I have good news and bad news. Good news is I’m going to be on TV! Bad news is that I’ve joined a cult. I know that the latter is very enticing and you’re probably on the edge of your seat waiting for me to explain how I managed to get myself involved in a cult, but let’s for once not save the “good news for last” shall we? Yes.
I’m going to be on TV! Literally, I will be sitting on top of the TV in great anticipation of the tonight’s “Oprah’s Next Chapter”. The OWN network has really stepped it up since its initial launch. Many of OWN’s original television series/shows have quickly made its way to my “must watch TV” list, but none more than “Oprah’s Next Chapter”. On the show that airs every Sunday, Oprah has interviewed, and in some cases grilled, celebrities like Rihanna, Fergie, Kelsey Grammar, The Kardashians, and now, Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Judy Smith. If you aren’t familiar with the names Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington, then you are obviously not a member of the cult that is the dedicated followers of ABC’s “Scandal”.
“Scandal”is ABC’s uber popular – and historic – show that follows Olivia Pope, the very powerful crisis manager whose business is to fix other people’s lives, including the U.S. President. The show is popular because of its storyline and awesome cast, historic because Washington is the only Black female character to currently lead a show on primetime. The last Black female lead on primetime was close to forty years ago when Diahann Carroll played “Julia” on the small screen.
Tonight at 9 PM EST Oprah will interview Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”, the show’s main character Kerry Washington, and Judy Smith the real-life “crisis fixer” who is the inspiration behind the character Olivia Pope.
If you too are a member of the “Scandal” cult and cannot wait for the show to air tonight at 9 PM EST head over to OWN for a sneak peek.
Before “Oprah’s Next Chapter” I’ll be tuning into another one of my favorite series, CNN’s “Black In America”. Tonight at 8 PM EST Soledad O’Brien will attempt to navigate who is Black in America and who decides who is defined as Black and why. Join the discussion on the “Black in America” Facebook page.
The Democratic and Republican campaign trail has been aflame with insults, overwhelming media messages, accusations, some truths, and many untruths. I have come to view the 2012 Presidential Election as down right disgusting and disrespectful truly bringing to the surface some very ignorant people. To be honest I have had enough of the 2012 election and although tomorrow may for some be thought of as the beginning of the end, I am convinced that it will likely be the beginning of more madness.
Throughout the 2012 campaign celebrities have been more vocal than in the past about flaunting their support for the presidential candidate of their choice. There has been much drama surrounding the choice that some, particularly celebrities, have made regarding who they will cast a ballot for on tomorrow, November 6th.
This is my third (geez I’m getting old) presidential election where I will exercise my right to vote and with each election I’ve noticed the growing trend of people, and even social media and the blogosphere, inextricably linking one’s political ideology to one’s belief on racism and loyalty. The Republican party is NOT synonymous with racists. The Democratic party is not synonymous with “victims.” As voting is meant to be a right, so is freedom of choice. We as Americans have the right to decide who most closely embody our ideals. This is our right. Personally, I consider it our duty. This is why I applaud those who, despite having different views and ideals than I, are engaged in the electoral process and have or will exercise their right which is more than I can say for those who have completely checked out, or more accurately, have not checked in…to even register!
I cannot understand how an adult – a grown person who is actually a tax paying citizen in the U.S. of A– cannot even be registered and nonchalantly admit (in what I heard to be a Homer Simpson voice), “I’m not voting. I’m not even registered. I have never voted.” What? Huh? Workplace politics helped to refrain my true response. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure that my true response would have been any different than, WTH? which is exactly the eye crossing, head scratching question that fogged my mind the moment the shocker rolled off my colleagues’ tongue. My colleague is not alone in her refusal to vote. There are an alarming number of people who are refusing to vote this election. Some taut that neither presidential candidate is worthy of his/her vote. Ooookkkk. Well what about those running for state and local office? Those candidates aren’t worthy of a vote either? The candidate, who will certainly not be chosen by those who refuse to participate, will greatly impact the lives of those who do and do not exercise their right.
To not exercise this right which still is not afforded to all Americans, is so terribly selfish and in some ways immature. Our participation in the voting process is much bigger than us. It’s much bigger than tomorrow. Its impact will be felt for generations.
Vote. It is a sacred right. It is a responsibility. It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than one day. And you will feel it, for better or worse.
- How to tie a mans tie – There’s something so inadvertently sexy about it. Not to mention there’s a handful of men roaming around who can’t tie a tie and will need your help. *Sigh*
- How to drive a stick shift – I’m not quite there yet, but in a sticky situation I think I could handle it. Fingers crossed.
- How to apply a clump free coat of mascara – A double pump of the wand is the kiss of death and will definitely lead to spider lashes. Not a pretty sight.
- How to balance a check book – Keeping track of your assets and liabilities is ALWAYS an asset.
- How to invest – Multiple streams of income is necessary. Gone are the days of working at a job for 40 plus years and retiring with a decent pension.
- The art of seduction – Enough said.
- A skin care regimen suited for your skin type – A basic regimen can combat unwanted skin problems and lead to years of healthy looking skin. Word to the wise: In reference to what you put on and in your body, less is usually more.
- How to cook at least 5 hot meals – No need to be a chef. Being able to feed yourself and your family for at least 5 days out of the week is good for the soul, and, your wallet.
- How to keep a clean house – There are few things less attractive than that of a grown woman who can’t seem to get a handle on sweeping, mopping, dusting, et cetera. A cluttered house is a cluttered mind. The next time you see a consistently frazzled woman you can believe that 9 times out of 10 her home is as much a mess as she is.
- How to fix a mean cocktail – Whew. After a few hours of cleaning a mix of Coconut Ciroc Vodka, crushed ice, and Simply Lemonade sounds like a plan.
- How to confront an issue without losing a friend, getting fired, or getting dumped.
- Staying true to yourself despite your role as career woman, mother, or wife –
“Happy wife, happy life.” Always pursue your own interest. A hobby is like oxygen: it’s needed.
Growing up as an only child to a young single mother I was, and still am, the apple of my mothers’ eye. I ALWAYS felt like a priority in my mothers life because she made her love and commitment to raising me so evident in how she treated me, how she spoke to me, and the strategic plays that she made in this game of life to make sure that I became the woman and mother that I am today.
My mother placed great emphasis on education. She had high expectations of me as a student as well as of the educators she entrusted me to.
As a 9 year-old fourth grader new to a private Catholic school where most of its students had been there since pre-school, I was the new girl on the block. Not yet known to the students or the teachers. To make matters worse I had a horrendous hair style that I won’t dare elaborate on and a grape flavored retainer that I accidentally broke at least once every few months.
I can’t recall the name of my fourth grade teacher but I remember her being a mousey strawberry blonde with very rosy cheeks. On one particular day the teacher and my mother had a conference regarding bad behavior I was being accused of by another student. I was not present for the parent-teacher conference, but remember my mother questioning me about the accusation (which from what I remember was on the subject of following students who were behaving badly).
I was always more interested in pleasing Mom than pleasing peers and usually avoided things that were sure to get me in trouble. I told Mom my side of the story. This time she initiated the conference…with the principal! I was actually present for this sit down and remember my mother calmly telling the principal that she understood his position on believing the teacher because she is, after all, his employee. With that being said, she continued by respectfully telling the principal that she believed what I told her was the truth. Her position as a mother is to correct me when I am wrong, and when I am not she is to support me because I am her daughter and the person who cares for me more than anyone else in this world.
I recount this “school story” not to encourage parents around the world to believe every tale their children narrates. Nor do I retell this story to encourage parents to negate what teachers and principals say about the children who they are with more often than the parents themselves. I retell this story because it was one of the best learning experiences that I had as a child.
My mother believed in me. She did not allow for others to inappropriately label me and it only increased my respect for her and my commitment to continuously make her proud. I finished out my fourth grade year free of bad behavior reports and plenty of gold stars.
Thanks to the SITS girls for issuing the challenge to share a “school story.” I know mine is a bit different, but it is one of the most memorable stories in my vault.
I am a Hampton University alumnus Class of 2005.
Once people learn that I graduated from H.U. I hear one of two questions: 1) Why did you attend school so far from home?; and, 2) Why’d you go to an all Black school? (A contorted mouth, squinted eyes, and a hint of disgust usually accompany the latter.)
My response to the first question is simple. I was 17 when I graduated high school and wanted to get as far away from my native hometown of San Francisco as I could (I know, big mistake. Hindsight is a mutha). I’d never been to Virginia. Didn’t even know anyone who’d been. Sounded like a grand idea to me.
My response to the second question is just as simple but requires a few more sentences, so I’ll number them below:
- A Different World. This show made HBCUs look all the rage even if corny dudes like Dwayne Wayne and Ron were running around campus hitting on everything with a pulse.
- Higher Learning. This 1995 movie made HBCUs seem a lot safer than the alternative. As a young, impressionable girl watching this drama flick filled with racism and date rape scared me to death. My mind was made up halfway through the film. HBCU or bust. Eventually the effects of Higher Learning wore off and subsequently I graduated from University of Pittsburgh in 2008.
- The star studded alumni. Some of the most successfully Black judges, lawyers, business men and women, actors, bloggers ;-), and about any other profession you could imagine has matriculated from an HBCU. And, had you tuned in to the 2012 Olympics? Congrats to Lady Pirates Francena McCorory and Kellie Wells!
- I’ll admit I’m not too keen on marching bands, but I am a fan of football players…or I was. (Moment of silence to acknowledge my dear husband is too thin to be a football player, but whom I adore.) Where there are marching bands, there are football games. Where there is a football games, there are players…Hello! I did say that I was only 17 when I left home right?
- Black Sororities and Fraternities
- The Camaraderie. Not that there isn’t camaraderie at other colleges and universities. There’s just a special feeling that a freshman feels when he steps onto a campus and is surrounded by so many intelligent, well-to-do, talented people – who mostly look like you – in a place that has been standing for centuries and has a history that most don’t even get the chance to read about.
- My mom. She was so proud to send her daughter and her money to Hampton University. I think she may still have the T-shirt that says so. If not, she should. It cost her about $40,000. Thanks Mom!
Two and a half years. Two three-hour first time home-buying programs. Three offers. Two short sales. Three realtors. Three loan officers. A pregnancy. A baby. One house.
This is no math conundrum. These are our personal pit stops on our journey to home ownership. I can’t say that our journey wasn’t a bumpy road, nor can I claim that it wasn’t a road worth travelling.
Given the state of the U.S. housing market – although wavering signs of its recovery has peeked its head a time or two – it’s pretty safe to say that buying a home post recession doesn’t play as big of a role in the “American Dream” as it once did. The real estate equals wealth now requires a few more variables.
Based on my experience and the experience of a few other homeowners (some of them novices, some of them veterans), I’ve created a collaborative list of lessons learned by homeowners on the journey to buying a home:
• Weigh your options. Is it worth it to you and your family to rent or own? Seriously consider this question prior to making a commitment. For some, the flexibility and unbound responsibility of renting far outweigh the “advantages” of being a homeowner. Conversely, the homeowner tax credit, and having a home that could possibly be passed down from generation to generation is enough of a reason to sign on the dotted line.
• Establish your price range and adhere to it!!! Before you ever begin house hunting you should thoroughly examine your finances. What the lender will approve you for and what you can actually afford are not usually in alignment. The lender does not take into account all of your expenses, only your gross income. So it is your responsibility to note your daily, weekly, and monthly expenses (e.g. transportation cost, groceries, daycare, hair and nail appointment – yes divas! Etc.).
• I type this with much conviction and from personal experience – Appearances can be an illusion sent straight from the devil! Lol…To put this statement into context: The prettiest house in the worst neighborhood is a bad choice. You’re better off with the ugly house in a wonderful neighborhood. Good neighborhood versus bad neighborhood can be subjective and certainly up to your interpretation. So use this tidbit as a jumpstart to developing your definition of what a good neighborhood looks and feels like to you and your family.
• Inspect once, twice, and maybe even thrice. A home inspection will leave you on edge once you’re provided with a novels worth of minor, and, unfortunately, sometimes, major problems with a home may soon be your responsibility. However, ignorance is not bliss. Get an inspection. And, from the advice of a loved one – preferably, from two separate inspectors. **Word to the wise: Shop around for an inspector(s). No disrespect to the honest and good natured realtors, but kindly decline the realtors’ offer to use his brothers’ girlfriends’ father who has been an inspector for X number of years. Shop around for an inspector who you have determined to be experienced and thorough.**
• Utilize your city/county website to evaluate police reports in the area of your prospective home. Restaurant deliver (or lack thereof) can sometimes be a telltale sign of a neighborhoods “character.” Note, that I’ve used the word “sometimes” because this is not always true. But it’s worth calling a few local pizza delivery restaurants to ascertain whether your neighborhood has been blacklisted or placed on a curfew (no delivery once the street lights have come on). Safely visit the neighborhood at different intervals throughout the day and night during both the weekday/night and the weekend. Asking neighborhood residents and visiting http://www.City-data.com can also be a helpful tool to assist you in your house hunting research.
• Your “need” and “want” list has room for some flexibility. Point: Have a list before you enter into the win-or-lose sport of house hunting. Know what you want and decide what is a must have versus what is a like to have, but can do without. As my sister-in-law advised, “it can be easy to get distracted by the beauty of a new home and forget [your] priorities.”
• Check the real estate comps or have your realtor print and review the comps with you. This will help to determine the “actual value” of the home. My husband and I used the comps to not only help us determine the value of our soon-to-be home, but to help drive our offer on the home.
• Ask questions…and wait for the answers! Keep a folder, organizer, and/or notebook to write your questions (don’t depend on your memory, it will fail you more than half the time) and answers. If you’re looking to purchase a townhome you should have a comprehensive understanding of HOA dues, how often the dues are increased and by how much; general services covered by the HOA? In line with asking questions, do not be afraid to ask the seller for what you want. Don’t be nitpicky, but certainly look out for your interest and your pockets. If the seller can save you money, ask for it. We got window screens and three tree stumps removed from our property! Unimportant to some until faced with $1000 bill for stump removal.
• When house hunting take with you a pair of lenses that looks to the resale value of the home. I wore these glasses far often than my husband. Which also brings me to the point of house hunting with a trusted love one who will offer a second opinion and hopefully point out both good and negative aspects of the home(s) you will view. Now, back to considering the resale value of a home. Pay attention to the school district. You may not have school aged children or even care to have children, but potential buyers whom you may attract when you become a seller may have children and wish to move to a neighborhood that boasts a great school district. Researching sites like http://www.greatschools.org will provide you with information about the schools, its demographics, and the neighborhood. This information proved to be a great guide for us in learning about a neighborhood that we weren’t very familiar with.
• Be patient.