The neighborhood where I live.
I woke up on August 28th shook. I work, live, and play in Houston and as of right now, the city, the place that gives me life, is Bikini Bottom thanks to Hurricane Harvey. I love humor and a bit of sarcasm. It gets me through life. I made Harvey a joking matter, thinking that it wasn’t going to be that big of a deal. I mean this is Houston – it floods pretty often, and within two days the city is good, and traffic is back to normal. But no, not with Harvey, this beast was something that is absolutely beyond Houstonians understanding. What in the hell kind of natural disaster is this? The memes and jokes for the first 24 hours provided comfort, like food. We sat in, ate, watched social media, distracted ourselves with the Floyd and McGregor fight while drinking bottles of wine (yes, bottles). We felt safe and content in our homes and prepared quietly expecting a mediocre storm.
Then it started, the winds, the rain, and it didn’t stop. It.did.not.stop! This is not the usual Houston rain. Houston’s usual rain only last for about 15 minutes, and it is very selective. The rain decides which areas deserve attention. But with Harvey, there was no selection. The entire city got it. And it lasted longer than 15 minutes. It lasted days. No sun, only rain, no relief in sight. The humor left, the sarcasm went away, 'I’m with the shits set in', and as it did my attitude changed.
I’m usually interested in hearing dialog from non- Houstonian's perspective however on August 28th I wasn’t with it. The only conversation I wanted to hear was from those who were affected by the storm. I wanted to know if they were okay and if we would be okay. I admit, my family is lucky that our house sits on a slight hill. Things looked to be fine at the moment however we were nervous. The rain kept coming, and four blocks over our neighbor’s houses were flooded. Less than a mile away the route to the grocery store adjacent to the beautiful golf course across from spectacular homes was now a lake. We listened to the engines of the boats traveling through searching and rescuing people. It was scary. No humor could be found, no sarcasm nearby.
Exit leaving our neighborhood going towards Houston downtown
On August 28th, I was not up to hearing people’s thoughts about what Houstonians should’ve done. Why didn’t we evacuate? Why didn’t we leave? These were the questions that I found on my timeline and in a group chat. I didn’t want to see it nor did I want to participate in it. My city is hurting, and people are blaming those who love it for sticking around meanwhile they’re dry and 200 miles away. Other people on social media was claiming that flooding was what Texas deserves because it is a “red” state. As if the entire city of Houston voted for Trump and even though some people did – so fucking what – we’re human, we matter.
Was I salty about all of this bullshit that was being said? Hell yes! And you would be too if your community surroundings are submerged in water. People are hurting, dead, and at a lost. This is not the time to say dumb things. I am not the only person who felt this way. I know this for a fact. I found unity with other strangers who love Houston. They responded with stories about evacuating when Hurricane Rita touched down, and they told stories about waiting in traffic for 16-24 hours. People died trying to leave, meanwhile, their homes were left untouched by Rita.
The people of Houston are resilient. This is not our first but hopefully the last horrific natural disaster we experience in our lifetime living in Houston. We will rebuild, and the most uplifting thing about this experience is seeing the compassion, love, and unity that has been missing due to political association.
Last week was tragic to the pop culture of the late 1990s and 2000s. We sat here and witnessed the unraveling of several black entertainers who brought us through our wonder years. We quickly found out that fame, money, looks, and charisma doesn't exempt anyone from having a misguided mentality.
I know somewhere out there Kevin Hart has to be turning back flips about everything that went down last week. Thanks to Usher's herpes situation and R. Kreepy being a sex driven pedo reincarnation of David Koresh, Kevin's cheating looked almost harmless.
In reality we all know that Kevin's affair is far from innocent and it's unfortunate that his pregnant wife is having to play somewhat of a fool and swallow her pride. But hey, at least she can be proud that Kevin isn't drugging women, holding young girls captive or giving them some wasabi peen.
Kevin is lucky that he managed to get busted the same week we found out that R. Kreepy (originally R. Kelly) is a cult leader, Usher is leaking radiator fluid from his penis, and the juice is loose. Yes, last week was a scorching fest of straight up messcapade.
But what is the underlining issue of all this and why am I going on about it?
I care about all of this because it is a wake up call for women to do better. Yes, I said it. We, women of all color need to do better.
What happen to us protecting ourselves and not being gullible to stardom? These men (with the exception of OJ because he really loves black women enough to leave us alone) are taking us for granted and pissing all over our hopes and dreams with viruses and cheating. Many of the women who are fallen victim to it are those who went in with their eyes on the prize of being future cast member on Bravo's Real Housewives series while believing they have a magical box.
But the problem is - their box is not magical and unfortunately they got played. I can't say I feel sorry for any of the women. I am not condoning what happened but simply implying that WE have to be more careful! We have to do better!
Don't let any male sword glide in your kingdom without seeing papers. I don't care how much money, power, or influence a man has - protect yourself. You only have one box and you have to protect it with your life. Settlement monies will help ease the pain but isn't everlasting. When the money is gone, you're left with a Goodwill box and skeptical luck that someone will like you enough to not care about your health status. Always keep in mind that good looks, charm, and endless pockets, doesn't mean his peen is clean.
So what's next? What can you do to protect you, your daughter, family member or bff? You can be honest, upfront, smarter and less occupied with a man's material possessions, looks, or influence.
As women, it should be our goal to prepare ourselves and caution young women about unhealthy and healthy traits to look for in a man. And most importantly - we need to LOVE our daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, cousins, and friends because when we do the likelihood that they'll look for love in the wrong places diminishes.
Okay, so if you have no clue about the Rob and Chyna fiasco you must have a very important life. Well guess what, some of us don't, well we do, but this episode of juiciness is better than any Netflix show that is being scripted by talented writers or Shonda Rhimes imagination.
The real life, real time of watching and waiting while drama implodes and explodes has given many of us a reason to ditch our mundane problems to forecast judgment in the Rob Loves Chyna ratchetrama series. Yes, this gives us life because unlike reading television show reviews or waiting for our friends to give us the scoop - this shit is going down in front of our eyes with a ringside seat.
As someone who loves social media, I couldn't help noticing how the reactions towards the drama unfolded on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The firestorm of automatic slugs happened first on Instagram. Now I am into Instagram but not like you would think. Hell, check out my page and you can see for yourself. However, in a ploy to break a record in giving the most Facebook love reactions, I decided to befriend a lot of beautiful makeup driven divas to my timeline, and it was through them that I witnessed the realness of Rob Kardashian.
Many of the ladies were supportive of Rob and blamed Chyna for messing up a good thing due his genuine love for her which makes him a perfect ten in many women eyes (I'm sure being a Kardashian doesn't hurt either). But Rob's narration of being heartbroken quickly spiraled into an abyss as he unfortunately came across as a bitter but funny clapbacking baby daddy. He gave us pictures, stories and scandal even Olivia Pope would have hell diverting (did he say TI and Tiny paid for Chyna's box?!?!). YES, this shit is messier than eating a slab of saucy ribs.
But it is the witty Twitter folks who cleverly mixed in creative gifs that made this soap opera solid gold. The comments gave me hyena laughter. Snoop's antecedent of Rob being a sucker vibrated my funny bone and the fact that he resembled my messy aunt who loves slaying her truth had me in tears. This dramamedy is the entertainment we need to feel a little bit better about our current situation. Finally something not presidential but more Hip Hop and Hoochieish but real (thanks Dette for that awesome phrase) to ease our hardship for a day. After all, it's not every day a black woman get over on a Kardashian.
There were a couple great parts for me: understanding why folks questioning Rob's need not to have surgery when he paid for Chyna's, Rob naively believing his love could conquer Chyna, his announcement as being his wife certified drug dealer but couldn't keep her loyal, and most importantly his fabulous skills in building up publicity for Chyna and her new boo. Meanwhile, Chyna ate up the attention faster than Kylie can appropriate black culture. I have to admit he threw a blanket of shade when he said Chyna was mad that his little sister took her man. I hollered.
YAS!! The drama is solid gold, I give it 4 stars, two thumbs up, and can you believe it was for free! This rachetragedy is better than watching The Transformers at the movies (spare your coins and 3 hours and thank me later). Rob K gave the world a break by entertaining us for 3 hours, across 2 social networks, with nudes, costly robes, drugs, babies, money, TI and Tiny, and more for free.
The only thing I'm waiting for is 45 to tweet how the Kardashians' are making America great again by being rating machines. Rob got me sipping on lemonade tea instead of recapping the live anniversary of slain unarmed POC and halfway forgetting Trump's game of Russian roulette with our democracy. In the voice of my great hellish Christian friend, "Won't the Kardashians do it!"
By the way - who side are you on?
No one's I am just taking in all the sauce and tea
Rob because he was blindsided by love
Chyna because she finally got over on a Kardashian
A couple of months ago my daughter, Danni, and I attended a mother and daughter luncheon hosted by Stephanie's Dollhouse. I was excited about the event since it would be the first mother daughter social gathering for us. Besides that, it was an opportunity to witness a milestone in Stephanie's fruition of her nonprofit organization.
I made it a mission not to miss the luncheon because I knew it would be a quality event and an excellent chance to create a great memory with Danni. To start off, we decided to go shopping (something I don't care for but Danni adores) for dresses that fit our style. Danni tried on several churchy and princess type of gowns while I found comfort in a yellow flowing sun dress. We didn't go for the standard matching dress ensemble. Danni and I have too much individuality to feel ourselves twining and winning.
After finding our perfect dresses, I asked Danni how she wanted her hair styled for the luncheon. I'm not for sure if most mothers let their 8 year old decide how they want their hair comb. I know for certain my mother didn't until I was in middle school. I pride myself on doing things differently by giving Danni options with her physical appearance. She always pulls her look off even when the patterns and colors don't make sense to me. Donald often jokes that she mismatches so much that it actually ends up not clashing.
Danni expressed that she wanted her hair styled in an afro, I was pleased. Her Irish twin* brother (only older by 1.5 years) advised her that she should go with another look until I gave a beaming look of disdain. Afterwards, he quickly corrected his statement telling her that he wouldn't pick a fro (ha you see what I did there) but it's not his decision therefore she should style her hair as she pleases.
Danni gave a big smile and insisted that an afro was her final choice. In that moment I was proud. I know it sounds strange being proud of a hair choice but it was the fact that she didn't let another person's opinion sway her that impressed me. I am fortunate enough to have a confident daughter who loves her natural self.
Stephanie started the luncheon with a celebration of what her organization, Stephanie's Dollhouse, represent. In her speech she discussed the importance of mother daughter bonding and how her mother influences her daily. We listened to testimonies from women who beat the odds by carving out a strategic path to their success. The women showed their gratitude and attributed their can-do attitude to having loving, smart, and driven mothers who gave unconditional support and love.
Afterwards we participated in games and ate brunch. We took pictures and gave praise to Stephanie for her hard work in bringing all of us together to celebrate womanhood through mother and daughter bonding.
The mother and daughter luncheon was a special day that I will always cherish. A dress up brunch with mothers and daughters while supporting a great friend and creating memories in a warm and inviting atmosphere was exactly what Danni and I needed to create a wonderful memory. Thanks Stephanie and Stephanie's Dollhouse for the invitation to a great experience.
Again and again across my time line I see my perfect, successful, attractive Facebook friends make a fool of themselves over their relationship status. If only I could reach out to them and let it be known that even though you look great on paper your Facebook page indicate something different. Truth is, we (your audience) know why you're single.
Now this article isn't about every body who is single and hopefully a lot of my message won't apply to you BUT if it does take the information in slowly, digest it, and let it settle in. After all, I do not personally know you but from what I can see online - I know enough. Below are my top reasons of why you are still on the shelf.
You're giving away the farm for free
You're a walking billboard giving everything about you away for free. There is no guessing about you and it leaves little to the imagination and no room to ask questions. A man can look at your Facebook page and automatically tell what you're all about. By analyzing your post, comments and pictures he can assume how life will be with you and this may cause fear that you'll overshare information about y'alls situation without it actually being official.
You are doing the most for no reason
There are days when you're cool as fuck and other days your bipolarness breaks through and you're going through it. The struggle between being a victim, whining, and being independent overrides your dateablity. Settle down, pace yourself and realize what your message is saying about your temperament and most importantly you. You should always think before you speak including when you post.
Your kinda desperate and it's showing
Too many times you brag about being a strong, independent, woman with the signature stamp - single by choice. Everyone goes through some type of heartbreak in life so dust your shoulders off and know that relationship pitfalls are experiences that make us better partners. The no pain no gain cliche is real. So, yes you will strike out several times but that's life. It's completely normal and okay to be lonely but when you boast about being independent then switch it up to wanting someone every other day, it shows desperation and yields a yellow flag to potential suitors.
You don't have your shit together
No man wants to give their best and time to someone who doesn't know what they want in life. If you can't make appropriate life decisions how can you trust your instinct to find a man who is right for you? Being aware of what you want is a major key in attracting your ideal man. Being unaware will show a potential man that you may just be a ghost shell (someone who is great on the outside but lacks substance within). A wise man once told me, "A beautiful woman is great to look at but you can only have sex so many times during the day. Eventually you're going to want a conversation and if she can't give you that, then you have nothing."
You're not perfect
I hate to burst your bubble (yes I took it all the way back there) but you're not perfect so the perception of finding someone who is is crazy! You should look for the person who is the most compatible to you - not your friends, BUT you. Also look beyond their flaws and understand that you have some too. After all, you are single and hot right?! So there is a reason why no one has put a ring on it - okay, I think you get what I am saying.
You're too busy trying to impress other women
Instead of trying to impress women who are in a similar situation as you how about turning your attention towards working on you. Let people know you have substance and avoid being thirsty, a single woman crusader, and "preaching" the gospel about not settling and waiting. Here is another truth - avoid being the successful spokeswoman of singlehood unless you absolutely want to live like a hermit.
This week my son and I watched The Fate of the Furious. I wasn't sure if it was something that I wanted to see since I have not followed the collection of films but I knew it would be a great opportunity to bond with my 18-year-old son.
My son and I have had a rocky relationship throughout the years but the older we get the more it seems to mellow itself out. We don't argue like we use to and we take the time to listen to each other. I don't like the decisions that he makes, and I am pretty vocal about it, and he doesn't mind letting me know that he is going to follow his own path and I respect that. It took a long time to get to this point. I had to mature, and so did he. Overall I am proud of the young man that he is becoming.
During the movie, we talked and laughed. We shared our thoughts on what we would've done differently and how the main character, Dom, was so into his perception of "family" that he was willing to lose everything. His motivation, inspiration, life choices and ultimate decisions were enthralled in this one word, family.
My son and I discussed family on the way home. Us being only 15 years apart with a tumultuous relationship was a conversation worth exploring. It opened a dialog to things that we did to each other in the past that were hurtful. We now laughed at issues we use to cry about and understood that those difficult situations helped developed us into the people we are. We know that we are each other's best and worst enemy. We can see why we think the way we do and most importantly we know what family is all about.
Family to us is the people who are there. The people who love, bother and annoy you. The people who have your back no matter what and will tell you the truth despite how it may make you feel. The people who want you to do better in life. The people who don't want you to suffer but understand that you have your own path. The people who take up for you when you are right and let you know when you are wrong. The people who only want what is in your best interest, who unselfishly puts you first without any hidden agendas. Family is the ones you can't let go or ignore. The ones who will get over pettiness, bickering, backbiting, and ridicule because they don't want to hold you back or down from a fulfilling life. Family is unconditional love that can't be bought or sold. Family is so much more than blood. Like Dom said, family is everything.
Okay, we get it - you love attention, you're attractive and you want to be someone with deep, comical yet meaningful insight. The problem is you have a few people who are not missing the opportunity to call out your bullshit in front of your fans. These critics who are quick witted and think they have you figured out are lining up at your home plate and hitting your best pitches out the park with no fucks given. Their ballsy asses even bunt the post when you end it with a hashtag "this isn't up for debate." They don't care, it's social media, and they're going for the jugular, and the crowd is going wild over their response to your now mediocre post.
Now if you are hot, pretty, handsome, and trendy then you have a better chance of getting your statements across home plate with awesome strikeouts while inexperienced batters are eating your banter up. However, when you come across more experience batters who know you and examine your finessing ways - well, it doesn't matter what type of curve ball you throw at them they're going to hit it.
What can you do to avoid these kinds of batters? I suggest a couple of options (a) think before you post (b) find room to laugh at yourself (c) don't take it personally - you're popular (d) reflect and agree (e) totally ignore them or (f) block their disrespectful asses LOL just joking ;).
I haven't been on this planet that long but I know enough to know that everyone isn't over-analyzing your posts the way your smart followers do. In today's world you can't just makeup shit and sound prophetic neither can you steal meme's words and make them work in your favor. Everyone is plugged into social media and someone, somewhere, especially if they are an intelligent clap backer and a pop culture expert will call you out on your shit. They are the umpire to your best pitches and will let you know if you throw a foul ball.
So the best advice I can give you trendy folks out there is to filter your audience. Manipulate the view of your post so that the intelligent-clap-backer-hitters won't be able to score a homerun on your over indulging post and only share your fastballs with those who are too slow to hit it or get it.
Mixing social media and politics is tricky especially with the polarization in the U.S. Many folks like to avoid political banter. However, I can't. I have tried several times, but this little voice in my head likes to trickle down to the tips of my fingers and type out my thoughts.
Someone needs to be the messenger, the voice - and not in a Chrisette Michelle kind of way. We need to say something, anything! We need to make plausible statements and let the world know how we feel. I say "we" collectively because I mean that.
The inability of people to voice their concerns without ridicule is a top reason why we're in our current situation. Half the nation wasn't ready for Trump to be president AND none of our social media friends who supported him prepared us for his win.
I could have taken the news a lot better if I had seen my Facebook friends share their thoughts about Trump. Out of nearly 1500 Facebook friends, I recall seeing two of my Caucasian friends post in support of President Trump and I know I have at least 200 white friends. [Insert tumbleweeds].
In hindsight I guess I could have suspected this - Caucasian folks don't like to disclose who they are voting for because...they're white and don't really want the world to know they voted for Trump. Me, I don't care who knows it, it's my right, and I am proud to vote for my candidate of choice.
However, I wonder if the election outcome would have been different if we openly and unashamedly shared our support for the candidate of our choice? Would the tables be turned? Would we have witness the history in seeing the US first female president? Too bad we will never know.
Passion is within all of us we just have to tap into it. Self-discovery and knowing thyself is the ultimate remedy to find, apply and execute your desire. For many years I juggled between jobs that temporarily satisfied my curiosity and livelihood. It was a pleasuring idea that I mapped out and planned, and it always worked, but as usual, I ended up tossing it aside. Been there, did that, don't like it anymore was my favorite sayings. The avoidance of being committed to one thing was overwhelming until I realized that I could not do it anymore. My passion is communication in the form of writing.
The feeling of not being good enough to write is no longer holding me captive. It is strange to let people in on my weakness, but I know someone out there needs to hear it. Since a kid, I idolized those with formal education and fumbled when it came to speaking in front of these gifted individuals. I thought they would figure out this country girl with a thick southern draw and limited vocabulary is a fraud. Unfortunately I assumed degrees would change all of that. I have nearly $105,000 worth of education and debt instilled in me and still feel intimidated about my disserations. I don't think the crippling fear of it will ever go away, and that is where my passion lays.
Will I ever master writing? Probably not, but practicing makes perfect. I am telling you this because a writer exist in all of us, struggling to get out. We should share our thoughts and be open to others while constricting our insecurities and limiting the sensitivity that harbors inside when it comes to expressing ourselves on paper. Learn to overcome it and don't be afraid of displaying your passion.
In 2013 I made up my mind to finally leave my hometown. It wasn't a difficult decision, but the planning process and execution took a lot of work. I had to create a fail-proof strategy because I had two little ones depending on me to make it (my 5 & 6-year-old). As a single mother, I often felt like the move was impossible, but I quickly realized I am not the only single mother in the world who has ever moved. I knew I needed to have a decent amount of money to pull it off and this is a short list of how I did it.
1. I had to evaluate my situation
I had very little in the bank, a poor credit score, a mortgage, a raggedy car and two small kids who would need child care. Knowing my circumstances gave me the insight to put things in writing and research ways to change the outcome. It was at this moment; I decided that my refund was going to help get me through the first three months of my move.
2. I made a plan
I created a timeline and put it on a vision board. The plan was to increase my bank account, make payment arrangements with creditors, get a reliable car, find an apartment with free child care, rent out my house, and apply for jobs in chosen area.
3. I got a part time job & paid off debt
I opted for a seasonal job with a flexible schedule. I am pretty good at doing taxes, so I decided to work for a tax agency. I knew it would be easy to get hired because of my experience. I had to dedicate several weeks of free work to learn the fundamentals of the company's tax software and pass the agency's exam. The extra money that I earned, I applied it to bills that were on my credit. Remember credit is critical when moving because it will determine many of your deposits. Better credit equals less money spent, better rates, and more cushion in your bank account.
4. I limited my spending
I made the decision to cut my spending habit. I only bought what was needed and started cooking at home. I stopped going out unnecessarily and gave up cigarettes and alcohol. During this phase, I lost weight and saved money, so it was a win-win situation. However, because my planning was around Christmas the gift list was short. I am glad my kids were little enough to where they didn't mind it.
5. I crashed at a friend's house
After figuring out that I would move to Houston, I started staying with a friend on the weekends. I got a key to my friend's apartment giving me the ability to come and go as needed. I got the experience of testing the waters before I moved which was important to me since I feared city traffic. I was able to visit apartments, navigate through the city, interview for jobs, and save money (no hotel fees).
6. I looked for a job in Houston
I started looking for jobs earlier in the year. I flirted with relocating for a while and I was waiting for a job to just happen. I didn't take it seriously until I was forced too (that's another story) and this taught me the lesson that when you move look for jobs at least four months in advance. I saved my vacation and personal days at work and used it on Mondays and Fridays for job interviews.
7. I found an apartment with free child care
I got an apartment finder magazine with a list of different areas to live in the city. I quickly realized that rent changes depending on location. Many of the places look great in the magazine until you saw it in person. There are reasonable apartments with free child care, but it comes with some sacrifices. I suggest signing a 6, 9, or a 12-month lease when renting these apartments. Remember your living situation is temporary and not your permanent destination.
8. I had a garage sale
I had to let go and move on. I went from a furnished 1,789 sqft. four bedroom house to a 900 sqft. two bedroom apartment. There was no way all of the items was going to fit in my new home, and the expense of moving everything would blow my budget. The money I made from the garage went towards new furniture.
9. I rented out my house
This was a tricky part of my move, but it worked. I rented my house out to a relative for the exact amount of the mortgage. I highly suggest not renting your home to family members, but that is another topic. I let my cousin move in a month early, and I moved in with my mother. It was another way to save additional money.
10. I made a new plan
Once I made it to my apartment I wrote down a new plan to get out of it within a year. I knew the area wasn't the best but it was a start and I could survive. It was what I needed to get to where I wanted to be, and I am happy to say that I left that place in less than a year and moved to a great neighborhood.
I have given you a short list of items to consider before you make a move. There is more to be added, and I will cover it in future blogs. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and feel free to share what has helped you with moving. Any advice is welcome!
My home in Kilgore, my apartment after moving and my rental home after moving from the apartment.