Sep 29, 2015 - Rants    2 Comments

White People’s Guide to Hiding Your Racism At Work

Before we get started, I will say that there are plenty of my corporate colleagues who are not racists.  Some of them are perfectly lovely people whom I count among my close friends.  This post does not apply to them. My musing of the day applies to the quasi undercover racists who make offensive comments that many of us feel that we have to ignore and/or absorb angrily (because hitting someone in the head with a stapler is a quick route to arrest and firing.  Ain’t nobody got time for that)

Having been in corporate America for a while, I’ve encountered many of the archetypes of corporate racists.  Instead of just dealing with their remarks quietly, I enjoy finding ways to apply my inappropriate sense of humor to . . . well .  . . fuck with them in much the same passive aggressive manner that they employ (or aggressive aggressive, depending on my mood).

That said, if you’ve stumbled across this blog and you are an undercover (or overt) corporate racist, I’m here to keep you from being victimized by people like me.

  1. Eliminate the belief that any black person in the office automatically works in the mail room.  You would be much better off asking “Are you the new SVP?” rather than saying “Are you the new girl who works the copy machine?”  
  2. We don’t always look the way you think we should based on how we speak, and there’s no need to call attention to that. For example, staring at me incredulously when we meet face-to-face, after having spoken on the phone, while continuing to say “Wow.  You look NOTHING like I thought you would,” only tips your hand that, had you seen me first, you would have assumed that I didn’t understand the proper conjugation of the verb to be.  Keep that shit to yourself.
  3. Per #2, many of us actually speak the Queen’s english.  That said, don’t even THINK about referring to any black person as “articulate.”
  4. Don’t ask too many questions about our hair.  In fact, ask no questions at all.  The workplace is not a forum for your curiosity about our hairstyle strategies.  If you’re so goddamned curious, use your downtime to watch Youtube videos dedicated to the topic and say nothing to us at all.  (Warning, touching our hair might make some of us forget that hitting you in the head with a three-hole-punch would get us in trouble.  I speak from experience)
  5. All brown people do not resemble one another. If you screw up and call me by the name of the only other black woman in the office, she and I had better be identical twins. You won’t like it when the retort is “I know . . . we all look alike.”  (Again, I speak from experience)
  6. It is not appropriate to volunteer to fix one of us up with your only other single black friend simply because we’re both unattached and of color. It doesn’t really work that way.
  7. While I think that Michelle Obama is a beautiful woman, I do not look “just like her.”
  8. Don’t assume that my predominantly black neighborhood is “the ghetto,” and ask if I “feel safe” there . . .  unless you would like for me to inquire about your experiences in the trailer park.
  9. Don’t violently express your disdain for rap music, and proclaim that it’s “noise.”  A) I don’t care, and B) well . . .there really doesn’t need to be a B.
  10. I’m probably not the right audience for your claims that diversity efforts are unfair for white people who might be “the best person for the job.”  In fact, sharing this opinion with me or anyone who looks like me (although not JUST like me, as we covered in #7) will only further our thoughts that you’re an idiot and probably not the right person for any job.
  11. The office is not the place for your paltry attempts at urban colloquialisms. You don’t get extra points with me by saying that something is “the bomb.” In fact, your use of slang is only an indication that any card-carrying black person should remove it from the vocab.
  12. Here’s a bonus tip:  I realize that holiday season is approaching.  It is completely inappropriate for you to have 3 glasses of wine and 7 healthy pours of scotch at the Christmas party and, at around midnight, wax endlessly about your secret physical attractions to black people. Guys, it isn’t as though any of the women are going to find your slurry words and excessive drooling to be sexy and complimentary, or reciprocate the sentiment. Ladies, your fate will likely result in providing gratuitous parking lot oral to the man whom you’ve previously mistaken for the janitor (per #10, you’re clearly the right person for this brand of job). In any case, those of us who look alike will get a great laugh out of it in the office the next day.


I hope I’ve been of assistance.  Now carry on, and remember . . .if you think it might be offensive, it probably is.

More Life Rules

Inspiration comes from everywhere — sometimes the most surprising places.  Today’s inspiration comes from having spent time with one of my 16 year old cousins whom I haven’t seen since he was a tiny child.  He has grown up to be a really nice kid and incredibly handsome young man, and I hope that I can be in his life a little bit more – as much as he will allow or tolerate — and teach him anything I have to offer.  Even though some of my lessons are a bit off-kilter (and many have to do with cocktails), here’s the second installment of the tidbits of information that I feel are worth sharing with young people.  I’m continuing this list not because so many people were interested, but just because it’s fun.

I hope some of these inspire thought, at very minimum.

  1. There are reasons why you need to excel in school.  Elementary or grammar school prepares you for high school.  It’s important to do well in HS so that you can get admitted to the best Universities — not just for the programs they offer, but because of the network to which you’re exposed.  When you become an adult, you will want to have a good network of smart and successful people to leverage for connections to great jobs, business partnerships, or even just informed opinions.  Those relationships are developed in college and continue throughout your life. A reasonably smart person with a great network will go a lot further than a genius who operates in a vacuum.
  2. Take a genuine interest in getting to know the people in your life.  Make a concerted effort to know them — what makes them happy, their motivations, their goals and anything they’ve learned along the way.  Especially your parents, who are so focused on raising you that you might look up and realize that you don’t really know them at all.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You will hate to have missed the opportunity.
  3. Get a good handle on the basics.  Know how to load a dishwasher, unload a dishwasher, do laundry, iron a shirt, remove a stain.  Life hacks will get you through.
  4. Understand that, by and large, people just want to be heard. It’s worthwhile to listen, even if you don’t take their advice. You might learn something that will change your course, or not. But you’ll never know if you don’t listen.
  5. Err on the side of formality until you’re invited to do otherwise.  This includes manners, the use of nicknames and business attire.
  6. If it’s introduced, it has to be addressed.  Your job is to keep things that you don’t want addressed from being introduced.  Sometimes it’s best to fly under the radar.
  7. Pick your mate for the right reasons.  It’s great that she has an incredible body, or that he has a nice car.  But look for personal traits — signs of integrity.  Watch how he/she treats the important people in his/her life.  Is this person determined and deliberate?  Goal-oriented?  Examine the family before making a true commitment.  And always remember that how you align is how you’re defined.
  8. Make a valiant effort.  Life is much more fun when you actively participate.  This rule is one that I learned the hard way.
  9. Have a signature dish that you  master and enjoy cooking.
  10. Find an older person in your life who cares about you, in whom you can confide.  This can be an aunt or uncle, a godparent, a cousin or an unrelated person who you connect with.
  11. Don’t be mad at your friends for being themselves.  They might not show their love for you in the way that you expect or hope.  Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to accommodate what they have to offer.  If you try to change them, you will only frustrate yourself and alienate them.


That’s it for now!  I welcome all comments, questions are rebuttals!


Jul 2, 2015 - Rants    No Comments

Life Rules

I don’t really have a lot to teach — just random bits of info that I’ve picked up along the way.  This list wasn’t created for adults.  My peers understand these rules all too well. But because I have no children, at some point I thought it might be interesting to put together a set of life rules for my godchildren and younger relatives who might like a perspective that doesn’t belong to their parents, and since I’m reluctantly allowing some of them to follow me on social media, I feel a responsibility to impart good information every now and then (as opposed to my endless selfies with wine).

So, my little people, these aren’t absolute truths, but they’re things that I’ve found pertinent to my life.  Some of these might be a little crazy, but consider the source.  :-)  Here are the first 20 (it was going to be 10, but I got carried away):

  1. Your parents are meant to be frustrating, but they always mean well and they’re often trying to keep you from making their mistakes (or the mistakes they’ve witnessed during their lives).  Just listen to them with the understanding that your parents have the most honest intentions of anyone you’ll ever encounter.  You might decide to take another course of action, but realize that they only want to be heard and considered.
  2. You might not be excited about iambic pentameter, but there are a lot of life lessons buried in the words of Shakespeare.  My favorite is “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” from Hamlet.   Borrowing and loaning money — or anything really — will go wrong the majority of the time.  Decide if potentially losing your friendship is worth it before entering into such an agreement.
  3. Since we’re learning life lessons in poetry, check out The Ten Crack Commandments by the Notorious B.I.G.  I’m certainly not suggesting that you sell (or smoke) crack — or any drugs whatsoever — but he does make a few good points when it comes to business in general.  And as a bonus the song has a great beat.   Enjoy.
  4. While driving or biking, stay away from the following drivers:  a cabbie (especially one without a fare), a U-Haul truck driver (they are generally untrained and don’t know how to manage their blind spots), a Zip Car driver (they don’t tend to drive frequently enough to be good drivers).  There are others that we can discuss offline, but staying away from the big three will be a great start when it comes to road safety.
  5. Whether you’re a male or a female, know how to cook and clean.  There is not ONE good argument for filth and the inability to feed yourself.  Also, nobody is excited about dating a dirty dependent person.  And if they are, you don’t want to date them.
  6. Driving is 30% skill and 70% managing everyone else’s lack of skill. Similar ratios apply to life in general.
  7. Options are everything.  Try to have as many as possible, and then learn to properly choose among them.
  8. If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.  Look for opportunities to learn, and always make sure you’re in good company.
  9. Money doesn’t solve all problems, but it determines your level of problem.  Life is much better when you’re not worried about keeping the lights and heat on.  You would much prefer to have trouble choosing investment accounts than trying to figure out how to pay your rent.  This is realism rather than materialism.  Know the difference.
  10. Enter each relationship with the thought of what you are able to offer rather than receive — whether it’s work, friendship, or romance.  Don’t be influenced by takers, because nobody wants to be around those who seek to suck the life out of everyone they encounter.  Call to say hello without ulterior motives and do nice things just because.  Sure, you will encounter a taker along the way and you might learn hard lessons, but those people are only sent to show you who’s worthy of your gifts.  Ultimately, givers reap great rewards.
  11. Embody the qualities of the person you want to attract.
  12. Don’t get caught up in other peoples’ opinions of you.  If they’re not paying your bills — or enabling you to pay your bills — their opinions are generally biased and irrelevant.
  13. Life can be a game, but everyone has their own style of winning. You won’t win at someone else’s game, but you can be expert at your own.
  14. Don’t talk about yourself; allow others to ask.  That way you’re certain they’re interested.
  15. You’ll spend a good percentage of your life figuring yourself out.  Get started on that as early as possible. You’ll spend another percentage of your life trying to determine the motives of others.  This will be a waste of time.  Focus on yourself instead.
  16. In school, study for the CLASS rather than the TEST.
  17. Try to avoid being judgmental, but definitely be discerning about whom you choose to have in your life.
  18. Per #17, stupidity and laziness can be contagious.  Don’t get infected.
  19. If you don’t want to get in trouble, stay away from places where trouble resides.
  20. Be beyond reproach at all times.  If you’ve performed well and checked all of the boxes, nobody can criticize your style.


If there is interest in more, I’m happy to continue this list.  I welcome any questions.  Within reason.  :-)

Feb 4, 2015 - Health, Vacay    2 Comments

Happy New Year — And Why I Already Need a Break from 2015

How long has it been since I’ve blogged here?  Well . . . let’s just say that I had to get a password reminder.  But, apparently I need to do this more often because I realize that it gives me peace.  And what I need right now?  Is peace!

I’ve entered 2015 completely backward.   I’m edgy, and last night after expressing dissatisfaction about my computer (in my mind, the entire point of a computer is to have a machine that moves FASTER than your brain), the unreliability of my corporate VPN, why my new DirecTV DVR can’t serve the primary function of consistently recording ALL EPISODES of a series, the fact that I couldn’t locate my corporate cell phone, how I can’t spend more time marketing Naturals by Gina B. (and what in the hell was I thinking when I launched that company, anyway?), why I’m not in great shape,  how I can never seem to get ahead of my housework (laundry is my life) — all in FIVE MINUTES, I arrived at the realization that I’m irritated about something at least 50% of the time.  And after going on a verbal tear about all of this, I look over at the BF and inform him of my constant irritation (as though this is news to him).  Nonplussed, he calmly replied, “yes, I’ve noticed,” before quietly going back to play a video game on his iPad (another irritation, but also the least of my worries at this point).

After a night of restless sleep with intermittent rumination, I wondered why I’m the one who always seems to be struggling.  Most of my friends are overachievers (WAY busier than me — I’m the slacker of my friends) and manage to just keep it moving without being crabby.  Is it just my disposition (maybe)?  What are they doing that I’m not?!  Granted a percentage of my friends feel the same way that I do, and think that irritation is a part of being an adult.  Others manage it very well.

And then I came to a realization.  They relax, and they take vacations.  A novel concept, right?

Rewind to earlier last night.  Having dinner with friends, we were talking about travel and how most of our travel is work-related and while we might go to interesting places periodically, they’re really just momentary changes of scenery.  Our friend Bianca asked when we were taking a vacation.  My answer, in short?  Probably never.  Why?  Well . . . that’s yet another source of irritation.  But it has to do with scheduling and planning and how I can’t plan if we can’t schedule.  The more I thought about it, the more my mood went downhill.

Reflecting on years past, I always took time off around the holidays.  My very favorite Christmas in life was over three years ago when I dragged the BF kicking and screaming to Jamaica for 11 days.  But I returned rejuvenated, having had time to lay on the beach and do nothing but think and accept cocktails from eager servers.  I received the new year with open arms and determination.

Last year was a very different story.  Lots of stress factors and absolutely no breaks.  For the first time in years, I worked straight through the holidays because, why not?  I used to think that vacation was optional, and now I’m coming to believe that it’s mandatory.  And the fact that I live with a workaholic who as much as told me that he has no desire to stop grinding in favor of a vacation means that I’m going to have to find a different way to build some relaxation into my schedule, at least on a small scale.  This will be interesting, because I’m not really a relaxer, per se.  I used to get regular massages, which were relaxing until last year when I had my neck/back issues and had to get regular massages that were more painful than anything.  Now, getting on the massage table is a reminder of trauma.  Scratch that.

I might have to start working out again, which will also solve the problem of my being in bad shape.  I used to be a workout fiend but I’ve recently been relying on my genetics, which will only carry me so far.  We’ll see how that works.  If I can ever get past the irritation of figuring out what my new plan will entail.  (It never stops, does it?)


Sep 29, 2014 - Naturals by Gina B.    3 Comments

The plight of an entrepreneur

Although I’ve spent about half of my career as an independent, I’ve recently learned that there’s a distinct difference between offering a consulting service and manufacturing my own products.   In fact I will quietly admit that if I’d known all that was involved in getting a product off the ground, I might not have jumped in feet first.  That said, I guess there is a benefit to ignorance.

Although Naturals by Gina B. is a burgeoning company that has yet to really take off, I’m tenacious, encouraged, and therefore optimistic.  A few key lessons that I’ve learned so far to share for anyone who is thinking about becoming an entrepreneur in any industry:

  1. Relish in your mistakes.  I’ve made a lot of them, and I’ll make many more.  Some of them have nearly caused me to pack up my materials and take down my website.  I’ve learned to laugh at them, and in most cases just write another check.  My solace is that I’ll never make the same mistakes again (and if I do, I’ll have to laugh again, and write another check).  Enjoy the journey.
  2. Everyone will not love your products.  This is common sense, because everything is not for everyone, however when you spend a long time working on something and create an outcome that you’re absolutely enamored with, you want the world to share in your excitement.  Newsflash . . . most of the world will not.  In fact people think absolutely nothing of making negative sideways comments that will not make sense to you, and make your doubt your creation.  Move on and find your audience.  It’s there.  You just have to look for it.
  3. Marketing is a real struggle, and it takes time.  In this age of information, we are over-saturated with content.  Yours needs to stand out and you must have a strategy.  I’ll let you know when I develop one.
  4. Take the time on the front end to properly set up your organization.  This includes incorporation, solidifying all legal documents, bank accounts, etc.  It’s more difficult to implement a proper structure on the back end than to set up your company correctly in the beginning.  Fortunately, I learned this lesson several years ago with my first business.  Never again.
  5. Here’s a hard lesson — most of your friends will not support you.  And it’s not because they don’t love you, but you can’t rely on your friendship base as your customer base.  Nor should you.  As an example, I’ve penned at least 4 regular columns, and some of my very close friends have never read a word that I’ve written.  Now don’t get me wrong, some of your friends will be incredibly supportive and insist on purchasing your product and becoming true customers.  Others will not and will expect that the benefit of your friendship is endless free shit.  Maybe it’s because they feel that you know they’re in your corner, or perhaps they’ve known you so long that they don’t take you seriously.  Whatever the case, it’s best to set the expectation in the beginning that your friends might be the last to jump on your bandwagon, and be surprised and appreciative when a few gems step up to the plate.  Your friends like you for reasons other than what you do for a living, and you should be happy about that.
  6. Don’t start off trying to make money.  I realize this is counter-intuitive, but if the end game is money you won’t succeed.  Be patient with the business and have low expectations in the beginning.  Focusing on money takes away from your ability to properly structure your business and provide good service.  Focus instead on your love for what you’re providing.  If you think too much about what you’re making, you will become disgruntled and resentful.  Find another way to make a living until your baby grows to become a prosperous adult.


That’s all I’ve got for now.  I’m sure there will be more as I continue to stumble through this.  Sigh.

Oh, and if you’re interested, check out my products!  :-)


Aug 17, 2014 - Rants    3 Comments

Natural Hair Rant, or “Why I Look a Hot Mess”

This won’t be a popular post, but I really don’t care.   There’s a big push toward natural hair among the Black female population.  Black women everywhere are discarding their previously coveted jars of relaxer in an effort to celebrate their natural hair textures and stop adapting to an anglo aesthetic.

I’ve been natural for many, many years now — at least 10 – and not because I was so excited to embrace my culture, per se.  It was more of a decision that I made because relaxer isn’t necessary to straighten my hair.  A little bit of heat from a flatiron and my hair is stick straight.

Now . . . before you go thinking that I’m “bragging” about this, please know that my wavy, easily straightened hair texture is more of a curse than a blessing.  In fact, I honestly find very little to celebrate about my hair.

I’m normally what is referred to as a “straight natural,”  which is a person who has natural hair that chooses to straighten it.  I honestly love my hair straightened.  It’s easy and doesn’t require a cocktail of 5 perfectly mixed products that combine to make me look human.  I’m often vilified for this decision by women who choose the textured natural look, and I occasionally get irritating snide comments: “Oh.  I didn’t realize you had natural hair.  It’s always so straight.  Why do you do that?”

Okay, beeyotch, I’ll tell you why . . . because my natural hair is a scorching hot ass mess!  I’m not appreciate of my quasi-curl pattern (which is more like a very unsexy wave pattern), and my hair isn’t big and voluminous like others who have the natural hair that I covet. Believe me when I say that I would love nothing more than to have gorgeous curly hair that I could wash and go and wear with pride.   And before you ask, yes, I’ve tried any product that you are about to suggest.  But unless you can guarantee that there’s some sort of solution that will transform mine into an entirely different head of hair, I will work with the large collection that I already have.  Because, honestly?  Beautiful hair will be beautiful hair, irrespective of the treatment.  And my hair will be my hair.  Unfortunately.

The other delicious byproduct of being a straight hair natural is that the flat iron used to straighten my hair actually contributes to the ugliness of it all by providing the gift of heat damage, which means that any curl I had is now reduced (if not eliminated) and reinforces my need to straighten my hair in order to avoid looking like a taller version of one of those early cave women depicted in the Museum of Natural History.  My hair was horribly heat damaged some years ago and I’ve never recovered from it.

The only good thing about my heat damage was that my quest to fortify my follicles resulted in the creation of Naturals by Gina B., my body products company.  The leading product, Kiss My Ash, was originally created as a solution for my hair in my effort to rejuvenate my hair with natural ingredients.  The good news is that it did amazing things for my skin and it’s also a magnificent hair moisturizer.  The trouble is that heat damaged hair can’t be revived, irrespective of the product.

Natural hair enthusiasts adamantly suggest that I never straighten my hair again if I ever want to regain my curl pattern, but that means that I would have to walk around looking completely unkempt until my hair does . . . what, exactly? Maybe I’m waiting for it to grow out so that it can be . . . what?  Longer?  So, twice the amount of messy hair?    I don’t see how I can win here.

That said, I’ve made the executive decision to abandon my closet full of products and continue my tendency toward being a straight natural.  I might one day make a return.  In the meantime, I hope that the natural hair purists will understand that it’s not personal.  I respect and appreciate the mission, but straightening my hair is the only way to keep me from ripping it out in frustration.


The Power of No – My Favorite N-word

The best gift I’ve ever given myself is the right to refuse.  Egregiously.

Sometime in my twenties, after becoming angry at myself for being a people-pleaser and finding myself spending time getting roped into doing things that I really didn’t want to do,  I made the decision that if I were asked to do something, I would do it only if I thought I wouldn’t complain about it.  If I believed I would be mad at myself later, I would say no.  Just no.  No explanation needed. No would be good enough.

It was absolutely the most liberating decision I’ve ever made, and I’ve never looked back.

This decision was born of frustration.  If you’re a person who always says yes, you become the go-to person.  I was tired of being the go-to person, and I didn’t have the time or resources to be the go-to person.  People will drain you dry if you allow it.  So I decided to shake things up one day and say no.  It was great!  By not doing whatever it was that someone else wanted of me, I had free time to spend doing exactly what I wanted to do!  It was so addictive that the word ‘no’ became prominent in my daily vocabulary.   It was my private joke, and as addictive as any drug.

I was saying no to others, but I was saying yes to myself.

The pitfall is that the habit of saying no frequently can lead to isolation and refusal to try new things.  When I look back, some of my best stories are from times where I probably should have said no, and would have said no by my current standards.    I have enough tales of my stupidity (that’s what teenage years are for), so I was willing to take that chance.

I was afraid that people would sense my change in willingness to bend over backwards and get mad at me for my newly adopted philosophy.  But, as my mother always said: “if they’re not paying any bills in your house, they have no right to get mad at you for your choices.”   I stuck to my decisions, and a few surprising changes ensued.

First, once people got wind of my new attitude toward nay-saying, there were certain requests that I no longer received.  They already knew the answer.  ”Can I borrow money?”  No.  ”Can I drive your car?”  No.  ”Can you co-sign a loan for me because I have bad credit?”  Umm . . . HELL no!  ”Can you babysit?”  Have you met me?  No.  ”Can you help me move?”  Love ya, but no.  (As an aside, I’m SO happy that people have stopped asking me to help them to move.  I’m not the best candidate.  I’m strong but I care more about preserving my manicure.  Oh, and for the record?  NOBODY wants to help you move.  They might agree to help, but they’re bitching about it with every over-packed box they lift.  At this stage of my life, beer and pizza aren’t enticing enough to cajole me into spending 6 hours doing manual labor.   Besides, I hate beer.  You’re an adult.  Throw some money at that problem.  Hire professional movers and preserve your friendships and your furniture.  But I digress . . . ).

Granted, most of my friends have never made any of those requests, but you get the point.

I noticed that a few of the needier people in my life disappeared altogether, which was ultimately fine.  Once I developed the reputation as a person who would say no, many of the odd requests stopped.

Next I noticed that when I said yes I was more enthusiastic because whatever I had agreed to was a choice that I actively made.  I was sincerely excited, which improved the quality of my experiences.  When I agree to be there for someone, they know that I really want to be there.

Now let me be clear . . . I don’t say no to everything.  Most of my friends are delightful and not imposing.  After serious consideration I do occasionally say yes to things that I perceive to be uncomfortable or things that I’m willing to try.   I continue to love to do favors for my friends, although I avoid those that will put me in a position of compromise and ones that could ultimately ruin the friendship.

Being in a relationship means a great deal of give and take, and therefore saying yes to a lot of things that I’m not always happy about and wouldn’t normally agree to, but that’s an entirely different topic.

I’m sharing this because there are a lot of people out there who are similar to the pre-no-me, and it’s amazing how a two-letter word can significantly reduce your use of four-letter words (although a well-placed f-bomb can also be quite liberating).

If you try it, please comment and let me know how it’s working for you.




May 8, 2014 - Naturals by Gina B.    No Comments

Accidental Creativity – Naturals by Gina B.

You know what?  I’m going to stop apologizing for taking such long breaks from blogging, because it never seems to do any good.  I need to embrace the fact that I’m a sporadic blogger and stop trying to “do better,” because this is probably the best that I can do.  For now.

Everyone has a social media persona.  Some people find each detail of their lives worth mentioning.  Some people use it as a form of promotion.  As for me, it tends to be an outlet for my temper, thus the title of this blog.  If I’m really happy, living my life, I’m MIA on social media.

That said, I’ve been extremely busy lately, creating things by accident.  Story of my life.  The BF and I have a debate as to whether or not I could be considered a true creative.  He says yes, because he’s an extremely sweet glass-half-full, ever-encouraged optimist.  I, on the other hand, say no (because I tend more to the pragmatic side).

I argue that I know true creatives and I’m not fit to dine at that table.  My dad is a true creative.  My friends Jen and Stacey?  True creatives.  My cousin and favorite graphic designer, Connie, is a true creative.

I would say that I’m an accidental creative.  I do what I like, and sometimes those things end up being interesting and give the illusion of creativity.  I’ll take it.

Writing columns was born of a place of need.  I had thoughts that I needed to release, and stories that I needed to tell.  I needed to find a way to laugh at my own ridiculous love life.  The G-Spot was created, and I was fortunate enough to find people who would allow me to do it in a public forum.

And because I like to abandon all rules of journalism in my blog, I’ve provided you with a long (somewhat irrelevant) introduction and buried the lead, which is that I have another accidental endeavor that will be soon officially revealed.

If you’re fortunate enough to have escaped my endless chatter about this topic, I’m releasing a line of body products.  At this point, they only amount to two body balms and two body scrubs, and the company name is Naturals by Gina B.  I would tell you the individual names of the products, but I would have to kill you.  I truly mean that, because they’re trademark pending and took a LONG time for me to decide on.  I would literally kill for them.

There’s a story (because of COURSE there is).  Long story short, I was unhappy with my hair.  (If you know me personally, you will know that I’m ALWAYS unhappy with my hair)  I was displeased because my naturally curly/wavy hair had been heat damaged and I’ve been left with areas that are straight and others that have remained curly, somehow.  Not really high on the cuteness scale, and very distressing.  I didn’t love any of the products on the market (and I have an entire closet full of them to prove it).  So I decided that I was going to make a super-product myself that I would formulate specifically to address my issues and get my curls back.

Chemistry was one of my favorite subjects in high school — and in life, really.   So I got busy blending natural ingredients and came up with a usable conditioner.  I learned a harrowing lesson.  The trouble is that, once damaged, curly hair can’t be restored (it’s still a hot mess and I will ultimately have to cut it in stages).  However, I did really enjoy the residual effects that my concoction had on my skin.  So, I retooled the product, worked on texture, and lo and behold, I had body butter.

I instantly fell in love with my own product because it was made with my issues in mind and addressed all of my needs for moisturized, glowing skin.  I hate sticky products and watery lotions, and mine have none of those qualities.  I also detested lotions and oils that soiled my clothes, and my concoction dried quickly on the skin without staining my garments.  I could also use it on my face and it would eliminate the post-cleansing tightness without making me look like a walking oil slick.

I was lounging poolside in LA with a girlfriend.  She needed oil and I offered mine.  She wanted to know the brand, and I confessed that I had made it myself.  She enthusiastically told me that I should think about marketing and selling them.  I laughed and sipped my refreshing Chardonnay spritzer.  What a cute and funny idea.

Then, as I began letting others try my product, they agreed.  They say that it’s very emollient and works wonders on dry skin.  And when the BF became addicted to another product that I made — the body scrub — I gave it serious thought.  Love him, but he’s one of the most particular people I know.

So here we sit, nearly a year later.  I’ve done endless market research.  I’ve gotten deeper into the science of it — which has been SO much fun and rewarding.  I’ve picked out packaging and sourced materials.  I’ve turned my friends into my own personal guinea pigs and foisted samples upon unsuspecting strangers.  I’ve created a list of future releases and I haven’t been this excited and anxious about anything in years.  If ever.  Who knew?

I will be keeping everyone posted on the official date of release.  If you’re interested in trying a sample, let me know.  The problem is that I’m not mailing anything yet, so you’ll have to be local and see me in person.  If I don’t have any in my purse, the BF usually has a few tucked in his pockets.

I won’t harass anyone about trying my products.  I only ask that if you’re one who consumes such products, that you will give mine a shot.

Jan 21, 2014 - Rants    1 Comment

Ode to the valet parker

I have an aversion to valet parking.  I’m not comfortable with the concept of other people driving my car, and I cringe at the thought of handing my vehicle over to someone whose driver’s license status is questionable at best.

I’ve tried it.  I don’t like it.

Some of my friends don’t quite understand my hesitation — especially Jen, who is an avid customer of the little men in red jackets.  I maintain that my experiences have forced my mistrust, and I’m convinced that if valet parkers would alter their business practices just a tad, I might reconsider my stance.

If you know a valet parking “technician,” please pass this along . . .

Dear Valet Man:

Please know that I love convenience.  I really do.  To the extent that I am able, I go out of my way to reduce or eliminate the complicated, unpleasant aspects of my life.

And, really?  What could possibly be more inconvenient than having to:

  1. Competitively hunt for a parking space
  2. Parallel park in an impossibly small spot (being mindful to leave enough space so that the raggedy hoopty behind me and the urban assault vehicle in front of me – complete with ominous tow hitch – don’t scrape my car upon departure)
  3. Navigate the often inclement weather of Chicago while trying to avoid killing Divvy rental bikers, who don’t obey the rules of the road
  4. Locate the parking meter (the closest of which always seems to be 1/4 mile away from my car.  Especially when it’s raining or snowing)
  5. Wait in line, in heels, in the cold to pay for parking, while praying that the suburbanite chick in line ahead of me (who has been toying with the meter for what seems like an eternity) realizes the correct orientation of credit card insertion and knows that one must hit the ‘print receipt’ button in order to complete the transaction
  6. Fork over $176 for a mere two hours of street parking (because our dear former Mayor Daley sold us up the river, likely for his personal gain.  [But I'm not bitter])
  7. Trek to my destination in cute shoes that are only meant to be worn inside while mingling, for no longer than two hours
  8. Nervously check my watch every 15 minutes while at social outing, to make sure that I don’t get a $50 ticket on top of having to take out a second mortgage to pay for street parking
  9. Limp back to the car on stiletto-clad bloody hooves in enough time to avoid getting a ticket issued by a soulless meter reader who is lurking around my car, waiting to issue a ticket the second the clock ticks 9:31


Doesn’t sound like a fun experience, does it?  In fact the whole thing rather sucks.  Yet I typically opt to deal with the irritating process of parking my own car rather than use your service.  It has nothing to do with the cost or the obligation to add gratuity.  The recent surge of street parking fees in Chicago has made valet pricing seem inexpensive by comparison.  

Although the parking situation is tantamount to Mission Impossible (more like Mission Ridiculous),  parking my own car gives me a greater peace of mind than entrusting you.  Because I’ve simply had too many bad experiences with your profession.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions that might make the transaction a little more pleasant:

Be nice to the customer.  When I pull up to your station, please don’t beat on my window or open my door before I’m ready to exit.  It’s annoying and not a great introduction.

SAFELY park the cars of your customers.  Many of us love our cars, and when we valet park we hope that you will treat our cars with care and that you know what you’re doing.  Slamming the door, peeling out and violently turning the corner — nearly steamrolling three pedestrians –doesn’t instill confidence.  I don’t think to myself: “This man is a professional; he obviously knows what he’s doing.”  Instead, it makes me want to run down the street behind you, screaming “Give me back my car, you bad driving freak!” (Fortunately my dignity has saved me many times.)

Realize that I have not LOANED you the car; you are merely PARKING the car.  While I understand that some adjustments need to be made for you to drive safely (although I think we’ve established that safety isn’t your concern), please try to return my settings when you return the car. And, let’s refrain from programming your favorite radio stations and altering my carefully chosen temperature settings.  In fact, you shouldn’t be in the car long enough to get quite so comfortable.   Also?  Know that many of us track our gas levels and odometers.  You should not have driven 22 miles in my car and burned 1/4 tank of gas while I’m having dinner.

Do not treat my car like a dining room.  Granted I’m a little quirky about this, but let me be clear . . . I don’t eat in my car.  I don’t allow my best friends to eat in my car.  If my boyfriend even thinks about pulling out a Tic Tac in my car, he gets the side-eye.  I wouldn’t dream of eating in anyone else’s car, especially when I haven’t been given permission.  That said, you can imagine my annoyance and anger when I find evidence that you’ve been eating Flaming Hot chips in my vehicle!  Especially when said evidence consists of an obnoxious empty bright red bag carelessly left on the passenger seat, and red sticky stuff on my steering wheel!

Don’t rifle through my things and think I’m not going to notice.  I know what’s in my ashtray and glove compartment and I know when things are missing.  I will check for those things before I leave for the evening, and I will shamelessly sit there and block the valet station until they are returned.  And while you’re at it, stay the hell out of my trunk!

Please don’t park my car in an area where it will get ticketed.  If I wanted a ticket I would have parked it my damn self.  But if you do happen to screw up and get a ticket, let me know.  So that I can make you pay for it before I’m surprised with a boot.

Don’t lose my car.  If I give you my claim ticket and you nervously ask me about the color of my car and whether or not it has four doors, it’s painfully evident that you have no clue as to where it might be.  And don’t try to appease me by saying that you’ll return in “a few minutes,” when you know damned well that it will be at least a half hour before you remember the location of my car.  Which probably has a ticket on it.  Because you were too busy eating dinner, checking the glove compartment, adjusting my seat and listening to my radio to make sure that you were safely parking my car in a memorable area.

Know that each and every new scratch will be noticed . . . and discussed.  Let’s not play the “it was there when you dropped it off” game.  Not only is that game absolutely no fun, it makes the customer feel like you think we’re stupid.  I know my car and all of its scratches.  Don’t make me hurt you.

I thank you for considering these mild behavior modifications, even though something tells me that I lost you at “Dear Valet Man.”    Which is fair, because you lost me at “Flaming Hot.”


Warm regards,

The owner of the dark silver four-door sedan that passes you by






Jan 11, 2014 - Health    4 Comments

Sometimes, NOT Sharing Is Caring

I’m a writer, and therefore in the business of sharing.  On social media, I don’t tend to favor those who launch deliberately vague posts which cause others to wonder about the circumstances, but remain respectfully afraid to ask followup questions.  It has recently dawned on me that I might have been one of those very people over the last few months.  For that I apologize.

I haven’t been intentionally opaque but as a writer, I’ve also been taught to share things that people might actually care about.

Having said that, if you really don’t want to know about my health issues (and believe me, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t!), stop reading now because I’m about to bore you.  However, if you’ve been wondering about my weird Facebook posts on the subjects of surgery, back pain, and pain meds, I will solve the mystery for you.

So . . . many moons ago, I was accidentally diagnosed with a few fibroid tumors — like half of the female free world.  I was having lower stomach pains and during an ultrasound intended to rule out appendicitis, a few fibroids were detected.

My doctor told me that we were coexisting nicely, my fibroids and I, and if they became a problem I should do something about them.  But not until.  Her only concern was that they were positioned in an area that could prevent conception should I want to have children.  If you know me at all, you’ll realize that this was only an incentive to keep them.  They weren’t bothering me AND they were an added bit of birth control?  I had hit the medical jackpot.

She gave me a few warning signs to look for that would indicate that the fibroids were becoming a problem.  Excessive bleeding was the one that stuck out, as several of my friends experienced similar issues that forced them to have surgery.

I lived my life very happily for many years, until I began noticing things about my body.  Things I didn’t like.  My increasing waistline was of major concern.  I’ve always been the girl with the small waist.  Even though I have an ass and huge thighs, at LEAST the Universe gave me a tiny waist to offset them.  However, I’d noticed a little thickening over the years, which was upsetting and perplexing.  The other problem was my ability to watch my food digesting.  Probably more information than anyone needs, but I noticed that, whenever I ate a large enough meal, I could see the resulting lump in my stomach.  Sometimes through my shirts, if they were clingy enough.  Yuck.  I was also starting to have random pain in my lower back — around the kidney area.

But because I thought I felt good (in the grand scheme of things), I didn’t think about any of these problems very much (until I attempted to zip my smaller sized jeans).

If I weren’t vain, I might have happily lived on with small issues cropping up randomly and my stomach expanding annually.

I was in Miami for about three months last year and while shopping on Lincoln Road, decided to slink into BCBG to try on a Herve Legere bandage dress (because whenever I’m in Miami, I like to skank it up).  I zipped it, turned around and yelled “What the fuck is THAT?”  Turns out, that?  Was a gut!  An honest to God gut?  I’ve never had a gut in my life!  (Again, a major butt, but never a gut!)  And, I might add, a gut that looked absolutely terrible when accentuated by a purple bandage dress.

I thought about it, and realized that the fibroids were clearly out of control.  I channeled my friend Jen, and went on WebMD to check symptoms, and while I didn’t have the normal associated ailments, I had others, and because my stomach was hard, not flabby, I was pretty sure that my fibroids were the problem (either that or I needed to abandon the pizza — which I should probably do anyway, but that’s hardly the point).  While recalling all of the small abnormalities in my health, it was amazing that I had grown used to them and that they were the new normal.

Long story short, I eventually returned to Chicago and had an ultrasound.   The technician lost count at 13 fibroid tumors.  I met a doctor whom I instantly hated.  She was only too happy to tell me that I needed a hysterectomy, with a big smile on her face (yeah lady, bite me!).  I did research, and research and more research to find a minimally invasive way to take care of a maximally invasive problem.  Everyone had suggestions, but none of those suggestions pertained to me.

I was referred to a wonderful doctor whom I instantly loved and he convinced me that, not only did I need a hysterectomy, but that I needed the kind that required the big incision.  And not the cute horizontal bikini cut.  The ginormous vertical cut!  Because apparently I had let this scenario drag out for too long, and if I did nothing else well, I grew fibroids superbly.

If you’re in this situation, what I recommend you DON’T do?  Is read too many bulletin boards and websites of women who have had similar surgeries.  They will give great tips, but they will also scare you to death.  They will make you think your life is over and that you’re never going to be even remotely attractive, ever again in your life.  They will make you believe that you won’t be able to walk for an entire week, and that it will take 6 months to put your jeans back on — if that ever happens.  You’ll read about their infections, emergencies, and their tremendous weight gain.  Those websites freaked me out, and almost kept me from having surgery.

The BF, however, who had been a saint throughout my emotional and physical drama, finally told me in no uncertain terms that the surgery would happen if he had to take a kitchen utensil and perform it himself.   My doctor assured me that some of those women were sedentary, in poor health otherwise, and just plain out of their minds.   He roped me back in.

So, after about 15 people asked me if I was SURE I didn’t want to have children, surgery was scheduled, and on October 28th I became fibroid free.  My operation was a complete freak show.  If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll know that interns and residents love nothing more than having the chance to work on a patient who has a weird condition.  They hovered over me in pre-op, which was nothing short of hilarity.

The surgery went perfectly, and I received a series of post-op visits from interns and doctors who were eager to discuss the amount of fibroids (17, all told) and size of my stomach, and how they’ve “never seen anything that large come out of a person of my size.”  Unlike the predictions on the bulletin board/website, my stomach flattened immediately, and eventually I was pleased to have lost weight (as opposed to the weight gain that I had anticipated).

After 2-3 days, I strong-armed my doctors into releasing me from the hospital, and the BF was an incredible caretaker (despite the fact that he had bronchitis at the time).  I had previously been skeptical about his nursemaid skills, as I’m the natural caretaker of the two of us, but he was attentive and did a great job.  I’m not the best patient.  I was supposed to limit my stair climbing (I was ALL up and down the stairs all day), I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds  (I think my purse alone weighs 12 lbs), and I was supposed to focus on relaxing and healing (I think I’m allergic to relaxation).  I was unable to drive for an entire month (he confiscated the keys, which forced me to comply).  It was a process.

A month later, around Thanksgiving and JUST when I was feeling good after the surgery, I started to feel like I had a knot in my right shoulder blade.  Like, maybe I’d slept in a funny position and needed to get it worked out.  I got a series of massages from great massage therapists (not including the one guy whom I’m convinced was highly skilled in happy endings).  In all cases, I felt better for about an hour, but always returned to the pain.  The pain grew progressively worse, and I went to chiropractors and muscle therapists.  Each had their benefits, but no real improvement.

I tried every form of painkiller that could be purchased over the counter.  I learned a few valuable lesson.   First OTC drugs ain’t shit!  Great for headaches and slight relief, but if you REALLY want to wipe it out, you need a prescription for something heavier.   Second, people who don’t know what’s wrong will take your money to experiment on you.  It’s not their fault, per se, but it’s something to be mindful of as you advocate for your own health.

I discovered the wonderment of pain patches.  I covered my shoulder blade in Salonpas (which I always thought was an extremely stupid name.  Sounds like an animal in a spa, doesn’t it?).  A few days later I realized that pain patches aggravate my skin, so I could have either continued to look like I had been laying on a Weber grill, or leave the patches alone.   Again, vanity won, even though I was seriously considering trying to find a special drug dealer who sold muscle relaxers by the pallet.

This nightmare continued on for weeks, and on Christmas day I fell down the stairs in my house.  And not a graceful fall, either.  I took a nasty spill that included a leg flying in the air and landing directly on my back.  As my luck would have it, I landed directly on the pained area, and slid aggressively down the stairs.  I felt the blow of each stair on my right shoulder blade until the BF caught me at stair 13 of 15.    I continued the day, and even managed to visit the home of one of my BF’s cousins (who are big affectionate huggers, which is frightening to someone with a back injury, but I made it through).

On December 26th, I woke up and decided to make a trip to the ER.  I received x-rays (and a lovely dose of valium along with a coveted limited prescription), and it was determined that I hadn’t fractured anything.

On December 27th, I had a followup visit with a doctor from my primary care physician’s office.  I got more x-rays, and they found a degenerative joint disease in my neck (which is essentially the normal degeneration we have when we age), and shortening of the space between a few vertabrae.

Right before the end of the year I was prescribed a mild muscle relaxer for the pain (and by “mild,” I mean “barely noticeable”).

On January 9th, after leaving me on hold for nearly an hour, my insurance company FINALLY approved my order for physical therapy (which I must complete before I’m allowed to have an MRI).  On the same day, I visited my new physical therapist and received a treatment plan.  I was previously irritated that I had to go to physical therapy, but I have to admit that my therapist has been the only person who has given me some sort of logical explanation as to why I have this problem.  Now, let’s see if she can successfully improve it.  The jury is out, but I’m optimistic (desperate).

I should note that by January 10th, I had signed up for health insurance with a different company.

So, where we stand today is that I’m still in pain (and would strangle a small child if I were promised a good comfortable night of sleep), I’m in physical therapy, still looking for the perfect painkiller, I’ve abandoned all other therapies, and it was suggested that I remain active and have a daily cardio activity.  Today I also determined that spinning is a bit much for me at this juncture.  Soon.  I’m tired of doctors and diagnoses and ice and smelling of Ben Gay, and am looking forward to a new chapter.  A new healthy chapter.  And I’m planning a party to celebrate the return of my waist.

And now that I’ve shared, you still might not care. But at least my posts will make more sense going forward.