Happy Fall, Y’all!

I’m gonna be honest: I’m not a fan of summer. The heat is brutal, and in Houston is coupled with a humidity that means I spend June-September feeling sticky every time I step outside. Kids are everywhere since they’re out of school. And it’s also peak litigation season. I’ve been practicing law for five years and dabbled in several different areas but uniformly, every summer my case load increases. So while everyone else is posting beach selfies and having cocktails at rooftop bar happy hours, I’m stuck at my desk drafting motions and cajoling clients into settling before the other side figures out their case kind of sucks. But as of September 22, all that is over. We are officially in the best season of the year!

Sweater weather, warm spiced beverages, Renaissance fairs, holiday season just around the corner…I LOVE IT! Doubling my joy this year is the fact that I’m a homeowner. I’ve been making trips to Target, Marshall’s, etc. just to revel in all the harvest themed home decor (and okay, to buy some apple cinnamon and vanilla pumpkin scented candles). This is the first time I could look with the intent to buy because I never wanted to put the time, money, or effort into fully furnishing any place that we rented. Now I finally have a permanent place. Anyway, this past weekend I needed to buy a gift for a coworker’s housewarming so I headed to Ross. Of course it ended up being a gift for her, Christmas gifts for my siblings, and four gifts for me.

I got an ADORABLE mug because coffee and tea are a comforting ritual and they just taste better from a cute mug. Next up is an art print that’s going to hang in the bathroom over my tub, with a woman reading a book. It really spoke to me. I kind of agonized over it because like most black people, I have a policy of only displaying art that is black or at least race neutral (e.g. landscapes or quotes).* There was a similar print with an obviously black woman but she was drinking wine, and I don’t really drink like that so it didn’t resonate. In the end, the woman in the picture I bought was juuuust dark enough that I can pretend she’s just really light skinned, like Meghan Markle, so that makes it okay.* I got a set of three serving bowls with Bible verses on them for $17! They’ll be awesome for holiday dinners. My last prize was a #12(!!!) multi-server. It can be used as a cake stand and cover, a punch bowl, or a chip and dip. If we have a dining room set by then, I just might host New Year’s day dinner!

*If you’re not black and confused right now, let me assure you that this is absolutely A Thing that black people do. Hundreds of years of slavery, segregation, and less than equal rights mean we are constantly exposed to societal conditioning that says we are less than or at the very least, other. So we want art that reflects us the way we see ourselves. And yes, this policy extends to my Christmas decorations and tree ornaments!

If you know me or have been reading this blog for a while, you know I love fashion. So of course I had to get a few new items for my fall wardrobe. First up, I saw the black and white dress and added it to my shopping cart without hesitation. It’s work appropriate and I still get to channel my inner Wednesday Addams. The second dress is a floral and houndstooth pattern in a beautiful red and orange color palette that screams fall. I stumbled upon these heart-eyed skull print leggings when I was browsing Torrid at my local mall (sold out online, similar style here). They’re a super comfy sweater knit and even though I’ll only ever wear them in October, they were $10 so it doesn’t matter. Last but not least is a retro style buffalo plaid cape coat. I was eyeing it on the Eloquii website last year but it sold out before it went on sale within my budget. Luckily I found it for a fraction of the original price on Poshmark! (Sign up here with code WIFEYJD to get a $5 credit.) It’s pretty lightweight and will be great for the mild Texas winter.

Fall is only a few short weeks so I’m going to get back to enjoying it. Time to light a scented candle and curl up with a book and some Trader Joe’s harvest blend tea. But hit me up in the comments and let me know if you prefer Hot Girl Summer, pumpkin spice season, or another time of year? Ta-ta for now!

Sands Through the Hourglass

Lately, I’ve been feeling uncomfortable. On paper, my life is great. And I’m self aware enough to recognize that I am blessed to have everything that I need, and more than a few things that I want. Still, I’m unsatisfied.

At 31, I came to really grasp my own mortality. The knowledge that one day, my life will inevitably end has me asking myself, is this all there is? What can I do that will bring my life meaning and purpose? What are the things that will haunt me if I die without accomplishing?

“Father Time” by Alex Stone http://www.alexstoneart.com/

Heavy thoughts, I know. I guess my midlife crisis came early. But as a result, I just don’t have patience for things the way I used to. I’m much more aware of my relationships and the value that add (or don’t add) to my life. I’m heartily sick and tired of being everyone’s rock. The one that they call when they need a shoulder to cry on, but don’t contact when there is good news. The one that they call for business or legal advice, but don’t ask me if I’m doing okay in the wake of a death in the family. The one who keeps a level head and listens to everyone else’s crazy drama, but can’t get a word in edgewise the one time I need a listening ear. I’m the one who sends surprise birthday gifts, holiday cards, or at the very least can be counted on to call you and say happy birthday personally.

In the past year I’ve fallen back on all of that. Relationships aren’t tit for tat, but the exhaustion of almost always going the extra mile and almost never getting it back takes a toll. I’ve been told that some people just have a smaller cup to pour from, and they’ll never be able to give as much as I do and I have to meet them on their level. Well, fine. I hate being parsimonious with my affection, but what I hate more is giving resentfully. So I’m going to be selfish, until I can be generous again and mean it.

Then there’s my job. Civil legal aid is my dream job although you could argue it’s thankless. It certainly requires me to give a lot mentally and emotionally. But most of my clients are pretty darn grateful, and that helps. Maybe it’s because I tend to handle thornier issues (tax debt, fraud, bankruptcies, foreclosures) but a good 90% of my clients actually say thank you when I wrap up their case and are pretty gracious throughout the process. My job fatigue stems almost entirely from the dysfunction of my nepotism riddled organization. Nobody in an executive officer position has practiced law within the past 20 years. Our director of IT almost old enough to draw Social Security benefits and refused to cede control of anything but computer and phone setup for new employees, despite the fact that there are four other people under her who are more than capable of assisting with security, web development, etc. My job is funded by three different grants and it creates so much extra paperwork it’s not even funny.

On August 7, 2018 I posted on my Facebook the following quote: “I’m ready to become a bestselling author so I can quit my day job.” This morning, I stumbled across a beautiful poem by a high school friend of mine. We were both bookworms and aspiring writers. She followed her dreams and majored in English, did her master’s in literature at Oxford College in England, and just last year published her first book. As for me, I took the practical path. I don’t regret it because if I hadn’t gone to Georgia Tech, I might never have met my husband (or might have met him much later), and he’s been nothing but amazing to be around. Law school gave me a profession that will always allow me to make money on my own terms. But maybe the lawyer phase of my life should be coming to an end. One of my Mercer classmates quit her day job to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer. And Toni Morrison, bestselling author and Nobel Prize winner, who passed away on August 5, 2019, didn’t publish her first book until she was 39 years old.

There’s still time. But not enough to waste.

Life update

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Life comes at you fast. 2019 started of slow but in March, things took off and they haven’t slowed down. On April 15, 2019, I lost my maternal grandmother, Nonny. She was suffering from dementia that had progressed into Alzheimer’s and I knew her time was coming soon, but it still caught me off guard. Thank God that I have a job with good benefits and an understanding boss. Between traveling to Atlanta for the funeral and just grieving, I was out of work for two solid weeks. It was another month after that before I started to feel normal again. Nonny was like a second mother to me. We went to my grandparents’ house almost every single weekend. They came to my school (an hour away!) for Grandparents Day when I was little. My grandmother in particular never let me leave without a treat. And she always told me how proud she was of me and that she loved me. Jesus, I’m tearing up writing this. But I’m glad that she passed away before things got to the organ failure, comatose stage of things. She still had lucid moments and my grandfather was with her at the end. She just went to sleep and never woke up, which is just about the best way you can go.

In the meantime, work has picked up dramatically. I’m enjoying the tax work but juggling the paperwork and aggy clients along with a bankruptcy case that I absolutely hate, is getting to be a lot. My manager and our unit paralegal are both out on maternity leave, so it’s just me, the staff attorney who was hired 3 months after me, and the new secretary. They are great but we have 3 people doing 5 people’s work so it’s still crazy. I’m the most senior attorney so a bunch of administrative/managerial stuff that I used to hand up to my manager are now my problem. -_- Not to mention that our secretary only had a month, two weeks of which were getting trained on our case management software, so I’m helping her get trained on how our unit runs.

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I’SE TIRED, BOSS.

I wanna have a Hot Girl Summer (trademark pending) too, but the way my workload is set up I’m gonna have to push it back to a Hot Girl Autumn. Save me some sangria, y’all.

Laissez les bon temps roulez

Note: This is a draft post I dug up from my archives. We went to New Orleans for our fourth anniversary in 2017. Still, it’s such a great city that I wanted to share my impressions. Mardi Gras is coming up so it seemed like a good time to do so. 

I finally went to New Orleans!

Ever since I learned about the roots of jazz music as a child, I’ve wanted to visit New Orleans. When I was nine years old I heard Duke Ellington ‘s “Take the A Train” and fell in love. That led me to George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, Stephane Grappelli, Dave Brubeck, and more. In fifth grade I would go to Barnes & Noble to buy Jazziz magazine and the Beanie Baby collectors magazine (talk about divergent interests!). One of my top choices for college was Tulane University, until Hurricane Katrina hit and I was scared out of applying by the thought of another hurricane hitting while I was in school. Still, New Orleans was one of the places I knew I had to visit during my lifetime or I would regret it. 

Sidewalk graffiti on Frenchmen Street

Even though the city was hot, muggy and a little bit smelly in certain parts, there was a kind of magic in the air. The cultural melting pot was apparent in everything from the food to the architecture. There’s just something different about walking on 300 year old cobblestones; you can feel the weight of all that history. I’m a history buff, so we hit The Cabildo, the old U.S. Mint, and the Jazz History Museum. I learned so much I didn’t know! There were so many eras of New Orleans, and of course money is its own empire. As for the jazz museum, I’m a musician so being in the same room as Louis Armstrong’s trumpet had the weight of a visit to the Vatican. It was fantastic. Cafe Du Monde was so nice, we hit it twice. Both the beignets and the frozen coffee were absolutely to die for. 

Oops…I ate the photo op

I didn’t take many pictures because I honestly just wanted to soak in everything and remember it however I needed to. Most of the few pictures I did take were fuzzy, as if the place itself didn’t want to pinned down to a single expression. It was our first trip alone together since before we got married, and the week passed in a haze of new sights and sounds and romance. It wasn’t the farthest we’ve traveled but definitely the most memorable. I understand now when the natives say the city isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling. New Orleans…I’ll see you soon.

Jackson Square

3 Shows That Were Doomed To Failure

Good ideas are a dime a dozen, but it’s the execution that’s tricky. Dozens of new TV shows pop up every season, but only a few go on to become moderate successes, much less smash hits. Here are a few shows that I wanted to work.

Emerald City (NBC, 2017): Emerald City is a gritty reboot of The Wizard of Oz. It sounds crazy (and but was way too over the top for network television. In this version, Dorothy is a cop. She also has magical powers and becomes the unwitting heir to the Witch of the East. The Scarecrow is a tragic soldier. Glinda isn’t such a good witch after all. The Witch of the West basically runs a brothel and is usually high on poppy tea. The Tin Man is a teenage amputee and Ozma is his magical transgender BFF. Oz is, of course, a fraud–but he’s also a scientist who is scared to death of magic and tries to ban its use in order to preserve his own power.

The cinematography was excellent, but the show was ultimately brought down by trying too hard. It started really slow, and there were just too many plot points. It also dealt with some very adult themes that had to be glossed over in order to be fit for a prime time audience. A few edits and a move to SyFy or HBO could have made this show a success.

Constantine (NBC, 2014): Constantine sought to take advantage of the new wave of comic book adaptations. However, NBC was definitely the wrong network. The comics were created by Alan Moore, the same man behind The Watchmen. John Constantine is an occult practitioner and demon hunter haunted by his failure to protect innocents in the past. But the demons he fights are not of the wise cracking variety displayed on Supernatural (The CW)–they’re the baby eating, serial killing, apocalypse bringing kind. Moreover, in trying to add a female character they shoehorned in a reluctant sidekick who had escaped from a cult. The writers tried to split the difference between grim dark and comedic by making it sorta kinda dark, which killed all narrative momentum.

Almost Human (Fox, 2013): This science fiction drama shakes up the usual buddy cop dynamic by making the sidekick an android. Michael Ealy plays an AI who has seemingly developed sentience. It hit all the beats of a traditional procedural, but with an intelligent exploration of the tension between humans and robots. Karl Urban’s character also has a prosthetic leg, due to an injury he suffered in the line of duty. He hates it because he is staunchly anti-android, but as he starts to develop a true partnership with Michael Ealy, his feelings start to shift. However, the show was much too niche for Fox. SyFy would have been a natural fit, and they’ve kept worse on the air (Wynonna Earp, anyone?).

How to Survive Marriage

Happy Valentine’s Day! Ain’t love grand? Unfortunately, according to many people love and marriage are mutually exclusive. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m five years into my marriage and still happy. Our relationship doesn’t stay that way on its own though. I’ll always be learning how to be a better partner, but here are some of the gems I’ve gleaned so far. 

The couple who wears onesies together, stays together.

Know and love who you are. I’m amazing, but imperfect. I am well aware that there are certain quirks of mine that I’m sure aren’t easy to live with–my tendency to expect the worse in any uncertain situation, the fact that I don’t like being talked to for 15-30 minutes after work, the fact that I won’t talk TO anyone for the first 15 minutes after I get up in the morning. . .I’m sure there are more but I’m not going to spill all my tea. Remembering my husband’s graciousness when I’m annoying makes it easier to woo-sah when he’s tap dancing on my last nerve. Although I will never not be irritated when he falls asleep on the couch instead of taking his ass to bed when he starts fading away. ARGH.

Stay close…Marriage is the merging of two separate lives into one. So you can’t be successful at it unless you are willing to share yourself with the other person, and part of that is spending time together. How much time depends on you, but if you do not have kids and can’t remember the last time you and your spouse hung out, you’re probably not spending enough.

…But not too close. No one person can fulfill 100% of your needs, 24/7/365. So don’t abandon your other relationships. For example: my husband, like a lot of men, is very blunt. So if I’m feeling really sensitive about something I might talk to my sister first. Sometimes I get upset over something I know is petty and I just want to complain without being judged or told that I need to be the bigger person. You’ll always need your friends. 

You’re gonna be doing a LOT of this.
Photo Credit: Atlanta Black Star

Get comfortable asking for what you want. Skip the BS where you wish he could just read your mind and keep getting mad at him for not knowing why you’re mad. HE’S NOT A MIND READER, SIS. Do you need him to take over some of the household chores so you don’t feel overwhelmed? Ask for it. Want a monthly date night? Ask for it. Do you need more variety in the bedroom? Tell him (and show him, too). Feeling like you two just aren’t connecting? Let him know. The common theme here- USE YOUR WORDS. 

While you’re at it, get used to awkward conversations. Discussing things like life insurance, finances, and birth control is not fun and probably won’t ever be. But ensuring that you’re on the same page creates a harmonious existence. You’re on the same team, so it would help if you’re using the same playbook. This is the person you’re spending your life with, so you should really be able to discuss anything without embarrassment.

When you’re angry/irritated/moody, just shut up. Every once in a while your spouse will irritate you so much that you can’t even stand to look at them. At that moment, say that you need to put the conversation on hold because you’re too emotional, and walk away. Listen to some music, phone a friend, or work out some aggression in the gym. Some words can’t be taken back so it’s better if they never get said in the first place.