An Unconceived Reality

I was reading an article the other day featuring an argument between Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Senator Tim Scott (at a Senate Banking Committee hearing) on abortion… and yet another wonky point popped up in their debate. Senator Scott referred to himself as “a guy raised by a black woman in abject poverty”. He apparently mentioned being thankful to be there. Beating the odds, as they call it. And to that I say, to him, and others like him, that’s all fine and good, but can you imagine what your childhood might have been like if your mother DIDN’T have to raise you in abject poverty?

Why is it so far-fetched to consider the fact that if you are meant to be born, you will be, and vice versa?

Plenty of pro-life folks like to ‘shoulda woulda coulda’ their way around human life, but they seem to be unable to grasp the concept that there are people who may not feel ready to have a child, and that they, maybe, just maybe would like to have a child on their terms, or maybe not at all. That potential baby that might’ve been born will still be born, if they are supposed to. Everyone here has a purpose, do they not? So why does it make sense to force someone to have a child when they were raped, or when they are at risk of dying, or when they are homeless, or when they will have to raise the child alone and not be able to provide for them? These same folks crying about the unborn babies haven’t opened orphanages or provided scholarships for the hypothetical children they are violently defending. They haven’t made it easier for those of us with wombs to achieve a fulfilling, financially stable way of life in preparation for us to make our own choices regarding our own damn bodies. So why should they have a say in the lives of others?  

The people who have the power to write/change these laws will always have access to the rights they are infringing upon.

What Year Is It?!

I’m saddened that the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill has passed the Florida Senate, but I can’t say that I’m surprised. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of regression in terms of human rights movements as of late. Anti-CRT book bans, attacks on reproductive rights, and instances of police brutality have all been recurring U.S. news topics in the past few months. Among the three, there is a common thread: ignorance, and its tendency to incite fear in those who wallow in it. 

Fear has run amok: fear that children’s minds won’t be able to cope with history’s ugly truths, fear that education will lead to chaos, and fear that people who aren’t “put in their place” will overthrow those who are in power. I’m not sure where we go from here, but one thing is for sure: technology has become too big and too advanced to keep such backwards thinking prevalent.  People from all walks of life are making it their mission to spread the truth, and I’m grateful, because humanity will be better for it.

Reformed Shopaholic?

I think I finally turned a page in terms of my shopping habits when the pandemic hit. Something about being in throngs of random people got reeeeeeally uncomfortable at the beginning of 2020, and that discomfort still hasn’t worn off two years later. As such, the way I shop has changed dramatically since then, and I’m gonna pat myself on the back a bit, because my wallet is a bit plumper because of it.

I haven’t been to a mall in a few weeks, and on my last visit, it all evened out because I returned two online purchases that totaled a bit less than what I spent that day. I used to go shopping every few weeks at a minimum, so this is big progress. In addition to curbing my spending by staying away from the mall, my clothing shopping has plummeted because wearing cute clothes is not as fun when you have nowhere to show them off. As of late, I’m working from home (thanks, Omicron!) and thus have less reasons to leave the house. Most of the time, I’m wearing sweatpants or sweatshirt dresses, so my skinny jeans are gathering dust.

The vast majority of my clothing shopping is done online. Poshmark is a favorite as of late. I’ve been able to find new replacements of garments that I wore in college! I’ve also saved hundreds of dollars on designer bags by purchasing gently used ones on the site. When it comes to jewelry, my Etsy favorites list grows by the day, but it’s nice to be able to ponder on potential purchases for several weeks before I take the plunge; resisting the urge to make impulse purchases has become a habit. I’m even considering making it a rule to only spend the profits that I make from my Etsy shop going forward. (I’ll let you know if I stick to it.) I look forward to the day when I don’t feel anxious about walking into a busy mall. But for now, I’m fine with window shopping from the safety of my screen.

NamaStay

I’ve had a good Summer, COVID be damned.

I went to California for the first time with my husband last month, and we had a great time. We ate tacos almost every day and got more than our fair share of vitamin D in San Diego. Palm trees and margaritas… what more can you ask for?

As Fall comes creeping around the corner, I’m already pondering on the inevitability of a long stretch of indoor activities. But that’s ok, I’m looking forward to a change of pace, even if that means continuing to don a mask. Hotels are cheaper in the cooler months, which means we can get back to one of our favorite self-care practices: taking staycations.

There’s something calming about taking a weekend away, even when it’s not far from home. Some of my favorite perks are the little things… like not having to make the bed, taking a shower in a bathroom that’s nicer than ours, blackout curtains, and cable TV. Plus it’s kinda fun to explore an area through the eyes of a tourist.

I have a few tips for those of you who want to follow suit:

  • Try to pack light. Remember, you’re only going for a night. No need to bring 2 extra pairs of shoes, nor your entire medicine cabinet.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Bring a sweater or jacket for chillier night temperatures.
  • Must haves: an extra pair of cozy socks (use them as bedroom shoes), disinfectant wipes for the remote and other common surfaces, phone charger
  • And most importantly: ENJOY YOURSELF!

The Myth of Work/Life Balance

Working from home isn’t as breezy and convenient when you are forced to do so, with no alternative. This is not just because collaboration is restricted to phone calls and Zoom meetings… There is a certain added weight when you have to consider the ramifications of leaving the house during a pandemic.

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to WFH (especially now), work/life balance is a made-up concept. If you are like me, you have noticed that the lines become a lot more blurred when your commute is a 5-second walk instead of a 30-minute train ride into the city.

There are a few factors that come into play here…

  1. There is less (or zero) pressure to get dressed. When you no longer have to decide which work-appropriate shirt, pants, shoes, and accessories will comprise the day’s outfit, there is a certain carefreeness that results. For me, it is a blessing and a curse, because the way I dress affects my mood, and if I throw on random, non-matching pieces that are super comfortable, my brain is not in “Rise and grind!” mode. I don’t want to get in the habit of wearing sweats and a t-shirt every single day; it adds to the monotony that is COVID life.
  2. Your living quarters are also your work quarters. We live in a condo, not a house. About half of my friends do, so they have a designated office (or 2) in their homes. My work space is a round dining room table that also serves as my Etsy (jewelry) shop workspace. When you literally cannot separate your home space from your work space, it makes it a lot more difficult to set up boundaries between the two. I unplug my large desktop monitor at 6ish pm each Friday and put it on the floor against the wall to force myself to take a break from work for the weekend. If I didn’t, I GUARANTEE that I’d be tempted to get a head start on a few work projects on my days off. I’m home most of the time, so why not? It would be similar to if I lived in the building I worked in: the convenience of being so close would override my need to take a break.
  3. We are anxious about leaving the house because of the pandemic. There was a period of time in 2020 when I would make myself leave the house a couple times a week for walks. Now that there is a newer, more contagious strain of the virus going around, I’m less inclined to go outside except to run necessary errands. It doesn’t help that it is about 40 degrees outside at any given time right now… I am not a fan of winter weather.
  4. It’s easy to lose track of time. All too many times, I’ve buried myself in my work only to look up and realize it’s 1:30pm and I haven’t had lunch. I often ate at my desk when I worked at the office, so being at home is not much different, save for the fact that I use the stove instead of the microwave for my lunches. There aren’t any restaurants in walking distance to me, and the fees for delivery can get pretty ridiculous, so I cook every. single. day. I can’t really complain: I have food in the house. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I miss the Friday bagel runs I used to make with my coworkers, or the occasional blackened catfish sandwich I’d grab at the bar across the street from my job.

Something’s gotta give. It’s too easy to get stuck in a rut these days… I’m going to make a conscious effort to shake things up by ordering breakfast or lunch every few weeks and adding a calendar reminder for a weekly walk around the block. Cozy clothes aside, this WFH shit is getting old.

Corona Chronicles

Today I had another one of those weird mini breakdowns that was brought on by COVID-related stress. But it wasn’t because I was tired of not being able to do anything… It was kind of the opposite.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I have not been as careful as I was in the beginning of this pandemic. I have gone out to eat at restaurants with a couple close friends a few times, and today, in the midst of wondering when we’ll be able to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, I realized that because of these outings, some people might not see me the same way. They might think I am reckless and/or selfish. They might think I don’t care about the virus, and that I am willing to put loved ones in danger by not staying quarantined the entire time. 

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite my best efforts, I sometimes found myself in a mind state where I felt so alienated from the outside world that I craved companionship that felt closer to normalcy. In those moments, I happily accepted an invite out with friends so that I could reconnect with them in ways that social media couldn’t replicate: exchanging appreciative looks over delicious food, laughing at old inside jokes, and singing together enthusiastically to our favorite songs.

And today I felt guilty about that. Not just because of how others might see me, but also because I was disappointed in myself for not having enough willpower to stay at home like I’d vehemently chastised others to do back in March.

At the end of the day, I need to give myself grace. As much as I’d like to say I’m satisfied with the few moments I have had with friends, and that I will stay away from them for the duration of the pandemic, I can’t say with certainty that that’s true.

I can say that I will limit my excursions, and will quarantine myself before visiting folks that are in at-risk groups. I will continue to wear a mask when I’m out around people I don’t know, and will continue to socially distance when possible. I will continue to monitor COVID numbers in my city so that I’m not out gallivanting during a spike. And I will continue to remind myself that this situation is temporary, patience is key, and perspective is everything.

The End of the World As We Know It…

2020 has been an absolute nightmare.

If you’re lucky, you’re able to work from home and still get paid. If you’re less lucky, you still have a job, but have to put your health at risk because of the pandemic. And when you’re not working, where do you turn? Your phone.

Except, our screens are no longer used primarily for communication. In this time of COVID and civil unrest, our devices have been used for Zoom meetings, to check in with friends/family, as our tool to research and share news stories, AND as our entertainment.

Social media outlets have always been used as sounding boards for various topics, but now they are being used more and more to out racists and share videos of harrowing encounters with police. There is a lot of frustration and pain being felt right now, and as much as I identify with the posts I’ve seen from friends and the folks I follow,  the avalanche of information sometimes becomes a bit overwhelming. I used to get on Instagram to take a break from the news stories posted and re-posted all over Facebook, but lately, posts of goofy viral challenges have been replaced with pictures of protests and thought pieces on why it’s challenging being a black person in America.

I’m not complaining, trust. I have shared on both platforms and will continue to do so. I guess I’m just pointing out that doing a social media cleanse seems so much more daunting when you’re stuck in the house 24/7 for fear of catching/spreading a potentially fatal respiratory virus.

It’s stressful to not be able to do a fraction of what you were able to do just a few months ago. There are no birthday parties to attend, no vacations to take, no boozy brunches that linger late into the afternoon. Being afraid to hug your parents FUCKING SUCKS. I’m starting to forget what date night feels like. I miss chasing my godchildren around the park, grabbing a drink at a rooftop bar, and taking a walk to the local bagel shop before tackling work e-mails. Being car-less is especially wack right now, as you can imagine. I can’t remember ever feeling this trapped. Add to that the fact that mistrust in 12 is at an all-time high, and it’s enough to make you want to take up drinking as a nightly hobby.

So I take solace in the little things, because being grateful for what I have keeps me from screaming at the sky. I take walks in the courtyard, I blast music while teleworking, I discuss my favorite TV shows with my girlfriends via Marco Polo, and I indulge in delivery once or twice a week.

We will get through this. And my hope is that we’ll be stronger, smarter, and more empathetic on the other side.

Woosah

People deal with stress in different ways. My method of choice may not be seen as “healthy,” exactly, but it works for me.

I have to vent.

Writing is fine, listening to music is great, but nothing quite hits the spot like running down my list of gripes out loud, regardless of whether I’m telling my husband, a friend, or the empty space around me.

Something about flinging my words about – hearing the frustration instead of seeing it – really helps me blow off steam. It’s way more satisfying than writing stuff down in my journal, or typing it up in a blog post.

For instance, let’s say I get an e-mail from someone that is condescending in tone and petty in nature. Depending on who it’s from, and the amount of history behind the subject matter, I might just have the urge to hurl a few angry epithets through the air instead of responding with the same level of petty in e-mail form.  Now that I work from home (as many of us do) I can scream at the computer from the comfort of my dining room table without fear of reproach. No “I’m gonna need you to log off” HR situations lurk in the realm of possibility when no one is around to hear you tell your coworker to shut up from your couch.

As much as I’d like to have my anger subside after a few deep breaths, that is not quite my style, at this current stage in my life. Who knows, maybe I’ll change. Maybe I’ll become more wise and more zen as I age. But for now, this process is the go-to. My mouth hasn’t gotten me kicked out of any establishments, nor has it landed me in any wild brawls. So as the adage goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I STILL Don’t Know What Curl Type I Am

I’m sure my struggle is nothing new. I get it; many people are not sure what products work best on their hair. So when the curl guide started becoming a popular tool used to gain clarity on the best styling products, I got excited. But that excitement slowly faded as I realized that I didn’t know what curl type my hair falls under. I know I have some 4b and 4c at the nape of my neck. My Denman brush is my weapon of choice when it comes to tackling a twist-out, and it does a great job overall (despite the inevitable shrinkage).

There are wayyy too many hair quizzes online. I’ve taken a few, and I still feel lost as hell. I thought I was 4c, straight up, until two of my friends vehemently disputed my case. As I did more research, I realized that my curl definition was closer to the B range.

I’m following a few black hair bloggers on Instagram now, so I feel a lot more at ease about my hair. Seeing other women with similar hair textures try different styles and products helps me figure out what might work for mine (and guides me on how to spend my coins!)

Whatever my hair pattern is, I am saving myself a lot of money, time, and stress by doing my hair myself. I’ve been perfecting my craft and am now able to wash, condition, detangle, and twist my hair in under 3 hours, most days. I used to spend half my day in the salon chair, so needless to say, that is a vast improvement. To all my coily-headed folks: don’t give up! This road is full of twists and turns, but it’s well worth the journey.

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