18 July 2014

School Was My Hustle Part II: Work Flow

"The things that you are passionate about aren't random, they're your calling."

Read "School Was My Hustle Part I: Grad School & The Job Hunt" HERE

Shit ain't like it use to be. Or at least it's definitely not how I expected it would be. All my life I had it drilled into my head that once you got a good education you would get a good job. To me good job equals nice clothes, traveling and brunchin'. More education meant a better salary. All I will say is that the past 6 months or so definitely taught me a lot about how ish was really gonna be.
Y'all already know about my first "adult" job. I shan't rehash that foolery.

What happened in the three and a half months before I got the new position that I'm currently in is what's most interesting. For the first couple of months of job hunting I was super optimistic about my prospects. (Ya girl can snag an interview. I probably did about 8 in-person and 5 over the phone.) And yet, despite the fact that I think I'm a really good interviewer and a damn good candidate I landed only 1 job. It's hard out here for a chick. As I got more and more frustrated with the outside world and my lack of employment, I decided to focus on what I was most passionate about, the "work" that I'd do, have done and will do for free.

When I was writing and watching  and reviewing , those were the days when I felt most at peace. My freedom allowed me the ability to travel, to spend time with my family and to experience new things. Despite all of that, there were days when I felt ashamed of my funemployment. I think that in the climate of my generation's competitiveness, its easy to feel like you're behind your peers, that you're somehow slacking not quite keeping up with the flow of things. I would ride the train in the middle of the day headed to a film screening or to run errands. Were people judging me for my "leisurely" life. (In retrospect I realize how foolish this sounds.) But these assumed judgements were the least of my worries.

Money. Money was my major concern. Savings eventually run dry my student loans kick in at the
end of this month and NYC is not a cheap place to live. Hell it's not even a cheap place to breathe.

I wanted to give up so many times. I rationalized that perhaps NYC wasn't where I was supposed to end up. But other times I thought F that! I got two degrees in five and a half years from damn good schools never missing a beat despite the chaos of my personal life.

Luckily I didn't give up on myself because the universe wasn't ready to give up on me. In a span of one week I had  four different interviews and I was offered a really good position at a really good company. Was it exactly what I expected when exactly I expected it? No. But then again life rarely ever is.  I'm still working towards my passions I definitely have an end game but until then I'm enjoying the work flow.

A fully employed Chocolate Girl in the City  xoxoxoxox

PS: I'm at the airport on my way to see the queen more on that later ;)

13 July 2014

Birthday Post: 24th Year

1st Birthday pictures;  delightful ensemble

Me & My Makers

Growing up, my mother went all out for our birthdays. Much like Christmas, birthdays in our home were an extravaganza. You opened the door to your bedroom in the morning and you could look down at your feet and see and array of gifts. Rushing down the steps to the kitchen you could expect the entire counter to be covered with gifts, pictures and birthday memorabilia. My mother always showed us (and told us) that we were loved and that she was thankful that we were alive. Daddy would always top off the day with a delicious wad of cash. (African Dad style.) Though we are two years apart in age, sister and I have birthdays that are ten days apart. When we were younger, mama would throw us a huge joint bday BBQ at our house, there was tons of food, family, games and fun. (Along with two separate and elaborately decorated sheet cakes.) As we got older, we started doing separate things (American Girl Place, Six Flags, Chuckie Cheese, Haunted Trails, lunches, dinners, movies, shopping etc.) July must have been a foolish and exhausted month for my mama but, she never let on that it was.
1997  7th Birthday

The summer I turned 16, I was away at Yale University for a summer program. It was the first time id ever been away from my family. When we discussed me attending the program, my mom was nervous about me not having the Sweet 16 that she thought I expected. I was unbothered i could taste the freedom. I was having the time of my little black life. The morning of my sixteen birthday, my roommates and friends surprised me with decorations  and gifts. Later on, I was lounging about the courtyard when I looked up to see a man dressed as a clown with an array if balloons and a delicious ass cake. Only my mother could pull of something so elaborate from half a country away. It was the perfect end to one of the best summer of my life. The last birthday that I spent with my mom was the summer I turned 20. We celebrated in her hospital room.... Less than a month later she was gone.

Sweet 16......um apparently I thought I was cute

This is the cake that the man stalked me to give me. It was SOOOOOO GOOOD. Yes I'm greedy and I still remember

My following two birthdays were lovely and eventful. Daddy, sister and I made the best of our situation and my family and friends were always on call to celebrate.

Last year tho.. Last year was not good.  I was over everyone and everything. My dad had passed the previous February, I'd recently ended a relationship and it was just all bad. I spent most of the day alone. I went to BK to a friends place who was gracious enough to try and cheer me up by baking a delicious cobbler but the night turned shitty very quickly when George Zimmerman went acquitted. I went home and went to bed. Thankful to be done with the dreadful day. Clearly those were signs that I was mildly depressed and didn't really even realize it.

Despite all of that nonsense my twenty-third year was good to me. I can whine about trivial things that occurred that don't matter much now anyway, over all tho I have no complaints. I woke up this morn with a smile on my face :) got some work done, had brunch and ventured off to spend my birthday coupons. 'Twas glorious". (I'm also preparing my spirit to see queen Bey next weekend.)  My moto has always been "turn down" so I'm presently chillin in my apartment and watching a PBS doc on "Freedom Summer".

Birthdays definitely aren't what they use to be... But then again I suppose that's the nature of growing up. I will say one thing tho, I'm so happy and grateful to be here and to be doing well.

From a now one year older
Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxox

09 July 2014

Thoughts While Waiting on the Train Platform: On Anxiety

I went to a club the other night, a rather strange occurrence for me. I've written before about how I don't do clubs. Trust me I've tried to like them. I've tried to get into the groove of things. I've put on the tight dresses with the heels, sipped on drinks and flirted with men. And I've even had really amazing nights with lifelong friends and beautiful people when the DJ was on point and I felt like id be timeless....forever young.  But for me that timeless feeling has been fleeting when it comes to my clubbing experiences. Mostly I've felt sweaty and gross. The drinks have been way too pricey and the DJ beyond wack and I ask myself why I've bothered to beat my face and place stilettos upon my feet, when really a late night milkshake on a rooftop with old friends laughing and watching the sun come up would have suited me just fine.

Which brings me back to the other night. As I walked to the club from the train (cab expenses can only be rationalized to a point) I felt anxious. An anxiety that bubbled up in my throat. I wanted to hide, to run away, to jump back on the uptown express, and crawl into my bed with my Kindle. But why? Where did this feeling of anxiousness come from? I've been aware on some level for quite a few years of my disdain for clubs. And yet, this was something else. Perhaps it was stepping outside of my comfort zone that had me feeling apprehensive. Or the rude bouncers that rule the overpriced clubs in the meatpacking district. (My main concern was trying not to snap my ankle as I teetered  along the cobblestones in my favorite shoes. (Because apparently sky high stilettos are a must in the  meatpacking district -_-)

Once I actually made it into the club I was immediately calm. I sat and chatted with beautiful brown people. ( It really is true that there is like a six degree separation, from every educated black person to another in this country) The DJ was a poor purchase as expected but that didn't stop us from having a jolly grand time. (We made sure to get there when it was free before they started charging a $40 cover.) As I sat there chatting and sipping, I realized two things.

1) I don't have to like clubs. That's not a requirement for being twenty-something. There are so many things that I'd rather be doing and it's completely ok to do them and forgo the anxieties and the groping and other foolishness surrounding the club experience. (I've even found a lovely website for peeps like me)

2) Facing the things that make me anxious, the things that make  me nervous or unsure are the best way to concur my fears. Its ok to determine that I'm not here for one thing or another, but I've decided to hold on to my opinions until I've actually tried doing the things I have anxiety about.

xoxoxox Chocolate Girl In the City xoxoxox

PS: Also when facing your fears just won't cut it. Sweat that shit out. (I quite enjoy a smooth run)

20 June 2014

Waiting On My Life to Begin?

Last Sunday, Prospect Park Dreamin'

I remember in high school I always believed that my "real" life would begin in college. I arrived at my university with bright dreams and grandiose assumptions and once I realized it wasn't all that I thought it would be I figured that my life would begin after college, once I found my footing in the real world. I delayed my entrance into the "real world" by attending graduate school (school was my hustle, I could be in school forever). My first forte into total adulthood was short-lived. I said yes to the first position that was offered to me and then quit it shortly thereafter. (You can read HERE to find out why.) It was after this fairly monumental decision that I realized all assumptions were incorrect. There I was quickly approaching my mid-twenties and still I was funemployed, waiting to begin my life. I normally think I'm more self-aware then this but clearly I was being asshole. A little over a month ago about I decided to start living my life. No I didn't have full time employment but I'm was doing OK freelancing. There's a few huge projects that I'm working on and just because I wasn't receiving a biweekly paycheck I had lots to be proud of. I started focusing on all that I had accomplished despite the obstacles thrown at me.

So I started saying YES to myself which was my resolution for 2014. (You can read that post HERE.) I had already put my mental health and personal well-being high up in my priorities by quitting my job and focusing on my talents and other real goals. Now all I had to do was do that in my social life.

It's so easy to say NO. Saying no means u can stay in your comfort zone. (For me that means in my apartment with my Kindle.) But imagine all of the incredible opportunities that would come your way by saying yes. Saying yes, has changed my outlook and my perspective. Am I ever gonna be the one that enjoys getting plastered and bar hopping until 4 in the morn? Probably not, I'm an old soul and I enjoy sleep way to much. But I also recognize some of the best days of my life have ended with the sun coming up.

So what have I gotten out of saying yes? I've gotten my life :) Just in this past month and a half or so I've gotten more opportunities then I've ever remember getting. My summer is going to be full of concerts and shows, traveling, brunches, park days, friends, family and so much more. This is all happening because I decided that this, RIGHT NOW is my LIFE. My real life, this is it. So for me there will be no more waiting around, no more hiding. I'm just gonna embrace things as they come. As much as I want to curl into myself and get lost in a book I certainly can't sit back and act like that's the best or even the healthiest thing do.

No I haven't achieved everything that I want to do at this point I haven't traveled abroad, read the Game of Thrones series ,or even had epic love but I'm certainly gonna relax a bit and embrace all the things I have done and say yes to every wonderful thing that I've achieved myself.

I read somewhere that the biggest disservice that this generation (my generation) is doing to itself is thinking that we have to have it all together in our twenties. We already put a crap load of pressure on ourselves and it becomes even more stifling when you have your parents and family hovering around your neck whilst you look at your friends and peers achieve greatness. But your know what? Your fan-fuckintastic. This is your life to live! U have to do things and make choices that are going to fulfill U and make you happy in the long run.

Start living because even if you didn't realize it, your "real" life has long since begun.

xoxoxo Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxox

17 June 2014

Entitlement (Or In Other Words How to Embarrass Yourself In the Nail Shop)

I grew up pretty squarely middle class, we were comfortable and really didn't want for anything.  Despite all of this good fortune, my parents still expected a lot from us. We were to be well mannered and behaved while excelling academically in school.  If we met their expectations then we pretty much got what our hearts desired (within reason). Until college I just assumed that's how the rest of the world worked. Whether  you were well off or not, you were polite and treated people with decency and respect. It wasn't until I got to undergrad that I realized how tragically wrong I was. As an RA, two out of the four years that I spent at my wildly expensive PWU, I can assure you that evil little toddlers become shitty little 18-year olds who subsequently turn into self-serving adults.

Working in the residence hall mail room I soon discovered that not everyone is taught please and thank you in preschool. I once had a mother call the RA phone at 5am to ask me where to order her shit spawn some birthday balloons. (3 years later I'm still pissed). Even later in my most recent place of employment I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning grown people's snot tissues and garbage off of coffee tables. (Clearly the Barney clean-up song isn't played in every household.)

Some of y'all need reminding

But none of this,  none of this entitlement and pompous behavior is more pronounced then it is at my nail salon on the Upper West Side of NYC.  I'll admit to spending time twice a month in my beloved salon. It's really cheap,  the employees are amaze and typically it's quite a pleasant experience. That is until "she" walks in. (I'm using "she" here as a universal term. There has been many a man that I've encountered who fits these same characteristics, each one more pompous and self-important than the last. Like the man who touched my hair in the club last week, and when I snapped at him he responded by saying "but I like it" as if that justified a strange nasty man hand in my hair. Or the man who TOLD a friend and I to move down in the movie theater so he could sit. As far as I'm concerned that fool could still be waiting for me to move.) But I digress, every few months or so "she" walks into the nail salon and my stomach tightens in disgust.

The first time it happened some lady was waiting on a gel dryer for her manicure as her brat child grew more and more out of control. (Nail shops are not for children!!) As the child dissolved into a puddle of terror, the woman instead of handling her offspring proceeded to rip the poor manicurist a new asshole screaming because she felt she'd waited too long for her mani. (Ma'am can you not see the line of women in here getting gel?!!) The manicurist literally burst out in tears as everyone else in the salon looked on in horror.

Now don't get me wrong I truly believe in good customer service especially when hard earned money is being spent. (This is also why I will never for the duration of my Black ass life purchase anything from Ikea EVER again.)  However there is a time and a place for everything. People who are just outwardly rude and entitled disgust me. What's amusing is that these people usually end up embarrassing themselves. Which brings me to the motivation behind this post.I'm sitting here right now in my pedicure chair writing this piece because the woman next to be just made a complete fool of herself.

When my sis and I walked in, there were a couple of women waiting so we put our names down on the list. After sister started her pedicure I waited until another technician was free and then took my spot in my chair. Perhaps 8 or so women walked in after me and wrote their names on the list. (I'm lowkey nosy so I was paying attention.) The woman to the right of me was on the list right under me and the woman to my left was a few names down the page. My pedicure gets started and so does the woman to my right. Another woman sits at a manicure station. Suddenly out of nowhere the woman to my left slams her computer downs and screams "Are you serious?!! I'm so DONE!!! You're gonna take all these women before me and I was here before them!!!

..................... The entire salon is silent. The woman to my right and I look at each other and then both say to the heaving ball of rage. "No you weren't." The woman to my left calmly resumes reading her magazine. I glance at sister trying not to chuckle as the guy doing my pedi tries to hold in his giggles as well.

All that entitlement and where did that get you? Looking a ridiculous ass fool that's where. Perhaps people will learn to be more polite and more kind with time. Until then I'll sit back and watch them humiliate themselves.

xoxoxo Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxo

12 June 2014

"I’m Just Human, Don’t Judge Me" On Vulnerability and Self-Esteem

This past winter was the black ass worst, as I’m sure many of you poor souls experienced. Usually, I can hang on to my good cheer until just after Valentine’s Day, but this year I was pretty much in a funk by Christmas Morning.  When my mother was still alive, Christmas was always this huge event for us. She was obsessed with decorating the house and having people come over. Some of the best memories (and photographs) that I have are of Christmas time in my childhood home. I’ve been thru four Christmases without her and they’ve been ok, not the same but still cheerful in their own right. This Christmas however, was a rough one. I think the negative energy that I got from the holidays came back with me to NYC and even lingered into the springtime.

I found myself layering up, covering myself not just from the brutal winds of winter but also from the world in general. I was exhausted. Tired from grad school, over my job and over “being strong”. I stopped going to the gym, seamless became my best friend and books became my favorite companions. In retrospect, I haven’t been that miserable in quite some time. Thankfully, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided to get myself together. My job had to go,  my sissy brought me new running shoes and I carried my now softer bottom to Trader Joes and back to the gym.

I think what got me together was recognizing my vulnerability. I’m rather Type A so I quite enjoy being in control of things. Understandably there are things that you cannot change but taking the reigns and controlling what you can is vitally important.  I was reading a book where the author said, “Think back to any man who ever treated you badly and think where your self-esteem was right before you met him.” It may not seem like all that of a profound statement to you, but it kicked me into high gear REAL quick.  I’m not ever in my Black ass life trying to go down that road again.

When you’re feeling down and out, you guard is down and you are more likely than not to accept just any old foolishness in your life.  Predators (pretend friends, fuckboys and general life suckers), seek out vulnerable people. I knew this which is why I was layering, hiding and covering but my without a healthy shield of self esteem all of this layering would prove to be worthless. The first thing I had to do was get my mind right. Once your are in the proper frame of mind you can pretty much do whatever you want.  Why do I have to weigh myself everyday and beat myself up over a number? Why do I have to layer my clothing making sure I hit the two inches above the knee rule? Why do  I have to hide in my queen size bead under the covers with my Kindle and my teddy, making excuses instead of just showing up?  The world is a frightening ass place. Trust me I know this, but being cowardice is not going to change this fact.

As one of my idols says, shit happens and its ok to get down about it, we're all humans we are allowed that but you can't use that as an excuse to stay down.

"It's ALWAYS too early to give up."

xoxoxo Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxo

11 June 2014

“You're Fine, But You're Simple" (On Dating the Dull & Uninformed)

During this current season of The Mindy Project in the episode entitled “Sk8ter Man” Mindy begins dating a skater in an effort to prove that she’s not a judgmental person.  Now, don’t get me wrong the man is fine. Sadly he is also an utter buffoon. At one point in the episode, Mindy shrieks. “My body is attracted to you body but when you speak my brain gets angry.” I nearly died laughing. But in all seriousness it got me to thinking about how we choose relationships and companions. I thought about how draining these relationships can be if we solely base our interests off of the physical attributes of the other person. I’ve been on a few dull dates with a delicious looking gentleman who only wanted to discuss himself. He droned on and on about something that could have been explained in three minutes. My interest in the man quickly waned, and visuals of his biceps couldn’t incite me aback on a date with him. I soon began declining his invitations out.  

But what if you don’t decline? Can you be so in lust with someone’s outer appearance that you can carry on with a romantic relationship with them despite the disparities in intellectual interests and conversation?  I’m not saying that you have to discuss the merits of Fouquet and all that (quite frankly I still don’t get it), but you should be able to have stimulating conversations that range from debates on the best pizza in the city, to museum experiences, articles and so forth.

I was further reminded of this point a few weeks back. As I glanced about being nosey, I observed a couple. A woman scolded what I assume was her boyfriend from 125th street to Columbus Circle (59th street) like he was a child. The train was extremely crowded like it always is during rush hour, and instead of holding on to a pole this man (who was well over six feet tall) thought it was appropriate to lean against this much smaller woman. Every time the train stalled he stumbled, nearly knocking her over which in turn knocked everyone else surrounding them off kilter. He whined every time she told him to hold on (he was 30 years old at least!!). I along with everyone else on the train was flabbergasted. If you’ve gotten to the point in your relationship where you have to treat your significant other like a five-year old, I think its best that you let go and find yourself an adult.

I thought about the train couple as I went thru the rest of my day.  I shuttered to think about the type of conversations that they had on a regular basis. Why was she forcing herself to deal wit this type of situation? It has to be exhausting. Not only can you not have an intellectual conversation, you also have to play someone’s parental figure. I acknowledge the fact that we are society plagued by superficial outer appearances, but at what cost? Being with someone who is fine but simple won’t do you any favors in the long run. 

xoxoxo Chocolate Girl in the City xoxoxoxox