Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Independent Woman Killed the Real Man

It all started a few summers ago when Webbie decided to make I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T the new female anthem. I would be in the club with my fake ID saying "check" everytime he rapped another item I had of my own. Yes I pay my own rent. And when I want steak and shrimp for dinner, I go buy my own steak and shrimp for dinner. Period. I know I can take care of myself, but you want me to have two jobs to be a bad broad? If I'm doing all of this for myself, why do I need you in my life again? And why are we listening to a man named Webbie to define the standard of women these days?

Then came NeYo. He made the independent woman sound like "that chick" I really wanted to be. Twice. It was like the first song wasn't enough. You really needed a remix to understand how wonderful a woman is that can literally stand, run marathons, and leap bounds all on her own two feet. Soon women everywhere were claiming they didn't need a man to do anything for them. I mean anything. It's been the trend ever since.

But why?

Let's look at this independent woman phenomenon from a societal point of view. Many women, especially black women, are seriously living their lives without a man to be the other half. My mom and most of my aunts did the mother and father role. They're truly independent women. But they didn't walk around singing it like it were a badge of honor. These are the cards life dealt, so they learned to make lemon pie out of lemons. Maybe Webbie, NeYo, and all the wonderful people who loved these songs felt a connection to them because of their own personal experiences with independent women. I can't lie, I bought the ringtone. But doesn't the independent woman get courted? Do we have to go dutch on the first date for you to know you have a top notch chick on your hands? Is it no longer acceptable to want you for more than sex? Because technically, I can buy that too if I've truly got my own...

Switching gears to the effect this can have on a relationship: fellas, do you truly believe you're connecting with a woman who hasn't allowed you to step up in her life? A woman who continues to be completely self reliant isn't making room for you anywhere else but her bed. No matter how exciting that may sound right now, if you're ever looking for longevity, you're not going to find it under those stakes. Take my wonderful mother for example. As stated before, she was mommy and daddy for a while, but being the newlywed that she is I'm sure she's riding shotgun sometimes because that's what men and women do when they commit to each other. Emphasis on "each other." That makes it a dual thing. Boys and girls play the "too independent" games, and when it's "each other," there's no room for that kind of stuff. Comfort within yourself means allowing each other to play their rightful role in a relationship. Court me, dammit. Serve me and I will serve you.

As a secret fan of The Bad Girls Club I want to talk about the date Kendra had at the chicken wing spot a few episodes back. Her date really left her with the whole tab. How rude? He didn't even offer to contribute to their $20 check because he claimed he was testing her. *insert Scooby-Doo voice here* What would the Millionaire Matchmaker have said about him?

I won't dwell on this too long. Guys, don't be jerks. Your mama's raised you better. Ladies, don't allow yourself to be walked on like that. It's not acceptable if you don't allow it to be. Once you know how to be treated like a lady, why would you ever, ever, EVER step backward? I thought we were the progressive half of the species.

There are two laws I want to make apply to this sweeping injustice...

Fellas, Law 11:: Learn to keep people dependent on you :: To maintain your independence you must always be needed and wanted. The more you are relied on, the more freedom you have. Make people depend on you for their happiness and prosperity and you have nothing to fear. Never teach them enough so that they can do without you.

Bottom line, don't become extinct. As nice as it is to keep $10 in your pockets because she bought her own movie tickets, she's going to find the one she needs and I don't mean financially. If you don't step it up and be the partner a woman is owed by God, someone else will. The ideal man will sing the NeYo song and he opens the car door.

Ladies I got one for you too. Law 34:: Be royal in your own fashion: Act like a Queen to be treated like one:: The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated. In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you. For a queen respects herself and inspires the same sentiment in others. By acting regally and confident of your powers, you make yourself seem destined to wear a crown.

Don't be scared to be a queen. Take the place you know you
deserve, because factually a real man wouldn't let himself be so disposable. He wants a front seat in your life and isn't afraid to take good care of you and show that you deserve the best from him to complete the best life you're making for yourself. When you act simple, you get simple men. I'll take the best, thank you. The ideal kind of woman is one who is independent but can still relinquish power to her man. Put...the... check...DOWN. He's got it.

Now "5-star Chick..." I don't have any arguments about.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Law 28: Enter Action With Boldness

I love the 48 Laws of Power. What scriptures do for the soul, these provide for behavior.

Law 28 :: Enter Action With Boldness :: If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity. Everyone admires the bold; no one admires the timid.

In short, have courage in all that you do. When you really think about it what have you got to lose? Either you mess up with confidence or you mess up and look a mess. That's too much messy for me. The bolder I am, the more convincing I am, to both you and me. Boldness is a presence, and the weak have none next to me. Like-minded individuals stick together, and I am a lioness, not its prey. I can see everything I want and make steps toward them with confidence because the obstacles don't exist. They cause hesitation. My boldness doesn't allow for such. I will conquer life forcefully.

I can say I'm right, and what can you do about it? As I said before, I have the power.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Favorite Fairy Tale

It's hard to write an intro to a love story. The serial dating, crazy bitch in me doesn't want to be a traitor and say mushy things. But in reading about my favorite almost married people, I was inspired to keep my heart open (if only a crack), and what kind of friend would I be if I didn't share it with you, my beloved readers? My favorite fairy tale is a true story of my friends Julia and Chiedu. They're the type of couple that's so cute it makes you completely believe in love and romance and renews your faith in men. Hard task you say? Read it and weep. Literally, it's that sweet you may have a tear or two.

From our first conversation, I knew I was going to fall in love with Chiedu, and this scared me. Never in my life had I had so much in common with one person. Our first conversation lasted for hours and it was like talking to the male version of myself. I knew I was in love when I was unwilling to walk away from our relationship at the first sign of trouble. I had a low tolerance for nonsense, but for the first time I did not want to run away. I wanted to stay and work through problems. I desired to continue learning and growing with him. For once, I was able to step outside of the bubble I was living in and grow to understand that relationships are not easy and take a lot of work. That is when I knew I was in love.

Over the years our relationship transitioned from us being “in love” to the timeless love that most wish for. It wasn’t an easy journey. We have and still face several obstacles but he has exhibited over the years that come what may, he will weather the storm with me and vice versa. I knew there was never a day that I did not want to learn and grow with him. Moving from “in love” to wanting “forever” is like the difference between a love song sang by Rhianna and one sung by Sade or Mary J. Blige. One makes you a little giddy inside and puts a smile on your face. The other touches your soul so deeply that tears of joy starts streaming down your face. I don’t have to tell you which one creates that kind of feeling.

People often talk about being a power couple and when most people speak of this they are referring to couples who are successful financially regardless of the state of their relationship. While attaining wealth and providing a comfortable lifestyle for our family is very important to us, we view the idea of power couple in a different light. I believe that a true power couple can only exist with a unwavering, solid foundation of support for each other. Once that is in place, then you focus on taking the world by storm. There are a lot of couples that are successful financially and have thriving careers but are missing that support from each other. That is an imminent threat to their status as power couple. I look at President Obama and the First Lady. Their power and reach goes beyond the current titles they possess. When you look at them you see the unchallenged love, support, and admiration they have for each other. You see their willingness to endure whatever is needed in support of the other. There is no jealousy or ego involved. Even if they weren’t in the positions they are currently in, they would still be considered a power couple because of their drive and willingness to go at anything together, regardless of the circumstance that life brings. The success and notoriety only adds to it. As a couple, this is what we strive for daily.

Loving Chiedu has taught me so much about myself. However, one of the greatest lessons I have learned during our years of dating is the true essence of strength. I have learned the difference between being submissive and being controlled. I have always prided myself on being an independent, strong Black woman as so many of us have (and should). Therefore it was hard for me to let go and truly let him be the man. I fought this relentlessly. I was so used to being the sole person calling the shots in my life that I would equate submission to control. Once I finally let go of this notion and allowed him to take his rightful place, things improved in our relationship. I realized that real men aren’t looking to navigate the destination, rather they are looking forward to taking the journey with you. I understood the strength of a woman was not in her being “super woman,” rather it’s realizing that while she is strong enough by herself and can do whatever her male counterpart does, she trusts him enough to allow him to play his part. I now understand that the presence of his strength does not compromise the presence of mine, it only enhances it.

While there is a different degree of love that you share with your companion and your friends, I do believe that most couples would have more prosperous relationships if they focused on the friendship aspect of their relationship as much as they do the romantic side. There have been times in my relationship where I had to suspend my role as girlfriend/fiancĂ© and jump into purely best friend mode. As women we share such a bond with our girlfriends that if we developed this same commitment with our significant other, it would take the relationship to new heights. The same ride or die attitude we have for our girls, why can’t we apply this to our men? We forgive our friends and over look their flaws, yet we have problems doing this in a relationship. We relax around our friends and allow them to see the essence of who we are, yet some of us sell dreams to the man in our lives and never allow them to see the same. I don’t believe a relationship can survive without that true friendship.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 states “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud... It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This scripture sums up how love has changed me. Through my relationship I have dropped things that made me impatient, unkind, envious, prideful, holding grudges, etc. Like Zora Neale Hurston said, “Love makes your soul crawl out from it’s hiding place.” I no longer hide from myself, or the world, or love. As corny as it may sound, it’s like God saw all the things that needed to be changed about me and sent Chiedu to be the catalyst of this change. I didn't change for a man, but my change was inspired by someone. It is for all these reasons, that I am eagerly anticipating June 4th. This is the day that we stand before family, friends and most importantly God and confirm our eternal bond. Although I thank God daily for his many blessings (especially the blessing of love), our wedding day is the big THANK YOU. I’m thanking God for seeing me worthy enough to be blessed with the opportunity to marry my best friend: the one I laugh with, learn from, grow and dream with.

Yeppp, I'm back to watching Exhale again. God, where is MY prince charming? Can he be tall and chocolate? If not, can I have a martini with the same characteristics?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Confessions of a Crazy Bitch

My name is Shelby Bernard and I might be a crazy bitch. When it comes to relationships, there’s more gray area than I care to discuss. I’ve felt my fair share of crazy and fellas beware, I don’t think I intend to change too much. I love passionately, and many times I act through that emotion. I’m not alone in this, but I am brave enough to say I am one of those who applauded when Angela Bassett set the car on fire. Or when the girls in the car shot at Jay-Z in the “Can’t Knock the Hustle” video. I felt some sort of relief at all the ways Karen Hill acted out in Goodfellas when Henry couldn’t keep it in his pants. I want justice for all women done wrong. Is it too much that I don’t care how the justice is served? If I look as sexy as Angela does burning a car, can you be mad at me for doing it? Take care of a prize fellas, that's all I want you to do!

So I decided to dig into what makes women crazy. Why do women go through the phone looking for misbehavior? Why do we wait outside your place of residence to see what time you come home or who you arrive with? Why do we stalk on the social networks? There comes a point where crazy bitches like myself should understand that if you seek, you will find. But fellas, don’t our findings validate the search?

The million dollar question is “are women crazy or is it men who make us act this way?”

When I asked this question to my twitter family, they all seemed to agree that women are crazy. Since it is expected of me to be that way, I will expect you to understand. Crazy is as natural as my chromosomes, dishonesty and sneakiness is not, so you can fight that. Don’t you know God made us from your ribs? That should make you want to do right by me. Since you don’t fully value me, how else can I act? Of course I’ll be a little loco. Rather than digging into a reform program for "the crazy bitch," I've decided to help the individuals who are truly clueless. The men.

How men can make it work with a crazy bitch:

  • Men like to fix things and play the hero? Then save me. Three six Mafia style. Be captain-save-her.
  • If I’m crazy in the morning, chances are I’ll be crazy at night too… in the bed. I think that makes it worth it.
  • Just wife us. Stop with the “talking” bullshit.
  • Let go of your mommy issues. We know you love her, but I bet she is a crazy bitch too, ask your daddy. Or your stepdad. Or her boyfriend. Get the trend?
  • Listen to us. Or act like it. Call it role playing if that turns you on.
  • Many things can be solved with a simple “baby you’re right, and I will try to do better for us.”
  • Always answer your phone. Peace will come if you follow this rule.
  • Remove all sharp objects, valuables, flammable items, bricks, stones, bleach, etc. from the house in case of a fight. We will find a way to make anything else a weapon but don’t make it easy for us.
  • Be consistent. Don’t be super amazing in the beginning of our relationship and get lazy a few months down the line. This causes speculation about why, and of course the subsequent crazy behavior.

Problem solved.

I Forgot A Classic

I'll let the scenes speak for themselves, but Happy Valentine's Day ladies!

Monday, February 8, 2010

In a Sentimental Movie Mood

I am a serial dater which is fun, but it also means I will be watching romance instead of experiencing it this Valentine's Day. I got a little help from my friends and decided to compile this awesome list of movies to keep you warm this February 14th. My top 10 has special meaning and call me if you want to snuggle up with me to any of these classics this weekend.

10. The Graduate featuring a 40 year younger Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. As one of my life goals is to be a cougar, Mrs. Robinson displays how my dreams can come true whether I'm married or not. The perfect story of sexual greed, there are many reasons why this is a classic film. I love seeing a man squirm and a woman being completely in control of her relationships, no matter how scandalous the territory. Other really good old ones are Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Way We Were.

9. Prime with Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep. This is the movie where the older woman is in a relationship with her therapists son, but you probably didn't see it when it came out. Prime is one of my personal favorite romantic comedies, again with a cougar story. The characters have such a passionate connection and (spoiler alert) when it doesn't work out you see how "happily ever after" doesn't always mean you end up together.

8. Unfaithful with Diane Lane and the sexy french man is the movie that opened my eyes to hair-pulling, leg-shaking, lose-your-mind sex. There's nothing else to say but love makes you do crazy things, and Diane Lane was getting it!

7. Something New (Hayatt's pick) with Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker. Hayatt says, "watch this if you really want to depress yourself." He's just really sexy. The movie itself is kind of corny, but isn't that what Valentine's Day is about? It's 2010. I'm looking for my "something new" also. The other movie I love about different walks of life is Pretty Woman. I mean if a hooker can find love, there's hope!

6. The Notebook with the rainy kiss. Every time I see this movie I cry waterfall tears. It is just the most emotionally draining love story I've ever seen. It's sad, it's happy, it's such a fairy tale romance. Check my favorite scene below. "Why didn't you write me?!?" Oh I want to melt just thinking about it. The other tear jerker I love is Pearl Harbor. Sexy cast. What can I say?

5. Why Did I Get Married? (Julia's choice) is my favorite Tyler Perry movie for obvious reasons. You've got Janet Jackson, Malik Yoba, and a believable storyline. It's a recipe for a great film. Julia explains, "it shows that marriage is not always a walk in the park but it's your love & commitment that gets you through." Doesn't she sound like a soon-to-be bride? The only other Tyler Perry movie I liked was Diary and yeah that's a V-Day fav too.

4. Goodfellas with Ray Liotta is on my top 10 because loyalty is a top trait for anyone to have, and Ray Liotta's wife surely was loyal. Anyone who knows me knows I love gangster movies, but I love this one especially because although the woman was crazy, like myself, she stuck by her man through the good and bad. She flushed cocaine and ran errands. That's a real bitch. That's a quality love story to me! Check out my other two favorite gangster movies Casino and Blow. You'll see how men really don't know how to pick 'em anyways.

3. Never Been Kissed was one of my favorite movies in high school. Although it was silly, Drew Barrymore shows how you live life on the beat of your own drum and love will come when you least expect it, where you least expect it. It gives me hope! Some similar chick flicks I love are She's All That and How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

2. It's Complicated is one of my newest favorites. Meryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses already, and the movie just showed how getting older doesn't make finding love any easier. I couldn't stop laughing from the start of the movie. While It's Complicated is still in theaters I recommend all of you grab a girlfriend and check it out if you want to actually go "out" on a date for Valentine's Day. The other "complicated" love story I enjoy is any thing with "Bridget Jones."

1. The Bodyguard is the greatest love movie ever for a few reasons. #1: Whitney is still the best voice ever, crack or no crack. #2: Every song in that movie is classic. #3: Kevin Costner is almost real sexy saving lives. The end. What else do you need?

Additional honorable mentions are Something's Gotta Give, City of Angels, and Memoirs of a Geisha. Hollywood pumps out some great films to either remind you how single you are, or keep you distracted during cupid season. Either way, I think you'll need a few cases of wine to get through my top picks.

On to housekeeping: I know there have been issues posting comments to this blog that just intensified when I changed the layout. I really don't know how to make it better. I'll try to find a new layout at some point. Y'all know computers make my head hurt. I really want to know your thoughts, so please head to my facebook page for chit chat :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Africa is not a Country

Dear Readers--

In case you didn't know, Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent. I did indeed say continent right? I didn't make a mistake and say country? Just checking. I don't know when the world decided it was one nation, but I'd like to call you intelligent people to action on this matter. As most of you know, I spent time in Liberia, which is its own independent country in West Africa. I found myself simply telling people I was going to Africa for Christmas. In this case I did feel like a sellout. I knew where I was going, I just didn't wanna make you feel stupid because you may not know where Liberia is. Let me outline a few specific guidelines so we don't have this cultural problem again.
  1. We now get that Africa is a continent comprised of 53 countries. If you were going to claim you were going to Spain for the summer, then the same rule should apply for Nigeria. If you weren't going to say "Europe" then you shouldn't say "Africa." I don't know if somewhere along the line our continent lost importance and became a country, but I would like to just grab that status back if I can.
  2. If you have a cousin from South Africa, please don't claim that as something you and I have in common simply because I am Liberian. Your cousin and I lived two different lives. We will probably never cross paths. Let's say you and I met while you were in Liberia. If I had a friend that was Mexican would that mean anything to you? I didn't think so. You don't even speak the same language. Guess what, neither do we.
  3. We don't click with our tongues to communicate or swing from trees to travel. If you do that to me in conversation or compare my people to Tarzan as a joke those will be the last words you will ever say to me. If someone's communication sounds like a click, why is that a less intelligent foreign language you don't know? I won't argue this case because I don't feel it's necessary. I don't argue with stupid people because you can never tell which one is the fool.
  4. If I see another picture of you posed with village kids from your mission trip, I really may go off. That's the most offensive photo people take and for some reason, Caucasians love it. It doesn't prove anything about the work you did, only about how closed-minded you are. Are our children landmarks? Are they tourist attractions? It would be one thing if these were host families or friends, but just pictures of souvenir children isn't even cute on Angelina Jolie. She's pretty, but not the fake Mother Teresa role.
  5. This next rule gets touchy for people. I've almost lost friends over it. Just because you've been to an African country and had an African experience, doesn't mean you know what it means to be African. You may have gone for a week visit, seen a little poverty here and there, learned a little cultural dance, but in the back of your mind you still know you have an American home to return to. You can try to put yourself in someone else's shoes, but you know when you fly back, you will still have your own shoes to wear. The African experience you witnessed is just that: something you witnessed. It's not your fault, but please try and understand where we're coming from with this. It's like a white person claiming to understand what it's like to be black. As much as one can research the matter, there is nothing like being a product of it.
  6. Did you know tigers only exist in Asia? Please don't ask if I will see them when I go home. I won't.
  7. African countries include but are not limited to: Egypt, South Africa, Cape Verde, and all the Spanish and Portuguese territories. We're working on the freedom thing, but independence hasn't proven fruitful for many countries.
  8. Even fair-skinned Africans are Black. Period. When I was in fifth grade a girl told me our Egyptian friend wasn't Black because she was Egyptian. I was perplexed for good reason.
I don't want this article to seem like I am separating Africans from Black Americans in America. In reality, since we all originate from the same land, we need intelligent Black Americans to recognize and respect all our differences, because if you don't no other ethnic groups will. I love that people are curious about the land where civilization began. I love to talk about the things that make Africa wonderful as well as the things that make Mama Africa cry. I love sharing my culture with all my friends, but in doing so, I've been offended more times than once, and I just wanted to dispel a few common, shameful misconceptions. I have a feeling many people want to comment on my checklist, good or bad, so ready.....GO.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If You Wanna Be Somebody...

The city of Atlanta runs on status the way Escalades run on a ton of gas. Since this is supposed to be my college town, I want to know why it's not okay socially to just be in college. It seems everyone has a side gig of some sort, and I don't mean a tuition paying, part-time job. While I love that the spirit of Atlanta seems to spark an entrepreneurial gene in everyone's body, do all girls have what it takes to be a model, and do all guys who like to party feel it's their calling to be a promoter?

I don't even think people find these jobs to fulfill a passion to work, but more a desire to be a quasi-celeb. We're so infatuated with "celebrity" as a nation that it has trickled down to my little college experience.

The more direct effect it has in my mind is the way we date. I don't think I've ever dated a student who was just a student. He always had to have some sort of something. Whether he was an athlete, or passionate about some cause, organization, selling something, the like, I was always looking for someone to add a little bit of excitement to my life. Usually these guys are the worst for me, but do I change requirements because of a few let downs? I don't think so. This kind of sucks for the typical engineer right now, but I have a feeling my bias is gonna bite me in the ass later in life.

I read somewhere today (probably twitter, but you never know it could have been the New York Times) a super interesting quote: "Employees shouldn't hang out with employees because that strengthens your life as an employee. Spend time with bosses and become one yourself." Maybe we all want to do something more so we can eventually be something more. I just hope we don't regret speeding past the roses without stopping to smell them.

Are we entrepreneurs for ourselves or for other people? I'm still trying to understand what status really does for us. I've been trying to come to a grand conclusion as I write this. All I do know is happiness truly comes from within. Once you've impressed yourself, others will be impressed effortlessly. Happy Wednesday.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Loving You

I love February. Valentine's Day is my absolute favorite holiday, and I've only had one Valentine in my whole life. I love going to the stores and everything is pink and red. I love things that sparkle. I love the chance to be naughty and the opportunity to share your feelings. I just love when we spread love, and if the holiday is our excuse to be loving, I don't think Valentine's Day comes often enough.

We spend so much of our time trying to analyze love. We sing about it, we read about how to find it, we fall in and out of it. Love makes us do crazy things. We want a job we love, a partner we love, a life we love, things we love. We define love with different traits. Love is power. Love is peace. Love is happiness. Love is loyalty.

At what point does love simply become YOU?

"I found God in myself. And I loved her. I loved her fiercely." -Ntozake Shange

As I tried to analyze the quote and come up with something poiniant to say afterward, I realized it can stand alone. Just wanted to share. Happy Love Season.

Those cookies were made and decorated by my love Neela Balkissoon. Yep I wanna wife her too.