Wearing the White (Pimp) Hat

White Hat

Ah, so many twists and turns from America’s favorite smart black woman whose apartment and wardrobe looks so together in the midst of a personal life in disarray. What will I do on Thursday nights between now and August?

In the meantime, some other smart black women, me and BFF opine on the finale via gchat. Sorry for spitting in the face of punctuation. This is gchat.

ME: caught up on scandal. predictable ending
BFF: Yeah. It’s far too early for them to actually be together.
ME: no, they should never be together!
       i was surprised that he forgave her for jake
       i knew that budget morgan freeman was her dad
       and you called it saying she would never forgive him for Verna
       also, I thought Quinn killed the bad guy
BFF: They weren’t together when it happened and he’s been somewhat more reasonable recently.
ME: so, when he was waltzing during the perp walk, that was weird and inconsistent
       quinn is now going to be a killer
BFF: And yeah, she wouldn’t forgive him for that. Cyrus should have realized that was his trump card weeks ago.
ME: and im glad rosen is back as attorney general and that olivia has on the white hat
       Cyrus needs to get divorced and we need to see more of their black baby
       Sally Langston now has no hope of being president
       and i would like to catch her having sex with a fat hispanic man
BFF: Their baby and America’s baby are basically in hiding
ME: stop calling him america’s baby!
BFF: I just think it’s hilarious. And CNN and Fox News would totally do that.
ME: I also liked that their was cunnilingus in the last episode because normally you dont see that on primetime. It was his magic power.
BFF: Hahaha
ME: I am sick of Fitz. He is so weak. One woman rejects him and he goes right back to the other woman
       Disgusting, Truly disgusting
       Cyrus is the only one with balls
       I know he was out of breath after taping that episode
       He was yelling THE WHOLE TIME
       he really could have had a heart attack in real life
       but what am I saying…

SCANDAL IS REAL LIFE
BFF: When I talk about it at work with my co-worker Lucy everyone is like, “Are you talking about real people?”

 

Living the Dream

Unless you are a sociopath, career criminal, or criminally insane, if asked what your values include, you will probably reply something akin to “family, prosperity, the American dream, homeownership, etc.”  That’s why being a discriminating voter during the primary season is so difficult. Usually, there is just a line of over-the-hill white guys talking about budgets, foreign policy, and terrorism…saying lots and nothing at the  same time. 

So, how do you tell if a person is actually true to their value system? Their actions. DUH.

This is one of the MOST simple-minded observations of human behavior. 

And it smacked me right upside the head.

I have been spending the last 2 days of subway rides reading “168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.” Author Laura Vanderkam dissects the lives of the truly busy, yet personally fulfilled–the women who “have it all.” She asks the general public why we lament how tired we are when sociological research shows we have more than enough time to rest, work, and have fun. According to Vanderkam, if you write down what you do in a week, you find out where your value system lies. You care about the things you spend time on.

So what is my value system?

  • Playwriting/Theater
  • Cooking
  • Connecting with Family
  • Meeting New People
  • Long Distance Walking
  • Spending Time With My Pet
  • Reading
  • Travelling
  • Crafting
  • Making a Healthier Lifestyle for Myself

Just kidding! According to how I designate my time during the week, here is my ACTUAL value system:

  • Sushi
  • Taking Naps
  • Criminal Minds
  • Law & Order
  • Law & Order: SVU
  • Scandal
  • Pizza
  • Lipstick
  • Reading fashion blogs
  • Reading in general
  • Spending Time With My Pet
  • More lipstick

Hey, I got 2 right. That’s not that bad, right?

Actually it’s horrible. I realize that I’m so spent because I don’t do things I know bring me joy. Yes, Law & Order brings me joy, but not the same kind of joy as cooking a pie from scratch or shipping hand crocheted mittens to a new baby.

I know that the life I want isn’t going to magically appear tomorrow. By the time I’m 30, I won’t be living in Rittinghouse Square, sipping a soy latte, walking 3 toy dogs, as I head to my loft that is supported solely by my freelance writing. [Also in this daydream, I am wearing a Tibi dress, C. Wonder jewelry, and Balenciaga sandals. Just in case you were wondering.] But by the time I’m 30, I can commit to a healthier lifestyle, regular writing, and going a little out of my comfort zone to meet men new people.

So yes, my dream life is pretty far off, but if I spend my time as I should, I should catch up soon. 

Don’t Go, Weight!

I recently had a panic attack in Target. Atlantic Terminal was it’s usual mosh pit of mayhem, screaming women with hideous eyelashes pushing strollers and bumping into yuppies perusing the lackluster Prabal Gurung items now at 70% off. Target isn’t my fave place to be (unless it’s a Sunday morning, everything is restocked, and I have the time to sashay down the “ethnic” hair care aisle), but it doesn’t get me flustered. I am there 2 times a week, more like 4 since I have moved into my new apartment.

Yet there I was. Rising body temp, echoing sounds, and slippery fingers. I was having a meltdown albeit a silent one. Those are the only respectable ones to have.

I knew why it was happening. A mere 45 minutes before, my beautiful blonde Polish OB-GYN had the following exchange.

Polish OB-GYN: Yeah, I don’t know why you keep having these adverse reactions to birth control. First the IUD. Now the Nuvaring. I haven’t seen anything like it.

Me: I’m special.

Polish OB-GYN: Indeed you are. [flips through chart] Did you realize in August you weighed 163 and now you weigh 177? And your blood pressure has elevated considerably.

[PAUSE]

Polish OB-GYN: If it gets much higher, you may not be eligible to take birth control.

Me: [HAS SMALL ANEURYSM]

I had the same conversation with my primary care physician a month ago when he talked to me about my cholesterol.

And I have had the pleasure of receiving off-handed comments from family members at a recent wedding when I collapsed in my hotel room more than once in an adjacent hotel room.

Kelly, you were never a fat child or even a fat teenager. Kelly, you were doing so well, what happened? You wouldn’t be this overweight if you didn’t live in New York. 

Apparently I will not eligible for a loving relationship, a raise, a healthy pregnancy, happy vacations, a functioning heart or respiratory system, or family support unless I lose about 40 pounds.

There is some truth to that. Dating is different for overweight people. The men that were attracted to me 8 years ago were richer and whiter without a doubt.  Apparently women who routinely exercise get promoted more. And I know all about diabetes and heart disease thanks to my day job.

So, how do I manage to like myself today? To wear a sundress and flirt and not scrutinize everything I eat and exercise for the joy of it, and find value in myself regardless of what society says? Well, that’s easy. Society isn’t the problem at all. I am a black woman from Mississippi who went to an Ivy League school; every day I spit in society’s face and go on about my business.

It’s hard, however, to spit in the faces of colleagues, family members, and friends. People who love me, they really do, but scrunch up their face when I order french fries. Or point out how we used to share clothes, or outright ask me why I let myself go.

I didn’t let myself go. My life happened. After 24ish, my metabolism slowed. I participated in the cocktail culture of the city. I ate out on dates 3 times a week. I sit for 3 hours a day on the train and 9 hours at work. I mostly lived in places with small I get home at 9pm, write down my thoughts and lay down. And I use food as punisher, soother, and reward.

In other words, I am an ordinary American. In my family or school cohort, ordinary isn’t acceptable. It’s isn’t acceptable to me either on most accounts, which is why this issue gives me such anguish and stress.

I truly have no desire to be thin. I do have a desire to be thinner, have more energy, and have more insulin sensitivity. Spring is a time of renewal; I am starting small. A  jog with the dog. Walking up the stairs, heading to the farmers market every week.  I don’t expect that I will see a definite change on the outside.

But it’s the inside I am more concerned about.

*PS. Feel free to share any success stories or tips via Twitter or in the comments!

White Noise

As of late, I have had a lot of quiet moments. Maybe the tv is on, maybe I   read a blog or a text, but I am not there. The white noise has let me recuperate from what I can only define as a hellish start to the year. I am still adjusting at work, determining minute by minute what I am doing there, if I can do better, and, if I can, what my next steps should be. In doing a favor for a friend, I caught what in New York creates more scourge and stigma than AIDS…bed bugs. Not necessarily bed bugs. A bed bug. But where there is one, there could be hundreds. I still hadn’t settled into my apartment when my home became some kind of decrepit spaceship  Clear, shiny, plastic bubbles holding all I owned. Spending 14 hours of washing with break you mentally…not to mention financially. Thirty five cents equals only 10 minutes. Not to mention dry cleaning and days off work when I had no vacation planned.

I could go into the other 4 plagues of Egypt I have gone through since the new year, but that would banish the white noise for the night.

And I need the white noise. Because when it stops, my brain begins to scream–

I AM DONE.

With this life. With my 20s.  With New York. With people not picking up their dog shit. With aggressive panhandlers.  With an exorbitant cost of living. With not having a yard. With $15 cocktails and men who expect sex on first dates.

With the lack of white noise.

In 3 months I begin a new era of life.

And in less than 12 months, god-willing, it will be in a new place.

Dear Martin

pic16My dearest Martin:

Every year on this day, I take time out to reflect on how to live a more purpose-driven life. Today was no exception.

As I sat watching the first non-white president get sworn in, I wondered what you would have thought. Perhaps, like for me, the moment would be bittersweet. A symbol that the eras of the past are being eroded the same way the ocean takes away the shore, yet still utterly exasperated by the height of the mountain still left to climb.

The mountain will be there tomorrow; today, while we have it, I will sustain the joy.

I miss you. We never met, but I feel the spirit of you and your wife hover over me and my family’s legacy.  The watershed year of 1963 occurred 50 years ago.  I know so many women of African descent who have capitalized on the events that occurred since the time my mother was a child. We are doctors, we are wives, we are lawyers, we are First Ladies. It’s amazing what we are, but particularly what I am. I owe a great deal of that to you. And to my father who managed to create a business, with the help of my mother, in the racial muck of 1980s Mississippi. And to my grandparents who battled poverty in Baltimore and the Bayou to raise children who upheld the values and traditions of the Southern Christian American blacks.

Today, I rededicate my life to the fight.  So much has happened, but I am still afraid.  Afraid of institutional racism at work. Afraid of raising a family in the era of police brutality.  Afraid that a loving black marriage is a thing of the past. And afraid that gay rights will vanish. Afraid of rape.

Today is the first day I realized that only action combats fear.  So in memory of you and your legacy and in appreciation of the fact I am not a maid in Jackson, Mississippi raising three kids, I’m making a new vow. I vow to speak, write, organize, and march. To laugh, love, and pray.  To do 1/1,000 of what you did to improve not only my life, but the world.

Love always,

Kelly

New Years Evolution

Traditionally, this is my favorite time of year. Since the age of 18, I have used the week between Christmas and New Years Eve to stress out about an outfit, find a pair of heels I can wear all night long, and grab my BFF for a night of people watching, fruity cocktails, and chair dancing.

In the middle of the evening, I inevitably slur, “So what are your New Years resolutions?”

The first 7 or so years, my best friend would answer. She moved back to her hometown to look for a job 3 years ago. I know not to ask now. If we are together, I just give her a hug and a drink.

I still ask the same question to myself. It allows me to combine my favorite tasks: daydreaming and type A planning.

This year, however, is different. I don’t have the energy to look forward. The last 2 months have been a blur. I write posts and plays in my head, then come home from work to pass out. I moved into a studio from a 1-bedroom. My new job isn’t going so well. I’m still working my old job. I put back on the 20 pounds I worked so tirelessly to lose this year. I find myself snapping at my dog, my boyfriend, myself. Today I didn’t leave my apartment, not even to walk my dog.

New Year’s Eve, Schmear Year’s Eve. Resolutions aren’t so fun when you feel like you are existing and not living. 

I realized that always working towards the future and beating myself up for not accomplishing something great by my imaginary grown-up age of 30 is counter productive. It robs me of the present, of looking at flowers, drinking water, and breathing deeply.

I need to EVOLVE, not RESOLVE. Step 1 is gratitude. I’m not where I want it to be, but thank God I’m not where I have been. I make over 10k more this year than I did last year. I began growing locs. I got rid of people who were sabotaging my happiness. I became a dog mom. I moved into an apartment to better live within my means. I began to fall in love.

2012 was a good year. Today is a good day. 2013, come what may.