I Just Wanna Be Who I Am

I sat watching the Mary Kay consultant hand my Gigi powder after cream after cleanser. I wasn’t offended when that woman looked up and told me that my face was probably two shades lighter than what it looked because I don’t wash it properly. Because honey and oil aren’t effective unlike whatever chemicals my stepmom had just finished using. I was respectful when my aunt (the beautician) decided to join in schooling me on the benefits of this bio-super cleansing, extra natural line of products. The reviews were through the roof. Look at Kristen’s skin! That’s all she uses! And her little friends too!! I didn’t part my lips when my aunt decided to go the “just because you have natural hair doesn’t mean you have to go to the extreme” route. And I didn’t go off when the rant continued on to me not wearing makeup.

“Everything that I do takes 10 minutes.”

“You need to at least wear a tinted moisturizer. Something to even out your skin tone.”

 “You HAVE to wear more that lip stick, or you need to tone it down.”

Because I’m drawing all eyes to my lips with the absence of blush, eye shadow and mascara. I didn’t give them a speech about how I’m as far from high maintenance as the east is from the west. I was silent. But in my head, I was on my soapbox hot with the passion of a Hebrew Israelite at the Gallery Place Metro condemning heathen  commuters. “Look here. I’m not going to put a bunch of gunk on my face unless it’s a special occasion, and I’ll enlist a professional. Nine times out of ten, I’m choosing flats over heels. I’m going to reinterpret the dress code for every event. My lip colors will always be loud. And you will deal.”

My boss called me into her office.

“Listen, I wanted to discuss your appearance for a minute. Now, don’t take this the wrong way because you’re always dressed so adorable, but sometimes it’s a little unprofessional. Like, what you have on today. You have such a cute little shape and some things just show it a little too much. Oh, and do you plan on keeping your hair like that? It’s a little much. There’s a lot going on.”

She gestured to my marley twists. I forgot about the disclaimer the lead to her insulting my teal straight-leg pants, flower print peplum blouse and Mary Jane wedges. Did this woman just come for my hair?! No. Ma’am.

“Sooooo are you saying that I can’t wear my hair in twists, because I didn’t read that in the handbook. I also didn’t see anything about braids. Do you have a problem with braids? That will be my next style. Oh, I’m pretty sure I had twists just like these when I was offered the position. Why didn’t you say anything then?”

End of conversation.

 

I sat in the chair, mirror in hand, repeating the same instructions. There was too much hair on my head and I wanted it gone. If it couldn’t be twisted, it had to get cut off. My barber was determined that my request was impossible. He’d have to part my hair; a part that would soon be lost, meaning that the solution was to fade my hair instead. NO. I sat there until he figured it out. While he cut, I fielded questions. Why don’t I grow my hair out? Had I at least considered a mohawk? Was I sure about this style? He finally got to the point.

“I just think that women that have nice hair should let it grow.”

Yea, because I paid him every two weeks for his opinion. A good thirty minutes. He cut. I checked and told him to go lower. He didn’t let me out of his chair without a disclaimer. If anyone inquired about my cut, I was to let them know that I have a vision and he had nothing to do with it. I made not to mention him to any of the people who approached me, not with questions or insults but compliments.

 

WHOO!!! They said be all you can be!!!

 

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She Almost Learned How To Say Goodbye

 

You’d think a place like this would feel more… Warm. Welcoming. Something. That’s what I thought when we walked into the office three years ago. I don’t know if I expected pillows and soothing music, but I thought the furniture should at least match. The… I just realized that I don’t know what her title was. What do you call people who’s mission is to make you sure you’re ok with pushing out a baby and handing it over to new parents? I don’t think she had a job title. I knew one thing for sure while sitting in that conference room; their supposed “safe place”. This is not what I was expecting when I moved home.

Living. Moving. Breathing.

 I knew that we were both in bad places and being together was the best decision. I knew that there was another kid coming. A little person. One that we could not afford. I knew that she was overwhelmed. She felt backed into a corner and adoption was the only way out. The promises of help weren’t falling on deaf ears, they were coming from mutes. So there we were. Sitting in that cold office on that hot, hot day.  Listening to a stranger explain procedures for her first hello and final goodbye. And then we left. There was supposed to be a follow up call. My sister never answered.

God knew what He was doing when He gave…

I started writing this after picking my nephews up from school and daycare. I fully expect to see my bedroom door open and a high-top of sandy curls pop in at least five times before bedtime. And tomorrow morning there may be a fit because I’m driving to daycare instead of Mommy. Or, like today, because I refuse to put miniature Nikes on the wrong feet. Yes, this little person works my nerves. Yes, two’s are TERRIBLE. But we didn’t have to go back to that office. Never have to sit in those cold rooms with mismatched furniture. She didn’t have to learn how to say goodbye.

Beautiful Life.

So Brandy Is About A DOG?!

Pets aren’t people. Puppies aren’t babies. Kittens aren’t children. They are animals. That’s it. Maybe that’s why I was only mad for about 15 minutes when I came home from a summer in Florida to find out our first dog (Spike) was dead. Apparently, he had succumb to a puppy cold turned deadly virus. The truth: he got a cold and my daddy had him put down. Or he let him go in the country, per the Holder tradition. The logic was simple: medicine is for people, not puppies. Once a dog of ours starts requiring more than  annual shots, he gotta go. They’re always boys.

I held this sentiment when we brought O.C. home from the sidewalk in front of K-Mart. (It wasn’t really summer in The South if there weren’t families selling puppies  in front of stores on Saturdays.)The cutest little mutt in the cardboard box marked “Free Puppies”. Well, they said we was a Labrador and Chow mix – whatever. He was ours. Looking back, I should’ve known that this would be different from Spike when we named him. O.C. (Over Comer – daddy’s pick) Tyson (Brittney’s pick that daddy  vetoed) Watson (Brandi’s boyfriend’s last name) Holder. Dog had more names than me. Another tell-tale sign: We let him sleep inside for his first few weeks. Fun times. I wish I could remember how long we had him.

I do remember having to channel my inner ninja to get from the car to the house without O.C. squeezing in the door and hightailing it to the corner under Brandi’s bed. I remember holding him like a baby and dropping him on the concrete edge of the driveway. I felt so bad. He didn’t come to me for a day or two.  I remember him hating his leash with a passion, so we pretty much let him roam free – benefit of having half an acre of back yard. He used to go annoy the dog next door who would never react. Dude had to be at least 207 in dog years, poor guy. I remember him running down the street to greet us as we walked from the bus stop. And I remember him getting hit by that minivan after we drove off to school that morning.

I’d never seen anything die before. Well, bugs. But nothing that mattered to me. I saw him twitch. And then nothing. I watched my dad gather his body into a trash bag and set it on top of the pile that was already waiting to be picked up. How convenient for your dog to die on trash day. I remember crying through first block – science for the smart kids. I hated that class.

I’m sure that I subconsciously vowed to never again own a pet that day. Because somehow they weasel their way out of the pet zone and into my heart. And I might not be able to continue the family tradition.

I Like Her Sometimes.

Today is my mother’s birthday. She is 50…. I don’t remember, and don’t feel like doing the math. I am also not about to figure out what year it was last time I was speaking to my mother on her birthday. What  year was the last time I  acknowledged this day as being significant for more than the birth of Dr. King? I know I haven’t bought a gift in the 2000’s.

My sister taught her how to text. I received a reminder full of grammatical errors yesterday. It’s funny, this space. We’re cordial. We joke. She makes me candy and gumbo. I like her sometimes. We don’t talk about the serious things. Leave it up to me, we will never talk about the past. I know exactly where the line is drawn in the sand and I refuse to go near it. This line doesn’t exist for her, but that’s what the “end call” button is for. I’ve accepted that I’ll never get an apology, or anything remotely close. But it wasn’t needed for forgiveness.

Today is my mother’s birthday. I’m going to call her. I’m going to buy her a card. I’ll probably give her a hug. I might even tell her I love her. I do. I’m discovering that I always did in one way or another. I’m also going to thank God for healing.  Thank Him for progress. Thank Him for the desire to tell my mother happy birthday again.

Tour De Concerts Part 1: Russell Dickerson

Last week was pretty dope. I haven’t had a week packed full of music in Nashville since….forever. Last week I was fortunate enough to attend three shows, all totally different. And I only paid for ONE

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Ok, let’s start with Tuesday night. Russell Dickerson. I’ve known Russell through church for about a year. He’s a singer/songwriter by profession, specializing in country music. I had never heard anything other than praise and worship on a Sunday afternoon in the chapel. Imagine my surprise when I opened my day planner and saw his name scribbled under the date. Of course I had totally forgotten about this show, per usual. I would’ve never read that reminder if I didn’t have to jot down the address of a job interview. Thank you job hunt! Tuesday was my first time stepping foot inside 3rd & Lindsley. I was supposed to see my love Lianne La Havas there a few months ago, but I missed out on the tickets. *wipes away a single tear* It’s one of those “eat  and drink while enjoying a show” type of places, but without the pressure of a minimum. *glares at Jazz N Jokes ole $10 minimum having…* Nevermind that.

Russell walked out right on time with all his country rocker swag and band in tow. After a warm greeting, he went straight into the first song. Is four guitars and drums typical for a country set? I’m not sure, but what I do know is the sound was amazing!

“Green Light”, the second song, was by far my favorit. The smooth chorus made me hit an ill R&B body roll without even trying. Reflexes. And then he stransitioned from the chorus into Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” and back again and It Was Flawless. Looooved IIIIIITTT!!!

Next was “Living Without You”, a new song, (all of them were new to me) and I witnessed this:

Amazingness.

Amazingness.

Yes, his guitar is laying down. Tell me that isn’t dope! Like, is there a kick stand on that joint? I should have stuck around after the show to ask him how this worked.

Russell gave us deep voice country, reminiscent of Dirks Bentley “Come A Little Closer” the slow “Read My Lips”. Between me and you, I think he wrote that one after he got married.

The coolest thing about his show was his “tradition”. As an up and coming artist, it’s essential to keep your name out there as much as possible. Every show  Russell asks that everyone twitpic or instagram with the caption “Gettin @Russelled”. How clever!20131120-132114.jpg

Overall. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Thank you Russell for having a free show for us Nashville folks! Needless to say, I’m all for paying to see you in the future!

See You At The CrossRoads: Fall Out Boy & The Band Perry

I was lucky enough to win a spot at the taping of a CMT Crossroads episode. Now, normally this wouldn’t be anything I’d really be interested in, but the featured artists were out of the norm. Stepping away from the usual bill of country “legends” this episode was set to showcase The Band Perry and Fall Out Boy. That is a far cry from the oh so popular Willie Nelson and Ray Charles special. There was no way I was passing this up.

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Fun fact: There were two bass players, so they had to take turns. A first for both FOB and TBP.

I’ve participated in a TV production one other time. Bonnaroo. Sat second row at the Key & Peele hosted Comedy Central special, and laughed and smiled on cue. A month later, I discovered that CC edited a light-skinned chick into all the scenes where Key & Peele were actually talking to me and my equally Hershey’s Kiss complected friend. Jerks. Needless to say, I don’t expect to see much of myself on TV. Once the practice applause (so awkward) was over, they started the show.

This was a full on concert, but better. Why? Because they had to perform most of the songs twice!! One might think that this would be annoying, but it was actually pretty dope. The production/sound team found some random thing wrong with the first go round, everyone got their make-up touched up and step back up to their mics and guitars. The second time for every song was always so much better.

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Touch-up Time! This happened after every song.

The match-up was perfect. The Band Perry is already pretty edgy for a country band. Fall Out Boy’s rock amazingness (not a word, I know) added so much to their songs, even the soft “If I Die Young”. It takes a special talent to add extra umph to such a sweet sentimental tune, and Patrick Stump sharing the lyrics with JJ was simply everything. The only downside for me, since there has to be one, was JJ on the Fall Out Boy songs. Her voice doesn’t project like Patrick’s. For example, I know “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and was ready to completely rock out and sing at the top of my lungs. JJ’s soft voice was kind of a buzz kill.

Seeing all of the employees, cameras, important people with headsets and everything that went int the set was amazing. Something that would end up being a 30 minute show probably took so much time and effort.

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Favorite Moments: “Better Dig Two” and “If I Die Young”

Takeaway: This experience solidified my need to update my phone so I could’ve taken better pictures to share!! November can’t get here fast enough!!

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JJ is beautiful, this picture just sucks. I’m getting a new phone.

Pete's stories (once he got a mic) were hilarious

Pete’s stories (once he got a mic) were hilarious