Friday, April 27, 2007

Hey man, it happened for a reason

I'm a firm believer in the old adage: "Everything happens for a reason."

Think about it. Often when you feel like nothing is going your way, something happens -- you find a wadded-up $20 in the laundry, you run into that cute crush in the grocery store, or you ace the exam you studied a mere 10 minutes for. Some might call it a stroke of luck or perhaps mere coincidence, but I believe all of these little signs happen for a reason.

The past couple of months have brought about more than enough reminders that with a little patience, even good things come around sooner or later.

Below are a few examples from my life. I'd love to hear yours because it's encouraging to know that through the tribulations of life, there's a piece of good that comes out of every downturn.

1. No job -- finding renewed confidence: My husband lost his job in late October 2006. Now, after much emotional as well as financial sacrifice, he has a job he really enjoys and one that has great promise for the future.

2. Exes be gone -- for good: A friend of mine reconnected with an ex recently. When he saw her for the first time in many months, he learned some valuable information that made him thankful he never took the relationship to the next level. Who needs a woman that doesn't truly love you for who you are, right?

3. Burning bridges -- never a good thing: Have you ever had a boss who never should have been made a manager? And you wanted to tell them off, but you didn't want it to follow you the rest of your life? I have. And I recently learned that old boss will cross my path again because our companies have merged. It's a good thing I bit my tongue and turned the other cheek.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What is sexy?

Alisha: Have you ever met someone and thought, "Wow, he (or she) was really sexy?" It happened to me Saturday night when my husband, a co-worker and I went out to a Park Road Shopping Center hangout. I moseyed up to the bar and this guy next to me smiled and asked if he could buy me a drink. I told him no thanks (I was ordering for the group and didn't think it very southern belle-ish of me to ask him to buy three drinks). Though an older gentleman, he had baby dimples and his Portuguese accent made my knees buckle. It was so sexy!
Deirdre: YUM! Men with accents get me every time. In a movie I watched recently there was a scene where the main couple almost kissed. The guy was all up in the chick's personal space, but he didn't go for the kill because he knew she was unsure. He was giving her a chance to say no ... or yes. That was sexy.
Alisha: No doubt anticipation is a turn-on. How about a guy, with a good smile, walking his puppy at the park? That's hot.
Deirdre: You're walking down the street and you catch a whiff of cologne that smells so dee-lish, you almost give yourself whiplash looking around for who it belongs to. I LOVE a good-smellin' man!
Alisha: I would never get a tattoo on the small of my back, however, there is something quite sexy about a small, almost dainty-type tramp stamp.
Deirdre: Speaking of women, I watch boxer Laila Ali on "Dancing With the Stars" and I'm totally envious of her body. Strong is sexy.
Alisha: So is intelligence. Keith Olbermann is not exactly my idea of a hunk, but his depth of knowledge (especially his sports proficiency) makes him, and others with that breadth of IQ, instant cuties.
Deirdre: Amen! And please make passes, you boys who wear glasses!

Readers, don't be shy -- let us know what you think is sexy!

Monday, April 23, 2007

'The Namesake' will move you

I went to see a very touching movie yesterday, called "The Namesake." It really stayed with me, and I want to recommend it.

A quick plot summary, courtesy of Yahoo! Movies:

"When the the Ganguli family moves from Calcutta to New York, they embark upon a lifelong balancing act to meld into a new world without forgetting the old. Though parents Ashoke and Ashima long for the family and culture that enveloped them in India, they take great pride in the opportunities their sacrifices have afforded their children. Paradoxically, their son Gogol is torn between finding his own unique identity without losing his heritage. Even Gogol's name represents the family's journey into the unknown."

While the movie (based on a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri) tells the story of this family, it also tells the story of many families -- the relationships between parents and children, husbands and wives, our connections with our friends and our co-workers. It's about the pain of love affairs that fail and the joy and excitement of love that can be exchanged in a simple glance. And, as the title implies, it's about our individual histories -- where we come from, what it means to us, and how we choose (or refuse) to honor it.

Dudes, while there is no gun fire and no car chases, it's still an engrossing movie you can go see with your girl without feeling like you're stuck in a chick flick. Besides, one of the main themes of the movie is a father's relationship with his son. (And the movie's women are beautiful.) Ladies, there's romance and passion to make you sigh and tragedy and regrets to make you cry, all played out on a background of luscious India and fascinating New York.

But most of all, "The Namesake" will make you re-examine your own family -- and don't be surprised if you suddenly want to tell them how much you love them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My boy friend has a girlfriend

My best male friend lives here in Charlotte. In a weird twist of fate, we knew each other for years in California and then moved to Charlotte, totally independent of each other, about six weeks apart.

It's been awesome having him here. He's become the big brother I never had. He knows things about me my husband, if I ever get married, will probably never know. We supported each other through our homesickness for California, and have learned about Charlotte together. He's always been there when I needed him, and I hope I've been able to fulfill the same role for him.

Here's the thing: Now he's got a girlfriend. Our relationship has totally changed.

I'm sure it was gradual, but "suddenly," it seemed, he wasn't home when I called, 'cause he was with his girlfriend. And if he was home, I couldn't come over to hang out because he was on his way out to meet the girlfriend. Dinner tonight? Sorry, already having dinner with the girlfriend.

Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled for him. I know how much finding a woman to care about means to him; we've had long discussions late into the night about relationships and what we want out of them. I've listened to tale after horrible (and hilarious) tale about his hit-and-mostly-miss dating life. So when he met this chick and they clicked, I was totally stoked. (And before you think it, NO, I'm not interested in him romantically. He's like my brother, remember? Are you attracted to your brother? Didn't think so.)

I was happy, but still ... the diva in me was pouting. And she came out in the tackiest way possible: On my cell phone, as I waited to catch a flight at the airport.

We were chatting along when he mentioned his girl, and I couldn't stop myself. By this time I was feeling neglected and had been stewing over it for a couple days.

"I'm upset!" I blurted out. And at that point, there was no turning back. I told him how I felt, eavesdropping passengers be damned. (From now on I may cut people having difficult cell conversations some slack, because lord knows I didn't mean to air my dirty laundry.) I told him I realized I had gotten used to having him at my beck and call, and the transition was hard for me. I told him I was happy for him in his new relationship, and I understood we would be spending less time together, but that I also didn't want him to forget our friendship.

He listened to what I had to say and was glad I confided in him. He said even though he had a new woman in his life, no one would ever take my place in his heart. He promised that we would still spend time together.

He's been true to his word. Now if he doesn't hear from me, he calls every few days just to check in. We still have dinners and long conversations, but we've gotten better at scheduling them. Our friendship isn't as spontaneous as it used to be, but our time together is quality time.

The diva in me is satisfied.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sometimes, a friendship is really over

Deirdre: I have a quandary. I used to be close friends with a woman I'd known since childhood. A few years ago, we had a falling out and stopped speaking to each other. Now my grandmother, who lives in the same town as this woman, is telling me I need to rekindle the friendship. She sees my ex-friend and thinks she doesn't look happy. She thinks I should take the first step.
Alisha: And, you're not wanting to heed your grandmother's advice, huh?
Deirdre: No. First of all, she doesn't know the whole story between us. Second, it's like I'd be trying to make up because I felt sorry for my ex-friend, and I think that's an insulting thing to do. Third, sometimes, friendships just ... end.
Alisha: Your final point is right on the money. Sometimes friendships just end -- especially if this friendship you're talking about concluded in a never-talk-again argument. So what if this woman called you up and wanted to be friends again? Would your thoughts change?
Deirdre: Actually, I think she kinda did. Out of the blue, she sent me an e-mail. It was one of those jokes or "beware, this might happen to you!!" things that people forward. She included me on a list of people she forwarded it to. Does that count as a first move?
Alisha: Mmmm. Maybe for some people but I don't think so. If it was, it was more so her opening the door, yet wanting you to take action. Can you sleep at night knowing she's no longer in your life? I say if you can, then you should leave things as they are.
Deirdre: I sleep just fine. When our friendship ended, we were to the point where we were toxic to each other. Why would I want to subject myself to that again? But all my grandma sees is a person who seems miserable and she wants me to make it better. But she's not thinking about what it would do to ME.
Alisha: Would you be open to calling up your friend one time to ask how things are going and then end it there? That way you've reached out to this woman but haven't really tried to rekindle the friendship, and you make your grandma happy at the same time?
Deirdre: I don't think it's possible, or fair, to do something like that. Have you done it before?
Alisha: Well, not to please my grandmother! ... Yes, I no longer talk with my best friend from my childhood because our lives just took two very different paths. I would call her up just to chat. She would do the same thing. We both realized we're just two very different people now. And we never had a BIG blowup, and that's where your situation differs.
Deirdre: I've changed even more since the friendship ended, which is why I think calling this woman would be a mistake. My grandmother thinks friends then, friends now, friends forever. I hope I can make her understand it can't always be that way. We can talk about this, my grandma and I -- she's very cool. And gets way more dates than I do!
Alisha: I say you stand your ground, tell your grandma how you feel and leave it at that. It's not her who has to face your friend. Sometimes, we do all we can do and there just isn't anything left.
Deirdre: Or maybe, sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Balancing act: Friends and lovers

So you call up your best friend, and you ask him to go to the bar with you. Hey, it’s been awhile since you guys have hung out – just the boys, drinking, laughing, playing trivia – and you’re dying to get out of the house and leave the stresses of bills, work and family alone for a couple of hours.

When you get your buddy on the phone, he tells you he and his girlfriend are going to dinner and then are going to the movies. That’s fine – no problem. OK, how about tomorrow night, you ask. Nope, won’t work – the lovebirds have concert tickets already. So, getting desperate yet at the same time understanding that your friend is totally gaga over his new chick, you ask if next Saturday is doable. His reply? Her parents are in town. Geez!

Bottom line: Your buddy and his girlfriend won’t spend any time apart because they’re glued at the hip. Your role as the friend (or third wheel) just isn’t that important now that they have each other.

I’ve always wondered how often friendships are derailed because of a relationship. Can the friendship ever be truly repaired when it’s been put on an indefinite hold?

The worst is the lovey-dovey stage when a couple first meet and they ache to be around the other 24-7. But once the relationship grows more serious and breaks out of the spend-every-waking-moment with the significant other, then where does the best friend come in?

Some people can handle having best friends while at the same time having a serious relationship. Others, not so much.

I think the key to balancing it all is to be honest with your intentions and with yourself, and to make those parties aware of your own feelings. At least do your friend a favor and let him know your girl comes first rather than keep him guessing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A night in NoDa

A friend and I recently attended an art/spoken word/food/music/mingling event at Dolce Vita wine bar in NoDa. I'll be sure to mention it here the next time the organizers plan one, because I'm often asked where folks of a certain age (meaning older than 25) can hang out and meet available people in Charlotte.

I'll mention this event not only because it's within easy bar/restaurant hopping distance of other places, but because the guys behind this are trying to build an environment, especially for black people, where folks don't have to scream at each other over loud hip-hop, or maneuver around couples doing the kind of dancing that can get girls pregnant. They want to provide a chill vibe where people can just come and hang out, nibble on some goodies, drink some wine, listen to some neo-soul and chat with others who actually remember the '80s and weren't born during them.

There's a pretty diverse group of people hanging out in NoDa, but there still manages to be segregation, and I don't really understand that. Maybe it's because I spent so many years in California, where everywhere you went, from the grocery store to the mall, there were at least 10 ethnic groups represented. But that night in Dolce Vita I sat on a comfy sofa near the window and watched people stroll by. It was a warm night, unlike the arctic freeze we're shivering through now, and the doors to the bar were open. Soothing music floated out, along with the chatter of people enjoying themselves. Numerous times I watched couples and groups of white folks walk by, slowing as they looked inside, drawn by the music and the laughter ... then, when they saw it was a crowd of well-dressed black people, continued walking. On a few occasions groups would stop and discuss it among themselves, and on some of their faces I saw curiosity and yearning, and I would silently send the message, "just walk in and have a drink. What could it hurt?" But none did. One white guy walked in and stayed, but by the way he perused the wine shelves and hung out at the bar, he obviously felt comfortable because he was a regular.

I know I sound like Rodney King here, but really, can't we all just get along? I don't think I'm being naive here. If you like the vibe of a place, why not check it out? (And before you come out with something like, "you're not from the South, so you wouldn't understand," let me add that before I went to California I spent my entire life in the South -- born and raised in Alabama.) Anyway, I had a good time, and I told the main organizer to e-mail me when they have another event.

I look back over what I've written here, and I see there's two points I'm trying to make, yet I might not be clear. So how 'bout this?

1) There are people in town (and these guys aren't the only ones) trying to provide an alternative to the young club scene for black people.

2) Just because the focus is black people, that doesn't mean everyone else is excluded. If you pass a place and it looks fun, why not go in?

Friday, April 06, 2007

A sex symbol who hated sex?

Deirdre: Interesting note in Anna Nicole Smith's diary: "I hate for men to want sex all the time. I hate sex anyway ..."
Alisha: I find it hard to believe Anna Nicole hated sex.
Deirdre: Really? I don't.
Alisha: Yeah, because you don't have affairs just to discuss the latest cover of People magazine. She had lots of men, some even married. You don't cross that line if you don't like sex.
Deirdre: You do if you equate sex with love, even though you hate the act itself.
Alisha: I think it's all a farce, and that was probably a big word and concept for Anna Nicole to understand. She didn't hate the act of making love to someone -- what she likely hated was how she felt in her loose ways or how others judged her because of it.
Deirdre: I disagree completely. I doubt if she knew what "making love" was. I believe she suffered what many women suffer from: extremely low self-esteem. And that carried over into the bedroom. Sure, men wanted her -- thousands upon thousands of men wanted her -- but could she fulfill their fantasies? She probably looked in the mirror, and where we would see a gorgeous body, she only saw the flaws.
Alisha: I have no doubts about someone's low self-esteem contributing to his or her clouded decision-making, however, I find it extremely hard to believe a woman is going to bed X amount of men and not somewhat enjoy the act.
Deirdre: Girl, porn stars do it all the time. And beauty can be a double-edged sword. In her case, she was all about looking beautiful for men. That was her bread and butter and rent money. Sex was probably part of the package in most cases. If she felt like it was something she HAD to do, not something she wanted to do, of course she wouldn't enjoy it. Also, if that's all men wanted when they were around her, it would get old pretty fast.
Alisha: I guess I liken it to, if you hate to cook, you're not gonna go out and enroll at Johnson & Wales. If Anna hated sex, she's not going to seek out men who are married.
Deirdre: Can you say "sugar daddy"?
Alisha: She had to have found aspects of sex exciting in order to continually do it, otherwise she would have just been arm candy. Again, married men aren't into arm candy.
Deirdre: Of COURSE they are!
Alisha: But JUST arm candy? Arm only?
Deirdre: Heh. Maybe not.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Should we keep exes in our lives?

Alisha: I have a girlfriend who makes a point to stay in touch, even though she's married, with her ex-boyfriends. She thinks it's important to be friends still.
Deirdre: WHY?!
Alisha: Because they shared portions of her life and they meant something special to her. ... I can see her points. I'd like to stay in touch with one of my exes but he prefers not to have anything to do with me because it's "too hard" for him.
Deirdre: Girl, there are men in my past that I wish would just fall off the planet. But I have to say, while I wish most of my exes the best in life, I really don't want to have a relationship with them.
Alisha: You can never have too many friends in this world. And there are so many varying levels of friends, that there's got to be a place for exes in there.
Deirdre: Tell me this: Does your friend's husband have a problem with his wife still calling and e-mailing old boyfriends? 'Cause I gotta tell ya, she could be mistaken for keeping backups in case the man she has doesn't work out.
Alisha: As far as I know ... the husband knows and has met all the exes, and he's totally cool with it. They're secure in their relationship. It's all about not letting go of the person as a friend, and leaving the person as a lover in the past.
Deirdre: I can't say I agree with your friend's decision. While I admire her ability to end her intimate relationships on sanguine enough terms to still be friends, I question the need to keep all those men in her life. And I wonder what effect the presence of her emotional past will have on her marriage.
Alisha: I think it just comes down to some people can delineate friendships from sexual relationships of old. If her and her husband is OK with it, then, what's the bid deal?
Deirdre: It's not the sex that worries me. It's the emotional connections.
Alisha: Why? With every person we befriend, we're going to establish some type of connection, even on the platonic level. Why can't two people understand and accept the way things are?
Deirdre: Lish, it's always fun to talk to you, because at some point I usually wind up saying this: You're being logical. When it comes to matters of the heart, logic often takes a back seat. I think most of us know the right thing to do, the logical thing to do. But you can't control how you feel.
Alisha: That's my point, though. If person A is married and she wants to be friends -- and friends only -- with her exes, then, what's the issue? She's controlling how she feels by saying, they're just friends.
Deirdre: I can understand wanting to remain on good terms with an ex. But once it's over, I think it might be best to leave the past in the past. Am I saying ignore that person if you pass them on the street? No. But making a point to keep in touch with someone because you once had a romantic thing with them is not the answer. Your friend wants to keep these men in her life because they meant something special to her. MEANT. It's like there's a part of her that will always be looking backwards, not ahead.
Alisha: What's that saying, "Those who forget the past are destined to repeat it." ... Totally dropping your exes just because they're labeled as an ex is disrespectful to him or her as a person. Now, if things ended on bad terms - for either person - that's a different story.
Deirdre: You make some excellent points. But I say you can learn from your past without keeping it in your present. And you and your partner can agree you don't belong together and amicably go your separate ways. Do I think exes can remain friends? Sure. I guess the point I want to make is, question motives. Why do you really want to keep this person in your life? And why do they want to stay? A little introspection can save a lot of wounded feelings.
Alisha: The key is to be honest with yourself, your significant other and your exes. If you are, and you communicate those feelings then there's nothing wrong with keeping exes as friends.