I Can't Help It

This has been quite an interesting day for me.

But before I get into that, let me fill you in...

There's a guy I've known for a long time. We'll call him Will. Will and I went on a date once in high school. Nothing really came of it. We were friendly after and that was all. I do know that he once tried to get at a friend of mine (who, interestingly, he invited on our date but she declined later). From time to time, I wondered if he had tried to get to her through me.

Through high school, I was vaguely aware of Will's dating history/habits. From what I could tell, with the exception of one girl, he was really in it just to say he was. In other words, he dated certain girls just so he could say he was able to pull them, and some girls he dated just for sex. No worse than some of the guys I knew, but no stand up guy either.

At some point during college, Will took an active interest in me. Inquired when I'd be home for breaks, wanted to hang out, etc... I also felt a certain tension between us. I've often described it as sexual, but honestly it was something else. Like there was something that could be said but we weren't going to discuss it.

While I was home for Christmas, I hung out with Will quite a bit, but always in a larger group. One of the first nights I hung out with him, I invited him out to a lounge. He brought his brother and eventually he and his brother and I and my friend Maria (that same friend he tried to get at in high school) ended up at a 24 hour cafe. We were all slightly inebriated. Will started asking me a lot of questions that all amounted to whether or not I was dating anyone, but because he wouldn't ask me straight out (and because I was a little drunk and confused), I ignored him. Then he started telling me how much he'd changed over the last year or so. "I've turned over a new leaf. I'm done with all that stupid stuff, he said, whatever that meant. At some point in the evening, he went in for the kill. "Let's go get married tomorrow. I'll meet you at the courthouse." My mouth fell open. I was drunk, but I wasn't that drunk. My friend came in for the save, "Can't ya'll fall in love, first?" she asked.

Though I saw him almost every night the rest of that week, aside from the harmless flirting I'd grown used to, Will never said anything else. Even when I asked him if he remembered saying that to me, he feigned confusion and forgetfulness, assuming I believe, I'd blame it on the intoxication.

The night before he flew to NYC for New Year's Eve, I went over to his house to hang out with him and some mutual friends. I had been on the phone with him for most of the day and shortly before I pulled into his driveway, he asked me a question,
"Can you hook me up with Maria?"


"Maria. Is she seeing anyone?"

"Yeah, actually. She has a boyfriend."

"Well, eff her man. I could take her from her man."
I was a little bit shocked. I knew the vibes I was getting from him, but this was completely out of left field. I told him that I didn't make it a habit to play matchmaker and that if he was interested in Maria he could pursue her on his own.

A few nights ago, Will text me to see how I was. We talked a little and eventually I made a comment about how I understood his money troubles, because I needed to start thinking about how I was going to pay for school.
"Maybe you should take some of these guys up on their offer," He suggested.

"What offers?" I asked, genuinely confused
He never responded. Later, I surmised he meant the marriage offer -- I forgot that I had, told him that a waiter at a restaurant I was patronizing had also jokingly asked to marry me.

This morning, Will text me and asked for my help. He told me he had a bunch of girls who wanted to get with him, some of whom he liked, but he didn't do much to pursue them.
"What's wrong with me?" he asked.

"I don't know," I told him, "but it's wierd that these girls are doing almost all the work for you, and still nothing."

"That's it! I like the chase. I want to work for the girl."
Before I could ask what brought this on, he text me again,
"My offer still stands"

"Don't you think we skipped a few steps?" I asked, hoping he was just beating this tired old joke.

"That's what the engagement's for. It's love at first sight, I can't help how I feel."

That sound you hear is crickets chirping.

"How is it love at first sight," one friend asked, "if he's known you for 10 years and is just now saying something?

Good question. I've consulted my panel -- that is, friends of mine who I think know me well enough to pick up on the nuances and to give me advice I'm likely to actually use -- and I've got a wide array of suggestions.

Everyone asked me if I was interested in him. To one inquisitor I responded, "If I weren't interested, there'd be no need for a conversation on this, would there?"

Eventually, he told me the ball was in my court. I told him I'll call him back tonight to discuss. Hopefully by then I'll have something to say because right now, all I got is sputter. As I told another friend, there's a level of vulnerability required here that I'm not comfortable with. I've long known that if I plan to make a relationship work anytime soon, I have to get over feeling bad about feeling vulnerable -- that mess is much easier said than done.

I'm blaming Valentine's Day.



This afternoon I had a brief conversation with a friend about what's been going on with her since we last spoke. (This is the same friend I talked about in this post) She mentioned she was spending a lot of time working and getting ready to apply to grad school. One of her major complaints after moving to NYC was that she felt like people just weren't nice. She's given me many examples of situations where she stepped up to be nice, but was knocked back down.

In this conversation, she mentioned that she felt herself being hardened by the city and wondered if I had any thoughts on maintaining a balance between being kind and protecting yourself from being taken advantaged of.

I told her that I try to remember what my mother tells me all the time: "you show people how to treat you..."

When she says it, she means that everytime I let someone get over on me, I'm telling them that's ok. She also means that I should stand up for myself and show that I know what's going on and I'm not going to be played for a fool.

However, I typically take that quote and flip it a little. I'm an actions person, above all else. I don't care what you tell me, I will always believe your actions if there's a discrepancy. I once told J, "you say you love me, but there's no way you could treat me the way you do and love me. You may want to love me, you may think you love me, but your actions say otherwise..." So, when I engage with a person, I engage with them in a way that I'd want to be engaged with. That is, I follow the golden rule and treat them as I'd like to be treated.

When I say I'm going to call, I do.

When I say I'm going to be somewhere, I am.

When we talk to each other, I pay attention to what they say, I respond to their questions, I show interest.

I do these things (and more) because these are things I think a)you do for people you care about and b)because I expect the same in return.

When it becomes obvious that the other person has his own agenda, I take that under advisement and all that effort goes out of the window. Often that will open up an opportunity for dialogue "Hey, man, you usually call when you say you will, but lately that hasn't been happening.." is a great opportunity to counter with "yeah, because you don't give me the same courtesy -- so I guess it doesn't matter much..." If it doesn't, though, that's ok because I didn't cease the activity to illicit a response, I stopped because I've shown you how I expect to be treated and I'm assuming so have you -- one good turn deserves another.

Sometimes the relationship deteriorates from there. Once I quit pulling all the weight to watch it sink or swim, sometimes it sinks. In those cases it sucks but there are a lot of other people in my life who are pulling their weight and they deserve my attention more.

I'll admit, there's a certain passive aggressive air to this. I'm not one to feel a whole lot of talking needs to be done when the actions are telling me everything I need to know. The friend I discussed here recently told me she misses hearing my voice. I told her she can call anytime. That was 4 days ago and she still hasn't heard my voice -- her choice and her actions tell me that she doesn't actually miss hearing my voice.

This morning on twitter I said, "The next person to tell me they miss talking to me is gonna get it... right in the kisser!" A friend asked me what was behind all the hostility. As I told her, it's about actions. If you miss talking to me, CALL ME! I'm one of the easiest people in the world to find, if you want to. Between facebook, e-mail, gchat, twitter and the old-fashioned phone, there's no excuse not to simply drop a line to say "hi." You don't have to tell me you miss talking to me -- you can just talk to me.

As I told my friend, though, I'm not always really good at this. Sometimes I get caught up in wanting a relationship to work out so I ignore what I see. I want people to like knowing me, to like interacting with me and when they don't, my kneejerk reaction is to "fix it" by assuming it's something I'm doing (or not doing). There's a lot of trial and error in this, but I'm working it out.


Blackness and Education

What happens to a person's racial identity when they attend private school? How many black points do you lose when you jump the lane and decide to attend school with the rich white kids whose parents own things larger than homes and cars? Depending upon who you ask, you might actually lose your soul or at least cease to be black.

Many parents want to get their kids out of failing public schools and into prestigious private schools because they worry their children won't be able to get into good colleges and they in turn worry how that will effect their lives. Meanwhile, it seems the only thing other parents are worried about is how "black" (or not black) their child will seem if they are afforded the same opportunity.

Read the rest at The Outlook


I Miss This

I signed up to recieve a semi-regular e-mail from a website called Plinky with random questions intended to prompt thought process (think formspring -- and do feel free to ask me anything there). This is the first one that ever got my juices flowing.
What do you miss?
The other day I was reading Twentysomething Renaissance Where Renaissance talked about figuring out why she wanted to be in a relationship. She said
The holidays had me running crazy, my debt was piling up, I wasn't sure what the hell I was doing with my life, I was dealing with a death in the family, I was trying to be the rock for everyone I came in contact with and I really really really just wanted someone to be the rock for me. I wanted to be rescued from my to-do list and my jam-packed calendar. I wanted someone to take control and fix everything for me because I clearly didn't have a firm grip on anything. I didn't even have time to find someone, but oh did I want them. I needed some sort of stability.

Suddenly, I realized I was aching for a dude when, really, I needed to get my life together. So I took a break. I disappeared for a bit. Slept a lot. Took myself to brunch, the movies, and bookstores. Worked on random art projects in my room. Tackled my never-ending list a little bit at a time and refused to sweat the things I didn't get around to.
And it clicked with me. I find myself longing for things I used to have, sometimes, because I think it'll help orient my self. It'll help me right my world when things get topsy turvy. I try to distinguish missing/longing for something because I think it'll fix things versus legitimately missing things.

To answer the question, though, I miss high school (though I don't miss being a teenager), I miss college (for reasons similar to why I miss high school) and I miss my life being ever so unpredictable.



This is a fictional story with some basis in the truth.

Thinking back on it, there was something about the way he said her name that made me think she wasn't just his friend. I ignored that feeling though. Just like I ignored the pictures of him and her with his arms wrapped around her waist. They looked very cozy.

Thinking back on it, I never should've gotten involved with Kevin, but there was no way I could've resisted him. He had me in the palm of his hands from the moment he told me my smile reminded him of Aaliyah.

"You know," he would always say, "when you smile like that, you look like Aaliyah. Only more beautiful," and then he would kiss me and whisper "I love you" in my ear. Every time. Kevin had a tight game.

Before we started dating, I quizzed Kevin on his previous relationships. I tried not to be intimidating, but I had to know. He was honest and forthcoming, but there was one name he hesitated on. Thinking back on it, his hesitation was a dead give away but at the time, I was so ready to make him mine I didn't even really notice.

"So tell me about Christina. You talk about her sometimes." Truth was, he talked about her a lot. Thinking back on it, I'm not sure he realized that.

"Oh," he started slowly, "there's really nothing to tell. We've been friends for a long time. Since high school. She's like my best friend."

"Like your best friend?"

"Yeah. I mean we're close like friends, but uh, that's it. There's nothing more to that." His eyes darted towards the coffee table I had my feet propped up on. I slowly turned my gaze and noticed a picture that I had seen plenty of times before but never, for some reason, thought to really look at it.

"Is that her?" I asked, reaching for the picture. He grabbed it before I could and thinking back on it, he seemed protective, like the picture was all he had.

The night of our first huge fight was actually a beautiful one. The stars were bright, the sky was clear, the wind was light. Kevin and I didn't notice, though. We were too busy arguing about everything. I left his house and slammed the door behind me. Everything had been going along perfectly for 6 months. Sure, we'd had a few disagreements, but overall we'd be sailing along. Then, suddenly, he became withdrawn. Upset, even. Everything pissed him off and that night I'd had enough.

"You've been mopey for weeks now. What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I've just had a rough week at work."

"No, I've seen rough weeks at work, they're not like this. Even so, that explains this week. What about the past few weeks."

"Oh. So now you know how a rough week at work looks for me? That's great. Why don't you tell me exactly how I feel, huh?"

The night went on like that. Me trying to figure out why he was so upset and him shutting me out. I'd had enough of the screaming, so I left. If he wanted to shut me out, then fine. I was done with the argument and done with the relationship and I told him as much.

Thinking back on it, Kevin didn't even try to stop me on my way out and he didn't call me that night to be sure I made it home, which was completely unlike him. When I tried to call him, the call went straight to voicemail; also unlike him.

For 2 weeks I didn't hear from him. Finally, I gave up on the holdout and tried his phone again. He picked up on the first ring.

"I didn't think you were ever going to call." He said immediately.

"What? This phone thing works two ways, you know." I couldn't believe he'd been sitting by waiting for me to call and didn't think he should so much as send me an e-mail.

"You told me you didn't want to talk to me ever again and you stormed out! What was I supposed to think?"

He was right. I was completely fed up with his childish attitude and I said a few choice phrases. But to be fair, he had said some unfortunate things to me as well. I wasn't sure I wanted to try again. Thinking back on it, he didn't sound like he wanted to try again either.

"You know, Kevin. I care a lot about you. I do. But maybe we should try this again from the beginning. I mean, I was completely surprised at what I saw from you that night. It was like you turned into your evil twin brother."

He didn't respond right away and when he did, it was like he hadn't heard anything I said.

"That night I had had a huge fight with Christina. She said some really mean things to me. I was hurting."

"So you lashed out at me?" I began angrily. I took a deep breath, but he cut me off before I could continue.

"Yes. I was wrong. I shouldn't have. It's just that-" he cut himself off.

"No. It's just that what? You had a huge fight with Christina and you took it out on me why?" That deep breath wasn't working.

"It's just that I found out she cheated on me!" He blurted, suddenly.

Thinking back on it, I was eerily calm. It was like I knew everything before I knew anything about what was going on.

"She cheated on you?" I asked slowly, enunciating every word.

"Yes. Back when we were dating she gave me passwords to her e-mail. I had suspicions all along that she was cheating and I found the proof in her e-mail. I never confronted her, but during our conversation that night, she told me she was dating that guy. She's dating the guy she cheated on me with!" I was shocked at how Kevin didn't seem to understand the real issue. He told me Christina was just a friend -- when did I miss her advancing to girlfriend?

"Kevin. Stop talking. Do you realize what you're saying? You're admitting you lied to me. How long ago did you and Christina date?" I wanted him to tell me it had been years ago so I could tell myself that it was kind of true when he said they were just friends. If they'd dated so long ago that it was but a distant memory I could live with that, I thought.

"Um," Kevin began.

"Now's not a good time to lie," I told him.

"We broke up 4 months ago."

"How is that possible?" I asked, not wanting to believe what I was hearing. "4 months ago, you and I had been dating for 2 months." My voice began to get louder. "Are you telling me you were still dating Christina when we met? When I asked you about her, you lied? And to top it all off, you started a huge fight with me because she cheated on you? Do you know how ridiculous this is?"

There was silence on the other end. Thinking back on it, I don't recall hearing him breathe.

"Now's not a good time for silence."

"I don't know what to say, babe. I was wrong. I lied to you. I just didn't know what to do. I was afraid. I mean, if I had told you I was seeing someone what would you have done?"

He kept talking. I quit listening. He said something about being ready to move on from Christina and not wanting to risk losing me. He said some other stuff about how the 2 weeks without me had been unbearable and I think he might have even sniffled like he was going to cry.

I went numb and when he started repeating my name over and over again, I slowly placed the phone back in the cradle.

Thinking back on it...

Well, there's nothing to think back on. I'm still staring at the phone.


Guest Blog: SWPD

I've written another guest blog post at Stuff White People Do. Check it out!

I don’t know if any of you frequent other blogs run by a white person that attempt to do what swpd attempts to do, but I don’t. I don't because I haven't found many. Any that I have run across are run by a PoC (or, at least, a person pretending to be a PoC). Blogs like these take on a whole different spin when they are run by a white person. However, I’ve also noticed that such places don't tend to stick around very long.

When Macon developed a list of rules for commenters, the comment section, as usual, lit itself on fire. One comment in particular from Randy caught my eye. Randy said here:

how is this blog, this whole thing, not just yet another example of a WP being in charge of a space for and about PoCs? however deferential, reverent, polite, well-intentioned, well-informed macon d may be; it's still a WHITE MAN'S place. because he owns it. he controls it. it's HIS own weblog. and he-not any black person-can pull the plug whenever it suits him.

how can all you razor-sharp fanon's out there have faild to confront and critique this (sic)? sorry folks, but it appears that we whites just can't damn help ourselves from taking over, from dominating, from setting the terms, from RUNNING THE SHOW-however benignly.

you all are constantly in a blither about ambient white supremacy...yet you don't see it RIGHT HERE.

I actually had been doing a lot of thinking about swpd and how the commenters interact on this blog. I appreciate the work macon puts into it, and Randy’s comment made me ponder other well-meaning, well-intended “spaces” (we’ll use “spaces” to refer to any place, online or real-world, where race relations is the primary topic) that don’t ever quite pan out. The most prevalent sort of spaces are blogs/websites that discuss interracial dating. Many such blog authors quickly find they spend more time defending their opinions than discussing anything of relevancy and ultimately shut down their blogs.

There seems to me to be a presumption white people make that they can singlehandedly change people’s minds, while never really being ready for pushback, and never being ready or prepared to create a space that offers PoCs and white people the opportunity to honestly and openly express their opinions.

It’s a shame this is the case, because as much as I wish that I, a black woman in America, could create a successful space, it would take a lot of work and a lot of passivity (that I’m not prepared to give) on my part.

Why, you ask? Because white people are scared to talk about race with PoCs. Some of that fear is understandable, while a lot of it is absurd. We can’t talk about or come up with ways to combat the problem without white people being honest and open, but above all else present, in the conversation. Unfortunately, the history in our country has led to a situation where more often than not, race conversations begun by PoCs in a PoC space do not attract white people who don’t already at least “get” the problem and will simply echo what we say (and never follow the echos with action).

One thing that was established early on at swpd is that white people are a necessary part of this conversation. In fact, commenter Jara said here:

The responsibility for improving race relations in the U.S., for example, falls on white people's shoulders because they are the privileged group.

It’s become my opinion that we need more spaces created by white people where we can have these open and honest race conversations so that one day we make enough progress where who creates and controls the space doesn’t matter. Some of us may consider this a necessary evil, while others of us take it at face value and go. Either way, there aren’t a lot of white people who are ready to take the flack (some deserved, some not) they receive for attempting such a thing. Wonder what type of flack I’m talking about? Most swpd comment sections will show you.

Anyone who is a part of a real race conversation, especially with people from different perspectives, and actively searches for ways to lessen racism's effects and to ultimately eradicate it altogether, is helping to blaze new trails. To do so via the internet with relative strangers is an area that has yet to be fully examined, and so it takes a lot of trial and error.

It’s easy to want to be a part of the solution, to feel like you do things that others might benefit from knowing about; it’s harder than it looks, however, to share those things about such a contentious topic. Too often well-meaning white people set out to help, but end up with their feelings hurt and their tails between their legs. I hope that as we all have a hand in writing the how-to book on handling race relations, more people step up and are willing to create more spaces for these conversations to happen.

There seems to be an assumption that if white folks would simply do as they’re told, everything would be fine. I see such sentiments expressed on this blog regularly; however, the fact is this is a learning experience for all of us. White people need to be ready to use the privilege they’ve enjoyed for hundreds of years to fix the problems it has created. I firmly believe that it is the job of the PoC community to point out the cracks, and that it's the white community’s job to fill them in, even if that means losing things they’ve become accustomed to (I use a crude analogy, but I think simple and crude is better than complicated and palatable).

Randy made some valid points (that he later expounded upon). One of them is the irony that swpd may in fact be everything we all say we don't want. A space like swpd isn’t perfect, but it is a good example of what I mean when I say the white people fix the cracks PoCs point out. In almost every post, there’s one commenter who trips the wire and the alarms start blaring, and someone lets them know that they are exemplifying exactly what shouldn’t be done. More white people need to be willing to “be that kid” (as I like to say). More white people need to be willing to take the criticism to not only learn from themselves, but also to teach others.

There are things PoCs should do, but this blog isn’t called “stuff people of color do.”


Decision Time

Damon at This May Concern You put his readers on to this youtube video of Smokey Robinson performing at Def Comedy Jam. At one point, Smokey says,
How come I didn’t get a chance to vote on who I’d like to be? Who gave you the right to make that decision for me? I ain’t under your rule or in your dominion, and I’m entitled to my own opinion.
He's talking about being called black vs. being called African-American and he wonders why no one asked him what he wanted to be called. Makes sense.

Last night, I had a conversation with a friend about her current boyfriend. He's almost 15 years older than her, has 3 kids and has been married before. I'm on this new "if you like it, I love it" kick with my friends and I've been trying to just be a supportive ear. Initially, I ignored all the red flags, because age ain't nothin but a number (no Aaliyah), aren't we constantly being told that it's getting harder and harder to find a man with no kids, and at least he's got a track record that suggests he "does" marriage, right? Ya'll know I can't co-sign foolishness, though, right?

From all appearances, he's a good guy. He seems to really care about her, is always talking about building a future complete with kids and marriage (that's the order he talks about them in. I'm uneasy with it -- but this ain't my relationship). However, up until a couple of weeks ago, she thought he had 2 kids. He asked her to look over some insurance papers to help him understand them. That's when she noticed that there was a name listed with his other 2 kids names that she recognized. He had previously told her that "Zachary" was his cousin's child. Why then, she wondered, would he be on his insurance papers? Things get a bit more murky when she realizes Zachary is the same age as his oldest child, Maria.

She asked him about it and he admitted that Zachary was not his cousin's child, but his own child. He seemed a bit ashamed that he hadn't spent as much time with Zachary as with his other kids. He also took the opportunity to hint that he'd been married before.

Now, here she is, 6 months in a relationship with a man who's spent the last 3 talking about their future together in a new city, with kids and a house and all the things people say they want but never thought to mention he actually had 3 kids and an ex-wife. Out of order much?

Of course, he said "Well, had I told you, you would have left me."

I had an immediate flashback.

I was the other woman once. I didn't know I was and when I found out, I was no longer "officially" the other woman, but that didn't stop me from being very upset. When J and I talked about it, he said,
"Well, had I told you, we wouldn't be friends now, would we?"

"No," I agreed, "but that was my decision to make."
I cautioned my friend on letting her beau make all the decisions by manipulating the truth. I can tell, and I know based on her track record, despite her best "I can't stay in this situation" speech, she's not going anywhere. He'll have to dump her or make staying almost impossible before she'll leave. I do hope, though, she at least makes him understand that he's got to be completely honest moving forward.

"How can ya'll build a life together if he can't be honest about who he is and the parts of his past that will effect your future?" I asked her. She didn't really give an answer.


Happy Birthday

One of my friends forgot my birthday.

It's not so much that she forgot, again, as that she never remembers. My birthday is December 30th; it's 5 days after Christmas and 1 day before New Year's Eve. You might think that makes it easy to remember, but I've found out it actually get's jumbled in people's minds as "sometime after Christmas but before the new year..." and over the years, I've adjusted my attitude considerably. If you think of me anytime after Christmas and before the new year, it's enough for me.

This friend seems to forget most people's birthdays. She even forgot her mother's once or twice. Knowing this, I decided to call her on my birthday to remind her. What's interesting is that there were a couple of people I spoke to on my birthday who, I later realized, had forgotten my birthday but I didn't feel the need to call and remind them, and, in fact, they all eventually remembered. However with her, I did. In fact, I was anticipating her forgetfulness and had long planned to phone her to remind her.

She didn't answer. She never called back and I spoke to her for the first time late last week, since well before Christmas. The night before, I had dinner with a friend where we talked about the situation.
"I know I say this every year. I know I say I'm going to drop the dead weight in my life, but I'm for real this time."

My friend nodded her head as she chewed on her rib

"And Carla is the one person I always say is the first to go."

She nodded her head again, still chewing

"But I'm serious this time. It's not just the birthday thing. The birthday thing is really more of a tangible incident that represents what's been going on with us for years. She doesn't care enough about me to remember anything important. Not to mention, we don't have anything in common anymore. We used to have school, but that's long gone, now."
I think Carla has a microphone in my life because this isn't the first time I've thought to myself That's it, I'm done trying to be friends... and she pops up out of nowhere.

I reminded her, mid-way through our conversation, about my birthday. She went straight into the "Oh what a horrible friend I am" and the "Please don't hate me" lines. I chuckled to myself when she asked me if I was upset with her. "Oh if only you knew how indifferent I am right now..." I wanted to say. She didn't really get me going until she made a remark about what close friends we are.

That drives me crazy. Absolutely crazy.

J started doing that this time last year. On the rare occasion we spoke on the phone, he would find a way to incorporate "You're my best friend" into the conversation. I knew he wanted me to agree and validate it, but it wasn't true. As I told another friend, of the people I do consider to be my close friends, none of them have ever made such a comment outside of a necessary context, i.e. a phrase like "You're one of my closest friends, so you know I like..." But this girl? She finds an excuse to drop a phrase like that on me, pretty consistently. I don't feel like it's my job to clear the record, because I'm clear on it and I bet she is too.

Today, I tried to break it down in a conversation with another friend.
"It's not that I need her to remember my birthday. It's that remembering anything important about anyone but herself seems so beyond her."

"Maybe," my friend began, "she's just having a selfish period."

"That's the thing. She's always in a selfish period. I've asked her to visit me, she promises she's coming but aside from a brief look at her travel options, I've not heard a peep about a visit; nevermind I've been to see her twice already. She calls when it's convenient, she remembers what's convenient. It's all about convenience for her. What's worse is that because I'm so easygoing, and don't make a lot of demands, she gets over very easily, but I'm tired of it."
The question, however, became what do I do now? I'm not petty enough to stop talking to her, I don't see a point in that, not to mention we don't speak frequently enough as it is for her to notice.

I could ignore her when she calls me, but what for?

All I can come up with is ceasing my expectations, no longer expecting her to care what's going on in my space (though, when she feels like too much time has passed since she last asked, she will -- it's eerily personality disorder-ish of her, honestly), no longer attempting to care what's going on in her space, all the while trying not to focus on doing any of those things.

My mom's always telling me, "you show people how to treat you." I've always been a little resistant to that phrase. Why do I need to show another human being how to treat me. What ever happened to the golden rule? How hard can this be? I might not be into showing people how to treat me, but I am into stopping you from treating me wrong.

I've got to get it together in 2010 and do so now.


Do you believe in the phrase "Love conquers all?"

Not really. I believe the phrase "Love is not enough" is far more accurate. Love is important, but it's really mutually exclusive when you start talking about it in terms of a relationship working. I've seen relationships last though the love is gone (think 2 people who stay together for the kids) while other relationships fall apart even though both people love each other very much.

Ask me anything


Helping Myself Be Honest

I'm in the middle of catching up on one of my favorite blogs Keep It Trill. Over the holiday season, Kit was very honest about what was happening with her family.

In one post, she said,
I have to think about this value system more, where helpers hate needing help and become so embarrassed when they do. On one hand it makes you utterly self-sufficient and independent, but on the other hand, it slows down the problem-solving and healing process because you've walled off some of best resources with secrecy.
It was not easy for me to accept that I needed to see someone about whatever was going on in my space. It wasn't easy hearing my mom tell me I needed to and it wasn't especially easy admitting it to my friends or here on my blog. It wasn't easy because I've spent a long time perfecting an exterior that looks put together. As I write this, I'm not even sure why I did that. I don't know what happened that made me think it was easier to "fake it till you make it" than to just ask for the help you need.

Perhaps it was the time I sat crying in the middle of my student center in high school and my two closest friends, at the time, came out, watched me cry and went back inside, never once asking what was wrong. It's been 7 years and we've never spoken about that day.

Maybe it was growing up in a single-parent home and learning early on that self-sufficiency was best. I don't ever blame my mother (though she thinks I do, and I've tried to assure her that I don't, but I can't fix her own guilt) for anything that's resulted because she was a single parent. However, I am cognizant of the effects it's had on me.

Whatever the reason for my need to not only have it together (or look that way as much as possible) but to also be that leaning post for others, it takes a toll. There comes a point where what you've been showing doesn't matter because what you need has been neglected and is most important.

Another blog I frequent, Stuff White People Do, recently had a post about how black women are treated as if we are made of teflon and adamantium; nothing sticks to us, nothing hurts us. The comment section blew up; it took me quite a while to get through it all and before I could even make it to the bottom, I had a conversation with the blog's author, Macon. We talked about a lot of things and I told him,
I don't ask for help, but sometimes I just want someone to offer it... even though I assert myself as not ever needing help as a response to never being asked. It's a wretched connundrum
but a connundrum I need to get over.

My BFF always says, there's a point in your life where "my mama didn't hug me" and "my daddy wasn't there" ceases to be a quality excuse. Well, "no one helps me" ceased to be an excuse for why I don't ask for it. I imagine it will always be something I struggle with, but dangit, I gotta get over myself. The end.


Have a Parent, Be a Parent

Almost 4 months I did a post on people who choose to be single parents. CurvyGirl♥ posed an interesting point and asked for my take on it. Better late than never, right? Here's what she said:
You have a point. I think society has become way to comfy with 'marriage optional' lifestyles at the cost of cheating children. I give props to all the single moms and dads who are able to raise well-rounded kids. Now that I think about it, all of my family members with kids are married, so I wonder how much that influences other generations. I'd love to hear your perspective.
A friend of mine and I had a conversation about this once. It was more in terms of race, but since the reality is more white kids grow up in 2 parent homes than black kids, it still applies here.

I told her that J talked marriage early. His mother still calls me her daughter-in-law and when his dad caught us in bed together once (so not my fault, I told him to go to the couch) he didn't freak like my mom would have (sure, some of it's because J was a guy, but still...).

I have a lot of friends my age (early to mid-20s) who are married. 80% of them grew up in a two parent household.

On the flip side, I can attest to the fact that while I definitely prioritize marriage over having kids (that is, I will be married before I have kids) being in a relationship/working towards marriage is just not a priority for me. I attribute that to growing up with a single-mother who prioritized raising me over being in a relationship (she had one boyfriend while I was growing up, while I was young and I was much older before I realized "who" he was).

The point I'm making is that we emulate what is modeled for us. I struggle with my role in a relationship because I didn't have the "woman's role" modeled for me because I never saw my mom in a relationship. Meanwhile, J talked about marriage early because he grew up in a 2-parent home and that's what he believed should be prioritized (getting married and having a family). I even see this in a guy I look at as a younger brother. His parents have been married a long time (10 years before he was born and he's the oldest of 3 and in college) and he's been on the lookout for his future wife since he was 15. On the flip side, I know other young men who don't see the least bit intriguing about marriage.

None of this is to say that children of single parents are doomed. I'm the child of a single parent yet I want to be married first; my mother grew up with married parents and she ended up a single parent (the same can be said of a handful of my cousins). Who you grow up with is not the end all be all, but it is a good indicator of where you're headed if you don't make active choices to change it.

I've tried to observe married couples I respect, I've paid attention to my shortcomings when in relationships (and boy does that list just get longer and longer) but most of all I've noted that while my mother did an excellent job, there was nothing about her single-parentness that appealed to me. If nothing else, I knew from jump that it was not anything I wanted a hand in. In fact, it's that feeling that makes me upset with people who choose to be single-parents. It's not a good look for your kids; it's just not.

In the end, though, we play the hand we're dealt -- some of us, though, try to stack the deck before the cards are passed out.


Long Distance Relationships

As I was writing the post on being able to cook during my 25 Things To Never Apologize For series, I mentioned I don't do long-distance relationships (LDRs). I went looking for the post where I explained this mindset more completely and I couldn't find it. That's because I never wrote it. Well here it is...

My relationship with J lasted 4 years and was off and on, with way more gray area than anything decisive. For the vast majority (so save about 2 - 3 months) of this 4 years we were not in the same city. The distance between us ranged from 120 miles to over 1100 miles. We made it work as best we could, but we were young and had no idea what we were doing. I learned a lot about what I can and can't tolerate where distance is concerned in a relationship. I've developed a list that I use whenever someone asks me about how to do an LDR.

1) I can do any distance, but not for any amount of time: There was no end in sight for J and I. When we talked about our lives post-graduation (for me, he was 2 years behind me) I had very sure plans about what city I wanted to live in. It wasn't the city he wanted to live in. He loved the city he was going to school in and while the city I wanted to move to was closer -- closer wasn't together. I realized, ultimately, that LDRs need an end-date. This was echoed in a recent article I read about a newlywed couple who met when the husband came back for an alumni event and the wife was a student. He lived in DC and when she graduated (and when they became official) she moved to NYC. Their recommendation: have an end date.

2) The end date should be reasonable: At one point, J started talking marriage (which scared the CRAP out of me). I told him, "We can't get married. We don't want to live in the same area." Then we talked about where I wanted to live and how fluid I felt the first few years post-graduate would be. He tossed out the idea of transferring to a school in the city I was in. I think we both knew that we couldn't keep up with the distance until he graduated. We needed it to be over soon. LDRs can be strength-builders, but if done for too long the distance begins to crack at the base of your relationship and that damage, if ignored, can be irreparable. My personal end date is 1 year, though I'd prefer 6 - 8 months.

3)I won't enter a LDR with someone at the very early stages of our relationship: J and I began our relationship before I had to move; I think our relationship was able to take so much heat and be beat up so badly before it broke because we had a foundation born out of spending a lot of time together in the beginning. Recently, I briefly dated another guy who had future plans that will take him out of the country for at least 3 years. If we had begun seeing each other exclusively, I would've known him for less than a year, most of which we weren't dating/spending time together. I would have been entering an LDR that exceeds my personal limit of one year based off having gotten to know him for about 6-7 months. That ratio just doesn't add up for me.

4)I will prioritize spending time with a significant other in an LDR over most other things and expect him to do the same: In the early stages of our LDR, J and I would often meet up in my home city, which was where we met. He ended up back in his hometown after I left but had friends in my hometown. It was convenient for me and offered him a chance to visit his old friends. The problem was he had a hard time prioritizing. He would often let his friends overtake his schedule and I wouldn't see him at all. He didn't understand why it would upset me. I did a lot of things, sometimes, to get home so I could see him in the time frame he would be there. On the flip side of that I had a bad habit of spending a lot of time on the phone when we were together. He'd often steal my phone. What I get now is that those were the times where we could "repair" issues that had come up during our time apart and anytime I spent doing something else was taking away from us. The only thing spending time with J did not take precedence over was time with family -- but I always managed to do some creative scheduling.

5)I will understand the importance of the telephone: This was perhaps the worst and most awkward part of the LDR. Phone time was all we had so when one of us missed it, it typically caused problems. What our young brains didn't understand was that we both prioritized the phone time, but only when it was convenient. We both probably spent time on the phone when we would have rather been elsewhere, but then when the other couldn't make it and we'd skipped a meal with friends, or ignored an invite out to a party, we were pissed.

This isn't one that would apply to me now, but back then, I wish I'd had someone to caution me about getting into a LDR as I was headed into college. I managed to make some great friends but there are many things I missed out on because of #5. We both told each other we wanted the other one to go out and meet new people, but that was just lip service and our actions showed it. We really should have been a part for my first year in college.

Overall, I would suggest that a person think long and hard before jumping into a LDR. There are serious consequences and they should all be weighed very very carefully.


Find Out Who Your Friends Are

And we're BACK (with a new layout)!! I hope everyone's holiday was beautiful and filled with a lot of good food.

Some of ya'll might throw up in your mouths, but I can't help it if this country song sets my post off right.

I spent my holiday season (birthday included) at home, with family and close friends. These friends are people I've known for almost (if not more than) a decade. I grew up with them, went to hell and back with a lot of them and it's always funny to sit around and look at where we are now, thinking about where we were then.

I've met a lot of people since I graduated high school and moved to another city for college. Some of these people I keep in close contact with and consider to be friends. I realized, this weekend though, that with the exception of one person, not since my freshman year in college when I met my BFF have I made good through and through friends like the lot I spent my time with over the holidays.

This was illuminated for me when I needed a favor upon my arrival back to DC. Nothing really major, but being the type of person I am, I hate asking for favors that might imposition someone (fatal flaw, I know). The long and short of the story is that one person left me hanging and I ended up calling a good friend (from high school) who was happy to do it, last-minute be damned. To thank her for helping me, I took her to dinner where we talked about the situation. It was ironic, I told her, because a friend at home and I had a similar conversation about not having friends as good or close as the "ones since high school..."

On the one hand, I like having people in my life who have seen me through almost everything major that has happened. On the other, though, I wonder at what point does a person lose their ability to "make friends." Or is that we lose the ability to be a good friend to anyone we've known less than half our lives? As much as I love these 10+-year friends, it'd be nice to have people who are here with me now and see me everyday and know what's going on with me now who are as reliable and close as the old ones.

Ultimately, though, I'd rather have old friends who are far away but still watch out for me than new friends who are close but can't be trusted.