Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Year in Abridged Review

January: Brought in the new year at New Life, then at a Posh Party (1 day). Went to Vegas for fun (3 days).

February: Gave up TV for Lent. Went to Cancun for work (5 days). Went to NYC for work (1 day).

March: Mom came to visit me in pgh. Went to Nashville to visit Les (2 days). Did NOT go to Chicago for Easter. Womp.

April: Binged on TV.Went to San Antonio, TX for work (2 days). Went to Shinora's bridal shower. Threw a 3-day, 5-event #TeaParty for my 30th birthday in Chicago (5 days).

May: Went to Chicago for work (2 days). Went to Chicago for Paris' epic birthday weekend (2 days). 

June: Went to North Carolina for Shinora's wedding weekend (2 days)! My aunt came to visit me in pgh. Went the Beyonce concert in Vegas (3 days).

July: Went to Chicago for work, stayed for play (7 days). Two weeks later, I went BACK to Chicago for my mom's bday in July (2 days).

August: Erikka's Bridal Shower. Jamaica for Kellie's bday (4 days).

September: Went to Vegas for Dorian's 30th bday (3 days). Grayson wedding in Pittsburgh. Chicago for work [but you know I played] (3 days).

October: Went to Atlanta for the NBPRS conference (4 days).

November: Went to Chicago for work, stayed for the #TeamDavis wedding (9 days), Went back to Chicago for Thanksgiving (4 days).

December: Went to Chicago for work (1 day) Went to Chicago for Christmas (8 days).

According to US Travel Statistics, people in my age group take 3.9 leisure trips and 4.2 business trips per year. So an "average year" for most = my Jan-Apr. I love it though.

P.S. I started adding # of days to this, so I could write posts like this that chronicle how long I've been away from where I pay rent. Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pittsburgh - The Different

I was going to call this series, the good, the bad and the ugly, but for all of the things I'm going to mention next, I'll call them different and not bad.

Some of the things on this list will seem superficial. Let me quit being a PR person and just say some of these things ARE superficial. I'm ok with preferring what some would call superficial things. I'm comfortable with my preferences in life.

My manager, who is a grandmother of five from Michigan moved here 23 years ago and she said she felt like she'd stepped into a time warp. Fast forward to 2013 and it's the same situation. The recession didn't hit this city hard because they never modernized. They never had a real estate boom to fall off of. Except for the new sports stadiums, I'd say that this city is about 20 years behind every major metropolitan city in America.

And if you're looking for a theme, I'd say Pittsburgh is "different" because it's NOT a big city. I didn't think it WAS a big city, but I just had higher expectations for a "medium-sized" city that are not being met here.

Here are things that are different about Pittsburgh. So different, in fact, that I doubt I could ever call this place home. As you know I live in Pittsburgh, but Chicago is home.
  • The shopping sucks. There is no Saks. No Neiman's. There is one Nordstrom and the pickings are slim. There is a Macy's downtown (walking distance from my home), but it closes at like 5 or 6 p.m. on weekdays. Also, the lack of boutiques. You either dress like everyone else or shop online. I actually like shopping and trying on clothes and piecing outfits together. Online shopping is nice to have, but in Pittsburgh, if you dress nice, you likely got your clothes out of town or online.
  • The fashion SUCKS! I remember being in Chicago one time and having to really think about what I was going to wear to a happy hour because I knew my friends Paris and Katrina were going to be there and you know they're both super fly. I told them: "I knew I had to bring my A game because you guys were going to be here." I miss the fun, and I guess the pressure, of getting dressed. And it may sound a bit stressful, but it was a very big part of my life in Chicago. Getting dressed is a form of creativity. No one sees your brain or your heart walking down the street. They see your clothes, your style and that's what atracts them to you. Now I live in the worst-dressed city in America. I haven't fallen completely off, but if I don't look nice, no one notices. Don't just take my word for it. Google it.
  • Beauty maintenance costs more. Because this is a blue-collar city, people have more do-it-yourself attitudes. Women do their own nails and arch their own brows and some people are just allergic to a cut and color. No one has a favorite stylist or manicurist or aestetician or eyebrow threading lady. I've asked. They have people that they sometimes go to, when they have a special occasion. Further, because there is no demand for these services, when you finally find someone good, it costs and arm and a leg. I ask, without reservation, every woman I see with well groomed brows where she got it done. It's usually out of town or it'll be a place where it costs $25... for eyebrow arching... in Pittsburgh? Insert mani/pedi. Insert blow dry and style. Insert bikini wax. There is no demand for maintenance and so the prices suck. (Sorry Brad, I know you don't like me talking about waxing, but it's a natural part of life. You will deal.)
  • The grocery shopping sucks. I live downtown Pittsburgh, which is technically a food desert, which is ridiculous. So I have to drive far to get groceries. Target doesn't have a butcher. Trader Joe's doesn't sell liquor. Giant Eagle (which is akin to their Jewel or what used to be Dominick's) has everything, but their prices are bananas and nuts. I have to make like five stops to get a week's worth of groceries [and liquor]. Add that to the drive time and I can't grocery shop in less than three hours. That's a complete waste of a Saturday afternoon. I miss Peapod like you would not believe.
  • You have to drive. Pittsburgh is not a walking city. To its credit most cities are not walking cities. I should have thought about that before moving. In Chicago, I took care of more errands on weekdays than I realized. Pick up a cardigan on Monday, a bottle of wine on Tuesday, a birthday present on Wednesday, a greeting card on Thursday and groceries on Friday - all on the way home from work. This cut down on my Saturday morning errand time, which in my opinion made my life better. You see, I could use Saturdays to relax or do cultural things or share meals with friends. It wasn't like my entire week would be rocked if I didn't do 3-4 hours of errands on Saturday because I would have already done them during the week. It may seem insignificant, but it's a big change in how I spend my weekends and therefore how I live my life. (Besides that between my car note, insurance, gas and maintenance, I'm basically throwing $400 out of the door every month. This would have been in my travel fund. So that sucks doubly.)
  • The architechture bores me. I think row houses are skinny and unattractive. I have friends that live in rowhouses and I LIKE their homes, but I couldn't imagine myself living in one. I sometimes feel like I'm in Archie Bunker's neighborhood. As a black woman in America that is just as scary as it is unattractive. There are places to live that are not rowhouses, but the rowhouses are hideous eyesores that remind me daily that I don't live in what I would consider a major metropolitan area.
  • The roads are narrow. Have you ever been on the Eisenhower (290) in Chicago during rush hour. It's pretty much like that on two and four-lane highways ALL! THE! TIME here. This city wasn't made for a lot of people and the traffic shows it. It also upsets me because with only 350,000 in a city, I can't understand why there would EVER be traffic EVER. So, again, it serves as a reminder that this is not a big city and I've determined that I'm better suited for big city life.  
  • The city's marketing is subpar and/or nonexistent. Disclaimer. I work in marketing and my company is amazing. We work on national brands and Pittsburgh, as a city, is not our client. My company's marketing does not suck. Because everyone is so lowkey and so humble, people will love this city to death, but not brag about it. They will tattoo Pittsburgh on their body, but not pay the money it would take to do a campaign to tell people about all of the good things (and 14,000 open professional jobs) here. This unnecessary humility shows up in practical everyday life. Kenny G was here. I didn't know about it. Frankie Beverly and Maze was here. I didn't know about it. Drake opened his concert here and I found out about it on a New York blog. I'm on ALL the mailing lists. All things considered, I'm pretty plugged in Pittsburgh. No one tells anyone anything because everyone assumes everyone else knows. Shows don't sell out here because the marketing SUCKS!  I know about back alley concerts in Chicago before I find out about major artists coming to Pittsburgh. Here I have to damn near call ticket master and just ask what's going on. I'm on the ticket master emails for Pittsburgh too, with my preferences checked and nope, no Drake concert notification. The only thing I know about here before it happens is the Improv.
  • Beyonce didn't tour here. I mean, do I need to say more.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pittsburgh - The Good 2

Ok, more good things about Pittsburgh

  • The cost of living is cheap. I appreciate the ability to save money, pay down debt, travel more or shop more while I'm here. I don't feel as worried about money as I was in Chicago. More on watching my bottom line here.
  • As a generalization, the people are nice. Twilight zone nice. I speak to people in the mornings now. I talk to people on elevators. My coworker offered to take me to the airport on Christmas Eve and she lives at least 30 minutes away from me.
  • Things move slower (not to worry, this is also on the bad list) - Because no one's in a rush to do anything, this city breeds patience. I either have to be patient or be angry. No one else is going to understand my anger, so I've chosen patience. 10 minutes to get my coffee at Dunkin' Donuts, no problem. You paused before hitting the gas at a green light, no problem. There's an elderly woman working at Macy's who take's 15 minutes for one transaction, no problem.
  • They get most cultural things - When it comes to concerts and shows, they get most things here. Jay-Z was here. Justin came here. Drake stopped here first. I finally saw the Lion King here. I will probably go see Wicked Here.
  • The Improv - I love comedy. I've seen Bill Bellamy, Monique and Loni Love. Charlie Murphy and Bruce Bruce were here, but I couldn't make it for some reason or another. The most I've paid is $40 for Monique. Everyone else is like $10-$20.
  • The food - The food here is great. The portion sizes are astronomical and my waistline is not pleased, but my tastebuds are.
  • The activism - I've mentioned that I've been impressed with places like Urban League, Bethlehem Haven, United Way and Family House here. In Pittsburgh, I find that a lot o the organizations are not just giving handouts, they are providing resources that allow people to get back on their feet. They are also heavily invested in the research of what that takes and following through on those things. So many examples of this in my day-to-day life and that's the kind of place I want to live - where giving back is a lifestyle, not a fad.
  • The Access - Living in a smaller city gives you access at work, in dating, to celebrities, to whatever you want. It's not enough people here or places to go for people with notoriety, means or fame to separate themselves from the rest of us. Having access to those people, if used correctly, could give me insight into a better life. For example, Essence Beauty editor, Mikki Taylor did a one-on-one with like 30 people at a museum here. I could never get that close to her in New York or Chicago. (I couldn't go because I was out of town - likely in Chicago, but that's the kind of stuff that happens here and if I'm plugged enough to find out about it, it's really nice.)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

Enjoy your friends and family today.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pittsburgh - The Good 1

You all have been asking for my reflections on Pittsburgh and I finally had some time to sit down and gather my thoughts. I was going to try to write everything in three posts, but it's getting long, so look forward to a series of all things Pittsburgh.

This post will kick-off the Good! 

The best thing to happen to me in Pittsburgh is my Pittsburgh family. I've written about them here too. My Pastor, his wife, kids and their cousins and THEIR friends have been a tremendous blessing to me. My Pastor is one of nine children from a family in Brooklyn, NY. I think because of this, family is a huge theme in their household. His adult son and wife and adult daughter and husband live within a one-mile radius of my Pastor and his wife. At any given time, there could family in town from New York and they'll gladly accept them as houseguests. Many times my Pastor's nephews and nieces have found a home in Pittsburgh and my pastor and the church treat them like immediate family.

We have dinner together every Sunday. When they had pastor's appreciation Sunday, I sat at the Pastor's specia table for his family. My pastor's wife is my local emergency contact (This also just mades good sense because she's a lawyer and who better to have as an emergency contact, than your lawyer). This adopton of me and others is fascinating to watch. It reaffirms my faith in family and just shows me a different way to do things.

My pastor's kids are now my friends. I've attended both of their weddings and out of those unions have formed other friendships. I'm on baby shower lists and Christmas party lists. Living in a place where most people went to high school or college together and have bonds that are older than 10 years old, I cannot take for granted the fact that they allowed me to infiltrate those circles.

The welcoming, open-hearted, unconditional love that they've shown me has helped me to be more welcoming and open-hearted and hopefully I'll be able to show someone else the love they've shown to me.

I sort of want to have Sunday dinner with my family every week they way they do. I've never had a desire like that before. I also don't like random people in my home (cousins, new church members or otherwise) and again, this has helped me to view what I have to give in life in a different way.

Even more than that, they're community activists and dinner table conversation is always full of passionate discourse. These are people who aren't hung up on the rules of the Bible, but more interested in practicing the high standards of the Bible.

They are the icing on my cake of good things in Pittsburgh.

Monday, December 23, 2013

3 Things on God's Christmas List

Sunday's sermon was taken from Micah 6:6-9. I know what you're thinking: it wasn't Luke 2:1-7. I thought the same thing, but apparently, we all know that text well. :-)

My Pastor preached on the 3 things on God's Christmas List. As we're buying gifts for everyone else, he urged us to put God on that list. All three of the things came from Micah 6:9.

1. Do Justly (KJV) / Be Just (NIV)

Pastor encouraged us to do the right thing, not just in personal dealings, but as a society. Is it fair for some of our workers to live without a living wage when others of us have more than what we need? Are we cheating on our taxes? Our spouses? Our significant others? Are we teaching our kids to do the right thing in school (and not just do what they can get away with).

The text is so simple, but he talked about how we find the time and money to act like Christmas from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but what abotu the rest of the year.

2.  Love Mercy (KJV) / Show Mercy (NIV)

Another gem right here. He asked how many times we try to get even or get revenge. He reminded us that God can fight our battles. In this text, he didn't call us to be warriors. He called us to show mercy.

In thinking about the practical application, I've wrote this before. Do we show mercy when our check is wrong at a restaurant. Do we show mercy when someone steals our parking space in a crowded mall parking lot on December 21st (this actually happened to me and I was proud of myself for not caring. I seriously thought "there are bigger issues in the world than driving around to find a park" and just circled the lot until something came up). I want to show that kind of mercy, year round.

3. Walk humbly with God (KJV) / Walk humbly before God (NIV)

Pastor mentioned that we need to humble ourselves. He mentioned that self-pity is another form of pride. And pride is thinking too highly of yourself because you think too little of God. [He was preaching right at me, y'all.]

If I'm not careful, I can start to think that one thing going wrong is the end of the world. Or I can start to think that I have control over anything, but my own actions. I can start to think that my life is full of cause and effect - I eat everyday, three times a day because I work hard and I deserve it - when really I eat three times a day because God is my source.

~~~~~~~~~~

This sermon was a wonderful reminder of what it means to be a Christian and its practical applications. I told y'all I loved church yesterday!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I loved church today

I love church on Christmas and around Christmas. Today, at my church in Pittsburgh, the Sunday School program was at 9 a.m. and the regular service still took place at 10:45 a.m. Without even trying everyone was decked out in their holiday red and green with festive scarves and broches. There was gift giving and the children did an amazing job of singing, dancing and quoting scripture..

Going to a small church, my Pastor acknowledged the three or four college students that were home, wihch was heartwarming. Then, just like me, there's another transplant who has become a member of the Pastor's family, but is returning to his home in Brooklyn. We prayed over him, literally laying hands on him and hugging him and wishing him well.

Then there are the warm greettings and well wishes and gift giving and card exchanging, but even better than that was the Word. This is the time of year where we are reminded of the tenets of our faith. And it truly is faith because the story of Jesus Christ is fantastical.

If you don't have faith, you'd never believe it. And I was overwhelmed in church today, because I realized that faith is the basis of so much hope. I could not function as a member of two marginalized groups of society and expect or even believe that I would be successful without faith. I could not imagine bringing children into this world and expect or believe that they wouldn't be harmed, discriminated against, hurt or otherwise taken advantage of, it it wasn't for faith.

I could not move to any part of the country and expect that the same God that kept me in my hometown will provide for me where I am without faith.

Christmas service reminded me of all of these things. 

I also learned during the Sunday School program that "swaddling clothes" were the things they use for animals. So basically, if you're milking a cow or tending a horse, that's the stuff they use for it. They wrapped my savior in animal sheets. That humbled me so much.

I loved church today.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let's Ban Weddings...

This Huff Po article has been making the rounds on Facebook and I have SO much to say about it.

The rhetoric on weddings is awesome:
  • The author notes that she's been in 7 weddings and only 2 of the couples are still married. Let me pause to brag that people are still married from every wedding that I've ever attended and/or stood up in. I know what you're thinking... keep living. But, seriously, I think I just have better friends. My friends aren't chasing weddings. We're chasing life partners and most of us are Christians who hold God's word and covenants in high regard. A piece of paper is not going to hold your marriage together. It has to be set on God's foundation. I pray for every married couple of know. We can bind the spirit of divorce. We can erase the option of divorce. Marriage CAN and WILL be successful in my circle. 
  • Another thing she said is what if you couldn't have a wedding until you had been married for 10 years already. Um... I LOVE THIS! It's like a wedding is a reward for doing what you said you were going to do vs. a big production for embarking on one of life's hardest journeys.
  • As much as I agree with this, weddings are a secondary form of income for me (and just downright fun), so I don't REALLY agree with it, but it sounds good.
  • If we're being honest, I may not have a big wedding. Shocking, I know. But I spent so much time paying down credit card debt and student loans. I'm trying to be debt free, not debt-full. I might elope.
Moving along, the rhetoric on baby showers was a mess:
  • She said she went to three teen baby showers and they was lavished with gifts, but the college student shower was not. Um... when I went to college, I had a "trunk party" and I still have some of those gifts to this day. Shouts out to my grandma'nem for that iron.
  • I don't think that we should deny teens a baby shower since they got pregnant as teens. Motherhood is hard enough as it is. Teen pregnancy is hard enough as it is. Their age and their burgeoning womb is reminder enough that they are teen moms. They don't need all this judgment and punishment from us. They need support.
  • AND I'm sick of the either/or rhetoric. You EITHER support women going to college OR you support women having babies. WHY NOT BOTH!
  • Again, when I graduated college, my mom rented out a room at a hotel and about 20 of my family members and supporters were there and they made me feel like a queen. They went around the table and told me how proud they were of me. It was seriously the best day of my life. We CAN celebrate women for their achievements and accomplishments. We can also celebrate life events for women and men. We don't have to be so ridiculous that we pit one against the other. 
I think this article is resonating with so many people because they are broke and tired of going to weddings and showers, but I'd encourage folks to learn the word no. If you don't want someone to have a shower, don't go. If you can't afford to be in a wedding, don't do it. If you know a young woman graduating from college and want to throw her a party with your life savings, knock yourself out.

How you operate your life is your choice and now that you have more information (like 5 out of 7 couples being divorced), you have more choices.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Does It All Mean

Is it possible to be happy, but not satisfied? That's exactly where I am right now. I am happy, but I want more.

I wonder it that's an ungrateful attitude. Like, should I just be happy with plenty. Like is wanting more greedy and is that ok.

Also, is being unsatisfied unhealthy? Like, am I restless since I'm not satisfied and is that negatively affecting me.

I imagine that's how wealthy people feel. Or how married people who cheat feel. Or

Like most things, I'm likely overthinking it, but that's what my blog is for. A place for me to overthink things and share that crazy with the world.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

GASPtastic. She REALLY did say that...

I want to make it Beyonce week and talk about everything including the marketing, the politics, the videos, the lyrics, the melodies and just the way her new secret album makes me feel. But I don't have that much free time, so I'll just do a question of the day: What's your favorite song on the new Beyonce album?

This is a no judgment zone too. So I'll start. My favorite so far is Blow. (I'm pretty sure I just said no judgment)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let me Vacuum...

Whenever my friends want to come upstairs unexpectedly (which is like every weekend), I'm like ok, but let me vacuum first.

My friend goes, you need a cleaning lady.

I do.

But, let's be honest. I don't NEED to do anything. But I want it and I can afford it and therefore I'm going to have it.

In 2014, vacuuming will not be a problem.

It is written.

What is your most dreaded household chore?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best Mood Ever!!!

I am in the best mood ever right now. Let me try to figure out why...

10. I'm the United Way co-chair for my company and we are having a very successful bake sale right now. I worked first shift (7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.) and the generosity of random people really touched me.
9. We're also selling coffee at said bake sale with hazelnut creamer and I'm hyped up on that.
8. The holiday party in my building is this evening. Free food! Free drank!
7. My annual review is today. I'm an awesome worker. I'm excited to see what they're going to say to keep me in Pittsburgh, but I'm also excited to know what else is expected of me as an emerging leader. These review periods can be rough, but I expect to hear good things and things
6. I've been exercising regularly.
5. Tomorrow, I'm going to the Ron H. Brown Urban League Gala. Every important African American in Pittsburgh will be there (like all 100 of us) and each of them will have my business card by the end of the night.
4. I get to wear a gown tomorrow and I'm not going to prom! and my Bougie friend is driving and she drives a BMW!
3.
2. My to-do list for work is shrinking and I didn't even have to work on the weekend in order for that to happen.
1. For the past few nights, I've been up on the phone all night with he who shall not be named. When he calls the picture that pops up in my phone says "WELP." I still answer the phone. It's nothing, but it still FEELS like old times and old times were happy, hopeful times. This time is like "eh, I could take it or leave it." Shh... don't tell my girls.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

But Will It Make My Party Pop Off?

I love targeted ads. I was watching the Soul Train Awards and this came on:



Hilarious! And it made me want to purchase too.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mission Accomplished

You've probably seen me mention on Twitter or otherwise that I'm tired of twisting my hair. The longer it gets the more I have to do to it. At one point, I could do a two-strand twist-out on Sunday and have that same hairstyle all week. No more.

So about three weeks ago, I cut it off. I did a cute little asymmetric cut (I'm into those) and only cut about 2 inches off of the front, but about five inches off of the back.

I LOVE IT!

Not only is it cute when it's straight, but it curls up perfectly in a wash-n-go AND my two-strand twistout lasts for days. I'm so happy.

I have to do a bit of trial and error because I forgot what to do with with my hair when it's short, but I'd rather do that than to have to twist my hair every night. I just got 45 minutes of sleep back. Hooray!

I am going to let the back grow back out though because I can't twist it back there. I'm just doing struggle twists at this point, or worse, letting it do what it wants.

Let's be honest, this is an exercise in control. When I two-strand twist my hair, I'm about 80% sure I know what it's going  to look like. When it air dries or can't be twisted... ain't no tellin'.

I think the front is the optimal length and I'll keep it short in the front and let the back grow to that same length.

Here's a pic!




Friday, November 29, 2013

Let's Talk About Black Friday

I, like most Americans, am disgusted that stores are opening as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night which means that people who would have usually had the day off, now have to work. However, I'm not really about to pick that torch up and run with it. Here's why:

In order for a retail store to be open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, workers still have to report to work on Thanksgiving. Nothing has changed since the stores are opening earlier.

I don't believe that people REALLY have a problem with others working on Thanksgiving. Here's a list of people who have had to work on Thanksgiving since the beginning of time and no one through a fit:

Doctors
Nurses
News station anchors and employees employees
NFL players (and commentators and concessions stand workers and security)
NBA players (and commentators and concessions stand workers and security)
Drug store employees
Gas station employees
And depending on where you live big box retailers that are open on the holiday for last minute egg, butter and milk purchases

So, now, all of a sudden everyone's mad that other people have to work on Thanksgiving. I don't believe it. I think it's just the new, sexy thing to be upset about.

If you're really mad don't participate in Black Friday. OR if you're REALLY mad, stop stopping at stores that open on Thanksgiving. If you're thorough, you'll find that you won't support anyone. You'd never watch professional sports or the news again. You'd never buy gas again and you'd definitely never be able to go to a discount store again.

So, I'm not happy about stores being open on Thursday night, but I'm just not going to shop. I'm not signing any petitions or doing any marches. I think this cause is pointless.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oh, Give Thanks!

I joined the Urban League of Young Professionals in Pittsburgh, like officially, paid dues and all that jazz. As a part of my membership I need to do 25 hours of community service (I have that in the bag on my own, but they also have events where you can get that in as a group. I volunteered for the Urban League's (larger org, not the ULYP) food distribution.

Can we discuss how impressed I am with the Urban League? Not only did they distribute food, but they took each family to tables of resources available to them: free flu shots, info on Obamacare, free cell phones, nutrition info, big brothers, big sisters, a store call the "No Strings Shop," Operation Better Block, Snap (which I think is food stamps), WIC and the Department of Human Services. After the families signed up, they got to the food distribution. (look out for another post about the community service going on in Pittsburgh and how sophisticated it is).

So many thoughts about this. First, there were boy scouts there participating. Someone mentioned: they need this kind of exposure and by the end of the day I realized I needed it too. Besides being on WIC as a baby, I don't remember my family ever been in a situation that was so dire that we had to have food assistance or other help.

I, personally, have never needed any government assistance [besides a student loan] and for that I am grateful. So I didn't personally know what the process of getting help was like.

I digress.

So my job during the volunteer day was family escort. I walked with the family as they got the information that they needed for the resources, then I helped them bag their groceries for Thanksgiving Dinner, helped them get their gift card for a Thanksgiving turkey, then I bid them adieu and attended to my next family.

I learned that one woman had lost 50 pounds over two years by changing her eating habits. I learned that another woman had a 15-year old son and when the DHS rep asked if he had "anything" on the way, she proudly replied: COLLEGE! I met a married couple with thee CUTEST little boy I have ever seen. Mild mannered and just handsome for no reason.

When we rounded the corner as she was getting ready to leave, one of the women said "This is amazing. I am so blessed. I am truly blessed."

Family, it occurred to me that I can be judgmental. At one point I found myself thinking about how sad some of these situations were. There was a grown woman getting food assistance and her elderly mother came in as another family and got food assistance. I was sad and a bit angry that they hadn't been able to break the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next. There was the man I mentioned who was there with his family and readily accepted help. I thought about what type of courage it takes for a grown man to accept help for his family vs. having the "I can do it all" attitude.

Then I thought about what a blessing it was to live in a place that has resources to share. I lose place loosely because on one hand I mean USA, but on another hand I also mean Pittsburgh.

I thought about the woman making her comment about being blessed and how I see my "blessings" unfold every day. I sleep in a warm bed every night. These families do as well. I'm going to eat well this Thanksgiving. These families will as well.

My God blessed me. The SAME GOD blessed these families.

While I never want to be in a situation where I cannot provide for myself and my family, I had to check my own biased partly-republican attitude, that if you don't work you don't eat. Or if you didn't make enough, your starve. (Of course you all know I don't really feel that way, but the raw thoughts that came to my head as I judged these people made me think twice about what my biases are and why they exist.)

Sometimes I feel like everyone should do their fair share, but as my Pastor reminded us last Sunday, God's math is not our math. It doesn't matter how much I make or how much I save or how much the government subsidizes my lifestyle. At the end of the day, the same God that blessed me did so, so that I could help the sick and the poor and in doing so he's blessing them as well.

On this Thanksgiving, I'm happy for all that I have and even happier to know that if I didn't have it in the WAY that I have it now, God would provide it some other way. I'm also thankful for that lesson he taught me through volunteering.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

2013 Days in the Chi

When I lived in Chicago, I went to L.A. and New York the most. Like 5-6 times each per year. This year, I will have gone to Vegas (3x) and Chicago (11x) the most by year's end.

I just added it up, and I will have spent 42 days in the Chi by the year's end. I really do need to get a second apartment so I can be comfortable when I'm home. LOL!

I've also spent 28 other days outside of Pittsburgh as a mix of work and leisure travel.

So that's a total of 70 total days outside of Pittsburgh in 2013. (Which, in real life is only 19% of the time. It's REALLY not that bad, when you think of it that way.)

If you flip it though and think that a majority of my days away from the 'Burgh, were weekend days and there are only 104 weekend days in a year, then it seems like I spend about 75% of my time outside of Pittsburgh and sometimes, it does feel that way.

I'm here like 2 weekends each month though. That's enough.

Where do you travel most during the year?

P.S. Still going to do a reflections on my first year away from the Chi. Gotta gather my thoughts.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I hate small talk.

Sometimes I like to be left alone.

Most times, I'm an extrovert. I get energy from being around other people. Big groups of people, crowds or even meals with just one other person. When I'm watching TV and live Tweeting it feels better than when I'm watching TV alone. It feels like I have 150 of my closest (and wittiest) friends in the room with me and that energizes me.

But some days, I really like to be left to my own devices and here's why. I don't think anyone who criticizes my opinion genuinely cares about me. Let me explain.

I've been in Pittsburgh for a year. I don't like it. If you read my blog, that should be crystal clear. Now when people ask me how I feel about it, I'm a bit more honest than I was when I first moved here and was feeling it out. I've determined that medium-sized city life is not for me. It does not suit my personally. I am on assignment here and when I finish that assignment I have every intention of leaving.

People... people I know. People I do not know. People I work with, go to church with, meet on the street or volunteer with say things like "you're not giving Pittsburgh a fair chance." "you go to Chicago too much." "You might change your mind." blah, blah, blah.

And so it occurred to me that these people, when they asked me if I liked Pittsburgh, they didn't really care how "I" really felt. They didn't really expect the honesty that would flow from me. They wanted to hear that it suits me well. It's perfect for me. I could see myself living here. It's amazing. People want good news.

Just like when people ask how you're doing. All they want to hear is fine, great, blessed, couldn't be better, amazing and splendid.

I dread Monday mornings when people ask "How was your weekend?" because sometimes my weekend was not good. A lot of times I work on weekends. A lot of times I feel inadequate on weekends because I didn't get to everything on my weekend to-do list. Sometimes weekends are just 48 hours off of work. I dealt with a racist incident one weekend and the only thing worse with dealing with it was having to tell people that it happened and it sucked. People want to think, well, maybe you're overreacting. Well, maybe it wasn't like that. People want to find a silver lining when sometimes things just suck.

And when I am honest, people are so ridiculous about it. And uncomfortable. And their discomfort makes me uncomfortable.

Everything's not ok all the time. Everything's not positive all the time. Sometimes there is no bright side. Why can't people just let me be there and stop trying to make me an optimist or worse yet, a liar.

So sometimes, when I go home to visit, I wish people wouldn't ask me how I like Pittsburgh and when I get to work on a Monday I wish people wouldn't ask how my weekend was. I just want to be left alone because no one is truly listening to what I say and why. They just want me to be happy and positive and all the time and when I'm not they want to fix me.

Today, I don't want to be fixed. I want to be left alone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is Your Vision For Someone Else?

Ok, who watched the TLC biopic? Also, is it pronounced bio-pic or bi-opic? I've heard it both ways. Bio-pic makes common sense. Bi-opic makes grammatical sense. I don't know what to call it.

Anywho, in the TLC movie, T-Boz and Left Eye go into Pebbles and L.A. Reid's office with a girl named Crystal to audition and Crystal can't sing. So Pebbles kicks Crystal out and they find Chili.

In real life, Crystal talked to bloggers and said the story happened a bit differently. She said she and her manager came up with the idea for TLC (not sure if that was the name or not) and sold it into Pebbles for financial backing. She was in with T-Boz and Left Eye and asked if she could take the contract home for her mother to see and Pebbles swiftly kicked her out of the group.

I believe Crystal. I also got a revelation out of it.

T-Box, Left Eye and Chili were greatly blessed by the group TLC (despite financial troubles). They also had music that reached people and I'm sure someone was blessed by their music. So it occurred to me that God can give you a vision THAT IS NOT EVEN FOR YOU. And you will share it, thinking, of course this is for me, God gave it to me. And he can swiftly give it to someone else.

I think that can apply to SO many simple things in life: a job, a husband, a baby. I might want some of those things, but that's not necessarily what God has for me.

But also to big ideas. Thing about how Mark Zuckerberg stole Facebook from those twins. Maybe I'm getting away from the message, but the point is (and I'll make it personal): Everything I dream up, isn't for me, but it's important for me to share my ideas, my goals, my aha moments because God may bless someone else with it.

Yeah, that hit me in the chest like a ton of bricks.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Crushin'

Did you ever have a crush on someone because someone else suggested you should? This seems so silly, but I met a dude in a professional. Thought he was cool. Thought he was cute. Figured I see him again, so didn't sweat it. Kept the party going.

Then someone goes, I know someone you should meet. He's a cutie *proceeds to run his stats, etc.* Lets me know he's single (although there is an ex-girlfriend looming, which ALSO, I already figured out because when it comes to dating: I.DO.THIS.) Anyway, according to them single is single and I add that to my repertoire of things I now know about him.

THEN, I'm at work, minding my own business. Writing a deck (because that's all I do at work) and out of nowhere, he pops into my mind. And then, butterflies. Wait, WHAT?!?!?!?!

Man, what the hell?

He IS cute though. And I probably SHOULD date him, but I'm mad that I'm crushin' dude because someone else suggested it. I feel dirty like I'm the girl looking at the *insert undesirable attribute here* dude after all the pretty girls started dating him when I wasn't really checking for him otherwise.

Ah, well. I'll let y'all know if anything pops off with said cutie.

Monday, November 18, 2013

You're Right

I'm not particularly entrepreneurial, but I have lots of ideas. I'm not really into working around the clock, doing payroll, thinking about my bottom line every waking moment of my life. Things of that nature that come with owning your own business. I rather enjoy turning off for the weekend.

But, I have an idea for a business.

Lots of times I am irritated, agitated, perturbed, or just downright unhappy at work. Usually these are fleeting moments and situational in nature. They're usually caused by someone not doing their job in a way that I think they should. Or by someone doing or saying something shitty to me. If I were to retaliate, I'd be stooping to their level. Not saying anything at all has me in this blind rage that whoever talks to me next will have to deal with.

So I want to gchat my friends and complain about this stuff, but then it's like I have to give so much background info. Then I want to talk to other coworkers about stuff, but I don't have any true allies in the workplace. I have advocates, but they are not appropriate to parties to whom I should gripe, bitch and/or complain.

So here's what I'd like. I'd like a fake electronic sounding board, mentor and/or therapist who will listen to all the complaints I have and just hit me with black woman affirmations:

Um hm. Yeah girl. They did WHAT? No, they didn't. Aw hayle naw. They know they wrong for that. Ooh girl, what did you DO?!?!?! Naw Joe. Uh uh. Wouldn't let that shit happen to me though. And my absolute, favorite. You were right!

No advice. No seeing the other person's side. No "don't do that, you're going to fired." Just straight up and down, I hear you, you're not any less awesome because that person is horrible, you are RIGHT and now that you know you are right, get back to work.

Who wants to create that start-up. I'd be your first customer and I won't even charge you a finder's fee for the brilliant idea.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Change Your Perspective, Change Your Life

Grandma: How much weight have you gained?
T: Hmm... Probably about 10 lbs. I weigh about 145 now.
Grandma: Well, you look good. You're getting a little gut, but other than that, you look good.

Now, I could be writing this blog post to tell you that, as evidenced, by my very honest grandma, I need to carry my tail (and my gut) to the gym. And how traumatized I am every time I go to her house and get that good, honest feedback.

But my outlook is much more positive. I translated my grandmother's words to mean "Baby, a gut has not now, nor will it ever impede action."

Oh, what a wise woman she is. That ain't nothing but the truth.

I hope you'll keep a sunny outlook today.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More on Mental Health

It's always a good time to talk about mental health. Here's another one-pager that they distributed at my church. I found the information helpful, so I am sharing.

Mental illnesses are very common, but also very commonly misunderstood. People who have a mental illness are frequently stigmatized by others who think it's a rare and unpredictable, even dangerous, condition. The truth is, mental illness can be experienced by anybody.

Myth: There's no hope for people with mental illnesses to recover.
Fact: There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than every before, and more are in the works. People with mental illnesses lead active, productive lives, and recovery from their disorders is real and possible.

Myth: People with mental illnesses are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: The vast majority of people with a mental health illness is no more violent than anyone else. In fact, these individuals are much more likely to be the victims of crime.

Myth: Mental illnesses are brought on by a weakness of character.
Fact: Mental illnesses are the product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Social influences, like the loss of a loved one or job, can also contribute to the development of various mental health problems.

Myth: Children misbehave or fail in school just to get attention.
Fact: Behavior problems can be symptoms of emotional, behavorial, or mential problems, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. These children can succeed in school with appropriate understanding, attention, and mental health services.

Helping children and adults with behavioral health challenges and their families, caretakers and significant others feel connected to their community and included in the broader society is a priority for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health. Stigma, based upon myth and fear, toward people with substance use disorders and mental illness is one of the barriers to inclusion and contributes to social isolation.

Info provided by Behavioral Health Inclusion Project: Lives Enriched Through Understanding and Spirituality.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From The Dress Files

I know you all are dying to know what I did after this post. Thanks to your comments and some sage advice from my friends, I sent the GORGEOUS dress that didn't fit back. While working out is important to me, I decided not to drop the 5 lbs to get into the dress this time around.

I tried to find a similar alternative, but you really do get what you pay for. So I went in a completely different direction and got a dress from Rent The Runway. It's full price was about the same as the dress I wanted, but what I paid for it was pennies to the dollar. I think it was still a showstopper, but just in a different way.

I'm giving myself 30 points for loving the skin I'm in, making a positive money decision AND being fly while doing it.

As you read this, I'm likely driving back to Pittsburgh after being in the Chi for 10 days. I likely will have cried the entire first hour of the drive (not visually safe, I'm sure, but there's no stopping the tears when they start to flow.) There are only 17 days until Thanksgiving and I'll be back home with family and friends and world class spas and good shopping and once again my heart will be filled.

Happy Monday y'all!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Anniversary To Me!

Today marks my one-year anniversary at my new gig and my move to Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, I'm in Chicago for the week. LOL!

What does this MEAN?!?!?!? What did we learn here today? As usual and in the words of Al Sharpton on SNL with Kerry Washington: nothing.

(I can't find the video to embed and I have work to do, so you'll have to Google it if you didn't see it).

Side note: I never have an actual anniversary with a man so when places like the Melting Pot or Southwest vacations asked for my anniversary (birthday would be a better thing to ask for), I just put my work anniversary, which has always been in November for some reason. Also my mom's marriages to my late stepfather and my current stepfather were both in November. It's a good month to celebrate stuff. ;-)

Where NOT to find a mate

Someone Instagrammed a screenshot from Bossip about what HBCU homecomings were good for you. It said something like "for the husband-thirsty, try the Spelhouse reunion. There are a plethora of educated men, blah, blah, blah."

When I got over my initial disgust that women can win in rhetoric (A woman who makes it known that she wants a husband is husband-thirsty, but a woman who isn't quite ready to settle down is viewed as new-age and needing to take cues from women of old.)

So yeah, when I got over that I actually laughed out loud because homecoming is where you WON'T find a husband. Not because he's not there, but because he's not looking for a wife during homecoming weekend. I've met a ton of guys during big party weekends. It's never amounted to anything.

When there are too many good looking men and good looking women it's like overload. Everyone's trying to see who wants to be down for the weekend and then it's like hey, that was a good weekend and then everyone moves on with their lives.

Contrary to what Bossip will have you believe, here's a list of places that you shouldn't even expect a long term situation from. It's just not set up for that.

Where I won't find dates or mates (we may hang, but it's going nowhere fast):
  • Homecoming (any school)
  • Inauguration
  • NBA Allstar Weekend
  • Superbowl Weekend
  • Professional Conferences
  • At work
  • Strip Clubs (don't let those well-meaning magazine articles fool you ladies. I've yet to find a woman who met her HUSBAND at the strip club. It's not set up for that.)
Since I want to look on the bright side, here's another angle.

Where I've found dates (I've vibed with a lot of guys I met at these places. These aren't bad places to meet people, we just weren't compatible.)
  • Hardware stores
  • Grocery stores
  • The club (the BEST stories come from dating guys you met at the club. Where would I be without the stories?)
  • On the Street (LOL! Sometimes I have to walk to and from places and I meet people)
  • Fundraisers (Write a check, find a man! LOL!)
  • Church (When I was going to New Life in Chicago every week I could not for the life of me figure out how to convert any of those cuties committed to Christ into a long-term mate prospect. When we're at church we're worshipping, then we go home.)  
Places where I've found long-term mates
  • College (going to grad school for the purpose of having access to more men is not out of the bounds of what's possible)
  • Vacation (this may have been an anomaly, but hey, it works well for me.)
  • Through other friends  (this is my favorite way to meet people. I'm pretty sure this is how most people in the world have met their spouse. Google it. I'm pretty sure this is where the money is.)
What'd I miss? Where's a place I absolutely shouldn't expect to find a mate in? What's a place I may have overlooked.

Monday, November 4, 2013

But, It Doesn't FEEL Good

I am learning so much about myself, my reactions to things and how appropriate they are and are not. Let me give you an example. When there is a conflict at work, I feel bad about it. When I feel bad about things, I think they are my fault. When I feel at fault and cannot correct my faults, I feel like crap. When I feel like crap, my entire life sucks. I feel like the entire world is ugly because I feel bad (when really the world looks exactly the same, but it's me who changed.)

So here's what I learned. The presence of conflict does not constitute FAULT on my part. It is not necessarily anyone's fault. And it doesn't feel good, but everything is not going to feel good all the time. A lot of times people would rather feel good than to do what is required. So when I do what is required and it doesn't feel wonderful, I sometimes feel bad about it and I should not.

Is this the most abstract thing you've ever read or what? The details would bore you, but that's my lesson and I hope someone can benefit from me sharing it.

I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite PR pros, Bill Whitman, that hopefully more eloquently sums up my stream of consciousness.

"Personal and professional growth are rarely experienced without some discomfort."

Does that make more sense? It's ok if something you did didn't make you and everyone else around you feel good if it helped to get to a necessary end. As long as your actions were appropriate, know that it sometimes takes discomfort to get to a higher level (this could be a spiritual lesson, too. So much in that quote, Amen.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Quote of the Day


I lifted this from @thefabgiver's Instagram. I absolutely love this quote. It's so simple and I need to repeat it daily. I shall print it out and put it on my desk. :) What's your favorite quote?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Love Innovation!

I went to a Natural Hair meet-up in Pittsburgh this weekend put together by www.itsanaturalthangpgh.com. Check them out, if you're natural and you're local.

I was introduced to Nikki who came up with Nikki's magic wand. For all of the make-up enthusiasts, this wand basically scrapes the sides of your lipglass, concealer, anything in a tube to make sure you get your money's worth.

At the show they were 1 for $10 and 2 for $15. Make sure you check her out and consider the wand when giving gift bags or

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I have sweater problems

I love sweaters. Warm, cozy sweaters, not light, scratchy sweaters. I'm from Chicago. I live in Pittsburgh. It's sweater season.

I was in my closet doing the disgusting rich girl "I have nothing to wear" routine. Then like a child wooed with candy, I opened a box of sweaters and forgot all about my problems. I distracted was like: OOH, SWEATERS.

So I have a red, cable knit sweater that CLAIMS to be machine washable. I washed this thing one time last winter and there are still red BDBs all over my laundry room* because of it. And since they're in my laundry room* they've infiltrated all of my other clothes, my sheets, and my hair bonnets.

Like no amount of sweeping, dusting, Swiffering or lint-brushing makes these things go away.

It's a real tragedy.

Another problem is sweaters that have lost their shape. I have on one today. And to make matters worse, the sun doesn't come up until 7:44 a.m. and I got to work at 7:30 a.m. today, so I essentially got dressed in the dark.

I get to work and realize, not only is my sweater shapeless and unraveling at the shoulder (minor details), but in the fluorescent office lights, I have red BDBs all over this blue and white striped sweater. Maybe no one else will notice. o_O

Lastly, I talked about this on Facebook (and got some good responses, thanks fam), but my cardigans have not lasted more than a season. I'm a cardigan fanatic, so this is a problem. They always have holes in the collar, in the elbows, or worse they just lose their shape. Nothing worse than a wrinkled, shapeless, hole-y cardigan.

So this season, I had to switch from shirts right to sweaters and skip cardigans. I'm going to try to hit up a Talbots or Land's End (in Sears) or maybe even a J. Crew to try the fit of their cardigans because H&M, Nordstrom Rack and NY&Co. have failed me. I also heard that I should dry clean them, so that's on the docket for this winter.

I should probably also dry clean my sweaters so that the BDBs become the cleaner's problem and not mine.

I love fab sweaters, that's my #$%^ing problem.

*laundry room = laundry closet in my bathroom, but laundry room sounds more sophisticated, so just roll with it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Racist Teachers are the Worst

I saw the story that's associated with this video and immediately thought about a dumb teacher I had in grammar school. I don't remember her name, but I remember her name changing because she got married. I was too young to know what her engagement ring symbolized and that she was out for a week for her wedding. I remember that ring though. It was a diamond in the shape of a diamond and it was huge. It used to show up on the projector screen when she was doing math problems. I loved it. For a long time in my life that the type of diamond engagement ring I wanted. Very 90s, I know. This was my fourth grade teacher and I had skipped third grade so I was the tender age of 8. I was just as much of a smart alec then as I am now. We were having health class and she asked how much we wash our hair. Someone said every two weeks. Someone said every three weeks. Someone said once a week. We were a classroom full of little black kids. We didn't really wash our hair that much. She looks at us all, flabbergasted and says "NO! That's disgusting. You are supposed to wash your hair EVERY. DAY. Do you hear me? Everyday." Her little terrified white heart couldn't believe that a bunch of little, poor, black kids had never been taught hygiene. I remember thinking "She's dumb as hell" and getting back to my business. It never occurred to me to tell my mother. It never occurred to me that this teacher should have had ZERO ACCESS to a room full of black students. It never occurred to me that some of the self-esteem issues that any of us dealt with came from having dumb teachers like her who have no cultural training and think the world they live in is the only one that exists. Fortunately for me, I was in a school full of black kids and my teacher was the one isolated. I cannot imagine being in a school full of white students and my teacher asking me to speak with poor grammar and diction and labeling that as speaking "blacker." I cannot imagine living in a world where my own children make have to deal with that foolery. But I don't have to imagine it, because it just happened. Racist teachers are the WORST!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Chugging Along...

I thought I would have been a mentor by now, but things are taking a bit longer than expected. Every time I think I'm done with something... ONE more thing I have to do pops up. Let me give you the laundry list of things that I've done so far:

  1. Registration Form
  2. Read and sign confidentiality agreement
  3. Read and sign the Assignment Guide
  4. Read and sign the volunteer handbook
  5. Provide Emergency Contract Info (Two contacts. This is ludicrous. I don't have two emergency contacts. I have my mom... That's it. I had to ask my first lady of my church to be my other emergency contact and she said yes!. I guess it's good to know that I have some local support if I need it, so that's a plus.)
  6. Local Background Check ($20)
  7. Child Abuse Background Check/Clearance ($20)
  8. Physical/TB Test ($22)
  9. Copy of my driver's license/ID Card
  10. Pre-mentor training
Here's a list of things I still have to do.
  1. A copy of my insurance card. This is a minor detail. I just need to remember on a day that I  drive to work (about once a week), to take the card out of my glove compartment and make a copy AND remember to put it back.  
  2. FBI Clearance - (I've already purchased my fingerprint card for $40, then I have to fill out the form, which I sat down to do today. THEN I have to pay $18, which I was about to write a check for... but they need a cashier's check or a money order or a credit card form. I don't have a printer at home to print out the credit card form. It's Saturday at 6:04 p.m., so I can't get a cashier's check or money order from the bank.)
  3. Two references (fortunately for me, they will reach out to my references AFTER they get all of the rest of my paperwork.)
  4. I JUST noticed as I was writing this blog that it has a checkbox for "training information (documentation, copy of CPR card, etc.)" I hope I don't have to get CPR training. I will if I have to because I really want to be a mentor, but I hope I don't have to.
So in this post when I said I had an 18-pt checklist to become a mentor, that was false. It's a 14-point checklist. I got this checklist on 5/31/13. I'm scared that when I finally send all this paperwork in, they may tell me I took too long and parcel me out to a lesser mentorship organization. LOL!

I'm excited to keep you all in the loop about what happens next.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Help Me Decide

So I bought a dress online for a wedding that in approximately three weeks. The dress is everything my heart desires. It's a size 6. I'm a solid size 6. It's a designer dress. Designers are haters. It does not fit. It does not fit and I might be about a size 8 at this point because I like to eat, don't judge me.

So being consistently healthy is a goal I rarely reach.
Sticking to my budget is a goal I rarely reach.
Giving myself a break is yet another goal I rarely reach.

So here are my options which all represent one evil or another that I have to deal with. Do I

A) Lose 5-10 pounds in the next 6 weeks and just wear the 6
B) Pay about $200 more than I paid for the dress [I got it on sale, which put it in my budget] in order to get the size 8 and just go on about my business
C) Send the dress back because it doesn't fit and find another dress that is in my budget AND actually fits

Now, keep in mind, I live in a dumb city with horrible shopping, so it's possible that if I go with option C, the same thing could happen again. The sizing instructions for the dress I bought said go down a size, which would have made it a 4. I'm a true 6, so I ignored their goofy selves and got a 6, now I need an 8.

The losing weight thing is challenging because I'm stressed out at work and I eat when I'm stressed. This is not an excuse. It's the truth. I like tacos and cupcakes, people. No secrets here.

The paying all that extra money thing is hard because I specifically had a budget for this dress and the sale made it be in my budget. I haven't even bought shoes or accessories yet. Yes, I know I'm fancy, but wait til y'all see this dress. Just Haute for no reason!

So, what should I do?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wedding Advice

Who wants wedding advice, because I have plenty of it! Check out this post (that I'm quoted in) from Credit Card Insider:

"Weddings are generally one of the first big expenses in a couples' financial life together. Knowing they can be pricey, we wanted to compile tips from across our community that can be beneficial to newly engaged couples. Check out the advice below that you, the readers, helped us put together on this tricky topic! Also, be sure to check out the wedding budget calculator we put together based on this advice.
 
Those redundant words, your wedding day is just one day, may very well be the truth. But society has given us Bridezillas, Say Yes to the Dress!, and all the jazz to keep us wanting that one big day, to be one very big day. Don’t get caught up in the fuss, and listen to the advice from people who have been through this process before."
 
Enjoy the rest here:

Friday, October 11, 2013

May Was Mental Health Month

and that's how long I've had this information and been meaning to share it with you. Fortunately for you all, I am a recovering pack rat and I don't throw anything away until I've processed it. Below find information that my church distributed in May. With all of the evil going on in the world right now, it's time for a reminder that our mental health is as important as our physical health.

Anxitey Disorder is the Most Common Mental Health Disorder

Each day people are affected by challenges and stressors that might make them anxious. Everyone experiences anxiety. An anxiety disorder, however, is more intense, it lasts longer, and it interferes with daily life. Anxiety disorders tend to develop during childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.

Type of Anxiety Disorders
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by repeated, intrusive and continuously washing hands over and over.

Panic disorder is characterized by panic attacks - sudden feelings of terror that strike repeatedly without warning.

Phobic disorder makes a person avoid or restrict activities because of persistent and excessive fear. He or she may have an unreasonable intense fear or specific places, events or objects and will do anything to avoid them.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) occurs after a distressing or catastrophic event such as an accident, rape, war, robbery, hurricane, or mass shooting.

For more info visit www.psych.org

Info provided by Balm in Gilead, Inc.: Healing through prayer, education, advocacy and service.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Get It Right!

I was going to put this up as a Facebook status, but it's kind of rude, so I decided to put it over here where people actually come to see my content vs. getting it pushed out to them.

"She won't be snarky like this, so I'll take the opportunity. I think if you're going to wish my bff a happy birthday, you should spell her name right. *flips hair* As a side note in college, people used to misspell her name and I'd be all mad and she wouldn't care and I'm like Les, IT'S YOUR NAME. With an odd spelling to my own name, she started to do the same for me. So we just spent all of undergrad checking people for misspelling each other's names. #BlackGirlStories"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Key Message Help

There are so many slang phrases that are appropriate in the workplace. Some that I've used recently in my head include:

- She tried it
- It's deeper than rap
- I ain't on that
- Ain't nobody got time for that

(Don't judge me. Crap shows up at workplaces nationwide.)

Today, I'd like to come up with the professional way to say "This Ain't What You Want." I tried it and it came out like "I hear what you're saying, but I'm not certain that that would not have ended well for either party."

It's still too charged. Even as a person who obsessed with linguistics, I haven't QUITE found the phrase to inform people of what it is and what it ain't.

Who has suggestions?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hair Problems

More responses to Ishea...

Some problems I've blamed on Pittsburgh, but it's really a mix of Pittsburgh, poor planning and shifted priorities.

Girl, you would think I could fit a stylist appointment in when I go to Chicago. I got my ends clipped at the end of April, so I was due at the end of July. Howsoever, when I was there I was helping with my mom's 50th birthday party. I literally didn't have 2-3 free hours to tend to myself (Plus she would have flipped if I left for 2-3 hours to get my hair done on HER special day).

I'm going home for an impromptu trip this weekend. Now my hair budget is half of my spending money for the weekend. It's still crazy to visit Chicago because although I dine out a lot, I have to buy EVERYTHING when I go home, so I don't really have cash for big ticket items. Credit maybe, not cash.

So yeah, this is bad planning on my part. I need to EXPECT to pay to get my hair done about four times a year to stay fresh.

How crazy is this post to think I used to get my hair done about 12 times a year without a second thought. Natural hair is the truth.

These sound like excuses, but I swear they are valid reasons. I WOULD get my hair done, but the way my bank account is set up...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Phenomenal Ad: Tear Jerker

I cry on commercials. But this right here makes everyone cry. It's kind of predictable, but it's just so well done.



This is the kind of stuff we pass to each other at an ad agency. *passes tissue*

In Response to Details Matter

I don't know if you all read when I comment on comments, so I'm just doing a new post (plus I don't have anything else to talk about).

In response to Ishea...

I actually love ellipsis. I hate improper use of such a powerful grammar tool. LOL!

PGH social life is really cool for me because I'm a social person. It's super easy to sit around and do nothing, but I'm not on that. Have I told y'all about my church family? I spend every Sunday with them and have been to my Pastor's daughter (June) and son's (September) weddings. They make fun of me because I'm rarely in the 'Burgh two weekends in a row. So after dinner (after church), I do a round of kisses and am like: I'll see you in two or three weeks and they give me the sideeye.

The kids [kids=my Pastor's grown kids] are also starting to invite me to their non-church activities. It's hard to break into a circle of adults who have been friends since high school, but they've been welcoming and I feel truly blessed to have that. 

Summertime here is WAY better than the winter. I was definitely lonely when I first got here [not to be confused with being single because unlike right now I was NOT single when I arrived. I digress.] Even though I had a nice amount of connects the entire city is on lock in the winter. No one is really trying to come out of the house when it was cold and snowy. It was like go to work. Go home. Go to house parties and eat soup (and I didn't know anyone well enough to be in their house like that.) So I ordered good cable.

Now that I know more people, I imagine there will be lots of sports watching and holiday parties, so yeah, I'm satisfied on the social front.

One more note on social. They don't have anything fresh, fly, swanky, hot, happening, avande garde (Maybe like 1 thing, but I can't do that same thing every weekend)... Nothing like that is poppin' on the regular, so house parties are as good as it's going to get and that's ok for here and for now.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Details Matter

I love details. This is why I love weddings so much. This is why I love working in PR so much. I don't just love details, I think they matter. Here is why what I'm getting ready to tell you is so shocking. I think I've fallen off in Pittsburgh. The falloffability factor is just so high here. That AND it's hard as hell to find reasonably-priced, well-executed goods and services. Here are the top 10 ways I know something is seriously wrong with my psyche as it relates to personal details.

10. I'm bushy - I have not found a good eyebrow person here. I've been so traumatized by the eyebrow people here that I would rather have bushy unkempt eyebrows until I go back to Chicago than to let anyone here touch them. And I'm not Brooke Shield/Beyonce my eyebrows are thick and natural looking but really totally shaped bushy. Nah, I'm just a bushy mess.

9. I'm tacky - *hood chic hand clap* Chipped. Nails. Are. Tacky. So when I see my nails chip, I no longer immediately run to the bathroom and/or the nearest drugstore to get polish remover and take them off. No ma'ams and sirs. I will go like 2, maybe 3 days KNOWING my nail is chipped and just not fix it.

8. I'm broken - My big toenail broke on the far right side and instead of running IMMEDIATELY running to the nail salon... I just let it grow out. WHO DOES THAT.

7. I'm jagged - As in my fingernails will chip and I don't even keep an emery board in my purse any further. What self-proclaimed diva doesn't have an emery board in her purse? My mother may disown me.

6. I'm open - As in my hem was wide open. I wore a dress to a wedding with an undone hem on the slit in the back because 1. I didn't want to change what I was wearing. 2. I could not find any stitch witchery. I looked. 3. I did not have time to hand sew the hem and 4. No one would be taking pictures [hopefully] of the back of my dress. But I knew. So problematic.

5. I'm naked - I have literally walked out of the house without earrings on. Realized I didn't have them on... and kept walking. I wasn't even late for work. (Side note: A friend in a sorority told me their on-campus manual included things like "You must never leave the house without earrings on." She and I became closer when I realized how alike we were. LOL)

4. I'm hole-y. I wish I could say in the God sense, but nah. I pulled a sweater out of the crates for the fall. Put that jawn on, got to work and saw a hole in the shoulder. Like is this for real. In Chicago, I would have hit up the closest retail outlet and found a new cardigan. Here... there are no retail outlets near my job (that I would actually wear clothes from). I was just messy, messy, messy.

3. I'm wilderbeasty. Showing true laziness sometimes I will just not shave my legs and still wear a skirt, shorts or capris. It's really ridiculous y'all.

2. I'm split - As in I haven't been home for Cori to clip my ends since April. You'd think I would have learned my lesson after waiting 10 months to get my ends clipped last year and having to cut so much hair off. But here I am, in Pittsburgh, with raggedy hair.

1. I'm dry - I finally figured out what to do with my hair here. The air is SO dry. But it took me a smooth five months or so to figure that out and every once in a while I try a new routine that makes me look like I forgot to moisturize my situation.

I would say pray for me, but there are bigger things to pray about. Send me some Southwest gift cards, so I can go home on a schedule and get my ENTIRE routine right together.

You may be thinking, T, none of these things matter. But they do. And I'm scaring myself by not caring about them more. Like I always say , at least I'm pretty in the face.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Means...

When was the last time we talked about money on here? Well, since y'all brought it up. A few of facts and figures to share.

One of my mentors claims that I should be able to live on about 88% of my income. This means automatically shuffling about 12% of my income into savings. I think she trippin' #BadGrammarOnPurpose, but I trust her judgment. My budget actually includes me saving way more than that. My post-tax budget is like this:

25% - Savings Account
50% - Living expenses
10 - Tithes
15% - Who knows what? (I know what: Dunkin' Donuts, lunches, brunches, dinners, plane tickets, shoes, spas, beaches, salons, Monday Night Football wings and donations to friends' charities, that's what)

"Who Knows What" could also be called "Good Living," "Indulgences," "I'm Homesick, so I don't deny myself Anything," "I got a problem with spending before I get it," or "Feed Me, Seymour."

I digress.

In theory this budget is perfect. In practice, I use Savings and "Who Knows What" interchangeably. So if I have an expense that goes over what I've allocated for my disposable income (that's what the 15% is really called), then I just take it out of my savings. Big no-no.

I should also share that I've saved three months of "Living Expenses" and every penny that I put into my savings above that is supposed to be transferred student loans. Those bitches gotta go.

So extra spending is thwarting my debt-free efforts.

I know what needs to happen. I don't know how to make it happen. I need to embrace a spirit of sacrifice. I don't know how to do that without being extremely bored and lonely in Pittsburgh. (Entertainment costs money.) I don't know how to act like I don't have money... unless I don't have money. Like I could spend $0 in a week or I could spend $1,000. It just depends on how I'm feeling.

Has anyone ever paid their student loans off? How does it feel? How did you make the sacrifice? What brain shift did you have to make to spend an extra $200 on student loans instead of shoes? Did you find a good balance between pampering yourself and knocking debt down?

Chime in. I need your insight.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mentor Training

On Saturday mornings if I'm not in my bed, I prefer to be on a beach, at the mall or in a city other than the one I live. Last Saturday, I spent two and a half hours in mentor training... It was amazing. The trainer was full of life and was anti-reading the materials. She did a lot of role playing and it was crazy because you couldn't tell when she was in character or out of character.

She looks at me and says "I was going to wear my hair natural, but that was too much work. Everyone doesn't look good with natural hair, chile."

I was like O_O

But she was acting. Then she went into how we need to keep our judgmental attitudes to ourselves, etc. Besides the roleplay there were two things that I found very helpful.

1. A chart that showed how different people could react to the same situation with a child/student/minor. There were four categories: parent, teacher, mentor, friend. It really gave practical advice about how we should speak to our mentees and what's crossing the line. (We're not their homies, but we're not their parents. We're also not their therapists, etc.)

2. The second thing I found super helpful was calling out a list of words that a mentor should be and not be:

Should be: inspiring, available, open, passionate, FUN (and a host of other words I can't remember right now)
Should not be: Distracted, judgmental, mean, preachy, boring (and a host of other words I can't remember right now), inconsiderate.

As life is always a teacher, the trainer said it's not just in our mentoring, but in real life we shouldn't be the things on the "do not" list. And in real life we should be the things on the "do" list. Basically a wonderful mentor is a wonderful person. What a fabulous reminder to me to not be a jerk.

Coming up soon[er or later]: A list of the 18 things I had to do to become a mentor. I'm getting closer!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Event Alert: Townhall Meeting on the State of Our Community

Got this in my inbox and wanted to share. Lots of people that I respect on this panel. In my never-ending quest to figure out what to do that will actually matter, this is the type of forum that could help me get to some tangibles. I wish I could be home to attend.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please join us for a Town-Hall styled meeting to discuss the Trayvon Martin case. The aim of the discussion is to serve as an outlet for young professionals in our community to discuss what role we can play in counteracting the widespread perception of young black men and in discuss potential strategies on providing assistance to the potential Federal case against Zimmerman and finally to act as a launchpad for counteracting violence in Chicago.
 
Hosted By 
Loni Swain and Isaac Paul

Red Kiva
1108 West Randolph, 60607
Saturday, September 21st
2:00pm - 6:00pm

Discussion Panelists
- Mitzi Miller (Editor in Chief, Jet Magazine)
- Joshua Mercer (Founder, Swish Dreams)
- Deanna Mcleary (Editor/Founder, Truestar Magazine) 
- RyhmeFest (Musician/Politician, Co-Founder of Donda's House)
- Dr. Obari Cartman (Professor of African American Studies, Ebony Magazine columnist)
- Brian Sleet (Chief of Staff, Office of the Honorable Roderick T. Sawyer, Alderman, 6th Ward at City of Chicago)

Rsvp for free admission
http://metroboard-townhall-efbevent.eventbrite.com/

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tea's Tangents

  • I had the craziest dreams last night. I had a dream that I was dating Kevin Hart and one of my Twitter followers. And by dating I mean kissing them both in different rooms of the same party. Kevin was my dip. And I was madly in love with my Twitter follower. I was giddy about him. I don't really "DO" PDA, so the fact that we were making out in public both terrified me, but also made me fall more in love. Dreams are stupid.
  • On Friday my pants were flooding. Let me explain. I'm 5'5. I think that's average height for a woman, but the truth (I Googled it) is that average height for a woman is 5'4. So pants can be a half inch to a full inch too short on me at all times. It's weird. The pants I wore on Friday only look good with heels. But I refuse to wear heels to work on a Friday, especially when it's raining and I'm tired. And for some strange reason, I really wanted to wear these pants. I justified this with several things in my head. 1. Flooding pants are in style. I see "cropped" Audrey Hepburn-ish pants on sale all the time. I think they're hideous, but people are into them, so I'm going to act like I'm fashion forward. 2. It's just work and I changed before I went out that night. 3. I live in Pittsburgh, the worst dressed city in America. No one would know the difference.
  • I only open mail twice a month, on the best day of the year, when I sit down to pay bills. My bills are pretty fixed, so I don't need to rush to the mail to see what I owe. Unless it's a card or invitation, I'm not really trying to process what people are saying to me until I'm sitting down to pay bills. All that I get are credit card offers #DoNotWant and requests for donations... which I will process at the end of the year, in preparation for my taxes...
  • An ellipsis is three periods... I hate when people do this.. or this.... or this......... Ick!
I thought this was going to be short, but it's kind of long, so let's see if I have any tangents tomorrow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

We Do What?

I was a communications major. In my communications classes I learned a very valuable lesson that most people don't know. When you speak with blanket statements and you are a part of the blanket, you exclude yourself.

For example, if I say 30-year old women have no idea what they want. I'm talking about EVERY other 30-year old woman (because I know what I want), when really, that statement includes me. Given this insight, I realize that other people speak with blanket statements about categories that include me, but they don't mean to include and/or offend me when they say it, but they still do.

Exhibit A:

Around the way dude (ATWD): Black women are not with their men.
T: O_O WHAT?! Maybe you could state it a different way. Because right now, I completely disagree with you so completely that I can't even make sense of what you're saying. 
ATWD: White women, Asian Women, Hispanic women... to a degree, are WITH their men. Black women are not... But I'm not talking about you.

So I politely [I swear I was polite] tell him that if he's going to make a blanket statement about a group of people in which I am included, he needs to state it in another way. For example if he said something like "Ain't shit women are not their for their men." I would have let it ride.

So he goes on to say: "Good women circle the wagon around ain't shit women and men can never say what's true because you all are always taking up for them."

I swear I date for the stories. I'm not mad at this dude. His experiences with women have colored his commentary and I can't deny him his experience.

I reminded him that when he makes a statement about what black women do or don't do, he's talking about me, his mother, his grandmother, his aunts, his daugher and every black woman teacher or mentor he's ever had. He disagrees.

So we agree to disagree.

I will say, however, that black women are always accused of not taking up for each other. For being haters. For hating other women's success and happiness. [which is a bunch of BS, honestly] But when I took up for black women, I'm accused of going to bat for hoes to try to make an argument.

When it comes to rhetoric, women can't win with men. Maybe that's the #message.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Identity Crisis

Unknown left the following comment on my "Around The Way" dude post.

"...because unless you grew up privileged, most of us were raised by "around the way" men."

It made me think about some more things I wanted to share.

On Pittsburgh vs. Chicago
As a point of clarification, I didn't [when I could help it] date around the way dudes in Chicago either.

On Privilege
Also, you could say I spent the first nine years of my childhood poor. My mom was definitely on public assistance at some point. We definitely had a family of six people in a two-bedroom apartment at some point. One the one hand my mom was a single mother, then a widow, then remarried. On the other hand from 3-9 (before my [step]dad died) and 13-17, I lived in a two-parent household.

My thoughts are based not just on my experiences, but also on my ability to apply critical thinking to what I know to be true. 

I'd say the last 8 years of my childhood were middle class. One could call it privileged. I don't know that having the basics equals privileged, but I see why someone would think that, all things considered. We were "rich" enough for FAFSA to say I don't qualify for ANY financial aid, but "poor" enough that after that first tuition bill, my mom also told me I was on my own. My brothers' private education was her priority at that time [rightly so] and I'd have to take out high-interest loans [that I'm still paying, Lord, help me!] to cover myself.

On "around the way" men raising "most of us"
My biological father didn't raise me. My [step] dad was in my life for six years, then he died. My stepfather and my mom got married when I was 13. I was pretty "raised" by that point. My mom was the only constant in my childhood, so when I think of who raised me a man (around the way or otherwise) doesn't come to mind.

And if I think of the man with the most influence on my childhood it was my dad who died. He wasn't an around the way dude. He was a tech guy at AT&T in the 80s. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment, but we had a home computer [and all the gadgets] before it was popular to have such things. We went places. He challenged our thinking. Challenged our views of the world.

For the sake of argument, let's say I WAS raised by an around-the-way dude (which I wasn't) I think I'd apply my critical thinking skills to today's challenges to know that that's not what I want for my future or for my children. (For example, just because my mom was a teen mom, it doesn't mean I'm going to advocate teen pregnancy in 2013. I made it DESPITE that, not because of it.) When thinking of a partner, I need someone who's going to challenge me, challenge perceptions, challenge his place in life if the cards weren't dealt to him in a way that's desirable. (I need a republican... I kid. I kid. Sort of.)

So I guess what I want to make clear that didn't come through in the original post is that my definition of around the way dude has less to do with where he lives and more to do how his mind operates. The basic, go-nowhere, do-nothing, survive, not thrive mentality is what I don't gel with and will not tolerate. Not in Pittsburgh, not in Chicago and definitely not in my heart and lifespace.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget

On this, the twelfth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, I'd like to thank the families of the men and women who lost their lives on this tragic day. Thank you for sharing them with the world. Thank you for your bravery in getting through your loss. May God continue to heal you and reveal his plan for your life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

I think today is as good as any to have a conversation about national security and the role of the federal government. I heard the President's speech last night about Syria and I was underwhelmed with the rhetoric, the delivery and the plan.

On the one hand, I can't see any option that does not include us having a full out war with a country whose leaders use chemical warfare. On the other hand, the President did convince me that if we do nothing we are sending out the weakest signal possible as the United States of America.

I know enough to know that I don't understand foreign policy. And I've voted for people who I think are smarter than me to make these decisions. They appointed people who they think are smarter than them to help them get to the conclusions they make. I have some level of trust in their process and I really don't want to be involved in this type of decision making.

Then my President said he wants congress to vote. Congress who was elected by the people, and therefore the voice of the people. I have no idea what side to stand on.

What about you? Do you feel strongly that we should or shouldn't attack Syria?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Around The Way Dudes

When I first started dating in Pittsburgh, I only encountered guys who were like me, transplants. Not from here and not staying here. The more people I get to know, the more local activities I participate in and I've started dating around the way dudes.

Imagine every negative stereotype that's associated with a dude who you consider to be local:

Baby Mama Drama - Check.
Close-minded - Check.
Passportless - Check.
Boring - Check.
Basic - Check. Check. Check.

Due to the levels of poverty [and racism] in Pittsburgh, I feel sad when I encounter around the way dudes who actually like me. Once I start to talk to them I always find that their perspective is shaped by their experiences and the experience of being a black man in this city is not easy.

On the one hand, I want to turn down their advances because I already know we don't have enough in common to make it work. On the other hand, I dream of being the protagonist in a Tyler Perry movie where the business woman is woo-ed by the UPS worker (I really do. I think the sex might be worth the drama).

But I don't have a team of writers coming up with a tear-jerking love story for me. I actually have to make decisions that benefit my mind, body, heart, spirit, soul and wallet when it comes to these men.

I'm going to keep trying and keep reporting back, but so far when I date around-the-way dudes, we both lose.