Unemployment: Day 80

My 90th day of unemployment is just days away. My bestie reminded me last week that it was approaching, and unlike so many Americans who aren’t working, I’ve had enough money to make to the 90-day mark without being  foreclosing, visiting a food bank for assistance or pounding the pavement for any and every job I can get. In fact, I’ve worked on some really great projects, traveled and even took a writing class in New York City. I have to agree, I’ve been quite comfortable, and I owe that all to God.

Since my last day of work, I’ve been restless, bored to tears, but happy to lounge around, write, research jobs and catch up on Boss (check that out, please), instead of fighting annoying morning traffic, or worse, school zones. What I haven’t done is stress about where my next meal will come from or how I will pay my bills. At all.

I remember taking a driving course when I was 15. They put me on the expressway to drive, and when I told my mom, she asked me, “You weren’t nervous?!” I told her no, and her reply was, “Girl, you’re too foolish to know when to be scared.” Maybe this is one of those situations, but whatever the reason, I’ve had no worries.

A Twitter follower just announced that this is her first day of “FUNemployment.” That’s a nice spin, right? Earlier this summer, a writer friend who actually made his living freelancing until recently suggested that no one really wants to be unemployed. My personal reasoning was it was all good because the job I left, or that left me, wasn’t a good fit for me. He told me, “I’m sure, but still, it’s just an inconvenience.” I didn’t argue because just a few days in, I hadn’t experienced true inconvenience, as I had one more paycheck coming in.

Yeah, he was right. As I write, I have the State of Tennessee Unemployment Office on my cell’s speaker phone. They’ve been playing this terrible hold music for the past 45 minutes. I’m wasting my precious daytime minutes, but I’ve never gotten hold music, only a call-back message, so I’m willing to wait. See, I haven’t received any unemployment since I filed on June 1. Today is August 21. I’m beyond pissed about it.

I’ve struggled to seamlessly answer the “So, what do you do?” question without fumbling with my words. The fact is that I do work without being tied down to a particular company or organization for now. I’m a writer and I work on freelance projects. End of story.

I thank God for gifts and talents and the right mind to save money and contribute to a retirement plan when I was working. All things work for the good.

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On the Pole

A little background information on me. I’m small. Like, not petite, but just small. Always have been. No matter where I go, somebody is bound to call me “Slim” as a term of endearment. I fluctuate between a size 4 and 6. I haven’t gained any weight since college and I graduated nine years ago. I’ve had issues with it for forever, but now I’m grateful for it. I’m one of the few who doesn’t have to diet or exercise before special events come up. You would think I was in the gym regularly, but the reality is I don’t work out.

This is not a humble brag. It’s a sad truth.

I’m out of shape. Nothing has proven that more than me going to my first pole dance class.

So, I’m about two years late on the stripper pole craze. I snagged a gift certificate for little or nothing for 15 classes. I thought I was getting a deal, but it might be a gift and a curse. I ain’t gon’ last for 15 classes. Nope.

Okay, I will, but stretching is a must. The crunches as a cool down? They almost killed me. I thought I’d move to pole technique because I’m a fast learner, but I need to stay right where I am. I won’t go into more detail about the class since it was only an hour, but let me say this…

Must respect to strippers, exotic dancers, pole gymnasts, etc. I may not engage in those activities for money, but I’m not knocking what they do. Who would’ve known these women had to have so much upper body and core strength? That’s real work! They deserve every dime. It’s an art.

This is not a game. It’ll possibly be an Olympic sport in 2016. I will conquer the beast that is the pole. I’m not out to compete or be a dancer in training. At all. It’s actually a great workout, and we see where that gym membership has gotten me. Nowhere fast.

Maybe I’ll report back with my progress. Maybe.

 

 

14 Days

I guess I should update you on what’s going on with me so far. If you’ve been reading, you know that I’ve committed a major no-no, which is not posting for over a week. I haven’t worked in two weeks, so there should be plenty of time to blog, right? Nah. I’ve been glued to this computer doing other stuff. Other stuff that’s more important than giving you my opinion on the tomfoolery going on in the world today (imagine that!).

In the past two weeks, I’ve been to the unemployment office three times AFTER I filed my claim online. I’ve applied for food stamps. I’ve applied to jobs atleast 2-3 times daily, had two phone interviews for jobs, received a rejection letter for one,  lost a contract opportunity in facilitation, got the green light for a story for a local pub only to find out it won’t happen. On top of that, I have a houseguest, and she’s 18. The golden age of psudeo-independence. Oh yes, it’s been a very busy 14 days.

But I’m still bored to tears. I know. I need to sit my ass down right? LOL.

I am though. In fact, that’s all I’ve been doing, give or take a few walks in the park or a trip to the magazine section in Starbucks (at the mall). Oh, and sleeping. I, once the Queen of Sleep, am tired of it. Turns out, this doing nothing thing is exhausting. The great thing, though, is if I don’t have anywhere to go, if I so choose, I can take an impromptu nap anytime I feel like it. There’s no better freedom.

Don’t get all inspirational on me and tell me I can go out and explore nature, become a tourist in my own city, yadda, yadda. I know that, and I am doing that to a degree. I think I’m still wrapping my mind around not going to a job every day. Last night, I thought to myself, “I can’t watch ‘Girls’ at 11:30. I won’t be able to wake up in the morning.”

Wake up for what? To go to work…or watch The View? Because I surely did the latter. In the last two weeks, I realized that daytime television sucks, all of the good movies come on in the mid-morning, Parks and Recreation is my new favorite show and I might like bacon more than sausage as far as breakfast food goes.

I’m living the life over here, people.

The good news is I’m writing more and I haven’t gone a day without opening my blinds and letting the sunshine in. I’m still moving and still smiling.

I’m off to fill out some more applications.

A Birthday Present

A month ago today was April 10, my 31st birthday. I’d partied (a little too hard) the previous weekend, taken the day off to celebrate with a little Me Time. You know, the usual: massage, lunch, mani/pedi and a little shopping. My day was filled with love from friends and family and countless Facebook and Twitter posts just because. Life was good.

I happily returned to work the next day. My inbox was filled with birthday wishes from coworkers along with an Outlook appointment to meet with my supervisors. To catch you up, two years ago, I transitioned into a new position at my job as a Resource Development Coordinator, which really means I do whatever my supervisor, the CEO, requests, including sitting in on board of directors and executive committee meetings.  There was a board meeting going on at that very moment and thankfully, I didn’t have to attend.

Long story, short, in that meeting I was informed that I would no longer be employed as of May 31 due to budget cuts.

Oh.

Happy belated birthday to me.

I didn’t say much. Gave a few nods, signed my agreement form and told my higher-ups that business is business. There were no hard feelings. Truthfully, there weren’t. I guess I saw it coming. After five years of doing a “whole lot of stuff” at this organization, being laid off was a gift in a way.

Why? Because I don’t like my job.

I don’t hate my coworkers, the fringe benefits or being paid a decent salary every two weeks, but I do hate the job itself. It has almost sucked the life out of me. I’ve read every “Signs You Need Another Job” story the Internet and magazines have to offer, and I fit the description of all of them. Recently, my mother asked me why I was dressing like a bum to go to work. There was a time when I lived in dresses, skirts and heels, even when I worked in a warehouse in my previous job. These days, I rock flats (ick), the same four or five pairs of slacks and cardigans with little to no fashion “umph” whatsoever. How tragic. I told her, “I guess I dress how I feel.”

This exact time last year, I was fresh off of a six-week medical leave. I didn’t want to come back. I was writing, making more contacts, doing what I wanted to do, and NOT going to work. I vowed to give it six months and then I’d kick the job search into full gear. Maybe apply for this fancy summer journalism course in New York City. A year later, I’m in the same position. Complacent and bored to tears.

That’s when God stepped in. He knew the only way to get me out of this place was by force. I’d gotten comfortable with my situation because I’m blessed and in this economic climate, people would kill to have my job, any job anyway. How I wish I could’ve secured a job on my own and turned in a two weeks notice, but it didn’t happen that way. I’m not mad nor ashamed because this 8-5 deal isn’t me. In fact, I’m happy. A weight has been lifted. Yes, I’m a little scared, but that’s normal and healthy.

What now?

I trust that God will help me  find my way to bigger and better things. I figure, and I pray this will only come around in my life once, so I should take advantage while I have no attachments. I have skills that can bring in income. I write, teach school and facilitate trainings. It’s a running that joke between friends that I am a “Jamaican” or similar to “Tommy” on Martin. I’m always asked “What the hell do you do for a living?!”

Since April 11, I’ve wondered if I’ll be as happy as I think or will I become depressed. Turn the lights off, close my blinds and drown myself in microwavable dinners and wine? Or will I get up, get out and do something? I guess it’s time to show and prove.

So in short, life is still good, but this time around, I’m on the countdown. Twenty more days, and I’ll say farewell to my “old” life.  Let’s see what happens next.

Flashback Friday: New Jack City 20 Years Later

“I need some New Jack cops to take down a New Jack gangsta.” ~ Officer Stone


This is how I know I’m getting older. New Jack City, Mario Van Peebles’ debut film, was released in March 1991—20 years ago. Through the years I have watched this movie, which I deem as a classic, more times that I care to admit (as recently as last week on BET). Before Wesley Snipes became a regular in Spike Lee Joints, he showed his dark side in the lead role as the grimey drug lord of the notorious CMB, Nino Brown. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, as west coast rapper and pimp (?), Ice T was already 5.o fighting crime, except he hadn’t cut that ponytail yet. Chris Rock was a crackhead named Pookie and even in film, singer, Christopher Williams (Kareem Akbar), was still labeled a “pretty muthaf*cka.”

There are some movies that expose the ills of society while making us mad and laugh, though that might not have been the intent, and New Jack City was one of them. Now, I could get all deep and talk about how NJC’s purpose was to shine a light on drugs and its destruction to the African-American community, yet two decades later, not only is the drug trade more powerful and mainstream, but glorified in music and entertainment. Drugs are not only found in housing projects and buildings like The Carter, where Brown  manufactured his product (that’s where Lil Wayne got his album series title, for you youngins. Listen to track #1 on the first album), but on college campuses and even in the workplace. Any and everywhere is fair game. I guess he was right when he said, “This is bigger than me. It’s the American way.”

Instead of preaching to the choir, I’ll point out a few things in the movie that everyone loves from “quotables” to video clips.

1. Did you not feel like a betrayed mother when Pookie started smoking crack again? I’m always screaming, “Don’t do it, Pookie!” like he can actually hear me.

2. Nino’s haircut was horrible, and so were the colorful clothes, but it was the early 90s. He’s forgiven.

3. I always laugh uncontrollably when I see Keith Sweat’s strong neck performing at the wedding.

4 One of the best lines of the film: “Cancel that b*tch!” **pours champagne over her**

5. The fact that Guy had a guest performance says just how “90s” and “New Jack” this  movie really was.

6. Was Keisha saying, “Rock-a-bye, baby?” Either way, that scene was cold-blooded.

7. The way G-Money fell, well, rolled over to his death was so fake.

8. My skin still crawls when Nino stabs Kareem in the hand with that sword.

9. Using small girls in pretty dresses as bullet shields is the ultimate sin.

10. Last, but not least, your life will not be complete until you tell someone, “Sit yo’ $5 a** down, before I make change!”

I’m missing so many things. What are your favorite/worst parts of New Jack City? Do you think it served as its purpose of bringing awareness to the war on drugs, or was it an ultimate fail? Does it even matter now?

My Birthday Manifesto

Well, people, it’s here. Today is my 30th birthday. How’d it get here so fast? I remember my 18th birthday like it was this morning, rather than yesterday. Yesterday, my family and friends threw me an awesome party. I am beyond blessed to have people in my life who genuinely care about me and show it. I stayed up until 12 a.m. and at 12:04, it hit me that I am officially out of my 20s, and I wanted to cry. For like, three seconds. Then I was over it. Instead of looking back on the past and comparing myself to others and their accomplishments by this age, I’ll embrace what’s to come because I know without a doubt that I am favored by God. Things will only get better with time.

Meanwhile, since I’d already reposted “30 Things Every Woman Should Have Before She Turns 30,” I figured I’d do a manifesto after I received a funny email about how to write one. A manifesto is defined as a “written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.” I immediately thought about Clutch Magazine’s manifesto. I always thought it was cute, so why not do one of my own?

My Manifesto

I will live my life and make decisions with purpose and intention. (Except for when I want to catch a good sale.)

I will do what makes me happy, even if it doesn’t pay off right away now. I know it will.

While I know my small circle of friends is more than sufficient, there’s nothing wrong with being “sociable” outside of that circle.

I will work harder to reciprocate the love and care shown to me for my family and friends.

Time is nothing to play with. Use it strategically and to your best advantage.

Community is important. I should invest in it.

I know that “the club” is not the be all, end all. There are so many other things to do, I don’t care what R. Kelly says. (I’ve known this for a while though.)

Reading is what’s up. And of course, writing is, too.

I will take better care of myself physically. I’ve made it to 30 without having to take hypertension meds. That’s a miracle.

God loves me, so I will let my light shine, so others can see He loves them, too. (Yes, I went old school.)

Now that that’s out of the way, let me get my birthday dance on.

Naturally Obsessed

A little update on this natural hair thing. I’m still going strong. No urge for a relaxer 14 months into this transition, and after my appointment at SuperCuts, I probably have an inch of relaxed ends in some places. The “kitchen” is completely natural. So far, I don’t feel overwhelmed with all this hair, but two things have happened that I didn’t expect.

1. I’m obsessed with hair products.

I haven’t been to my new stylist in weeks for no particular reason. She does a great job, but I know I need to be able to tackle this beast called my hair alone, too. I’ve been practicing my blow-drying and flat-ironing since I could do neither very well before. I’m a rollerset kind of girl. Between these hair blogs and talking with friends who are transitioning, I’m always tempted to try new products, which is crazy because it’s not like I’m doing anything spectacular with my hair. I wear it straight and occasionally, I may throw some Curl Formers in to add some curl.

I’m simple. I don’t want to have to fool with oils and sealing and co-washing. I just want to wash, condition, alleviate frizz and add shine. I’m determined to find one set of staple products that does this. I’ve bought all kinds of conditioners, leave-ins, serums and rollers. I don’t remember my grandmother using all that stuff when she pressed my hair as a little girl, and I had a head full of hair. For me, less is more.

I made a vow two weeks ago to forgo buying any more products after attempting a regular rollerset (came out decent, by the way. Use roller with caps!). I was doing well until I went to Target last night. I was looking for Giovanni Organics serum, only to find that they were out. I snagged John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease (used to be a staple back in the day when I lived in Louisiana) and Giovanni’s Wellness Shampoo. I tried the conditioner and loved it, so I completed my set. I have no willpower whatsoever, but atleast my purchase was under $10 tax included.

Here’s the short list of products I’ve used:

Twisted Sista Serum: This bad boy is $5 at Target. They’ve clearly expanded their “ethnic” hair care section. I wasn’t impressed with the results after the flat-iron. I think my heat protectant does a better job.

Garnier Smooth Milk: I used it, but not really. It’s for blow-drying, but you can use it on dry hair. I saw a difference even on my dry hair. I’m hoping that it, along with the John Frieda contributed to my hair not being as big as Texas this time around.

Grey Flexi-rods: After failing miserably, I realized that I’m just not ready to set my hair on these things yet. I don’t have the patience. I tried them on dry hair and proceeded to try to sleep in them. What the hell was I thinking? After 10 minutes in the bed, I got up and flung them out of my hair. Later for the flexis.

All that, then the stylist at SuperCuts suggested Redken’s Heat Glide to prevent dead ends from heat damage (I was well overdue for a trim) and Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum. A-yi-yi! They trying to stick me for my paper!

2. I miss the beauty shop. I ran across this post, Nostalgia: Black Beauty Salons on CurlyNikki.com, and I’m telling you, this girl read my mind. I haven’t been inside a real salon since November. Dare I say that I miss it? No, definitely not the waiting, not sitting up under a dryer, but the atmosphere, the customers, the talk.  There’s just something about being in a beauty shop. Maybe I have a soft spot because I grew up in my granny’s shop. I went to my mama’s stylist until she left and my next stylist rented a booth in a granny’s shop until she retired. I have always, always been “at the shop.” It feels a little funny not being there. After a few trips down memory lane, I’m over it.

Where’s My Trophy?

One of my favorite questions to ask at any random time is, “Where’s my trophy?” For what, you ask. For being a woman. Once a month, we endure a myriad of emotions, pain and anything else under the sun. How dreadful to be happy, depressed, angry, aggravated and in tears all within 30 minutes? Again, where’s my trophy? Are children supposed to be it because I don’t have any yet. It doesn’t stop there though. In my 40s and 50s, I have to endure menopause and combust into flames from hot flashes, too?  I wouldn’t trade being a woman for ANYTHING in the world, but today,this right here, is bringing me down. Today, this is me……

 

Nothing good can come from this.

Le sigh. I’ll be popping these Ibuprofen like sunflower seeds today. I pray I can get myself together within the next hour or two because I have a ton of work to do. Maybe some music will help, but for some reason this one keeps coming to mind….

But enough about me. That’s life.

I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I do read Jezebel occasionally. This morning they published “Twitter’s Incredibly Depressing #rulesforgirls.” Read it and weep, ladies. Perhaps the most depressing thing of all is I’m sure most of the responses came from “Black Twitter.” Lord help.

DMV Adventures: Hey, Where’d Your Wedding Ring Go?

Sometimes it just takes too long for me to write about the randomness in my life. Here’s Part II of my visit to the DMV on Labor Day Weekend. Read Part I here.

Day 2 of our Girls Trip to the DMV was under way. We’d obsessed over what to do, where to go all morning, and the standard answer was still, “To the District.” So, off we went.

After clowning with the staff at Ben’s Chilli Bowl (They were singing MJ’s “PYT,” and I line danced in the middle of the restaurant.), we strolled down U Street to see what the rest of the day had in store. A gorgeous guy, skin kissed by the sun, stood outside of a cafe and motioned for us to come in. Surprisingly, it was a day party, and behind those doors, people were getting it in.

Almost immediately, some guy approaches me and begins dancing. I can appreciate a guy who doesn’t want to bump and grind or  challenge me to a dance-off, so I two-stepped with him for a little while. He was nice-looking, but I could tell he was slightly older. (I have to remember to stop saying “older,” as if I won’t be 30 soon. Le sigh. ) He wore a cap, a tee and what my girls coined as “dad jeans.” Hilarious. Atleast he didn’t have on K-Swiss to complete the look.

Before he could ask my name, he  spouted out all types of “compliments.” I wanted to say, “Thanks, but you make the truth sound so disgusting.” He was thisclose to calling me a “tall drink of water.” I sensed that this was a Living Single club episode waiting to happen.

In an instant, he’d swayed me to the bar for a drink; I obliged. Don’t judge me. The entire time, my girls are laughing as I make funny faces over his shoulder. I noticed they kept throwing their hands up, pointing to and wiggling their ring fingers. Was “Single Ladies” on?

Nope. Ohhhh, I get it.

After a few sips of  my cocktail, suddenly, I didn’t feel like dancing anymore.I thanked and chatted him up, I was on to next.

“So, your friend with the “Dad Jeans” had a wedding ring on. You didn’t see it?” one friend asked.

“He did? Nah, didn’t see it.”

“Yeah, while you were ordering your drink he stuck his hand in his pocket to take it off,” the other chimed in.

Oh yeah? Men. As if him being married was the only barrier between us.

Before I could respond, Mr. I Don’t Wear My Wedding Ring was back in my personal bubble trying to dance. It became painfully obvious that this was first time out in a long time without the wife. He was just too damn eager. Poof, be gone!

It took me atleast 15 minutes to get away from him. Not to mention, he kept coming back around to ask if I was ready for another drink. What do I look like, a fool?

“No, I won’t be getting another drink. This is enough,” I said. “I think you’ve had enough, too.”

“I’m just gettin’ started!” he replied as he continued to dance himself silly.

I gave him the side-eye of all side-eyes. I could see the imprint of his ring sitting snug in the bottom his left pocket, but I didn’t even mention it. It was unnecessary to point something so blatantly obvious out to an adult who knows right from wrong. If hiding a symbol of your marriage is part of a scheme to test if you still have your mojo, there’s nothing I can say or do to help. On top of that, I didn’t even know the guy. Why not leave on a high note?

“Okay, well good for you. We’re leaving now. Nice meeting you.”

I left him standing there. The last time I saw him, he was doing something like the Reebok on the patio, scoping out his next victims, some college girls with bad weaves.

In the words of the great lyricist, Silkk the Shocker, “You ain’t gotta lie to kick it.”

2010 Rewind…My Life in Blog Posts

The year 2011 is upon us, and I can’t say I thought this year would have turned out the way it did at all. To quote the Mr. Clarence from Coming to America, it was “good and terrible.” My faith makes me know that my good always outweighs my bad, so let’s take a look.

1. My first yoga experience: Yeah, it’s not me. I’ve got to find something else. Maybe Zumba.

2. My first story for Honey was published. I interviewed my former Dream Man, Brian White.

3. Thanks to a freelance gig, I was turned on to a wonderful Memphian writer, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of Wench. Read it!

4. I was-named project creator for a project that never happened. Oh well. It was a flop, but I connected with some great bloggers and writers. What’s up, D In the D Life!

 

5. I celebrated my 29th birthday on the West Coast. Viva Las Vegas!  Shout out to my Asian fam at Club Tao.

6. I took another position at my job. It’s um, different, but I’m learning new things and re-learning some old things, too.

7. I’m a brace face AGAIN. I up and decided to get braces, including having them extract four teeth in the process. I love them just as much as I did when I was 14. 

         

8. I interviewed my Mentor in My Head, Aliya S. King  and saw Janet Jackson in one weekend at Essence Music Festival.  

       

9. My first time on a beach. I know, I know. Why did it take 29 years to get to one? For years, all I wanted to do was feel sand between my toes. During our getaway to the DMV, instead of taking a train to NYC, my friends surprised me. What a feeling!

10. My granny went on in September. I love and miss her so. I still cry and still get sad, but I know she’s where she’s supposed to be. This was definitely the lowest point of my life, but I’m getting stronger.

11. I received a story assignment from the Final Call newspaper, and it turned out to be a cover story. Talk about surprises! You just never know what’s coming down the pike for you. This story opened my eyes to a lot of things: Poverty, peonage and protocol. I’m grateful for the experience.

12. As of December 18, 2010, I have been relaxer-free for a year. I still haven’t gotten the full swing of things, but read about my rants here and here. I got a post on CurlyNikki.com out of it!

13. I tried ice skating for first time in over 15 years. I was a little rusty, but it was fun overall. No falls or slip-ups!

14. #ImaddictedtoTwitter It brings me so much joy and pain at the same time. It’s like a boyfriend you wish you had the guts to break up with. From Chris Brown/RazB beef to connecting with great writers to finding great sources for my stories, Twitter supplies it all. What will the next major social network be? I’m not signing up.