Sep 23, 2017 - Stories We'd Tell    No Comments

Our podcast — Backstory of Stories We’d Tell In Bars – the good, the bad and the ugly

Hello beautiful people!

So . . . what’s new with me is that I’m contributing to a new podcast.  Here’s the story.  My fabulous friend, Jen Lancaster, recently wrote and released a memoir — her 15th book — titled Stories I’d Tell In Bars.  She self-published this book, which gave her the latitude and autonomy to supply her strong fan base with what they desired of her — fun stories as only Jen can tell.

The only trouble is that she has to do all of the promotions and marketing herself, and decided to also embark on a podcast, which I thought was a great idea.  Even though I’d never listened to a podcast.  Some people listen while driving but I’ve always opted for music, as it quells my road rage.  I have friends who enjoy podcasts and have had a few on my list but as I no longer have a commute to work, I never found the time to listen.

That said, when she invited me to join her, I was both flattered and concerned.  Flattered, because of course I was.  Concerned because a) as I mentioned above, I’d never even listened to a podcast, so I would have homework to do, b) I HATE my voice and c) I’m an extroverted introvert and while I love writing, my spoken sense of humor isn’t for everyone.  BUT we decided to proceed, with the BF graciously agreeing to engineer the recordings and master our sound, for which we are truly grateful.  Welcome to Stories We’d Tell In Bars!

podcast

We moved forward.  Jen sets and outlines our content, which mirrors the chapters in her latest book, and we chat about stuff.  We’re doing well and getting better as we go.  I’m getting used to the sound of my own voice . . . kind of.  We’re getting mostly good reviews . . .  and predictably we’re getting some bad reviews.

Jen advised me a LONG time ago not to read reviews because they will twist you and piss you off.  As usual, she is not wrong.  Yet I persist.  I’m learning to laugh at them, but I’m also growing because of them (as I laugh at myself in the process).

I don’t typically get shitty about reviews, because we’re in a society of opinions and there was certainly plenty of feedback when I wrote The Gina Spot.  I do, however, get sort of irritated when the perceptions are because of something that I failed to communicate.

I’m getting crucified in reviews mostly because of the “Straight Trippin’” episode where we talk about travel.  Jen and I are discussing all of the things we require in a travel scenario.  I talked about our trip to Indonesia this year, and I complained about the long-ass 22 hour flight and confessed that it was the first time that I’d ever taken a long flight in coach.

Oh Lord . . . WHY did I say that?  ”She’s pretentious”  ”Who does she think she is?” “She’s unrelatable.”  (Never mind that I can’t think of one soul who enjoys cramming one’s ample ass into a micro-seat for nearly a day, but I digress.  Also? There’s no pretension-inhibitor like being a black woman in America [especially now], but that’s a different  topic altogether) The bottom line is that I didn’t tell the complete story, which I should have (even though it would have elongated an already long podcast).

Here goes . . .  to be clear . . . I DO enjoy flying first class.  Whenever I can.  Because who doesn’t??  I will scrounge for an upgrade like no other!  But when I’ve traveled to the Caribbean?  COACH!  New York?  COACH!  LA?  COACH! Business travel for Naturals (my startup)?  Honestly? You could probably weld me to the top of the plane if I were guaranteed a cheaper fare, and I’d adjust to the wind.

There are exceptions to this:  1) When I’m business traveling for a corporation/entity and 2) when I’m injured.

Most of my farthest travel has been for business.  When I’ve business traveled overseas, I’ve flown business class, which I don’t think is particularly unusual if you work for a large corporation.  Which is probably why it’s called “business class.”  I went to South Africa on a press junket, and while it was an amazing trip, it was sponsored by South African Airways who flew the five writers in business class as part of the experience.  To complicate matters, I’ve had three knee surgeries including an ACL reconstruction, so I once upgraded myself on a European trip to accommodate my inability to completely bend my knee. (Once that charge hit my credit card, I might have preferred to re-injure my leg).

But really, none of that matters.  The entire point is that, whether people like it or not, the 22 hour flight was a new experience for me and I would do it over again. Now that I travel more for pleasure and less for business, I’m assuming that long uncomfortable flights will be the norm. Unless I got upgraded, which I would gladly accept.   Because, again . . . who wouldn’t???  Unlike the review suggests, I’m pretty sure you can relate.

All of this to say that I’ve learned to be careful without completely self-censoring.  Sheesh!

But despite all of that buuuullshit, we’re having a great time and it’s a ton of fun to work with Jen.

That said, take a listen for yourself and be the judge.  Subscribe if you like it!  Feel free to make constructive suggestions of topics.  And keep checking this blog for the stories behind Stories.

XO, G

What NOT to ask a couple

We attended a black tie gala about a month ago.  We’ve been to many, so there’s a fair amount of predictability:

  1. At the last minute, I will hate my dress, hair and shoes (but it will be too late to change any of the above)
  2. In an odd juxtaposition, the BF will LOVE himself in his tux (because he loves himself in most things . . . )
  3. My feet will begin to hurt about 30 minutes into the event (I organize my shoes by how long I can wear them before my feet stage a coup.  Most formal shoes can be worn for less than an hour before my dogs threaten to defect.)
  4. We will run into people that we haven’t seen in a while (sometimes this is a good thing!  Other times, not so much. )
  5. 1/3 of those people will ask when we’re getting married (and here is the no-no)

 

Now, let me be clear.  We — the BF and I –  find the marriage question to be funny.  Having been together for seven years, it’s certainly one that we’ve heard a lot, but there’s something about getting dolled up in a formal wear that puts people in the mindset of a wedding, which is the catalyst for the inquisition.

Incidentally, my favorite questions come from people who have been married for a while and don’t really recommend it despite their claims that they’re a happy couple.  They tend to lean in, and ask “You’re not getting married, are you?”  and they sometimes follow it up with “Don’t do that shit!!”

What’s super confusing is that people often pose this question of me, rather than him.

Ummm . . . . y’all understand that doesn’t make sense, right?

Not to be sexist, but there are things that you can ask a woman, and expect that she’ll have a legitimate answer.  Those are usually questions of logistics and details, like, what are you guys doing two weekends from now?  She can probably run down the entire calendar.  Or, which day does the cleaning lady come?  THAT’S definitely a question for the ladies.  But, when are you getting married??

If a couple isn’t already engaged, why in the world would a woman have that answer?  Even if a woman has the majority of the control in the relationship, the timing of engagement is the one thing that’s entirely up to him.  (There are exceptions to this, of course.  In some cases the couple has discussed it, and the woman has made it abundantly clear that marriage is imminent by the end of the year [or whenever].  The other exception would be if the woman decides to propose to him, which is an entirely different post altogether.)

If you’ve ever asked this question of a couple, what is the intention and what behavior should ensue?

Is the ultimate hope that the couple blurts out a date and extends an invitation to the blessed event? Because that’s probably not happening.  Or are you hoping that a couple who has been chugging along with their own agenda for several years  will be jostled into a lifetime decision based on your inquisition?  That’s kind of unrealistic too.  Or EVEN if you ask the man and he’s planning to pop the question, is it your belief that he’s going to potentially blow the surprise by confiding in you, a person who he runs into semi-annually?

What’s more likely to happen is that you’ll cause an argument that happens either the moment you walk away, or later that night, OR the couple will find a way to turn the joke back around on you.

In my personal situation, asking that question gives me carte blanche to clown and fuck with the asker.  In the past, I’ve employed fun retorts, like “Oh, he’s already married . . . to someone else.”  I’ve also been known to thrust my left hand into someone’s face and do my best Eddie Murphy impression: “I don’t see no rings on these fingers!”  The BF has his own fun with the question, but typically says “If it ain’t broke . . . “, although a few times he made people uncomfortable by saying ,”Well, Gina already told me that she doesn’t want to marry me.”  It can be a wonderful source of entertainment if you’re in the right place.

Because on the flipside, I’ve seen other couples cringe when a nosy person unwittingly causes the next Civil War by asking about marriage.  Maybe the woman has been wondering that same thing, and now instead of a fun evening, she’s saying things like: “See . . . EVERYONE wants to know why we aren’t married.  And so do I!”  I’ve seen these conversations digress into breakups. (One could argue that the question only exacerbated what would have happened eventually, but do you REALLY want to be catalyst for a relationship implosion??)

And, honestly, I understand the intention and know that most of the time, the question comes from a good and innocent place.  Maybe you think this couple works really well together and should take the lifelong plunge.  There are just other ways to go about your inquiry that don’t involve a heat lamp.  Or maybe you just wait for the mystery to unfold naturally without trying to find the spoiler.

Aug 5, 2017 - Rants    No Comments

Why Hamilton Pissed Me Off (Don’t Get Excited . . . I Loved It)

Full disclosure — I went to musical theater camp.  It was a wonderful place in Wisconsin where I spent roughly 6 summers, starting at the age of 7 (because my parents had shit to do over the summer, and I drove my mother to drink).  I and my cabin mates — 98% of which were Jewish white girls — and our male cabin counterparts, spent the entire summer dancing, singing, acting and preparing musical productions to perform for our parents to watch when they begrudgingly retrieved us at the end of four weeks.

It is for this nostalgic reason that I love musical theater.

When Hamilton debuted in NY, I had dreams of procuring tickets on one of my many trips.  I wanted to be one of the people who could proudly say that I saw Lin Manuel Miranda perform in his own genius production.  It never happened.

What did happen, however, was the increase in popularity to the point where people were considering compromising their mortgage payments to secure a position in a high balcony seat, just to be in house to see the critically acclaimed play. When I had a day job in a rather conservative office, all of my colleagues raved about how “life-altering and amazing” it was to experience Hamilton.  Definitely worth the $500+ ticket price, they assured me.

I was super excited to learn that Hamilton was coming to Chicago!  But not excited enough to post up at the box office with a lawn chair to wait in a 6 hour ticket line.  A) I had a job, and B) I figured that I’m pretty well-connected in this town.  At some point, a ticket would find its way to me.

Now, in the meantime, I didn’t want to know a lot about the musical.  Of course I knew the basic plot and that it was updated with brilliant music, with a hip-hop theme.  But I didn’t listen to the soundtrack or do a lot of reading about it.  I wanted to be surprised.  I wanted a fresh experience without spoilers.

Months went by and I was losing my optimism that I would ever see Hamilton, but lo and behold, one day, a few months ago, a dear friend called with an extra ticket, which I claimed before she could get the entire word “Hamilton” out of her mouth.  It was the total hookup!  A great seat with VIP lounge access beforehand and during intermission with promises of food and an open bar.  THIS is what I’m talkin’ bout!

I apologized to the BF, telling him that I would get us both tickets at a later time.  (Again — full disclosure — the BF isn’t exactly the king of the musical.  He will entertain my nostalgia because he’s a good guy, but really? Watching dudes in tights singing about their feelings isn’t exactly his schtick [I did mention that I went to camp with all Jewish people, yes?])

The day came, and off to Hamilton I went.  And LOVE it, I did.  There were things that I didn’t expect, like deep-in-the-crates hip-hop references, and an ode to immigrants.  I expected to see more white people on stage, and surely didn’t anticipate a predominantly black cast.

The show was fabulous from start to finish.

Now here’s the rub  . . . when I looked around the audience, my friend and I were the clear minority.  As I guzzled wine during intermission, I said to my friend that I was somewhat disturbed.  She asked “why?” in between bites of her roasted veggie kabob.  I went on a tear about how this wonderful play, rooted in black culture, written by a Puerto Rican was taking the world by the storm, and causing people — even people in the highest ranks of conservative government — to fork over thousands of dollars for the pleasure of being well entertained for three hours.  And yet I look around the audience into a sea of white faces, most of whom don’t even understand the homage paid to the Notorious BIG’s Ten Crack Commandments, or Going Back To Cali.  There are countless other references, but it was actually kind of dumbfounding.

At the end, I joined my fellow audience members in an enthusiastic standing ovation, except I think I stood for reasons that 90% of the viewing audience missed.  This play has taken the account of a historical incident that we’ve all learned about in grammar school and informed us that Hamilton was biracial, while taking many elements of modern black culture, and with the buttresses of an amazing cast and extremely clever writing, has spoonfed it to an unsuspecting audience who eagerly digested it to the catchy tune of several hundred dollars per ticket.  In fact, Hamilton is the hottest ticket in the US right now.  I can’t help thinking about the special ingredient pie from “The Help.”

Because here’s the problem . . .SO many people who flock to Hamilton still somehow manage to hate black people.  They look down on hip-hop, yet they’re lapping it up like ice cream — the Hamilton soundtrack was the highest selling Broadway cast album of 2015.  A good percentage of the Hamilton-going faction loves everything about us — except for us.   They’ve dedicated research to create medical procedures to get their skin darker, lips plumper, hair curlier, asses larger — never mind that black girls were teased by white girls for having large rear ends in grammar school.  Something was wrong with it (and us) then, but apparently something’s REALLY right with it now!  But, oops!  I forgot!  Black men prefer having sex with them anyway, right?  Because black women aren’t beautiful? Ha! They like hip-hop, want to sing along with the n word without physical retribution.  But, that’s right!  Hip-hop is violent ghetto music.  Unless it’s on Broadway.  And then it’s masterful!

Oh, and please don’t think I’m an angry black woman.  I’m just observant.  And verbose.  And asking us all to dig a little deeper. That said, I’m not sure whether to choke on the irony or choke back the tears.

Final full disclosure — it’s taken me a few months to write this post.  I was so supercharged the night of, that I thought I would come straight home and write everything out.  But I waited, just so that I could calm down.  And then I saw “Detroit” in a special screening on Thursday night, and said “You know what? Fuck it. I’m writing it now.”  LOL!

In all seriousness, I’m kind of over the hatred in our country, and I posted on FB the other day that I’ve evolved to a place where I can handle the passive hate. It’s the active, violent hate that’s eating away at me.

So  . . . because we have many choices in this world — more than we know — my assumption is that there are people who choose to remain ignorant and rooted in hate.  And I can’t concern myself with that.  I can only protect myself.  However, I also feel that attitude and happiness are choices, so I’m going to choose to applaud the creators of Hamilton, not just because it’s a great show that has amped the “cool factor” of show tunes, but for potentially opening some minds and starting dialogues toward positive relations.  At least that’s where I am today.

Rant over.  Thanks for reading!  XO

Jul 25, 2017 - Rants    3 Comments

The Perils of Sensitivity

Okay, I’m going to need everyone to stop being so sensitive about EVERYTHING all the GOTdamn time. We have somehow found ourselves in a society of paranoia.  Can we PLEASE just give each other the benefit of the doubt???

If I make a decision about my life or how I spend my time, and you’re adversely affected, I’m sorry and it’s not intentional. I’m not doing anything AGAINST you. I’m doing something FOR me. There’s a difference.

If I don’t invite you out to hear my dad’s band play, I promise that I’m truly flattered that you would like to join me and support the band, but I don’t always get advance notice on his gigs and I can’t stop to make 100 phone calls before I go out. I try to post on social media as soon as I learn that he’s playing, which is right now the best I can do.  If you learn about the gig, just come.  I’ll be happy to see you.  But I won’t be happy to hear you bitching about why I didn’t call you.

If I don’t call you back immediately, it’s not because I hate you, it’s usually because I’m legitimately busy and trying to wait until the moment where I can give you my undivided attention.

If we work together (which none of us do, because I’m not social media friends with any colleagues, but it’s worth mentioning anyway), and I refer to you as, say, a Research Analyst as opposed to a Research Associate or whatever, MY BAD!  Please don’t get caught up in titles in general.  I don’t even know what my OWN title is, and I don’t really care. As long as I respect you and your work, it’s really not worth getting all wrapped around the axle.  (When I don my recruiter hat, I have a very different opinion, but for social purposes, this opinion holds true)

If you feel that I don’t support your cause, your charity, your crowdfunder, your situation etc, enough, please don’t take that personally either. Nobody is being selfish, cheap, uncaring or unfeeling. We all have causes that we care about and we get behind them in our own way. We’re also overstimulated by too much content. If I contributed to everything that tugged at my heartstrings, I would be broke. And we all know how much I hate being broke.

And finally, I promise you that if you’re reading this blog, you weren’t the catalyst.  If you have my phone number, PLEASE don’t call and ask if I’m talking about you in this rant.  Don’t email either.  If you think this is about you, Carly Simon, it probably isn’t.

Please know that, if you’re my friend, it is not my interest to hurt you, make you feel badly, neglect you, etc.   I love my friends, but please have appreciation for how I show that love.  I promise that I have neither the time, energy or quite frankly the desire for sabotage . . . or managing anyone else’s sensitivity. Get out of your own head for a second, and enjoy your day.  I truly mean that.

Thanks for entertaining this rant.  I had to get this off my chest, and maybe this message can help someone. Does anyone else ever feel this way?  Just me?

XOXO

 

Jun 29, 2017 - Holidaze, Rants    No Comments

Chosen Few Picnic Survival Strategies!

Alrighty, so a few weeks ago, I provided a few festival behavior guidelines, but I feel the need to release an addendum, especially since we’re almost upon July 4th holiday weekend, which means the hottest party of the year in Chicago — The Chosen Few Picnic!! 
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Now . . . if you’ve never attended this event, this post will likely be wasted on you because many of these items are specific to the Chosen Few Picnic.  My apologies for the regional focus, but this post might actually inspire you to come to the event to see what all of the fuss is about.

That said . . . here goes . . .

  1. The first rule of the Chosen Few Festival — don’t complain about the cost of the Chosen Few Festival.  Yes, at some point the picnic-turned-festival did not have an admission fee, but that was also before tens of thousands of people were in attendance, and what was once a cute little get together has turned into an event that probably wouldn’t even fit into the space of most stadiums. The free days were also before international exposure and the addition of an impressive roster of entertainers and world renowned DJs.  You spend more money on well drinks in a weekend of socializing at bad clubs with worse music.  You’ve also given lots of money to people that you don’t know, so support the people you know and love, who have built an amazing brand, quit yer bitching and enjoy the weekend.
  2. This event is an outpour of peace and love.  Leave the weapons at home.  You won’t need them.
  3. If you’ve never been to the Chosen Few Festival, it’s all about HOUSE MUSIC.  Don’t come to the Festival and complain that there’s no hip-hop.  There will be no hip-hop.  You knew what you were getting yourself into.
  4. Dress for comfort . . .  and good taste.  The Chosen Few Festival is the time to be cute . . . but not TOO cute.  By the end of the day, you will be covered in dust, dirt, your own sweat, other peoples’ sweat, barbecue sauce and spilled drinks.  Wear your favorite gym shoes.  Also?  Just a gentle reminder that if you wore it in high school, it might not fit properly today. If that’s the case, have your clothing flashback in the privacy of your own home rather than at the Festival.  Because that’s too much . . .
  5. If you have a tent and want your friends to find you, make it stand out.  Preferably something aerial — like a flag. Describing your location by saying that you’re in “the gray tent, due south of the stage” is tantamount to telling someone that you’re somewhere on the lakefront and expecting them to locate you.
  6. If you’re a “stroller” — meaning you don’t have a home base and prefer to wander around the festival all day — don’t just assume that you’re going to tent surf, eat everyone else’s food and drink their liquor.  First of all, it’s rude.  Second, you should probably concern yourself with who made the food, how long it’s been sitting out, and who’s been hovering over it all day.  Bring your own stash, or prepare to patronize the vendors.
  7. On the flipside, don’t bring an abundance of food and chafing dishes, and then complain that nobody contributes. Festival day is NOT the day to complain. If you wanted people to contribute, you should have coordinated with them well before the event. Also, if you don’t want to be hemmed up in a tent with 20 overserved friends who are gobbling your burgers, don’t invite them in.  Find them on the dance “floor” instead.
  8. Don’t try to move through the crowd in a large entourage.  You will get lost.  Spend more time partying, and less time coordinating with your 12 friends.  In fact, mentally prepare yourself NOT to see 1/2 of your friends who are in attendance. If you see them, great.  If you miss them, you’ll see the pictures on social media the next day and say: “How did I miss you!?!”  There are 20,000 people in a park, half of which are in tents.  That’s how.
  9. Bring several external batteries for your phone.  Because thousands of people are jamming the signals in a small area, your phone is working extra hard, and will suck through your battery in 1/4 of the normal time.  If you separate from your friends and your phone dies, there’s a good chance that you might never see them again.
  10. Think twice before bringing your children.  I realize that you want to show off your spawn, and while it’s a lovely thought that you will expose your infants and teenagers to your old friends and the music that served as the backdrop for your coming of age, I promise you that it’s not a good idea.  Your baby doesn’t want to be pushed in a stroller in a sea of thousands, with the view of the backs of everyone’s sweaty legs, and your toddler will get lost in the shuffle when mom and dad get stopped every five minutes to talk about what they’ve been doing since high school or reminisce about that legendary night at the Power Plant.  Your kids don’t really want to be there anyway, and it will be disappointing to you that they don’t care for the music.  And unless you would like that degenerate friend from high school to offer your teenagers a hit of weed and tell them about when he and their mom used to date, you might also want to leave the older kids at home.
  11. If you DO bring your children, don’t enlist anyone else to watch them while you go dance. Nobody is in the frame of mind to be a responsible babysitter at the festival, and God only knows what your kids will have learned upon your return.
  12. Manage your consumption according to the facilities.  This is a porta-potty environment, and the event lasts for several hours each day.  If you’re like me, you would sooner insert a catheter than use the porta-potty if you can at all help it.  I’ll let you in on my Economy of Liquids rule, which means that I will be trying to consume the smallest amount of liquid that has the maximum desired outcome.  Specifically, this means that I will be sipping whiskey from my flask throughout the day, rather than drink 5+ beers.  First of all, I hate beer.  Second, that would be setting me up to consume over 60 ounces of liquid, forcing me to hit the porta-potty multiple times during the day.  Be mindful of mixed drinks, which have a sugary base and will cause a headache before the day is over.  Also?  It’s probably not the best day to try out new foods (like Ree-Ree’s special collard greens)  if you have a questionable digestive system.
  13. Festival weekend is NOT the time to experiment with edibles.  Some of you have prescriptions for medical marijuana in the form of candy or other deceptive treats, and others of you are anxious to try it.  You will be in a very bad place if you eat an entire “special gummy bear” in general, but definitely if you try it for the first time at the festival.  I’ve seen the results.  Take my word for it.
  14. Don’t get hands-y with someone else’s significant other.  You’ll probably run into a lot of people with whom you have history at this event, but that gives you no right to pretend that you’re back on the floor of the DJ booth in the Warehouse.  You don’t have to reminisce about it either.  Everyone has moved on.  Keep your hands off of your ex-hookups and the Festival will remain a weekend of peace.
  15. Read the previous post about general festival etiquette, and pay special attention to #3 and of course #6.
  16. Have a GREAT time, enjoy the music, and dance your ass off!!!

 

For more info about the event, visit the Chosen Few DJs website.

 

Jun 4, 2017 - Rants    2 Comments

The rules of festival season

Who doesn’t love a good outdoor festival?  I’m a Chicagoan, and once the weather gets right, I and my fellow Second City residents love nothing more than to party outside like we’re getting paid.

But some of y’all get a little excited and forget your festival flow manners.  Don’t worry, though.  I’m here to help.

Festival Behavior Guidelines

  1. No serious conversation.  So, here’s the deal . . . everyone at an outdoor festival is happy that the weather is warm enough to actually be outside without the threat of double pneumonia.  Do NOT kill my sunshine-induced high by trying to embark on a conversation about business, meetings or quite frankly anything that doesn’t involve drinks or music.  Just don’t.
  2. The answer is “I’m fine.”  Generally, I love an honest answer to this question, but when you’re at a festival, the answer to “How have you been?” is something like “I’m doing great”  And keep it moving.  When we’re having lunch, I can hear all about your in-laws, your bad-ass kids, your bunion, the gory details about your coworkers who make you work life hell.  But festival day?  IS NOT THAT DAY.
  3. Don’t play the “guess how we know each other” game.  Nothing is more aggravating than someone who enjoys quizzing people they’ve met one time at a dark party on how they know each other.  While it’s great that you have amazing recall, ain’t nobody got time for that.  Just remind them, if you must.  And keep it moving.
  4. Manage your bodily fluid.  Granted, I’m not so much a hugger in general, but I do enjoy a hug from my friends — if you’re clean!  In short, if you’re sweaty, a bear hug is NOT necessary (or welcomed).  I have on my summer fashion, which can be ruined by your sweat.  So, if you rode your bike to the festival, or you’ve been walking around drinking all day, maybe a nice air kiss on the cheek would be appropriate.  But engulfing me in your sweaty armpits is a no.  A hell no.
  5. Pace yourself.  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably well into adulthood, and if you’re not, you’re probably one of my younger relatives who could stand to benefit from this information (AT SOME POINT).  That said you know damned well that, when you start drinking at noon — in the sun — there’s a good chance that keeping up that pace will have you passed out behind a tent, in a pool of your own vomit, by 3:00.  This is NOT a good look.  To avoid embarrassing yourself (and ultimately me, if we’re friends),if you plan to be at a festival all day long, divide your drink tolerance by the number of hours you plan to be there.  For example, if you can only consume three cocktails before making out with a stranger, and you plan to be there for 8 hours, you are allowed to drink only .375 drinks per hour, and THAT’S IT.  If you want to increase your tolerance, drink lots of water and eat a meal.  For the record, funnel cake and churros are not meals, and in fact due to the high sugar content, will exacerbate your stupor and cause a ridic headache the next day.  Grab a nice grilled chicken sandwich or burger and keep it moving.
  6. Do not ask for a sip from my flask!  Yes, this is how I roll.  I had the foresight to manage my own cocktail situation.  I suggest you do the same.  And I also don’t want you wrapping your nasty lips around the mouth of my pristine whiskey-filled flask.  There are bars everywhere.  Find one of them.
  7. You are responsible for your drunk friend.  If you have a friend who is out there, falling all over herself, and one second away from doing her best Exorcist projectile vomit impression, puh-leeze take it upon yourself and get her drunk ass out of there.  I say ‘her’ because there’s always some woman, drunk out of her gourd, flashing her underwear in public due to the over-consumption of frozen margaritas.  It sucks that she’s curtailing your fun, but if you didn’t encourage her to follow rule #3, this is the price you pay.
  8. Have a supply of gum or breath mints.  This should be self-explanatory, but nobody wants to smell your gyro while you’re violating rules #1, 2 or 3.  Keep it minty.  And moving.

 

 

I’m going to reserve the right to add to this list at a later time, but in the meantime, enjoy your festival season!

 

XO, G.

Nov 26, 2016 - Holidaze    No Comments

Small Business Etiquette . . .

kiss my ash in box

 

If anyone has money leftover after hitting the door-buster sales on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday, we small business owners ask that you think of us on the Saturday following Turkey Day.  I am fortunate enough to have a solid group of regular and loyal customers.  I appreciate each and every one!

We all know small business owners, as this is the age of the entrepreneur.  There are many small businesses in my life. I have Naturals by Gina B., my dad and I have a music publishing company, I dabble in freelance writing and video/film production, and the BF has an audiovisual company as well as an experiential marketing agency.  By now I’ve see it all.

Before we start our shopping, whether the small business that you’re patronizing provides products or services, there are guidelines of how to deal with us:

  1. Treat us as “real” businesses, because we are.  Every business began as a small business, born in basements and garages everywhere. Your friend might have created the next great thing.  Give us a shot.  We will work very hard to earn and keep your repeat business.
  2. Don’t expect the “homie hookup.”  If you have a friend who owns a business, support the business the way you would a business run by a stranger.  We do feel guilty charging our friends full price for our products/services (and we do try to sweeten the deal with the occasional free product or surprise discount), but those feelings fall by the wayside when we think of our narrow profit margins and what it costs to run our own show.  Between product creation, marketing, web presence, social media, etc., most of us don’t take money from the business for a number of years.
  3. You don’t care about our budgets, and we honestly don’t care about yours.  Not to be harsh, but if you can’t afford us, you can’t afford us.  If you visited Walgreen’s to buy body butter, would you approach the cashier and say “this product is $15, but I only have $7, can you work with me?”  Nope.  Forget happy and healthy.  You would have found yourself on the corner of ashy and shit out of luck.
  4. Don’t ask us to do things merely for “exposure.”  Sure, marketing is necessary and expensive, however most of us are pretty clear on how to expose ourselves if that’s the objective.
  5. Don’t limit your support of small or local businesses to one day per year.  Personally, I love nothing more than being able to shop with my friends and find the next big thing before it’s the next big thing.

My hope is that on this Small Business Shopping, many will shop with me, and that I will find new people to support.

That said, all people who are reading this blog can enjoy a 20% sitewide discount on Naturals by Gina B products.  I look forward to dazzling you. Use promo code IREADGINASPOT

Dec 31, 2015 - Uncategorized    2 Comments

Gratitude and Latitude

This is about the time of year where I look back on my life and accomplishments and start grousing about how I should be farther along, in a different position, etc.

Well, that’s really not working for me anymore.

There are definitely things that I wish were better, stronger, and more profitable, but I’m also making a point to practice gratitude more than usual because I have a lot to be thankful for.  It’s all about spin.

I have a newish corporate job, and although it has been a transition and there are many differences that I don’t care for, there are also opportunities for me to get involved, bring something to the table and make the organization a better place. There are people who are interested in my thoughts and contributions, which is something to be thankful for.

I’ve been working through a trademark issue with my own company, Naturals by Gina B., which has been annoying and debilitating.  But the flipside is that I do have my own company, and I continue to create what I consider to be great products. Time to forge ahead and make limoncello from the lemons that I’ve been handed.

I’m far from rich, but I’m not financially strained.  I could have more, but I do most of the things I want.  The Universe has been kind to me.

I’ve unfortunately lost a few friends this year.  Very sad, but I have many more remaining who greatly contribute to my life. I am rich in friendship and memories.

The end of 2015 finds me roughly 4 lbs heavier than normal, and about 16 lbs heavier than my ideal.  However, the 4 lbs recent gain means that I truly enjoyed myself on my amazing Winter vacation, and I’m confident that I will still fit into my NYE dress, and that I can drop the excess quickly.  At least I hope so.

If you know me, you’ll understand that I hold onto youth for as long as possible and enjoy defying my age. Although we all get older by the day, I’m happy to report that I maintain a youthful spirit and that I can still party with the best of them, and turn the head of the most important man in my life — as well as those of some men who are several years younger.  ;-)

Speaking of which, I have a great significant other who proves – daily – why he is truly the better half.

My father is reaching a very good age, and has more and more chronic ailments that are rather concerning, however, he is able to continue to do what he loves for a living.  He is the original youthful spirit that I emulate.  I’m grateful for each additional healthy day.

My house is not as clean as I would like going into the new year, but I guess that gives me something to do over the weekend?  (Honestly, no real silver lining to this one, but I’m going to let it slide.)

Finally, each day I get closer to figuring myself out.  One day soon.

I wish everyone a safe and exciting New Year’s celebration. Let’s give 2015 a great sendoff.  Be kind to yourself . . . be grateful.

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!

bigsecret

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