My Goals: Week of Feb 16

So, my second weekly update. I am so excited. Along with at least 2 content posts and a picture, I have started the goal of measuring my goals here for accountability.

I’m keeping my goals shorter this week with the hopes I will update my progress throughout the week!

  1. Create a nighttime routine. I’m not getting any younger. I need some kind of retinol cream and way to relax.
  2. Hit the gym 3 times. Self explanatory.
  3. Home Project #2. Hang a mirror. Find a way to store my jewelry.
  4. Buy myself some flowers. Bringing love inside in small memorable ways.
  5. File my taxes. Let’s hope for a refund this year!

And in case you were wondering, these were my goals for last week:

  1. Put myself first. PASS. This time I really though about what I wanted without giving 2 fucks about what others thought. I missed a friend’s birthday party and skipped out early on a weekend work event. I needed to rest. I went to get at 8pm 2 days this week. Crazy hours and personal drama have kept me a little on edge. It was good to listen to my body for a change.
  2. Make my own lunch. FAIL. I did make my lunch more than I have in the past, but it was not all 5 days. I realize the key to this success is meal planning, which makes me feel like a 42-year-old divorcee. Tomorrow I am buying a crock pot and putting in my Fresh Direct order. I hope to use the extra day off to organize my apt, including my kitchen.
  3. Spend time with my man. PASS. My puppy Bernie has not been at his best. We spent time together at the vet which resulted in about $700 in vet bills. That’s $70 per pound. He has bladder stones and a collapsed trachea. He will be getting a harness and special food.
  4. Reconnect with friends. PASS/FAIL I got a chance to catch up with The Playwright, but everyone else basically got the boot. See #1.
  5. Home project #1. PASS! My ex installed my curtains and when they came falling down to the ground, where they stayed for weeks. I finally got the balls to fix something for myself.
  6. EXTRA CREDIT: Get rid of 5 things. FAIL but there’s hope. Gonna use this extra day to get something done!

My Goals: Week of Feb 9

I cannot believe that March is almost here. I am willing it to be here tomorrow in favor of better weather, but that is beside the point. A little over 6 weeks ago I made a series of goals that I would like to accomplish by 2015. Since the year is almost 2/12 of the way complete my goals should be 2/12. I am attempting to break my goals into little weekly bite sized chunks to prevent me from being overwhelmed.

This week’s bite size goals

  1. Put myself first. This week if I don’t feel like doing it…I ain’t doing it. I realize I spend a lot of time doing things I don’t want to do. Doing things at work that no one cares about. Going out when I want to stay home. Buying something I really want. This week, I will take a moment to ask myself “What would Kelly do?” Then follow the answer.
  2. Make my own lunch. I spend a small fortune on lunch at work. I have gained 10 lbs in the last month. I want to get back to the simple things. Cooking is at the top of the list. Hopefully it will help my bottom and bottom line.
  3. Spend time with my man. I have been neglecting the love of my life due to work commitments and melancholy. I plan to make it up to him by scheduling a time for him to visit the vet and the groomer at PetSmart. I may even make him a meal while I am at it.
  4. Reconnect with friends. So many people in my life have gotten engaged or had babies and I buy them things, but never take the time to write heartfelt notes and send them out. I will do that this week. I often complain about being isolated when there are definitely people in the world who love me. I would feel the love more if I just took the time to reach out.
  5. Home project #1. Do you know that I love power tools more than my own mother? I daydream while looking at Design Sponge or Apartment Therapy. It’s better than a third date. My new apartment is pretty blah and I think if I do a few small weekend projects I can change that.
  6. EXTRA CREDIT: Get rid of 5 things. The Bestie is coming and giving me all of her furniture before she heads to LA. Don’t worry, that will get it’s own post as soon as I can stop frowning. I am super excited for new furniture as I am about to set flame to this shitty Ikea mattress. But I need to make room by getting rid of 5 things every week.

I will check in on Saturday night! Let’s see how far I get. I’m not totally optimistic.

Be Very Afraid

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So far this is the theme of 2014. My plans of writing, wellness, and winning have all been surreptitiously dismantled by catching the flu, the pitfalls of becoming middle management, and unpacking my apartment. I sleep too much and often come home spent and thinking of things to write and not writing. I will do it tomorrow, I tell myself, right after I watch another episode of Criminal Minds for the seventh time. I do all this and expect things to be different.

I do this because I am afraid. Aziz Ansari was right about one thing: 30 comes at you fast. It is this mythical fantastical age where everyone in the movies has a large apartment, a career that they love, an enviable group of friends, the love of their life, and a baby. And it’s not just in the movies. In my own family I am the oldest grandchild to not be married or have a baby. In the era of instant gratification and humiliation, it’s not hard to find out weekly that the guy you dated with those mental health issues is celebrating his one year anniversary to an Evelyn Lozada look alike or the person who you used to perform with is now at Yale. In the aggregate, I feel like I have been left at the very back of my cohort. The one who never likes to read out loud. The one who is terrified of being called to the chalkboard. The one picked for dodgeball last.

I know that fear is the ultimate obstacle to purpose and to wealth. Thank you Oprah Winfrey and Suze Orman. Like the other dichotomies that have defined my life (Brooklynite from Mississippi, Ivy League sassy black girl; fat public health crusader), fear and ambition bite at my ankles enough that it’s all I can do not to fall down in a bloody, exhausted, legless heap.

How does one live their best life when they have become accustomed to mediocrity? How do you go out on a career risk after being unemployed during the Great Recession? How do you lose the weight when you know that it’s your only reprieve from the endless aggression and street harassment and black girl dating?

You don’t. Living your best life means getting over all of these things. It means fear has no place, which oddly enough makes me even more afraid. Over time fear has become the old pair of combat boots, long out of style but too comfy not to wear every time it’s damp outside. It snuggles me and let’s me sleep longer than I should and avert my eyes from attractive men with nice smiles. It tells me that trying to perform when I am this old and this brown and this tired and this fat is a waste of time. That working on my writing here is taking away time from working for publication. That no one will read what I write for publication. That I will always work nine to five. That I will always be alone.

Fear is a sickness wherein lies its own reprieve. Fear keeps us from being reckless. Sadly a certain amount of recklessness is required in risks. The shining irony is that the thing that has kept my fingers off the stove and good grades on my report card is the thing that makes me gasp for air.

2014: My Plan

I am so glad 2013 is coming to a close. I am blessed with many fortunes, but 2013 kicked me in the ass harder than an uncastrated mule. I languished in a job that wasn’t the best fit. I gained 21 pounds. I had the lamest relationship of all time. And I lived in an apartment complex that was riddled with bed bugs, trash, and homelessness. I didn’t finish one story or play.

I get excited between Christmas and New Year’s every year. This is the bane of my best friend’s existence. Over a glass of wine I excitedly ask her for her yearly resolutions and goals, and for the last 5 years she has rolled her eyes, taken the biggest sip of wine imaginable, sighed, and changed the subject. You could be doing the same, but at least I cannot see it.

This year, I am going through a little malaise. Alone in my new apartment with a small but very smelly dog, I never really got into the holiday spirit. I have no tree, I have 10 lbs of uncooked sweet potatoes that were meant to transform into a pie, and I have spent most of Christmas day asleep on an air mattress with aching lungs. There is nothing that will make you think about your life more than being sick on a holiday. Christmas tv is TERRIBLE (unless It’s A Wonderful Life is on), and when a Type A personality is left alone for more than 47 minutes, they have no choice but to make lists and plans. There is no time like the present. 2014 is coming whether or like it or not, and failing to plan is planning to fail. Here what I have up my sleeve for the coming new year.

1. Blog More

It’s no secret that I have not been around these parts in a while. I could say that life got rough, but blogging helps me through it. The truth is that I stopped knowing what to write. I love writing about dating, but since my personal life is basically as dry as the Sahara, I lost a lot of oomph. The last time I wanted to write about a guy or the trivial aspects of my brownsinglegirl life in New York, the Trayvon Martin verdict was announced. I sat in a room and cried. What was I doing with my life? Why was I writing about crushes and dates and I lived in a city/a country/a world where brown and black men AND CHILDREN were still getting robbed of their lives without any consequence? I am still trying to figure that out. I will never figure that out. But I think this blog is the place to struggle to understand. So Kelly’s Belly will be changing aesthetically and in content. I am committed to talking to you, yes you, three days a week. Be prepared.

2. Be a Pro, Not a Amateaur

Recently, a friend loaned me the book The War of Art, which pretty much put me on blast. I have watched friends perform and write in LA or write plays in NYC, while I fret out of fear. Inspiration doesn’t come from a bolt of lightning from Zeus. It comes out of habituated action. In other words, I need to find a way to but my butt in a chair and write, print, edit, and submit until I hit a nerve.

3. Make A Wellness Plan

I spend 40 hours a week worrying about the wellness of the greatest city on Earth. When I get home, I am tired. Where is my beer and pizza? NO BUENO. Again, it’s a problem of habit. I miss dancing and sweating, and I know it will help with my creative process, not to mention my cholesterol. The YMCA is right near my job. It’s where I plan to be everyday after work. I have a new kitchen where roaches don’t fall out if you open the cabinets, so homecooked meals will be a regular occurrence. Tap dance classes, I still have my eye on you!

4. Take Leisure (and Joy) Seriously

My free time tends to go either 2 ways: 1) Law and Order marathons or 2) overpriced dinner and drinks. Both are key, but neither really do anything to improve my frame of mind or quality of life. I love crafting, sewing, dancing, church, and crochet, but when I plop down after work or am faced with a wintery Saturday morning, I end up in bed until 2pm. I still need Law & Order and the ladies, but I also need quiet time to raffle through farmers’ markets, pray, and make things for friends.

5.  Travel, Dammit

I haven’t been out the country since 2008, my last trip to Africa. This is unacceptable. My NYC bestie had her 30th in Las Vegas, and the thought of putting $750 on my credit card sent me into such a panic that I told her immediately that I couldn’t go. Even if I don’t get on a plane, I need to get the hell out of this city. It drives me stir crazy. I need more trips and less shoes and cocktails. So here is to more weekend trips to Philly, bed and breakfasts in Vermont, and 16 hour trips to Boston to see Lauryn Hill in concert for free (thanks Samantha!).

6. It’s NOT Raining Men

My number one complaint besides having to step over dog poop and used condoms on the way to work? MY DATING LIFE. And what aspect of my life do I do absolutely nothing about? MY DATING LIFE. When you are trying to hussle, save, and climb the career ladder, admittedly looking for dates takes a back seat. But 30 comes at you fast. You mean I have to have kids (if I want them) in the next 10 years? Fuck. For a woman who used to have 3 dates with different men a week, this shouldn’t be an obstacle. But it is. Why…

7. Don’t Lose My Pretty

…Because I leave my house looking like a homeless person. A newly homeless person, but still. I spend my life outside thinking about how to help the poorest families in NYC achieve wellness and roughhousing with the smelliest dog in the world. I hardly get my hair done. I spent over a year without a full length mirror. Part of this has to do with body dysmorphia about my attractiveness weighing over 160 pounds. No one sees me. I spend a lot of time talking to men with no teeth. It doesn’t matter what I am wearing. And then I run into a man that has all his teeth and a good job, and I kick myself. It’s time to dust off the mascara wand and buy a new bra. Momma is letting loose.

8. Stop Worrying About Money

Should I buy Charmin or sand paper? I can save $3 if I buy the sand paper. Welcome to my life. I make tens of angst-ridden money decisions every day. It’s exhausting and prevents me from travel, hobbies, and other people I love. My friend lived in Paris for two years. I never visited because I never had the money. Now when I go, it will cost twice as much. I couldn’t raise $3k in 24 months. It’s embarrasing to think let alone write. 2014 is the year that I spend money on experiences. I want to be responsible, but I can’t take it with me. I need to spend money on making me happy, well, and whole.

9. Pay Off My Credit Card Debt

Never worrying about money it totally impractical, but as long as I am taking steps to pay off most of my debt in the next 18 months, I think I deserve the right to chill. This book is helping out.

10. Live and Love Fearlessly

Last week I saw Lauryn Hill in her post prison concert. It was life changing. During one of her Fugee renditions, she just kept singing “live fearlessly; love fearlessly” and I realized it would be my motto for 2014. I’m not too old, too fat, too poor, or too brown to accomplish what I was brought on the Earth to do. 2014 is the year for taking a breath and making the leap. Why don’t you come with?

How Long Do I Have to Take the Subway to Get to Success?

The year 30 brings a metamorphosis to anyone. Just like 18 and 21 changes your perception around what it means for you to be an adult, 30 is like that but different. 30 is adulthood bitch slapping you in the face.

Per the usual Type A thinking black woman I am, the last 6 months following my monumental birthday have been filled with ennui. I watch all my friends and colleagues achieve some of the adulthood trophies I already thought would be proudly displayed on my life’s shelf–making more than $75k, being in stable relationships, moving to Manhattan. I don’t feel like I am jealous; I acutely feel glee for the achievements of everyone I know. I just observe where I am in the process and how far away I am from “success.”

After a year of hell living in an apartment that has cost me a small fortune out-of-pocket, I have been looking for an apartment. If there is anything that makes you feel like you aren’t worth squat, try looking for an apartment in New York City! Being a single lady, I need to be close to a train in a facility that doesn’t resemble a crack house. Apparently, that costs $1500 a month…IN BROOKLYN. Not counting a broker’s fee. It’s pretty demoralizing to lay $4,000 down just to move down the street. This is the location I find myself. At the cross streets of “This can’t be my life” and “Dad, can I borrow some cash?”

How far is the subway from here?

Back to Black

I don’t know what happened. I turned 30 and then promptly stepped into a black hole. It’s possible that I didn’t step into it, but that it had been around me all along. I just put on glasses. Have you ever felt outside of yourself? That the life you are leading is not yours? That you are going about your life with the best of intentions, and yet is amounting to a glorious smidge of nothing? That you are so lucky to be alive, but know you are missing out of actually living?

That has been my last few months. The type A personality that I have always been loves to only speak about things after I have figured them out, hence my absence of blogging. But there is so much that I cannot figure out. Coping in New York. Financial planning when you have nothing left over. Dating in my 30s. This rash of gun violence and  unpunishable white on black crime. Marching for the same things we did exactly 50 years ago. I go to work as a public servant, and have figured out government is the place where passion goes to die.

I step past a drunk homeless man to enter my apartment. I am quiet and alone in the largest city in the country.

It will all be ok.

The Dog Days Are Over

The past month has been rough. Trying to find suitable PhD programs or new positions. Navigating that fraught territory of creating a friendship after a failed romance. A 6 month old computer inexplicably conking out. Regaining all the weight I had lost. Spending over $2,000 on something that is 9 pounds.

And all I can think are thoughts of gratitude.

MY TWENTIES ARE OVER.

Hallelujah!

Now, I do appreciate my last decade. I had a hot body. I got a Bachelors and then a Masters. I moved to big, scary New York city as a girl. I became a woman in Brooklyn. I wore the most impractical fashions. I hailed cabs everywhere and went on dates just because. I kissed a lot of boys. Those were some good times.

And I am so, so, so glad they are gone. Why would I be so happy to give up nipples that pointed toward the sky? This is just a small list…

  • I know my worth. I don’t work for free. I am not “lucky” to have a job. I spent time and money on training and expertise that I know I should be compensated for. As a woman and African American, I already know you are probably taking me for pennies on the dollar anyway, why would I give up more?
  • Stilettos make my feet hurt. I spent so many years in pointy-toed shoes and crop tops hoping someone would notice and buy me a drink. I don’t give a shit if you notice. I make enough to pay for my own drink, so I’m going to wear Birkenstocks when I want to. Yeps!
  • I know which guys suck. I spent about 3,424,298 hours dissecting texts and emails and waiting for calls. I spend about .04 seconds on shit like that now. If you want to hang out, you will call me. If you want me to take you seriously, you will pay for my dinner. You will speak to me with respect. If not, I don’t lose sleep over it. I can’t. I’m too old to function on less than 6 hours.
  • I know that I’m cute. Yeah, I am in the process of getting healthier and I would shed 20 lbs in a second, but I fretted SO MUCH about my appearance during the last decade. I look at the pictures now and think WHAT A WAIST–WHAT A WASTE! Why was I sucking in my stomach when I had no stomach?? Why did I flip out over my first stretch mark?? My body holds me up. I aim to treat it better. But greys and chin hairs are coming, so I appreciate how hot I am TODAY.
  • Financial stability is a priority. There was a time when I went out 5 days a week and my student loans were in forbearance. The me of today would punch the me of then in the face. I do miss my semi-extravagant lifestyle, but I realize that being ok later means sacrificing today. My retirement and debt eradication are top priority. I have to give up manis, cosmos, trips to Atlantic City, and fish tacos. But I will be having them daily at 65, so it’s cool.

And last, but not least–

  • The best is yet to come. Do you realize that the average American lives to be 80? If you peak at 25, you have 55 years to exist in mediocrity. I’m like fine wine, baby. I get better with age!

Here’s to me in my 30′s!