Friday, June 29, 2012

Introducing the BnB Reading Club


We're back on Monday with our regularly scheduled bouge but in the meantime... Book Club, anyone?

We're just getting started but if you want to join, swing on by Goodreads and click the Join Now button.



BnB Reading Club
BnB Reading Club 11 members Just a group of folks from BougieLand (www.blacknbougie.com) who decided it would fun to read som...

Books we've read

Heard It All Before Heard It All Before
by Michele Grant
Start date: June 28, 2012



View this group on Goodreads »

See you there!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More true confessions of a Bougie Chick...


Well, since it's kinda been true confession time on BnB, I might as well come clean. 

David asked me to marry him on my birthday (back in January) and that's where the trouble started. The fact that he tossed the ring across the table and said, "Now you'll have to figure out what to do with me," started us on a slippery slope. The fact that I gave him a "definite maybe" and asked if we could discuss it again in six months probably didn't help. And before anyone asks, the reason I didn't do a cartwheel and scream 'Yes, of course!" was because I knew we had things to work out before we could take this major step. 

And then came the long absences due to travel (his), the health issues (mine) and a decided lack of willingness to compromise (ours). 

Three huge relationship killers - distance, stress and lack of communication all rolled into one. But the most important roadblock that we kept coming up against was that we stopped being on the same page as to what was important and what came next. Truly, we should've probably called it a day in January but because we knew that we had something worth a fight, we toughed it out. The growing pains were damn near lethal but we kept going. We broke up, got back together, "stepped away", got back together until finally, it was enough.

We agreed that we wanted the same things but not with each other as we are now. (see how I worded that?) Whether we'll change our minds in the future, I don't know. We didn't scream, we didn't rant, we didn't hurl accusations, we just talked it out and arrived at the same conclusion. We are still being amicable, friendly and whatnot. I (for once) don't hold any grudges and I don't think he does either. His boys, however? Ya'll might have to help them along. I think Trey cried. Shawn and Jay lectured us (really, guys) for about an hour. Bryan and Wes wanted to know if they have to chose which of us to stay friends with. No fellas, you don't. My mom's feelings are hurt, his mom's feelings are hurt but in the end, we gotta do what we gotta do.

So while yes, it's sad that we broke up... it's not necessarily a bad thing. Oh and to the two folks who asked me if they could date David if he and I ever broke up... that's a negatory. 

By the time you all read this, I'll be sitting in a casita at the Four Seasons in Punta Mita, Mexico. BougieSis and I will be chilling beachfront for five days. I, for one, am so ready to lay somewhere and do nothing but stare at water. 

In other news, we've had a lot of requests to do a BnB Book Club. I'm going to kick it off when I get back. Yes, of course, I will be starting with two of mine: Heard it all Before and then the sequel which comes out at the end of July, Pretty Boy Problems. Both of these books are told from both the male and female point of view so fellas, don't be shy about joining in. After that, we'll branch out. 

Let's get this summer going. Talk to you next week!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Fight between Fit and Fat - The Struggle Continues


I have gained and lost so much weight over the past fifteen years, it is ridiculous. I have sizes ranging from eight to twenty-eight in my closet. Even more irksome is the fact that I have always "carried weight well"-  my cute did not diminish regardless of shirt size. (Yes, I'm modest as well) I've always been able to work out, I've cooked healthy for years only indulging on special occasions and I had no discernible health problems. Add to that the fact that I've always been able to attract and date men of all calibers, backgrounds and income brackets and overall I was okay on the weight roller coaster.

Fast forward to last summer, I felt - for lack of a better word - crappy. Not to overshare but my periods were coming whenever they wanted to, I was stressed, gaining weight rapidly, I was fatigued but could not sleep and my energy was on zero. But I was faking it because I was dating a younger man, my family was expecting me to be the Michele they know and love, and my friends, fans and followers were expecting me to be fabulous out there on the road.

Finally I hit the wall. I dragged my tired behinds to my doctor and threw myself at her mercy. "Fix me!" I implored. She tested me for everything, weighed me (I was appalled) and checked my blood pressure. Whoa. And then she sent me to the gynecologist. The next day, they asked me to come in and meet with them both. Ruh-roh.

My general practicioner went first. I was borderline diabetic, I was entering high blood pressure range and due to the genetic jackpot my parents gifted me with, it was only going to get worse. Long and short of it, the weight had to come off with some expediency. I needed to lose 50 pounds in a heartbeat, 75 pounds overall. The only problem was... the gynecologist stepped in - I was diagnosed with PCOS - polycystic ovary syndrome. A nifty little "woman problem" that affects (among other things) your ability to lose weight. It was going to be an uphill battle but we were sure we could do it.

Fast forward two and a half months and I had lost 25 pounds. Awesome, I worked harder. And 18 pounds came back. Welcome to weight struggle when you body fights against you. I would lose 6 pounds and four would come back. Finally, we decided that drastic measures had to be taken. Time was the enemy. I decided to explore bariatric surgery. Let me pause here and make a few public service announcements:
  • Only consider bariatric surgery when ALL else has failed. It's no joke. Not to be played with. Did I mentioned no joke? 
  • Your insurance may not cover the surgery. Mine (thanks Aetna) did not. And I had to come out of pocket to the tune of $16,000 + vitamins, supplements, food scale, protein shakes, etc. Cost more than my first car. 
  • Pick your bariatric surgeon with care. The first guy I went to (Dr. Kim) was a complete jerk who told me to quit eating fried chicken and chocolate cake every day. For that he charged me $250 and said he looked forward to seeing me again. And then he called me Marsha. Yeah no. Do not go to a factory where they don't get to know anything about you and give less than a damn. I ended up going to Dr. Provost and loved everyone there. 
  • Some people in your life will not understand why you are having the surgery and how it will affect you. But that's a whole other post.

I decided on gastric sleeve. Gastric bypass seemed too extreme and the lap band meant something foreign was rattling around inside me forever? No thank you. With the sleeve, they basically go in and slice off most of your stomach leaving you with a little sleeve. I had the surgery on April 20th. Yes it hurt. If I had it to do it over again, I'm not sure if I would. Recovery was a nightmare. I'm just now (almost two months later) getting my energy back. But then again, in two and a half months - I've lost 52 pounds. Twenty seven more to go.

The day after surgery you are free of diabetes, they're not sure why. My blood pressure is back to normal. My PCOS is still there but not as severe. I eat four bites of food three times a day and I'm full. I work out about four times a week. My appetite has changed. Some flavors I no longer like and for some reason I like to drink things that are very, very hot or ice cold. But the joy of zipping up jeans from the "maybe one day, I'll get back into those" section of my closet? Priceless.

Overall, I would not wish this journey on anyone. My best advice to those of you in your twenties and early thirties is to get your fitness on now while your metabolism still likes you and all the genetic conditions are still playing nice. In the meantime, I'll be the one over here whining about yoga, how my abs hate me and why I now believe Snickers bars are the devil. 

Anyway BougieLand, feel free to share your weight struggles. Even if you are just trying to lose five pounds to get back down to a size 4, I promise not to reach through and smack you with a keyboard. Struggles are struggles. Questions, comments, insights? Do share...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Just let the man have the big piece of chicken today...


It's Father's Day. And I always was and steadily remain, ten years after his passing, a Daddy's girl. For the past few years on Dad's Day I've posted tributes to BougieDad and other fathers of his ilk - committed, caring, concerned, involved fathers. I've enjoyed it, even while navigating the "my dad wasn't about shiggity" or "my baby daddy ain't nuttin'" backlash.

Woo-sah. I get it. Some fathers ain't bout that life. But if I may, let me just say this. Single Moms - today is not about you. Mother's Day was last month. Yes, I understand that some of you are doing the work of both mom and dad. Yet and still, take a step back and let the fathers who are deserving have their day. Can we please?

I actually heard that there are some Father's Day greeting cards for single moms - just stop it. It's one day. A lot of us have to struggle through it. People have lost their dads, have tortured relationship with their dads, don't know who their dads are. Baby daddy ain't doing right, can't be found, doesn't show up on today of all days... there's a lot of emotional upheaval. Be that as it may - let the Dads who are doing what they can do have their day. 

Tomorrow morning is time enough to cuss ole boy out, bitch about yo raggedy daddy from back in the day, all of that. Chris Rock jokes in one of his routines about Daddy not getting the love. How it's all about Mama and making her feel the love. How all Daddy wants at the end of the day is a little love, a little silence and the big piece of chicken. For one day, ladies - let's take a seat and let those worthy of praise be praised. Give dude the big piece of chicken. Just one blogger's opinion...

Happy Father's Day everybody.

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Country for Sorry-Ass Excuses - Top Five


Earlier this week, one of the commenters shared that she found her man swirling cocoa with another woman all up in her apartment and the best he could come with was... "It's not what you think" - really, sir? That prompted me to share the top five lamest-assed excuses I've ever heard from people. Read them and weep.

1. "I did this for you" - Upon discovering that my boyfriend was hitting on my best friend and roommate, his explanation was that he wanted to be sure our relationship could withstand anything. Ri-ight. So calling my girl and leaving explicit messages (that he was in no way able to back up) on her machine where the whole house could hear them was his way of doing me a favor? In retrospect, he really did. I was done.

2. "You know the devil is busy" - This was the excuse I got when I found out that a friend of mine was a pathological liar. Like not nary one thing she said to me in an 18-month time span was true or based on anything like the truth. Lucifer is in these streets wreaking havoc, that's true. But old girl was just on a whole other level with it. You know what though? It was kind of diabolical.

3. "I might have misunderstand the parameters of our relationship" - Ah, the intellectual's excuse for why another woman's laundry was mixed in with his. I made sure to make clear the new parameters: I'm going over there, you stay right here. Next.

4. "I know what you thought you heard" - Riding in the car with this dude. His cell phone rings. He miscalculates the distance that sound travels and assumes I can't hear word for word what some random chick is saying to him. After her third explicit comment about what she could do for him if only he wasn't wasting his time with me, I suggested (loudly) that he turn said car around and take me home forth with. Huge (GIGANTIC) fight followed. It was the beginning of the end.

And my all time favorite...
5. "I can explain" - This appears to be a catch-all no matter what ratchety foolishness the other person has been up to. What I love about this one is that frequently, there really is no valid explanation. All the person can (and should) really do is hang their head, say "I'm sorry, please forgive me" and keep it pushing. And yet, they feel compelled to pull some flavor of explanation together. 

BougieLand, doncha love these?! Any more for the list? Have you heard/used/ignored a few of these in the past? Lamest explanations for ratchet-assed behavior... whatcha got?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If you just admit it, is it better in the long run?


One of the things that I hate about these so-called "celebrity" scandals is that there is so much damn wordsmithing. Let's take for instance the curious case of Creflo Dollar. I'm going to set aside the history of me and Pastor Dollar. Okay, I'm not. My ex - PsychoMike, loved him some Creflo. Sent checks, dragged us to see him when Flo-Flo D. came to Dallas, spent Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights with all the TVs in his house tuned in so he could head bob and agree with everything Creflo said. Me? Not so much. I never got that "authentic sanctification vibe" from Cref. Something about him came across as a little too packaged for my taste. I declined to worship alongside PsychoMike at the Dollar altar. 

When PsychoMike and I split for the very last time he told me that one of the many, many reasons (besides the fact that he was CRAY-ZEE) we could not work out was because he was convinced that I was going to hell. Yep, straight to Lucifer's Up All Night Tavern for me. One of the many, many reasons he knew I was Hades-bound was because I did not support, laud and applaud Dollar Flo Dollar. No, I'm not joking. So that's my background with Flo-Dizzle. Not that it's relevant here, just a little color commentary for you.

When the reports first trickled out that C-Dreezy was hauled off to jail at 2:00 in the a.m for attempted filicide  (okay, I'm being fancy, he allegedly attacked/choked/beat his fifteen year old daughter during an argument about a party that she wanted to attend), I didn't pay too much attention. When he tweeted, "The fight has already been won," I thought his word choice was ill-advised and felt compelled to frown at the timing and lingo.

I decided to wait until a few more facts came out prior to full-scale commenting. For various reasons:
1) I don't have kids and therefore trying not to pontificate about parenting
2) Arguing correct forms of kids' punishment is a no-win debate especially if #1 applies 
3) I like for 24-48 of news cycle to settle in before I start forming opinions and 
4) You never really know all the facts... goings-on behind closed doors and what not.

Now that Creflo has responded (see this great article by @CarolynEdgar about it), you know what I really wish?

I wish that when people get caught in these situations, they would just shoot straight. I would love for folks to just own it for once. I would love for Creflo to say - "Teenagers can hop up and down on your last nerve, I lost it and I know it was wrong. I ask for God's forgiveness and your understanding during this difficult time." Done. Don't come at me Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego talking about you are being tested by fire. That's preachy rhetoric that reflects poorly on the speaker. 

Just once wouldn't it be awesome if the person just stepped to the mike and said, "I did it, my bad, I'm sorry, I'm going to do better." How about a mea culpa without the fifty-eleven excuses? All we really want to know is: did you do it, why and how are you going to make up for it? It's kind of like that Chris Rock skit where the woman just wants the man to admit that he cheated. "I know ya did it, just admit it." Nothing worse that knowing something is blue and having someone stare you in the face and tell you it's green. Seriously, isn't it kinda cathartic (although ill-timed) in A Time To Kill when Samuel L. Jackson's character shouts, "Yes they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell." Okay then. Just speak it true.

BougieLand, what do you think? Is it better to just fess up to your crimes and/or misdeeds or should you just "deny, deny, deny" and take the truth to the grave? Hmm, guess it depends on the crime/misdeed, huh? Share your thoughts on crimes, truth-telling and Creflo...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Now vs. Later


We recently went through a merger at the day job. As with most integrations, a lot (read way too much) time was spent nurturing cultural meshing and harmony. There have been a series of mandatory and voluntary conference calls and trainings with all hands on deck. A generous heapful of "we're all in this together and aren't we happy" has been served up time and again. Granted, this ain't my first rodeo and I've seen these pony rides before but I'm always amazed at what passes for motivational team-building.

I vividly recall my time at Kodak where they shipped twenty of us off to the wilderness to a "bonding camp" and expected us to climb trees, walk ten foot high tightropes and sing along to "Broken Wings" which was our "mediation song" for the weekend. Booo. After the unfortunate incident where one person didn't get caught in the backwards trust fall - that wrapped up the formal bonding. They handed out free booze and let us chill by the fireplace - that was a true bonding experience. 

Last week we had the last two "togetherness talks" which struck me in their complete divergence from each other. The first was calling "Learning to Live in the Now" which as you may imagine delved into Oprahesque ways to be the best you that you can be right now IN THE MOMENT. (Yes, all caps on the presentation) Two days later, they gave a presentation on "Life in the Long Term" which focused on what you can do today so your tomorrows are all pretty.

Besides irritating me with the overly simplistic advice, the two topics got me to thinking. Am I more of a "live for today" or a "plan for tomorrow" person? I think the answer is that I've evolved into both. Someone who wants to enjoy the here and now while laying out the stepping stones for tomorrow and the time after that. I think as you get older, you get a little more aware that your tomorrows aren't promised and are shrinking even as I type but you want to hedge your bets and make plans just in case you're blessed enough to still be around.

With my career it's different. The HR is a means to an end. That end being the day when I can write full-time again. And writing is something I plan to do until my fingers can no longer reach the keyboard and that speech-to-text app quits working. It's easy to stay focused on the next book, next deadline, next publicity tour while planning two or three books ahead.

In my personal life, well that's more complicated. Long term seems so... long term. Trying to guess what will happen on down the road, particularly with my relationship history is either foolhardy or brave. So I tend to be a bit more in the here and now. 

Quite the balancing act - staying in the moment with one eye on the future. Hopefully I do a better job with this than I did on that tightrope. I think I've mentioned before that I don't defy gravity well? Yeah um... picture me in bright yellow workout gear (I don't know what I was thinking) shrieking at the top of my lungs as I fell off the rope and the support harness swung me around to drop in the net. Never. Again.

BougieLand - are you more or a "live for the moment" or a "my day will come" person? And how's that working for you? Can you live life to the fullest if you're always plotting the next step? Can you get to the next step if you are completely immersed in the moment? (Has anyone else been on one these work wildnerness things - why do they do this?) Please share...

Friday, June 08, 2012

More honey, less vinegar... why so mean?


Could it be that there are people that either don't know or don't get the old adage: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?

Earlier in the week, @CarolynEdgar, @Luvvie and @Afrobella and I were reflecting on our time at the BWB conference. It was definitely 97% positive and 3% negative. The negative feel into two categories - folks that acted some kinda way until they knew your twitter name (and then twisted themselves into pretzel shapes to be friendly) and the rare few "popular" bloggers who believe their own press and wanted you to kiss the ring.

What confused us more than anything is - why not just be nice to everybody? Regardless of who they are? This segued into a lot of other discussion one of those being about folks on The Twitter and The Facebook who can't seem to find anything nice to say about anybody of anything.

You know the ones... you say, "It's a beautiful sunny day today" and they say "Thanks to the ozone layer, we're on day closer to extinction on this planet." Wow. Really? Okay, thanks for sharing that. I'm not just talking about the glass half-empty folks. I have my half-empty days. I'm talking about the people whose glass has been empty, cracked and on the shelf for a while. My goodness, someone please get them a cup of happy?

Last weekend, I was on a flight back from Philly. My upgrade came through and I was seated next to the most sourpuss old Caucasian man. [Plus he had a flatulence problem but that's another post.] He said down and I said hello. He ignored me. He took out his phone and made loud important phone calls until takeoff. After takeoff, the flight attendant came over and started chatting with me. We got into a discussion about spa vacations and then she wandered off. He looked at me, "What do you do for a living?" Really? I told him HR and I was a writer. All of a sudden, he had nothing but smiles and two straight hours of chitty-chat. Is that how it works? I have to be validated as something or the other before you can break off some common courtesy? Boo, sir. Boo. 

There's an HR rep I work with who started out just nasty. I mean the woman talked to me like I was cow dung on the bottom of her shoe. The meaner she got, the nicer I got. I overcommunicated, kept my tone moderate and honey-coated every word in every email and meeting until other people noticed. "Michele is so sweet and you're being so unprofessional." Finally one day she said, "Okay, I guess I don't scare you." And that was that. Ever since then, she's been one of my staunchest allies. A test? Was all that necessary?

I'm from the South. And I'm bougie as as hell. My Mom's folks are originally from Georgia and my Dad's peep are West Indian. I'm genetically predisposed to be pleasant even if it kills me. I may secretly damn you to darkest, hottest circle of hell but all I will say is, "Well thank you so much for your input. You have a great day."  It doesn't kill me to say it and we can get on to the next.

So I'm asking, BougieLand... Have you encounterd the "salty for no darn good reason" folks? How do you deal with them? Why are some folks just mean? And how hard is it to just be nice? Please explain...

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Do "relationship timeouts" ever really work?


I was talking to a girlfriend of mine the other day. She said she and her man have been verbally sparring and generally not vibing lately. They've been together for about three years, not married yet and things are getting a little choppy. It's clearly past time for everyone to put their cards on the table and see who is all in. Instead, they decided that what they need is a little break from one and other. She asked, "Do you think it will work?" And by work, she meant did I think that the two of them being apart for a while would eventually bring them closer together. Well, let's talk about this for a minute.

I'm not sure I understand relationship breaks. I've tried this twice and both times at the end of the "break" period we were done. In my cases, the break was really just a prelude to the break up. Sometimes a break is a chance to get the other person used to the idea of being without you. It's a relationship purgatory, if you will, where eventually you go to the happy place or the unhappy place. Sometimes it's a wake-up call. But mostly (in my experience) it's a stopgap because neither party is completely ready to pull the plug or stay together. It's an uncomfortable place to be. 

Another complicated thing about breaks - what are the rules? Are you still seeing each other, are you seeing other people? Do you talk, text, tweet? Are you going to share what happened on the break with each other after the break is over? Does what happened on the break, stay on the break? How long is the break? Do both parties have to agree to the break? Is it like a performance improvement plan and there are things that need to be upgraded prior to continuing? 

Then again, there are definitely times in a relationship when you want to throw a flag on the play and penalize somebody. At that time, it's best to separate the players until things cool down. Maybe a break is an opportunity to step back and gain perspective? Or an opportunity to miss the water when the well runs dry? Or the chance for the mice to play while the cat is away? Once I start typing in metaphors, it's time to move on. 

To me, once you get to the point in a relationship where you feel you need a physical and mental break - that's problematic. But does problematic necessarily mean catastrophic? The best advice I could give her was to put some clear cut parameters around the break. Set a time frame and rules of engagement. Have some sort of plan in place for after the break. If everything is going to be just the same as it was before the break, what's the point? 

What I'm asking, BougieLand - what are your thoughts on relationship breaks? Have you done this? How did it go? Do we know of any that resulted in the couple getting back together and working it out? Please share...

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Dear Republicans: Eff You, Pay Me. Love, Women


You know we try to keep it bougie round here put then there comes a time to step up on the soapbox and call bullshiggity. 

I try not to align myself as Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. I try to take each issue as it stands. But someone has GOT to explain what the hell the Republicans in Congress care about besides removing Obama from office and preserving their trust funds for me.

It's one thing to want to  lock down the borders and frisk people of color randomly. We sort of expect that. It's another thing to not give two shits if anyone has decent healthcare. We kinda knew that was coming too. But when it comes to equal pay for equal work and enforcing that? Well isn't that just common decency? Voting against that is kind of like kicking a (wo)man when she's down, isn't is? That's on some shiggity level right there.

Having served my time in H.R. over the past two decades, I have seen a lot of compensation disparity. A. Lot. A. Lot. A. Lot. And nothing infuriates me more than seeing two people who are at the same level with the same seniority and doing the same job at the same proficiency not being compensated in the same manner. When the only noticeable difference is that one of them pees standing up? That makes me absolutely crazy.

So as I'm reading these trifling "so-called" justifications for why not a single GOP'er voting for this addendum to the Equal Pay Act, I'm positively steaming. This wage-bias bill would have opened up new avenues for women to seek justice in wage discrimination cases. 

I have to wonder - do the Republicans just not care about the female vote? Or the "anyone under middle class" vote? Or the African-American vote? Someone please explain this strategy in an election year. I'm betwixt and befuddled. The floor is yours...

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