Fifty-Seven

Southern Mom was born in 1957.  In 2014, I kept telling her that it was her “Golden Year” because she was TURNING 57, and she was BORN in 1957.  Little did I know that less than two months after her birthday, she’d be gone. Whenever I see the number 57, on an interstate exit in particular, I always think of her.

Doug Banks, my FAVORITE radio DJ of all-time, passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 57.

Yesterday, we lost my boo, the ultimate performer, the greatest musician, an icon. How old was he?  Fifty-seven.  Prince Rogers Nelson is the ultimate instrumentalist.  I say “is” because it’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that he is gone.

I have loved Prince for as long as I can remember.  One of my first memories of Prince is “Purple Rain”.  As young as 8 or 9 (probably younger) every time I would go to my uncle’s house, I would ask him if I could borrow his “Purple Rain” VHS tape.  I would watch that movie multiple times a week before I took it back to his house.  It got to the point that one day he just told me he would get me my own copy.

For my 10th birthday, I got the tape of “Diamonds and Pearls”.   I was SO happy to get that doggone tape.  One day, I took it to daycare so we could dance to it.  And my BFF lost it.  I went SLAM OFF on her.  I was so upset!  I had it less than a week, and she LOST IT!  Thankfully, it was recovered, but I learned then not to let anyone mess with/hold/borrow my stuff.

One of my bucket list items was to see Prince perform live.  Despite the circumstances, I was BEYOND thrilled to see him perform in Baltimore last year.  My linesister B and I had floor seats!!!!  It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  And while I missed his DC show, I didn’t worry too much when he announced he was going on tour again in 2016, because I just KNEW I would get to see him perform again.  Alas, that is not to happen in this lifetime.

It’s still surreal to me.  I just can’t believe that he’s gone.  I feel like there’s so much more he has to do.  There’s so much more the fans have to see and hear and do.

Prince was unapologetic about who he was.  He was about the music.  He was about living your truth.  He wasn’t the biggest man or the tallest man or the most masculine man, but he could have any woman (ANY WOMAN) he wanted.  Even guys respected Prince because he was a bad-ass.  As my friends on Facebook have said, “he was the original Mr. Steal Your Girl”.

While I am upset that I won’t get to see him this summer, I will remember how his music made me feel.  How I still dance and sing to the “Purple Rain” soundtrack (heck, really any Prince album).  How amazing it was to see him on stage last year.  And how he changed the music industry.  Prayers to his family, friends, loved ones, and fans.

Prince Rogers Nelson, you were one-of-a-kind, ahead of your time, and you will be forever in my heart.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Advertisements

Just Say No

Over the years, I have been in numerous weddings.  I have so enjoyed celebrating my friends as they decide to embark on their journey to become wives.  Most recently, I will be in a wedding this weekend.  And even though the bride and I haven’t known each other long, she and I made a real connection.  I often refer to her as the little sister I never had.  We have a lot in common, hang out on a pretty regular basis, and now we are neighbors.  I definitely learn from her and her groom, and I hope that they learn from me.

Not to sound too cliche’, but when you get a number of women together, things don’t always work out the way you want them to.  Now, I have prided myself on not getting caught up in the petty/insignificant/crazy things that groups of women sometimes get themselves into.  I’m pretty good about letting things roll off my back.  Not to mention that I don’t have those type of women in the circles.

But let me back up and offer some sage advice.  When someone asks you to be in their wedding, it’s MUCH more than just buying a dress (or renting a tux) and standing next to your ace while she/he exchanges vows.  It’s a time AND financial commitment.  At minimum, in addition to your dress and shoes, you’re also going to have to chip in for a bachelorette party and/or bridal shower.  And with the way society is now, the bride may want to do a trip.  And it is the one time (aside from you being married and/or having children) that you have to be unselfish and put someone else before you. Like you can’t complain, can’t whine, can’t say you don’t like your dress/hair/nails. Why?  Because it’s not about you!

In addition to you being unselfish, you have to put up.  Not put up or shut up-just put up.  Celebrating the bride isn’t cheap.  Not only do you have to budget for your dress/shoes/jewelry, you will most likely have to get a hotel room/airfare ticket and contribute to her bridal shower and bachelorette party.  Not only do you shower the bride with gifts, but you also have to support her last days as a “free” woman.  When you don’t contribute, you put undo pressure on the other members of the bridal party.  Let me tell you a story…(don’t worry, it’s short)

A few years back, I was my cousin’s Maid of Honor at her wedding. Her bachelorette party and bridal shower took place over one weekend in Atlanta.  Why?  She was the only person that lived there, and everyone was traveling to attend.  Out of 8 bridesmaids, only 1 contributed to her weekend, which consisted of dinner, clubbing, drinks, bridal shower, and dance class.  I never told my cousin.  And even though she and my aunt offered to contribute, I didn’t take their money.  Why?  Because it’s her day and she shouldn’t have to worry about that.  And that wasn’t her job.  Her job was to enjoy being celebrated with no worries.

With the wedding I’m going to be in this weekend, I won’t go into too many details.  I’ll just say one person still owes me money for events that have taken place and another told me that she can’t contribute anymore (we have one last event scheduled with the bride and groom) as she is in a wedding next weekend as well and is tapped out.

All of these instances have told me that I need to learn to say “No”.  From now on, if a family member/friend/loved one/soror asks me to be in her wedding, I’m going to decline.  And it’s not because I don’t love them; it’s because not everyone in the wedding party realizes the commitment that she is agreeing to.  And just because someone didn’t plan properly (or because they’re a slacker) does not mean that I should make undo sacrifices. I’m not here to take care of grown people.

Now, I’ll admit that this blog may not be the best way to communicate that, but….yeah, it is the best way to communicate this.  Because I’m here to share my story.  And I feel that people who are involved in my life (the good, the bad, and the ugly) unofficially sign up to become a part of that story.  It is never my intent to embarrass or call out folks; I don’t name names-that’s messy.

Oh, and my own wedding (when that day comes)?  I’ll be on a beach somewhere with my boo and our parents. The few people that I have shared this with in the last 12 hours think I’m crazy, and I’ll change my mind.  Not to mention it totally goes against the next to last line in this post.  The older you get, you realize what’s really important.  And me stressing over somebody else’s wedding because people can’t contribute is not at the top of my list of priorities.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

“The Book of Negroes”

Unfortunately, BET’s miniseries “The Book of Negroes” did not get as much fanfare as say the “Love and Hip Hop”, “Real Housewives”, or “Bad Girls Club” franchises. I have to admit the only reason I heard about it was because I watch “Being Mary Jane” and “The Game”.

For those of you who have never heard of it, “The Book of Negroes” is a 3 part miniseries based on the true life of Aminata Diallo, an African woman who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery.  What is unique about Aminata is that she wrote The Book of Negroes, a ledger of free Blacks that lived in New York, most of which sailed to Nova Scotia to escape the injustices of America.  Aminata was an educated woman who was not afraid to back down from anyone.  In a time when slaves were to “know their place”, she demanded respect.

This miniseries is one of the best things I have seen on television.  It was well written, included amazing acting, and was well produced.  For me, it made me think about the Black community as a whole and how we are looked at by other cultures.  Of course, the first thing that came to mind was the separation of the Black family.  Chikura, a young African boy that Aminata met right before she was kidnapped, found Aminata once they were adults on plantations in South Carolina.  They ended becoming husband and wife, only to be torn apart NUMEROUS times.  And both times Aminata gave birth to their children, they were not together.  The great thing is that Chikura ALWAYS found her, which to me shows that even though their family was not always together and was broken many times, Chikura never gave up on her.  Not to mention Aminata never had eyes for any other man.  Something else I noticed were the enslaved Blacks.  It’s no secret, if you know the history of the US, that whites commonly referred to slaves and Blacks as “animals”.  Watching slaves in chains, practically dying from thirst and starvation, I couldn’t help but think that there was something animalistic about them.  When given water and/or food, with no utensils but their fingers…how else is one to act?  I wonder how non-Blacks would think if they saw (or knew) that their ancestors were placed in chains, having to use the bathroom on themselves, using their fingers to eat.  It’s a super disheartening and disturbing sight.

There are some of you, a friend of mine and Southern Dad included, who believe that “I’m tired of slave movies” or “I don’t want to see anything like that”, and you have no interest to watch “The Book of Negroes”.  The thing that I will say to you (and the same thing I said to them) is that this miniseries is SO much more than a slave movie.  It’s an opportunity to learn about our history and heritage and a story that is not widely known and that was not shared in any history class you had in school.  So, if you’re snowed in (like I am today), you should definitely start watching it. Or look up the actual book.  You will learn so much.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

My Life is NOT Boring!

Yesterday at a meeting, I told my friend that my life was boring when she asked me what I’ve been up to.  For a long time, I used to associate my dating life with whether or not my life was interesting.  Yeah…I’m glad it took me 30 some odd years to come to my senses.  On the contrary, my life is far from boring.

First, let’s talk about my job.  Some folks don’t like their jobs.  But not me.  And I’m not just saying that.  I love what I do.  Some of my co-workers find it hard to believe when I say that I’m glad I’m there. Don’t get me wrong-there are definitely aspects that I wish I could change (nothing’s perfect).  But on the grand scheme of things, my job is pretty snazzy.

Second, I’m still super involved.  I serve on a few boards, I’m becoming more involved with my local sorority chapter, and I’m heavily involved with part of the planning for the DC Black Theatre Festival (which I always love!), that is scheduled for the end of June.

Third, I have a social life.  Just this weekend, I went to happy hour, the Wizards/Bulls game, AND an NFL playoff watch party.  I had fun!  I hung out with some old friends and met some new folks.  And I played Spades, which I haven’t done in awhile. And though my partner and I didn’t win, I know if we had kept playing the second round we would have redeemed ourselves!

Lastly, I actually DO have a hot date this Friday.  It’s someone I’ve known for awhile, and I’m glad this opportunity presented itself for us to hang out so we could get to know each other better.  We’re going to hear one of my FAVORITE artists.  Oh, who is it, you may ask??? Well, it’s me!  🙂  It’s been awhile since I’ve taken myself on a date, unless you count me sitting on my couch watching “Scandal” and “The Walking Dead”.  To be honest, I definitely thought about inviting my friends to go with me…but I decided not to.  It’s been way too long since I’ve gone out by myself and enjoyed my own company.   And in an effort to take care of me in 2015, I feel like I can be a little selfish.

So, as you can see (and you being me), my life is far from boring.  I have stuff going on.  And my social calendar for January is continuing to fill up as we speak…well, as I type this.  In any event, I charge all of you to take yourself out on date.  If there is something you enjoy doing, go do it.  Don’t invite your girls, your boys, or your boo.  Go by yourself.  And rediscover how great of a person you are.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Justice for Jordan

When the jury in the first trial against Michael Dunn came back as deadlocked regarding the charge of 1st degree murder I was saddened and upset.  I believed that the Duval County Prosecutor’s Office would not retry Dunn.  He was found guilty of the other 4 charges, including the attempted murder of the other occupants of the car, and was looking at a sentence of 60 years in prison.  But the prosecutor’s office didn’t think that was good enough.  They decided to go to trial again on the sole count of 1st degree murder.

I am happy to say that the jury came back today with a decision of guilty.  I have to admit when I saw the make-up of the jury-7 white men, 3 white women, 1 black man, and 1 black woman-had me scared that Jordan would not get justice and his death would have been in vain.  In a country that has a long history with race relations, something that a lot of people sweep under the rug or choose to ignore, and in a city with which I am very familiar, I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out.  But I am extremely happy that Michael Dunn was found guilty.

This verdict is much more than a man being found guilty of murder.  This verdict shows that you can’t shoot and kill someone because you feel disrespected.  Because a child doesn’t respond to you the way you would like.  Because someone was playing music you didn’t like.  And, most importantly, this verdict shows that the lives of Black boys matter.

Jordan, you did not die in vain.  Your life matters.  And the man that took it away will spend the rest of his life in prison.

You Are Not A B.A.P.

“Have you seen ‘BAPs’?”

“That movie with Halle Berry?”

“NO!  That crazy new tv show on Lifetime.”

“Oh…no. Why?  Should I?”

“It’s a mess.   But you can decide for yourself.”

This is normally how conversations go with my friends when I ask them if they’ve seen the new summer drama series.   According to Wikipedia, a BAP, or Black American princess, is “a pejorative term that refers to black women of upper and upper middle class background, who possess (or are perceived to possess) a spoiled or materialistic attitude.”  There is even a book about BAPs, a book that I read cover to cover numerous times when it first came out.  And according to The BAP Handbook: The Official Guide to the Black American Princess, a BAP is described as “1 : a pampered female of African American descent, born to an upper-middle or upper-class family 2 : an African American female whose life experiences give her a sense of royalty and entitlement 3 : BAP (acronym) : colloquial expression 4 : an African American female accustomed to the best and nothing less.”  (I like to think I’m more of definition 4, which is less based on material things and based more on life experiences, relationships, being a go-getter, etc.)  After watching just two episodes of “BAPs”, I can honestly say that the majority of the stars are not BAPs.

The show follows a group of friends in St. Louis.  The two main characters stars are Anisha and Kristen, former friends who take stabs at each other all of the time, even if the other woman is not in her immediate presence.  You may have arguments and/or disagreements with your friends.  But when you spit in someone’s face…so not cool.  And yes, you read that correctly.  During the series premiere, Anisha and Kristen got into it during a welcome home party of a mutual friend.  Words were exchanged, and as Kristen was telling Anisha her breath stank, Anisha spit in Kristen’s face.  And as Kristen walked away, she could be heard saying, “Did she just spit in my face?!”  Yes she did, and while I do not condone violence, spitting on someone is assault.  And my mother always told me I need to defend myself if someone attacks me.

Besides spitting, there are numerous reasons why the majority of these people are not BAPs.  Let’s go through a few:

1.  If you have to say on camera every 5 seconds that you are a BAP, you’re probably not one.  Just like if you’re a lady or classy or what-not.  You should not have to tell people; they should be able to tell from the way you carry yourself.

2.  Yes, according the handbook, if a Black girl is raised in an upper-middle or upper-class family she’s a BAP, but money does not provide class.

3. BAPs are not condescending to others.  While Anisha dates Kendrick, a man that was not raised the same as her and owns a store in the “hood”, she belittles his niece, Rai Rai.

4. Lastly, expanding on number 3, while BAPs realize they may have grown up privileged, they do not fault it.  They help others in their community.  On last week’s episode, Anisha, Gina, and Jason were on a radio show to discuss BAPs.  While I wish they had shown a little more of the interview, it was clear Anisha was overly dramatic, as she has a tendency to be, and Jason was way down to earth and realistic with his responses.

All in all, I am SO not impressed with this show.  But I will continue to watch until I can’t anymore.   I truly believe the BAPs on this show, in addition to being too old to behave the way some of them do, give true BAPs a bad name.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

Tap & Parlour Taps Out

I remember when Tap & Parlour was Hominy, a cute, yet slightly pricey, restaurant on U St.  About three years ago, it was revamped into what it is today- a great little spot that has good food, great prices, and an awesome ambiance.

A few weeks ago, while one of my friends/sorors was visiting from Florida, we, along with two of her linesisters, went to T&P on a Saturday for brunch.  While I personally had no problem with my meal, one of her linesisters did.  Our waitress did an awful job of relaying what was and was not available (one of the guests does not eat pork), not to mention one of her entrees never came out.  The manager came out and took 50% off of our bill.  Despite this little incident, I didn’t let that completely change my thoughts on the establishment, especially since I had been there a month earlier and had a GREAT time.

Today, not so much.

My BFF and linesister, Bee, invited me to church (she goes to the 7:30 service and I go to the 9:30) and brunch with a friend of hers (Alexa) that just moved to DC.  Because I’ve been here longer than Bee, she asks me for a recommendation on where to go to brunch that isn’t pricey and has good mimosas.  Of course I pick Tap & Parlour.   Despite the issue the last time I went, it was a no brainer-good food, good prices, and unlimited $7 mimosas.  You can’t beat it.  So after church, which was awesome, we head to U St.  Alexa and I walk in first and approach the hostess stand.  When I tell the manager we have a party of 3, he lets me know once everyone in my party has arrived, he’ll seat us (I tell him the other is walking up now from her car).  Now, of course it’s crowded on the inside (a LOT of gentrification, but I’ll talk about that later), but there are a few empty tables outside.  As soon as Bee walks in, I let the hostess know my entire party is here.  We get told it’ll be a moment until we’re seated.  I approach the stand again, when I’m told it’ll be a 10-15 minute wait.  After seeing three parties seated, two of which arrived AFTER us, I ask the manager if our table is ready.  Since we’re seated right behind the host stand, we can pick up that they forgot to seat us.  As the host comes over to apologize for the wait and states two tables are being cleaned off, he asks do we have a preference of where we sit-inside or outside.  Alexa and I both state whichever table is ready first.  We’re seated outside, which I note is about 20-25 minutes after we got there.

I suggest to Bee and Alexa that we go ahead and put in our drink and food order when the waiter comes because it looks like he’s by himself (responsible for 8-9 tables) and we’re starving and don’t want to wait any longer than we have to to have our meals.  As we laugh and joke and make small talk, and also become slightly annoyed because it’s taking our food forever to come out, we discuss the make-up of the patrons and how the restaurant seems to be short staffed.  Tap & Parlour is ALWAYS packed for Sunday brunch, but since we spent some time watching tables, we note there’s not nearly enough waiters/waitresses, especially since the manager, along with the host and hostess, was running around pouring mimosas and helping the waiters.  Alexa asks if the restaurant was recently in an article.  I mention it was.  (Click here for the 17 all-you-can-drink brunches in DC.)  That explains the super diverse crowd and the short staff-the restaurant didn’t prepare for the influx of patrons.

When we finally get our food, I notice it’s almost 1:30, about 50 minutes after we sat down.  I ordered chicken and waffles, which is pretty much my staple when I go to T&P.  After I asked our waiter, Dante, twice for hot sauce, Alexa suggested he get the bottle that was two tables away since those ladies were about to leave.  While Bee had no patience for Dante (due to her hunger), Alexa and I were sympathetic to his plight-he was the lone waiter with too many tables and too many needy patrons.  I believe the ladies that were sitting behind us walked out because their food never came.

When my under cooked chicken leg does not concern Dante, when he tells us he can separate our checks-which he fails to do but tells US we can write on the receipt what to charge to which card, when he never refills my water after the one time I asked (he refilled it after we’d given him our cards), and when he comes outside not to return our cards so we can sign our receipt and leave but to refill drinks then tells Bee our cards are hidden in an envelope (after he asks if we’ve actually given him our cards), and takes 20 minutes to give us our cards back, we have had enough.  Though the manager kept peaking his head outside, I didn’t want to talk to him in that moment, because I would have made a scene on U St.   I was thinking of either writing in or doing a review on Yelp.  And Bee had the great idea, “You’re a blogger.  Blog about it.”  So here we are.

I figured this would get my point across more so than just writing in to the manager or the owner.  The sad thing is that I absolutely love this place.  One of my oldest friends is coming to visit in two weeks, and I was planning on taking her after church; now I have to find another place.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.*