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Retorting Faulty Logic

“Can a woman ask a man what he brings to the table?” huh? Let me understand your question, “You want to know if a woman should be concerned with whether or not the man she intends to spend the rest of her life with can protect and provide for her?”

Me: “Naw fam, she should just cross her fingers and hope for the best.” Because it’s every woman’s dream to live in a cardboard house under a bridge, eating daily scraps from the trash heap of local restaurants and giving birth to her children next to the stray cats and dogs because you both have no healthcare. You really know how to woo a gal…. Where do I sign up??? NOT!!

Biblically speaking, But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8. And that’s on…The Word of God. And whether you subscribe to any sort of religion or not, as far back as colonial times in Europe, men were protectors, providers and played an active role in rearing their children by teaching them to read, write, hunt, etc. In the various tribes in Africa it was the same…the men protected and provided for their families. Even the male species of most animals, do this…It’s not unusual.

Like I said previously, the whole Ride or die chick and struggle love movement has made some men too comfortable and confused. There has not been a time, past or present when men were not expected to provide for a family he wants. This is why men had to prove to a woman’s family that he could provide for them before they actually got married. And if this practice was still in place, chile, a lot of these men would be in trouble.

You say you want a woman to go half on everything, because it’s not the 1940s anymore, but at the same time, you want a woman to be submissive and do all the home administration like the 1940s. Well, this ain’t Burger King, and you’re not having it your way. A lot of women are calling bull spit on this faulty logic.

Like I stated to one man, “If I’m already taking care of myself, asking me what I bring to the table is moot.” So, if you want half the bills, are you doing half the home administration, etc? Crickets chirping and tumble weed rolls through waiting on a response….

Basically, what’s the incentive? African American women are out enrolling our male counterparts in institutions of higher education and completing degrees.

The data shows the following:

  • of the total Black population with an Associate Degree, 68% are female and 32% are male;
  • of the total Black population with a Bachelor’s Degree, 66% are female and 34% are male;
  • of the total Black population with a Master’s Degree, 71% are female and 29% are male;
  • of the total Black population with a Doctor’s Degree, 65% are female and 35% are male.

Degrees lead to the possibility of better paying jobs. The majority of the AA women I know have at least one degree and they can hold their own financially. So, sir, the question is, “what are you bringing to the table?” I hope not this misogynistic archaic faulty logic. No one has time for that. If a woman is already taking care of herself, and a man has this kind of attitude, why should she subject herself to paying half for headaches. She can stay single, go get artificially inseminated if she wants a child and just date on occasion.

Another man said, “What law says a man gotta take care of a woman? I ain’t caring for no fuck buddy.”

“Sir, you stupid.” Tell me you lack cognitive ability, without telling me you lack cognitive ability. First off, no one said that. And there are laws governing your responsibility to take care of a woman if you are legally married to her and in some states to women that you’ve cohabitated with like a wife…which is why in a divorce, she can get alimony or in the latter case, palimony. So, again, “you stupid.” And this is what I’m talking about when men respond to situations in an unhealthy way. No man that is emotionally intelligent would say such a thing.

Alimony: financial support that a person is ordered by a court to give to their spouse during separation or following divorce.

Palimony: is a colloquial term used to refer to a court’s award of financial support or assets to one party of a non-marital relationship following a break-up.

How are you a man wanting a woman that is already financially capable to submit to you if you aren’t even cognizant of the fact that you as a man are required to protect and provide for her and the possible children, dog, goldfish, turtle, etc. Make it make sense.

I’ve not heard of this in other races or ethnicities, where White men, Asian men, Caribbean or African men are asking their women, what they bring to the table. Even when Black American men become wealthy and suddenly find themselves with women of non-color, they are willing to protect and provide. However, the Black American woman, she gotta bust up her knuckles, do all the housework and still be able to go monkey on that stick at the end of the night…and do it all with a smile.

Then we have the ones telling Black women that we need to lower our standards. Asking, “Why do some BW want men that make over six figures?” Because that’s her business. If you ain’t got it, move on. Because trust me, if she’s used to vacations overseas twice a year and she’s rocking designers, and you know your money can barely get you a weekend in Myrtle Beach, SC, then she ain’t the one for you fam.

The bottom line is, there are a number of AA women that out earn AA men. AA women that own their own houses, cars, got good credit, etc. If you’re coming to the table, you have to be prepared to show, you can add value to her life.

  • are you a nice person
  • are you doing the inner work to heal yourself of emotional wounds
  • are you in a good space spiritually
  • do you have a plan
  • are you going to respect the household and help out around the house

Honestly, a lot of women are waking up to the fact that they can do just fine by themselves. And it’s not hard to find a lil something, something when we get that itch. I can go in my inbox right now and probably find a few propositions. Or in the words of a TikToker I follow, “I can go outside and literally walk into a bag of d***s.”

As a man, you will always be expected to protect and provide. That is the way God designed it. Women are naturally hypergamous. Hypergamy is the act or practice of courting or marrying a person of a higher socioeconomic or social class than oneself. Translation: Dating or marrying up. Hypergamy as a means of upward social mobility for women is nothing new. If you are at odds with that reality, maybe a vasectomy is a good idea. Let’s face it, we have a enough laws and people telling women what to do with their reproductive systems, and not any governing the reckless habits of men skeeting off in a myriad of women and not having the means to protect and provide for the humans they create and then turning around blaming the women when it took two to procreate. For instance…

Tennessee man paying child support for 21 kids. And I use the words “child support” loosely because the amount was so trivial that no child could actually be supported by less than $2 a month. In his words, “I’m done,” Hatchett said. “Hopefully I’m done. I didn’t intend to have this many. It just happened.” How sway??? Just how? Yet, we still don’t have any laws for the male reproductive system….make it make sense.

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Grappling with Love, Part 18

Sebastian’s cellphone alarm sounded. He woke up to find the bed empty. He did hear the shower running in the guest bedroom that they were in. He walked in and used the bathroom, washed his and then slipped into the shower, “Mind if I join you.”

Toni welcomed his presence by turning to him, “Buenos dias.” She smiled just before kissing him. They lathered soap on one another. Sebastian thought, I could get used to this. “Would you come visit me in Cali?”

She nodded, “Of course.” She stepped aside to allow him to get under the stream of water, “But after a time, I’m sure you’ll meet someone.”

He shrugged, “Maybe, but she won’t be you.”

Her face lit up, “Sebastian, you have a swag that I have definitely been sleeping on.” He smiled.

Later in the room as she was getting dressed, her cellphone rang. She answered and spoke briefly. She seemed happy about something. As soon as the call ended, Sebastian asked, “Who was that?”

“It was Derrick’s mom. She said that it’s possible the charges will be dropped today. I’m going to the court house to show my support.”

“That’s what’s up. Tell him, I’m happy for him.”

She smiled, “Or, you can run home change and we can tell him together.” He smiled, “let’s go!”

******************************************

It’s crazy when your mind is on auto-pilot. Carson had found himself in the kitchen with coffee and toast sitting at the small table staring at his cellphone when Nechelle walked in. “I have some errands I need to run this morning, I’ll see you for dinner.” She kissed him and left. He barely even uttered a response.

All he could do was remember the conversation with his mother after he finally came to from passing out. She waited until everyone was busy and she walked him to her office. “Are you okay son?”

“It’s a lot mom.”

She nodded. She understood. “Nechelle tells me that you still have this thing for the young lady, Antionette.” He didn’t respond. She smiled, “I completely understand. I met her at the interview. She’s sweet.”

He looked over at his mother as if he knew there was a BUT coming. And just like it normally did, she said, “But, you know, she’s different. These young ladies out here today are standing up and doing things differently, they are making changes, impacting the world.”

“And what’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing. It’s just where do you see yourself fitting into all that? Will a woman like Antionette be able to see to your needs while she’s busy trying to change the world. Will a simple life be enough for her?” She moved closer to him, “Your dad and I didn’t hit it off at first. He was smitten by some fiery go getter. She wanted to open a non-profit for something. Yet, I knew your father had a vision of his own. I knew he needed a woman that could support his dreams without letting her own get in the way.”

Carson nodded, “But do you ever think how your life could have been if you had followed your own dreams?”

She shrugged, “It doesn’t matter. My life turned out great. Nice house, great husband, awesome successful sons. It was worth it.” She touched his face and left.

Carson’s  alarm to leave for school sounded. He snapped to and looked around. He called out, Nechelle. I’m leaving.” Soon after, he headed out the door.

The judge had just finished giving Erick a serious lecture on how to be more responsible. And that if he truly wanted a better life, he had to act like it and surround himself with people that had the kind of life he aspired to have.

Erick nodded and thanked everyone, his mother a fair skinned lady that looked quite youthful and his father ran over to him and hugged him. They spoke briefly and his father said, “I’ll go get the car.” He smiled at me as he walked down the ailse. His mother touched my arm, “It’s so nice to see you Toni, is this your boyfriend?” She asked as she looked at Sebastian.

They smiled. She nodded as if she understood. “He’s a handsome fellow.”

He blushed innocently. “Thank you.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you. Hopefully you guys can come over to the house later.” She walked out of the room. We followed behind her and were in the hall.

Erick hugged me, “Thanks for coming T.” He reached out and shook Sebastian’s hand, “I appreciate you man.”

“No problem.” He replied.

“I can’t wait for you to meet my girl. She said she’s walking up any minute.” They talked for a moment, when Toni saw Erick’s face light up. “There she is, my baby.” He took a few steps. Toni and Sebastian turned around and both of their jaws nearly hit the floor. “T, you remember Peaches right?” Toni’s eyes widened and she nodded. Her mind flashed back to the day she helped her when some girls were bullying her.

Nechelle acted as if it was the first time she was seeing Toni in forever. “Hi, wow. It’s been a while.”

“Peaches. You look amazing.”

“Oh, I stopped using Peaches eons ago.”

“Are you guys going to stop by the house?” Erick asked. “Um, right now? We actually have classes and I have to tutor this afternoon.”

“Come on T, don’t do me like that. Plus, I wanna see the footage and the story you did on me to help my image. I really need that.”

“Sure. We will be there.”

They said good bye to him and Nechelle, then left in shock.

Erick touched Nechelle’s belly. “Hows the baby?” She moved his hand. “the baby is fine. I have to talk to you about something.”

“Okay, shoot.”

“I’m getting married.”

He laughed. But when he saw her face serious, “No. We are going to be together. Us raising our child.”

“Look, I can’t be with someone that is unstable and from what I hear, your offers have all been rescinded. I have to do what’s best for this child.”

He scoffed, “You sound mad crazy right now. Now, stop playing.” He leaned in kissed her. “I wanna see you tonight at my mom’s place and later, we can go to our favorite spot. So tell dude, it’s a wrap.”

She nodded and they left the courthouse.

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Gimme That Struggle Love…

A couple of days ago, I wrote a piece that referenced the term struggle love. Struggle love refers to a woman who constantly finds herself in relationships with men who do not have their affairs in order. It pays homage to the Ride or Die Chick. And if you’ve been following my blog long enough, you already know how I feel about that idea of ride or die….

This literally how I was twice…

We have become so accustomed to struggle love that when sensible people say, “Why on earth would I do that?” We are stared at like a three headed monster. I’m all for sticking with a man through hard times i.e. He’s lost his job, he lost a relative, he has a health issue. Those things are understandable.

What I’m not signing up for is: going to work everyday, paying all the bills, handling all the affairs, all while being cheated on, while other babies are being made outside of our relationship. I’ve already spoken about this in a previous blog post called Ride or Die for What Son?

I’m so not interested in a drama filled relationship that I’d rather be by myself than to put up with foolishness. I will protect my peace at all costs. I don’t want to be with any man that I have to run behind, asking to see his phone, putting my hand on the hood of his car to see if the engine is hot or checking the miles to see if the distance driven correlates to where he said he was. It’s too much.

After a tumultuous marriage that ended in divorce and a two and one half year situationship, I can attest that I was a Ride or Die Chick and I was participating in struggle love. Once I realized it was not doing anything for me, I spent some time alone. Getting used to being by myself. I began my inner work.

My skin started to glow, my health got better, I was looking rested. My money was right and I had more quality time to dedicate to my two children whom were with me at the time.

I had to figure out what loving myself was all about. And a lot of people think they love themselves; however, they participate in behaviors that don’t coincide with self-love. loving yourself is recognizing you have trauma and seeking help. There are all kinds of support group meetings, life coaches, mental health providers that can assist. It’s a matter of researching and finding the help. It’s funny how people will spend hundreds of dollars to look good on the outside, but won’t spend any money to work on their inside.

If a person loved themselves, why would they suffer through disrespect and maltreatment? I know I deserve to be treated with respect. Anything outside of that is unacceptable.

Self-love requires you to be okay with yourself. That means you’ve looked at yourself and said, “Yes, I’m good with me.” It also means that you understand your strengths and weaknesses. It means that you speak to yourself in a positive way. And it means that you want the best for yourself.

So much of struggle love is promoted and perpetuated. When you think about it, how many of our great grands, grands, or even our parents were truly happy? I think about my grandfather who had quite a number of children from various women. I think about men that had multiple families in the same town, but it was kept on the low…even though you’d see a child walking down the street that looked look you, hmmm.

How happy were the women in these situations? That’s not something that sounds appealing to me.

Are there women that put men through it, of course. I get it. It’s no excuse on either side. I simply want us to do better than the people that came before us.

All this running around having sex all willie nilly. Then saying, “oh man, she got pregnant.” Really, she got pregnant or you impregnated her? We’re out here having sex and later finding out the person whom is pregnant, isn’t the person we want to be with. “She’s toxic.” I’m sure she was toxic before you laid with her. Had you spent more time unraveling that, well…

Same goes for ladies. You let a guy that you know has nothing to offer and won’t even be a good house husband, sit around, use up all your resources, bring all kinds of disruption into your life and then say, “I can’t believe this is happening.”

It’s happening. It’s like going sky diving without a parachute. It’s just not going to end well.

And again, I get it, people are free to make whatever decisions they want. I’m just saying, “If you wrestle a pig, don’t be surprised if you end up with mud on your clothes.”

My last point is this, movies have romanticized the idea of “struggle love.” Sophisticated woman meets broke man down on his luck. They experience an incredible night. Suddenly they are in the thick of it, next thing you know, his wife that he had been estranged from shows up. He leaves sophisticated lady, goes back to wife. Meanwhile, sophisticated lady discovers she is with child, but doesn’t tell him because she’s too proud. Years later, he sees her with the child and married to someone else. He realizes he wants her because his relationship with his wife didn’t workout and he wanted what he had with sophisticated lady. Secretly they have a night. Her husband finds out. He’s hurt. She tries again with baby daddy, but he never really resolved any of his past issues. So, there she is in this thing that has no labels, but at least she got a man…. And this could go the other way as well with roles reversed. It happens. It does make for a more interesting movie right?

However, our lives are real. We have to contend with the consequences of our actions. Actors get to go home after they’ve portrayed these situations.

Therefore, all I’m saying is, if I had to chose between “struggle love” and “peaceful love.” I’m going for peaceful. I like peace. I love tranquility. I love having my husband in bed with me every night. I love that he goes out and works to support his family. I love that he encourages me to accomplish my goals. I love that he helps out around the house and picks the kids up, that he spends quality time with all of us. I love that we are friends and we actually enjoy each others company.

I chose to break the cycle because I knew there was something more rewarding. You can’t get the thing that’s going to enrich your life, if you’re still playing games with the thing that’s holding you back.

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Ya In Ya Feelings and It Shows…

I must say that social media brings out a level of toxicity in individuals that you can rarely experience during a face-to-face interaction. For instance, last week, one of my favorite creators posted a video. Basically, it said, “Men be like, ‘what do you bring to the table’?” And she responded, “Sir, you’ve already sat at the table and started eating.”

I agree with her. It’s a question that really doesn’t make sense. When you find the right woman for you. I mean after you’ve gone through the process of getting to know her, you will understand that she is the table. Nowhere in that thought process does it state, “go out and find some bum woman that doesn’t add value to your life.” Obviously, but I suppose not so obvious to those that lack introspection.

Far too many people listen/read to respond or to be offended. I can most often tell by how they reply to a comment. It’s like you’re talking about oranges and I’m talking about apples. Yes, they are both fruit, but they are not the same exact thing.

Or they start to name call or try to attack your intelligence. Even go as far to argue points that no one even refuted in the first place. Like, focus and stick to the topic. When this happens, I know, ya in ya feelings.

Just read through this exchange I had with two men on IG. One started talking about something that I didn’t even state. Then the other tried to come for my intelligence…saying, I tried to appear smart. Like bruh, I’m a writer…if you think I’m trying to appear smart because I used a few $20 words, then that says, more about you, than it does about my intelligence. I literally play with words everyday, it’s not unusual.

This is why, I say, too many people need to do the inner work (separate post about this coming soon). When you do the inner work, you are able to look within yourself and ask yourself, “why do I feel triggered?” And if you’re doing any of the aformention things when responding to people…it’s most likely because there’s an area of your life that requires tweaking. However, instead of leaning into the feeling of discomfort and unpacking it…you attack. (smh)

Now, I’m used to this. I’ve been on social media for quite some time. I’ve been called all kinds of names and received all kinds of death threats, mostly from men…hint hint…because, most men are not doing the inner work that’s required to help them express their feeling in a healthy way, hence the last post I made regarding toxic masculinity. And it never fails…every day, it’s more of the same.

I take my platforms seriously. And I take other people’s platforms that I post on, just as seriously. In this age of “alternative facts,” “misinformation,” and “conspiracy theories,” I want to ensure I do my part to tell the truth.

If I say something that you don’t agree with, that’s fine. Argue against the points I’ve made and tell me why you disagree with what I’ve said. When you start talking about stuff that I didn’t elude to or attacking me, chile, you’re not on my level. And I don’t say that to mean, I’m better. It simply means, I’ve taken time to do my inner work and our thought processes are not the same. So when I hear/read things about women, and I know there is some truth to what is being said, I’m not all in people’s comment section making myself look like a damn fool.

If I don’t agree with a point, I give my perspective and debate the idea that was presented, not attack the person.

Now the part that kills me is this back and forth that seems to be happening with men and women. Everyone is pointing their fingers and the truth is, both sides have valid points. However, the people that get it are listening and doing the work so we can have balance and harmony, but there’s this group of people that are just out there being counterproductive.

In one post, I have a man telling me, “A man don’t care about how much money you make, that you can pay all your bills or your degrees. You just need to understand why you were created.” Is that so…can you enlighten me sir? Why exactly was I created? Is my place, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? To say you don’t care about your partner’s accomplishments, is like saying you don’t care that they have dreams and you don’t see them as a person. Only as an entity that you can use for your needs.

And there’s nothing wrong with men wanting a traditional family. My Uncle and his wife had this dynamic, but he never made her feel like the things she enjoyed doing were of no importance. She cared for the children and administered the household; he worked and paid all the bills. He also, never asked her what she brought to the table. He understood that she was the table. And that came by a process of getting to know her and her parents. They raised 4 children and are still married to this day.

Now, here comes the contradiction, you don’t care about a woman’s accomplishments or that she can pay her own bills…so, why ask her what she can bring to the table? You want a woman that can go half on all the bills, but you don’t care about her money or degrees? Huh? Make it make sense, Jesus. This is why I just can’t some days.

One guy try to make it about me saying, not to look for a woman of substance. I never said that. Arguing a point no one even stated. Then here comes this other gent with his balls all pulled up in his butt crack, “other 2 degrees and you might say something smart.” That shit was whack AF. You’re telling me I haven’t said anything smart and yet, you’ve not stated one thing of importance or that added value to the conversation. Like, do you have an actual rebuttal? Because, I said what I said and I said it with my whole chest.

I said it because, I and too many women have experienced it. You want me to bring half the money. You want me to cook and clean. You want me to take care of the children. You want me to administer the household and run all the errands and you still want me to rock your world at the end of the night. And meanwhile, you are only bringing money for half the bills. So, basically, you need to put out an ad for a room-maid with “benefits.”

A lot of women can identify because too many of us have been through it. So, did I lie? Not one of them could argue against a single point I made. Only assumed things, brought up stuff that I didn’t refute and actually agreed with and then tried to attack my intelligence.

There was a gentleman that had a tweet go viral. It said, “Men have to now get women to like them and a lot of men aren’t likeable.” He went on to explain himself. Some key points:

  • not long ago, women needed men in order to own property
  • get a credit card
  • get any kind of loan
  • a lot of men watched their family dynamic thinking the women were okay with how they were being treated…truth is, how many of our grandparents/parents were actually happy?

Women are now able to accomplish a lot on their own. So, standards have changed. If you can do for me, what I can already do for myself, then you should at least be likeable, and treat me with respect…it’s not a hard ask. Yet, there were men in his comment section, in their feelings. Did he lie?

Now are there women that are simply looking for money? Yes. If you ain’t got it like that, then you just ain’t got it, move on and find a woman that loves you for you. Why focus on something that is out of your control.

If you want a woman to go half on the bills, you should be doing half of the housework and active in the rearing of the kids and/or pets. It only makes sense. I get it times have changed. It’s nice to have someone that can have your back and ease the financial burden; however, there has to be some incentive for doing so.

My husband and I both work, we both cook and clean, and we both take care of the kids. We communicate and balance the workload. There are times when he has to carry me and times when I have to carry him. That’s what being in a relationship is about. Find the situation that works for you.

Again, when you hear a person’s experience, don’t make it about you. If you do, then you have to ask yourself why…

It’s time for a lot of us to take the time to do some inner work. It won’t happen over night and it’s a continuous process. Trust me, I’m still learning new things and I’m in my forties. However, if you never start, how can you truly have healthy interactions with people online, in person, or otherwise.

Every day is an opportunity for us to do better than we did the day before.

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Is Toxic Masculinity Here to Stay?

The question came up on my TikTok, “What is something you’ll get a lot of hate for if you say it out loud?” There are many unpopular statements I can make in regards to this inquiry, however, let’s focus on toxic masculinity for minute.

Toxic masculinity is used in academic and media discussions of masculinity to refer to certain cultural norms that are associated with harm to society and men themselves. Traditional stereotypes of men as socially dominant, along with related traits such as misogyny and homophobia, can be considered “toxic” due in part to their promotion of violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. The socialization of boys in patriarchal societies often normalizes violence, such as in the saying “boys will be boys” about bullying and aggression.

We literally teach our girls to save themselves for that special one, while simultaneously feeding little boys the idea that getting as much punani before settling down is the way. And somehow expect them as men to suddenly have this spirit of monogamy and commitment…the math just ain’t mathing.

We also teach our men to repress their emotions, “men don’t cry.” Are they robots? Men are human, they should cry, if their emotions drive them to cry about a situation that is hurtful or joyous.

What do you benefit as a woman, being in a relationship with a man that cannot verbally express himself without aggression, cannot communicate when he’s suffering emotionally, when he’s been taught that, variety is the spice of life and that, “boys will be boys?” You end up in a relationship that is dysfunctional, toxic and unhealthy.

The other issue is some mothers condoning or turning a blind eye to their son’s behavior. They know their son is sleeping with three different women and being irresponsible with all of them, but they say nothing. They know their sons are violent and hit women, they say nothing, they know their sons are not caring for the children that they have made, and again, They. Say. NOTHING!

I know you may say, what can a mother do to stop her son from behaving in such a manner? Well, she can SAY SOMETHING! They say this all the time, “see something; say something.” It’s at least a start to let the young man know:

  • this behavior is unacceptable
  • this behavior is not tolerated
  • you need to do better
  • don’t expect me to lie for you, and…
  • don’t be laying up with no multiple women under my roof. Periodt!

As mothers, we can also tell our sons to invest time in cultivating relationships before becoming intimate. We can teach our sons how to communicate their feelings. We can teach our sons to be responsible. That having sex is not a sport. That it is serious business and the possibility of emotions, STDs and children all come with doing the horizontal Tango. We also need to teach our sons to take time to work on themselves before becoming romantically involved. And I don’t mean just running to the gym. I mean doing some deep spiritual diving. They need to understand what it is they really want from themselves, from a possible mate, out of life: career wise and financially.

There are far too many men carrying way too much baggage and they want to link with a person, dumping all those issues on people and expect the other person to just grin and bear it. We have become accustomed to “struggle love” because movies consistently romanticize the idea of two dysfunctional hurt people bringing each other though hell and back, fingers crossed for some sort of happy ending. (I’ll talk more about this “struggle love” in another post).

And yet another issue why toxic masculinity persists is because some women will readily co-sign the ill behavior of a man. They want to make it seem like they are different from other women. They are the ones that are conditioned to accept mediocre behavior just because a man has a nice stroke. Me, I’m sorry, I’m not interested in being no one’s ride or die at the expense of my mental, physical, spiritual or financial well being. If you like it sis, do you.

Anyway, the time has come…actually it arrived a long time ago, for us to call a thing, a thing, when we see it. Men masking their feeling, hiding their emotions, being taught to sow their wild oats, to handle issues with aggression, bask in homophobic behavior, and assert dominance over women treating them as if they are entities instead of viewing us as different, yet still humans that deserve equity in regards to being treated with respect, being heard, being paid equal wages for the same job, and not to mention, to respect our bodies as our own.

Toxic masculinity is also going berserk when a little boy picks up a doll and everyone rushes over to him to snatch it away, leaving the kid to think…did I do something wrong? Kids are naturally curious. A little boy picking up a doll to study it is harmless. Kids will play with anything out of curiosity. It’s the adults that assign negative meanings to innocent situations that lead little boys to grow up feeling ashamed of doing a thing that is not deemed “manly.”

Just last month I watched a video of a little boy being berated and abused by his siblings because he did something that they perceived to be “Gay.” I have no idea what he did because the video didn’t show that part. I’m sure it was probably innocent. And even if it was “Gay,” was beating him, shaving the word Gay in his head and pushing his hair line all the way back to the middle of his head going to stop him from being Gay? NO! So what was the point? That is part of toxic masculine culture which both men and women can participate in…as his sister was the one standing by egging on the abuse.

So, I know there are people that will roll their eyes at this and it’s probably because they will feel triggered and that’s okay. The question is…did I lie? Not one lie spoken. I challenge us as individuals to honestly look within ourselves when we feel triggered. Ask yourself: Is what’s being said problematic? (is it a lie, is it harmful) Did I research the topic and do I know what is being said is true? (facts over feelings) If what is being said is true, why do I feel triggered? (There is an issue within yourself you need to unpack) How do I begin the inner work to resolve why I’m triggered? (First acknowledge you have an issue and seek help)

It’s so important to lean into uncomfortable moments and really sit with those feeling until we discover why. Then we actually have to do the work. Deflecting from the issue and gaslighting is a sign of spiritual immaturity and a need for growth. Don’t be that person. Remember, every day is a chance for us to do better than we did the day before.

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Pretty for a Dark Skin Girl…

As a dark skinned woman, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl.” It’s a phrase that makes me cringe and one I have only responded to with the double blink stare.

I was even told by a guy, “You act like you can’t take a compliment.” I’m sorry sir, but that was not a compliment. Compliments are flattering and leaves a person feeling appreciated. If your words have done the opposite, then, it was an insult.

To say, “You’re pretty for a dark skinned woman or girl,” implies that dark skinned women don’t have the ability to be beautiful. As if we are some homely worn out boot-faced individuals. Like have you seen these amazing dark skinned women…

The world has shaped our idea in such a way to believe the closer you are to Whiteness, the prettier you are. You see this in memes where the dark skinned BW is always the joke…light skin woman= wifey, cocoa skin = side chick, and dark skin=the unwanted baby mama. When in fact, the tired dusty fool doesn’t deserve any one of the ladies.

I expect this from men of other races. However, it’s very disheartening when this narrative is pushed/perpetuated by Black men. And it’s passed off as a preference…when in actuality, it’s colorism. You know how I know…because a preference is having a choice between two or more items of the same types of items, but you actually don’t mind having either.

For instance, I love apples. I prefer the bright red ones, that’s kind of hard, but I will still eat the green ones, the pink ones, etc. If I say, I ONLY want the bright red ones and refuse to eat any of the others, that’s a prejudice/discrimination against the other apples.

And, at this point, you can have all the preferences you want, but why does it have to come at the expense of degrading an entire group of women. Leave us alone. Most of the time, we are not checking for you!!!

I saw a video “Smash or Pass” by which Black men had lined up a variety of women, most of them fair skin or racially ambiguous, along with a dark skin woman. They then went down the line saying whether or not they would “smash” (sleep with) or pass.

I’m always baffled by these little trite scenarios. Most of the time, it’s men whom, most decent women with any self respect would not even consider. Yet, I’ll digress.

The funny part is women subjecting themselves to this type of objectification and the fact that the other (light skinned) women were acting honored to be chosen as some dusty’s concubine for a night. Meanwhile, co-signing the toxic masculine rhetoric and colorist comments…tisk, tisk.

Having someone want you simply because you have an aesthetic that someone else said was the gold standard is mind boggling. I’d rather have someone want me because of the characteristics I possess.

Now, I know, looks draw a person in, but those aren’t things that keep a person interested. Plenty of light skint girls done been cheated on…just saying. Having someone want you simply for being fair skinned or racially ambiguous is being fetishized. Those relationships are superficial and aren’t rooted in anything substantial. It’s the equivalent to planting a tree in a shallow hole and coming back two days later finding it toppled over and wondering why…you gotta dig deeper…it’s that simple.

Beauty comes in all skin tones. Periodt. You can have a pretty exterior, but what do your insides look like? And I’m not talking about your organs and such, ewe. I mean, what’s at the core of you as a person? Do you love yourself? Do you treat people with kindness and respect? Do you perpetuate oppressive language? Do you find making fun of a group women with darker skin funny in order to boost your own self worth?

I just did a video on TikTok where I discuss, how people within certain marginalized groups fail to see where their oppression meets their privilege, which often leads them to being oppressive to other members within their marginalized group. We are Black women and we have a common struggle; however, light-skinned women have a certain privilege that exists over darker skinned women, (our struggles are not the same.) We are often the punchline and deemed more masculine or unworthy of protection. And if anyone attempts to show us some love…here come all the others with, “but all women….”

Deep sigh, yes, “all women can be beautiful….” But right now, the spotlight is on a group that is under appreciated and often harshly targeted. Understanding where your oppression meets your privilege is not playing the oppression Olympics. It’s hearing a person’s experience and understanding that their issues differ from yours. It allows you to SEE them and not respond in a manner that is tone deaf. It prevents gaslighting or dismissive language simply because the issues someone else faces does not directly affect you. It allows you to use your privilege to amplify voices, so their issues can be heard. It allows us all an opportunity at equity and an opportunity to thrive.

Saying someone is “pretty for a dark skin girl,” is not a compliment. I would not ever tell an attractive Asian man, “Oh you’re hot for an Asian man.” That’s not a compliment. I’ve seen some fine Asian guys when I was in the military and I would say, “You’re handsome.” Trying to shoot my shot! lol…Really, that’s all that needs to be said. That extra is not needed.

All the shades of Ebony are beautiful. While appreciating the shades please remember it’s important to be as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. This is me…dark and beautiful and loving myself because I know that my beauty radiates from within and reflects outwardly

Love yourself…and remember each day is an opportunity for us to do better than the day before…

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Grappling with Love, Part 16

Toni sat on the edge of the bed. She felt his strong hand caress her back, she turned to him and smiled before standing. He surveyed her as she stood there in nothing. He smiled as she began to locate articles of her clothing. She dressed herself and just when she slipped inside of her pants, Sebastian had found himself standing in front of her.

“Like, I know you said that it was just for tonight, but that doesn’t mean, I have to stay clear from you until, I don’t know…”

She giggled, “You’re cute. Of course not. We’re still friends. Everything is still the same.” She kissed his lips. He nodded, but in is heart, things were not exactly the same. He had made love to her. He nodded, “I’ll walk you to your car.” He grabbed some shorts and a hoodie and they left the room.

When he returned. He closed the door and leaned against it. It was almost as if, he could see a picture of how it all transpired. They walked into the room that night, Toni locked the door. She grinned as she approached him standing near the bed.

He was nervous, his hands shook. She looked into his eyes and said, “You love me right.” He nodded, “You know I do.”

“Then relax. It’s just the two of us.” She kissed him as she reached for his pants and undid them. She touched him until she could feel him bulge in his boxers. He pulled off her shirt and later her bra. He looked at her for a moment, admiring her. His right hand touched her left breast just before his buried his face in her cleavage suckling from left to right. He stopped for a moment. She pulled off his shirt then pushed him back on the bed.

She worked wonders on him. He could hardly contain himself, as he lay there with his toes curled, he bit his lip, he uttered profanities and called on God. He tapped the bed and said, “Ya mami.” She stood up and smiled. He was still panting as he lay there, but he wasn’t about to let her have all the glory. Sure she was the boss on the mat in jiujitsu, but he knew a few things in the bedroom, and she was about to find out.

He stood to his feet with a serious face. He kissed her in the mouth and touched her. He felt the moisture from her and it excited him, “I wanna taste you.” She sat back on the bed, he pulled off her panties. His lips found her lips and she groaned in pleasure. She tried to worm back, but he locked his arms around those sexy thighs and put a spell on her until she grabbed his face and said, “okay.”

He crawled on top of her, they locked eyes. She felt him gaining entrance, she moaned. He went deeper and the tighter she gripped him, the deeper he went, until she flipped him and ended up on top.

He smiled, then suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. He turned to open it. His sister stood in the doorway. “So, I take it that you and Toni—” she motioned with her hands. His head tilted, “Yuly, come on.”

“I’m your sister. You can tell me. Besides, I heard everything.” She gave him a little punch. “You used the trick I told you about.”

He smiled when he remembered the look on Toni’s face when she grabbed his face and had him stop. His sister laughed, “Works every time. Guaranteed organism sure to flood the sheets.”

He nodded, “Yeah. I need to um—” He pointed to the disheveled bed. She nodded, “Say no more.”

******************

Carson had a long night. He hoped that his morning would be a little better. He stood by the counter drinking a cup of coffee when Nechelle entered the room. “You didn’t come to bed last night.”

He stood there dressed in some slacks and a gray button down shirt. “I had a lot on my mind.”

She wore kitten heels that sounded against the tiled floor as she walked over to the coffee maker to pour herself some coffee. “And you don’t think that I have a lot on my mind as well?” She placed some sugar and a little cream in her cup. “I have to live with the fact that one day when our child asks us about how excited their father was when I told him about the pregnancy…all I have his your perturbed furrowed face to recall.” She took a sip.

He huffed, “I’m sorry. But you have to understand. I was not planning to start a family for at least two more years. I haven’t even graduated. I’m still in the beginning stages of this company merger and expansion.”

“Yeah. I get it. So, I suppose you want out of this. I can call my uncle and aunt, they will probably give me a place to stay until I can find my own.” She acted as if she were about to storm off, but Carson stepped in her path. “Don’t. Don’t leave. I apologize.”

“Are you sure? Because I don’t want this girl to keep being an issue between us. You have to figure out what’s important to you. Is it me or her?”

That was hard. Yet he knew what he had to do, “It’s you.” He kissed the top of her head and hugged her.

************

Toni sat at the table wearing a yellow polka dot dress as as she looked at possible accommodations in Cape Town, South Africa, when Sebastian walked up. He touched her shoulders in a lovingly way. “Hey there.” He said.

He sat down with his food. “South Africa, nice.” He stated. She nodded, “Yes. Surprisingly good deals there. I’ll be there for a few months, while I do some volunteer work and later, I’ll head to Cape Verde for a week and later, back here before for I figure out where I’m headed for good.”

He took a deep breath and said, “I know um, last night was just, last night, but am I allowed to at least say, that I had an amazing time?” She smiled and gave him a playful nudge, “I had an amazing time too.”

Carson walked up. He stood in front of the table eyeing them. It was quiet. Sebastian cleared his throat. “Do you want something?” He asked. “Do you guys mind if I sit?” He asked. Sebastian turned to Toni. She agreed and Sebastian motioned with his hand.

Carson went down heavy into the seat. He clasped his hands. He laughed, but then she cleared his throat and chuckled again. He took a deep breath and said, “I owe you guys an apology. Um, especially you Toni.”

“We’re listening.” She said.

“Sebastian, you’re a cool dude. I should have known that you wouldn’t go behind my back and do anything shady. I came at you wrong.” He looked at Toni, “Toni, I should have trusted you. I know how much you love me and you wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.”

Sebastian and Toni looked at each other and then at him, “So that’s the apology that took all the deranged laughter and throat clearing?” She rolled her eyes.

Sebastian chuckled. Carson sucked his teeth, “Come on Toni. I don’t want to fight with you guys anymore. I need my friends. I need support. I’m in a play this weekend. I would like it if you two would be my guests.”

 They looked at each other again. Then at him, “Okay. We’ll be there.”

He smiled, “Really?” Toni nodded, “Sure, why not.” she smiled as she stood, “I have to get to my next glass. I have some editing to do on a project.” She kissed Sebastian on the cheek before leaving.

Carson eyed Sebastian. He squinted, “Dang, I don’t get the cheek kisses anymore.” Sebastian shrugged. I guess I was just sitting closer to her, she did wave at you.” He cleared his throat and nodded. “So did you tell her?”

They eyed each other down at the table. Sebastian shook his head, “I should have known that apology was full of shit.”

“I’m just saying.” He continued to mutter insanities. Sebastian stood up, but leaned down, “I didn’t tell her shit.” He grabbed his stuff, “as far as I’m concerned, Toni can go to your little thing. I’m gonna be sick that night.” He walked off.

Carson sat at aggravated as he strummed his fingers against the table. “She’s going to find out sooner or later.” He blew out loudly and muttered, “I’m about to be a dad. A dad.” He chuckled. He turned to a group sitting at a nearby table, “I’m going to be a dad.” He nodded.

They congratulated him as he stood up and walked away.

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Unnecessary Behavior

The art of Civility and Constructive Criticism

Ladies and gentle fellows, boys and girls and all those in between, I greet you with love and positivity in hopes to bring understanding to a situation that I’ve often spoken and written about, in one form or another, and that is…unnecessary behavior.

There was not a clear definition regarding unnecessary behavior, but there was one in regards to unwanted behavior, but that’s another topic for another day. So, I’ll provide one…unnecessary is by definition: not needed and behavior by definition is: a person’s actions or how they conduct themselves either with themselves or other people/situations. Therefore, we can conclude that unnecessary behavior is: actions by a person that are not needed.

My kids have asked me, “Mami, what annoys you a lot?” In which, I reply, “Unnecessary behavior.” Basically, when people do shit, they just don’t have to do. It annoys me so much that when I’m in the presence of it, it takes everything in me not to lay heavenly hands on the person that is exhibiting said behavior.

When it’s done online, because you know, we have a lot of keyboard warriors these says. They be all in your comments and under your posts talking crazy, knowing very well, they would NEVER say what they are typing to your face. It’s like, yeah, you safe sitting in your mom’s dusty basement while wearing poo streaked drawls and a Cheeto stained musty racerback tank talking shit. Go head on with you bad self…(rolls eyes and chuckles to myself).

When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s in New Orleans, you just didn’t walk up to people and start talking crazy if you weren’t looking to get chin checked. That’s why a lot of times, when I read disrespectful comments, I block people after I decide whether or not I’m going to cuss them out so badly they feel like crawling back into the split they fell out of…because, even though I try to be gracious, I’m still a lil hood.

In my opinion, social media has created some socially inept people. What do I mean by this? I mean people lack the ability to engage with others in a manner that is civil because they have the ability to hide behind the keyboard and are free from the physical repercussions of their actions. Unless, you’re like one guy in a video I saw where he was able to locate the IP address and showed up to someone’s house and asked them to say all the negative things that they had typed on their page.

Imagine being in your living room trolling to your heart’s content and then…the person you trolled knocks on your door and says, “Let’s get it.” In New Orleans, we have a Bounce song that says, “Talk that shit now!” Anyway, it was too funny the look on his face. He was mad scared. (laugh cry face emoji) Now, had he not participated in the unnecessary behavior, that man wouldn’t have shown up in front of his house.

As I stated before, you have a right to your opinion, but people also have a right to have an opinion about your opinion. And if you say something harsh about someone, then expect some sort of backlash, even if your comment has some merit. It’s hard to hear the truth when it isn’t favorable. However, if you stand by what you say, then it is what it is.

Now, the part that gets me is people who feel compelled to assert their unsolicited opinions about others when ain’t nobody asked them. Like, I could literally be minding my own Black Woman business and there will be some person saying things about me not even knowing the extent of my character, yet making assertions about me and attacking my physical appearance simply because they can on the internet.

You can have your opinion about my looks. I’m realistic enough to know, not everyone will find me attractive. Beauty is very much subjective, what looks good to one, will not to another and that’s okay. The thing I don’t understand is being mean for no reason. No civility…civility is simply, formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech.

There are guys that I see that I’m simply not attracted to, but I’m not on the internet making a bunch of disparaging remarks about them. If someone asks me if I find a particular man handsome and I don’t, I’d say, “He’s not my type.” Then I’d tell them exactly the kinds of men I find attractive.

Why do I choose to operate this way because number one, it’s civil and it’s not necessary for me to make negative comments about people. My comments will not change their appearance. People can’t help the looks they were born with and if people choose to alter their appearance for whatever reason, it’s their choice and has nothing to do with me.

I used to comment about women who did too much with their eyebrows and eyelashes. I just thought some of the trends were over the top, but I learned that people do the things they want to do, just like I do the things I like to do. It’s that simple.

Just because I don’t like a style or a look, doesn’t mean someone else has the same sentiment. Therefore, I speak for me and what I like or don’t like. If someone asks my opinion, I’ll give them my best constructive criticism: a helpful way of giving feedback that provides specific, actionable suggestions. 

I’ve had plenty of practice giving feedback because I was a supervisor in the military, an examiner for DMV giving road tests, and I was also a Toast Master, where we gave and critiqued speeches and table talks.

I see women make ugly comments about other women. They enjoy tearing down each other. And say things like, “I’m just keeping it real,” or “it’s my opinion.” I usually give the side eye and keep it moving. When a man does this, honestly, I find it very unattractive. I suppose because I wasn’t brought up around men that participated in this kind of behavior. Like my uncles, my brother, my cousins weren’t just sitting around making disparaging remarks about a woman’s appearance. If they had something specific to say in regards to a situation that transpired, they spoke of the issue.

Even the men I deal with today, my husband, my co-workers that I associate with do not do this. It’s gives very much, I don’t have anything else better to do with my time…energy. There are too many things that we as people can concern ourselves with other than hopping on the internet and smashing the keyboard to talk about how people look. That’s not the kind of energy I want to associate myself with. Because if you think that’s okay to do it to other people, then, you would most likely do it to me.

Listen, I get it. People want to be able to just say anything. Especially, the rude things that degrade people. It doesn’t take any talent to destroy, but imagine the skill it takes to build and create something. If I had the power to tear someone down with my words or build them up, I’d rather to the building.

Now, don’t get it twisted, I will clap back if someone gets slick at the mouth. After all, if a person is begging to get cussed out, who am I, not to grant such a reasonable request.

Be safe out there loves!!!

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Your Opinion Isn’t Law!

Looka here Cletus, how many times I have to tell you that just because you feel strongly about something, doesn’t make it law?

I’ve talked about this from multiple angles over the years. My stance has not waivered. When it comes to opinions, everyone has one and that’s about as factual as opinions get. As I’ve stated before, facts are things that can be proven with evidence. Such as events that have been documented, dates, personal accounts of experiences, science, research, etc.

When you start of saying, “I think or I feel,” that is your opinion based on your upbringing, interactions, etc. Now, you can have some well founded opinions rooted in facts. One of the things we learned in debate was how to research data which supports or backs up our stance. If our arguments were strong enough, we could sway people to take our position of either pro/con.

When it comes to having an opinion about something, you can have one; however, if you want me to feel how you feel, you need to present we with a compelling argument rooted in facts, experiences, etc to sway me to your stance. If you fail to do that, then we have to agree to disagree. And I’m cool with that.

There have been times when I thought a particular thing, because I was always taught something, but after someone offered me a different perspective and I was allowed time to research the information for myself, I have changed my stance on certain things.

The main thing in regards to opinions is, just because you have an opinion about something, doesn’t mean someone won’t have an opinion about your opinion. Especially, if you express it in a manner that is offensive.

I hear people saying, “People are too sensitive these days, you can’t say anything….” No, you can say anything you want, that doesn’t mean you will not have consequences for the words that you speak. So, if you say what you want, say it with your whole chest and stand on it and be ready to take the smoke, heat or backlash for whatever you say, if it’s done in a way that is deemed disrespectful.

You have a right to your opinion, but please remember, people have a right to have an opinion about your opinion as well and even then, ain’t none of our opinions law…well, unless you’re a judge, then your opinion can be law, lol.

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Grappling with Love, Part 15

Winter had slowly faded and signs of spring were evident. The cardinals sang outside. The squirrels and bunnies played. The fresh vibrant colors of annuals began to spring up in yards around town.

The air still had a slight bite in the mornings, but by midday it was warm. Toni had ventured off to see Sebastian. They hadn’t spoken much over the past couple of weeks. He had been busy preparing for graduation and a new career opportunity on the west coast.

She pulled up, parked and headed to the door. Before she could knock, it opened, “Hey.” She said. He stood in the door wearing brown khaki pants and golf style shirt. “Hey, come in.” He stepped aside to allow her to walk into the living room.

Yuly was on the couch. She smiled, “Can I get you anything?” Toni shook her head, “I’m good actually.”

“You two be cool. I’m going to go for a walk.”

He motioned for Toni to have a seat. He sat down next to her. They were quiet for a moment. “Sorry I haven’t been around much.”

She turned to him, “Yeah, I’ve missed you in jiujitsu.”

“I figured Carson would be happy to have his partner back.”

“I haven’t seen much of Carson either. He’s got a lot happening…the company and graduation.”

Sebastian nodded. “So you guys aren’t—”

“No.” she sighed, “He sort of forbade me to see you and accused me of sleeping with you.”

“Sorry about that. I kind of mentioned you were with me that night. He assumed—”

“And you didn’t clarify.”

“Are you mad? I wouldn’t blame you if you were. That was a shitty thing.”

She chuckled, “It was, but, I don’t know. I wasn’t mad. I didn’t tell him either. So, he sort of has this torrid image of us entangled in heated passion. It probably torments him each night.” They shared a smile.

“I heard about Cali. That’s awesome. Are you excited?”

He hesitated, “I am. I am. It’s just, I’m going to miss of a lot of things here.” He searched her and cleared his throat, “So, an you…you got the job at the school.”

She nodded, “I did but…I’m thinking about not taking it. Ya know.”

His eyes widened, “so—”

“I’ve been house sitting for one of my mom’s friends. Right now she’s in NY visiting her grandkids. She has the cutest golden retriever named Matty. Before she left, we talked and she said maybe, I just need to just…go.”

“Go? Okay, what exactly does that mean?”

She smiled, “Go. Go and see the world, while I’m young. While I can. Just me and my thoughts, jounal my experiences, blog it even.”

“Where would you go and for how long?”

“To the motherland, Ghana, Nigeria, Cape Verde…or maybe backpacking through Europe.”

“And what do your parents think about all this?”

“Well, at first they were freaking out. Thought I needed some kind of intervention, but I assured them that I would only be gone for a year tops and then back to the grind.

“And you haven’t mentioned this to Carson.”

She shook her head, “No. I won’t. He’d only try to convince me not to. He’s made his choices and he needs to learn how to fly on his own without me.”

“Wow.” He sat and pondered. It was a lot to take in. Even though he was leaving for san Francisco after graduation, he always felt comfortable knowing she would be somewhere he could come back to see. Yet he was excited for her.

She stood up, “I should probably get going.” He stood up. They looked at each other. She smiled and touched face. “Sometimes.” She smiled and shook her head.

“What?” He insisted. “Nada.” She replied. “Come on, say what you wanna say.”

“I just wonder sometimes, a lot, actually, what would have happened if I had met you first. If I would have allowed myself to explore beyond the obvious.”

He didn’t speak. There were so many words running through his mind. He didn’t know how to begin. She touched the sides of his face and just like the first time. She kissed his forehead, his nose and then his mouth for a moment. “Good night Sebastian.” She stepped away, but he placed his hands around her waist, “No te vayas, por fa, stay with me.” His eyes covered her with endearment and sincerity.

She smiled and responded, “Are you sure? Because I’m not asking you to give up your dream. I’m only asking for this night and this moment.” He thought about it, he nodded, “I understand.” He took her hand and led her to his bedroom.

**************************

Carson had finally stepped into his role, leading the logistics portion of the business. He was a more than capable young man, but in his heart he just felt empty. He drove to his new apartment downtown, where he lived with Nechelle.

Upon entering, she greeted him with a kiss, “How was your day?” He nodded, “It was busy. A lot’s happening.” He didn’t look satisfied and he wondered in that moment as she stood in the living room with him if she was satisfied. “Are you happy?”

She smiled, “Of course. I’m happy with everything we’re about to build together.”

He nodded in frustration, “The thing is…I feel like we’ve rushed to do a lot of things based on the idea we look good together on paper or whatever.”

“What are you saying Carson? I love you.”

“I’m saying, what do YOU really want? Take me out of the picture. What does Nechelle really want?”

“I want to be your wife and to raise a family.”

“And that’s it?” He nodded, “That’s nice.”

“What’s wrong with wanting to be a wife and a mother?”

“Nothing. It’s admirable.” He rubbed his chin, “And me? Have you ever wondered what I wanted?”

“I assumed you wanted to help run your father’s company.”

He turned his lips over and shook his head rigorously, “Nope. That was always my brother’s dream. Me. I wanted to be an actor. Ever since I saw Denzel Washington in Glory. I was like, I want to do that.” His eyes lit up. “I’m in a play in a next week. I haven’t even told you or any of my family because I know none of you would appreciate it.”

She swallowed, “I don’t understand where all of this is coming from.” He patted his chest, his eyes slightly misty, “from here. Right. Here.” He pounded his chest. “It’s in my heart. And there’s only one person that gets that.”

She rolled her eyes, “Is this about Antoinette? God, I thought you’d be over her by now, what is it with her? Look at me.” She motioned with her hands, she turned, “I’m one hell of a catch, if you don’t think men are falling over themselves just to try and get a taste of me, you are out of your mind.”

He nodded, “You’re beautiful. That was the first thing I noticed about you and later—”

“I’m pregnant.”

“What?!”

“I wasn’t feeling well. I took a test today. I was going to wait until this weekend to surprise you.”

The room started spinning. “Pregnant? I thought you were on the pill.” She shrugged, “You never really asked and I’m not. So we’re pregnant.”

He pointed, his head still spinning, “Okay. Alright. I’m. I’m going to go take a shower.” He left the room.

She touched her belly. At least now, it was done. The news was out. She knew with the support of both families that Carson would be encouraged to do the right thing.

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The Pick Me!

There is a certain type of woman that baffles me. She is referred to in today’s pop culture as a “pick me.” What is a “pick me” do you ask? Here are some definitions of a pick me:

  • a girl who goes out of their way to impress boys and make them seem that they’re “not like other girls.” (Urban Dictionary)
  • A woman who claims or acts as if she is unlike most other women, in order to gain attention from men. (Your Dictionary)

These women suffer from internalized misogyny, which takes the form of sexist behaviors and attitudes enacted by women toward themselves or other women and girls. On a larger scale, internalized sexism falls under the broad topic of internalized oppression, which “consists of oppressive practices that continue to make the rounds even when members of the oppressor group are not present.”

Such as, women that criticize other women for their choices. “Oh why are you wearing those clothes. Don’t you think that dress is too tight.” Or…they try to tell other women that the relationship dynamic they have is the blueprint and if the woman does anything outside of that blueprint, then she’s not doing something right. Saying things like, “In my house, I work all day, cook and clean, and when my man gets home, I rub his feet, then fan him with a leaf and feed him grapes, while I tickle his grapes.” Like girl bye. If that’s what goes on in your house, great. If you like it, I love it, but it has nothing to do with what’s happening in mine. Of course, I was being facetious to a degree for comedic affect; it wouldn’t be me, if I weren’t.

Then there’s the woman who believes a woman’s place is beneath a man. Confusing the ideals of fairness of wanting to be seen as person and not just an entity with a hole for a man’s desires and benefit.

Men and women are not equal. A man could never do what a woman has the potential to do physically. We have the ability to create life within us. Now, it doesn’t make us better, it just means by design, God created us differently. Women are people. We are not property, we have minds, and can make decisions and deserve respect because we too are human.

Do they think all those women fought for our rights to have property in our name, to be able to vote, to have a credit card in our own name, to be able to make choices for our own bodies, to be able to get maternity leave and to not be discriminated on jobs did all that, so we could go back to the dark ages. Yet those same women that benefit from the work of the courageous women will criticize us for wanting equality and fairness. That means, if I do the same job as a man in my career field, damn Skippy, I want equal pay. Run me my coins. Also, If I am speaking on issues in a meeting, I expect my voice to be heard and not drowned out by a sea of baritones repeating my same ideas and getting praise from all the men as if they did something. Like, sir, sit yo a$$ down. I already said that. Make it make sense Jesus.

Then there are the pick me’s that allow men to basically use them up. Got men out here asking women, “What you bring to the table?” Not understanding that the very essence of a good woman is the damn table.

Am I saying that you want a woman that contributes nothing, no. A man has to determine what woman is right for him based on the woman’s characteristics. What value can she add to his family dynamic. They very idea of healthy masculine energy makes a man want to protect and provide for the woman he intends to hold a commitment with.

In fact, in the past, men would not even dare ask for a woman’s hand in marriage if he couldn’t prove to her family that he could provide for her. The woman with her healthy femnine energy is soft, nurturing, turns a house into a home, is her man’s peace after he has dealt with the chaos in the world.

But these pick me’s be like…Oh King, I’ll work all day, pay half the bills, cook all the food, wash your drawls, smell your farts, and let you give me 5 minutes of bad sex whenever you want, even if I never climax and I’m run ragged because that’s what a woman is supposed to do. Pick me, Pick me, oh God, Pick me!!!

What sense does it make for you to do all that in a relationship and go half on everything? You are more of a room/maid than anything. What is the benefit for the woman? I can tell you from the stories I’ve heard from these very kinds of women, they are worn the hell out. Even if they try to fake the funk, I can tell by the way they speak, It’s a dysfunctional relationship, operating under the guise of happiness all to receive the validation of a man.

Then, when men meet women like myself and we look over the terms and conditions of the arrangement before ripping up the contract or sliding it back across the table, they say, “You want too much.” I’m sorry. No man is going to have me run ragged, doing everything and still get his world rocked at the end of the night. I will walk in my feminine energy and maintain my peace at all costs. If I was the last woman on earth with a man that expected the ridiculous, humanity would end with us. Periodt.

I wonder if pick me’s understand that life requires balance and no one person is super human. And if you place the weight of the world on your shoulders, eventually, you shall suffer whether it be physically/mentally/spiritually/financially or all of the above.

You can be a dutiful wife and still require assistance from your partner in maintaining the upkeep of the home and the rearing of the children. And I’m not talking about occasionally washing a few dishes or changing a diaper once every three months. I mean two people working in tandem to ensure the success of the relationship (sexual desires fulfilled on both sides), financially (managing the household budget), the upkeep of the home (sharing chores consistently and picking up slack when one cannot) and the rearing of the children or pets (being an active participant in school functions/meeting and teaching the children how to be decent humans).

On Curly Nikki’s site, she has some information on how to tell if you’re a pick me, https://www.curlynikki.com/2018/08/10-signs-youre-pick-me-woman.html

I read some of the comments under her blog post; some people were definitely triggered. The main thing we have to understand about life as a whole is…the choices you make for your life, are your own. If it’s working for you, then do you. There is no need to tell other women how they should be in their relationship, unless they ask you specifically. What works in your house, may not work in mine.

We have to get out of the idea that just because I don’t agree with your opinion means, I hate you and I want to war with you. If your life is so happy, let your successful marriage or relationship be that testament.

And if this message triggers you, search yourself and ask yourself, “why?” Because when I come across a message and I feel some kind of way about it, I ask myself, “why?” I lean into that discomfort and peel it back layer by layer until I understand why.

There’s nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom. And that’s what I mean by a man recognizing that a woman may not bring actual coins to the table, but if she is willing to administer the home in a way that brings success to their family…she is the damn table. As a stay-at-home mom, you are an accountant, a scheduler, an event planner, a day care center, a nurse, a chef, a referee, a counselor, a teacher, an Uber driver, and twenty other things I’m probably leaving off.

We have to get out of this mindset that “our opinions” of how we choose to live is the law for how other people need to live.

In my house, we both make money, we both cook and clean, and we both take care of these kids and we both meet each others needs, if you smell what I’m stepping in….

And please note: calling out sexism and/or misogyny is not “man-bashing.” Just like calling out racist behavior is not “reverse racism.” It’s funny how women that are okay with certain behaviors men present, will call you a “man hater,” but want you to walk lock-step with them to call out racism…again, make that make sense.

Until next time…

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Grappling with Love, Part 14

The morning after, Carson’s chiseled mocha colored body lay naked in a strange bed. His mind played a picture for him. He was walking in a crowded room as he searched for Toni. He stopped person after person and asked had they seen her.

From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of her standing, talking, laughing. He was at ease as he realized she wasn’t far off. As he walked toward her, it seemed as if she moved further away. The faster he walked, the faster she moved, until she disappeared.

He continued to walk in the direction he thought she might be in, but when he arrived at the room, he could see her standing on a balcony in a beautiful flowy white dress. She looked angelic in the moonlight. Again he was at ease. He called her name, “Toni.” She turned to him with and unfamiliar gaze before turning away.

She appeared to be speaking to someone else. He called her name again, but this time she didn’t look his way. He moved closer until he was on the balcony. His jaw dropped. It was Sebastian standing near her, the way he looked at her, the way he touched her hair, the way she smiled. He called her name, “Toni?”

He walked right up to her and she still didn’t respond. She leaned in and kissed Sebastian.

Suddenly, Carson woke up in a panic fighting the covers. Nechelle woke up next to him and asked, “Are you alright?”

Frantically, he hurried out of the bed. He searched for his clothing and began to put them on. Nechelle hurried out of the bed. She was still naked. He took a moment to realize what he and she had done. She touched his face, “Everything was beautiful last night. I have no regrets and nor should you.”

He nodded, but he did feel guilty. How was he going to explain this to Toni? He sighed, “I have to get ready for class. I’ll call you later.” Nechelle watched him make haste for the door.

Her mind flashed back to the pictures of Erick enaged in questionable behavior. She knew it was only a matter of time before that dream turned into a nightmare. She touched her belly, I did the right thing, she thought.

******************

When Carson made it home, he entered quietly through the kitchen, but he was met by a visitor, his brother Chauncey, “Well hello there.”

“Hey, what are you doing here?”

“Well, good morning to you too. I’m here because I had to drop off the new site locations for your approval.” He pointed at the counter which had a folder with the company name along with a sticky note that had Carson’s name onn it.

Carson nodded. His face was the picture of distraught. He brother questioned, “Are you going to be okay?”

Carson shrugged. Chauncey walked over to him, placed his hand on his shoulder, “I know all of this is stressful, but you have to pull yourself together a little better than this.”

“It’s complicated. I just. I just want to be able to be who I am and be with someone who gets that.”

Chauncey rubbed his head and huffed, “Is this about that girl again? I told you to forget—”

“How? How?”

“I don’t know, but you do it. Because a girl like Antoinette is not one you can contain. You’ll never be able to put your foot down. She’ll be running you. You need a woman that understands her place and her role.”

“What if I just love her and I can’t be without her?”

He laughed, “That shit sounds weak dude. Look, I get it. She’s cute and she’s got a nice shape and all that. I’ve been there. But when it came time for me to wife someone, I knew it couldn’t be the girl that set my soul on fire because she was too head strong.”

Carson head was in a daze. He couldn’t shake the dream he had of Toni kissing Sebastian. Chauncey poked his chest, “Look at the list. I need three options by the end of the day.” Then he left.

***************

The phone sounded, her heart beat faster in anticipation of his answer. His voice sounded through the phone, “Hey, I was wondering how things went last night.”

He responded quickly, “Well, you know. We talked and those things are never easy. So. Are you at school?”

Toni is dressed very nicely in a black penstriped pencil skirt suit. She pulled into the parking lot of the school, “I just finished that job interview at the school. But I’m at school now.”

“I’ll see you after class.”

“Okay. See you then,” after she placed her phone inside of her purse, she still didn’t know how to feel. Was this really happening? She took a deep breath and exited her car and was immediately greeted by Erick.

 “Well, look at you.” He smiled. But she could tell there was something troubling him. He was a little on edge. He said, “You have a few minutes before class?”

She really didn’t, but knew that if he asked, that meant he really needed something, “sure.” He reached for her bag that had her extra clothes. They ended up in the cafeteria.

She took a seat and then he lowered himself down as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. “You’re scaring me.” She said.

He nodded, “I might’ve messed up.”

“How?”

“Where do I begin?” He grunted and blew out in frustration, “You remember Peaches right?”

She nodded. He paused then continued, “She’s pregnant.”

Toni’s eyes popped. “Are we happy or—”

“I’m actually excited, but like I said, I done messed up. He pulled up an article on his cellphone and showed it to her. It was a crazy story about him being involved with drug dealers.”

She looked into his eyes, “Ouch.” He nodded, “No one’s going to want to draft me after this.” He said.

“Is it true?”

“You know I still run with those dudes from time to time. It’s like, that’s where I grew up. Where I’m from.”

“I get it. But you know opportunities to leave that life are hard to come by. And I thought you wanted something different. Now, you have a kid to think about.”

“I know. I had asked Peaches to marry me, but now she’s bugging off this information. She’s scared. She wants to make sure I can take care of her and the baby. One of my sources said that she been stepping out with this other dude.”

Toni tilted her head, “So, what exactly are you planning to do?” She asked with concerned. He stood up, “Aww come on T. You know I’m not planning to do that.”

He sat down, “I just need to know if this dude she plans on having in my child’s life is cool.”

“I don’t like this Erick. I’m vehemently opposed to this idea.”

“It’s not like I have much of a choice ma. You know how things go.” He stood. She stood as well. They hugged and he walked off.”

***********

Sebastian toiled on the inside. He could hardly sit still at the table in the cafeteria during lunch. Carson walked up. He seemed just as troubled, “Is Toni here?”

Sebastain eyed him without response. Carson said, “well?”

“I haven’t seen Toni since last night. You know when you claimed you had something so important to talk to her about.”

Carson scoffed, “So what, now you’re gonna throw a tantrum because I kissed Toni?”

Sebastian sat back, his jaws clinched, “It’s funny. You apparently had a busy night kissing girls.”

Carson sat at the table, looked him dead in the eyes and asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Sebastian smirked, “Last night my sister got hungry. She asked me to bring her some food.”

Carson’s face scrunched. Before he could say anything Sebastain continued, “My sister works at a fancy hotel downtown. Might be familiar with Le Bon Temps.”

“Are you following me around trying to get dirt so you can run and tell Toni?”

“Naw man. You’re not worth that kind of effort. Idiots like you always fuck up sooner or later because you leave a trail of mistakes in your path.”

Sebastian stood up abruptly. Carson stood up. “Look dude, I know you think by telling Toni this that you’ll be in, but fact is…she just doesn’t like you.”

Sebastian nodded, “Is that right?” He smiled, “you were awfully worried about where she was the other night. When you saw her the next morning, wasn’t…she in a Cruz Azul jersey?”

It got quiet. Carson’s neck burned. His mind flashed back to the nightmare he had. Before he knew it, he grabbed Sebastian by the jacket collar, “You better had not.”

Sebastian grabbed his hands and removed them, “You don’t own her.” Sebastian stormed off. He left Carson standing there fighting with the image that Toni and he could have had sex.

Moments later, Toni walked up to Carson, “Hey.” She saw his demeanor. And immediately became concerned. “What’s wrong?”

“Did you sleep with Sebastian?”

“What?”

“The other night, when you, you were out all night….and you, you came home wearing the soccer jersey. That jersey belongs Sebastián.” He paced. She stared at him. “You have clearly lost your mind. Hopefully by the time class is over you will have found it.” She left him standing there.

Some people standing close by had been listening to the exchange and began to whisper as they eyed him standing there alone. He muttered a few cuss words before storming off.

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Did That Just Happen, Day 5

Why all my bikini’s have to have straps…

One of my favorite past times was going to the beach. I mean, Florida is full of beaches. On Friday nights, my kids and I would do our chores, so on Saturday, we could go to one of the many locations on the panhandle in Fort Walton Beach, Destin or Okaloosa Island.

This particular Saturday, I decided we would go to Okaloosa Island to this secluded spot under a bridge that connected Okaloosa Island to Destin on HWY 98. It was nice because the water wasn’t very deep and not a lot of people gathered in that area like they did at the main spots along the strip with the clubs and restaurants.

And honey, I had the bomb shape back then. I ain’t too bad now for a 46 year old lady, but in my late 20’s, chile you couldn’t tell me nothing. I had on this turquoise blue multi-patterned bandini. A bandini is sort of like a bikini, however, the top is designed like a bandana. It was super cute.

Now, I don’t have a lot on top. (If you smell what I’m stepping in) Therefore, wearing tops without straps has kind of always been a challenge. And this Saturday would prove to be no different.

The kids and I were inside the water. I decided, I wanted to dive under for a swim and when I resurfaced, there was a man standing not to far from me smiling. I was like, I see you sir, you trying to holla at ya girl. But then he pointed at my chest. I looked down and realized, my boobs were out. The top had slipped down when I dove into the water. I hurried to cover myself.

That was the last day I ever wore that suit. Ever since then, I have made sure my swim suits have straps or some kind of security.

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Did That Just Happen, Day 4

Public Servants Work for the People

I was approximately fourteen years old, living in New Orleans, Louisiana. One of my favorite times of year was Mardi Gras season. The city is decorated with all the Purple, Green, and Gold and the atmosphere is lively.

Now, I usually attended parades with my little brother, but he was in the marching band of his middle school playing the tenor drums that night. So, I had to fly solo. I figured, I’d walk downtown and get me a nice spot on the parade route…it was a back street in between Lee Circle (yeah, I know we had a lot of Confederate memorabilia) and Canal Street. Basically, this was near the end of the route, where a lot of the well-to-do people liked to stand/gather for the parades.

I arrived early and found a great spot. In fact, I was so early, I was like the only person in the area waiting when I was approached by this woman. She looked young maybe late twenties, her skin fair and she wore a short fluffy bobbed hair cut. She barked at me, “What are you doing here?”

My face scrunched, thinking to myself, who is this heifer talking to like she crazy. I replied, “Waiting on the parade.”

“You need to move.”

I was still trying to hold my composure. I was always taught to be respectful to my elders, but this woman was asking for a cuss out. I took a deep breath, “Why do I need to move?”

She responded, “This area is going to be sectioned off for some other people.” I nodded and replied, “Well, all you had to do was say that. You didn’t have to talk to me like that.”

“I can talk to you however I want, I’m a police officer.” She showed me her badge and her gun under the jacket she wore. I nodded and walked off. The one thing you have to know about being Black in New Orleans is that you don’t mess with NOPD. I wasn’t trying to have my bullet ridden body surface in the Mississippi at the foot of Canal Street.

I can truly tell you, that that put a bad taste in my mouth for law enforcement. Here I was a child and she was a grown up and instead of her using that moment to build a positive relationship, she chose to be rude. I believe law enforcement officers deserve our respect, however, I also believe there are a lot of times when they fail to give that same respect.

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Did That Just Happen, Day 3

Tired AF, Lawd Why…

This is a two part story… with a two part lesson…lol

It was February of 2001. I was stationed at Eglin AFB, FL. I was in the 33rd Fighter Wing, our nickname, The Nomads, which meant…we deployed a lot. I had been deployment free up until my move to Eglin. My previous base was McGuire AFB and we had heavy jets like C-141 and KC-10, which meant, we mostly sent our pilots and crew chiefs off on deployments. Low and behold, I move to Eglin and I was going TDY like crazy, mostly stateside. That was until…

I was out of the office, doing my normal rounds, running briefings and such. When I arrived back to my office, my supervisor was in his office with the door closed. Eventually, the door opened and two of our top ranking non-commissioned officers in the unit had just walked out with him.

Everyone in the office was quiet. I was like, “What’s going on?” So the supervisor said they were looking for someone to go to Saudi Arabia. I was thinking, if it were Moron, Spain, Guam, Hawai’i, London or something else…I would have jumped on it. But I kept asking questions because I was being nosey, not realizing there was a reason why everyone else was keeping quiet.

The next thing I knew, I was told to attend a briefing on the other side of base. When I got there, they were discussing the customs and courtesies of Saudi Arabia. I was like, “Nooooooo. They got me.” Yep, I had orders with my name on them to go to Prince Sultan AB for three months.

After, I had come to terms with my deployment, I decided to take trip to New Orleans to visit family and friends. After all the partying, we drove home. I was married at this time to first hubby. When we got back to base, I started preparing my things, so I could leave for the airport. I had my chemical warfare bag with all my gas mask and Chem suit, my suitcase with civilian clothes and desert camos, all I needed was my purse that had my travel card, orders, and military ID. I looked everywhere. My heart raced, my palms sweaty, my head hurt. The only thing I could imagine was…I had left them at the last place I had visited and that place was my mother-n-law’s house in New Orleans East. I called her, she confirmed that my stuff was in deed in her living room. I could have just died.

My husband at the time, “well, can’t you just contact your supervisor and see what he can do?” Me thinking, Hell, no! I grabbed the keys to my car and drove 3.5 hours back to New Orleans to retrieve my things.

The drive there wasn’t bad, but the drive back was brutal. I can’t tell you how many times I ran off the road, fell asleep behind the wheel, I can only thank God I didn’t end up in a ditch or worse.

The moral to the story is…learn how to read the room. If everyone is being quiet, there’s a reason. I was called, “Senior Airman I volunteer” for the longest. They all had jokes. The second lesson is…make sure before you leave anyone’s house, that you have all your “ish” with you. And that’s on, not wasting time, gas, money, sleep and aggravation.

By the way, Saudi Arabia ended up being a pretty nice deployment considering. I met some cool people, experienced new types of music, dance, language and food. The sandstorms were something and the art there was amazing.

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Did That Really Happen? Day 2

TIME IS EXPENSIVE

Once upon a time, I was in the military, the Air Force to be exact. As some of you may know, the military offers housing to its members. The houses are not extravagant, however, they are nice sized homes with decent yard space. The caveat is they expect you to maintain the property both inside and out. When a military member violates that regulation, they are written up and if a person has a number of occurrences, they are politely asked to move off-base, basically, they kick you out. “Sir, ma’am, you just nasty, go on head and leave the premises.” lol is what I hear in my head.

There was this Airman, who shall remain nameless that had this situation happen to her. Now, when she told me her story…she simply said, “I have to move out of base housing this weekend.”

I say, “Are you PCSing?” Which is basically, are you moving to another base? She replied, “No.” I could tell she didn’t want to divulge any more details, so I left it at that. However, she asked if people could help her move boxes onto a moving truck. I was like, “Sure.”

She tells me the time and gives me her address. Now mind you, I’m a single parent at this point. My kids were like seven and nine, which meant, they needed supervision. So, I had to coordinate to have a friend care for them while I helped this Airman move boxes.

I show up to her place, ready to go. I figure if we have enough people, this wouldn’t take no longer than a few hours. Chile, when I pulled up to her house, it became abundantly clear why she had to move. The yard looked like a barren waste land…slight exaggeration, but the yard clearly hand not been cut or maintained…a bunch of tall weeds amongst spotty blades of grass.

Upon entering her home, I could barely find a place to put my feet on her floor, there was so much trash and debris. And I’m not talking regular, I’m moving chaos trash, I’m talking, I ate a bag of chips and just threw the bag on the floor type mess. I was like, she got me f*cked up!

Anyone that knows me, I’m a neat freak…It’s the Virgo in me. And seeing that triggered me in ways that’s still traumatizing. The worst part was, it was just her and I. I say, “Where are the boxes?”(I knew there weren’t any boxes)

Nonchalantly she replies, “Oh, I didn’t have a chance to get boxes or anything.” Looking like she had just rolled out of bed. I was two seconds away from snatching her heart out of her chest. I nodded. She said, “You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to.”

Girl bye! You’re lucky I don’t beat yo a$$ for making me waste my time. I was so freaking mad, I was laughing in my car to keep from crying and or snapping.

The moral to the story is…please be mindful of your time and other people’s time. Time is too valuable. It’s a precious commodity that we at times take for granted. A lot of people want more money, and if the right opportunity presented itself, many have the potential to make more money. Yet, there’s nowhere in the world I can go to buy more time.

That’s why, I’m selective of where I spend my time. I know once it’s gone, it’s just gone. Also, you never know what efforts people have to go through to give you their time. Because if they are spending time with you, they are missing time with family members, etc.

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Did That Really Happen? Day 1

For the next week, I’ll be sharing some experiences that I’ve had that made me think to myself and out loud, did that really just happen?

I used to work with this woman, let’s call her Jill. We weren’t friends, however, she was a co-worker that seemed nice enough, so I would engage with her in conversation on occasion. And by engage, I mean, I would allow her to vent to me about her issues. For what I could tell, she was very under appreciated by her family, taken advantage of, and made to work way too hard for the shit she put up with.

A lot of times, she wouldn’t have money to get lunch; she would ask if she could borrow money from others, including me, and I’d give her a some money, whatever I’d have. And a few times, I invited her to go out to eat with me at various restaurants and, of course I’d pay.

Now, I’m not the kind of person that believes in transactional relationships. I do what I do because I am blessed enough to be able to do it. What I do expect is, if I’ve had a person’s back and helped them, for them to at least be so inclined to return the kindness at some point in time if I request/need it.

One day, I left my debit cards at home and I didn’t have cash on me. I was starving. All I needed was a couple of dollars to get a hamburger. She happened to be in the break room at the time and I asked her if she had any money. Reluctantly, she gave me the $2. I went out, got my burger and ate it. Notice I said, I asked her to give me $2.

So, a few days go by, she’s acting crazy. You know how people act when they act like you’ve done them something, basically, she had a ‘tude (an attitude). She approached me in the break room and asked me, “Do you have that money that I lent you?” Now, my face morphed into a question mark because there aren’t many people that I would borrow money from, so, I was like, “What money?”

“You know, the two dollars I gave you the other day.”

I had one of those moments, you know the one, when it feels as if your body separates from itself and it looks at you like, “Did that just happen?”

I chuckled inside. I didn’t have cash on me, but I went to the ATM on my lunch and gave her back those $2. And that would be the last time I EVER gave her anything other than a greeting. We had just gotten paid, she sat there gorging on fast food and had the outright gall to ask me for $2. Take these two dollars and get thee behind me…

People don’t realize that this type of tacky ass behavior will make a person that could have been a blessing in their lives, not deal with them hence forth and evermore. Don’t block your blessing by overlooking the people that are placed in your life to encourage, listen and help build you.

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Let’s Talk Bonnets!!

Last week, a picture surfaced on the internet of several Black women in an airport in rather comfortable attire, which included the use of a bonnet adorned on their heads.

My first issue is and I’ve commented this before, why are people taking pictures of others without their consent and using said photos to ridicule them? This happened several years ago when a picture of a child surfaced on the internet and everyone was making fun of the baby. All I could think is…if that was my child my feelings would be so hurt and I’d be mad. And low and behold, this was a picture of a child that was born with a condition. The mother was on the news saying how people had hurt her and should not do things like this.

My second issue with this is, why is it, that other people get to exist freely, but the Black woman in America is always being placed under intense scrutiny? It’s freaking exhausting.

  • Your hair is too nappy, relax it
  • Your hair is too short, wear a weave
  • Why are you wearing that bonnet in public, you look ghetto
  • Why aren’t you wearing your natural hair, you don’t love yourself
  • Why did you shave your head, are you trying to be more masculine than the men

It’s a hot mess in these streets.

Then, a celebrity, Monique the comedian weighed in and gave her opinion. My thing is…everyone has an opinion of how they feel they should present themselves. And my gripe was never with her stating that she wouldn’t wear a bonnet in public and I really didn’t care that she did it from her home in a bathrobe with no undergarment, as many have gone after her for not presenting herself in the best way, while telling others how they should present themselves.

My focus is more on people confusing facts with opinions. I know they look alike, like two girls that hang out all the time and look like sisters. However in this instance, when you peel back the layers…they are quite different. For instance, a fact is something that can be proven with evidence, science, historical records, etc. If I say 2+2=4, that is a fact because if I have two apples and someone hands me two more, then I now have 4 apples.

which is better??

An opinion, on the other hand, is simply how one feels about something. So if I say, sweet potato pie is better than pumpkin…there will be people that agree and those that don’t. I have no evidence other than the fact that I like sweet potato more than pumpkin, that’s a personal preference. Does this mean that people who prefer pumpkin pie should hide their faces and head to the far corner of the continent never to be seen again? No…that would be ridiculous? Or would it? (scratches chin in deep thought) just kidding pumpkin pie lovers….

Have I ever worn my bed bonnet out in public? No. However, I have used other items on my head when I didn’t want my hair out such as a head scarf. You know, the same kind bikers wear in public to look totally rad and bad ass. And if I’ve just completed a workout with that scarf on my head and I need to stop somewhere to get something, I’m going to do so. If you see me out with the scarf, am I now making all Black women look badly, bringing the race down, am I’m ghetto, etc? If anyone makes these assumptions about me based on something I’ve worn on my head, that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.

Your perception of how you should present yourself rests solely on you and is your opinion. What does your unsolicited opinion have to do with me? Nothing. It’s not my business. You can make a lot of assumptions about people based on how they are dressed, right?

Scenario: The store clerk that ignores the guy in sweat pants, t-shirt and sneakers to help the guy in a business suit. Little does she know, the guy in the suit, borrowed it from a friend to do job interviews and really didn’t have any money, but the guy in the sweats had just stopped in from playing ball with friends. He works as an accountant for a large firm in the area. Another clerk helps him and ends up with a huge commission.

Am I saying you shouldn’t look your best, no. I’m saying, don’t assume things about people based on what they are wearing. Because no matter how fancy you present yourself, if you’re a person of color…you still have to climb the wall of prejudice and in people’s minds. There have been Black men dressed in full business suits harassed going to their own homes and Black women doctors on airplanes dressed well, completely ignored and disregarded.

There are a lot of things I see people wear in public that I would not wear. I had to learn that what people are wearing is not my business especially if I’m not contributing to their wardrobe and upkeep.

Now, if someone asks me to mentor them and give them tips or style and fashion, that’s different. And still it would be based on my perception of how one should present themselves based on my upbringing and influences.

The scariest thing about this whole bonnet debacle is if we start with this, where does it end? I’ve had people tell me my natural hair was unprofessional for the job. That was their opinion. Should I have shaved my head and worn a wig to appease their perception of how I should look?

There are others that say, wearing makeup is a sign of low self-esteem and that women need to just be bare faced. Completely forfeiting that some of us do it for the sheer artistry of it. As one content creator said, “I’m cute without it, but I can always be cuter.”

Some people say women should not wear shorts or skirts above the knee, dresses that are tight, jeans or pants are for men only, shirts that show off cleavage or mid sections are inappropriate. The list goes on. At any point or time, any one of us can fall on the opposing end of someone else’s perception of how we should present ourselves.

If we are busy going around doing things because people say do this…do that…then that’s a dismal trek to Crazy-ville. And I’ve visited that town once and refuse to go back.

Also, there are a lot of assumptions that Black women do not know how to show up in spaces. If anything, I would say, when we have to show up, we show up and show out in the most amazing ways. A bonnet in the airport, when you could have an eight hour flight and a two hour layover before another flight is quite different than showing up to work, a formal setting, etc with a bonnet. Therefore, things have to be viewed in the proper context.

In short, the world is a crazy place that is constantly sending mixed messages. “Just be yourself!” (in my character from Sponge Bob voice) five minutes later, “Not like that, like how I would be yourself.”

Wait, what? If I be myself, like how you would, wouldn’t I be…being you?

Nods with a deranged smile, “Yes!”

So I say, “wear ya bonnets in public or don’t wear it, it’s a personal choice and when we start confusing our choices of how we present ourselves with how other people should present themselves, we have truly lost something so intrinsic in allowing people to be themselves.” If it’s not illegal and it’s not hurting anyone, then live and let live. Besides…

Strawberry Short Cake and the Smurfs wore their bonnets and ain’t nobody messed with them. lol (This is a joke)

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Holding Doors

This story is written by my twelve year old. I told him if he got ten or more likes, I’d give him $10.00 for his story. By Leo

Ever since the second grade, I loved to hold doors open for people, but one day my kindness almost got me into trouble. So, pretty much, at the end of class, I decided to hold the door as I normally do, but for some reason, this kid had left his money in the class. He asked me, “Did you see my money, It’s missing?”

I told him to go back into the class to check. I didn’t know anything about his money. When he checked, he still couldn’t find it. I didn’t know how to help him. I had to go to my 8th period class.

There I was sitting in my dreaded 8th period, hoping the school day would come to an end, when I hear my name over the loud speaker saying to report to the office. I was really nervous. I said to myself, “Did I do something?”

As I approached the office, I saw my 7th period teacher Coach G. She must have seen the troubled look on my face because she said, “Don’t get worried, but you know how the kid’s money was left in the classroom, but now it’s not there?” I nodded.

I go into the office with the Principal, the Coach and the school resource officer and I’m sitting there for fifteen minutes. The Principal told me to get my things and they searched me. When they saw that I did not have the money anywhere, they realized I was telling the truth. Or at least that’s what I thought. Because, I asked to use the bathroom and one of them said, “What if he flushed it down the toilet.”

These idiots, my classmates said I was the last one in the room, but how could I be the last one in the room, if I was holding the door outside of the room until the last person left the class. I had to go all weekend with that incident in my head. On Monday morning, they watched the video footage and found out who stole the money. I was so pissed. There I was trying to do something nice, then the tables were turned on me and I was accused for something I did not do. And that’s why I don’t hold doors anymore.

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Pro Black…I Think You Meant Exclusively Black

It seems every day, I log into some application and I find out something “new” about myself based on someone’s ideology. On yesterday, I saw a video that explained that no Black person married outside of their race is Pro Black. Furthermore, if a Black person is with a partner that is extremely light-skinned or biracial…apparently, they are still not Pro Black, we are just “Black.”

Where do people come up with this stuff? So, according to his ideology, I have never been Pro Black. My first husband’s is of Creole decent. His family is very fair and many look White with hazel or very light brown eyes and my current husband is well, it’s hard to categorize because in Mexico, they don’t really do race as we do here in the United States, but his skin is definitely White.

I call bull shit on this. By definition, the prefix pro means: in favor of…. And by definition, Pro Black means:  is a lifestyle that encourages the economic growth and development of the black people as a whole with a purpose of increasing the wealth and population of black people around the world. Whether it be spending money with black own business in your communities or online. Promoting love for black people and encouraging black youth is it’s soul purposes to keep uplifting black people in America to be proud and the same time.

Therefore, by this definition, anyone can technically be Pro Black, if they are for the economic growth and welfare of Black People. Periodt.

I don’t know why people have to take terms that already have meanings and try to usurp them for their own ideologies. And don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with a person wanting to establish a relationship with another Black person or doing business with only Black owned businesses. That’s your business.

The issue I have is when people attempt to redefine terms to exclude people from an experience or lifestyle. This ideology is better termed, Exclusively Black, only dating within the race of Black People and/or doing business with Black People. And this can get tricky because…now we have people out here dictating who is considered Black and who is not…smh.

The point is, being Pro Black, doesn’t mean Anti-White. White People support Black Owned Businesses too. Therefore, they can be Pro Black. And no one gets to tell me that I am not Pro Black because of the color of my partner’s skin. That has nothing to do with being Pro Black. I have dated men with skin tones three shades darker than mine to pasty White guys with Blonde hair and Blue eyes. I chose a man based on his characteristics and not the color of his skin.

In addition, I get tired of “some” African Americans acting like the Blackness Police. Questioning folks about their Blackness and telling people they aren’t Black because of the color of their skin or if they are mixed. Like what the entire fuck. Whether a person’s skin is light or dark, they still experience the oppression of being Black in the United States. And in some instances, Light-skinned people get it worse because they are constantly having to quantify their Blackness with other Black people. Biracial people are sometimes not even accepted on their White side and they too are constantly having to quantify their Blackness.

This behavior is so tacky and troubling. All I can really say is…we need to do better as a whole.

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Grappling with Love, Part 11

The weekend was over. Monday loomed with the expectation of unwanted confrontations.  Sebastian had to confront the realization that he was in the friend zone and had no idea how to get out. Toni had to realize that she simply did not fit the societal norm of a woman that Carson was set on being with. And Carson had to confront the issue of how to mend things with the one person that understood and championed for him the most.

Sebastian sat at the table in the busy lunch room, staring down at his laptop looking at a spreadsheet of a financial report. Toni joined him at the table, “How’s your report coming?” She asked as she sat with her food.

He nodded, “It’s almost done. Just have to tweak a few things and make it look pretty.” He hit save and closed the lap top and slipped it into the bag. “So, how are things with—”

The look she gave him, caused him to throw his hands up, “Okay, okay.”

“I’m over it and the bull.” She took a bite of her turkey wrap. Just as she had said that, Carson appeared and stood across from her at the table, “Can I join you guys?” He asked as he sat next to Sebastian.

She grabbed her stuff and left the table. He was about to speak, but Sebastian stopped him, “Just give her time.”

“She’s being unreasonable.”

 “Is she though?”

“Yes. I went to talk to her and I show up at her place Sunday morning and it looked as if she had been out all night. Like what kind of woman does that? Probably with some idiot.”

Sebastian made a face, “Look man, Toni is a grown woman. And from what I hear, you have a girlfriend now.”

He nodded, “So she has to hate me because I’m in a relationship?”

“Toni doesn’t hate you.” Sebastian shook his head in disgust. “We are your friends. And she is like your best friend.”

Carson sat their still oblivious to the point. Sebastian sighed, “Why did she have to find out about this girl from your brother. Especially, after she kissed you?”

Carson swallowed. He sat silent. Sebastian scoffed, “That’s some old bull shit and you know it.”

“You’re only taking her side because you like her.”

Sebastian stood to his feet and grabbed his things, “You’re right about one thing. I do like her. I like her enough not to play bull shit games.” He walked off leaving Carson fuming at the table.

He sat back for a moment and rubbed his chin. Was he playing games? It didn’t seem that way. He was only trying to do what his family expected him to do.

_____

On the other side of town, Nechelle stood by her bed looking at dresses that lay on the bed.

“So, who’s it going to be tonight? The sexy dark brown sugar daddy or the pretty brown cinnamon toast?”

Nechelle turned to see her cousin Shana standing in her room. “Do you not know how to knock?”

“Of course I know how to…it’s just, your door was slightly ajar. I figured I’d save the energy.”

“Um, I suppose you’re going to use it to bother me.”

Shana smiled, “I saw your mom downtown today.”

Nechelle picked up a black dress and held it up to herself, “Okay and?”

“She asked me for money.” Shana plopped down on the bed next to a burgundy dress, “You should wear this one. It looks pretty against your skin.”

Nechelle huffed, “So, did you give her money?”

“No. My dad told me never to give her anything. Anyway, she said ‘Think about what you plan to do. To make sure you chose right.’”

Nechelle swallowed and stared for a moment. The conversation was beginning to annoy her, “Look Shana, thanks for the message. I really have to get ready.”

Shana stood to her feet and tossed her hair back, “Just be careful around your mother. She’s not known for making the best decisions.”

“Thank you, Shana, you can go now.”

As soon as Shana left, Nichelle hurried over to lock the door. She walked over to the mirror and stared at herself. Her mind flashed to a conversation she had with her mother when she was fifteen years old, “Now, I’m sending you to stay with your uncle because your dad ain’t shit. He has never done anything to help me care for you. So when you chose a man, make sure you find ya one that’s financially capable for taking care of you the way you want.”

Nechelle shook her head, turned to look at the dresses. She walked over to them. She lifted the burgundy dress, held it next to her. She turned and went back to the mirror and nodded. The dress with all of its tiny sparkles really did look fabulous against her skin.

The question was, who would see her in it on this night in question.

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Grappling with Love, Chap 10

Morning had arrived. Sebastian eyes fluttered open just in time to witness the door to room door crack open slightly for a moment, then close. He sat up, stretched and looked over at Toni snuggled under the blanket. He smiled and his mind flashed back to the kiss they shared the night before. He sighed just before reaching over to give her a little shake. “Toni, it’s 5 am.” He said softly.

She sat up, ran her had through her hair, “Oh God, I have to get home.” She stood to her feet and gathered her stuff. “You don’t mind if I keep this?” She pointed to the sweats and the soccer jersey with Cruz Azul.

He smiled, “That is my favorite jersey.”

She laughed, “I’ll take good care of it. I promise.” She put her coat on and met him at the edge of the bed. “Thanks for being a gentleman.” She hugged him, then kissed his cheek.

He smiled. It wasn’t easy for him to be that close to her and restrain himself. Yet she meant more to him than a quick fix. He’d rather wait. Wait to see if the universe would be so kind since he had put so much good out into the world. He kissed her forehead, “Let me walk you to your car.” He said.

When he returned to his room, his sister was sitting on his bed, “Yuly, what are you doing up this early?”

“I heard you come in last night and I saw Toni’s car still out front. I figured…”

“Nothing happened. She just needed to be with a friend.”

His sister walked over to him, touched his face, “You are a good man Sebastian. Any woman in her right mind can see that. Just protect your heart. I don’t want you getting hurt.”

He nodded. She hugged him just before leaving she said, “I’m making juevos con papas, quieres?”

“Yeah.”

The door closed and he was left with his thoughts. The first time he had seen her in an art class at school. They worked in the same group. He used that as an opportunity to learn more about her and realized they shared a love for mixed martial arts.

He wanted so many times to express how he felt, but when he realized Carson was a factor in her life, he was content just being a friend. But now, here it was a year later and he couldn’t help but want more. Especially after the kiss. He thought about it. It made him excited and the reality caused him to grunt in frustration.

**********************

Toni was almost home when her cellphone sounded. She reached over to grab it out of the cup holder and a strange number appeared. Her face scrunched, yet she answered, “Hello?”

“Wow, so I call from another number and you answer.”

She huffed, “Carson, what do you want?”

“I’m on my way to your house. I need to talk.” He responded impatiently.

“Aren’t you going to church with your parents?”

“Of course. I’ll just meet them there. I’ll see you in a few.”

The phone went silent. She cussed a little, “It’s too damn early for bull shit.” She turned onto her block and saw his car already parked in front of her house.

When she pulled into the driveway, he exited his car and met her by it. “Have you been out all night?” He asked.

She made a face, “Carson.”

“It’s just a question.” He waited for a response, but when she didn’t reply he huffed, “So, is this how friends do each other now? We don’t answer calls? We just—”

“We just ignore them and their feelings and show up two weeks later with a new girlfriend.”

He scoffed, “You’re playing this game?”

“Um, I’m not playing any game, sir. I’m just speaking facts. I can’t be for you, what you are not for me.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means, that you don’t get to have me at your leisure, on your time frame. You don’t get to tell people I’m Gay to deter them from spending time with me.”

He sighed. The look on his face spoke volumes. She got right in his face, “If we are friends, then we’re friends. You do you and let me do me. It’s that simple.”

He nodded repeatedly. His jaw was clenched, “It’s that simple, huh. So since I didn’t want you, now you think it’s a good idea to be out in the streets like some–” He paused.

“Like some what, sir?” Her arms folded, nostrils flared, her jaws clenched.

“Look, I didn’t come here to argue. I just wanted to talk, but as I can see, you were busy doing something or someone else.”

It took everything in her not to slap the brown off his face. And he knew it. She scoffed and nodded before turning away from him. Leaving him there with the shameful discourse replaying in his mind.

He spun around angrily and slipped on a patch of slick ice. “Damn,” he uttered as he pushed himself back up to his feet. He thought about going knock on the door to apologize, but his cellphone sounded. It was his mother calling him, “Yes, ma’am. I’m on my way now.” He said as he headed back to his car.

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Grappling With Love, Chap 9

The day went longer than expected, but it felt kind of nice to spend a day pampering herself, Toni smiled as she pulled into the driveway around 3:30 pm. When she saw her brother-n-law’s black Cadillac parked behind her father’s car, she knew the family would all be gathered in the kitchen talking about everything while sampling food as they cooked.

Was she ready for everyone to see her new look? She giggled to herself. There was no no way, she would get to her room without someone noticing her. Oh well, she grabbed the shopping bags from the back seat and proceeded in through the already opened garage door, and later through the laundry room, which led to the kitchen.

Soon as she did, the room went silent. She smiled, “Hello everyone.” Her sister commented, “Well alright now, look at you!”

“Don’t start.” Toni said. Charlotte walked over to her and poked a little fun, “Look at her showing off those hips. And this hair. Um”

Her mother smiled, “She looks nice. I like it.”

Toni smiled, “Thanks mom.”

“Yes, sweetheart, you look beautiful as always.” Her father added. She walked over to hug her father.

Marcus sat at the table feeding the baby applesauce. He commented, “I like the look. It fits you.” She smiled, “Thanks Marcus.” She took a deep breath and added, “I’ll go put these in my room.” Then she left the kitchen.

—–

When she got to her room, she received a text. She looked and saw it was from Carson, it read, “Can we meet up tonight? I really would like to run something by you.”

She rolled her eyes, tossed the phone on the bed and left the room.

—–

In the kitchen, Charlotte set table, while Toni helped her mother place the food on the table. A nice simple spread for a Saturday night: baked chicken, dirty rice and potato salad.

They all sat around the table. “Toni do you want to say the grace?” Her mohther asked. Toni seemed to be off in lala land. They all looked at her. Charlotte nudged her, “Toni?”

“Huh?”

“The grace.”

She nodded, “Oh okay. Yeah. That. Everyone do the bowing of the head and stuff and I’ll pray.” She watched as everyone closed their eyes and bowed. She began with clearing her throat, “Okay God, thanks for the food, you know, delicious food and the hands that prepared it and yeah, that’s about it. Thanks.”

Everyone said, “Amen.” He mother turned her lips, “It’s not your usual, but I guess.” Her sister added, “It was rather unusual.”

“Just eat ya food.” She replied. They chuckled.

They engaged in pleasant conversation. And when dinner ended, Toni and Charlotte cleared the dishes. Later as they were loading the dishwasher Charlotte blurted out, “How are things with Carson?”

She could tell by the way Toni rolled her eyes before answering, it wasn’t a good situation. Toni paused and huffed, then replied, “He has a girlfriend.”

“Wait. What? Since when?”

She shrugged, “I don’t know. It’s just so weird.” She placed dishes inside the dishwasher as she spoke. “Just the other day, I kissed him.”

“You did what?”

“Yes. I did what you said to do. I put myself out there and he chose someone else.”

Charlotte sighed, “I’m sorry Toni. I mean. I really thought—”

“It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I have been sitting here wasting my time for nothing. I’m never trusting men again.”

“Don’t say that.”

Toni shook her head then started the dishwasher. She sighed, “Don’t worry. I won’t turn into a man basher. I’m just not focusing my life on any one particular man anymore.” She started to walk off, but Charlotte stopped her, “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Why are you in my business?” She laughed and continued to walk towards her room. Charlotte fussed, “Girl, don’t play with me.” She continued to remind Toni who was the big sister as she wiped off the counters.

——-

In her room, Toni stared at herself in the full length mirror that was attached to her bedroom door. This Ombre dress deep red on top and gold on the bottom with sequins that hit at mid thigh defiantly showed off her curves. She touched her waist, turned a little to check out her butt, she laughed, “Okay, well, um, I guess.” She wasn’t used to wearing form fitting dresses. Yet tonight, she had something to prove. “I’m just as sexy as any woman, who gone check me.” She nodded as she mentally hyped herself up.

She reached went into the closet and wrapped herself in a long pea coat and fastened it. She did not want her mother to see that dress. Anytime a girl wore a dress or skirt above the knee in the winter without stockings, her mother would first look over the frame of her glasses with an eyebrow raised and say, “You gone catch a cold in your twat, if you go out there with like that.” Toni chuckled as she grabbed her stuff and left her room.

As she was leaving, her mother and sister was still up talking in the kitchen. Her mother asked, “Where are you off to?”

“Hang out with the guys. We are going dancing.”

Her mother smiled walked over to kiss her, “Alright, have fun. I’m off to bed, good night.” She left the kitchen. Charlotte eyed Toni suspiciously, “Listen up lil gal—”

Toni laughed, “Whaaaat?”

“You know what. Behave yourself.”

“I’ll be on my best behavior.”

“Um hmm.”

She hugged Charlotte and left.

—–

Sebastian had just finished shaving, he looked down at his cellphone and saw a text from Toni saying she was almost there. He smiled. A knock was heard, he walked over to open the bathroom door, “Ay tio, I need to use the bathroom.” Said Renaldo.

“There’s two other bathrooms dude.” He replied as he grabbed cellphone and prepared to exit the bathroom. Renaldo looked him over all dressed up, “Are you going somewhere?” Renaldo asked.

“Out with Toni. Going salsa dancing.”

Renaldo’s face scrunched. Sebastian noticed, “I know you have a crush on Toni.”

“Me?”

“Yeah, you.”

“I don’t, now get out.” He pushed him out the door. Sebastian fussed, “Hey, hey, hey, I’m the tio, don’t forget that.”

Sebastian heard the doorbell, when he went into the living room, he saw Toni in the living room with his sister. Soon after, Renaldo walked in as well.

“Toni, wow. Um. You look, you look, wow.”

His sister laughed, “I think he means, you look beautiful.”

“Thank you.” She smiled, “Hi Renaldo.” She waved. He blushed, “Hi Ms. Toni.”

Sebastian stepped closer and asked, “Are you ready?”

She nodded. They said goodbye and left.

In Sebastian’s car, Toni sat in the passenger seat and she didn’t say much. Her mind kept flashing back to the kiss and immediately to the night she saw Carson walk in with Nechelle.

Nechelle, the same girl she ran into at the gas station. The one Carson supposedly wouldn’t be interested in, yet there they were, all smiles as they walked through the door.

What was it about Nechelle that made Toni scowl? Sebastian noticed her face perturbed and asked, “Estas bien?”

She looked in his direction and nodded.

“Talked to Carson lately?”

“I saw him last night and again today.” She hesitated, “He was with his girlfriend. Did you know?”

“No, no. I had no idea. That’s crazy. Girlfriend? Wow.” He turned into a parking garage, “So, are you sure you wanna dance or would you rather just sit here and talk?”

She laughed, “I got dressed up so we could dance, now you’re going to teach me some kind of Latin dancing.”

He laughed “Okay vamos.”

Once inside the club, Sebastian paid. A lady standing nearby asked, “Do you guys want to check your coats?” Sebastian nodded. He took off his coat and turned to Toni to get hers, when she removed the coat, his eyes widened. He hadn’t see the dress before, but he was really seeing it and her in it! He smiled and was about to say something, but Toni said, “Don’t start. I’ve been clowned enough today.”

“I was just gonna say, you know.”

She tilted her head. He smiled, “Okay. I’m just saying, it’s a nice dress.” He nodded then handed her coat to the young lady.

They headed to the dance floor as a merengue played. “This one’s simple, it’s like a march in place, just add the hips.” He demonstrated it and she followed him, he exclaimed, “Asi! Muy bien.” She laughed.

It felt great to be doing something other than thinking about Carson. Now, if only she could dance until graduation day in order to escape her misery, that would be great.

The night progressed with more dancing. Sebastian even introduced her to some of his cousins and friends that were at the club. They laughed and she danced with a few other people. Later, she excused herself to the restroom and when she finished she stopped at the bar for a drink.

She stood the facing the bartender waiting her turn to order when she felt something pressing against her butt. I know damn well someone is not playing with me, she thought. She turned around with a stern look and recognized the guy from the gym. He smiled, “It’s her.” He touched his friend’s arm, “Damn babe.”

“Don’t call me babe. My name is Toni.”

“Well excuse me.” He scoffed. “I was going to tell you how sweet your ass looked in that dress, but never mind.”

Toni rolled her eyes, “Just keep your hands and whatever else off of me.” She turned back to the bar and leaned in to order her drink, when she felt a hand on the back of her thigh trying to go up her dress. She reached around, grabbed his wrist, pressed her thumb into the pressure point. She smiled. He frowned and exclaimed, “Stupid bitch.” As he pulled away and stepped back into Sebastian and his three cousins. He turned, “Not you again.”

“Yep, me again” Sebastian grabbed him by the back of the neck and they escorted him out of the club.

When he returned, he found Toni seated at a table. “You wanna leave?” He asked, she nodded and they headed out.

When he ended back up at his place, they sat for a moment, Toni sighed. “I don’t wanna go home.” She said as she looked at him innocently. What did that mean, exactly? He thought. He nodded, “So you wanna like sit here and just talk?” He asked. She smiled, “Do you think your mom would mind if I came inside for a little while?”

“Um, no. I think she’d be okay. “ They left the car and went inside. Everything was quiet. They walked to his room at the end of the hall across from his sister’s room and he opened the door to allow her to walk inside.

She walked took of her coat placed it on a chair near by the desk. She looked at the pictures of him when he was younger. She picked up one from when he played soccer, “Awe… you were adorable.”

“Was?”

She laughed, “You know what I mean. As a kid you were cute and now, you’re just as cute.”

He smiled and thought, she finds me attractive. That’s good, he nodded. He took off his dress shirt and revealed his chest. Toni smiled. He asked, “What?”

She shook her head and walked over to him, “You’ve always been a good friend to me. I appreciate you. You know that.”

He nodded, “Yeah. Of course.” She wrapped her arms around him and hugged tightly for several moments. She stepped back and looked into his soft brown eyes. She kissed his forehead, then his nose, the very softly his lips then she waited. He didn’t move away, so she kissed his mouth again. This time more seriously and with intention.

He allowed himself to indulge in the sweet nectar of her mouth, but his mind flashed to the earlier conversation, when she was still pining over Carson. He couldn’t let this happen, no way, not like this. He stopped her, “Toni, what are we doing?” He asked.

“We were kissing until you stopped.” She joked. He shook his head, “No I mean really.”

“I wanna do something. I want to forget all the stuff I feel inside.”

“So we do this then what? Tomorrow that feeling will still be there. Then what?”

She shrugged. “I don’t get it. Men say they want women that are natural and that love sports and someone cool they can talk to and blah, but then when you are that woman, they want some other kind of woman. For fucks sake.”

Her eyes watered. He touched her shoulders, “A man that loves you, will love you how you are. He won’t make you feel like you have to convert into something else.” He kissed the top of her head and hugged her. “You’re gonna be okay.”

“But you like the way I look, right now?”

He smiled, “Of course I do.”

She nodded. He added, “But I also love it when you’re in jeans or sweats, in slacks. It’s not about what you’re wearing or not wearing. You’re a cool person. You’re good people.”

Her eyes started to water, “Can I stay with you tonight? I promise to behave.”

He laughed, “Sure. Do you want some joggers?”

“Yeah and a t-shirt please.”

He retrieved the items and handed them to her then he sat on the edge of the bed to remove his shoes. When he looked up, he could she her changing. Even though she was turned away from him, he could still she her reflection in the mirror. He looked away, “I’m gonna run to the bathroom, I’ll be right back.”

She got into the bed, under the covers. When he returned, he wore a pair of basketball shorts, no shirt. He got in bed next to her. She snuggled close to him, “Thank you.”

He smiled. And soon after Toni drifted off to sleep. Yet Sebastian could only lie there staring at the ceiling painting pictures of them together in his mind, as Toni lay next to him with her arm on his chest.

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My New Netflix Obsession

It takes a lot for me to get hooked on a show. There has to be several key ingredients:

  • Characters, can I relate to the main characters, is their acting strong enough to carry the role in which they are portraying.
  • Story, plot, character arc, is the story believable. In other words, I know there is an air of fantasy and fiction to most shows, but I hate when the writer puts stuff in that’s just ridiculous and unbelievable.
  • Cinematography, is the filming of the story beautiful. The angles, the lighting, the closeups, the wide shots, the scenery and the editing.

Well, I found all these elements in the show called StartUp on Netflix. There are three seasons currently and I’m on season three, the third episode.

So, what’s so good about it, lol. Let’s see, It’s diverse. I love to see a movie with a myriad of ethnicities and it’s not in some stereotypical, satirical or in a cliché kind of way. Here we have a Black man who is ethnically Haitian or is character is Haitian. We have a White man that is Jewish and a young lady that is Cuban American. They are all attractive and they each have strong acting skills to carry their roles. They each have something to gain and something to lose.

Isabelle, this tech genius has created a type of crypto currency. She needs backers to fund her startup. Nick’s dad has some shady business dealings and has been known to launder funds for all sorts of individuals from government/corporate officials to drug dealers. He hands his son a drive with over 2 million dollars in funds, tells him to transfer the money in some offshore accounts, but Nick has the brilliant idea to give to money to Isabelle to start her company since she can’t find any backers. Little did he know 300K belonged to the members of LH7 a gang in little Haiti, which Ronald was a member of and would later become top leader. He finds out when Ronald shows up and tells him he needs that “hood money” back ASAP in cash!

Also, the show is filmed in Miami, Fl. There are a lot of really beautiful scenes and some unsavory ones, but it all adds to the realness of what life is like. If you live in a big city, you know that some areas are breath taking and others are just…well, you know. Then there’s the stuff in between.

Biggest take aways:

  • Just because you have the passion to create something, does not mean you’re wise enough to make the proper decisions to get your idea to the market. Surround yourself with someone that is business minded and you do the innovation.
  • The only difference between a street thug and a corporate one is the money they make and the people they rub elbows with. Both be on some grimy ish…
  • Taking a person’s life is serious business. Whether it’s done for protection or some other reason. It stays with you.
  • Living in the hood and doing hood things…sometimes it’s hard to see beyond that life, even when you’re presented with something that is more legitimate.
  • Sometimes people behave selfishly and when you call them on their bullshit, they will still persist with the same toxic behavior. Like I’ve said to many others, “if every where you go, it smells like 3-day old cabbage, it’s not the people…honey, it’s you!”
  • Be weary of things and situations that set out to exploit you. I get it, this world thrives on give and take and we are all used and have used others on some level. Yet, it should never be to anyone’s detriment.
  • The government is shady. They are always looking to see how they can put their nose in our business…if you make $5, best believe they trying to figure out how they can get $3.25 of our money.
  • There’s nothing wrong with wanting something better for yourself and your family. If people confuse your growth and development with “acting funny” then that says more about them than it does about you!

That’s all I have for now, if you watch the show, let me know what are your thoughts. Who’s your favorite character?

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Bawo Ni (Hello) in Yoruba

This is an update to my post In Search of Me where I talked about my process of discovering my family’s roots back to Mama Africa.

Mama Africa

I ended that post stating I would share the results of my 23 and Me once they arrived. Today, I received the results.

Now, I thought I would have a high percentage of traits from the country of Benin, lol. However, the results came back leaning heavily to Nigeria with 47%. Now, there are a number of ethnic groups that hail from Nigeria: Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, the Hausa-Fulani, the Edo, the Kanuri and many more.

In addition, I had 16% from Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone. I figured this was largely because many enslaved Africans began mixing tribes.

I had about 6% European blood, but I thought it was going to be French. I was surprised to learn it was British and Irish. Even had a pinch of east Asian blood (Chinese). That was a shocker.

Anyway, It’s still a process trying to trace down names of people. Some plantation owners were good about keeping records, while others just listed girl, man, woman and the approximate age.

I’m happy to have a culture I can study and be connected to while still on this journey in search of me…

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Grappling With Love, Part 8

There are days when a woman struggles her with inner self and her outer image. What she looks like versus what the world says she should look like. Toni stared at herself in the mirror. She was happy with her appearance. Sure she wasn’t the girly girl all into makeup and extensions, but she definitely embraced her femininity.

She couldn’t help but wonder, if she wore dresses and lipstick, would that help him see her any clearer? Would he allow himself to explore more than just the idea of her? She smiled and nodded her head. Soon after, she exited her room and was on her way.

When she got to the living room, she saw her parents. Her father in his favorite recliner, leaned back reading a newspaper with his glasses on the tip of his nose. Her mother on the sofa, looking at a magazine.  

She walked up and kissed her dad on the cheek, “Good morning dad.” He smiled and replied, “Good morning, sweet heart.”

Her mother looked up at her with the overstuffed gym bag. Toni had placed the bag on the floor before walking over to the sofa to greet her mother. “Morning mom.” She gave her a kiss.

“Are you going somewhere after your workout?” She asked as she pointed at the bag. Assuming Toni had extra clothes to shower at the gym.

She nodded, “Yeah, I have a few errands I need to take care of before coming home.”

“Well, okay. Your sister is coming over for dinner. Make sure you’re home for that.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She replied before grabbing the bag. Just as she was about to leave, her mother said, “Mrs. Ijames called. She said something about a teaching job interview?” Her mother’s face was scrunched.

Toni nodded, “I’ll call her.”

Her mother gave her a look, “Umm…”

Toni smiled.

**********

After working out, Sebastian asked Toni if she wanted breakfast, but she declined. “I actually have some stuff I need to take care of.” She said. He looked disappointed, “Must be pretty big for you to turn down food.”

She chuckled, “Some girl stuff, but…do you know a place where we can go dancing, like Latin dancing?”

He smiled, “claro qui si, of course. I know a place.”

“I’ll meet you at your place tonight, if that’s okay.”

He nodded eagerly, “Yes. I’ll see you then.”

Toni drove toward her destination with the sound of Eryka Badu’s On & On pouring out of the speakers. She sang along to the lyrics. When the part came, “What a day, what a day…” She stopped and thought briefly about the night before. She scoffed. Then continued to vibe to the sound, the sound of the rim shot, the bass guitar, and Eryka’s smooth raspy voice always seems to calm her when her mind was running one hundred miles per hour. She took a deep breath before pulling into the parking lot of a nice day spa.

She walked in and was immediately greeted with a smile. The woman, very petite, long straight jet black hair, her skin a beautiful creamy hue with soft rosy colored cheeks. They exchanged pleasantries and before you know it, Toni was in a calm relaxing soft lit room lying on a table, naked from the waist down with a sheet over her.

Oh my God, why did I decide to do this? Okay, relax. You can do this. You grapple with 200 pound men for Christ’s sakes, how bad can this be? She thought as she looked at the ceiling.

“Are you ready?” The woman asked as she looked down at Toni whom had a sheer look of angst on her face. She nodded. Yet she was somewhat terrified. She had seen some videos of girls getting their Brazilians done and how they screamed. Would she scream? All she knew that her method of using Nair or shaving was a lot less painful.

The sheet was peeled back to reveal her area. The woman said, “I’m going to do the front and the you can flip over so I can get the back. Okay?” Toni still in shock, could only nod.

The wax was placed on her bikini area, then a cloth, the skin was held taunt and seconds later, rip.

For a moment, she saw flashing pink and purple lights and she let out a small grunt. The woman was already moving to the next area before Toni caught her breath, rip! Toni yelped. Her eyes watered a little and her nose bubbled.

“Okay time to flip.” The woman said with excitement. She saw Toni struggling. She turned and reached for a tissue, then handed it to her. Toni, wiped her eyes and nose. Then proceeded to turn for the plat de resistance, the butt crack. Why does my butt crack need to be waxed, she thought. Before she could formulate another thought, the hair was ripped away. She was smooth as a porcelain vase down below. “All done. You can get dressed and meet me up front for your eyebrows and nails.” She nodded, at least the worst of it was over.

She stood to dress herself, looking into the mirror for a brief second. Could she really deal with the pain of it all on a consistent basis? I mean how often does one have to be plucked clean? She shook her head, sighed, then put the rest of her clothes on.

After her spa appointment, she headed to the salon. “Let’s see what we can do to this hair.” She said out loud as she navigated through the streets of downtown and found a parking spot a couple of blocks away. Which wasn’t a bad walk, but since she was wearing ankle boots and the terrain tended to be hilly, it did prove to be a challenge, never the less, she trekked on to her destination.

As soon as she walked in, she was greeted by Sonia. “Hey there baby girl!” She had just finished showing a client the style she created through a smaller mirror, so she could she the back of her hair.

“Hi Ms. Sonia.” Toni replied as she walked over to her to hug her. She had been doing her family’s hair for years.

The lady in the chair stood up to pay and soon left. Sonia patted the seat, “Gone sit ya self down.” She turned to her area, grabbed a drink from a huge tumbler, then turned back and looked at the curly bun on top of Toni’s head. “Chile, what are we doing to this head?” She asked. She undid the bun and watched the hair drop to her shoulders. She inspected the undercut. “See you’re still whacking off the sides of ya head.” Toni chuckled, “Just a little. I like it. I feel like it’s just an expressive side of me.”

“Expressive, huh? Okay so we want something bold and edgy.”

Toni was almost afraid to respond. Even though she liked edgy, she wanted something that wouldn’t make her parents question her sanity. “Yeah, you know kind of bold and edgy, but not wild.”

“What about some color?”

“I can do some color.”

Sonia smiled. Her creative juices started to flow with a perfect look for Toni. And two hours later, the chair turned to face the mirror and Toni grinned from ear to ear, “Oh my Goodness.” She touched it. It was so her. An asymmetrical bob, shorter on the left side showing the design in her undercut and longer, dropping to her shoulder on the right side. It had splashes of color, red, orange and gold.

“So you like it?” Sonia asked. Toni stood up still checking herself out, “I can’t believe it. I literally have not straightened my hair since junior prom.” She moved her head from side to side just to see how her hair moved. She paid Sonia, gave her a hug and left.

There was a quaint sort of bougie deli situated downtown near a few office buildings. They served a variety of fancy sandwiches, deserts, wines and coffee. This is where Carson found himself that Saturday afternoon with his new girlfriend Nechelle, his brother and his brother’s wife.

They were all sitting having a pleasant conversation about the new business merger. “This merger will be everything.” Said Chauncey. His wife smiled and touched his shoulder, “I’m so proud of you.”

Carson’s cellphone sounded, he checked it briefly to see that a notification for auditions were happening for the play in a  couple of hours. His brother saw the distressed look on his face and asked, “Everything okay?” Carson nodded and placed his cellphone away.

Nechelle stated, “I think I’m going to run to the ladies room.” She stood and Amy did as well, “I’ll tag along.” The ladies left the table. Chauncey leaned in and asked, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, you know. Just some stuff I need to take care of.”

“What could be more important than right now? You have the perfect woman and a great job. Focus. Don’t worry about that girl. You’ll forget about her in no time.”

No sooner than those words escaped his lips, he heard a familiar voice and looked over to see Toni. His eyes nearly popped out of his head as she walked to the bar and was later approached by a man.

Toni placed an order. Turned to see her dear sweet friend Erick; he smiled, “Wait, wait, T, dis you? Look at you. I mean you always look good, but damn, you trying to hurt’em outchea.”

She laughed, “Stop.” She gave him a hug. “What are you up to?” She asked. “Just trying to get some eats before tonight. Gonna see my boo thang.”

“Um, I hear ya. You and old Peaches. So, is it serious?”

“Ahhh, you know. We’ve been kicking it on and off for awhile. I think she just trying to see where a brotha gone end up, you know.”

“Are you cool with that?”

“I mean, it’s cool. I know y’all ladies just wanna make sure you’ll be provided for properly.”

Toni smiled and nudged him. They were sharing a laugh when Carson walked up, “Toni?” He looked directly at her as he ignored Erick. Erick shook his head, “Excuse me bruh. I was—”

Toni eyes Erick and said, “Don’t.”

“I’m just saying, it’s rude. T, grab my order and bring to the car, please.”

She nodded then looked at Carson rather annoyed, yet she forced a smile. He scanned her, “What’s all this?” He asked.

“All what?”

He motioned with his hand, pointed at her hair, the sexy jeans and ankle boots, “The new look. It’s different.”

“Just switching things up a bit. You know.”

“So are you and that guy…”

“Erik is my friend. I’ve told you that before.”

The waiter arrived with two orders, hers and Erick’s. She thanked him and turned back Carson, “I see you’re here with your girlfriend and others. Enjoy.” She attempted to walk off, but he stopped her, “Are you sure we’re cool? I just don’t want things to change between us.”

She laughed, “Things have changed. You have a girlfriend. Your focus has to be her and not me. So…there’s that.”

“You know what I mean.”

She smiled, “Of course. I have to get going. Enjoy the rest of your day.”

As he watched her walk off, his heart hurt a little. He did have new priorities. How could he maintain what he had with Toni and build what he knew he could have with Nechelle? He missed his conversations with Toni. She had a way of really listening to him and allowing him to express himself without judgment. And with everything happening just before graduation, he needed to talk. He sighed and turned and went back to the table.

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A Wake-Up Call to Black Americans

Trigger Warning…to borrow a portion of a line from one of my favorite movies 300 when the Queen of Sparta kills that grimy official, “…this will not be over quickly, you will not enjoy this….”

And when I say, enjoy, I simply mean, it’s about to get uncomfortable.

This message is essentially for my African American brothers and sisters. You’re  more than welcome to read, but it’s one of those situations where you see family business being handled…you spectate, don’t participate.

As a Black woman in these United States, I have spoken ad nauseum about the ills of being Black and being a woman. Living at the intersection of both misogyny and racism is exhausting.

On one hand, we are expected to contribute, and in some instances lead the fights against injustices involving systemic racism. We are cheered on by our Black men, but as soon as we discuss issues that involve misogyny, we get the, “Not all men.” You know what that sounds like? It sounds like when we speak out against racism and a White person chimes in, “not all White people.”

The Blank Stare

Me: double blink/blank stare…like duh, there is rarely a situation when “all” can apply to any one group. So, if it doesn’t apply to you, then you don’t have to say anything. We simple expect you to talk or speak out against the bull shit you see happening. Because even if it’s not YOU, I’m quite certain, you are around or know people who participate in said behavior. And doing nothing or staying silent is nearly synonymous with consensus. Furthermore, privilege is more inclined to listen to privilege…if you smell what I’m stepping in.

For instance, for the most part, I am an able-bodied woman. I know that I have a privilege that exits over a disabled woman and especially one of color. Knowing this, I can help bring awareness to issues that affect the disabled or…differently abled community.

As AA woman, we are constantly being looked at to lead a movement or to assist in a movement and when a desired result is achieved for the people we help, we are overlooked and our concerns no longer matter. This was seen in the feminist movement and it’s seen in the fight against racism and misogyny.

And my main issue is this…we spend a lot of time taking to the streets when a Black man is unjustly killed by a police officer, but when a Black man is gunned down in the neighborhood or our children and our elders are being killed…crickets chirping, tumbleweed in the background. And make no mistakes, I don’t believe in the term Black on Black crime, it’s just called crime. My concern is the hypocrisy. So let me see…we’re only mad when Officer Grasshopper kills a Black person, but we are okay when 7-year old Black children are shot while sitting in cars with their parents or playing at playgrounds? Is this acceptable? Is that what we’re saying?

Not long ago, I was confronted by a racist White man that had the audacity to tell me about my “Black neighborhood.” I told him, “sir, you sound ridiculous. You have no idea where the fuck I live.” He made an assumption about me based on my skin color and spouted off some ignorance and got his ass handed to him.

Honestly, I have not lived in an all-Black neighborhood since freshman year in college. And since then, I have lived on and around military installations, which are very integrated, and now, I own a house.

I grew up in the hood and I know what that life was like. I worked my ass off so I WOULD not have to raise any one of my four children in such a place because quite frankly it’s sad that as a Black woman in these United States, I would not feel safe living in a location like the one I grew up in. There are days I sit back and think, “Man, I could have died that day.” What child deserves that kind of life?

A child should be able to do child like things, learn, grow, explore and play. How do we achieve this in Black neighborhoods? We do this by having our Black men step up and protect the streets. We have respect for the elders in the neighborhoods by checking on them and we allow the women to rest positively in their feminine energy by honoring the women.

As men, we’re not running the streets looking to dip the fun stick in all the packs of powdered sugar we see. We are not abusing the women verbally or physically. As women, we are nurturing our youth. We are encouraging and we are not standing by watching and recording fights of school aged children. It begins with a shift. A shift in mentality.

  • Be accountable for your actions. When you’ve done wrong, the best apology is changed behavior
  • Protect; don’t terrorize. Children need a safe space to child! Yeah I said child…
  • Seek professional help for the mental issues within our communities to address the trauma that we face. I’ll be the first one to tell you, “I entered the military with PTSD.”
  • Teach our children financial literacy. This involves budgeting, investing, debt management, the importance of life insurance, having an emergency fund and creating residual income.
  • Be mentors in the communities. You don’t need a foundation to  be a mentor. Just be that positive role model a child sees doing the right thing…both men and women
  • Keep the neighborhood clean. Put trash in receptacles, sweep the front stoops. Not having money or abundance is not an excuse to live in squalor. If the city is not cleaning your area, then have a neighborhood cleanup on a weekly or monthly basis. Take pride in your neighborhood.
  • Show up to the poles and vote on issues that affect your community. Fill out your census when the time arrives. You’d be surprised at the number of things that are attached to being counted in your district in a census.

And this is one of the biggest heart breaks of them all…no one is coming to save us. Not the government, not an imaginary super hero…no one. We keep looking for leaders. Honey, you’re the leader. We are all the leaders of our own destinies. I repeat, NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US!

Our ancestors bred into us a spirit of intelligence, determination and creativity. We have to channel that energy into positive things. That means educating ourselves on how to create our own businesses, schools, shops and truly support one another.

It’s time to wake up. We have been asleep for too long. And if you haven’t figured it out by now…you will continue to perpetuate the societal ills that don’t do anything to help the cause. Yelling, “Black Lives Matter,” when the actions of the community don’t coincide with Black lives matter sends a disingenuous message.

If we truly want Black Lives to matter, then they have to matter to us in various aspects. This means ALL the Black lives matter. The members of the LGTBQIA plus community lives matter, and the disabled community, their lives matter. The members of our communities young and old, their lives matter.

Let’s face the hard truth and begin the shift needed to build our communities back better and stronger.

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Tips on How to Keep Ya Man…

There are a number of things that will attract a man, right? Each one has his preference. Some like deep melinated sisters like myself, others like butter pecan or caramel, while some like that café con leche skin tone and others, variations of vanilla.

Some like them slim in the waste and cute in the face. Some like our fluffy and fabulous curvaceous ladies and some like them petite. Some like them funny, intelligent, rough around the edges or very prim and proper.

So what’s the secret to keeping a man. Honey, the only sure thing I know about men is this, the only thing that will keep a man…is a man that’s interested in being kept.

So let’s stop degrading other women when their relationships crumble by attacking their looks. Being cute ain’t never kept a man from cheating. There have been a number of gorgeous women that have been cheated on and straight left, and it’s not always for someone more attractive.

Now, I’m not saying this to women as a license to just let yourselves go. I mean still brush your teeth, wash your faces, take care of yourselves mentally and physically. Just don’t think that being cute or having a lot of junk in the trunk is what’s required to keep a man.

Relationships require work and each person is different. You have the find the person who you vibe with and who’s interested in staying where he is because he values the relationship you have built together.

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Get Un-stuck

How Long Will We Stay Stuck?

In a movie, there are characters. Each person has a role to play. Some characters (usually the leads) have arcs. This is the pivotal moment when the person realizes through a series of adversities over a period of time, how their actions contributed to their situation and hopefully find a resolution.

Life is that way. We are all faced with a series of ups and downs. Some of us have experienced heartbreak in the worst way. We have been lied on and dismissed. We have lost people close to us that had great impacts on our lives. People have been assaulted, abused, trafficked and the list goes on.

We cannot control what people do or say to us; however, we can control how we respond. For instance, I was in an abusive relationship. I could not control how my ex-husband acted towards me. I blamed him for his actions. Yet, it wasn’t until I accepted my role in the situation that led to my trauma, I could be set free and begin my healing process.

You can’t blame yourself for what others do to you. You can only decide what you are willing to accept and love yourself enough to know you deserve more. When you acknowledge that you have trauma from a situation, the next thing you should look at is…how do I begin to heal?

Healing…taking action to become a better version of yourself. This requires you to take responsibility for how you show up in spaces. It’s not enough to say, “Oh this terrible thing happened to me and this is why I am like this.” Having trauma is not a license to wreak havoc in the lives of people you encounter.

We all have to be willing to put in the work to better ourselves. You can have results or you can have excuses, but you cannot have both.

If we can boast when our behavior results in something awesome, we have to acknowledge when it’s the opposite. This is a sign of maturity and growth.

Far too often, when people are faced with the harsh reality of their behavior, they run for the hills. They’d rather be coddled or dwell within a victim mindset instead of putting in the work to move forward.

We all have trials and tribulations, no one is exempt from hardships. It’s up to each one of us to fight and work hard not succumb to the ills of the world. Granted, some of us have to work twice as hard. Are you going to let that stop you? Or will you get up and push= Persist Until Something Happens.

That’s the difference between those that make it and the ones that don’t. The ones that produce meaningful relationships and connections and the ones that don’t.

One of the greatest tragedies is the harm that others inflict on us. But an even greater tragedy is the harm we inflict on ourselves by staying stuck.

Get un-stuck…

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Overtime, It’s Not My Thang…

Once upon a time, I knew a guy that worked incessantly for an organization. Whatever his company asked of him, he was more than willing to give of himself. Even if it meant, forgoing school functions for his children. Even if it meant him being too tired to engage with his partner for quality time.

When he finally retired, he assumed he would have time to catch up on all the things that he had missed. He thought he’d be able to make it up to his children and significant other for not being present for key moments.

One day, I sat at my desk, just typing away, when a co-worker, a person that had been great friends with this retired worker, approached my desk to tell me that this man had passed away. It took the wind out of my sails and I didn’t even know him that well.

He was always cordial and well-mannered and he had only retired two weeks prior to his passing. Wow! Before the end of the day, an email flashed across my screen, which explained this man had died.

All those years he dedicated and the email was so bland and flavorless, I thought to myself…there is no way, I’m going to kill myself working for other folks and when I die, all I get is an unseasoned email.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I’ve worked overtime before. And I do feel there are situations when working overtime is beneficial. For instance, years ago, I had a debt I wanted to pay off. I knew making the minimum payments would not get the debt paid off in the time frame I wanted or needed. I looked at my finances: bills versus income and decided, some overtime and even a second job was necessary.

I had a goal to use all the extra income to go towards the debt. Notice how I said, towards the debt. I didn’t pick up any new bills. If I had, I would have made myself dependent on that extra income, which would have caused me to work long hours and not have any time to spend with the hubby, children or enjoy things I liked to do such as dancing, reading or writing.

I also work overtime, when I have set a standard for myself at work and I need to get something done. I don’t mind staying a little longer to finish.

Or, if I’m working overtime on my own business goals. Even with this, it’s done in moderation.

My issue with overtime in the past has been managers taking advantage of workers. I don’t like being told that I have to work mandatory overtime. An employee should be asked if they want to work overtime and if they don’t, it should not be looked at negatively. Some people love OT, but I’m not one of them. If my bills can get paid with the funds I already make, I don’t need overtime money. My family needs me and I need them.

If I died, I’d get that two-line email and my replacement would be installed within two weeks; it would be business as usual.

At a previous job, I was made to work overtime and denied payment for the hours I worked. Until one day I got tired and submitted my time sheet with all the hours I worked. I was asked, “Who told you to put these hours on your time sheet?”

My left eyebrow lifted and I replied, “I worked those hours. You can check the reports and the cameras. I was here.” Then I looked at her until she walked away. It was funny, we looked like two-gun slingers in the old west, all we needed was that music from a Clint Eastwood movie. She signed that time sheet because she knew if I pushed the issue, she would have gotten into trouble.

In short, my loves, if you must work overtime do it with an end goal in mind. Do not get used to working overtime. There are people that want to experience your energy. You have to create work and life balance.

I learned a long time ago, children spell love…T.I.M.E. In other words, love=time. And time is an expensive commodity that cannot be replaced. Once it’s gone. It’s gone. So, make the most of the moments you have.

  • Plan that getaway
    • Take that yoga class
    • Go bike riding
    • Schedule those date nights
    • Go kayaking
    • Learn a new language

Just don’t spend all your free time working overtime.

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In Search of Me

Like most African Americans, I’ve often wondered where my ancestors came from. And it’s not enough to say, “They came from Africa.” Africa is a continent with fifty-four different countries. And those countries all have very diverse ethnic groups even within the same country.

So for all the times I’ve been told to go back to Africa, I say, “Go screw yourself.” I’d have no idea where I’d be headed. I can’t walk up to a Delta Kiosk and say give me a ticket to Africa. I mean, I could, but I’d probably get the blank stare and the agent would ask me, “To where in Africa ma’am.” Do you see my dilemma?

Now, about month ago, I watched a documentary on Amazon Prime called, The African Americans. There was an interesting story.

About 265 years ago, a 10-year-old girl was kidnapped from Sierra Leone and put upon a slave ship that sailed to South Carolina. This child that survived that weeks’ long journey was sold upon reaching SC. They named her Priscilla. One of the descendants of the slave owner, a grandson had researched the family records and was able to track down one of Priscilla’s modern-day descendants who actually lives not far from the former rice plantation in South Carolina.

It’s very rare for an African American to know their lineage and connection back to mama Africa. That’s why when I heard this story via a documentary on Amazon Prime, I became both happy and overwhelmed with sadness.

Not knowing where your people are from, your true language, religion, customs and name leaves a person feeling incomplete. And I truly understand why adopted children often want to find their birth parents in spite of growing up in a well-loved home. Because there’s always this sense of longing. Wanting to establish a connection, to understand why you have the features you have or certain medical conditions. Understanding the root, makes it easier to understand the tree and all of its branches.

I want to know my roots. Therefore, I began a journey to trace back our line, but as you know, many of the slave owners did not keep good records. Black people were considered property and children, wives, husbands were often sold off. This is what makes the ancestry of an African American complex.

You have Africans from different countries and different tribes forced to procreate to make more slaves. Many that have decided to do ancestry testing via 23 and me or others are finding that they are of more than one ethnic background.

This weekend, I decided to take the plunge. I ordered a kit, provided my specimen and in a few weeks, I reckon they’ll provide me with a compilation of various ethnic backgrounds my DNA sample yielded.

From the research I’ve already conducted, I learned that the first Africans were brought to Louisiana on a ship called The Aurore and the Duc de Maine 1719; it had 451 enslaved Africans.

From 1719 to 1731, the Company of the Indies oversaw the purchase and forced transatlantic transportation of more than 6,700 Africans from West and West Central Africa to Louisiana. 

The people were taken from ports in Senegambia, the Bight of Benin, and the Congo River basin, the captives came from diverse cultures, religious and linguistic backgrounds, and ethnic groups. “Wolof, Bambara, Mandingo, Fulbe, Nard, Ganga, Kissi, Susu, Mina, Fon, Yoruba, Chamba, Hausa, Igbo, Ibibio, Kongo/Angola and Makwa”.

Since Louisiana has this stigma of every one walking around doing voodoo, I’d guess a lot of the people in the southern most region of Louisiana came from Benin. Most likely, my ancestors are of Benin and their ethnicity was most likely Yoruba.

There is a possibility of a small percentage of Native or European blood. I’m thinking very low. I’ll post an update once I get my results.

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Put Some Respeck on My Name and/or Title

I was recently made aware of a story, which took place in my old stomping grounds of Greensboro, NC, where a city commissioner along with other board members were in a Zoom meeting with a resident. When the commissioner addressed the young woman, he called her, “Ms….” She politely corrected him and said, “It’s Dr….”

Dr. Carrie Rosario, Professor at UNCG

In a dismissive tone, he replied, “Well, your screen shows your name as______, I’ll call you Ms….”

She corrected him again. He persisted to call her Ms. After he refused to correctly address her, she told him how disrespectful his actions were.

Two things, first, if he didn’t know how to address her, that’s understandable. I have issues with that at times when I send correspondence to women. Most of the time, I don’t use any title, I type their whole government name in the greeting. However, once a person makes it known how they prefer to be addressed, I use what they ask.

It’s not a hard ask. I’ve been asked to do far more complicated things. Therefore, when it comes to something so simple, I gladly oblige the person’s request.

So, why did he feel compelled to do this? Why do people insist on making things an issue, when the better alternative is to create harmony? Yet they will do the ridiculous and act surprised when faced with the backlash of their actions.

Secondly, I’m not understanding why the other members on the Zoom call didn’t just stop him from his buffoonery. When you see someone doing the ridiculous, it’s okay to press pause. One of the ways I do this in meetings is usually by giving a person the wide crazy eyes or I’ll interject with a question or statement of my own. This gives the person time to think about their continued course of action.

Now, this city commissioner was removed from his position. Two members of the board, that asked for his resignation were older Black women that identified with the pain of being disregarded in such a manner.

I can tell you as a Black/African American woman, I’ve had people incorrectly say my name. When I’ve corrected them, they’ve continued to say my name wrong and it would burn my insides. Or they would try to give me some nickname. I use to let it slide, but awhile back I heard a poem titled, Hey Black Girl make them Say Your Name. A poem to encourage Black girls to be proud of their names and to not let anyone make fun or butcher your name.

If you can pronounce the name of some fancy beer or wine, then saying, “LaQuinta,” is not that hard. Get your mind right sir/ma’am.

When it comes to titles, especially the ones people have worked hard to obtain, then you should respect that as well. I would never walk up to any sitting or former president and call them by their first name. I would not even call either of my Senators by their first names and they get on my last nerve. Give the respect you would want to receive.

Yet, these asks are deemed ridiculous, when they come from People of Color and viewed more annoying when they come from women, especially women of color. There were people saying that she was doing too much, by simply asking to be called Dr…. If it were a man, would he have carried on that way? My guess is he would have said, “My apologies, Dr. So and So,” and carried on.

My point is this, if you have no idea what it took a person to obtain the credentials they possess or if you have not worked hard for a title or a position, you have no business telling any man or woman, they don’t deserve to be addressed by a title/position they’ve earned. And if you are a Dr. and you don’t care how people address you, then that’s your business. When I earn my doctorate, you will call me, “Dr. Sanchez.”

Now, some people have called this commissioner’s actions racist. I feel it was definitely a form of microaggression and also sexist. Basically, my sista was hit with the double whammy called: misogynoir.   

To all the women out there that have worked hard for their titles and to all the women of color that have had their names butchered in their presence, tell’em to put some respeck on yo ish….

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A Black Woman’s Trauma

Dr. Maya Angelou told a story about a maid that she saw on a subway, Ms. Rosie. “When the bus stopped abruptly, she laughs, if the bus stops slowly, she laughs….” What Dr. Angelou realized is this was not an actual laugh of, “ha ha,” something is funny. That this was an adopted reaction to the life of this Black Woman, a survival laugh.

When she told this story and recited the poem, We Wear the Mask, oh how it resonated within me ten-fold until my bones began to ache. As a Black Woman, I have worn this mask and quite frankly, I’m tired of wearing it. I have been wearing it for as long as I can remember. From the time I was but a five-year-old child going to school in Larose, LA and experiencing racism from not only the students, but the evil that spewed from my teacher’s mouth on a daily basis.

Yes, she was a White woman and she did not care much for me being in her class and even at that young age, it was very evident. So, I learned to wear the mask. How to wear the mask to disguise the pain in the face of White fragility. “Oh, don’t react Black girl, don’t dare correct the actions of the person spewing vitriolic hate toward you, black girl. Be the bigger person, let that slide, Black. Girl.” So, here’s your mask little Black girl. The same one your mother wore and her mother wore and hers, all the way back to your first ancestor. The Mask.

Saying things like you don’t see color is an excuse to not see me. It’s denying my experience on this soil. Saying you don’t see my Blackness is not an issue. Treating me differently because of it, that’s the issue. And believe me when I say, “I am treated differently because of it.” Yet I rise above and press on in spite of it and even though my way has been wrought with painful experiences, I would not give up this my melinated perfection because of it.

Do you know, that it is incredibly difficult to manage the trauma of being a Black woman in these United States of America, while simultaneously managing the feelings of White women that in one breath, say they stand with you, but in another breath, insult your entire existence? Like, let me put the fact that you just insulted me aside, as to not hurt your feelings.

I saw this in the case with Sharon Osborne and Sheryl Underwood. Now, I do not know if Sharon Osborne is racist, but what I do know is that the behavior she displayed while recording the exchange with Sheryl Underwood is a classic example of what the majority of Black women face on a daily, specifically in the United States. I’m speaking from my own personal experiences and those of countless Black women that tell their stories to only have someone chime in, “Well, maybe you took it the wrong way.” Or “Why are you so sensitive about that, it’s no big deal, just get over it.”

Meanwhile, if a BW cussed the offender out, all of a sudden, the world has come to an end. I’ve written about this before in my piece called Microaggressions. Where I told of an experience of how I was telling a co-worker a story about my dad and then another co-woker, cuts my story off to ask the all ridiculous question of, “Oh, so you know your dad?”

Then when my face morphed into, WTF and I replied, “Do you know yours?” Suddenly, her face got all red and she became trembly and was about to cry. Then, I had to pull back and let her slide because now, I had to set aside what the hell her comment implied and manage her feelings. It’s like, sister girl, please read the room. If I’m standing here telling a story about my father, it’s obvious I know who TF my father is. Like, come on y’all it’s 2021. Please just do better.

There’s too much information out here. Google is free and so is Yahoo, Bing and all their cousins and ‘nem. Talk to people and listen to their experiences. If you listen twice as much as you speak, you’ll learn a lot more.

As a Black woman in USA I have to deal with racism. That’s a lot. Then I have to deal with sexism. That’s annoying. Then I have to deal with internalized racism from self-loathing AA men that get on Beyonce’s Internet telling the world that he would not date a Black woman because of…insert stupid reason here.

And, if this makes you uncomfortable, that means, you have some soul searching to do. One of the things that I learned about myself is this, if someone is talking about a particular topic, especially when they are giving their own personal experience and I start to feel triggered, it’s not about that person. It’s about me. Now I have to determine why it is I’m feeling how I’m feeling and address me, Periodt!

You don’t get to tell people what offends them. You don’t get to oppress people and make them feel uncomfortable and then act like when you are checked some great wrong has been done to you.

And oppression is no longer cracking a whip on someone back or holding them in chains. Yes, that was the past. Now, oppression appears in various forms.

  • From telling BW that their natural hair is unprofessional or ugly. By calling our hairstyles ghetto and then wearing the same styles and labeling them a trend.
  • By referring to AAVE as hood talk, then using a Blackcent when it’s convenient to make a joke. African Americans are not cosplay.
  • It comes in denying opportunities to AA in key positions. I can attest to this. I was denied many times and was asked to train other people to do a job that I was basically already doing and not getting paid the money the position warranted. And my brother told me the same happened to him which caused him to walk of a job that he has been doing since 2006.
    • It comes in finding reasons to strip away voting rights to people of color.
  • It comes in little Black kids being segregated in classrooms from their White counterparts; watching them being served first while they wait.
  • It comes in biases in the medical field where it is believed that BP have some higher pain threshold than White people and therefore are not given the same level of care.
  • It comes in being followed around stores because they think you’re a thief or being totally ignored or under valued as a customer because people perceive you not to have any money.
  • It comes in Black men and women being jailed for their drug addictions while White people’s addictions are declared epidemics and thousands if not millions of dollars are set aside to help resolve the problem.
  • The list is quite extensive. I could be here all day…

So, when a BW tells her story, please know, it’s not about you, unless it is. You feel me. Her story, my story is to shed light on situations and for people to unlearn certain behaviors that contribute to the oppression we as Black women face. Because believe me…I love y’all. I have some ride or die White sisters, but they also know that our struggles as women are NOT the same. And that’s where true partnership and growth happens.

You have to be willing to understand your own biases. Realize that everything ain’t about you. You have to be willing to educate yourself. You have to stop becoming the victim when you’ve cause the damage. The best thing to do is to apologize and change the behavior that caused the damage.  And you have to help dismantle systems that are only to the benefit of one group while denying or making it extremely difficult for marginalized groups.

And if equality feels like oppression to you; you know you still have a lot of work to do,

And that’s on true allyship and growth.

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Riverview, FL: We Full!

On April 2, 2021, I had to take my son to an appointment. When I arrived at the location, I was informed by the receptionist, that the person I needed to see was off for the day. I was given an alternate location. It was explained to me that it was on the other side of Riverview. I nodded, plugged the address into my cellphone GPS as I walked back out to my car. Now, it was only about six miles from my current location and it should have only taken like fifteen minutes tops. Yet, Lawd, it took darn near forty-five minutes to get where I was going.

This was especially annoying to me because number one, I had become spoiled living in Winston-Salem, NC where everything I did was in a five to ten minute drive from my house and secondly, I’m one of those people that think when I’m out doing stuff, other people should not be out doing stuff. I literally will be like: “Why are y’all out, when I’m out or why y’all at, where I’m at?” It’s insanely hilarious.

So, after I finally made it to where I was going, I turned on my camera and made a TikTok. The Title: WE FULL. It explained that this Riverview area is full. We have way too many folks and way too much traffic for this little town that does not have the infrastructure to support the growth that it has, let alone any continued growth.

The funny thing is, when I first moved here, I realized this and wrote to the Congressman at the time. He wrote back and told me that that wasn’t his area. I needed to speak with the Senators, but any time I email those guys about anything, let’s just say, I’ve yet to receive a response in regards to any of the concerns I’ve voiced over the last six months.

Anyway, all that to say, when I posted the video on TikTok, it got a few hundred views and about half that in likes. I posted it to Instagram, it received about fifty or so views and likes. But last week, on Facebook, out of no where, I started receiving hundreds of notifications. I thought, what in the ham sandwiches is going on. I hardly ever get any love on my videos on Facebook. Yet, that video posted on Facebook has over 80k views and over 2k shares.

It must have resonated with people feeling my pain. I only had one sour puss say something negative. You know there is always that ONE, like geesh, it’s a joke. Have a seat ma’am, with yo old sour ass! lol. Some people’s children.

I’ve gotten word from some folks in Atlanta that said, not send anyone their way because they are full as well. It has been hilarious reading the comments. I’m glad to have given people a much needed laugh break in the midst of all the wild things transpiring in the world. I had to post an update because so many people informed me that their areas were just as full. lol…

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Grappling with Love, Part 4

Toni had a profound love for sports, particularly football. And she had a passion for capturing stories and creating. After her last class of the day, she took her camera to the football field to capture footage.

She saw one of her childhood friends that played on defense as a Cornerback, Erick Townsend. He was this tall chiseled dark cinnamon colored guy. His eyes were deep set and he had a small light brown birthmark on the side of his neck. He waved when he saw her capturing him on camera and made sure to go hard with extra sweet moves.

She smiled as she watched him through her lens. After practice ended, he shouted her name and jogged over towards her with another player, Jonathan.

“What’s good T?” He reached in for a hug; she gave him a quick hug. She chuckled. He said, “I know, I’m covered in sweat.”

“It’s all good.”

Jonathan asked, “What about my hug?” He waited eagerly and she obliged him. “You know I’m single and probably gonna go in the at least the 3rd round.”

She looked at Erick and they chuckled, “Yeah, that’s what he thinks. I’ll probably go in at least the 3rd round, you maybe the 100th.”

“Man forget you.” He walked off.

They pause for a moment. She gave him a little push, “3rd round. Nice.” He nodded, “Yeah, you know. Still don’t know where Ima end up.”

 “I hope somewhere warm.”

“You gone come see me no matter where.” He grabbed her jokingly. “This is true.” She replied.

“I heard they are looking for a Marketing and content creator down in the dirty south. I have a friend down in the Tampa area that can hook you up.”

Her face lit up. “The thought is enticing.”

“That’s why you should do it.”

“Toni!” Someone shouted. They looked across the field to see Carson walking up. Erick looked at her and gave her a nudge, “I see. Still on that.”

She shook her head, but the blush on her cheeks revealed the absolute truth. She replied, “And what about you?”

He smiled looked off and responded, “You remember Peaches from the projects?”

She thought for a second as the memory popped up in her head, “Braces, thick glasses, struggle puff Peaches?”

He chuckled, “Um, that’s the one, but she looking waaaay better, but you know.…”

She nodded, “You did always oddly have a crush on her.” She looked out at Carson, “Maybe there’s hope for me.”

He smiled, “I’ll check you later, ma.”

******

Toni approached Carson as he stood there at the edge of the field with his cap covering his head and the sun shining on his beautiful brown skin. “Hey.” She said.

He searched her for a moment, “Are we…good?”

She shrugged and continued to walk with him toward the parking lot. He followed. A lot of thoughts ran through her mind. She wanted to read him in a way, but she often held back. She responded, “I guess.”

He said, “It’s just. I talked with Sebastian and he seems to think you might be upset.”

She chuckled, “He?”

He stopped in front of her, “So you are upset.”

She sighed, “Um, I get it. You have something to do that’s more important.”

“It’s not like that.” He insisted. “you know that right.”

“Yeah. It’s okay. I gotta get home and work on some stuff. So.”

“Listen. I’ll get finished early. Maybe we can catch the late show.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course, this thing with my dad can’t take too long.”

Her face lit up with excitement. Impulsively, she placed her arm around him and kissed him quickly on the lips. Their eyes were locked for a moment. Oh my God, what did I just do, she thought. He touched his mouth, but didn’t anything in reference to the kiss. Just nodded and added, “I’ll see you later.”

******

As Toni drove, she couldn’t but think if she made a mistake by kissing Carson. I mean his face was stone cold…no reaction. She grunted, “Oh well, what’s done is done.”

      She ended up at the local community college where she met with different students to help with English assignments. On this Friday afternoon, she met with one of her favorite high school students, Renaldo.

******

      Sebastian pulled up to the quaint two-bedroom house on a small dusty rock road. He blew the horn and waited as he sang loudly to Marc Anthony’s, Vailo Pena .

A butter pecan toned woman stepped out onto the porch and waived. The front door opened, she turned to see her son sharply dressed exit, “Okay m’ijo, apurate.”

He kissed her cheek, “Okay mami.” Her nose filled with a scent that burned her eyes, “Ay, m’ijo, did you use the whole bottle?”

“Ma…” He exclaimed. “Okay, Okay, ya vete.” He hurried to the car and got in. Immediately, Sebastian’s eyes began to water, he rubbed his nose. He looked out the window at his sister, she could only shake her head. He laughed and started the car as he looked at his nephew. He was growing up and had clearly taken interest in girls. Sebastian pulled off and inquired, “So, is she pretty?”

Renaldo didn’t respond, but his cheeks turned rosy. Sebastian rubbed his hand across his nephew’s head. Renaldo exclaimed, “Ya, tio. You’re messing up my hair.”

It was the first time Sebastian had dropped Renaldo off at tutoring. His sister normally did it, but she had been called back into work a second shift at the hospital. Upon pulling into a parking space, he felt compelled to pry more into this new found infatuation he sensed in his nephew. “So when can I meet her, are you gonna ask her to the dance?”

“Tio, por fa.”

 “Come on, it’s me, tu tio, you can tell me anything.”

He sighed and smiled, “I don’t know. She doesn’t even know that I like her. Like, what should I do?”

Sebastian sighed himself. He actually struggled with the same dilemma. Renaldo asked, “Have you ever like a girl and was afraid to tell her?”

He nodded, “Yeah.” Just in that moment, a Honda pulled in a space next to his. The car door shut and they both turned left to witness Tony exiting her car. They hurried out and shut the doors, Tony saw them and smiled, “Well, well, well, what in all the world.” She walked over to Sebastian and hugged him, “You know my favorite student?”

Sebastian replied, “My nephew.”

She gave Renaldo a fist pump, “Oh, so this is your favorite uncle.”

He blushed, “You guys know each other?”

They nodded, “We are part of the three amigos.”

Renaldo smiled and waited awkwardly for a moment. Tony said, “Renaldo, can you bring my bag into the room and make sure all the papers are passed out.” Eagerly, he accepted the challenge and hurried off.

 She smiled. Her face lit up when she smiled. It made Sebastian’s heart race when she smiled. She said, “Wow, Renaldo’s your nephew.”

“Yeah.” He smiled, “So, we’re still on for this weekend?”

 “Actually, we are going tonight. Carson said that he would get out of his thing early and we can catch the late show, if you’re up to it?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m down if you’re down.”

She nodded. “Okay, I’ll come by your place and we can meet him there.”

She reached in and hugged him. He longed for those moments when she was pressed in close to him. The scent of cocoa butter and mango would tingle his senses for hours afterwards. They released the embrace and he watched her walk into the building.

****

     Toni looked out at the four students that showed up for tutoring. It was actually not a bad showing for a Friday. The most she would have is one or two. “Okay, so…your teachers said that you guys will need help with expounding on ideas in order to pass the writing exam.”

     Renaldo sighed, “I just don’t get why they want you to write so many words. If I can say it in two or three sentences, that should be good enough.”

Another student chimed in, “Right, less is more.”

She smiled, “When they say that it’s actually in reference to finding a more concise way to express an idea so it’s easily understood. Not…to take an entire concept and shrink it to a three simple sentences.” She paused and continued, “That’s like trying to serve someone a pot of chicken noddle soup with just broth.”

They laughed.

Renaldo added, “I just hate the stupid writing prompts. They’re too cutesy. I feel weird writing about feelings and stuff.”

“There’s nothing wrong with feelings Renaldo. A person should have the ability to express all their emotions in a healthy productive way.”

He thought for a second. He did have feelings. So many that he wanted to express, but how could he? He was just a high school student. He knew deep down he would not be seen as he wished. Yet, it didn’t stop him from embellishing in thoughts of her, the idea of her. Even if he couldn’t have her, he’d always want someone with her strength and character.

To be continued…

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Going Dutch on a Date, It’s No For Me

You’ve seen me a couple of times and you were attracted enough to approach me. A conversation transpired and phone numbers were exchanged. After a few conversations, you decided that you were intrigued enough to ask me out on a date, I say, “yes.”

We go to a nice restaurant, nothing expensive, but not cheap either. We both order, receive our food, eat, have good conversation, now dinner is over. The waiter arrives and asks, “Is this one check or two?” Then you respond, “Two.”

Honey, you better not call me again until the 32 of Neveruary. And that’s on, I ain’t going Dutch. I’m not, periodt. Why?

First off, how do you ask a person out and then don’t pay? I, as a woman, if I tell one of my girlfriends, “Let me take you out to eat.” Then that means, I have every intention of paying for our meals. Now a struggle may ensue over who will pay the check, because, I do roll with women that work hard, earn decent money, and don’t mind treating. If this happens, one will pay the bill and the other will cover the tip.

Now, as a man, offering me, a woman out, your intention is to woo me. So, making me pay for my own meal or not offering to pay for either meal is just plain wrong and off-putting. And there are men that think “accidentally” leaving their wallet at home to see if a woman will cover the whole bill is some sort of test to see if she is the one.

Well, I would be the one to pay it and later delete and block you on all my socials and cellphone. That’s childish behavior. If you ask, you pay. And also, take the date where you can afford to cover the bill without it leaving you in financial ruin. I won’t act like there aren’t women that will order expensive items and not eat the food they order because it’s on the man’s dime. That’s also irresponsible. And should not be tolerated. That’s why I say, in the beginning, dates should be simple and inexpensive while you’re getting to know one another.

I have not had a date intentionally not pay for our meals. When I was a young staff sergeant in the military, I went out to eat with a couple of guys. When the bill came, the check was split of course because I was not dating either guy. We were all just friends. However, one of the men’s card got declined. He asked me if I would pay for his meal. I did. He did feel bad about having to ask me. About a week later, he offered to take me out to eat.

Am I saying there are situations where a woman should never treat a man to dinner? No. If a women offers to take a man out and she says, “I am going to take you to dinner.” Then she should have intentions to pay. If the guy just can’t allow himself to let the woman pay, then so be it.

Now that I’m married, I do pay for dates. But you know, he’s my husband, so I can do that. lol. He’s a good man and deserves to be spoiled for all that he does for our family. However, when we first started dating, he paid for every date. Our dates were simple. We were getting to know each other and trying to see what each other’s goals and aspirations were.

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Grappling With Love, Chapter 3

Thursday morning, early, Toni woke up and went into the garage where she had set up a small gym. She jumped up and grabbed onto a black pullup bar that was attached to the wall. She did several pullups with ease and heard, “Okay Gi Jane.”

     She stopped, released and landed on the floor with a smile as she turned to see her big sister Charlotte. She was shorter, had slightly thicker frame, wore glasses and locs that dangled down her back.

     “I wish I was as strong and as amazing as her.” Said Toni.

     “Oh you are little sister.” She walked over to give her a hug. “Where’s mom?”

     Toni shrugged, “I thought she was in the kitchen.”

     “So, have you given any thought to what you want to do for graduation?”

     “Whatever.”

     Charlotte made a face, “Whatever? Girl what is wrong with you?”

     Toni hesitated, shook her head, “I don’t know. I’m just struggling with what I should do after graduation.”

     Charlotte nodded, “I see. Well, what happened to wanting to be this great online content creator and marketing?”

     She shrugged, “Maybe that’s a crazy idea. I mean, you’ve seen some of the girls that make real money…and I don’t—”

     “Don’t what…look like any of them?”

     “So you agree.”

     “I do, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You are beautiful, fierce and edgy. Do you and what makes you happy.”

     Toni smiled, “The thought does scare me and excite me all at once.”

     “Then that’s how you know you should at least give it a shot.”

     “I mean what will Carson think? His mom is trying to get me on at some fancy school in Clinton.”

      Charlotte giggled, “So, is this about you or about what Carson wants.”

     “Don’t start analyzing me.”

     “I’m not, but if I were—”

     Toni frowned. Her sister added, “Look, don’t make that face. Seriously, if you want to stay here to be with Carson make sure you let him know that’s why you’re staying because if he doesn’t know, he’ll end up with someone else and you’ll have passed by your dreams and for what?”

     She tightened her jaw, sucked her teeth. Charlotte touched her arms and looked into her eyes, “You have pined over Carson for the last year now. It’s about time one of you steps up and make a decision.”

     “We’re friends. Nothing more. So.”

     “So, I guess, you’ve made your choice, do your thing Toni, for yourself.”

     She wrapped her arms around her tightly, “I’ll call mom later so we can plan your whatever.” They laughed.

*******************

     Carson often rose early to go for a run in his neighborhood. It was an affluent area near Country Club Road. He had ear buds in listening to Jay-Z. As much he wanted to be happy about the upcoming graduation, his head swam with snippets of the previous night.

     He thought about Toni’s words, about what Sebastian had said. He thought about the conversation he had had with his father just over a few weeks prior when he walked into his office with a huge smile, “Dad, I have some exciting news.”

     His father looked up from his computer with attentive eyes, “Yes son.” He waited. Carson smiled and showed him a video clip. It was Carson acting in a local Indie film. When the clip ended, his father looked at him. “That’s nice.”

     “Thanks,” he replied. “The director thinks I have a lot of talent.”

     It was silent. His father sighed, “Look son, that’s a nice, side hobby, but you can’t be thinking about doing this this thing full time.”

     Carson shook his head, “Of course not. I just thought it was nice.” His father stood up and walked over to him, “You have a bright future here with your brother and me. We are going to take this company International. Before you know it, Ijames Transportation will be a household name.

     Carson had a nice stride. His mind snapped back to the present moment when he realized he had run all the way to Stratford. He stared at the five-pointed intersection and let out a huff, turned and ran back towards his home.

     Carson entered the house. He dripped in sweat. His father greeted him, “Good morning son.”

     “Morning dad.” He was in a hurry to head to his room to prepare for a shower, but his dad stopped him. “Are you busy later tonight?”

     “I was going to go to the movies with Antionette.”

     His father grunted, “Well, I’m having dinner with a potential business partner and I would like for you to be there.” His dad stood tall. A distinguished handsome tan man with short dark brown mini afro. He waited as if the only answer he would accept is, “Yes.”

     Carson nodded, “sure. I’ll be there, dad.”

      His father touched his shoulder and smiled. “Great son, I’ll let you get ready for your day. See you later.”

     Carson smiled and watched his father walk away. He sighed. His cellphone sounded with a group text from Sebastian. “See you guys tonight.”

     Tony replied with happy smiling emojis. Carson simply walked off to take a shower.

     Carson sat at their favorite table when Sebastian walked up and grabbed a seat across from him, “Freedom Writers! We still good for tonight?” He asked. Carson hesitated, “Um, about that…I think we have to cancel.”

     “Why is that?”

     “My dad has this thing he needs me to go to tonight.”

     Sebastian nods. His face lit as he saw Toni go through the line. She wore jeans, a hoodie and snow boots, her hair in nice cornrows that dangle past her shoulders.

     Carson turned to see Toni and he noticed how Sebastian checked her out. He reiterated, “Yeah, we can just cancel and go this Saturday.”

     Sebastian shruged, “I mean, Toni has really been dying to see this movie and she’s not going to want to wait until Saturday. She hasn’t even watched TV in the past few days because she doesn’t want anyone to give away the ending.”

      “She’ll be fine, If I ask her.”

     Sebastian made a face, “Um.”

      “Are we good?”

     “You good?”

“You good?”

Sebastian shrugged and clinched his jaw, he mumbled something. Carson chuckled, “Look dude, I get it.”

    “Get what?”

     “That you have a little crush on Antoinette.”

There was silence. “Ah,” he wagged his finger, “so, I’m right.” He laughed again. Sebastian eyed him. “Man, whatever.”

     “So, you’re saying you don’t?”

     “What about you? Do you?”

     “Me?” Carson laughed. “No. I’m not her type.”

     Sebastian made a face of confusion. “But she likes you.” He replied.

     “As a friend. I mean, you’re not even her type. So…”

     “So what’s her type?”

     Carson turned to look at a cute fair skinned girl with fluffy reddish brown curly hair, then motioned with his head for Sebastian to look as the girl walked by Toni and she smiled.

     Sebastian in disbelief, “What? Una mentira.”

     “Hey, look. There’s nothing wrong with it, love is love.”

     Sebastian rolled his eyes in annoyance, “Of course I know there’s nothing wrong with it, my sister is Lesbian. I just…”

     Carson shushed him as he saw Toni approached the table, he whispered, “Don’t say anything. She’s not out yet.” He made air quotes

     Sebastian nodded.

     Toni smiled, “Hey fellas.” She sat with her tray of food. Their faces scrambled with all sorts of messages, she asked, “Is everything okay?”

     Carson was the first to respond, “Yep. All good.” Sebastian hesitant, “Um ,yeah, cool.”

     “Alright, y’all are acting weird but okay. But I guess it’s a guy thing. Should I leave?”

     Carson said, “Don’t be silly.”

     She nodded and began to eat her food. Sebastian was quiet. As if he was still processing the statement that Toni was a Lesbian.

     “I’m excited about seeing this movie tonight.” She smiled. “About that.” Said Carson.

     Her face scrunched, “My dad—”

     “Are you serious Carson? We’ve planned this for weeks.”

     “I know, but my dad has this thing and we can just do it Saturday. You know how my dad is.”

     She nodded. Suddenly she lost her appetite, sighed. She looked over to Sebastian, “So what’s your excuse?”

     “I…I don’t have one, I’m just as disappointed as you.”

    She nodded, rose to her feet, “I have to get to my next class, I’ll see you guys later.”

    Carson, “Told you she’d be okay.”

     Sebastian stood up, “Bro, I swear-” He left the table.

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“The Talk” with My Pre-teens

Have you had “the talk” with your teens? I admit, it seems like a dreaded thing. Like how do you even begin to start the conversation? The one thing I will say is, not having it, will not deter any unwanted behavior. (if you smell what I’m stepping in)

I have experience with giving the talk of course. I have two adult children that are now living their own lives. I made it a point to have the talk because I wanted them to get the correct information from me and not some make-shift foolishness on the streets.

I can remember being twelve years old and still very innocent. I was hanging out with a group of friends and one person vulgarly said, “…then I busted a nut…” Everyone was impressed, but me not understanding that terminology, very innocently, I asked, “What’s bust a nut?”

They all thought that was the most comical thing. Then they proceeded to clown me. And even my good friend who was also still a virgin clowned me as if she knew what it was. Maybe she did. And I wasn’t so innocent to think that babies came from the stork. I just wasn’t having those conversations in my home or being exposed to sexual stuff. From that moment of sheer embarrassment, I vowed that my kids would learn about sex the right way from me.

Now, it’s difficult these days. I had in my mind that the conversation about intercourse would happen once they turned about thirteen. Yet, when my twins were about seven years old, I picked them up from the bus stop and my son had a very interesting question for me, “Mami, what does this mean?” and he proceeded to imitate um, performing falacio. My heart almost exploded in my chest. On that day, I informed the school that my children would no longer ride the bus and that they would be dropped off by me and picked up by my husband. Seriously, how was this happening? That conversation still had six years to take place, yet there I was being faced with talking about a thing I didn’t feel my children were ready to learn about.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, a similar question arises, but this time he has the vocabulary to formulate exactly what the act is. I told his father, “It’s time to have a conversation with these kids.” So, that happened this weekend.

Now of course, no kid wants to sit there and have their parents talk about the horizontal tango. It’s like having your eyes poked with a cactus needle. “Oh God, end it now….” I can imagine, were among the many thoughts racing through their minds. Yet, after about five minutes and allowing them to ask questions and not dismissing their questions, it was a good conversation.

I won’t get into all the details, but some of the things we discussed:

  • The importance of not having sex for sport. It is an act that requires careful consideration
  • If you are in a situation when you get older and you feel the need to do “it” to use protection if you’re not ready to be a parent
  • To consider STDs and the risks of having unprotected sex
  • That what ever happens in your bedroom is between you and that person
  • Safety. This one was mainly for my daughter. Not to accepts drinks from people for the possibility of being drugged

Now, both of my children have experience in Brazilian Jujitsu and kickboxing and so do I. I am seriously considering, putting them back into training when COVID precautions are lifted and it’s safer. I want my daughter to be able to jack a dude up if he doesn’t understand the word, “NO!”

As for my son, I have explained to him numerous times, not to succumb to the pressures of having sex too soon, just because others having it. And also, he is not to be in any situations with a young lady that can lead them both into trouble. He’s been told to keep his hands to himself and that the word, “no,” means just that. All actions after the word, no, should come to a halt and he is to exit stage left or right. There is no gray area. And that what a woman is wearing is none of his business. Periodt!

After the conversation, my husband asked me if I thought everything was good. I said, “It’s a start, but this is just the first of many conversations.” We will have to stay diligent and keep reinforcing the information. It has to be so ingrained in them that when the situation arises, they have a good inkling of what to do. Also, we want them to feel comfortable addressing issues with us before finding themselves in a predicament.

Having the talk does not mean children are going to run out and engage in the act. It simply means we are providing them with educated guidance about the act. We cannot be with our children 24/7. Ultimately, they are responsible for their decisions. I’d just prefer to equip mine with accurate responsible information, so they can make better choices.

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For The Napturals

Jumping for joy
Dancing in the streets
It’s a celebration
A celebration of me!
Twenty long years
Held in captivity
To a European standard
Of how I should be
Liberated mentally
Was blind
Now, I see
The Almighty Creator
Made no mistakes on me
Loving the skin I’m in
The kinks on top of my head
Power to all my curly-haired people
It’s a Celebration I said
So chop it off
‘Fro it out
Rock them braids
Blow it on out
Twist it up; twist it out
Sport them knots
Own those locs
Celebrate life
Celebrate your beauty
Celebrate your crown
Believe me, it’s your glory

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Heaven & Ecstasy

Ever since the first moment I knew
Your eyes held me captive
Something about the first kiss
Peppermint drizzled in chocolate
We exist beyond simple subtleties
Idle pleasantries
I am you
You are me
We
Are simply
God’s example of two being
Tried and tested
Neither perfect
Yet a love perfected
We feed off moonbeams
Bathe in the sun’s rays
Dwell on top of clouds
At us, the stars gaze
You are my rhyme
I am your reason
And with the passing of seasons
We define new reasons
Obliterating complacence
You are my essence
Decadent
Sublime
Intrinsic
I am…
Spellbound
Awe-struck
Ecstatic
As I drift
Blissfully
Somewhere between
Heaven and Ecstasy

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Yoni, The Gateway: Your Legacy Will Not Continue Through Me

I’m sitting here this morning watching a video of a live that Tonya TKO did about one day ago. The title, Black Man Cusses Out His Fetus…. This young man is on Facebook Live cussing out the woman he impregnated. “Fuck you, fuck that baby, fuck your whole family…” It’s quite troubling.

These days, it’s hard to tell whether something online is factual or if someone is doing a “thing” for clicks, likes, shares. After all, money is the root of all evil, but attention seems to be a close runner up.

Black women and women of all other races/ethnicities, we simply must understand our power. Your Yoni (womb) is the gateway to life, without your yoni, a man’s legacy cannot continue. Let me say it louder, “YOUR YONI IS THE GATEWAY TO LIFE…”

We simply must be more selective in deciding who gets to continue their legacy through us. And it’s not about who has the most money, who is the most handsome or who has the longest stroke. It’s about the man that will be good to you and will be a good father. A man that understands it takes more than dropping his juice inside of you to create a life in order to be a father. Simply put, some of these raggedy ass dudes do not deserve your Yoni. They don’t. And some will get mad, but all I’ma say is, “Is you lil mad or big mad?” And at the end of the day, it still won’t alter the facts. Making a baby does not mean anything, if you are not willing to step in and be a viable force in your child’s life.

  • Are you going to be there emotionally and physically
  • Are you going to provide financially
  • Are you going to educate
  • Are you going to instill proper values on how to be a decent human being

Being a parent is work. So ladies, knowing this, why do we subject ourselves to possibility of having to do it alone? Looking back on my first marriage, no cap, my first husband did not deserve my Yoni. I gave him two children. His legacy was able to continue through me. Yet, he was NOT a good father. I was married, but I was alone. He actually wanted more children; however, I went to the doctor to get put on birth control. I said to myself, I will not allow another one of your seeds to pass through me. Periodt. And from there, eventually, I ended up being a single mother for several years before meeting my current husband.

I don’t look down on single mothers or fathers because at the end of the day, you’ve made the choice to do what needs to be done. I’ve been a single mother so I would not hate on single mothers or look down my nose since I finally found a man that understands what fathering a child means. What I am doing, is asking the very necessary question, “Why give your Yoni to just anyone?”

Some of these dudes present themselves as unworthy off the bat. When I was single going through the dating phase, I used to think, there is no hope. I’d meet a guy and he’d talk about all these different baby mamas, some of the children close together in age. SO, that tells me that he was out their raw dogging it with multiple women at the same time. Bruh, that’s nasty.

Or I’d talk to a guy, and he’d mention having kids, but never talk about spending time with the kids, that’s a red flag. If you’re not taking care of the ones you already have, how are you intending to start a relationship with a woman that has two? Make that make sense.

Your Yoni(womb) is the gateway to life. You decide who gets to continue their legacy through you. If you’re in a situation where you just want to get your rocks off, do it safely and use protection. There are guys out here with messed up mentalities. Their mouths are foul, their energy is sketchy, they can barely take care of themselves and they only see the Yoni as a place to release their seed. Why would I want a gardener that only knows how to plant seeds? I want my gardener to be able to grow them as well. And being a gardener is hard work. And to be honest, some are just not up to the task. It’s sad, but it’s true.

Now, some will get mad when reading this. But as I said before, “Are you lil mad or big mad?” The truth still remains the same.

Ladies, our Yoni is the gateway to life. You decide who gets to carry their legacy through you.

YONI POWER!

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Grappling With Love, Chap 2

Not far from the gym, on the east side, an area that some referred to as little Mexico on the account of all the Mexican businesses in the area. There were clothing stores, mechanic shops, salons, bakeries, grocery stores and most importantly, taquerias!

They sat at a quaint Taqueria about three tables from the door. People entered, walked right up to the counter to place orders for sopes and quesadillas. Some Ranchero played in the background.

Toni was on her third taco, “This is so good.” Sabastian smiled, “Gotta love a woman with a healthy appetite.” He bit into his second taco. Carson sat and watched as he sipped on a bottled water.

 “Dude are you seriously only going to eat one taco?” Asked Sebastian. “Right? Who does that?” added Toni.

“My metabolism is not like yours or yours. I have to watch my carb intake.”

 “Well, if you’re not going to eat that” she reached onto his plate, “I’ll just give this taco a temporary home.”

Sebastian laughed.

“Antionette.”

“Geesh Carson, calling me by my dreaded government name. That’s low.”

He sipped his water. For a moment it was quiet. Sebastian spoke, “So, in five months we graduate.” He smiled.

Toni sighed.

 “What’s wrong?

 “I don’t know. It’s like, I’m excited, but I’m also nauseous. You guys have your lives pretty much mapped out. You’ll work with your dad and you have the offer in Cali. But me, I’m just over here pulling guard with dreams and getting choked out.”

 “You have a bright future ahead. Just follow your heart.” Said Sebastian

Carson sucked his teeth, “What are you talking about Toni? I told you my mother has connections with the school board. She can definitely get you in for a teaching job at one of the best schools in this county.”

She nodded, “I know, but—”

“There’s no buts. It’s the perfect opportunity. I mean what else could you possibly want to do?”

She eyed him annoyingly, “Well, my actual degree is in Marketing. And I kind of do this thing online with making content centered around sports. The players, their careers and how they make a difference in their communities.”

He scoffed, “Really. Toni. Why would you take a chance on something that would barely make you any money?”

“I don’t know bro, those content creators get paid…ching ching.”

“Yeah, but that usually for ones that look a certain way. Like really you know…”

 It got quiet. Her eyebrow lifted, “What do you mean?”

“You know, like” he motioned with his hands for big breasts, “and long hair and all done up, the super pretty kind.”

She scoffed; her head turned to Sebastian, then back to Carson. Sebastian face palmed himself, “Bro, bro—”

She stood, “I’m going to take my ragged, dog-faced, small titty ass over there and get some more salsa.” She smiled sarcastically before marching off.

“I didn’t mean it like that.” He belted out then quickly lowered his voice when everyone eyed him. He looked over at Sebastian whom shook his head. “What?”

 “Nada.”

 “Don’t nada me. You shouldn’t be encouraging her with that foolishness anyway.”

Sebastian looked over at Toni. Sure, she didn’t have big boobs, but she was a shapely woman, fit, toned and statuesque. She wore the sides of her hair shaved with designs, the top in a curly bun. She had the deepest chocolate skin that was smooth as porcelain.

“I’m just being a good friend. Clearly she has reservations about teaching kids all day every day.”

“What do you know?”

“I think I know. My mom is a teacher. And it’s hard enough for the ones that want to do it.” Sebastian snapped back. Carson rolled his eyes. He was about to speak, but Toni returned. She sat down, placed her salsa on the table along with a box, “Are you guys ready?” They both nodded, then they gathered the trash, cleared the table and left.

To be continued…

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Ms. Sadie

A few months ago, a young woman posted a video in which she stated, “If a man asked me out on a date and it was for coffee…I’d show up like this.” Her appearance was from the classic IDGAF fall collection, a pair of flannel pj bottoms, a worn-out t-shirt and a bonnet.

An older woman commented on her video explaining to her that there is nothing wrong with a man offering to take you out for a cup of coffee. You don’t have to go dressed for a winter ball, but presentable and groomed is good.

She then proceeded to cuss the older woman out and stated that her way of thinking was too old fashion, and a cup of coffee isn’t a date. Then the older woman stated, “I thought you guys looked at me as an internet auntie. I only give kind reasonable advice.”

I then chimed in and said, “Your advice was fine. I totally understood what you were saying.” So, someone told me, “How would you know, do you have any experience with dating and relationships.”

Lol, sit back young’un and let me learn you a thing or two. I responded, “When I met my now husband, our first date costed less than $30. We went out Latin dancing, which costed ten dollars for the man and I got in free. Afterwards, we went to breakfast at Denny’s, which was less than $20. The whole purpose of a date is to get to know a person to see if you are compatible.”

I later posted a video explaining, I never expected my then boyfriend to spend hundreds of dollars on a date. A date is for getting to know a person to determine if you are ready to take steps toward building a relationship. You’re asking questions, finding out likes and dislikes, telling funny stories, etc. Once you’re in the relationship, you can explore things like having your mate spoil you. And trust me, I’m spoiled, but within reason. I don’t make my husband spend unnecessary money and we always make sure our priorities are taken care of before we go on trips or he buys me some piece of jewelry. Also, I told the young lady, “If I had not continued dating the man I now call husband, how would I have known that he would be the one to enrich my life on so many levels. My husband is responsible with money, also savvy with saving and investing.

She missed the whole point of what dating is. Yet, she is not the only one. When did it become rude to offer guidance to the youth? When I was 18 years old, I had a 60 year old friend named, Ms. Sadie. She was old enough to be my grandmother, yet, there we were hanging out on occasions riding around New Orleans in that long Oldsmobile or Cadillac. She would give me the most sound advice, gems, and I would take in her wisdom with gratitude.

There were other women that I knew whom were friends with my mother or my aunts that would offer good advice as well. Taking good council from the elders seems to be a thing of the past. I being almost 46, would love to offer correction to some of these young women just out here wildin’, but I don’t have the energy to deal with somebody cussing me out. Look Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” I’m more like, “If you go low, I’m tempted to meet you in hell.” Therefore, I see a lot and I just keep it moving.

I don’t know if we will ever get back to a place where we are gracious for a person taking the time to steer us in the right direction.

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What’s the most out-of-character choice you’ve ever made? Day 29

Most people know that I’ve been married twice. The first marriage was many moons ago, when I was young and foolish. It was a toxic situation where I was manipulated, abused, and taken advantage of. In fact, the night I left him, I didn’t even know if I’d escape the situation alive. So, needless to say, I didn’t have a fond relationship with this person even though he is the father of two of my children.

I was still in the military and going through the pains of a failed marriage and I decided that I needed to forgive this ex-husband. Not because he asked for my forgiveness, but because I needed to be able to move pass the pain and disappointment in order to be ready for a future with someone else.

Now, I was a young Staff Sergeant at the time with two elementary school children. My days were long. Not only did I have a household to run solo, but I also had to run a section complete with people that worked under me. After a long day of work, I prepared to go pick the kids up from the after school program, I get a call on my old fashion flip-style cellphone complete with the polyphonic ringtone.

The phone number wasn’t one I recognized, but I answered anyway. “You have a collect call from,” insert his name there. I was like, I haven’t heard from this dude in nearly a year and now he’s calling me collect, the audacity, especially since he had not sent one cent to take care of his kids…

Every thing in me wanted to just hang up, but I felt convicted, so I accepted the call. He was calling me from a jail in Pensacola. Now, I was wondering, what the hell he was still doing in Florida after we broke up. I expected him to move back to Louisiana, but I guess he had other plans. He asked me to help him. He was being released from jail and needed a ride to Louisiana.

I felt some type of way of course. I wondered why the hell he called me and not his mother. Why was I being asked this? Even worse, it was a week day and I didn’t want to be alone in the car with him because he was often violent and unreasonable. I told him, the only thing I would consider, would be dropping him off half-way in Mobile and he would need to get his mom or sister to pick him up. He said he would coordinate it and I told him, I’d see him in 45 minutes or so…that was the time it took to drive to P-cola.

I had a home girl-sister-friend that lived in Crestview. I asked if she would be down with taking that ride. She’s from Cleveland, Ohio and was just as rowdy as me, she was down for the adventure. So, we left her husband in charge of all the kids and the dog and headed out.

When we arrived at the location, he came to the car. His face was shocked when he realized I brought company. He got in the back seat of my Nissan Altima smelling like ten packs of get back. Me and my friend looked at each other like, “What in the entire world?” I immediately turned off the air conditioner and rolled down all four windows. That was the longest smelliest drive I had ever taken. As soon as I got to Mobile, AL and saw his mother sitting in the parking lot, I waved as he got out and drove off.

The relationship between my ex and I has evolved into a peaceful one. We are not friends by any sense of the word. However, I know that life has dealt with him handedly for all the poor choices he has made concerning me, his children, and other women that he’s abused. He’s never asked for my forgiveness, yet I know that he feels remorse. I can detect it in his actions when I see him on my visits to NOLA to visit his mother.

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The Icarus Phenomenon

Are you familiar with the story of Icarus the son of Daedalus? It’s a story of Greek Mythology where Daedalus constructed his son a pair of wings made from wax and feathers to escape imprisonment. However, dear Icarus flew too close to the sun and met his demise at the bottom of the sea as he drowned.

It’s a tale that teaches us about the dangers of power, how once consumed with the ability, but not the actual experience sprinkled with being over confident it can lead to our demise.

well…

Now why am I talking about an ancient myth? Well honey are you ready for me to spill this tea? Naw, just kidding, but on a serious note, my social media platforms have been blowing up with the news of how Derrick Jaxn, relationship expert/life coach has been cheating on his wife.

When I first heard it, I thought to myself, this is strange…and is it true? Because you never know the motives of people that come forward with this type of information.

Once I heard all the different angles and watched his live that he and his wife did on yesterday I was on the fence about the whole situation.

Here’s the thing, we all have the ability to use our platforms and spread whatever messages we see fit. You, the consumer, have to ask yourself a few things…

  • Is this person credible? Can the information be verified; is it coming from someplace real?
  • What credentials do they have? Degrees, Certifications, Licenses, workshops
  • How much experience do they have advising in the matter they claim to be well versed in? How old is the person and how many years/experience do they have with this topic
  • Are they transparent? (this is an important one!) Is the person real about their own situation?
  • Is the message being presented coincide with areas of your life that need tweaking

I don’t have anything against Derrick Jaxn. I actually enjoyed listening to his view points. I know that he caters to single women. He helps empower them not to perpetuate behaviors that keep them in toxic relationships. This is where you as the consumer have to learn how to separate the message from the messenger. I know that sounds weird. However, at times, especially with social media, it’s necessary. We have adopted this philosophy of seeing the glittery side of a person. Then we place them up on a high pedestal, then when they make a mistake…the world shakes their finger at them, “how could you?!” People are human and they should be allowed room to make mistakes and room to grow.

My advice to anyone following any relationship channel is this…if a person is coaching you on how to get your anything right, are they being transparent about how their specific anything is going? For instance, if I profess to be a relationship coach and I’m telling you all these factors on how to be in a successful relationship, yet, I never talk about my significant other, my relationship status is ambiguous at best…that’s a red flag. Notice, I didn’t say that I had to be perfect, just transparent. I personally like to work with people that are “real.” I wanna know that you messed up and what you did to fix it. And I think this is where our relationship guru found himself flying a little too close to the sun.

How can you profess to women “not to be a rehabilitation center for broken men,” when you yourself are doing the same thing to the woman you profess to love? It’s a contradiction and a very hypocritical one at that. So, I can understand why so many Black men have taken to the internet to, as they say, “come for him.” It’s because you’ve presented yourself as this shiny mineral above all minerals and it turns out, you were glass just like the rest of them.

Now, I don’t agree with kicking a person when they are already down, but I do believe in holding people accountable for their actions. So, yes, he has explaining to do, especially to all the women that have been following his advice. And to the men that have decided to drag him, I can only say this, “just because the messenger was flawed, doesn’t mean the message is.” You can still learn the positive attributes of the man’s message.

  • Don’t play games in a relationship
  • Be Accountable for your actions
  • Don’t expect a woman to go through hell because you have issues
  • Keep your promises
  • Be more selective in the women you choose to bed
  • Don’t make a woman a baby momma if you have no intentions to make her your wife

Now, are there issues that women need to address, yes, of course there are. However, you can only control your actions. If you want to be seen as the leader, take ownership and understand what the roles of being a responsible man are before stepping into a person’s life. Let your actions prove you to be a great man of God that a wise woman would be honored to call her husband.

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What Aboutism–It’s Just Counterproductive…

First, I want to take time to remember the victims that were killed in the hate crime in Atlanta last week. These are the names that have been released from what I saw on Washington Post.

Xiaojie Tan

Delaina Yaun

Paul Andre Michels

Daoyou Feng

Yong Ae Yue

Hyun Jung Grant

Soon Chung Park

Suncha Kim

There was one survivor Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz.

Although the officials have not labeled this a hate crime, I can read between the lines. When a man drives pass numerous strip clubs to an area that is predominately Asian with Asian women business owners, we can deduce that his intentions were to harm Asian women. And it’s not the first time a young White male has targeted “specific areas” to harm a particular group of people.

  • The Charleston Church Shooting
  • The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
  • The El Paso Shooting

And usually when this happens, we get to hear a myriad of excuses and reasons why these men did what they did:

  • They had a bad day
  • They were having financial issues
  • They had a sex addiction
  • They had some mental issues

We get to empathize with the murder, completely overshadowing the lives that were lost and the families that have to deal with the aftermath of these heartless actions.

Let’s face it, we all have bad days and most people have some sort of mental issue they are dealing with. I truly believe that there are two types of people, the diagnosed and the undiagnosed.

With all that being said, the Asian American community has faced a severe increase in the number of hate crimes. The only way I was made aware of this was by Asian Creators using their TikTok platforms to spread awareness. About one month ago, a story finally aired on CNN. And after last week’s shooting, the Asian American community is finally able to have their stories told on a larger scale.

Here’s the thing. It seems like when anything happens with a group of minorities, someone whether it’s out of ignorance, or sheer stupidity will shout “Where is Black Lives Matter?”

I have done a few videos explaining what BLM mission is: “#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.”

-there are people that march directly in support of the organization

-there are those that simply agree that Black Lives Matter and should be offered the same protections under the law as others.

As a Black person, I stand with Asian Americans as I have stood with other POCs during their times of need. It’s not transactional. I don’t do it because I want some kind of pat on the back, I do it because it’s the humane thing to do. NO ONE should be afraid to simply exist because of the color of their skin or the phenotypes they possess. And for the record, Asian Americans did march along side us in 2020.

I do realize that not all Black People feel the same way. We are not a monolith and I respect people’s decision to stand or not stand. Reasons explained by other Black People, “There is so much anti-Blackness in the Asian community. Why should we support them?”

  • Ah there it is…what aboutism…what about this and what about that.

You do realize that pitting minorities and I use that term relatively, honestly there are more people of color than there are non-people of color, is a tool of White Supremacy to pit us against each other. We are fight each other for no reason, other than the negative stereotypes that have been fed to them about AA or this “model minority” stereotype that has been slapped on Asia Americans and fed to us.  Meanwhile we can’t fight the real issue, which is White Supremacy and racism.

Growing up in New Orleans, I had decent relationships with Asian Americans. And that’s not to discount the experiences of others. I’ve seen the videos and I’ve heard the things that were down right appalling. Yet, I know that that’s not the behavior of “ALL” Asian Americans.

And if we’re talking about anti-Blackness in the Asian community, let’s be clear, there is anti-Blackness in the Black community as well.

  • Brown paper bag skin tone tests
  • Black men referring to dark-skin sisters as crows/gorilla’s
  • Saying things like “good hair” etc…praising European phenotypes and shunning African ones.

We have a lot to correct and it begins with each of us acknowledging that yes, there is anti-Blackness and it exists throughout the world. It was taught to us. The real question is, how do we break the cycle? We start by seeing each other. I mean really seeing each other. Taking time to talk to each other. In doing so, I believe we would determine, we have a lot more in common than we could have imagined.

I love the experience of meeting people from different ethic backgrounds because it opens me up to something different. A new language, new music, and especially food!

Like I said previously, you can take whatever stance you want, it’s your right. However, what aboutism will not close the gap between building relationships with the African American and Asian American Communities. Its sort of like walking down the street, seeing two people trying to move a car out of the road. Then you walk up and begin a tirade of, “I remember last week, my car broke down and no one helped me. I be damned if I help anyone move a dang car, shoot, whatever, I ain’t doing nothing…”

Meanwhile the two people are like, “Okay!! Then leave!” But you insist on continuing with the negative comments. That’s so counterproductive to the cause. If you don’t have anything genuine to offer, then just keep it moving. Let the people who want to help, help. Just don’t engage in what aboutism, it does nothing but annoy the shit out of people.

At the end of the day, we all belong to the human race. And the only fight we should be engaged in is the one to end racism.

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Yo Volvi! (I’m Back)

Maybe you noticed. I hadn’t posted in a few days. We took the kids to Daytona Beach. One might say, “Why the heck did you leave one beach to go visit another?” (laughs profoundly to myself) Well, it’s simple…I needed to get away to break up the monotony. Get away from chores, bills, and WORK!!! Plus, I had only been to Daytona once driving through from North Carolina in 2017 with a van of five people headed to Orlando for Christmas Vacation. This was an opportunity for me to really see Daytona and what it had to offer.

I’ll be writing more about my travel excursions in another blog. I had a blog called Out N About with Q on Go Daddy, but they messed up my site. So, I’ll do another one. For the most part the trip was awesome and we got some great eats…the only thing I have to complain about is that old man winter did a pop-up visit. It’s that weird time of year in Florida and most places where winter and spring are grappling for, “who got next.”

I’m trying to decide if I’m going to pick up where I left off on the 30-day challenge or just pick up on day 20. Maybe, I’ll just pick up with day 20…

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Do You Have an Accent?

Have you ever started talking to someone when suddenly, they stop you and ask, “Where are you from?”

I’m from New Orleans. When I first moved to NJ after basic training, I was constantly being asked, “Where are you from?” It was hilarious. Most of the people stationed at McGuire were from the North East so they had similar accents, but they could never figure out my accent.

I never really thought I had one, but clearly people either couldn’t understand me because, I spoke fast and choppy and I also used colloquialisms from NOLA.

Since I’ve been away from NOLA for more than 20 years, my accent is not as strong as it used to be, but there are times when it appears:

  • When I’m speaking to people from Orleans, Jefferson, Lafourche, or St. Bernard Parish
  • When I say certain words such baby, daily, crazy.
  • And lastly, when I’m mad! (It’s strong)

There are certain phrases that we say in NOLA. Usually, when I hear people say any of these things, I know they are either from my home town or hang with people from NOLA.

  • Ha, no, yeah following a sentence. I’m not going, no. I’m over here, yeah. That’s your car, ha.
  • Cher-  My love
  • Marraine or Nanane/Porrain-Godmother/Godfather
  • Beaucoup- a lot
  • Ya heard me! Do you feel me, do you understand
  • Yes, indeed- I’m shocked, I can’t believe it.
  • Where y’at- where are you?
  • Neutral Ground- median
  • Making groceries- buy groceries
  • By my house- Come over to my house
  • ‘cross da river- I’m going across the river
  • I want a po-boy dressed- give me a shrimp sandwich with lettuce, tomato, pickles, hot sauce, mayo and ketchup
  • Ha, brah- I agree my brother
  • Fa’sho, ya dig and Fa’true: That’s true or I agree
  • Cold drink-any soda period…don’t bring me no water or tea…lol
  • Who dat!- that’s our chant, all day!
  • Ya Mama’nem- how is your family
  • Whodi- a term of endearment meaning friend

What are some colloquial things that help you recognize people from your home town?

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Do African American Women Date Down Part IV

After the recent viral video of aa AA man telling an AA woman that she would die alone because she was average at best, I decided to explore the plight of relationships between AA men and AA women. It’s a series that I have been writing over the past month. However, it’s an issue that I’ve studied over the past 20 years. Mainly because I had noticed that when it comes to holding down Black men, there is no greater supporter than the Black woman.  Yet, when it comes to the protection of BW, we don’t always receive that same energy. It’s 2021 and the AA woman is still the most disrespected person in the USA. Instances include but are not limited to:

  • Black men getting on the Internet stating they prefer White women because Black women…
  • I saw another video yesterday where a Black man professed, “Date a Black woman or go blind.” Then the music queues, “I’d rather go blind…” Then he moves the camera to show him lying next to a White Woman.
  • Another video of a Black man at a dinner with his White friends saying, “Here’s to more light skinned babies.”
  • The jokes about Meg the Stallion after she was shot
  • The jokes/insults/resistance about Kamala Harris when she was first announced as the VP candidate.
  • A black woman being stranded overseas by a BM. He texted his friend about how he cancelled her flight and they proceed to share cry laugh face emojis. The list goes on and I tire.

And before anyone feels triggered…I know it’s not all men. However, there are far too many that fall into this category and not enough of the good ones checking the misguided ones.

For Instance, after that viral video, a lot of men were coming to the man’s defense. They claimed that he was stating facts and people just don’t want to hear the truth. One guy even said, the woman had self-esteem issues, and admitted that she dated down. He even went on to say that AA women tend to date down, which puts them at a disadvantage because they pick losers and end up as single mothers.

I can remember responding to the video stating, “I understand that situations occur that lead to unplanned pregnancies; however, that does not absolve a man from taking care of his responsibilities. Why is the BW being blamed entirely?”

It took two to tango, therefore, if a child becomes part of the equation, then…two people should be responsible for the life they created. Regardless to whether the woman “dated down.”

The question still remains to be answered, “Do Black women date down?” It’s a sticky question. I do believe there is some truth to this. Why? AA men are two times likely to marry outside of their race and AA women are least likely to date/marry outside their race. When you consider the fact that women nearly outnumber men 2:1, mass incarceration, the school to prison pipeline, lynching of Black Men still continues, the pool of available AA men continues to shrink.

And if you’re an AA woman that is determined to be with an AA man, it can be daunting trying to find a match when you factor in all these issues.

Now, if this gentleman said AA women are dating down—I assume he means financially. Let’s face it, BW are the number one most educated group in the USA. Out enrolling BM in colleges/universities. When this happens, BW are more likely to put themselves in a position to be high earners. If a BW is looking for a man that can match her financially, the dating pools shrinks even more. Why? AA men that are high earners are more likely to marry outside of their race. What are the options for AA women?

  • Date a person that makes less and hopefully the person has good intentions, goals and plans to build financially
  • Date outside your race…and we know there is often backlash for BW that date outside their race
  • Play the waiting game and hopefully you meet one while yon can still shake your tailfeather.

At any rate, this is the thing I want AA women to focus on, we already know when it comes to protection, we are working with slim pickings and the darker you are on that ebony spectrum, it becomes even more dire. We have to look out for ourselves and each other.

Our fathers set the stage for how we are treated. If the relationship is nonexistent or the bar was set low…when we encounter someone that gives us the slightest bit of validation…we might be fooled into thinking that what we are accepting is all we are worth. Especially in situations where you end up in a toxic relationship. Or you end up with someone using up all your resources and not contributing, or someone who will not build a relationship with your children, if you have any.

Yet, regardless to whether there was a strong male figure in your life, I’m here to tell you, “YOU ARE WORTHY and YOU ARE ENOUGH!”

If you have daddy issues, take time to work through those issues before entering into a relationship. This will give you time to figure out yourself, fall in love with yourself and determine what it is you want in a partner.

Once you find a potential partner, take time to get to know this person, peel back the layers, dig deep, falling in love with all the perfect imperfections.

And if you decide to marry outside your race, don’t let anyone make you feel like you did something wrong or had to settle. Honestly, being in the military opened my eyes to dating outside of my race. You can make connections with men of other races…just saying, open ya options up. Just make sure you’re actually establishing a connection and not fetishizing a person.

Lastly, mad love to the amazing AA men that protect and provide for AA women allowing them to walk in their feminine energy in a positive way, to the ones that call out the actions of the ones that don’t and to the ones that don’t disrespect AA women in order to praise another race of women.

P.S. I love and respect AA men. I just care enough about you to want to see you do better. And doing better begins with protecting that which you come from regardless of your dating preference.

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Hi Everyone

I just wanted to hello to all my past and present followers. It means a lot that you take time to read my posts. heart emoji!!! Anyways, I’m just a fun loving gal from the south, currently living in FL…the land of extreme hotness, humidity, love bugs and gnats. But It’s also very pretty here in the area I live with all the beaches, lakes, ponds and rivers. I see so much wild life, it’s amazing.

If you’re wondering what my genre is…I don’t have one specifically. I just right about life and occasionally, I throw a poem, short story or snippets from screenplays I’ve written in the mix.

I have been working on doing a podcast. I have two episodes if you wanna check those out, https://anchor.fm/laquinta-sanchez/episodes/Black-Women-and-Masculine-Energy-esduv1

Have a great day!!! Happy Writing…

Grappling with Love, Part 17

The day had finally wound down. Carson decided to stop by his parents’ house before heading home. When he arrived, he was surprised to see so many cars around the house. He knocked, the door opened, his mother reached for him with a hug, “Come in son.”

“Is there a party no one told me about?” He asked as they made their way to the dining room. He saw Nechelle there with her uncle and aunt. He spoke to everyone. His mother had a huge smile on her face, “We heard about the extraordinary news. A baby!”

Carson eyed Nechelle. She shrugged, “Your mother asked me over to help plan your graduation party and I got sick. She figured it out.”

They all congratulated them. He nodded and smiled. His brother noticed his nervous reaction, “Don’t worry I can give you tips on how to be great dad.” His wife rubbed his arm, “He sure can. He’s the best husband and father.”

His mother clasped her skinny fingers adorned with jewels, “I was thinking, we could just do a small ceremony instead. Save on some money and later we could do a bigger celebration. Everyone chimed in with ideas. For Carson, the room began to spin, he felt light headed, suddenly he dropped like a sack of potatoes. There was commotion to make sure he was okay. The men lifted him, brought him into the sitting room and sat him on a recliner. Slowly he came to with all those sets of eyes on him.

**********************

There was an amazing three-story home not far from downtown that sat on a lot all to itself. Plenty of yard space, a huge iron fence and a long driveway, which led to the home. This was the home of Ms. Agnes. Toni’s mother’s best friend from college. They were sorors. She gave Toni the house-sitting job to keep an eye on her dog. She hated to leave him in kennels when she was away. She rather he be with a familiar face.

Toni was in the back yard throwing a ball to Matty. He hurried out and caught it each time, returning it to her for a pat on the head, “who’s a handsome dog.” He barked, as if to say, “me!!!”

Just as they were winding down, her cellphone sounded. She answered, “Hey.”

“Hey, I was just um, I don’t know driving around. Thinking that we haven’t had tacos in while. I can bring some over of you up for it.”

She laughed, “I’m definitely hungry. Matty and I just finished playing outside.” He barked. Then he went to his water bowl.

“Okay, text me the address and I’ll be over.” The call ended and moments later, he drove up in awe. The gate opened and he drove through and parked next to Toni’s car.

She greeted him outside with Matty. Matty was excited to see a new visitor. She took the bag of food from Sebastian and invited him inside. He looked around, “This is a nice house.”

She nodded, “It is. She’s done well for herself. Come let’s eat.” They sat at the bar in the kitchen eating and talking. “So have you figured out where you’re headed after your world trip?”

“Louisiana or Florida. Probably get me a pet Dolphin or a manatee. Maybe even a pelican.”

He laughed, “I’m pretty sure there are laws against that.”

She laughed. “Yeah, probably.

Afterwards, they migrated to a sitting room to watch some old videos of UFC fights. They commented and hollered at the fighters on screen as if they could hear and as if they didn’t already know the outcome of the matches. “are you going to keep training?” He asked. “Most def. Live to roll. Roll to live.”

It was late. He looked at the time, but he hesitated. She stood and turned to him. She motioned for him to stand. “What’s this?” He asked. He knew the look she gave when she wanted to roll. “Let’s roll.” She said.

“Naw. The floor is hard. I mean, it’s carpet, but it’s not—”

She grabbed his shoulders, pushed one side back and the other forward until she placed him in a rear choke hold, then brought him down to the floor gently. He sat between her legs. She released and he turned. She had him in her guard, “Toni.” She pulled his collar bringing his face within inches of her. She gave him a quick peck on the lips, then hip bumped him over until she was on top of him. “So, you’re just going to make this easy for me?” She laughed. “So do you want to stay, or should I let you leave?”

“Um, I thought last night was just a one time deal.” He replied, but he really only said it just to say it. She nodded. Moved her hair back, “You’re right.” Just as she was about to roll off of him, he flipped her and was on top, “I mean. I guess. We can. I mean, if you really want to.” She pulled him down, placed her mouth on his.

Matty walked right next to them and barked. They looked at him and laughed. “Maybe we should take this to the room.”

When they stepped inside the room, she attempted to remove his clothes, but he said, “Let me.” He kissed her mouth and undid her pants. He stopped gazed into her eyes with authority and turned her around. He pulled her closer to him until their bodies were connected. One hand rubbed her breasts and the other strummed her below. She smiled, “I like it.”

He pulled down her pants and she bent over holding the foot of the bed as he found his way inside. Stroke after stroke until she melted and called out his name, “Sebastian.” He stopped. She turned to him; legs still weak. Their lips connected, he said in Spanish, “I’m not finished.” He lifted her up in his arms and continued. They ended up in the bed, lying in each other’s arms, still catching their breath. He asked, “should I leave?”

“No. now, we sleep.” She placed her arm across his waist and fell asleep. His kissed the top of her head and moments later, he drifted off.