Lights, Camera, Authenticity

staring at computer

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be the single gals enemy.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be the single gals enemy.  I can’t tell you how many times I can already be in a little bit of a vulnerable state and I log onto my Facebook account and there is a new engagement announcement, wedding picture, baby bump shot, or pictures of perfectly smiling families with their 2.5 kids standing in front of their huge house with the white picket fences dressed alike smiling for the holiday cards.  And don’t get me wrong, I am sooooo not a hater.  I am happy for my friends.  I enjoy seeing my childhood friends as adults with their adorable kids and handsome husbands.  But if you are in a little bit of a slump you can look at these pictures and think, “Will that ever happen for me?  When will I be able to change my Facebook status from non-existent to Engaged, and married?  When will I be able to post pictures of my kids and my husband?  Why?  Why hasn’t it happened?  When is it going to happen?”  I’m just being all the way honest.  Most single women have had that thought; they just might not be honest enough to admit it.  The same rings true for some of my co-workers.  You walk into their offices and see pictures of them with their families lounging at a resort pool on vacation.  Then you walk into my office and there is just… paperwork.  And I am okay with that, but sometimes it can be a little discouraging.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine invited me with her to a barbeque in Manhattan Beach.  Manhattan Beach happens to be one of my favorite beach spots in LA.  Venice Beach is full of a bunch of derelicts and is dirty.  Santa Monica Beach is too commercialized, Malibu is just too dam annoying to get to when it’s nice out, the PCH can be a bitch to drive through.  Manhattan Beach just has a great flavor and it is not too ignorantly crowded.  So of course I went with her to the BBQ.  When we arrived to the location we pulled up to a beautiful white house with oversized windows.  Did I mention this house was on oceanfront property?  It was essentially my dream home.  It’s not often I am in awe.  Living in LA I have had the privilege of seeing a lot of beautiful homes in Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Calabasas.  But there is something so spectacular about a Manhattan Beach Oceanfront property.  We parked the car and proceeded to walk into the home.  The furniture was spectacular.  All white and there was an oceanfront view from every single window.  We made our way to the pool side and were greeted with a glass of champagne.  It wasn’t a large crowd.  It was a very intimate setting .  There were probably about 30 people there.  And everyone was friendly.  It wasn’t the young Hollywood scantily clad group of skanks.  As we walked in I took a second to take in the magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean and sip on my champagne.  I took a deep breath and exhaled.  Now this was definitely a great way to kick off the summer.  I looked around and was excited to see my co-worker’s husband sitting down on the couch bopping his head to the music having a beer.  It’s always great running into someone you somewhat know at a party.  I made my way to go say hello to him and greet him.

Me:  Hey there “Derek” what a small world!

Derek looked up at me and he looked like a deer in headlights.

Derek:  Heeeeey…  what’s  going on?

Me:  Not much.  This spot is beautiful!  Is “Linda” here?

At this point Derek came close to me and whispered.

Derek:  I’m not here.  You don’t see me.

Me:  Huh?

Derek:  You don’t see me.  I’m serious.

At this point another woman came up to “Derek” and put her arm around him and handed him another beer.  She stood there waiting on him to introduce me.  Derek introduced us and I stood there in complete and utter shock.  It was times like this I appreciated my degree in theatre.  I was able to quickly pull it together.

cheating-man

How in the fuck was I going to stay at this barbecue looking at my co-worker’s husband and his jump off at his house that he brings his side chicks?

Me:  I need to head to the ladies room.

Derek:  Follow me this way.

 “Derek” showed me to the ladies room.  He actually took me to another area of the house.  As we walked down the hallway, I noticed pictures of “Derek” and some of his clients.  He was in the music industry and hung out with the likes of Lady Gaga, Usher, etc.  He was a big time executive.  As we walked to the rest room it became clear this spot was “Derek’s.”

Me:  Uh… Derek… what’s going on?

Derek:  This is just my other office.

ME:  Your other office?

Derek:  Yeah.  We entertain clients here.  It’s more cost efficient.

Me:  I see….

Derek:  But seriously, I need you to keep this between me and you.  YOU- DID-NOT-SEE-ME!!!  “Linda” wouldn’t understand.

Me:  It’s really none of my business I don’t plan on saying anything to her.  But I don’t think you’re giving her enough credit.  She is an executive.  She would certainly understand.

Derek:  I don’t think so.  Look around, she wouldn’t be cool with me hanging out here without her.

Me:  Like I said, this is none of my business.  I don’t plan on saying shit.

Derek:   Thanks.  I appreciate it.

I inhaled my champagne and went back out to the pool and immediately got another one.  Unfortunately I didn’t drive so I was stuck there.  How in the fuck was I going to stay at this barbecue looking at my co-worker’s husband and his jump off at his house that he brings his side chicks?  I literally was looking at his wife’s Facebook page just the other day.  She had just had their 3 child.  They finally had a boy.  I remember looking at their recent Christmas pictures thinking about what a perfect family they had.  And to top it off they had finally had a boy.  I looked at the life she displayed on Facebook and I have to be honest, a lot of times I found myself envious (not in the crazy psycho bitch kind of way).  I was happy for her.  But I would always wonder if I would be “fortunate” enough to have that kind of life.  And now as I proceeded to have my 3rdglass of champagne I looked at her husband sitting on the couch drinking a beer sitting next to his jump off.  My girlfriend came up to me and asked if I was having a good time.  I didn’t notice I was tuned out.  I told her I was fine I just needed a glass of water.  I made up a bullshit excuse that I drank my champagne too fast and needed to get something to eat.

I was still extremely bothered by what I had just experienced.  I was more bothered than I thought I would be.  I got to thinking about reality versus the images we portray on social media.  It made me question everything.  Luckily for me, when I was married it was right when Facebook had just became popular in my group of friends.  Luckily I didn’t have a Facebook account and Instagram didn’t even exist.  But if it did I am sure even in my unhappily married state, I would have posted pictures to portray the “perfect” life to the outside world.  I began to wonder how many other people were living a lie on social media.  How many people whose lives I envied up to this point were living in pure hell behind those smiling pictures they post on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?  Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware there are some people who really are living the life they post.  They really are happily married and in great relationships.  But I had a feeling there were a lot more people than we realize who are hiding behind their fake lives.  Who really are in miserable marriages and some that are even going through divorces but for whatever reason they are portraying their lives as being better than it really is and for what?  Who are we living for?  Why do we feel the need to show an unauthentic life to the public?

I made the conscious decision not to say a word to my co-worker.  If this was one of my close friends it would be a different story.  But I didn’t want to get involved.  Besides, for all I knew she knows what a fool her husband is.  Lots of times, the person who divulges the information to someone who isn’t mentally or emotionally ready to accept it ends up looking like the hater.

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I would rather be living the life I am now and be happy and authentic than be creating a bullshit life.

When I got home that evening I walked into my home and suddenly had a great appreciation for the life I was living.  When I post a picture on Facebook or Instagram it is of my authentic life.  I don’t have to pretend to living a life I am not.  Granted I would love to be remarried and have my 2.5 children.  But damn it, I would rather be living the life I am now and be happy and authentic than be creating a bullshit life.  That night when I got in the bed I slept in the middle of the bed… because I can.  I turned on the TV and blasted it and channel surfed through Bravo TV, Lifetime, Oxygen, and WE… because I could.  I had finally gained such a great appreciation to living the single life.  It’s better to be alone and happy than with someone and miserable and pretending.  I could sleep well knowing that each and every single picture I posted, status update I made, and Instagram picture I put on the live feed  was true to who I am and where I am in my life.  And damn it felt good!

 
Monique K.Bradley

 

 

I can be found on: Facebook | Twitter | Google+        

When the Boss Is Away…

man-at-airport

When the boss is away…

Every year my friends and I go on an annual ski trip.  It’s a group of ten of us who went to Hampton University together and it is literally a week of non-stop partying.  Black professionals hit the slopes and afterwards head over to a happy hour party that rivals any college frat party.  The only difference is the beer kegs are replaced with expensive scotches, whiskies, and vodkas.  We revert to college students only we are 30+ with bank accounts and careers.  We rent a house and we leave the warm 80 degree LA weather and head off to the cold slopes.   This year we went to Aspen.  While on the shuttle to pick up our rental car I sat next to a handsome brotha in his mid forties.  He had bronze coloring and salt and pepper hair.  He wore glasses and just looked like he had his shit together.  He was wearing jeans, Ferragamo loafers, and a coat.  He was clearly ear hustling on the conversation my friends and I were having.  My girlfriend was telling us a hilarious story about how one of the Nigerian guys who sell the fake designer purses on the NYC streets outside of her work building gave her $200 for a Christmas present “Just because.”  He chuckled but remained a little standoffish.  So at a certain point we decided to include him in the conversation. There is an assumption any black person you see in the area is heading to the slopes for the same event.  We introduced ourselves and discovered he was an Alumni of Hampton University as well and graduated nearly a decade before us.  As soon as we made that connection, “Russell” turned into a different person.  He loosened up and joined in our vacation foolery.  “Russell” was a married father of twins.  He immediately took out a picture of his beautiful family.  There sat “Russell” with is beautiful wife that looked like she stepped off the runways of Paris.  She had a chocolate complexion with high cheekbones and the natural wild hairstyle.  His little twin girls were dressed in their Christmas dresses and were the perfect blend of the two parents.  And the color coordinated family sat beaming under a Christmas tree in their holiday card picture.  He informed us that his wife “allowed” him to have a vacation with his boys but just for a day and a half.  This makes absolutely no sense!  To spend all that time travelling for ski week only to be there for a day and a half is plain stupid.  Obviously his wife was the boss of that household.  But why only let him go out for a day?  I am a firm believer in the idea of still maintaining your own life after marriage.  I think it is healthy for a husband to have his “guys” trip and for a wife to have her “girls” trips and then have a romantic trip by yourself as a couple.  I do not understand the concept of keeping your man on a short leash.  Clearly, “Russell” was a stand up guy.  He even showed us a picture of his wife.  But hell, this wasn’t my marriage and he certainly wasn’t my man so I honestly could care less.  “Russell” was actually excited that the weather conditions were bad because that meant regardless of his wife’s demands, he was stuck in Aspen for an extra few days until the snow slowed down.  “Russell” exchanged information with one my friends so we could all connect once we were settled in Aspen.  A few hours later, there was a knock on our door.  And to my surprise there stood “Russell.”  One of our friends had sent him our condo information and invited him over.  I invited “Russell” in and offered him a cocktail.  My friends and I were just bugging out having cocktails.  “Russell” fit right in.  He told us the group he was with was already getting ready to go to bed and they were not as much fun as we were.  Clearly, our group had unleashed the beast in “Russell.”   I guess we reminded him of how much fun he wasn’t having. We were having a heated debate about relationships and the guys were giving their take and the girls were shutting down the BS notions.  It was a scene from A Different World.  The bond that happens when you attend an HBCU is unlike any other experience.  Times like this really brought me back to our college days.  We had been friends since freshmen year and here we were many years later just as close and able to relate to each others as adults.  The drinks were flowing. The shit talking was at an all time high, and the altitude had all of us FUCKED UP.  It was awesome!!!  Little by little the group started retiring to bed.  It had already been a long day.  Between the travel and drinks we were spent.  Most normal people would take a hint that it was their time to go.  But not this guest.  The more “Russell” drank the more inappropriate he got.  We were all tired and were trying to give him a hint that it was time for him to get the fuck out and he just didn’t get it.  At one point “Russell” was sitting next to me and whispered in my ear:

couple_annoyed

There is a guy that I think would be perfect for you. Why don’t you come over and I’ll introduce you to him. He’s staying at my house.

Russell:  There is something so sexy about you.  I could wear you out!

I practically spit out my Yellowtail Pinot Noir (don’t judge, we had to buy the big bottle of wine).

Me:  What?

Russell:  You are just so sexy. 

Me:  Ok Russell.  (I condescendingly patted him on his leg writing him off)

Russell:  I’m dead serious.  You are so fine.  I can’t take my eyes off of you.

Me:  But you’re married.  Where are your single friends? 

Russell:  There is a guy that I think would be perfect for you.  Why don’t you come over and I’ll introduce you to him.  He’s staying at my house.

Me:  I’m not going anywhere with you.  You can email me your “friend’s” contact information. 

I’m not sure if “Russell” saw the words “dumb, stupid, and desperate” written on my forehead.  But I looked at him like he had two heads.  First of all, I didn’t care how high the altitude was, I wasn’t going anywhere with a stranger to a house with a bunch of men I didn’t know.  I would never allow myself to get that drunk.  Not to mention, I think the friend “Russell” had in mind for me was the bulge that I was seeing occur in his jeans.  At this point I got up and went to the other room where 2 of my other friends were conferencing on how in the hell to get this now drunken fool out of the house.  And of course they turned to me.  Why did I always have to be the one to be rude and do the dirty work?  My friends answer was plain and simple…That’s what you do.  I glared at the friend who invited his ass in the first place.  I took a deep breath and went back out to the living room.  I thought maybe just maybe one of the guys could do it, but they were nowhere to be found.  When I went to the living room Russell was pouring himself another drink.

Me:  Hey, there Russell.  I don’t know where you’re going but you got to get the hell out of here.

Russell:  (words slightly slurred) I know, I know.  I have overstayed my welcome.  But let me just finish my drink.

Me:  We are all really tired.  You’ve had enough. 

I took his drink out of his hand and handed him a bottle of water and his keys.  Luckily “Russell” was walking distance.  I went to get his coat and when I came back he was patting his jacket for his keys.

Russell:  I lost my keys.

Me:  What do you mean?  You just had them. 

Russell:  I don’t know where they are. 

I looked down on the floor and his keys were perfectly placed behind a chair.  Clearly he was trying to be slick and stay.  I bent down and handed them over to him.  Walked him to the door and gently nudged him out of the house and locked the door behind him.  He wasn’t a belligerent angry drunk so I wasn’t concerned for our safety.

That’s when it hit me.  I was so quick to judge his wife for only “allowing” him a day and a half to go on a trip.  That’s probably why his wife only allowed his ass to travel for a day and a half.  She probably knows what a fool he becomes when he is away from home.  That’s not a way to live.  When I am in a relationship I don’t want to have to worry that my man is going to be out somewhere showing his ass.  Think about it, if I was a scandalous bitch, I could have had a fling with him and kept it moving.  But I have this wonderful thing called MORALS!  I had a feeling that wasn’t the first time “Russell” tested out a woman to see if she would get down.  And suddenly I had a great amount of compassion for his wife.  Here this lady was at home taking care of twins trying to give her husband the benefit of the doubt and he took advantage of it.  I can’t imagine being in a relationship where I constantly had to worry if my husband would do the right thing.  When it comes down to it, if a man is going to show his ass, he can show it in a day and a half, a week and a half, or an hour and a half.  I don’t think “Russell” is a bad person, I think perhaps he just felt so free to be out and about having a good time that for a moment he wanted to be irresponsible… I know it’s a stretch, I ‘m just trying to give the brotha the benefit of the doubt.  I have friends who are married and have perfectly healthy relationships where there is trust and respect.  They give each other the freedom to still have their own life.  I chose to focus on those relationships.  I must believe “Russell” is a minority when it comes to this.  I guess it is true, for some people.  When the boss is away… the children will play.

 
Monique K.Bradley

 

 

I can be found on: Facebook | Twitter | Google+

The Bush Bitch

The Bush Bitch

Don’t allow yourself to become The Bush Bitch!

Its #TBT (Throwback Thursday) and I am going to take a walk down memory lane to when I was 26 years old.  I met “Michael” an entertainment attorney through a mutual friend at a dinner party.  He had charisma and swag.  He was just a year older than me.  He oozed sexiness.  He could dress his ass off, drove a Range Rover (which at that age was important to me) SMDH!  (Growth)  We talked non-stop from the time we met until the end of the party.  We exchanged numbers and he called that same night.  After a 2 hour phone conversation we made plans to meet at Cut in The Beverly Wilshire Hotel.  I like casual dates where you can wear jeans and let your hair down.  However, perhaps it’s the Leo in me, but getting dressed up for a date is so much more exciting.  I wore a cute little black dress, a bright pink pashmina scarf, a pair of killer heels that should only be worn if you’re sitting down all night (or laying down) :-).  When I walked into the restaurant my usual 10 minutes late and saw him I had to concentrate on keeping my legs straight because they were literally turning into jello.  “Michael” wasn’t what I would call fine, but he had a presence that demanded attention.  He was tall, chocolate, with deep set seductive eyes, and lips that begged to be kissed.  He had on a nice pair of slacks that fitted him so well.  A lavender button down shirt that only accentuated his chocolate skin and you could tell through the shirt his body was sculpted to perfection. He had the nerve to be wearing beautiful cuff links with M engraved in them.  I took a deep breath gave him a hug and inhaled his cologne.  Remember that moment in Waiting to Exhale when Whitney Houston puts her arms around the guy on the dance floor and exhales.  That’s exactly what it felt like.  I was exhaling.  Just like when we first met and our first 2 hour phone conversation, the conversation was endless.  He was smart, driven, well traveled  all the qualities I like in a man even back then.  Throughout our date I could hear his phone vibrating.  Not just every once in a while but constantly.  When we were having our dessert he finally picked up the phone, looked at it, and shook his head.

Me:  Do you need to get that?

Michael:  No.  I am so sorry.  That’s just my, ex.  She hasn’t gotten over the fact that it’s over.  She’s crazy.

There are two things wrong with the statement he made.

  1.  “That’s just my ex.  She hasn’t gotten over the fact that it’s over.”– Typically a woman does not get over the fact that a relationship is over if you the man is still sleeping with her.  Also, when a woman feels that comfortable blowing up a man’s phone, than clearly you aren’t being that damn direct about what you want in the relationship.
  2. “She’s crazy”- When a man says this, it should be your cue as a woman to run as fast as you can.  Sprint and get as far away from that guy as possible.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am fully aware there are some crazy bitches out there.  I get that.  However, 8 times out of 10 a woman is made crazy by a man that is a) lying to her or b) treating her like shit c) cheating on her.  And some men are so quick to say a woman’s crazy without acknowledging how their actions could have played a role in her craziness.

Now keep in mind this is not the 35 year old woman I am today that is fully aware of these facts.  This is the 26 year girl I was back then.  Instead of getting up and getting the hell out of there I was mesmerized by his good looks and charm.  Instead my dumb ass responded.

Me:  Well maybe you should pick up the phone and call her back.  She’s probably going to keep calling.  I’m going to go to the ladies room. 

I got up and went to the ladies room, to refresh my lip gloss.  When I returned he was in a heated conversation on the phone and when he saw me he hung up.  At the end of the date, he walked me to the valet and paid for my car, gave me a hug and a respectable kiss.  The next day I woke up to a dozen roses being delivered to my home.  This was just what novels were made of.  It’s amazing how you can ignore signs that someone is a fool because you are blinded by what you want the relationship to be.  2 days later he took me to Luna Park in Miracle Mile.  He clearly had his phone on silent.  He apologized for the phone issue we had during our first date and reiterated that his ex-girlfriend was crazy.  I didn’t ask for details.  I just took his word for it and tried to brush over the subject.

For our 3rd date he invited me to his house for dinner.  If a man did that now, I would politely decline and suggest a neutral public location for us to meet.  But at that time, I wanted to be accommodating.  I didn’t want to “risk” missing out on this “good thing.”  LOL!  I still laugh at myself… lovingly.  Seriously, the things you do when you are not secure with who you are.  He invited me over on Tuesday for a Saturday evening date.  Although I was a simple minded 26 year old.  I had enough sense to grow the hair out on my legs to ensure I wouldn’t do anything stupid and take things too far.  I knew I had no intentions of sleeping with him just yet because at the end of the day, I saw him as “husband material.”  And this was pre-Steve Harvey Think Like A Man advice.  I am not one of these women that take dating advice from Steve freaking Harvey.  I mean seriously.  We don’t need Steve Harvey to tell us that sleeping with a man too soon will lead to you becoming just a jump off/booty call.  Anyway I digressed…

Saturday evening came.  The hair on my legs had grown out to a nice embarrassing length so I knew sex WAS NOT going down.  I put on my over-sized cotton grandma draws that were reserved for my monthly visitor.  And I high tailed my ass over to “Michael’s” condo where he prepared a 3 course meal, followed by an amazing chocolate dessert. It was a great evening.  When it was time for me to leave he walked me out to my car.  He had been a gentleman all night and didn’t try to sleep with me.  When we got outside of the building, we stood under the moonlight, and Michael looked me in the eyes.  He gently touched my face and held it in between his two hands.  I knew our first real kiss was coming.  He kissed me on the forward head.  And then he bent down and gave me a passionate kiss.  His lips were so soft.  He was one of those guys who constantly put on Carmex.  You all know back in the day (and even some guys still do it) guys would constantly put on some Carmex to make their lips soft.  And it worked!  Suddenly time stood still.  I felt like I was in one of those Spike Lee movies where the cameras have the sweeping and panning dolly shot which create a surreal take on the events happening on screen.  (If you’re not familiar take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cu9-UymSApM&playnext=1&list=PL0sk0d5kIO9GOP8BI2ubIZ7s7uD7I0Vqp&feature=results_main).

Time was standing still.  I was in the moment.  Until I heard a wrestling in the bushes.  I figured it was a squirrel.  Until a woman screamed, “Who the fuck is this bitch!”  We quickly broke our embrace I turned around to a girl who was wearing a Juicy Couture sweat suit, sneakers, her long hair which looked like it hadn’t been brushed for days.  It was matted and greasy.   She ran towards us.  He wild hair was blowing in the wind.  As she got closer I could tell her mascara was smeared and tears were streaming down her face.  She looked like a wild beast.  The Jersey girl in me immediately went into survival mode.  I wasn’t sure if this crazy bitch had a gun or a knife or what.  So I didn’t make any quick moves.  Once she got to “Michael” she started beating his ass!  She was fighting him like it was a Pacquiao fight.  I gave “Michael” his props for not lifting his hands up to fight her back.  She was yelling:

Crying Young Woman with Running Mascara

How could you do this to me again!  You promised things would be different this time.  How could you.  I’m tired of this shit.  I’m going to kill your black ass!  You muthafucka!  

I had already ran and got into my car.  I wasn’t about to stay there long enough to see if she was planning on a round 2 with my ass.  I might know how to talk shit, but I wasn’t prepared to fight the heavy weight champion!  As I drove off he finally had tamed the wild beast and was hugging her as she cried uncontrollably in his arms.  He rubbed her hair and kissed her on her forward.  Similar to how he had just kissed my forehead only minutes ago!  Once I was a good distance away.  I realized there was a piece of notebook paper stuck to the wind shield of my car.  I pulled over and grabbed the note.  It was written in psycho handwriting.

I don’t know who you are.  But I thought I should let you know “Michael” is a piece of shit.  He is a low down dirty dog and has given me gonorrhea.  If you fucked him tonight you should get yourself checked.  Stay away from my man bitch!   

I went home and of course “Michael” attempted to call me which I ignored.  I had no intentions of hearing what he had to say.  The next morning I went to my car to run errands, I noticed there was a long scratch on my car.  The scratch went from my trunk all the way to my front headlights.  On the other side of my Montero Sport were the letters B-I-T-C-H.  The Bush Bitch keyed my damn car!  Luckily I had excellent insurance and didn’t even bother suing her ass.  If I knew then what I know now…  Luckily I have learned from that experience.  As women we should never allow ourselves to become a Bush Bitch.  If you don’t see a man for who he really and truly is you could become that “crazy” woman jumping out of a bush.  I must say, looking back now, I owe the Bush Bitch and “Michael” a thank you card.  For some women they learn the lesson quicker.  For me it took me numerous bad experiences and a divorce to realize, fear can lead you to become the Bush Bitch (literally and figuratively).  Fear of being alone, fear of thinking you can’t get better, fear of speaking your mind, and fear of having high standards and expectations.  What a great lesson learned…

Monique K.Bradley

 

 

I can be found on: Facebook | Twitter | Google+