Tag Archives reading

I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but 2015 Was Actually Pretty Okay

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a percentage of the sales which will support running this blog. Be not afraid.

When I considered writing an end of the year retrospective, my face scrunched up in disgust as I reflected on 2015. Not my favorite year by a longshot. So much of it felt like a continuous struggle – like I’m in the middle of a significant lesson which I’ve tired of learning. Part of that may be the depression talking. It’s been one of the roughest years for me in a long while on that front and I know how much it can cloud and distort a person’s view of situations. A year is a fairly arbitrary measure of time and in the space of those bookends much transpired – good, bad and adjectives in between. There are layers to this life thing.

Instead of dwelling on the year’s lows and looking at the year simplistically, I opted to capture the essence of each month – a reflection of what was going during that period in time – including the books I read, TV shows I binged, trips I took and posts I wrote that resonated with people. It turns out that 2015 wasn’t as “garbage” as I initially thought.

2015: Year in Review

January

Highs: Woke up in Prague after a fun New Years Eve. • Designed and ordered my first box of business cards as a writer and blogger. • Was excited to be followed by Taye Diggs on Twitter until I found out he follows practically everyone.

2015, like every other year, had it's highs and lows. It's important not to let the lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears..." on The Girl Next Door is Black
Just hanging out in Prague on New Year’s Day 2015 | Sculpture: In Utero by David Černý

Lows: Driving 90 miles north to UC Davis’ Veterinary School to see if my beloved, 13-year old cat has cancer (inconclusive, tests are $$$$)
Binge-watched: Frasier (all seasons – there are 11!), The Originals (s1)
Read: The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Prague • Warsaw
Wrote: GoodBye Weave; Hello Curls! (Most viewed post in January and in all of 2015)

February

Highs: Littlest sister visited from Texas!
Lows: Littlest sister went back home.

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Showed my sister one of San Francisco’s favorite ways of spending a sunny afternoon – at Dolores Park: picnicking, drinking, smoking, “smoking”, laughing, celebrating, etc. We ate the best strawberries that day. I scored three baskets of plump berries for $5 from a street vendor in The Mission. I almost felt like I got away with something.

Binge-watched: Frasier cont’d • Arrow (s1-3 )
Read: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ☆☆☆☆
Wrote: Essential Blogging Resource Guide (one of the top 3 “pinned” posts in 2015)

March

Highs: A photographer friend profiled me on his site • Heard Talib Kweli speak on race and hip-hop at The Commonwealth Club • A friend sent me surprise flowers for my birthday. I love surprises like that!
Lows: Not being able to fly to Texas to celebrate my (Texas) mom’s milestone birthday
Binge-watched: Arrow cont’d • House of Cards (s1-3)
Read: Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America by Eugene Robinson ☆☆☆☆
Wrote: No, I’m Not a Mommy (most comments of the year)

My dad actually recommended this book to me and mailed me his copy. I’m glad he did because I found it enlightening. I highly recommend this book if you want to learn more about Black Americans of today – the media only gives attention to a small segment – and the socioeconomic factors which underlie our progress and pitfalls in the US.

April

Highs: Being invited as a guest on a radio show. I thought my nerves were going to get the best of me, but I did it and I didn’t make myself look like a fool! • Caught up with a good friend from L.A. who was passing through San Francisco for a blip. We laughed so hard; it was just what I needed.
Lows: The Uprising in Baltimore, Maryland after the death of Freddie Gray – specifically the way many mainstream media outlets distorted events, as well as how excessive policing goaded and further traumatized people already in emotional distress.
Binge-watched: Marvel’s Daredevil • Bones (s5-9)
Wrote: 5 Myths About Black Americans That Need to Disappear (4th most popular post of the year)

May

Highs: My friend’s super fun bachelorette weekend in Palms Springs • Attended my first blog conference (Bloggy Boot Camp in Temecula – Nia Peeples was there!) • Reunited with my Europe travel buddy for a weekend
Binge-watched: Bones cont’d
Traveled: Palm Springs • Temecula / San Diego
Wrote: Not Your Grandparents’ Brand of Racism

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
In Palm Springs I had a carefree weekend

June

Highs: Watched two friends who seem made for each other get married • Saw an excellent and poignant one-woman show at The Marsh called Black Virgins Are Not for Hipsters • Danced to tracks spun by Ryan Hemsworth at 1015 Folsom • Saw Kim Kardashian talk about the sexual objectification of women in the media (yes, really) at The Commonwealth Club (While I’ve never been her biggest fan, I have to admit she gives a charming interview and is likely smarter than she’s given credit for). My friend J and I are now technically in an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians since the cameras were there with Kim and panned over the audience.

A friend sent me an email out of the blue saying “write a book please” – it meant a lot. • Bree Newsome climbed a flagpole and took down the anachronistic Confederate Flag waving in front of South Carolina’s capitol building!
Lows: A delusional white supremacist befriended and then murdered 9 black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church. Being in the office – where I was one of very few black employees – feeling alone in mourning the lives lost, because no one else seemed care about what had happened – at least not to the degree I did.
Binge-watched: Orange is the New Black (s2-3)
Read: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ☆☆☆☆
Wrote: Don’t Call Me “Girl”

July

Highs: First BlogHer conference •  Spent time with my (New York) mom and my grandparents • Took in another one woman show, this time by Anna Deavere Smith called Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education at Berkeley Rep – disquieting commentary on the US educational system and the “school-to-prison” pipeline. • BlogHer.com picked up my post What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman for syndication!

BlogHer 2015 is hands down the best conference I’ve ever attended. Among many highlights: I learned  more than I probably am even aware; shared an inspiring moment of solidarity led by the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement; met one of the bloggers I admire, Awesomely Luvvie (and acted like a fool incapable of forming proper sentences); listened with great interest as the talented film director Ava DuVernay imparted words of wisdom; and engaged in refreshingly honest discussion on sexual harassment, intersectional feminism, and domestic violence helmed by three formidable women behind a few of the most powerful “hashtag activism” movements on Twitter in recent years.

I also met some wonderful new people, and to wrap it all up we celebrated with a party where Boyz II Men performed, Nick Cannon DJed, we “whip and nae nae”d, and dined on all the McDonald’s we could eat!

Lows: My friend died from cancer  • In a case of police abuse that hit frighteningly close to home, a 28-year old black woman named Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell under extremely suspicious circumstances – after a questionable arrest. This just weeks after the murders in Charleston. Again, working in the office – trying to get through the day coherently and without breaking into tears – seemed like a form of self-flagellation.
Binge-watched: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt • Veep
Read: The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman ☆☆☆☆
Traveled: New York
Wrote: What Emotions Am I Allowed to Have as a Black Woman? (3rd most popular post of the year)

August

Highs: Reunited with my friends/favorite ex-coworkers to celebrate the life of our friend E- who died in July • Caught up other good friends in Los Angeles for Mexican food • Went to a San Francisco Giants game with a friend in town from L.A. • Surprised and honored to be included in Quirky, Brown Love’s 200 Amazing Black Bloggers (among great company).
Lows: The reason for the reunion • Took an unscheduled break from blogging to recharge

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
My friend E’s brother is on the far right; along with E, the rest of us worked at the same company for several years and became good friends. We dined in Koreatown in honor of some of E’s favorite things – good food, good drink and lots of meat.

Read: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins ☆☆☆☆☆ • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates ☆☆☆☆☆ • The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae ☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Los Angeles
Wrote: White Supremacy: I Don’t Know How Much More of It I Can Handle

September

Highs: Visited my Vegas grandmother, got her signed up for seniors’ internet classes at her local library, helped her secure her membership at the ‘Y’ where she now enjoys taking chair yoga, and took her shopping because as I told her, just because you’re working out doesn’t mean you should dress any ol’ way and she was going to be a “fly granny.” 79 and still going strong. Get it granny! • Second youngest sister visited from Texas! • Danced my butt off at the Oakland Music Festival with said sister. • Invited onto The Unconventional Woman Podcast as a guest.
Lows: Had a mammogram to check out a lump (everything’s fine). • Second youngest sister returned home.
Binge-watched: Sliders (re-watched series) • Power
Traveled: Las Vegas
Wrote: San Francisco, I Think I’m Over You

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Sister selfie at The Palace of Fine Arts

https://www.instagram.com/p/8Mjn-qKrjh/

October

Highs: Saw the hilarious duo, Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu, from one of my favorite podcasts Another Round at Popup Magazine’s inventive evening of live storytelling • Took Mattieologie’s Full Time Formula webinar on making real income as a blogger that got me all fired up • Caught up with two former co-workers • For Harriet published my piece Growing Up “Keisha” in a World of Ashleys and Joshes! • Did an urban hike on Halloween with the Outdoor Afro Club and my friend K (black people like the outdoors too!).
Binge-watched: Person of Interest (s1-4) • Charmed (re-watched from the beginning)
Wrote: Growing Up “Keisha” in a World of Ashleys and Joshes

November

Highs: With my second youngest sister, I spent my first Thanksgiving in over 20 years with my (New York) mom and her side of the family. Met a bunch of new-to-me and new-to-this-earth cousins. • Saw a live taping of The View and softened toward Raven; DJ Tanner was there!; left with a $100 gift card to Lulu’s and an Alessia Cara CD (the musical guest on the show).
Lows: A job I wanted that would have allowed me to work remotely didn’t pan out
Binge-watched Chicago Fire (whole series) • The Fosters (s3) • Being Mary Jane (whole series)
Read: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ☆☆☆☆☆ • Syrup: A Novel by Max Barry ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: New York
Wrote: Quit Talking about the Lack of Diversity and Do Something

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
My sister and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan for the first time

December

Highs: Hung out with a high school classmate I haven’t seen since we graduated almost 20 years ago • Traveled to my 5th continent – Asia • Came in 2nd in my fantasy football league (I started playing again; I’m a hypocrite.) • Checked out a cat café in Oakland. So cute.
Binge-watched: Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce • Casual 
Read: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs ☆☆☆☆☆
Traveled: Ho Chi Minh City, all over Cambodia, Bangkok, Shanghai

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
Oh, I also tried fried tarantula in Cambodia (just a leg). It was…crunchy.

Once I put it all down, it’s clear that I have a lot to be grateful for this year. It’s far too easy to focus on what you don’t have, haven’t accomplished, who’s not with you, or how much money you didn’t make. It’s important not to let the year’s lows overshadow its’ memorable highlights.

I am healthy, I have a safe place to live, I don’t have to search for food, my family is safe and generally healthy, I have friends and people who love me. So take that depression!

With all that said, 2016 I hope you are planning to bring it.

2015, like every other year, had it's ups and downs. However, it's important not to let the year's lows overshadow the highs. | Read more from "2015 Year in Review: I Could Have Used More Laughs and Fewer Tears, but It Actually Wasn't That Terrible" on The Girl Next Door is Black
According to Spotify I pretty much listened to Drake this year with breaks for Kanye and A$AP Rocky.

How did you feel about 2015? What were your highs and lows? What did you watch/listen to/read/create? Travel anywhere interesting?

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter, Facebook or subscribe

2012 in Review

2012 Year in Review - A Year of Fun New Experiences and Some Challenges | The Girl Next Door is Black
Spotted in Los Angeles, January 2012

This is the time of year when people start making resolutions that many probably will not keep. The time of year that regular gym-goers like me hate. The gym is packed with resolutioners who don’t know what the hell they are doing, hitting themselves on the head, breaking shit, all up on my machines, sweaty after walking 30 seconds on the treadmill, and hogging the free weights. Sadly for them, but happily for me, their enthusiasm for their resolution will die down within a few weeks as they forget they want Jennifer Aniston’s body.

I gave up on resolutions years ago when I realized I was ignoring them and not meeting them. Instead I decided to set goals for things I’d like to accomplish for the year. Here’s how I fared in 2012.

2012 Goals

Goal 1:  Read 12 Books (or a book a month)

Status: Overachieved.

I read 18 books last year. According to this study, the average American read six books in 2012. According this related post on Gawker, more than a few, er…Gawkerians, found time to read 50+ books, be snooty about it and in pearl-clutching shock that others haven’t matched their stunning achievement. Look, I have other things to do with my time, as well. The Real Housewives of Atlanta beckons. Nene is on fire again. I had to see what all the fuss over Homeland is about. I kinda like to hang out with other humans. I also like to take time with my books, bond with them, read discussions about them, love on them (or resist the urge to hurl them at the wall in some cases); not speed read through them and move on to the next like I’m running through big-bootied strippers.

2012 Year in Review - A Year of Fun New Experiences and Some Challenges | The Girl Next Door is Black
The books I read last year

Book I Had the Most Fun Reading Last Year: 

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games would be first, but I read it in 2011) by Suzanne Collins

Most Thought-Provoking Book I Read Last Year: 

It’s a tie!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

Best Page-Turner Book I Read Last Year: Another Tie!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Biggest Waste of My Time

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Goal 2: Get the hell out of Los Angeles.

Status: Achieved.

Yep, that was the actual goal, emphasis on hell. I wasn’t happy there. I hadn’t been happy for years. Traffic had me all road-ragey and daydreaming about driving myself off overpasses. I set a goal to be out by mid-2013. I was gone by Mid-October. Booyah! Goodbye bitchass bitches in BMWs, people so flakey Corn Flakes are jealous and mockable obsessions with looks and status (speed dating a few years ago, a dude spent his intro telling me what labels he was wearing: Prada belt and pants, Gucci something or other. Funnily enough, he didn’t mention wearing Eau de Douche).  I miss my fave ramen place though. And the palm trees were pretty to look at. Oh and friends! I miss you guys!

2012 Year in Review - A Year of Fun New Experiences and Some Challenges | The Girl Next Door is Black
I had some good times in this city…
2012 Year in Review - A Year of Fun New Experiences and Some Challenges
but, it’s on to the next.

Goal 3: Get into bike riding.

Status: Kinda achieved.

Erm… On Memorial Day a friend and I rented beach cruisers and rode on the paths in Venice and Santa Monica beaches. With the wind blowing through my weave, it was a beautiful occasion. I loved it. I have confirmed this is something I WANT to do. I just need to do it more. Perhaps buy a bike in 2013? And put it where? On my fire escape? Damn sure ain’t room for anything else in my boxpartment.

2012 Year in Review - A Year of Fun New Experiences and Some Challenges | The Girl Next Door is Black
At the bike rental place, the attendant told me that I was “an in-between size” (she meant short) and asked if I’d be okay with a bike that looked like it was for a 12-year old. It was the right height, so I took it.

Goal 4: Improve Spanish speaking

Status: Uh…si.

I got this one in under the wire.  I enrolled in a Spanish course in November. Yo soy Keisha. Yo estoy en San Francisco. Kim Kardashian es antipatico. To be continued.

Goal 5: Get into art – take a painting or drawing class

Status: In Progress

I get bored. A lot. So, I’m always on the lookout for things to do in my spare time that will also help me further myself as a person. I’ve always wanted to learn to paint. One fine Saturday my friend Laura joined me for crafts & 80’s movie watching at my apartment. At the art store she appeared dubious as I followed an employee around picking up supply after supply. I grabbed a 16” x 20” canvas. “You might want to get something smaller. It’s a lot of work,” Laura warned. I bought it and two smaller canvases. I imagined being a hot new underground artist who discovered her brilliant artistic talent later in life.

Supplies acquired and a Heathers DVD playing, I began painting my 8” by 10” masterpiece. Amused, Laura commented, “I’ll be interested to see if you finish that.” I didn’t finish my masterpiece that day and months later, it’s still not finished. She was right. Gah! Now, I have all these painting supplies and two blank canvases and I’m not sure if and when I’ll take them out for a spin again. Look, I tried.

2012 Year in Review - A Year of Fun New Experiences and Some Challenges | The Girl Next Door is Black
My unfinished “masterpiece”

Goal 6: Run a 5k

Status: Rejected!

I decided I don’t want to do this. I hate running. Runners claim you reach a point when running starts to feel good, your mind clears and you see Jesus or some shit. None of these things have happened for me. All I feel is pain, suffering and a death wish. I decided it’s all bullshit some liar came up with to get people to beat themselves up, buy a bunch of expensive gear and speed up the aging process with all the face bouncing. Also, sometimes the things runners say get on my nerves. Here’s an example:

Woman: I am not sure how long it will take me to run this 5k.

Me: The average healthy person should be able to run a mile in 15 minutes or less. So, I’d give yourself 45 minutes on the high end.

Runner: 15 minutes?! That’s so slow!

Me: [Glaring] Uh okay, Speedy Gonzales (I promise you this person was not of Latin descent). I run a mile in a little over 14 minutes and I am proud of myself.

Runner: Oh, er….10-11 minutes is average. That’s what I run and I feel like I’m slow.

Me: Excuuuse me Usain Bolt, if I run at a 10-minute pace, I’ll fall out by the first quarter-mile. Face on trail. [Why don’t you go run into a bush!]

Runner: [Judgment face]

Me: [Fuck this running crap.]

A 2011 goal was to condition myself to the point where I could run 3-miles,

Asics
I did buy new running shoes

uninterrupted, for the first time ever in life. I made it and I was damned proud of myself! I don’t care how FAST I’m going, I care that I can do it without feeling like my heart is reaching for the heavens.  But, runners man, with their, “Don’t you want to increase your speed?” “You should get these awesome shoes that make you feel like you’re running on air and were tested on roadrunners in Botswana!” “Don’t you want to run on the moon?” Save it. Y’all can have your running, I’m going to find an activity where the people who partake don’t make me want to smack them or push them into traffic.

Goal 7: Be able to run six miles continuously.

Status: Double rejected.  

See #6.

Goal 8: Visit two new countries & three states.

Status: Not achieved. 

I’m overly ambitious with my travel goals. I want to go everywhere, but I am not rich and I do not have all kinds of free time. I have a job and I live in America. America doesn’t believe in vacation. “Here worker bees, take two days off a year and consider yourself lucky, ya whiny bastards. In my day, we worked seven days a week with dynamite strapped to our backs! Vacation is for the weak!”

I visited one new country, one new continent and two new states. While I didn’t hit all three new states, I did visit two repeat states, for a total of four.

2012 was a good year for me. I accomplished a lot, more than I expected. I made some new friends (not in SF, unfortunately), spent time with old friends, I discovered and developed a huge crush on Channing Tatum and saw three of his movies, petted a giant pig, saw Jon Cusack, finally got on base playing kickball and helped kick in a runner, volunteered some, got to go on an amazing trip and even created the blog I’d talked about doing for so many years.

——

2013 goals are under construction, but here are a few ideas:

  • Stop being so judgy. Judgy people bother me because I am judgy. Don’t you love how that works? Sometimes the traits that bug you most in OTHER people are those you possess yourself. I am acutely aware of people’s actions. I love trying to understand how people work. Thus, I notice things. Then I have opinions on these things. But, girl, just because someone types in text speak doesn’t mean they are incapable of using proper grammar and/or lack intelligence and should be tossed into a fire. It is also okay for people to use an excessive number of question marks on a single sentence, and do so repeatedly in a paragraph. And just because a co-worker takes the last slice of pizza and doesn’t throw the empty box away doesn’t mean they lack proper home training. Repeat and internalize.
  • Figure out what and who I want to be when I grow up. That ‘4’ number followed by a ‘0’  is getting closer than I care for. I gotta figure out who I want to be by then so I don’t reach the age and have some sort of early mid-life crisis.
  • Stop wasting money. I overcompensate for the times when I couldn’t buy what I wanted when I wanted. Now I buy too much. I’m 75% YOLO (do it now, worry about how to pay for it later) and 25% responsible. How do I walk into the drugstore to get a prescription and leave with a dog bed (I don’t have dogs), a pound of candy, an “As Seen on TV” product and five colors of nail polish that I will use once and forget about? Do better!
  • Make some friends.

Happy New Year!

2012 Year in Review - A Year of Fun New Experiences and Some Challenges | The Girl Next Door is Black

Like what you read? Follow The Girl Next Door is Black on Twitter, Facebook or subscribe