Monday, January 18, 2016

What are you? Where are you from?

Me llamo Selena. Mi familia es de Haití y  Panamá. Mis padres de mi padre hablan español. Hablo espanol un poco porque de mis abuelos, mis amigos y escuela. Yo uso mi español en mi trabajo a veces.

Je besoin de plus d'aide avec le français. Mon nom est Selena . Ma mère parle français et je essayer d'apprendre.



...mwen grangou


I have received the top two questions almost all my life. Black people look at me and say, "You're not black." White people look at me and ask, "Are you black?"Most Latinos start speaking to me in Spanish or ignore me and talk in Spanish anyway. Haitians and other Caribbean folks usually guess.

My heritage/ background has great importance to me, but I don't think it should be of great importance to anyone else outside of my family. Will you be my friend only if I am Hispanic? If I'm not "Black" you will give me the job? Yes, I do consider myself Hispanic often, but would I if this were the 70's or 80's? And would anyone care?

I bring this up because I deal with different prejudices from every ethnicity it seems. My family raised me that speaking another language while in the presence of others who do not speak that language is rude. Time and time again, I see people going on in Spanish (usually) and disregarding anyone who doesn't understand. Often I wonder, would I do that if I was more fluent? Will my children be like that? I don't think so. My boyfriend once told me a story about two female co-workers of his were speaking Spanish all day to each other (not saying anything mean about anyone, just speaking). Then when someone came in and greeted another co-worker in French, proceeded to have a conversation... only then was it rude. Is that how us English speakers feel? Are we as ridiculous as those two women?

When I go to Europe, I am always astonished about how fluent everyone is in different languages. I learned enough French to get someone to speak to me in English. One woman said she didn't know too much English to give us directions, but come to find out, she definitely knew more than I knew in French. Which got me thinking, Why don't more Americans know more than one language (other than Spanish)? My manager at work is British, she speaks English, Spanish and French. Another co-worker said, "I wish I could do that." I laughed because factually you really could. The only reason why I know so much in Spanish is because I taught myself and paid attention. You can do the same and probably better.

In our household, we switch in and out of French and Spanish. I practice with my partner because we eventually want to have children and want them to know other languages. I don't plan on being perfect but I have my mother and my grandparents to help. Which leads me back to the two questions above. What will people think my children are? They will have a long list of countries to spew but I hope they will be proud of each and every one. When I was a child, I was very confused about that question. My hair was kinky but not in the way other brown girls at school had kinks. I spoke with a slight accent on words because I replicated and learned words from relatives (like my mother) who have foreign accents. In result, I have a slight pronunciation issue when I say or learn certain words. Which is why I wonder about all this.

Let me tell you something, "What I am?" has minimal to do with "Who I am". That is what I am going to teach my children. In the end of the day, as my father used to say to me, "You are a human being first." And factually, we really are. If the planet was invaded by aliens, you think you're going to care who's German and who's Indian? We should be more concerned about feeling, learning, thinking, creating, and living. Not only the root. The seed is planted and it grows into a tree then produces fruit. Do you still obsess over the seed? No, you take a bite into that fruit and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kathy

Young Love is a special thing.

My boyfriend told me a story about his once girlfriend named Kathy. She was a highlight in his life. I could tell by the way he told the story. Most people would say it was insane for him tell me about her, but I love hearing about his life before I entered into it. We're all human. And we all fall in love. In this case, I am wowed by how he maintined a relationship with this girl for so long and only met her once. Meanwhile, a lot of couples who see each other more often find it difficult to stay together.
For some reason, it all brings my mind to pen pals. Hopefully I don't lose you. But with a pen pal, you build this deep rooted relationship with someone miles away from you. You dare to tell them the truth about yourself and your life. Your biggest wants and your deepest desires. A soldier away on a base (in a non disclosed location) was once my pen pal. All because I left my email address in a Christmas card I made during a sorority unity event. It was nice to talk to someone who wasn't there or in my life. As I'm sure it was nice for him to talk to someone about something other than a possible war. Making that connection with a stranger makes you friends, or... pals. Therefore I can slightly understand how Kathy and my boyfriend became so close.



When it came to my first love, it too was amazing. Deep rooted and maybe not so healthy for me. He made me laugh, made me cry. I had such dreams when I was with him. Honestly, at that age, I never thought a boy would find me attractive. Probably why I latched onto him right away. Then it became love... Or something like it. Isn't it funny when you think about all those times before now when you were " in love"? Some people think they were dumb, weak, or even childish. Some even dare to say they weren't in love. Well I am here to say, "Don't".

We all have a Kathy and I think respecting that love, whatever it was is necessary. Don't discredit or lessen the value of that time. You were in love for you then, not now.
I hope to write more about this in my memoir I started. Because  we as a species are in love with love but don't quite know what to do with it.

*name was changed for privacy

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holidays and Family

How many of us have come to a point in our lives when holidays are no longer joyous events? Now it's full of fights about why you're not going to their house.

The holiday season used to be the best time of the year. We loved gifts, Parties. Gifts... but the times have changed as we have gotten older. Although we would love to spend time with our family, our family doesn't make it easy for us.

Since before Thanksgiving, I have been bonding with other women who also have drama with their families about what times their getting to who's house and which holiday will they share and which they are not. The general consensus seems to be that no one has a joyous time deliberating and scheduling these events. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's are the prime real estate for families to fight over. You get married, who's house do you open gifts in? You start dating someone, who's house do you have Thanksgiving dinner? You have children, who's house do your kids go visit first for which holiday? Let alone, if you are single, "how much trouble will you get in with you family for not coming over?" is the main question. The scenarios are endless and all very uncomfortable.

I'm here to tell you, there is no ultimate solution to this. Parents... Mothers, will complain anyway; if not yours, your significant other's. Just remember that the only person you can make happy is yourself. Therefore,first think about what you actually want to do versus what everyone else wants to do. Remember all your fun holiday memories, and get back to that feeling. Enjoy yourself!



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mean Women


There are many people in the tri-state area that would call me mean. Not just mean, but vulgar, abrasive, rude, malcriada, offensive, judgy, bossy, harsh and whatever else they can think of. In fact, when I became Sweetheart for a fraternity in college, they nicknamed me Vulgar. And for a while I just thought of it as something I should work on as a leader and boss. Be a little gentler with others without coddling. Not having a bad attitude and snide remarks. The list goes on, trust me. However, when I looked at women like Anna Wintour, Kimora Lee Simmons, Khloe Kardashian, Michelle Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Kelly Cutrone, I thought "They're allowed to be like this but I'm not?" Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they are all rude or harsh. What I am saying is that they are strong willed women who don't just sweeten things. For example, when the First Lady did not wear a headscarf or veil in Saudi Arabia. That could be considered rude but in fact I think it was bold.

Why are women mean when men are strong?
As some of you have read before, two years ago I wrote about Glamour's Women of the Year issue. I picked my own women of the year also. This year's group were more popular choices, like Caitlyn Jenner and the "black ballerina", Misty Copeland. Personally, I find what Bruce Jenner did was brave and Caitlyn Jenner living out the life is even braver. People need to see that more. We need to see more people like Kelly Cutrone who is fearless in being categorized as a bitch. We need to see that it's okay not to play nice all the time. Especially as business women. ESPECIALLY.

A woman called me after getting out of her interview and asked if I knew if her ex worked there as well. I did not know and asked why. She explained that it would be awkward if they worked in the same facility. Even went as far as saying she'd have to ask not to paired up to work with him. I laughed. Does a man at work put that much effort into a situation like this? WHO CARES if he works in the same place? Probably just you. Go to work, work extra professionally when he's involved and get paid. If he wants to act up, let him. Then hopefully he'll get himself fired. But I am mean for saying that. Get with it ladies. While you're wondering what he's going to think, he's moved on and making the money you aren't.

Be honest. Be strong. Be vocal. Get rid of those who tell you otherwise. I didn't hang out with most of those frat guys once I realized I liked being this way. Yes, that doesn't mean I should be malicious or degrading. No one should want to be that. 

"Be fair, friendly and firm." Grandma Edwards

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Singles vs Dating vs Married vs Married with Kids

Many of us in our late twenties may be experiencing the influx of wedding invitations and baby announcements. I am very happy for all of those people. Well not for myself and the people who have to witness this but the ones sending invites and making announcements. Their wedding photos are cute. Engagement photos are inspiring for photography ideas, for me to shoot. Very creative baby announcement photos. I'm impressed at the fact that there is now a GENDER ANNOUNCEMENT party. Wtf? Now we're going a little too far. It's kind of cute but really? Is it?

Now to go back to the people who have to witness this. I'm talking about the ones who post pictures of their vacations in South Africa. Journeys throughout the world. Receiving prestigious awards from their university or town. Running for local government positions. Using their second bedroom as an office and can not imagine putting a baby in there instead (Guilty). This group is just as impressive. Their life has meaning and everyone has a right to envy them. But with that said, DO NOT try hindering them because you are not fulfilled in your own life. You too can have your gender party and climb a mountain in a foreign country.

My boyfriend and I went to Europe for about a week in September. Every time I mention it in public, I kind of feel like that posh couple that is gloating. And honestly, I am not. We are not. We just had an amazing time. Trust me, we had our arguments and tough patches during our time there, but overall I wouldn't have traded it for anything else. Anyway, I mention this because my boyfriend was asked by many co-workers "Where are you going?" And he'd tell them. The response was often the, "Oh I wish I could do that." This comment infuriates him; and after reading "The Art of Non-conformity" I realize he is justified.
"The people I talk with now who tell me they 'wish' they could do something but feel unable have usually made a number of choices that prevent them from doing what they wish. They have chosen to prioritize other things above their stated desire." 
It is not that people with kids can't go to London and Paris. It's that they decide not to. And can I be frank? London and Paris are beautiful places to go, but if you can't at least make it there... you are just making excuses. Straight up making excuses to why you haven't gone there. Chris actually mentions a married couple or two that moved their family to other countries because they didn't want their children to just be mediocre. And THEY DID IT! Which I found encouraging. And in no way do I think everyone should start uprooting their families or lives to foreign countries, but what I am saying is that your "wishes" can become realities. Only if you want them to.

Just so the mothers and fathers out there don't feel picked on, I will go back to my couples and singles. What the hell is your excuse? Yes, we (myself, Chris and my boyfriend) don't think having a family is an excuse to not travel, but at least it makes you think for a second. What is your excuse? Student loans? Ha! I owe over $100,000 in student loans and I STILL go on trips. Most of my friends who do not go anywhere or take chances in business, owe a lot less. So next?

The truth is, we are all worried and scared of stepping away from what we are familiar with. I believe I have written about "being comfortable" before. It's a very slow crippling disease. You stop creating, strategizing and hustling. You become complacent with your life. Personally, when I start to feel complacent, I cry. I get very emotional and sad about my life. There has to be more; I can do more. Then I wipe my tears and push on. But what if you like being mediocre? Well... then don't say "I wish..." when you hear about all the fun I'm going to have in New Orleans next year.

Here's a list I posted on my Facebook fan page about the 11 ways to be Unremarkably Average. Read it cause this is you. Just saying.

Before I leave you beaten up and mad at me, let me leave you with this. There is a sorority sister of mine named... lets say Ariel. She's a South Jersey girl and is very comfortable in her own skin. I'm not sure why, but one day she decided to lose weight. And she did. We're all so proud of her transformation. Hard work and diligence look great on her. Ariel also saw one of our other sorority sisters constantly traveing all over the world. Finally one day, her "I wish" became a "I did". Ariel reached out and told her to let her know when she was going on her next big trip. Guess where the destination was? South Africa. This South Jersey girl went to Africa. And I am so inspired at her dedication to explore and LIVE. Whether she goes anywhere else, ever again, at least she took a chance and lived a little. I think we're all capable of that. All I'm trying to say.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Something has to change

My father gives me motivational books all the time. Do I read all of them? No. Well until my commute time to and from work increased a couple of months ago. I have been entrusted with leading a new project at my day job. It may revolutionize how we do things in my department and organization... therefore naturally I accepted. Even though my commute to East New York every day is sometimes a painful one.

"I was born to lead," my father has said since I was a young girl. He wanted me to be the first female to accept a Grammy, Oscar and I think Tony. I can't quite remember. He also wanted me to own my own business versus being like him, working 9 to 5 for the rest of my life. And often, I would just let my dad talk and fill my head with all these hopes and DREAMS. As I got older, my father instilled in me that I needed an agenda for my life. Not just goals, but an agenda I wanted to live out. I took that task and went with it. I made a 10 year agenda at about 16 years old. Do you want to know what I was supposed to be doing by now? Well...

1. Married by the age of 21
2. A Teen Ministry leader for my church
3. Had a child at 25 years old

That's all I remember off the top of my head. Clearly I was on the religious train. All they really want women to do in churches (maybe not all) is to find a spiritual husband (or more like they will find one for you), then you get married, lead together somehow and then have children. You could go off and do missionary work, but that is if they believe you are good enough. I actually never felt good enough to lead for the church I used to go to. But that's another blog entry. Conclusion: My agenda changed.

I have been reading "The Art of Non-Conformity" by Chris Guillebeau; and I realize, I am kind of over writing this blog. At least the way I have been. For weeks and months, I started again contemplating if I am a writer. I used to write so much more years prior. I wrote two books for goodness sake. Something has got to change. Maybe it's me, maybe it's my environment. Who knows? Well... that's just it, I should know. I need to get in tune with myself. Listen to myself. I have so many ideas and passions. I can create more stories and characters. I refuse to believe that I am dried out of creativity. Proof of this exist. For example, I reached out to an artist I admire and asked her if she'd do a children's book with me. She was honored and said she would love to but did not have the time currently. I laughed and said, "Do not worry. I have not written a word of the story yet." Even so, I am determined to make this book at some point. It's in my NEW life agenda.

This agenda is full of traveling, leading and excelling. Even becoming primarily pescatarian is on there, and approximately when I want to have a play written and read at a table reading by actors. I am determined to choose the direction of my own life. (I made a 5 year one this time. For now anyway)

Therefore, I will be figuring out exactly what I want to share with all of you. I know it's not about Fashion Week and entrepreneurial events anymore (not to say it may not come up). It's more like my most popular post from last year about Online Dating.

Change is good. Change is needed. And it's going to happen. Lets go.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Have you seen my sister?

Have you seen my sister?
Well I guess she's more like a friend.
We met a tad later in life but it feels like I've know her since birth.
She likes to share her toys with me.
She even sometimes shares her bed.
Oh I forgot to tell you her name.
It's Olivia.
Pretty? Yes.
But have you seen her?
We left the house together but she never came back.
Dad rushed me home and left me there for a while, but when he came back, she wasn't with them.
Where is Olivia?
My sister, my friend.
Now I'm getting sad.
Mom and dad mentioned a car, but it's hard to understand them when they speak.
Unless they repeat it often and give me a treat.
I do remember a large car and screaming.
I've never seen mom yank the leash so hard.
Hopefully Olivia is okay.
Where is she?
Will she come back soon?
Mom and Dad look sad.
Mom cries when I sit next to her.
She never does that.
Did someone take her away?
I hope we get her back.
Maybe Mom will smile again?
Maybe Dad will be less angry?
If only I could remember what happened after the big black car drove by.
Dad yelled.
The car kept driving.
Mom disappeared.
I think I saw her knees, but then that would mean she was on her knees.
Why would she be on her knees in the street?
Mom always said it was dirty and wiped our paws when we got home.
But where was Olivia?
My sister.
Did she leave?
I don't remember, but I miss her.
I hope she comes back soon.
For now I'll get her toys ready for her and make sure her bed is clear.
Cause I'm waiting for my sister.
Have you seen her?