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!