — native, current, newly transplanted, newly transplanted away — I read the Chicago Tribune’s Josh Noel’s ode to our city with pride. Nodding with every laud, my fiancee and I even gave ourselves cool points for our familiarity with many of the venues Noel name-dropped. (Shout out to 720!)

We felt the same spirit when sharing and retweeting Buzzfeed’s “16 Reasons Why Pittsburgh Is the Greatest City on the Planet” months earlier, and Pitt Girl’s year-end “10 Reasons Why Pittsburgh Owned 2013.”

Although not without its faults, the Burgh has a beauty and character that somehow manages to be both sneaky and striking. It doesn’t just grow on you. It grows in you. And seeing it receive so much national love — so much proof that others finally recognize what’s happening here — is not unlike the feeling a father might have when his daughter’s soccer coach finally notices and acknowledges her hustle.

For black Pittsburghers, though...

Read more here

Friday, March 28, 2014

Concerts in the 'Burgh

So Pittsburgh isn't the worst place to be. There are actually lots of good concerts that come to the area. Beyonce didn't come, which further let's me know I need to leave here, but 

Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Drake, Pusha T and 2 Chainz have all recently toured here. Not so bad. Here are my top 10 upcoming concerts... with 10 being, someone I know may be interested and 1 being something I might actually go to.


10. Bruce Springsteen, April 22, Consol Energy Center (Had to get this list to 10 somehow)  
9. Rod Stewart and Santana, May 26 (Again, 10 was a stretch) 
8. Lady Gaga, Consol Energy Center  

7. Rockie Fresh, March 29, Altar Bar (I don't go to bars that used to be churches. Nope, can't do it.)
6. Jim Jones, April 4, First Friday at Whim (I don't "do" Whim)
5.  Robert Glasper, April 29th, Cabaret at Theater Square (Sold Out) 
4. John Legend, June 15, Byham Theater (Tickets are too damn expensive, but if I can get a deal at the last minute, I'll go.)
3. Fantasia, May 11, The Benedum - I might roll through 
2. The Foreign Exchange, April 11, Market Square - It appears to be Free.99!!!
1. Hugh Masekala, March 30, Hazlett Theater (I really thought he was playing at MCG Jazz Hall, but maybe I was mistaken), tickets are $45. I might go.


Israel Houghton and New Breed, Friday, April 18 (Good Friday), The Benedum 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

eHarmony Dating Safety Tips: Part 2

Ok, so these aren't really Tea's Top 10. There's E's top 10. You know you love me when I'm corny!

Yesterday's post was too long, so here are the rest of the Dating Safety tips from eHarmony.

6. Use Caution When Deciding to Click on Any URL Link 

We understand that a match may share a URL link to a favorite website or article as part of the get-to-know-you communication process. However, as a general practice, you should always use good judgment and be cautious when deciding to click on any URL links. Use of these links to access other Internet sites is at your own risk.

7. Take Your Time

While online communication can accelerate one's sense of comfort and intimacy, we can't stress enough how important it is for you to take your time getting to know your match. We encourage you to use eHarmony's anonymous eHarmony Mail system as long as necessary to find out as much about your match as is reasonably possible.
Even though eHarmony's Compatibility Matching System? creates extremely compatible matches, compatibility alone does not replace the need for real-life experience. It is vital to date and get to know each other in a deep, revealing and meaningful way by sharing a broad base of experiences together. The more experiences you share, the better your chances of avoiding hidden and sometimes unpleasant surprises. So allow time for a variety of experiences to occur, particularly your everyday routines. In cases of long-distance relationships, if possible, you should consider living in the same area for a significant time before committing to a more serious relationship. Move slowly and pay attention to the reality of your new relationship.

8. Make Your First Date Safe and Successful

Meeting in person is exciting. Have fun and explore the level of chemistry you share with your date, but don't let high hopes cloud your ability to exercise reasonable caution.
  • Choose the time and place of your date wisely. Meet in a public place at a decent hour during which lots of people will be around. Lunch dates work especially well.
  • Limit alcohol consumption or abstain entirely until you know the person better.
  • Use your own transportation, even when meeting someone who lives a great distance away from you. Never agree to be picked up at your home. It's never a good idea to get into someone's personal vehicle on a first date. Wherever possible, drive yourself or take a taxi.
  • Tell at least one friend or family member about your plans and when you will return. Arrange to check in with them after each of the first few dates.
  • Carry a fully charged mobile phone with easily accessible emergency numbers.
  • Leave unattended personal belongings such as purses, wallets, or jackets with pockets that may contain items that could reveal personal information about you, such as a driver's license, credit cards and ATM receipts.
  • Meet at your house or place of work or give that information out until you have had a good opportunity to know the other person better.
  • Incur large expenses on a date without first discussing how the cost will be divided.
  • Go home with someone, even if it feels like everything is going great. You have not spent enough time with them to assess whether your safety is at risk.

9. Always be Respectful and Kind

Always be respectful and treat your matches as you would want them to treat you. Not every match is going to be right for you so closing communication with matches and having matches close communication with you is a natural and healthy part of the process. eHarmony is about bringing two compatible people together who have a solid foundation from which a long-term relationship would have a high probability of success. You still need to carefully consider whether this particular person is one with whom you would like to further a relationship. If you feel the need to end communication, then be honest, direct and polite. The sooner you address this determination, the better for both of you.
If a match feels the need to close communication with you, please respect their wishes.

10. Report Concerns About a Match to eHarmony

eHarmony works hard to close individuals who misrepresent who they are on our site, and we take member complaints seriously. If you have concerns about a particular match, please do not hesitate to contact us so that appropriate steps can be taken to keep eHarmony safe. Email your concerns to:
If eHarmony closes an account for suspect activity, inappropriate behavior or falsified identity, you may be notified via email to discontinue communicating with the match in question. We strongly encourage all of our members to review emails received from eHarmony to ensure this communication is received promptly.
We hope these guidelines will help to make your eHarmony experience a success, and that you will find your soul mate as so many others before you have done.
eHarmony Customer Care

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dating Safety Tips from eHarmony

So I'm on eHarmony. I don't have nearly as many funny stories as I did from Match. The eHarmony stories are actually kind of sad. It's like this is such a good guy, but we're not compatible at all, but I'm not here to talk to y'all about that. Let's talk about dating safety.

eHarmony makes you go through a long process before you can email someone. Then they give you these guidelines that you must read and agree to in order to talk to the person. They need to package these up and sell them to parents. Actually, they need to give them to parents and college students and young professionals and newly divorced people as a PSA. In this Google-everything world we live in, dating can be scary. These are some of the best and safest dating "guidelines" I've ever seen.

Kudos to eHarmony! 

Check out the guidelines below: 

eHarmony Mail Guidelines

Finding the kind of love that lasts a lifetime online is not only possible, but likely. eHarmony works hard to deliver you the most compatible matches possible. We believe in empowering you to make the best choices by providing guidance and support to help you discover your best qualities and those of your potential partners throughout your search.

As with anyone you meet - online or offline - your sound judgment and instincts are necessary to protect yourself. There is no substitution for acting with caution when communicating with someone you are just getting to know. Here are some essential 'rules-of-the-road' for safely navigating any relationship, but especially one that begins online.

1. Always Use Your Best Judgment

While eHarmony routinely monitors account activity and investigates all complaints of unusual, inappropriate or falsified accounts, eHarmony does not conduct criminal background checks at the time an account is registered. As with any personal interaction, keep in mind it is always possible for people to misrepresent themselves. Assessing a match's truthfulness and honesty is ultimately your responsibility. Don't ignore any facts that seem inconsistent or "off." Trust your instincts and remember that you have control over the situation. If you're talking to someone online or by phone and they say things that raise your suspicions, consider ending the conversation. If you're out on a date and you feel uncomfortable, leave.
Also, be aware of these common red flags when you're getting to know someone new. Watch out for someone who:
  • Immediately requests to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service.
  • Claims that your introduction was "destiny" or "fate," especially early in communication
  • Claims to be from the U.S. but is currently living, working, or traveling abroad.
  • Asks for money, goods or any similar type of assistance, especially if you have never met in person.
  • Asks you to assist with personal transactions (depositing funds, shipping merchandise, etc).
  • Wants the relationship to progress faster than you are comfortable going.
  • Reports a sudden personal crisis and pressures you to provide financial assistance. Be especially wary if the person's demands become increasingly aggressive.
  • Asks inappropriate questions.
  • Requests your home or work address under the guise of sending flowers or gifts.
  • Tells inconsistent or grandiose stories.
  • Gives vague answers to specific questions.
  • Urges you to compromise your principles.
  • Constantly blames others for troubles in his or her life.
  • Insists on getting overly close, very fast.
  • Claims to be recently widowed.
  • Disappears suddenly from the site then reappears under a different name.
If a match does any of the above activities or makes you suspicious in any other way, please report this as a Match Concern by emailing so that we can investigate the matter.

2. NEVER Share Financial Information or Certain Personal Information

  • NEVER give out your credit card number or bank information.
  • NEVER share your Social Security Number, mother's maiden name, or other private information that can be used to access your financial information.
  • NEVER send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer. Immediately stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for personal or financial information or attempts in any way to trick you into revealing it.
Immediately stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for personal or financial information or attempts in any way to trick you into revealing it.

3. Protect Your Account

When accessing your account from a public or shared computer, use caution and be aware of your surroundings so that others are not able to view or record your password or other personal information.

4. Be Cautious When Sharing Personal Information

We strongly encourage you to be cautious when sharing personal information that could reveal your identity. Never include your last name, email address, home address, telephone number, place of work or any other identifying information in your Internet profile or initial email messages. Take full advantage of our secure and completely anonymous Guided Communication process, and resist the urge to provide a personal email or phone number right away, no matter how strong a connection to your match may feel. Once you've given out personal information, you cannot take it back! We encourage you to get to know a match well via our secure eHarmony Mail system before taking the next step and sharing a telephone number, instant messenger handle or email address.
Phoning with the other person is an important step in getting to know each other better. But before you share phone numbers, make sure you have discussed the need to respect each other's privacy. If either of you decide to end communication in the future, agree not to use the phone number as a means to pursue an unwanted relationship. For added security, try using your phone's privacy features when you call, like private number blocking. You also have the option to use eHarmony's Secure Call service that allows you and your match to call each other without exchanging phone numbers right away.

5. Do Your Own Research

While we conduct certain types of screening and utilize a variety of screening technologies and resources, such as screening our U.S. subscribers against public sex offender registries in the United States, it is important to remember that such screenings are inherently limited. Registries can be incomplete or inaccurate, and states and jurisdictions differ as to what type of crime must be registered on their registries and what types of crimes get removed. Many crimes often go unreported and perpetrators are not always convicted. Relying solely on screening can provide a false sense of security, so we strongly recommend that you follow the rest of the Safety Tips regardless of any screenings that we may perform. When it comes to your personal safety, you are in ultimate control.
It is also important to note that our optional identity verification service, which is powered by our partner RelyID?, is not a background check. We rely on the honesty of our members when filling out our eHarmony Relationship Questionnaire to supply us with their correct date of birth, marital status, city and state of residence, occupation, educational background and other information.
Regardless of the connection you feel with any of your matches, we encourage you to do your own research before meeting in person. This can include typing your match's name into a search engine, contacting your state or local municipalities to obtain public information, or using a paid serviceto obtain a full background report. Above all else, use common sense. Pay attention to the details someone shares with you. If you find anything that doesn't seem to add up, follow your intuition and stop communicating with that person.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm officially a mentor!

It's about time!!! So here's the deal. I chose to work with the Gwen's Girl's group home. At any given time there are up to 13 teens and young adults between the ages of 13 and 19 and their respective children in the home.

I did my first observation a couple of weeks ago and decided to move forward with it. (They want you to observe first, so you don't commit and then back out).

Despite my better judgment (I'm a busy professional with an unpredictable schedule), I have agreed to be there every Wednesday from 6-8 p.m.

Since this is the girls' home, they are almost always there during that time. (vs. weekends when they have home visits and free time.)

Wednesdays are also the day that I'm most likely to be in town and open.

But enough about my schedule. I need stuff to do with the girls.

Who has good mentee activities? It needs to be something that can be done in a group setting, at a table and engaging for 2 hours (or so) at a time.

I also don't want to be lame or fake. I never had a mentor as a child, so I don't have a model. Here are some things I'm thinking about doing:

- Vision Board (thought I think this is a weak activity and I probably won't do it)
- Identifying favorite women leaders for women's history month
- A discussion beauty (think Dove brand example)
- A career discussion (I can tell them what I do and have them brainstorm ideas with me)
- Something about safe sex
- Something about black history
- Something about local leaders. Let's find out who the local leaders are.
- Something about voting, elections, local government...

Any other suggestions? Any tips for me? I have to do one of these in 2 days. I want to be prepared!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Insecurities on Display

I'm about to put my insecurities on full display this morning. I have a fear of being forgotten and/or not heard. These fears play out in real life through anger. I don't like repeating myself because I feel like you should have been listening the first time.

I also don't like when people forget the details of my life. (Which is asinine because I damn sure don't remember theirs.)

A few hilarious examples of this came up recently:

  • A party promoter thinks I went to FAMU. He went to Howard. We have this friendly banter about how FAM is better than Howard. I went to U of I... We got in the party at a discount. That's all that matters. 
  • Barista at the hotel coffee shop near my job (because why would access to a real Starbucks be feasible in Pittsburgh...). Anywho, she goes "hey stranger? Extra caramel, extra whip?" I'm like nah, just the regular amount. She's like: "oh, you switched it up huh?" I've never ordered extra caramel or extra whip cream in my caramel macchiato. It's enough sugar in that thing already. 
  • A high school classmate recently moved to the 'Burgh. When she made the announcement, I told her to hit me up once she got settled. She hits me yesterday about a FB status I made about Pittsburgh and says "I didn't know you lived in Pittsburgh. I just moved here recently." So... my little outreach message never made it to you. OR you just conveniently ignored it. 
  • I go to my mom's church. The church I grew up in. A friend's dad says: "I haven't seen you here in a while." For starters, I don't live in Chicago. Even worse, I haven't gone to that church as a member since 2005. Why does no one know this?  
  • Finally, people don't know I live in Pittsburgh. I've been here 16 months. I know Ishea's going to say "But you go to Chicago once a month" so people who aren't close to me aren't going to know that. But I feel like they should. 
  Cue Beyonce's Listen AND I Was Here. *rocks back and forth with my lighter*

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lost in Pittsburgh...

The funniest thing happened to me on Monday. I was going to Tweet it, but my friend who was the cause of the problem follows me (one of like three people who follow me on Twitter in Pittsburgh) and I didn't want to make her feel worse.

So she invites me to one of her favorite spots, Mad Mex. Surprisingly, I know exactly where it is and despite it being a Monday, I can actually make it there at a decent hour.

I hightail it out of work, then have the worst traffic on a road that is the only shortcut I know in Pittsburgh. What's worse is that the traffic was a gaper's delay. Both lanes on my side of a four lane highway were open, but idiots were just stopping to see what happened.

I get there, the hostess tells me I can look around and I go upstairs, damn near into the kitchen. I don't see my friend. She's black. This is Pittsburgh. No way it should have taken me that long to find her.

My phone is on 11% at this point and I call and text to see where she is. She's like come all the way to the back. I'm like "past the kitchen"? She's like aw man, are you at the Shadyside location. I'm like yeah, where else would I be. (She lives in Shadyside). She's like dang, we're in Oakland.

I'm like *scrunchy face* OAKLAND? Oakland is where the University of Pittsburgh is. If I'm not in school there, I have NO BUSINESS being on that campus. Just congestion and drunkenness and broke men... Oops, I mean students.

Then I remember that she went to Pitt. That's her entire reason for being here and even though she graduated at least 3 years ago, she probably still has some favorite spots that are carryovers from her college days.

So she texts me the address. My phone dies. I ask the valet how to get there. He sends me off. I end up at the zoo. Anytime, you end up at a zoo, forest preserve, natural habitat, national park... you think "Hmm... I may have made a wrong turn."

I get out and go to a gas station and there are black people in it. I'm thinking "what neighborhood is this that there are exclusively African-Americans here?" Damn shame.

So the brother gives me directions and once again, it's a send-off.

In 2014, people don't know how to give directions. In 2014, I don't know how to read and/or comprehend directions.

It was a mess on all fronts.

I just went home because I knew exactly how to get there from where I was (this is a win if I do say so myself).

Worst part. She'd already ordered me a taco salad and I now I have a taste for one and I'm not making it at home.

Lessons. I need a new phone. I need to ask for addresses and ensure I know where I'm going before I leave. I probably should have just went home after work anyway since my budget doesn't really support all of this dining out. Pittsburgh is a confusing, traffic-filled place to live, but I think I can manage.