Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#WCW - Yvette Nicole Brown - Tia

Y'all, I have been a fan of Yvette Nicole Brown for a LONG time. Community was my show. And yeah, I know everyone loves Jeff or Abed and Troy, but Shirley was it for me. Her quirky church-lady always made me giggle a little more than I probably should have. But it was only because having grown up in church I knew a "Shirley"…okay I knew quite a few "Shirleys"and if you were a church kid you probably did too.

I decided to make Ms. Brown my #WCW for two reasons. 1. She's become an inspiration to me. After being diagnosed with diabetes, YNB decided that she needed to take control of her health and start leading a healthier lifestyle. And as you can see, she DID THAT. She looks AMAZING!!! (Not that she wasn't gorgeous before…I mean, let's be real…her smile was always stunning.) Not only has she lost weight but she's gained her health. And as she's said in interviews, she gets to keep her feet.

"When they tell you they're going to take your feet, you stop eating donuts." 
"When it's for vanity, it might be hard because there are reasons to stop, but when it's for health, you kind of go, 'I want to keep my feet!'"
I have gained almost 15lbs since my mom died. I have cried and eaten all of the things. And I did this knowing that one of the contributing factors to my mom's poor health was her weight. She was never huge but she was overweight for most of my life. During a recent physical, my doctor was very clear: I have to stop eating all of the things and I have to get back down to a healthier weight. I'm no spring chicken. I can actually SEE 40! (That is a post for another time and will involve booze…lots of booze.)  But after Insta-stalking YNB's Instagram page, I realized that it can be done. I just have to choose to do it. I want my knees to stop hurting. I would like smaller boobs because carrying these heavy suckers around is not the business. (Plus…boob sweat.) And I'm not diabetic and I'd like to keep it that way because I too want to keep my feet. 
But the 2nd thing that solidified Ms. Please Don't Hurt 'Em Brown as my WCW was seeing her on Talking Dead. She came to the WITH NOTES. NOTES!!! That is my kind of woman. There have been many a guest on Talking Dead who were CLEARLY in over their heads and probably couldn't tell the difference between Michonne and Sasha. But that is not YNB's testimony. She is not a casual watcher. She is a FAN! She has theories. (The one about the W being an M kind of shifted my paradigm a little. And if you don't watch The Walking Dead and Talking Dead you have no idea what I'm talking about right now. And I'm not sorry. Get on board, people.)
Honestly, there aren't too many people that I'd want in my corner should the zombie apocalypse descend upon us. But if the ZA does occur, the woman with notes and both of her feet can roll with me any day! So kudos to you, Yvette Nicole Brown. You're winning WCW in my book. And BTW, if I ever meet you in real life, I'm probably going to fan-girl real bad. Sorry in advance. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

This is 40. Part 1- Toya

Hello there. 

Well it's been quite a while since Tia and I both wrote anything.  I'll let her explain her reasons.  Mine have been that I think about writing and then get overwhelmed by all of the things that I want to talk about.  Also, the more you procrastinate, the more you mull stuff over and over in your head so by the time you want to write, you are too tired to even think about what's been going on anymore. Maybe that's just me.  So what I am going to try to do is break down how turning 40 has been awesome and absolutely anxiety inducing all at the same time. But before I talk about turning 40, let's talk about my last final months of my 30's.

I was ready to be 40 because I was about as over being 39 as I was with 2014.

I had decided when I turned 39 that 39 was just a courtesy age.   You're really just sitting around waiting to be 40.  Because my birthday is right after Christmas, I only have a few days before I can say "I will be...this year."  I was really only 39 for 5 days!  When the ball dropped on New Year's Eve and I was working coat check (THANK GOD for those tips because moving expenses are so real), I just paced the floor back and forth trying to hold it together. 40 was happening. 

A drunken stranger also tried to give me a sympathy kiss because I had no one to kiss at midnight.  That could have very well been an indication of how this year was gonna go.  

Fast forward many months after moving back home in early February...

Moving back home was 100% the right decision.  I didn't really do a lot once I moved back. I've been here for a little over a year and there are people I grew up with that I have yet to see that still live here.  I hibernated a bit.  I just wanted to figure myself out.  I got a new job (that is somewhat of a long story and since I want to keep my job, I may not want to talk about it right now because people really are on these internet streets), started looking for churches and tried steadily to get Nashville out of my system.  It took me about a year to delete all of my Nashville business and event listings from my email and social media.  Formerly the Nashville busy body and know it all, I had to finally start minding my own business. I really struggled to not constantly be on social media to see what everyone else was doing.  The last email newsletter I unsubscribed from sent me this confirmation message:

You have been removed from Nashville.

I laid on the bed, put Taylor Swift's "Clean" on repeat until I fell asleep and stayed off of social media for a few weeks until D'Angelo came back. 

Side note: Can we just talk about how in 2014 Anberlin broke up and D'Angelo came back?  I wasn't ready for either of these things. Does "Thanks Obama" apply to either one of these situations? I'm not sure yet. 

Tia's Mom's Memorial Service

Here we are with Stephen Christian at Anberlin's last show ever in Atlanta, the day before Tia's mom's memorial service. 

Yes I really did put my head on his chest. Stephen is the homie. Long live Anberlin!

I gathered a small group of friends who mostly live in Nashville to meet us in Atlanta where I organized Tia's mother's memorial service for Tia, her brother, and a few members of her family.  It was during this entire weekend that it really hit me how terribly difficult it is to be an adult.  There are things happening all around us that we did not sign up for.  Life is so unpredictable.  Tia and I are constantly asking each other, have things always been this hard in life or are things harder for us and our generation?  I don't know the answer to that. Sometimes I think we have it harder and then I remember my parents grew up in the south during the 60's so the jury is still out on that. 

It was walking with Tia through this process of her mother's transition all the way up until the service that I realized that everything will be alright but it's definitely not going to be okay.  Does that even make sense?  Like, you can deal with something.  You can accept it. You can function and find joy again.  It doesn't mean it's okay.  This will never be okay.  I realized that when I stood up to give my words at the memorial service.  I had done everything I knew to do to make this situation okay.  I had ordered Mexican food because Tia loves Mexican food. I went to Kinko's and printed the programs.  The decorations represented things that her mom loved.  I found the perfect mix of Sunday brunch Smooth Jazz hymns to play so that the mood wasn't too somber but it wasn't exactly "turnt up" either.  In my notes, I even wrote in a little humorous tale about her mother that I managed to work in to lighten up the room.  But as I went into this humorous tale and saw my very best friend cry and grieve the loss of her mother, the very first person you ever love, I realized I could not make this okay.  I've always taken pride in the fact that when it comes to Tia, being her best friend is one thing I've gotten right in life.  Even at her lowest moments I can get a laugh. I can peer open the dark clouds a little bit and point her towards the light.  But there was no doing that that day because that's not what she needed at all. 

It had been raining all day, harder than I think I have ever seen.  That morning I walked outside in the pouring rain and said "Hey! In the name of Jesus you will stop raining! We don't need this today!"  But then one of our friends said that maybe it needed to rain.  Maybe God was crying with Tia's family. So as I stood up in front of everyone at the service and all of this became real, so very real, I almost ran off to the bathroom to throw up but I didn't.  I just went into auto-pilot, finished out the service and tried my best to firmly but politely get everyone out of the space we rented on time.  To this day, Tia and I have never discussed that day. We don't need to.  We're good. 

This was in November.  With all of that, moving back home with my parents, and starting a new job that at times I feel completely under-qualified for, I was ready for a fresh start. I was most definitely ready for 40.  

Part 2 coming for real. It will be soon. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I wasn't ready - Tia

My beautiful, strong, courageous mother passed away two weeks ago. She was diagnosed with cancer at the end of August and two months later she was gone. My brother and I were not prepared in the least. We all thought we'd have more time.

Death is a cruel and complicated thing. We all know that we're going to die. But we are never fully prepared for it. We had no idea that my mother would go so quickly. And once she went home to be with the Lord, the grieving process was swift and crippling. There are no words that can comfort you. There is nothing that you can do to stop the pain. You must simply accept it, give in to it, and do the very best that you can to navigate it. It is the absolute worst.

My mother and I had a tumultuous relationship at times. I know that she loved me dearly and I her. But I don't know that she ever fully understood her stoic, nerdy, overanalyzing, strangely emotional child. And I certainly didn't fully understand some of the decisions she made and the things that she did. I'm more like my father in a lot of ways and I think that's why she and I often bumped heads. But she was also the person who understood my tears. She knew that I could be a person who resided squarely in my feelings for long periods of time and she was often very adept at navigating those feelings.

My mom taught me to cook (when I would stay put long enough to pay attention.) I get my love of baking from her. I get my looks and my curves from her. She taught me how to take care of my skin. She loved me when I was rotten, when I was selfish, when I wasn't at my best. For all of her faults, for all of the times I was FURIOUS with her, for every moment I just didn't understand how her mind worked, I ALWAYS ALWAYS KNEW that she loved me.

The last birthday card she sent me had a note in it that said, "You are the best thing that ever happened to me." It was a Disney princess card. She told me that my middle name means princess and she always called me her "beautiful princess."

So as I struggle through the gut wrenching sadness that comes with losing a loved one and try to process the crisis of faith I'm having with not understanding why my mother got cancer and why our prayers for healing from God were not answered, I find comfort in knowing that I was unconditionally loved by a beautiful, statuesque, God fearing mother. I am glad that she is no longer suffering. I miss her dearly, but that's to be expected.

Just before my mom passed, Toya's dad told me, "Your parents are the first people you ever love." So if you are the praying type, please pray for my brother and me. We lost our first love.

Monday, October 27, 2014

And Now for Something That Doesn't Suck: Taylor Swift's 1989

Oh wait. That's not the album cover.  That's me playing around on Taylor's website

Here it is...

It's been a long time since I've been really excited about an album.  I totally needed this.  When I heard that Taylor Swift was writing a new album that was to be reminiscent of my favorite era, I can't front.   I was intrigued.  Her lyrics sung over some music that reminds me of Judd Nelson in flannel, feathered hair and a trenchcoat ? Oh I'm here for it (side note: Why did the internet try to kill him the other day? I can't stand people sometimes).  Anything that reminds me of a John Hughes movie is pretty much gonna get a yes from me and this record gets all of the yesses.

Here are five of my favorites (besides "Shake It Off" AKA "Mickey 2014" which I vote to be our new National Anthem) off of the deluxe version of the album found only at Target:

1. "Welcome to New York"- "Welcome to New York" reminds me of how I probably would have felt about NYC had I been a young adult in 1989.  It's bitter sweet because since I have moved back to the east coast and have visited NYC, I have been so sad of how much it's changed! God, what have they done to The Village?! *Sigh*  Still, this song reminds me of the big dreams I used to have of living there when I was a kid in, well, 1989.

2."Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style""Style" !!!

3. "Out of the Woods"- I was afraid I'd be tired of this song because the chorus is so repetitious but daggonit if I haven't caught myself singing it at work, church, Wawa... I can't help it. It's so so good!

4. "This Love"- Is it just me or is this record giving us Amy Grant's House of Love vibes? I'm just saying! If you think about the time that record came out along with the fact that a lot of people weren't happy about the fact she moved from CCM to Pop, the parallels are pretty interesting.  This is giving me House of Love for sure. I love this record.

And now for the song that I feel personally emotionally victimized by...

5. "You R In Love"

This song.
My stomach.
Knots. KNOTS I SAY!!!!

I don't care how you feel about Taylor Swift. If you feel ANY way about love, get thee to this song! The only gripe I have with this album is that this song is not included on the iTunes version.  That is a sin and a shame.  It's easily the best song of the project and the entire record is pretty solid. I had to make myself not listen to it anymore. Every last one of the feels. Every last one!

What do you all think about the album and what are your faves?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Random Musings By Toya

I know it's been a long time since either of us have written anything. Here are some random musings and cryptic things that I just have to get out of my system.

1. I'm insanely bored. I spoke to a mentor of mine recently who told me that it is a dangerous thing for me to be bored. She's right. My mind defaults to certain anxieties and I become an obsessive daydreamer. If I am going to survive, I have to constantly be inspired and nurture my creativity- go into the city, look at art, meet driven people, etc. Like I have to manage this like it's my job; like it's Type 2 diabetes.  It's that crucial. I am so used to working on at least three things at a time so this downtime is just not the business. I have to allow myself to be creative again. I also need to express myself more which means I should be writing more. It's just...this year has really had me in my feelings for real. There's a lot in my head that I'm not sure if I'm ready to let out onto this blog yet or anywhere else. 

Being an extrovert can be hell sometimes. Reason being, there are times where I want to be alone and I absolutely shouldn't be. For instance I am right now penning this post from my what used to be my favorite diner in Philly before I moved to Nashville.  I know I need to save money but I just have to be around people and noise right now to even think. To breathe!  Silence can be really loud sometimes. I don't even think I would be writing this if I was at home. I'd be asleep. 

2. Speaking of this diner, I am eating out of a bowl of fries too large for anyone to eat by themselves. Eh well. *Adds salt*


After 8 months, I am finally ready to be all here. To get to know where I live and to thrive. I no longer have one half of me in Nashville and the other half here. I miss Nashville but I was feeling really claustrophobic. I feel good about being here even though I haven't really made any friends yet.  That'll soon as I start following up with people and stop spending my weekends talking to my friends back in Nashville all night. There will never be anyone as awesome as them. 

3. Pray for Tia please.  

4. I just noticed that this diner has new (to me) T-shirts that say "Everything old is new again." You ain't never lied. 

5. I was dealing very heavily with regret about some things but something has occurred to me that has lessened the blow of 20/20 vision: the things you regret not doing a lot of times you just weren't mentally ready to handle at the time anyway. Be it a career opportunity or a person that you later realize means more to you than you ever really wanted to admit to yourself. You weren't wrong; you just weren't ready. I would say more but too many people know about this blog so moving on...

6. Taylor Swift's 1989 is about to come out and murder the game. Be mad. I'm here for it. 

7.  I better not eat all of these fries. 

8. The fact that we have created an environment where Bobby Shmurda's  "Hot N----" can be a hit is a shame to our ancestors, ourselves, our children and future generations. What in the hell happened to common sense? 

9. How's this for a bad pickup line: a MARRIED man said to me "What's your name, beautiful?" I was working so I had to answer him although he was holding my hand SO grossly . "My name is Toya." He said, "My name is...Speechless." Okay pal. What is wrong with people?

10. I've been spending some time with my 10 year old cousin which I am almost positive is giving my mother hope that I may eventually want a child. I'll be honest: I'm open to adoption after a good four years of marriage.  Cause isn't true religion "taking care of the widows and orphans"? See I don't hate religion. I just hate what we've made it to be. 

11. This cute guy just sat next to me and my date. And by my date I mean this big bowl of fries. Check please.