Diary of A Mad, Interesting Woman

Welcome to the random (and sometimes ratchet) ramblings in my head about life, love and pop culture.

Tag: women

#MeToo??

*image not owned by AskThePRGirl; sourced via metoomvmt.org

Examining the Swinging Pendulum from Consent to Sexual Assault through the Lens of “Being Leaned On”

Over the last few weeks, my girlfriends and I have engaged in DEEP conversation about the #MeToo movement and it’s juxtaposition to sexual assault in dating. It has beautifully evolved into a self-examining discovery about the swinging pendulum of extremes between consent and sexual assault. We, of course, used our own personal experiences to define what merits the label of assault, but more importantly, gain understanding around that tricky, muddy area in between the extremes. Interesting, albeit unsurprising, fact: we’ve ALL experienced a date that led to the proposition of sex and felt pressure to acquiesce to the unspoken, pressure-filled invitation. Even more interesting: if we ALL recognize the subtle, nonverbal pressure to have sex, why is it seemingly so hard for men to equally pick up on the subtle, nonverbal cues women give when not interested in “going all the way”? We realized that much of the confusion can be cleared if we could first get to the bottom of how we feel about “being leaned on” (shout out to my big sis T and big bro C for coining that phrase). It’s the only way we could begin to cut through our own confusion in defining sexual assault versus a bad date. And, let’s be honest: we live in the 21st century. The age of information. A time when men and women are more empowered and informed than ever before. The fact that we are still confounded about how to have healthy, casual sexual experiences with each other is just f*cking ridiculous. Perhaps this is why God meant for sex to be reserved only for husband and wife … but, that’s another conversation for another day, Chile.

So, what IS “being leaned on”? We’ve all been there. You go out with a guy and have a great date. You decide to take things back to his or your place to hang out in private. He proceeds to non-verbally petition for “the cookie” by taking each allowance of touch one step further than the last and placing assumed, non-threatening pressure on you to have sex. If you really like him, you like the lean. You appreciate the pursuit because what woman doesn’t want to feel like she’s being chased? Even if you tell him “No” and he leaves in defeat to rise and try another day, you both know that the ultimate act is a foregone conclusion as long as he doesn’t do anything in the meantime in between time to f*ck it up. The lean is a real part of the dance. Its intent is not to remove your choice, but it sends a clear message that if you give even an inch, he’s going to ride you for a mile. It’s that exciting cat and mouse game that’s played in the pursuit of sex.

But what happens when you’re not THAT into the guy? I mean, you like him. He’s nice. Cute even (like the last puppy at the pound). He’s educated and got a little money (yep, it matters #sorrynotsorry). He showed you a good time. Conversation was good. You don’t mind a kiss or nonsexual touch here and there. You even feel comfortable enough to take the date back to his or your place because you DID have fun. The attraction is there albeit not intensely physical. When THAT guy starts to lean on you and you respond with subtle, nonverbal cues of discomfort, and the night ends in sex or any type of sexual act, were you assaulted? I mean, you made it clear (in your mind) that you didn’t really want to go “all the way”, but you never said “No”. You only vaguely and imperceptibly demonstrated your discomfort and you did not make it crystal clear that you didn’t want sex. And, to complicate matters even further, you did acquiesce to participate in some overtly sexual acts along the way. You leave not feeling the best about him, yourself or how things went down. But, the question remains: were you assaulted?

Admittedly, my girlfriends and I have all solicited and positioned sex as an option during a date with a guy that we didn’t know that well via flirting, nonverbal cues of implied intimacy (e.g. being alone in his car, his home, etc.) and willingly participating in that heavy “lean on” session that invites the unasked question, “So … we gonna?” In each of our experiences, there were times when we felt quite comfortable saying “nah”; but, there were others when we felt that based on the intimacy of the moment, how far things had progressed, the lack of established relationship trust with our partner, our own guilt about letting things slide too far, the fear of being labeled a tease, the fear of in-the-moment retaliation, and all of the other fifty-leven things that goes through a woman’s head when she’s deciding to share the cookie, that it was best to acquiesce to minimize unforeseen aggression or avoid the potential undesired act of having the cookie taken after having served it up in the first place.

If a woman makes the choice to acquiesce because she was being leaned on, but the experience is absent of any tangible threat to her person (though perceived threats from nonverbal cues are something to consider), absent of feeling unsafe and absent of verbalizing discomfort or refusal to participate, has she been sexually assaulted? Is the man singularly wrong for failing to sense and/or respect her discomfort? Even if the cues are all over the place? Do men carry greater responsibility and culpability because they are the physically stronger thereby automatically perceived as a threat? Is the implicit pressure of “being leaned on” inherently assault, but ONLY when you’re not into each other? Or, is it always assault? Can a woman “lean on” a man? Has HE been assaulted if he acquiesces for fear of having his manhood questioned? What is the process for facilitating a healthy, non-threatening, consensual sexual experience? Add in the thousands of other situational nuances and you can begin to see why we are all so confused.

Let’s think about it this way: “being leaned on” IS in fact pressure and the term “pressure” doesn’t have positive association. From peer pressure to blood pressure, I think it’s fair to say that “pressure” doesn’t get good PR. It conjures feelings of tension, burden and stress. Can you identify any healthy, consensual sexual experience that’s initiated with pressure? Yeaaaaaah … see what I mean? This sh*t is layered. But I digress …

I have thoughts about each of the questions posed above based on my own experiences, but I’m more interested in what you think. I also want to be sensitive to the women and men who have experienced the “lean gone wrong”. Here are a few thought/conversation starters that I believe that could begin to clear the way to personal resolve:

  • USE YOUR WORDS, PEOPLE. We say it to toddlers all the time. A child could be standing in front of you completely wildling out and pointing directly at the toy they so desperately want, and still we make them verbalize the request. If you don’t want to have sex, nonverbal cues aren’t enough. Conversely, why not ask for the cookie versus leaning on a chick to get it? Wouldn’t you rather be clear that the act is consensual? Besides, if preferences and/or decisions to STOP are verbalized and it’s refused, you’ve just answered your sexual assault question. One of my old tricks: when going over to his place and only wanting to fool around a little with NO sex, I confirmed if he would respect that. Ten times out of 10, his answer told me ALL I needed to know about whether I’d be safe with him because there is absolutely no ambiguity to that question. AND, if he lies about being cool to fool around a little just to get you over there, and refuses to respect your boundaries after things get going, you’ve again just passed “GO” and went straight to sexual assault.
  • BEWARE OF PASSIVE NONVERBAL CUES. If you go on a date with a guy and you let him pick you up, drive you to the location of your date and bring you home, you’ve just sent a LOT of nonverbal messages of trust to this person. He now knows where you live. You trusted your body / being to be safe in his care as he drives. You allowed him to return you home with “the lean” likely starting on the drive back. If there’s making out, under clothes touching and kissing, etc., those are also pretty clear nonverbal cues that you’re into the scene. Seems like it’s no big deal, but it’s a message nonetheless. It certainly shouldn’t imply to either person that sex is a foregone conclusion, but if we’re honest, those cues can confuse. Just a realization from my own personal experience. I was taught to never be alone with a man, enter into his personal space (his car, his home) or allow him into mine unless I was certain about the passive agreement those subtle, but real cues solicit. Safety first. Always. Earning and discerning trust starts from date one.
  • MEN MUST BE PRESENT IN THE ROOM. As I analyzed my dating experiences and shared them with my husband, he shared wisdom that hit me as brilliance. He told me that a man’s ultimate responsibility when initiating, pursuing and/or participating in sex is to create an environment of safety for his partner. Be present in the room. That means, at all times she should know that she absolutely has a choice to leave or stop at any moment. She should feel and sense that her pleasure and her comfort are paramount to an equally enjoyable experience. She should know that he isn’t just chasing ejaculation, but rather experiencing something incredible WITH her. Sex isn’t something you do TO someone. It’s an act you experience WITH someone. No matter how casual, respect your partner. He shared that too many guys are chasing the end result which removes the heightened sense of awareness they should activate in order to ensure their partner is comfortable. As the physically stronger sex, setting that tone is critical if a man’s intention is that you both share the desire to engage in the experience. Cause “ain’t no real man tryna have sex with a woman who don’t want it!” He even shared that frequent, soft-spoken check-ins are the responsible thing to do ESPECIALLY when the experience is casual and your relationship isn’t deep enough to make any assumptions. Strategically placed “feel good, you cool and keep going?” were some of my faves from him in the early days ;-).

In the end, my hope as this #MeToo moment of accountability takes shape and births a new era of sexual responsibility, is that we, women, don’t use this as an opportunity to unnecessarily victimize ourselves, vilify our men or appropriate the issue thereby maligning the bravery of real victims. That we don’t use this conversation to move farther apart. My hope is that this moment opens the door to conversation and revelation by taking a long, hard look at the personal and cultural nuances that exist in defining the extremes and bringing clarity to all that lies between. The clear cut assaults are open and shut cases that are easy to identify and morally convict. It’s those experiences smack dab in the middle that are harder to figure out (#IMHO). I think we owe it to each other to talk it about. Let’s figure it out. I have a daughter and son who will sooner than I care to admit venture into this arena. I need to be prepared in order to prepare them and I can’t get to a level of understanding, awareness and resolve alone.

So, can we talk about it? Can we talk about the ambiguity of “being leaned on” and where it skews in the swinging pendulum of defining consent? No shaming. No blaming. No accusations. No anger. No guilt. Let’s leverage our personal experiences and core beliefs to draw us closer to understanding. Hell, we’re already in bed. We might as well talk about it.

Love you. Mean it.

@AskthePRGirl

Shout out to T, N and E for being incredible midwives as this topic was birth from my spirit. Thank you for encouraging me as I struggled to articulate my thoughts. Thank you for sharing your truth and helping me to see beyond myself. I love you.

And to my Husband – Thank you for being you, for listening to experiences with “other dudes” and providing level-headed, unbiased wisdom from a man’s POV.

And to my Mama – Thank you for the rules. They weren’t given to you when you were coming of age, but somehow you were able to give them to me. That guidance led me to smarter choices.

What I Know For Sure

Birthday Reflections & Ish Like That …

So … #ThisIs38

A few years ago I was included in the “What I Know For Sure” section of O Magazine and I shared perspective on not being defined by the roles we lead (i.e. mother, sister, daughter, etc.), but prioritizing and nourishing your individual spirit and soul in order to be the best you can for everyone else (and I’m paraphrasing in case some of yall are still holding on to your copies). As I learned recently at #Blogalicious9, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Hallelujah and moment of silence for that little piece of wisdom …

Today is my born day (one time for #ScorpioSeason) and I can’t help but consider what I know for sure at this point in life. Seems that I’ve recently been involved in lots of deep conversation with girlfriends, my Hubby Honey, my Mama, my Boss and others about the lessons I’ve learned and the level of “sureness” I feel cloaked in these days. More important, it wasn’t a magical occurrence that just happened to me. My “sureness” is the result of intent. I’m living my life like its golden and operating within a level of freedom that I don’t think I’d ever experienced before now. I made the choice to be happy, to believe in myself and to throw a (metaphorical, and at times, tangible) middle finger to distractions. I’m living a life that I’m proud of and truth defined by me and only me. I. Am. So. Free.

As I celebrate this 38th *ahem* year of my life, here’s what I know for sure:

  • I no longer require any form of external validation to inspire or empower my internal thoughts, beliefs or ideas. For years, naturally, I sought approval from my friends, needed my lover(s) to assure me that I’m pretty, needed my managers to validate my smart thinking and my family to champion my tireless role as protector and provider. The expectation and necessity of the validation was so subtle that it took me a long time to pinpoint it was there. It drove me to seemingly inconsequential insecurity that metastasized into anger and resentment when I didn’t receive it. I finally decided I don’t need it. It was a cross too heavy to bear. Removing the focus from receiving my validation externally and empowering that positive energy inside has been likely one of my greatest rites of passage as a woman. Doing so has created this powerful level of self-awareness, self-love and self-confidence. It’s been one of my wisest intentional moves.

  • I’ve created healthy boundaries (for the most part) in my personal and professional relationships. For example, my loved ones (which include my Hubby Honey, Parents, Siblings, Girlfriends and extended family) are my lifeblood. In this life, it has been a privilege, and at times, a burden to serve them. It’s cost me peace of mind more often than I can reasonably quantify and I realized that it is 100 percent MY FAULT. We show people how to treat us, and too often, we operate within our familiar roles at unsustainable levels. Your loved ones don’t intend to overstep or abuse your over-commitment, but it happens. And it was happening to me. A LOT. So, I took a step back about three years ago and began to redefine my role, my expectations, my preferred level of commitment and the healthy level of reciprocity I needed within my familiar relationships. Doing so has freed me to support my loved ones absent of guilt, resentment, fear or worry. And, if someone doesn’t agree with my level of interaction or commitment, I leave that as a cross for them to bear. Cause as my Nik Nak taught me long ago – “What you eat don’t make me sh*t”. Word.

  • My heart is big. My tongue is sharp. My patience is thin. I’m extremely passionate (a true Scorpio). And, I’m funny as hell. I used to be reticent to say that about myself because it felt obnoxious to speak it, but no more. *picks up megaphone* I’M FUNNY AS HELL! Maybe not stand-up comedian funny, but I’ve been known to draw a crowd and bring down the house. #realtalk … my inner spirit is doing THIS most of the time …

Moving on …

  • I have a new found spiritual connection to my sexuality and pride in my body image that has skyrocketed my confidence. It’s not JUST about my looks (though your girl is killing it these days with this snatched waistline and size back to what I was in high school *hair flip*), but rather my internal confidence, keen self-awareness, my energy and this connection to a sense of … “knowing” about myself. My Grandma Mable used to say to me, “One day you just gone know what you know.” I never really understood that until now. Today, I own my confidence without shame, fear, ego or vanity. It’s my truth. It’s just as real as breathing.

  • I love being a woman, and more specifically, a black woman. There’s the fun stuff about being a girl like dressing up, makeup, all things shiny and sparkly, etc. But being a black woman comes with this Herculean strength, unicorn-level magic, enviable sense of wit, epic ability to clap back and shade and multidimensional talent. I am every woman and I BAWSE up in every gawt damn aspect of my life. Boardroom, bedroom, kitchen. I cooks, Baby. While my awareness to this perspective has been slow, my pride and ownership of it is SO here and SO real for me right now. I believe its actual tangible energy that even others feel when they are with me. I’m beaming in the skin I’m in. And loving every minute.

  • My relationship with God is real and tangible. It used to feel mythical. Perhaps because it was the product of the articulation of other people’s experience with Him. Today, we have our own vibe. My Jesus is trill! He MUST be because He created me and I stay on level trill at ALL times. I can feel Him … tangibly feel Him, hear Him and sense Him in all that I do. It’s pretty incredible. There’s not a moment I’m not mindful of Him, chatting in my mind with Him and hearing His response. I’ve tapped in and He’s reciprocated in the most beautiful fashion. It’s provided a much-needed compass as I carry two of my most important roles: Wife and Mom. And it’s endeared me to Him in such a personal way. #IluhGod #youdontluhGod #whatswrongwithyou

So … here I am! Big, bad and bold AF (said in my Ike Turner “What’s Love Got to do With It” voice – LOL). Loving myself and every aspect of my journey. I regret nothing. I’m present in every moment because I don’t want to miss a thing. And with that comes a continual birth of my being … which I am SO here for.

#ThisIs38

And many mooooooooooooooooooooooooore 🙂

Love You. Mean It.

@AskThePRGirl

Dear Stacey …

A #Blogalicious9-Inspired Note From My Heart to Yours 

I’ve had the privilege to share space and time with many exceptional women. From corporate execs to dignitaries and celebs, I’ve encountered them all. And as such, I’ve quite possibly seen the best and worst of personalities and character. You don’t know “diva” until you’ve really and truly encountered a diva. It’s a cute term to toss around until you’ve actually got to deal with one. Throughout my career, I’ve experienced the powerful energy and earth movement when women come together around a shared cause, and conversely, the devastation from the effects of women who live to tear each other down. Unfortunately, the latter has been more prevalent so when the former occurs, it’s noticed. It leaves an indelible mark. It awakens you from slumber. It’s a fresh breeze to the spirit and a balm to the soul.

You, Stacey … are the fruition of every girl power dream. I watched you while at #Blogalicious9 this year. Didn’t know you. Didn’t know what I’d encounter. Didn’t know your true intent in hosting this conference. So … I watched. Really and truly watched you. I saw you work the room, meet new people, hug attendees, thank sponsors, encourage speakers and lead business like an incredible BAWSE. I saw you give. I saw you invest. I saw you encourage. I saw you laugh. I saw you cry. I saw you love. I saw you vulnerable. I saw … your heart.

We only connected twice briefly for a matter of seconds at the conference. Once when you approached with exuberance to thank me for coming, sing my praises and encourage me to have a great time. The second was when I hugged you goodbye as I rushed to catch my flight on Sunday. Alhough it was in the middle of Danica Kombol’s EPIC closing keynote, and I caught you at an awkward hug angle from behind, you grabbed on tight and hugged me with your whole heart. You whispered your appreciation that I attended and well wishes for safe travel.

Be Blogalicious brings together a diverse fraternity of women who are shaping our world’s conversation about a diverse array of topics. From fashion and lifestyle to politics and social good to business BAWSE moves, each woman who attended is living a life of leaving a mark to change the world. Each woman a beautiful representation of living life out loud and by their own rules. Each woman a wonder. Each woman an enviable, pride-filled being of love, light and hope. And equally important, each woman encouraged, carried, loved, believed-in and championed by YOU.

I didn’t know you before the conference and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with you. But your presence … your love and light filled every square inch of that hotel. You gathered close to 300 women and men, filled them with as much good stuff as you could and returned them to their space in the world to do the same in their own way. You (and your incredible team) empowered an army of game-changing, hair-flipping, BAWSE-ass women. In four days, you did nothing short of changing the world (if you really think about it). I mean, really! Think about it! And this is the NINTH year!

I believe that a ministry can take shape in many different forms as long as the result is nurturing and growth of the soul. I’m honored to have experienced you and the power of your ministry. You are some kind of wonderful, my friend. And I thank you. Thank you for being … you. And I’ll say it again, I’m here if you call. Consider me a member of your tribe if only to pray your continued strength and growth.

BTW – I didn’t get a chance to share it, but the devil TRIED IT with your health this summer because he wanted to STOP God’s flow from you into the lives you touched at the conference. He knew the exponential goodness you’d generate and wanted to dead it before it even had chance to see the light of day. His plan didn’t work. God said not so. You were meant to touch and encourage our lives and you did. I praise God that He carried you through and saw fit for you to push almost 300 points of light into the world. I pray for continued health and wealth for you, your covenant and your children. #Selah

Love you. Mean it.

#TribeUp #WOCaffirmation

@AskThePRGirl

No Cape for Lawrence and Other Unsolicited Thoughts

Who isn’t a fan of HBO’s HIT series Insecure created by the uber funny, hella magical black girl Issa Rae?? If you haven’t watched it or know not of what I speak, a couple things:

  1. STOP reading and/or unsubscribe from my blog. Your life and the choices that lie therein are highly, highly questionable. I rebuke you in the mighty name of Jesus.
  2. That’s it. So let it be written. So let it be done.

For the rest of us who have been biting our nails in anticipation of Season Two after Issa cheated, Lawrence left (and bagged the bank teller), and Molly exemplified the REALEST actualization in girlfriendship drama (i.e. I’m not happy with myself, but I’m gone project my bullsh*t onto you so that you get mad at me, thus giving license for me to get mad at you so that I get the balls to tell you how I REALLY been feeling about you and/or your life choices and I don’t care if you mad but … wait … something happened?! Girl, I’ll be right there!), last night was a welcomed family reunion to see what we’ll learn next about our fave people.

While watching the episode, my Hubby Honey made it VERY clear that he is #TeamLawrence out in these skreets and has decided to join the brotherhood of support around this sad, sad character. And while I understand and appreciate how men are rallying to ideally support “caping” for Lawrence, there a few simple insights into why it doesn’t make sense to women (namely me and my girls) AND how it makes you look slick undesirable. But before I start, let me say:

*picks up megaphone* Issa was wrong to cheat on Lawrence! I REPEAT FOR THE CHEAP SEATS – ISSA. WAS. WRONG. When they discussed their relationship and agreed to be “all in”, it was her responsibility to honor that mutual, consensual decision and be honest about how she was feeling about the relationship. I’m saying that now before I end up having to respond to a whole bunch of foolishness. Please understand that my subsequent opinions are rooted in the fact that I believe her to be wrong. Okay??

 

HOWEVER …

  1. Lawrence left that relationship LONG before she was distracted by the unrealities of cheating. He checked out. You’re living on the couch, sulking and treating her like your maid and your Mama instead of remembering that she’s your WOMAN – a being perfectly capable of wearing those hats as needed, but irresponsible to require her to prioritize them long term. He changed the pace and vibe of the relationship and opened the door to her “distraction”. #issavibe #issayofault
  2. Good sex (aka blowing a woman’s back OUT) will make her forgive, forget and sit blindly within the most epic of tomfoolery f*ckery in a relationship. I’ve known women *ahem* to keep running behind a jobless, inconsistent, penny-less, etc., etc., man because he was literally, tangibly introducing her to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Meshach and Abednego between them sheets at night. Why is this relevant? Because if Lawrence had been stroking and proving in the bedroom with Issa the way he did with the bank teller, PUH-LEASE believe Issa wouldn’t have cheated. Who tryna give up some good D for stability in your 20s (or early 30s)?? I don’t know that chick. The convo would go something like this:
    • Molly: Why you still fooling with Lawrence’s “can’t get off the couch”, “I need my mama” lookin ass?! Girl, if you don’t get your life and do better!
    • Issa: *stands bow-legged and wobbles* GIRL, BYE! My man is a dreamer with a LOT of untapped potential. In fact, let me go home and encourage him!
    • The. End.
  3. Lawrence didn’t fight for Issa. At all. And, he didn’t prove himself to be the type of man that can lead when the going gets tough. He’s fighting like hell right now to restore his shattered sense of manhood and make Issa hurt the way she hurt him, but he didn’t fight for himself, her, or their relationship when it mattered. I remember once that I asked my friend why she was distancing herself from a guy. She said (and I remember this like it was yesterday), “He’s all over the place. At the end of the day, I can’t trust him to lead me. I can’t trust that our future would be safe in his hands.” Women expect a man to fight for them and lead when the going gets tough. You’re human, Fellas. We get that you’re going to have down moments filled with doubt, worry, fear, disappointment, etc., and that’s okay, BUT equally important is your ability to dust off, fight and lead. When you show inability to do that, we quietly take our chips off the table. And, since you’re already running the whole “wounded bird routine”, we wouldn’t want to risk you actually slitting your wrists over a failed relationship too! So, we stay longer than we should and we lie. Why? To protect the possibility of our rebound (yes! things could get better though they rarely do once a woman has gathered her chips) and to protect what’s left of your manhood. It’s not right, but it’s real.

SO … for all of you out there SO ready to toss a cape on Lawrence and parade his ass through the city streets on your shoulders like the second coming of male pride, please take a look at the level of mediocrity you’re championing and how doing so says a LOT about the fragility of manhood.

Lawrence gets no cape. I REPEAT – Lawrence gets NO CAPE. If anything, take his ass out for a drink and talk some sense into him. Let him know that he woke up to a relationship already on life support and the demise was by his own hand. #issatruth

Love you, mean it.

(and don’t you LOVE Insecure?!?! *squeal*)

@AskthePRGirl

*all photos/gif from HBO and Giphy

AskThePRGirl and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Trip

Lessons in clubbing while “old”, girl tripping and understanding that the road to hell is paved with good intentions

Traveling is generally a fabulous thing. At this moment in my life, anytime I get free/me-time absent of wife and mommy responsibilities, I’m so excited. It’s hard to find moments that allow you to steal away time to simply think about self, have fun and do crazy lady things. So you have to know that while leading the planning for my Sissy-in-love’s bachelorette weekend in Miami wasn’t my first choice, especially considering my daily schedule and demanding career, I realized that attending (and having a KICK ASS time) would make up for it. That’s as close to a win, win that you get in my book.

Six ladies traveled together to hot, sexy Miami to celebrate Sissy’s upcoming nuptials to my little brother. We came from far and wide to kick it with her and help shepherd one more moment of debauchery before she turns in her card. A VIP experience + six HOT women + Miami = The. Greatest. Weekend. Ever!! Right?

Wrong.

The East Coast was hit with a massive storm the night before our departure. All canceled flights were pushed over to our travel start date. We were hit with major delays and cancellation after cancellation. I’d booked a first class ticket for the bride to meet me in ATL and fly together to Miami. Unfortunately, Delta canceled ALL flights to Miami from Nashville which left her stranded. After spending almost 10 hours in the airport, hours and hours on the phone with Delta, hours and hours of standing in line with gate agents and an inside Delta rep doing her best to help, we rebooked the Bride on a flight the next day. She was forced to miss the first night of her big trip.

Shit.

Well, I can’t control the weather, but I felt I could ease the disappointment by ensuring from the moment her feet touched the ground in Miami, it was FABULOUSITY. I sent a car service to pick her up from the airport. I put out welcome bags stuffed with small liquor and drugstore treasures for the crew, and prepared myself to be her bitch for 48 hours. All I needed was a five hour energy, a couple shots and prayer.

*gulp*

The day went well! We lunched off Collins and sunbathed poolside at the Shelborne. We were queens for the day. Dinner was DE-LISH. We got VIP entry to LIV, and after a day of drinking, we were ready to dance it off. Now … I’m starting to feel the lull and severe exhaustion. Let’s be fair – I’m generally in bed by 10pm on most nights. At this point, it’s 12:30am and DJ Mustard (the featured DJ) had yet to spin. BUT, I’m a soldier. I can do this!! I used to shut the club down! It’s just like riding a bike, right?? Wrong. By 2am when DJ Mustard finally hit the stage, I was delirious with exhaustion. Add that to all of the drinks I’d consumed over the past 10 hours and my body was on the brink of legit collapse. I was so tired (and drunk) that my vision was blurry. I was seeing, but not seeing. I had to pee, but couldn’t find the bathroom. And the girls – they were dispersed all over having the time of their lives.

At 4am, I realized we needed to get the hell out of there. The club closes at 5AM and no self-respecting woman should be there when the “clean-up crew” comes through. You know what the “clean-up crew” is, right? NO?? Well, let me explain. It’s the dudes who wait for the club lights to come on to find the sad, desperate bitch still standing there so that he can take her home. Now … I’ve shut down a club in my day, but I’ve NEVER been around for the “clean-up crew”. What I look like?? #howboutdat

Like herding cats, I gathered every giggly, crunk/drunk one of us to exit the club and order an Uber. Poor, poor Uber driver. He was marginally cute and didn’t speak much English. The girls were SAUCED and began to touch his arms and neck and head telling him how cute he was.

“Do you work out??”

“You look like you work out.”

He didn’t. It was the alcohol talking.

We made it back to the hotel safely with only the mild complication of a missing phone in the Uber. He returned it. All is well.

The next day, we go to breakfast and I feel … like death.

My skin hurts. My eyes hurt (I forgot to take out my contacts). My knees hurt from standing, walking, dancing in stilettos all night. My elbow hurt and I didn’t even know why. I wiped off only half of my makeup so I woke up looking like I’d been mugged and sexually assaulted in a dark alley, fought off my attacker and went to iHop. #truth

The bride wakes up looking fresh, beautiful and energetic. And so did her friends.

Ugh. I really hate young bitches.

We go to lunch and food makes me feel better, but the threat of something dark and ominous is still looming inside. After lunch, the girls decided we should walk down Ocean, see the sites and people watch. After five or six blocks, I broke a light sheen of sweat. And I’m not talking sweat from the hot Miami sun. I’m talking the type of sweat that communicates your body is trying to purge something nasty. In that moment, I didn’t know if it was coming out the bottom or the top. All I knew is that it was coming OUT. We stopped for water on the beach and while the girls decided whether to beach it or keep walking, I made my quick exit.

“Welp! I’m gone leave y’all too it,” I said abruptly while walking away.

“You’re leaving?!?” said The Bride

“Yep. I’ll meet y’all back at the hotel,” I said as I scurried off as fast as I could.

I’m sure they were thinking, “WTF??” But, to preserve my dignity, I got out of there. My 37 year old body made it clear that if I didn’t get the hell out of dodge, it was going to embarrass the complete shit out of me and all of them. The problem is that we were down on 5th and Ocean (give or take) and our hotel was at 18th and Collins (#FML). I started walking and just when I thought I’d pass out, an interesting, very butch Lesbian scooted up to hit on me. Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you it was Gay Pride as well.

“Hey, Baby! You look real sweet. You wanna ride?”

“Ummm. No thank you. I … wait … you know what?? Yes. You mind taking me to 18th and Collins??”

“I’ll take you anywhere you wanna go, baby. Get on.”

And thus is how I popped my cherry and rode a lesbian 13 blocks. *sigh*

Desperate times calls for desperate measures. At least she was nice … and she only reached back to grab my ass once … or twice.

I chilled at the hotel poolside and napped in the shade. I purged a few times in the bathroom, and when I woke up, I felt better. Felt like I could make it for our last night on the town. Unfortunately, drama unfolded which sorta derailed the evening, but what’s a trip with young bitches if some reality TV, I’m all in my feelings, I never learned how to use my words, passive aggressive, let’s talk about her but not to her, frenemy shit don’t pop off at SOME point?? *Ye shrug* It’s just par for the course to make the weekend memorable. The best “remember when” involves good drama. Ask my girl Nikki. We got young bitch stories upon stories from back in the day. #truth

I managed to make it back to ATL in one piece albeit after a three hour delay (freaking Delta). And I learned / remembered a few things along the way:

  1. You must hydrate when you’re going to consume an intense amount of alcohol. It’s the ONLY way to survive it without nearing the seventh circle of hell.
  2. The art of the shoulder shimmy and carefully synced head nod will save your feet and knees in an environment when everyone is dancing, and you’re too old to keep up.
  3. People don’t dance no mo. All they do is twerk. They bend over and wiggle. I remember a time when bitches had routines to go to a party or club. For real! Watch House Party (1 and 2). Those were the days …
  4. Men don’t approach anymore with style or swag or the type of confidence that makes you giggle. They literally just grab you by the arm like a f***ing police officer while you walk by, or in my case, grab your ass while sliding their fingers between your cheeks. I. Shit. You. Not. *blank stare* #wheretheydothatat
  5. Aging is mandatory. Maturing isn’t. Young bitches are still young bitches. Nothing shows you that like being among them for a weekend. That’s how I learned that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. You can’t please a person hell bent on negativity, being petty and miserable no matter how hard you try. BUT, you learn and you grow. Hopefully. And at 37, you look back on all of your own young bitch moments and smile with perspective.

All in all, I survived it. And like Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I realized things could have been worse. I DID have fun! And the Bride enjoyed it, too (well … most of it sans the weather delays and the slick messiness). So … maybe it wasn’t so terrible after all?

Love you. Mean it.

@AskThePRGirl

(Post and artwork inspired by one of my kid’s favorite books: “Alexander and The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst, Illustrated by Ray Cruz)

Relationship Russian Roulette: An NYE Reflection

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I had a funny conversation with my girl the other day in which she shared that she recently came up disappointed playing the holiday version of Relationship Russian Roulette with her husband. What is that, you ask? Don’t mind if I do! It’s that conversation you have with your significant other where you both agree not to exchange gifts during a particular holiday or special occasion (e.g. Valentine’s, Anniversary, Christmas). As the holiday approaches, us females (and lets be clear, its always the female) begin to secretly hope that you got us something. Why? It’s romantic to be surprised and feel that awareness that you want to go over and above to please us. It’s Russian Roulette because if you get us something, we are on cloud 9 and you get sex. No harm done. If you don’t, we are utterly disappointed and slightly irritated, you’re confused because “isn’t this what we agreed”, and a fight ensues thereby killing the vibe, and likely, a bit of your relationship. It’s a horrible set up. I don’t know why we do it. I’ve learned not to do it over the years. My Hubby Honey knows I want a gift on every special occasion. Every special occasion?? Yes. E-V-E-R-Y special occasion. I’ve pushed out two of your big head kids and managed to preserve my sexy. Yes. I want a gift on every special occasion and every third Tuesday if you can manage it. #realtalk

But, I digress.

Her story tickled me because she’s newly married and it’s really sweet to see them find their way together. It also occurred to me how easily it is to unknowingly set your relationship up for failure based on unfair expectations and failure to communicate. I can think of many occasions where I’ve expected Hubs to just KNOW something that I never shared. And then I get mad because I expect him to react or behave in a way that I’ve created in my mind. It’s lunacy at best, and for some reason, I continued to do it. How much easier would it be if I just told him how I felt? If I told him what I wanted? What is this incessant need to keep our men living in an unending Hunger Games-style emotional guessing game??

Am I afraid he’ll think I’m too demanding? Am I afraid he’ll judge my desires as petty or petulant? Do I just not care to do the work? Maybe … a little of all the above? You wanna know the biggest piece of irony? My profession is communications. It’s what I do All. Day. Long. So, why not with him? Why must he guess?

If I’m honest, part of me wants to feel the imagined intimacy and excitement. I want to feel what it feels like to know that he knows me so well that I don’t have to communicate what I consider base-level, rudimentary things. Another part of me wants the thrill and romance of having that storybook guy who planned the romantic weekend or surprise party or got the gift anyway. Part of me wants to test if he’s paying attention. And another part wants to annoy him as retaliation for some random thing he’s done to annoy me. I know, I know. It’s petty, but it’s real! Stop judging! I’m sharing here.

In the end, I realize that more important than feeling the romance, excitement and exhilaration from Russian Roulette is my desire to protect the integrity of my relationship. I love and respect my husband. And, rather than find ways to weaken that integrity, I’d much prefer to find ways to honor our love. Because it’s good love. Really, really good love. It matters to me that we’ve still got “that loving feeling” after all these years. I don’t want to sabotage that because I randomly felt the need to be surprised with a gift.

I share that because while women are on point 98.7 percent of the time :-), we need a gut check every now and again. If you’re playing Russian Roulette with your relationship, even one that has stood the test of time, eventually that bullet will hit the chamber. And you’ve got to ask yourself, “Is that shot worth it.”

Probably not.

Just food for thought. I figured #NYE is as good a time as any for a little self reflection.

Love you. Mean it. And Happy New Year! May your greatest joy in 2016 be the least of your joys in 2017. 

@AskThePRGirl

#theLEMONADEeffect

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So … it’s been roughly five days since Queen Bey dropped #LEMONADE and completely flipped my world upside down. Am I the only one out here completely caught off guard by the levels to this sh*t?! Like … it’s day five and I’m still catching new messages, hearing new undertones and experiencing new feelings.

And let’s be clear – it’s been on REPEAT since the moment she released it. I’ve not listened to terrestrial radio, not a nan CD or iPod (yes “nan” … it’s in the urban dictionary) or satellite radio. I’ve been ALL BEYONCE, ALL DAY since Saturday, 4/23 at 10pm. And … I’m amazed. Like for real. Eff if you think Jay cheated or if she’s talking about her Mom and Dad’s story or if you think it’s marketing bullsh*t to sell records. It’s brilliant. It’s deep on the struggle. The struggle of being a woman. A woman in love. A black woman. A proud woman. Even if you think it’s bullsh*t, isn’t it crazy how it has reached deep into the belly of damn near every woman out there (including those who aren’t black) and stirred up this sense of HELL YEAH, I’M HERE?!  And YES, I might be a little crazy. And YES, I might be a little wild. And YES, I love hard. And YES, I deserve you to recognize me. See me. Hear me. Love me. Own me. Claim me. And IF you refuse to do those things, to recognize those things and be cool with them, know that I am strong enough to survive you. Strong enough to thrive beyond you. And let’s be clear, that’s not just in the context of relationships. She’s talking about life. How women are perceived at work, at home and in society. How blacks are perceived in society. And how the solution to all of this struggle, all of this strife is to see one another. Acknowledge one another. Love one another. Embrace one another and be open to the complication it brings. There is redemption to be found there. There is healing there. There is a fresh anointing there.

Levels man …

Bey showed us levels.

If you can’t see that, I’m sad for you. If you can’t hear her, I’m sad for you. Whether you’re a fan or not, you’ve got to give nod to the deep saturation of profound thought behind the lyrics. The social themes. It’s crazy!!

I’ve actually cried several times through the album. Thankful for the place and space I operate within my life, but also grieving a place and space I didn’t even realize needed to be grieved. Grieving the dry lands and constant mirages I face as a black woman in Corporate America. Grieving the loss of past love.  And then simultaneously crying joyous tears for the love and overwhelming happiness I feel daily. The redemption God has blessed me to experience. The “exceeding abundance” He’s given me in life. My family. My children. My beautiful husband. My thriving career. My girls. My guys. Not to be cliché but, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” And I honestly feel like #LEMONADE bubbled it all to the surface and gave me … release. A deep sigh. A blessed recognition. I feel … seen. Heard. Not in the way I feel it with God (not trying to say that), but like someone collected every woman’s inner thoughts and emotions, and gloriously exposed our heart. Maybe that’s it. It’s a crazy take on a new age love note. One to us. One to this country. One to our loves (past, current and future). I dunno … I’m still processing.

Levels …

Welcome to the world of a woman. A black woman. And while the struggle is real, the journey is beautiful. Complicated. Necessary. And this my friends, is the #theLEMONADEeffect.

#selah

Love you. Mean it.

AskThePRGirl

us

Today, a good friend asked via Facebook, “Why is marriage hard?” She wasn’t asking to be funny. She really wants to know. She’s single, beautiful, worldly and beginning to consider the idea of a covenant. Honestly, more single people should consider marriage this way and seek to understand its nuances. Well, I don’t think there […]

just a kid

I’ve worked really hard in my career to reach a certain title. I’ve literally been blinded by nothing but TITLE for the last three to four years. And now that I have it, I have no idea what to do next. I’m not even sure I’m happy or fulfilled with it. Standing in these shoes […]

Real Women Stand Up!

Bravo

Truth moment …

I’m no saint. I have an extremely saucy personality and can be a bit … mouthy when I want to be. At times I could use a better filter.  My shade game is razor sharp and scarily precise (even when I don’t mean to be). When threatened (or shall I say when there is an attempt to threaten), I assess the “target”, figure out your weakness and I begin the very deliberate, quiet and confident pursuit of disassembling you. They don’t call it the “Art of War” for nothing, right?

That said, I am also a consummate professional and I’m hyper aware of my personal and professional reputation. You will never see me do ANYTHING to bring shame to my good name, my family or any company, client or service I represent. It’s too important to me that my name and reputation is synonymous with integrity, maturity, respect and accountability.

I share this about myself because I want you to know I, too, have had moments during conflict with others that I’m not especially proud of; however, there is a line.  I believe it’s self-control, fear of embarrassment, respect for other humans and just a good village that keeps me from ever crossing that line.

Conflict is inevitable between people and certainly women.  We are beautiful, brilliant beams of light.  We are life. We have incredible power.  We can be such beautiful examples of this human experience.  We are responsible for so much during this walk of life so it’s only human that we lash out when offended.  We literally carry the weight of the world EVERY day and when someone disrupts, threatens or brings negativity into our world we retaliate like a lioness. I also believe that when that disrespect or disruption comes from another woman, the offense is even more painful because there is an unspoken code that SHE knows better than anyone the road traveled and the weight carried.  So it is my belief that we tend to be especially vicious with each other.

Last week I watched Married to Medicine, yet ANOTHER Atlanta based reality television show, for the very first time. What I witnessed was two “prominent” black women completely and utterly destroy their reputations with zero remorse for their actions.  I was MORTIFIED as I watched these two women physically fight each other at a black tie birthday party.  I literally couldn’t believe what I was watching.  I was shocked to silence.  Even more than the feeling of shock was that of embarrassment.  I was so completely embarrassed for them that I found myself wincing in discomfort and writhing in pain.

I took to Twitter and read comments ranging from who was right, which side America should take, whether the homeowner should have called the police to break up the fight and much more.  What’s sad is that I didn’t read many comments at all about the tragedy of two beautiful women tearing each other to shreds over something that could have easily been discussed another time.

What’s happening to us, people? When did this behavior become exciting?  Funny?  Entertaining?  Acceptable?  When did it stop being a tragedy to see two people have very little respect for themselves and others?

Hear me and hear me good. If you are publicly mirroring any behavior from reality TV whatsoever, please do everyone in your life a favor, find the tallest landing building you have access to and … jump. Ok, ok … not literally, but that’s how vehemently opposed you should be to this type of behavior, ESPECIALLY if you’re a woman.  The fight I saw last week on Married To Medicine disgusted me. And what’s even more tragic – instead of rebuking their own behavior, they have the audacity be self-righteous. I swear on everything that I love, if anyone and I do mean ANYBODY from my camp EVER models this behavior it will be a cold day in hell before you have access to my life again.

The desire closest to my heart is that women learn how to truly empower and support each other even when that means applying a deep level of humility.  Contrary to popular belief humility is NOT synonymous with humiliation.  It takes such strength of character to embrace humility and reap its benefits.  I believe that when we do, we will find a power that could truly change this world.

Think about it this way.  God has given women the gift of being the giver of life.  That’s extremely deep.  Shouldn’t we be focused on how to honor that gift and draw from it to be powerful agents of change in this world instead of looking for the next opportunity to destroy it??

I’ve decided to no longer watch Married to Medicine and I’m slowly but surely eliminating all television that mischaracterizes the woman I am. I don’t want that spirit in my home and certainly not in my life.  I refuse to accept that the behavior portrayed is okay.  I refuse to accept that all women model this behavior.  I refuse to make it easy for Bravo, WE TV and any other network to keep telling ME that this … this backbiting, vicious, undisciplined, unrefined, unloving, ridiculous, shameless being is the true representation of women today.

I am a woman.  I am NONE of those things and I will no longer delight in the tragedy of that depiction.

I challenge you to do the same.

All the best,
AskThePRGirl