Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Final Post

Well, this is it! It is finally time to say goodbye to Blogger and The Eclectic. But there is a bit of good news:

There will be brand new posts over on KinxnQuirx starting MONDAY, MAY 23!
Yup, a whole week earlier than anticipated! 

Thank you for making The Eclectic what it was. I look forward to seeing you at KnQ soon!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Eclectic is Moving!

Yes, my dears & sirs. It's time to move on from here. Blogger has been great but it's time to move on to greener pastures.I want to expand my writing and my personal brand, and this is one step towards that. The Good Hair Diaries and The Eclectic will be combined at my new site, Kinx n Quirx. All of the old posts from both sites will be imported into the new one, and I will leave both blogs up with a redirect to the new site.

The site is still being built, but you are able to read, comment and connect via Google Friend Connect. No new posts until the official "grand opening" of the blog, which should be by May 30. (Yeah, I know that seems like a long time, but between a couple of real estate closings--thank ya Lawd!--and celebrating my birthday hard all month, doesn't seem like I have that long.)

As always, I love suggestions about topics, features, etc. so feel free to email me at ToriDBlogs@gmail.com and shoot me your ideas! Hopefully I will see all of you, plus some new faces, over at the new site!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Proving Yourself

For some people, your best will never be enough.No matter how intelligent, charismatic, kind, or whatever other positive attribute Unfortunately, such is the case with our current Commander-In-Chief, President Obama. Yesterday, after years of brushing off the "birthers" who refuse to believe that he is a US citizen by birth, he presented his long-form birth certificate.

As if it weren't all verified before he became a serious candidate. As if he owed these birthers something. As if a Black man could not attain that level of power without it being part of some deep-seated conspiracy to change the America "we know and love."

In the words of @JamilSmith, "This reminds me of is a Black man being forced to show his papers proving he's a freed man. It's not equivalent, but reminiscent." 

But of course they aren't satisfied. As I tweeted yesterday, they will never be satisfied because he can never change his skin. And this morning I read a post of 20 examples of Birther/Tea Partiers bitching about the legitimacy of the document, how long it took him to release it, now stating he needs to show his grades from school.... Really? Fuckin really, America?! Have a seat boo, you're bigotry, hatred, fear and racism are showing. And everyone sees it.

I'm too disgusted to finish. Part two when I'm more composed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

YPW: The YP Bookshelf

*due to several factors I wasn't able to get this posted yesterday but I wanted to make sure I shared it!*

One thing I have learned is that no matter how long you've been working, how well you know your job, or whether or not you went to school for a certain field, you can always benefit from reading more about the business. There is plenty of material out there pertaining to specific areas (such as the two real estate books I should have finished long ago but am still I'm reading, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and Shift). But even better, in my opinion, are books that teach you about managing your career and how to deal with different aspects of business regardless of what your business is.

Once we make the move to the new blog (more on that to come) there will be a section entitled "From the Bookshelf," which will feature book reviews, discussions, etc. I thought I'd get a head start on that by listing just a few books that I think would be beneficial for young professionals. Of course it's likely that they won't all fit you, but you should be able to find something relatable in this list. It isn't complete, and some of them are still on my to-read list, but have made it here by virtue of the excerpts I have read. Full reviews coming later!

Already Read

1. You're Too Smart for This: Beating the 100 Big Lies About Your First Job
I wish I'd read this before getting my first "real" job. It would've prepared me for some of the things that I encountered as a fresh young grunt.

2. Who Moved My Cheese
When I read this in college for one of my business classes, it didn't make much of an impact on me. However, after getting out in the real world and dealing with change on the regular, this book proved to be pretty valuable.

3. The Girls Guide to Kicking Your Career in Gear
Great book on how to take control of your work life, even when it looks like the boys club has things on lock. I enjoyed this one and revisit it from time to time.


1. Less: Accomplishing More by Doing Less
2. Z.B.A.: Zen of Business Administration--How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Life and Your Work
3. Crucial Conversations and Crucial Confrontations (complementary books)
4. 32 Ways to Be a Champion in Business
5. Surviving Your Serengeti: 7 Skills to Master Business and Life

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

YPW: What Is Your Online Reputation?

How fitting that this would fall on 4/20, as I see many on my Twitter timeline publicly discussing their drug use. Some even have their real full name in the profile. O_o

More and more, employers are checking out their employees and potential employees via the web. According to an article posted yesterday on Time.com, "A 2010 study by Microsoft and Cross-Tab, a market-research agency, found that 78% of surveyed U.S. companies examined the search-engine results of prospective hires. The study also found that 86% of employers reported that a positive online reputation factors into their hiring decision." They want to see "the real you," not just your representative from the interview. What will they find when they Google you?

Take a moment and do a search for your name. Go ahead, I'll wait. *plays hold muzak*


So what did you find? When I search my full name, I get my results related to my business: the real estate website & blog, a professional Twitter handle, and my LinkedIn account. There are also a ton of results that have absolutely nothing to do with me. Guess my name is more common than I thought, which can be a mixed blessing.

The Internet makes it easy to give TMI, sometimes without even realizing it. If you find some not-so-great results for yourself, you may be able to do damage control. Facebook is the biggie here. You notice I didn't list Facebook above. That's because I am militant about my security settings; I check, check and check again. So no, you won't find that by doing a public search. However, that is not necessarily foolproof, so you still need to safeguard your account. Un-tag pictures that may cast a negative light (drug use, extreme drunkenness, displaying weapons), monitor what goes on your wall (keep profanity to a minimum and discourage profanity and hate speech from others), and refrain from the negative comments about your boss, coworkers, customers, etc. I know the last one is tempting! But trust me, managers tend to look down on those kind of things. The same is true for Twitter, Myspace if you haven't stepped out of 2005, and whatever other social networks you may be on. (If you just must have an online venue to vent, I suggest a Twitter or Tumblr account under an alias with a different email address than what's listed on your resume. Can't be too careful!)

If you don't have much info coming up, or if you want to add more positive results, there are several things you can do. Create a LinkedIn account and be sure to update it at least twice a week. (For the uninitiated, LinkedIn is sort of like Facebook but specifically for the purpose of networking with other professionals). Do the same for Twitter. If you don't want to go through the hassle of creating two Twitter accounts, don't! You can make yours what I call a blended account where you discuss business and share select personal information (basically, remember yesterday's rule of not over-sharing and apply it here). You may also want to create a blog to get your name out there. Do one that is strictly professional, or follow the same format you would for the blended Twitter account. It may take a little time to get listed higher up in the rankings, but with regular activity it will happen. (Let me pause here to say that I am ignorant when it comes to Search Engine Optimization. I'm learning, but I can't tell you a thing about it right now, so do like me and do some research on how SEO can be helpful to you.)

Lastly, if you need help burying negative info that you have no control over, you need to bring out the big guns. The professionals. Companies like Reputation.com and Integrity Defenders work to bury negative info (because it's almost impossible to erase stuff from the 'net) under a ton of positive info. These people know all about SEO, search algorithms, all that good stuff. Of course, it will cost you and it can be pretty pricey, so this is not a quick fix because you don't want to change your Facebook privacy settings. This is some in-depth damage control.

So fellow young professionals, how well do you manage your online reputation? Now that you are in "the real world" have you changed your perception of social media and how it's used? Speak on it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

YPW: Make Yourself Marketable

There is an uncomfortable truth that young professionals--and even the not-so-young--have to come to grips with. The days of remaining loyal to one company for 30-something years and retiring in comfort off of your pension plan are long gone. These days, one must often move out to move up, and simply being "good enough" is not enough to get you where you want to be. You have to make yourself marketable, make hiring managers want you on their team because they see you as an asset. The most effective way to do this is through education and training.

You may be thinking, "No no no, I'm not going back to school! I've got all the degrees I need/want for this job." Understandable! I am right there with you (at least, for the time being). Although having x number of degrees is pretty impressive, that's not the only type of education out there for you. Don't think that you can only gain knowledge by sitting in a professor's classroom for a couple semesters. There are other avenues through which you can learn and make yourself more valuable to your current company, future companies who may be looking to hire you, and yourself should you decide to branch out on your own.

Of course, one of the biggest, easiest ways is by looking for information online. If you're like me, you've got access to (and take advantage of) the Internet 24/7. Why not take a break from Twitter to check out an article written by some of the leaders in your industry. Not sure who that might be? Google is your friend! Search for "trends in [industry name]" or "[your industry] industry leaders." The names that come up first and most often are usually the ones you want to go with. However, you must exercise some caution and common sense; there are scams almost everywhere. Beware of links that try to sell you something or that go to shady looking sites. There is also a wealth of information to be found in publications that relate to the type of business you do, such as industry journals and business books. Sure it may seem archaic, but crack open a book sometime to learn more about your business. You'd be amazed at the "a-ha" moments you have once you understand the ins and outs of what you do.

Reading and doing your research is excellent, but that's not the only type of education you need. If you are fortunate enough to work at a company that provides or pays for training, attend as often as possible. This is especially important when the training involves people from other agencies or companies, because they offer benefits beyond the obvious. For example, I am taking part in an Administrative Support Certification Program (ASCP). Of course I don't plan on working in an administrative assistant position for the rest of my career, so why am I taking it? Well, the obvious reason is because it will allow me to learn skills to enhance my current job and make me eligible for a little raise. However, the big bonus here is networking. Some of the instructors work or have worked in fields that interest me: grant writing & management, publishing, consulting, music! And some of the other participants are working in agencies that I would like to work for. I've even connected with other real estate agents and gotten leads from them. Networking with others gives you a chance to pick their brains for ideas that you may be able to implement, leads for job opportunities, and new lunch spots to try.

I would also advise not limiting yourself to the training your job provides. After all, what if your company can't/doesn't provide any at all? You have to take the initiative and find the training that will be beneficial to you. And think outside of the box! Are you in a position or one day hope to be in a position that requires making presentations? Become a part of your local Toastmasters Club. While it's not a traditional "training" you get the experience of making presentations, and mistakes, without having it affect your career. Find conferences and other training opportunities that interest you, then find a way to incorporate them into your work. If you're passionate about it, it will show!

Finally, find professional organizations related to what you do. Some of them may be free, or you can get your employer to offset the cost for you. If you are in the industry that you want to work in long term (or at least one you can see yourself in for a couple years) it would most likely be worth the annual fee. The benefits of being a part of a professional organization are basically the same as the other benefits we've discussed: networking (on a large scale this time) and more training opportunities. Even if you cannot find a professional org that specifically relates to your field, you should try a generic professional group, such as NBMBAA or Young Professional Alliance if there is one in your area.

To the young professionals reading this post, what have you done to make yourself marketable?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Young Professionals Week (YPW): Presenting Yourself Professionally

Although I am an artiste at heart, I am also very business oriented. One of my greatest goals in life is to help others, minority girls in particular, to understand and excel at business. True, not everyone will be an entrepreneur or even work in an industry that involves your typical "business." However, the majority of us will have to work for and with someone else, and in doing so we must learn how to present ourselves professionally. It is critical to our success--and our paycheck!

So how exactly do you present yourself professionally? There are a couple of simple things you can do to show the more refined, business-minded side of yourself, regardless of the nature of your business.

When it comes to jewelry and makeup, less is more.
I was recently in a training where an older woman had multiple rings on every. single. finger. Add that to the earrings, necklaces (yes, multiple) and bracelet she had on... When she spoke, where do you think all of the attention went? To the mounds of jewelry, not to what she was saying!  Accessorizing and using makeup to enhance your appearance is great. It projects the image that you care about your job and how the company is presented. However, too much of a good thing really isn't a good thing at all. Practice moderation when it comes to the makeup and jewelry.

Be 110% sure that your clothing is work-appropriate.
Whether you are working with kids, working with power brokers or working with power tools, there is appropriate attire for your job.Since I'm still in the confines of a traditional office job (for now) I focus on that area. Of course, your employer will already have a dress code--most likely written in the policy, but some places it is simply implied. If you're not sure, remember: if you wear it to the club, it's a no. That means the low-cut, super-short, and tight tight outfits are a no-go. After all, you're there to handle business, not sleep your way to the top, right? Also, if you wear it to bed, do NOT bring that to the office! Yes, I have seen some people in places of business dressed as if they were lounging around the house. I can't imagine they were there long. Please leave the sweats, PJ bottoms and Pajama Jeans at home... even if they are comfy. And guys, you aren't off the hook either! The loud Steve Harvey suits with the jacket to your knees? Sir, just say no. I would advise you to say no to buying them at all, but if you must buy them, relegate their wear to Easter service and the Playa's Ball.

Don't over share.
Sure, you're an adult and expected to enjoy adult activities. But do you really think it's appropriate to share how drunk you got over the weekend? Or how good your partners *ahem* skills are? Or how you're gonna whoop so-and-so's behind if they cross you again? Not in the office, it's not. If you've got a coworker that happens to be a good friend, feel free to talk about all of that after hours, preferably at happy hour. Better yet, leave the sordid details of your life outside of work to convos with pals with different employers. Be cordial, of course, but know when and where to draw the line.

Check and double-check your work.
The most important part of your professional presentation is how effectively and efficiently you do your work. No matter how polished you appear physically, if your work appears sloppy, you appear unprofessional. If you are sending out any written document, you need to double check for clarity as well as spelling and grammar. Make certain that presentations meet any guidelines that have been given (such as an allotted time) and that your message is clear and concise. Don't simply rely on spell check to catch errors. If at all possible, have someone else proofread your work

Of course these aren't the last word in professionalism, so what do you have to say? What advice would you give other young professionals? What, in your opinion, is a definite way to portray yourself as unprofessional?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Morning Quickie: Theme Weeks

I'm going to try my hand at something that I've never really done, save the Seven Deadly Sins challenge. I'm going to start doing theme weeks from time to time, with random posts done on the "off" weeks. The idea behind this is that a theme will 1) force me to post more, 2) help me to develop topics easily, and 3) allow me to write more about my readers' (and my own) interests. A few themes have come to mind, like Greek Week, Tweet Week and Week of the Ex to name a few. I will also be taking topics from The Daily Post, Blogging for Branding, and any other sites, articles, etc. that inspire me. (If I lift an idea from another blogger or site, trust that I'm giving credit where it's due.) I'm also open to challenges suggestions from readers. If you have a topic that you think would be interesting, send it to me! Feel free to leave it in the comments or email me at ToriDBlogs@gmail.com. First theme week starts on April 17. I'm excited. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Did They Die in Vain?

Forty-three years ago today, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN. His legacy of fighting for equality and civil rights lives on to this day. He dreamed of a better day for his people and for all people. Some would argue that this has happened, in that we cannot legally be discriminated against based on color, nationality, and gender. Some go as far as to say the fact that President Obama is in office the the culmination of Dr. King's dream. I am not one of those with rose-colored glasses. I know that the dream has not been fully realized, as racial profiling, economic inequality and the "glass ceiling" that minorities face in business is still very real.

But we must take a look inward to see what we have done to either further his dream or hinder it. Have we as a people lost focus of what's truly important? Does equality and the chance to achieve the "American dream" hold as much weight as the latest dance or what our favorite reality TV stars are doing? Do we as a people still have the sense of unity and community that we once had? When we remember the legacy of men like Dr. King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Rosa Parks and countless others--known and unknown--it is not enough to say "thank you." We must show that we are thankful for their sacrifices by living up to our potential, continuing the fight for equality and refocusing on the things that matter most. Every day that we don't, we are saying that they died in vain.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pandemic: The Adult Temper Tantrum

Wasn't cute then...
There is a disturbing trend in our society that has exploded within the last few years. More and more, people are flying off the handle about things, whether they be as insignificant as a .50 price hike on their favorite food at Taco Bell or as major as losing a job. And of course you can't forget the celebrity hissy fits, of which Charlie Sheen and Chris Brown are currently leading the way. Every other day there is a new story or video of someone freaking out and destroying property, assaulting others, or just making an ass of themselves by running their mouths and making threats. Meltdowns are mainstream thanks to camera phones and the web, and there appears to be some unspoken contest to see who can spaz out the best... or worst.

I will admit, I wish adults were given a pass to throw a temper tantrum once or twice a year. A full out, on the floor, kicking screaming yelling crying fit! (In fact, I would've used mine last night after realizing that I may have to delay getting my own place even longer than I thought... Another post for another time.) After all, life is stressful and always bottling those frustrations gets to be a bit much. Nowadays everyone is under pressure: the haves & have nots; the educated & the ignorant. People need an outlet for their frustrations, which is understandable. But is there ever anything that justifies going ape sh*t over a burger? (Literally, this chick and her friends look and act like monkeys in this video.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Doing The Most vs. Doing Too Much

Lately I've been wondering if I've been doing too much to try to make it. IMO, there is absolutely a difference between "doing the most" and "doing too much."

For me, this is doing the most:

Working hard, or "grinding" as so many people claim to do. While I haven't quite stepped into the role of entrepreneur (yet) I realize that to get where I want to be, I have to do things that I don't necessarily want to do now. So I endure a job I don't like, persevere through a career I love that is at a stand still due to the economy, and daily come up with new ideas of how I can turn my real passions (writing and the arts) into viable means of income.

But I'm afraid I may have fallen into doing too much:

I wonder if this is me. Focus has always been hard for me and it's no different now. I know the end result that I want, but getting there is proving to be more difficult than I envisioned. So I try to take on more and more to make up for what isn't happening that I think should be happening. So far, this has lead to being super stressed, constantly tired, and getting a bunch of nothing done.

Does that mean I'm not built for the kind of dreams to which I aspire? Or am I just doing too much for the moment and need to pace myself? At this point, the answer eludes me. I've slowed down on some things: put chartering a NBMBAA chapter on hold, kinda dropped some of my sorority obligations (which I feel terrible about, but there's not enough Tori to go around), cut out the tiny bit of social life that I had. And although I don't have a choice with the job and career, I am weighing my options on the other ideas to figure out which is the best for me presently.

I'd hate to get burned out from doing too much before I get to show the world what I can really do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Houston, We Have a Problem

Saturday night, something shifted concerning my relationship. It seemed kinda minor at the time, but two days later and it's still bothering me.

Bartender and I were talking, and somehow the topic of foreigners came up in the convo. I don't really remember what he said, but I responded, "Oh my God, you sound like a friggin Tea Partier!"


"You sound like a Tea Partier!"

"Tea Partier? What do you mean?"

"You mean, you don't know about the Tea Party?"

"Yeah, I know about the Boston Tea Party when they threw the tea in the ocean, but it sounded like you meant some new party that took on that name."

"Umm yeah, I do!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

image courtesy of theredpumpproject.org
"I don't want to know."

"Ignorance is bliss."

"If I have it, there's nothing I can do about it."

There are plenty of excuses one could give for not knowing their status, but none of them are plausible. Knowing your status is a vital part of the fight against HIV/AIDS, and we as women cannot afford to turn a blind eye to it. Women, especially minority women, are disproportionately affected by this horrible disease. Want proof?

Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the United States. Though much progress has been made in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, women still represent 27 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses, with African-American women making up an overwhelming 66 percent of that number. In 2006, teen girls represented 39% of AIDS cases reported among 13–19 year-olds. Black teens represented 69% of cases reported among 13–19 year-olds; Latino teens represented 19%. (source*)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Being a Woman

You may or may not know this, but March is Women's History Month. In fact, today is the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, "a celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women past and present that is observed around the world." It is great that women everywhere are taking time to recognize and honor the achievements of other women, great and small.

I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women who make great strides daily. Of course there's my mother: her high school counselor didn't even present college as an option, however she went, excelled, and is now over the accounting department in on of the state's largest agencies. My big momma, who worked tirelessly for years to provide not only for her children and grandchildren, but for countless nieces, nephews, cousins and neighbors. My twin cousin, who is pursuing her Master's in a field where women (especially Black women) haven't been prominent for very long: engineering. And my broker, who at less than 10 years my senior is living the dream I want--owning my own real estate firm.

Aunts, cousins, sorors, family friends... The caliber of women I am around astounds me!

There are constant reminders that being a woman is not synonymous with being weaker, less capable, or more vulnerable. Proof that a woman's worth is not in her womb. At this point in my life I have come to truly appreciate the duality that I am afforded by being a woman. My soft, feminine, nurturing side is just as appreciated and celebrated as the traditionally "masculine" traits and interests. My hope is that others around me, especially the girls in my life, will see something in me that makes them proud to be a woman as well.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Refresher

When I moved into my new office last year, I inherited a plant. I have no idea what kind of plant it is; it's green with big ol leaves... *shrug* It sits in the corner by the window, and because I have my back to it most of the time, I usually forget that it's there. Sure I see it in the background of my in-office photo shoot pix, but I don't really see it. Inevitably, someone will come through the office and point out the fact that the leaves are limp and dangling over the side of the pot, hanging on for dear life. Eventually I water it and the next day, voila! You'd never know it had a near-death experience.

I feel like there are some areas of my life--heck, all our lives--that need watering. I'm guilty of getting so caught up in what I'm doing that I neglect the things in the corner. Some of it's major, like my pursuit of my own spiritual truth or belief. Some of it isn't major in the affect-you-for-all-eternity kinda way, but still shouldn't have been pushed to the side. Like my voice. I wonder where I would be if I continued to sing after high school and became a classically trained musician. Well I don't know, but I could at least begin voice lessons, get it back to where it used to be. My voice--and my spirit--could use a refresher.

I'm sort of in a down swing right now (bonus for me that I'm now able to pick up on my mood shifts, where as before it didn't really hit me until after someone pointed it out) but I'm trying to take steps to actively pick myself up. I think about how good I feel after a great revival (the last one we had at our church was awesome) and the plant in my office that is thriving now off a little bit of water, and realized that I need my own revival, a complete refreshing--mind, body, spirit... all that. Now that I know, I've got to do.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Used to Love You

Valentine's Day, that is.

In elementary school, Valentine's Day was right up there with Christmas! I loved going to school on that day... It was full of arts & crafts, music and sweets. Heaven for a fat little artiste such as myself. There was no doubt that something would be in the little paper basket that hung over the side of the desk. And don't let there be a real card in there, not just the little tear-out cards that came in the box with the cartoon characters on it... Baaaaaybeh, that meant you were fancy! Someone liked you enough to spend a whole dollar on yo card. Go 'head! And since I went to a Christian school, we got all the love scriptures: "God is love," "For God so loved the world..." "Greater love hath no man than this..." etc.

But then I grew up. Went many V-Days without anyone special. Grew up some more and got my heart broken a couple of times. Went through the bitter phase. Grew up even more to get to the content phase. And now, Valentine's Day just doesn't mean anything to me. I don't hate the holiday--I grew out of that in college. But I'm not ecstatic about it either. It's just another day. Even now that I'm in a relationship, it's not that big of a deal. We do things for each other throughout the year, so whether one of those acts happens to fall on 2/14 doesn't make it any more special to me than the other 364 days of the year.

I used to love Valentine's Day, more than most other days. But now, it's just a day like every other day.

Except my birthday. That day is still special.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On Marriage... Again

Bartender and I have had several discussions on marriage. Although he seems to be opening up to the idea of marriage, there was a conversation that left me thinking. (Let me stop here and note that I have not been trying to convince him to marry me; I've got too much pride and too many options to beg for something like that! LOL) The majority of the conversations have been about why he was fearful or weary of marriage. He gave the typical "Women change/stop giving head/having sex on the regular" excuse for the longest, before finally saying that the commitment was huge and not something that he'd want to go into lightly.


But then he asked me, "Why do you want to get married? What's the benefit for you?"

Initially I wanted to dismiss it as a silly rebuttal, but once I thought about it I had to ask myself the same thing. Really, what is the benefit of me getting married? If I was thinking of starting a family, I would definitely want to be married; but kids are out. Can't really say it's for the financial security; I'm working on that on my own. Plus the likelihood of marrying someone whose credit is as high or higher than mine is low, so that would mean I'd take a hit. I love the emotional security that marriage is supposed to afford, but we all know that marriage is no guarantee of that (just like not being married doesn't mean you won't have it). Tax break? Meh, from what I've read it doesn't amount to a whole lot. I've got insurance from work, got guns for protection. And of course I could look at it from the religious standpoint of needing to be married to do the do without working about eternal damnation and hell fire, but considering my... evolving religious beliefs, I'm not sure how that ties in. Plus, wouldn't marrying just to have sex be wrong? While I still need a man, what is the need for a husband?

But like so many things, even though I feel like I don't need it, I want it. The "want" of marriage for me is knowing that I have such a strong connection (spiritually, physically and mentally) with someone that he is willing to say "You make me so happy that I want to stand before God and the world, vowing to make this work until I take my last breath."

Bartender says I'm still young and naive to how the world works. I tell him that marriage, like anything else, is what one makes of it.

pic courtesy of iamsassychic.com

Morning Randomness: On Handwritten Letters

Since my parents preparing for their move whenever they finally decide on a house I've started the process of cleaning, packing, and throwing things away. I'm tackling my room in sections, because somehow, over the years, I've accumulated a lot of stuff.

While going through a drawer that I'd basically forgotten about, I ran across a big yellow envelope. Even though I hadn't seen or thought about it in years, I knew exactly what it was. The envelope is filled with notes and love letters from back in the day when keeping in touch wasn't just a Facebook post or tweet away. Some of these were passed to me in high school (one of which was from a female friend. I didn't realize was an "I like you" note until way after the fact.) Some were mailed from old boyfriends and interests. A few quick notes from a friend going through Naval training.

One was a note left stuck to my front door... That one was kinda special. It was from my first. Years after he moved away, the summer after I'd graduated from college, he was in town and stopped by to see me. Unfortunately, I was out on my job hunt. He left a quick little note:

"Hey Tori, this is [Mr. Magic Voice's real name].
Every time I try to see you, you're nowhere to be found.
I miss you."

It was cute and a little cheesy that he made it rhyme and... I dunno. It was special to me.

I kinda miss the anticipation of getting a letter from someone I love, the feeling of knowing that they took the time to sit down and write--not type--something just for me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

There's a world outside of Tori D. (on Current Events)

I know that most of my posts are self-centered, but I am quite aware of the things that are going on around me. I tend to use this blog more as a diary than a outlet to keep others abreast of current events. I tend not to talk about them for two reasons: 1. Sometimes I think I feel too strongly about certain things and believe it best to keep to myself, and 2. It usually takes me forever to really articulate what I feel in a way that pleases me. And that's partially due to the fact that I can see both sides of most things and have conflicting views.

Anyway, these are the current/recent events that are at the forefront of my mind.

Earlier this week, an Ohio woman was sentenced to jail, placed on three years probation and fined for sending her daughters to the wrong school district. Instead of sending them to the substandard school they were zoned for, Kelly Williams-Bolar said that her daughters lived with her father so that they could attend a better school. People do this every day, y'all. And if her kids had been excellent athletes, this wouldn't have even been an issue. But instead it's a poor black woman trying to give her kids better. Now I'm not saying she was necessarily right in her method; breaking the law is breaking the law. However, the punishment does not fit the crime. Instead of simply sending the children back to the correct district (or allowing her the chance to arrange for them to live with her father, therefor putting them in the correct district) and perhaps giving her a light fine, she now has a felony on her record, which will severely limit her opportunity to provide a better life for her kids. And has anyone stopped to think about WHY she had to send her kids to a different school district? These were both public schools, but clearly the school in the lower class section of town was not properly funded, staffed, something. There's no reason that there should have been a $30,000 discrepancy in tuition from one school to the other! The judge stated that she wanted to make an example out of her. We should make an example out of the judge. Please sign the petition for Kelly Williams-Bolar

In happier news, earlier this month the Scott Sisters were released. Gov. Haley Barbour suspended their sentences indefinitely on the condition that 1) they do not return to Mississippi and 2) Jamie Scott donate a kidney to her very sick sister Gladys. The sisters are now living in Florida with their mother and children. No word yet on whether Jamie is a match for Gladys. Many have speculated that the reason they were released was because the cost of Gladys' healthcare was becoming too much of a burden. I personally feel it was a move to help his chances at the presidency and to recover from his seemingly racist and white-washed comments a few weeks earlier where he stated that a well-known hate group wasn't all that bad when he was growing up. While his motives may be shady I do commend him for doing what was ultimately the right thing (I still ain't voting for him though). Y'all know what they say, God works in mysterious ways...

And speaking of mysteries, what is up with all of the animals dropping dead by the hundreds, sometimes thousands? Dead birds, dead fish, dead birds, dead crabs, and yes, more dead birds. Some accuse the government of secret testing that resulted in the mass deaths. Others say powerlines and fireworks killed the birds. And more extreme folks are blaming everything from UFOs to the Apocalypse. No one is really sure of the cause of these events, but I like the possible explanations found here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Who taught you to hate?

“Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other? ... you should ask yourself who taught you to hate being what God made you.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ghosts of exes past

It started again, as it so often does.

This time, it began with an innocent "Happy holidays" email.

Then it was an email to check on me, because he knows that this season is rough, considering what happened.

That lead to me looking him up on Facebook, just to see what he's been doing.

Then came the texts with the pet names....

Psycho Ex and I go through this back and forth periodically. It starts off like this, then we become friends again. I let my guard down and we get close. I realize he's trying to have his cake and eat it too--again--and tell him to kiss ass. We don't talk for months. Then an email....

Yesterday it was a "Thinking of you" text. After I didn't respond, I got this today:

I know u told me not to contact you again but i do still think about you and always hope you're doing well. Really impossible for me not 2 think of u.

*sigh* WHY LAWD?!

I want so bad to cuss him out and make him hate me, but something in me stops me from doing that. I can't say I still love him, but I did, and that truth is what makes it so hard. In some other relationships I realized that it was just infatuation so it was no big deal to say eff it. But even when I told him to lose my number there was still some hesitation. And this was almost a year after the big blowup that happened years after we were done!

But this time, I'm ready to end this little back and forth. I haven't engaged in any conversation other than a "same to you and your family" to the Happy New Year/hope all is well texts. I just can't get sucked into the back and forth. Every time I see his (unsaved) number pop up, I think about his wife and have 101 questions. Does she know he still feels this way about me, still contacts me? Has she just accepted that that's the way it is? How does he rationalize his actions in his mind? If we were together, who would he be texting on the side? Would I be so blind?

The answers to those questions really don't even matter at this point. This is a chapter in my life that should have been over long ago. You can't run from the past, can't undo it. But he's a lie if he thinks I'm ready to repeat it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On Marriage: An Epiphany

This? Eh... eventually.
I've realized something that I guess I hadn't really thought about recently. It wasn't a slap-me-upside-the-head a-ha moment... just a subtle realization.

I've always had this time line in mind about when I wanted to be married and possibly start a family. I wanted to be married by 25. I figured that if I decided to have kids, this would allow my husband and I about three years together, just the two of us. Pop the first kid out at 28, second at 29 or 30. Tubes tied at 31. Ya like how nice and neat I had that worked out, don't you?

But here I am, a few months shy of 26, and I've discovered that I'm okay with the fact that life has not gone according to my plans. In fact, not only am I okay with it, but I would be okay with not getting married until sometime in my 30s. I have so much I want to do right now, things that will require my time and attention over the next couple of years. And while I know it's possible to do the things I want to do while married, I don't think I want to. Instead, devoting myself fully to seeing my dream come to life is what appeals to me. Then I can make that lifelong commitment to my husband. And I've already pretty much settled in my mind that I won't be having kids. Although I had a laundry list of reasons not to have them, I said if the right guy came along in time, I'd be open to it. Well that window has passed! LOL Which means there's even less of a rush to get married.

Of course, if Mr. Right came along today and soon wanted to make me Mrs. Right, I wouldn't fight it. Like I said, it's not impossible to pursue my career goals and be in a serious, committed relationship. And yes, there is a little lingering fear about potentially missing out on marriage all together since this seems to be the ideal age to do it. But... it is what it is. Whenever it happens, should it happen, I'll be okay. Even if it's not today.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

31 Day Reset: Day 1

I am participating in Rosetta Thurmond's 31 Day Reset as a means of giving this year (and my life in its entirety) a defined purpose and direction. Although I am working on this daily, I will not be sharing all of the exercises here, as I feel some of it may be deeply personal. But those things that I am willing to share will be right here for the world to see.

For day one, we were challenged to come up with a personal mantra. It could be a scripture, quote, or something that we created. It simply needed to speak to us and be a theme for us to keep in mind during and after this challenge. For my mantra, I chose to paraphrase a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It says:

"What lies behind [me] and what lies before [me] are small matters compared to what lies within [me]."

This quote helps me to remember that I already have everything within me to achieve success, happiness, love, and fulfillment. Now whether I tap into it is up to me, but the potential is there just as it is in each of us.