Thank You, Prince.

Like most of you, I was in denial when I first heard about Prince yesterday. I'm still processing this information actually.  I was hoping it was some cruel, overzealous tabloid trying to be the first to break the story in this age of report-first-verify-later internet journalism. 

But, soon thereafter, I realized it was true. Prince had left this earth.

WT entire F?

Since then, as I did with Aaliyah, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, I have been saturating myself in his music. All of it. Like, bro, if I turn to your station and you're not playing Prince right now, WHAT IS YOUR POINT?

Though I never got a chance to see him perform live (for which I will forever side-eye myself), I am grateful that I was alive during his time on earth and got to experience his influence.  He is in a class by himself, one of the greats and will forever be legend.  

With that, here are a few reasons why I am thankful for Prince Rogers Nelson:

For his artistry:
First and GOTDAHMB foremost, Prince was a pure artist. No artificial flavors. It's been reported that he played 27 different instruments. 27! Lordt. Do you realize there are millennials out there who can't even play a CD? There are "artists" out there who can't even hold a note without the help of auto-tune. Wouldn't know where the C note is on a piano if you gave them a map. Couldn't make a beat if you gave them a table. Prince actually played almost every single instrument on his first five albums. On top of that, his vocal range was wide as the equator. Recognize.

Though I've never seen him live in the flesh, I've seen him perform live on TV and, honey, Prince was a performer. He put on a fantastic live show.   

For his shade:
Prince was King of Shade and, oh, how we loved it! In my mind, Prince was like your best friend sitting across the room who would catch your eye every time some foolishness went down. You could count on him for the perfect response: a smirk, a side-eye, an eye-roll or a lip curl at just the right time. And we would laugh knowingly, because Prince was us.

For his consistent slayage:
Prince slayed before "slayed" was even a term. Show me someone who says they've seen Prince not slaying and I'll show you a liar. Charlie Murphy even told y'all Prince beat up on him on the basketball court wearing heels and a blouse. This man was 5'2", regularly wore blouses, heels and eye-liner and could still take your girl if he wanted to. He stood strong in who he was and what he believed. 

But I also don't think he took himself too seriously. The fact that he used the picture of Dave Chappelle impersonating him on the cover of his "Breakfast Can Wait" single made me giggle so much. He slayed. All day.

For sharing his gift (and his heart) with us:
Prince had 39 studio albums and 4 live albums plus singles, music videos and compilation albums. That is what you call a catalog. Decades-long. And so many of his songs applied to so many aspects of our lives. I graduated from high school in 1999 so, naturally, I felt like that song belonged to me and my class. I STILL DO (fight me).

He was also a mentor to a lot of artists who came up behind him, like Sheila E, J*Davey, Janelle Monae and countless others. It's also coming out more just how big of a humanitarian Prince was and how he did it not looking for recognition, but because he genuinely wanted to help. I can appreciate that. It's much more genuine than a billion-dollar corporation wanting a huge press conference because they're donating an over-sized check for $1,528.13 to the year's charity du jour. It's more from the heart.  

So thank you, Prince, for "Let's Go Crazy." For "Raspberry Beret". For "Purple Rain." For "Seven." For "When Doves Cry." For authenticity. For spirituality. For artistry. For dignity. For inspiration. For shade. For giving. For MUSIC. I can't believe I'm bringing a child into this world where there is no Prince. No Michael. No Whitney. (Please, SOMEBODY, put a fence around Stevie Wonder. Make sure he's taking his vitamins. We can no longer deal.) 

The wonderful thing is that Prince lived while he was alive. He was an icon. He left behind his legacy. His music will make him live on forever. And hearing awesome stories from people who knew him (Questo has some of the best ones) make us feel like we knew him a little better, even though he was the consummate enigma. 

So rest well, Prince. And thank you. 

Via

'The People v. O.J. Simpson': Hindsight is 20-20

True crime shows are something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I couldn't tell you why. But if I have some down time and I see "Investigation Discovery," "The First 48" or "Dateline" is on, I'm watching it. That's why when "American Crime Story" kicked off, I was all about it. "The People v. O.J. Simpson" quickly became a staple, even though it was less true crime more fictionalized reenactment crime, I was here for it. Every single Tuesday. 

I don't remember too many specific details about the trial as it was happening back in '94-'95. I was too busy doing baller shit like becoming a teenager, graduating from 8th grade and starting high school. I didn't follow the details of the trial all that closely at the time.  But starting with that Bronco chase, I do remember it being huge news. I vividly remember it being EVERYWHERE for like a year. And I certainly remember the feeling at the time. There was a clear point of racial divide: the people who thought O.J. didn't do it (mostly black) and the people who thought O.J. did (mostly white).

I can't say I was super familiar with who O.J. Simpson was or how just how big his celebrity status was back then. I knew him primarily from the Naked Gun movies (shoutout to Leslie Nielsen). But O.J. being a huge football legend was completely lost on me.

I realize this is similar to today's 20-somethings who are more familiar with MJ because of the Cry Face meme than his actual basketball dominance. Dammit.

Verdict day was huge, though. It was like the whole country was on pause. I can think of nothing else that stopped the entire country in its tracks like that until 9/11 happened. I remember being on my way to lunch when it was announced. NOT GUILTY.  The reaction was swift and sudden throughout the building. Some cheers, some jeers. Racially divided.

Fast forward to now I've see more documentaries, interviews and stories about the trial since then. "The People v. O.J. Simpson" gave me even more background info and helped me put names and titles to faces and better understand some of the relationship dynamics (e.g. I never understood the who/why of Kato Kaelin).

The first couple of episodes, though, many of us were super annoyed because they kept shoving the Kardashians down our throats. WE GET IT, FX. NOT ONLY WAS ROBERT KARDASHIAN O.J.'s FRIEND, BUT HE USED TO BE MARRIED TO KRIS JENNER AND IS KIM & N'EM'S DADDY AND NORTH AND SAINT'S GRANDDADDY AND, OH, HIS LAST NAME IS KARDASHIAN, TOO. WE GOT IT, THANKS. 

Aside from those unnecessary tangents, I thought the series was excellent. The hair/make-up/costuming was spot on. And the casting was superb. Even though Cuba Gooding Jr. did a great job as O.J., to me he was out-shined by the the rest of the cast. John Travolta as Bob Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Rob Kardashian and Sterling K. Brown as Chris Darden. Bruh. Not to mention, Sarah Paulson and Courtney B. Vance both deserve Emmys for their portrayals of Marcia Clark and Johnny Cochran.

Looking back now, too, you also see just how things fell apart for the prosecution. For everybody, really. The Simpson trial was about SO MUCH MORE than this one particular case. The racial climate was hot following the Rodney King non-verdict and the LA riots (which, hello, is still familiar #MikeBrown #TrayvonMartin #SeanBell #SandraBland). Johnny Cochran knew that and played to peoples emotions, prejudices and biases in the courtroom, through media and any other means at his disposal. Not to mention having backup from some of the best lawyers money could buy at the time. Marcia Clark  and team didn't know what hit them. You would think sticking with the facts, not playing the game, would be enough, especially if all the evidence works in your favor. But, not so. And to top it off, you had that God-awful Furhman in the mix.

The sad part is that in all this, the Brown & Goldman families became collateral damage. They didn't get justice. And dealt with a circus of a trial that dragged on for months. I can't help but wonder where some of those jurors are today and if they still agree with their decision.  

Everybody brings their own biases to the table. The jury, the lawyers, the judges, the cops, everybody. Which makes the justice system inherently flawed, in my opinion. I digress.

ESPN is airing a five-part "30 for 30" on O.J. coming this June, so there will be more. And, obvi, I will be watching. Maybe I'll learn a lil' something about his football career, eh?

10 Things Nobody Told Me About Pregnancy

*taps mic*

Hey guys! WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I know, right?! 

Well, in case the title of this post didn't give it away, I've been growing a tiny human. As you know, it's a pretty sensitive thing, especially in the early months, so I kept it close to the chest. And, the way my brain is set up, writer's block set in SO HARD because I couldn't share what was actually on my mind. 

Thus, the tumbleweeds around here.

tumbleweed.gif

But, I'm now five months along and feel a little more comfortable sharing, so here it go!

This could actually be called 10-Things-Somebody-May-Have-Told-Me-About-Pregnancy-But-I-Didn't-Retain-Any-Of-It. Because everybody's pregnancy is different and, really, who learns all the ins and outs of pregnancy when they're not pregnant? I think it's one of those things where you learn as you go. Here are 10 things I've discovered out along the way:

1. Boobs Become Over-Achievers
I never knew boobs were one of the first noticeable changes to a pregnant body. I knew they grew, and I must have assumed this happened gradually over the course of the pregnancy - kind of like your stomach. I stand corrected. I must have been five or six weeks along and I got out of the shower one day and pondered aloud, "WHOSE BOOBS ARE THESE?!" And then hugs started to hurt. They would make me flinch. HUGS! My regular love of big hugs at hello were met with dread and back-caved-in one-armed church hugs.

2. Food Aversions
I knew about cravings. That has to be one of the classic pregnancy stereotypes. But I had the opposite response. I was grossed out by almost everything I typically liked to eat - especially in the first trimester. Anything with too much flavor? GET IT AWAY FROM ME. The texture of shrimp or eggs. NO THANK YOU, PLEASE. Gum? I haven't had a single piece of gum since November and I used to be the queen of gum. For a couple of weeks there, all I wanted to eat was some form of rice, hummus, chicken and bread. Plus oranges or peanut butter. What is variety?  

3. Soft Cheese
Yo. I had no clue about this soft cheese thing. None. I knew things like alcohol and sushi were out of the question, which is bad enough. But when my doctor said "no soft cheeses" I thought she was trying to pick a fight. 

Girl, what?

Girl, what?

What, I ask, is a salad without goat cheese? Or Feta? Or Gorgonzola? I've had Caesar or salads sans cheese in the mean time. (Which were reintroduced into my diet during the second trimester anyway because: see point above.) You don't realize how much you love soft cheese (or alcohol for that matter) until you can't have any.

4. The Exhaustion
I don't know how this one flew over my head, but I was not ready. I'm *already* a sleepy head by nature. After a certain hour, I knock out like a light. Add this pregnancy symptom on top and I don't know how I wasn't classified as comatose. First trimester, I was ALWAYS sleep (or sleepy if I was awake). If I blinked too long at my desk I damn near fell asleep. If meetings were any time after 11 a.m., forgetaboutit. I came home from church one Sunday afternoon around 2 and "took a nap". I didn't wake up until midnight. This was before I even realized I was pregnant; it definitely should have been a clue.

5. The Smells. THE SMELLS.
Pregnancy puts your sense of smell on a hundred, thousand, trillion. Thankfully, I never had any morning sickness (which was a pleasant surprise), but strong-smelling anything is what got me closest to up-chucking. Foods, perfume/cologne, bleach, mint (hence the gum thing), I wanted no parts of it. My neighbor was cooking something one night that wafted into the hallway in our building. Mr. Nash was all "that smells delicious." Meanwhile I'm frantically pushing the elevator button trying to escape this rude smell invading my senses. I almost took the stairs.  

I majored in advertising in undergrad and in one of my research classes, we learned about how marketers track your shopping habits. They gave an example that when a woman in a particular age bracket buys unscented soap, it's an indication to them that she might be pregnant (which is when they start mailing her coupons for diapers, etc.). I never understood reasons behind how that worked until the very moment I was in Target on a mission for unscented Dove because I could not endure the smell of my soap any longer.

6. The Thirst is Real
"Stay Thirsty My Friends" would be the title of my pregnancy memoir (with foreword, "Pour it Up," written by Rihanna). #NeverNotThirsty #WheresMyWater

7. Heightened Awareness of Other People's Colds
I was prepared to be all "get your germs TFOH" when the baby actually gets here. I didn't realize my own immune system would also be an issue. Basically, your immune system is lowered when you're pregnant so the antibodies don't attack this foreign object in your body - the baby. On top of that, most medicines are discouraged, so if I get sick, it's a problem. That said, any cough, sneeze, sniffle or even close-talking at this point has me on edge. I never realized how many adults don't cover their mouths when they cough until now. 

8. The "Glow"
 I had heard about this "glow", but I assumed it was just a myth or a saying. Once again, I stand corrected. Over the last week, at least seven different people have told me I had the pregnancy glow. I'll take it! 

 

9. Digestion Struggles
Let me tell you about me and apples. I love apples - especially Honeycrisp. I used to eat them several mornings a week with peanut better. #SnackOfChampions. However, once again, my food intake was thwarted by that first trimester. Digestive system was OUT OF CONTROL like an unsupervised five-year-old who just eaten half a birthday cake. Completely haywire. I never knew about this side-effect. I haven't had an apple in months.

10. Stomach Muscles Become Under-Achievers
Stomach muscles - what are those?  What is sitting up anymore? What is gracefully getting in/out of a car? I now use my arms and roll to get up from any soft place - the bed, a couch, and the other day from a restaurant booth. Core muscles are clearly like, "OUT OF OFFICE, NOT CHECKING EMAIL, BE BACK WHENEVER, CONTACT ARM OR LEG MUSCLES WITH ANY URGENT MATTERS."

We'll see what else is to come with my body as #BabyNash gets bigger. (I've started feeling kicks in the past couple of weeks, which is pretty awesome.)

Moms/Moms-to-Be, let me know if there are other things I have to look forward to.  My boobs can't possibly get any bigger.

7 Stages of Emotion Because of a Missed Flight

Airports stress me out. The process of getting from the front door to your gate is a stressful ordeal. Waiting in line to check in (and pay for luggage that really should already be included in the cost of a ticket. Eyeroll). TSA people having a cow because somebody accidentally left a half-full bottle of water in their bag at security. People who STILL don't seem to know that you can't wear shoes through security. And the ever-present chance you may be chosen for a special pat-down in a separate room because you look suspicious (or forgot to take the gum wrapper out of your pocket before you went through the x-ray machine).

Imagine going through all that only to miss your flight. 

That was me a couple of weeks ago. Missed my flight. For work, no less. I've been on 700work trips before with maybe one or two close calls - but I've never flat out MISSED A FLIGHT. 

Not to mention, I'm still new-ish at my job, and this was the first trip I was assigned.

And I missed it. 

LORDT! 

The emotional roller coaster was so real. Let me walk you through the seven stages: 

1. Happiness/Ignorance/Hunger
I had no idea what was to come, so I sat in the back of my Uber chillin/scrolling through Instagram/thinking about what I would eat for breakfast when I got to the airport.

2. Denial
Fifteen minutes into the drive, my driver checked his Google Maps and said,
"What time is your flight?"
"8:30"
"Uh oh. This says it's going to take over an hour to get to the airport."
"Really? My app says it will be about 35 more minutes. That's weird."

I chose to flat out ignore this warning. If I had to choose between what his app said and what mine said, I went with mine. *shrugs* 

Until... I saw it. A sea of brake lights. Gridlock. There it was. Just mocking me and my app (THANKS, iPHONE 5). 

Part of me was still in denial, though. I thought there was a chance we could make it if everybody would just hurry up and/or move. Which led to the next phase. 

3.  Panic/Misdirected Anger
YOUR JOKE'S NOT FUNNY RIGHT NOW, MR. UBER DRIVER. CUT THE SMALL TALK. I'M GONNA BE LATE! CAN'T YOU GO ANY FASTER? DON'T YOU KNOW ANY SHORTCUTS? THAT GUY IS TRYING TO CUT US OFF - STOP HIM. WHY IS O'HARE SO FAR? ANOTHER LANE IS MERGING?! WHY DON'T WE HAVE MORE LANES ON THIS STUPID EXPRESSWAY? WHO DECIDED THIS WAS ENOUGH? CHICAGO URBAN PLANNING IS THE WORST. MORE CONSTRUCTION, OMG. CAN'T YOU GO ANY FASTER?

Finally I get to the airport.

OMG, THIS LINE. OMG KID, WALK FASTER. OMG TSA AGENT, CHECK THE IDs FASTER. OMG LADY, PULL OUT YOUR LAPTOP FASTER. OMG TSA AGENT, CHECK THE X-RAYS FASTER. OMG DUDE, PUT ON YOUR SHOES FASTER.

Now that I've made it to the other side, I feel some semblance of hope.

4. Hope / Prayer / Athleticism
At this point, I had about 20 minutes until departure and I thought to myself "I can do this... please, Jesus?" Then I took off running through the airport with my backpack flailing every which-a-way, doing spin-moves on slow-moving people in my way leaping small obstacles in a single bound. 

Me running through O'Hare (See what I did there?)

Me running through O'Hare (See what I did there?)

I get to the gate with my heart-pounding through my chest and gasping for my air (I really thought I was in better shape than this). The good news: I see my plane is still on the ground. YES! Then the agent bursts my bubble: Boarding is closed and they can't let me on (but they were looking for me, tho). 

Thanks for nothing.

5. Devastation

6. Self-Pity / Dramatics
I tried to give the agent dude my sob story. "You don't understand. I have to get on that plane," I said. I even tried to look all doe-eyed, pitiful and hopeless, but I don't know if that tactic works for black girls. 

So, I went to customer service to try and change my ticket. The thing is, I wasn't going to, say, NY or LA where there's a flight an hour. I was going to a less-traveled city. There were only three flights going out and the remaining ones would have gotten me there way too late.

Then I learned there was a flight going to another nearby city that would have gotten me there a little late, but still within enough time. I raced to get on that flight too - and, once again, just missed it.

All hope lost. 

I plopped down nearly in tears like "WHAT IS I'M GON' DO?" 

7. Acceptance
Soon thereafter I got over myself and got busy. I had to make a bunch of phone calls, work out some logistics and call in a couple of favors. I set up shop in the airport and stayed there for five hours working to make sure things went smoothly and, fortunately, they did.

And, even more fortunately, I have a very understanding manager and client and I'm happy to report I am still employed. PRAISE JESUS. 

Long story short, we really need more lanes on the Kennedy Expressway. #FixItJesus   

Marriage: One Year In

My girlfriend Minda Harts is the founder of a new website/newsletter, The Weekly Memo, a site that is devoted to helping women gain access to important resources and pragmatic real-world advice on personal finances, career development and work/life balance that will help us advance in our professional and personal lives.  

A few weeks ago she asked me to write a post on the things I've learned about marriage in my first year.  We celebrated our one-year anniversary yesterday and I figured it would be a good time to share that post here. :)

In a few short weeks, my husband and I will celebrate one year of marriage. (Yay, us!) You would think by now we’d have a well-rehearsed answer for the often asked: “so, how’s married life?” It seems like such a simple question, but there’s never really a simple answer. We typically just respond: “it’s good,” with a shrug and a smile and get on about the business of ordering appetizers.

Similar to when someone asks, “how are you?” It’s almost considered impolite to give details on how you’re actually doing. People don’t want to hear about your paper cut or that really good hair day you’re having. “I’m fine” suffices.

However, since I have this platform, I figured it’s an opportunity to expound upon “it’s good” and share seven things I’ve learned in my first year of marriage. The good, the bad and, sometimes the ugly:

1. Nobody knows what they’re doing the first year
Anybody who tells you different is not to be trusted. Nobody knows how to be married until they’ve had practice being married. My husband and I did pre-marital counseling and read books to give us tools and tips to help us get off to a strong start. But I’m a new wife, he’s a new husband and we’re figuring things out as we go. Mistakes will be made along the way, but you learn from them and keep moving forward together.

2. Life will get in the way if you let it
Between work, social obligations, hobbies, friends, family, social media, and candy crush requests, it’s easy to let your schedule get overrun. Keep quality time with your spouse a priority. Spend time together on purpose. Little things make a big difference.

3. Not all advice is good advice
Be very discerning of whose counsel you take. As a newlywed, you’ll get advice from lots of different people. Most of them mean well, but advice is very subjective. Consider the source and whether or not their advice makes sense for your marriage.

4. Grab your pom-poms: you’re now somebody’s permanent cheering section
It’s very important to be a booster for your spouse. Applaud their efforts, support their dreams and cheer them up when they are feeling down. One of my favorite pictures of my husband and me at our wedding was one we took in the photo booth holding signs – mine said “team groom” and his said “team bride.” That holds true. We are each other’s number one fans. (Corny, but true. Stop rolling your eyes.)

Us when Mr. Nash plays NBA 2K15 on Playstation

Us when Mr. Nash plays NBA 2K15 on Playstation

5. You are the teacher and the student
You learn SO MUCH about yourself when you’re married. What gets on your nerves and what irks you somehow become very clear. Lol. But you also grow and learn compromise, patience and teamwork. You also become the teacher. Just as you learn about yourself from having a spouse, your spouse is learning about him/herself from being married to you.

6. “You” is now “Us”
This is not to say you lose your identity or individuality. Always keep that! However, you now have to consider another person for just about every decision. Seemingly minute things, like what time you’ll be home from work, what you’re eating for dinner or what groceries you bring home from the store, will in one way or another affect someone else. Not to mention you can barely go anywhere alone anymore without hearing “where’s your husband/wife?”

7. Don’t Call Tyrone
Conflict happens in a marriage. Sometimes minor, other times major. If you and your spouse are having an argument, I beg of you, be very careful of who you chose to air your grievances with. Make sure it’s someone who knows and loves your spouse. Don’t go complaining to Tyrone, who didn’t really like your spouse anyway, because this just gives him more reason not to (and he’s probably telling somebody else your business). Then, once you and your spouse have kissed and made up, Tyrone is still not over it and over there side-eying your spouse at the next dinner party. Guard your spouse, even during times of conflict. (Unless it’s abusive. Then, by all means, tell somebody).

Year one has been great and I look forward to what we learn over the next year and beyond. Check back with me in 50 years or so. By then I should know what I’m doing.

Feel free to check out The Weekly Memo for the original post and other great content for women!

An Ode to my Girlfriends

I LOVE my girlfriends and girl time in general. Spending time with other women brings me joy, laughter, empathy, conversation and, sometimes, therapy. 

Some people you just click with right away. Like that time I met a woman at a meeting and we clicked right away. I loved her style, her humor and her spirit. I thought to myself, "HOW DO I MAKE HER MY FRIEND?!"

I had no clue. So, I went home and then kicked myself wondering if I'd ever see her again. Because I was convinced we were supposed to be friends. (But seriously, how do you say "I like you" to someone you're not romantically interested in? LOL.)

Fortunately I saw her again a month later and we're still in touch! She's a regular brunch buddy. Love her!

On the other hand, it also took a while to warm up to some of my other friends. In fact, I didn't even like one of my best friends when I first met her. I was convinced she rolled her eyes at me in basketball practice. (She swears she didn't, but I'm telling you. It happened.) 

The good thing about friends is that, unlike a romantic relationship, they can be vast and varied, performing different functions. 

When I need to talk through issues or struggles, I have a girlfriend that I can call.

When I need a reality check... my girlfriend who will reality check me.

When it's a random Tuesday night and we've been trying to get together for five weekends to no avail and we're both free, finally. IMPROMPTU DINNER.

My girlfriend who always cackles with me.

The girlfriend from work who transcends "coworker" status.

My "You mess with me... you mess with my girlfriends" girlfriends.

A good DJ + a dance floor + girlfriends + a well-rested Chev = Let's do it!

My motivational/inspirational girlfriends.

 
 

The tough love girlfriend.

Goofball partner? Check.

An advisor, a running partner, a prayer warrior, a shoulder to cry on, someone to sit on the couch with and/or nerd out - I GOT THAT. (Obviously, some of these people overlap - but you get the idea.)

Some of my girlfriends I've known for over 20 years and others I've only known a few years, but I am grateful for them all. Life/distance/work can get in the way, and Lord knows I'm not a talk-on-the-phone-everyday kind of person, but when we do catch up, it's like we never left.  

Not every woman is friendship material and, like I said before, be mindful of who you allow in your circle. My circle of friends is small but mighty. I LURVE my girlfriends and appreciate their friendship, camaraderie and good vibes. I hope to bring them as much joy as they bring me. I don't take it for granted.

xo. 

Bullies, Bullshit and the Gift of Discernment

Excuse the forthcoming language, but we're all grown here, right? Right.

Bullies and Bullshit Artists (or "BSAs") are everywhere. You never know when you're going to encounter one. They show up at your job, at your kid's school, at church, on the PTA board, anchoring a news desk, as a friend of your friend and, sometimes, they're right in your own family. 

I don't have time for these people.

Bullies and BSAs misuse whatever sort of power or leverage they have to get what they want or reinforce their beliefs at any cost. They manipulate people. They lie. They engage primarily in one-way conversations. They're the source of drama. They violate trust. And they're draining to be around. 

Most of us avoid people like this at all costs, but there are certain scenarios where you have to deal with them. And I wish I could give you advice on how to deal with them, but I can't. Because, like I said, I don't have time for these people. 

My bullshit radar is highly functional and when red flags go up, I pay attention and respond accordingly. My interactions with Bullies/BSAs are kept as brief and as to-the-point as I can possibly keep them. Praise Jesus for the gift of discernment. 

For the most part, I have good people in my life. Good-vibe-giving, genuine, funny, honest, self-aware, empathetic, intelligent, beautiful, imperfect people. I know who to trust and who I should keep at arms length. I know who are my real friends v. family v. framily v. associates. And I'm grateful for the good people around me.

However, like most of us, I've come across my fair share of Bullies/BSAs. I see how they do things. Younger bullies are easier to spot, naturally, but as we get older, Bullies and BSAs get more savvy with their bullshit. They hide behind social norms, politics, social media, professionalism, racism, political correctness, or even religion to validate their bullshittery. 

They might even believe their own bullshit. It's quite possible.

AS FOR ME...

Call a Bully out on their bullshit and see how fast they deny, cry and/or evade responsibility for it. I dare you.

Once upon a time, over the course of a few months, I had to deal with someone who was a bully. I was one of her targets. She insulted me. Like, she started a fight with somebody else and insulted ME during THEIR fight. She would be best friends with one person one week and then talk crap about them the next week behind their backs. She was completely see-through. And once I didn't have to deal with her as closely anymore - I DIDN'T. When she reached out looking to reconnect a few months later, I told her I didn't appreciate the way she treated me or the way she treated others. I essentially let her know that I saw her bullshit. To which she claimed to not know what I was talking about, then told me to have a nice life, blocked me on Facebook and I never heard from her again.

LOL!

I know a religious guy who refuses to engage in any dialogue that addresses his bullshit in any regard.

John Doe: Hey, how's my favorite person! 
Me: Hey, John, I'm good, but I did want to talk to you because I thought the way you spoke to my mama was inappropriate and--
John Doe: GOD KNOWS MY HEART AND THERE'S A DEMON IN YOUR SPIRIT AND YOU BETTER PRAY THE LORD REMOVES IT AND JESUS IS THE ANSWER AMEN!
*walks away*

I know somebody else who will curse you ALL OF THE SMOOTH ENTIRE WAY OUT if she feels like it. Like a grown toddler. But she never apologizes. Or recognizes any wrongdoing. Or would even say, "maybe I went too far." Nah. She'll let it all out and then be over it. And then she expects you to be over it too because she's over it. And she'll come skipping back expecting you to be best friends. And if you say, "Hey girl, I didn't appreciate the way you cursed me out two hours ago," she'll get mad at you like "WHY YOU BRINGING UP OLD STUFF?"

Kinda like these All Lives Matter people trolling the ever-necessary Black Lives Matter movement with their bullshit.

Listen.

I. AIN'T. GOT. TIME.

I see you. I see your bullshit. And I AM NOT HERE FOR IT. 

Keep watch on the people you allow into your life and your space. Pay attention to the vibes and energy you get from people. It doesn't lie! And, If you can help it, don't allow bullies and bullshitters in your circle. (They really should be quarantined somewhere so they only have one another to deal with.)

If you're in a situation where you have to interact regularly with bullies or BSAs (i.e. a coworker, a family member), how do you deal? 

Unsolicited Relationship Advice Pt. 1

On New Year's Day, Mr. Nash and I were at home doing absolutely nothing and it was glorious. We happened upon this show Married at First Sight, which was marathoning on FYI. The show, clearly, is about couples who get married upon first meeting. Experts in psychology, spirituality, sexuality, etc. pair singles who are looking for love and basically arranges their marriages. They meet at the altar, say "I do," go on a honeymoon, move in together, and decide six weeks later if they want to stay married or get divorced. We sat there and watched the whole first season that day.

Once season 2 came back this Spring, we were all over it. Unfortunately, season 2 was a bust

But that's not why we're here.

While watching season 2 of #MAFS, they started promoting a new show called Seven Year Switch. On this show, you start off with couples who are married but have gotten tired of each other. One couple on the show has been married only eight short months and the longest married couple is at seven years.

Basically, these experts take the couples and switch partners. So they are living and sleeping with somebody else's wife/husband for two weeks to see if the "grass is greener" in hopes of saving their marriages.

HOW this premise is supposed to work at saving a marriage, I couldn't tell you. But I'm two episodes in. And I've already thrown the remote across the room three times.

There's one woman on the show, Aleshia, who I just want to hold in my (less-endowed-but-still-sufficient) bosom like Iyanla did Karrueche. Aleshia is married to Houston, who is an engineer by day and is a DJ by night, so he's never home. Aleshia is a stay at home wife / grad student and her biggest beef seems to be that she wants Houston to spend more time with her at home.

Because when Houston *is* home, he's in his man cave... that Aleshia is not allowed inside. Like it's a club in Chicago and she's a black dude wearing gymshoes. O_o

At one point, the experts came to do a tour of their home and when they got to the man cave, everybody walked in except for Aleshia who stayed in the hallway because she's not "allowed" to enter this room IN THE HOUSE THAT SHE SHARES WITH HER HUSBAND WHERE THEY BOTH LIVE AND PAY BILLS (AND EVEN IF SHE DOESN'T PAY A DIME TOWARDS THE BILLS IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE SHE'S THE WIFE AND THIS IS HER HOME TOO).

Bruh.

Me on the couch watching this

Me on the couch watching this

I could go on, but this intro has gotten long enough.  There were so many things I think Aleshia should know. And maybe she does know, but she's not practicing it. But I don't know her. So here I go, in blog post form, sharing three tidbits I think she (and other women) should know before entering a marriage. And, frankly, during a marriage.

(Disclaimer: I'm no expert and nobody asked me, but neither is Tyrese and y'all bought his book, so...)

1. KNOW THYSELF
Girl, who are you? What are your values? What do you like to do? What are your hobbies? What are you passionate about? What kind of mark do you want to leave on the world? Get to know yourself so you can be confident in who you are. Know that God (or the universe or whatever you call it) is within you. Believe in yourself. Affirm yourself. You are here for a reason. And make sure he recognizes that. This is not to say you have to be super-aggressive about it if you are naturally more reserved. I think we've already established that I'm the quiet type. But there is a way to stand in who you are and set the expectation that you want to be treated a certain way. ALESHIA, DO YOU HEAR ME? Don't Imani Izzi yourself. 

"What kind of music do you like?"

"Whatever kind of music you like."

Vanessa Bell-Calloway as Imani Izzi

Vanessa Bell-Calloway as Imani Izzi

Girl. Just, no. 

 

2. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT IN A MATE
What do you expect from your partner? Be clear on what you want beyond the basic height/ weight/ income requirements. What kind of PERSON should he be (or strive to be)? What do YOU need from HIM? What kind of father would he be? Does he have good morals? Is is optimistic? Is he a leader? Is he creative? Is he trustworthy? Is he patient? Can you laugh with him? How does he treat you? How does he treat others? Think about what you need from a life partner. Be flexible enough to be open, but firm enough to know where to draw the line. Maybe you don't mind talking to / cooking for / looking at / texting with / spending time with somebody who's going to be negative, harsh and critical everyday. I am CERTAINLY NOT ABOUT THAT LIFE, so that's a deal-breaker for me. #goodvibesonly

Really consider what you need and evaluate accordingly. I beg of you, don't roll up to the altar in your white dress and jump the broom with somebody you can't stand to be around. Marriage alone will not fix your problems. I repeat: MARRIAGE IS NOT IYANLA. IT WILL NOT FIX YOUR LIFE. SUCCESS NOT INCLUDED. HAPPINESS SOLD SEPARATELY.   

3. PICK YOUR BATTLES, BUT STAND YOUR GROUND
Let me tell you something: I wish Mr. Nash would come up in this apartment tombout there's a room that's now his man cave that I'm not "allowed" to enter.

Cool story bro.

Cool story bro.

Obviously there are constant compromises in marriage. You'll get annoyed that he squeezes the toothpaste from the middle and he'll be annoyed that you constantly leave hair in the shower. You are two individuals with your own separate habits, routines and expectations. They may cause some speed-bumps, but they're usually minor. Don't sweat the small stuff.

But when it comes to something major like disrespect or feelings of neglect or resentment, call it out. Stand your ground. Otherwise it just festers and gets worse. This factor is super important before you get married. It may even save you from getting too far in with the wrong one. Or, on the other hand, once you let it out and get over the issue it brings you guys closer together. Cliche I know, but it's true. He won't know how you feel/what you want unless you tell him! 

And that's my $0.02 on unsolicited relationship advice. Part 2 is to come, because these dudes out here need relationship advice, too and nobody seems to be writing books for them. (WHERE YOU AT, STEVE HARVEY?)

I'm going to keep on watching this show and hope that Aleshia finds her voice and stops resting on her pretty. In the wise words of my BFF in my head, Tracee Ellis Ross, "We need to change our gaze from how we are seen to how we are seeing.

Word.

They Tried to Make her Go to Rehab and She Said No, No, No.

Amy Winehouse was a beautiful disaster, but I loved her music.  It seemed there was no middle-ground with her - total greatness or complete mayhem. She was a supremely gifted singer and co-wrote the majority of her music, but she struggled with bulimia, substance abuse and alcoholism. She was a generous donor to a number of charities and foundations, but would scratch and punch her husband in the face and then leave the house bloody and bruised like they were heading on a date for ice cream. 

Even still, I was an Amy Winehouse STAN. That "Back to Black" album went so hard in my Mitsubishi. I played that CD so much I practically burned a hole in it. (This was around 2007. CD's were still acceptable, thankyouverymuch.) Her voice was so developed and mature and velvety and jazzy, though she was just in her twenties. I think I was mesmerized. If a car could talk, mine would have cursed me smooth out like an irate neighbor. "DAMN, WOULD YOU PLEASE FIND ANOTHER ALBUM?! LIL' WAYNE. THE LION KING SOUNDTRACK. BARNEY'S GREATEST HITS. NICKELBACK. WAYNE WONDER. SOMETHING!"

What can I say? When I fall in love with a song/album, I have no problem playing it 142 times in a row or until I get over it. Whichever comes first. 

Amy succumbed to her demons in 2011, five short years later after Back to Black was released, when she died of alcohol poisoning at just 27 years old. TWENTY-SEVEN, LORDT. Though it wasn't surprising for most people, her death was still tragic.

The documentary about her life, "Amy," hits theaters nationwide this Friday and my arse will be there on time with glasses secured on my nose and snacks at the ready. I have heard lots of positive reviews about how the documentary captured Amy and her beautiful/complicated/genius/disastrous/artistic glory.  

So, in honor of this occasion, here are five of my favorite Amy Winehouse songs:

"In My Bed" (Frank - 2003) //
Great song to dance to and basically lets dudes know, DON'T GET TOO FAMILIAR.
Favorite line(s): Oh, it's you again / listen, this isn't a reunion so sorry if I turn my head / yours is a familiar face, but that don't make your place safe in my bed, my bed, my bed

"You Know I’m No Good" (Back to Black - 2006)//
This song (along with "Rehab") is kind of haunting. Amy knew she had struggles and she was pretty transparent about it.
Favorite line(s): I cheated myself like you knew I would / I told ya I was trouble, you know that I'm no good

"Me & Mr. Jones" (Back to Black - 2006)//
Lots of singers sing about being done wrong by their man/woman/boo/bae, but this was the most gangster first line I've ever heard sung. 
Favorite line(s): What kind of f*ckery is this? You made me miss the Slick Rick gig/ You thought I didn't love you when I did / Can't believe you played me out like that

"Wake Up Alone" (Back to Black - 2006)
This is that song to listen to over and over again in bed on a rainy Saturday morning after you've just broken up with the love of your life while you cry and look at old pictures.
Favorite line(s): It's okay in the day, I'm staying busy / tied up enough so I don't have to wonder where is he / Got so sick of crying so just lately, when I catch myself I do a 180 / I stay up clean the house, at least I'm not drinking / run around just so I don't have to think about thinking 

"Half Time" (Lioness: Hidden Treasures - 2011 *previously unreleased)
I feel like this song was her love letter to music. Beautiful lyrics, beautiful voice and a beautiful melody.
Favorite line(s): Rhythm floods my heart, the melody it feeds my soul / the tune tears me apart and it swallows me whole / you should thank your lucky starts, 'cause the music is a gift / and it's stronger than all else, provides me with a bliss

What did I miss? What’s your favorite? Holler at me – and do let me know if you plan on seeing the film!