The Dash In Between

10 09 2014

I was supposed to be working on a cute post about getting out of your black pump rut for work this week. I also probably would have written something about domestic violence in light of the Ray Rice video and the reactions to it. But I can’t even begin to put those words down onto paper or computer right now. I can’t think of anything really, except life and death. And I know that’s not uplifting or what anyone probably wants to read — but it’s true.

You see, for the past few months, death has been happening all around me. And I know that’s true for everyone, but it seems to have been more than the usual amount for me. Except it wasn’t any folks connected directly to me. It was family members of friends, best friends of my parents, best friends of my friends, loved ones of people I know. Death was all around me, but mostly directly affecting the people I love, not me. But it was never ending.

I even mentioned to a good friend one day that I was beginning to worry that every time a friend or family member called me at an odd hour, someone had died. And that I would go through the pain of wanting to be there for them, but not being able to physically be there for them. It’s what spawned my post about long distance relationships.

About a month ago, my mom called me during one of those odd hours to tell me that my great aunt had been rushed to the hospital for a possible stroke. She would eventually recover but still needs to go into physical therapy to regain most of her movement back. Still, I felt it getting closer.

A week ago, my mom called to tell me that my grandfather had been rushed to the hospital as well. He needed surgery and wasn’t doing very well.

I was spinning and sick to my stomach. This was it, I thought. Death was ready to take my grandfather (my second dad) away from me.

Thank God I was wrong. He made it through surgery with flying colors and was back telling me how I needed to watch over my sisters within a week’s time. He’s had a setback since then, but we’re hopeful the worst is over for now. He’s not back home from the hospital yet though.

At the time I heard he’d made it out of surgery, I was overjoyed with the news. I think I danced around my apartment for like 2 hours straight that day. Especially since Joan Rivers was a celebrity example of how surgery at an older age can be very dangerous. But it was one of those moments where even in the midst of happiness,  there was a foreboding feeling included.

This Sunday, one of my bosses was murdered.

Murdered. In her own home.

The only other person I’ve ever known to personally to be murdered was Montana. And I think right here in this post is probably the first time I’ve ever used that verbiage for what happened to him. I have to say, it’s a very surreal feeling. This same lady who’d just walked into my office on Friday, saying “Baby, how you doing today?” is gone.

This same lady who was one of the toughest, sweetest women I’d ever met. And I know that sounds odd — but that was her. You didn’t want to do anything stupid because she would get you in check real quick, but she’d also do everything in her power to help anyone who needed it.

She was one of the people I was planning to introduce a friend of mine to who’s looking to get into government communications, because she just had so many years in the field and so much respect from her peers and employees.

And now she’s dead.

Murdered.

In her own home.

From what seems like (as of now) a random person who decided to attack her.

How do you reconcile that within yourself? I certainly don’t know. I keep expecting her to walk into my office even though I know she’s not going to. So obviously, I’m not the person to tell anyone how to deal with things. I mean, I am the same person who didn’t go back to the restaurant where Montana and I met for three years after he died.

You can’t really do that with work though. Gotta go there.

I have to look at the special projects she and I started, but hadn’t finished, sitting in my office still. I have to work on tributes and memories and coordinate with the media. I have to try to shut down my feelings at work as much as possible, which means they come flooding in as soon as I walk out of those doors.

As soon as I get home and I’m in my quiet place.

One of those thoughts/feelings that comes rushing in at times has been around living the best dash in between possible. You know the dash, right? The one in between your born date and death date that they put up when you die? The dash that basically represents your life and what you did with it.

I’ve been contemplating my dash a lot lately. Even before this week, but especially this week. Wondering if I died tomorrow would my dash be one filled with adventure and stories of a life lived to the fullest. Or would people speak of my dash as one that hadn’t quite gotten started — one that they wish they could’ve seen me enjoy more.

I don’t really know, honestly. I know I have some great memories and travels to include in my dash so far, but I also know I’ve often lived a cautious life, been hesitant to take real risks, and had to push myself to get over my fears. And while that’s beginning to turn around — I also know very assuredly now that tomorrow is not promised to any of us.

And so we’ve got to cherish every moment of life that we have. I’ve got to cherish every moment of it. And do a better job of making sure that dash in between represents the best damn life possible — one filled with love and joy and courage and hope and adventure and excitement and goals achieved (silly and important). That it’s one I can be proud of.





The Random Pop-Up and its Implications

4 09 2014
Yep, it's absolutely like the joker popping out of a box... Photo: lessons4medicos.blogspot.com

Yep, it’s absolutely like the joker popping out of a box… Photo: lessons4medicos.blogspot.com

Girls. My girls. Has the following situation (or something similar) ever happened to you? It’s a random workday evening. You’re just coming home from the gym (and if you’re anything like me, that means it’s anywhere between 8:30 and 9:30pm). You check your phone — because that’s what most people do when they’ve been away from their mobile device for a bit — and then you see this ish:

Hey.

Sigh. Now, “hey” by itself is not a bad thing to see on your phone. I get some heys that absolutely make my day sometimes. But this one? This one is from an ex who you haven’t heard from in quite some time.

No explanation of the reappearance. No further thought. Just hey.

I’m asking (obviously) because this happened to me recently. And since this particular ex went ghost as a way to end things, I was Ray Charles to the bull sh*t, and told him as such.

I also decided to pose a similar question to the fellas on my Facebook page recently, just to get a sense of the mindset of a man who does the random pop-up.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

The status gained over 60 comments from both men and women, but the responses from the guys? Oh, the responses from the guys were classic and varied and mostly landed within one of these two categories:

A) Don’t be so quick to dismiss dude. He could be legit and you never know what could happen between you two.

B) Dude is a lame. And he just wants to see if he can hit it (either again or for the first time). He’s bored. His team has dwindled down.

Now, listen. As I mentioned to one of the guys firmly on team A, I am not at all opposed to a genuine reconnection with someone from your past (and those who really know me, know that’s true lol). In fact, I admitted that most people would probably not be offended by someone from their past reaching out and saying something like, “Hey, I know it’s been a while, but I heard something the other day that reminded me of you. Just wanted to see how you were.” But sending just “hey” implies to the other person (ie me) that you’re more like option B than the first. It implies that you’re putting a feeler out there, but you’re not committed to it.

And that (and the assumption that comes with it that any woman will still be available and/or want to still talk to you) is what I was and am offended by.

It’s funny, because I ended up having an off shoot conversation about all of this with a co-worker of mine a few days later, and of course, his first response was, “Well any guy who does is, it’s because he knows he can get back in there at any time.”

“Knows,” I asked incredulously.

“Yea, I mean c’mon, we all know that every woman has that guy who can pop back up in her life anytime and she has to think twice about ignoring him.”

“Yea,” I said, “But the problem is that every guy thinks he’s that guy, and most women only have one (if that). It’s like how no guy thinks he’s had a woman fake an orgasm on him, but most women admit to having done it at least once. The math doesn’t add up!”

And even if the math added up, it would still be some bull that you think, as a man, you can pop back up in someone’s life without any hesitation or explanation. That women are just sitting around waiting to be “re-chosen.” Please.

All of this brings me back to my original question, ladies. Has this happened to you? And if so, how did you handle it? I chose the “you can miss with the bull” route right after he tried to tell me how much he missed me and our conversation. What was your path?

Also, have you ever pulled the random pop-up on anyone? Were you successful in reigniting a relationship with him or her?





On the Midnight Train (from DC): A Shoe Story

2 09 2014

Coming down the escalator, I looked at the monitor in the train station to see just how long I’d have to wait for the next train.

Sigh. Twenty minutes. I must have just missed the last train, I thought.

I stepped off the escalator with purpose and care, making sure not to let my cobalt blue Jessica Simpson pointed toe pumps hit the ground too hard, but also letting anyone watching know that I was no punk (even with my stilettos on).

It was midnight in DC after all, and I was by myself heading home from a longer than needed to be Happy Hour situation. All of this meant that I was extra aware of not trying to look drunk and/or like a fragile, demure little girl who couldn’t handle herself. But I also didn’t want to ruin my shoes just so no one would bother me.

I quickly scanned the platform and found an empty bench, plopping my body on the concrete slab since I had so much time to kill. I glanced up at the monitor again. Great — nineteen minutes left. I couldn’t believe only a minute had passed by, but that just meant that I needed to find something to occupy my time and hopefully make it go a little quicker.

Figuring the best way to do that was by writing, I pulled a pen out of my purse, along with my trusty journal and began scribbling down thoughts of mine for later blog posts. I was in a zone. I was writing furiously. I was minding my own business… that is until I suddenly realized I had company.

“Hey, what are you writing over there,” he asked, as he sat down, just a little too close to me.

He’d walked up right as I’d finished about a 1/2 page worth of material, but since I wasn’t really in the mood for chit chatting, I’d tried to ignore him. Clearly, he hadn’t received the hint.

“Uhhh, nothing really. Just some thoughts,” I said, slightly picking my head up, but quickly returning my attention back to my pen and paper.

“Oh ok. Must be some really interesting thoughts. Can I read?”

“I’m sorry, what?” I looked up again, brow furrowed so he would know that I was in no mood to entertain his fancy.

“I was just hoping maybe I could read some of your thoughts,” he replied, backing off slightly.

“I don’t think so.”

I was determined to get this dude to leave me alone, and so finally, I locked eyes with him.

He smiled.

“Listen,” I said, softening up my stance a bit. “I’m not trying to be rude. But I’m just not in the mood, so whatever you were thinking might happen here. It’s not going to. Okay?”

“Okay, cool. I get you,” he said. “And I appreciate you being straight forward. I’m not trying to bother you, promise. I just… well… I saw you coming down that escalator with your serious face on and your blue shoes sparkling on the ground, and I just was caught off guard. And then I saw you sit down and start writing and I was like, man, I need to get to know her.” I could tell he was speaking from a sincere place as he slightly ran his hands over his jeans a few times trying to combat his nerves while talking to me.

“So you just admitted to watching me for the past few minutes, you know that right?”

“Yea I did,” he chuckled nervously. “I guess that didn’t really help my case.”

“No,” I laughed. “It didn’t. Look, you seem like a nice guy and you’re attractive, but I’m just not trying to go there with anyone right now.”

“I understand,” he said, sitting back onto the bench, away from me. “I get it.”

The next few minutes passed by as I continued to write in my journal, still aware that he was sitting next to me and probably still watching me. His obvious stares made me nervous but also a little excited, and that caused me to begin tapping my heeled feet on the ground over and over.

“Am I making you nervous,” he finally asked me.

I turned to face him. “Yea, a little bit.”

“Oh ok, well I don’t want to make you nervous. But I was just thinking about what you said earlier — how you’re not trying to go there with anyone right now?”

“Yea.”

“Well what if we just became friends? I don’t know, there’s something about you that just tells me I need to get to know you — in whatever way you’re comfortable with.”

“Ummmm…” I looked at the monitor again. I was tempted by his request, but thankfully the train was now only a minute away. Saved by the incoming train, I thought.

“I don’t know. I mean, it doesn’t really sound like you’re looking for a friend,” I finally said.

“I’m not. But I’d be willing to be your friend. If that’s what you wanted.”

I looked around again and noticed the lights flickering on the platform, signalling that the train was imminent.

“Hmmmm… I don’t know. I just don’t know,” I said, hesitating, but also beginning to pack my things back into my purse to be ready for when they train came. This guy had no way of knowing, but I’d just recently ended things with someone and just wasn’t in the right place to try and date again. But he was cute… I was torn!

“Come on,” he said — smiling brighter than I’d seen him smile the whole time. “You don’t have to think too hard. How about I just give you my name and number and you can decide later if it’s something you want to use.”

“Okay,” I said. “I could do that.”

He quickly scribbled his name and number down on a piece of scratch paper he found in his wallet and handed it to me as the doors to the train opened.

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll think about using it.”

“That’s all I ask for,” he said, smiling like a guy who knew he’d just given himself a chance.

“Wait — what’s your name,” he called out right before the doors closed. “I don’t want to just know of you as the pretty girl with the blue shoes.”

“Darby,” I said, giving him a slight smile.

“Okay, Darby. I look forward to hearing from you.”





Tips for My Future Husband — #19

28 08 2014

Let’s travel together.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Paris with some of my favorites, and while we were casually strolling down the street, eating crepes and drinking hot wine, I saw a couple in their wedding attire running down the street and kissing. It was in a very playful manner, and I believe they were taking wedding photos, but more importantly — it was the first time on the trip I’d seen an obvious couple doing obvious couple things. In fact, we’d been there for a few days at that point, but even though we were supposedly in the City of Love, it was the first time I’d noticed relationship love in the city.

Of course, from that point forward, every where I turned, I saw couples — doing couple things. Now, I wasn’t sure if those folks were making out in the plain of day on sidewalks and streets because they were so compelled by each other and the spirit of the city, they couldn’t control themselves, or if it was because they were in Paris, so they felt a need to make out in the plain of day on sidewalks and streets. Because you know — Paris.

Either way, even though it was a for a split second, seeing all those couples made me think about how it would be to experience Paris with my future boo. I quickly snapped out of it, because I mean, a) I was in Paris, and I was going to friggin’ enjoy that experience no matter who I was with; and b) I was with some of my favorites, so it wasn’t like I was lacking in the company department. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it crossed my mind. Or if I tried to say I hadn’t thought about it on other trips since then as well.

I know, I know — that’s not the feminist thing to say. I’m supposed to say something like, “I don’t need no man to travel with me!” And I don’t, and I’ve loved every single trip I’ve taken by myself and with my friends. And even when I’m married one day, I will still want to spend some time traveling on my own and/or with just my friends. But… I also want to add traveling with future hubby into the equation.

I used to feel bad about that desire. Like I was less than a woman for thinking of how that experience would be. For contemplating what we could learn from each other while out seeing the world (or even just another part of the East Coast lol). For thinking of how much fun we’d have. But I soon got over that feeling too. Maybe not as quickly as my feeling in Paris, but I eventually realized that beating myself up over something that’s a natural desire was just a waste of time. And I got further confirmation when I saw an article titled the 7 Benefits of Traveling Together as a Couple recently.

Well hot damn, I thought! I knew there was some good reasoning behind my desire.

And wouldn’t you know some of the first benefits they listed were things I’d thought of as good reasons to travel with your boo-thang anyway? Things like the fact that it causes you all to get to know each other even better, you’re able to make new memories together, and you find out how you work together as a team. Add all those things to the fact that I just genuinely love traveling and exploring different cities and cultures and would love to share that joy with my guy — and I just knew I had to add this one to the tips series.

So yea, I want us to travel together before we become Mr. and Mrs. D-Magic, and I’m okay with saying that now.

Heck, before we even think about becoming Mr. and Mrs, I want us to travel together. We don’t have to wait until we have rings to go out and have fun.





Celebrity Shoe Spotlight — Nicki Minaj

26 08 2014
Photo: Elle Magazine

Photo: Elle Magazine

Nicki Minaj is known for many things — her music, her charm, her business acumen, her assets (lol), and after this weekend’s VMA’s, her amazing composure in handling wardrobe malfunctions — but one thing I’ve noticed above all else is that she’s just as much of a shoe girl as I am.

Now, I don’t always agree with the shoes she chooses, but you can never, ever say they are boring. Whether she’s rocking some Alexander McQueen pumps or knee-high Giuseppe Zanotti cage sandals, you can tell Nicki’s a woman who likes to rock a bold shoe. You see this even with her more toned down look she’s been sporting in 2014 — you’ll consistently find her in solid colors (like black or nude), but also in a bold, printed, or colored shoe. Her most recent example of this was in the post VMA photos, where she’s giving poses for life in her black and white Giuseppe Zanotti Crystallized Peep-Toe Booties. The shoes were the perfect accent to the simple, black velvet, deep V mini-dress she wore — and Nicki clearly knew it.

Those shoes were just for one occasion, but here’s a look at some of the rap diva’s other recent shoe moments. Do you have a favorite?

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Five Ways to Love Yourself in the Midst of a Crisis

21 08 2014

In light of the most recent events happening in our country and the rest of the world, I’ve seen a few a friends remind their social and email networks of the importance of taking some time out to self-love and self-heal. It sounds a little pseudo, but stress really does kill you — and you can’t tell me that folks aren’t stressed the hell out these days.

Thing is, my dad always reminds me that your brain doesn’t know the difference between physical and mental stress. That it all seems like you’re banging your body up against a brick wall.

So to help combat that a little (and to pay the reminder forward¹), here are my top five suggestions to loving yourself in the midst of a crisis/storm/stressful time.

1. Take some time away from whatever it is that’s stressing you — I know, I know. It sounds like you’re just avoiding things, but sometimes you have to step away from the stressful stimuli to gain perspective and also to not go crazy. That’s not saying to get under the covers for days, but you shouldn’t be afraid to turn off the TV, power down your phone, and avoid the Internet for even a few hours to help you de-stress.

2. Do something that makes you happy — For me, that’s usually dancing or hanging out with loved ones doing nothing. Your happy place will be unique to you, but you should find it and engage in it at least until you can find yourself laughing genuinely.

3. Get a hug from someone — Yes, the photo for this post is someone hugging herself, but understand, there’s power in the touch of loved ones. Let someone hug you (even if you’re not a hugger), and let him/her do it for longer than 30 seconds. You’ll see.

4. Get some rest — Sleep is so important. And I say this as someone who is a night owl and rarely goes to sleep at a reasonable hour, but I also speak as someone who can feel the difference when I get a restful eight hours of sleep and when I barely get four. My body knows the difference, and so does yours. And your body will break down if you don’t let it refuel to the level it needs.

5. Don’t feel guilty for thinking of you — I used to have this problem (sometimes still do). When I made time for myself in the midst of a stressful situation, I’d feel like I was letting folks down or being selfish. But I had to learn that it’s not about being selfish. It’s about self-preservation. And if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be there for anyone else.

Those are my top five suggestions, but what about you all? Do you have any that would be good to share?

1 I also want to be sure to thank those who included me in their reminders. It was much needed!

PS: WordPress tells me this is my 700th post!! WOW! That’s kinda crazy — thank you all for coming with me on this crazy ride thus far. Here’s to at least 700 more :)





On Trying Desperately Not to Feel Defeated in Light of #Ferguson

19 08 2014
Images created by Shirin-Banou Barghi and shared on Facebook

Images created by Shirin-Banou Barghi and shared on Facebook

“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.” — Zora Neale Hurston

Like many, this past week has been a rough one for me. I’ve struggled with watching the footage from Ferguson, MO and reading of other unarmed Black men being killed because their bodies made someone perceive them as a threat. I’ve gone from angry to sad to exhausted to making sure I’m hyper aware of everything going on and then back to angry again. I’ve wrestled with the already cynical, slightly militant, HBCU graduate side of myself that wants to raise my fist all day long (because that’s what is engrained in me to do as a Bison) and yet doesn’t truly believe anything I do will amount to much when I see peaceful protestors getting tear gassed every time I turn on MSNBC or CNN. I’ve signed petitions and talked through potential legislation with friends who walk in that arena about what can truly be done to help stop this from happening again (because that’s what is engrained in me to do as a Hoya). I’ve even contemplated how realistic it is to crawl in the bed for a few days, roll the covers up over my head, and pretend like the world doesn’t seem to be collapsing before our very eyes on our TV screens.

And while all of those thoughts have run through my head, another one remains. One that tells me, “You don’t have the luxury or the right to feel exhausted. You, who knows the history of this country; you, who volunteers in her community; you, yes you, can’t run and hide from this moment. Because your people are being treated as if they are terrorists in their own land. Because your peers are going straight into the thick of things, getting arrested for simply exercising their rights to be a part of a free press, and fearing for their lives as they attempt to identify themselves as media, hoping that makes a difference. Because someone’s child was killed, seemingly because he committed the very harmful crime of jaywalking while Black. Because yet another child was killed.”

It’s because of those last thoughts that I don’t get under my covers and just cry. But that doesn’t mean the desire isn’t there — especially when it feels like Black people are having to constantly explain our rage and pain. Be clear — this isn’t to vilify everyone, of course, but it’s to acknowledge that because of some folks’ action, I’m tired. Tired of hoping one day people will get it. Tired of being disappointed when they don’t. Tired of knowing that to some individuals, it will never be important that a Black kid bled out on the street from bullets that should have never even gone near him. Just because he is Black.

How many times do we have to see a Black mother or father get on TV and tell of how he or she now has to answer a child’s inquiry of if he will get shot simply because of who he is? How many times do we have to see the images of the brutal over reactions to Black bodies in public spaces? What’s it going to take for some folks in this country to acknowledge that we are human beings???

I wrestle with those questions too, obviously.

I wrestle with a feeling of despair that wants to take over and force me to give up.

I wrestle with a feeling of helplessness, wondering if anything I do matters when we can’t even prevent our children from being gunned down by the people who are supposed to protect them.

And because of all that wrestling, I’m so damn tired y’all. But I’m a daughter of Howard, which means I’m a sister of Zora… so I know. I know despite my wrestling, I can’t keep quiet. Despite the despair that wants to take over, I can’t give up. And despite the exhaustion I feel, I can’t tuck myself under the covers and act like nothing is happening. Not when there’s so much more work to do.








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