Memory lane

My 2013 in review: In remembrance of damns given

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I knew then what I know now…

"Chivalry is dead and Prince Charming fell off his charger years ago…" ~Renee Nightengale, character from Heard It All Before by Michele Grant (me!)

Okay, don't shoot me… I absolutely don't feel this way today but I definitely did during a super bitter phase I went through twelve years ago when I first wrote the opening line to my first book, Heard It All Before. As a matter of fact, reading over the book now is like visiting an old friend that you still find entertaining after all this time. Flipping through it to prep for an interview this week it made me wonder… if I could go back to Michele from early 1998 – what would I tell her? She was living in Northern California having a fine old time. It was the tech boom and everyone was making money. Even people that weren't trying to make money were making money. Life (as I knew it) was good and uncomplicated. So what would I tell myself assuming I don't want to end up exactly where I am today? (Which , by the way, is not a bad place) After quite a bit of thought… here's my list of what I wold say to myself:

  1. Quit dating THAT guy and date that OTHER guy instead. Seriously Michele, I know you don't think I know what I'm talking about but I do. You only think you're destined to be with Dude One but you are really, really not. As a matter of fact just run away now. Change your number, don't answer the door and just say no. I'm telling you this for your own good.

  2. Life is too short to keep friends who give nothing back. Stop trying.

  3. Men mature when they mature. A guy may have it all together at 28 or be a complete mess at 40. That's just how it works. Recognize which is which and act accordingly.

  4. Geeks will be rock stars, air-headed heiresses will rule the airways and a black man will be president in your lifetime. Yes of the United States. Of America. Seriously. Just brace yourself.

  5. Quit working at telecom and technology companies. They will only break your heart. It's 1998 and it's all sexy IPO right now… it won't last. Go to healthcare or biotech or insurance or media if you must stay in Human Resources. And speaking of that…

  6. Get out of Human Resources. Yeah it's paid the bills but you've been talking about writing since you were 8 years old. Why don't you try now? Yes, right now. Do not be wooed by consultant dollars and sexy titles. Just get published. Yes, you're good enough.

  7. Sell all those tech stocks in January 2000. Put the money in your Rollover IRA and diversify the portfolio. No energy stocks, no hedge funds, no credit companies. Just trust me on this. Remember these: Google, Palm, Pfizer Viagra, Sony Wii. Write 'em down. Oh - and copyright usage of the word "bling" immediately, don't worry about what it means. Just do it.

  8. That huge plastic replica of the Eiffel Tower that they fill up with daiquiri and serve poolside at Paris – Las Vegas? Don't drink it. But if you DO drink it, do not follow it up with the apple martini luge. I'm trying to save you from yourself here.

  9. There is such a thing as metabolism, you have been ignoring yours. It will slow. This will mean more intimacy with a treadmill than you ever thought possible. Embrace it.

  10. Last but most importantly, move home to Texas now. California will always be here, your Dad won't.

I wonder if I would have listened to me. Okay, I would've listened but I wonder what I would have changed and what I would've ignored? Intriguing questions I can only speculate on until someone builds a time machine.

So I ask you – if you could go back say 5 or 10 years and tell yourself ONE thing only… what would it be?

Back down Memory Lane: Holiday Edition

There are some childhood memories that stay with us long into adulthood. Certain sights, sounds, smells and people that just take you back. This post is about a few of those things. The first was on TV last night. I never fully embrace Christmas until I see some Charlie Brown Christmas. Nothing makes me happier than this:

No, I still don't get why that one mixed-race looking kid in the back is doing an early version of the Running Man. I don't get why Chuck and the gang never have any adult supervision and I don't get how a brokedown tree with two twigs and a spindly trunk magically blooms and grows in 30 seconds flat. And I don't care. Christmas just ain't Christmas until I hear these words:

Sally: I've been looking for you, big brother. Will you please write a letter to Santa Claus for me?
Charlie Brown: Well, I don't have much time. I'm supposed to get down to the school auditorium to direct a Christmas play.
Sally: [hands a clipboard and pen to Charlie Brown] You write it and I'll tell you what I want to say.
Charlie Brown: [sticks pen in his mouth] Okay, shoot.
Sally: [dictating her letter to Santa Claus as Charlie Brown writes it for her] Dear Santa Claus, How have you been? Did you have a nice summer?
[Charlie Brown looks at her]
Sally: How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want.
Charlie Brown: Oh brother.
Sally: Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about tens and twenties?
Charlie Brown: TENS AND TWENTIES? Oh, even my baby sister!
Sally: All I want is what I... I have coming to me. All I want is my fair share.

Now why everybody in the family would turn and give me the side-eye when Sally said these words is beyond me… maybe… moving on! The point is, the Charlie Brown Christmas show is as much a part of the BougieFam Christmas as this next gentleman, the late great Mr. Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song:

Of course, we also had a Soulful Christmas including such classics as Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto by James Brown, Merry Christmas Baby by Booker T and the MGs, Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt and the perennial favorite Back Door Santa by Clarence Carter. Nothing like BougieOlderBro trying to get his air bass guitar groove on while singing (off-key) to Back Door Santa. I could do a whole post just on the Christmas songs (J5, Stevie). But I'll move on…

Cinnamon, evergreen and nutmeg are the scents I most closely associate with Christmas. Baked ham, my Guyanese cousin's terrible cologne, and wood smoke follow behind. We used to sip some concoction that was hot, had cinnamon sticks floating in it and was always laced with rum or bourbon (or both?). BougieMom would put it in a huge silver punch bowl near the fire and tell us not to drink too much (never worked). In retrospect, I suspect this was their slick way of knocking us out early so they could finish the wrapping.

Christmas morning still isn't the same without my father there. He was the biggest kid of all. As much as he loved putting smiles on all of our faces, if his stack of gifts wasn't piled as high as he expected, he could get a little funky with it. (Downright tart) So much so that we would have to assure him that we'd make up for it at the After-Christmas sales. He used to light cinnamon and evergreen scented candles all over the house the night before and wake us up at the crack of dawn by marching up and down the hallway banging on a pot and singing Day-O. (You can't make this stuff up) God rest his soul, the man was off the chains.

I could go on and on (and I will closer to Christmas) but I wanted to share a few sensory Christmas memories with you while Charlie Brown and the gang were fresh on my mind. What things remind you of Christmas? Was there a song you always played, a movie you always watched, a smell that takes you back? 'Tis the season in BougieLand, ya'll… Happy Holidays.