Ms. Independent

There I was AGAIN.  I said last year and the year before that–that I wasn’t returning without a man.  And yet here I was on one of my favorite stops of “The FABulous Summer” tour…alone.

Now don’t cry for me Argentina, ’cause your girl was feeling muy caliente in an island-inspired top, seasonal staple white jeans and wedge sandals.  That is, until I stepped into the Eric Roberson concert and was seated at a table next to a couple.  Suddenly my make-up couldn’t hide the fact that I’d much rather be singing a duet than a solo.  It was awkward at best, trying not to be a third wheel when parked in the middle of their romantic date.  I immersed myself in Facebook so as not to seem so odd, but there is danger in texting while “driving” through life.  You miss all that’s around you.  So refusing to yield to feelings of inadequacy, I changed gears.  I put the phone down, and focused on the lights and the traffic–the beautiful ambiance of the City Winery and the aesthetic of people moving about.

No sooner than I made the conscious decision to stay in my lane and enjoy the ride of singleness, he walked in.  Another single was seated right across from me!  Several smiles and songs later, it felt like I was out with an old friend.  Conversation was easy as were his looks on the eyes.  Yet I was proud of myself for not exceeding the speed limit, and instead simply enjoying the night for what it was.  I’ll admit my hopes accelerated when we exchanged numbers.  But I was truly satisfied when the evening ended with him agreeing to take a selfie for my journalistic posting pleasure.

The next day, after seeing said pic, a girlfriend of mine called and excitedly asked, “Do you know who that was?”  Imagine my surprise when she refreshed and connected my social media memory to a real life one.  “That’s WILL!  The guy I introduced you to…”  A few years prior, a phone number exchange was made in an attempt to fix me up with “a really nice guy.”  Other than small talk, nothing big ever came of it–not even a face to face meeting.  Not a good or bad thing, the “match” making just never quite lit, so no fireworks ensued.  His name and the encounter had fizzled from my mind completely.

But what are the odds of meeting him years later?  The old writer in me jumped for joy–this is the stuff good love stories are made of.  But new wisdom as a result of one too many dead ends has taught me to guard my heart against false car alarms.  *chirp chirp

I still had a great time.  In addition to being one of the best concerts ever, I was shown that God can do anything.  Even with all of the many people, places and things in the world, He can align His GPS and place me right in front of “the one” if and when He wants to.  Time will tell what happens, but I think I’m finally ok either way.  I want it to be His “Will,” not mine.




Racial Profiling: International Lover

They say the best way to get over a man is to get under a new one.  They also say that in order to find him, you have to get lost—in new classes, hobbies…even in aisle 4 of Home Depot as you feign the need for help with screws and…ahem, wood.  Not that I’ve tried it.  In other words, you need to get out more.  After all, “the one” is not going to just show up on your doorstep.

Although it didn’t knock, opportunity was found dialing the lobby phone of my condo.  I kid you not, Avon came-a-calling, or at least a delivery man built just like I like ‘em: a broad, burly, blue-black brother to the night.  He handled his package with ease, but struggled to locate its’ recipient on the phone’s roster.  His goatee surrounded his lips like the chasing lights of a Hollywood marquee.  I was seeing stars and struggling to stand flat-footed on the red carpet.  When he looked in my eyes and solicited my help in locating said neighbor, I thought the Great Carpenter in the Sky had hand-made and shipped this man to me.  Better still was when his foreign tongue revealed he was an overseas delivery.  God I love an accent.  “Lord please let him be from Jamaica” I swiftly and secretly prayed.  I was flying high until he disclosed his Nigerian origin.

Now before you call Jesse and Al on me, or threaten to take my Black card—hear me out.  I consider myself pretty liberal and open-minded.  Throughout my love life I’ve cried many a river and so without hesitation if given the chance I would no doubt make the switch and take a dip in a “Timberlake.”  And I ain’t mad at Paula Patton, but if I were fortunate enough to wake up to the sweet song of a Robin like that, Girrrl I would at least hyphenate my Thicke-ness.  At this point in my life, with the residents of Prospectville being fewer and farther between on the marital map I’ve declared myself an international lover, open to love in all shades, or so I thought.  As an African American, female, and teacher how could I possibly be prejudiced?  Yet as I later Googled “Nigerian men” and speed-dialed my sister-friend whose divorce settlement included a slew of slurs based on her former matrimony with one from the Motherland, Spirit revealed the African elephant in the room…me.

The fact that there are websites dedicated to classifying the dateability of a race gave me momentary solace.  “So I’m not the only one who’s had these thoughts,” I tried to convince myself.  But plurality does not justify prejudice.  Regardless of how plentiful the jokes about African men’s attentiveness being a means to citizenship, dominance, etc., every punch line ain’t funny.  No matter how deeply rooted, the fruit of stereotypes is not sweet, nor is it always true.

Unfortunately my international flight was grounded.  First, I checked myself in and sat down my baggage of bias.  Then dude caused too much turbulence—and it had nothing to do with his nationality.  His answers to how many children he has didn’t line up.  One day he had three, the next week he had four.  “Mi twinz dere two fah one.”  Naw bruh, the exchange rate for offspring is the same back home as it is in these here United States.   Call me picky, but no matter where you’re from or who you are: North, South, East or Kanye West—children are a gift to be proud of.  I was turned off after that.  I therefore stamped his passport with doubt and suspicion and decided to keep it movin.’  Although I hate layovers I’ve decided to wait on the next flight.  When the time zone is right, my prince will come.


Unhappy Camper

When this girly girl changed her Facebook status to “going camping” a universal LOL ensued.  Think Paris Hilton on the reality show, The Simple Life.  With more sense, fewer dollars, and about the same love of all things fabulous I would seemingly fare about as well as she.  To all my, ahem—friends’ surprise and with my own Capricorn determination I packed a few…ok, what I deemed necessary—items.  Pearls, zebra print weekend bag and matching black and white high-heeled Converse in hand, I set out to climb every mountain.

Other than fatigue from trailer slumber similar to The Princess and the Pea, I was fueled by adrenaline and the challenge of it all.  I shucked corn by day and roasted s’mores by night.   I enjoyed the unusually moderate temps, not too hot, not too cold.  I was comforted by the scenic lakes, perfect blue and white sky backdrop and forest green matting.  I bonded with my beloved aunt.  I had such a good time that not only did I chronicle it on Facebook, but I thought it was a wonderful chapter of my family’s history.  So much so, I wanted to share the experience with my long lost sister of sorts.  Although flowers that came into full bloom under the pruning of our different mothers, we are the seeds of the same father.  Little did I know that the second trek back to the trailer with sis in tow would be more like ragweed in the midst of a beautiful garden, choking the life out of it.

As it turns out, instead of joining my aunt and me on the deck’s lounge chairs, my sister would have preferred a drink at the local lounge.  This city girl could not get down with the country.  She didn’t pitch a tent, but rather a loud fit at every suggestion of solitude.  The corn festival in which attendees received free husks to celebrate the harvest was a sweet treat, but to her it was, well, corny.  It should have been no shock then that she also passed on joining everyone around the campfire because as she sourly spat out, “I don’t eat sweets.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no Honey Boo Boo, but my focus is on family.  By inviting my sister I was simply trying to bring us together, to create some order within our dysfunction.  I was left feeling “dissed” and have since come to the realization that it’s not my “function” to mediate or mend my kinfolk.  School was out, but I learned a valuable lesson.  Change the math curriculum all you want, apply the old or new math—either way you can never make up for lost time.  A negative plus a positive equals a negative.  As a teacher this was my last summer hurrah.  It was met with boos and hisses.  I forgot to pack my water resistant heart and as the tears fell, my good time was ruined.  A negative plus a negative, be it numbers or attitudes will also yield a negative result.  Smokey the Bear himself would be the first to tell you that you can’t fight fire with fire.  It is best to extinguish the flames by keeping cool.  I love my sister and my family, but next time I think I’ll pack much lighter, with fewer expectations.   And I am positive that our next family reunion will be in more neutral, northern territory


Designer Love

The topic for this week is love.  Like Chicago Public Schools (CPS), my heart is on strike and now closed.  I push my pen forward knowing that this revolution may not be televised.

It was present day summer 2013.  I was more excited than a May prom queen turned June valedictorian.  I had reason to feel beautiful and the future again looked bright.  My ex had started texting again and I, like a foolish freshman, took this to mean he was ready to graduate to the next level.  I was also in the midst of winning a weight loss battle (20 pounds to date) and the exclamation to my declaration of independence was a fierce new hair cut and color.  What better way to celebrate a new me than with new clothes?!  And so the love affair began.

From afternoon delight on the fitting room floor to hot, late nights by a dimly lit computer screen, I was smitten.  He had me at “Hello…may I get that in your size?”  Not my ex–my shopping addiction.  I had a fling with Dots and a one night stand with Rainbow (they are one season-wear you know).   I was creeping with MAC online.  I formed a much deeper commitment to Taylor (Ann) and Maxx (TJ).  But I really knew I was in trouble when I woke up next to this guy Scott (Carson Pirie) and he led me to Macy’s for a ménage a trios (translation: I found myself parked in front of their doors before they were even open).  It was all good until Mr. Month Lee Statement showed up unannounced and my ex simultaneously disappeared again without warning.  For all of the stuff I’d amassed, my closets and drawers were full, but my account and spirit were empty.

As I walked through Orland Square Mall I carried my purse in the crook of my arm a la Kardashian, all the while knowing I’m really a “carries coupons in a boho bag” kinda girl.  Not a total dunce, my extreme makeover was at least in part for me.  As women we all need to switch our style up from time to time. But if my soul were to go commando, err…bare itself, I would have to admit that I thought if I were cooler, prettier, thinner…that my ex would adorn me with the love and affection I so desperately desire.  And yet, he continues to only occasionally pull me off the shelf and try me on for size.  I’m not so sure we are a good fit.

As it relates to this writing assignment I think I’m finally beginning to learn that I must first fall in love with myself.  I can’t continue to allow my needs to be marked down, my feelings discounted.  To be sure, moving forward again on the conveyor belt of life will be difficult and not labeling all men the same will be a hard task (pun intended).  There has got to be someone out there who is tailor-made for me.  In the meantime I must “do the work” of not selling myself short.  Neither can I make others pay the price for my past.  Please pray for me, that I will see my value and that my decisions will reflect my worth.  And by all means if you see me heading into a store, tackle me faster than you can say, “BOGO!”


The Conjuring

The worst pain is self-inflicted.

I’ve always felt this way, but the emotions are intensified on what will easily go down as one of the worst days of my life.  For as long as I can remember I’ve dreamed of being a writer a la Carrie Bradshaw: the cool clothes, sharp shoes…exclusive events.  After a particularly “BIG” fall and winter (i.e. chilling break-up), I was ready to spring into what I’ve proclaimed to be my most fabulous summer ever.  But it seems Halloween has come early.

God put the words in my head and the pen in my hands years ago.  But on June 1st I was given the opportunity to share my writing on a much larger platform as a correspondent for The Six Brown Chicks.  Membership in the nest has its privileges.  One such perk was the invitation to a movie preview.   Now… you have to know me to understand my penchant for picture shows, my thirst for theater, and my love of lights twinkling above.  It’s like Christmas for me.  Top that off with the fact that I’ve been dying to go to the Santa Claus…err, granddaddy of movie houses–the ShowPlace ICON ever since it’s opened.  And yet when the opportunity presented itself, like a re-gifted fruitcake I left it unopened.

There was no chainsaw involved, but I was cut down in size by a two-headed monster, insecurity and uncertainty.  I have an imagination that rivals George Lucas’ and Wes Cravens’.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  You see, while my mind’s-eye is what affords me the creativity and flexibility to write, my tendency to overanalyze often leaves me paralyzed.  Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees have nothing on my pondering of things past, present and future.  And so as my hand hovered over the invitation like a machete over a victim, I was strangled by thoughts of what I would wear, what I would say to the “real” writers or how I would measure up to “The Chicks” who might be there.  Thursday the 27th quickly became Friday the 13th.  I was terrified.

Worse still, was BIG the sequel.  Like a ghost, my ex reappeared in my life.  And like the screaming woman who inevitably trips over air in every horror flick, I made a misstep.  I’m embarrassed to admit that similar to the family that moves into a haunted house, I allowed him back in, cleared my schedule and waited for his call and promised date.  Looking back kept me from a chance to propel forward.    When I came to my senses and rushed to RSVP, the evite was closed like a tomb.   My dreams of being a fabulous film critic, or at least a sensational spectator lay lifeless on the floor.  Murder, she wrote.
I’ve been watching my email and Twitter accounts like a stalker today hoping and praying for another chance.  As the hours tick by and show time approaches, I sit here with the poisonous aftertaste of procrastination.  But to everything there is a season.   As my heart sets with the sun I have to believe that the summer will still be fabulous.  The next time “the monster” rears its ugly head and threatens to conjure up negative thoughts in mine, I’ll remember that heaven is my muse and that until I get there God has purposed me to be here.  Any door that He opens, He will equip me to walk in.  I will fight with a vengeance…and RSVP ASAP!


Adam’s Ribs: Summer Etiquette Tips

Ahhh Summer.  In like a tortoise, out like a hare; I do believe we are finally free of freezing temps.

Buckingham Fountain, Blues and Gospel Music Festivals, Navy Pier Fireworks, Chosen Few House Picnic, Taste of Chicago, Movies in the Park, Ravinia, Venetian Night– summertime Chi means different things to different residents.  Yet the city of big shoulders unanimously heaves a huge sigh of relief as it discards its jackets and scarves.  Before we do, however, there’s something I must also get off my chest, a “bone” to pick if you will.

Ladies I beseech you.  If we are Adam’s ribs (and not just some piece of meat), may I suggest the following twelve BBQ (Barbie Cute) tips  in our quest to attract that summer love, potentially become his year round boo, or simply look fabulous for ourselves?

  1. Although we may retire for the evening looking like a cross between Tupac Shakur and Sylvia, the Queen of Soul Food—bandanas (rags, scarves, etc.) and bonnets are not to be worn outside.
  2. Embassador of ethnic beauty, Rachel Odom (, can shed more light on the dark side of too much liquid foundation and too little SPF than I can, but I do know that my “T”-zone is often “capitalized” during summer months.  Freshen your face often (clean, moisturize and powder) to prevent looking like Harold’s next chick in the frying pan.
  3. Moving right along the anatomy, can we have real talk ladies?  As you enter a room, if your “girls” had a theme song, it should be the smooth, mellow sounds of “Summer Breeze” by the Isley Brothers, not “It’s Time for the Percolator” (by Cajmere). Ya’ll know what I’m talkin’ about.  Get those cups fitted properly.
  4. To everything there is a season.  For undergarments (e.g. flesh tones, strapless, etc.) there is a reason.
  5. Sleeveless plus swimming equals shaving.
  6. Children are to be seen and not heard.  Baby powder is to be sprinkled, not seen.
  7. Fifty Shades of Grey is a book trilogy, not a skin palette.  Bath & Body Works, Carol’s Daughter, Vaseline—pick you pleasure.  Ashy is not the new sexy.  (Single Girl Summer by Deanna Kimberly Burrell is an even hotter beach read).
  8. Not all leggings are created equal.  Longer tops may be necessary, and tuck-ins are prohibited.
  9. Make sure your summer whites, are white.
  10. The season for harvesting corn is fall; therefore precautions must be taken when peeling shoes off of one’s feet and exposing them to the summer solstice.  Toes divided by flip flops, equals a pedicure.  If your big toes resemble hitchhikers or your pinky toes look like they’re giving the “hang loose” sign, choose footwear accordingly.  There is a surplus of sandals to select from that camouflage such imperfections.
  11. Know your limits.  If Grey Goose makes you a loose chick, drink responsibly.
  12. Final food for thought– please reconsider referring to a certain type of tank top by the same name as married males who commit domestic violence.  Abuse of ourselves or our sisters is never in style.  We were made from his rib, because we’re close to His heart ;).

Happy Summer!



Daddy’s Little Girl

This isn’t business, it’s personal.

I mean, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had dreams of being a fabulous “baby chick,” writing out of this world  blogs and as a result perhaps living a more glamorous life—but my heart…well, it’s leading me to stay closer to earth and expose more of my real self.  In the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The shell must break before the bird can fly…”  Little did I know that a visit to my father’s house would cause my emotions to fly south and lead me to put quill to paper.

As I sat perched in my dad’s garage, watching him tinker and listening to him talk, the little girl in me was enamored– but as a grown woman I stood secretly engulfed in feelings of abandonment.  The girl and woman later extended an olive branch to one another when he called to warn me that an excessive amount of oil had leaked from my car onto his driveway.  My dad met me at the service department of the local dealership.  It appeared he’d changed out of his jeans and t-shirt and into a cape.  He became my hero.  In my female experience, walking into an auto repair shop is like entering quicksand.  Yet at one fell swoop he saved me from an abyss of unnecessary repairs and demanded that this maiden be treated fairly.

Late is better than never.

I am grateful for the relationship we’ve established as adults, but I still miss the one we didn’t have when I was a child.  I want to move forward, but Poppa being a rollin’ stone irritates– like a pebble in a shoe.  I step with trepidation.  As a result, all of my other relationships with men have been rocky.  The woman I’ve become understands that sometimes doors close and affairs end.  The little girl is still waiting by the window, willing the doorbell or phone to start ringing.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…

The word bastard means a person born to unmarried parents.  It is also used to describe someone who is despicable or disliked.  The definition of illegitimate is to be born out of wedlock; against the rules, or not in accordance with social norms and customs.  No one ever called me these names, but for years I nestled into society’s classification of who I am.  Only recently have I begun to migrate and soar into my life’s purpose.

Parents, even if you don’t have feelings for each other anymore please love, honor and cherish the commitment to your children.  In the pecking order of life, they should be a priority.  Mothers, for all of your maternal instincts you cannot replace the fraternal order of fatherhood.  Fathers, you are your daughter’s first love.  How you talk to and play with her dictates which men she’ll “talk to” and whether or not they’ll “play” her.  And to those whose lives may share the same flight pattern as mine—allow forgiveness to take you to higher heights.  Focus on who you can become, not how you came to be.


The T.O.W. Truck: A Heart Repaired

There I was minding my own business, filling my gas tank before heading in to work.  It was “Fun Friday,” a day of spelling tests and dressing down.  I therefore had on my “going to teach little boys” corduroy pants, not my “getting ready to school these men” jeans.  I was not looking to be found.  That’s when it happened.  I bumped into him.

A nice, tall, fit brother was the pump 13 to my pump 12.  I politely said good morning to him and cursed myself for the aforementioned fashion choice.  To my surprise, however, he seemed oblivious to Old Navy and open to the Prada possibilities.  We exchanged numbers and before I could punch the time clock a few blocks away he was texting me about how my smile rivaled the sun in getting his day off to a glorious start.

I found it refreshing that he didn’t stall, but broke the ‘wait three days’ before calling rule.  We went from talking, to first date, to dating– faster than a NASCAR race.  Putting my heart in neutral and taking some time off from dating seemed to have finally paid off.  It appeared I’d traded in a pickup for luxury.  Yes Triple A had come to save me honey; he was attentive, attractive and available.  He quickly offered that no he wasn’t married (or in a relationship), no kids, no games.  He actually wanted to go out, not just ‘get it in.’ Then one day, about a month or so later I got a call that brought things to a screeching halt.

His fiancée’s name wasn’t Charlene, but she surely burned rubber on my dreams of riding off into the sunset.

After our conversation in which she and I discovered we had been, shall I say, waiting at the same bus stop (clearly he was not a two seater), I met “Charlene” in person.  Crazy I know.   But there was no hair pullin’ or nail scratchin’.  Instead her tearful eyes were my life’s rearview mirror.  You see, almost a year prior I was in her seat.  Now here I sat at a crossroads, considering yielding to temptation.  Love’s multiple dead ends had me thinking about detouring from my values.  Should I become The Other Woman? Or should I get out now and continue the walk alone?  I decided to take the high road.

Sisters I am convinced that we are often taken for a ride because too many of us are willing to carpool, or share a man.  Does he have license to lie, lure and then leave us? No.  But we also shouldn’t go around giving “permits.”  I’m not judging those who take this route, but I choose to believe there’s more for me.  My future husband may be traveling from Jamaica on horseback and stuck in traffic, but this Mustang Sally is going to stay the course.  Any step toward another woman’s man is a moving violation.


Fashion Police

Runway ModelIt’s that time of year again.  On the one clock hand, I must admit that as the princess of pajamas I usually dread losing yet another hour of sleep.  Benjamin Franklin, the originator of the “bright” idea of daylight savings time, can keep his effort to save energy and instead allow more time for power naps thank you very much.  Then again, springing forward reminds me of just that, spring–and all of the wonderful things I like that come with the pending season.

First there are the flowers, most notably the tulip, my favorite.  Their cup-like shape reaching up to the sun reminds me of hands lifted in praise.  You can’t help but smile when you see the choir of color: cherry blossoms, daffodils, hollyhocks, impatiens, lilacs etc.  And yet not even King Solomon, as sharply dressed as he was, could compare to them (Luke 12:27).   This brings me to the next best thing about spring, fashion!

It started a couple of weeks ago with the Oscars.  “What are you wearing?” was the question of the day and the answer will dictate our manner of dress in the coming months.  While I prefer simply looking at red carpet photos over sacrificing slumber for a late night of repeated “and the winner is…,” there are shows I wouldn’t dare miss.  The newest one, Fashion Star, consists of designers competing for millions of dollars and the opportunity to have their clothes carried in retail powerhouses such as Macy’s, Saks, H&M and Express.  Likewise, I’m eagerly awaiting the summer return of America’s Next Top Model, which for the first time will feature male contestants.

For this self-proclaimed girly girl, perhaps the greatest time to be had this spring is perusing the fashion magazines.  It’s as if Calvin Klein himself was thinking of me this year as the color combo black and white, bold stripes, sporty dresses, and low heels (thank you Jesus) make their return on the vogue merry go round.  Yet Paul acts as the fashion police when he reminds us in Ephesians 6:11 that we’re as good as naked if we dare to leave out in Armani, and not God’s armor.  Without heavenly accessories, Satan and all of his baggage will surely weigh us down.  So in the midst of spring break and Easter shopping don’t forget to take with you these must haves: the belt of truth, shoes of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of God’s Word.  These are top model essentials; and a seeking, pleasing, beautiful “covered” girl is always in style.





The Jackson 5

Jesse Jr. and Sandi JacksonBefore our beloved first family added color to the White House there was another family we looked to for political guidance and spiritual leadership–the Jacksons.  Not the ones of Motown fame, but the ones who instead insisted mo’ brown be considered and represented…from low income neighborhoods to lofty places such as Congress and the aforementioned Capitol.

I’m talking about the two generations of Jesses, a lineage so royal that one marched with a King while the other was no doubt set to inherit a throne of greatness.  But faster than a bid wiz-playin’ aunt at a family reunion, cards were slammed face up on the table for all of us to see; a bad hand had been dealt.  A spade had unwittingly been called a spade.  Jesse Jr. and wife Sandi pled guilty to a “massive misuse of campaign money.”

As is always the case, the negativity made fodder for the headline story both on television and in print news alike.   I will therefore not go into detail as to what the money was spent on.  In Jesse’s own words, it was “not a proud day.”  We shared a collective guilt and embarrassment, but it was just that to most of us–a day; whereas the prince and princess of policy have five long months to think about what they have done before their sentencing begins.

It is for this reason that I don’t think they need our judgement.  Haven’t we all done things or made decisions that we wouldn’t necessarily want TMZ’d?  I know if life offered it, I would definitely accept some do overs.   Let anyone who hasn’t sinned, point out the faults of every brother who walks down Stony Island Ave. in Chicago.  You get the point.  Not a wise thing to do.  Matthew 7 of the Bible goes on to remind us that we have enough of our own stuff to tend to.

Now I am by no means condoning or excusing what they did.  It was wrong, period.  I am simply saying that although I’m not a gambling woman, I bet Jesse isn’t the only “joker” who has made a mistake.  As a result, however, he and his wife aren’t planning barbecues or picnics with the kids this summer.  Guilt does not diminish the need for prayers on behalf of yet another broken family.  So before we cast them into the fire, we need to stop.  The love we save may one day be our own.