What’s wrong with basic?

“Bad Bitch Support Group” on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show

I saw this sketch back when it first aired and it got me thinking. What’s so bad about being basic? I admit to being guilty of using the word right up until I realized that maybe I wasn’t as bougie as I thought. Yes, I’ve had better, but on a day to day basis I genuinely enjoy Starbucks coffee. I watched the entire run of “New Girl” starring Zooey Deschanel and though most of it was pretty funny. I have to avoid Target unless I have a defined shopping list or I’ll end up with a cart full of (fun, but) unnecessary goodies. And while I don’t particularly enjoy pumpkin spiced lattes, I love almost everything else about the season they represent. I, too, am basic.

ba·sic/ˈbāsik
adjective
1. forming an essential foundation or starting point; fundamental. “Certain basic rules must be obeyed”

Oxford English Dictionary

I spent a good chunk of my childhood wanting to be That Girl. Once I got older and realized how much work being a “bad bitch” really is, I didn’t want that lifestyle even though I spent a few years wishing I did. That archetype is celebrated as the feminine ideal, while “basic bitches” make up the majority of your stay at home wives and soccer moms. The stereotype is that they don’t do anything but go to yoga/pilates/barre class, go to mimosa lunches, shop, and take care of their families. I don’t know about you but that sounds like my kind of fun!

Nobody ever said basic chicks were unhappy.

– Me

I’ve turned into a basic suburban wife and it’s everything I ever dreamed of. But I like getting up on Saturday mornings, drinking coffee and making breakfast while my husband mows the lawn. I like leaving work to go to a quiet home on a quiet street. I don’t even mind cleaning up as much as I used to because for the first time, I own my residence. I may not be living the most exciting life but I am truly the happiest I’ve ever been.

All things considered, I live a pretty conventional life. I went to college, straight on to law school, married my college sweetheart, moved cross country for his career and bought a house. It worked out for me but the traditional patterns of adulthood are just that, traditional. They aren’t the best path or the only path to adulting. In fact, soul singer Chrisette Michelle makes a great case for why she needs to live the nomadic single life for now and possibly forever. And it’s great that she knows herself well enough not to force her life into a shape that suffocates her.

I’m a modern woman and my career is important to me. I love the legal profession and the never-ending opportunities for learning that it provides. But at the end of the day, legal work is enough excitement for me. I thrive in domesticity and I’m content with the choices that brought me here. I wish everyone the same peace and happiness, however it may come about.

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!

Insecure: The Married Friend

HBO’s “Insecure” is one of my favorite shows. It’s funny, beautifully shot, and does a great job of showing the ups and downs of black adulthood. There is a widespread societal myth that once you turn 30, you have it all together. Thanks to the depressed economy, wage inequality, and massive inflation that milennials inherited from Baby Boomers, that’s not the case. Add in love life drama and it can feel like you’re not together enough to even claim the title of being an adult.



Episode 6 of Season 3 aired this past week. Warning–spoilers ahead so if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s time to get outta here! You don’t have to be an Insecure fan to understand my point, but I’ll add a little extra description for those who don’t get it. The star of the show is Issa, who is fun but slightly awkward and always irresponsible. She has three good girlfriends–Molly (her BFF) who has a high powered law career but a tragic love life; Tiffany, who is super bougie, derives great pleasure from being the only married one in the group, and is pregnant with her first child; and Kelli, who is as hard working as Molly but having much more fun being single, and is closest to Tiffany. 

Tiffany mentioned earlier in the season that she knows her friends have a group chat without her, and even though she claims to be unbothered we all know it’s a lie. In episode 5, the girls went to Coachella. They popped some pills, missed the Beyonce performance, and had some real talk. Tiffany revealed to Issa that she’s been feeling left out of the group ever since she got pregnant, and even though she didn’t go as hard as the rest of them she made an effort to ignore her pregnancy related discomfort and fatigue to have one last outing before everything changes. 

In episode 6, Tiffany has a baby shower and all these tensions come to a head. Tiffany has a new group of mom friends, dubbed “The Crazy Crew”, who planned her shower and were there extra early to make sure everything went off smoothly. While Molly and Issa seem to get past the affront with a little snark, Kelli is devastated when one of The Crazy Crew calls her beautiful handmade cupcakes a “backup dessert” and won’t put them on the main table. Kelli storms out and confronts Tiffany about excluding her from the baby shower planning after she volunteered. Tiffany says that Kelli wouldn’t understand because she’s not a mom. Kelli breaks down over the fact that she’s losing her best friend to the baby and nobody, including said best friend, seems to care.

I found it so interesting to see this scenario play out onscreen. Insecure focuses mainly on the lives of its single characters, and this was a great look at the shifting friendship dynamics that happen after major life changes. I don’t have any kids yet but I have seen and experienced some of what happens after marriage. 

No matter how long you’ve been together as a couple, a honeymoon period follows the wedding because everything feels new again. You can’t call each other husband and wife without giggling and you’re just so excited to have made it official. This is the start of the estrangement–single friends, who were assured before the wedding that nothing would change, see their married friend slipping away. A couple happy hour or brunch invitations get declined, a few calls or text messages get missed, and then they stop coming altogether. Meanwhile both friends feel like the other doesn’t care anymore.

What unmarried people don’t understand is that their married friends have good intentions. They just didn’t know what they were getting into. Being a spouse comes with a lot more obligations than being a boyfriend or girlfriend. You’ve got a whole set of in laws and if your spouse is close with their family, you’ll be expected to see them more than once a year. There’s a whole new set of birthdays, weddings, and graduations to attend. If your husband’s cousin who lives across the country comes into town and his aunt wants to have a special family reunion dinner, you gotta go too. Plus there’s all the social invitations from your spouse’s best friend(s): double dates, cookouts, game nights, engagement parties, etc. If your friend has a kid then the entire game has changed. Moms barely have time to shower and feed themselves after the baby is born, so unfortunately friendship is way down the priority list for that first year while they figure out how to keep a tiny human healthy and thriving.

It takes understanding and communication on both sides to maintain any adult friendships–even single people have jobs, other friends, family, and hobbies that take up their time. At a certain age, spontaneous weeknight drinking is just not going to be the default hangout anymore. Your friend (parent or not, married or single) isn’t trying to schedule brunch a month ahead of time because she doesn’t want to hear from you the rest of the month. She’s doing it so that time is set aside for you to get her full attention and you don’t keep getting shoved to the bottom of her priority list. Husbands and kids are special, but nobody can replace your good good girlfriends!

Thoughtful 30

 

I’m 30, which is an age that comes with a lot of “supposed to be”. You’re supposed to be married, supposed to be starting a family, supposed to be at a high point in your care, supposed to be financially stable, blah, blah, blah. I am where I am, which is better than where I used to be but not where I want to end up and most days I’m 100% okay with that. I literally do not have the energy for anything that’s not about my family, my friends, or my job.

30 years old is when you start to recognize your mortality. You realize that you can’t take your health for granted. It could be something as big as having experienced the death of close family or friend. Or the simple fact that you can’t work out without stretching afterward and expect to be mobile the next day. Your body still bounces back from a night of drinking, or a week of eating nothing but junk food, but you feel it. It’s not automatic. I’ve really started to prioritize my health because I owe it to myself. And I feel it would be stupid of me to become a mother and try to raise a whole human, without being consistent about the things that take care of me.  I’ve got a few years left to myself and I’m using them to become a better version of me, the me that I want to maintain into my golden years. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I want to vibrate higher.

People tell me, “You’re always so calm!” or “You always know what to do!”. Which is funny because it’s so far from the truth. I am less uptight and anxious than I used to be but the progress was hard fought, and there are days when I feel crazy. What grounds me? The knowledge that stress kills, so I try not to work myself up over nothing. As for the rest of it, I do my research, ask questions, and then make a decision.  There’s no way to completely avoid making a mistake ever, and most mistakes, if made in good faith, are not unfixable. You can’t let the fear of getting it wrong 5% of the time paralyze you into never doing anything, or constantly apologizing for your decisions ahead of time. It’s inefficient and annoying as f*ck.

To close this out, I experienced a stumbling block just this week that would have sent 25 year old me into a tailspin. I got passed over for a lateral promotion that would have made me permanent at my job rather than staying on contract. And I didn’t care. I was truly at peace, and even happy for the people who got it. God has never let me down, so I know he has something better for me. Even if it’s me finally going out on my own as as solo practitioner (something else I realized will happen eventually, because I’m just not built to be a worker bee forever. I have too many strong opinions on how I could run a business better!). Not once in my life have I had to beg, borrow, or steal in order to take care of my basic, essential needs. Everything else I can live without. I trust that there will be a day when I’m rich (by my standards), and will be able to comfortably do most of the things I want. That day won’t come any faster by spending these building years envious of others, or upset that my blessings aren’t coming faster. So I will wait, gratefully.

Money Problems

I have a money problem.

Not in the traditional sense, though. I have some credit card debt but nothing that is making me eat ramen noodles or contemplate filing bankruptcy. I have student loan payments, but as long as I follow my monthly budget I can make them without sacrificing all the joy in my life. Really, what I have is a problem with thinking I won’t have enough money.

Granted, you can pick up any newspaper and read about the economic factors that are causing my generation to delay marriage, children, and home ownership. But as far as millenials go, I’m par for the course and on track to meet my financial goals–albeit not as soon as I want to.

I grew up in a household where money was tight. My parents did the best they could, and taught me from their mistakes. But being a natural worrywart, money was something I obsessed over. I hoarded my allowance and gift cards to buy brand name sneakers, and jeans on clearance from Aeropostale (yes, that brand was hot back in my day lol). In high school I decided to be a lawyer because I thought it was a profession that would allow me to help people without being broke.

Christians subscribe to the belief that God will keep testing you until you pass the test. I’ve come to the realization that money is mine. I’ve never been evicted, never missed a payment, never had a creditor call my phone. I’m not a superstar, but on balance, I’m good with money. I put aside a portion of my check each month into savings and retirement. Sure, I can’t spend $5,000 on a vacation tomorrow and I can’t buy all the things I want but that’s life. No matter how much money you have, you get used to it and there will be something you can’t afford.

In the meantime, I’m learning to sit in the discomfort of “but why can’t I have it” and practice gratitude for all the things I do have.

Soundbites

I’ve been working on an issue-related blog post for a month now and I have writer’s block. Well, not so much writer’s block- I know what I want to say but I can’t focus long enough to say it. So I’m just gonna let it cook and come back around to it. In the meantime I wanted to get some other thoughts out into the universe.

On work: That’s actually going pretty well. I work in legal aid and it’s everything I thought it would be (for good and bad, lol). Every once in a while I run into a difficult client but on the whole, they’re easier to work with than some of my private practice clients because they trust my expertise and don’t question me to death. And even when I can’t do anything, people are just so grateful to be listened to and treated with dignity. I’ve had more than one person cry on the phone because they had lost so much (I work primarily with folks who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey). I am also up for transfer to a community advocacy position which is the job I’ve been preparing for my entire career. My interview is next week and I’m just praying I get it so y’all send some good vibes my way, please!

On wellness: Sleep is everything. I mean I’ve always needed my 8 hours a night but now it’s more about physically being able to get up on time rather than just being grumpy all day. My body will get its rest whether EYE say we have time to sleep in or not. I slept through my alarm all last week and fortunately, my boss was out of town and didn’t witness my egregious lack of punctuality. I’m working on winding down at night and being disciplined about my bedtime because I legit have things to do!

On politics: America is completely f*cked. And I’m tired of all these thinkpieces about how white men feel forgotten, and conservatives feel attacked, and racists don’t want to be called racists. Liberals have their own set of issues but I’d rather have people err to the extreme of political correctness and inclusion than the extreme of hatred and condemnation. You can’t disagree with a Drumpf supporter without them taking it as a personal attack because they are their politics! So where does that get it? We’re being held hostage by a combination of backwards thinking morons and selfish greedy rich assholes. God help us.

On social life: I read a long time ago that Capricorns age backwards–we get more fun and lighthearted as we age. And in my case that appears to be true. You had to practically bribe me to be social but now I’m going out, having friends over, and even enjoying the occasional glass of moscato or champagne. I was just very goal oriented when I was younger. I knew that I needed an education to get a good foundation for life. Now I’m at the point where I just have to keep from screwing things up, so I can relax a little. Fortunately I’ve come across some cool people and developing my own little circle of girlfriends.

On mortality: I guess your 30s are when things get real. I have a friend who just received a cancer diagnosis, and another good friend who lost their father this week. All I can do is keep praying for them, and checking in to give my support so that hopefully they don’t feel alone. That last part keeps me up at night because I found out recently that a friend of mine who passed away, actually committed suicide. I’m glad I found out after the fact because knowing up front would have made it so much harder to get over. I’m still not over it, but I’ve accepted that he’s gone enough so that this new information doesn’t send me into a grief spiral. I just wish he had reached out to someone, anyone. For the record, if you are my friend and going through a hard time, I’m here for you. I’d rather you “inconvenience” me than go to your funeral.

On Greek life: I love my blue and white but I love my husband and my free time more. I won’t lie to anybody. The die hard sorors will tell me “It’s only a couple hours a month to participate!” LIES. Chapter meeting is 3-4 hours on a Saturday afternoon, which we all know is peak weekend when everything happens! Let me know when y’all stop letting people hold us hostage to read the entire minutes from all 12 committee meetings. Between email and Facebook there’s no reason to go more than 2 hours. Then y’all wanna hang out afterwards when I was just here all day. Next thing you’re asking me to be on a committee which is a 2 hour conference call every month. I would go to the social events but my choices are a) go to the movies or the park with your kids (*shudder*) or pay $40 to go hang out in the VIP section of some lounge and still have to buy my own food and drinks. If I wanted to spend $50+ on a night out I could have met my bougie friend at III Forks, ate a gourmet steak and got into Grooves for free before midnight. And did I mention the dues which seem to go up every year? GURL BYE (*in my Funky Dineva voice*)