XLV: Why I Am Not Afraid To Say That I Am Not Enough... ?

in·ad·e·quate

inˈadikwət/

adjective

  1. lacking the quality or quantity required; insufficient for a purpose.

  2. (of a person) unable to deal with a situation or with life.

I am not afraid to admit that I struggle in many areas. I am not afraid to admit that I have issues: with trusting people, with communicating, with eye contact, with disloyal people, with accepting when I am not right, with failure, with confidence (some days), with trying to please others, and the list could go on for miles.

I am not afraid to admit that I sat in the shower and cried last night because of all that I fall short in. Every loss is a lesson to me, but some losses are so big that they seem to rock the world that I was comfortably living in before their quake. 

Some losses take a toll on my insides, my outsides, and everything in-between, and I am currently living in the wake of loss.

I cannot change the parts of me that have been fashioned by my past. I have come across many people, done and seen many things, and gone many places. All of these things have shaped me, whether it be negatively or positively, regardless, they’ve changed me.

In being sheltered, I couldn’t understand that people weren’t like me, that they didn’t grow up in the church, that they weren’t selfless but instead were selfish, and that they weren’t compassionate and understanding. I couldn’t understand that they weren’t remorseful, that they weren’t forgiving, that they weren’t humble. I can’t understand that I am not worth a change to these people, at least.

I put a lot into people. I give a lot to people… As scary as that is, I always find one person who is “worth it”, that is, until they aren’t and even then, I still want them to be. I have faith in people that they will treat me and cherish me the way that I treat and cherish them; that they will work with me when I am willing to work with them; that they will appreciate me the way that I hoped they’ve seen that I appreciate them. The reality is, however, that sometimes you just aren’t worth their effort, you aren’t worth their forgiveness, you aren’t worth them choosing you…and YES there is a choice to be made.

It sounds bad, I know, but look at the world that we live in…

Finding out that you aren’t worth a change to someone that you considered special hurts. But there is always a bright side… (I’ll let you know when I find it).

This post is mainly about reminding myself that it’s okay to feel this way as long as it’s temporary. It’s okay to be hurt, as long as it doesn’t control my life. It’s okay to not be okay, regardless of what social media says.

In this post, I’m not asking for a response, I’m not asking for love, I’m not asking for answers… I just wanted to vent.

Thank you to all of my faithful readers. Y’all make my blogging experience all the more wonderful!

All that glitters isn’t gold, & all that hurts is fleeting.
— Brianna J.

XLIV: Travel Essentials, What Are Mine?

Given that I recently traveled and somehow managed to leave all of my shirts at home, I figure it's time for a Travel Essentials post! I know, you're probably thinking, 'well if you couldn't even remember to pack shirts for a trip to your favorite place, then how could you possibly know what is essential for travel?' 

Good question! 

Answer: I have no idea, but here are my essentials:

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SHIRTS!

I suppose I'll make the first essential shirts since I didn't have any while in Washington D.C. during the Labor Day holiday.

Thankfully, I traveled with someone who wanted to absolutely spoil me for my birthday weekend! He took care of all of my clothing woes while we were away. 

Now that we’ve established that I need shirts, let’s talk about what type of shirts I wanted for the holiday weekend. Lately, I have been big on the long, dress-type shirts that are flowy and loose-fitting. Either that or a simple t-shirt dress!

Shoes: Vans - Old Skool (Blk/Blk)

Purse: Charming Charlie

MY COMFY SHOES:

 My “comfy shoes” are literally just Vans.

I’ve been an avid Vans-wearer for approximately 19 years (Geez, that’s a lot of time). I remember back in middle school when Chuck Taylors were in, but my feet were too wide, so I ventured over to the Vans store and fell in love!

Unlucky for me, however, the “Vans” song by The Pack became a big thing and my Vans store experience has been a crowded one ever since. This was an excellent thing for Vans, but an annoying one for me.

Ah Well! I still buy them!

Shoes: Vans

RUNNING SHOES:

I like to work out wherever I go.

A big part of that has to do with the fact that I like to see what each gym has to offer. And, another part of that has to do with the fact that I'm already in the routine of working out regularly. So, I cannot travel without at least one pair of running shoes, always Nikes (even if I don’t get a workout in).

MY MAKE-UP BAG:

Now, the chances of me actually putting on make-up when I go on a trip are slim to none, but let it be the case that I travel somewhere and don’t bring my make-up bag, I'd have a fit! I would definitely freak out as if I were actually going to wear make-up each day of my vacation (knowing that I won't). 

But, since I’m crazy about actually bringing my make up, here’s what I always seem to pack: 

Primers & Setting Products: 

  • Smashbox Primer Stick (click here for a list of my favs)

  • Smashbox Priming Water

  • Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

  • Sacha Banana Powder

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Eyeshadows & Liners:

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Palettes (Modern Renaissance, Prism Palette, Subculture, Soft Glam, Norvina)

  • Melt Cosmetics Rust Stack & Baby Girl Stack

  • Fenty Beauty Flyliner Longwear Liquid Eyeliner

 Blushes, Highlighters, & Contouring:

  • During the summer months, I like a reddish blush, so I use Mac Cosmetic’s Raizin Blush

  • I haven’t found a highligher that I can’t live without just yet, so, if you know of one, tell a friend!

SNACKS!

I cannot travel without snacks for the plane! For some reason, the pretzels and soft drink just don’t hit the spot the way that the flight attendants want them to. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need a full meal on a 4/5 hour flight, so I don’t expect the airline to change a thing, but I do snack quite often. Because of this, I know better than to travel without an arsenal of snacks in my carryon bag.

My Kindle/A Book:

We all know that traveling without entertainment has the potential to be some of the worst experiences of your life, so I usually bring my Kindle to catch up on blogs, books, and homework.

An EXTRA LUGGAGE TO CHECK:

On trips that I know I am going to shop until I drop, I always bring a carryon sized luggage and check it with the airport so that I don’t have to carry it around. This way,, I am free to shop without worrying about going over weight with my bigger checked luggage (especially since I tend to overpack). I sometimes even put my extra travel sized items in this luggage, this makes it easier to bring a ton of lotions, soaps, bath bombs and different camera lenses.

MY LONGBOARD:

This is my newest travel essential. There’s something about seeing the city with the wind blowing in your hair! Each morning we woke up and hopped on our long boards to either ride to the monuments or to ride to Union Station for food and it just turned out to be a quicker way to see more of the city and to add a bit more adventure to our adventure!

  Sunglasses: Quay Australia    Shirt : Old Navy   Bottoms : Nike   Shoes : Nike   Longboard “Deuce” : Sector from Zumiez

Sunglasses: Quay Australia

Shirt: Old Navy

Bottoms: Nike

Shoes: Nike

Longboard “Deuce”: Sector from Zumiez

Welp, those are some of my essentials for travel, what are yours?

XLIII: Washington D.C. - Can We Eat A Little?

One of my absolute favorite places in the world (so far), is Washington D.C. I love this place so much so that I make it a point to go there each year (time and money permitting). 

On this year's wonderful trip, I decided to invite my mom, who never travels, and my sister, who always travels. My main goal was to eat as much food as I could and to celebrate my 27th birthday. This was the perfect plan because everyone on the trip knew that I literally only went there to eat and see the city (two very easy things to do in D.C.).

So, when we finally got there, my first stop was:


Bojangles | Famous chicken n' Biscuits

This was our first stop, mainly because I was hyping this place up for about a month before we actually got to D.C. and secondly because of it's close proximity to our hotel. We were staying in the heart of Capitol Hill (literally a 5 minute walk to the Capitol) which was conveniently placed by Union Station. Union Station is a beautiful metro station filled with food (BOJANGLES!) and stores for shopping. 

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We ordered about $40.00 worth of food which came in a huge box (with a sweet tea). You literally cannot go wrong with either spicy chicken wings, or spicy chicken strips from Bojangles! Add a side of their perfectly seasoned fries, and red beans and rice and you've got a satisfying food coma. 

If you can't resist something sweet, then I highly recommend that you get one of their BoBiscuits (even though I missed out on this gem) or one of their delicious pies. 

Something else that we missed out on was requesting that they throw some Mumbo Sauce in with our order. My friend mentioned, over and over, that we find Mumbo Sauce while we were in Washington D.C. (the home of Mumbo Sauce), but it just kept slipping our minds due to all of the other excitement around us. 

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The next morning, we all got up, got dressed and asked for food recommendations! One place that everyone at our hotel (Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill - horrible service and you'll always get overcharged) couldn't stop raving about was Art & Soul. 

Luckily for us, this restaurant was located right across the street and all we had to do was take one hot and humid stroll over. 

Art and Soul

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This was basically a fancy twist on soul food. Now, normally, anytime someone attempts to "fancify" soul food, it's disgusting and offensive, but, Art & Soul was a pleasant surprise that I did not see coming. 

The ambiance inside of this restaurant was everything that you imagine for a swanky, upscale, D.C., socialite-type of restaurant. It had a clear and open floor plan, low hanging lights, a chic color scheme, and it was well furnished.

We were seated at a high table near the bar (so my friend could watch sports, I mean, enjoy being in my presence), and one thing that stuck out to me was the fact that there was a huge, beautiful floor-to-ceiling mirror with silver sparkly trim to our right. In the reflection was nothing but us four and the beautiful restaurant behind us. It was a beautiful sight to eat brunch to...

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Now let’s get to the food. 

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I ordered cheesy grits with ham and bacon. This was a perfectly savory breakfast that was surely to stick to the arteries!

My friend got delicious lemon pancakes with mixed berries cooked into them. Now, the lemon flavored pancakes were good enough alone but with the mixed berries... it was simply amazing! If I get the chance to go back to Art & Soul, that will be my next meal. 


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Shake Shack

Next up, well after a nail shop, a farmers market and a very pleasant visit to Loc Luv, we went looking for a quick bit. What better place to grab a quick bite than Shake Shack?!

If you have ever been to the East Coast and haven't tried Shake Shack then you're totally missing out. It would have to be the best burger and fries combo that you can get. I ate it a total of 2 times in about 3 total days while in the food hub (Washington D.C.), so trust me when I say that this food is good. 


RPM Italian

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This was probably the best meal I've ever had.

No, I am not over-exaggerating! If you've ever been to Washington D.C. and had RPM Italian, then you'll agree, it's some of the best food you've eaten. Even a dish as simple as spaghetti is delicious! 

This location is definitely a more upscale one, but they are still willing to serve you as you are. Trust me, I rolled up to this restaurant on my long board with my friend, dying from the humidity of D.C. and they were perfectly fine with treating us as if we were dressed in our finest. 

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The atmosphere was absolutely marvelous. We saw everything from: casual long-boarders on a mission for good food and a romantic evening to couples celebrating anniversaries, to co-workers in desperate need of a drink after work. 

I more than enjoyed myself throughout this whole dinner. I enjoyed the company that I kept and I especially enjoyed the food. RPM provided me with a dining experience that I will, surely, never forget.

Here's what we ordered:

Truffled Garlic Bread circa 1963

Spaghetti & Meatball

Sautéed Broccolini

&

The Seafood Pasta Special

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And, for dessert, we had:

Vanilla Gelato

Delicious Beignets

  Together forever  - Tati | Terry | Brianna J. 

Together forever - Tati | Terry | Brianna J. 

*Stock Images Used Throughout This Post*

XLII: Blindspotting | BlacKKKlansman

Now, initially this was going to be a rave review of the movie Blindspotting, but then, my law school's Black Law Student Association went to see the BlacKKKlansman, and I decided that there was no way that I could NOT write about it. 

In my opinion, the BlacKKKlansman did everything wrong and Blindspotting did everything right. They might as well have taken the last 5-7 minutes of the BlacKKKlansman and made that the entire movie because, I promise, that would be better than the crap that I spent two hours of my life watching.

Now, there were some high points, and good lines to this movie, but the rest of the movie was filled with horrible awkward silence, bad "movement music" and characters that didn't quite curl over. I know that people are raving about this movie because it is controversial, but I cannot get with that as being the reason that we should rally behind it. Being Black these days is controversial, so give me a good movie if you want me to watch it just because its "controversial". 

Yes, it depicts the way things were, and, honestly, the way that things still are. Yes, it addresses racism on the home front. Yes, it shows the lengths that people will go just to hate the African American race. But, a lot more of what is does, is add fuel to the racist's fire. We are shown scenes that are supposed to open our eyes to injustices, but, we knew these things! They aren't a surprise, so all that they are when we see them on screen the way that they were put up is nothing but a trigger. It's fine to be triggered, but don't make a movie like this and say that it's for the movement unless you're referring to the racist's movement because, in my opinion, this movie is just a rule book on how to better HATE us (what names to call us, what ways to disrespect us, how to kill us, etc.).

These may just be my thoughts but: the message was amazing, and the delivery was whack. I am not a fan of the BlacKKKlansman at all. Maybe others who have seen it feel differently! Either way, I'd love to heat your thoughts on it.


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Blindspotting

Written By: Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal

Directed By: Carlos Lopez Estrada

Now, Blindspotting is a movie that follows two main characters, Collin (played by Daveed Diggs) and Miles (played by Rafael Casal). We watch as Collin tries to survive his last three days of probation alongside his eccentric and unorthodox best friend, Miles. 

The movie is centered around life in West Oakland in today's world. It addresses issues that many African American males face today. And, although this movie did not set out to cover as much as what the BlacKKKlansman attempted to cover, what Blindspotting did cover, was brilliantly done. 

Throughout the movie, we see a mix of the struggle of being an African American male in today's society; with trying not to further feed the stereotypes and stigmas that follow having darker skin; the struggle within an interracial relationship to keep your racial identity; police-involved shootings; and, post traumatic stress disorder. 

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The movie walks us through the day-to-day routines of Collin and Miles. We see Collin leave his apartment (if you can call it that), go for his morning run, pick up his best friend Miles, head to the corner store for a Green Juice, and then go to work. He lives out each day just trying to be as good as possible to avoid ruining his last days of probation (which keep in the county where he currently resides). After a long day out, however, Collin finds himself rushing back to his apartment to make it back before his curfew when he is stopped at a red light that seems to last an eternity.

As he sits and waits, he sings to himself, which was one of my absolute favorite parts of this movie (the random singing and rapping), and then, just as the light turns green and he begins to accelerate, an African American male runs into the front of his truck. He stops the truck and looks in shock at this man before noticing that the man is running from a police officer who is pointing a gun at him as he runs for his life. The officer stops running right next to the drivers window of Collin's truck and shoots the unarmed man 3-4 times in his back. He then looks at the frightened face of Collin for what feels like an eternity before running over to address what he had just done. Collin then rushes home and is visibly confused and angrered by what he just witnessed. 

We get a lot of laughs from this movie, but we also gain a lot of insight from it. There are so many one-liners that are so relevant, so necessary and so on point with everything going on today. This movie strikes the perfect balance of comedy and much needed information. 

Something that we see a number of times in this movie is Collin working hard to keep the trauma of what he witnessed, by no fault of his own, from controlling his thoughts, fears and emotions. It all comes to a head in three pivotal points in this movie: (1) once when Mile's son finds and begins to play with a gun on their living room floor, (2) again when Collin is finally fed up with Mile's antics resulting in an argument between the two after running from the scene of a fight (started by Miles), and (3) when Collin is finally in the face of the officer who shot the unarmed Black man, afraid, angry, raw, and ready. 

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MY FAVORITE PART(S):

When Collin and Miles are arguing about Mile's dumb decisions and it dawns on Collin that Miles is actually the "evil" that the cops these days are trying to combat...

The cops seem to be searching the streets and profiling men that look just like many African American men these days -- jeans, hoodies, sneakers, dreads/braids (... a fro or any type of hair with a kink to it). It made Daveed's character approach many instances by overcompensating and trying to be overly "normal" to avoid getting in trouble.

We watch him live a perfectly normal life, be a respectful man, work a job where he is belittled while watching the city that he loves being gentrified before his eyes and yet, he still does not get to feel as though he is good enough to be safe in his city. 

This scene is powerful because all of the work that he has to do to get a fraction of the respect that his best friend, who is white, gets is finally realized. He states that Miles "... is the N*gga that they're looking for..." and that it's not him, and I like that! 

We watch people of other races acting out and being excused over and over. We see it when we turn on the news, we see it when we go outside, we see it on our social networking sites and yet, when a Black man or woman does something wrong, the first things mentioned are what they've done wrong and everything they've done wrong in their lives. In addition to that, the number of Black men and women that actually get to see the light of day after a police encounter is few and far between, while we watch white men, for example, shoot schools and churches and walk out with a full police escort. The consequences for actions and treatment differences are insane and this movie shows it in many brilliant ways. 

 A final favorite is definitely the one that goes along with this picture!  Miles, in another 'get money quick' scheme attempts to sell Collin's mom's old flat irons at a local beauty shop (shoutout to Tisha Campbell Martin), but has to prove that they actually work before being able to get the sell.  This was just another testament to the friendship shared between the two main characters. And, as big on friendship as I am, I appreciated their bond the most!

A final favorite is definitely the one that goes along with this picture!

Miles, in another 'get money quick' scheme attempts to sell Collin's mom's old flat irons at a local beauty shop (shoutout to Tisha Campbell Martin), but has to prove that they actually work before being able to get the sell.

This was just another testament to the friendship shared between the two main characters. And, as big on friendship as I am, I appreciated their bond the most!


Really I can't say much else except, GO WATCH THIS MOVIE! Get into the storyline, and more importantly, give this gem of a film more airtime. 

Many of us probably haven't even seen one ad for this movie! But, that doesn't mean that it is any less important. I beg and highly recommend that you get to the nearest theater still showing this film and show some support! The more you support, the more it will be offered on the big screen.

 The brilliant minds behind the film, Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal.

The brilliant minds behind the film, Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal.

XLI: But, Who Comes First?

We all have some type of hierarchy to our lives whether we notice it or not. There are inherent levels of importance that we place on the groups of people and individuals in our lives. 

Ideally, we would put our family first, right? I mean we came into this world knowing no one but them! We've grown up with them. We've been around them for years, maybe even decades depending on how old we are. Long story short, they've been there. They've seen us at our best, they've seen us at our worst. They were there when we won our first doubles tennis match, and our first varsity wrestling match! So, to me, family is first.

But, we may also have that one faithful, fun and loyal friend. This is a friend that is so close that they feel like family. So, where does this person fall in our hierarchy? 

And what about those cool people that we met at church who tell us that we are all family -- collectively, children of God? Where do they fall? 


All of this inquisition is basically a call for introspection. Sometimes we forget that family is family. We put people who were complete strangers before people that we've known our whole lives! We make plans with a family member and then completely cancel to, instead, be there for someone who was a stranger just a month ago!

Yes, we are supposed to treat others with respect and be kind, but, I do not think that translates to us putting them before people who put us first for years. 

Now, I too am a person who has become friends with someone, gotten accustomed to being around them constantly, talking to them daily, and, in being wrapped up in my exciting and new friendship, forgotten to call my parents daily like I had before, or canceled on a cousin or sibling because it had become easier to just meet up with this friend instead. But, because I've been on the receiving end of this before, I've become hyper-aware of the effect that this has on you when your family member completely forgets about you or flakes on you.

I say all of this to say that, I don't have the answers for those family members who don't deserve to be placed first in our lives, but I do know that, just becoming more aware of the simple fact that there are levels to our relationships with people will serve to keep us on our toes when dealing with those closest to us. This will help to keep us in check when deciding to visit that cousin who we haven't seen in months instead of spending the day lounging with a friend. It will also show your family members that they are loved and valued. 

You never know what could go wrong and when. Don't continue to put off your family thinking that they'll always be there. Pay more attention to the hierarchy of people within your life, and even take some time to re-evaluate it. This will help us further on our missions to treat others the ways that we want to be treated, and it will improve your overall relationship with your family members. Because, to me, family is  E V E R Y T H I N G.

Happy Monday!