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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Los Angeles! Arrivederci e Grazie!

As I leave Los Angeles for a new and exciting adventure, I reflect and give thanks for my 
3.5 years in this awesome city! 

Thank you!

For the Sun, Ocean, Mountains and never ending beauty...

For wonderful friends

 Thanks for four hours a day commuting to and from a job that was only 17 miles away 
from my home ~sarcasm intended~

In Los Angeles I had my first ever Stand-Up Comedy performance and I finally learned how to swim (without my floatie!!)

In Los Angeles I received sight! Without glasses...
Thanks to Assil Eye Institute.

Thanks for the food!

Ramen burgers, In N Out, Roscoe's, and the best Mexican food I have ever had in the 
United States (I see you Peacha's).

Although pizza is not quite the same as in NYC, I still had fun trying to find the 
perfect pie (thumbs up Settebello and Provo).

Thank you for allowing me to get in touch with ME. 
Your geography lends itself to isolation which seemed to be a curse but ended up a blessing. 
As a result, I figured out what is truly important in life and what I want for my future.

Thank you for proving how strong I am. 
NYC was tough but you are tougher. 
But through it all the sunshine made everything OK

Thank you for slowing me down and allowing me to enjoy life a little bit more.

Los Angeles

Thanks for the memories!

Ciao bella 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Full Year - Blog Free

A full year off from blogging was completely unintentional.

I have been caught up in work and figuring out life. Taking care of goals that have been put on the back burner.

I think I am on to something, something that speaks to my title Eat, Sing, Pray even more closely. That speaks to my purpose!

It takes straying from the purpose to return to it in a new way. I suppose such is life. Such is the way of our journey.

Until next time...


Monday, February 9, 2015

Hasta la Vista Baby!

My first trip to Europe occurred in 1999.  As a flight attendant, I had the opportunity to fly to Paris for $50 round trip, in business class! What can I say; it was one of the major perks of the job since I barely made 18K that year.

Somehow it felt like I belonged there, it was a supernatural feeling. It felt like home. But then I traveled to London (half a dozen times), then Rome, and Berlin and Switzerland. They all felt the same, like home. I had the opportunity to travel to other parts of the world including Asia but no other place tugged on my heart like Europe.

The tug on my heart inspired me to put in a base transfer to Paris and London. I steadily advanced towards the top of the transfer list but I was laid off in 2001. All hope was lost. I was counting on a working visa with the airline. My plan; establish roots in the new country, learn the language if necessary then establish citizenship.

After years of moving around, from my hometown in Michigan to Philadelphia to New York City to South Carolina back to New York City and now Los Angeles, my heart continues to feel the tug. But why?

I found comfort in my conundrum while reading Tina Turner's life story . She experienced the same feeling when she visited Europe for the first time. Now she is a citizen of Switzerland. I also found camaraderie in a post on the Black Women in Europe blog. The author brings up the subject of the increasing hostility in the US towards people of color, despite our so-called Post Racial Society. At the same time, many African Americans throughout history, especially artists, moved to Europe to flee racial discrimination. Obviously, I am not alone...

Sixteen years since I landed in Paris for the first time, I find myself in the same boat, trying to figure out a way to move to Europe. I have a few ideas brewing in my mind. And I narrowed down my country of choice to Italy. But the HOW is still to be determined. I have to trust that if my heart is in it, the universe will make way! Here's to possible changes ahead!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dating Los Angeles Style

This article was originally submitted to the Los Angeles Times but they didn't publish it. 
I could have used the $300 bucks. 

Oh Well... Here it is for you all to enjoy!

**names have been changed to protect and respect their privacy**

I started to cry in my doctor’s office after our discussion about getting pregnant at my advanced age. I wasn’t the only one, as I admitted my embarrassment she let me know she kept a box of tissues on her desk for that very reason. According to statistics, as a 42-year-old black female I have a better chance getting hit by lightening on Venice Beach than getting married. It seems that catching Ebola is more of a possibility than catching a man for me. As old fashioned as it may seem, I want to be married before I bring a child into the world. And at this point I am past the proverbial biological clock ticking, soon the biological clock alarm will sound.

I moved to Los Angeles from New York City in 2013. Surprisingly, I have found it incredibility difficult to connect with people in general let alone connect with possible guys to date. Some guys will agree to coffee or drinks and never confirm. The few that do confirm to meet up are looking for a friend with benefits. To complicate the dating issue even more, I am very open to dating interracially.  Even though I keep an open mind when considering a guy to date, some aren’t so open to dating a girl of my hue. However, not to be discouraged, I have continued to “put myself out there” and make things happen.

I have tried online dating countless times with no success. I have been on pretty much every popular and not so popular online dating site there is. But I decided to try again when I moved to Los Angeles. I joined Tinder after my sister sent me a link to the app. That was a big mistake. My time on tinder was short lived when several ‘gentlemen’ suggested a two am drive over to my place to ‘talk’.  I am not interested in a one-night stand. Thank you.

I started to reassess my situation. Could I be playing the dating game wrong? I had to reconsider what is important. Countless advice columns suggest single women over 40 should lower their standards to improve their dating options.  Unfortunately, I happen to be attracted to smart, funny, fit guys. Generally guys my age aren’t so fit. Despite my youthful and fit appearance I started to look out side the box and this is what happened...

I met Todd a 38-year-old sales executive on OK Cupid; we are both East Coast transplants and had a great phone conversation. I decided to meet him for drinks at an awesome place, The Bowery in Hollywood, which reminded me of New York City. I wore flats but towered over him at 5’4”. However, as much as I tried to force it, there was no chemistry between us.

I met Randy a 55-year-old software engineer at a Speed Dating event. During our five-minute speed date we had a great conversation. I wasn’t attracted to him at all but felt I should at least try. We met up at Perch with a table overlooking the beautiful DTLA skyline. This could have been a potentially romantic environment but it went south very quickly.  His insecurity seemed to get the best of him, he became a bit controlling and possessive, and it made me uncomfortable so I did not pursue a second date.

I tried a Lock and Key event at El Cid in Silverlake. The venue was excellent and so were the hors d'oeuvres provided with the price of admission. Every girl received a lock for the guys to unlock with their key. During the course of the evening I talked to as many guys as possible to see if they had the key to my lock and perhaps my heart. By the end of the night I had enough guys to open my lock to win two tickets to the Laemmle Theatre. Unfortunately I didn’t find a match so I will be going to the movies with me and myself.

As I began to think outside the box I realized the MeetUp groups I already frequented had plenty of single men. Since I started learning Italian recently, I joined an Italian conversation group. At one of the meetings I met Antonio, an avid soccer player, born and raised in Italy who was willing to help me practice speaking Italian. We met up for wine and cheese at Luna Vine Wine Bar. We had a lovely time and met up again. But all good things seem to come to an end as it relates to my dating life. He had to return to Italy indefinitely to help his family.

Ironically, it seems I have more luck with long distance dating. And I don’t mean dating a guy who lives as far away as Long Beach (I’m a Valley girl). I started dating a few guys who live across the Atlantic. The time zone difference alone makes it challenging to communicate. But as my biological alarm is soon to sound, I may need to consider the possibility that love could lead me away from Los Angeles. But the guy will have to be pretty special to tear me away from the city I have grown to love.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Wish: Reflection and Gratitude

After the year our country and world has endured. I wish the world peace, kindness and love!

This year has been a difficult one. 2014 has had its ups and downs. 2014 mirrors 2013 in a lot of ways. I wonder what I am not learning about life. Apparently there are lessons I still need to learn.

The only thing that's different is how I have chosen to react to the ups and downs. I don't react perfectly but I try. Very hard. 

My reaction. Thankfulness.

I am thankful for what I have in my life. Thankful for friends, very dear friends. For family, because many aren't blessed to have present family members. Thankful for health and a wonderful place to live. For all of this I am very thankful. 

Whenever I feel rejected or disappointed or long for all my dreams to come true, I try to think of what I am thankful for. 

As hard as it may be, my 2015 goal is to be thankful for the downs as much as the ups. Hopefully the ups will outweigh the downs this year.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2015 to all of you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Victim Blaming and Shaming

My last post discussed my response to the Cosby rape allegations. But another news story brought up some unpleasant memories from my past once again.

A New York Times article discussed recent recommendations regarding the sexual abuse cover up affiliated with my alma mater Bob Jones University. 

According to the article...

"Bob Jones University told sexual abuse victims they were to blame for their situations, some of which took place for long periods of childhood; report says university actively advised victims not to report such incidents to police; respondents to confidential survey detailed hurtful, often startling treatment by the evangelical Christian institution"

I may need to explain the reason I attended BJU in a separate blog post since I get questions whenever I am brave enough to actually admit to attending the school. But I did go to BJU and what the article states is not at all surprising. 

I attended an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church (IFB) while I lived in New York City from 1998-2003. When I first arrived I felt the people to be loving and kind.  But soon, the extreme doctrine the pastor preached was taking over my life. I was a dancer, musician and actor but gave all of that up to serve God. I wanted to go into the music ministry and since my former pastor attended BJU, I decided to get my Master's degree there. 

Before I left for BJU in 2003, one of the elders in the church was acting inappropriately towards the women in the congregation. Both single and married. To shed some light on what is regarded as inappropriate in this environment I need to explain the male and female dynamics in an IFB church.

Men and women who are not married are not to touch beyond a hand shake. IF that. Depending on the person a short side hug may be appropriate. But hardly. Especially between an unmarried man and woman. The picture below illustrates my point beautifully. Or you can watch a couple of episodes of 19 Kids and Counting to get an even better idea.  

The elder in the church would continually flirt with women. It got to the point where there was a competition between the single girls in church over who would get his attention each week. At the same time I hung out with him at a mutual friend's home and communicated with him via email regularly. Thinking his flirting, emails of a sexual nature and winking was an indication of interest I began to follow his "lead". After 6-8 months of this cat and mouse chase, I learned I was just another conquest. And it was pretty devastating. I guess I was expecting the men in church to treat women with more respect and care than when I interacted with men outside of the church. 

After I got over the situation I realized what he was doing was not only harmful to individuals but to the church as a whole. The pastor constantly preached on the purity of the church so I thought that this situation was detrimental to the health of the church. I knew it was really bad when a fellow church member called me crying about how she was sure he was coming on to her but then he later said he didn't mean it. 

So I went through the steps in Matthew 18:15 

1- If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private - I went to him in private to discuss the situation. He said he had issues with sexual thoughts. OK.

2- If he listens to you, you have won your brother. - The behavior continued. 

3- But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. - I went with a friend, still the behavior continued, we finally went to the pastor.

What was interesting is that when I told the other women I was going to the pastor, none of them would come with me. Only one faithful friend did. But there were at least 3 other women who could have joined me. But didn't.

The final word from the pastor in this entire ordeal? "Well, he is an attractive man." my reply..."What is THAT supposed to mean"

You have to understand this was only 2 years after the ordeal surrounding the director exposing himself to me at Second City. So as a result, this blow to my trust reopened the wound. I was admittedly suicidal and I lost a lot of weight, nearly 15 pounds. By the grace of GOD I did not throw myself in front of a subway train. 

After graduation I returned to New York City and told the pastor I would not be returning to the church because he tolerated sinful behavior from one of the elders. His response... "He is a good friend of mine and he seeks to glorify God"

This elder did not act out on any of these sexual conversations, at least with me. But who knows if a woman is hiding a sexual assault incident because she knows the pastor and congregation would blame her for it. Or do nothing about it. 

The folks affiliated with the IFB want to distance and distinguish themselves from the Orthodox Catholic Church and Fundamental Islam. But they are really the same. They cover up sexual abuses in the church and stone victims of abuse, perhaps not physically but emotionally and spiritually. 

May God have mercy.