Saturday, January 31, 2009

The one time I'll blog about work...

So one of my friends has been pushing me to post more regularly. And I love her for it. My last post was on a Tuesday. By Thursday, I got an email from her asking me when I was going to put up new material. I didn’t get around to it until Saturday. Now, I’m gonna tell you… I had that post written for days. But my laptop is having technical difficulties. It no longer connects to the internet! I am going to have to do something about this as soon as possible. I am like a lost soul without the internet. It’s really pathetic. But, without the internet, I have been so creative! It’s really been amazing how much writing I can do when I’m not interrupting my flow to check my Facebook account every five minutes. That damn Facebook… it’s an addiction, I tell ya!

Friday was one of the most uneventful days I’ve ever had at work. My office and my boss’s office are separated by a super-long hallway. But that doesn’t mean that it keeps us from being in touch. Oh no! If she wants me, she’ll shoot me an email about this or that, she’ll stomp (because even though she’s small and thin, she stomps everywhere) her way down to my office, or she’ll call me. About random shit. Okay, I deal with it because that’s my job. But on Friday, I didn’t get any of that from her. In fact, I barely heard a peep from her all day. I wasn’t complaining, that’s for sure.

I did my work, went to lunch with some coworkers, and caught up on what some of my favorite bloggers were saying. It wasn’t until the end of the day that something out of the ordinary occurred.

Now, I leave everyday at 5:30pm. During my busy season, sometimes I don’t leave the office until well after 6:30. But recently, things have been slow and overtime is no longer approved. So, you know what that means… I start gathering my things at about 5:25pm, then I sit in my chair until the clock reads 5:30pm – on the dot – and then I clock out. (Yes, I punch a clock. Yes, it is bullshit. Don’t ask.) They won’t get a minute more out of me if I’m not getting paid for it!

Anyway, Friday, I was working on a spreadsheet up until 5:30pm and that’s when The Boss called. Now, The Boss, is not to be confused with my boss. The Boss is actually my boss’s boss. Okay, so you all know that the Brown Girl doesn’t take any shit off of ANYBODY. But, for some reason, The Boss really intimidates me. And, I’m not easily intimidated, so you know she must be a ballbuster. First of all, she’s HUGE. Both tall and heavy. She was born and raised in NYC, so she has a thick accent and a very direct way of talking to people. She wears many hats, so she doesn’t have a lot of time to play around and she lets that be known. Whereas my boss is warm and fuzzy, this woman is cold and distant. But, hey, I’m not here to be her friend. I work for her. That’s it.

My boss does a very good job of shielding me and my assistant from The Boss. We rarely deal with her directly. But, every once in a while, we will have to field a phone call from her or respond to an email from her. Now, I, for one, have NEVER had a good experience with her. For some reason, whenever she’s around, I get flustered, I never have anything worthwhile to contribute to a conversation that she’s a part of, and I always seem to be incapable of doing the smallest things. Friday was no exception to this general rule.

So, The Boss calls me at 5:31pm. Ordinarily, I would’ve been out the door and in the elevator bank by this time… especially on a Friday during the non-busy season. But this particular Friday, I happened to be sitting at my desk at 5:31. And immediately when I see her name on my caller ID, I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have no clue why she has this effect… I’ve never felt like this about a “superior” before.

I don’t know why I answered the phone. I could’ve just pretended I had left for the evening. It would’ve been perfectly acceptable. But, I did. And, boy did I regret it.

“I can’t find your boss,” she says. “She just sent me this email with a spreadsheet and I need to know what it represents. I just sent you the email she sent me. Can you look at it and tell me what this is supposed to mean.”

I fumble my way through opening my email and I see that it’s a spreadsheet that our assistant has created, not me. I breathe a sigh of relief. I am not the culprit here. “Um… it looks like…” I stammer.

“Oh. Your boss is calling now on my other line. Do you want to conference her in?”

“Sure,” I say.

“Do you know how to conference?” she asks.

“Of course,” I say, clicking over to connect the calls.

So, I hit the second line on my desk phone and dial my boss’s number. But nothing happens. So, I dial it again. Still nothing. I end that call. I press the button for my second line again and all I hear is silence. There is no dial tone. Shit. The Boss is on the first line. I think I might have to end that call in order to conference. No, it can’t be that complicated. I’ve done this a million times before. Why can’t I get a fucking dial tone!

Now, I consider myself to be a pretty smart chick. My teachers wanted me to skip first and second grade, but my mom declined for fear that I’d miss out on important “socialization skills” that children learn in early childhood education (whatever that means). I was in gifted and talented programs all throughout elementary school. I graduated high school with honors. I was in an honors living/learning community in college. I was educated at one of the top 15 law schools in the nation, where I made pretty decent grades. I passed the Maryland bar exam on my first try and scored high enough to waive into the DC bar. I can write. I am a damn good presenter. I can do wonders with a PowerPoint presentation. I can work an Excel spreadsheet like it’s nobody’s business. And now I can’t figure out how to connect two calls on a fucking land-line phone?? I felt like I was trapped in a very un-funny episode of “The Office” or maybe even “Candid Camera” (do they even still make that show?).

It seemed like minutes had gone by (but looking back on it, I’m sure it was only seconds) and I still couldn’t get a fucking dial tone! I click back to the line where The Boss had been not-so-patiently waiting for me to play operator.

“Um, I can’t seem to connect the calls. My phone won’t let me conference her in,” I say weakly.

Now that I’m looking back on it, I wonder why I didn’t just say that my boss didn’t pick up the phone… or make up some other excuse that didn’t leave me looking like a complete retard. But, unfortunately, I was honest.

The Boss let’s out a loud impatient sigh.

“You should really get that fixed,” she said, clicking over to connect the calls herself.

I wasn’t sure if she was talking about my phone or my brain. I’m figuring she was referring to both.

In these economic times when people being laid off for the most basic shit… or, really, for no reason at all, this was not the opportunity for me to demonstrate my ineptitude to The Boss. It was definitely NOT my most shining moment. I am good at my job. I am. That’s just a fact. But, for some reason, The Boss rarely gets to see that.

In the grand scheme of things, I guess my little conference call mishap doesn’t really mean much. I produce results and, in a business sense, that’s all that I really need to define me. What I don’t want to happen, however, is that The Boss hears my name is mentioned and the first thing that comes to her mind is not my Excel and PowerPoint abilities, not my effective communication skills, not my management prowess, but rather “Oh, Brown Girl? Yes, that’s the young lady who doesn’t know how to operate the telephone.”

Friday, January 30, 2009

They DO Exist!

You know that M&Ms commercial where the two M&Ms are discussing Santa and all of a sudden, Santa makes an appearance, and one M&M turns to the other and says "He DOES exist!" (referring to Santa) and then Santa mutters, "They DO exist" (referring to the talking M&Ms) right before he passes out on the spot from sheer surprise? Yeah, well… I find the concept of a good, professional, minority man of a certain age who actually wants to get married and settled down about as unrealistic as a walking, talking M&M. Mmmhmm… it's gotten THAT bad out here. I find the existence of anthropomorphic candy covered chocolate more believable than a smart, good-looking, professional Black man who is actually seeking a wife. Sad, isn't it?

I mean, when you are a minority man of a certain caliber in Washington, DC in particular, you really have your choice of equally impressive minority females. You can't walk two blocks on a DC street without running into 100 beautiful, independent, educated, professional minority women. The streets are also littered with an opposite sort of minority woman, but you're almost as likely to find a good one as you are likely to find a dud. I know I'm making some generalizations here, but I think if you talk to any aware man, woman, or child in the DC area, they will tell you that this much is true.

Now, most women, when they reach a certain age grow tired of the games and the competition, and they become enamored with the possibility of finding just ONE man who is interested in making them their ONE woman. You know, commitment, monogamy… all that jazz. To a woman, it sounds like paradise. To a man, it sounds pretty much like hell. As I've said before, there are distinct differences between how (some) men and (some) women view marriage. I've heard it said that to women, marriage is a beginning and to men, marriage is THE END.

You might be asking yourself: "The end of WHAT, exactly?” Well, the truth is that I don’t know and they don’t know either. For many women, life… REAL life… begins with marriage. For instance, I can show you at least 15 beautiful, smart, professional women who are just waiting for their “adult lives” to begin… and the first step in the direction is marriage. A law school friend and I used to have an “inside joke” about what law school meant to us. We both worked hard and hoped to be successful in our careers, but we both also admitted – on a regular basis – that law school was just a “space-filler” until we could get married and have kids.

Sure, we live the single life. We go out with our girlfriends, get cute, and socialize, the whole time hoping that this night we dressed cute enough for Mr. Wonderful to finally notice us, sweep us off our feet, and carry us off into the sunset to the land of (breast) milk, and honey (do lists). That quest for the perfect mate becomes the center of the world and consumes us. Our very happiness, our sense of completion, depends on whether we find that man, marry him, and build a family with him.

It is what it is.

Men, on the other hand, see marriage as the end of life as they know it. They don’t look at it with excitement, they face it with impending doom. And, as a result, they prolong the decision to get married… they hold off for as long as possible. They learn to love the single life and take full advantage of all the rights and privileges associated with that status. And, marriage signifies not an exciting new beginning with the woman they love, but the end of their perceived life of freedom to date whomever they so please. I call that freedom “perceived” because it’s not reality. Sure, theoretically, they could date anyone they please but, in reality, they can only date those women who are actually INTERESTED in them and… that’s number of women is a lot smaller than these men think! These guys mourn the end of being able to date the small number of women (What are we talking here? 5? Maybe… 6 women?) who are out there in the dating pool willing to date them.

I know there are exceptions to both of my general rules. There are women out there who couldn’t really give a flying fuck about finding a man. And, although I’d never personally encountered one, people alluded to the fact that there might be men out there… real, intelligent, good-looking, professional, respectful, funny, living, breathing men… who were looking forward to the prospect of marriage and who were actively seeking wives. Could this be true?

Well for years, I held out hope that I’d meet one of these men… that I would run into one at the supermarket or the gas station. And, I’m not selfish… I know that this is such a rare breed that, if this mythical man happened to be uninterested in making ME his wife, I surely wouldn’t have hesitated to introduce him to a girlfriend or acquaintance with whom he might wish to settle down. Hey, at least one of us could be happy, right?

But this kind of man turned out to be as elusive as a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I mean, sure, I've met men who pretended that they wanted to be married… men who claimed they were searching for a wife… but they were just in love with the CONCEPT of marriage, they didn’t really want the real thing. The thought of actually following through with a committed monogamous relationship with ONE woman (And believe it or not MEN… in order for a relationship to be monogamous it can involve ONLY one woman. Look it up!) was a bit too much for these guys to handle. For some reason, they just can't stand the thought of being "locked down" (notice the negative connotation there... marriage is NOT like being imprisoned, despite what some may think!).

The whole phenomenon is really discouraging and was making me wonder whether I'd ever encounter a man of a certain age who wants to... not even settle down with ME... but who wants to settle down. PERIOD.

So, imagine my surprise when I met one!

This guy is a friend of a friend... he's 37 years old, good looking, Black, Christian (although, admittedly, a LAZY Christian), educated at fine institutions, professional, no children, never been married before, not stingy with his money (praise Jesus), witty, and on the road to homeownership. Hallelujah!

So, how come I never noticed him before, right? Well, this guy does a pretty damn good job of disguising the fact that he's searching for a wife. (Does it really count if he's trying to do it on the low? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't...) But, he had been dating this one woman for over a year and really loved her. He thought that relationship was leading toward the altar. Then, they broke up... (her choice, not his) and he was depressed for awhile. One of our mutual friends edits a blog and she asked this man to blog about his dating experiences after ending this particular relationship. So, he blogged. And it was funny. Hilarious, really. I had no clue that he had been writing. But he told me about the blog this week, which was almost six months after her wrote his last post in the series. I read his dating column and was surprised at how sincere this guy was about finding a wife. He is, like, really looking for someone to settle down with. Then, he goes on to prove my theory by saying that his guy friends all are wondering why in the world he would want to settle down (assholes!). He ignores their wonderment and continues to search. But, he claims he can't find a good woman to settle down with in DC, which surprises me because he hangs out with a ton of "good women" (including me).

Well, I'm not sure what he's looking for, but I know that he's looking for it. And that is ENcouraging. I also know that he's chosen to be abstinent while on the search for this future wife, which I just find so endearing. He's friggin awesome!

Anyway, I really hope he's successful... somebody out here deserves to be happily married to a guy like this!

So, no, he doesn't want to settle down with ME. But that's fine. Just knowing that this man is actively seeking someone to settle down WITH is enough.

And now, I can shout from the mountaintops: They DO exist!

Thank God.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Random Ramblings...

Some of you thought that my New Year's "emotional detox" was a little harsh. I explained that the post was a mental and emotional exercise... it was a cleansing of sorts. I didn't say anything to be spiteful or mean. Hence, no names are mentioned and no identifying characteristics are shared (with the exception of the two very obvious blurbs about my Mom and Dad). I hope that nobody thinks I'm being purposely bitchy for what I wrote. As I've explained, this blog has become something like therapy for me... my very public "diary", if you will. I hope I don't share so much that it scares you away!

Now, in keeping with the "diary" theme... here are some brief updates about my life:

First of all, I'm getting fat. Okay, I've been fat... so this is not news. I guess it would be more accurate to say I'm getting fatTER. I'm not sure how this happened although I think it had something to do with the various holidays that have occurred over the last few months. Those damn holidays always set me up, man. I have a sweet tooth. I like sugar, but it doesn't like me. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get enough of sugar... but my hips are begging me to take it easy.

I have made a promise to myself that I will not shop for clothes at this size. I need some new jeans and a few new pairs of slacks for work. But I refuse to buy anything new and, instead, I've relegated myself to spandex (American Apparel is my best friend right now) until I'm back to a "normal" size. The other day, I went out with MBF wearing my signature leggings and he said, "I see you're wearing your favorite pants." He's an asshole, but I was sort of embarrassed that he noticed that my spandex was making a repeat performance. But, unless he's going to buy me new jeans with his own money, then he should really just shut the hell up! It's a good thing for me that leggings are currently considered stylish. But, knowing the fickleness of fashion, I'm sure that it'll only be a matter of time until they're passe again and I'll be an embarrassing fashion faux pas.

Next on the agenda: work. I am bored. My job doesn't challenge me. In fact, the only two challenging things about my job are

1) Making myself get up in the morning to GO to work.
2) Keeping myself awake when I get there.

Yeah. That's really it. My job is weird. The work ebbs and it flows. And when it flows... it really gushes. But when it ebbs, there is literally NOTHING to do! So, yeah. I basically have no excuse for not updating this blog on a more regular basis because I clearly have a whole hell of a lot of time on my hands to write and edit posts while I'm on the clock at work. But, that wouldn't be ethical... right? So, I'll keep my blogging to a minimum at work and instead use it to pass the time while I ride the Metro.

Ahhh... the Metro. My next topic of conversation. For those of you that know me, you'll know that I have a germ phobia. I cringe when people cough or sneeze in enclosed places, I nearly vomit if someone spits as they talk, I cannot stand to eat at buffets because the thought of all the hands that have touched the serving spoons drives me up the wall, I prefer for people not to wear shoes in my house and certainly NOT in my bathroom. I could go on and on. But, I have to relive what is essentially a germaphobic's wort nightmare... I have to ride the Metro.

This morning, I got on the Metro and there were a ton of sick folks. It had been flurrying outside and, there were a lot of people who were coughing and sneezing on the train. I noticed that the FOUR people who surrounded me (one in front, one to the left, one to the ring, and one behind me) were all coughing without covering their mouths (HUGE pet peeve of mine!), and continuously sneezing. I was surrounded. I'm thinking WTF?! Why are these bastards allowed on the train?! There should be a "sick car" just for people with sniffles and hacking coughs so they don't infect the rest of us with whatever germs they are carrying! Just for that, I came straight home from work and started gulping down Vitamin C and echinacea. I am NOT trying to get sick. But, sadly, I already feel the tickle in my throat. Thanks, you sick fuckers!

Finally, I'm realizing that the cost of living in DC is continuing to increase while my salary remains the same... and I'm pretty pissed about it. The other day, Karina sent me an email advertising the 2BR Brooklyn apartment that she's moving out of at the end of the month. She asked me to pass the ad around to my friends to see if anybody would be interested in subletting her apartment. I sent it to a group of professional (employed) young friends who all live in New York. The ad listed the 2BR/1BA apartment at $1295. Can you believe these people started complaining about the fact that $1295 for a 2BR apartment was expensive?! Please show me one liveable apartment building in DC that is currently renting a 2BR apartment for $1295. You won't be able to show me that. Because it doesn't exist! At least not in a neighborhood that isn't decidedly "fringe".

The bottom-line is, WE ARE GETTING RAPED IN DC. So, how come the cost of living continues to rise, but no companies are throwing cost of living increases into our paychecks? Honestly, as you all know, I don't even care for this city, so as soon as I identify someplace that's more reasonable, and more fun with a more defined culture, I'm out of here!

I am just generally annoyed about a bunch of things (as is apparent in this post). My life is good, though. No real complaints, just a couple of random thoughts.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Boys Are Back in Town: The Return of Mr. Ex

On Monday night, I ended up at an "Ethiopians for Obama" celebration on U Street. It was pretty random considering that I'm not anywhere close to being Ethiopian and I did little to help Obama get elected other than casting a vote in his favor on Election Day. Anyhow, the event was a ton of fun. Ethiopians really know how to party... Who knew?! The real news for Monday night was this: I ran into Mr. Ex's much saner, much more accomplished older brother at the party. He's ivy-league educated with an MBA (compare that to Mr. Ex's basic level of literacy) and his spirit is generally calmer than Mr. Ex's. If it wasn't for their dark and handsome good looks and charm, it'd be difficult to tell that they're even related.

Our encounter was awkward even though he and I had always been cordial even after my breakup with Mr. Ex, but I was thrown off by seeing him at this particular event (he is also NOT Ethiopian nor did he assist with the campaign) so our conversation was stilted. I noticed him watching me while I was making conversation with other partygoers and I knew that hed be texting Mr. Ex before the night was over with news of our run-in. That's why I was surprised - but not shocked - when Mr. Ex called me early the next morning.

I was watching CNN footage of President Obama leaving Blair House and on the phone with a friend when I got the call from an "unknown" number. Normally, I don't answer calls from blocked numbers, but I'd invited a number of people over to watch the Inauguration and I wasn't sure if maybe one of my guests was calling from an unfamiliar location. I answered and he said "Good morning [Brown Girl]. It's [Mr. Ex]. Happy Inauguration Day!". His voice was thick with sleep, so if he hadn't announced himself, I wouldn't have known it was him. He attempted to carry on a conversation with me, but I shut down every opening that he tried to create. He asked why I was being so short with him and I told him it was because we are not friends and that, from my perspective, there was nothing left to discuss. He asked if I still had his number. I'm not sure why, but I was honest with him. I told him that I did.
"Well, if you have my number, why don't you ever use it?" he asked playfully.

Dude, didn't I just tell you we have nothing left to talk about? I think to myself. But I don't say anything in response to that question.

He continues: "I think I'm still a great person and so are you and I always thought that, no matter what, we'd be close."

All I could do was laugh at that one. I mean, HE thinks HE is a "great person"?? That's pure comedy if I've ever heard it!

In his defense, he really sounded sincerely confused about why I wouldn't want to maintain a friendly relationship with him. In a way it was funny, so I laughed. He laughed, too.

Wow... this dude thinks I'm laughing with him when I'm really laughing at him. In a way, the whole phone call was just pathetic. Why wasn't he this interested in establishing a good rapport while we were together? Instead, he was off sticking it to the world... literally.

At any rate, I told him I was on the other line and had to go and he asked me if I would come to visit him in New York. I politely declined and, as I was hanging up, I heard him make a request for me to call him sometime. I've gotta give him credit for something - the dude is persistent, that's for sure!

I quietly reflected on that phone call for about two minutes, and then I allowed myself to once again get swept up in OBAMAnia. I spent the morning cleaning and the afternoon cooking for the friends who'd stopped by to watch the swearing-in and parade with me. We'd considered going down to the National Mall since it's only about 30 minutes away by Metro. But most of the natives I know decided to watch from home like everyone else across the world was doing. Sure, it would've been nice to BE there, but then I wouldn't have been able to SEE anything. With CNN, I had a front row seat!

At my house that day, everyone was in a jovial mood and we were all just in awe when Obama was sworn-in. Even when Justice Roberts flubbed, we just grinned through it. The time spent with friends and family was the perfect way to end such an amazing and historical weekend.

And, after I hung up with (on) Mr. Ex, I can honestly say I didn't think of him again for even a moment that day. I thought of him again a few days later when I decided to document the phone call in this post. But I can remember a time - and it wasn't too long ago - when any contact from him would've sent my world spinning off it's axis. I would've been second-guessing myself, analyzing every second of the conversation, or just would've been feeling generally BAD and uber-pensive. But, this time, I didn't even think about it. It was so irrelevant to me, I even forgot to mention it to my girlfriends until DAYS later (this was major).

It felt so liberating to not let him alter my mood. Just one word from him can turn me into a bitter, brooding, bitch... but not this time. My President is Black. On January 20, I was rejoicing. And nobody could take that joy away from me. Not even the infamous Mr. Ex.

To me, my reaction to his phone call was a sign of something...


I like the way it feels.

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


Monday through Friday, I rely on DC public transportation to get me to and from work. I ride the Red Line, which has to be one of the most traveled Metro lines in the whole Metro system. Nearly every morning, there is some sort of delay that prevents me from getting to work on time. Of course since I know that I’m certain to run into delays and such, it might make sense for me to start leaving my house earlier… but I’m not a morning person so if sleeping an extra ten minutes means I’ll be 20 minutes late for work, then so be it!

As the Obama Inauguration approached, it seemed as though Metro was becoming more and more inefficient. Everyday there was some mechanical problem with the track, or a train had broken down, preventing other trains from getting through, or there was a sick passenger on a car and the entire train had to be evacuated. One evening, after a particularly grueling day at the office, I couldn’t wait to get home. I walk into the station and immediately notice that the line to board the train is six people deep. It turns out that earlier in the afternoon, one of the rails at a station along the Red Line had broken and, although it had been repaired hours earlier, the trains were still delayed. See what I mean? Inefficient!

Anyway, looking around at all the people waiting to board the train, I know that I probably won’t make it onto the first train that comes, so I stand back, pull out my book and start reading. There are Metro cops trying to direct people so that there won’t be a mad rush of folks onto the approaching train. They are yelling, pushing, it’s really a madhouse. And I think to myself, if this is the way that the Metro runs on a regular day, how in the world will they be able to accommodate 2 million extra people during Inauguration weekend? It wouldn’t have been such a puzzling question if an announcement hadn’t been made earlier in the week that bridges, tunnels, and major streets leading into the District were being shut down and all Inauguration spectators were now encouraged to walk into the city or take the Metro.

Having heard that news and having witnessed the incredible ineffectiveness of Metro’s plan to move people in and out of the city quickly, I just knew that Inauguration Day would be a clusterfuck. It was during those 30 minutes of waiting on the platform for a train to take me home that I decided I would not be making my way downtown to witness history on January 20. I went back and forth about whether it mattered for me to be there “in person” or to be watching the event from my couch like the rest of America would be doing. And I came to the conclusion that we are all “witnessing history” just by being alive during this time. We are living this moment together and physically being in that throng of people wouldn’t have made the moment any more real or significant for me.

Will I look back and regret that decision? I don’t think I will. Friends of mine ventured out into the cold just to “see” it, but ended up watching on the Jumbotron, which isn’t really that much different from watching it on your television when you really think about it… is it? Plus, I got to see things up close and personal thanks to CNN and MSNBC. So, I don’t regret it at all.

What I might regret, however, was my decision not to attend any “official” Inauguration celebratory events (aka PARTIES). I definitely went to a few shin-digs to celebrate Obama, but they weren’t “balls” or anything like that. I’ve been seeing pictures that my friends have been posting on Facebook and it looks like a good time was had by all. There were tons of parties where gobs of young, Black, professional people were gathered together all in the name of history. I think it would’ve been good to be around that. But… I’m really just a quiet type of girl. I’ve realized that, while I like to have fun, I am really more attracted to a low-key lifestyle than a high profile one. Or, am I?

For years, I’ve felt this internal struggle about where I fit in. On the one hand, I’ve always wanted to be on television. I’ve wanted to be a news reporter for as long as I can remember. But when it came time for me to be in front of the camera, I decided that I preferred the writing and production aspect of the news… something more behind-the-scenes. I abandoned my journalism dream for law school and even when I got to law school, I had to decide whether I wanted to be a litigator or a transactional attorney. Law school is filled with type-A personalities (as I’m sure you can imagine) and tons of them wanted to be litigators… high-profile, quick on their feet, zealous advocates… the true rockstars of the legal world. I, on the other hand, was more attracted to the transactional lifestyle… the behind the scenes, thoughtful, much more low-key choice.

I’ve noticed that my party preferences are very similar. I could walk the red carpet or I could be at the small and cozy lounge located down the street from the big-ticket event.

Nine times out of ten, I’m going for the lounge.

The thought of preparing myself to look like I belong at a glamorous event is exhausting… the name-dropping at the door (you already know how I feel about that!)… the schmoozing… fighting to get through the crowds… it’s just so… not ME. So, I decided to avoid it.

And I was regretting that choice BIG TIME on Sunday morning. The night before, I’d been at what I thought was a “houseparty” (that’s the way the evite had described it), but what really turned out to be a 400-person private party with free food and free drinks. It was a great time. But I also knew of about 100 other black-tie and/or semi-formal events that were going on… including the BET Honors, which was being held in my office building and featured appearances by some big name celebrities. (You have to understand, DC is not a big-name celebrity sort of town. People slide through and then they slide right back out. So this Inauguration was a big deal to us natives and meant a whole lot more than just a moment in our nation’s history.) There were definitely no celebs at the “houseparty” that I attended, and we had a good time, but should I have at least TRIED to get into a more glamorous event that night? I really wanted to have an exciting story to tell my kids. Something more poignant than “mom went to a few casual parties and watched the Inauguration from her couch”…

Well, the best part about Saturday night was that the party started early… and ended early. I made it home by about 3am (I guess “early” is relative, huh?) and was able to hit the sack for a few hours before I woke up to attend church. Now, ordinarily, I wouldn’t have even tried to attend church after a night like the one I’d had, but I decided to give it a go since the word on the street was that the Obama family would be attending that morning’s service. Pre-election, he was slated to attend our church and he didn’t make it, so I wasn’t convinced that he’d actually show. My parents, who had some sort of inside scoop on the whole thing because they are on the Deacon and Deaconess Boards, suggested that I head over to the church around 7:30am even though service began at 11. I was a little skeptical, but figured I’d take their advice to be on the safe side. It’s a good thing I listened because when I arrived at the church, by about 7:50am, the line to get in the front door was wrapped around the block! I found my friend in the crowd and joined up with her and her two friends that she’d brought along. I figured that Obama would actually show this time because there were police officers and bomb-sniffing dogs, DC police, fire marshals, and secret service swarming the place. At around 8:45am, my mother called us to the front door. There was a secret service officer standing there, and he was joined by the President of the Usher Board.

“Where are my ushers?” he asked. “Kelli, are you ushering today?” (I’ve been a member of the Usher Board for about 2 years, but I rarely usher.)

“Uh… sure,” I say, walking through the front door leaving the cold and the crowd behind.

When I get inside, I see that there’s a metal detector set up at the front door. A metal detector… in a church? It seems strange, but I understood it was necessary. I spent the next few hours trying to direct people to seats so that counts could be taken. There were about a thousand people outside waiting to get in and only 700 seats in the sanctuary. Secret service let it be known that they would not allow more people than could be seated in the main sanctuary, so at 700, we were cut off.

Finally, we got everyone into a seat and they closed the doors. Service began and the ushers remained in the back to assist with any latecomers. I noticed that our pastor was missing. About 10 minutes into the service, the doors opened and Pastor came through. The ushers stood and watched. Following the pastor, was Barack Obama… the President-Elect (at the time) of the United States. By his side was Sasha. He stopped and greeted us individually, as did the First Lady who was flanked by Malia. Grandma Robinson brought up the rear. They moved quickly, but I did get a word in with all of them. And it was such a thrilling moment that it really all seems like a blur. I mean, I remember that the President seems much smaller in person. He’s extremely skinny, has a few more gray hairs than I remembered, and has large ears… and he’s DEFINITELY hotter in person than he is on TV. Good lawd! And I remember that the First Lady was absolutely stunning. She wore a deep purple sleeveless number and her arms are toned and fabulous… sort of like Angela Basset channeling Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With it” only less muscular. In-person, she’s very feminine, delicate, and petite, which are character traits that don’t always shine through on TV. The kids are just angels and they are all so gracious and personable. They stayed for the entire service, and after service was over, they shook hands and hugged and allowed folks to take pictures. It was really great.

Sure, there were a lot of people in town fighting to find their place in this moment in history. And some of them went to glamorous parties… and some of them met celebrities. But, I met the reason for it all. And I didn’t have to drop a name, or fight through throngs of people to do it. Best of all, I got my story out of it. I can tell my children that I not only met the President and the First Lady, but I met the First Kids, too… and Grandma! It was an amazing experience and one that I won’t soon forget.

After I church, I decided to rest. I’d been partying two days straight and really didn’t have the energy to do it all over again. Plus, I felt like meeting the President was the pinnacle of such a weekend. There was really no need to do anything more than that. My story might trump those of others who did nothing but party for the whole weekend.

So, instead, I stayed home and just reflected on things. I asked myself stuff like what do I want to get out of this life? And who do I want to be? Will I be happy having lived my low-key low-maintenance life? Or should I try for more? And, trust me, you definitely have to TRY to live a life like that! An acquaintance of mine who knows EVERYONE and was at the middle of all the Inauguration-mania, hitting four parties a night and rubbing elbows with mucho celebrities, even admitted that it was tough work getting into all those events. It takes EFFORT. Maybe that’s what I’m lacking… the energy, will, and drive to make that effort. Maybe that means I don’t really want or need anything greater or more glamorous than the life I’m living…

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A piece of my mind/New Year's cleanse

I don’t know about y’all, but for me… 2009 isn’t getting off to that great of a start. The month of January is almost half-done and I’m just now posting for the first time this year. That’s bad. Really bad. I also have a list of “resolutions” (or “goals”… whatever you prefer) that I haven’t even begun to start! This time last year, I was making steady progress on the goals I’d set out to accomplish. This year… not so much. Anyway, I’m not gonna beat myself up over it. When I told my boy D that I was disappointed in myself for starting 2009 off on the wrong foot he cracked up laughing and said, “What did you expect to accomplish at this point? We’re only two weeks into the New Year! Stop being ridiculous!!” And he’s right. I am being ridiculous and much too hard on myself (as usual). I have another 50 weeks to get on the ball. That should be plenty of time to get serious about my goals (I hope!).

Anyway, you may remember that for the last two years, I’ve been doing some sort of cleansing (spiritual or physical) at the beginning of the year. Well, this year, I decided to do a mental and emotional cleansing (you’ll get an idea of what I mean below) … and boy did it feel great!!

And now… today’s topic:

Ok, so being a blogger is tough. And one of the hardest parts about being a blogger is coming up with original topics that your readers might find interesting. As you know, I am a fan of several other blogs. I read them because I find them interesting and I admire the stories told and the writing styles featured in each of them. But reading other writers is difficult because I’ll read something and think “I know a story like that” or “Wow, this post is really making me have some thoughts of my own that I’d like to share”. And, then… I’ve come up with a blog topic, but it’s not original. When I would write research papers in high school, I would always ask my mother to read them over to make sure that I wasn’t plagiarizing. The administrators at my school put fear in my heart about plagiarism, threatening us with the possibility of suspension or even expulsion, and being the goodie-two-shoes that I am, I’ve been extremely sensitive to the issue ever since. but when I’d be sitting there sweating bullets over whether I’d cited the sources to back up every argument in my paper, my mother would always say, “Nothing that’s written or spoken is original anyway. Somebody’s written it or said it all before.” And, in a way, she’s right. But even though she’s right, I just don’t feel good about swiping an idea from another writer.

That’s why it’s really funny that today’s post comes from my friend Tasha’s blog. And Tasha herself swiped it from another blog she reads called “I’m Quietly Judging You”. The blogger at “I’m Quietly Judging You” is a Midwesterner who’s been living in New York for the last few years. She’s returning to her hometown soon and decided that a good way to end her time in New York would be to tell everyone she befriended in New York exactly what she thinks of them (without using any names or identifying characteristics). And she included the good, the bad, and the ugly thoughts she had about everyone of those people. The blogger at “Quietly Judging” actually did this for 50 people. Tasha did it for only about 10 people, but the post really resonated with me. I am not trying to be mean or spiteful with anything that I say. These are just things that I’m thinking, but would never actually verbalize because… well… because I am not generally an asshole. Anyway, I personally think that doing this sort of thing will be really cathartic and cleansing and is a radical way to end a year/begin a new year. By doing this, I’ll learn a lot about myself and also learn a lot about my genuine feelings for those people that I choose to address in this post. I will not use names or identifying characteristics. I will try to be concise about each one. And, no, I will not tell you which one of these is about you, so don’t ask!

So, yes, I am jacking a blog topic that’s already been done by two other bloggers. I don’t feel GOOD about stealing the idea, but that doesn’t mean I’m ABOVE it.

Now, onto the task at hand…

1. I don’t know what I would do without you. Even before I took my first breath, you were caring for me. You’ve been my best friend and my biggest cheerleader. The best parts of me come from you. But, unfortunately, because of you, I do not take risks and cannot make decisions. Because of you, I am afraid to do so many things.

2. I wish you would stop making excuses… about everything! Get off your ass and do something! Stop being afraid of everything! You are a miserable and insecure person and it shows. Everyone wants the best for you, but you will never realize your dreams because you have to want that for yourself... and you don’t want it. In spite of all that, you are a wonderful friend and I still like you.

3. Men love you, women envy you, but you are not as cute as you think you are. You think you are advanced for your age, but you are actually very immature. I was drawn to you because I thought you were confident and grounded but really you are one of the most insecure people I’ve ever met. You are also an attention whore (I believe this stems from your insecurities) and it shows in everything you do and say. But you are a solid friend.

4. You are one of the most selfish people I’ve ever known. Everything is about you all the time. I feel sorry for anyone who tries to love you because everyone else’s feelings are secondary to your own. You are chasing a dream that may never come true, which at one point seemed ambitious, but now is becoming pathetic.

5. You are inconsistent and sometimes you drive me crazy! But I think you’re great. And I especially love that you have no idea how wonderful you are. You are one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, one of the funniest, one of the most supportive. I like you. A lot. And I hope that you like me, too.

6. I wish you were smarter, less self-centered, and a little more “polished”. But you have been a very good friend to me.

7. I watched you make the biggest mistake of your life. You ruined a perfectly good thing. You let it all go because you are spoiled and suffer from an entitlement complex. You think you’ve won, but you’ve really lost. Big time. Despite all this, I still like you and want to see you end up on top.

8. All of my insecurities come from you. Because of you, I will never fully trust another man. You were the worst boyfriend a woman could ever have. You wounded my self-esteem. At one point I was in love with you, but now I do not even like you. At your core, I think you are a bad person. I forgive you for what you did, but I will never forget.

9. You have suffered so much loss in your life and handled it all so gracefully. I hope that I will react and rebound in a similar manner when/if faced with the same. You achieved what you have because of things that I did for you and now someone else is reaping the benefits, which makes me sad. But still, I am proud of you and what/who you have become.

10. I don’t really know you well, which is a shame because we have the same blood coursing through our veins. We have nothing in common. If we were not related, I do not think we would be friends. I know you are unhappy and I wish that you would do something to improve your situation. I know you won't, though. But I love you and I am proud of you and I thank you for the two gifts that you have given me.

11. Every conversation I have with you stresses me out. Everything you say to me is negative. Because of you and your domineering persona, I have lost all direction in life. Every complex I have about men stems from my relationship with you. I owe my independent spirit and glibness to you. You are one of the smartest people I know, but just because you’re smart it doesn’t mean you know it all. Everything you do annoys me. And every time I look at you I know that I’ll never be good enough in your eyes. Yet, I love you and continue to seek your approval.

12. You’re beautiful both inside and out even though you act as if you don’t know it. We can go for long periods of time without talking to each other yet pick up right where we left off. You are funny and supportive.

13. I have never met a more judgmental person. You are not smarter than everyone else and you need to stop acting like it. I have watched you make some really, really dumb mistakes and yet you continue to judge other people in that holier than thou manner of yours. But I admire your courage and your ability to act without caring what other people think of you and your decisions.

14. You are kind, caring, and sweet. You are one of my best friends. I think you have some issues that you need to resolve. You should stop engaging in such risky behavior because it is a cry for help.

15. Both of you are beautiful, funny, and smart and you deserve nothing but the best out of life. I hope that you accomplish whatever you set your minds to do. You are strong and independent. I love you as though you were my own. I wish I could protect you from all the ugliness in this world. You will face challenges, hurt, and defeat and that breaks my heart. But in the end, I have faith that you will make the right decisions. I am rooting for both of you.

16. You are strange. Yet I am inexplicably drawn to you. At one time I wanted you for myself, but now I don’t. I hope you find someone who can love you despite your quirks. We are two peas in a pod.

17. You are generally fierce, but sometimes when you try to be fly you end up looking ridiculous. I always wanted to be your friend because you were confident, smart, and stylish, and everyone liked you. After I got to know you, I discovered that you are overrated.

18. It took me a while to like you. For years, I wished that you were just a little smarter, just a little prettier, just a little funnier. And then, I realized that you are great just the way you are. I am starting to get comfortable with you.

19. What can I say about you? Well, you're always the life of the party, that's for sure! You always wanted to give me what I was looking for, but I was too young and too stupid to appreciate it. And I've watched you build this great life and now you're sharing it with someone else. I can't help but kick myself every time I think about it. It should have been me.

20. You are the absolute best. Thank you for being so cute, loyal, and consistent.