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2013 Recap

So how was my 2013? After two weeks of reflection, I can say it was a mixed bag. I decided that since my job has entered into the world of boring and uninspiring, I should spend more time on my social life. The funny thing is my boring little office job turned unbearable for a serious three-month stretch and I really had to force myself to go there everyday. A trick a friend and I developed years ago while in boring positions was to give yourself something to look forward to every week. This could include something as small as a pedicure and something as grand as a fabulous vacation. So what were the highlights? In honor of my Super Secret Book from 1986, here are the things I can remember.

Best Friends

I had some good support this year especially as my stress levels increased. And some people really went above and beyond. I am truly grateful.

New Friends

Well, only one but so far, so good.

Favorite TV Shows

Parks and Rec – The one where Leslie announces her candidancy and the crew slips on the ice is awesome.

Orange is the New Black* – Cliché, but so much fun

Arrested Development – I know some people were disappointed but this was such a weird and ingenious concept of storytelling.

The Good Wife – Although I admit that Alicia is getting on my nerves

Nashville – My actual preferred soapy indulgence over another one word female-lead ABC show

Dallas – Great clothes, great cars, beautiful homes. It’s the prettiest thing on TV

*Also serves as my favorite new show

Fun Fads

Pointy nails

Social Media takedowns

Bitstrips

I suck at remembering these things until two days later

Sports

This may be the year I gave on sports. Oh yeah, except the absolutely wonderful March Madness, my first love never disappoints.

Best Albums

Well, I liked a ton of women this year: Cecile McLorin Salvant, Valerie June, Alice Smith, Janelle Monae, Emeli Sande. Plus a few guys: Gregory Porter and Robert Glasper

Best Concerts

The best thing about this year are the awesome concerts I attended. I rang in the new year with Nas. I saw the gorgeous and just plain good Legends of Summer tour. Janelle Monae gave me one of my funnest moments in life. I also twerked to Big Freedia, screamed to Babyface and rocked with The Whispers.

Favorite Movies

Okay, this was a slow movie year for me. I usually see at least two movies a month, but significantly slowed down. So I really liked Gravity and The Butler. Twelve Years A Slave was so haunting that I will probably remember it for the rest of my life. That is all.

Funniest Moment

That crazy lady meltdown in the Kingston airport will be added to my amazing collection of stories, no lie

Worst Moment

Redacted to protect the guilty and horrible

And missing Stevie. Lawd Jesus, I missed Stevie!!

Fun Moments

Janelle Monae is everything

Slow Motion

Cruising on Route 3

Favorite Spots

So I lost my Cheers. I guess my liver is happy.

Meanest Moment

I plead the fizzifth.

The Holiday Edition

christmas_angelSo this weekend, at a party we had a rousing conversation about Christmas music. I can be a bit of a humbug when it comes to Christmas. But I do love holiday music. Of course I am a huge snob about music and usually only like one or two versions of the classics. So I don’t buy new Christmas albums because I honestly don’t care. Your version of This Christmas isn’t better than Donny’s so why are we pretending. I get it. Holiday albums are cheap to produce, easy to market and great returns on investments, but so. Here my definitive list. You are welcome to buy the recent offerings from Kelly Price or Ledisi but not I. My list is my list.

  1. This Christmas. Donny Only! So when I was little I had no clue who Donny Hathaway was, so every time I heard it on the radio, I couldn’t figure out who made it and got sad.
  2. Joy to the World – Whitney Houston. This is a close second favorite holiday song. God, I love this song. As I have established, I only like pure singers, not the folks who remind you of you and your crew. I hate that stupid rationale for liking an artist. There are folks who can sing and folks who can’t. Your fave’s warbling can never match the beauty of this.
  3. Silent Night – The Temptations. Because in my heart, I want you to be free.
  4. A Christmas Song – Nat King Cole. I amazingly also like the Toni Braxton version.
  5. O Holy Night. I loved this song in church but had to wait until the 90’s to finally get a great recorded version. And there are two! Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.
  6. Winter Wonderland – Aretha Franklin. I like how jazzy she made this boring little Christmas song, because when your office carolers sing it, it is a dry little ditty.
  7. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt. This has a message I can get behind.
  8. Every Year, Every Christmas – Luther Vandross. A good bit of melancholy that doesn’t make you want to totally slit your wrists – I’m looking at you “What Do the Lonely Do for Christmas.”
  9. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland. Sinatra and Luther Vandross works as well. You really need a throaty voice for this song to work. Sorry countless others that have made this song.
  10. All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah. Look this song is fun and uplifting and really how many Christmas songs can say that?
  11. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Jackson 5. So cute with young Michael!
  12. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love. If it’s good enough for Dave Letterman every year, it should be for you too.
  13. Let It Snow – Boyz II Men. No mention of Santa or Christ though.
  14. Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto – James Brown. I like the begging.
  15. Christmas In Hollis – Run DMC. With an honorable mention to Back door Santa, as shameful as that song is.
  16. My Favorite Things – The Supremes. So bouncy and fun.
  17. What Child is This – Vanessa Williams. I always hated this song in choir, but she made it pretty.
  18. Carol of the Bells – Destiny’s Child. I don’t even know why I like this thing. Maybe because it’s weird.

I love a lot more but I think I will stop now.  And apparently I am not allowed to like Baby, It’s Cold Outside anymore, so I left it off. But if I did like it — the Ray Charles / Betty Wright version.

Happy Anniversary! Edition

Anniversary Gift and Champagne Glass on LaceHappy Anniversary! My blog is officially one year old. Ironically, my blog anniversary also coincided with a bit of writer’s block. This explains the lack of posts. I started this blog as I was in the midst of professional ennui. I left my cool creative job due to bad management and returned to the life of a government office drone. I needed an outlet for some creativity. I also needed to find another focus in life if my career wasn’t going to be it. I have always loved outings, so I decided to that I needed better experiences. You can’t have a mundane work life and personal life.  I still remember my childhood hanging partner once said, weekends are for having fun. She stayed planning activities for us. Amazingly I sucked at a lot of them – skating, bowling and swimming, but I was out there trying week after week. I remember we even went paddleboating once, at which I was decent. I learned at an early age that the best life is one away from the couch.

I was reminded of this fact during the Columbus Day weekend. I planned to go to WonderFull that weekend. I even listened to Stevie Wonder all week at work to ready myself. But the weather was dark and rainy and I talked myself out of it. As an only child, I am more than willing to do things on my own. However, I just determined maybe it was best for me to stay in and rest. People always say that and I always dismissed it as malarkey. Hey, I was the person who went out for New Years Eve alone when my cousins cancelled because of snow. It’s Michigan. It always snows in December! That was one of the best nights of my life. Well, my instinct was correct and I should not have stayed home. Because Stevie Wonder showed up! To sing! I just…cannot. Lesson learned.

However, the rest of the weekend was good. I mean…it could have been an epic weekend for the ages but alas it was merely good. Sunday, we decided to celebrate the unofficial Treat Yo Self Day on a budget. First, we had brunch at Twist thanks to Living Social. I really liked the restaurant and would definitely go back. Then, we had pedicures with wine! I really wanted a massage but unfortunately the salon with the deal I found only had one masseuse on duty.

Finally the weekend wrapped with the most fun event ever. I didn’t think it would ever happen but the joyful (get it?) concert I attended my freshman year of college with The Fugees has been replaced as the most enjoyable concert ever. That was a lot of “ever’s.” However Janelle Monae wears the crown now. That concert was entertaining, danceable and fun. Fun is the best way to describe it. I think she is the most entertaining performer currently out. I mean she came out in a straight jacket to Django. I cannot express how awesome she is in person and I highly recommend everyone see her live.

Hopefully, the next year will bring even more adventures.

The Reflections on Dating Past Edition

So earlier this week, the Washington Post ran The Cloture Club’s article on the 10 DC Guys We’ve All Dated. I was so excited as a chronic singleton I thought it would be good for a laugh. And it was not. I did recognize some of the “Guys” from men I worked with but honestly never dated any of them. I think the list was missing a little color. So The Root came out with its list of the 10 Guys Black Women Have Dated. It was cute and more familiar but  I came with my own mental list after reading the article that I just needed to share.

Here’s something I discovered over the years, I have a defective girl dating gene. I just can’t date properly. It annoys most of those around me who want me to find a husband already. But I don’t think I know how. My coffee dates seem to turn into Saturday Night Live sketches and the only thing that happens is a sad story to make marrieds and long termers feel better about their romantic lives. When I was younger, I was sold the fallacy that I was “picky.” People often ascribe this problem to the chronically single and feel like you are somehow limiting your choices. So I decided to date a lot more, taking “The Year of Yes” as my model. In the book, the author said yes to every date proposal except homeless people and the visibly mentally ill. I didn’t go that far but I gave it a try. What that yielded was a serious of God-awful dates make me never want to date again. So, here I sit from the sidelines watching others happily (this all seems so mysterious to me) couple. And here without further ado is my list of A  Dozen DC Brothas We’ve All Dated

***This only applies to those that do date. Not those that go on the aforementioned coffee date the year they move here and voila are married for 10 years.

Southern Transplant

Cloture Club had a similar gentlemen from the melanin-challenged perspective. However, our brotha usually went to a HBCU, is very religious and knows only a few people. He is kind, charming and ridiculously polite while a tad boring. He complains all the time about living here, the price of everything and the traffic. Your first date is probably in a nice restaurant in the deep suburbs such as Manassas, Ashburn or Woodbridge. He tells you all the time how “interesting you are.” However, complains that you go out too much. “You are going out with your friends on Friday? Didn’t you go out with them last Friday?” Ultimately, he judges that you are too “wild” for him for having Sunday brunch plans and going to Happy Hour on Friday. Don’t be surprised if six months after you break up, he marries his high school/college sweetheart and moves back home.

Displaced New Yorker

He’s really cool. He constantly tells you that he is from New York. He puts down DC as “country.” Don’t be surprised if he quotes rap lyrics in casual conversation. He absolutely loves debating for hours about random facts or trivia. Even though you are right that Marla Gibbs was on The Jeffersons and not Good Times, he continues to discuss it for a solid hour as he gets excited and you get annoyed. For your first date he probably picks you up in his SUV while loud hip hop plays, taking you too a really nice restaurant in Georgetown though he is wearing shorts and sneakers. These relationships work best if you yourself are a Southern Transplant because it works something like the Jay Z / Beyonce pairing.

Military Dude

He is really dependable, protective and smart. He occasionally has anger issues about some things that shouldn’t faze him. You counterbalance this by being extra sweet. He will shovel your snow, wash your car and fix a leaky toilet. Your first date is usually coffee so he can scope you out and then if he likes you, some hiking, biking or other outdoorsy nonsense that you may or may not like. He doesn’t like you to drink (empty calories) and if you make it there, the sex is awesome. However, you always feel inadequate because he does so much: work, exercise, take care of his friends/family and you like sitting on the couch watching HGTV. This relationship is tricky as you can quickly lose yourself in his life and cannot figure out if you want to or not.

International Lover Part I

He is usually from West Africa and came to school here in the U.S. He is usually extremely smart, capable and funny. Your first date is usually a chain restaurant in the suburbs that he absolutely loves which perplexes you. His friends and family must meet your quickly in the relationship and you could be blindsided on date two with an impromptu meeting. Said friends and family also have first right of refusal on his schedule, so he often cancels dates if they want to do something instead. This grates on your nerves, but he doesn’t see the issue. If you like to keep things casual for months than this relationship could work. Otherwise, it will not.

International Lover Part II

This brotha hails from the Caribbean. He is sweet, charming and always willing to help you out of your clothes. Your first date is usually some hole in the wall for authentic (fill in the blank) food and drinks, then grinding at a tiny club the size of your bathroom. You can’t tell why you like him but you do. Then he requests that you call him regularly to check in. At first it’s endearing but then you realize that you have an important job to do and don’t want to be that “girl” always on the phone with her man. He makes plans for you without your knowledge. “What do you mean we are going to Ocean City for the weekend?” And again if you make it there, the sex is incredible. However you start to feel smothered and can’t breathe. You eventually break up and he takes it coolly but continues to call you constantly. You then change your number but run into him in moment of weakness and give him your new number. This continues for years unless you marry somebody else. This could also continue if he marries someone else, so be careful not to get your tires slashed.

Baller

This brotha is awesome. You and he both know it. He is moneyed, legitimately connected and usually comes from one of those Our Kind of People families, athletics or somehow lucked upon the secret formula for wealth. He has houses in various parts of the country, Caribbean; knows famous people and is never in town for more than four days in a row. He usually lets you pick the first date as a test of your taste level. Then buys out the menu for one of those elusive $200+ dates Twitter debates. Subsequent dates include car services, parties with people from the White House administration or box seats at sporting events. You realize quickly that your wardrobe isn’t ready for this relationship but try to fake it the best way you can. His family is okay with your presence but hasn’t totally warmed up to you. You finally discover that there is another miss taking his time and you seriously consider if you should break up and leave the perks behind. You do, but don’t really like it.

Frat Bruh

There comes a time in every DC sista’s life when they meet the fraternity  member. This brotha loves his fraternity. Your first date is probably some happy hour after work. He always asks if you are a member of a sorority, if you are he rattles off a dozen sorors you should know and if you aren’t he wonders why not. If you make it, get lots of rest, as you will have picnics, cabarets, charity events, day parties and comedy shows to attend. You will be exhausted. There will be some knucklehead frat that you will hate but have to see all the time. You will never get a moment alone as most fraternities guys are natural extroverts. So if you are a fellow extrovert, you may thrive but too much and steer the focus away from him. It’s a really fine line.

Entrepreneur

This brotha has decided to become rich by 40 or 50 depending on his age. He read somewhere that the best way to become rich is to own a bunch of businesses (that’s how Bill Gates and Steve Jobs got their starts right? No, umm…okay). So he normally has a 9 to 5 or 10 – 6, then does wedding photography on the weekends, flips houses, sells bootleg Louis Vuitton purses, does web design and landscapes on Sundays. You usually met him at one of his gigs though you didn’t realize he was working or online. You chat for hours but rarely sees each other. Your schedule must somehow align with the 3 -4 waking hours that he is free a week or you must (horror of horrors) allow him to kick it at your house at like 11 p.m. when everything is done. If you don’t, your first date is a meeting at one of his jobs, like a hotel lobby to a quick drink. You chat for months but nothing ever comes of it. He quickly becomes your “guy” friend that you use for advice on other guys.

Connector

This brotha is in DC to become the next Barack or Eric or Cory. You usually meet him at a function as he loves functions. He vaguely knows everyone, whether or not they remember him is the question: bouncers, bartenders, bell hops. He belongs to a charity but doesn’t do any work such as Urban League, NAACP, 100 Concerned Men. In the summer, he attends Essence, BFF and other events in Martha’s Vineyard, Atlanta, etc. In fall, he is consumed with CBC and Howard’s Homecoming. Your first date is drinks at Park. Always Park, then you can move to other hotspots as you are deemed worthy. He is always stopping to chat with someone when you’re out but you are never introduced. You feel like a prop and soon grow bored. You eventually part ways but you see him occasionally at events where he doesn’t acknowledge you while intensely chatting someone up.

Native

Every once in a while, you attempt to date a Native. Not many outsiders in DC has successfully dated Natives. Your first date is usually some long term DC institution, such as the waterfront for crabs. You sort of connect though he often refers to you a “college girl” though it annoys you. He seems knowledgeable until you realize that he knows nothing about Washington things such as the museums or historic landmarks and calls them “tourist traps.” You are never really allowed to visits the suburbs even if that new spot in Bethesda is right by the metro. DC Natives are a rare breed and hard to decipher. He truly believes in the ratio thing and constantly reminds you that there are more women that he could be dating. You break up and vow to never date a DC brotha again.

Mr. Ivy League

He is smart, cultured and reads! He reads! He is very clean cut and usually has a post-graduate degree i.e. law, MBA, doctorate. Your first date is usually at Best 100 list restaurant. Then he drops a bomb on you: he has never really dated a Black woman, but you seem nice. He makes attempts to seem down but stays surprised that you don’t act like a woman on Love and Hip Hop. You ignore these things because he reads! However, he has a tendency to ask you about “Black” things and is trying to figure out what you are attempting to do with your hair. Eventually you break up. However, all isn’t lost. You continue to keep contact and he eventually marries a Black female version of him. You served as a great entry that Black women aren’t crazy.

Professional Student

You usually meet this brotha as he waits on you at a restaurant or sits next to you at a sporting event. He is fun, funny and engaging. You decide to date him because he is in D.C. to take advantage of the great universities in the area and not really a waiter. Your first date is usually a visit to the museum or an outdoor free music festival, then on to a nice restaurant with afternoon specials. You like him a lot but you wonder when he will make actual money and take you on a real date. You always hang out at your apartment as he has at least two roommates and two girlfriends to accompany those roommates. You think you can hold on for the Barack and Michele fantasy until the day that he mentions it would be fun to get a dual medical and law degree, then you bail. You hold out hope that he will graduate, get a great gig and come back to find you.

The Legends of the Summer Edition

Legends of the Summer setThe first 10 days of August were a blur of non-stop activity, both at work and at home. The capper of the month was finally seeing the Legends of the Summer tour. I purchased these tickets back in March when the tax refund was rolling in and I was flush with money. Needless to say, almost six months later, I wondered with my inside voice often if I foolishly spent too much money for one event. It rained pretty much all day and the concert was outside, so I was not really feeling up to it. Thankfully, it only sprinkled during the concert. Score! I needed to take the day off because the concert was in Baltimore and I work in Northern Virginia. The last few times I tried to make it from Northern Virginia to Baltimore on weekdays have been disasters and I didn’t want to risk it. Our plan was to get there early, park far away and have dinner. Well, it took two hours to travel 30 miles in the rain, so that plan never came together. We were at the stadium by 7p—early–and I bore very easily.

I hoped against all hope that the show would start promptly at 8p mainly because I was bored. Sitting in wet folding chairs watching people walk around was no fun. Honestly, I knew better. Based on twitter reaction from previous shows, the concert started around 9 and ended at 11:30p. That is precisely what happened. On a school night! After listening to an hour of a DJ travel from the excellent: Ashford and Simpson to the terrible: whichever hip hop artist is currently on the radio. I was so ready for the show.

Can I say in completely certain terms that the show as awesome? I saw an old episode of No Reservations this week and Anthony joked that coming up with adjectives to describe delicious food becomes exhausting. Finding an adjective to describe an amazing concert is pretty much the same. First, the staging was gorgeous and I happened to match because I was wearing red. I read a Rolling Stone review that stated that Jay Z’s collaboration with Justin has elevated his stage presence. It’s true. I am not exactly sure why Justin went through this “I want to act and design jeans instead of sing” phase, but he needs to stop. He belongs on a stage and he seemed almost Zen singing, dancing, and playing multiple instruments. I know people feel the need to stretch themselves, but again stop. Since he has three relatively short albums (~10 songs a piece) knowing his catalogue is rather easy. I and the audience could happily sing along. Jay Z has a ridiculously long catalogue so knowing what songs he would do became an interesting guessing game. I really hoped for more American Gangster, but oh well.

They came out to that Magna Carta Holy Grail, which I don’t like but it looked fun. Justin and Jay Z took turns performing, sometimes mashing up their songs. Justin would sing hooks for Jay Z songs replacing the original artists. For others, we were forced to hear recorded versions of the hook singers (my least favorite part of the show). Honestly are we really missing anything by having the background singers take turns being Alicia Keys or Rihanna? I like my live shows with live music, but I digress. They also had singular sets where they would do a few of their songs on stage without each other. My favorite part, other than the gorgeous set, was the band. In all red, they would dance for Jay Z songs and riff for Justin’s. Seeing the band bop to N’s in Paris was adorable, no Kanye necessary. All in all it was worth every anguished penny.

Earlier that month, I saw the second season of Liner Notes. This event gets bigger every time and I am so thrilled for the artists. To think I found this event through a Goldstar deal and now it is becoming an appointment event. The artists were able to move to the larger theater of the Atlas, another cool thing.  I hope soon, they tour. Think of the amazing possibilities. They could do a Philadelphia sound show in Philly, Motown in Detroit, Cleveland funk in you know, Cleveland. But I am sure they don’t need my suggestions. I just want more and more people to experience the greatness and cleverness of the show. And my goodness does Akua Allrich have a voice as clear as a bell!

Finally, my moment of disappointment, I spent serious coins to attend the Summer Spirit festival this year. Last year I won tickets and I really should have attempted the same thing this year. We wanted to buy tickets because it has been rainy all summer and wanted to be prepared for D’Angelo. Well, D’Angelo cancelled his concert in Brooklyn on the Thursday before and things were getting iffy. We were mentally, but of course not emotionally prepared, for his cancellation and it came true. This lineup was really not worth the coins without D’Angelo. My theory for these things is if the festival ticket costs less than seeing the artists individually, then it’s a bargain. That was not true. Hiatus Kaiyote was interesting but still in the opening act stage of their careers. I like Black Alley but I’ve seen them free at local venues and once for <$20 as part of a larger local artists festival lineup. Backyard Band is not a group I normally check for, so I am not sure. Busta was okay. The problem is that he did snippets of each of this songs. I did not like that. Can I get an entire song? And no, I don’t want to hear your guest appearance on other songs. Nobody cares about that Pussycat Dolls song. I remember seeing Busta 15 years ago in college. Granted we were both younger but he had such stage presence and this was lacking something. I know…full songs! It felt like someone said that they didn’t know who he was and he just ran quickly through all his songs to prove his existence. We know who he is and we didn’t need that.

They replaced D’Angelo with Raheem Devaughn which someone annoyingly said that he was a better choice. This person has no taste and shouldn’t be trusted. I think Raheem completely gave it his A game, but it really didn’t matter. We came for D’Angelo, despite all of his troubles, a gifted singer and musician who created two terrific albums. Plus, Raheem performed for free right down the street from my house for National Night Out, so that eliminates any bargains there back to my original theory.  Finally Erykah came out all late. I know this because I needed to go to the bathroom. The attendees at this year’s festival were a bit more coarse than previous years and the one time I went to the bathroom wasn’t an experience I wanted to replicate for a host of reasons. I saw Erykah during her remarkable Baduizm / Mama’s Gun tour this year ($40) and while I love her, she wasn’t my draw to the festival. There is usually a 30 minute set-up time between artists. This was 45 minutes. She really had to be good since D’Angelo didn’t make it and last year, she was in one of her moods. She was at her mesmerizing, odd best. I’ll admit I left early as I had to go to the bathroom and decided it was best to go to my own bathroom. In short, unless the festival radically changes its lineup next year, I probably won’t attend. There were so many local artists that only the lawn makes sense cost-wise. However, the crowd was more annoying and I can see getting irritated really quickly. We shall see as I always say.

The July Wrap-Up Edition

Photo Kindly Borrowed from SoulBounce.comSo July was an extremely busy month for me. That and August are so busy that I will be forced to delay any possibility of being sick until mid-September. Sorry cold germs for the inconvenience. The last two weeks of July were quite awesome. On Friday, 19 July I went to see one of my childhood icons. When I was younger, Jody Watley was the perfect pop star to emulate in my bedroom. I would take my mom’s slip, clip it to my head, put on a flouncy skirt and strut like her videos. The 80’s were great in that women were so prominent on the music charts and videos (though it took a minute for black artists to be featured on MTV. Remember Michael had to sue? And music videos were never the same, thank goodness.) Jody was a solid fourth in my 80’s female singers list. There was my beloved Whitney, my adored Janet, the super fun Madonna and then Jody. Madonna eventually lost luster into the 90’s for me, primarily after the Justify My Love/Sex period. She was replaced with Mariah. However, Jody created two classic albums that I played over and over again.

Jody said that it was her first time in D.C. in 25 years. After the mega success of her first two solo albums, she kind of slid off the mainstream radar. Now, she mostly releases club dance music, which explains the large number of gay men at the show.  She sang her classics along with songs from her recent album, that I surprisingly really liked. But who can hate fun dance music. I got the tickets through a Goldstar deal and was a bit irritated that the show wasn’t full. I mean Jody still dances reminiscent of her Soul Train days and had a group of dancers fanning her in a circle. Why would you miss that? The funniest part is that the couple at the table with us weren’t familiar with her music and just purchased the tickets because of the deal. They stayed amazed how excited we all were and how we could sing along to every song with absolute glee. I think they were pretty converted by the end.

Portrait at the Ambassador's ResidenceThat Saturday I went a lovely garden party (well, it was extremely hot) on the grounds of the South African ambassador’s residence in honor of Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Wouldn’t it be cool if this was an exclusive invite-only shindig? But no it was a paid event. It reminded me that I never became rich. By rich, I mean the fun kind of rich that goes to Martha’s Vineyard, the Hamptons, Nice and fabulous events with gorgeous clothes and perfectly coiffed hair. I do not desire to be the kind of rich that requires arguing with other women at galas and necessitates tons of plastic surgery like on the Real Housewives franchise. I will admit I spent much of June and July on health watch seeing if Mandiba would make it to his 95th birthday. But he endured and we celebrated with live dancing, a DJ playing Black-Eyed Peas, which seemed off, and an old fashioned barbecue. Did I mention that the DJ’s music selections seemed off? I was hoping for an opportunity to hear South African contemporary music. Otherwise it was a beautiful event.

The last weekend in July I attended a wedding. Two down and one to go. I was very concerned since I was attending alone as I only knew the couple. I always hate to bring random plus ones to what I know are quite expensive events, so I usually attend solo.  I have attended weddings like this in the past with mixed results. At one wedding, the reception was held at the banquet hall of a church, which meant no secular music. And my friend sat me at a table with septuagenarian family members. Don’t get me wrong, I find a lot of senior citizens highly interesting and entertaining. However, these people were not it. I was bored to tears with no opportunity to dance, no available libations and listening to stories about World War II. The other was an absolute blast. As the groom’s family is of Indian descent and forced me to learn (yay!) all of these wonderful dances.

This wedding turned out to be the latter. As an introvert, I devised a strategy. I found another seeming singular introvert and convinced her to be friends. Turns out her husband was a groomsman and she didn’t know many people either. I also made friends with people at my table, who were staying at the same hotel. Cab score! The reception felt like an episode of Fame as the bridal party had numerous line dances that they performed. I started to feel bad as a native metro Detroiter as I only knew a few of them. We teased my new buddy’s husband as he missed rehearsal and didn’t participate in any of the dances. Slacker. There was also a dance battle with a 40+ year old, who I discovered attended the aforementioned Jody Watley concert! See how circular this post is! He battled a teenager. This terrible idea should be featured in one of those Direct TV commercials: “Don’t get caught in a dance battle with a teenager.” The reception was great and I am so happy for the couple. They met in college and reconnected years later, so they came out to “Back Together Again.” What an inspired choice.

The Take It Off Edition

This was a difficult week. A very difficult week. I had a coworker once say in reference to that infamous glass that I am not a pessimist or an optimist. I am a realist who’s had someone drink his water before. This was also a coworker who became embittered that he lived in a neighborhood that became increasingly Black and once told me that the Civil Rights movement did Black people no favors as Blacks did better under slavery. Of course this was in a workplace setting where I couldn’t respond properly.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know what sunny view of slavery he had as I surmised internally (can’t be the angry Black woman in the office when it’s only you) that he had never read a slave narrative or an African American history textbook to see how harsh that life actually was. I imagined that he would never watch the amazing film, Slavery by Another Name, which showed that southern Whites established a stereotype of criminality in Blacks in an effort to imprison and obtain free labor from Blacks after Emancipation. It is an enduring stereotype that everyone somehow bought into and we still aren’t free from. I’m sure he never read a statistic that was astonishing and inspirational to me. At the beginning of the 20th century, 90% of all Blacks were impoverished and that number dropped to 30% by the end of the 20th century. That is a lot of hard work and effort that no one trumpets. Sigh, what a week…

 

scale

So back to the glass, I’m a realist who gets exhausted by all this reality. My original plan for this entry was to discuss the fact that I manifest much of my stress through my overwhelming love of food. So, let me return to that plan. Food soothes a multitude of ills. I obtain this wondrous click (to reference Tennessee Williams) when I eat a perfectly sugary chocolate chip cookie. That click caused me to gain 20 pounds in the last few months. Something odd happened. None of my clothes fit. I put on a dress, sat down in my car and immediately realized that I made a terrible wardrobe decision that I was stuck with a day of extreme discomfort. I decided to finally weigh myself and voila…20 more pounds. Considering that I was already a few pounds over when I last weighed myself, I realized I had to change my approach to life.

I have friends that barely eat or barely think about eating. A lot of these people are also picky eaters, which makes any attempt to eat out an extreme challenge. I read that overweight people’s hunger sensor works more. That is totally me. Except for years, I never really gained weight, or if I gained weight I could take it off rather quickly by eliminating a snack or adding 15 minutes per workout. However, once I hit my 30’s my metabolism changed and it was over. My action plan to keep the weight off was simple. I stay away from high caloric and fast food. No tasty food at home, none in my office. However, at my new job thin people with actual willpower constantly had all kinds of delicious snacks and treats. I need tricks and schemes.

I felt overwhelmed. I would need to lose 25- 30 pounds, not the stubborn 7 extra pounds that I seem to keep. I once again attempted to do the Fat Smash. It’s a diet designed by Dr. Ian from Celebrity Boot Camp. I saw a modified version online and was successful at losing weight when I gained 15 pounds due to my reliance on fast food while I was a travel warrior. I downloaded the book and started the program in last October. I failed oh so miserably. The popular criticism of the diet is that it is hard, very very hard. It’s a detailed multi-month, layered plan. Turns out the online version of the plan I liked so much but couldn’t find is the sustainment plan that you actually don’t get to until about three months in.

The first 9 days of the plan is a complete detox. It trains your brain to not like food. Okay, according to the plan, it’s supposed to cleanse your system of all the delicious bad food you consume. I’ve taken colon cleanse pills and done juice fasts before. How terrible could it be? Well, terrible. The key to the detox is really what you can consume: fruits, veggies, one cup of oatmeal, one cup of nonfat yogurt, beans, nuts, popcorn and brown rice.  There were other items I don’t remember because I don’t like them. The food must be cooked simply. No frying, breading, etc.. Over the course of three months, you can gradually add foods back a few at a time: sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and bread, lean meat, dairy, cereal. Some food you can never add back. After a month last fall, I lost about 7 pounds (that I kept off), but returned to old habits.

How do I lose this weight? Back to Fat Smash. Just for a month, then switch to something sensible like Weight Watchers. I made this decision like many Aries decisions, on a whim. I wasn’t prepared. First off, this plan is quite pricey. Plant based foods are way more expensive than easy processed foods. I ran to the grocery store, purchased my list of allowed items and was ready to go. Breakfast was oatmeal and blueberries. I hate oatmeal, but really wanted some kind of carbs into my day to avoid gas, lol. I actually eat oatmeal regularly. However, it’s with brown sugar and dried apricots that mask the mushy nothingness. No sugar or dried fruit which is just sugar were allowed. Man, did that oatmeal make me sad. Lunch was hilarious because I didn’t make anything the night before. That morning I just grabbed stuff for a salad: bagged salad mix, onions, red pepper, black beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. Then I had yogurt and grapes for an afternoon snack. The key to this plan is to constantly eat. Otherwise you get hungry, Incredible Hulk hungry. So I had pistachios and strawberries for additional snacks. At home, I realized that I didn’t feel like cooking. I really should have meal planned. So I stuck with a trusty staple I love: Wegman’s brown rice steamables and added a mixed vegetable steamable (I cheated and added the smallest dab of butter ever) and some cannellini beans. On the beans I sprinkled cayenne pepper. It was the saddest dinner ever. But I was satisfied.

Over the weekend, I finally devised a menu and things came together. I made a wonderful lentil soup that was everything. I grabbed some soup recipes from the internet and combined elements of two of them. The key was cumin and red wine vinegar. I couldn’t remember if I could have vinegar but I let it go. I made fruit smoothies for breakfast and forgot about the sad oatmeal. I also gave myself a small cheat everyday to stay on track. I had coffee on two days because I was extremely sleepy at work. Another day I had tea with the slightest bit of sugar. I have this apricot peach tea that really doesn’t need sugar but realized I was out when I got to work. I had 3 to 4 Hershey’s kisses to satiate my sugar cravings on some days. One day, I went to my new office’s taco Tuesday mixer and had some soft Chicken taco. That didn’t go well by the way. The cheats helped me stay on the plan and I felt physically great after about a week. I was detoxed. The first few days I felt a bit like how a Hollywood starlet must feel: hungry, slightly loopy and off balance. I am pretty sure this is how they must eat regularly to maintain their size. Plus, you aren’t allowed to exercise more than 30 minutes a day. So I got a lot of rest.

I did well, remarkably well. Even eating out. One day, I had Chinese food: mixed vegetables and brown rice. There was this tasty orange sauce that came with it that I devoured. I am not sure what it was or if it was allowed on the plan but I ate it anyway. I also learned to increase my portions. I was eating way too little salad. I moved from a bowl full to a plate full. Every drab meal was met with extreme excitement since I was always starving. However, eventually my appetite subsided and I started to eat less. I extended the detox to two weeks and after two weeks, I lost 9 pounds. I decided to skip the incremental steps and move to the sustainment portion of the plan as I was ready to eat everything. With the 5 pounds I lost in the two weeks prior, I am up to 14 pounds. I am halfway there. I just need no triggers make me want a cookie. Looks around…nope nothing here.

 

The Music Filled Edition

First of all, I have decided I hate taking a cab in the D.C. area. Taking cabs in other parts of the country usually only involve disinterested drivers that chat on their cell phones the entire ride, or crazy drivers taking the long way to make more money, or stinky cabs. But in D.C., they won’t even pick you up. I think that is of course, the worst. Okay now that I got that off of my chest, back to our regularly schedule blogging.

Last week, I missed an opportunity to see the Lianne La Havas show, because Smokey (my car, which is named after Smokey Robinson or possibly its color) decided to act up. I was okay with this because I couldn’t decide if I liked her CD or not. However, some tweets I saw claimed the concert was a success. Maybe next time.

new orleans bingoOn Saturday, I was back on schedule with a filthy loaner, complete with a cigarette butt and abandoned M&M. I will admit I prefer a clean inside of car rather than outside of car. I wonder what that says about me. I prefer the part of the car I see the most, the interior, to be clean rather than have shiny rims and a spotless finish. Last weekend, my month of things procured from a discount service continues. I picked up a discount deal to the New Orleans Bingo! Show at the Kennedy Center. I haven’t been to the Kennedy Center since I saw Stevie Wonder like three years ago. I used to go all the time for their free events and something weird happened. Oh now I remember, I am stuck working in the Northern Virginia suburbs which to me is like working in a Playskool village. Look at the Whole Foods on every corner!

Anyway, I decided to go because the Kennedy Center posted a video of Big Freedia and I was in love. I will admit I was a little worried that the regular KenCen crowd would attend this event and be flabbergasted by twerking and booty clapping. Turns out, I was right and it was awesome. The entire event is hard to describe. There is music, bingo, burlesque, skits, traditional New Orleans jazz by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (I think this tricked the old people into attending) and Big Freedia. The bingo winner received a giant spoon, which had to be won by a robot dancing contest after a tie. One of the KenCen dames made an executive decision to go for the gusto and another gave it a nice college try.

Big Freedia came out in a God-awful weave along with two additionally terribly weaved female dancers and two male dancers. Bounce music is my shizznit as I am from Detroit and our main dance output is shaking our rumps rhythmically (see Beyonce’s Uh Oh, which is actually a Detroit dance called the Booty Hop) and jitting (which I don’t even know how to spell). The dancers did lots of wonderful gyrating and booty popping that some of the KenCen folks weren’t ready for. Hilariously, the couples behind me (my section was mostly young) joked that they would pay a million dollars to see the looks of the more seasoned attendees’ faces during that segment. I got a firsthand download en route to the ladies room, when a woman said to her husband, “That last act was weird, huh?” To which the still mesmerized hubby replied, “Sure.”

I think the event really needed New Orleans food to cap it off. Man, is New Orleans food delicious. Wait…what happened? Oh, yea. The evening was awesome, three hours of pure fun.

Row of Bar StoolsNext, I attended the bi-annual Old School Hip Hop Bar Crawl. I arrived in time for the second set, which was this awful mix of popular hip hop songs over reggae beats. Despite the hair, I hate reggae except for watered down pop reggae, so I hate reggae. I gave that a whopping 24 minutes. See, how much more patient I am becoming. We moved on the 80’s and 90’s New York set, which was filled with wondrous songs I had never heard of. I get that the DJ wanted to stand out and not lean on popular songs, but I had to Sound Hound a lot. The event ended with Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones and that helped. Unfortunately, my favorite DJ from the last event helmed the only spot to get decent food. I was hungry as cereal only lasts so long. I could only hear the Native Tongues vs. Wu Tang set faintly. But it was probably great based on past experience.

Next was the Rock-A-Fella, Ruff Ryders and Flip Mode set. What happened to Rah Digga? I loved her. I never purchased any of her stuff but she was nice. Oh, I think I recognized the problem. Last, we went to the final set at Tabaq. We choose to go upstairs and I don’t remember why.  I do love the rooftop view but was forced to listen to Feist as the music from the bar crawl didn’t reach that far. This was redeemed by the fact that the bartender gave me a free shot that I shouldn’t have taken in hindsight. And he performed the sexy straw trick. I am a sucker for the sexy straw trick. All in all, it was a great weekend. For outings. It wasn’t perfect as I was without Smokey. I ended the weekend by giving Mad Men deep concentration. (darn shot!).

Loving You, Losing You

Young Whitney

Young Whitney

It’s been a year since we lost my beloved Whitney. I still remember where I was: on the couch, preparing for an ill-fated date. I tried not to be upset as I had to be engaging and entertaining. When Michael died, I took a weekend to grieve properly, absorbing video marathons, poring through photos online, wishing he was at peace. I couldn’t do that for my Whitney. Instead, I was forced to push on. This is one of those days that the rituals of being a single woman are exhausting. The fact that my date dismissed Whitney in favor of the so-called better artist of Beyonce made this date pointless in hindsight. I like Bey, but no.

I had been worried for her all winter. I saw Whitney post-filming of Sparkle and she looked puffy. I wondered if she relapsed and began a drug withdrawal protocol. Familial experience gave me the knowledge that medical withdrawals pack on the pounds. I figured she was surrounded by triggers and was concerned. Of course, that I don’t intimately know her proves my ultimate fandom. She had been filming a movie, experienced an unsatisfying tour and re-promoting herself. This is a lot of stress for a woman I rarely saw happy.

I had to be 8 years on when I discovered Whitney and instantly fell in love. First, it was the mid-80’s and young Black women were rarely seen on television. People may not remember this era but before the Cosby Show, there wasn’t a huge glut of Black female faces in culture. Black men, yes. Women, no.  My first attention revolved around Diana Ross and loving her Central Park concert film, which was shown on syndication often. However, Diana was old, well older than my mother and not particularly relatable. Then Whitney arrived, tall, gorgeous (people often forget how beautiful Whitney was as it became so secondary to her talent) and could sing SING. Not that female singers then couldn’t belt out a note. But she could stand assuredly and sing so effortlessly. Nothing short of amazing. I fell so deeply in love the moment I saw her. It would never be the same (though I just quoted a Mariah lyric there).

I remained truly devoted. I forgave her ridiculous wigs, which had a tendency to minimize her beauty. Maybe that is why she relied on them so heavily. I shrugged off critics that wrongly claimed her music wasn’t soulful enough. I have never been one who thought that emotion outranked vocal ability, which is probably why I was never a huge Mary J Blige fan. She was no my Whitney. I decided to dislike Diana Ross, because Whitney mentioned that she was mean to her while she was starting out. Whitney liked Aretha. I liked Aretha. I boycotted the Soul Train Awards when she was booed. Forget them, for not recognizing true talent, beauty and poise.

While exceptionally accomplished, my Whitney always possessed an edge in interviews. She always needed to defend herself against those who said that she couldn’t dance (she couldn’t, but really?), she wasn’t down (she’s from Newark, home of scary Blackness), she was manufactured (as the best singer bot ever and that sounds awesome!).  I noticed inklings that she wasn’t squeaky clean: rumors of an affair with Jermaine Jackson (Whitney always had terrible taste in men), fights in clubs, arguments at football games. I knew that’s what the record company was hiding, her rawness. Maybe the requirement to smooth those edges got to her. We will never know.

When she passed, I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry when I watched the funeral. One of my mini Twitter rants from two years ago, was the fact that I never hear Whitney songs on the radio. Yet, I hear Madonna songs and I didn’t like it. So one day, four-five months after her death, I heard two Whitney songs on two different stations while driving and I sobbed. A true, all out bawl. Goodness, my icon. The first true love of my little girl heart was gone.

I wanted such great things for her. I wished that she got away from fame and drama for a while to seek peace. I never truly abandoned her, just prayed that she got it: who she was, who she didn’t need to be. Find the safety in the knowledge

Sing Whitney

Sing Whitney

of what she could and couldn’t control. Her chaos (I completely forgot her messy her union with Bobby was until a read a rerun interview with Vibe from the mid-90’s) could easily be discarded for quiet. I still recall an interview with Oprah, while Mariah Carey gazed at her so lovingly, she admitted that she was lonely. I wanted to run around and get her somegreat friends. When I saw her that atrocious Being Bobby, I saw glimpses of her funny, fierce, phenomenal self and I hoped that those moments of her could become more frequent. I never made jokes about the substance abuse. It’s an easy vice that becomes all consuming way too quickly. What I wished for her is that she could always stand still and sing effortlessly, leaving all of the lessers behind.