Confessions of a Frustrated Millennial: Book Review

“Natasha, Danielle, and Jayla all have big career dreams, and they’ve done everything right to reach their goals. Natasha earned her MBA, Danielle landed an important reality show part, and Jayla passed the bar. They are so close to their dreams of working in business, entertainment, and law, but the dearth of good jobs in the current economy has made it impossible for a millennial to catch a break.”

The young ladies in this Eugenia R. Jefferson’s Confessions of a Frustrated Millennial are just like most educated, driven, young ladies in society. They’re making steps to try and secure the lives that they’ve envisioned for themselves. Natasha is stuck working at a nonprofit dealing with micro-aggressions and doing all of her bosses work while getting none of the credit. Danielle is moonlighting as a waitress in between her auditions for what she hopes is her big break and Jayla still hasn’t managed to secure a position at a law firm in Boston and is forced to move back into her parents home in Chicago.images-4.jpeg

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a quick read which I mostly completed on my flight to Vegas last month. I’m super excited to see that more books telling the regular mundane aspects of black women’s lives are being published. For years now I’ve been asking for stories about regular black women doing regular schmegular degular (word to Cardi B.) black women things, which are essentially the same types of things as every other woman through the magical lens of a black woman’s experience.

As we follow Danielle, Tasha, and Jayla along their journey we’re educated about life in Chicago and entertained with each characters exploits from first dates, to weddings, to cussing their bosses clear the eff out. (WHICH HE SORELY NEEDED) By the end of the story each of the characters is happy in life even if their lives and careers have taken turns that they never in their wildest dreams expected.

I knew I was going to like this book as soon as I received it in the mail because the cover is adorable so I happily gave it 5 stars. Read it if you love books about Black Girl Magic that have happy endings. Lord knows in today’s day and age we could all use a few more happy endings.

Sidebar: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author.

Boss Lady Rule #1,623 Stay Out Of Uninvited DMs

I’m a really interesting consumer since I don’t ever really want anything and whenever I do desire something I do extensive research and know exactly what I want prior to purchasing it. Telemarketers make me wanna slap myself and picking up parts for the shop at the dealerships in town is always a fun experience as I try to walk through the sixteen hundred sales people waiting to pounce on you as you climb out of car. And even if I was there to purchase a car I’m the type of car buyer who knows exactly what year, make, model, engine size, trim style, and optional car features she wants months before stepping into the show room. So I’m not a great person to try and sell to. I want what I want when I want it and I know how to get it when I’m ready.

I’m typically not a sales woman’s best customer especially when her method of selling involves popping into my DMs to sell me tummy tea, jamberry nails, or credit repair. Now, I’m all for supporting another small business owner and have no issues with MLMs. I know that sometimes they’re scams but lots of times they work out pretty well for both the consumer and the business person.

BUT

The thing that grinds my gears is when I log on to Facebook and have 27 messages from overly familiar women whom I have never met or interacted with a day in my real life who say things like “Hey girl, I noticed that you work out. You should try my waist wrap.” Or “Hey girl, Do you know someone who would like to make $500 in their free time.”

 

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If I were to hop into people’s inboxes and try to offer them auto repair, auto detailing, books, or transportation for their children they would at the very least think that I was strange as fuck. “Hey girl, I noticed you drive. Can I change your brake pads?” Doesn’t sound like something that should be said to an unsuspecting person. So why is it ok for you to peddle your wares to me in this manner?

It’s NOT. So, if you’re one of these individuals who are advertising and selling this way, PLEASE STOP! You’re the first reason of sixteen reasons why I don’t have Facebook Messenger on my phone.

(Sidebar If I missed the memo and this is how we’re businessing in 2018 please let a sista know so I could get my slide on. JK)

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And since I wanna make sure that I’m uplifting fellow business women and not just being a Judgey McJudge face here are five other ways to advertise your goods that aren’t nearly as annoying as sliding into my DM.

  1. Join a networking chapter. It doesn’t have to be BNI but I know two women who sell Organo Gold and Arbonne who are doing quite well from their BNI referrals to their businesses.
  2. Purchase Ads on whatever site you’re currently practicing your DM slide on.
  3. Setup a booth at local  fair or market.
  4. Wait for someone to mention that they need your service in a post then offer it to them.
  5. Ask your leader or whatever they call them to teach you how to run your business without sliding into your friends and families DMs.

Until next time, Stay Hydrated, Mind Your Business, and Stay the bleep up out my DMs (Sung in my Ludacris Voice.)

Mamas Love Your Daughters: My Review of Halsey Street

“Penelope Grand has scrapped her failed career as an artist in Pittsburgh and moved back to Brooklyn to keep an eye on her ailing father. She’s accepted that her future won’t be what she’d dreamed, but now, as gentrification has completely reshaped her old neighborhood, even her past is unrecognizable. Old haunts have been razed, and wealthy white strangers have replaced every familiar face in Bed-Stuy. Even her mother, Mirella, has abandoned the family to reclaim her roots in the Dominican Republic. That took courage. It’s also unforgivable.”

This book had me in my emotions the entire time. Probably because I’m really sensitive to the relationship between mothers and daughters. I hate the notion that bringing a child into the world and giving them food, clothing, and a safe place to sleep is something that should be lauded and praised. Children require care. They require mothering. And Penelope Grand’s mother is not a loving mother. Or at least that’s how Penelope feels.

Mirella feels like she is a provider. She wants so much for her daughter. So much that she couldn’t have for herself. Her daughter could be anything that she wants, a doctor, a lawyer anything if she would just stop playing around with her art. “It might be that only artists want their children to become artists.” 

Unsure of how to connect with her child Mirella provides. She dreams for, she tries to guide but she can’t connect with her daughter. Maybe, this is because she had a difficult childhood and her own young mother didn’t properly bond with her. Maybe, this is because her father died when she was so young. Maybe, it’s because she is a Dominican Immigrant married to an African American man living in Brooklyn and she doesn’t understand or agree with most of their American customs.

Mirella and Penelope’s disconnect causes Penelope to leave home and move to Pittsburgh where she lives an isolated life until her father gets hurt causing her to return to Brooklyn. Nothing about Brooklyn is the same, Mirella is gone, her family’s store is gone, her father has declined physically and the Gentrifying Landlord family that she rents a room from may seem to have it all together but they have a whole heap of issues of their own.

Back in Brooklyn Penelope is forced to deal with the change that comes along with the changing landscape of her neighborhood, her aging father, and the hurt that she’s been carrying from her childhood and her relationship with her mother.

As Penelope navigates her new life and faces her path we realize how much hurt can be passed down from generation to generation and what happens when the cycle isn’t stopped. Back in her home country of the Dominican Republic Mirella tries to find a way to connect with her daughter.  Now that she has built home of her own she realizes that all that is missing of her life is a connection with her daughter.

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Naima Coster Author of Halsey Street

I really enjoyed this book and give it 5 stars. I really disliked Penelope and her mother Mirella for most of the story but my reason for disliking them is because I know people like them. People who carry old slights around and ignore the love that is given to them because it’s not the love that they want. People who use these feelings and emotions to excuse their reckless behaviors and avoid true growth. In the end Penelope begins to acknowledge these things and begins to grow.

As a writer when you take your  readers through so many upsetting emotions they should be given some sort of reward and Penelope’s growth at the end was reward enough for me. I also appreciated how the writer subtly showed the effects of gentrification on the native Brooklynites. It wasn’t pushy or preachy just stating what was so and I loved that.

Images from Author’s website: naimacoster.com

ProTip: I simultaneously read this book on Audiobook and Kindle. I tend to do this whenever possible so that I can listen to the book while driving and such and physically read the book when I can.

If You Must Be Creative With Our Stories How About You Be Creative

So it happened, I woke up opened my book and began to read as I do almost every single day. Reading is what I do. I consider myself more than anything to be a connoisseur of books. Sometime during the trips of my eyes from left to right across the page of my current read I got that feeling. The one I get where I know that I won’t be able to continue reading the book without doing a little research.

I tell myself not to. To at least wait until I’ve completed the book and have a true opinion about the story before I go internet diving for clues. But I don’t. 7.5 minutes later I’m looking into the face of a white appearing woman or man, standing next to their white appearing spouse, with their white appearing children in their suburban or gentrified ass white appearing neighborhood.

I know as you read those words you’re probably coming to conclusions so I should say here, I am not angry. If I am anything I’m bored.

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I’m not angry that a white appearing person has written yet another bestselling YA novel about yet another African American teenager. Nor, that they have taken liberties with this teenagers life and given them the crackhead parent, the absent parent, the problems in school, the job that they HAVE to work in order to contribute to their family because of the crackhead or absent parent.

But, as I continue to do research on this person: looking up their parents, researching their childhoods, the cities they were born in, thinking maybe just maybe their best friend was black, looking for stories in which they describe where they got the idea for this story, looking for anything to help me feel better about the fact that yet another of our stories is being told by other people while we’re still not given the equal opportunities to tell our own; I do get a little annoyed.

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See, as a writer I know that we have the creative license to write whatever we want about whatever we want however we want and that we don’t just have to tell the stories that we know. But, as I look at how stereotypes are developed and perpetuated and have been perpetuated for years and years I can’t help but wonder why a person who took ALL of the creative license with a story would continue to write these lazy stereotype ladden stories.

When I read a story about these issues that do in fact exist for some black people written by a black person I know that most likely they have experienced these issues or that the issues are at the very least in their orbit. But, when these stories are written by white appearing people I can’t help but question why if they felt the need to write about black people, why they didn’t use their creative license to write about magical black girls or as Danez Smif requests black boys playing with dinosaurs in the hood. 

Social Media airways, news and media outlets for once in our history are being flooded with Magical Black Girls and Black Boy Joy and  Black Super Heroes and yet television, movies, and books are still full of the same stereotypical stories about food stamp dependent, thugged out, drug abusing black people.

There will always be these stories to be told like their will always be a new movie about slavery. So, I’m not asking white people to not write stories about black people. I’m asking them to give us the whole stories. Like they do for white people. I’ve yet to read a story about a white crackhead teenager without being informed that she was a jock who broke her leg, had surgery, was placed on oxycodone, and became addicted. They’re humanized. So can we be humanized in these stereotypical redundant ass stories? I’m just asking  if you must be creative with our stories then how about you be creative or at the very least, tell the whole story.

 

This Is How You Lose Readers

In the wake of the #MeToo movement it seems like on a weekly basis we are being informed that another beloved person is a predator. Some have had rumors about their behaviors floating around for years like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, who although they’ve only recently had to answer for their crimes,  knowledge of their abusive ways have been widely known for many many years.

Unlike them, others like Kevin Spacey, have rocked the world and shocked their fans. Today, I log on to the internet and I see that there are some internet drama surrounding Junot Díaz. Firstly, I wasn’t going to read up on it I’m literally in the middle of rereading The Brief  Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Secondly, Junot Díaz is one of the first writers who made me; a dark skinned black woman, feel both seen and beautiful.

But, like with most train wrecks no matter how much you want to avert your gaze you have to look. It’s almost as if you have no control over the way your neck moves. So with that same trepidation I typed *Junot Díaz Sex Scandal* into my search bar and was rewarded (this is not a reward) with the following article: Junot Diaz Sex Scandal.

I refuse to look into this any further and I’m officially throwing Oscar Wao out of the window. I know that there are questions about whether we continue to throw people away for bad behavior or not, but unlike people who question those sorts of things *insert fierce side eye* I have an iron clad no predator clause on my entertainment intake calendar. All that I can do now is seriously pray that Stephen King has kept his paws to himself. And no I’m not googling it. I don’t want to know until I have to.

 

What Is Us Gon Do?

The fact that things can royally suck and you just have to deal with them is mind boggling. Like Spectrum sucks. They literally lose your payments, interrupt your service then ask you to drive to a location to show them proof that you paid and even when your services DO work they don’t work as they’re supposed to. Like you literally have no wifi in half your house, but, *WIFI is an imperfect science and isn’t guaranteed to work throughout your whole home. *
Anything could interrupt the flow including the owning of small land animals and the drinking of La Croix sparkling waters. 
But, your ass is stuck dealing with them because Frontier also sucks royally and those are your two choices. Period.
So you can have no internet with which to do work or you can have sucky service with which to do your work and those are LITERALLY your options.
And we accept that. We accept sucky ass government officials who have no one’s best interests at heart.
We accept sucky ass companies who sell your data and manipulate your lives.
We accept it all.
And that my friends is mind boggling as fuck.
What is us gon do?
Me, I’m going to pack my shit, take my dogs to the dog park, and work from there because I’m already working from home of off my phones internet hotspot. Which, don’t let me get started on that because I’m always over my data because my wifi doesn’t work in the back of my house. Image-1.jpg

Black Girls Don’t Have Eating Disorders.

I’ve just finished working out with my trainer, in front of my house, something I do twice a week. For almost two years twice a week we meet here, underneath my carport where we do a mixture of kickboxing and cardio. I realize that this is some privileged shit. That I’m even more privileged and once more during the week on Sundays I meet him at a gym for bootcamp. Oftentimes I’m the only person at bootcamp so I get another private personal training session. But I don’t feel privileged.

I feel scared. Nervous. Stressed. I’m stressed about my body. A stress that I’ve been dealing with for more than twenty years. An obsession that if I’m not careful could kill me. I have an eating disorder. One diagnosed by my psychiatrist after my divorce when I casually mentioned that I was at least eating more often. To which she wanted to know:

Do you not eat often?

How long have you been doing that?

Do you binge?

Purge?

How often do you weigh yourself?

How many diets have you been on in the last year?

What do you eat in a typical day?

How often do you exercise?

Twice a day? For how long? And ordered: Let’s keep a food journal.

Of course, I didn’t. I didn’t need a food journal. I didn’t have an eating problem. I had an “I just lost my spouse problem.” So I quit going to her. She obviously didn’t know how to do her job. Besides, Black girls don’t have eating disorders.

On the one hand I’m a nurse and I know that anyone of any gender, race, and socioeconomic class can suffer from an eating disorder but on the other hand, I’m black. We don’t DO eating disorders. That’s some white people shit. Some middle class shit. Which, as I think about who taught me how to eat every other day, how to eat whatever I wanted and throw it back up later, how to stick a toothbrush down my throat until I learned to vomit on demand, how to over exercise and under eat- a group of black girls on a cheerleading squad, black girls definitely do DO eating disorders.

But It’s under control. I have not weighed myself in over a year. I eat daily. I haven’t purged in years. I’m cured Or so I tell myself. But I’m obsessed. I spend hours a week in front of the mirror looking at my body. Assessing the weight distribution. Is that muscle? Is my belly fat? Are my boobs getting smaller or bigger. I obsess about food. Eat secret meals that I buy with cash so my wife is unaware of what all I’ve eaten then throw the bags in the front trash can where she never looks or at gas stations on the way home. Then I obsess about what I’ve eaten for days. For months. And I know that this too, this obsession with my body composition, with every calorie that I’ve put into it, is in fact an eating disorder. I wonder, how long it’ll take until I convince myself to abstain from food or even worst to purge.

I feel lonely in this journey. I’m not super skinny so I don’t fit in with those girls and the thick girls, well I’m not quite thick enough. So I don’t pipe up when they discuss how difficult it is to find good bras, or how happy they are about their weight loss, about their inch loss. On more than one occasion, on more than one thread I’ve received the message. The shut yo skinny thick ass up you can’t sit with us message. So I suffer in silence. Drive my wife crazy with questions, Do you see it? Do I look skinnier? Is all of my hard work obvious? I fret that I’ll drive her crazy. That eventually she will leave me, for someone with a higher self esteem. For someone who loves their body. For someone skinnier.

I’ve looked up the stats on eating disorders in black women and not surprisingly there are none. Exact statistics on the prevalence of eating disorders among women of color are unavailable. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “Due to our historically biased view that eating disorders only affect white women, relatively little research has been conducted utilizing participants from racial and ethnic minority groups.” Even though sociologists recognize that black women suffer from eating disorders they don’t have enough data because for a very long time, even for scientists, black girls don’t have eating disorders. At least until now.

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Around March 18 2016

 

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Around October 15 2017

For the record my trainer is amazing and I can see the difference in pictures from before I started working out with him up until now but I can’t see the difference. (Only someone with an eating disorder will understand that last part.)

What’s Happening In My Neck Of The Woods

Ok, So firstly, there’s a whole ass serial killer running around my neighborhood shooting unsuspecting people dead.NO LIE. And Obviously since it’s happening in the black part of my neighborhood (which most of my neighbors won’t admit is the black part of my neighborhood) there are rumors that the person is a black man. Light skinned. 6 feet something inches tall. AND if the serial killer IS this man then he deserves to be put all the way up under the jail. Once for killing people for no good god damned reason. Twice for all of the black people who are now being terrorized, harassed, and arrested by SWAT, the FBI, Tampa Police Department and every other law force that’s been running around here for weeks.

S/N ALLLLLLL OF THESE PEOPLE BEEN RUNNING AROUND HERE FOR WEEKS AND SOMEONE IS STILL ABLE TO KILL RANDOM ASS PEOPLE IN BROAD NIGHT/DAYLIGHT. – File this under reasons why I know we don’t need military gear on police officers. 

I can’t even talk about this serial killer anymore without getting really upset so hopefully Santa’s ass will be able to find him. My friend Nicole thinks that Santa is the dude for the job since the police are failing miserably. I mean, he does know when you’ve been bad or good so…

I love being an entrepreneur and running my businesses but honestly there are days when I want to punch people that I work with SQUARE in the jaw. Like So:

Like today when I called an employee and was all like “Hey, I don’t have your timesheet. And he responds” Oh, I wasn’t here yesterday. So I’ll pass it on.” And I wanted to respond “NO bxtch. It’s your time. Turn it the eff in.” But I instead just said “No. I need you to send it to me ASAP.” In a professional voice. I would really like to punch him. Unfortunately for me, punching people is frowned upon in most circles.

My best friend sister and I almost exclusively communicate on a video app where I record a video and then she responds with another video. These videos- sometimes long and rambling, sometimes short and ranting are usually the highlight of my day. We live sixty six billion miles away from each other but it doesn’t feel that way. #ThanksCommunicationApps

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My sister Basimah and I when she snuck in to town for my Book Release.

Also, DJ thinks the videos are weird. “Why don’t you all just call each other.” I just smh and roll my eyes. Children can be so judgey.

Speaking of DJ, He’s a member of his school’s Model United Nations Team and hasdecided that he’s going to be on the fundraising committee. He’s raising money to help the team get to Washington DC and I’m super proud of all of the texts, phone calls, and emails he’s sent out attempting to raise funds for his team. My family and friends who’ve been on the receiving end of the give me money calls may not be so happy but ehhhh. *shrugs*

I’m participating in NANOWRIMO but since my life doesn’t always allow for typing on a computer every day for writing stuff, I’ve been mostly writing in my journal and on my phones notes app. I can’t tell you where I am on the word count but I have been writing everyday and for me that’s more than enough

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OH, and I got another rejection letter to a fellowship I applied for. YAY ME.images.jpeg

Lastly, my dogs are still out of their minds. I’ve just realized that almost every corner of my house has been nibbled on by these two love bugs. Good thing I plan on living here forever, even with the serial killer. * Le Sigh*

 

Nanowrimo 2017-Day 1

I just completed my Nanowrimo Day 1 goal. Actually I EXCEEDED it by a whole 227 words and yes I’m patting myself on the back because I know there will likely be days where I barely hit one thousand words in a day so: YASSSSS to small wins.

 

We were (AB and I) invited to a housewarming party. She reminded me slightly before 4pm about the 6pm invite and originally I was going to do a 1K1Hr at 6pm. Normally I would have taken a whole nap before going out but this time I took a 20 minute rest and sat down to write.

I used Dr Wicked’s Write or Die and didn’t really have any issues getting the words out once I sat down and turned off my WiFi. 

N-T-Ways I’m in the car now headed to the party so I’m signing off but if you’re a writer and are writing today my wish for you is that the words flow like water through your finger tips onto the page. 

XO Peeps #GetErDone 
S/N: I know my nails are off brand but I had to do them myself until I could get in to see Daisy on Friday. (Mind ya business)

Ain’t No More Shame Bih.

Yesterday my brother called. The one I’m closest with. Who is directly underneath me in birth order. The one I probably speak to the least. He makes mistakes frequently which end up with him paying prolonged visits behind bars.

We talk about a lot of things. Or he mostly talks and I mostly listen. To his excuses. To how proud he is of me. To how he’s especially proud since I dropped out of school and blah blah blah. He doesn’t mention that I dropped out of traditional high school because of bullies and because I was a teenager and everything that happens to teenagers is the end of the world. So I left traditional high school, went directly to Job Corps and before I would have completed traditional high school; graduated with my GED and CNA.

He doesn’t mention that after that I kept moving up. Went back to school. Got my nursing degree. That in between there I had a baby and got married. That I’ve never lived with my mother after the age of eighteen. That I’ve pulled myself along to who I am now without the help of social services.

He doesn’t know how difficult being a business owner is. That managing a home, and a family, and dogs, and a writing career are the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. I just don’t quit.

He doesn’t think about how we came from the same home, in the same city, with the same mom and dad. That the city and circumstances that he blames for his downfall are the same ones that I credit for my toughness. My tenacity. My ability to code shift. My ability to barter and negotiate. To think outside the box. To always try to be two steps ahead of danger. To be myself. To discern whether someone is genuine or not within the first few words. To do so many nuanced things that I use to run my business and my life daily.

After we hung up, I realized that his call, which was totally about him was actually ALL about me. Somewhere deep inside of me I’ve been carrying these things around in shame. The GED, the baby at 18, the divorce. Even the roughened edges which help me get through most days. My annoyance that he was throwing my life in my face as if it were such a bad thing, was actually annoyance at myself for whatever lingering shame I carry from my upbringing and subsequent bad decisions.

It made me realize how I’m often annoyed that people occasionally treat me as less than and how that annoyance has nothing to do with those people and everything to do with me. His call, – which lowkey annoyed me at first since it was late and I was busy working in bed- was just what I needed to grow pass some of my hidden shame. Like I told him on the phone, the Universe always gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

 

Also, God is from Brick City and the best roses grow from concrete.

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