Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Confident is the new sexy (and the old one too)

And we want it...
So who is it that gets you going? Denzel? Lenny? Brad? Laz? Idris? Halle? Meagan? Gabrielle? Angelina? What do they have in common? It's more than "fine n fit" or easy on the eyes... it's the attitude. That confidence that oozes out of them anytime a light shines their way. It's in the walk (does anyone have a better walk than Denzel?) and the talk. It's in the eyes. It's that certain "oomph" that says "I'm here and you know you know it". Even if it's just in the public persona, it's enough to make us believe something special is there.

Good Lawd, the things that a confident man can get away with. The difference between, "Do you think you might want to do this tonight?" and "Let's do this."? Mmm. That's a whole other topic, let me get back on track. 

I get asked over and over again by men and women alike - what's attractive? What's sexy? What catches someone's eye? You can call it what you want: "That Thing", "Swagger", self-assurance, self-esteem or confidence. It works. This is one characteristic of bougie people that I'd like to pass on to the world. We act like the world is ours when we wake up and we don't need nobody telling us the time. But we're nice about it. That's confidence.

Don't have it? Working on it? Here's a crash course...
Confidence 101
1. Figure out who you are. The good, the bad and the ugly 
2. Be okay with number one 
3. Understand that not everybody else is at number two. 
4. Give not a damn about those people mentioned in number three. 
5. Leave your house as if you are being filmed. Even if you aren't looking hot, walk like you are rocking the hell out of those basketball shorts and wife beater. Head up, shoulders back, easy stride. Fellas, ladies, it's so not bougie to shuffle along like you're on your way to prison.  
6. Smile. I know you don't feel like it. Do it anyway.  
7. Speak. Even if you're not spoken to. "How are you doing today?" If they don't answer, nod and keep it moving.
8. Make eye contact. Number 5, 6, & 7 mean nothing without this. 
9. About number seven, have something to say in case someone follows up. "Umm" is S.No.S. (So Not Sexy) 
10. Never, ever, ever let 'em see you sweat. Your insecurities, your bad day, your baggage from your last relationship needs to stay strapped down and tucked away for private time. As a friend of mine used to say, don't carry your funk on your face. 
And if you can't get past number one... fake it until it's real. Who's with me? Who has one to add? Thoughts, comments, universal cosign (just joking)...

Monday, May 30, 2011

5 questions, 5 answers...

It's that time again. Good people send me random questions, many of them are about me. As if I don't share enough, good people?! Anyway, I ignore them until I have a free second (or someone asks repeatedly). Here's that free second. I answer then you answer. And here we go...
1. What was your first car and did you you pass your driving test the first time?
My first car was a dark brown '78 Monte Carlo that I aptly named Gertrude. The front fender was held up with duct tape. The ceiling fabric was safety-pinned and I rolled a boombox shotgun because hte radio never worked. Gertrude was a difficult chick. In the winter she had to be warmed up for 10 minutes before she was ready to go. And no, I did not pass my driver's test the first time. I couldn't parallel park worth a damn. I didn't get good a parallel parking unitl I moved to the Bay Area where it was a freaking necessity of life. 
2. What do you sleep in?
Kinda personal, huh? It depends. Let's just say I have a variety of sleepwear options. Everything  from t-shirts to gowns. Since you asked, I only like pajama tops, not bottoms. (Why does anyone care?!) 
3. When is the last time you made love, not had sex?
So extra personal, huh? I appreciate the differentiation yet I only have one word for ya: Nunya. 
4. If you cook, what's your signature dish?
I do cook. Hmm, my signature dish. I cook a lot of different styles and types of meals. I do a mean red beans and rice. Carnitas. Shrimp fettucine. Probably my grilled garlic salmon with veggies.  
5. How much of yourself do you reveal on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc?
More than I should but less than I could.
Your turn. Answer one, all, or none. The floor is yours...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ladies, would you "obey"? Fellas, do you really need us to?

A girlfriend of mine is getting married for the first time at the age of 46. So she dated for 30 years prior to finding Mr. Seriously Right. In that time, she has lived alone. Paid her own bills. Set her own rules. Purchased her own cars and homes. Made all the decisions for her life unilaterally. One of the struggles in their relationship has been her "reprogramming" herself to be inclusive, respectful and receptive to him.

When you are used to answering to no one but yourself, it takes a minute (for both men and women) to remember to call when you're going to be late, purchase an extra six-pack of bottled water, ask someone's opinion on your vacation time, talk over how to handle the holidays and learning to share the remote (and the bed and the bathroom!).

But this week while planning the wedding ceremony, they came across one of those "interesting" moments. The pastor asked if they wanted "traditional" vows. They both said yes and then paused. "Wait, what do you mean?" These are the vows he presented to them:
I, _____, take you, ______, to be my wedded wife. With deepest joy I receive you into my life that together we may be one. As is Christ to His body, the church, so I will be to you a loving and faithful husband. Always will I perform my headship over you even as Christ does over me, knowing that His Lordship is one of the holiest desires for my life. I promise you my deepest love, my fullest devotion, my tenderest care. I promise I will live first unto God rather than others or even you. I promise that I will lead our lives into a life of faith and hope in Christ Jesus. Ever honoring God's guidance by His spirit through the Word, And so throughout life, no matter what may lie ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as a loving and faithful husband. 
I, _____, take you, ______, to be my wedded husband. With deepest joy I come into my new life with you. As you have pledged to me your life and love, so I too happily give you my life, and in confidence submit myself to your headship as to the Lord. As is the church in her relationship to Christ, so I will be to you. _____, I will live first unto our God and then unto you, loving you, obeying you, caring for you and ever seeking to please you. God has prepared me for you and so I will ever strengthen, help, comfort, and encourage you. Therefore, throughout life, no matter what may be ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as an obedient and faithful wife.
They both kind of winced [that "headship" is hard to take in] and decided to write their own vows. But he really wanted her to keep in all the "obedience" parts. She chafed and wanted him to add in a section about "ever seeking to please" her. They decided to peel back why they felt so strongly about these things. It's going to take a little bit of discussion.

So I ask you, Bougieland... Ladies, will you (did you) put "obey" in your wedding vows? Gents, do you need to hear it?  What do you think of these traditional vows? Would you (did you) write your own instead? Do tell... the floor is yours.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Being (with) Stedman...

In honor of Oprah Winfrey's departure from daytime TV (whatever shall we do?), I thought I'd take a minute to think about her oft-invisible life partner: Sir Stedman.

Stedman Graham, contrary to popular belief, was (and is) his own man prior to (and since) meeting La Winfrey. He is double-degreed, has authored 10 books and runs two educational foundations in addition to owning a marketing and public relations firm. But in spite of his resume, over the years he has gotten the reputation for fading into the background and riding Oprah's skirt-tails. (Do any of us think he could command $15,000 per speaking engagement without her?)  Let's take a look at being "Mr. Winfrey."

Stedman is in the uncomfortable situation of perennially standing in the shadow of his more famous, more wealthy, more successful significant other. No matter what he accomplishes the rest of his days, he will be best known for his relationship with Oprah. I recall her interviewing Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow recently and they discussed how hard it is to find a man who is cool with the "superwoman" thing. They are "superstars" jetting off in private planes while the male significant other waves good-bye and says, "Have a nice trip, honey." It can't be easy to be the man behind The Woman. The house-husband.

There was an incident a few weeks ago when I made a dinner reservation in my pen name. When 3N and I walked in and announced ourselves they said, "Right this way Mr. Grant." He looked at me, shook his head and said, "Lawd, I'm Stedman."

We thought it was funny and believe me, 3N has ego enough to step back and hold my purse when and if the occasion calls for it. Not that I would let the situation call for it that often. But it did spark a discussion - What's it like to be the "Stedman" in a relationship and how many men could do it? 3N said he has no issues if I take over the world and become a cultural icon... as long as he gets to come with.

But I've definitely dated a person (or two) who would not have been amused to be called Mr. Grant. In fact, those might have been fightin' words.  I wonder if this is what happened to Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe. (among others) When they started out, they were both up and coming actors. Then she took off (Oscars and whatnot) and he was still guest starring on random TV shows. That had to kinda suck.

I imagine Stedman is an enormous source of strength for Miss Oprah. He's been with her since before her ascension to media mogul, he's hung around through all her ups and downs (physical and emotional) and he seems to genuinely have her back. That combination is worth more than gold.

So the questions for today's BougieLand: As women, how do we feel about the Stedmans of the world? Can we let  "a man be the man" when we have the financial and popularity power? And as men, could you be Stedmen? Have we moved beyond the  "balance of power" thing where a man needs more status and money than his woman to know he wears the pants? What do you think? Does a man have to be really strong and secure to stand in that shadow and stay? Dying to hear your thoughts on this one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bougie Bachelorette Chronicles - Episode 10: Awkward!

So what had happened was... 3N (Ninja Not Nouveau) was in Asia, then I was in Florida for a week and then 3N had his mother staying with him for about 12 days and then I went on an East Coast run. Long story short, Monsieur Le Ninja and I got to thinking that some "adult quality time" was needed... post haste. 

My plane landed around 2:30pm. I retrieved my car, went into work, went to the bank and went home. I spun around in the shower, got as cute as I could in 20 minutes and headed over to his house after a quick stop at the grocery store. He wasn't home when I arrived so I used my key and let myself in. 

Thirty minutes later, I had whipped up shrimp fajitas with black beans and rice. I had a pitcher of pear martinis (for me) and his bougie-azz beer chilling in the freezer. Then I sat down on the sofa to watch TV. Since I kept dozing off, I decided to go ahead and crawl into bed for a quick nap. I stripped down to undies and dove in.

Next thing I know, a voice is saying, "So was she part of the relocation package? Because that's a perk to get used to." I opened one eye and saw an older version of 3N smiling down at me. Oh yeah... 3N's daddy done come to town and caught me just about nekkid up in his son's bed. He looked from me to 3N and said, "If this is the same one your mother likes, I can certainly understand what you see in her." And then Daddy Ninja literally cackled.

Say it with me now... AWKWARD!

3N (clearly trying not to laugh his azz off) slung an arm around his dad's shoulder, "Dad, this is Michele. Michele, my father. She'll shake hands with you in ten minutes." He ushered his dad out of the room. I sat up and put my head in my hands. Only. Me. 

He came back in the room and shut the door with the largest grin on his face ever. "So... uh... thanks for coming by with dinner and... stuff."

"Shut it."

"Nice bra. Is it new?"

Heated side-eye from me to him.

"You made quite an impression on him. He appreciates a half naked woman who can cook."

"Seriously shut it."

"You gonna hide in here all night?"

"Maybe." I folded my arms across my chest and fought off the urge to pout.

So what did I do? I got dressed, walked into the kitchen and served dinner. I made small talk, I poured drinks, I charmed the hell out of Daddy N and then I rolled out. These are the days of my life...

Ever find yourself in an awkward situation where all you could do is play it off? No? Then why me? <~rhetorical question. Comments, laughter, shared embarrassing moments welcomed below...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Bad Travel Ju-Ju attacks...

Subtitled... Adventures in travel, maybe I should have stayed at home?!

It started with the restaurant reservation. I use OpenTable.com and made a reservation for four at a Mexican spot in National Harbor for about three hours after we were scheduled to land... or so I thought. But I made it for Thursday night instead of Friday night. When I missed the reservation, they banned me from the restaurant for 60 days. (harsh)  So I made the reservation for Friday night under my pen name. The alias does come in handy.

Then we had the outbound flight drama. I thought I was on flight 1600 with BougieMom, I mistakenly booked 1900. A twelve hour difference. Thankfully, I was using frequent flyer miles for the flight so I could change flights with no fee. But I was >this close< to showing up at the airport to hop on a flight for which I had no ticket. Landing in DC, we found out that BougieSis missed her flight. She thought she was flying out of Ft. Lauderdale, she was actually fliying out of Miami.

Then the GPS unit got pissy on our way to the hotel. Turns out a slight right was a sharp left and we ended up driving through the middle of DC in Friday rush hour traffic. [Can you say cluster?!] Arriving at the hotel, I realized that I had not packed 1) a brush 2) the laptop charger 3) the camisole that went with my suit for Saturday. Threw off my entire wardrobe schedule.

Saturday morn we rose crack of dawnish to break our fast and drive over to Baltimore to witness the graduation of my cousin from the school where my Mom and Dad graduated over 50 years ago: Morgan State. The drive was easy, the campus lovely and the pride on BougieMom's face as the torch passed to another generation... priceless. The day was sunny and bright. Bump that - it was hell-like hot and sitting on those steel benches in the football stadium for three hours with no beverage and no shade was a tragedy in the making. Yes, my delicate ass got sunburned. Melted all to hell in my cute Michael Kors dress and turned tomato red. Thank God for the travel Noxzema. Bouge is not meant to be crispy-fried.

Driving around Baltimore I passed Bunny Colvin's house (from The Wire), appropriate as some of those graduation attendees looked like they were straight off the set. I did love the HBCU of it all. An HBCU graduation is a fashion show. Some took it all the way there in the 5 inch heels and others looked like they just came off the Paris runway. An unfortunate group looked like they just made bail in time to make this function. Bless their hearts.

We hung out with the Balto branch of BougieFam (good times!) and then headed back over to National Harbor (a brand new area they created out of nowhere right on the Potomac. Gorgeous and very bougie). Anyway, three words: Saturday. Evening. Traffic. At one point we were literally parked on the Balt/Wash Expressway with the car in park. Bad travel juju strikes again.

Sunday we rose hecka-early again to drive to Virginia Beach. My godfather turned 78 and my godparents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. 50 years of marriage!!!! I can't even fathom. The drive was long but good. The visit was excellent. But our hotel though... not like the picture. Not renovated. And definitely taken over by a large group of S.No.B. folks. We were too tired to care.

Originally, the plan was for me to leave DC and fly to New York. I knew last week that there was no way I going to make that last leg happen. So it was with no little bit of relief that BougieSis and I headed back to Reagan National to fly back to our respective homes. BougieMom stayed in Virginia Beach to visit with my godparents.

Flights to Miami were taking off left and right. Sis was back in Miami and ordering dinner while I sat clutching my useless ticket waiting for a flight that had been delayed six times. And then... canceled. Really? Seven hours in the airport and you cancel the flight? American Airlines broke off no vouchers, no "Sorry", nothing but a ticket and a "Good Luck." I'm typing this from a hotel in DC. I fly (supposedly) at noon central time Tuesday. I now feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.

Ever had a vacation/trip that was just wonky (technical term) from the start? How do you deal with travel drama? Do share...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Who do you believe? Your heart or your friends?

Short and sweet today...

Often, when we hear about folks (like JohnK) who end up in relationships that went to hell in a hand basket... we can't help but wonder - where were his friends, families, ace-boons who should have seen Tracey for the master manipulator that she turned out to be and let him know? I think one of the comments said, "Friends don't let friends date Tracey." Shouldn't somebody have pulled him to the side and dropped dime on homegirl?

But even if someone recognized her scandalous skankitude for all that is was - the honest truth is... would he have listened? His sister never liked Tracey but he chalked that up to random female drama (let's be honest, it happens) and didn't pay heed to it. When you are all wrapped up in love and feeling no pain, are you really open to what someone might be telling you? Not only do you not want to hear that your new snuggle thang is playing you, you are inclined to resent the person who burst your rosy bubble.

I know from previous experience that telling a good friend that her man ain't about shiggity tends to backfire... badly. I vividly recall interning in the Travis County District Attorney's office when a friend of mine's boyfriend came into court to be arraigned on a weapons and drug possession charge. I felt it was my duty to inform her that her man was a gangsta. She bailed him out, stayed with him, and I don't think she's spoken to me since.

I also once "had a feeling" that something wasn't quite right with a friend's s.o. but without anything more concrete than a feeling, I didn't say anything. The relationship ended disastrously (think restraining orders). I wondered if I should have mentioned my hunch. 

I've never had friends or family tell me that they didn't like my s.o. - if anything people have liked them and found them charming. [hmpfh] Now one particular ex no one trusted worth a damn... but neither did I. He proved himself to be utterly untrustworthy. So not only did I not listen to them, I didn't listen to myself. FAIL in duplicate. Moving on...

BougieLand, if your friend told you that they thought you were being played by your s.o. - would you believe them? Would you listen? Would you act on it? Would you tell a friend if you caught a "shady vibe" from their new boo? Have you been in these situations? What happened? Do share...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bougie Follow up: The Dear John Letter (with a twist)

So if you've been hanging around BnB for a minute, you know the story of JohnK. His fiancée withheld the cocoa for months and then shared it while they were on tropical vacay all tipsy and whatnot. Unfortunately, she said the wrong name at the exact wrong time. Then he figured out why and broke off the engagement. Then she tried to sue him for all sort of nonsense. The entire saga is here. I had the pleasure of reconnecting with John a few days ago while he was visiting Texas trying to decide between moving to Dallas, Houston or Austin. Ironically, on that same day I had received an email from his ex-fi, Tracey. She wanted to tell  "her side of the story." 

He was dying to see it. I handed him my BlackBerry to read. As he was reading it, he said, "I don't even want to know how she found out about the blog post. Are you going to publish this?" 

"No, I don't support rampant ratchetery and tomfoolery from people that hurt my friends." 

He nodded, "Can I answer her? On your blog? We could call it my closure letter." My eyes lit up. Oooh. That sounded like good blog fodder. So without further ado... John's response (with a few of my edits) to the five-page "it's not my fault" letter from his ex-fiancée Tracey...
Hey Trace,
Just read the letter you wrote to Michele. At first only one word came to mind: Wow. But then I sat with it for a second and decided I have answers to some of your questions.
I haven't seen you since you came by the office and made a scene in the lobby. Sorry about that overzealous security guard. He didn't mean to bounce you out of the building like that but when they say "Ma'am you really have go" that means you really have to go. I know you have problems comprehending what people say to you from time to time thinking that the rules apply to everyone else but you. Any luck getting the security company to reimburse for the grass stains on your pants? 
I understand you were angry that I took back the car. No, I can't call it stealing because it belonged to me. I bought it. I possess the title. Do you know what's ironic? Let me tell you. When you sued me, I had to go to court. And after everything was thrown out and the judge basically laughed us out of the courtroom, I had to cut across a couple of parking garages to get to my car. It wasn't until I walked past that shiny little navy Audi coupe that I remembered. I bought that for you last summer when your Honda was acting up and I still thought you were going to be Mrs. Kendall. So see, if you hadn't sleep around on me, lied, got caught, got broken up with and then tried to stick me for my paper (RIP Biggee) I never would've seen the car. Now that's irony. Or poetic justice or one of those karma type instances. 
So yes, I did send my cousin Royce to retrieve my property in the middle of the night. To use one of your colorful phrases, "What's mine is mine." And really, my sister Pam deserves it so much more than you. I know she always hated your guts and I do apologize that she came by your house beeping and honking. But like you always said - I can't control who I'm related to. 
I think we both know there's nothing left to say or do here. With that 20/20 hindsight, I'm going to agree with you that I was "a distant, workaholic, control freak" - sure, I could see where some of that is true. Funny how you never mentioned any of this before though like when your hand was weighed down by four carats and clutching the keys to a brand new German car. I mean I could call you a lying cheating mercenary drama queen but where would that get us? Exactly where we are now. 
Yes, I am moving to Texas. For many reasons. First and foremost, it's a promotion. Also, have you seen what houses are going for there? Did you know there's no state income tax? There's a place in Dallas that has a tequila bar. A. Tequila. Bar. Over 50 kinds of tequila in one place. Houston has a Pappadeaux on every other corner. (If you don't know what one is, thank me later) Tex-Mex food is a religious experience. And the women in Texas... well I'll just be nice and say none of them are you. And that's a very good thing. 
All best,
Whelp! Tracey, I don't know you but I did read most of your lengthy-azz letter. Nothing in there explained your low-rent move of bumpin' and a-grindin' on your Pilates instructor. Methinks you take personal training a little too personally. If you need a "takeaway' as you so eloquently put it... it's this: move on. In the words of Smokey from the perennial classic "Friday" - you got knocked the f*** out! Bougie bites back, babe. Don't come round here no' more, ya hear?

BougieLand, if you had a chance to write a closure letter to your ex, what would you put in it? Would you send it? Think Tracey will go away now? Thoughts, comments, insights?

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's an honor just to be nominated... but vote for me anyway

Cue the applause...

Bougieland, you rock! Well, we rock. This year Black 'n Bougie is up for three Black Weblog Awards. Best Writing in a Blog, Best Blog Post Series for those Bougie Bachelorette Chronicles and Blog of the Year. Blog of the Year?! 

*Blogger pauses to Snoopy dance around the living room* Okay, I'm back. 

Go vote. Also, if you're confused about who to vote for in some other categories- check my blogroll for our blog cousins. Definitely hook up www.Reads4Pleasure.com as best book blog and The Fresh Xpress for best blog network. They have been friends of BougieLand since day one!

Thank you so, so, so, much for the noms. It is an honor to be nominated but ur, uh.... bougie people like blue ribbons, bling, and bragging rights... let's go get it! 

Bougie Bachelorette Chronicles - Episode 9 - Meeting Mama

(Story published with full review and approval of Le Ninja No Longer So Very Nouveau.)

Mamas love me. I say this without conceit. I know I rock because in some instances, it's been 10+ years since I dated a guy and I still talk to his mother. Last week my boyfriend-from-college's mama was passing through Dallas and wanted to meet for drinks. I couldn't make it but I talked to her on the phone for about twenty minutes. It's not her fault the man she raised turned out to be completely unsuitable for me. Anyway, you take my point. Michele + man's mama's = All. Good.

Enter Le Ninja's Mother. She refers to herself as (and this is a direct quote) "a take no prisoners old Southern Battle Axe." Le Gulp. Mama Axe hails from a tiny town in Georgia. She met her husband at 14, they married at 16 and have been together ever since. They are both educators in the University of Georgia system. There are five children, only one boy, the middle child - Le Ninja. (Finding out that he is the only boy in a family of girls suddenly solved sooo many puzzles.)

Anyway, now that you have some background I can share that the very first thing she said to me was, "I'm so glad you're not a floozy!" Ummmm. I can take that a number of ways. 1) Did she expect me to be a floozy for some reason? 2) Is Le Ninja known for sportin' floozies on his arm regularly? or 3) Not looking like a floozy is good thing, right?

Now the only prep that Le Ninja gave me was "she's very old school, kinda nouveau bougie, outspoken to a fault with a good heart" - ooookay. 

In the car on the way to the restaurant (she refused to sit up front), she rode silently in the back listening to us make small talk before saying (completely out of the blue), "So you're articulate, pretty, have some sense and your own money - why are you single and what do you see in my son?"

Le Ninja, "Mom, really?"

Mama Axe, "Boy hush!"

Me **crickets**

Le Ninja, "You do not have to answer that." He shoots the "don't start none, won't be none" look at his mama in the rearview. She hits him with wide-eyed "what I do?" look. 

Me, "I guess I've just been waiting for the right one."

Mama, "So you're picky?"

Me, "If you consider having high standards, expectations, a moral code and a good sense of self picky, than yes ma'am. I guess I am."

Mama, "And you think my boy is the right one?"

Ninja is audibly grinding his teeth and driving a good 25 miles over the speed limit. I patted his arm to let him know it was alright. And then I answered her question, "I guess time will tell. But ma'am, you have to know you raised an impressive individual."

Her mouth fell open and then she closed it and tried to hide a smile. Le Ninja was all teeth and twinkle. I was ready to go home. For the next thirty minutes it was a tap dance, she would fire off questions about my parents (What did your father do again?), my education (Why did you leave law school?), my career (Writers have no stability you know, are you talented?), my religion (You do attend church regularly?) and on it went. Le Ninja would try and shut her down, I would answer and follow up with as much sweetness and charm as I could muster. Finally, she slapped her hands down on the table and said, "I like this one." Then she went to tour the wine room and meet the chef. 

I turned my head to look at dude and he just inched the wineglass closer to me. "I know, I owe you. Big time. What's it gonna be? Back rub, me sitting through the Grey's Anatomy finale, new shoes, jewelry, spa vacation, what?" 

I just shook my head, "Am I sweating? I feel like I'm sweating."

"Not a drop. If it's any consolation, she really likes you."

I gulped the wine down to the last drop, "I'd hate to see how she treats someone she disapproves of... sheesh! Hurry and top off my wine so she doesn't know I swigged it down. So, four sisters and an overprotective mother, hmm?"

"Don't even start. I'm not spoiled."

He totally is. But at least he's not obnoxious about it. Besides, I have a few 'Daddy's girl' tendencies my darned self. "So, how often do you see them?"

"Mother's Day. Father's Day. Family vacation in August and Christmas. But you'll see, now that she's given you the interrogation, she'll be a totally different woman."

"Exactly how many women have met your mother?"

"Two in recent years."

Hmm. Tabled for later since Mama was heading back towards us. She was a different woman. She was pleasant, warm, open and charming. (What did the chef slip her back there in the kitchen?!) The only hiccup came when I was getting out of the car. Mama Axe came around and gave me a hug and announced, "My son needs a strong woman. Someone who won't let him get away with nonsense and isn't bowled over by his smile. You understand what I'm saying?" Over her shoulder, Ninja was giving me side-eye of life. 

Can you say awkward dot com? I wanted to laugh and tell her I was already knowin' but I nodded seriously, "Yes ma'am. I completely understand."

"I'm serious now, he's better when he has to work for things."

Ninja jumps in, "She's got that concept down, Mom. Believe me. To a refined art."

And I sent the side-eye his direction. He raised a brow, I raised one back. She looked from him to me and back again. "Well that's good then. That's real good. I expect to see you in August. Don't disappoint me."

Mama Axe is No. Joke. 

BougieLand, who has met the s/o's mama? How did it go? How important is it to you (both the ladies and the gents) for your s/o's family to like you? Do you care? For my married folks, how's your relationship with the in-laws? 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today's post is over there

Blogger went all gangsta yesterday and I had to post on my Tumblr account. The follow up to yesterday's "work husband" post awaits...

BTW, yesterday's post appears to have been swallowed up by the Blogger monster. We'll see if it reappears. Boo, Blogger, Boo!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Why can't we be friends? The case for (against) work wives/husbands...

There is a brother at the new consulting gig who started the same day I did. He kinda rolled up round lunch time on the first day and introduced himself. A bunch of us went out to eat and he offered to drive. He held open the passenger and said, "Michele?" Oh. I guess I got shotgun. During the course of the meal, he mentioned a wife and I mentioned a significant other. Nuff said (as far as I was concerned). We also found out that we know a half dozen of the same people and worked at the same companies (at different times) in the last twelve years. Long story short, we had a similar professional background.

So for the past three days, we took to sitting next to each other and sharing the "are we there yet?" look with one and other. This afternoon, one of the girls said "So are you two a couple now?" 

**crickets** with a large dose of #HOP (Hold On Playa) two side-eyes and a WDDDA? No. Ma'am. We both, at the same time said, "No!" 

One woman said, "Yeah, that's how it starts. I've got my eye on you two."

Really, I didn't feel the need to discuss it any further. They don't know what I've got at home. They don't know what he's got at home. I only met this man 72 hours ago and beyond comparing work notes and an affinity for turkey and avocado on multigrain... that's all I knew. But the room at large felt the need to launch into a discussion of "work wives" and "work husbands" and that's how office romances start. I rolled my eyes and stepped outside to tweet.

Later when I was talking to New Ninja about it he nodded and then said, "Sure men and women can be work friends but believe me, he's already tucked you away in a 'might make a play for later' file."

Me, "What? No. It wasn't even like that."

Him, "It wasn't like that to you. Did he ask for your cell number as a 'professional contact'?"

Me, "Well, yeah. He called tonight to say he's assigned to different office."

Him, "Umm-hmm. You're in the 'come back around' file."

Me, "So you're saying they are no professional contacts. It's either a love thing or a 'maybe later' thing?"

Him, "No. There are professional contacts. Those consist of people you are not now nor never will be interested in romantically. And then there are professional contacts that you wouldn't mind sliding over to the personal side of the scale. Even if you never act on it."

Me, "I don't agree."

Him, "Ask BougieLand."

Fine (muttering under breath about folks trying to use my blog to prove their l'il point). BougieLand... do tell. Do you have a work husband or wife? What's the dynamic with "work spouses", are they people you would be with if you had the opportunity? Does it really all come down to the age old "Can men and women ever really be 'just friends'" question? Do share your thoughts, insights, comments...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Five things NOT to do on your first day of work (or ever!)

So many of you know that I've sacrificed my personal "I work for me and only me" pledge to participate in a program to get unemployed folks back to work. Yesterday, we had our first day of training. Half of the group is A+, the other half... well, bless their hearts. As I sat on a cheap uncomfortable plastic chair for seven hours, I witnessed more straight ratchet workplace behavior than I thought possible. It got me to thinking, do people really just not know how to act in the workplace?? Just in case folks need a reminder, here are five things NOT to do on your first day of work (really... ever!).

1) Show up 30 minutes late. I wish I was joking. Dude sauntered in 30 minutes late, no coffee, no pastries, no explanations, no apologies and asked, "What time were we supposed be here?" No. Sir. Just all parts of hellnoness. When he excused himself to go to the restroom and didn't come back for 45 minutes, he was excused from the party. This is a government contract, they don't play like dat.

2) B!tch and complain about your assignment. Grown Azz Woman comes in and within fifteen minutes starts asking each person which role they've been hired for. Apparently the answer was not to her liking because her mood took a nose dive. Then we were told which offices we were assigned to. Is it my fault that I knew enough to request an office that is 2.8 miles from my house? She didn't and upon hearing the role and office she was assigned, she commenced to mutter snippishly under her breath. At the first sign of our HR rep, she stalked and cornered her. After an angry exchange Grown Azz Woman comes back to the training room, snatches her purse and disappears into the hot Texas afternoon... never to be seen again.

3) Fall asleep at the conference room table. Yo girlie, it's a round table... we can see you. And now you're drooling on said table... that's nasty ma'am. After she was kicked under the table for the second time, she started mainlining coffee. And then she had to get up and pee every thirty minutes. Way to make a first impression with the State Director in the room. 

4) Answer your cell phone in the middle of training. Yup. Trainer was up there getting his little teach on, cell phone vibrates loudly on the table and she picks it up. "Hey! Can I call you back?" No Ma'am. The entire room swiveled their heads to gape at her. Really?! She tried to clean it up by saying it was her realtor, she's selling her house and she had to take the call. Sweetie, that's what text messaging and voicemail are for. Step out of the room and handle your business.

5. Overshare your personal tales of woe. One dude felt the need to add something flavorful to every comment  he made. So much flavor that I know he's been married twice, grew up in Buffalo, has been laid off three times in ten years and has an unhealthy obsession with thai noodles (you don't want to know). At one point, his diarrhea of the mouth ran on so long, the trainer cut him off and sent us all out for a fifteen minute break. Don't you know when we came back, he launched into a story about how his dream house was in foreclosure... no it had no relevance to the conversation at large. Maintain some mystery, sir... we are of the not giving a damn variety.

What say you, BougieLand? Am I just too used to my own company? Is it me or are these terrible breaches of first day protocol? What's wrong with folks?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Exciting News! For me, not so much for BougieLand...

I got into recruiting oh-so-many years ago because I loved the thrill of marrying good people with good jobs and watching their careers grow. Over time, that love got mired in administrative shiggity, the weight of management and piss-poor economies. The one good thing that came out me growing disenchanted with recruiting was that I started writing. Three books, a short story and a blog later - that's going very well.

But I was offered an opportunity that actually got me excited about the talent acquisition game again. It's just a short term contract but it's a government sponsored program. This is an Obama mission to get unemployed folks back to work. So they have privatized a section of the state's unemployment office to the company I'll be working for. We'll be matching newly unemployed and long-term (over two years) unemployed folks with current opportunities. It will be a free service for both the companies and the candidates. We have a directive to put a certain number of people back to work in a certain time frame. 

What this also means is that in addition to all the other stuff I currently do, I'm going to work 30 hours a week at this as well.I'm sure you've noticed that I've been kinda weaning ya'll off the 5,6,7-day a week posts. I'll try and do three or four a week. This also means I won't be moderating the comments as much during the day. So try and play nice, won't cha?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bougie Movie Review - Jumping the Broom

Headed out to see Jumping the Broom Saturday afternoon at the bougie theater. BougieMom and I sat with an appetizer sampler and peach iced tea to watch the latest "black wedding rom com" offering.

I liked it. It wasn't brilliant or groundbreaking or terribly original but it was entertaining. If you're looking for deep and life-changing, it's not your film. Lots of eye candy for both sexes to appreciate and enough drama to keep the story from being cookie cutter. If I'd titled the movie, I would have called it Cool Smiles and Hot Messes on a Platinum Platter. It made for a fun watching experience.

Subplots abound and the movie makes the most of the entire well-rounded and talented cast. Laz Alonso is a romantic hero and Paula Patton is Paula Patton. Pooch Hall, Gary Dourdan, Meagan Good, Valarie Pettiford, Tasha Smith, Romeo, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Mike Epps all add a little spice to the mix. 

However, the characters were not well fleshed out and I really had an issue with the childish behavior of the bride and the "I don't know who to listen to" nonsense with the groom. The cluelessness of the white wedding planner who had "cultural" questions was jarring and it was hard at times to be sympathetic to Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine's characters that often came across as shrewish for no good reason.

There was also one Angela Bassett scene that looked practically cut and pasted in from Waiting to Exhale. It threw me for a second. The pervasive "regular" folks vs. "bougie" folks theme though... Le Sigh.

The overlying reason why I couldn't go 4+ stars on this one was the over-the-top judgmental depiction of the African American bourgeoisie. Bouge could NOT catch a break. When will folks get that bougie doesn't mean spoiled and stuck-up? My work is not done. The goodness of bouge must be spread to the powers that be in Hollywood. We, the Bougie and Beautiful, are not a monolith!

Similarly, not all "round-the-way" black folks show up with sweet potato pie and start asking where the collard greens are...

Woo-sah. All that being said, the movie was worth it. There are some genuine laugh out loud funny moments and more than a few "Oh no she didn't!" scenes.  The scenery (Martha's Vineyard) was heartstoppingly gorgeous and the wardrobe person deserves a standing ovation. Also the score was well thought out. No, this won't go down as a Neo-Classic like Love Jones but it's a nice way to spend an hour and a half. 

Kudos to producer Tracey Edmonds (the former Mrs. Babyface) for getting a different slice of black life on the big screen. Support Black Cinema!

[Feel free to comment but please... no spoilers!!!]

Friday, May 06, 2011

Lessons learned from Mr Jack - a guest post by JasonP

Today, JasonP wants to talk about last week's controversial letter writer, Mr Jack. Mr Jack broke up with his girlfriend of two years because she didn't cook and talked back. Let's see what he's got...

I've been hanging around BougieLand for about a year and half now. Never have I seen the level of outrage and irritation that was directed towards Mr Jack in the Ask A Bougie Chick segment where dude wanted a woman to be his everything and not an iota less. Last I looked there were over 200+ comments. That post seemed to bring out a lot of feelings in people. Before I share what I learned, I have a few observations.

1) I'm not Mr Jack, don't bring it here
2) Why so angry, ladies?
3) Why so touchy, bruhs?
4) He mighta been wrong but was he so very wrong?

Here's what I think I learned-

The truth is... it is a man's world. I could say it prettier so that the ladies won't threaten to knife me in back alleys but facts is facts. For the over 60% of us that are still traditional in values, the man is still the head of the household, the aggressor, the final decision maker, the one who gets down on one knee and proposes. But to assume that a man's world could even exist without women is stupid. 

It's a man's right to hold out for exactly what he wants. HOWEVER, he should do this with the understanding of snoozing and losing and that old saying about the early bird and the worm... also true. Plus it's not like great women are sitting around tapping their foot waiting on the Jacks of the world to roll up. By the time Jack comes around, that perfect woman is with an imperfect man who made her feel good compared to what. (Don't act brand new, you know exactly what I mean by that)

Who told Jack he was the catch of the year? Who is to blame for half decent guys (I know more than a few) walking around acting like they could levitate and part the Red Sea at any moment? Ladies? Get your friends. Some of them are throwing panties, car keys and accolades at bruhs who used to get an eyeroll and a "boy please". Yes, I blame this on the sisters.Some of you are way too eager to get got. And then act surprised when you do.

Can we talk a minute about bedroom beasting and why it's so dangerous but so damn good? Truth time. I have definitely prolonged a relationship that I knew was going nowhere because the cocoa was hot. Like Nola  Darling "Gotta Have It" hot. Got you standing outside a woman's door pleading, "Please, baby, please, please!" That kind of good-good skews the whole game. You will overlook a lot of otherwise "unwifeable" behavior for the regular hot cocoa. (I bet at least four of you will have issue with the term unwifeable. It's a descriptive, not a derogative. Stay with me ladies)

Lastly, who stays with someone they are that unsure about for two years? I'd would rather date 15 women in 12 months to find one great one than stick with one that was just okay for two years. Am I the only one who thinks this way?

Jack came across self-absorbed and slightly deluded but we only got a snapshot of his situation. At the end of the day, it's not a bad thing that he knows what he wants and won't settle for this. But I have to wonder if he has what it takes to go get it. Thanks for the floor and the edit so I sound like I have some education, Chele. *drops mic and flees the left exit door*

Well now. Jason had some insightful observations. What say you? Do thirsty women create the egos of the Mr Jacks of the world? Does the early bird really get the worm? Can hot cocoa turn your brain into mush? What's better? To serial date a lot of people or to try and make it work with one that you're not 100% sure of? Any thoughts about Jason's thoughts? Do share...

Thursday, May 05, 2011

When Doves Cry - a guest post by @Diggame

Today, check out some thoughts on relationships gone wrong brought you by Darryl Frierson. Darryl is currently working on his first book, a romantic comedy, called ”Loose Ends”. Darryl has written for The FreshExpress, Black Sports Online, SoulTrain.com, Show Me the Blog and various other sites. You can catch him on twitter at @diggame and on his blog From Ashy to Classy(www.ashy2classy.net). Take a look...

Everyone has had conversations with friends and maybe the subject of relationships has comes up. And if the person is having relationship problems or the relationship has ended someone is always going to ask "What happened to Chuck" or "What happened to Krystal?"

These will be some general responses you may hear:

"Girl, Chuck wasn’t ready for a woman like me."

"Playa, Krystal didn't know how to honor a true man."  

There seems to be some psychological phenomenon where we as humans cannot take accountability for things happening in our life. This seems to be shown more often when it comes to romantic relationships. In one of my Marcus Graham Chronicles posts "Is The Onus on Me" I delved into my own personal problems in terms of having self accountability for my past relationship woes. I began to wonder if sometimes we deserve the things that happen to us in a relationship not necessarily because of the other person but because of things we have done.

Sometimes it seems that we will find any way to blame the other person for what happened badly in the relationship instead of doing self-reflection and seeing our part in the ending of the relationship. Generally the breakdown of any relationship is usually a combination of both people's discrepancies. It's a two-way street where the blame traffic travels in both directions.

Many of us love to look at the positive aspects of our selves instead of understanding, embracing, and improving the debts to our characters. For instance next time you are talking to someone try this exercise...

Ask them "What are the good things you bring to a relationship?" Nine out of ten times you will find the person will have laundry lists of things good to say about themselves. After that then ask the person "What are the bad relationship things about you?" A lot of people will be hard pressed to name 1/8 of the amount of things they named good about themselves.

In relationships we all like to believe we are in the right in terms of relationship. A man may think he was justified in his actions for cheating because his lady doesn't cook enough for him. While a woman may always feel that she is the victim in the relationship because of the man doing something to her. We hold tight to our perspective of thinking we are in the right. It’s very hard to see from our mate’s perspective because we can have the sense that the person is not getting down with our "program".

The idea of seeing the both sides of the coin in any situation is probably the hardest thing for us to do in any situation let alone a relationship. Self-reflection is paramount in our relationships because it will become an ongoing problem. I was hipped to the concept of the Color Mixing Theory by Zo Willams from his conversations with hip hop icon Kool Moe Dee and I think it makes the most sense when understanding who we are.

The Color Mixing Theory
In the visual arts, color theory is a body of practical guidance to color mixing and the visual impacts of specific color combinations. The Color Mixing Theory in terms of relationships uses the general color theory as a back drop to explain the concept of self-actualization and personal accountability.

For instance, if you are one color (let’s say for instance: blue) and your mate is another color (let's say in this case: green) and you all get together and mix (join together in a relationship) you all will make the color aqua or teal. The problem is what if you don't know your own "color" and your mate doesn't know their own "color"?

If you are not consciously trying to find out more about who you are, how do you even know that you and your mate’s two colors mixing together make a good mix? After the ending of the relationship you aren't the same color because you have some of the" color" residue from the last mate on you. You may not even realize your "color" has changed and or see the past relationship residue on our character and spirit. The residue of the other persons color we take is the emotional baggage we carry forth into new relationships. We all do it but if we don't recognize our own color how can we understand how much our mates "color" or the relationship has had an effect on us?

We then end relationships blaming the other party for their "color" being the problem not realizing our "color" had a lot to do with the relationships demise as well. If we don't take any self-reflection and begin to recognize who we are and our issues within a relationship we will constantly go from failed relationship to failed relationship. We will continue to mix our "colors" with someone else’s "colors" never understanding ourselves and taking on the baggage from the past relationships.

If we want to make our relationships to become healthier and survive we have to be able to see those things within us that may not be the best things about our character. We tend to think we listen to our mate but when actuality we just listen for what we want to hear. Some of us don't really want to know who we are we just like our singular living capacity.

(If you like this post, check out "The Relationship Credit Score".)

BougieLand,what say you? Are we attuned enough to our own shiggity prior to pointing out others'? Do we ever really let go of that emotional baggage or do we carry that residue around forever? If you were a color in the rainbow, which one would you be? Why? And what do you think is the complimentary color to yours? For instance, I'm purple... I go with everything. Work the metaphor, people. It's deeper than Crayola. The floor is yours...

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Pardon me while I whip out...my papers (guest post by @CitizenOjo)

Today, I treat you to a guest post by my blog cousin @CitizenOjo, you can find him over on The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen. That whole birth certificate brouhaha hit home to him. Here's why...

I saw the following statement on Twitter last week “April 27, 2011, the day the United States lost." In case you don’t know April 27th was the day President Barack Obama finally showed us his birth certificate. Gasp!!! The long national nightmare is over!!!! Finally Obama has proven that he is not the “Manchurian Candidate” he is portrayed as. This should be the greatest thing? But if it is, why do I feel so down about the whole situation? 

I’m no Obama Fanatic by any stretch of the imagination. I fell off the bandwagon awhile back and I’m not planning on chasing the wagon train back down. I don’t hate the man. I actually think he is a nice person that wants to make America a better place. I just don’t like some of the people that he surrounds himself with and some of the decisions that he makes. I know racists are mad as hell that he’s in the White House. Black racial apologists are mad that he lives there too. 

This malarkey about a birth certificate is a distraction that is all about RACE. This fiasco has brought out certified nut job provocateur Orly Taitz and Carnival Barker Donald Trump. Taitz, who can barely speak English, thinks that Obama’s certificate isn’t real because it says African and not Negro. So this white woman is an expert on black folk’s birth certificates? Did she take classes for this in college or learned it while hanging out in “The Hood”? Yes, you are hearing **crickets** in the background!!! And Trump…..oh boy!!! He was doing so well when he was known for firing people and fighting Rosie, after I dissed Oprah I’m kissing up to her now, O’Donnell in the press. Not only does he question Obama’s heritage but he thinks Obama is unintelligent. Again, you are hearing **crickets** in the background!!! So now we are questioning the admission standards for Ivy League Schools? I wonder how Trump really feels about Dr. Randal Pinkett, season 4 winner of The Apprentice, the Rhodes Scholar who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Side Note - To all the black folks that attended Predominately White Institutions and laughed with disdain when I told them I attended a Historical Black University: “No matter how hard you try to fit in they still don’t respect you either!!!” 

Are you still wondering why this mess has got me felling sad? My son was born in February 2011. After he was born, I told my wife that this was our greatest creation. I love that kid to death and I pray for him every night. But something was bothering me before we left the hospital. I kept obsessing over the birth certificate being correct. And I was adamant about picking it up from our local government offices as soon as possible. I didn’t understand why I was like that until this week. Obama, my son, hell maybe even me. 

Our existence and dignity has been tied to a sheet of paper that tells where and when we were born. American has again proven that any person that doesn’t look 100% caucasian is still a number on a piece of paper (ala’ 3/5ths person rule). I guess I didn’t want my son to have his citizenship questioned because he was unable to produce a birth certificate from 2011. I wanted to prove that he belonged. And even though I already knew he was a citizen, it wouldn’t matter unless he had that paper. So when Obama finally showed his birth certificate, I figured out why this spectacle had me so bothered. I use to laugh at all those Birthers on tv for being brainwashed. In the end I had realized that the Birthers had brainwashed me too.

Well good people, what did you think about the birther nonsense? Do you think Obama should have provided additional proof? Did you think there was a racist element to the entire attack? Do share your thoughts...


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