Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Too Geeked!

They're going to let me take one of the girls to the Pirates game! I'm so happy. I'm about to start crying. This girl, in particular, always asks me to come on the weekends.

This means she doesn't get home visits, because if the girls have the choice, they go home on the weekends.

I came in on a Friday once and her eyes lit up so big. And then, because she's fit, she's like: "Oh, hey. I didn't think you were coming."

THEN one day she said her school (or somewhere) had free tickets to the Pirates game and she wasn't interested, but she probably should have went for the experience. Her words. Not mine. So I shook my head, like yeah, next time you should go.

This is next time! I hope she says yes! I also hope I can explain the game to her. o_O We might be shawt.


And I got Jenga for the girls tonight. All good news everything!

How's your volunteering/mentoring/giving back going for the year? It's never too late to start!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

That Moment When...

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

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


Update on Mentoring

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

They all ask me questions and judge me:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Need a Pep Talk

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

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

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

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

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

Or maybe it'll be just fine.

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

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

Ok, your turn.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Let's Go To Court...

Let's run the timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tea's Tangents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Emotional Intelligence

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

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

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

By Dr. Travis Bradberry

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

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

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

They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy

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

Read the rest here:

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

Sunday, April 6, 2014

New Friend Coded Language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who else has fun new friend stories?  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Averting a Crisis...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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