Monday, May 9, 2011

Why So Serious?

When I was two years into my current relationship, my free spirited aunt tried to play match maker and wanted me to get to know her friend's nephew. When I politely reminded her that I was in a relationship, she told me that at my age I shouldn't tie myself down because my relationship probably wasn't serious and I was too young for anything to be serious. After a few minutes of forced pleasantries, I hung up the phone and was obviously annoyed yet perplexed at the same time. After venting my frustrations to my father,  he advised me to let my aunt's advice roll off my back and continue building the relationship that me and my boyfriend created. Unfortunately, that was one of the few encouragements I received from those around me. Fast forward a couple of years and we're still together; in fact, we just celebrated an anniversary. However, I still get snide comments thinly veiled as advice that I shouldn't take my long-term relationship seriously as the birth date on my driver's license supposedly indicates I'm not equipped to handle a serious relationship.

I know many in my shoes and while it's easy to give a side eye or a few choice words depending on who it is, I've decided to give an intelligent response. I understand that grown folks have been around the block enough times to be a pretty good judge of character or a decent interpreter of a multitude of situations, but age or past experiences don’t grant older people the authority to dismiss or discredit the experiences of their younger counterparts. I know plenty of grown folks that have met and even married their spouses before they were able to vote or drink. Yes, times have changed and while there are not many teenagers getting married, it doesn't mean that the love shared between two consenting young adults makes it invalid.

A question that comes to my mind while exploring this issue is if people are outwardly discouraging these serious relationships, does that mean they encourage a series of short, no-strings-attached relationships as an alternative in order to supposedly get the full experience of one's youth instead? Would you rather me carry on meaningless relationships while running the risk of pregnancies, diseases, or a life taking care of children on my own because the guy I was supposed to just casually date doesn’t want to take of the children we made just for the sake preserving my youth? I would like to know what a good alternative is if relationships are going to be downplayed. I was watching the finale of Love & Hip Hop last week and it amazed me how Mama Jones, Jim Jones’ mother, would prefer Chrissy have children with Jim rather than marry him
. I’m sorry, but did I happen to miss something?

As we all know there are downsides to relationships long-term and short-term. For one, it could end…badly. Also, there can be many negative things within the relationship that cause it and the people in it to suffer mentally, emotionally, or even physically. With things like that, I do advise people to speak up especially if they care about the person. However, if the relationship is a healthy, mature one, just be happy for the couple and take a page out of their book if your love life isn’t up to par. The way I see it, some people are blessed to find their love at young ages and some may have to go through many years to find theirs, but one thing is for sure: serious relationships are a long road to travel; where or when you started doesn’t matter nearly as much as where you finish. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sensuality vs. Sexuality: Do You Know the Difference?

When I first decided to do this blog, I wanted it to encompass many aspects that young women like myself go through. When I thought about the title, I wanted it to be catchy yet have purpose and meaning. Then the word "sensuality" came to me. To be honest, my first thought was that sensuality and sexuality were somehow synonymous. As I researched further, I found out that I was mistaken. 

Sexuality, which is a common term, revolves around expression of sexual receptivity or interest especially when excessive according to Webster's Dictionary. Sexuality is everywhere. On our television sets, in our music, on our computer screens, it's everywhere. It shows in how we act (or don't act), in what we wear (or don't), and plenty of other ways that help shape us; to put it plainly, sexuality is blatant. Sensuality, however, is a bit more subtle than that. 

Sensuality of course involves the five senses (touching, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling) but the difference is you're immersing yourself in your surroundings. Taking in what you're touching, hearing, seeing, tasting, or smelling. It could be soft touch from a loved one, the sight of of something beautiful, the sound of someone's laugh, etc. Like someone said, it's the simple things in life that mean the most. Those nuances can speak volumes and exude much more depth than sexuality ever can. 

Just listen to this song (one of my favorites) and you'll see exactly what I mean. Hope you now know the difference and take a sensual approach to life. Experience it, enjoy it. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Moving Out and Moving On

So lately you’ve been thinking about moving out on your own. Maybe you’re a post-grad and have been living at home with your parents/relatives; maybe you’re looking to make a big career move that requires relocation. No matter what your circumstances may be, learning how to set yourself up financially is the best move you can make before you actually move. Here are some tips to help you along the way!

1.     Make a list and check it twice
We all have amenities that we want when we live on our own. Make a list to determine the most important features to your new place as it’s very likely all of your wants won’t be satisfied. Here are some of the most common amenities that people consider when moving:
a.     Access to subways, buses, and commuter rails – this is usually first on the list for people looking to live in big cities (i.e. New York City)
b.    Neighborhood safety – especially in these days and times, it’s important for ladies to stay safe. If you like to go out at night, you don’t want to have to worry about being constantly met with danger. When looking for a place, scout the neighborhood to see what it’s like before you sign that lease.
c.     Pets allowed in the unit – some landlords don’t want animals in their building, so make sure that you’re allowed to have a pet. Landlords will usually state this in the lease; however, some landlords will allow pets (sometimes there is a weight limit).
d.    Laundry room – unless you like lugging a bag full of dirty clothes every week to the laundromat and dealing with long waits and annoying people hogging the big load washing machine, building laundry facilities may be a high priority. Just note that having a laundry room in your building doesn’t mean you do your laundry for free so keep quarters handy!
e.     Parking – depending on where you’re looking to live, parking spaces can be slim to none, especially in NYC. If you have a car, see if your building provides on-site parking; just keep in mind that it’ll cost you extra. If the building doesn’t have parking, invest in a good car alarm system and The Club (for those that don’t know or remember what The Club is, it’s a steering wheel lock...and yes, I have one.)

2.     How much are you willing to spend?
That loft you’ve been eying complete with modern kitchen appliances, deep soaking tub, and walk-in closet may be your perfect apartment, but may be out of your financial league. To avoid living above your means, it would be best to create a budget when searching for a new place. As I mentioned in “Resolve to be Fiscally Fit in 2011,” no more than 30% of your income should go towards rent. The easiest way to figure out whether you need to scale back your budget or up your income is to solve this equation:
(Annual salary x 30%) ÷ 12 = Maximum monthly rent you should be paying

In addition to figuring out appropriate rent, also keep in mind that the process of moving in itself is costly. You’ll need about 2-3 months of rent (1 month for the security deposit, first month’s rent, and last month’s rent) when you’re ready to move in addition to moving costs, furniture, etc.

3.     Choose your living arrangement…wisely
Be honest with yourself: would you prefer living by yourself or do you think that you can handle living with a roommate? If you’re looking to lower your rent, a solution may be to have a roommate, but you must choose wisely. Living with another person means living with another person’s habits. If you are going to have a roommate, discuss important things like housing expenses, cleaning responsibilities, what to do when company comes over, and other house rules. Also, do your homework on your roommate especially if you don’t know them.

4.     Diversify your searching methods
When apartment hunting, there are plenty of ways you can find apartments. There are plenty of websites with apartment listings such as Craigslist, HotPads, Trulia Real Estate Search, etc. You can also search the old fashioned way by combing through newspaper ads. While you may not be able to see pictures of the potential place, you’ll get basic information such as rent, contact info, whether the unit is furnished, etc. If those methods take up too much of your time, you can hire someone who does have the time. Of course, this service is not free. Usually a broker will charge you a percentage of the rent. You can find brokers in classifieds, Yellow Pages, etc.

5.     Visit potential places
You won’t just be living in a new apartment, you’ll be living in a new neighborhood and it’s important to get to know the area. Spend a day and night driving around. Look for shops and restaurants, check out the school district (especially if you have kids or are planning to have some soon), and get to know the many ways to get around the neighborhood.

6.     Get it in writing!
No matter what anybody says, always make sure you get a lease in writing and with any contract, you should read the fine print. Don’t assume anything because we all know what that does. If there are any provisions in the lease, see if you and the landlord can come to some sort of compromise. It would be helpful for you to come up with any questions beforehand. Below is a list of common concerns.
·         What utilities are included in the rent?
·         How is security handled throughout the building?
·         How is the trash handled? (If you dispose of trash at the wrong location or time, you may be fined.)
·         How much notice do I need to give when leaving?
·         Are there any routine maintenance performed throughout the building (i.e. extermination)?
·         Are pets allowed?

7.     Don’t just pay attention to State Farm for their commercials, make use of them.
As much as those State Farm commercials are fun to watch, they (along with other insurance companies) provide renter’s insurance. Should you ever have a burglary, fire, or any unfortunate event where your possessions are damaged or stolen, you need to be protected. To get started, take an inventory of your belongings (and yes, that includes clothes) and estimate the replacement cost, not the actual cash value as clothes, jewelry, electronics, and other possessions usually depreciate in value over time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What's in a Name? (When Girls Call Each Other Wifey)

Wifey. Fiance. Lover. You think that these titles would be designated to women in romantic relationships but over the years, I've come to notice that they are used in female friendships. The dynamics of female friendships have always been complex, but this recent occurrence has me perplexed. Has the closeness between two girls become a little too close or has female friendships taken a step in the right direction?

When you think of the various terms of endearment, they hold some sort of weight. A wifey, fiance, or lover is usually seen as a person that will be there for you no matter what; the closeness between the two of you is unmatched. The time that the both of you spend developing and growing together in that relationship takes time equivalent to a marriage. In female friendships, that level of closeness should be celebrated. Many times we see women tearing each other down, especially women of color. We get inundated with images on the television screen with women calling each other names, scheming, plotting, backbiting, and fighting. When  you think about it, for a second, the appointed title of wifey and the like seem like a nice change of pace or a playful way of showing love. 

On the flip side, how is that level of closeness perceived by others? I found out some people's thoughts on the topic and the common response was that this level of closeness is only a substitute for the lack of a romantic partner, male or female (we don't discriminate over here!). When one (or both) girls have no significant other, it's easier to turn to that close female friend and label her your wifey. Hey, if you can't be wifey to a significant other, the next best thing would be a close friend. Perhaps it's the title, perhaps it's the level of the closeness, but whatever it is, some find that it crosses the familiar lines of friendship and reaches a whole new level that some say is strange, annoying, and even immature. 

What we can all take away from the issue is this: anytime we can celebrate women being close with each other, it's a good thing. Female friendships, close ones without the drama a la reality show friendships, can sometimes be tough to find or maintain so when you have it, treasure it. However, a friendship is just that, a friendship. It's not a marriage or an intense romantic relationship as those have different dynamics. If it is treated as such, boundaries get crossed. Enjoy the friendship for what it is, nothing more, nothing less. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Keep It Simple Stupid!

When you're job hunting, your main objective before landing a gig is getting an interview. The golden ticket to landing an interview is constructing a great resume. However, it's not that easy. In my line of work, I have the opportunity to screen resumes and of course, some pique interest and some raise eyebrows. There are plenty of resumes that fall under the Raise Eyebrows category: resumes with typos, resumes with little to no information, and resumes that give too much information. For the resumes with TMI, it's really an eyesore to people who screen resumes. The last thing you want a potential employer to do while they're reading your resumes is develop M.E.G.O. (My Eyes Glaze Over). You only have a couple of seconds to make a great first impression on paper, make it count for something. 

To create a resume that accentuates your high points while getting to the point, here is some info that you might not want to include: 

1. (Overly) Personal Information 
In no way, shape, or form should you ever put too much personal info on your resume. Your social security number, birthday, etc. should never be put on your resume. That would be like volunteering to be the victim of identity theft. Also, for older candidates, volunteering things like your birthday could work against you despite the laws against age discrimination. 

2. Hobbies 
Unless you're filling out an application on or any other dating site, putting your personal hobbies on a resume is absolutely useless. Employers just want to find out about your qualifications, not that you like dancing, swimming, and cooking international dishes on the weekends. Save that kind of info for when you get the gig and you're making water cooler chat with your co-workers. 

3. Irrelevant Achievements 
If you've amassed a number of achievements over the years, that's definitely something to put down. However, listing your achievement of being Prom Queen is not applicable under any circumstances. Your best bet is to list achievements in your field of interest. If you're in the writing field and have many pieces that you would like to show--blogs, reviews, and other writing samples--please do not send a massive amount of links on your resume. Employers will not be impressed; instead they'll be annoyed that they have a bunch of links to look at. Take your best samples, print them out, and put them in a nice portfolio. When you snag an interview, then you can show off your work in an impressive yet professional way.

4. Laundry List of Responsibilities 
In your work experiences, you usually have a lot of responsibilities. Some responsibilities are mundane and run-of-the-mill; I would suggest keeping duties like copying/faxing, mailing, etc. down to a minimum and focus more on "big picture" duties. Your responsibilities should somehow show that you've either increased your company's revenue, decreased the company's costs, or streamlined a process. You have to show that you've made something easier for your bosses. 

5. Every Single Job 
If you were on a date, would you start the conversation with every detail of your past relationship and expect to go on a second date? Didn't think so. Your job history shouldn't date back to your after school job in high school. An easy way to determine the proper jobs to put on your resume is to make a subtitle called 'Relevant Experience' and provide details on jobs that are relevant to the position. For other jobs that are irrelevant to the position your applying for, create a subtitle called 'Other Experience' and simply provide basic information such as company name, company location (city, state), your title, and dates of employment. 

Giving too much information on your resume is like giving it up too fast on a date. You'll be viewed as a desperate person and you won't get a second chance to make a good impression. Times are rough and I know that everyone is trying to put their best foot forward, but don't throw everything but the kitchen sink into your resume. Keep it simple and to the point. It'll make it easier for employers and easier for you to get that interview! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day Special: 'Like' Before 'Love' Other Valentine's Day Lessons

My good friend Veralyn was thinking about "Love" and wanted to know how do you recognize the real thing and, once you do, how do you make it last so she made a v-log about it! Shameless plug: I gave some input to her questions as you'll see in the first few minutes. Enjoy! Have a Happy Valentine's Day! 

'Like' Before 'Before' Other Valentine's Day Lessons

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Hoopla Around Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day. It's been known as a day where you can express your love (or like) for someone. You can express it in a card, a box of chocolates, or flowers.Unfortunately, it turns out to be the one day out of the year where women (and some men) lose their patience, mind, and dignity all in the name of receiving a nice dinner, a monstrosity of flower arrangements, and colossal sized teddy bears to prove that there actually is someone who cares about them. 

Valentine's Day is fun, but so many people put too much importance on it making it stressful ultimately. Many girls, including myself, have been swept up in the hoopla that is Valentine's Day monitoring their relationship statuses as if they were on life support. For single girls that actually care about V-Day, it is a painful reminder that they don't have a boyfriend to cuddle up to. For girls that have a boyfriend and place major importance on the pseudo-holiday, they're usually trying to pull off an extravaganza to report back to friends and co-workers. 

I can look back and honestly laugh at how silly I was being about the whole thing, but one thing I learned is that Valentine's Day, or any other day for that matter, shouldn't make you reflect on what you don't have. If you're single, don't worry about not having a boyfriend; you still have friends and family, right? If you love them, you can surely show them during this time. You can also show yourself love, too. After all, you can't love someone else until you love yourself first. 
For the girls that are cuffing this V-Day, enjoy it, but don't pump the day up on steroids. Enjoy a nice meal inside or out at a restaurant, catch a movie, write a card, make a card, but whatever you do, remember to be safe this Valentine's Day. 
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