The New Job Edition

your careerSo this month, I embark on my next career journey and begin a new job. I am extremely excited and can honestly say that my last gig wasn’t a good fit. I am sickly, they insist you make up leave. I am a control freak and management directs your assignments. I prefer to speak plainly and bluntly and any semblance of possible back talk is not allowed. I hate commuting and this job was far. When I was finally allowed to tell people I was leaving—this didn’t happen soon for a variety of reasons—we joked that there are key indicators that it is time to leave a job.

You go to mediation! There you are at your job hating life in general when you are forced to sit next to some annoying individual who irks every ounce of your spirit. This person can be smelly, listen to terrible music loudly, always ask for help with work, or have a smart mouth. Anyway, one day after enduring just too much, you snap. A loud argument ensues and your boss has the perfect solution: mediation. You don’t want to go to mediation. You barely want to come to work. Mediation isn’t going to make this person your best friend and the issue is actually greater than loud music. Once this happens, there’s nothing left to do but depart the office.

You pack up your stuff! This was courtesy of a colleague, who told me that she hated one job so much that she packed up her stuff from her office over the weekend and took it home. She didn’t have another job but she didn’t want to have her stuff in a place she hated. I had a teammate, who also did this. He packed all of his belongings in a box to be ready at any time to get away quickly. This was after a lazy, midde-aged person filed an ageism complaint against him. When you are concerned with the speed of which you can leave your office, it’s time to go.

You hide from your boss/coworkers! At my last job I was swamped and I worked on a team full of extroverted analyzers. They could discuss an issue for 90 minutes and still not develop a reasonable solution. Turns out, I didn’t have time for this. I would watch the clock tick away in a meeting as my To-Do List languished. This is a great practice for college, think tanks, book clubs, but not for the deadline-driven life of an event planner. So I came up with a brilliant solution. I would book a conference room and literally hide from my coworkers in another part of the building. I couldn’t get sucked into some philosophical discussion on what is customer service. Once you actively decide to deceive your coworkers, you should move on.

You create a crazy personal life! You could have a boring home life consisting of feeding your maltese if you are a Black woman or developing nanobrews in the garage, but no one can know that. Otherwise, bosses will try to make you work weekends, go on exhausting business trips to Sioux Falls, or cancel vacation because of a so-called emergency. So you create a demanding husband, an old cat with a bad bladder and an allergy to cat pee, or feminine problems. No one ever asks about feminine problems as men don’t understand it and women don’t want to catch it. When you need to have index cards to remember your lies, look for new opportunities.

You announce you’re leaving! My favorite moment in the history of my crappy jobs during college is this one. I worked at an outbound call center, which is one of the most demoralizing jobs in history. People hate you and through the joy of anonymity they tell you. It didn’t matter that we worked for a national charity. No one wants to be called at home. These places are often lead by a really chipper recent college grad who hugs homeless people and dances in the moonlight. Anyway, the boss came to visit an employee because her numbers were low. She wished to offer some creative strategies to get hostile folks to donate money. The employee mentioned that the job was difficult and she was doing the best she could. But Chippy Mc Chipper wanted to run through some exercises and role play. So after some back and forth, the employee announced she was leaving several times to be ignored by our boss. Finally, she proceeded to gather her belongings and walk out while the boss was still talking. Chippy and the entire floor were dumbfounded. So if you announce you are leaving, well you will leave.

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The Budget Edition

SavingsHello beautiful long neglected blog. I swear I thoroughly enjoyed writing you but this has been a crazy summer. I know I said that about spring, but this has been truly crazy and I can give more enlightenment on that in the near future.

So July turned out to be “look at all these surprise bills” month. So I vowed to save money by limiting outings to twice a week at a max of $30 for a cumulative $200 for the month. This went okay. Fine I failed. Turns out my biggest issues are purchasing gas, eating out and dating. I didn’t realize that my kindness of treating my boyfriend ever so often would be so expensive.

Planned Week One

  • Birthday happy hour at El Centro. My theory is I can have 2 happy hour margaritas and a plate of tacos = $25 with tax and tip.
  • Golf with the ladies = $27.50
  • Bikram = $12

What Had Happened

  • The World Cup made the roof top deck impenetrable and I was starving. So we went to dinner. Then I had a drink with dinner. I finally made happy hour and was convinced by my little spendthrift to buy a round of drink. Actual = $49.47
  • I forgot I promised a bottle of wine for a friend’s cookout = $12
  • Golf with the ladies = $27.50. I skipped lunch to continue on my path
  • I go to $12 Bikram at 12p on my flex Fridays off. However, it was a holiday weekend and thus full price = $20

Planned Week Two

  • Happy Hour at my favorite cheapo spot – McCormick and Schmick’s at Nat’l Harbor which will need to include parking. I prepared for mussels ($5), fries ($3), a cocktail ($7), and parking ($9) = $28
  • Then I planned to attend the Lake Arbor Jazz Festival = $15 and possible food truck purchase $10

What Had Happened

  • The happy hour area was packed so I ended up with real dinner. Then I got on the new shiny Capital Wheel and parking = $53.90
  • My friend suggested buying door tickets as it might rain = $20. Then I didn’t like any of the food truck stuff and got real dinner at a restaurant but stuck to a complex salad = $19
  • Dinner that I forgot I was going to pay for…

Planned Week Three

  • Artscape to see Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. We were taking the train $12 and possible snacks $10
  • Fort Dupont for the DC Emerging Artists concert = $Free
  • The Hip Hop Bar Crawl – $11 for a ticket and $20 for drinks and snacks

What Had Happened

  • So amazingly, I spent $18 for drinks and my friend spend $24 on train tickets
  • Fort Dupont = free
  • I paid $22 for two tickets to the crawl and $9 on snacks. Drinks were purchased for me

Planned Week Four

  • Going away happy hour – $4 for parking (food and drink provided by host)
  • Birthday happy hour – food, a happy hour ½ price wine and parking = $20
  • Fancy dinner – comped as a result of winning a bet

 What Had Happened

  • Perfect
  • Food, wine, tax and tip $21. Parking = $4. Evil Parking Ticket because I forgot to hit start on the app until 30 minutes later = $25
  • Yay!

I also had to abandon my preferred paid yoga due to the fact that I was failing for either sub-par gym yoga or community yoga, which is actually pretty good but too crowded.

The So Far Spring Recap Edition

MP900091157This has been an extremely busy spring. So busy that I struggled to find time to blog while: 1. Working a stressful irritating job 2. Trying to find myself non-irritating job 3. Attempting to lose weight 4.Being a member of a couple and 5. Having a high mileage automobile.

I wanted to write about seeing After Midnight on Broadway and how much fun it was despite the fact that Toni Braxton whispered throughout the entire show. I don’t know what she has against projecting but the sound person could have at least recognized this tendency and turn her individual mic up. Babyface was awesome though and performed his butt off: dancing, singing, telling jokes.

I planned to write about the One Mic Hip Hop Festival and how I am too old for free events at this stage in my life. I spent 3 hours being pelted by wind while standing in line to see Black Girls Rock, only to be offered the opportunity to stand in the lobby and watch the show on television. Yea, so not a waste of time at all. Or seeing Grandmaster Flash at U Street Music Hall.

I intended to write about how I missed the Funk Parade by arriving 30 minutes late and didn’t realize that it was literally only 30 minutes long and not the advertised two hours.

Finally, I needed to discuss our happy weekend road trip to Durham, North Carolina to see the inaugural Art of Cool Festival. The festival was I was about to say cool but realized that is redundant. There were multiple venues and acts per venue to explore. I think the festival has to release some kinks. Some of the better known indie acts were in the venue farthest away from the strip accessible by bus. We missed the bus by less than a minute and unfortunately it didn’t return as soon as we imagined. We thought 10 minutes and finally flagged down a cab after 30. The hip indie acts were extremely popular and often the venue was full. I think they should have found a bigger venue for those artists because we only successfully saw Bilal. We spent the majority of our time in along the strip seeing smaller acts.

We saw Carolyn Malachi, Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz (nice duo in one of the few spots with food), Mark Clive de Lowe and Bilal on the first night. The second day we popped in and out of the outdoor concert. We were completely taken aback by the raw vulnerability of Cody Chestnutt’s lyrics. That night after lots of barbecue we attempted to see King but the venue was full. We ventured over to the main drag to wait for Marcus Anderson and Liv Warfield. It was a fun show but I hoped and most of the audience as well that Liv Warfield sang more than one song. We abandoned the constantly full, faraway venue for Shana Tucker, because according to Rider, she drinks beer alone at the bar and must be great. Our final show was Christian Scott. It was a fallback but I enjoyed it. He is quite chatty and some of the audience grew restless without music to distract them. I liked how the artists flowed in and out of venues to watch each other’s shows.

That was my post. Hopefully, I can restore my normal schedule and find a new job and lose weight and maintain my sanity.

The Hard Work Edition

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Courtesy of Library of Congress

So I meant to write last week but my Office was giving me the blues. I will bypass discussion of the American Cool exhibit to recount my latest musical adventure and an adventure it was. I need to start writing things down. I saw the announcement about the Gregory Porter concert at the Library of Congress and plum forgot to get tickets. By the time I remembered it was sold out. As a result, we decided to try for tickets as they make some available at 6p on the day of shows or so I thought.

I was really proud of myself. First I got there early. I had no food in my stomach but I was there. Luckily I arrived at the same time as half of the quartet so instead of being confused as to where to go I followed them. So imagine my little amazement when I got inside to wait for tickets and it was packed. I just figured a handful of people or so would give it a shot. I didn’t know how many tickets they hand out so I spend 30 minutes trying to figure out how to best position myself for success and wondering where my buddy who decided to accompany me was. I realized first that you don’t get tickets, you get something called rush tickets. These tickets enable you to be the waiting list if the event isn’t filled. Since the show is free, a lot of people order tickets online and don’t show up.

The wait quickly become contentious as the line wrapped around the hallway and the old folks who must have arrived promptly at noon were turned up. They wanted to know exactly how the tickets will be distributed and how the staff planned to ensure there was no cutting. I cannot wait until I get old! Anyway I hate conflict and started to just move on but then my Gregory Porter guardian angel swooped in and saved the day. He told me that I can get in front of him. I ended up with tickets 74 and 75 of 100. Without his benevolence, I never would have made it. The staff told us that we needed to come back at 7:30 to see if we will make it in.

I will say that this method of giving tickets requires a lot of effort on the part of the attendees. You wait in line prior to 6p and come back in 90 minutes to do it again? Anyway we were back. We sat in the overflow room which looks likes the lounge of a Vermont bed and breakfast and queue back up (well in chairs) and proceed to wait. It was hilarious. Folks were antsy. The staff would call numbers and people wouldn’t show up and folks cheered. One lady claimed to be holding tickets for friends who were en route and she was promptly booed. Amazingly my guardian angel did not return. Maybe the arguing at 6p got to him or he realized this is the stupidest method ever to get into a sold out event. Why couldn’t we just queue up at 7:30p and they just let the first 100 people in? Folks had jokes. Joy spread as we burned through the first 50 numbers. However everything slowed down after that and sadness ensued. People started plotting. I convinced a couple to double up if it got down to the wire. Then…yes! Our number was called.

We entered and the usher guided us to an entirely empty row save for two people on the end. Unfortunately the lady at the end refused to stand up and she wasn’t the kind of person you could squeeze by. A note: if you are heavy and have mobility issues, please do not sit at the end of an aisle. I watched without being able to hear my friend argue with the lady and then dart off. I followed quickly behind to discover that she saw better seats. We found great seats about 7 rows up from the stage, next to a man who didn’t even know who Gregory Porter was.

Thank goodness the concert was awesome or I just wasted 2 hours stressing for no reason. I swear after his amazing rendition of Work Song I wanted to throw my panties or give him some kind of reward. The audience was obviously filled with fanatics who screamed song requests. Umm…that’s not how concerts work. Everyone demanded an encore and sat down like the little brats we were when we got one. It was 90 minutes of excellence as an award for 2 plus hours of work. A really good deal.

The Singular Edition

Courtesy of Asico Photo Blog

Courtesy of Asico Photo Blog

Almost two weeks ago, I treated myself to the Sharon Jones and Dap Kings concert. For some reason in the past year, I have taken myself out of the habit of going places alone. This is a thing that I have never shied away from. This behavior has not been a really successful practice: *cough* Stevie Wonder *cough*. Starting in college if there was something I really wanted to do and no one else was interested, I went anyway. I think it comes from two things: 1) I was raised as an only child and so I am completely comfortable spending vast amounts of time alone and 2) I grew up pretty broke and sheltered, so I always felt like I missed out on a lot and needed to catch up.

I still remember a friendship ended in college on my first adventure alone.  I wanted to go to the ballet. Oh, hilariously I have been me for a very long time, and none of the crew wanted to go. The group had voted to spend a girls night in and I wasn’t having it. The rule was the majority decides on weekend activities. So I snuck out to the performance and my “friend” caught me. She was so incredulous that I attempted to hide and go to something as “stupid” as the ballet that the friendship never recovered.

However, this bold act started me on a path to some really great experiences. One of my favorite New Year Eves was the result of my going out alone when everyone else was afraid of a little snow. I accidentally crashed a private party that included party favors, a DJ, a buffet and open bar. Score! The one drawback of going out alone when crazy stuff happens, you have no one to corroborate your story. My terrible experience at the Essence Festival can be co-signed by one of my best friends. So sadly, no one can acknowledge the ridiculousness I witnessed at this concert. Basically I watched a White middle-aged, upper middle class, farmer’s market attending type threesome form right before my eyes. I watched a nice Volvo driving (okay I cannot confirm this but I know it’s true) couple join a good lady friend. I watched the couple make out uncomfortably (well, for me) all while the lady covertly stroked the lady friend’s hair. I saw the man go get snacks while the two middle aged middle school teachers make out (also uncomfortable for me). I observed that by the end of the night with encouragement from the double agent, the man cozy up, kissing and fondling, both women. All of this occurred with only one eyewitness, a random man sitting next to me who I will never see again.

This distraction withstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. I still don’t like the open seating of the Lincoln Theater. It means I need to get to the venue 30 – 45 minutes early for complete boredom just to get a great seat. Once my overwhelming boredom ended, the show started with Valerie June. I have her CD after hearing her interviewed on NPR’s Tell Me More. I cannot figure out if I like it or not. There are three songs that I absolutely love and her voice is a true wonder. This was true of the concert as well, which was pretty true to the CD. I have never been a huge fan of bluegrass and the album has clear bluegrass, gospel and folk influences. I notice the stronger the individual influence determines my like for the song. The gospel and folk tinged songs. I love. The bluegrass, not so much. I also noticed that the songs I liked the most weren’t crowd favorites. So I was my own little island there. I still want me a sugar daddy to take me away from work, so the rousing rendition of Workin Woman Blues gave me all my life.

Finally after more boredom, where I got to watch the threesome come together and my right-hand neighbor order a t-shirt online, the Dap Kings arrived. The lull between acts at concerts are the worst thing about attending concerts alone. You have no one to chat with and are really concerned with conserving battery power. The Dap Kings started with spotlighting the backup singers before Sharon Jones, bald, defiant and energetic, graced the stage. She has been battling cancer for the last year and this was her second time on stage since treatment. She was a bit smaller, in size and presence, than usual but I happily danced along to all my favorite songs and the new stuff. At the end she led the crowd through a series of dances from the 60’s and 70’s, which was so much fun. Her commitment to her fans which was rewarded by roses from the crowd, made going out alone a great idea.

The Questioning Edition

Question_bridge_02_web_0Last weekend I attended the Corcoran Gallery’s exhibit called Question Bridge: Black Males. I will admit as woman I don’t always understand the male point of view. The interesting thing about the exhibit was that I learned that men often don’t understand each other’s points of view either. The exhibit is more of a documentary where Black men and a few boys ask questions that are answered by other Black men. Some of the responses were heartfelt, such as Andrew Young’s response of how he knew that he met the love of his life. Some responses were heartbreaking, such as when a gentleman shared that his brother died of cancer because he refused to see a doctor. Some were puzzling, as with the man who stated that he believes the n-word will change for the better just as Samaritan did. All were fascinating.

They interviewed men from every age group, socio-economic status, geographic region and education level. They interviewed men in prison, doctors, teenagers, rappers, actors. A very huge cross section. I couldn’t tell how long the interviews lasted. It could have been hours. We sat transfixed for two hours, losing track of time, listening and processing. I think the key to the interviews is that we are not a monolith. Black men are not a homogenous group that is easy to pinpoint and stereotype, despite what others may think. I could see the simple things that divides the group: if you grew in the suburbs vs. the projects, if you grew up pre-civil rights era or during the crack-infested 80’s, if you attended an ivy league college or the school of hard knocks.

I do believe I learned something. It is not something easily identifiable such as I learned that Montpelier is the capital of Vermont. I learned how men articulate themselves, what gets under their skins, what they say and what they are afraid to say. I realized that each of the men interviewed had something to say even if what they said isn’t something I completely understood or agreed with. I don’t “get” prison culture but neither did some of the subjects. I don’t comprehend the respectability politics that is laid at single mothers’ feet when it takes two to make children. And again neither did the other subjects. Lately, mainly because of some really vocal members of “Black Twitter” I had grown weary of hearing any opinions on any subject. The vitriol and rancor spewed on topics as simple as Valentine’s Day especially from Black men exhausted me. But through this exhibit, I remembered that we, “the Blacks” are not a singular community and for every Negative Neal there’s a Positive Paul and that’s a good lesson.

The Grooving Edition

Courtesy of Billboard

Courtesy of Billboard

So if you watched the totally fun New Girl with the majestic wonderful unicorn that is Prince, you heard a funky groove called People Pleaser by Andy Allo. The worst thing about the awesome episode is that the lookieloos who don’t understand the quirkiness of New Girl watched the show for the first time and complained the entire time. Stupid twitter! I mean the episode gave us many Princeisms including his love of pancakes, ethnically ambiguous woman and dressing up those women in witchlike outfits. What wasn’t to love?

So two Sundays ago I went to see Andy Allo at Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis. It was a $15 show and that spot is one of the few in the metro area that I haven’t been to. So I figured why not. I hate picking seats for a venue that I haven’t been to but we ended up with good seats. My main quibble with the show was that Andy was there with just her guitar and another guitarist. I hoped for a full band as I prefer full bands, lol. We only needed two more people! The thing I liked when listening to her stuff was the arrangements. I definitely missed that aspect in her live show with the limited accompaniment. In the albums, I can hear strong connection to Maceo Parker first along with others.

I really enjoyed the set. She had no opening act and proceeded to sing for 90 minutes, which was surprisingly long. She has a very sweet is the best way to describe it voice and I amazingly found the entire set very soothing. I realized that I could happily sit there forever and I wasn’t sure why. I think it was I am only shallowly familiar with her work and didn’t sit there anxiously awaiting some song or another that I just had to hear. As a Prince protégé, I easily heard his influence in her vocal approach. I could listen, chat with our concert loving tablemate and snack on my crab dip in pure bliss. It was a nice feeling. I would certainly see her again. I don’t know where she can find it in this highly segmented music landscape but I wish her success. But then of course then I can’t see her for $15. I can deal with that I guess.