Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Research Shatters Myths and Provides New Hope for Black Love and Marriage

Dear readers,

There's hope! Then again, there always has been. This article proves the point I made in "It's Not Me, It's You" by confirming through research that the media is "exercising arrogant ignorance or deceptive omission to sell the story."

Read the full article here

Live.Love.Learn...and repeat!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Got Plan B?

The moment I called off my three-year, long-distance relationship at the end of my junior year of college, I dated non-stop, making up for all the missed opportunities I had while being a faithful girlfriend. Once I was free of any obligations, I took a long pause from taking any man seriously enough to be his girlfriend and have thoroughly (don’t think I can stress that enough through written words) appreciated the highs and lows of being single.

I’ve met some great guys along my single life’s journey and they’ve made great friends. One of which is my friend Mike*. He and I have been friends since our college days. We hit it off instantly. We share the same taste in music, a love of God and were born just two days apart. I believe in his dreams and support his decisions and he has been there for me in the same regard. Our friendship is easy. We give career advice, laugh and pray together and reel each other in when we start to get off track. We love one another like real friends should, never crossing the line. One night, Mike called to tell me it didn’t work out with his long-time girlfriend and as we were sharing advice from opposite perspectives, he approached me with “the pact.” If we were both still single at age 30, we’d get married. Thirty seemed so far away and marriage was the furthest thing from my mind so I agreed. Besides, Mike was hardly ever without a girlfriend and I knew neither of us would still be single at 30. When he would remind me of the pact, I’d brush him off, never taking him seriously.

Last month, I had an encounter with a complete loser and texted Mike to laugh and vent about it. The first text read: Strongly considering marrying you at 30. He responded: Do you mean it? I immediately thought maybe he’d had a failed encounter as well because the response we usually gave each other was more encouraging, suggesting that “the one” is still out there. So I called him, but he didn’t answer. The next day, I sent him an instant message and there was no reply then either. Something was up, so I shot him another quick message explaining that I was merely having a moment and there was no need for cold feet. His response: you know I love you, that’s not the issue. Afraid of what the real issue might be, I dropped the subject.

Two weeks had gone by since that conversation. As I was picking up some last-minute items at the store, Mike called me. With my hands full, I managed to only drop my jaw when he told me, “I’m having a baby.” I didn’t react verbally. “I plan to propose over the holiday weekend,” he continued. “I want you to meet her and of course be at the wedding after the baby’s born.” At a loss for words, I looked at the phone trying to process the news. I can’t remember what I said once I gathered my thoughts, but I don’t recall blurting out a congratulations. It was obvious I was let down by the unprotected sex, the fact that he’d never mentioned this woman before and the shotgun proposal. But it was clear to the both of us that those weren’t the only reasons I was upset. If he was proposing to his long-time girlfriend, I would’ve been prepared. This, however, was inconsiderate and abrupt. He was my back up plan!

You don’t have to tell me. I already know how ridiculous I sound, but I was truly and selfishly disappointed at the time. Not having met anyone even remotely close to being considered for marriage, I didn’t find a need to worry because when all else failed, at least I had Mike. But as I tip-toe along the threshold of my “late” twenties, 30 no longer seems so far away. With every great accomplishment, such as obtaining a graduate degree and purchasing my first home, comes the constant question of marriage from family and now even my friends. It’s finally hit me: there’s no backup plan when it comes to love. So what do you do when there’s no plan B (no pun initially intended)? It’s a hard pill to swallow, but necessary to digest. I’m still searching for the answer to what I know is a rhetorical question, but in the meantime, Live.Love.Learn…and repeat!

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

April's Fool #2

"New York, New York, the city of dreams..!"

Whoever came up with that was obviously not referring to the dating scene! I guess when you’re in a city where everyone is so focused on themselves, and dating is just something fun to do as opposed to finding a life partner, you’re bound to encounter a few frogs before coming close to a prince; one in particular always stood out.

DISCLAIMER: As a result of the events about to be mentioned, I intentionally forgot the name of the man involved, so for now we will simply refer to him as Bob.

Our date started out at the Underbar in Union Square, a super trendy bar/ lounge. It was St. Patrick's Day. I must say, after about 30 minutes into the date, I realized that this would be our first and last. Granted, I had no background information on Bob considering the fact that we met in Starbuck's. I usually pride myself on having a pretty good judgment of character. But we all make mistakes and agreeing to go on a date with Bob was one of mine.

Despite all the reasons I had to cut the date short (i.e. nothing in common, his lack of professional ambition and common sense), I decided to finish our round of drinks before coming up with an excuse to call it an early night. Finally, after another 30 minutes of the most boring conversation in my life, the check arrived!

As we exited the lounge and entered the subway, in a somewhat tipsy manner, we foolishly passed the turn style simultaneously after only paying for one fare. Immediately after, we were approached by NYPD, who were stationed all over the city to keep the unruly drunks celebrating St. Patty's Day in order. We were ordered to follow the officers to the police station located underground in the subway where we would be issued fines. The officers checked my driver's license and everything check out, so I was issued a $110 ticket. Next up: Bob.

For some reason, Bob's information took a little more time to check out. Now, in the state of New York, a simple offense like skipping your fare for the subway is the perfect opportunity to find people with preexisting warrants and lock them up. So was the case for Bob. As the officers told me they would have to keep Bob around for a while, I caught a glimpse of him being handcuffed. It took me all of 45 seconds to decide to leave and not wait around for Ashton and his camera crew to punk me. A few days later, I received numerous calls from Bob apologizing and confessing his embarrassment. I kindly let him know I didn't need an explanation or details of his criminal history because I "just wasn't feeling it."

Looking back at this date, and plenty others that were just as negatively memorable, it may feel like a joke while experiencing it, but in hindsight, all you can do is laugh and hopefully appreciate your current romantic situation even more! The one regret I have is not making him repay my $110 fine!

Submitted by Kristen

Friday, April 1, 2011

April's Fool #1

Ever been on a date or encounter with the opposite sex that is so ridiculous that you're just waiting for Ashton to jump out and say you've been punk'd? Each Friday this month, I'll post a real-life dating catastrophe. Have a story you want to share? Email me!

It began fair enough. We sat down for drinks at the bar at Tabard Inn where a loud, pretty woman with two men was ordering rounds of tequila shots and a couple loners were eating dinner. The bar was crowded, and felt more crowded because of its low ceilings and dark walls. The bartender was mixing complicated drinks gracefully and putting spears of pearl onions into martinis.

As I had suspected from studying his eHarmony photos, Jack had bad personal style. He was wearing a cheap blue button down shirt with unremarkable jeans, and some kind of unforgivable black footwear. He had his hair spiked up like a fifteen year old and a freshly cropped goatee. Basically, though, he was handsome and had a lean linebacker's build.

The first red flag came early. I ordered prosecco and he ordered a club soda with lime. Now, when a man at a bar on a first date orders a club soda with lime, he is making a point. Either he is a teetotaler, which is unlikely because a teetotaler is generally married by age 23, or he is a recovered alcoholic. Why recovered alcoholics can't just order a less dramatic drink like a Coke is beyond me. Anyway. Club soda. Red flag. I held my tongue, which I'm sure you all may be surprised to hear.

Conversation was easy, and yet I cringed every time he made veiled references to my eHarmony page. "I saw on your page that you like sushi. I was like, phew! I have to date someone who likes sushi." Or, "I saw on your page that you like dogs. I like dogs, too!" Super, Jack. That's great. We're in a public place. Stop with all the eHarmony talk.

So, the woman is ordering tequila shots and the bartender, who is very skilled but also very high- strung, is thinking he's above pouring tequila shots for this bimbo and her coterie. The highlight of my evening so far had been watching the bartender mix arcane drinks--something about communism and vermouth, and port wine and beer. They were complicated drinks. Jack began to tell me about his MFA program, and especially his theory class. He mentioned Heidegger, and I asked him to tell me more. I was interested in Heidegger because Chris Catanese had made some annoying comment on Facebook a couple weeks ago about objective realism. Well, Jack couldn't remember much from his theory class. More on WHY he probably couldn't remember in a bit.

He revealed that he lived in an apartment without an oven. Considering that one of his "interests" as displayed on his eHarmony profile was "cooking", I found the lack of oven strange. Perhaps, I thought, this was part of his bohemian artist lifestyle? And yet, I had never seen a more bourgeois looking artist in my life. He could've been a general manager at Kohl's. He talked a little about an artists' residency in upstate New York, and how he had been a carpenter (like Jesus!) before he devoted himself to art. It was surprisingly dull to hear about. After I finished a glass of Chardonnay, we left to go to dinner at Sushi Taro.

As we walked into the restaurant, he admitted that he hadn't made reservations. Well, you fucking idiot, then we can't eat here. It's Saturday night and one of the busiest restaurants in DC. We asked the host at the front door, "For two?" And she looked at us like, "No, you fucking idiots, we are booked all night." So, I suggested we get some oysters on the half shell at Hank's around the corner. Lucky for us, there was a table for two when we arrived. We were chatting, and eating, and I have to say that he was handy with oysters. I can't tolerate people who can't at least approximate comfort with raw oysters. We also had collard greens which were too tangy, and Brussels sprouts which were pretty good, and then he wanted more oysters. Fried. I thought, more oysters?! Yes, he wanted more.

He told a strange story about how on one of the Great Lakes his family would have a big lobster boil with bibs and everything by the shore. I thought to myself, that's strange. Lobsters on the Great Lakes.

I said, "Are there lobsters in the lake?"
He said, "No."
I said, "Where do you get all the lobsters then?"
He said, "We buy them at the store."

This seemed like a strange thing to do at the lake.

I had had three glasses of wine and so was feeling loose. Then I revealed that we had a Facebook friend in common. Even more to the point, I said, "So, you don't drink?" And he said, "Not tonight."
I said, "Have you ever?"
He said, "Well, yeah. I used to drink a lot. I go to AA meetings now."
I said, "Oh, that's nothing to be ashamed of. I know people in AA."

The only people I knew in AA were my horrible ex-boyfriend and his histrionic sister. But I was trying to be generous.

He said, "I can't believe I'm telling you this. I just...know that I don't like the effect drinking has on me, and I had to stop. I've been sober for six years."
I said, "Congratulations. That's really great. I am trying to be more moderate."
He said, "Yeah. My grandparents had it, my parents had it. Missed my sister. But I got it."

Then I was feeling really keyed up.

I said, "Did you do drugs?"

Now, when I said "drugs" I meant marijuana.

He said, "Oh yeah, sure. I smoked pot every day in high school. Then I started with the acid."
"Acid!" I said.
He said, "Yeah, acid."

He said, "I was a crack head until 2004. A crack head in Gary, Indiana."

Friends, I was speechless. He went on.

"I was a crack head in Gary, Indiana. I started with cocaine and then went on to crack. I dropped out of Drake University and it took over my life."

I said, "Well. I've never met a real crack head before." He kind of smiled, I guess.

I said, "How do you smoke crack anyway?"
He said, "You get some steel wool and burn it, and then put the crack rock on it and light it, and smoke it from a pipe."

The explanation was more nuanced, but I was kind of drunk by that point, and also--on a date with a CRACK HEAD.

I ate a fried oyster. It was squishy. I thought about eating more Brussels sprouts but they were too meaty in texture. No one should cook Brussels sprouts cut in half like that. You've got to cut them into quarters at least. Now, I'm imagining this man in front of me huddled over a burning crack pipe in some squalid opium den in GARY, INDIANA, fifty pounds thinner, emaciated, the heat isn't on, people are walking in and out, there's a dead baby in the corner like in Trainspotting--I think I mentioned the dead baby in Trainspotting to him when I asked how to smoke crack--and I had to stop for a moment. I had to have a moment to myself.

Normally, in this type of situation, I start careening into a death spiral of self-pity, the axis of which is the question, "How could my life have gone so terribly astray as to lead me here, to this very moment, on a honest to goodness date with a recovering crack head?" I thought, my ancestors didn't toil on some distant wheat field or graduate school for this. Not for THIS. Not so a crack head could take me on dates! No sir!

I excused myself and rushed to the bathroom, where I called Lucia frantically. Thank the good God that as soon as I got back to the table, she returned my call, which played perfectly into the story I had just fabricated about needing to leave to Georgetown to help a friend in need. The call went like this:

Lucia: "Hey chica! How is the date?"
Me: "Oh, no. I thought so. M Street? OK. No, it's fine. Just calm down. Yes, I can get a cab. See you in a sec."
Lucia: "Cam? You there? What's going on?"
Me: "Yes, yes. I'll be there in a second. bye!"

I said, "Jack, I'm so sorry to cut our wonderful evening short, but my friends are very important to me and she really needs my help." Oh, I gave him all kinds of elaborate details about this imaginary Georgetown scene. I, myself, almost began to believe it. He said, "Let me at least walk you home!" I said, "No, that will not be necessary." He said, "Let me at least hail you a cab!" Now, I knew that I was walking back to Birch's apartment, which was located approximately one block away. Lucia called again.

Lucia: "Cam? Everything ok?"
Me: "Ok ok! I am on my way right now! Hailing a cab! Smith Point? OK, see you in a few minutes. Deep breaths. It'll be fine."
Lucia: "What are you talking abou--"
I hung up. Looked at Jack apologetically. "Well, this was lovely! Thanks for the oysters!" I jumped into a cab and said to the cabbie, "Look, I know this is weird but please go away quickly from here I just need to be taken around the corner ooooo quickly ok, right here, great, fine, thanks bye!" I gave him a five dollar bill and ran into Birch's building.

Submitted by Cameron
Read her blog here