Monday, September 23, 2013

Toya- The College Years

Well it's the second week of post 9-5 office hours and on my way to figuring out/pursuing the dream and I must say that this is the happiest and most peaceful I have felt all year. I'm not saying everything is perfect. I am just saying that I finally feel like I am in a good and healthy state of mind.  I will not ever subscribe to the whole 30 or 40 is the new 20 but there is a part of me that feels like my 20's are starting over again.  What I mean is that I feel like a whole new world of learning has opened up to me lately.  Chalk it up to spending more time amongst college students studying in local coffee shops during the day but I feel like I'm in college sorta. Because I am not irresponsible and insecure as I was in my twenties, I feel like I will be more resourceful with all that I am learning in books and in life.

This morning I went to this class on faith, music and culture that I have been auditing and became slightly envious of the kids there. Almost all of them were born the year I went into my first year of college! Good grief.  I found myself a little envious of the fact that they are all going through this experience together; that they get to devote their time to their studies and not their jobs and other responsibilities that fall into place once you hit adulthood for real for real. It makes me wish that there was a college just for people in their thirties and forties but such is life. Interestingly enough, I am not learning a lot in class. The professor's way of teaching is pretty neat in a sense that there is no homework. We have a movie to watch and we discuss certain points but in an nutshell, he seems to want to lead us to have our own personal revelations about faith and culture versus having us rehashing data at the end of the semester. It's not what I thought it was going to be but I welcome the discussions and this new discipline of getting up and getting to class on time which is something I never quite managed when I went away to college at 17.

I don't know if I have ever gotten into my college experience here on BGLU so I will make this brief.  I was never really a good student. For some reason, I just never could quite focus and live in the now enough to really take school as seriously as I should. From about third grade on up, my report card consistently said "Toya is smart but she does not work to her full potential."  I did very well in English, go figure.  I don't know what it was about me and school. Looking back, maybe I was just a little rebellious. Maybe I was just looking at everything and going "What exactly is all of this for anyway?"  With that said, I should have never ever tried going away to school once I turned 17.  I was far too sheltered to go away to school even with it being just two hours away. I was more concerned about living right and not letting guys into my pants than I was trying to get good grades so I voluntarily came home within a year. After that I went to community college pretty much for the sake of getting internships in the music industry and that was pretty much how my life went until I moved here to Nashville.

But now there's a part of me that is really excited about learning. Like, I think I could actually go back to school provided I was taking a course load that I really cared about.  My friend, an amazing sista who is a Presbyterian minister, was recently encouraging me to go to Fuller Seminary for their Theology and Arts Masters program. That sounds delicious but this is the thing: I don't even have an undergraduate degree and I'd have to go to school for two years to get one.  Here are the reasons why I am like "Meh" about that whole idea:

I don't need more debt.

I'm almost 40 years old.

Do I really want to be around that many children for that amount of time? Seriously. I am one of the oldest people at my restaurant job and I always seem to feel like Shirley from Community.

I just don't know if I have it in me to go to school for that long.

We shall see, we shall see. In the meantime, now that I am in better state of peace, I find myself reading more and wasting less time on social media. I'm just not that concerned with what everyone else is doing nowadays. It's been a breath of fresh air.  I think my first week after leaving my job was a time for me to kind of gather myself together and get some rest. This week is when I will start to figure some things out and most likely have more and more revelations. All in all, this has been a good adventure and I can definitely say that this is the happiest I've been all year.

Now let's see how I feel when Friday Rodriguez rolls around and my paycheck reflects the paycut of life I just took.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Brand New Me- Toya

"Brand New Me" is a song by Alicia Keys who has been getting a bad rap lately if you ask me. It took some of my friends who are singers to point out how off pitch she can be at times but to the average listener like me, she's not that bad! I am so glad I'm not an entertainer. They really have their work cut out for them. 

As much as I've joked around about being the "Black Pam Beesly" (being a receptionist with a dislike for mundane tasks and an affinity for cardigan sweaters, sarcasm, and wise cracking thoughtful boys with messy hair) I did at one time have a dream of being a receptionist. When I was a teenager, my mom would take me to this high end salon in Center City Philadelphia. The receptionist was the flyest lady I had ever seen. She had a close cropped natural hair style, dressed in beautifully bold colors, wore big funky jewelry and walked as if she ran the place. Ms. Terry was IT! I looked forward to seeing her as much as I did going to get my hair done. She just seemed like she set everything in order.  I am assuming that memory is what gave me the idea that being a receptionist was somewhat glamorous. Now at about twenty some odd years later and at least ten years of receptionist experience under my belt, I know better. Oh do I ever. Ms. Terry had that thing on lock. Me on the other hand? Well, I'll explain in a bit why being a receptionist for that long has not been one of my wiser choices. Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should. Being a receptionist is not my career destiny. Not by a long shot.

Because of this revelation, as of tomorrow my life will be totally different. Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at what will be my last job where I will ever hold a position as a receptionist to pursue my passions which include writing, TV and concert production, and counseling.  I was looking at careers in television recently and I saw that the OWN Network had an opening for a receptionist. "Not even for Oprah" I said to myself. "Not even for Oprah." After four years I came to the realization that in no way shape or form should I have ever been sitting behind a desk not regularly engaging with people . People are my life!  Now you may be saying to yourself, "You were a receptionist. Your job is to talk to people." My job was to greet people as they were on their way to somewhere else. I spent most of my time at my desk alone not really being able to build relationships and help others. For some reason this never bothered me until this year when I started to have anxiety attacks at my desk. I didn't understand why until recently and this is the reason I came up with:

Ever feel like the grace to do something has completely left the room? Whatever made me tolerant of going to that job every day just packed up and walked out this year. I have never felt so trapped in my life. I didn't realize how stressed out I was until I was until I had emergency wisdom tooth surgery and my recovery days felt like the best vacation I have ever had. It got so bad that I had to take naps at lunch time. Not because I was tired of working that job plus my part time job at a downtown restaurant. It was because I had to spend some part of the day being darn near unconscious to get through the rest of the day! That is no way to live. On top of that, a good number of my co-workers did some pretty dirty things behind my back which came up during my last job review. Although my supervisor was on my side and assured me that my job was safe, I took that as my cue to get out of there and fast. But if I got out, what was I going to do?  Seriously, as much as I've been trying to keep my ahead above water financially, where was I going to go?  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To Chop or Not to Chop - Tia

Gorgeous and Short!!
I've never been a hair person. I boil it down to laziness. I just never really cared enough to spend hours on my hair.

Growing up, I thought I had thick hair. My mother perpetually kept my hair braided or in plats. I never took the time to learn about my hair's texture or growth patterns or whatever. In junior high, I got a relaxer and a cute cut. But my hair just didn't want to hold the style. One of the older girls in youth group told me that I just need to curl my hair tighter with a hotter curling iron. Yeaaaahhhh....that didn't work. What I didn't know at the time was that my hair was just too fine for the cut I had and getting the relaxer didn't help the little bit of thickness I did have.

I swam in high school so I spent four years in braids. I did get a relaxer at the beginning of senior year. But again, I was lazy and it was too much work as I was prepping to try to get into a college pre-med program. So it was back to the braids I went.

Up until about 5 years ago, I'd either worn braids, two strand twists or weaves. And it's not because I don't like my hair or I don't have hair. I just don't want to be bothered by it. I started pressing my hair off and on (more on than off) about 5 years ago. I loved my pressed hair. It wasn't a sign of assimilation or not being proud of my roots. I just like my hair straight. It was easier. When my hair is pressed I only need 3 products: Design Essentials shampoo, It's a 10! Hair Mask Conditioner and It's a 10! Leave-In Conditioner. That's it. I don't have to grease/oil my scalp. I don't have to do anything...Unless I work out.

A good workout is the mortal enemy of a non-relaxed head's press. One good sweat and my hair reverts backs to its most comfortable non-straight state. So with a pressed head my choices are stretchy pants and fly hair or skinny jeans and "Girl, what happened to your press?"

At the moment I'm wearing Senegalese twists. I love them but my hair grows fastest when I leave it alone. I could never wear a sew-in longer than 5 weeks because my hair would grow right out of it. It's the same thing with the twists. A style that's supposed to last me a good 2 months at least is barely making it to 6 weeks.

I could never go natural. I'm too lazy for all of that. I applaud you if that's your journey. But it's not for me. I don't want to have to figure out how to stretch, coil, branch, whatever my hair. I don't want to have to become a chemist to figure out what variety of products to use to properly moisturizer my roots.  I know that when my hair is straight I can spray it with leave-in conditioner, blow it dry, flat iron it and I'm good to go for a week unless I work out. No additional work needed. And when it's twisted, I can spray in leave-in conditioner after a wash and I'm done. Easy-peasy.

Frankly, I'm tired and I'm over it. I'm tired of feeling like I have choose between my hair and my workouts and ultimately my health. I'm tired of feeling like I'm wasting my money getting my hair twisted or braided. I'm just tired.

For the last couple of weeks I've been thinking about cutting my hair off. I always said that when I turned 40 I was going to chop all of my hair off. While I'm still a few years away from the big 4-0, cutting my hair seems like the most logical thing to do. I wouldn't have to worry about ruining my amazing pressed style after an excruciating class of kickboxing. I wouldn't have to spend hundreds of dollars every couple of months getting my hair twisted just so I could work out consistently. And I could go back to swimming, which I love, and give my knees a break. (Side note: getting old BLOWS. I have recently had to let running, Insanity and few other things go so that I can do physical therapy on my knees. Ooooh, I hate getting old.)

The thing is...I'm terrified. My hair has gotten pretty long. And in my family hair is, "Your crowning glory." I remember my mother making me take my hair out of a ponytail so that she could show one of her friends how long my hair had gotten. Yeah, it was like that in my family. And the world around me would have me thinking that I'm less of a black woman if I don't have long hair (whether it's all growing out of my head is a moo point.) I've just grown so used to having hair of length one way or another that I'm afraid to do anything different. What if I cut it and I hate it? I'll have to deal with it being short until it grows out long enough for the Africans to snatch it up in some braids. What if...

I know some of you are thinking, "It's only hair..." But it's not. People have an emotional connection to their hair that's hard to explain. Why do you think girls cry when they get a really bad cut or style? Why do cancer patients and people with alopecia grieve so deeply when their hair comes out? It's not just hair for a lot of people. And I'm scared I may be one of them.

I don't know...I'm still thinking about it. And it will be at least another 6 weeks before I make a decision. I have to take new passport pictures. And it's more than likely that I'll be traveling with twists than with any other hair style for the next 10 years. So I still have some time to ponder. I'll keep you posted.