Tag Archives: Random

A List of Boundaries

I’ve been going to a therapist for well over a year now and – at the risk of sounding like a cliche – I think I had a breakthrough. By rambling on and on a few days ago, I came to a conclusion that is also very-much a cliche.

I have boundary issues.

I move the goal post when it comes to how I allow people to treat me. And here’s the thing, I came to this jarring conclusion about myself in the weirdest, most roundabout way. Through budgeting for groceries.

So here’s the thing. Me and my hubby have been handling our money situation all kinds of wrong. We buy food and then let it go to waste because we end up eating out or just not using up our ingredients. After a while, we’d find that we’ve thrown away hundreds of dollars worth of food at the end of the month. This ate me up inside more than it did my hubby who tends to run to the grocery store two, maybe three times a day. If he has a taste for something, he’s off to the store to get it. He will buy things just because we ran out of it, as opposed to because we plan to eat it. So when we saw that we were running into some rough financial patches, the first thing I wanted to change was our terrible grocery habit.

I created a tight budget and I mean, super tight. We plan our meals for the entire week according to this budget and buy all of the food we will need in one trip to the grocery store. There’s no “I have a taste for this or that” going on. We only do fully planned meals. If there’s a luxury food item it needs to fall within the budget or be made from scratch using ingredients we already have. And surprisingly, this budget has been working really well for us. Why? Because the hubby and I are competitive. So this has turned into a kind of game. How much lower than the budget can we get? How many different recipes can we derive from the ingredients on the list? What foods can we make based on what’s on sale? All of the excuses and strong cravings for eating out have even taken a backseat because the limits we put on ourselves are practically iron-clad. I never knew exhibiting this kind of discipline and self control could be so exhilarating. Also, real-talk, me and the hubster have never eaten so good.

Alright, so back to my boundary issues. I recently jumped off of a feature film project not too long ago. The project was great, but the person I would have been working with was exhibiting some red-flag behaviors and I decided to jump out while we were still in the early stages to avoid bigger issues in the future. This experience was unfortunate but not a big deal for me because… well… shit happens. Life goes on. What stood out for me, though, was everything about this project was something that I promised myself I would never produce in the first place. It pretty much checked every box on my “nope, not gonna happen” lists. But I was willing to forego all of the boundaries that I’d made because the script was really good, and it was a friend that pitched it to me, and it seemed doable, and why not? I’m not doing anything else these days and I can find a way to make it work and and and… It wasn’t that I was afraid to say “no.” It’s just that I wasn’t as firm in my convictions as I thought I was. I had no discipline. No self-control.

And so while relaying this experience to my therapist the other day, I mentioned how happy I was to have ‘dodged a bullet’ but then I had to ask myself how I’d gotten to that point in the first place. Why was I always going back on my word? Why did it seem that I was always biting off more than I could chew when it came to various aspects of my life? Thinking about this question lead me to grasping for areas of my life that were under control. And the first thing that sprang to mind was my super exclusive grocery list. This was the one area of my life where I was as firm as a bouncer at the hottest club in L.A. If it’s not on the list, it’s not happening. Oreo cookies? Nope, not on the list. No ifs, ands or buts. After this breakthrough, I realized that the list had become a healthy obsession. Writing down our restrictive budget made it so real to us that going outside of it was unthinkable.

With all of this in mind, I decided that I would make a list, a budget (if you will) that lays out my personal boundaries. Since having unspoken professional and social boundaries doesn’t seem to be working (similar to how my unspoken grocery boundaries were practically nonexistent) perhaps, writing them down and committing to them obsessively will lead me toward a reasonable social and professional life where I don’t have to waste energy questioning if I did the right or wrong thing. There is no right or wrong thing… only “the list.” Also, I’d like to refer to this list so that I can commit it to memory and possibly even send it out to those who need to know what I’m about.

Here’s what I have so far. It’s broken down into categories…

PROFESSIONAL

I don’t produce other people’s short films or TV pilots for free. I will only work on a short film or pilot that has financing in place and a budget set aside for my fee.

I don’t do crowdfunding.

I will produce a feature ONLY under these conditions…

  • The project must be under $1mil. to produce
  • I produce it alone or with additional producers of my choosing.
  • All above-the-line crew members must be proven professionals. No first-timers in terms of never having had experience doing this job in any capacity.
  • Film must include women of color as leads or in substantial roles.

I don’t read scripts that are not referred from a friend.

If I don’t like your script, I will not meet up with you to talk about it.

If I don’t like your script or concept, I will not produce your movie.

If I don’t like you, I will not produce your movie.

If you don’t take constructive notes or feedback, I will not produce your movie.

If I am directing or producing a film and you refuse to take orders from me, you’re fired.

 

SOCIAL

If you are not as attentive to what I have to say as I am to what you have to say, then we are not friends. I am your therapist and my fee is $33/hour. You only get one time for this to happen before I charge.

I will tell you when you’re being rude and/or inappropriate. If you don’t address it immediately, then our interaction is over regardless of the situation.

I won’t pretend I didn’t notice something you said or did. I will give words to what I feel.

I don’t get into loud arguments or fights in public places. But if I you ever force me into a situation where I must do this, our relationship is over.

MENTAL

I will focus my energy toward being positive and productive. Any changes in mood will be a choice.

 

That’s all I got for now. I’m going to start reading this list and reciting it every day like Arya Stark. Also, I’m sure I’m missing some things so I look forward to adding to this list as much as possible in the future.

 

For Black girls who have considered suicide when the light skinned girl decided that talking about her mixed ancestry for 2 hours wasn’t enough.

I haven’t written on this blog in a minute, but after checking my pending posts I noticed that I have some good stuff that has yet to see the light of day. So at the risk of being outdated in my material, I’m just going to post the shit and keep it moving. With that said, this post was written in November of 2016. Enjoy!

You ever have a long ass conversation with someone and think about all of the things that you wanted to say but didn’t… when it’s too late?

I did.

I recently had a conversation with a light skinned woman of mixed heritage/race. She was part Black, European and Asian. In appearance, I would have guessed she was Latina although she said most Black people just assume she’s Black and that’s what she identifies as. (I’m terrible at these things, to be honest. I’m not good at guessing accents,  or countries of origin either.)

Throughout our conversation, I could tell that her mixed race was something that was very important to her. It was something she brought up constantly, without prompting. Even before meeting her, I checked her social media profiles  and noticed that it was just a list of her entire racial breakdown.

We talked a ton about how she identifies and why she feels that mixed women aren’t given enough of a platform to speak about their specific issues. We talked about light skin privilege and she expressed that she feels that it is a burden and she has more anger toward racism than other Blacks because of it. At times I didn’t agree with her feelings, but I’m a good listener so I took in what she had to say.

After a restless night, I realized that this was one of those conversations that was going to bother me. Why? Because there were so many things I’d left unsaid.

I have a ton of mixed race friends and many of our conversations always ended with them telling me how hard they’d had it, with no regard whatsoever for the plight of those with dark skin (who undoubtedly have it harder.) And I’d always tried to argue with them that there’s another side to the light skin thing that they’re not acknowledging. But this never seemed to sink in for them. Light skin privilege is not so much a privilege but a burden, they’d say.

Fast forward to now, I’m having this conversation and it conjured up so many memories. And my only regret was not being able to say the perfect thing at the perfect time. The best way to get it all out, though, is for me to just say what I feel right now with no pressure. So here are some of the statements that the woman made the other day and the replies I wish I’d have said to her and many of the mixed race/light skin people who’ve made these same kinds of statements to me before.

“In situations where I’m treated better than my Black counterparts, I feel that this privilege has been forced on me and that leaves me feeling angry and helpless.”

Forced privilege doesn’t come close to having no privilege. Ex: If a bunch of your friends were wrongfully thrown into prison with the exception of you, you will NEVER be the helpless person in the story. Never. No matter how upset you were over what happened. If anything, you are in a better position to try to get them out of jail – by using the ‘forced privilege’ you were blessed with – as opposed to turning the focus on yourself and cursing the fact that you are free. Use your privilege to help those who don’t have it otherwise, it’s a waste. Also, turning the situation into a way to center yourself is disgusting and wrong.

 

“When I get angry, people think it’s cute. They don’t take me serious. They think I’m safe.”

Yet another good problem to have. Use it. As a Black woman, nearly everything I say is taken out of context. (Look at Michelle Obama. She is one of the most glorious women alive and they’ve tried to reduce her to an “Angry Black Woman” stereotype.) Personally, I am silenced at every turn. If you are allowed to speak up, then do it. Amplify the voices of Black people who have been silenced for centuries. Don’t curse your privilege, USE IT.

 

“Light skinned people are angrier than regular Black people because they’ve gone through so much more. They’re never ‘Black’ enough for the Black people or ‘White’ enough for the White people. We have more fire in our spirits because of this.”

Yes, there are identity issues that mixed race people must deal with but that does not make them angrier, more fiery or more righteous than anyone else. If anything, light skin people have the privilege of being more visible. They’re given more representation in Hollywood and in print media, among other advantages. With all of these advantages come platforms that allow more lighter complexioned people to speak up on issues that darker people are not given as much opportunity to talk about. This does not make them more fiery or upset, this just means the world is more likely to see them speaking about issues and allow it. (See Jesse Williams, Amandla Sternberg, etc.)

 

“I wish racists could see that I’m just as much of a threat as someone with darker skin.”

No, you don’t. And even if you did, what would be the point? Unless you want to be killed in the street. Unless you want everyone to know that your life doesn’t matter just like all of the other Black lives that have been snuffed out with impunity. Philando Castile didn’t commit suicide. He didn’t want to die and be a martyr. He was killed and the rest of us that have the privilege of being alive, used this situation as – yet another – example of why we need to continue the dialogue and civil unrest until something is done about it. We don’t need more dead bodies. We need action. And again, what would your being seen as a threat prove? It would strip you of the very privilege that might actually help the rest of us in the cause. Use your privilege to help the cause. Use your privilege to help the cause. Use your privilege to help the cause. Anything else is a selfish waste of time.

 

Too bad I don’t get a do-over. Any who, I understand that being of mixed race has its struggles. But a red flag always goes off for me when people shoehorn a ton of info about their very specific racial makeup into conversations without prompting. A racially ambiguous friend once told me that “What are you?” is one of the most annoying and commonly asked questions they receive. So with this in mind, I’ve never asked anyone that question and to be completely honest, I’ve never really cared to ask. Why? 3 main reasons …

1) There’s usually no reason for me to ask.

2) I’ve never found it particularly interesting and lastly…

3) I don’t even think to ask this when talking to people.

Either way, I’ve sat through a lot of conversations with my mixed-race brethren in which they’ve broken down to me what they identify as, why they identify as such, how much of each culture is in them and the history of their family’s racial makeup. And for someone who didn’t ask… this is exhausting.

Granted, it’s not the worst thing that could happen and I’m not completely oblivious to the idea of bringing up things that are important to how we navigate the world. I just hope that with this blog post, I can provide some perspective for those who feel that the struggles of being of mixed race is a subject that they must lead with or shoehoas opposed to allowing the conversation to organically progress there.

How to Not Be a Weirdo

Why are people so weird?

Like for realz.

Sometimes I just want to set y’alls weird asses free.

And to be honest, I’m an introvert so I totally get awkwardness. Awkwardness is when you don’t know how to get your shit together in time to be normal around other people. Someone catches you off guard and you’re like, “holy shit…let me hurry up and act like I’m a fucking human being.” I get it. Trust me, I do.

But it seems like some people don’t know how to function to the point where you want to just throw them off a fucking cliff. And I find that I experience this wayyyy more than I should. (I’ll get into that later, I promise.)

Like I’ll pass someone in the hallway at work and they’ll go through five different facial expressions before finally regurgitating a “hello” from the pits of their bowels.

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I promise you… if you’re guilty of this, it’s because you’re thinking too hard.

Confidence is the key. And I say this because – like I said – I’ve been there before. I used to have to practice interacting with people in the mirror. I thought I was the weirdest person in the world. And I probably was. But the thing is, you have to get past what you THINK you look like/what you THINK other people are thinking and just deal with the reality of what’s actually happening.

For example: I wish these awkward ass people could know how tired I am. I wish they could know that when I go into the office kitchen to grab a snack, I’m singing a Prince song that’s been on rotation in my head all day and I’m probably also thinking about my best friend forever… food.

In other words, the odds of me thinking about you are slim to none. But I still have to be hit with this fucking face…

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…as soon as I open my mouth to say “excuse me you’re blocking the water cooler.”

And then there are the people who do the I’m smiling so I don’t get fined face. You know, one of these…

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And I be wanting to tell these people not to even fucking bother. My boss is good at this one. She will hit you with that creepy ass, manic smile fifty feet before she approaches you to talk. So that means I have to look at her shitty-ass, pseudo grin for at least ten “Mississippi” seconds before I’m hit with a “good morning.”

How is that fair to me? I’m not the one that doesn’t know how to register a normal resting face while in the presence of other humans. So why should I be coerced into what someone else perceives to be an awkward situation. It’s not like we’re going to serenade each other. We’re not going in for a kiss. I don’t feel weird. Why are you trying to make this weird?!

The people who are desperate to make every situation awkward are the more harmless breed, though. You’ll come up to them and they’ll give you a conspiratorial ‘aren’t we both feeling awkward‘ face. These types, you just ignore and then eventually they’ll realize that you ain’t thinking bout them and they’ll practically fade into thin air.

The worst kind, however, are the ‘it’s not me, it’s YOU‘ weirdos. They’re the type to look at YOU like YOU’RE straight up bonkers, thereby sucking you into their vortex of weirdness. I used to fall victim to these people all the time.

You’ll hit’em with . . .

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And here they go . . .

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An interaction with this type will send you running to the bathroom to check your nose for boogers or to make sure you’re zipper isn’t down. And these types are persistent. It took me years to figure out that I wasn’t the crazy person in these interactions. And as a recovering weirdo, I still have moments where I question my sanity.

But usually, I realize that unless I’ve done something extreme – walking around naked, murdering someone, etc. – I’m probably fine and the person who’s looking at me like I’m crazy for acknowledging them is living within their own personal hell.

So why do I seem to run into these people a lot? My theory is it’s because I’m Black and a woman. People tend to expect us to be loud, crazy and funny. And that’s not my steelo. I can be funny and loud at times, but not in a professional setting. I’m just not that chick.

And I can feel the disappointment when White coworkers interact with me. I’m very friendly so they think I’m going to be their ‘homegirl.’ And I’m not. (That’s actually this Black chick named Rhonda that works down the hall.) And because I’m confident but not walking around grinning like a got-damn fool, it makes other people dive deep into their feelings and they always come back up for air with the idea that I’m judging them. And I’m not. I’m thinking about food.

So get it together weirdos. It’s okay to say, “hi” and “bye” without turning the situation into a skit from Saturday Night Live.

That’s all I got!

Have a good weekend!

(…and don’t be scared to comment below!)

Trapped in a Group Chat Part 1

Almost two years ago, I worked a temp job and made some new acquaintances. Innocent enough, right? Well little did I know that the people I’d acquainted with were good friends with each other.

Fast forward to a few months after the job ended. I was invited to brunch by my former colleagues and then invited into a group chat to keep me abreast of future brunches.

Why not? I said.

This will be fun! I said.

So now I am mired in an endless whirlpool of mundane texts.

At first it was okay. Someone would post something and I’d respond with a “Cool!” or “Congrats!” or whatever was appropriate.

My phone would beep a few times and I’d check the chat to see what was going on.

Next thing you know, it’s beeping every three seconds. I look down at my phone and see 12 or 13 unread messages. If I went to the  movie theater or some other place that required me to silence my phone, I’d turn my phone back on only to see fifty-something unread messages.

On top of this, it didn’t take long for me to lose interest in the chat conversations in the first place. For example, the chat has turned into a kind of career-centric circle jerk of encouragement. And while I enjoy encouragement (and would probably enjoy a good circle jerk if I had a penis and was into that sort of thing) the career stuff is annoying after a while.

It’s an endless “keeping my fingers crossed” for whoever has a job interview that week. And my chat group might as well be called the “Professional Job Interview Gang”.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

Person #1 – I got a job interview this week!

Person #2 – Congrats!

Person #3 – Congrats!

Person #4 – Congratulations!

Person #5 – Oh my goodness! That’s wonderful! Where at?

Person #1 – Don’t congratulate me yet!

Person #4 – Is this at the same place as before?

Person #2 – Is it at Corporation Company?

Person #1 – It’s at Conglomerate Industry

Person #3 – We should celebrate!

Person #4 – I thought you interviewed there before?

Person #1 – No it’s not at Corporation Company. I didn’t get that job.

Person #5 – Their loss buddy!

Person #3 – Oh boo!

Person #1 – Thanks guys! This is actually round 2. So we’ll see how it goes.

Person #2 – So wait, you didn’t get the job at Corporation Company? I thought they liked you? 😦

Person #1 – Nope. But onto better things!

Person #3 – Guess what everybody?? I have an interview next week with Business Incorporated.

Person #1 – What? That’s awesome!

Person #5 – Wait, what happened to Career Enterprises??

Person #2 – Congratulations!

And the cycle continues. It was as if I was being punished for my honest attempt at extraversion. It got to the point where my phone was beeping and vibrating so much that it threatened my damn marriage.

Fortunately, I discovered the mute button last week.

However, my complete “text withdrawal” from the group created slight confusion and disruption. The natives got restless. And to be honest, how they even knew I wasn’t actively texting is beyond me. It’s not like I offered anything substantial to the group outside of a few “Congrats!” and “Fingers Crossed.” I never told them about my job interviews or networking experiences even though I’d actually had a few.

Either way, someone said “Where’s Peggy?” and the jig was up. So my solution was to occasionally dip into the chat with a “Congrats!” so they’d know I was still alive and then delete that chat right off my phone – for the sake of space.

HOWEVER . . . the fact that I don’t actually read the texts got the best of me two days ago. All I know is that one day I saw a message that said “Peggy has been removed from the group chat.” The part of me that cares about not burning bridges was curious as to why. I did the mindless participation that was required of me, didn’t I?

It’s funny I didn’t care about the group until I got kicked off. But being kicked off was really weighing on my spirit. So I called a person from the group to ask what’d happened.

They laughed and asked me if I was serious.

I told them yes.

They invited me to dinner.

 

Bear Necessities

So whilst watching The Nightly Show on Comedy Central last night – they were doing a sketch where one of the women comedians danced around in a bear costume –  I wistfully mumbled something out loud. Didn’t even realize I’d done it. It was actually like I sighed out some words. My husband asked what I was talking about.

I said, “wha-huh? I didn’t say anything.”

Him: Yes, you did. You said ‘I wish I had that job.’

Me: . . .

Him: What job do you wish you had?

Then it all came back to me. For a split second I’d wished that my job was to dress up in that very bear costume (the costume completely hides the face, of course) and dance with people.

Not sure if that’s a low point, but it’s definitely a bad sign. Time to get cracking on these scripts.