Go Gemmie, it’s ya birfday!
I spent this past holiday weekend with 3 of my closest friends in Milwaukee, WI. The 4 of us met in Pittsburgh – 3 of us working on our PhDs, 1 doing her post-PhD training – and over the last 2 years we have each moved away and started new jobs. It was our first time all being together in about a year. So naturally we did it BIG – the turn up was mad real lol. And we were all reminded just how old we were getting – partying hard one night kept us pretty low key the rest of the weekend lol. It was a wonderful reunion, filled with lots of laughs, shenanigans, Lime and Strawberitas (aka “thot juice”), shots of Peach Ciroc, twerking, and brunching. We’re ratchet bougie Black girls, what can I say?
Though we did not gather to celebrate my birthday, or even the birth of our nation’s independence (we’re Black intellectuals – we can only get so excited about so-called “independence” in this b*tch), I still technically falls under my bday month-long celebration of life. We’re half way through 2014, I’m another year older, and traveling more to spend time with friends was part of my list for things to do this year.
And I figure my born day is as good as any to revisit my 2014 resolutions and do a half-year-in-review.
- Lose 15lbs before 31 ~ Since last year, I’ve lost about 20lbs. 10 of those lbs were shed since the beginning of 2014. Thanks to #SexyShred Cycle V (Feminista Jones is brilliant for starting this!!) I have been on my nutrition and fitness grind! I workout about 4 times a week and try to eat pretty balanced, well portioned meals. I’m definitely leaner (went down a size in pants), stronger, and more motivated to live an active, healthy life with few excuses. I still slack off every now and then, but I don’t go longer than a week before getting it back together. I’m doing it for the abs! #SummerTimeFine
- F*ck b*tches, get money ~ I technically didn’t f*ck b*tches, but I did get the smallest of raises at work. So, check!
- Run a 10k~ Almost. Ran an 8k in March. A 10k is in the works before the end of this year.
- Get my mile down to 10 or less ~ Done! Again, thanks to #SexyShred I pushed myself like never before. Though I still run about a 10min mile outside, I can get it to 9min on the treadmill. I’m like a frikkin hamster going ham on a wheel!
- Reduce my cc debt by 50% ~ Uhhhhh skip…
- Incorporate more prayer and bible study into my daily/weekly routine ~ I’m definitely struggling with this. I go long periods of time avoiding personal prayer/bible study time. Not sure why but I need to fix this.
- Take 3 “fun” trips ~ I’m 2 fun trips in! One to ATL for a good friend’s wedding, the other this past weekend in MKE. I’m on track to take 2 more (at least) before the end of the year.
- Blog once a month about my “progress” ~ Yeeeeaaaaah about that… 1 per 6months is almost the same right?
- Make more lists ~ I’m kind of doing this. Sometimes I make list and forget them. But I’m definitely more on top of getting tasks done and not forgetting. Still a work in progress.
- Spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve (for 2015) with the love of my life ~ Still TBD ;-)
- Live out “Partition” – the lyrics or video, either or ~ Nunya.
In terms of other updates NOT on my 2014 To Do List, I bought a new car (praise the Lord for amazing parents who helped a sista out!) a few weeks ago and the love of my life “moved” (at least himself and clothes for now lol) to Portland yesterday!!!!! 2014 is shaping up to be as grand as I’d hoped! I am in a good place. Things aren’t perfect but I’m content and eager to see what the rest of the year has to offer.
How was your 4th of July weekend? Now that we’re in the 2nd half of the year, how are you feeling? Are things going like you planned/hoped? Do you need to do some reevaluating? Any good news to share?
Older & wiser,
*Author’s note: This good ol blog recently turned 4 years old! OMG time flies. Especially when you don’t write blog posts regularly lol. Nonetheless, I thank everyone who was with me since day one and all those who I have picked up along the way.*
I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions.
I read this candid statement by PepsiCo’s CEO, Indra K. Nooyi, in a recent interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and thought, “More women should need to hear this and say this.”
I am currently in the infant stages of my career. I am not yet a wife or a mother, but I aspire to be. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a career (in what? IDK!), a husband, and children. In the same lifetime. I haven’t actively pursued one over the other. Meaning, I didn’t avoid committed relationships in order to pursue my education and a career (let’s be real – I avoided committed relationships because [redacted] ain’t [redacted]). I didn’t give up dreams of a career to start a family. I never ranked these priorities in order of importance because they were all equally important. And my plan was to have all of these things – the order in which they were obtained was up to God.
To have each of these things – career, spouse, children – individually is hard work. Starting and advancing a career requires a lot of work, dedication and sacrifice. Joining your with another person requires a lot of work, dedication, and sacrifice. Being a parent requires a lot of work, dedication and sacrifice. Having all three situations at once can’t possibly be easy. Especially in a world where womanhood is constantly challenged (damned if you do, damned if you don’t). Nor is it likely one can do all of these things well and give the proper attention to each. Something has to give. Something will give. And someone(s) will suffer the consequences.
I think what it boils down to is you can “have” it all, but you aren’t going to have it all well, the way you want it, or without having some resentment or guilt in the process. And I appreciate that Indra was so honest about her experience and her struggles with being a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a CEO.
I also appreciate what Indra’s mother said.
You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place.
What I took from that was (whether this was the intention or not, ha!) if you’re going to take on all these titles, there have to be boundaries. When you’re home, you’re these things. When you’re at work, you’re these other things. Everything has its appropriate time and place. That makes sense to me.
I have no idea what life will bring my way, but I think I’m up for the challenge. I know trying to have it all will be hard to balance – there will always be things in constant flux – and I wouldn’t expect anything else. Hearing a woman like Indra say she feels guilt and is always looking for ways to cope inspires me. Sure, it’s scary and unnerving to know that you won’t be good at everything all the time, but what’s the alternative? Not being fulfilled or regretting never trying to have it all? That almost seems worse.
What the hell are you supposed to do? Can you have your cake and eat it too?
Wanting it all… kinda,
A looooooong time ago my dear friend Amy Juicebox tarted a social media campaign called “Love Letters to Black Men” – a way for Black women to show support during a sensitive time when Black men were increasingly under attack (quite literally, in many cases). She asked me (and countless other Black women) to write a love letter to Black men. And well, I never completed the task. I just didn’t know where to start. It’s such a huge task to sum up my love of the men who raised me, taught me, inspire me, motivate me, and most importantly love me. I didn’t revisit this task until my aunt asked members of my family to contribute to a memory book that will be given to my Father on his next birthday (in a few weeks – the day after mine). It took many hours, many tears, and many laughs to complete my contribution for my Dad’s memory book. It’s a love letter. I love Black men because of the love and respect I have for my Dad. Everything he is encompasses a rich Black history, Black experiences, Black thought, Black pride, Black beauty. I love Black people because my Black father loved me and I love my Black self.
For many who follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me discuss the hilarious antics of Papa Gem. My Father’s larger than life persona is quite legendary (among his circle of family/friends, my mom’s circles, my brother’s circles, and certainly my circles) and yet he’s a complete mystery to me, wrapped in an enigma, encased in a riddle. Locked in a cryptex. He’s a constant, finite force, while altogether surprising and unpredictable. And since my Father can’t be confined to the type of simple linear regression models (i.e. a straight line) he solves in his spare time “for fun”, neither should my love letter to him. So here it goes…*
Dad, it’s easy to say “I love you” but hard to say what that means or how that feels. Defining words with more words is more an exercise of flipping through a hard-covered dictionary (and though I much prefer dictionary.com these days, I still have the dictionary you bought me when I went off to college) than of defining feelings in a manner someone else can understand. You taught me that what you say and how you say it, is of utmost importance. Whether reciting timeless verses of Robert Frost (voice inflections, the right emphasis on the right words, and hand/face gestures are important details) or supporting an argument for why rap music will not rot one’s brain (it won’t, trust me, I’m a doctor), expression of words requires thoughtfulness, animus, and grit. And a dictionary. So when I tell you I love you, I’m telling you my mind is replaying our time together because loving you is directly tied to our journey through life together.
School shoe shopping (I blame/thank you for my sensible over fashionable shoe purchases). Hospital nurses’ stations. MLK tennis courts. Jazz. Car Talk Radio. What you did to that glovebox. Trips to see “the little people” (especially when playing Santa’s Helper). Amateur boxing matches. Poinsettia and Holiday Bowls. Aztec, Padre, and Charger games. Battle of the Bands. You being present at every single swim meet and band performance (parade, field, concert) – with thousands upon thousands of photos to show for it. Video footage of my childhood. Trips to Hawaii, Vegas, Disneyworld. Pilgrimages to Howard Universi-tay. Witnessing incomparable friendships with Dan Gaither and John Golding. Being exposed to a positive, intelligent, assiduous, flourishing community of Black professionals. The ambiguity of your so-called time spent in China. Made-up Spanish. Story telling. Driving lessons. “We didn’t get you perfume for Christmas, Mommy.” Wrapping presents. Teaching you how to use features on your computer. Grade school projects (the Mission, the Indian village, Andrew Johnson, Emperor penguins). Not learning how to play chess. The father-daughter waltz at my debutante ball. Thinking of the right song for us to dance to at my wedding. Telling Jesus on you. Playing the trumpet as a wake up call at my birthday sleepover. Singing at my door and pretending Mom is playing the radio too loud. “What it is? What it was? What it will be? What it could be? What it should be? [Etc…].” Ninety second phone conversations. Batman movies. Calling me George (or mistakenly Patricia, Shari, or Delilah). Watching you be a grandfather to my nieces and nephews, and eagerly awaiting the day you meet my future kids. Always challenging me to think harder, smarter, and wiser. Brutal honesty. Your love of knowledge (even your geeky obsession of words and math). Being the funniest, smartest, most generous person I know. Setting a standard for the main man in my life.
These are a few of my favorite memories. This love letter will never quite be complete because there are so many more reasons that you will give me to love you for the rest of my life. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!
Papa Gemmie’s Little Girl
* This letter is slightly modified from the one that will be in his memory book. Because you always think of something else after you’ve finished your “final” draft. And it’s Father’s Day :)
Hey guys! Remember me? No? Well. Yeah. That’s understandable.
I haven’t blogged in a long long time. I don’t even think I can call myself a blogger anymore at this point. I have fallen off the blog wagon many times before. But this last time feels different. I often considered closing my blog altogether because, well, I have nothing interesting to say. And blogs are supposed to be interesting, right? It’s like the age old saying, “if you don’t have anything intriguing/thought-provoking/witty to say, don’t say it at all.
Even when I do think I have something to say worth reading by others, I can’t manage to get my thoughts clearly typed out. I start 1 or 2 paragraphs of a post and then call it quits because my brain [seemingly] can’t/won’t produce intelligibly constructed disquisition. Because let’s be real: I’m never at a loss for words. In fact, I’ve mentioned this very fact in other blog posts after month long hiatuses. At any given moment, I have tons of things to say about a dozen or so subjects. Many of which aren’t particularly unique or extraordinary so I figure, “why bother?”
But as I was reading endless streams of Samantha Irby’s consciousness in her book of essays, Meaty, it occurred to me as I repeatedly laughed aloud on my bus commute how thoroughly entertained I was by the most random observations captured in print by Samantha. I am no published author (aside from scientific articles which hardly count as being a “writer”) with an exceptional voice or perspective that gets paid to have others read what I have to say. So I don’t really have a keen sense of knowing that any prattling I do will be gobbled up by at least a portion of my readers. Or even the ability to determine the framing of my musings in such a way that is compelling, regardless of the actual subject or content.
How the hell will i ever become a better, long-standing writer/blogger if I don’t put forth the effort? How the hell can I be effective in writing about something meaningful if I can’t even write about something arbitrary?
In my attempt to get over my severe aversion to writing about whatever is in my head and just WRITE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I’m going to rattle off my random musings for the day. Just because.
- I’m not a germaphobe (or more formally, a mysophobe) but I hate germy-ness. I believe exposure to a certain level of germs is necessary to keep your immune system working effectively. But it really grosses me out when people sneeze into their hands and just start touching everything. Or when people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom (why do women, especially, have such a big problem with this?!?!). Or people who put their hands under the water for one second (I mean quite literally, I’ve counted) before walking out of the bathroom! How do you turn the water on and off so quickly and think your hands are clean? Cmon people!!
- Similarly, I dislike my skin to touch the seats/railings/people of public transportation. I often wear sweaters or light jackets even in the spring/summer (it was in the 50s when I left today so this is normal and necessary) so as to ensure that my body parts are completely covered and free of bus-dust. I don’t even like to sit around in my apartment with clothes I wore to work because those clothes touched the bus-dust and I don’t want bus-dust on my things. I don’t even like walking past my bed with bus-dusted clothes on. Most women I know take off their bras the second they hit the door – I take off my pants/skirt and replace them with only-worn-at-home bottoms. Bra still on.
- Wearing bras don’t bother me. Because my breasts aren’t large enough for bras to bother me. My big-breasted sistren are always complaining about wearing bras because their tatas are so heavy that holding those bad boys up in restrictive materials is just plain uncomfortable. I feel for yall, I do. But my bras don’t have much to hold up and therefore they’re much less noticeable in my day to day. My biggest issue is my bra strap falling off my shoulder or my boobs needing to be rearranged inside their cups (who would’ve guess that even small boobs could be so hard to contain in an unnaturally pre-molded space). I don’t know if other small-to-medium sized breasted women feel the same, but these things don’t bother me. I like having my boobs secured firmly in place at all times (except when I’m sleeping – they can be free). Even if I plan on spending an entire day at home lounging in my papasan chair, I will wear a sports bra or tank tops with built-in support. If I had Rihanna boobs, I’d never wear bras. Or shirts for that matter.
- I like listening to “smart” podcasts. I was talking to a friend yesterday about podcasts we listen to and I realized most of the podcasts I’m subscribed to are for people who enjoy being intellectually stimulated. One of the podcasts I listen to has the words “pop culture” and “happy hour” in it (NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour) and yet it has by far the most intelligent discourse on music, television, books, and film I’ve ever heard. I guess anything that excludes ratchetness (discussing any VH1 reality TV show or the Knowles-Carter elevator scandal) automatically keeps the IQ of all parties in the smarty-pants range.
What say you? What are your random musings for the day?
In 2012 I got my first (only) tattoo. At the age of 28. One of my closest friends got the same tattoo, in the same place, on the same day. The decision to get our first tattoos together was a bit impulsive, as the idea arose as we were driving by a tattoo spot with a bunch of our other close girlfriends during a weekend getaway in Charlotte, NC. Initially we had no idea what tattoo to get, or where to put it, but intended to get something that was meaningful to both of us and symbolized our journey as friends (especially through the enormous torture known as graduate school).
After a few minutes of flipping through my mental rolodex, I suggested we get the Adinkra symbol for Sankofa, meaning “go back and get it”. The proverb “se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenki” (“it is not taboo for you to go back and get what you forgot”) is represented by a bird reaching back on its body for an egg. It’s thought to mean you reclaim or take the good of your past to move forward. I also suggested the heart-shaped version of Sankofa be placed on the inside of our wrists – as the hands/arms are physically used to reach back.
For me, the Sankofa symbol/concept was the only one worth permanently etching on my body. I lived Sankofa. My past is an important part of my future. Through the soul-draining challenges I experienced in grad school, I became painfully aware of myself. Where I’d come from. Who I was and who/what shaped me. Who I wanted to be. Where I wanted to go. And the revelations were liberating.
As I look back on 2013, I acknowledge what a good year this has been for me. Things weren’t perfect, but I have no regrets. I will enter 2014 on a high note.
- My first full year living in Portland!! Not easy to make friends when you’re in an adult, living in a city that is NOT diverse. But I met some great people and I’ve been some cool places. I love it here.
- Witnessing my best friend in the whole world marry the love of her life and standing as her maid of honor.
- Being hooded and conferred for my PhD during graduation! Man, what a sense of accomplishment. My 2012 defense was traumatic and painful and I didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy my shiny new PhD. But graduation almost a year later made it all feel real, and deserved.
- Turning 30! And taking an impromptu 36hr trip to San Diego to spend my birthday with my family.
- Surprising my best friend in the whole world for her 30th birthday in Vegas.
- Learning to read, write, and speak Farsi. And asking a Persian restaurant owner where the bathroom is in Farsi (“Bebakhshid, dast shooyi kojast?” ببخشید، دست شویی کجاست؟).
- Having my chapter on ADHD published in a book. Huge accomplishment after only 18 months of my postdoctoral training.
- Spending Thanksgiving at home in San Diego for the first time since I graduated high school. With the love of my life by my side.
- Every moment the love of my life was physically by my side.
- Being appointed to a nonprofit organization’s Board of Directors. Truly an honor and I’m so excited to serve on my first board. Ready to learn and grow.
I have a lot to look forward to in 2014. And since I am a strong proponent for resolutions (be they in January or July) I have a few things I’d like to resolve/accomplish (and I hope my readers are willing to hold me accountable!).
2014 To Do List
- Lose 15lbs before 31. I’m starting the New Year on an extreme cleanse (Why? Why not? Go hard or go home, right?) and joining the last cycle of #SexyShred starting January 9. Time to get back to better nutrition and fitness. Whether or not I can keep the weight off past July 7 is another resolution…
- F*ck b*tches, get money.
- Run a 10k. Because #fitness.
- Get my mile down to 10 or less. I am pretty slow but now that I’ve gotten comfortable with running more than 2 miles, I’m ready to kick it up a notch.
- Reduce my cc debt by 50%. This will require committed budgeting and lots of prayer.
- Incorporate more prayer and bible study into my daily/weekly routine. Prayer calls with me girls, bible study with Habibi, daily meditation. All things that make me feel better and closer to God but I don’t do hardly enough.
- Take 3 “fun” trips. Due to various circumstances, trips outside of SD and DC weren’t very feasible. But I want to make more attempts to travel and see friends/new sights.
- Blog once a month about my “progress.” Be it progress about my work, fitness, nutrition, spiritual journey – I need to hold myself accountable and reflect on my progress (or lack thereof).
- Make more lists. I am pretty forgetful and absent-minded. I do much better when I make myself lists and post them where I cannot avoid them. I must do this more. My ability to function in this world personally and professionally depends on this.
- Spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve (for 2015) with the love of my life. Fate has not allowed us to have either of these holidays together, unfortunately, but I won’t stand for another year under these conditions!!
- Live out “Partition” – the lyrics or video, either or.
My list is a bit long but very doable. I resolve to accomplish them all!!! I’ve gathered many things, great and small, from 2013 that will enable me to have a great 2014. What are some of your highlights from 2013? Do you have any new year’s resolutions or things you want to accomplish in 2014?
HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
-Gem the Go [Back] Getter