Monday, June 29, 2015

The Rough Side Of The Mountain

I really don’t like writing about dating and relationships.
Carrie Bradshaw did a fairly effective job (aside from the way she played Aidan, but I digress) and I do not enjoy painting myself into such a small box. Life is so much more than awkward silence and cautious optimism.

But now? I’m tired.

Here is a highlight reel of what I have experienced in the past six months:
--Mr. Radio Silence: we’d been “talking” for more than a year. I asked him where this was going; he told me he had feelings for me. I told him I wanted more than feelings—I wanted a relationship. In return, he said absolutely nothing.
--Mr. Too Gorgeous: Told me I was too tall for him to date; that it would be degrading for him to be seen with me. Furthermore, he told me body was “sort of gross,” but he would totally be willing to sleep with me if I kept a shirt on.
--Mr. Long-Distance: Cussed me out because I wasn’t gung-ho to hear from him after four months of hearing nothing. Told me no one would ever love me.
--Mr. Magoo: Started talking and added me on FB. It took five seconds to see he was in a relationship with someone that, at least according to FB, had just been established the week prior. When I asked him about it, he just kept asking me if I saw it on his page.
--Mr. Me, Myself and I: I told him my grandma died. He berated me for not asking how his day was.
--Mr. Must Be Out Of His Mind: Thought I’d be thrilled to be his mistress.

I don’t expect anyone’s sympathy. In each of these situations, I take my share of responsibility for what I allowed and, in some cases, what I said or did. I’m not here to bash them or all men. These men may in fact be great partners for someone else. And though this may shock my FBRs, I’m not really here to encourage today.

I’m just tired.

Now, I’ll be alright. I have an amazing support system and a relationship with God that sustains me even in the lowest, darkest moments. Still, I wonder (and worry) about everyone else out there who may not have that…’cause if you think this is just a problem I have, you would be sadly mistaken.

Why do we treat each other this way?

I have connected with people—some I know, some I don’t—who have even more horrifying tales than what I’ve shared. We have become a world where people are objectified and objects are personified. We are nothing more than a sum of parts that can be rated, degraded and then discarded.

By the way, it's bigger than sexual promiscuity or abstinence. You can get your heart broken with your legs crossed just as much as you can when they are open.

No one takes time to heal anymore. It’s too uncomfortable. It’s much easier to hop on a dating app and lay our baggage at someone else’s unsuspecting feet.

This is not dating.

This surely isn’t love.

I think what we’re dealing with here is a very complicated adult version of King of the Hill. If you never played that game, let me tell you rules: some large object is designated as the “hill.” At my elementary school, it was this big concrete tube that, looking back, should never have been on an elementary school playground. Someone jumps on top of the object and yells: "I’M KING OF THE HILL!” And then it’s on. You use whatever you can to get to the top of that hill—legs, feet, teeth, arms, rocks, anything and everything. You press, pull, claw your way to the top and try to shout I’M KING OF THE HILL before someone snatches you down.

It’s definitely not safe. I experienced numerous cuts, bruises, scrapes and even a concussion or two trying to scale that concrete tube. Looking back, there never really was a clear winner in that game.

There isn’t one in this dating game either.

Am I giving up on dating? Nope. Never. I believe there is someone out there in this world who understands why Crooklyn makes me cry or how I have to go to bed with socks on, but I kick them off in the middle of the night. There is someone who won’t be afraid to hear that I’m not having a great day and we can talk about it—just as I would with him. There’s someone who will remember my birthday and send me more than a text message.
Someone who will pray with me.
Someone who will dream with me.
My love’s design.

Dang. I got sort of teary-eyed even typing that.

In the meantime, I refuse to treat people the way I’ve been treated. If I do ever get too big for my britches, there’s no need to trip: God has a way of getting my attention and reminding me who I really am.

And if He can deal with a wretch like ME….I guess I can forgive the jackasses of 2015.

Now excuse me while I dance down the street in my pink tank top and white tutu.

Isaiah 58:11,


Monday, April 6, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 11: Seeing Red

You all will notice I took off a few days. It's hard to write when you're stuffing your mouth with greens, chicken & dumplings, bundt cake....

'Scuse me. I had a flashback. 

Today's topic is supposed to be whatever is currently on my mind, which is a slightly provocative topic: anger. Let's see what comes out today! 

Last week, I had a few situations going with paramours from the past. You know how it goes: you haven't heard from them in weeks or months or even YEARS, but somehow they magically find your number and try to immerse themselves in your world once again. In the most snarky nicest way possible, I told them I wasn't interested in conversing with them. 

I got called a "seven-letter word/five-letter word."

I was told I was selfish and close-minded.

My favorite? That I should be glad that he thought of me four months later. 

EVERYTHING in me wanted fire back, which I am completely capable of doing. When my mental wheels start turning, no one is safe. I turn into the black Julia Sugarbaker, hurling insults and tirades and salacious monologues that literally cause jaws to drop. 

I've had that effect on people since kindergarten. I'll never forget the look on Mrs. Seller's face when I informed her that I would cuss her out if she didn't let me go to my daddy's job...and then promptly followed through on that promise. 

At a Christian school. *facepalm* 

Just when I was stretching out my thumbs to fire off one of those three-message long text messages, I realized that this was indeed a test. In my Tilling Time (Bible study), the topic has consistently been about dealing with anger. I would highlight passages, nodding my head and thinking about other people who had that problem, but "not me!" I'd pray for God to help all these people who were dealing with anger issues, while giving myself a little pat on the back for not being like them. 

I should have seen this test coming from a mile away. 

I had a choice: keep holding onto this rage growing inside of me....or let go. I had to let go, y'all--there's just not enough room for anger and hunger in my stomach. 

I prayed a lot, taking the time to really acknowledge my anger. That's important, because I tend to play the synonym game with God and with others: 

I'm not angry, I'm  just a little offended.
I'm not angry, I just wish you would try to understand me.
I'm not angry, I'm just tired. 
I'm not angry, I'm just hungry. 

All of those sentences mean I am just angry...even the last one. ESPECIALLY the last one if I've been hungry for more than an hour. 

I forgave them and myself because, let's face it: so much of the things we hold onto are a reflection of us. But that's another topic for another time. 

I punched the punching bag at my gym until my knuckles started bleeding. I played my PMS playlist (yes, I do have one and it's pretty dope) and I frequently thought of something my Pastor/Dad has said:

It doesn't make any sense for you to sit up all night thinking about the people who hurt you. You're seething with rage while they are sleeping like a baby. Turn it over to God and get some rest! 

Before I even settled into my bed to watch The Cleveland Show, I was totally cool...and no verbal missiles had been launched. 

Not even a single passive-aggressive Facebook post. 

That's growth, baby. 



Thursday, April 2, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 10: Back To The Future

Dear Future K. Marie,

The number on the scale won't matter, neither will the size of those jeans.
You won't remember all the times you nervously tried to predict the outcome of something that seemed 3,000 times more mortifying or heartbreaking than it actually was.
Your memory simply isn't big enough to remember every single time you were irritated because the coffee wasn't ready, your favorite dress was at the bottom of the hamper or somebody refused to let you over on the highway.

You have my permission to forget all that stuff.

What you will remember are the times you danced barefoot in the sand to no music at all. You'll laugh as you think about the hours you spent laughing with your sister-friends, even if it was past your bedtime. Your heart will glow as you think about all the advice your dad gave you...and you'll realize he was 100% right, every single time. You will remember those moments when man told you it was impossible, but God grabbed hold of your situation and turned it around so fast, you still can't quite put together all the pieces of the puzzle.

But it worked. For your good.

You're not too old to have children. Your parents had two babies at a time when everyone said they were "too old." And your grandmother was in her 40s when she had your dad--her 12th child!

Don't get cute though. You're not about that minivan life.

Keep running, even when you think it will feel so much better to sit on the couch and watch American Greed. Girlfriend, it's all about that ten-minute window after the run--when your mind and body are both kind of quietly state the obvious: Dang. We did that. 

Despite what Shayla says, you're funny. Keep telling your silly jokes.

Stop being so cheap!

In every single way possible, love yourself.

The only thing stopping you is you.

See you at the finish line.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 9: Speak Those Things

“Show it to me.”

Sierra abruptly stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, causing a pedestrian pile-up during the lunch hour traffic. She snatched off her glasses, narrowed her fiery brown eyes and prepared to unleash a verbal tirade that would surely cause grown men to blush and mothers to cover their child’s ears.

“…your heart.”

“I beg your pardon?”

As the attractive man stepped closer to her, her sense of smell was lured in by notes of bergamot, lavender, amber and vanilla. Prada Luna Rossa. Sierra inhaled, struggling to keep the stoic look on her face. Girrrrrrrl, don’t fall for it.

“I was just talking to God on my way back to myoffice…you’re not offended by that are you?”

“Not at all.” 
A Christian who wears Prada. Two points.

“Great.” The man smiled at Sierra and continued. “Like I said, I was talking to God about this whole dating and relationship thing in today’s world. It seems like no one is really out here to get to know each other—I mean beyond Facebook quotes and filtered Instagram pics. I’m frustrated and I told God as much.”

Is this some kind of joke? 
Sierra’s heart threatened to jump out of her tightly secured pea coat and run down the street like Scooby-Doo in a haunted house. How many nights have I cried out to God about the same thing? 
She nodded, motioning for him to continue.

“I asked God to help me find someone who would speak to my heart. It’s nice to hear about your favorite movie and how long you’ve been single; but I want to know how you got that childhood scar. Or who your hero is. What made you cry the last time tears fell from your face? What is your first thought when you wake up every morning?”

“I want to tell you the same things about me and more….so much more. I don’t have time in my life for the superficial. I’m ready to grow with someone. Build a life with someone. Face the world with no fear because I know someone is praying for me and I will do the same for her.”

“So, I’m asking you again: will you show me your heart? Will you let down your guard and take off your mask?” The man extended his hand to Sierra, who was still speechless.  “Will you believe God with me that all things are possible…even us?”

Sierra’s mind whirled a million reasons to run:
He could be a serial killer.
What if he uses me?
I can’t take one more heartbreak in my life.
Should I mace him?

Her heart spoke two words to make her stay:
Trust me.

“I will.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 8: The Leather Couch & Me

“How do you see yourself? “

The first words that came to mind were the words I always use to describe myself: 6’0’’ without the heels; an enigma wrapped in a mystery; big hair, big boobs, big personality… the words that get a laugh when I’m conversing with strangers. 
But his unwavering eye contact told me that my sarcasm wasn’t going to cut it today. I had to go deeper, to that place beyond my defense mechanisms and my projection. I had to reach down into the murky waters of my past and uncover the hurts, rejections and insecurities that were strangling my future. I had to keep it real.

“I’m a failure.”

A few months ago, I started experiencing what I call the 3:30 wake-up call. No matter how hard I exercised the night before or how many pages I wrote in my journal, my eyes would fly open and thoughts of rage, embarrassment and pessimism would flood my mind:

Rage: What did I do to deserve this?!?!?
Embarrassment: I know everyone is talking about me right now.
Pessimism: I’m just not good enough and this is never going to get any better.

The Trauma DJ would take me on a vivid journey through all of my failures in the past three years, interspersing those memories with comparisons to others and reminders of every single one of my insecurities. My body would be covered in sweat and tears would sting my eyes as I sat up on the side of the bed, crying out to God in the way that you can only cry out to God in the early morning hours. And still, I struggled.

One day, I was sitting in my office (downing another cup of strong coffee) when I felt the urge to find a psychiatrist. I nixed the idea initially, telling myself that therapy should be reserved for people who are really in crisis mode: grieving, suicidal ideation, stuff like that.

And then I saw my reflection in my cell phone. The bags under my eyes and the smile that didn’t quite go all the way up were a dead giveaway: for me, this was a crisis. I started making phone calls immediately.

Therapy has almost always gotten a bad rap, especially in the African-American community. We are guilty of saying we don’t need help or REAL Christians don’t get depressed.  However, I think the biggest issue is simply fear of the unknown. People don’t know exactly what to expect when they meet with a mental health professional.

Let me remove the stigma for you.

1. It’s always a brown leather couch.
I have visited psychiatrists and psychologists several times in my life, usually in the aftermath of great personal tragedy. They have been in different parts of the city; all races and both genders. But one thing remains the same: they all have a brown leather couch. I’m pretty sure they receive their couches when they graduate, sort of like when nurses receive their caps.
There are usually other places to sit, but why break tradition? The couch is usually the most comfortable anyway.

2. It’s not expensive.
My payment is the same price I pay for a regular doctor’s visit. Most mental health professionals will either accept your insurance (thankfully, mine does), or have a sliding scale based on your financial situation. Most offices will work with you on the payment—if they won’t, thank them for their time and keep calling other offices until you find someone who will.

I suppose some would argue that $60/month is too expensive. But you know what’s more expensive than that? Living a half-assed life full of fear.

3. It’s (sort of) like talking to a friend.
I know that sounds really cliché, but that is the best way for me to describe what a typical session feels like.

When I walk in, he asks me about my week—what was good, what was bad, etc.  We discuss the things we talked about in the last session and whether or not they are still pressing matters. If they are, we revisit them and explore what can be done to change my thought process. If not, we celebrate the victory and move on to something else. We also talk about everything from The Bachelor to the NCAA tournament….and he laughs at my jokes. That might just be because I pay him, but whatever.

He listens. I’m not afraid that what I tell him will (accidentally or intentionally) slip out in future conversations with others; I don’t have to worry that my issue is somehow overshadowing something that he is dealing with in his life. I know that for one hour, this is about me. Sometimes, that’s difficult because…

3a. He does not give me advice.
My favorite question to ask my best friends is: “if you were me, what would you do?” I can’t ask that of my psychologist. Well, I suppose I could, but he won’t answer. Instead, he will ask me how I choose to respond. I’m forced to say out loud the words I’ve been so afraid of saying for years, because I thought people would judge me.

It’s infuriating.

I love it.

4. You will probably cry.
That’s why there’s a box of tissues on the leather couch.

See? There’s another reason why you should sit there!

5. You’ll feel better.
Make no mistake about it: this isn’t Punky Brewster. Life is just so daily and there will always be things that make you angry/sad/stressed. But therapy has taught me how to better cope with all of my emotions, both good and bad.

--I can be upset that someone cut me off on I-35, but that doesn’t mean today is going to be the WORST DAY EVER.

--I can be sad that a relationship didn’t work out without assuming it was solely based on my attraction/weight/personality.

--I can say no and mean it. (Chile….this right here was worth every penny I have spent thus far!)

--Fear looks way bigger on the horizon than it actually is.

--My life isn’t over. In so many ways, it’s just beginning.

By the way, if you call me at 3:30 tomorrow morning, I won’t be answering.
I’ll be sleeping like a baby.



Monday, March 30, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 7: Running For My Life

Ah, poetry.

Looking back, every poem I have ever written sounds like a Toni Braxton ballad or an India Arie anthem. My parents always did say I was the dramatic one!

I’m trying for a different tone today—more indicative of where I am in my life right now. Let’s see how this goes.

Left, right
Left, right
She passed me
I need a faster song
He passed me too
It's too hot
My nose is running
My stomach is cramping
I’m not going to make it
This is the worst I’ve done
There’s the photographer
My thighs are probably jiggling
I bet I look a mess
Is that--
the finish line
They’re cheering for me
That clock can’t be right
I made it
Thank you, God 

Best race ever.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writing Challenge, Day 6: The BEST Turkey Burger in OKC

About eight years ago, I stopped eating beef and pork. I mourned the loss of some of my favorite foods (like country ribs, ham, pork chops, roast beef....*sigh*....give me a minute), but I have enjoyed the journey of finding new, exciting things to eat. There is so much more to life than baked chicken.

And there is nothing better than a good turkey burger.

Turkey products have become readily accessible in today's health-conscious world. A turkey burger has less fat, calories and sodium than an all-beef patty. However, good turkey burgers--like a man who smells nice, loves the Lord and wants a relationship--are hard to find. A turkey burger will almost always taste different than a hamburger, but there should be some taste to it, even aside from the toppings. It should also have some juices sealed inside because...who wants to eat a hockey puck?

But alas, I have done all the research for you. If you want to know where to find the best turkey burger in Oklahoma City, I'd be glad to tell you.

It's a tie!

First, let's talk about the turkey burger at VZD's (4200 N. Western).
I found VZD's one day when I still worked in the Classen District and I wanted to try something different. I had heard rave reviews about the food, but I was skeptical. Okay, I judged them. There are much flashier, opulent looking restaurants on Western and I did not think VZD's was going to give me anything more than a stomachache.

I ordered the turkey burger and I was pleased with the price ($6.95). My food was also made to order, which is extremely important with turkey burgers--the longer they sit, the more they dry out. The moment I bit into my burger, I think I heard the heavens rejoicing with me.

That burger was GOOD.

It was juicy; it had the right amount of seasoning without being overpowering; there was a great meat-to-bun ratio (I like a little overlap) and the grilled onions and peppers added just the right note to the end of beautiful burger song. VZD's condiment of choice is their seasoned mayonnaise, but it taste just as phenomenal with nothing added. I was so impressed, I ate there every Friday for about a month.

I'm a creature of habit.

I know most of you will remember the big hoopla about VZD's closing, but they are back and better than ever. If you are ever looking for a casual place to grab a great burger, this is the place I recommend. It's worth navigating the construction.

If you're looking for something a bit more upscale, you cannot go wrong with the turkey burger at Charleston's (various metro locations). I have always loved the atmosphere at Charleston's--it's nice without being too pretentious. I was surprised to see they even had turkey burgers on the menu, but I decided it was worth a try.

Hold on to your seats as I make this bold claim: Charleston's turkey burger is just as good as their regular burger.

When I was still eating beef, I adored the burgers at Charleston's. I am a big fan of that charbroiled taste and they have it down to a science. The turkey burger offers that same smoky flavor. The patty itself is HUGE and absolutely covered with melted jack cheese, which excites me. Even though I am severely lactose intolerant, melted cheese is my guilty pleasure. The burger is topped with field greens (not just iceberg lettuce), thick tomato slices, red onions and honey mustard. Though a little pricier than VZD's at $10, it is worth every penny.

Charleston's would be a great choice for a date night, but probably not the first date. It's hard to engage in witty repartee when you're wolfing down an amazing burger.

Remember: you will never know how much you can truly enjoy something unless you try.

....Except turkey bacon. Save yourself the trouble and just eat a box of packing peanuts.

Be Encouraged,