A Glimpse Into My Life

See it through my eyes & understand me a little more

Category Archives: Uncategorized

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 28 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 48 posts. There were 8 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 158kb.

The busiest day of the year was November 10th with 114 views. The most popular post that day was Things Black Girls Do.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, facebook.com, blogsurfer.us, stumbleupon.com, and hootsuite.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for things black girls do, influential african american women, influential african americans, miss c, and thingsblackgirlsdo.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Things Black Girls Do November 2010
2 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

2

Influential African-American Women April 2010

3

The Problem of Public Education September 2010
8 comments

4

Forwarded Text Messages: Evil in 160 Characters October 2010
3 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

5

The Existence of Black Privilege July 2010
4 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com,

Dressing For Success

I’m a firm believer that we possess the necessary elements to attain whatever position it is that we seek. I’ve also had the opportunity to “pep-talk” many of my friends before they interview for a position and if you’ve made it to the interview, you’re already qualified for the job you want*. However, my friends are always surprised when I ask one thing: what do you plan to wear? For this, I blame my Mom BUT I make it my business to bring up what they are going to wear because I recognize that interview preparation exceeds the necessary talking points. The focus of this post is to highlight some key points that I feel women often overlook**.

The Necessary Foundations

I’ve learned a few things from my Mom quizzing me over the years about what I’m wearing to an interview, and while it is highly annoying, I can say that I’ve been given some gems when it comes to interview/business wear.

Rule 1: Wear the appropriate underwear.

“Wait, what? Underwear?” Yes. Underwear. Why am I starting with this? Well, these are the closest garments to your body and the most overlooked pieces in any outfit. So, my rule of thumb is don’t wear the underwear you may wear for your special someone or out to the club UNLESS that’s what you wear every day AND you look well put-together. Sounds simple enough? It is. Also, try to match your undergarments to your shirt and if you’re unsure of an appropriate color, go with nude or black (some white undergarments glow). If all else fails, model your clothing choice for someone and ask if they can see your foundations.

Rule 2: Wear undergarments that are the proper size.

To begin with, you want to wear underwear that is comfortable. In order for you to do this, they have to actually be your size. Not too tight. Not too loose. Just right. Your big interview is NOT the time to try on those new panties that you felt would give you a boost of confidence. Actually, it’s not the time to try on new underwear at all. The biggest reason for this is that you don’t know HOW you will feel once wearing them long-term. Ensure that you are in the proper size by having your measurements taken by a professional. Also, invest in a body shaper, girdle, or some other smoothing device. I’m a pretty shapely person (read: I’m curvy) and I sometimes utilize an all-in-one girdle to achieve a smoother look. It also reduces clothing sticking in odd places and I don’t have to adjust as often. Adjusting = fidgeting = looking more nervous than you may be.

Rule 3: Wear stockings, tights, or knee highs.

As old school as it sounds, it leads to a complete look if you happen to wear a skirt. Also, it can serve as damage control. What do I mean? Well, one day, I nicked my leg while shaving and had to wear a band-aid. I only had a skirt suit with me (in this scenario, I was at a conference) and I was a little self-conscious about people seeing this pale band-aid on my not-so-pale legs. So, I covered up with stockings. Granted, people may or may not have noticed my leg, but I didn’t want to chance it. Of course, if you are wearing a pantsuit, you can skip the stockings. I, for one, believe that stockings offer a complete look and safety net. Make sure they aren’t ruined though and fishnets should be considered a no-no. You don’t want to be known as THAT new chick before you even get your cubicle/desk space.

Rule 4: Wear a simple shirt.

I said simple. I didn’t say, “white.” You can wear any color shirt you want (this is where I let my personality shine through), however, you do want to make sure that it is simple. Leave this in your closet unless you know it will be well received.

Rule 5: Suit sets or mix and match separates are your friend.

Not everyone owns a suit, that’s fine. I only own one. However, you have more options for interview wear when you buy mix-and-match separates or multiple piece suits (think jacket, pants, and skirt). Not only do you have options, but you have options. When you have options, you’re comfortable. That’s the key to success in any interview setting — being as comfortable as you possibly can. The other great thing about wearing separates is that you can go without your jacket during the interview and simply add the jacket if you are invited to a social function by potential employers. 

Rule 6: Shoes should be sensible.

This rule is because I saw a young woman fall in heels. I felt so bad for her. She rolled her ankle and it was obvious that she was in pain. However, she showed up to our interview just as the person conducting the session showed up. She had to sit through an hour and a half of intense questioning and we had a person that couldn’t quite get their thoughts together. When we left the group, her ankle was noticeably swollen. So wear sensible shoes. If you wear a heel, make sure you can walk (and stand for long periods) in them.

Rule 7: Deodorant is a must.

I only mention this rule because we sweat more than usual while under stress, so carry a stick with you. If you find yourself sweating more than usual by the time you show up for your interview, step into a bathroom and freshen up. This should include wiping under your arms and reapplying deodorant. While it may sound like “common sense,” many forget to do this.

Rule 8: Leave your favorite perfume alone.

I’m one of those people who has a sensitivity to everything and I hate to be in the position interviewing someone. When people ask me about what they should wear, I mention my particular sensitivity to smell and that smelling certain things usually lead to a migraine and I also make a point to say that you never want to cause anyone a migraine or undue pain. I also make a point to say, “What’s pleasant to you may not be pleasant to others.” So, hold off on that body spray that you got at the Semi-Annual Sale for 3 for $15. If you are going to wear a perfume, spray it on ONE wrist and press both wrists together. If you want more coverage, then spray it into the air and step through it. Light is best, but none at all is absolutely amazing.

Rule 9: If you could be born with that hair color, then it’s interview appropriate.

If you plan to color your hair, keep it at one of those “natural” (for people like you) shades. If you do have a shade of hair color that’s unique, then wear it pulled back (they can’t really see it if you do AND it becomes a tad bit darker, unless you’re platinum blonde). Employers are looking for the total package and once you accept an offer of employment, you become part of THEIR brand, not your own.

Rule 10: Keep your makeup at a minimum.

Many of us keep up with trends and we find that makeup is one surefire way to express ourselves. Well, let’s keep the expressing to non-interview days. The rule of thumb here is this: at the expense of accidentally looking like MiMi from the Drew Carey Show or some wayward club-going patron, just stick to the basics. You should have light foundation, light blush, light bronzer, simple eyeliner, neutral eyeshadow, and a natural-looking lip balm, gloss, or lipstick. Do this for two reasons: (1) you don’t want to give a future employer the impression that you take 50 hours on your makeup alone and (2) your nerves may cause you to sweat and you wouldn’t want to spend precious time on touchups.

Rule 11: You only want to accessorize if you’re working in the mall. At Forever 21. On a busy Saturday.

I once had a friend who went to an interview. She is an extremely smart young lady. However, she had these lucky bangles that she wore to keep her calm. After her interview, we met up and she was on the verge of tears. It seems that she didn’t make it to the next round of interviews. As she told me her story and how the interview went, I kept hearing this tinking. It was seriously grating on my nerves. I cut her off abruptly, frowned, and asked if she wore her bangles to the interview. She didn’t even have to answer — her face said it all. I simply told her that she may have missed her opportunity BUT to call her contact back to ask what she could have done better. That potential employer was nice enough to explain to her that she was a great candidate (on paper) but that something had been distracting them during the interviewing process. The Moral: Leave all embellishments alone. Your employer can learn all about your fashion-sense once they start depositing those checks into your bank account. I keep my Mom’s “Words of Wisdom” close by when I think of what to wear — earrings (enough to fill up to two holes in each ear), no facial jewelry, and one simple necklace (if you are going to wear one). Also, you may only want to wear a ring if you are engaged to be married or already a misses.

That’s all I have for my rules. Enjoy and share your own tips.

*There are exceptions to this rule but since that is not the topic of this blog, let’s keep it moving.

**I focus on women because I am a woman and because I am a woman.

Friends…How Many Of Us Have Them?

Friends! Ones we can depend on?

So, this is actually an older post from another blog that I have…but I still wanted to share it.

Let’s start with a surface definition of friend. According to Merriam-Webster online, a friend is one attached to another by affection or esteem; one that is not hostile; one that is of the same nation, party, or group; one that favors or promotes something; or a favored companion. Now with this said, we can talk about the qualities that would lead a  person to call another person these things.

Let’s start with the first part of the definition:What attaches me to another by affection or esteem?
The biggest thing for me is trust. Can I trust you? Every relationship should be built on trust. If I feel that I can trust you, then we have an important building block for whatever we are trying to build. I also live by the rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This has backfired on me quite a few times however because some people that I chose to call “friend” in the past treated me in a way that really made me question my decision-making skills. Outside of those things, I feel a thread of commonality must be found for me to consider you my friend. This means that we need to share something in common. I don’t really consider a person a friend if we have nothing in common. This is not to say that I couldn’t grow to like something new, but it does mean that if I feel we can’t relate, then I only consider you an acquaintance. The final thing for me is the value system of the other person. What do they believe? Is it vastly different from me? For example, I cannot be friends with a person who hates Muslims. My father is a Muslim. I can’t be friends with a person who does not believe in equality from those different from themselves. I can’t. That’s against my value system. The funny thing about values is this: if you choose to surround yourself with people of an extremely different value system, something about you is going to change….and it might not be for the better.

The second part is: A person that is not hostile.
We all get angry; but the thing is do you live in anger? I don’t think I would like to surround myself with a person who is constantly negative or constantly angry. It makes life harder than it has to be because you forget how to look for the silver lining on your storm clouds. I know that if I constantly surrounded myself with a hostile person, I would probably forget how to smile and smiling is like breathing for me. I just HAVE to do it! So it’s simple. We can not be friends if you are hostile. Period.

The third part is: A person that is of the same nation, party, or group.
This goes back to that thread of commonality. What do we have in common? I have noticed that this plays a role in my selection of friends, especially since I began my undergrad at a predominantly White institution (PWI). For me, I was very uncomfortable the first week or so when I got to my campus (I was allowed to move in a week early). Every morning, I woke up to country. I have no problem with country. I had a problem when I would be asked to turn my R&B off. So I felt out of place with something as universal as music! Then I had questions about my hair like “Do you wash it everyday?” or “Can I touch it?” Now, I have no problem answering those questions. I had a problem answering the questions everyday. So you can imagine my relief when everyone else was allowed to move in and there were 7 of us on my floor (Quick math: What’s 20 * 4 + 2 * 3? 80 +6. We had 86 students per floor not counting the RAs) and I finally had someone to relate to. There were other students like me! Then there are my church friends (most of them are not of the same race/ethnic background). We have a similar value background (I will acknowledge here that most organized religions share the same value systems) and we could talk about something that was important to us AND feel comfortable. So for me, these threads of commonality are important.

The fourth part is: A person that favors or promotes something.
I guess you could place something about values here, but I’ve already mentioned that. So I’ll go another route. What are things that we both enjoy doing (together or alone)? Can I talk to you about classical music? Can I talk to you about different forms of dance? What about art? Do you like to read? My ideal friend would love these art forms. My ideal friend would have an appreciation for all sports (I didn’t say you had to like them, I just said you had to appreciate it). My thing is this. I like a lot of different things and I really don’t feel that you  could truly respect me if you don’t appreciate the things that I do. Also, I have found friends with different organizations because they stand for something or they promote something for a group that can not really speak for themselves. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: My friends are allies for humanity and for people to be treated equally.

The fifth is simply: A person who is a favored companion.
For me to favor you, I must love you. There are different types of love and the one I’m speaking of is the kind of love that would allow me to extend to you what I have when you need it. My most favored friends are those that listen and pay attention. They are able to read other people’s emotions. They can admit when they are wrong. They can apologize. A friend that I favor is like family to me. We have our differences but we don’t let those come between the relationship that we are trying to build or the one that we have built already. A friend is also a person who is not going to throw something in your face or take on the characteristics of a highlighter (this means they don’t highlight or pick out things that are “wrong” with you to make themselves feel better).

So I guess you could say that a friend is honest, congenial, focused on bettering themselves and those people or things around them, open-minded, a person that possess a similar value system, a person that love humanity, a person that is kind, and a person who could grow to love me and all of my flaws. As for the number of people I would call a true friend, I don’t really know. This post has caused me to do a lot of thinking about the qualities a friend would possess and I can’t say for sure that I have true friends. I know that I have friends…but how many of them are true?

Dream.Hope.Believe

A Personal Challenge: Two-A-Days

There is one goal that we should all move towards: self-improvement.

In my efforts, a thought struck me last night before I went to bed. It’s almost like the Two-A-Days that athletes go through to make sure that they are in top shape for competition. Well, my Two-A-Days involve reflecting on myself and taking a hard look at what I could have done to be a better person all around.

Essentially, this idea began as journaling twice a day. After I thought about it more today, I realized that this still kept me “closed off” from others and the experiences that they’ve lived (and are willing to share). With that being said, I will now tell you all what’s involved in my Two-A-Days!

 

To begin with, there will be some period of reflection in the morning and at night. The morning will consist of writing out my daily goals — doable things; at least four and one of those has to be outside of my comfort zone. It could be as simple as sitting in a different seat in my class or not bringing my laptop at all (I can’t think about how hard that would be for me or I won’t do it). Along with the goals, one must be slightly “out of reach”…one of those things that I didn’t think I’d be able to do (finishing a paper…at the very least, a rough draft or calling a long-lost relative). Four goals! Attainable…and worthwhile. I’ll also have a period of reflective writing, whether it’s simply a few minutes to write out how I’m feeling and why. This is to set the tone. Something to measure the progress in my day by.

 

The “evening workout” will consist of reading (because that’s what nerds do!) a book that I may not otherwise read. This actually began as personal down time in my evening and reading things that I liked. But then I thought to myself, “That’s NOT challenging…at all,” and decided to find books by people who’s beliefs are “fundamentally” different from my own. This way, I get to see what my “opponents” feel on issues and I also get the opportunity to examine why I hold the stance I do in the first place. This also comes with some reflective writing (because I like to write duh).

 

But anyway, as I’ve said before, I’m doing this to challenge myself and to grow. I want to look back a year from now at what I’ve written and say to myself, “I’m different. I’m better. I’m more at peace. I’m of sound mind.” Things like that.

 

All are invited to join!

 

“Because if you’re not becoming better, you really are just wasting space.” – My Grandpa

“I’m Not Hating But…”

I really can’t think of any other phrase I hate to hear more than this one (or any other variation of said phrase). To me, that’s exactly what you are doing. Anytime you have to announce a “disclaimer” along with a said phrase, odds are, that’s what you’re doing. Hmmm…are you still confused?

 

SAY THAT MESS AND I’LL DECLARE YOU A HATER!

 

That’s all she wrote….for now.

Just Let Me Speak My Peace

So, I recently felt compelled to write this blog because of current events that took place earlier today (Wednesday to be exact). After a few hours of dealing with issues, I took to my Twitter to tweet! I simply let out my frustration over the entire situation and since it was already after midnight, I wrote, “Thursday is going to be a horrible day.”

Someone, in trying to remain positive, told me that I shouldn’t write things like that. In all fairness to them, I understand their position. However, I’m a person that tends to hold a lot of things in…and sometimes, I get really frustrated. I let it out. I effectively vent.

See, whether or not people realize this, there is a time for everything. You can vent. You have that right. As a matter of fact, I think people should learn how to perfect that craft so that they too can let out their anger and frustration in a healthy way. I’m not saying, “Don’t be positive.” I’m not telling you to not look for your silver lining. No, I’m saying that sometimes you have to let that anger out with your words. If you feel that something is going horribly wrong, say so. Other people, namely your friends, will be there to offer those positive words and bring you back to your happy place. Even if you don’t have those people there to do that for you, trust me…you feel better.

See, what happens for me when I don’t vent is that I spiral deeper and deeper into a “bad” mood (my moods have degrees…it’s crazy). So, if I say to myself, “Things will work out” after something horribly dumb happens and it leaves me (for lack of a better term) pissed off, it usually doesn’t get better. I stub my toe, roll an ankle, forget an important assignment at home, etc., and my day continues to get worse. So, I’ve learned to vent.

Which leads me to the next thing that I want to say. I’ve come across people who’ve told me that I always seem to be angry. I can’t fault them for that. It’s what I project. See, when I began to blog, it was to come to a place where people didn’t know me and I felt comfortable enough writing about the things that bothered me or happened to me and left me confused. The more I began to write, the easier it became for me to say to myself and for myself, that “this is what went wrong and this is how I felt.” To some, I can see how I’m always “negative.” I would find myself in a defensive stance because I’m always the friend, in REAL life, to offer encouragement to someone. I’m the person that listens or offers a shoulder when someone needs to cry or to lend support. You know what happens when that kind of person doesn’t get those things reciprocated?

It all goes to hell.

So, I started to blog. I wrote and I felt better. I felt better because I would vent.

I said all of that to say this — if you don’t agree with what I write, you don’t have to comment. Just take your disagreement and keep it to yourself. If you don’t like what I’m saying when I’m obviously having a shitty moment, don’t say so…you’re going to make the moment “shittier.” If you would like for me to be more positive, then maybe you can say so…but I guarantee that if you really pay attention, you’ll notice when I start to feel better. I usually feel better. There is a 99.99% chance that I WILL feel better…so you don’t have to tell me to erase my negative thoughts.

I promise, I’m okay. I just need to speak my “peace.”

Recognizing My Personal Bias

**Warning: This post IS controversial and highly prejudiced. No offense is meant. If you find yourself feeling that way, then you can respectfully post a comment.

In working through the program for my Master’s degree, I’ve come to realize a few things about myself. The biggest hurdle that I’m currently facing is one that is very personal in nature. But before I get into what this post is about, I’ll state a few facts:

1. I’m a Black woman.

2. I grew up in the inner-city (many times while homeless or in transitional housing) and I’ve made it this far because of teachers who pushed me forward.*

3. I am in my field to help students, more particularly students of color, succeed academically…so that it becomes the rule and NOT the “exception”.

Now that those truths have been stated, I’ll share my bias:

I’m in a cohort that is diverse by definition (racially) and a field that is highly politicized. When my classmates are discussing things in the classroom, I get this sickening feeling in my stomach. This feeling is something that I’ve been trying desperately hard to deal with and to even put it into words. Sometimes, I feel that I make sense, other times, I don’t. This feeling also only comes up when certain classmates speak on a topic. It’s my prejudice.

As a child who grew up in an “urban” center and who attended an “urban” and “disadvantaged” school, I feel quite ill when the discussions take place in the classroom. When I was younger, I began to notice the inequity that plagued our school system. During my 3rd grade year, I was invited to participate in a testing session to see if I would qualify for a scholarship to a private school that was in the same neighborhood as my elementary school. Until that invite, I assumed that the elementary school was in fact a college because the building was that nice. I scored high enough to be placed into a classroom and when my Mom asked if I wanted to go, I said no. There was something not quite right about the situation, but instinct told me that I didn’t want to be at that school. When I graduated from elementary school, I tested into a Magnet school for my 7th grade year (I didn’t graduate from this school however). The same thing happened when I graduated from Middle School and while I was proud of my school, I also recognized it for what it was — the lowest performing school in the city. For High School, I had the distinction and privilege of going to the best high school in the state.

This is when things became dicey. You see, during my elementary and middle school years, I’d attended all-Black schools (I kid you not, every student was Black). High School was a huge shock all around. Here, the kids had lockers. Here the kids didn’t walk through metal detectors. Here the kids did NOT have to eat inside of the cafeteria for lunch if they didn’t want to. Here the kids had books for every class that they took home, no paper copies. Here there were enough desks in every class. Here every kid was expected to succeed and they had no choice. If you didn’t do well, you were asked to leave. I don’t remember seeing a girl who was pregnant (maybe one) and I don’t remember there being a shooting or anyone ever being taken out during the day by the cops.  I don’t remember negativity. What I do remember is it being “white-washed”.

From the administrators, to the counselors, to the teachers, to the majority of the students. It was white. It was happy. It was the status-quo. Here you made it, even if you were a “student of color”. Anywhere else, you might have been the exception. Here, you were the rule.

That experience is taken with me everywhere. From being embarrassed in a French class because I forgot my homework on the bus that I had to catch at 6:40 am to being mistreated by a Biology teacher because I had to explain that I couldn’t take my work home with me (it was a project about worms). Both of those teachers asked something that I will never forget, “What’s wrong with you that you can’t keep up or do your work?” The better question would have been, “What’s wrong with you all that you don’t understand that not everyone lives in a house with a white picket fence?” I remember the very nice guidance counselor who did her best to help me complete my English homework (which always had to be typed) by getting me a computer. I also remember her disdain when I explained to her that I couldn’t afford the floppy disks (y’all it was old) to save my work on or a printer to simply print things out. I remember how everyone would praise my High School and I would remember how I wanted to go back to the schools that I’d come from. I wanted to go back to the teachers that were like me.

So what does this have to do with my bias, you wonder?

The classmates that usually rub me the wrong way are the White classmates. They are the ones who point things out about their schools and how great they are doing. They will juxtapose their schools and compare them to other largely “minority” schools in the district and tell you how much better their kids are doing. Now, I’m happy that someone is picking up the task of educating our children, but I always want to ask, “Why are you doing it? Why do you have to speak in that way?” They talk down to their classmates and strike below the belt in their comments (and I’m sure all of us do this). Many times, I feel that they are somewhat elitist. They remind me of the guidance counselor that I had who initially wanted to do some good, but then made me feel as though she knew what was best for me or that I wasn’t good enough. Hearing them speak in class about things, I can’t help but wonder if they truly understand their students’ experiences (as I’m sure they do, they are there enough). I can’t help but wonder if they bring that same, “I know better than you” attitude that comes across in the classroom to meetings with parents. I can’t help but wonder if they KNOW that they give off a sense of superiority.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Whatever it is, it bothers me. I sincerely appreciate their contribution to our society, but after living as a Black child in an impoverished life to grow into a Black woman in this time, it is very hard for me to listen to my White classmates (and sometimes other classmates) when they begin to talk about all of the good they are doing (look at the emphasis there). Maybe they don’t get that it’s a community? Maybe they don’t understand that the child’s aptitude plays a role? Maybe they really do believe that they can “save” a community of people not like themselves?

And that’s where my problem lies.

So, I’m working on this. Hopefully, I can work through this issue enough to speak up in class without feeling as though I’m going to say something HIGHLY inappropriate because there are many times that I want to. But most of all, my hope is that I can really see that they are good people (because they are) and that I’m able to digest their comments without taking any personal offense. Hopefully.

*That isn’t the only reason. I’d like to think that my faith has allowed me to come this far as well.

This post is an original work by Miss C. Jayne. © September 2009

The Things They’ve Said (What Will They Say, Part 2)

I’ve come to recognize when I’ve changed for the better. One thing that I’ve noticed recently is that I’m no longer concerned with the things that were once deemed important in my life (although some people around me still hold on to these things). I don’t worry about what someone said to someone else (I’m also not interested in what people have to tell me about other people, it actually disgusts me). I don’t care about what the person next to me is doing (unless they are endangering the community). Those things don’t concern me.

However, there is one thing that will always concern me – my reputation.

There is a quote out there that says, “You shouldn’t be concerned with your reputation, but your character. Your reputation is what others think of you while your character is who you really are” (or something like that).

I agree…and then I disagree.

Nothing has shown me more that your reputation directly influences your interactions with other people more than the events that have transpired in the past year. Roommate issues, I’ve had them. Organizational issues, I’ve had them. Personal issues with people I don’t know, I’ve had them (thank you Facebook, cue *eyerolling). Personal issues with people I know and love, I’ve had them. Losing family members and spiraling into some deep internal abyss, I’ve done it. There’s really nothing new in the arena of interacting with other people that surprises me.

My surprise comes along when I hear or read something about me that is not true. What’s (not so) funny about these situations are the sheer numbers of people who listen and believe what they are being told (the innocents, I can’t fault, especially if they don’t take the time to know me). In the past year, I’ve heard:

“She lies.”
“She’s fake.”
“She’s a bitch.”
“Don’t trust her.”
“She’s a hoe.”
“She steals money (or insert whatever else you can steal here).”
“She’s dirty.”

I’ve heard this, and more. Most times when things come back around to me, it’s negative. Not only is it negative, it’s hurtful. Especially since I can count ALL of the people that I hang/hung out with on one hand. I mean, I know people and I have friends and acquaintances that would total more than the digits on my hands. But my closest circle isn’t even enough to fill a “Top 8” on Myspace. Seriously.

This is why my reputation concerns me. It’s what the general public believes. It’s what I’m working against when I’m putting in the extra effort to seem sociable (which is a very hard task for me to do). It’s what I’m working against when I’m representing various organizations. It’s what I’m working against when I’m rushing across campus (or was rushing across campus) and people would speak and I would mistakenly not see their greeting. It’s what I’m working against when I’m trying to negotiate with people. It’s what I’m working against when I’m trying to have my ideas heard.

So, the fact is simply this:

You can be fooled into believing that your reputation doesn’t matter, I bet you won’t win a position you run for. You can be fooled into believing that your reputation doesn’t matter, I’ll bet that the first response you get from a random stranger who is acquainted with your name will not be something that you’d say about yourself. You can be fooled into believing that your reputation doesn’t matter, but that’s what people look at and base most of their decisions on.

Think I’m lying. Try this out – Start a malicious lie about yourself (this works better if you’re super involved in something in your community). See how fast it spreads. Wait a few weeks and attempt to make a new friend. I’ll put money that they’ll recognize whatever malicious foolishness you’ve started.

Since I’ve said all of that, I’ll finally tell why I decided to write this as part two. I was recently dealing with some frustration on an online account. I got the funniest response from someone and it basically said that they had heard that I was a bitch and what I was putting on the site confirmed their thought. The thing that initially made me pause (actually, it was a few things) was that they felt comfortable enough calling me a bitch. Okay. The next thing that concerned me what that I did NOT hang out with them. We knew similar people BUT we never ran in the same crowd. My folks kept to themselves and their people kept to themselves. We just knew of each other. Never mind the fact that I was involved in many community activities. Never mind the fact that I had a kind word for them when I spoke to them or saw them. Never mind the fact that this person asked for my advice once after sharing a problem with me and I gave sound advice. Never mind the fact that they couldn’t remember whom initially told them that.

Those things are irrelevant. The “fact” that they immediately recalled was that I was a “b*tch.” That came from my reputation.

So, I’ll let the people continue to talk. I just hope that they learn just how hurtful some things can be and how jaded some people become. The fact is that everyone will hear (at some point) something about themselves that isn’t true and may possibly be able to find out the source. When that happens, since I’m not them, I can’t even think of a possible ending. When I find out, that person loses so much respect from me. And that is something that you’ll never get back.

People. Just be careful about what you’re saying.

To be continued…

What Will They Say? (part 1)

**So, this isn’t necessarily a long post, I just can’t finish my thoughts in one sitting. So, I’ll add to it as I go along.

In this past week, I’ve thought a lot about life and the opportunities that we are presented with. I’ve thought about our interactions with other people and how we wield our influence. I’ve thought greatly about the impact that I wish to make in my life and hopefully, I improve the condition of other people. I’ve thought about my successes (thus far) and the goals that I’ve set for my future. I’ve thought about all that I want to do.

But the question that has plagued me since last year, September 13, 2008 to be exact, “What will people say about me?”

The question is not what they are currently saying about me. I’m not really concerned with that and I don’t really care. In the last year, I’ve learned that people are malicious and will speak a lot of untruths about you. I’ve learned that those people that you once held respect for can’t even respect themselves and simply can’t return that to you. I’ve learned that we often speak about the future as if it will always come.

In the past year, I’ve learned one lesson repeatedly: The “future” is quite possibly a tomorrow you may not see and the present is what counts.

The one thing that taught me this: Death.

So, in light of many people passing, family members and famous people alike, I’ve re-evaluated my current legacy and myself. It’s summed up in a great quote that my cousin has on her Facebook page:

“I know the date you were born is important and the year you pass will be noted; BUT what can people say about the dash (-) in the middle??? 7/5/1986 – ?”

This made me think about the family members that I buried this year and how everyone had great things to say about them. This also made me think about how some of the people who spoke had a hard time finding those great things to say. So, I began to think, “Why don’t we live our lives as though we’ll die tomorrow?”

We (humans) live as though we are invincible and that the final call for our final performance will never take place. We live as though our final tomorrow never comes. We live as though the wrongs we commit will not be brought to light. It’s sad actually because many of us are living existences that are empty and we think otherwise.

So, I began to think, “What will THEY say about me when I go?”

Because whether you believe it or not, the only time “they” really matter is when you leave. That’s when it’s noted whether or not you’ve been a person that has increased happiness or otherwise. In asking questions though, you have to think of possible answers, and that’s where this blog comes from. I’m not a famous person and I haven’t touched the lives of very many people, but I have touched the lives of important people. They are important simply because they are here.

So what should we do?

We should begin to live as though it’s all going to be over tomorrow.

To be continued…

Tired of Being Strong

On days like this, really bad days, I’m reminded of equally bad days from my youth. One in particular came to mind:

I was 9. At any rate, I was too old and too experienced to have done the extremely stupid thing that I had done today: lost my bus tickets (which were equal to exactly $3.00 in bus fare). The thing that made me most angry though (at myself) was that I would have to tell my younger brothers we were going to have to walk over two miles to our second bus stop, the one that dropped us off at the necessary stop that placed us on our bus to take us home. I could easily make the walk in an hour, but those two, being six and all, would not want to do it. I had managed to finagle an extra bus ticket from a classmate, so I could use 50 cents to buy them snacks. Too bad I didn’t know how long that was going to last. So, I asked my teacher for another dollar (and got an overwhelming lecture about responsibility) so I could afford at least another juice for them halfway between point A and point B.

3:15 (the time that we were let out) got to us just a little faster than I would have liked to. At that point, I had $4.95 cents. A classmate had given me a bunch of her “emergency” change (the change she saved up in case she and mom had to run from her dad) and I promised I would pay her back little by little with interest. At nine, I already understood how to play that game. I figured, I could give her $2.00 and that would be fine (which would take about 4 weeks to pay off). So, I went downstairs. I collected my brothers. We walked to our first bus stop which was conveniently located by a corner store and did what we did every other NORMAL day. We got snacks. Well, they did. The little busy bodies noticed, but I just said I wasn’t hungry. We paid our money and then we went outside. Except this time, I took one of their hands and we walked started to walk towards our Gentilly neighborhood from Uptown New Orleans. For the first 4 blocks, I just told them that this would put us closer to the Broad Express, at an easier stop, so that we could probably actually get on (I felt bad for lying). Four blocks later, the first brother was pissed off and rightfully so. Here he was at 6 having to walk because I couldn’t remember where a bus ticket was.

Blocks 7 and 8 (they trusted me enough to keep walking), both started to complain that they were sleepy. So we took a break. By this time, we were at another busy street, and like a panhandler, I started to ask for spare change. I explained to people that we lived in Gentilly and I couldn’t find my bus tickets. One man looked at me like I was scum of the Earth and made a quip about welfare babies and unemployed moms. It stung. We were on welfare, but my Mom had to work to keep us there. I told him that and that he was a mean old man, collected my brothers, and continued walking. I’m not going to lie. I distinctly remember that this was the time that I started to cry. I had to figure out a way to keep them wanting to walk and they weren’t having it. So, we waited at a bus stop and I had three buses close doors in our faces. By now, it was 4:30, my little digital watch told me this, and we should have been walking in our door and my Mother should have been getting a call at work about our safe arrival.

But we kept walking. I had to carry one brother who almost as big as I was in height, but not in weight, because he was starting to look a little weak (turns out he was too hot and he wasn’t getting enough water) and he was flushing. I’m trying not to panic while holding him. I figure, we have maybe 6 more blocks to go. I counted wrong.

At block 14, I realized we were just a little over halfway there. So, we stopped. I sat them on a bench and asked another lady for two dollars to buy them water. I explained to her that we were walking home and I’d lost the bus tickets. She asked how much would it cost for bus fare. $3.00 the first leg. She didn’t have three dollars. So, she gave me the two I asked for and I bought them water and we kept moving. By the time we got to our needed bus stop, it was 5:45 pm. No doubt I was in for THE ass whooping of my life.

We got on the bus and I realized that like a dummy, I miscalculated the amount of money that was needed to get home. I counted the transfer money as the amount and not the base bus fare. Panic set in pretty quickly. My brothers had already sat down and the bus driver made a move like he was going to put them off. I started to scream. Seriously. At nine, I wasn’t sure what to do in this situation. So, I started to scream and cry. My Mom, who’d waited at work until they put her out, was sitting in the middle of the bus and realized it was her kids who were being put off (this mean ass bus driver was really gonna put us off?!?!?) and paid our fare. She asked what happened and I hurriedly told her the same story that I’ve written out. I also asked that she not whoop me because it was an honest mistake and I wasn’t sure how I did it.

I wasn’t.

__

So, people. I’m now 23 years old. I’m attempting a graduate program at a University with very little help (financially) from the school. I want to go home. I want to give up.

The thing is, people keep telling me to be strong. I don’t want to be strong. I’m tired now. I don’t think it’s the bone-tiredness that women who’ve worked all of their lives talk about. It feels pretty damn close though. I just want to go home and sleep. I feel like I’ve always been strong and once, just this once, I’ve managed to dream a big that was finally bigger than me. You all can pray, just don’t tell me to pray. I’ve prayed every day. Maybe, I’m praying for the wrong thing. Maybe, I’m not praying hard enough. But the fact remains, I pray. So, if your advice is to pray, then you pray for me.

What I know though is that I’m tired of being strong.