Friday, April 30, 2010

Lessons Learned: You can’t cure crazy with kindness – The Story of Cindy

The first time I moved to the Los Angeles Area from Northern California was a ridiculous adjustment for me. Moving from Texas to San Francisco had been off-the-chains culture and sticker shock but I fell in love with the Bay Area almost immediately. The breathtaking beauty, the friendly people and all those diverse cultures and lifestyles in a 60-mile radius won me over in no time flat. I only left the Bay Area because the tech industry had gone bust and jobs were few and far between. Me and my three best friends went from spending $100 a person for Friday night dinner to potluck and a DVD on Sunday afternoon. We were all laid off and competing for the same 2 jobs. After one afternoon when I sat with 72 other applicants for one job, I knew I needed to do something different. After some research, I sent out resumes in SoCal, lined up interviews and headed on down Interstate 5. (For the record, I hate that drive. Hate, hate, hate.)

I was hired to be Senior Recruiting Manager and Associate Human Resources Manager at a large entertainment/publishing/media company that had just been purchased by Rupert Murdoch. (Should have been my first warning) Anyway, I reported to the Director of Human Resources, Cindy. From our first interview, I wasn't 100% comfortable with her. I felt she was only telling me half the story and she was slightly off. But they met my salary requirements and I really, really needed a job so I ignored the voice of reason telling me to run the other way. Very quickly, the friction started. She wanted to be sure I knew who was in charge. Nothing I did was right even though my work product kept showing up in the CEO's hands. (I took to putting my intiials in a watermark in the footer of everything I did). She picked arguments when no one disagreed with her. She started out as generally unpleasant. I just stayed out of her way. My saving grace was that my office was way on the other side of the floor from hers and we didn't have to interact face-to-face.

Her terrible behavior got a whole lot worse very quickly. Cindy was a screamer. Yes, as in yelling at grown-up folks. She screamed at the top of her lungs at her staff. People cried. I remained stoic and tightlipped. That seemed to make her more angry. She was a crier as well. She would sob in the middle of meetings. She decided to move my office next to hers and give me more responsibility (read: she decided she didn't want to do her job anymore and I should do it for her while she took the credit). She came in late (her daughter kept running away), she left early (her husband was threatening divorce); she went through administrative assistants like Kleenex. The joke became whether they would come back after lunch. Some of them didn't even make it past the first coffee break.

I decided that the best way to handle Cindy was to play nice, just kill her with kindness. I bit back more words, re-wrote more emails, ran more interference with the executives and the team. I came in early, I left late. It was to the point that I was literally running 80% of the department. We had Wally in Benefits and Lu in Payroll but everyone from the six subsidiary companies were coming to me for all human resources issues. I was hiring, training, doing employee relations and writing company policies... to name a few things. I was swamped, stressed, and miserable. My hair thinned and broke off. I slept fitfully and I ate constantly. I looked and felt like twice warmed over shiggitty.

Let me illustrate Cindy's kind of crazy. She would kick my door open (yes with her foot) and scream at me for having it closed. In the middle of a conversation, she took her arm and swept everything (computer, phone, etc) off my desk to the floor then wrote me up for having a sloppy workspace… it was very Mommie Dearest up in there. We shared a common wall and when she wanted to speak to me, she would bang on the wall with her fist repeatedly until I showed up in her office. She flung a stapler at my head, missed and it broke a window. She threw the three hole punch at me in a meeting, I dodged and it hit Wally. He needed stitches in his cheek. I started documenting EVERYTHING all the time.

I dreamed of running her over in the underground parking lot. And by dreamed, I mean I planned where to rent a non-descript car with cash (no ID needed), where to dispose of it "after" and figured out the timing of the security cameras on levels B & C of the parking garage. I even had an all-black outfit and a blonde wig picked out. Just. In. Case. I always woke up with a smile on my face after that dream.

The story that truly indicates Cindy's crazy: I was at home with the stomach flu to end all stomach flus. The first day she called me 32 times in nine hours. The next day, I unplugged the phone. Around noon I heard frantic banging on the front door. It was my building concierge. Cindy had called my apartment building (12 times) and threatened the concierge until he came to tell me I had to call her back RIGHT then. That was followed by a messenger bringing me a laptop and a fax machine with a note: you can work from the toilet. People, you can NOT make stuff like this up. I started sending out my resume like a fiend.

A next clue to leave (quickly!) came when I received a collect call from Cedars-Sinai hospital at 7:30 am on the morning we were doing Open Enrollment. Wally, the Benefits Guy, had been admitted with chest pains and diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder brought on by stress. He resigned by faxing a twenty-five word handwritten note sent from the Cardiac Health Division fax machine: Michele, Can't do it. She will kill me. She is crazy. Get out if you can. I'm never coming back. Good luck. Call me… Wally. Cindy had a replacement there before noon. By 5 pm, that person had quit. Last I saw that poor girl, her long blonde hair was all over her head, tears were streaming down her face and she was running for the stairwell – didn't even want to wait on the elevator. The next replacement started the next morning. She had been out of work for eighteen months, had worked with Cindy before and knew what she was getting into.

The last straw came after my vacation. I had just spent seven glorious days in Maui. MAUI! The most relaxing, stress-free place on earth. I was tanned, healthy, and at peace. I took an extra two days after vacation to ease my mindset into going back to that place, to that woman. I was driving on the 110 passing Dodgers' Stadium when I suddenly felt light-headed. I flushed hot and then cold and couldn't catch my breath. Pains were shooting around my chest. Not a good thing at 70 miles an hour in rush hour traffic. I made my way over to the shoulder and dialed my older brother – the trauma surgeon. I told him I was having a heart attack. He told me I was not since I was dialing and talking and sitting upright. I described my symptoms and he told me I was having a panic attack. Impossible. I don't panic. I'm Ms. Cool in a Crisis. I'm not the sort to have panic attacks. "And yet, that is what you're having." He said before telling me to go to a doctor… immediately.

I called in sick and went to see my physician at Cedars-Sinai. He gave me a survey to test my level of stress. After reading the results and hearing that I was fresh off a Maui vacation, he prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-depression meds and told me to get a therapist, a new job and a relaxing hobby – not necessarily in that order. What?! Stress, Depression, Therapy? I ignored that and decided to self-medicate instead. The after dinner glass of wine became a half a bottle. Mix that with anti-depressants and you are basically just walking around fuzzy and druggy all day… but hey, you're not stressed! I only made it a week on the wine and pill diet before I knew that wasn't the answer. Blissed-out zombie was not for me. I started planning my exit.

I spent a month gathering evidence, interviewing for other positions and lining up my allies. Six weeks after the panic attack, I faxed in my five page resignation later detailing every single thing she'd ever done, peppering the letter with catch phrases like "hostile work enrivonment", "discriminatory behavior" and "malicious acts". I faxed the letter to her, the CEO, the CFO, the Board of Directors, the head of the legal department and just for good measure - the California Labor and Workforce Agency.

Two weeks later I was contacted by the company's attorney but I had already filed my "that chick is crazy" paperwork along with affidavits from Wally, three former admins and our doctors with the State of California. The state investigator came to my home and was so traumatized with what I told her that she cried. I had to pour her a glass of wine so she could go back to work. Long story short, I received a "sorry you went through that" check from Cali (thanks!) and a "please don't tell anyone what she did" check from the company. I took two weeks off and started my new gig at twice the salary.

She, on the other hand, took a "stress leave" and was eventually given a package to never return. She was forced to undergo psychological testing and was diagnosed bi-polar (no, really?). Since I had named her in state employment claim documents, she had a rough time getting work in the Human Resources field and ended up raising horses somewhere near Fresno. I feel for the horses.

Today's lesson learned: Listen to the voice telling you to run the other direction – it's so much easier to go with your first mind. Oh and crazy is crazy 24 hours a day… no matter how pretty you smile at it.

Any crazy co-workers, bosses to talk about? Hostile work environments? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lessons Learned: The Roommate Dilemma – The Story of Patti

Never again in life will I have a roommate that isn't related or married to me. Wanna know why? Here are a few reasons:

It was freshman year in college; I was at University of Texas at Austin. It was exactly 211 miles from my parents' house in Dallas. Since I had waited to apply for housing (hoping to convince my Dad to let me go to Stanford); I ending up getting a room in the most tragic of dorms on campus. Littlefield Dorm was ancient, filled with all girls and devoid of air conditioning (major FAIL). Again, since I hadn't really planned on attending – I skipped the visit and didn't pre-pick a roommate (another major FAIL).

I was paired with Patti. Me and Patti in a tiny assed room with bunk beds, two desks, one sink and a window fan. Patti grew up literally 4 miles from me in Dallas yet I was only the third black person, not counting her maid, that she had ever spoken to <-- yes, she felt compelled to tell me this. Patti was a very pale Caucasian with light brown hair down to her waist, an unfortunate tendency to speak whatever random thought came to her mind (whether it was right or not), a disregard for others' personal property and a propensity to go blank at the wrong darn times. At night, she believed in brushing her hair 100 strokes before going to bed. For that alone, I could've smothered her in her sleep.

One evening I was actually doing the right thing. I was in my little lower bunk sleeping at ten o'clock on a weeknight. My mother called and Patti answered the phone. She looked over the edge of the bunk and told my mother I wasn't home and hung up the phone. My father called back an hour and a half later; she told him the same thing. He called back one more time and neither of us answered the phone. I slept on, unaware that my life was about to turn dramatic.

The next morning I went to my 8:00am Italian class (I was a freshman, I didn't know better), stopped to chat with folks in the Student Union and strolled back to my small, hot, tiny room. When I walked in the door, the dorm manager screamed out, "Michele, you have a visitor in the lobby!" At 9:15 in the morning? I walked over to the lobby and there wearing a three-piece navy suit and a fierce scowl was BougieDad. He was wildly curious to know why his youngest daughter wasn't answering her phone at 2:00am. This man no doubt stayed up all night and caught the first Southwest Airlines flight out of Dallas to arrive at my dorm crack of dawnish.

He went all the way in: Where had I been? What had I been doing? Who had I been doing it with? He didn't send me to college to run the streets... If I didn't know how to act, I could bring my fast behinds home. I had no idea what he was talking about. I trudged upstairs (we had to scream 'Man on the hall' to announce menfolk) so folks were peeking all in the hallway watching me march my Dad down the corridor. Great moment, seriously.

When confronted, Patti said she didn't realize that "lump in my bed" was me. (Laser beam side-eye) Not able to believe she could be that damn dingy, he wanted proof. I had to literally show the man the dorm sign-in/out sheet and have the RA vouch for me to prove where I was all night. He nodded and took me out to breakfast before catching the 42 min flight home. Thanks to the roomie, I had to check in every night of my freshman year. I say #RoommateFAIL

Sophomore year they sent BougieSis to live with me off-campus since she was attending UT MBA school. Dad said it was more cost efficient. Um-hmm. Actually, after that one night I have checked in with my mother every single day of my life. Moving on…

Let's see, there was the roommate that could not cook and almost burned down the apartment trying to microwave aluminum foil. Yes she did. The next week she tried to warm up food in the oven… still in a Tupperware container. Then there was the roomie I had when I was so broke that we had to share a one-bedroom with a full-size bed. Thank goodness we were good friends cause that was mighty close quarters. We had zero secrets and zero alone time. I'm a girl that needs alone time. Also she used to kick in her sleep. I spent a lot of time sleeping on the sofa.

There were the two roommates who neglected to tell me that my boyfriend was hitting on them. There was the male friend who stayed with me for a few days until moving back South. He had a regrettable habit of rolling around naked with random broads in my bed… and still being there when I got home. Then there was the two week stretch when Gene had nothing to do and just "hung out" with me in Los Angeles. Who knew he was a compulsive 7:00am vacuumer? Who knew he thought it was fun to rearrange my drawers and closet while I was at work? Who knew that with nothing else to occupy his time, he played video games until three in the morning? Some people cannot be idle.

Last but not least was the girl I stayed with for a month until my apartment was ready. She had friends over while I was working and my shoes kept disappearing. Not the Nine West joints, the Via Spigas. Her apartment also smelled a little like Mary Jane. She had one TV in the living room and since she was between jobs, she would watch Lifetime and game shows hour after hour after hour.

That was enough for me… lessons learned. It's the little things that get you with roommates, you don't like their music, their bathroom habits, their table etiquette, their forgetfulness to pay bills or replace toilet paper. With family and S.O.'s, you're invested enough to make it work. You can tell someone that if they leave the toilet seat up one more time you will kill them in their sleep. With others... not so much. I wonder what they would say about me and my roommate skills?

So tell me BougieLand, have you have been blessed with good roommate karma? Got roommate horror stories to share? What age is too darn old to still have roommates? The floor is yours…

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lessons Learned: Priorities gone wrong - The Story of Sunny

Do you ever wonder about people who just skate through life? All superficial all the time? What happens to them when the joy ride comes to an end? Check it out…

I met Sunny my freshman year at the University of Texas. She was "attending" the same Principles of Math class I was taking. It's important to know two things here – 1) Principles of Math was the throwaway class where they put athletes and liberal arts majors who had to fulfill a math requirement and didn't care to tax their brains for it. No shade on the athletes, they had better things to do and so did I. Hence the principles of math, no real calculation or theory involved. We balanced our checkbooks for the mid-term. No I'm not kidding and yes, that professor got bounced. Number 2) Sunny only "attended" the class, she was not enrolled at the University of Texas, she was strictly about the business of finding a sponsor. Yes, that kind of sponsor.

Sunny was gorgeous. Half-black, half-German she looked like Vanessa Williams from her Miss America days but with bigger boobs, smaller waist and longer legs. She was a honey-dipped Barbie doll with teal eyes and an accent. She had caramel colored hair that fell in waves down her back and she wore clothes one size too small. Sunny fascinated me. It was years later when I found out exactly how old she was or what her background story was. All I knew was that her plan was to land a football player that was going pro and live happily ever after. An infamous Sunny quote, "I want an Amex black, a white Jag, a brown mink and a huge blue diamond – I'll make the man who can give it to me happy as hell." Even I knew that wasn't the greatest life plan.

In an interesting twist, I ended up dating a football player. She ended up dating a booster she met at a party she went to with me. Some rich dude who owned six car dealerships and was seventeen years her senior. She married him four months later. It lasted for two years. Then she married some wealthy dude from Dubai. That was another four years. After marriage number three to a French film producer, I told her I wasn't up for being a bridesmaid anymore nor was I buying any more presents. Her attorney was brilliant; Sunny signed lump sum upfront pre-nuptial agreements that made her independently wealthy after her second marriage.

She became skilled at things like hiring household help and event planners, wearing fabulous clothing and knowing the best place to do yoga, get your hair done and have liposuction in every major city in the world. I got an email from her was a few months ago. She admitted that she's turning 45 (I thought she was ten years younger) and just finished her seventh divorce. She had been married nine times, one husband died, another marriage was annulled. She no longer wanted to be married; she was dating a 26 year old male model.

Last week she called and sounded like a completely different person. Turns out she had a cancer scare a few months back and realized that she had no one to hold her hand through it. Her ex-husbands, her ex-stepkids, the family she had walked away from at age 16 (and not looked back) were not a part of her life. She is the kind of person who makes friends for a purpose not just for friendship's sake. I was probably her closest friend and we only spoke once a year.

So she was sitting in a doctor's office waiting to find out if she had cancer when the epiphany came to her that she had nothing but material things. Six houses, four cars, one boat and nine figures in the bank. None of which could hold her hand or drive her to chemo. And it scared the shiggity out of her. She called to ask me what she should do. I gave her two words, "Go home." Seriously. I suggested she rewind and reset and figure out what she planned to do with the rest of her life.

I wonder if she will. I wonder how she'll be received in the small Arkansas town she came from. After you've been married nine times, what's next romantically? More boy toys?

As irksome as my friends and family can be (love ya'll), I recognize them as part of my foundation. When I decided to hit the reset button on my life a few years ago, they supported me 100% percent. I had Sunny's epiphany moment when I realized that I wasn't doing what I wanted and my priorities were wonky. But I had a plan and a support system and financial incentive to hustle. She has none of that. She spent a good deal of her life collecting things… now what? Life plan FAIL.

So what say you BougieLand? Any priority out of whack, too focused on the grind stories to share? Any one hit the reset button on their lives? How'd it turn out (so far)? Thoughts, comments, insights on Sunny?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lesson Learned: Fool’s Gold – The Story of Nessa

Nessa and I have a long and complicated relationship. You may remember her as my roommate who first went out with PsychoMike. So complex and deep is the drama that I could blog for a week and not scratch the surface of the back and forth, up and down, in and out of friendship times we've had. For those of you that have read my book, I gave the character Renee a few of Nessa's traits. For those of you who haven't read it… I'm shaking my head at you. ;-) Here's the lesson learned from Nessa:

Nessa wanted to date Wayne. Wayne was that nice guy. Everybody liked him. Never heard a bad thing about him. He was not the flashiest guy in the world, but smart, dependable – your basic good people. He came from salt of the earth folks and generally was a good person to be around. At the time, we were fifteen years old and travelled in packs. Seriously, we knew nothing. Nessa and I were bougie chicks from the far north side. Wayne and his crew lived in the "black section" of North Dallas where we went to church. Back in the day, we were not allowed to date individually. We had to go out in groups and then pair off. So in order to spend more time with Wayne, Nessa set me up with Gene. Yeah, that Gene (those of you not knowing, just search the site for my ex Gene and happy reading)… moving on.

Wayne was head over heels for Nessa. If she said jump he was already hopping up when the 'j' sound passed her lips. There was nothing he wouldn't have done for her. Nessa and Wayne dated for a few months and broke up... that's high school. Then they got back together in our senior year and broke up again when she cheated on him very publically. She invited Wayne to senior prom but made up an excuse to take him home mid-prom so she could spend the rest of the night with Craig. Craig was sexy, Craig was a little dangerous, last I heard Craig was up in the pen right next to my trifling prom date. Let's move on again, shall we?

Okay, fast forward to college. Nessa and Wayne are in the same city. Wayne makes another play for Nessa. She kind of strings him along until her head gets turned by something flashier – a Heisman Trophy winning dude who was later booted out of the NFL for epic sucking, spent two years on his mama's couch and now does commentary for some cable station. I remember asking Nessa why she wouldn't give Wayne a real shot and she indicated that he was too "safe" she needed more excitement. Plus she was worried because the one time they fooled around, he was "sexually conservative" and she found that a turn-off. I was thoroughly irritated but since my love life was (is?) a roller coaster of interesting choices made, I pursed my lips and shut up.

Wayne was not a man to give up, fast forward to about six years after college. Wayne met a woman who finally appreciated all he had to offer and he was feeling her as well. But before he could truly commit himself to her, he wanted to try one last time to have something with Nessa. By this time, he's in the Executive Training Program of a large corporation, has an MBA and you can really see the total package that he was putting together for himself. Now me, two other close friends and Nessa's mother are all campaigning for Wayne. Nessa had been through a string of sexy, shiny boyfriends not worth a nickel put together.

Now let me fill in background. Nessa is cute, she's been head cheerleader and homecoming queen her entire academic career. Men come easily. She works hard, she makes her own money, she's successful. She's also self-centered as hell, spoiled, frequently delusional and so in love with herself that there's rarely any room for someone else's ego to get in the door. I gave up keeping up with her dating life back in the mid-nineties. Life is too short. Okay, back to the story.

So Wayne takes Nessa out and lays his heart on his sleeve. He met someone, it's serious but if there's a chance tell me now and I'm yours. She told him she would get back to him. She left him at the restaurant and met me at a party to hook up with a dude named Elvis who wore leather year round and quite possibly spent time as a gigolo. Elvis was pretty though. He was a pretty, sexy, tall, chocolate thing that most of us with sense in our heads would take one look at and run the other way. She never got back to Wayne. And Elvis disappeared under suspicious circumstances (money was missing) before I even knew his last name.

Next thing you know we receive invitations to Wayne's wedding. She goes on an epic rant because he's marrying a mousy little white girl from nowhere. I almost bit my tongue in half holding back the comments dying to spring out. We go to the wedding (where I run into Gene again, whole other story). I vividly recall sitting in the church balcony, Nessa's mother whispers loudly to her, "That should've been you!" Awkward. Moment.

Anyway, here we are now. Wayne's mousy girl is now a doctor. When he had some health problems, she told him to go ahead and take a leave of absence, she had it covered. Today he's a vice-president of a Fortune 100 company, they have two kids and live in a 6500 square foot home that he bought with cash. Nessa is still single… and says she doesn't understand why.

Today's Lesson: All that glitters isn't gold. Waiting for the shinier bauble nets you nothing but lost time. Our esteemed relationship counselor teaches a class for the single ladies called "Put down the Pyrite and Reach for the Gold." Okay? Another friend used to say he hated when folks looked like coffee but turned out to be Sanka. I think you get my point. Nuff said.

BougieLand! Any stories about the one that got away? The ones that looked real shiny but were not as advertised? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lessons Learned Week: Why I Just Say No- The Story of Terry

I was in private school up until my 10th grade year, when I switched to public school. Up until them my exposure to black people, let alone the "black experience" was limited to weekends when I would I attend Jack & Jill functions or church functions. I was the girl at cotillion on Friday, the African American Museum Saturday morning and a fish fry at the church Sunday afternoon. Somewhere around 7th or 8th grade, boys became important. At that time, I was still at an all-girls private school. The private boys' school up the road had 2 black boys in my age range. By the time we hit 13 (having been thrust together at every function since age 5) we were thoroughly sick of looking at each other. My crushes would have to come from somewhere else.

It was about that time when I became active in Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF); if you grew up in a black church you had one of these. All the "youth" were put in the Youth Choir, MYF, Youth Sunday School and whatever else they could dream up to keep an eye on our young behinds. It was at an MYF meeting when I first met a guy I'll call Terry. Terry was young gifted and black. He was tall, athletic, quick-witted with one of the greatest personalities I had ever seen. He was gorgeous. That stereotypical good-looking guy from back in the day – light skin, wavy hair, big white smile, chocolate eyes fringed with long lashes. A room was better the minute he walked in it. He literally had a light about him. I had a little teen girl crush.

This was back in the day when we were very much into matching our clothes. Terry would rock a pink polo shirt (collar flipped up just so), khakis, pink socks and loafers and be the coolest dude in the room. He could sing, he could dance and he was a genuinely nice guy. He was SO athletically gifted that college scouts were already coming to look at him play football and run track in 8th grade. In today's terms, Terry was a rock star. We were friends in the way that early teenagers can be. Giggly, gossipy, bike-riding pals who shared a love of green apple Now-or-Laters.

Somewhere around the beginning of ninth grade, Terry started hanging around the wrong folks and liked a "faster" kind of girl to hang out with. He told me I was a "good girl" and if I wanted to stay that way, I need to leave him be. Even at fourteen I knew when someone was telling me something for my own damn good. I stepped back (way back) but was a little concerned. I'd seen enough afterschool specials to know that wrong crowd = no good end time and time again. People whispered that he smoked marijuana and stayed high. I didn't know what that meant back then but it scared me to death. All I knew what that sweet Terry's personality was not the same and he no longer appeared to care about anything.

Somewhere between tenth and eleventh grade, Terry apparently got hold of some bad stuff (I never knew exactly what it was but the story was it was a joint that was laced or dipped in something serious) and his mind was gone. I mean, gone baby, gone. Gone like he couldn't put full sentences together any more. I remember one event where he stood at the back and did jumping jacks for an hour and a half straight. At one group overnight, he curled into a ball under the refreshment table and refused to come out. At a choir rehearsal, he started singing Prince songs and couldn't stop. They had to call his mother to come get him. I recall trying to get him into a friend's car one night and in our struggle he looked at me and said my name. His eyes were completely dead and blank and he said my name more like a warning than the beginning of a sentence. I freaked out. The Terry I could trust was gone, completely replaced by someone or something I did not know. After that, I didn't spend any significant time with Terry and was never alone with him again.

As the years passed, the church grapevine kept me updated on Terry's life. I don't know if he ever graduated high school. He started selling drugs and went to jail. Got out more addicted than when he went in. He spent time in and out of rehab. He went back to jail got out again. I think he had a job for a minute. Last story I heard was that Terry had moved back home with his parents. He was arrested walking down the street in broad daylight carrying a neighbor's big screen TV. Because it was his umpteenth arrest, I believe they threw the book at him and he's on serious lock until the 33rd of Neveruary.

I didn't need a lot of parental warning to stay away from drugs. My father's father, in his mid-thirties, was in the middle of a card game when he felt tired. He lay down to take a nap and never got back up - instant heart failure. My father battled heart problems (requiring a quintuple bypass) in his later years. Heart failure is what eventually killed him. The name Len Bias stays etched on my memory. So I always feared that the slightest strange chemical would kill me where I stood. I was always positive I was going to be that one in a however-many that tries something for the first time and keels over. (I'm over-dramatic like that)

But primarily, if I was ever tempted to even light up the sticky-icky – I thought about a beautiful, brilliant young man with his entire future ahead of him replaced with an empty, vacant shell with nothing left to lose or care about. Terry became the cautionary tale of worst case scenario that hit a little too close to home for me. So yeah, I understood that drugs are bad and illegal and all those common sense things but really instead of Just Say No, I thought – remember what happened to Terry?

I was called 22 types of stuck-up, prissy snitch in college (and after) for skipping on any of the puff-puff-pass type activities. Even had one guy tell me, "You can't live your life motivated by fear." To which I replied, "Is it fear to not put your hand over a flame if you already saw someone get burned? Or is just a smart healthy respect for the damage that fire can do?" He shrugged and walked away. Um-hmm. Peer pressure be damned.

So that is today's Lesson Learned: When you see someone's light get extinguished, you don't need to step into the same wind storm. I have a love of life. And with exception of a social drink, a time-of-the-month painkiller and mood-enhancing chocolate, I tend not to want to go through this one life I have chemically impaired. Let's keep things crystal clear, shall we? Well... these are my thoughts anyway.

Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours, BougieLand.

UPDATE: Before one more person sends me a note advocating the wonders of weed... this is just ONE WOMAN'S decision to decline. Ya'll do whatcha want. You're all grown.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

This week on BnB – Lessons Learned Week

I don't know everything… I'll pause right there and let you absorb that unfortunate truth. I know how that stuns many of you. [ha!] For those of you giving the monitor the side-eye right now, I see you. ANYWAY… there is probably SO much that I think I know and have no real clue about. But that's all good. That's the whole thought behind "Live and Learn", right?

However, there are a FEW tidbits I've picked up along the way. Thought I'd share a couple with you this week. I'll call it Lessons Learned week, consider it my version of Miz Oprah's "Things I know for sure." Make sure you come back through and check it out; add a few of your own.

Sunday Good News Story: Another Reason to eat Chocolate!

We have previously learned that a piece of dark chocolate a day decreases stress. Now more good news… A small dose of chocolate a day could cut the risk of heart attack or stroke by nearly 40 percent. That's according to a new study, published in the European Heart Journal Wednesday. From AP:

So red wine and chocolate for the win! Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Video Shout-Out: Seal

For some reason, I woke up with this song in my head. A classic, from velvet voiced Seal:

"We're never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy." I cosign. Any Saturday songs to share? Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

My answer to Nightline: “They Don’t Know… Who We Be.”

I'm not going to critique or rant (any more) about the shibacle that was the Nightline FaceOff: Why Can't a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? For a great overview and breakdown, check out Melissa Harris-Lacewell's post at The Nation. Here's a sneak preview of the brilliant insights she shared:

The serious, interesting and sensitive social and personal issues embedded in these statistics were hijacked by superficial, cartoonish dialogue that relied heavily on personal anecdotes and baseless personal impressions while perpetuating damaging sexism. Wednesday night's program was co-hosted by comedian Steve Harvey and ABC News Nightline Correspondent Vicki Mabrey and welcomed guests Sherri Shepherd ("The View"), Jacqui Reid (journalist), Jimi Izrael (blogger) and Hill Harper (actor/author). Like other discussions in the genre, the Nightline special began with the Disney-inspired assumption that marriage is an appropriate and universal goal for women. Any failure to achieve marriage must therefore be pathological. With this starting assumption panelists were encouraged to offer solutions without needing to fully articulate why low marriage rates are troubling.

Clearly, I've gone in on this topic over and over again. I'm all talked out. Apologies to those who suffered my rant on Twitter last night, I'd had it up to here. There was nothing fresh, nothing new. Ladies raise your standards but not too high. Date outside the race. Have you thought about dating your plumber or an ex-con? Oh and if you meet a man at Taco Bell who pulls up on the bus, snap him up - he may be the next Hill Harper. One ninja said his woman should make him feel like Super-freakin'-man. Really, sir? Are you gonna make me feel like Wonder Woman?

Woo-sah... Instead of re-hashing all of my grievances, I'll just call on DMX, yes dammit – DMX the growling troubled rapper. Here's the cut…

Okay then, here's the deal. It's hard to say why this person or that person isn't married without peeling back individual and societal layers. There's no "one size fits all" cure to answer the question. AND I honestly believe that talking about it this much just makes it worse. I'll tell you what helps… blogs like this (said modestly) – a place were grown folks can talk openly and honestly (both the men and the women) and see that there are good, attractive, viable folks out there. And that happy successful relationships and marriages exist.

Another issue with the show: I guarantee that if we took an informal vote right here and right now NONE of the women would have elected Sherri Shepherd or Jacqui Reid as our spokespersons NOR would the fellas have picked Steve, Hill or Jimi of the tragic clothing choice. As a matter of fact, find the poll at the bottom of the post. Hill Harper made the most sense though he came up side-eye worthy a time or two. But all his bougenificence was drowned out by the flat-out no-buenoness of the entire event.

How about a show about getting out and meeting real people, staying optimistic, getting yourself together while you search? (Not a reality show, please. We need no more flava/rock/ray j of love) Some might find that marriage isn't your ultimate goal and it's enough to find someone to chill with. But I guess that wouldn't make sexy TV?

Where's my show about the long-time happily married couples and HOW THEY DID IT? (I would TOTALLY watch that) What about the ladies and gents who opted never to marry and are GOOD with that? Where's that show?

So my problem with the continuing dialogue about the SBF as downtrodden victim is that it simply doesn't encompass who we be. The dialogue about the cheating-ass black man who can't commit obviously doesn't reflect who we be. Women who date gangsters and men without ambition is not the end-all-be-all of who we be. I resent a panel of comedians, reporters, actors/authors and I don't know WHAT to call Jimi "I still wear Garanimals" Izrael spouting the same old yada-yada without representing WHO WE BE. We be (artistic license, folks) smart and dumb, greedy and selfless, needy and independent, desperate and satisfied, weak and strong. Above all else, we be survivors. We be human. Start with the flaws in the human condition, then make us black, then make us single, then make us female or male and let US decide how we feel about that.

I blame us for this to a point. Those of us that still watch this stuff, support those books, call into those shows and go to those seminars. We are feeding the monster. Believe me they would shut all this shiggity down tomorrow if it wasn't making money. So I'm asking each of you to think before you buy, watch, join things. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? I'm officially done. Not one more post, rant, tweet about the overexposed plight of the single black woman and the men they can't find. Officially over it.

ABC, step your game up. And any other media outlet determined to beat the poor dead horse – if you're going to cover it, please come with something new that is solution based and positive. Come at me with degreed experts, not entertainers. Bring me stats, stories, witnesses and a good news story. Show me that you know who we be. Or just say nothing at all.

The floor is yours. Comment as you will.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Raise your Global Warmer Cocktail Up – It’s Earth Day!

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Earth Day Network, a group that wishes to become the coordinator of Earth Day globally, asserts that Earth Day is now observed on April 22 on virtually every country on Earth. World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5 in a different nation every year, is the principal United Nations environmental observance. Many communities also celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of environment-related activities, the first of which occurred in Philadelphia in 1970 (starting April 16 and culminating on Earth Day, April 22.)

There was a great article in the Washington Post on the evolution, history and current status of Earth Day. And footage from the first Earth Day in 1970 (apparently this looks strange in the IE browsers, click to enlarge):

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We are recycling fiends over here at the BougieHousehold. I've actually gone quite anal about it. We recycle all glass, aluminum, plastic, paper and tech equipment. We've switched to the "good" light bulbs, we have reusable totes and I am the water nazi. Seriously, don't come to my house expecting to take an hour long shower… not gonna happen. We upgraded our last "old school" appliances (the washer and the dryer) to energy star machines. I have a jar of old batteries I'm trying to figure out how to environmentally dispose of. I have unplugged stuff that we don't use regularly – the toaster is highly decorative at this point. All of this and I understand, it's still not enough. Well, I can't afford the hybrid car I long for so that will have to wait.

What are you doing in celebration of Earth Day? What "green" measures have you taken to reduce your carbon footprint?

Here's a little Bougie Cocktail for ya. (please drink sensibly)

Thursday Random 5 - Here are my thoughts, whose got next?

Hey there! Welcome to any BougieLand newbies and for my regulars, thanks for coming back!

Let's try some of this. Not everyone joins in the conversation. Maybe I didn't touch on a topic that moved you to speak out. Well, here's your shot. Feel free to speak your peace or just say "hi!"

Here are my random thoughts for the day:

1. Who has seen Ciara's new video? I can't (won't) embed that hot mess here, but feel free to take a look. Folks were raving about it on Twitter. It's too much information for me. I know I'm getting old because I wanted a warning label and a parental lock code for this.

2. More videos gone to hell - Toni Braxton has a new album coming out in May. Her new video for Hands Tied involves her gyrating around a stripper pole in front of a room full of men. Le Sigh. I remember when she used to just stand in front of a mic and sing. I'm sorry... sang. Though it does seem that the older she gets, the fewer clothes she wears.

3. What the heck is going on in Arizona? They just passed a shady immigration bill. Senate Bill 1070 would require law enforcement officials in the state of Arizona to investigate someone's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" that the person might be undocumented. Can you say profiling? And then the "Birther Bill": The Arizona House of Representatives on Monday voted 31 - 22 to advance a bill that would require Arizona's secretary of state to review a presidential candidate's birth certificate before that candidate could get on the ballot in the state. Ooo-kay? Preview to 2012 - It's going to get ugly.

4. Who's the next Dorothy Height? Do they even make 'em like that anymore? She was an advocate of women's rights and civil rights. She shared the platform with the Martin Luther King Jr. when he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. The recipient of more than 50 awards from local, state, and national organizations, Height received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1994. Dr. Height was 98 and still about the business of equality when she passed away this week.

5. Am I the only person who cares that the NFL Draft is tonight? Okay then, am I the only one giving a side-eye to Ben Roethlisberger? I remember meeting this guy back in my high-rolling days and thinking he was a sweet kid. Since then, the Pittsburgh quarterback has been accused of two rapes and supposedly there are other unfiled incidents along the same lines. That's a lot of smoke to be no fire but hey - what do ya'll think?

That's my random 5. Any thoughts? Something on your mind you're dying to share, a topic you want discussed? Open mic, open comments. Play nice out there... the floor is yours.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nightline #FAIL - It's coming...

So Wednesday night, ABC aired the FaceOff: Why Can't a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? The very title makes my head want to explode. So much so that I can't even write intelligently about it right now. If you missed it, please get you some right here. I've already said my peace in the post that was re-published to Essence... they didn't hear me though. So I'll share my thoughts on this Friday. Woo-Sah. Jesus take the wheel.

Hashtag Wednesday: What I’m #LookingForwardto

Sometimes it's very hard to live in the moment. I tend to get self-reflective and cast a look back from time to time. And let's face it, time just flies. You can stop and appreciate a moment and then it's gone. Lately, I find myself looking forward a lot. So much so that I have to remind myself to slooow dooown and not miss anything on my rush to get where I'm ready to go. Since we haven't done a #Hashtag Wednesday in a while, I thought we'd go with things I'm looking forward to.

If you haven't joined us on a Hashtag Wednesday, let me explain: On Twitter, people tend to accentuate their chatter by adding a topic or a phrase to the end. You tie the topics together by placing a "#" (called a hashtag) in front of it. For instance, yesterday had a trending topic called #TshirtSlogans where people offered their ideas of what would be interesting/cute/vulgar on a T-shirt. It ranged from #TshirtSlogan: Stop Staring at my Chest (not bad) to #TshirtSlogan: I make one person happy a day, today's not your day (funny) to #TshirtSlogan: Back away slowly (cute).

Alright, so let's see what we've got today:

#LookingForwardto: Summer TV shows. Shallow, yes… but I am. Leverage, Closer, Drop Dead Diva all promise to be better than the nonsense I'm looking at now. With the exception of The Good Wife, Southland, and Treme; I have not been wowed by new shows this season. I did develop an addiction to TV One's UnSung. Who knew that the original dude from the Bar-Kays was on the plane that went down with Otis Redding on it? Not me. I had no clue.

#LookingForwardto: Spring gardening. Yeah, all those weekends whining about have to help my dad prune roses, pull weeds and plant perennials… it stuck with me. For some reason, when I moved out to the Bay Area and had this cute rental house (I miss that place) I start experimenting with plants, flowers, vegetables. I killed a lot of poor unsuspecting plants but I kept going. And one day, it was my little therapy session. The time spent mucking around in mud and mulch became "me time" and having colors and scents come from nothing was kinda cool. So yeah, I'm looking forward to see what will survive from spring to winter… it's always a challenge.

#LookingForwardto: My next great date. Surely there's at least one good one out there in my future, right? I am SO looking forward to spending time in the presence of a good-looking, good-smelling, good-acting man (not related to me) who makes me laugh and not want to live tweet the pain or flee. That would be great.

#LookingForwardto: Finishing my short story. It's due to my publisher by June. Once I finish it, I start on Book Three. It's all creativity all the time.

#LookingForwardto: Football Season! I know I'm early but with the schedule coming out yesterday and the draft tomorrow, it's right around the corner. Oh, I guess I should wait for the NBA Playoffs to wrap before talking football? Either way, I know I can count on both the Mavericks and Cowboys to look great… right up until they choke in the playoffs. They kill me. Does any sports franchise in this city know how to close?

So tell me, BougieLand… What are you #LookingForwardto and why? The floor is yours.

Tonight on BnB Radio Network – The African American Lit Show 8:00pm central

Join me, noted Book Blogger Lisa from, as well as authors Cheri Paris Edwards (Plenty Good Room) and Cheris Hodges (Over 10 books published) to discuss the state of African American Literature today. Is it good, is it bad, do we love it or hate it? Why do we write it, read it and what's next? Swing by and take a listen, won't you? is the main site, we will be live at 8:00pm central next week on See you there!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bitter looks bad on boys too…

Long story short… I'm a member of the Fresh Xpress, a blog that gathers the best and the brightest (I'm modest too) black bloggers' most entertaining blog posts and puts them all in one place. Carolyn Edgar's post on Hustlin' Hoes was picked up and posted there yesterday. Shortly thereafter, people started weighing in with their opinions. A few comments in, a gentleman calling himself Bitter Black Man said 85% of all women are groupies and only date for the 'come up'. I took offense (of course) and made the mistake of disagreeing with him publicly.

What is wrong with me? Have I not learned from this very blog that you can't take the bait? Generally the most abrasive and argumentative commenters want attention and are just dying to start something. Like fire, they need oxygen to grow and do real damage. Some folks live for conflict. I do not. His premise was that (in the words of Biggie) chicks were trying to stick him for his paper. And the more paper he stacks, the more chicks were rolling up. He considered that groupiedom. [Laser beam side-eye] Again, I disagreed and wondered where he got the 85% from? Scientific research?

In passing, I mentioned the back and forth conversation on Twitter and all hell broke loose. It started as a brief not and 216 tweets and 46 people later it was a Battle of the Sexes. The ladies said it's always the broke, broke-down, bitter brothers whining about women who only want ballers. Brothers started going in on materialistic women. And so it went. One brother asked me why his personality wasn't enough. My response – when mine is, yours is. Then the brothers (some claiming proudly to be dollarnaires) started listed their requirements in a mate: banging body, ambition, A+ sex game, accepting him for him… the list went on and on and on. Finally I said, "Fellas doing the most today. If I have to be Michelle Obama, you can't come like Pookie from the corner." This set off a whole other flurry of tweets and emails.

I'll address the ladies in a second. Right now, let me say this to my brethren… you know I love ya'll. But I don't even like my chocolate bitter okay? Sweet and smooth is the best way to go. And okay, I'll say it: Bitter never bagged a babe. Bitter + broke = no bueno. Fellas, do you. Whatever it is you do, get on out there and do it with a smile on your face. I guarantee whether you are banking $12k or $1.2 mil, if you are out there hustling and putting your best face forward, women are going to notice and appreciate it. Now let me quantify this – a hustlin' smile will only get you so far as you get older. There is an age at which it's not a good look to still be "aspiring". Particularly if the noun following that adjective is rapper, athlete, or entrepreneur. Please don't be 40 still talking about getting your LeBron on. No sir. Jay-Z and LL Cool J are the only 40-year old rappers I know, and they've been in the game a looong time. You are only an entrepreneur if you actually own and operate a business. Last I checked, "Dreamer" didn't pay no bills.

Let me get back on track. For the brothers that feel beat down, bamboozled and led astray by the womenfolk… my sincerest apologies. Sorry someone did you like that. Now, get over it. Double check that you aren't more concerned with bra size than IQ. Triple check that you know her history instead of her hip size. Does she have some brains to go with the booty beauty? Dammit, is she even a nice person? Okay, just checking. Now if you did all that and still got wounded on love's battlefield, dust yourself and try again. Because as much as I can't stand the bitter broads talking about "men ain't shit"; I triple-quadruple dislike guys telling me there are no "good women" out there, all women are "pay for play", "most the women I meet (insert negative yada-blah here)" – to that I say, "Boo!"

Every person that's single and wants to get married knows it's hard out there… none of them became less single by being bitter about it. Seriously, some of the effort you guys put in to tweet, message and email me about the raggedy women in the world could've been better spent saying three-dozen "Woosah's" and learning to relax, relate, release. If you need to vent THAT much about women, start a blog. Bitchin' about the triflingness of females is what's hot in the streetz anyway; you're liable to have a book deal and a radio show in no time flat. {Shots fired. That slipped out. My bad.}

Point blank. I can't convince you. The only thing that will convince a man that there are good women out there… is a good woman out there checking for him. Since all I see are stats about how there are a great deal of available viable females out there, I encourage you to get out there find one. And if she's not it, onto the next. Continue cycle until Ms. Right (not Ms. Perfect) shows up.

Ladies, I've lectured you a plenty about the bitterness and the mean-muggin' so I'm sure I need not repeat myself. What are your thoughts on the Bitter Black Male? Fellas, is it really that bad out there? A bougie chick wants to know… the floor is yours.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tales from the Ex-Files: Let’s call it closure, shall we?

OneChele enters stage left. Walks to podium, taps mic. "Check one, two. Spotlight please?" OneChele clears throat and begins to recite: "A letter to The Ex."

Bougieland ~ Indulge me while I get this off my chest…

Dear Ex,

This is the one and only time that I'll admit this so let me say it for all the world to see… yes, we were awesome. There was an awesomeness about us that will be hard to replicate. We had that thing, that vibe, that za-za-zu. People say there was an energy that surrounded the two of us. Apparently an energy that made others stop and look with knowing smiles. Yes, I still have people (and family members) asking "whatever happened to…" "I really thought you two would make it" Yeah, so did I.

When we were awesome, we were really, truly awesome. We could talk, we could laugh, we could sit in silence and say absolutely nothing and have the best time in the world. You got moody, I got moody but we knew when to just give each other that extra bit of space. My family liked your family, your family liked mine. I will take a moment to applaud your romance game. The trips, the flowers, the jewelry, the gifts, even that one time you FedEx'd Vitamin Water to me because it wasn't available in that remote piece of crap place where I was stuck doing a consulting assignment. I still smile at the memory of stuff like that.

We never ran out of things to talk about. I beat you at Scrabble, you beat me at Gin though I will swear to my dying day that you cheated. (no surprise there) I spoiled you with homemade lobster pizza, you spoiled me with Gucci shoes. You introduced me to Entourage, I introduced you to Grey's Anatomy.

This is a family (sorta) blog, so there's no need to go into our most personal interactions. It's enough to say the judges awarded 10s across the board.

Unfortunately when we weren't awesome… we were absolutely terrible. One of us had a temper that would simmer for weeks and then boil over (me), one of us had a problem with honesty (you), one of us just shut down when provoked (me), one of us kept making promises that never got kept (you), one of us perfected radiating waves of pisstivity (me), one of us flirted inappropriately with people all the damn time (you). Both of us were stubborn, both of us hated to admit when we were wrong and there were definite times when we just said whatever needed to be said to end the discussion rather than getting to the bottom of the issue.

I own that I wasn't a paragon of perfection in the relationship but um… you had that whole inability to make a decision and stick to it thing and what else – oh, the random broads that would slip and fall naked on top of you. Long story short, you wanted to have your cake and brownies too… with a side of sweet potato pie… with whipped cream on top… and gummy bears sprinkled on the plate.

So when you decided to go back to the woman who allowed you to have all your desserts while turning a blind eye, I was ticked off in an epic kind of way but I understood. Why stay with the one who's going to actually make you work at being a better person when you can be with the one that you like "well enough" and lets you get away with all manner of shiggity. Got it. This is why I sent you the Jill Scott song with lyrics (in case you missed the point):

But then after time and distance, I realized you did me a HUGE favor. Huge. Life-altering in fact. Sure you wasted years and years and years in the prime of my life but I can appreciate that you didn't waste any more. In fact, I'm Good. Cue the video:

Just so we understand each other? Cool.

But what I don't understand is why, after our four separate "closure" discussions, even after the KRYPTONITE letter, you persist in trying to reach me? In any manner or media. It's no longer a case of what you have to say to me. It's a case of I don't want to hear it. I'm currently on a man break. I expect that to last another month or two. But I'm on a break from you for oh, let's say the next ten years. Seriously. I've learned my lesson and I get that you never will. So now in addition to blocking your email and calls, we can add texts to the list. And now that I've written this letter, I can go back to my happy place. You should get one of those (that doesn't involve me) and stay there.

Smooches and best of luck with all of that… Chele.

Okay, I'm better. Bougienistas – your thoughts on exes, closure and why some folks just won't stay gone?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Good News Story: Kudos for Katie - Notre Dame's first African American Valedictorian

I am amazed (and not amused) that we are STILL having African American firsts in 2010 and yet here we are. Meet Katie Washington, the first black valedictorian in Notre Dame's 161-year history. Ms. Washington tells msnbc she's shocked and surprised by the honor, and intends to go on to earn her M.D. and Ph.D.

Congratulations to Ms. Washington, looking forward to the day when it's not news but a regular expectation. Enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Video Shout-Out: Miki Howard

I remember hearing Miki Howard for the first time and thinking, "Wow, she is phenomenal. She's going to be one of the all time greats." Just goes to show you I know nothing about the music business and even less about how personal demons can keep you from reaching your full potential. Of course, her determination to mimic Billie Holiday in looks and lifestyle should have been a clue that she was headed for trouble.

At any rate, this song remains a favorite. Voice like buttered rum, she's the perfect accompaniment to a rainy Saturday afternoon. Enjoy!

Any idea where she is now? Anyone have music to share today?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Subtlety is dead, innuendo is on life support and reserved is just for dinner tables

Ya'll join me in welcoming Miz BB Waite out of the comments section to her first guest post. Miz BB is a retired teacher married for over 20 years to frequent commenter Mocha Dude Speaks. She is a full-time volunteer everywhere teaching folks how to be better folks. Better mothers, brothers, lovers, cooks, parents, spouses, church members, students, gardeners… you name it, she's trying to make it better. She's had a few things on her mind and asked if she could share… show Miz BB some love ya'll.

Hi everybody, let me first thank Chele for allowing my thoughts to be posted and for basically re-writing my thoughts so they made sense. Here goes:

Chele, Jayme and I met at a church function. It was a seminar on "Recognizing the Real in your Relationships". We were the only three who sat near the back with our lips tightly zipped and hadn't shared inappropriate details about our sex lives or overshared issues in our current relationships. At one point, the seminar was so outlandish that we shared a "this can't be real" look amongst ourselves. It was a church function but that didn't seem to stop people from telling the most graphic indiscreet relationship stories imaginable. Finally, the class moderator noticed that we hadn't added anything to the discussion. "You all don't have to be so reserved… feel free to share." Michele said, "But I am reserved, naturally. Thank you."

Okay?! It was all we could do not to high five her right there. After the class, the three of us went out for snacks (okay, drinks). Even then, we were friendly but politely distant. It's been 6 years and there are still some things Jayme, Michele and I just don't discuss. You can be friends, even good friends without getting knee-deep into each other's business. There are some boundaries that it's just inappropriate to cross.

That's a lost art apparently, knowing what's inappropriate to share and what you keep close to your vest?

I read (with much cosigning) Carolyn Edgar's post about the legitimizing (legitimization?) of "hoe-dom." I'm a bit older than Chele and most of her readers so I came up in a time when people didn't discuss the state of their marriages. Not that their marriages were any better, they just weren't talked about. And you most certainly did not talk about infidelity. If you were being cheated on, you dealt with it. If you were doing the cheating, you kept it to yourself. I'm a Bible-Beater, I'll own that. So I can't get my head around sin being celebrated like it's something to be proud of. When people did wrong, they were spoken of in hushed tones, "She is going through some things right now. Pray for her." That covered a world of evil-doing and we were happy that way. We gossiped behind closed doors. Facebook, twitter, email, 24/7 news, instant messaging, camera phones, YouTube and texting have made "behind closed doors" a concept for the history books.

"Keeping your own counsel" – that's a goner too.

I'll admit to being old-fashioned in thought, customs and deeds. I just got to the point where I don't wear pantyhose to church. I still won't wear jeans to church, even if it's just for choir rehearsal. I wouldn't let my daughter date until she turned 16. I finally joined Twitter just so I could comment on Chele's blog. I think I've tweeted 15 times, usually to the girls to say "Call me" or "Read your email." The kids say I'm Old School. But sometimes the old school endures because it's the best school. My marriage has endured because I fashion my relationship after my grandparents. She ran the house but let him run everything else (or let him think it anyway). She believed in picking your battles and only going to the mat for the things you felt most strongly about.

I let Mr. Waite think he's a financial wizard (he would stay overdrawn if it wasn't for me). He compliments me on how nice the house looks (pretending not to know that I have housecleaners in twice a week). I don't argue with my husband in public, I wait to smack my kids upside the head until we get home, and I only raise my voice in public if someone's in mortal danger. I know I'm a throwback. But it works for me. I watch in shocked dismay as couples tear each other apart, in public, on television, in front of the kids. I just saw yesterday where Larry King's old butt was supposedly having an affair with his wife's sister - why did we need to know that and can we just call Viagra the devil's tool?

Not airing the dirty laundry – guess we'll place that next to the rotary phone in the Smithsonian.

One of the things I love about this blog is that we can discuss things. Under the guise of "anonymity" and "sharing for the greater good" we have an opportunity to discuss things (some that I wouldn't normally talk about) without getting overly personal or classless (mostly, every now and then someone gets buck wild in the comments section). But I wonder… am I the only one who wonders where the little subtleties went? Why everything has to be shared and shouted and printed in bold large font? Or as Chele says… Is it just me?

What say you, BougieLand? Comments, thoughts, insights? The floor is yours.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Done in by a 3 year old

I sort of, kind of had a guest post lined up for today – a great follow-up from yesterday's post but it required tweaking and re-writing and I'm too exhausted to do it. Allergies kicking me squarely in my hindparts. I've been watching BougieYoungerBro's youngest this week. BougieNephew is no joke. Running behind a three year old all week has made me respect the hell out of mothers. I don't know how ya'll do it. I'm exhausted by the time Daddy takes him home at 6:00pm. It seemed a great idea to take him to the park everyday, pollen, lawn mowers and 85 degrees with no breeze = no bueno. Long story short, no post today. I'll be back tomorrow.

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves…

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pimps Up, Hoes Up: Sexing Your Way to Your 15 Minutes of Fame

Ya'll know how I love smart people. Today, please join me in welcoming one such lady as our guest blogger. Carolyn Edgar is an attorney and writer living in New York City. She is a contributor to the NYC Moms Blog and has also contributed to My Brown Baby. Carolyn's personal essays have been published in Reconstruction Magazine and Mirror on America: Short Essays and Images from Popular Culture (Bedford/St. Martin's). She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School. We've been enjoying some Twitter thoughts and she had a little something to share. Enjoy and show her some love: (By the way, I embedded the videos neither of which are appropriate for viewing ever. Get your Pepto ready)

I too hate what OneChele referred to in her post yesterday as "the new trend of Mistresses and Groupies on Parade." Somewhere in the universe, the woodwork must have squeaked, because every other day there's a new freak with a new story to tell sell.

The groupie/ho business is getting serious. Lawyer-to-the-stars Gloria Allred has practically turned it into its own branch of the entertainment industry. Allred is the CEO, COO and General Counsel of Skankville Inc., pimping these girls and their stories for all it's worth.

The how-to-be-a-ho formula has worked for generations. Take one famous male athlete/actor/singer/politician (or husband of a woman who is one or all of the above); add one or more groupies, preferably of the blonde, big-breasted variety; subtract one despondent wife; leak enough salacious details to the media to whet the public's appetite, and voila! Let the famewhoring begin!

For the formula to work, the salacious details must sound like copyedited versions of Penthouse Forum. Thus, we've read about John Edwards' sex tape in which he performs oral sex on pregnant Rielle Hunter. We read Kwame Kilpatrick's texts to his love-starved chief of staff Christine Beatty and Tiger's embarrassing texts to one of his groupie chicks.

When the groupies leak their stories, they never contain unflattering facts like: his penis is the size of a well-endowed two-year-olds; he was too drunk to get it up; he aspires to be a one-minute man – all the stuff you know is probably true. The truth would destroy the economic value of the tell-all, and that economic value makes them newsworthy. No one wants to hear that famous people sex is as boring as the sex they're having at home. Accordingly, the stories enhance the famous men's aura of masculinity and virility. Paradoxically, by having an affair with one or more hot women, the cheating husbands appear even more desirable and attractive.

Kat Stacks, another wanna-be player in the ho game, failed to grasp the importance of telling a good story. The stories on her now-blocked blog weren't titillating, they were sad and desperate. They made you want to get her into counseling and send her to a GED course. Allred's services are well out of Kat Stacks' reach.

But that's the problem with the ho game. The men, not the women, are the ultimate winners. Sure, one of Tiger's babes got a settlement, but what about the others? Notably, black mistresses often fare worse than their white counterparts. Karrine Steffans got a couple of book deals out of giving great head, but not all of the mistresses have been so lucky. Just compare Eliot Spitzer's main call girl Ashley Dupre, and Kilpatrick's mistress Christine Beatty. While Dupre has an advice column in the New York Post and an upcoming spread in the May 2010 Playboy; Beatty just moved to Atlanta after being unable to find employment in the Detroit area following the mayoral scandal.

There are many reasons why being a mistress or groupie is not a sustainable business model. Karma truly is a bitch. Specifically, karma's the next bitch. There's always another one: younger, blonder, with bigger boob and butt implants. Mistresses and groupies have a short shelf life, and success breeds copycats. Once it's known that the guy in question can be had, women will fall all over themselves to get next. And very few of these guys generate the type of income that breeds big settlements, the type of settlements that can assuage hurt feelings when he moves on to the next chick.

It's not that the men escape entirely scot-free. But who do we refer to as a ho? The men are said to have "made mistakes" and "should apologize to their wives," but they get shiny new stud images to boot. After the cheating husbands perform some public act of contrition, the public forgives, and their careers go on.

Meanwhile, no matter how much Kiely Williams tries to p-pop herself out of being a forgettable Disney starlet, the only reaction her "Spectacular" video stirred up was general revulsion. It's rumored her next song is called "Open My Legs, Tell Me What Ya Think." If she named it "Open My Legs and Get That Speculum" and featured her next Pap smear in the video, and I don't think the public would give a damn. She may try to go the basketball wives' route next, but I'm not even sure she could pull a bench rider making league minimum at this point.

I worry about how my teenage daughter will be influenced by the notion that growing up means throwing all caution and your legs open to the wind. So far, her only reaction has been "Ewww!" I hope when she's older and her understanding of sex goes beyond sex ed and it-can-get-you-pregnant-and-make-you-sick, she remains disgusted by all the women who use sex, not their brains, for the come-up.

What say you BougieLand is skank-and-tell the new hustle? What can be done to make it all stop? What are your thoughts on Rielle Hunter getting on Oprah? A show like Basketball Wives (where only two of the 20 are actual wives) was watched by 1.6 million people – the Hell? Ya'll know what to do: thoughts, comments, opinions? The floor is yours.


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