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Basking in the golden silence

13 Oct
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Photo via Joel Jefferies on Flickr

When I’m asked, I always like to say that my family is my sister and my mom. Though I have an extended group of aunts, uncles and cousins, when I consider the mental image of family, it’s those two. Because of this, I am wholly unaccustomed to boisterous weekend gatherings of generations of assorted relatives, reliving the “remember when…” stories and having hours lapse before everyone starts to peel away slowly to do it again the following week. While not a solitary creature, I revel in a quiet household where not much needs to be said because it is understood that our shared time is entertainment and company enough.

Over the years in romantic relationships, I’ve learned that the same approach I take to family togetherness works best for paramours as well. I remember in my youth, being in each other’s pockets seemed like the place to be, and God forbid something happen to one of us while the other wasn’t there to simultaneous experience it. Honestly, I’m shocked I wasn’t more exhausted from sustaining these types of dealings.

With age comes wisdom, as well as your own business, which requires you to mind. As I move within my current relationship, I try to keep in mind that while there is an “us,” more importantly there is a “me” and “he.” I have to allow both of us space to decompress, unwind, unpack and reflect without the nagging feeling of “growing apart” and he does the same.

What I see as somewhat of conventional (romantic and non-romantic) relationship wisdom, many others don’t seem to get, if the anecdotal examples from various advice columns imply. Some of my favorites are Dear Prudence on Slate, Carolyn Hax on Washington Post and A Belle in Brooklyn Ask.fm page. Lack of basic communication practice (ask for what you want, be open to compromise, don’t accept less than you’re worth) seems to be at the root of nearly all exchanges for which people are seeking guidance, be it a relationship between mother-daughter, boss-employee, boyfriend-girlfriend or just two people who are exploring the dating scene. Reading the submissions is one of my guiltiest pleasures; people always find a way to reach new level of “Huh?” with each question.

Mind you, in no way am I saying that my communication style is ideal – I can be short of patience, I want people to get to the point quickly and I hate arguing with those closest to me. What I always try to keep in mind is to listen more than I speak, consider all the perspectives, even the ones that aren’t being presented, and that taking 10 seconds before speaking in anger or irritation can save a whole lot of feelings. The more I operate within these kinds of guidelines, the better my relationships work. And the more of that sweet, sweet silence I get to have in my happy household.

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Photography Post – Baby Z In the Park

4 Aug

The story of how I got my camera is part funny, part shady. An ex of mine from back to high school brought it with him when he came to see me. After seeing how interested I was in learning how it worked, he told me to hold on to it after he went back to school (in another state mind you). Things went sour, as they do when you’re young, dumb and not exactly sensitive to the needs of others (this was on both sides), and I offered to send the camera back. I’m still not sure if he was being gentlemanly or simply wanted to be rid of me, but he never did send me a FedEx number to use on the return slip. Six or seven year later, the math is fuzzy, I have myself a nice Canon EOS 40D camera, along with a spectacular lens, courtesy of my uber-supportive mother.

I’ve taken a course in the basics of aperture, shutter speed, manual versus automatic mode and ISO, and I can take a decent enough picture when necessary. There are still many topics left to cover, and I need to brush up on what I think I know (thanks Lifehacker!). They say the best way to learn photography is just to go take pictures, and I’ve definitely slacked on that, what with the getting fired and working on on the whole crisis of confidence thing.

Today though, I got a chance to take photos of Baby Z for her upcoming first birthday. Since I keep my private life exactly that, private, I won’t reveal whose stunning child she is. However, if you know me and my circle personally, you’ll know exactly whose child she is because she is a spittin’ image. Thanks to the parents for letting me post this. And I will do my best to post more of my photography, just another step in improving myself.

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Adventures in Babysitting

26 Feb

For the past three months, I have been playing surrogate owner to one fluffy child. I should clarify, this fluffy child was originally my child. As times and responsibilities changed once I made the decision to go back to school, I recognized that my schedule didn’t allow me the same flexibility that I once had. Evening long walks on Santa Fe Trail (back before they paved it over, when you’d catch sight of a rabbit or two), belly rubs and social time at White Rock Dog Park – all of that had to take a back seat to reading, reading, writing and more reading. Instead of shipping the dog off to the modern day “farm” – also known as the Dallas-area SPCA – I asked my mom, an empty-nester, to take in the dog for an unspecified period.

Best decision I could have made. They’ve been inseparable and I get to play weekend mom when I go to my hometown.

Right after Christmas, I thought I was taking the dog on for the month of January, no biggie. We’d have some walks, socialize and before we knew it, our brief time together would be up and she would be back with my mom on the road back home, all the while looking back at me with one tear drifting down. Along the way, early February became late February and in that time, I remembered all the good and bad points about dog ownership. Early morning walks in the blustery wind, evening strolls when you just want to melt into the couch with a glass of wine and the new Scandal episode waiting for you on the DVR. The strange neediness of dogs and how they jump up the moment you do, anticipating that maybe you’ll give them an absentminded neck scratch or, maybe just maybe, you’ll take them for an impromptu walk. All of which began to wear on my nerves. However, it wasn’t all bad. Though I grumble every time I put on what have now been assigned as my dog-walking shoes, once I’m out in the fresh air and I see how it revives her, I can’t help but reflect that happiness back to her. Dogs and babies, only monsters can’t appreciate their unshakable happiness with the simplest things in life.

As I wind down the last few days, I have one example of why having a dog is simultaneously awesome and scary. I had a protective moment, in which my fur baby was almost hurt, I didn’t know what to do and she taught me a lesson in shaking it off. Thinking that I should get her some socialization time with a neighbor’s two dogs, we trotted over to the run at my community and tried to give them some off-leash time. Apparently one of my neighbor’s dogs hadn’t learned the essentials to life, which includes “Thou shalt not bite your new friend on the face.” And freak out ensues. After what to an observer probably looked like a fine imitation of Benny Hill, with me grabbing her dog and her trying to grab the other end of the dog, her second dog trying to figure out who’s on first and my dog probably still not getting that this does not equal friendship, we finally get everyone to their respective corners. At this point, I’d picked up my dog like a baby and was checking her out while she gave me, in my mind, the look of childlike reproach: “How could you bring me to this place?” The demon dog, the dummy dog and their owner left with many apologies – and really, with rescue dogs, you can only do so much. A lot of it is personality, and clearly that dog did not from a happy home before being adopted. Once I put my dog down, with kind and soothing words and a lump in my throat, I wondered if she would ever be the same. Would she shy away from socializing and never find another fellow furry friend? Had I RUINED her? And then she set me straight with a  shake of her coat and a quick scamper off to discover new smells. While I was so concerned about her mental anguish, she just wanted to be a dog. Pretty cool lesson…though if I catch the demon dog in a dark alley alone, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

So in honor of her indomitable spirit and her ability to sport a jaunty bandanna in all the colors of the rainbow, I dedicate this post to Forti:

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Songs in the Key of Love

26 Apr

So this post has been in my mind for a while, finally taking the time to get it out online.

Some people can define their relationships through places they visited with their partner, or food they ate together. I think it’s most common to define relationships through music. Thinking back on the men I’ve dated, I can relate a song to each one and what that song means to me when I hear it.

High school: The first big deal. The sun rose and set based on him, because I was 16 and what did I know?

He loved Cam’ron. Like, loved him. Loved Dipset, knew all the words. In my mind, the music was gibberish and I told him as much on many occasions. But over time, I began to enjoy the music for the creativity and spontaneity. It didn’t matter that half of what Cam’ron  said was made up. Just have fun. That was the attitude I took with me to college.

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What’s on my mind – December 19, 2011

20 Dec

This week has been full of pop culture conversations. Just wanted to share some of the things I’ve been discussing with friends.

The “If I Were A Poor Black Kid” article: No one article has been more discussed and derided in my circle of friends and on the blogs I read than this article from Forbes writer Gene Marks. Upon reading it, I initially shook my head and gave it a simple “really dude?!” and kept moving. However, over the days following I read some very impassioned responses to the uninformed ignorance that Marks tried to pass off as actionable advice for children in poverty. The Root has done a nice roundup of the articles; my favorite is from Cord Jefferson at Good. I’d love to see an actual response from Gene Marks. I may be wishing upon a star for that one.

The recent report on obesity, Black women and self-esteem: I had mixed feelings about this report. On the one hand, it’s fantastic that these women, according to the findings of the study, don’t feel that their feelings of worth are dependent upon their weight. On the other hand, the staggering numbers about obesity in the African American community cannot be ignored. Shaming women into weight loss is not a solution. An honest conversation about how to improve access to fresh foods, knowledge about fit lifestyles and changing values about childhood nutrition is the beginning.

The This Week in Blackness blog: hilarious and I almost cried laughing while listening. A definite must-read blog.

When the Best Intentions Go Awry

1 Dec

Wow, I had every intention of blogging regularly this month. Time ran away like it’d stolen my wallet. I looked up and it was Thanksgiving, which was doubly important to me this year with my sister being in town. So my brain was on “gorge stomach with food and wine, sit around watching judge shows, laugh and enjoy family/friends” mode. And I loved every moment of it.

Now it’s final papers, which are truly kicking my butt. I had a moment last night, after spending three hours on the paper and feeling like all I did was move text around on the page. A good Google search told me that literature reviews can easily read as annotated bibliographies, and I need to be cognizant of keeping an analytic eye as I parse the literature. I’m struggling with that because I feel like James Woods in that episode of Family Guy. You know the one…

Except my exclamations are “Ooh, a good article! Ooh, a good article!” on LexisNexis, JSTOR, EBSCO and all those fantastic research databases. As I told my family, my intention in pursuing my degree was to be challenged, yes, but I also want to be super awesome at it all. I knew when I woke up this morning, after only four-five hours of sleep (not even good sleep at that), and I was already in a crap mood that it was time to take a deep breath. I have to realize that more than likely, no one will fail me so long as I’ve put forth a sincere effort, which I have. And while my classmates were lamenting their draft reviews, I only got grammatical corrections. (Not bragging…okay, maybe a little bit.)

I’m back on it tonight, but I’m switching gears to my other beautiful project, a content analysis. At this point, that seems like a piece of cake…Ooh, a piece of cake!

XOXO

When Things Get Real, The Real Goes to New York

2 Nov

I will gladly admit: I took a mental vacation. I went to see my friends in New York, and I pretended like I was young again, without a care or career in the world. And I had a great time. The last few weeks have been…intense to say the least. Not really one to put it all out there, but my network of “talk you off the ledge” friends and family were tapped.

Increasingly, grad school is showing me who is in charge. I’ve selected my topics for research and theory class semester projects, both of which I’m extremely excited to explore, as are my professors (no pressure, right?). But this past weekend, that was all for me. I shopped, ate, strolled the city, got snowed in, watched scary movies and just thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had great hosts in my college friend Mychael, and his awesome roommate, Devere (happy birthday, boo!). After all that excitement and activity, it was quite nice to be home.

Now that I’m back, I’ll be focusing on these research projects. In the driest of tones, after realizing that no one had started their content analysis portion yet, Dr. Christie (research) told us “It might be a good time to begin.” I’ve never been one to believe that fat meat isn’t greasy, so I’m taking his advice.

I also owe you and myself a review of the Dallas Urban League Young Professionals Ready. Set. Grow. conference that I attended a couple of weeks ago. I have some notes and lingering thoughts on the event, which was excellent.