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Ratchet Review: An American Marriage

Ok. I know I told you guys that I don’t write book reviews, but dang it, I have to share what I read with someone.  I finally finished An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, and personally, I’m a little pissed. First let me say this, there is a reason that I don’t read the books on the Oprah’s Book Club list. Auntie Oprah tends to go for content with suffering and tragedy. Me, not so much. When I read, I want to escape my day-to-day existence. I want to laugh. I want mystery. I  want love. Intrigue, drama even. Basically, I want a reality show in words. Not Oprah. Oprah likes downtrodden and forlorn on an intellectual level, and honestly, I am not that smart. Self-deprecation aside, I just don’t want to be depressed when I read, and I find that Oprah selects books that leave me feeling like I need to book therapy appointments for the next year. I. Can. Not. Deal. Which brings me to An American Marriage. I had hope that this book would be different. Boy was I wrong. 

Enter Roy and Celeste, star crossed lovers who marry a few years after they meet in college.(Side note: another reason I don’t like writing reviews is because my summaries tend to be too long; I’ll try to keep this one short). Roy is a country boy who made it big and Celeste comes from black royalty…well not royalty, but her family has a little paper. She’s wealthy. Kind of like Dre and Bow on Black-ish. Roy is doing his thing in the business world of Atlanta, and Celeste is an artist finding her niche making poupees, dolls made of fabric. They visit Roy’s parents in the small town of Eloe, Louisiana when Roy gets arrested and falsely accused of rape. Celeste tries to hold Roy down (stand by her man for regular folks) while he is locked up, but soon finds herself feeling like she and Roy don’t have the commitment level needed to maintain the marriage. Celeste decides to leave the marriage and starts caping for Roy’s best man and her friend, Andre. Needless to say, Roy gets ghosted and Celeste shoots him the deuce (she leaves him in the jail cell he’s stuck in).

Now, that is the gist of the story, but in the words of my pastor, “Let’s start over and see what the Lord is telling us today.”

The Lord told me that Celeste was trifling! She vexed my spirit for the entire book! She was selfish, self-absorbed and immature. She didn’t understand what commitment truly was. Commitment is staying with your husband when he is in jail fighting a rape charge. She was his alibi. She knew he was innocent. When the rape happened Roy was with Celeste. I really wanted the author to explore what it would have taken to stay. Instead, she wrote a character who was cliche. Don’t get me wrong, if she wasn’t already married to Roy, I would understand her shooting dude the deuce. However, they were already committed to each other and she basically said, “Nah, bruh! I’m out.” 

Next, Roy was stupid. He had this false humility thing going on. “Don’t wait for me,” but he really wanted her to be ride or die. Then say that! She can’t read your mind. Then she wrote his ass that Dear John letter and the truth came out. He was pissed and was like, “Don’t write me no more…but can you keep putting money on my books…and keep having your parents pay for my attorney to beat this case?” Really ______?!!! I could see that happening in real life. LMAO!

Oh and don’t forget Andre. I won’t waste too much time on him other than to say that Roy gave him a much needed ass whooping that Andre’s daddy told him he deserved! That was my favorite part of the whole book!

Is it a good book? I guess…Oprah says it is. It is well written. I think, in my humble opinion, the book really took a look at how communication can make or break a relationship. It showed how adversity reveals the true character of a person. Love and commitment happen when the butterflies fade and the sex stops being bomb. When you are arguing and fighting and trying to figure out how to navigate the world together. When your kid is sick and you don’t know what to do. When the month is long and the money wrong. The person standing beside you is the person that truly cares for you.  If someone runs from you when trouble starts, they aren’t meant for you. It doesn’t mean you are going to like each other all the time, but you are committed so you CHOOSE to stay and love that person through the good and the bad. That is an American MARRIAGE. The book doesn’t give too much hope for hopeful romantics. So, I will give it a 3.5 out 5 bookmarks because I was hooked on the story, I just hated the characters and I was in my feelings! It was good…I want my money back though, but I borrowed it from a friend.

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The StairMaster is my B*tch! #30430

September 13, 2018 I told my trainer, “I think I want to do the StairMaster for thirty days straight.” He was all for it. “Good! Thirty minutes, everyday. Let’s go!” I wasn’t ready. It was Thursday and I had a plan to start on Monday. ANDDDD, I was only going to do 15-20 minutes. In true fashion, I started negotiating-Can I wait til Monday? Why do I have to do 30 minutes? This isn’t your goal, this is my goal! We went round and round until he said, “Stop trying to get out of it. You’re starting today! Let’s go!” So I started. It has been a journey.

Five days in I got sick. Sinus or allergies or something. I didn’t know what to do. I knew if I stopped I would have to start over or it would extend my time. I refused to stop. If I didn’t have a fever or I wasn’t dizzy, I went. I just blew my nose a lot. And for those of you who are wondering, I wiped down my machines REAL GOOD! I developed shin splints too. Those sucked, but I put a little bengay on my legs and kept it moving. Some days it was really hard to do because of other commitments I had, but I didn’t use that as an excuse. When I don’t workout with Chris, Planet Fitness is my go to gym, so I would just roll into PF at 9 or 10 o’clock at night to get in my 30 minutes.

Ten days in I asked myself why I was doing this. The answer was simple. Because I didn’t think I could. I decided then to give myself a reward once I made it to day 15, a nice little pair of cubic zirconia earrings from Target! They cost me $19, but I love them. Hey, I ball on a budget. Maybe when I reach my goal weight I will buy a real pair.

This was the point where I knew I couldn’t stop. I had people cheering for me. My friend Price, “Cass! I am so proud of you!” And there is always my Soror Kiphani, “Thirty minutes on the stair master? Girl, you are a beast!”  I had to keep going, but I needed a change. So, I started adding minutes. Some days I would do 35 minutes, and on Wednesday, two days before my deadline, I did 60 minutes. It was TOUGH! sometimes I would hit pause, but I realized that prolonged my time. I got slick though and started lowering my intensity level to so I could breathe for a minute and then I would go back up. No matter what I didn’t stop and I never went under 30 minutes.

Saturday, October 13, 2018, I finished! Level 6 for thirty straight minutes! I didn’t stop or lower the intensity level! This time I will allow myself to say, “I’m proud of MYSELF.”

I still don’t like the StairMaster. It is not of Jesus. But God will make your enemies your footstools and so he did the stair master! I feel a lot better. My energy level has been really great. My attitude has definitely changed for the better. I think I leave my stress on those steps. Each drop of sweat is a worry, a burden, that is no longer on my shoulders. My joints feel much better too especially my hips!

One of my goals was to lose 10lbs. I only lost 5, but hey that’s a half bag of potatoes! In the words of my niece, “I ain’t tripping.” I hear some of my friends balk at the StairMaster and I don’t blame them, it’s not easy at all. But, if you want to master that thang and make it your b*tch too, here are a few tips:

  • Sip water as you are working. Even if you drink it regularly. Trust me it helps!
  • Have a couple of pieces of chewing gum. Keeps your mouth moist. I like two pieces  because the water dries the gum out. I switch out half-way through the workout.
  • Bring two towels. One for sweat and one to wipe the machine. The sweat stings my eyes and I can’t take it. A wet machine gets slippery. I refuse to go viral falling off a StairMaster…can you imagine?! LOL!!
  • Start low. I finished at level 6, but I started at level 4. Start where you are, even if that is level 1 or 2. No one knows but you!
  • Bring an extra shirt. I think I got sick on day 5 because of that BIG ASS FAN at PF. My shirt was wet and I went outside in it. The next day I was sneezing, so I started changing into a dry shirt afterward and I’ve been fine ever since!
  • Get you a bomb ass playlist. If you are hype, the time goes by just a little bit faster.  Sometimes I just play MJB and I feel that girl power blow through my speakers! #YASSSQUEEN! But I really like ratchet rap…you know the kinda music where people will wonder if I’m really a 47 year-old professional! #hehe Here are few of my favs: Blow the Whistle, Too short; Ante Up, M.O.P; Pull Over, Trina, Rubber Band Man and Motivation, T.I.; Big Pimpin’, Jay-z; Drip, Cardi B; Southside, Lil Keke.  I have about 50 songs but those are tried and true!

Anyway, it was super fun and I’m glad I did it. Now, I can walk by the StairMaster and give it the side eye like, “Bihhhh! You ain’t ready for me!” 😉 Don’t judge me. It’s how I have to psyche myself out! Now, let me go get my reward for finishing, rest up (I’m taking a week off), and plan my next challenge! #30430 #stairmasterchallenge #befearless

P.S. Thank you, CHRIS! Stop by EveryBody Fit Personal Training Studio in Arlington, TX. Maybe if you come to class he will give me discount. Hehe! 🤣

Nappily Ever After

It’s finally here! The movie that I waited on for a full year. I’ve watched it twice. Was it that good?  Hmmm…I think watched it more than once to make sure that I was watching it with a critical eye rather than as a fan. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie, but I wanted to make sure why I enjoyed it, and I wanted to make sure that I gave the film a fair chance.

When they announced last year that they were turning Nappily Ever After by Trisha R. Thomas into a film starring Sanaa Lathan, I decided then to read the book. I remember when it came out amid the contemporary African-American Literary Renaissance phase in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. You know, the boom that brought us authors like Terry McMillan, Omar Tyree, and Eric Jerome Dickey. I remember being resistant to reading the book because the natural hair movement was just getting started and I was firmly #teamrelaxer. I wasn’t even open to giving the book a chance. Not back then. But almost 20 years later, and having endured my own big chop, I said, “Why not?” I knew I would support the movie because Sanaa Lathan is my friend in my head (I have a lot of those including Oprah)and I had to support my girl! So I started reading the book last November, and well…tt wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t hate it. I guess I don’t know what I expected, but I was underwhelmed. No shade to the author. Some books we love, some books we don’t.

I was still excited about the movie the though, so on when it dropped on Netflix I was ready. After two views and a bag of popcorn, I would say that Nappily Ever After was quite a treat. Sanaa plays Violet, a woman who believes that in order to marry the perfect man she has to be perfect in every way including long, straight hair. Violet goes to great lengths to maintain this perfection including having her mother come to her home at four in the morning to flat-iron her hair before her boyfriend wakes up (idiot). The movie, and the book, look at Violet’s journey in releasing perfectionism and owning and loving her natural God-given beauty. It’s about recognizing what type of woman you are and being confident in yourself.

Now that is the gist of the movie without giving away too many details. I think every woman should watch it. It is romantic, and funny, and dramatic, and sad in every place it should be. The movie is filled with A-list actors like Sanaa, Ernie Hudson, and Lynn Whitfield. But to me, the star of the show is the young lady who plays Zoe. Daria Johns brings Zoe to life. She is the daughter of Violet’s potential suitor, Will. Zoe’s mother is absent from her life and Will is raising her alone. Violet meets Zoe in the hair salon and makes some really mean comments on her poor behavior, attire, and hair. Zoe overhears her and you can clearly see the hurt on her face. 

Daria Johns

Even though Zoe manages to issue her own dose of revenge to Violet, they eventually manage to form a relationship with Violet giving Zoe the mother figure that she has been longing for. Zoe in turn gives Violet wisdom on being herself. She helps Violet to see that happiness is not being perfect, but in being proud and confident in who you are as a person. Miss Johns is perfectly cast! If I watch the movie a 3rd time it will because of her. She was refreshing to watch. She gave an honest portrayal of a girl who is confident yet simultaneously seeking validation. I just kept thinking, “I wish she could be my daughter!” Maybe I’m getting sentimental in my old age.

Zoe’s initial interaction with Violet, and the movie overall, also brought back childhood memories of my own hair journey. Some comical. Some painful. Sitting at the knee of my mother getting my ears burned with the hot comb ( I still have a scar on my arm from getting burned). Getting my hair permed in the 1st grade because my sisters felt like that would be better than the hot comb. My hair falling out from the perm. Getting a Jheri curl. Getting my hair cut off. Being called Florida Evans by my uncles. A “friend” telling me that my hair looked like rats had been sucking on it. Trying to sleep straight without messing up my hair. Making love and worrying that your boyfriend will ruin the $80 you just spent at the hair salon. It. Has. Been. A journey! So when Violet insults Zoe, I felt the sting in my chest as if she were speaking directly to me. And I grieved. I grieved for the brave girl who died a little inside when someone attacks her because of her hair, her looks, her body. It hurt. And that is the beauty of this film, that every woman will feel compassion and empathy because we can all relate to the Zoe’s and Violets that live inside of us.  

I’m not a reviewer, of books or movies. But, I do love stories that I can relate to especially those that speak to my experiences as a black woman. Nappily Ever After the movie ( I want to make that clear because again, the book just didn’t do it for me) does just that. It speaks to my hair journey, my body journey, my work journey, my love journey, the journey with my family . It speaks to the journey of waking up and figuring out that I’m ok, just as I am. I am still not fond, of my “natural” hair. Yet, I can’t imagine ever going back to a relaxer, and weaves just aren’t my thing. I think movies and stories like these, more than anything, reinforce that no matter wherewe are on our journey, we are perfect just they way we are. 

Read the book. Watch the movie. Tell me what you think.

P.S. There were a couple of scenes that I found to be awkward and unrealistic. The scene where Violet shaves her head (awkward). The scene where Will rubs scalp on Violet’s head (awkward and unrealistic). Why? BFF was just doing to much for me (insert eye roll). But, pay me no attention, that’s the cynic in me! ENJOY!

But y’all mad at Molly

The season finale of Insecure has come and gone and I am already having withdrawals. As I pine for the next season, I can’t help but return to the “situationship” between Molly and Dro. Specifically, I am really amused at how people reacted to Molly’s response that Dro and his wife were expecting a baby. Although, Molly seems to have moved on with Andrew I thought I would try to take stab at explaining Molly’s emotional reaction to a guy that she knew was unavailable to her emotionally. 

If you are a fan of the show, you should know by now that Molly sees Dro  at Tiffany’s baby shower where she soon discovers that he and his wife are expecting a baby as well. Camera pan to Molly’s face and you can tell that she feels some type of way. She’s mad. Or, maybe she’s hurt. Or, maybe she’s thinking, “I knew better.” And that’s the reaction most people have. “Why is she mad? She knew what she was getting. Dro gave her the game from the beginning!”

Facts. But, let’s take a look at this dynamic a little further.

Personally, I am not shocked at Molly’s reaction. Nor am I shocked that earlier at the baby shower, and in a previous episode, Dro is pissed because Molly has decided to set boundaries with him. He is clearly angry. What I am truly shocked about is the judgement and condemnation that Molly is getting for developing feelings for her friend. Her lifelong, childhood friend. He is THE HOMIE. Judgement from show fans, men and women, and characters. In a later episode, Andrew snidely remarks, “So you mean a married man lead you on?” He playin’…but he ain’t playin’. My knee jerk reaction. Yes. He. Did! Like it happens. It’s a thing. Here’s why…

Let’s remember, even though Dro is married he approached Molly with the whole, “I’ve had a thing for since day one,” and the “my wife and I are in an open relationship” scenario. True, we all felt that Dro was lying, but Molly had no proof that he wasn’t telling the truth. So what did she do, she chose to trust her friend and decided, “Screw it. I’ma get me some too.” Not the smartest decision, but it is not illegal; and if Dro and Candace are really in an open marriage, there is nothing unethical about it. People do it. Most people I know don’t.  But hey, who am I to judge if they do?

So really, why are we mad at Molly? Dro is the one who initiated the relationship. Even though Molly knew the game, that doesn’t remove his culpability in starting a relationship with the potential to hurt his friend. The argument is consistently, “She should have known better.” I don’t necessarily disagree with that sentiment. Even when they started, I absolutly yelled at the TV, “NAW GIRL! DON”T DO IT!!!” Because I knew how things would end. Yes, Molly should have known better, but shouldn’t Dro have known better too? Shouldn’t he exercise as much judgment as Molly in deciding not to enter a relationship that is doomed from the start? If not more. He is the one that is married. 

Then when Molly decided to set some boundaries, Dro acts a damn fool. If you have never been in a “situationship” then let me explain. In order for you to protect your feelings, it is imperative that boundaries are set. You can’t behave like dude is boo or bae because when things go wrong, as they surely will, the potential for heartbreak is too great. Consequently, you have to set up some rules: 1.) Don’t call me all the time, unless we are smashing 2.) Call me before you come over 3.) I decide if you come over 4.) We aren’t dating we are just f____ …well you get my drift. Sounds harsh right? It is. It has to be. Why because dudes want you how and when they want you.  At least dudes like Dro. Men with integrity don’t do this because they don’t engage in this foolishness! Men like Dro want modern day concubines. They want to control the situation. They want to be able to do whatever, whenever, however they want. That works for them. But, not you. And not for Molly. Molly was simply keeping the lines clear. We are no longer friends. We smash! That’s it. And for men like Dro, it’s gravy when they say it, but they don’t quite like it when it’s the woman controlling the game. Ain’t no fun when the rabbit got the gun. 

So the issue is not just about her being hurt, or angry, or regretful. The issue is about control. Dro is no longer in control and no longer free do what he wants to, and with, Molly. So what happens? He has a temper tantrum. 

Now think, she’s hurt now; how much more would she have been hurt had she not pushed the pause button? Can we say devastated? 

And why are we so hard on women? Why isn’t that same ire directed at the person who started all of this. The man with a whole wife, and now a baby. The manipulating, control freak who is willing to ruin a lifelong friendship just to get some cookie?

Maybe some of the mistakes we make as women would be less devastating if we held men just as accountable for their poor choices as we do women. But we don’t. We gone let Dro and his light-skinned, 3B curly-haired self slide. Why because it’s easier to judge the Mollys than it is blame the Dro’s. 

My best friend  Michelle…Michelle Obama (she’s my friend in my head) said so beautifully, “We love our boys and we raise our girls. We raise them to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit. It is powerful to have strong men but what does that strength mean? Does it mean respect? Does it mean responsibility? Does it mean compassion? Or are we protecting our men too much so that they feel a little entitled and a little, you know, self-righteous sometimes?” Isn’t Dro feeling a bit entitled to something that doesn’t belong to him? Molly’s right to set boundaries is her right and her’s alone. 

Here’s the point: Molly fell hard for her FRIEND. She was already emotionally invested. Having sex with him just deepened that connection. Dro, on the other, used their friendship to get what he wanted. In the words of my friend Cato, “Men aren’t friends with women they wouldn’t have sex with.” I don’t know if that’s true…as a matter of fact, I pray that it is NOT! Dro, however, certainly makes a case for it.

I’m not necessarily #teamMolly, but I certainly don’t judge her, and unless you have been in a situation like that, I suggest you don’t either. I don’t even judge Dro. Why? Because he is doing what the women in his life allow him to.

All I am saying is that if you are going to be mad at Molly, then you had better be blaming Dro. 

Big Willie Style!

“I’ve made it a point in my life to attack anything that I’m afraid of.” ~Will Smith

Today is October 1st! It is officially my birthday month. If you know me, then you know that for the next 31 days I will be doing THE MOST. My birthday is one of the few times of the year that I make things all about me. The month is no longer October nor is it Libra season. It is officially “Tracy Cass Awareness Month!” I have no shame! Don’t judge me.

Each year I try to have a theme. One year it was all about exercise. Another year, I wanted to try as many new restaurants as I could. And then, other years I focused on things I could do with my family and friends. Theme or no theme, I try to always have a great time doing things with the people I love and care for most. This year I have struggled to find my focus…until Will Smith’s bungee jump over the Grand Canyon for his 50th!

In an interview, my fellow Libra said that when he was a child, he visited the Grand Canyon, but he was afraid of walking to the edge so he stayed back, too afraid to take in all of the beauty. But now, a fully grown man, Will was challenged by some YouTubers to face his fears. In response he said, “I’ve made it a point in my life to attack anything that I’m afraid of.” So he did it, and I watched in amazement thinking, “That fool is crazy!” But is he?

After some mild alcohol induced contemplation,  I thought how liberating it must feel to face the very thing that has you paralyzed. Surely, it must be amazing to experience that sense of freedom. I knew then that I had to do the same thing and face my fears.

So this month is about being fearless. As I inch closer to the half-century mark, I realize there are so many things that make me clutch my pearls and stop in my tracks. Most often they aren’t things that are as adventurous as bungee jumping. Emotional and relational jumps are my biggest hurdle. People don’t believe it, but I’m actually very shy…a forced extrovert. I’m outgoing because I have to be, not because I want to be. Meeting new people makes me want to vomit. I become frozen in fear not knowing how people will receive or, more importantly, perceive me. Oftentimes, the bravado I so easily project is my defense mechanism so people won’t know how afraid I really am. So, I am on a quest to be just a bit more friendly. Seems small, but to me it’s like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro! 

I really don’t have an agenda as grandiose as Will’s; I just want to have new experiences. Some online dating perhaps. Because why not? I need a few hilarious dates in my life. If I hug you or smile at you, don’t run…or frown…or ask me what’s wrong. Usually when I’m nice to people, that is the first thing people say, “What’s wrong with you?” Nothing, damn it! I just want to be kind. LOL!! I might even let you hug me first…trust me, it’s a thing. When you are hugging me I am screaming on the inside.

But, I need to give myself permission to be vulnerable. Low key, writing this piece feels like exposing my inner organs. 

Anywhoo, I’m looking forward to this month and turning 47. Maybe, when I turn 50 I will celebrate the whole year (I did when I turned 40). I don’t know. All I know is that, life is a gift meant to be shared so I might as well take the jump and dive right in. Let’s see where this takes me! #livinglife #bigwilliestyle #willsmithchallenge #befearless

P.S. Comment with a suggestion or two about what I should try. Or, try facing a fear of your own and tell me about it. Shoot me an email at everybodyshomegirl11@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from your or reading your posts. 

Some Girls Be Like…😒

At some point we all make horrible choices when it comes to relationships, myself included. Here’s a glimpse of my journey into “triflingness.” Let it bless you…or convict you. #nojudgment

As I sit here, half-past 10 PM, eating a sandwich and chips and listening to J. Sullivan, I recall the first time I knew that he liked me. My friend of eight years, who was about to get married in six months sent me a message on Facebook. I had just signed up, browsing the page on my day off. He hit me up in a chat saying, “I’ve always had a crush on you.” I panicked; I was scared, excited, and…angry. Why would he tell me now when nothing could be done, could be pursued? I didn’t remember what he said next, just some flirting back and forth. I should have ended the conversation, but something about the forbidden excited me. We were cool acquaintances before, but now, it seemed like more. It felt like we were connected, even though I knew we couldn’t be.

I don’t think most people start out having affairs with one decision; I think most indiscretions start out innocently. Something small happens, small but inappropriate, and then, gradually, it progresses into something more. At least, that was the case for me; first, we were chatting, then texting. I remember clearly how we “linked up,” as he liked to call it, for the first time.

I had to chaperone a football game, and afterward, I had dinner with a co-worker. However, I was distracted because he had been texting me throughout the game. I told myself that he was keeping me company, keeping my mind off of the fact that I didn’t want to be at work on a Friday night with a bunch of disrespectful, bad-attitude-having-ass, high schoolers. As I sat at dinner, the conversations continued. The frivolity of it all, in hindsight, is so absurd, but in the moment, it was…everything, romantic, fun, and intriguing. Most of all, it was seductive.  I remember telling him about my favorite singer, Jill Scott, and my favorite song at the time, “Come See Me.” He responded, “I want you.” I grew warm inside. My heart and my head were all over the place, and I needed to understand what we were doing. Why was he saying these things now? What did all of this mean? Was he not going to get married? I’m not booty call material; I’m an all-or-nothing type chick. I sent him a message around midnight when I was leaving dinner: “We need to talk.” We were only going to talk, I rationalized. He responded, “I’m on my way.”

It was one in the morning when he arrived. In my mind, it made sense because I was strong and in charge. He walked in, looking and smelling good. We sat on the couch. “What’s up?” he asked. “The question is what’s up with you?” I needed to understand where all of this attention was coming from six months before he was to be married. His answer didn’t even matter. The real question was, what made me decide to play with fire? To entertain the foolish thought that this was nothing more than a conversation. To meet inappropriately after midnight with a man who was clearly unavailable.

I thought I was strong, and in the beginning, I was. I said emphatically, “This can’t happen. I will look like the other woman who stole somebody’s man. Nothing will happen to you. And, in the end, we will not be able to be friends again.”

He chuckled, “I have more to lose than you think, and we will always be friends.”

“If you have so much to lose, why are you getting married?”

With a slight shrug of the shoulders and the smirk that made my heart melt, “It’s just time.”

I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. We had been talking for at least two hours. I don’t know how we ended up in bed together, but there he was holding me, but not touching me at the same time. I was still trying to convince myself that nothing was going to happen between us if I could just get through the night. He didn’t try anything; he just held me. He didn’t kiss me or caress me. The only thing he did was pull me closer to him when I tried to move away. He pulled me close, like I belonged to him, like he had claimed me. His breath on the back of my neck and his heart beating against my chest felt good. It was satisfying just to be claimed, and I was starting to believe the lie. Maybe he will change his mind, maybe he won’t do it. “Just be patient,” I told myself. I should have understood that I wasn’t being claimed. I was just a warm, breathing body next to a man with his eyes closed, eyes closed to the fact that he wasn’t ready to be married, and he was using me as a distraction.  If I had allowed myself to accept that realization, I would have saved myself some heartache.

He didn’t change his mind, about her or me. I kept saying no, but he kept calling and texting, and we kept having our visits. He continued keeping me company on my late nights at work. I’m not sure when I started to become that chick, that crazy chick. That chick that rationalizes her bad behavior, the one who is happy one minute and crying the next. I think I knew in the end I would be left out, but I couldn’t pull back. It wasn’t so much that he had a hold over me; it was more than that. This was all about me. I needed to see what would happen, what could be, or what should be because in my heart I knew…he was the one for me. But he knew differently. He liked the idea of me but not the reality of me. I required too much, and I was his choice and his consequence all at the same time. His decision to see me, to love me, to care for me, meant that he needed to face the reality of who he was. He was a cheater. An adulterer. But in his mind, “I’m not married yet,” made a difference. To me, it didn’t, but I climbed down that rabbit hole anyway because one night over hot dogs and tater tots, he kissed me. He kissed me long, deep, and strong, and that kiss held a promise that one day he might love me.

He never did. I don’t hate him though. We shared a lot, an intimacy that I had never experienced before. In my mind, no one knew, but on the real, everyone did. We were connected. When we were in the same room, the energy changed. He was too attentive to me, and I tried too hard to ignore him. Looking back, I’m sure it was obvious to everyone but us.

I learned a lot, too, like what strength really means. It means picking yourself up when you are devastated, and you have no one to blame except yourself. It means smiling when tears are all you have. It means recognizing how scared you are of being alone and that you are willing to be second in someone’s life. I was desperate for love and craving attention. I was willing to sacrifice my integrity and lower my expectations for fear that I might miss out on knowing what it means to feel loved. I was willing to accept videos and hot wings so we didn’t have to go out, and secret meet-ups at Alvin Ailey because it seemed romantic and illicit and because I thought he loved me but was afraid to call it off.

Strength is accepting responsibility for your part in the destruction of a relationship. It is understanding that walking away when you know something is wrong is the only answer. It is writing this piece with the understanding that he might read it and know that it is about him, but not caring because you know it is time to release whatever guilt you are holding on to. It means letting go and moving on even when standing alone. There’s an old adage that says, “The best way to get over a man is under a new one.” I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it. Yet, I knew that would only make things worse. Make me worse. I needed to heal. I wanted peace. I wanted to stand tall on my own. It took a while. More tears. Some alcohol. Some “come-to-Jesus” sessions with my girls and a few ratchet dates. But, here I am.  Strength is learning never to say never. I had never been the side chick. But there I was. I will never do it again, even if it means being alone. I’m worth more than that.

Forty-Year-Old F*ck Boys

Let me say this right now, if you are a super-sanctified saint and you don’t like cussing – stop, do not pass go; this is not the post for you. I’ll try to keep it PG-13, but I make no guarantees. God is working on me; however, I just need to get this off of my chest just like I feel it. This is mostly for my homegirls who have been married or in a relationship for ten or more years, and they keep asking me and a plethora or my single girlfriends, “Why aren’t you married yet?” I used to give credence to the theory that was postulated to me that I am too mean, too unapproachable, too strong, too independent, and too stuck in my ways. Oh, and I forgot about, “You ain’t got no man because you can’t cook.” Yeah, I believed all of that bullshit for years, and I tried with all of my might to conform, to change, so that I, too, could be counted among those who were lucky enough to land the big catch and get married. Alas, after softening my approach, after smiling a little bit more to let my guard down, after expanding my circles to meet more people, after shooting my shot on Tinder and Match, and after trying my hand at a meal or two, here I am, still single. 

How is this possible? And it’s not just me. I have about fifty other friends just like me: single, educated, professional, no kids – or if they have kids, they have been THE sole parent and have some raised pretty awesome kids without too much help from the non-custodial parent with no baby mama drama. They are homeowners who are civic-minded with pretty decent credit. Meh…me not so much in this area; budgeting is not my ministry, but I owe no man nothing. I’ve been perplexed about this issue for a minute and decided to do some serious research which consisted of talking to my friends. Here is what I gathered from my intel, we, my other gal pals and I, are not the problem! The problem is, and has always been, forty-year-old f*ck boys. Yes, I said it. Ninjas who are still out here playing games well into their forties and fifties. You would think that dating at this age would be simple, but it’s not. At almost a half-century, why am I still encountering the same shit I used to deal with in my twenties? What’s a f*ck boy, you ask? Why do you call them that? When you are a grown man and you are still playing childish games in order to get the goodies, you are a f*ckboy. When you are grown man, but you don’t know how to take responsibility for your actions, you are a f*ckboy. They are real; they exist. Sis, if you are suspicious and wondering if your man is a f*ckboy, then he probably is. But just to be certain, here’s a list of things f*ckboys might do so you will recognize one when he shows up. Or, if you think you might be a f*ckboy, but just aren’t sure, here’s how you know:

•Sliding through someone’s DM’s and you have a whole girlfriend or wife.•Planning a date but not confirming or canceling because, “Oh my bad. I fell asleep.” Could it be that your girlfriend, significant other, or wife, actually came home and said that she had something planned?

•Being too afraid to shoot your shot because, oh God, she might turn you   down. Ninja, she said no. It’s ok. Move on and ask the next girl for a date. But she just might say yes…if you ask her.

• Lying…of any sort. Flat out lying, lying by omission meaning leaving out significant portions of the truth, embellishing the truth, little white lies…they are all lies!• Breaking up with folks before holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or other significant events• Being behind on any amount of your child support.

• Bragging about not paying child support.

• Not being willing to give anything a label. Am I your girlfriend, boo, wifey?  What? Ninja, you are too old for a situationship. And why the hell doesn’t anyone know who I am to you, huh? The devil is a lie!

• Trying to DM me all the time.

• Trying to text me all the time. If you want to get to know me, call me. Take me out on a date.• Flirting with your co-workers, when you know you have a wife.

• Living with your wife, while you take your girlfriend out on dates. AND, getting mad when your girlfriend gets another man!• Having a whole baby on your wife AND your girlfriend!

• You’re sexually attracted to men but pretend that you like women when you really don’t. If your sexuality is fluid or if you are bisexual, be upfront about that. Give a sister the option to choose. If she doesn’t choose you, that’s ok, too. I promise you there is a woman, or man, out there who will be ok with your sexuality. What’s not ok is being on the down low. F*ck boys live on the DL.

•Living with your mama if she is not in need to constant care because of an illness or old age. Taking her out and posting about it like it’s a date. #creepy

•Not joining the singles ministry because there aren’t enough single women in  it, or not joining because you have dated the majority of the women in the ministry. I’m sorry, I thought this was supposed to be about Jesus.

• Asking a woman when is she going to cook for you, but you’re not willing to take her car to be serviced, cut her yard, or fix her fence.

• Posting pictures of yourself on social media ALL! THE! TIME! Especially if you are halfway fit and have a six pack. The pic with the shirt showing your shaved treasure trail. The pic of you and your sock game. The pic of you and your beard game. Not cool. #thirsty

• Sending random d*ck pics. No, just no!

I could go on, but I’m tired. I’m tired of people asking me why I don’t have a man. I’m tired of people assuming I’m/we’re the problem. I’m tired of people assuming that because I’m alone, I’m lonely. I’m not. I’m tired of married folks walking around and acting like they are holding hands, kissing, and eating cupcakes every day. I’m sick of seeing the #mcm’s and #wcw’s every day, then two weeks later wifey done changed her name on Facebook because she caught hubby with her best friend, and now they are headed to divorce court. Y’all out here “Facebook Frontin’”, and we all know the truth anyway. I’m not saying marriage is horrible; it’s not.

I believe marriage and relationships are great, but they are complex and take a lot of work. You have to nurture them, and you have to compromise. AND COMMIT! When done correctly, I am sure they are amazing, but some of y’all are out here lying. You’re pretending that you’re living the easy life, and the rest of us are looking to have the same thing because we have #relationshipgoals but don’t fully understand what it takes because you aren’t being truthful. So, we fall for f*ckboys because we think somebody, anybody, is better than nobody. I’m here to tell you that IT’S NOT.

If you’re a f*ckboy, I have one thing to say to you: GROW THE F*CK UP. ~Peace.

P.S. If you think I’m talking about you specifically, I’m not. That’s probably the Holy Spirit telling you that you’re a f*ckboy and you need to grow up. Well, the Holy Spirit doesn’t cuss, so that’s just me, but He IS telling you to grow up. Jeesh!

P.P.S. To all the women out there putting up with f*ckboy shit, stop it! Stop it right now, I say! You’re making it hard out here for women with standards and expectations. Why does he have to grow up when you allow him to be mediocre with you? Ugh!