You Don't Know Me

I've decided that I want to share 30 secrets about myself over the next few days. I'm not sure why, but I'll share them all once I get them together. Currently my gmail status is the outlet. I'm going to see where it goes from there.

I usually do a few a day, and Secret #8 is: I used to (and still do in some situations) absolutely hate admitting to my educational background... I feel like people miss who I really am in all that.

From a very early age, my mother stressed and pushed good education. She did what she had to to ensure that I got the best education possible. That meant private school, and then I was accepted into a prestigious university afterwards.

My high school is very well known in the Southeast and holds it's own even in the face of the more popular and older Northeastern boarding schools. But of course in my hometown, everyone knew about the Garret* kids. Our uniforms gave us away and we had a reputation for being smarter than smart.

Truth is, I went to high school with a lot of not-so smart kids and that the difference between my high school and my public school friends' high schools was that we were afforded opportunities that they weren't, but ultimately, it was up to us to take advantage of those opportunities. You can see that in the fact that of the 14 other black students (and I highlight this demographic for a reason) I graduated with 5 years ago, 3 of us have a college degree, 2-3 are still in school and the rest... well... who knows?

I set all that up because I hate when people find out about my educational background and use that as their basis for judging me. Usually in the end, I'm deemed not black enough, not down enough and stuck-up. Over the years I've come to not really care what people think about my "blackness" because ultimately that's not for someone to give or take away from me. However, I am bothered by this thought that because I have had, admittedly, great educational opportunities, I'm not who I am solely because of that. It has shaped a lot of who I am an dhas given me so many awesome experiences that other people can only dream about. But I am who I am not because of the schools I can say I attended, but because of my life's experiences inside and outside of the classroom.

More than that, I find myself disturbed that people want to make me feel small because of it. As I've gotten older, I've learned that some of it is intimidation. People think they will feel stupid talking to me and they try to beat me to the punch. I take great care to make anyone I come in contact with feel comfortable talking to me because feeling intimidated is never a good thing.

My intimidation factor is a whole other issue.

Anyway -- you don't know me unless you know me, and there's no way you can know me if you're taking all your opinions of me from 2 facts: where I went to highschool and where I went to college. And Lord, don't get me started on "talking white..."

*Not really the name of my school.


Rejection, Friendships, etc...

This one might be a little more random and stream of consciousness (SoC) than my usual posts. That's ironic, because my life is one big SoC... if I could communicate effectively in SoC everyday, I totally would. I was just telling a friend the other day that I don't always feel like the people in my world get me. I feel like they don't understand what I'm trying to say when I say it. I'm so sarcastic and facetious and inappropriate. I get that makes it hard to understand when I'm being serious and when I'm not. Usually, I'm both. That's not fair and I get that.

None of that has to do with anything I have to say going forward, so that oughta let you know what you're in for.

First up, rejection. I don't deal well with rejection. Like not at all. It's a character flaw that I'm not sure how to change or remedy. I have such a fear of rejection that I avoid it. How does one avoid rejection, you ask? They stay away from situations where rejection may happen. And just like you think, that means I'm missing out on a LOT.

My fear of rejection holds me back from being completely honest with those closest to me. I had a long conversation with my mom about how I need to start taking care of me, first. I have a bad habit of putting others needs ahead of my own at ALL times. I used to do it because in focusing on those around me, I didn't have to pay any attention to my own mess. Now, I do it because I don't know how to do it differently. It doesn't even occur to me to say "no" when I don't want to do something. And by the time it does, I'm past frustrated.

The thing about me getting frustrated is that that's the point where I blow up. Don't get it confused -- I'm an asshole, and my friends will tell you. I'm irony in motion, so if you're confused right now, welcome to my world. Take a look around. So anyway, my mom tells me I need to stop doing that. I need to say no when I don't want to do something and stop letting people put me in situations that piss me off and frustrate me. She's right but I don't even know what the first step is. Seems pretty simple, right? Just say no. It's totally not that easy.

I digress a little, though. Not wanting to be rejected has contributed heavily to my cool, calm and collected demeanor. It's like, if I act like shit don't phase me (to quote Eminem, not just be vulgar for no reason) then I didn't really get rejected. Unfortunately, that means I've not built up the tough skin that those of you who know how to deal with rejection have. I act like stuff doesn't bother me, but really it does. And eventually I have to deal with that, and I'm not sure I do it in the most healthy of ways.

I've often wondered what about me people like. I'm not sure what that says about my perception of self, but I feel like I have a good perception of self. It's not where I want it to be. There are things about myself I wish were different that I know I can't change and shouldn't want to. But overall, I think I'm a pretty awesome person. Even still, I wonder why people want to be my friend. Why there are people who go out of there way to be my friend -- put up with my shit, my moods, my issues just to call me friend, I don't understand.

I look at my friends and ponder why I want to be friends with them and I can't figure out how to apply those things to why they want to be friends with me. It's not that I feel I'm undeserving of friends -- I'm a damn good friend. We talked about this once. But I still don't understand it. That's ok, I think.

Randomly, I've been thinking about my secrets. I did a post on secrets once. Recently someone asked me "did u think that i might find out ur worst secrets one day and hide yourself from me?" My response was "i'm not sure i have any "secrets" that I'd be too upset if you found out about. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of one I wouldn't admit to in the right situation... but I could be wrong." I've gotta be wrong, right? I mean I'm not an open book. As much as I've always thought I was, I'm really not. I realize it can be really hard to get to know me, but I don't do that on purpose. It's that rejection thing -- see, I figure if a person wants to know about me, they'll ask the right questions. If they don't ask, I don't tell, because clearly they don't want to know. But I hate being questioned (right, I know what you're thinking, this girl needs to I like to control what people know about me, because I think I'm controlling how they perceive me. And it's not so much that I think that in controlling how I'm perceived, I can make myself look better than I am, but it's more that for different people I think I know how best I fit in their lives and if I can make you see me a specific way, then you might allow me to fit the way I want to. Make sense? No? Didn't think so...

A lot of my friends... no, NONE of my friends (except one) know about this blog... that should say a lot, right? And I don't feel like I'm trying to hide, in my mind it's because I don't want to answer their questions about what I say. I want to comment on the shit they do and I do without discussing it with them. Maybe that's selfish. Me and selfish -- that's a whole OTHER issue...

Again, I digress...

I want to be an open book to the people I care most about. My ex's biggest complaint about me was that we had known each other for so long and he still felt like I wasn't telling him anything about me. I, on the other hand, thought he knew everything. But he was right -- there were parts of me I couldn't show him or anyone else because... what if he rejected it? I realize that I like to take risks, except where emotions are concerned. I can't deal with the potential for loss. I think I experienced such great loss once, that it freaks me out to think it could happen again.

So how this SoC turned into me pointing out ALL my major flaws, I'm not sure -- but I'm stopping because this is long and surely you're bored at this point.

I know there will be more.


Photo Op

This picture is making my day right now...

The Inauguration

I currently live and work in DC and so I was excited, but also a little nervous about the inauguration. While for many it was an opportunity to see our nation's capital, for those of us who call this place home, having 2-4M people coming into the city was a bit unnerving. I finally decided worrying about the insanity wasn't worth it and instead focused attention on enjoying time well-spent with friends and above all else witnessing history.

On Inauguration Day I got up at 4:00am and made my way to 1st and Louisiana NW where the entrance for purple ticket holders was. Two friends and I got into line at 5:30am and waited... and waited... and waited.

That's why I was waiting and as many people know, the vast majority of people who got purple tickets were not allowed entry. Am I frustrated? Sure. A little upset with what was obviously failure and incompetence on the part of Capitol Police who should've had this under better control? Absolutely. But a friend pointed out that ultimately, I'll always be able to say I was here, I saw the crowds and in my own way was a part of history.


Complain Less

Mila J. -- No More Complaining (no, we won't talk about how she's totally swagger jacking Aaliyah circa 1994 in this "rehearsal" video... it's the song that matters)

"No more complaining, either put up with it or let it go"

The first time I heard this song, it struck a chord with me. Ultimately, I'm the type of person who sees most things in black or white. Unfortunately this doesn't always work since so much about being human is gray area, but when it comes down to me and what's going on in my world, if I can boil it down to yes or no, a or b, 1 or 2, black or white -- I do. And that line "either put up with it or let it go" is exactly how I feel. When I first heard this song I was putting up with a lot of crap from people, especially one person. And I was doing a lot of complaining, but I wasn't personally doing anything to change the situation. I was just complaining. I had two choices... I could put up with the crap, which is what I had been doing, or I could keep it pushing -- but complaining was no longer an option. Ever since then, I've tried to remain cognizant of that ideology.

Last night, a friend of mine and I were discussing friends of ours who are complaining about their current situations but doing little to get out of it. On my end, I have a friend who isn't happy with her situation, but for every potential solution there's a problem or reason it won't work. That suggests to me that she's not miserable enough to make the necessary changes to get to where she wants to be. I told her -- it's easy peasy. You get me a plan of action and anything I can do to help you get from A to B I will do, but I can't and won't just let you whine and whine about your situation.

Sure, there are times we find ourselves in places that we don't want to be in and for a myriad of reasons we can't immediately get out of it, but if you're actively working and actively doing something to move on, then you won't have time to complain.

There are times where complaining makes us feel better. We all deserve to whine, but if you find yourself doing that a lot, then maybe you need to make a plan of action. Figure out where you want to be and what it will take to get there and write it down if you have to. But then be serious about getting out of the slump -- there's nothing attractive about people with no drive.


Gotta Go, Gotta Leave

Vivian Green - Gotta Go, Gotta Leave
Gosh she was so slept on.

Last night one of my friends called to tell me that she and her boyfriend had broken up. This makes like 5 times in a year. Always for the same reason. He's not good enough for her. And those aren't my words, those are his words.

We had a conversation about how frustrating it is for her to go back and forth with him. Ultimately, he wants the best of both worlds. He wants someone waiting for him at home, when he comes in from being out partying and doing God-knows-what-else with any female who will give him the time of day. And he's not alone in wanting that -- but most men his age understand they can't have both. They understand that if they still got some "playa, playa" in 'em, they need to go be about that (a lot of times, it's us women who don't understand that and we try to make them different, but that's a seperate topic). I personally think he's too old for the games, but hey -- to each his own.

Anyway, the point here is he told her this before. Remember, I said this makes like the 5th time and it's the same thing over and over. The problem comes in when she tells him that if they break up, it's a done deal. No hanging out, no phone calls no "free" sex. He freaks out and suddenly wants back in. Again, it's about having both and while partying is clearly the priority he wants both if the thinks he can have both. I told her that it's high time she put herself first, whatever that means. And yeah it sucks right now but he can't have it both ways and she shouldn't have to accept him having it both ways. He made a decision and there are consequences and repercussions.

I'm sure I know how this will end. Within the week he'll call, and if she answers the phone, let the games begin. If she doesnt' answer the phone, his voicemails will get steadily more nervous and concerned until he finally shows up at her house crying and saying he changed his mind. The ball is in her court and if history is a good predictor of the future -- I foresee bad things happening. :(


The Day the Music Started

I love music. I have documented so much of my life with music. I can hear certain songs and immediately return to a point in my past and re-live that point with so much imagery and feeling. I love music.

I can remember the moment when I really developed a love for the art form. I was about 8 or 9 and my cousin April was babysitting me. I've always looked up to April -- and at that time, I did especially. She had the most amazing collection of CDs I had ever seen and I always hoped to have as many as she did.

This particular afternoon, she allowed me to play her CDs. I picked TLC - CrazySexyCool. I sat on the couch and listened to every song following along in the CD jacket (remember when artists still thought enough of paying customers to tell us what the hell they were saying?) The last song on the CD is Sumthin' Wicked This Way Comes f/ Andre 3000 and it was *THAT* song that hooked me.

Everyone likes music, but I love it. Over the years, I've become open to all types and about the only type of music I just can't make a part of my collection is techno. But there's something about R&B that I adore. For me, R&B has a cool that rock doesn't have, a smooth that country doesn't have, a maturity that rap lacks.

Just thought I'd share that. :)


2009: Life, Love and Happiness

The beginning of a new year brings so much to most individuals. Many people see it as a new chance to begin again. One of my old professors had a facebook status recently that said something like "I wonder how differently academics see the start of a new year from non-academics." When you operate on the education schedule, your new year starts in August -- so for me this is first time in 22 years that January really marked the beginning of anything major.

I'm not one to attach a whole lot of meaning where there isn't meant to be one. I think you can "start over" in March or June just as easily as you can in January. I think celebrating the end of one year and the beginning of another is great, but I think it's important to remember that you can make changes all year round.

Last night I had the following text message exchange with a friend

Me: After driving my mom's car for 2wks, I got in my car and started actin' a fool. I can take a corner again!
Friend: What? Does she drive an SUV? And you are very special
Me: Yeah she does. I love hers, but heart mine. And I am special. Very special. Don't forget it.
Friend: How could I? But you might want to tame that a little.
Me: Why would I? It's worked so far... 22 yrs.

Eventually my friend said she was kidding and that I should always "do me" and I believe her; however, it got me to thinking...

I'm not comfortable with sharing my observations of close friends with them. It has been my experience that my close friends trust me enough that they would be willing to make major changes based on what I say. I don't ever intend my words to suggest to someone that they are not ok. I may tell you that you are not ok in my life, but that doesn't make you a non-ok person. It's taken me sometime to be ok with who I am, love and like who I am. Not only that, but I also realized it was important to accept that not everyone would like me, and that not only did that not necessarily say anything about them, but it also didn't say much about me.

I think our society is placing more and more (too much) emphasis on validation from others. It's nice to have other people tell you you're "good" but ultimately the only validation that matters is your own -- and you'd be surprised how quickly outside validation will come once you do that.

On a slightly unrelated note, I'm also committing to living a drama free life this year. That won't necessarily mean kicking people out of my life, but it WILL mean freely telling people that I can't participate in their madness -- and whatever that means is what it means.