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!

Common Cents

America, the cheapskate. With this new administration, there’s a lot of talk about balancing the budget, reducing taxes, and that old chestnut–“job creation”.  Part of the problem is that we don’t have people developing skills that are more relevant to the economy than coal mining, but that’s another post for another day. But conservatives love to talk about how policies are helping or hurting small business owners.*

There’s all this talk about job creation and how things like the Affordable Care Act discourage business growth. **The truth is that it takes money to make money. If you can’t afford the expenses for your business–including reasonable employee wages–then you need to reevaluate before you start talking about growth. If you can’t pay your employees, you can’t afford to grow– period! So either you need to reevaluate your business processes to see how you can better handle your workload with what you have, or up your marketing game to get more business in the door.

It’s really unfortunate to me that so many business owners are so cheap. Everyone knows the saying “it takes money to make money”, but few seem to truly understand that. It’s not hard. When you are starting a business, most of your profits should be reinvested as working capital. That’s not to say you shouldn’t pay yourself something to live on. But the first three years are not for you to run out and buy an expensive new car or wardrobe, or lease an expensive office downtown in the hip neighborhood. They are for you to master your branding, network, market yourself, and find out what processes will allow you to scale up from the current skeleton crew operation.

As you all know, I’m a lawyer. As a service professional, an attorney’s or law firm’s reputation is everything because a lot of business comes through word of mouth. Doing a half-assed job on cases you shouldn’t have taken, and missing deadlines because you can’t manage your docket, is bad business and will potentially get you in trouble with the state bar.  Discounting every client who complains about your fee will bite you in the foot. If they are a repeat customer, they’ll expect the same discounted rate. The clients they refer to you will expect a discounted rate. They also won’t take your seriously. In my experience, the clients who get a discounted fee or are on contingency are the most high maintenance, demanding clients. They want to go to trial long after it’s clear they should take a settlement and go home. You waste precious billable hours wrangling them when you could be working on more lucrative cases. All of this for a client who is not substantially contributing to your bottom line.  Many of these things are true for other professionals as well.

So that’s why my interview the other day irked me so much. The firm had a standalone building with a dedicated reception lobby, two conference rooms, four offices and a break room. There was a recent model year BMW parked close by. My interviewer’s shoes looked designer and their shirts and suits looked custom tailored. Yet, they want someone to work for them 7 days a week for a pittance.  See, we millenials peep game. The same Baby Booomers who claim we’re lazy and entitled, told us to know our worth, negotiate everything, and demand respect. Now that the rubber has hit the road, they’ve changed their tune. They want us to do better, just not better than them. And that’s messed up.

 

*Everyone thinks about the Mom & Pop diner when you say small business, but they don’t give a crap. Under tax law you can create an S-Corp, literally “small corporation”, which can’t have more than 100 shareholders. But there are S-Corps which are multi-million dollar  international operations. #TheMoreYouKnow

**The ACA requires that businesses with 50 or more employees provide sponsored health insurance coverage. The cost of this coverage is deductible by the company as a business expense.

Back to the Future

It’s 2015- the year that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future II. We’ve arrived, y’all. But while everybody else is worried about self-lacing sneakers, hoverboards and flying cars, I want to know where my Jetsons-style conveyor belt automatic shower/groomer is. Anyway, going into a new year always makes people ripe for reflection and I’m no different. Last year I was mostly concerned with getting my law license. This year, I really want a full time job (or a clear sign that I need to be putting my energy into entrepreneurship).  Other than that, my goals are fitness related but I’d rather expound on that in a different post. So for my New Year’s entry, I’m giving you a list of 10 things that could have been blog posts but weren’t. Enjoy!

1. I’m deeply uncomfortable with this new TMI world we live in. There’s a difference between keeping it real and oversharing. Just seems like nothing is sacred or private anymore (people take selfies on the toilet, for God’s sake). The desire to be their authentic is eroding discretion. Example:  S.ex is wonderful, but I don’ care to hear about bedroom gymnastics, or anything related to it, from anyone but my husband. You can be gay, straight, or humping a goat- I’m going to figuratively stick my fingers in my ear and yell “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” if you start spilling the details. Sorry, I’m a retro model.

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2. A lot of stuff gets lumped under the umbrella of shaming and intolerance. And I’ve lived long enough to know there is plenty of that out in the world. But there are times when it seems that folks just can’t handle it when others won’t  validate your life choices by agreeing with them. Part of being an adult is learning that

a) You don’t need the world’s approval for everything you do, and you won’t get it.

b) Sometimes the reward for living life the way you want, is simply living your life the way you want.

3. Freedom of  speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Sony learned that lesson when they got hacked and all the water cooler gossip they’d been emailing back and forth got out*. So did a bunch of people on this Tumblr when their racist antics got back to their employers. Some things are best kept to yourself.

 

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4. Being married is boring sometimes. But so is life. You don’t kill yourself out of boredom so why kill your relationship? I think part of the reason people divorce so much is that we’ve got too many options (Tinder, Snapchat, Match.com) and too much time to think about them. 100 years ago there were no washing machines computers, tv,  or microwave ovens. The US population has more than tripled (from 100.5 million to 320 million) in that time so there are quite literally more options out there. At some point, you gotta learn to be happy with what you got, and make it work. And if you’re bored, here’s a hint: try being interesting and see what happens.

5. Sometimes you just have to let  it go. Unless you suffer from a mental illness like depression, happiness is a choice. Stop doing things that make you unhappy. Step away from the computer screen and dance to your favorite song, call a family member, hit that tree pose, whatever. People make changes when they get fed up. If you’re not at that point yet? Shut up and stop lying to yourself and annoying everybody else.

 

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6. “Friend” isn’t a word I use lightly. Friendship means we have each other’s backs. We tell each other the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. We can make mistakes and forgive each other. But most of all, we reciprocate. I have never been popular, and I’ve had a lot of alleged friendships that ended badly.** So I want to know that my friendship is reciprocated. We all get wrapped up in our hectic lives. But if I can look back a full calendar year and my only  contact with you was when you’re returning a call/text/smoke signal from me, I assume we’re not that close. You think about the people you care about most. If we’re really friends, at some point you should think “Hey, I haven’t talked to Lecie in a while, let me see what’s up with her.” Folks who are married and/or a parent get more leeway but at this point, most people I know don’t fall into those categories.

7. If you can’t afford hired help, being a housewife is hard. Balancing a budget, meal planning and grocery shopping, the neverending drudgery of dirty dishes, calling the bank/cable guy/insurance company to avoid bogus fees and keep from getting the runaround….not sure how I’m going to juggle once I’m working full time. As for the dishes at least, I finally said “eff the planet” and bought paper plates. Totally worth it.

8. Why do plane tickets cost so freaking much for so little? The widest economy seat today is still narrower than the smallest economy a mere 10 years ago, and boarding times have tripled. All so they can nickel and dime you with stupid up-charges. You’d think since fuel costs (probably largest variable cost for any airline) are dropping, ticket prices would go down. Nope. F*ck capitalism.

 

I could go on (rants #onfleek), but my word count is long enough as it is. Ciao!

 

 

*PRO TIP: By this point everyone should really know that you just do NOT talk sh*t via work email. Honestly, for the purposes of plausible deniability you shouldn’t write down your sh*t talking at all, but if you absolutely must, do it on your personal email, on your personal device, on your personal internet connection. You’re welcome.

**Yes, I know the common denominator is me. But given that I have very honest friends and none of them has yet to tell me that I’m an extraordinarily difficult person to make friends with, I think I just had a run of character-developing bad luck.

 

 

In Defense of Millenials

I love to see a good anti-millenial article. It makes me chuckle. Why? Because all this concern trolling intentionally ignores the fact that the world is fundamentally different than it was when our parents were our age. Like, 180 degrees type different. If I had graduated from law school in the 90s, I could have easily landed a $60k/yr job with full benefits at a local firm (BEFORE passing the bar) and that would have been considered mediocre. These days you’re ecstatic to get $40k/yr. And if you can get $50/mo on your health insurance premium and two weeks PAID vacation? Ballin’!

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So in defense of my generation, today I’ll be cheerfully dismantling some of the vicious lies spread about us. All aboard the Snark Express!

 

1. Millenials are responsible for stores being open on Thanksgiving day because they’re “more than happy to leave the dinner and go shopping.” Well, when you’re already living with your parents, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday! The turkey’s gonna last a week and we can DVR the football game. We definitely can’t afford a house and the new smart tv only goes on sale once a year. Fiscal responsibility FTW!

2. Millenials are destroying brands like McDonalds and Coke. When you can’t afford health insurance, you realize pretty quickly that your health is your greatest asset- and maintaining it means staying away from the things that you know for a fact are going to kill you. Coke? Nah, we’ll have the water without the side of stomach ulcer. McDonalds? We’ll save our dollars for Chipotle- at least their meat is 100% actual meat. *shudder*

3. Millenials are failures at dating and don’t know how to love.  Ha! Money can’t buy you love, but it sho nuff pays the bills. Between grad school, our unpaid internship, our minimum wage part time job, and our side hustle, who has the time (or disposable income) to date anymore? Sex is free and we can squeeze it in between class and updating our resumes. Besides, if the Greatest Generation had Tinder back in those days, they wouldn’t have bothered with dinner dates either. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

4. Millenials don’t know basic skills like sewing. I’ll take that L. The only thing I can do with a needle and thread is stitch a hole and put a button on. It would be nice to be able to make an outfit from scratch, but when you can just pick up a $12 shirt and $25 pair of jeans from Old Navy…why bother? Besides, these skills were usually taught in classes like Home Economics, which are getting cut all the time to make room for more standardized test cramming. Knowing how to make  Rice Krispies treats and wool socks isn’t going to get us into college.

5. Millenials are to blame for Hollywood’s excessive mining of nostalgia to sell movie tickets. When you’re thousands of dollars in student loan debt and can only afford an apartment by living with 3 roommates, you tend to take comfort in your childhood pastimes. Since our childhood memories are wrapped up in media that is still readily available, we can and do indulge frequently. The emergence of social media also means that our media consumption habits are amplified and easily quantified by the Hollywood brass. Sorry we’re not sorry! #TeamAutobot

6. Millenials are lazy and taking too long to grow up. Ah, the catchall indictment of 20-somethings. The great irony is that not a single one of us is really excited to be living the struggle life. I for one would love to have the funds to put down $10k on a house. I look forward to the day when I make $300,000/yr and don’t have to rely on a tax refund to pad my savings account. Unfortunately, the business world simply can’t (or won’t) support the influx of young, educated people at a wage where we can achieve complete financial independence. Sure, many of us are entrepreneurial- but it usually takes 3 years for a business to turn a profit. In the meantime, our choices are a) hit up mom and dad; b) sell drugs or get on the pole; or c) give up and live in a box on the sidewalk.

All humor aside, any rational adult should be able to realize that millenials are just trying to make it. There were plenty of self-involved Boomers, they just weren’t visible on the same scale that we are. The only reason many of us seem “entitled” is that we know for a fact we’ve worked harder than previous generations and have zero to show for it. Think about it: high school math now goes through calculus; the SAT has an extra section;  many of us had to pass a standardized test just to graduate high school; college admissions are more selective than ever; and we’re competing for jobs with people who will work for pennies overseas. Expensive cars and home ownership are out of reach, so why not buy the new iPhone? Until the government intervenes in a big way- like forgiving some (or all) of our student loans, subsidizing mortgages for folks with advanced degrees and low incomes, or making corporate America funnel some of that bailout money into entry- and mid-level jobs that require professional skills- we’ll just have to muddle through as best we can. And instead of crying about it, we’ll smile- and take a selfie.