Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ask a Bougie Chick - Hoodwinked, Bamboozled and Led Astray


I know it's been forever and a day since I answered any of these and I apologize. I do. Life gets in way of well, life sometimes. But this one had me so nonplussed that I had to respond quick, fast and in a hurry. Here we go (buckle your seat belts):
Dear Ms. Chele,
I came across your blog when a buddy of mine submitted a letter about two years back and you gave him some solid advice as well as some tough love. You like to say that when people write in they already know the answer to the question and that's probably the case here but I still need some cosigning. 
I'm Henry, 46 years old, living in the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles. I was married for 15 years been divorced for about nine months. Equal fault divorce, we didn't take care of the relationship and when things got bad we let them slide. I ignored her, she ignored me. Well it was time to walk away even with two kids, a boy (9) and a girl (7) between us. The divorce wasn't too bad. To get it done, we split custody and I caved on alimony and child support but kept the house. The house has been in my family for three generations left to me in my grandparents' will, wasn't giving it up no matter what. Plus we just finished remodeling it..
Four months ago, Andrea told me she was having trouble making rent at her townhouse in Pasadena. I gave her a little extra to get her caught up. Two weeks ago, she said she was being evicted and could she and the kids come stay with me. Everybody said I should tell her that I would take the kids while she got back on her feet but I didn't want to do that to the kids. I said okay everybody could come back for six months but after that, she would have to leave the kids with me if we wasn't back on her feet. She agreed. 
Two weeks ago, they all pulled up and there were two guys with them. I thought they were movers. I gave her the keys and went to work. When I got home, one of the guys was still there. I asked what he was still doing there and he (Curtis) said he lives here now. She brought her new boyfriend to move in. He can't be 30 years old and has moved into my grandmother's house. 
I didn't want to make a scene in front of the kids so I pulled her into the kitchen and told her that he had to go. She said they are engaged and he'll go when she goes in six months. Ms. Chele, I was so mad I had to walk away. Finally I said they had a month and then the two of them had to go. I talked to my attorney and he said I shouldn't have let her back in without getting a new arrangement from the court but that I needed to do that now. My sister said I need to watch out that I don't leave for work, come home and find all the doors changed. Andrea doesn't work and doesn't look like Curtis does either. He works out all the time. Isn't that crazy? The kids don't like him and neither do I.
What would you do if you were me?
Henry 
Wooooosahhhh.... deep breath in. deep breath out.

Henry? Do you mind if I call you Hank because it's about to get personal. You have been hoodwinked, bamboozled and led astray. 

*pausing for church organ riff and for Sister Somebody to cut a step in the aisle of Bougieland waving a lace church hankie*

You say your ex-wife gets alimony and child support but ran through your money even when you gave her extra and then she politely sashayed back with the kids and her boo-thang into the house your beloved grands left you? The hell you say?!

Okay.... Let's first admit to ourselves that you got got. The ex-wifey Andrea done played you like a fiddle. But it happens. Shake it off. Let's also concede that she's probably been seeing Curtis (or someone like him) for more than a minute. She was having trouble making rent because she's flossing and she has Curtis to pay for as well. Pasadena is not cheap and I doubt Curtis is either. Lastly, let's understand that the one thing she did NOT get in the divorce was the house and she wants it. She wants ev-ery-thing. Ev-ery-thing? Ev. Ery. Thang.

You, Hank - are too nice for your own damn good. What would I do? Lemme tell you - Have your attorney file some motions. I'm not a lawyer, I don't know what kind but surely there are some that can work for you in this instance. NEXT - Find a reason to get Andrea and Curtis up out your house for a weekend (like THIS one coming up) and call some movers to pack up and drop off all dey shiggity over to the Extended Stay Spot where you can pre-pay a single room for them for a week. Not a month, not several weeks, one damn week. Hank. It's time to put a little gangsta in these here negotiations. 

It does not sound like Andrea or Curtis are disabled unless we are counting shady and shifty as a legal disability these days. Get a court order. Put them out. Change your locks. Keep your kids, your house and your money where they belong - with you. But what do I know? I'm not a relationship expert, married or shacked up with a buff 20-something. Let me turn it over the crew...

Bougieland... what say you? Please talk to Hank. I am unable...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bougie Workplace Chronicles - When Helping Your Own Goes Horribly Wrong


For those not in the know, my day job on Paycheck Plantation is Human Resources. Specifically Talent Acquisition Consulting. I've wanted to quit and write full-time for over ten years. The struggle continues. Let's move on...

There was a sister-girl on my team. Grown, over 40, been in recruiting a while. She seemed professional, hard-working, knowledgeable and pleasant. Right before Thanksgiving, we had to cut resources on my project. Client was slow to move candidates to hire status which impacted our billing which impacted our budget and the next thing you know, my team is cut from five to two. Le Boo, dammit.

But since I'm good people and I liked her (we'll call her Kendra), I found a position working on a similar project for the same client. I thought Kendra would be a fit and I recommended her to the higher ups. In chatting with her, I explained that the role she would be slotted into was high visibility, high stress, and high maintenance but if she did well, she could really craft her career moving forward. It's the role I started out in at this company and I've been able to maneuver around pretty well based on the contacts I made and th e revenue I generated. She was excited, management loved her, it was a done deal. Her job was saved, the holidays would be happy. Hurray for all, right? 

Fast forward a few months. I get a call from Kendra asking if I could authorize a pay increase because she was "doing way too much work for too little money" um... welcome to Corporate America, sista girl? Surely this was not her first time at the circus, she knew how the clowns played? Anyway... I tell her I have no such authorization capability but if she hung in there maybe she could bring it up with someone over my head after the first of the year when budgets were being reviewed.

Sometime in mid-January, Kendra goes gangsta. Calls up the Sr. Manager and Director and asks for her $$$. In fact, she demands $$$. Bad news for Kendra, she hadn't hired anyone in 62 days. So um... cuz for why are we giving you an increase when you're not close to hitting your target numbers? Kendra goes Shaquandraeneisha on us. She calls in Human Resources and tells them that I promised her a raise to get  her to take this job. AND that I have been exposing her to "same race racism" on a regular basis. 

**crickets**

Can someone look that up for me? What in all the fricky-frack of God's Good Kingdom is same race racism? Colorism, classism, ageism - I got those. Same race, what? She no longer reported to me, I only talked to her on client calls once a week. Was I racist for saying, "Hey girl" on the call? She said the rest of us on the team made her feel like she was in a hostile work environment. Ma'am? We all work FROM HOME? Who is messing with your living quarters? And what does that have to do with me? Girl bye...

Kendra quit working. Oh, she didn't quit her job, she just quit even pretending to be productive. Instead, she attempted to file suit against me, everyone up the chain three levels above me, the HR girl who told her she was tripping, the HR woman that the HR girl reported to... on and on. And of course since she had quit working, I had to step in and do all her shiggity so the client wouldn't trip. Say it with me now: Michele. Was. Tart. Turned on the computer every morning with my fist balled up.

The beauty (and pain) of the consulting business is that if people love you, you get put on the best projects and you're golden. If they don't, you get put on "the bench" - unpaid purgatory until another client picks you up and falls in love. We put Kendra on the bench. Brought in a former military Dudley Do Right type to take her place. So now I'm doing her job, training her replacement and doing all the shiggity for my own job which is significant since they never re-staffed my group. Say it with me now: Michele. Is. Tart.

What you can do to help is go out and buy 1 million copies of my books so I can quit. I'll throw a great party, you're all invited. :) Ha!

No really, the lesson learned is that you can't reach out to everybody. Because some folks will bite the hand that feeds.

Anyone been through this at work? Where you tried to help somebody out and it came back to bite you in your hindparts? Do share...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thoughts about #Scandal now that #Olitzwithdrawal Season is over


It should come as no surprise to anyone who is even an infrequent visitor (as I'm an infrequent poster these days) of this blog that I'm a fan of the hit TV show Scandal. It seems like an entire lifetime has gone by since the last new episode aired and though there was some definite #OlitzWithdrawal on Thursday nights; I have to admit the break gave me some perspective (and oxygen). I stepped back and learned a few things:

1. There are some other really, really good shows on TV. Truly, if I had the time, I would DVR all of it and just sit zombie-like all day. One such show is House of Cards on Netflix. But having powered my way through, I'm confused as to why people keep comparing it to Scandal. Yes they both take place in Washington and yes they both have plenty of jaw-dropping oh-no-they-didntness but the similarities end there. There are no characters on House of Cards that I care to be friends with, sleep with or counsel. I wish psychologists and jail time upon most of their twisted heads. If Scandal is a sledgehammer, House of Cards is a nuclear bomb.

2. I like Scandal more when my own life is together. Really, it's hard to watch Livvy's man struggles and Quinn's "who am I this week" struggles and Mellie's "I want it all and then some more" struggles with any degree of patience when your personal dramas are swirling all around you. Hot mess escapist fiction is only fun when I can feel superior to the characters on it. Holla if you hear me.

3. I figured out why some guys get all up in their feelings about Scandal. I sat in a restaurant and blatantly eavesdropped a few of the brethren going in on the show. Basically, those women on the show are not being properly controlled by their men. O__o... Mellie, Abby, Quinn and Liv are not fitting into the norms that make some men feel uber-manly so the show is a bad influence. Like Oprah was when women started listening to her. I kid you not, these words were uttered. Wow. Fellas, don't be that guy. Ever.

Looking forward to what Shonda has in store for us over the next few months. The only thing I can properly predict is that it will not be boring. What do you think will happen next?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Richard Sherman is winning... everything


By now, everyone on the planet with a TV, radio, laptop or media device has heard the infamous post-game rant of Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman. No doubt as I type, someone has found a way to turn it into an Antoine-Dobson-esque Autotuned track with bass and syncopation not to mention animation perfect for YouTube.

Be that as it may, whether you liked the delivery, timing, brashness or not – you cannot doubt for a minute that the ultimate winner in this entire debate is none other than Richard Sherman.

He used both brains and brawn to get on a path to success – he maintained Honors-level grades at Stanford, arguably the most respected university west of New England. He is a Pro-Bowl level player on his way to the Superbowl. He had Dr. Dre on the sideline with him since he just launched a Beats by Dre headphone publicity run. He has his own line of “Shutdown” accessories for sale. He’s in a Nike commercial with Kobe Bryant where he kinda looks like the better athlete.

AND he has every media outlet in the nation hanging on his every word, tweet and Instagram post
.
I have to admit, I didn’t 100% love the rant. If you’re the greatest, let others recognize you for that. You don’t have to tell us. You most especially don’t have to shout it at us. But I never dismissed him as being a round-the-way thug who let his mouth run away with him. (NTTAWWT – Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That)

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. And I hate the quick-trigger reaction of “some people” who simply cannot abide seeing a person of color succeed and then talk about their success. President Obama strolling to the podium at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner with “All I Do Is Win” playing on the speaker – EPIC. BeyoncĂ© singing about being a Grown Woman with the awesome line “Bitches, I run this” in the chorus – here for it. Kanye… no, he needs help. Bless his heart. Let’s move on.

For those who say that race has nothing to do with the reactions we’ve seen to Sherman’s uber-enthusiastic self-aggrandizement, I invite you to scroll though the comments sections of any other of the gajillion articles currently floating around. Wince-worthy. As we say in the community – “MLK ain’t go to the mountaintop for this.” The dream is yet unrealized, good people. But I digress, back to @RSherman_25.

Richard Sherman won. He won the game, he won the internet, he won the endorsements, he's winning his life. What next I wonder? What happens next? Now that the eyes of the world are on you and you have one the largest platforms at your disposal – what do you do with it? Do you use the microphone for good or for gain? One thing I do know, we’ll all be watching.


What did you think of Sherman’s speech? Do share…

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 2013 in review: In remembrance of damns given

2013 was a huge, twisty, long-assed rollercoaster ride with dizzying highs and shocking lows at a breakneck pace with no brake pedal. Every area of my life changed. Environment, finance, relationship, job, ambitions, physical, mental, emotional - all in flux. Some for the better, some for the worse and none of it in ways that I expected.

Attending the Inauguration in DC was awesome.
Packing and moving in the hottest part of the summer not so awesome.
Working like a runaway slave was exhausting.
Getting promoted and having four books on the market as the same time was pure bliss.
And so it continued...

I fell in deep like. It was awesome. Until it wasn't. Be that as it may, the experience did remind me of exactly how I want to be treated (right up until that last day - no bueno, moving on) and expect to be treated in a relationship. It's well past the time to wait on folks to grow up. I appreciated being with a man who could plan a nice date, carry on conversation, remember things that were important to me and act upon them as needed, just be a sounding board sometimes, show some skill beyond the cocoa of it all and treat me like a partner instead of a crutch or a trophy or a delightful pasttime... It was nice. Won't settle for less next go round. So while I don't give a whole bunch of damns about him, I have lots of damns left for the next. 

I do still give a damn about blogging but... it's not the end-all be all. I no longer believe the world will screech to a halt if I don't post 20+ times a month. When I have something to say, I'll say it. When I don't, I won't. That won't net me a blog of the year award and I am so beyond okay with that.

I got better at juggling two careers. Still not a perfected art but writing (and all that comes with it) while keeping the HR gig going grew easier over the year. Partly because I moved into a role that is less hands on and more supervisory; mostly because when pushed to make a choice of writing vs. day-jobbing, I went with writing. So I give more damns about feeding my soul than my pocketbook. Who knew?

Friends, family, and followers really tried it this year. This was truly the year where I remembered where I drew the line in the sand and reminded folks not to step over it. In some cases, it brought me closer to people who have my best interests at heart. In other cases I lost friends, strained family relationships and cut ties with followers but such is life.  I give no damns about folks who do not respect boundaries. 

The long and short of it all is that I believe through all the whiplash-inducing twists and turns this year took, I'm ending the year in a smarter and healthier place than I started it. Definitely ready to turn the page to 2014. How about you? Do share... 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Three things to love about A Long Walk to Freedom


BougieMom, BougieSis and I headed out the day after Christmas to see A Long Walk to Freedom, the highly touted bio-pic on Nelson Mandela. Five stars, all the way around. Visually rich, evoking both poignancy and pride, the film provides a fresh and in depth measure of a man who altered the course of history. It was brilliantly cast and lovingly filmed. Here are three things I loved about it:

1. All the Idris. There's a pivotal scene where he got out of a car asking, "Somebody want me?" and I held myself back from raising my hand in a fervent affirmative. Moving on... Beyond the fine (and there's just so much fine) and perhaps more important than the fine is all the brilliance. Though I would not have believed it to be true, there came a time in the movie where all I saw was Mandela. Not Idris as Mandela but Mandela. He morphed in the man. I've seen Idris in a lot of film and television, this is his triumph. Oscar needs to come a-calling.

2. Winnie's struggles. I've been oft-irritated by the media's need to footnote Winnie Mandela as Nelson's ex-wife and whittle her role in his life down to a footnote. In this film we are able to see that Winnie was as much terrorized and imprisoned for 27 years as he was. In different ways but persecuted just the same. It's patently unfair and illogical not to relegate her into less than what she is. A strong woman, flawed but gifted and incredibly resilient and intelligent.

3. Mandela's humanity. Too many times when a man does heroic deeds, he is whitewashed as perfect. As though he is just the hero and not the sum of everything else that makes him uniquely him. However, this film allows you to see that Madiba was but a man with imperfections, vanity and ego. He did extraordinary things and made immeasurable change in the world. This movie allows you to celebrate the accomplishments while keeping it real. He was kind of a player. He wasn't above violence. There was some vanity there. None of that detracts from his legacy, just gives you additional flavor. I liked seeing it.

The movie moves smartly through Mandela's life rarely getting weighed down in one segment. If you feel like parts were skipped, imagine how long the movie would have had to run to get it all in there. There are, as you can imagine, moments that hit you in the gut and take your breath away at the unfairness of it all. There are lightbulb moments where you clearly understand the motivation and there are things that make you go hmmm. Less than a decade free and the South Africans elected a black president almost fifteen years before the US? Don't get me started...

Go see the movie. It's amazing. Enjoy. Who has seen it already? What did you think?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bey's new album has me all in my feelings...


Some of you all are super unhappy with Bey, huh? She gets a little smexxy and all of a sudden, she's not worthy? Oh. Okay.

Sure some of her lyrics are questionable, yes the videos are smoldering. So what? She's speaking her truth, not yours or mine. Here's a grown woman singing about stirring the cocoa with her grown husband. Where's the problem? Yes, I heard the whole "Eat the cake, Anna Mae" line - you don't seriously think she's advocating abuse, do you? Doncha think it's more likely that she's probably planning on bathing herself in frosting and tempting her man's sweet tooth? Let married people get their freak on... and sing about it. If you don't like the music, fine. But please don't try to make a sexy album into more than it was. 

Speculation on Bey's feminism and Jay's misogyny based off this body of work is ill-conceived. It's an album, not a manifesto. So no, I'm not mad at Bey and Jay. Do you, Illuminati, do you. 

However... The album does have me all nostalgic and whatnot. As many of you know, I'm on (yet another) man break. A hiatus from the homies. I contemplated sticking a pinkie toe back in the waters and then I got weary just thinking about it. Relationships, dating, even picking someone to try to do any of those things with? Exhausting. You have to have your mind right and your spirit willing before you give it go. Of late, I've been more inclined to wrap up in a throw and catch up on my DVR than throw on some pumps and get my party on.

Unfortunately though... I'm a romance girl. Romance requires partnership. I admit it. I love falling in love and being in love and even falling out of love if I learn something useful along the way. I miss having that person that makes me stupid with a smile or a clever turn of phrase. I miss having someone to talk to before going to sleep at night (or not going to sleep at night). Yes, I miss all the bubbly, steamy cocoa that overflows in a committed relationship when both parties are feeling it. Craving it, can't remember what they did before it. Ah, memories.

But alas, I don't miss the foolishness and the game-playing and the "did he mean what he said when he said..." and the back-n-forth of getting to know someone from the ground up all over again. Trust him- don't trust him, do I really wanna do this, is he loving me the way I need to be loved... Arrgh. I have a little ways to go to regain my patience for the game of love. At least I'm off zero. The signal light is no longer flashing red with arrows saying : Do Not Proceed!! And Mrs. Carter's homage to grown good 'n plenty just might move the signal off Caution: Yellow to Green Means Go. We'll have to see.

Anybody know what I'm talking about? Raise your hand...

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