Reclaiming My Time When Life Doesn’t Look Like It Should

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) is a Congresswoman we can be proud of. Her no nonsense attitude is a refreshing change from the worst iteration of realpolitik spewing from the current administration. In particular, she has become famous for politely, but firmly, asserting her authority when challenged by men.

“Reclaiming my time” has gone viral and there are countless memes that apply this phrase to the dating world specifically. But the implications are much wider.

On S2E2 of Issa Rae’s “Insecure”, the protagonist’s best friend Molly is shown in therapy. After some discussion of her work and personal life, the therapist respond: “You frame a lot of things in your life with ‘should’. . .If those ’shoulds’ didn’t come to fruition, would you feel comfortable with your life looking a different way?” This is a question that I think every adult has struggled with in some degree since the beginning of time. But it’s particularly salient to millenials, who have grown up with so much choice, so many promises, and such high expectations that the reality of adult obligations has proved an especially rude, and sometimes bitter, shock.

Many of us follow the same routine day in and day out. I would argue that most of us just float through it, pulled and pushed this way and that, simply reacting to whatever happens. We waste hours on things we mostly won’t care about even a year from now–television, Buzzfeed listicles, InstaTwitBook, online window shopping, cute animal videos, etc etc. I’m guilty of all of the above (plus Pinterest recipe clipping, blog reading, and video recaps of my favorite shows). I’ve ended many a day feeling exhausted, but having not accomplished much of any real substance. Adding to my current confusion is the fact that a year ago I blew up my life by quitting my job and going back to school. Currently, I’m underemployed and my contract job hasn’t required any tax work so far. I have an interview coming up at the end of this week that I’m really excited about, but trying not to pin my hopes on. At this point, I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs, dozens of which I’ve been super excited about, only to be ignored, rejected, or get to the interview and find out it’s basically an indentured servant position.

Anyway, I’m on a particularly brutal document review project. The discovery is for a corporate merger which makes the documents more technical and mentally demanding to work through than your average production. I’m putting in about 50 hours a week and the client asked everyone to do at least 10 hours, 7 days a week to meet the deadline and I just flatly refused. I’m reclaiming my time! The whole reason I do document review is that I can pick and choose my projects and my hours, and that wasn’t the requirement when I signed up so I don’t feel obligated to break my neck because the client miscalculated. I clocked out Friday and happily didn’t clock in again until Monday.

So what did I do with my reclaimed time? This brings me back around to my second point. When I was a little, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a lot of things but I always came back around to that. I wanted to write fiction, but I thought journalism would have been a good compromise. Then I got to high school and started researching careers and realized that a) journalism jobs were very hard to come by and only getting hard due to the rise of the internet; b) I’d very likely make a crap salary for the first 10 years; and c) unless I wanted to get stuck on local news I’d have to move to New York City. And at the time I decided I just didn’t want it bad enough. I grew up in a cash strapped household, I wanted to be comfortable, and I wanted to live somewhere with little to no snow in winter and a reasonable cost of living.

But lately I’ve just felt like something was missing in my life. Last year I downloaded a novel writing software called yWriter, and began working on random scenes and concepts. Last, something finally clicked. On Friday night I stayed up until 4 am and wrote about a chapter’s worth of material. Sicne then I’ve been scribbling down story arcs, character names, and background info for a fantasy novel. It might be complete crap. It may never be read by anyone but my sister, but I want to write it anyway. I didn’t have the gumption to be a full time artist, but I have a brain and a working laptop. There’s no reason I can’t still write for myself, and I know if I give it up completely then I’ll look back on my life one day and completely regret it. And if I have a kid who decides to be a writer and becomes a raging success, I don’t want to feel resentful that they lived my dream because I just let it fall by the wayside. And who knows, if it turns out half decent maybe I’ll self-publish it on Amazon and you’ll see an affiliate link here on the blog 🙂

So how are you reclaiming your time? Let me know in the comments!

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June Shopping Haul

It’s been a while since I had a summer wardrobe to speak of. That was okay, since Atlanta is only uncomfortably hot for the actual 3 months of summer, where as Houston is hot year round. It was 80 degrees at Christmas, which is unfortunate since one of my husband’s aunts insists on doing an annual ugly sweater contest. eek Anyway, last “winter” I finally came to grips with the fact that I live here now and I don’t need 25 sweaters, five coats and four pairs of boots. *sobs dramatically* So I’ve been purging my closet and realized I had “nothing” to wear. You know what that means!

Let’s get to it. . .

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Torrid cold shoulder romper

Rompers, rompers, rompers! With all the talk of rompers for men, I realized that-tragedy!- I no longer owned one. My last romper was a sleeveless button up from Forever 21 that I had a lot of fun with circa summer 2011. My cups spilleth over and I had to safety pin the chest from day one, so after two buttons popped I just gave it up. When I saw this romper on clearance at   Torrid I couldn’t resist. It just screams summer fun!

 

Currently all my shorts are bermudas or close to it so I couldn’t resist this mini pair in a polka dot print.

 

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Cole Haan ballet flat

 

I wear a size 11W so it’s hard to find shoes. And either I can’t find anything, or I buy several pairs at one time. Between last month and this month I’ve bought five pairs of shoes and I have no regrets! I’ve been searching for a classic ballet flat forever and this fit the bill. It’s not wide width, but with the round toe and genuine leather construction they stretch to fit. Plus the mini wedge makes them super comfortable. *happy dance*

I love the twist knot detail on these sandals. Simple but chic. They’re my new summer work staple because they go with everything!

 

 

 

 

Did I cop the new Fenty bow slides? Actually no and that’s why I have a beef with Rihanna. After those atrocious fur slides and Spice Girl platform sneakers she finally made some cute shoes but they only go up to a size 10! She really could have got me for about $300 because I L-O-V-E-D not only the bow slides, but also the satin sneakers with ribbon laces. I’ll never have the chance so I got a pair Steve Madden knockoffs, in white leather. At least they’re easier to clean.

I don’t think I’ve ever owned a “freakum dress” in my life. I’m very modest so I very rarely show off more than one part of my body at a time. Honestly, this still probably doesn’t qualify but the combination of the thigh slit, cleavage and back out make it a freakum dress for me. My wedding anniversary is coming up in a few months and it will be nice to see my husband’s jaw drop because I *never* wear stuff like this. Hey boo! *body rolls*

Have you bought anything you love lately? Let me know in the comments!

 

7 TV Shows Canceled Too Soon

I’ve always been a bookworm. Mostly because I love reading, but also because I grew up without cable so books didn’t have much competition. When your only options are Matlock reruns, Jeopardy, and the local news, books look much more attractive. Now we’re living in the age of peak tv and I have cable, DVR, and Amazon Prime. I used to have Hulu until it stopped being free. The worst part of television is starting a new show. Unless it’s something I’m excited about from the commercials alone, I wait until a show gets a second season before I invest time and energy. Nevertheless, I’ve been burned a few times over the years. Here’s a roundup of some shows that  I loved and lost.

Powerless (NBC, 2017): An inside look at the lives of regular folks in the DC Universe. Vanessa Hudgens plays the newest hire at Wayne Industries, headed by Bruce’s incompetent cousin, Van. One of my favorite episodes deals with Hudgens’s character having a new boyfriend who turns out to be an evil henchman. This show got pulled before it even completed its first season. I feel like this was a case of the right show on the wrong network. It probably would have done better numbers on the CW (which has successfully adapted DC Comics properties Green Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow) or even Comedy Central (perhaps as a lead in to Tosh.0 or At Midnight).

 

Still Star Crossed (ABC, 2017) : This summer series, based on a YA novel and produced by Shonda Rhimes, should have been a success. It looks great–the cast is gorgeous (and super diverse), and so are the costumes and setting. This covers the romantic and political machinations of the Montague and Capulet families after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. However, it got moved from Monday nights after The Bachelorette to Saturday nights, and ABC hasn’t put original programming on Saturday nights since the 90s (way back when there was no DVR and you watched reruns in the summer!). Honestly, this never really had a chance. While the show definitely doesn’t fit into the mold of Shonda’s Thursday dramas Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away With Murder, it might have done well airing on Sundays after Once Upon a Time. The OUAT audience is prepared to accept a universe where fairy tale characters are real, so this wouldn’t be a huge leap. Still Star Crossed also would have been a perfect fit for the CW, taking the time slot recently vacated by the series finale of Reign (a teen drama adaptation of Mary, Queen of Scots’s life story).

 

Pitch (Fox, 2016): Pitch tells the story of Ginny Baker, Major League Baseball’s first female player. I’m not a sports fan and I find baseball especially boring, but I enjoy sports dramas (Survivor’s Remorse on Starz and Ballers on HBO are two of my faves). I love seeing black people on screen, and Ginny’s character was something you don’t see much. She was a female athlete who was dedicated to her sport, but who also had a love life. And the behind the scenes, Money Ball-esque machinations of the coach and front office were entertaining as well. Plus: plenty of topless Mark Paul-Gosselaar (aka Zack Morris aka the finest white boy alive)! Unfortunately, Fox chose to air this in a competing time slot with actual MLB games, therefore cutting out a large portion of the potential audience. Another time slot could have saved this. It also might have done better on TNT, which has a history of turning unconventional TV shows into hits (a la Leverage, Franklin & Bash, and The Librarians).

 

Dracula (NBC, 2013): This update of the Bram Stoker tale starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a sophisticated American businessman in London circa the Industrial Revolution. The bones of the story remained the same and Meyers was a great casting decision, as his commitment to the role kept it grounded. It came on after Grimm (which just wrapped a fantastic six season run!), so it had a solid lead in audience. It got tanked or low ratings after the first season, which I felt was unfair. Friday night shows, even the most successful, have much lower ratings than their Sunday – Thursday counterparts. It was set to be picked up by Netflix, but rumor has it that problems with Meyers sank the possible reboot.

 

The Gates (ABC, 2010): Nick Monohan is a cop who takes a cushy job as chief of security for an upscale suburban neighborhood. Little does he know, the families he’s watching are vampires, werewolves, witches, and other supernatural beings. This was basically Desperate Housewives with an urban fantasy twist, and even starred Rhona Mitra, who was in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Ultimately, I think this was a few years before its time. In 2010, the Marvel cinematic universe was just launching with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk (Edward Norton version). It wasn’t until 2011’s Thor and Captain America that the MCU picked up steam and studios started to realize that fantasy/scifi/comic book adaptations had a real audience, and weren’t just a fluke. Had it come to television in 2015, I believe it could have developed a strong following.

 

Mercy (NBC, 2009): This was a medical drama about a nurse who served in the Army’s medical corps in Iraq. She had an affair with the doctor she worked with, who of course gets a job at her hometown hospital. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except she left behind a husband and is dealing with PTSD. Her fellow nurses also had their own problems. It starred Taylor Schilling, who now helms Orange Is The New Black. Mercy was a worthy successor to medical drama ER, which had wrapped up its final season in the spring before Mercy aired. Apparently, I was the only watching it because ratings started low and got lower. It never caught on like Grey’s Anatomy, but it had really great characters. Looking back, it felt similar Nurse Jackie–yet another show that might have done better on cable.

 

Eastwick (ABC, 2009): This show was a lighthearted adaptation of the 1987 cult classic film The Witches of Eastwick, itself based on the novel of the same name by John Updike. The lead actresses had great chemistry. The magic stuff was cheesy but the likeability of the cast made it fun. It was very similar to the 90s WB show Charmed, but was canceled after one season.

So, what are the shows you wish could have a second chance? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

Bills, Bills, Bills

False equivalencies irk me. I try my best to ignore clickbait and purposely inflammatory social media posts, but every so often one gets to me enough that I have to pull out my soapbox. This is one of those times. You’ve been warned!

It’s hard to fit nuance into a Facebook status, but this one is woefully lacking. The TL;DR of it all is that this is ultimately a class issue (although race always plays a part in that because this is America). I don’t know any black people with well off parents who were not, or would not have been allowed to live at home and get back on their feet when they didn’t get a job right after graduation or when they got laid off from their first job. After Tex got laid off, we lived with his parents for 7 months and didn’t pay any rent, bills, nothing. If it had been much longer than that, they probably would have asked us to chip in for groceries but I wouldn’t have felt it was unfair. Conversely, I’ve known lower income white kids who lived at home and got part time jobs in order to contribute to expenses.

Truthfully, the vast majority of Americans (Black and white!) are living paycheck to paycheck. One recent study shows that about 60% of us don’t even have $500 in savings. That was a small sample size, but if that large a percentage of us don’t have even that small amount, how many don’t have the recommended 3 months’ living expenses? If your financial situation is that precarious, imagine the burden of supporting an adult child who is no longer eligible for Medicaid, must be registered separately on your car insurance, no longer eats 2 of their 3 meals a day at school, and is now at home 8 hours a day with the lights and A/C on. Together, that easily costs another $500 a month.

For parents who earn $250,000 or more a year and have inherited wealth, that picture is completely different. An alumni legacy scholarship and proportionally lower tuition kept them out of college debt. A trust fund from their parents allowed them to put 50% down on their first house, enabling them to pay it off in 10 years, buy a new home and rent out the old one (creating a second stream of income). So when little Becky wants to take off a year between high school and college, it’s no problem for her to spend her time going on spring break and overseas mission trips on her parents’ dime. When Timmy graduates and has to take an entry level job that only pays $30,000 a year, he can stay in his parents’ rental home until he makes enough money to get his own place (which will almost certainly be a house, not an apartment).

Comparing this situation to Black parents who didn’t buy a house until their child started kindergarten, have 15 more years on their mortgage, had to co-sign loans for college tuition, and have to contribute to the cost of a nursing home for their parents (who had no retirement savings) is just unfair. Couple that with the average person’s complete lack of financial education and it creates a vicious cycle.

I really think that financial education should be part of the K-12 curriculum. Every kid has to take calculus even though only a small percentage will pursue careers that require its use. But they don’t know how to balance a checkbook or create a budget as every adult will have to do? That’s madness. I got those lessons throughout life from my parents, and enterprising teachers who taught me about the stock market and income taxes. But that should be available to everyone.

May Shopping Haul

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a fun post. There’s nothing going on pop culture or celebrity wise that  I find particularly interesting so shopping it is! I love the “Sh*t I Bought” series of posts on Jezebel’s The Muse so I decided to do my own for the past month or so.

Disclaimer: I bought a lot of stuff. Don’t judge me! The last time I went on a spree like this was right after I got my law firm job and realized I only had enough workwear to carry me through my first two weeks. Since I quit and went back to school, of course I slashed my discretionary spending. But I got some pretty well paying document review work, along with a surprise influx of cash from an unexpected source. So

I bought this on the spur of the moment while on the way to meet Sunny & Maya at a different store in the shopping center. This is basically the dress equivalent of yoga pants. The fabric is deliciously soft, it’s a modest length, and with the right shoes and a blazer it will pass for summer workwear. The flowiness is also great for that time of the month–you can feel like you’re in pajamas while looking fit for public consumption.H&M

I love a good polka dot tee. I actually already have one but it has half sleeves and no ruffles, and this one was cheap af so why not?

I love dark denim but in Houston, it’s 80 degrees at Christmas and I don’t know what the rest of the year. Dark denim is not your friend in the summer months. I was skeptical about the cropped flare deal, but these actually worked.

Khaki is back (never went out for me personally) and ruffles are majorly in. Unfortunately almost all the ruffles come on tops. With wide shoulders, DD cups and a short neck I know that shirt ruffles are not my friend (believe me Maya, I tried to make fetch happen and failed miserably). But I love that this side ruffle pencil skirt gives me some extra oomph in the hip department!

Victoria Beckham bee blouse I bought this in a 3X so it fits my boobs and is big everywhere else. But this shirt was so me I don’t mind spending another $15 to get it tailored.

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Rebdolls is like Forever 21 but cooler. All their dresses are named after songs/song lyrics, they have cute graphic tees that are cut for women with boobs, and almost everything is under $50. If it’s over $50, just sign up for email alerts because every other month there’s a 20% off sale. Anyway, I realized I don’t really have any going out dresses. I mean, I have dresses that I wear out but they’d really be more comfortable at brunch, church, or a networking event. Nothing in my closet really says “drinks with the girls” or “date night”. This is short with a mostly open back so I think this fits the bill. Bonus: the ruffle part hits below my boobs!

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My only other maxi dress is strappy and sleeveless, so I can only wear it with a strapless bra which I currently don’t own (come on, Lane Bryant semi annual bra sale!). In addition to the sleeves, I love that this one is white, but the print adds enough color that a small stain wouldn’t be immediately visible. I wore this to the Houston leg of Gentleman Jack Real to Reel film series and swished around all night!

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I love oxfords and I don’t have a black pair so, duh. Very comfy and work appropriate, plus they can be worn with pants and dresses. So you know how you jam your feet into your shoes without untying & retying them and the back gets mashed down? Well this shoe is made fore that. Curiously these “convert” to mules but I don’t think I’ll be wearing mine that way.

I love a good bag, but I usually get tired of them quick. This has long term potential though. The camel color is classic and the color blocked cloth strap is very summery.

Family Ties

The best part of my recent trip home was getting a chance to see my family without all the additional pressures of the holiday season. Since I was there for a whole week and hubs didn’t come with me (at first to save money, and then because he couldn’t get the time off work) I got to have some in person heart to heart chats with both my parents, and my semi-prodigal brother as well.

I’ve written about previously, my dad and I have gone through a rollercoaster of conflicts ever since the divorce, but I think we have finally come to a permanent detente. He and my brother…not so much. But in talking to them both I planted some seeds which I hope will bear fruit in the future. Fathers and sons tend to have combative relationships, and the issue here is compounded by the fact that my brother has all of our father’s stubbornness but also, all of our mother’s sensitivity. It’s fair to say our dad just didn’t get him. He felt like my brother needed to toughen up.

But Dad lived through segregation and went to Georgia State University just two years after it integrated. There were no Black nerds or internet in his day. The world was much harsher. And in the past couple of years I have learned more about how my Dad grew up. That doesn’t absolve him from responsibility but you can’t do what you don’t know. By any objective measure he did far better for us than his parents did for him. There were times I was disappointed, and my feelings were hurt. But nothing he did prevented me from becoming a fully functional adult so what’s the harm in forgiveness?

Without getting bogged down in the details, suffice it to say that he did some things which were just wrong. But parents are people too. It was weighing me down to constantly be reacting to everything he did that I didn’t like. Once I accepted that it had nothing to do with me, I felt so much lighter. My dad got as close as I’ve ever heard him get to apologizing for past mistakes. He even admitted (not explicitly, but reading between the lines) that he was unnecessarily hard on me at times. He also admitted (without naming specific incidents) that he had done things wrong which he wishes he could do differently, but wants to do better for us now.

The current rift between my father and brother is because, on top of all this past baggage, he missed my brother’s ( planned in advance)  engagement party because he had to work.  Of course, my dad had a seemingly reasonable explanation of how he had a client trip that ran over and had to fill in for another driver who called out that day (my dad runs a chauffeur business). But at a point in time, family has to come first and you need to just refund the client and tell them to call an Uber Black. My brother won’t accept anything other than a hat in hand, abject apology which he will probably never get, and feel like he will cut off our father if he doesn’t get it. I’m a jerk so with any other person I would tell him him to go for it. But this is our dad, and I know my brother will one day regret it if they never make up. Plus, I feel like Dad is genuinely seeing the error in his ways and trying to make up for past mistakes.

I just came to a point where I asked myself, do you want to be right or do you want to have peace? I wanted peace. Dad has messed up before and odds are he will do so again. But I have stopped expecting things from him that he can’t give. He loves me, he is proud of me, and if I need financial support I will get it. But emotionally, there are needs he can’t always meet. And that’s okay. Fortunately I have a slew of other people who care about me. Nobody gets everything they want but I do have everything I need to create a happy life for myself. I’m just praying that my brother will discover he has the same.