Sunday, January 30, 2005

Don't Go Away Mad (Girl, Just Go Away)- Toya
I don't know exactly how I feel about the Motley Crue reunion as of yet. Grant it, I hope that Tommy, Vince and the boys have really worked out their differences but to think of the debauchery of Motley Crue like proportions that is inevitable to follow them on this tour... I shudder to think. Shudder, I say.

After barely sleeping the night before, I got to work on Friday morning waiting for Gloria to get in so we could hash everything out with our VP of Human Resources. Let's call her Pam. Gloria waltzed in as if nothing had happened the night before. We went to HR and it was the most hellacious hour of my entire life. We got nowhere. Initially she said that she was going to quit (much to my delight) but Pam urged us to work it out. I barely looked at Gloria the whole time we were in there for two reasons: a) I was scared I was going to cuss her out and b) the look on Pam's face was rather entertaining. Ever hear someone talk and you have a smile on your face like "Wow! I don't believe that you are truly that ignorant." ? Pam was awestruck the entire time. I only had to defend myself once because most of the time I let Gloria dig her own grave with her lies, contradictions and just flat out evil speech. Gloria flat out told Pam that I was a horrible counter manager and that I play horrible music at my counter. I play calming music like India Arie, Alana Davis, and Alicia Keys. She hates it and says that she is sure that the customers hate it (a lot of them dig it actually). She said that I never give her anything to do but then turned around and said that I give her too much to do. She didn't understand why I was always in the stockroom. She thought I was stupid and so was our account executive that hired her. She said that she was an artist and that she should be able to do her thing and I should leave her be. When Pam said that she had to respect me, she said that she would only respect someone that has earned her respect, that she could look up to and could learn from. She yelled in my face (the side of my face) and said "I mean, what is it you do all day! What do you do?" Knowing that she was not worthy of an answer, I simply looked at Pam as if to say "Do you see what I put up with all day?" Pam urged us to work it out and find a way to communicate better. I was sure that when we walked in there that she was going to quit but towards the end of our conversation, it looked as if Pam was going to give her another chance. It was at that time that I developed a twitch. Yes, a nervous twitch. As the conversation came to a close, I kept shuddering as if I was cold or as if I was having flashbacks of the Vietnam War. "Wait!" I blurted out. "Gloria doesn't want to be here. She said that this isn't worth it and that she would quit. She is always talking about getting another job! She doesn't even want to be here!" Appearing to be dumbfounded, Gloria looked at me and said "How can you say that? I need a job just like you do." I sat there numb.

Hearing her say that I was a horrible counter manager was hard to take even though I know it is not true. This is not just because I don't think I am but according to management, my customer commendations and my reviews, it is clear that I am not. Still it was hard to sit there and be verbally punched in the face repeatedly by her and not say much about it. Although I didn't say much, I made it very clear that whether Gloria thought that I was the best manager or if she thought that I was the worst, the fact was that I am the counter manager and she was to do what I said, period. Pam agreed. Gloria, not so much.

When we exited the HR office, Gloria went downstairs and because I was barely able to talk, I went to the bathroom. I stood there and pleaded with the Holy Spirit to calm my body down because for the life of me I could not stop shuddering. My nerves were completely shot. When I thought it was finally under control, I went to leave and lo an behold, Malinda, my favorite customer and beautiful woman of God who doesn't even live in the state walked into the bathroom and flashed the world's best smile. God's timing is so perfect. She explained that she was in TN on business, looked at me and asked if I was cold because I was shaking. I told her that I was having a horrible day and never went into detail. She assured me that God loved me and was going to see me through.

Since Gloria seemed to think that "stockroom" was a code word for Starbucks, I thought I would let her in on the fun of taking some empty boxes and some broken down boxes down there with me. The shelves that have been delegated to my counter are about four really high shelves up and there are some pretty heavy boxes up there. Because it is such a pain trying to find anything up there, I have never asked any of my full timers to go to the stockroom and find anything. All of this time I thought that I was being more than fair. Also, because of Gloria's age and agility (lack of) there was no way that she would be able to climb the ladder in there and get things herself. Here, I thought I was being considerate of her limitations.

I carried the bulk of the boxes down to the stockroom and let her carry a few boxes that were already broken down. Vanessa, one of the most no nonsense sistas I have ever encountered in my life, was already in the vary narrow aisle way and we couldn't get through just yet. Impatient, Gloria informed that she was heading back upstairs. I told her that I needed her help and that she couldn't go back just yet. I calmly (unbelievably calmly) explained to Gloria that because we have only been allocated a certain amount of space for our department, we just couldn't throw anything anywhere and had to be careful not to take up someone else's space. "Well hurry up and throw them up there then. Come on! I am not going to stand here like a nitwit and wait for you to dilly dally around." Taken aback, Vanessa said, "Hmmph! You aren't from here are you?" Very proudly Gloria said "No. I'm from New York and don't you forget it!" "I won't!" Vanessa replied as she walked out.

Exasperated, I looked up at the high shelf and started to get the ladder. I asked her to hand me the boxes that were closest to her. She then looked me square in the face and said five words that I will never ever forget as long as I live..." I am not the maid." Believing that my ears were surely deceiving me I said "I'm sorry, what did you say?". "I said I am not the maid." I don't think I could even feel my legs at that point. "You mean to tell me" I said "that you expect me to take these boxes way up there by myself?" "Yeah, why not?" she responded nonchalantly. It wasn't until later did I truly get the gist of where all of this was coming from.

I don't quite remember what popped off after that because something in me said "You know what, Toya. You could say whatever you want to her at this point and no one on the face of this earth would say that you were in the wrong." And even though I exercised some restraint, I let loose and honestly don't remember what I said. What I do know is that it began with a "I don't know who you think you are talking to but...". After that, it's all a blur. Loudly, we went back and forth for a while before she declared that she was taking her break and walked out of the stockroom. Her break began in fifteen minutes and I told her that she was not to go on her break and was to come back to the stockroom immediately. We had it out all through the Lingerie department and by the time we made it upstairs, and I had the phone in my hand to call Pam in HR, our General Manager , Gary (not actual name), was right behind us. When I saw him, I was so sad. Sad, because he really is the nicest guy on earth and I hated that he had to be bothered with this and sad because it had finally come to our GM having to intervene.

"Hey, I'd like to see you two upstairs" Gary said in his signature thick southern drawl. We followed him upstairs to sit in HR for the second time that day. "I got a call that there was some arguing in the stockroom between you two and the customers heard you as well as some of your associates. Gloria, this is not looking good for you to only have been here for two weeks. What seems to be the issue?" I told him that I asked Gloria to do something to which she replied that she was not the maid. After agreeing earlier that day that she was to take her break at 5 pm, she told me that she was taking it earlier than discussed. Gloria said, "She made me go to the stockroom with her and carry 10 boxes while she carried like, 2 and was taking all day putting the boxes up. I don't know if that is the southern way of doing things, moving all slow and all but I WILL NOT be the WHITE GIRL getting tortured by the BLACK GIRL!!!!" Suddenly, my mouth fell open and I looked off into the distance. I couldn't believe it. That is where the maid comment came from! It wasn't just an age thing with her, it was a race thing. Not only did it pain her to have to take instruction from some kid half her age but she thought it torture to have to take instruction from a BLACK kid half her age. I was completely and utterly in shock and so was everyone else in the room.

Very calmly, Gary our GM looked at her squarely and asked,"Okay, could you please repeat that and then clarify what you mean by the southern way?" I almost passed out at this point. She then went on about how I have this black girl thing going on and she felt that I used that against her and a whole bunch of other nonsense that I can't remember because I was sitting there in the utmost disbelief. Gary then said, "Okay, as of now you are suspended(which I found out later is a code word for fired) and we will call you in three days concerning your future employment with us." He then left the room and Gloria said, "My what?" Pam then repeated what he said and Gloria replied, "I don't want to be employed here anymore. I'm going home." and then walked out of the office. Gary then walked in and said that she yelled something about not being the white girl getting tortured by TWO black girls, now speaking of me and Vanessa. I sat there still with my mouth opened in shock as Pam told me that I should probably go take a break and then after I came back, I needed to write a statement about what happened in the stockroom. Gary then complimented me on how professional I was and apologized for the whole incident. While he was talking I was somehow able to take my hand and pull my lips together. I sat there for a few moments and finally blurted out, "I don't believe this just happened to me!" and plopped my head on Pam's desk. Everyone in the office burst into laughter.

I remembered that I still had the key to the stockroom and walked back from the third floor down to the first, the happiest I had been since Gloria first started working there. When I passed the second floor on the escalator where my department is, I saw her already stirring it up with some coworkers about what happened. Not caring, I went to return the key. I was swamped with people asking me what happened and I simply stated that Gloria no longer worked there and that everything was just fine. I then turned to find Pam and a security guard quickly heading towards the escalator. I asked her if she was looking for me and she said no and instructed me to not go upstairs. Apparently, Gloria had made her way to the middle of the department and was yelling, cussing and spreading more of her racial angst, acting a sheer fool in the store. From what I hear, they met up with her and quietly escorted her out.

As happy as I am that she is gone, I am really sad for her. I knew that her husband died previous to her moving to Nashville but I found out later that day that it was because he committed suicide. On the way home, I put myself in Gloria's shoes. She is a good makeup artist and is very passionate about it. Evidently, she got married and put her passion to the side to be kept by a wealthy man that was so unhappy that he took his own life. She is probably kicking herself for throwing her passion away for what seemed to be the high life. She then has to move way out of her comfort zone and at almost 60 is wondering if had she followed her dreams where would she be. Instead, she had to resort to moving away from her home to a place where she has no friends and has to take orders from someone that she feels has not earned the position that they have; a position that she wished that she had. This is why I have been so bent on grabbing a hold of what my passion is and wondering where it went. If I decide to give up finding it and not pursuing it and then get married and have kids, I could wind up miserable like Gloria wondering "what if" and hating myself for throwing my life away.
YEEAAAAAAHHHH SERENAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Toya



Thursday, January 27, 2005

Get Out (Leave)- Toya
Am I the only one who sings this song in their car like they are actually in the video? Maybe it's just me. I doubt it.

"You know what Gloria (Not actual name.)? Leave! I mean it. Get your stuff and go home! I don't want you at this counter and I want you out of this store, NOW!!!!"

Yup, that's what I said to my full timer today at the counter, in public at the mall right in the middle of after work traffic. Stellar, Toya. Real stellar.

Meet Gloria: Gloria is a woman who is nearly twice my age who in only two weeks has seemed to make my job as a counter manager a nightmare. She's recently moved from Philadelphia (originally from Brooklyn and a Yankee like me who also like myself had the biggest culture shock of her life moving down here), recently lost her husband and is now living on her own. She is one of the most negative "Eor" type people I have ever met and I chalk that up to loneliness and hurt. I have tried to sympathize and I have tried to empathize. I have tried to work it out. Today was the last straw.

She is pretty fierce with makeup and I can and do learn a lot form her. However, there is the issue that she doesn't feel that she can or should learn a thing from me or anybody else. Everytime (which is everyday, twice a day) I have to confront her with something that she has done wrong, she says one of the following:
"I don't see what the big deal is"
"We always did it this way in New York" and the classic
"I mean, whatever..." and then she will walk away from me right in the middle of my talking to her. On top of that, she takes it upon herself to do things anyway she wants and I have to do overtime reorganizing my counter, I constantly have to get on her about safety hazards and oh let's not forget that every other day I have someone in our department complaining how she has taken things from other counters without asking. I am constantly having to stick up for her.

Dealing with her everyday is like dealing with a teenager that thinks they know everything. It is a struggle. I have to keep tabs on her. She leaves without telling me where she is going and everything is everyone else's fault but hers. She has been there 2 weeks and has managed to piss me off, my fellow coworkers and our department manager. TWO WEEKS!!!! Usually people put their best foot forward for at the very least the first two weeks but nooooooo. She has shown her behind from the door. And you know in a weird way, I respect that. Let the people know what they're workin' wit.

On one occasion my department manager confronted her and she backtalked her so bad and was so disrespectful that I knew that when my time came for that special "You have one last time to..." talk, it was gonna be something. If she doesn't respect her, there was no way that she was going to respect me. Today was the day because she disrespected me in front of a customer. While assisting me with doing someone's makeup for their prom, she went against something I told her and made a mistake that not only made us look unprofessional but wasted the customer's time and made them feel uncomfortable. Although the customer left happy, I knew that I had to address this and address it I did. I am not surprised that she did not receive it but I am surprised that it turned into a screaming match.

Me: Gloria, we seem to have a communication problem
Gloria: What?
Me: I told you not to .... and you still...
Gloria: You know what? You do what you have to do and I'll do what I have to do.

Let's pause here: Isn't what I have to do is tell her what she has to do? I'm pretty sure it is.
Me: Listen...
Gloria: Don't interrupt me. Let me finish.You have a problem with me you take it to personnel.
Me: Does this really need to go to HR? Is that what you want? We are adults, Gloria. There is no reason for this to leave this counter.
And then in true Gloria like fashion, she walked away.
Me: Don't walk away from me when I am talking to you
Gloria: You know I have been doing this for a long time. I have a lot of experience. You aren't my boss. You can't tell me what to do. You always think that someone is trying to undermine you.
Me: Gloria, I am not going to constantly have you disrespect me like this.
Gloria: You asked for my help because YOU couldn't do it yourself.
And that was the last straw. I told her to leave and I don't know if she thought I meant for the day but I surely meant from now on. Leave and don't ever in this life come back. She then stated that it wasn't time for her to clock out and I told her I could care less, she needed to leave and I was calling HR to make sure she could find the door. By the time we got done screaming at one another, it was time for her to leave and conveniently enough, she now didn't want to take it to HR because it was time for her to clock out. I called them anyway and our VP of HR came down.

"Everyday, I go through this with her. I can't take it. I have had it." I then went on to explain what happened and as calm as can be Gloria walked over, got her things and said," I don't have a problem. Toya always seems to think that everyone is trying to undermine her. I think I need to go to another counter cause I can't take it." You could have knocked me over with a feather. Actually, you could have just blown on me and I would have fallen out. But I respected her game though! Here I am stomach in knots, trying not to cry because I am embarrassed that I just yelled at someone in public, and can barely catch my breath and she was too cool. If I didn't want to break a bottle of anti-wrinkle serum over her head, I would have given her a pound of dap.

So she left and my HR person took me into her office to let her know what had been going on for the past two weeks. She had also had a talk with our department manager and said that judging by how Gloria responded that she knew something was not right. So tomorrow when she comes in at noon, we all will be having THE TALK. Truthfully, I am looking forward to it because now she won't be able to interrupt me and I can get a word in edgewise. I did apologize for ordering her to leave and my HR person told me that technically it was time for her to leave so I really wasn't in the wrong. I told her that even though she was to clock out at 6:15, it could have been 2 pm and I would have told her to take her tail home.

And this is part of the job. I have had it pretty easy up until this point. I am grateful that I didn't say what I wanted to say and I can only give the Holy Spirit credit for that. This is life. And I feel sorry for her because she really is miserable and I would hate to see her lose her job but I would also hate to see her continue to give me hell all day, everyday. I am praying for her and will continue to because I don't believe that she knows that she is truly on the edge of losing her job.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Change- Toya
Before John Waite was lead singer of the group Bad English and his song “Missing You” got on permanent heavy rotation on Soft Rock stations everywhere (that song will never, ever die. I think it’s still on the charts), he had a song back in the early 80’s called Change. It is one of my favorite 80’s songs ever.

Thankfully, our dryer has died in our house. I say thankfully because I really, really needed to get out of the house to do some thinking. Taryn once told me that extroverts get there energy from people so I guess that is why I do my best thinking and creating alone in public. Besides, I absolutely love the smell of Laundromats. When I was younger I used to love the smell of that perfume “White Linen” and who doesn’t love the feel of warm, crisp pajamas directly from the drier? If it wasn’t so cold out, I would have gone into the bathroom, changed into them and driven myself home (yes, I actually would have done that). While there I had a good amount of time to journal and be honest with myself about what is really going on in my life.

I have been trapped inside my own hell of worries, guilt, convictions, condemnation and regrets for the past few weeks so much so that until my trip to the Laundromat I secretly had been the most miserable and fearful that I have been in years. There have been quite a few nights where I have stayed up late, blanking out in front of my television knowing good and well that I need to be in bed at a reasonable hour to get to work by 9:30 the next morning, all to not be alone with my thoughts. This behavior is best described in my best friend John Mayer’s “Quiet” which I am currently listening to:
All of my fears have cornered me here/here and my TV screen/ the volume’s down/ blue lights are dancin’ around/ and still I can’t seem to find the quiet inside my mind.

My mind runs like CNN Headline News. There is an anchorman of worry that reports my current fear concerning whatever recent dilemma and directly under him is this ticker tape of everything else that is currently wrong in my life. This is why I hate to go to bed because when I cut out the lights, it’s me and my mind. I once heard Jennifer Lopez say that she hates being alone because that is when she hears the voices in her head and she knows they are right. Unlike her, I know that most of the time those voices, motivated by fear, aren’t right. However, much like her, I sometimes choose to believe them.

I have been going through a really rough time dealing with some things that are of my own doing and some things that are just curve balls in life that you can’t always control. However a lot of it comes down to the fact that I just need to change. It is about time that Ignore and Deny is no longer my life’s motto. Our pastor has been doing a series on change and could not be speaking more directly to me than if he preached the sermon in front of me in my own house. I am quite certain that my anxiety about turning 30 had a great deal to do with the fact that there are areas that have been needing to change for years and I was entering yet another decade with some of the same issues I have had since I was a teenager. Pastor Tim said it best when he said that sometimes we think about changing so much that we actually think we have changed. I am definitely a witness of that way of thinking. If thinking of change was as good as actually changing then I would have abs of steel by now with all of the thinking I have done about actually exercising and my room would be immaculate from all of the times I said I was going to dedicate an afternoon to cleaning it.

As much as I give advice, I rarely ever take my own advice or anyone else’s. As much as I have gotten on Tia about getting over Ben, why when I was driving today and Renee and I saw Guy A waving to us on our way to church, did I smile at him all the while saying “I hate you” with tight-clenched, gritted teeth as if I was some sort of ventriloquist? Honestly, how do you do something like that ON YOUR WAY to the house of the Lord? Thank God for His mercy because I surely should have been smited (According to my spell check, smite is not a word. Is it smitten? Smote? Whatever.).

Pastor Tim talked about how change puts you in another direction while transformation makes it permanent. The first step he says is to confront who you are and to not ignore it. I have to realize that I am simply not passionate about the same things I was a year or two back and that is okay. I am not the same person I was and have spent so much time looking back at some of my previous choices that I am not completely sure of who I am or who I want to be now. The second step is to confront who you are to someone else. This is a big one for me. Because now, I can’t allow myself to waste anybody’s time if they give me the tools to change and I don’t use them. This has a great deal to do with humility. And thirdly, you have to walk in the truth. I have to use what I know and walk in it. If I enter my 40’s, hell, if I enter 31, the same way I am now, I will only continue to go through this cycle of misery and I won’t get anywhere. So maybe now I can finally get excited about the future.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

This Woman's Work-Toya
I always seem to catch the tail end of the original version of this song by Kate Bush. I got to hear Maxwell sing it live after he dedicated it to Betty Shabazz not too long after she died. The crowd was so still. It was so beautiful.

A few days back, Tia told me that someone asked her where I was working. She told them that I was a counter manager at a department store. They then said something like "Oh. Well like, what else is she doing?" Not too long before that I was at 80's night at a club/bar/place I am not going back to because (some)white men get a bit too aroused when they see a black girl singing Guns and Roses songs at the top of her lungs and a guy asked where I worked. I told him what I did in the mall but I wouldn't say which one. Puzzled why I wouldn't tell a complete stranger in a bar the very publicly accessible place where I work, he says"Aww. Are you embarrassed?" Straightfaced, I replied, "Yeah, for you."

For a bit, before I turned 30 and actually cared what people thought of me, I would be at parties and would always want to slide in that I was DJing for Renee who was on Tobymac's new record and then mention that we had a few shows coming up. But why? So other people could think that I actually did something "cool"? Too many times we think that our jobs define who we are.

Suppose I didn't DJ, lived comfortably being a counter manager and planned to stay there? Lots of people do. Would that mean I settled? Jesus' commission to the disciples was not preach the gospel and work like crazy until you have your own businesses, have climbed the ladder to be CEO somewhere, or have your face on every other billboard on Sunset Strip. In the bible it talks about the position of the heart:love God with all your heart, love one another, be a light in the darkness. This is what is most important to me. I may not understand why God has me where he has me and I may not know where exactly I am supposed to be career wise but I am not confused about my purpose and that is to be a light, a reflection of Christ's love wherever I go so that I can point people towards him and not towards my reputation. I don't care if it is at the mall, the post office, cleaning houses, a worldwide tour or DJing Fashion Week in NYC. I make no apologies for what I do or where I am because God put me there.

Look at all of these people that have reached a certain level of worldly success and are completely miserable. Now, think of someone with a blue color job or some minimum wage type job that always seems to be happy and has at one point or another brightened your day. Who would you rather be? If I had to pick between Lindsay Lohan who constantly complains about being young, rich, thin and famous or my friend's mother who works in a school cafeteria, is a strong Christian and is everyday richly influencing the lives of high school students as well as being a shining example and a gem of wisdom to me, give me the nasty plastic shower cap and a big spoon to dish out some Sloppy Joe any day of the week.

I think some people choose career paths that are not right for them just so they can seem cool and important in other people's eyes and stop looking small in their own eyes. These people are so insecure about themselves and their self worth that they want people to look at them and think that they are either rich, beautiful, cool, talented or all of the above. Living in Music City, I have seen my share of really bad shows. I mean REALLY bad. One was so bad that me and my girlfriends got together afterwards and said if we ever suck at ANYTHING we make a pact to tell each other before we embarrass ourselves publicly. I have seen people try to fit in so badly with the musician circles and spend gobs of money on studio time just so they can be in with the "in crowd". I have seen them wear ridiculous "rock star" clothing and ridiculously overpriced hair cuts (can you say faux hawk? Not that I don't love them but they aren't for everybody) just to be noticed. I have then seen the same people speak badly about "the beautiful people" that they so want to be in with after being rejected by them and it was mainly because people could smell their insecurity a mile a way, not to mention that people with brown noses tend to stink.

If God took me from retail job to retail job to lead others to the Truth or even to at least plant a seed, I would be perfectly fine with that as long as my life outside of a 9-5 was fulfilling and to be honest, it really is. If God wanted me to be like the sweet little old southern belle at my job who wears a pin that says "25 years of service" and who makes everyone's day by sweetly calling them baby and baking these BANGIN' cakes on their birthdays, I'd take that as well. I know that is not what I am supposed to do because I know God has put it in me to do something else. Wherever life takes me, the main thing is how am I influencing others on whatever platform I have been given, either great or small in man's eyes.

So when I am at a party and someone asks what I do for a living, I will tell them: I am a cosmetic counter manager. I am not going to mention what I do musically or drop any names of who I know unless it is undeniably necessary. Chances are, them feeling funny about it will reflect their insecurity which will be my green light to roll out (Ever been at a party and wished the floor would open up and swallow the person that is boring you to death? I know, that's wrong. It really is.) And if it comes out that I do blase' blah and know so and so and NOW I am important to them, it is really time to exit the situation. I don't have time for that anymore.
Finally- Toya
CeCe Peniston is no doubt one of the things I miss most about the 90's. Her songs were fun, her videos were cool, she could sing her butt off and she kept her clothes on. All of her songs make me want to go roller skating. "Look what we got!"

What you fear most will come upon you"- The bible (can't remember where).

I am 30 and it's a good time.

I woke up on December 26th with a big load off of my shoulders. I looked in the mirror and didn't age like for some reason I thought I would. I actually thought that I would wake up and look 30. I think I look about 25. That's a sweet deal.

A good friend of mine, Melissa whom I cherish, has gone through the similar rollercoaster of emotions concerning this life change. I turned 30 before she did so as one who has gone before her, be it only by a few weeks, I felt experienced enough to share with her these lessons I have learned thus far:

1. I don't have time for the BS
It has been said that you are more comfortable with who you are when you are 30 and this is true. I am not tripping about being too old to wear my hair in afro puffs. Why? Because I am 30. This is kind of difficult to explain. Before I tripped because I was thinking "Oh my gosh, I can't because I am almost 30." Now I am like "Screw it. I'm 30. This is me. Love me or roll out." It's almost as if I have this "Why not?" mentality. Like, if not now, when? This has also transferred into the way I look at guys. Before being 29 when someone was 24 wasn't a problem (for me anyways). Now there is a 3 in front of my age and I am not to stoked on having that big of an age difference. But I live in Nashville. It is almost inevitable that...oops, about to talk about marriage again. Not doing that.

2. People please? People, please.
I am in no way remotely interested in explaining myself to anyone be it my mama, Joe Blow or Mr. or Miss "Why you listening to that white music and what's up with those pictures of Matthew McConaughey on your refrigerator?" Honestly, I have been me for 3 decades. I have pretty much settled that this is me and will be from now on. Now there are a lot of things that I am trying to change and am actually more aware of my shortcomings than ever before. I am steadily working on these things. As a matter of fact, I bought a ton of clothes when I went home for the holidays and my wardrobe is now full of skirts (they instantly make me feel pretty and feminine. I highly recommend them for a quick pick me up.) I came back here and managed to organize my clothes in my closet. Not a huge feat to those that are naturally organized but to me, it was a huge deal. I even had to turn to Tia for some advice.

Me: So when you organize your clothes, like do you do it by skirts, capris, then long legged pants? Do you put skirts first and then pants in the back? What's the most efficient way?
Tia: Well, you could put pants in the back and then organize your long sleeve t's and short sleeved t's separately and then by color.
Me: By color, huh?
Tia: (rather matter of factly) Yeah.
Me: I'll take that into consideration.

And by "take that into consideration" I mean "I am only baby stepping this, you're buggin' and wow, I truly do live with Monica from Friends". But of course I would have it no other way :O) I love my Monica.

3. Now's a good time to at least start being a grown up.
Tonight I bought pajamas. Oh this is huge. Huge because I bought them without teddy bears or any other animals on them. Huge because I am no longer sleeping in sweats and t-shirts that should only be used for working out or cleaning the house in. They are flannel and they are comfy. I didn't buy any grown and sexy ones cause really, why? Pajamas to me signify that you know it is time to take your tail to bed. I can't just be wandering around going to bed when I feel like anymore. I am on a schedule and I have a routine. This is scary. My nighttime routine now includes night cream. Yikes! But anyway, I am now a grown anus adult for real. "I'm just not used to being this responsible" doesn't wash well anymore. Now's a good time to regularly balance my checkbook and figure out how I am going to consistently be able to provide for myself, by myself, if and when that happens and that looks like it will be soon. Now is a good time to get over my fear of being in the house alone. Now is a good time to not ignore those funny noises going on with my car. Of course you are thinking "A good time to start would have been about 10 years ago." I know, I know. I'm a late bloomer (that's French for procrastinator) and well sometimes not all that motivated.

But all in all turning 30 has been great. It is finally here and I love it. Besides feeling extra snuggly in my new pj's, I am finally comfortable in my own skin.

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

More Stuff- Toya
Tia and I need to break up. I swear we share the same brain. I came home thinking that we haven't posted anything in a while and so I started making some dinner and turned on my computer. Lo and behold, she posted something. I got some stuff to post and being as though I just ate a whole skillet of chicken and vegetable alfredo and can't get up or even sit up for that matter, I'll just type away until I can't think of anything else.

Mos Def and I have decided to break up until February so that I may spend some quality time with this month's Toya's Boyfriend of the Month...

Jesse L. Martin

The Lord is great and greatly to be praised. Glory!
I don't understand why they haven't had Jesse L. Martin play Marvin Gaye yet. He would be absolutely perfect. He has the eyes, the smile, and the voice. I remember seeing him on Ally McBeal and thinking "Why on earth did I not take up acting?". Okay, taking up acting just so you could have love scenes (with all clothes on of course) with hot leading men is not a good enough incentive of course but I'll be doggone if it's not a perk.

That 70's Show
I am watching That 70's Show and anybody notice the chocolate/vanilla love that pops up every now and then? Kelso is dating Hyde's black sister (who seems to have the same hair as Hyde). Does anyone remember Hyde and Chili? Hyde and Reagan Gomez? Who is writing this and how on earth do they suppose that all this was acceptable in the 70's in WISCONSIN? And speaking of That 70's Show, the recipients of this week's "C'mon Dude, Really?" awards go to...

Wilmer Valderama and Da Brat.

I was listening to the Wendy Williams Show while at home in Jersey during the holidays and she said something that almost made me pull over so I could laugh for about 15 minutes straight. Apparently, there is something going around about Wilmer Valderrama feeling that his ill-fated relationship with Lindsay Lohan has kept him from having success outside of That 70's Show unlike, Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher. He thinks that his personal life took on a "Bennifer" type madness. To this, Wendy replied "Somebody tell Wilmer that he is not white!" It really is true. Wilmer is colored, yall. The game aint the same. I wish it was, but it's not. Wendy said that as long as Antonio Banderas is around, he can forget it. Now that's cold. I don't agree with that at all. If anything him crying like a little girl that dropped her ice cream on the playground when he got punk'd by Ashton Kutcher made sure that Hollywood won't be considering him for any strong leading man type roles anytime soon. It's cold but it's real.

DaBrat says that her recent stint on The Surreal Life does not in any way indicate that she is a has been. Um, what? If anything, The Surreal Life is the final nail in the coffin for any career that is on life-support such as hers. Jermaine Dupri has this to say:"With 'The Surreal Life,' it was a real hard decision for her to do that," Dupri offered of his friend's participation. "As her superior, I felt she shouldn't do it. But at the same time, she talked to me like, 'If I went on there, [other current rappers] would want to do it. They would think it's something new to do.' She felt that as long as her life was current, it empowered her." Current? Anybody remember her last single? It had to have been 2 years ago. This was NOT the move to ensure a comeback.

I am watching Girlfriends which is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows. Grant it, I am late catching on but I was late with Friends too. Lynn's slang talkin', head wrap wearing, black man lovin, hip hop dancin' white sister Tonya, accuses the girls of acting whiter than she is after Traci Ross' character wants to listen to Britney Spears or Enya during dinner. I am glad that they addressed this. They did a great job of it. I am so proud of this show. When I think of BGLU's, I think of women like these, particularly in this episode.

I saw Deliver Us from Eva over the holidays after my godsister insisted that we watch it and I am SO PISSED. I am pissed because I did not support it in the theaters. I LOVE THIS MOVIE! I have no clue as to why it was rated R, which is why I wasn't in a rush to see it. I don't even think I heard the F word and there was no nudity. I have heard much more offensive language in PG-13 films. It is such a good film. I'm enraged at how these commercials depict every romantic comedy with an all black cast as Booty Call sequels. I saw them do the same thing with The Best Man. Furthermore, Gabrielle Union was fabulous and her character as well as LL's are up there as some of my favorite characters in any movie I have ever seen. This is right up there with The Wedding Planner for me which I have seen at least 18 times. Go rent it. As a matter of fact, go buy it.

Finally (and I do mean finally before this turns into an Anberlin fan site), you can check out new cuts from the band that Tia and I have been raving about for the last year and some change on www.purevolume.com/anberlin . I will say this about the new album: Ever love an artist's debut album so much for so long that no matter what they put out afterwards, nothing will ever top it no matter what they come up with? It's not that their other songs aren't as good but there is a certain attachment you have to the first record because you sat with it for so long and it was all so new. Kind of like Room for Squares. Heavier Things is a great record but me and Room for Squares have been through some things, know what I'm sayin'? Anyway, I think I may feel the same way about Anberlin's new one "Don't Take Friendship Personal". I do like the new songs however but haven't immediately fallen in love with them like I did the ones from the last album. I don't think that I could ever truly dislike a song that Stephen Christian sings on anyway. What I liked so much about Anberlin in the first place is that their lead singer can actually SING. We kind of give leeway to rock singers as far as their ability to sing in the name of good ol' rock and roll. This is why I love Steve Perry and Sammy Hagar so much. They can sing anything. Stephen Christian has the kind of voice where you wish he would make a whole album full of lullabyes. It's perfect.
(Side note: To our friend "Boy With Thorn": I sure hope that after you read these comments about yourself, you quickly get on the phone with some friends who will tell you how cool you are NOT. I could see how one could get gassed up. Don't think that if one day Tia and I see you somewhere and your pants split open on stage that you won't get clowned publicly. This is BGLU. No one is exempt.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Stuff - tia

I ran into one of our faithful readers over the holiday and was slightly chastised for the lack of posts.

"Every day I check back to see if there is anything besides the Slater/Zach Morris picture. And every day I’m sad."

Since there is a pretty good chance that there are others with the same sentiments here is a brief (maybe..It’s still pretty early in the post) summary of the events of this BGLU.

Movies
I finally got to see Ocean’s 12. Aside from the fab outfits, yummy eye-candy and great locals, this one is a dud. It wasn’t the worst movie that I’ve ever seen (as Toya asserts) but it most definitely did not live up to the hype. They spent way too much time trying to define some characters and not enough time on others. (I mean, did Bernie Mac need to be in jail the WHOLE time?) All in all I wish that I could get my $9 back. If you haven’t seen it, wait for it to come out on video..or HBO..or ABC. It shouldn’t be too long.

Napoleon Dynamite
I go to church with a girl who saw this movie something like 8 times in the theater. I never knew what all the hype was about. I figured, you’ve seen one geek movie, you’ve seen them all. But I was on vacation for 12 days and there’s not a whole lot to do in Nashvegas (it’s not like I can go spend the afternoon at the beach or anything), so I picked it up on my way home.
Maybe it’s the child in me but I think this movie is Hil-ar-I-ous. Seriously, it’s the dry wit of it all. "Your mom goes to college." "BOW TO YOUR SANSEI!!! " "Napoleon, you’re just jealous because I’ve chatting with hot babes online all day." If none of these lines make sense then you obviously haven’t seen the movie. I have to admit though, the first time I watched it I didn’t think it was all that funny. I think, however, the repetitive watching may have warped my mind as I am now contemplating buying the flic. It’s the one-liners that get me. Or maybe it’s because I’m a total nerd and somewhere in my inner recesses I can relate.

Chasing Liberty
Stupid plot, average cinematography, beautiful British man…’nough said. Watched it twice.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Even with Sean Connery, this movie was a steaming pile of poo. But once again, there was a fairly high maintenance (eye brow plucking, y’all) Johnny Depp looking British bloke in the film. I watched it from beginning to end.

I’m often amazed at the level of crap that I will put up with as long as there is someone from England involved.

Ben
It is in the moment that you fully decide that you are not checking for someone that they appear out of nowhere to make your life just that much more interesting.

The last weekend of my vacation was jam-packed. New Year’s celebration, wedding with a bangin’ reception, and impromptu going away lunch. Pretty sure I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the boy. I’m on the dance floor at the NY’s party doing the electric slide (much to my chagrin. I’m somewhat opposed to the ES. I think it’s the line formation dancing. But I have no problem doing the Cha-cha slide. Go figure.) But I was out there trying to teach a Brazilian friend of mine how to do the dance. Guess who jumps in to help as well…? Yeah, him. At one point Toya saw him coming toward me and yelled, "HEY MAN!!!" in the mike. Unfortunately the music was too loud and no one heard.

And so forth and so on it went. Every time I was in the kitchen, he was in the kitchen. (That’s from the movie Friday for those who didn’t get the reference.) For fear of giving away his identity, (sorry Lew) I will refrain from noting the other 5 million times I saw him in the course of 3 days. All I can say is that it sucks to like someone you know you either can’t or shouldn’t have.

More Stephen
I really don’t have a lot of time to waste. There is a lot of transition going on during this season of my life and with the exception of my recent vacation, I try to account for every hour of my day. Thus, I don’t know how I got sucked into myspace
. It is a COLOSSAL waste of time. Some have said that they use it for networking…riiiiigggghhhttt. The site is nothing more than a self glorifying use of the world wide web that serves very little purpose other than giving us yet another reason to squander away our precious time. Notice that I said us….Hold on the phone is ringing….It’s the pot calling to tell me that I’m black. I have wasted more than my fair share of time on myspace. But it was all so worth it when I found this.


Stephen is bringing it to the people in such a special way. It’s the combination of the outfit (blue is a good color for him) and the happy memory of him singing the mess out of Readyfuels that makes this picture so daggone special. I noticed that everyone was commenting on Nathan’s hair. Maybe it’s because 90% of the people in Nashvegas basically look like Nathan because everyone last one of the 90% want to be/are rockstars. Maybe it’s because I live in Nashville and every 3rd guy has hair like Nathan’s. I don’t know. Whatever the case, I didn’t even SEE Nathan’s hair initially. Yeah, Nate’s hair is great and all, BUT DO YOU SEE STEPHEN??!?!?!!! Whatever, man!!


Disclaimer - Because this Stephen thing seems to be leaning a little toward the obssesive side, I think this might be the last time I reference him for a while. Stephen, if you're reading, just because I don't talk about you doesn't mean I don't still care.

Useless (to you) Info
I found that it’s not as hard as I thought to Cha-cha Slide in high-heeled boots. This means nothing to you, but as one who didn’t wear a pair of real heels until about a year ago, this realization of this little tidbit meant the world to me.

Good Times
I broke up with my satellite provider at the end of last month. I say broke up because it was like trying to leave a clingy boyfriend. They made every offer (promise) in the world to try to get me to stay. But the price was going up and I didn’t want to be locked into another year’s contract, as I don’t plan to be in Nashvegas another year. And frankly, I wasn’t all that impressed with satellite. The cable company made me a better deal so I switched back.

The good times began on Dec 27th at 3:00. That was when MTV Jams, MTV hits and VH1 Soul were brought back into my life. In case you didn’t know, MTV and VH1 do NOT play videos. And MTV2 does not even pretend to try anymore. I have seen more episodes of Beavis and Butthead, Made, High School Stories (or whatever that show is called) and that show where video game characters sing to the videos…what is that show called…Video Mods, I think….on MTV2. Remember that commercial not too long ago that had people complaining about MTV never playing videos? A van drove up and threw a TV out the door and it had the MTV2 logo on the screen. Apparently that no longer holds true. So if you want to see music videos on MUSIC TELEVISION, you’re going to have to shell out the extra $$ to get digital cable. But it soooo worth it. I have seen the following videos in the last week

Subway ft. 702 – The Game We Play
MC Brains – Oochie Coochie
Numerous Heavy D videos
Stop the Violence Crew – Self Destruction
Camp Lo – Luchini
A Block of Hi-Five Videos
A bunch of "neo-soul" artists I didn’t know existed (Hate to use the neo-soul term but it’s the only way I know how to describe them)
Sweetback
Common – the video with Lauryn Hill..the name escapes me
A Block of New Edition videos followed by
New Kids – Please Don’t Go Girl.
It’s worth noting that the video came on MTV Jams (think R&B and Rap, old and new) By playing the video, the programmers acknowledge that Please Don’t Go Girl is in fact a JAM. Sleep if you wanna, but you know that that song is on point. As Toya said Jordan Knight was that boy. You can’t deny it and apparently neither could the people at MTV Jams.
An hour & ½ block of Jay-Z videos (Jigga got videos for days.)
Jodeci (Cry For You is STILL the jam)
A plethora of 2Pac videos – While I’m thinking about it, I have to say two things in regard to Pac.
1. For a dead man, Pac has had a lot of albums.
2. If I see Suge Knight in the street, I’m going to punch him in his eye…and run. What in the world would drive him to have 2Pac killed? I’m a Pac fan from way back. I remember almost being late to school the day Me Against The World came out, because I had to have the tape (yes, TAPE) to listen to on the way to school. Every time I think about Pac, I immediately get mad at Suge. Whatever ultimately happens to him is a prison/coffin of his own making.

Mary J. Blige
SWV…and a bunch of other stuff that escapes me. I now have to make a conscious effort to turn off the television. The day the cable was installed I sat on the couch with a friend of mine for about 3 hours straight, just watching videos. It is now far too convenient to become a fat lazy couch potato. Did you know that you can get Chinese food delivered? I didn’t think Nashville was a big enough city for all that….So dangerous.

Dinner at the Grammys
In light of my current family situation, I was unable to spend the holidays with either of my parents. It was a little sad to tell you the truth. Regardless of how crazy your family is, they’re still your family. And barring relatives homicidal tendencies you usually want to see them at least once a year.

But all was not lost. I got to spend the Christmas with my newly adopted family the Boones. (Yes, they are some how related to Pat Boone. No, I don’t know how.) My girl Betsy and her parents were nice enough to invite me over to spend the weekend with them. And although it wasn’t like being home, it was a very nice second.

I was awakened at 10:30 Christmas morning by Betsy beating me with a pillow and yelling, "It’s CHRISTMAS…GET UP!!!!" No, she’s not a child. But apparently she’d forgotten that I’d gotten up at 4:45 a.m. to brave the ice and snow to take Toya to the airport. I somehow managed to drag my butt out of bed and was warmly greeted by Betsy’s parents, grandparents, and brother. There was a huge breakfast and even some presents for me. Good times.

That afternoon, we braved the elements to visit some other relatives. Can I just say that these people love to eat. And you know, I’m okay with that. Anyway, I kept hearing the word Grammy interwoven into conversation. It turns out Betsy’s 3 cousins, The Peasall Sisters, were on the O, brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. The cd won best soundtrack or something and apparently when that happens, all of the artists on the cd get Grammys. You could have knocked me over when I walked in the family room and saw the 3 Grammys on the mantle (with the soccer trophies).



I just wanted to touch one.


And no, that’s not a picture of the Grammy in my purse.


They are the sweetest most non-presumptuous people you would ever care to meet. You would never know that they were on a 5X platinum album. I mean, how many of y’all would act right if you had a Grammy in your house?