It Was One of Those Nights…

This weekend I was telling my cousins the following story about my (then) most recent cab ride.  It was insanely ridiculous and a bit entertaining.  Afterwards Shelby insisted it was blog-worthy material so here it goes…

It was a really good night.

It was a really good night.

Friday night I partied hard in the Lower East Side with my cousins.  The youngest amongst us, Renny, was visiting NYC and celebrating her 22nd birthday so we knew we had to show her a good time.  Consequently I got quite inebriated, so much in fact that at the end of the night it was decided I take a cab home instead of the usual train.  My cousin Kenny (and Renny’s older brother) found a parked cab with his light on (a lit light indicates an available cab) so after giving me a hug goodbye, he and Renny took off down the street.

Immediately the African cabbie started rambling about how he wasn’t available because he was late picking up his wife and it was imperative that he head that way ASAP.  As he was going on his tirade I quickly opened the door and jumped in.  The cabbie was pissed and yelled at me to get out.  After going back and forth, he drove a block before pulling over to the left, turning off the ignition and getting out.  At this point I started getting nervous.

Is he about to open this door and drag me out?  I hope Kenny isn’t too far away…

Instead he headed into a convenience store for a few moments then came back out and continued to argue with me, insisting I exit his cab immediately.  He also let it slip that he wasn’t married and was actually headed to link up with a young tenderoni.  Finally, I agreed to a compromise: I’d get out after he hailed me another cab.  “Alright babe.  Give me a second.  I’m going to take care of you,” he said.  Did he just call me “babe?”  It was only a few moments before I saw a second cab pull up on the right side of ours.   As I exited from the left side of the cab and walked around the back towards the awaiting one, the waiting one abruptly pulled off from it’s parked position, leaving me stranded.

Behind me the African cab driver was rushing to the drivers side of his own cab, ready to hop in and leave me in the middle of the street I’m sure.  I’m not having that.  I beat him to the cab, hopped back in and really refused to get out this time.  The cabbie weighed his options and then completely changed his tone.  What had previously been a rude, loud aggressive cretin had become a sweet, purring apologetic gentleman who offered to let me hold onto his cab keys and not relinquish them until after I was safe and sound in a new cab that he was going to hail for me.

After accepting the keys and tucking them securely away into my coat pocket, I found myself walking in the middle of Delancy St, arm in arm with this cab driver, while whining to him about how hard it is being a Black woman trying to hail a cab and get safely home.  “I know, I know baby.  Don’t you worry.  I’m going to take good care of you,” he repeated over and over again.  He asked for my name and I gave it.

“Okay Ashley, this new cab driver is going to get you home.  Now what’s your number so I can make sure you’re properly taken care of and I can keep in touch with you?”  He asked after a second cab finally pulled over and agreed to take me to Brooklyn.  I laughed to myself as he fumbled with his phone, clumsily hitting the ignore button to the numerous incoming calls (no doubt from the young tenderoni he was extremely late picking up).  After climbing into the waiting cab, I handed him back his car keys and after rambling off a fake number, he proceeded to call me on the spot.  I hurriedly closed the door, rattled off my address to the new cabbie and was off across the Williamsburg Bridge headed back to Brooklyn, leaving that ridiculous African cabbie behind.

Peculiar Institution Indeed

I’ve recently found myself back in the peculiar institution of employment.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of 11:00PM bedtimes (that are still too late) and 6:30 AM wake up calls (that always leave me deprived of the extra hours of beauty sleep unemployment graced me with).

While not my photo, this is indeed my train station.

While not my photo, this is the station.

Although my morning struggle to avoid crowded trains is never won, it does provide relief from career panhandlers.  Apparently, they don’t get to work begging for whole dollars (they oftentimes will decline coins and food if it doesn’t meet their dietary preferences) until much later in the morning.

Upon arriving to work, I find myself going through a multitude of checkpoints and ID clearances before I make it to my floor, next my department and finally my desk.  Once seated, I take the time to drink my coffee, sit in my chair for a bit and think, talk to a girlfriend, and catch up on text messages.

Throughout a myriad of tasks, my day moves relatively quickly.  After quite a bit of filing, scanning and uploading documents, then signing off, sealing and shipping out others, the lunch hour arrives.  Upon returning, I repeat the aforementioned, and just as soon as my day began, it is done.

My evening commute home is crowded although this go round I am able to snag a cozy seat, hamper down, and dive into my latest literary obsession.  This week is Delores Phillips’ The Darkest Child.  The panhandlers are now out, running things on the trains, and I’m grateful for the distraction my book provides.

When I’m finally home I realize I have approximately three hours before it’s time for bed.  I can spend this time straightening up my apartment, catching up on some writing, calling back family and friends and attempting to cook a decent, well-structured dinner, or I can go out to an event and run around in the NYC streets.

Last night I ran the streets.  Consequently, today I almost fell asleep at work.  Tonight, right now, I am in bed.

Goodnight.

The Secret Behind That Tutu I Was Wearing On Instagram…

 

Over the weekend I wore this tulle skirt to a New York Fashion Week event.

tutu1

While the outfit felt incredibly obnoxious in the privacy of my own bedroom, once I was out walking the NYC streets, you couldn’t tell me I was anything less than fierce!  Folks’ compliments didn’t help-it seemed like almost every woman I passed was ogling over the exceptional tutu.  As a pranced along throughout the evening, I was nearly convinced I was a princess!  :p

I’m here to let you in on a little secret…  Would you believe me if I told you I made it myself?  Yes, it is a DIY project.  This past spring I sat down and made my tulle tutu.

tutu3

I spent $20.  Yes, twenty dollars.

tutu2

Blake Von D posted the tutu tutorial awhile back and after closely following her directions, I had a masterpiece of my own.*

tutu4

As hard as it is to believe, it really is as simple as stated on her site.  The most difficult part of the entire process for me was deciding which color(s) of tulle I wanted!

Happy tutu-making ladies! XOXO

*While Blake ordered three rolls of black tulle, I thought I would make two tutus, so I ordered three rolls of wine tulle as well.  Unfortunately, when I started adding the black tulle to my elastic band (from an old pair of leggings), my skirt was still extremely sheer.  It was at that point I began adding pieces of wine tulle between the pieces of black.  My two-toned tutu took six rolls of tulle and I couldn’t be any happier with it!

Stop Telling Women To Smile

smile 5

“Now you know you are too pretty to not be smiling gorgeous!”

Walking quickly down the street, my thoughts interrupted, I glance towards the male voice.  I see a middle-aged man staring hard, smiling brightly, pleased that I acknowledged him.  I shoot him a terse smile as I continue walking past.

I find myself absorbed in my thoughts again.  “I’ve gotta hurry and make this train.  It’s running once every 10 minutes and I can’t afford to be late because…”

smile 4

“What’s wrong Honey? Why aren’t you smiling?”

Approaching the crosswalk, I see an older gentleman peering out of his driver’s side window.  He’s probably been watching me for a few moments now, waiting to say something witty.  I resist rolling my eyes and instead opt for a smirk accompanied by a slight hand wave.

Approaching the crosswalk I spot the train station a few paces ahead.  My brow furrows as I listen intently-is that the sound of an approaching train?  Am I going to make it?  “Oh God, please let this train be held up because right now…”

smile 2

“Hey ma!  Smile for me!  Your life can’t be THAT bad that you can’t smile.”

Rolling my eyes, I wonder, “Why won’t they leave me alone?”  This time I don’t bother turning around.  Instead I run across the street, down the stairs, swipe my metro card and just barely make my train.

Too many women experience this street harassment every single day.  While yes, a sincere compliment can brighten someone’s day, too many men take advantage of the opportunity and take things too far.  They completely turn her off.  It’s gender-based, demeaning and frustrating.

Smile 1Fortunately, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh feels similarly.   This Brooklyn-based artist has created “Stop Telling Women To Smile,” a project where she creates oil paintings of women, posts them in public spaces, and encourages them to fight back.

While the paintings are currently displayed in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, she has created a Kickstarter campaign to bring her project to other cities including (but not limited to) Atlanta, Kansas City, San Francisco and Baltimore.

I think this is AMAZING!  I believe more men should be held accountable for being obnoxious.  One way to do that is through awareness, which is exactly what Fazlalizadeh’s campaign is doing.  What do you think?  Ladies, are men’s “polite” cat calls getting out of hand? Men, do you think women are taking it too seriously?  Share your thoughts!

smile 6

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

This morning I woke up and it was just one of those days.  My hair had a large part to do with that.  The longer it’s gotten, the more difficult it’s become for me to deal with.  It no longer stays detangled, hydrated or defined for days on end.  It loses it’s shape within hours, the moisture I spend so much time sealing in is depleted after one night’s sleep (and yes, I exclusively sleep on satin).  Don’t get me started on the frizz and shrinkage with zero definition that occurs after Day 1…I. Can’t. Deal.

Today was day 3 hair and with one look in the mirror, I immediately became discouraged.

disaster hair 1

 

Suddenly, a pair of scissors and a relaxer look like the answer to all my problems.

 

disaster hair 2

The tumbleweed that was looking back at me didn’t care.  It stood up defiantly, determined to have it’s way with me.

After a hot shower’s mist took affect, with some added Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie, my hair has lived to see another day.

disaster hair 3

While I claim victory in this battle, I must remember the war is not yet won.

September!

september

Can you believe it’s September already?  It’s so cliché to remark on how quickly the year seems to be passing but seriously, is 2013 not flying by?  When I think of other years, such as 2012, then 2011…I realize that all of them seemed to pass fast.  It makes me question, did the years pass quickly or is it now that I’m older time overall seems to move faster?   I’m going to go with the latter.

Now that we have a new month upon us, it’s a great time for me to check in with myself.  I evaluate past goals, reassess, then create new ones.  I also make a mental note of things I’m looking forward to within that month.

Goals of mine for the month of September are…

  • Land a job I REALLY want-I need to assess what this looks like because I’m not sure that I even know.
  • Continue to cut back and spend less-the lone exception is this pair of shoes I’ve been watching on ShoeDazzle.com  I may have to make something shake because I really need them.
  • Finish all 30 days of the squat challenge-I generally find myself quitting halfway through because I’m satisfied with the muscle definition I see and I also don’t want my thighs to get too big (I sometimes have trouble fitting them into my bottoms already).
  • Read a different business-oriented/self-help book each week-my aunt shared with me that the average business book is written based on 15 years of experience.  If I read four of them, that’s 60 years in a single month.  I’m down for that!

Things that I’m looking forward to are…

  • Reuniting with most of my core group of girlfriends from undergrad-We are all getting together in about three weeks and I’m so excited.
  • Enjoying the last few memories that Summer 2013 has in store for me.
  • Continuing to draw closer to my family-the older I get, the more essential they become.  It’s now a major priority of mine to check in, in some way, with them semi-regularly.
  • Playing September by Earth, Wind & Fire on repeat-It’s my favorite song by them, probably because it always reminds me of my younger brother Ty.  His birthday is in September.
  • Ty’s 25th birthday-I have many siblings, but Ty is the one who just “gets” me.  When I was experiencing my quarter-life crisis, he was there along with me (so much so, that he even shared tears with me…and Ty doesn’t cry.  That’s love!).  I am ready to step in and be a support for him for whatever he may be feeling.  I just really want to be there for him as he was there for me.

While the month seems so expansive, it will be gone before I know it!  What about you?  Do you make goals for the month?  Are there things that September will be bringing that you’re anticipating?  Share below!

“Say do you remember, dancing in September?  Never was a cloudy day!” -Earth, Wind & Fire

Labor Day 2013: A Day In the Life of the Unemployed*

I’m here today to talk about my experience thus far as a member of the undercaste of America’s labor force.  This undercaste doesn’t have the liberty to complain about their unpaid, 30-minute lunch break that never seems to be long enough.  They also don’t have the option to attend protests about the country’s minimum-wage laws for America’s fast food workers either.  You want to know why?

I had to pay them a visit last month and we were given the option to watch an unemployment video or read the script.  This gentleman who was trying to date me exclaimed, "I aint tryin to read $h!t!  Where the video at?!"  Fail.

I had to pay them a visit last month and we were given the option to watch an unemployment video or read the script. This gentleman who I’d met only moments earlier and was trying to date me (it wasn’t happening) exclaimed, “I aint tryin to read $h!t! Where the video at?!” Fail.

This is because this undercaste is America’s unemployed.

Overall, when I’m honest with myself unemployment actually hasn’t been the worst thing in the world.  A perk of being registered with the unemployment office is that I’m able to collect my weekly unemployment checks.  Now granted, they are a mere fraction of what I was earning before, but something is better than nothing.  My rent’s paid every month!  (There is a yin to this yang however; perhaps I will share that another day.)

Since many know I’m unemployed, I’ve been questioned how I spend my time.  While my days do have their share of job-hunting and eating home-cooked meals, all while chatting with my girlfriends about our upcoming free plans for that week(end), a major part of my unemployment experience has been my rededication to my life’s first love, reading.

I read a lot.  When I was employed, it might have been four hours or so a day.  Now, at the very least it’s double.  With my increased reading, I’ve noticed my vocabulary has shifted a tad…I have more words to choose from, new ways to use old words and I have a bunch of new stuff to talk about.  Below, is an average day in my life as an unemployed reader lol.

  1. Wake up/read social networks for news that I missed while I was sleeping.  CNN is especially clutch for this.
  2. Shower/dress/breakfast (yes I get dressed even though I probably have nowhere to go except the store).
  3. Read social networking for more news I missed, and to get details/full articles I briefly learned of when I first woke up.
  4. It’s inevitable that one of the sites leads me to popular culture-now I’m reading celebrity news.
  5. I begin to feel guilty so I begin reading health/diet/wellness related news.
  6. I then feel guilty I’ve wasted my entire morning reading tons of nonsense so now I head over to Craigslist and start sending out resumes.
  7. I then head over to Indeed.com and other more professional sites and apply to jobs.
  8. It’s inevitable that I need to research one of the companies I’m about to send a cover letter/resume too, so I begin reading recent news articles about them.
  9. I now find myself reading current, updated business stories.
  10. It’s now late afternoon/evening and I recognize I’m getting hungry.  I head off for a store run and cook a nice dinner.
  11. Now I’ve realized I’ve spent all day bullcrapping and settle down to try to write something of substance for my blog and other sites.  Sometimes I’m successful, many times I’m not.
  12. I now am sick and tired of reading AND writing, so I turn on Netflix and watch a few hours of whatever show I’ve recently become obsessed with (Weeds has been my current obsession until Orange is the New Black comes back on).
  13. I now need to wind down so I pick up one of the actual books I’m trying to finish reading (right now I’m in the middle of both The New Jim Crow and The Four Agreements).
  14. I then hop back on social networking to catch up on any news I’ve missed throughout the day and read until I fall asleep.
  15. If I wake up in the middle of the night, *surprise surprise* I hop on social networking and read about some more news.

My life isn’t always the most exciting, but for right now, this chapter of my life, I’m managing to deal with it okay.  Many of my closest friends are in places of transition so we are able to offer each other uplifting words of encouragement, entertainment and good cheer.

So what about you?  What does Labor Day mean to you this year?

*This post was inspired by Shelby Stone-Steel