The Watched Pot.

Never boils.

Specifically: A watched pot never boils. Time moves slowly when you’re waiting or potboiling watching for something to happen. I’ve been thinking about those words this week, specifically because my mother said them to me on the phone. During our conversation a few days ago, I hinted at one of the major Worries for a Singleton, which is #1,089,556 on the list: hesitating about making a major life decision because you wonder if something or, rather someone, waits for you around the corner. (And a part of you wants to wait to make that major life decision until you’re 1 of 2.) Her response: “Oh, Adjoa, don’t worry about those things. A watched pot never boils. I don’t want those thoughts to consume you. It’s easier said than done, I know, but don’t overthink it.” I let her words marinate before replying that I wasn’t necessarily obsessing, but merely thinking aloud.

My initial, knee-jerk reaction? 1. Pure irritation. Couldn’t I just express myself without the assumption that I was engaging in overthinking? Couldn’t I just say I was thinking about the future and what will be without being reminded of a slowly boiling pot? My next reaction: 2I’m never not going to think about my future and whether I’ll share it with someone. It’s always going to be a thought. It pays rent, that thought. It shares a room in my brain and it ain’t going away. Next reaction: 3. Grateful for the acknowledgement that it’s all easier said than done. As I get older and those desires to have my own family grow, it’s certainly harder to just be carefree and let it go and don’t think about it and la la la. It just is. Final reaction: 4She’s right, don’t overthink it. And as much as I have a Master’s Degree in Overthinking, my mother was absolutely correct in knowing that I do overthink, I do over-worry, I do over-consume in endless ruminations about life and the future and love and all that. And she, my biggest fan and cheerleader, didn’t want me to drive myself crazy.

Y’all. It’s hard wrapping your brain around needing something and going through life not seeing that thing manifest itself. It’s just hard. No amount of well-meaning advice…

  • Don’t think about it!
  • Are you even ready? It’s really hard!
  • Are you putting it out there?
  • Just move on!

…will remove the fact that in life, when we need something and we’re not seeing it, it’s just difficult to la la la and keep calm and carry on. Overthinking will happen. Mental over-consumption will happen. Emotional merry-go-rounds will occur. But it’s important to extract what you need–the acknowledgement of things being easier said than done, for example, or the reminder that people who love you don’t want you to stress yourself out–and try, very hard, to keep it moving. It doesn’t mean you stop thinking or praying or wondering, but it means you fight (fight hard) to not be consumed.

So the pot is there and I take comfort in knowing that it will boil. Until then, I’ll be peeking in the kitchen every now and again.

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there, there, my little cabbage.

four brown straw hats display
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

I’ve never actually believed in retail therapy. If you’re not into shopping anyway (hello, me), the idea of massaging a bad day or a sad mood by walking around a store or even engaging in window shopping wouldn’t be the first thing on the list. But the comedy of life is that retail therapy is almost always what I do when I need to massage a bad day or sad mood. (Barring a hunkering down in my apartment with a week’s worth of carbs.) I drive right to the store, park, grab a cart, and traverse the aisles moodily until I either leave with nothing or buy something I don’t really need. And that was me yesterday.

Yesterday, I was sad and blue and glum and humdrum and needed to do something. Something. Whatever that something was, it translated into leaving work and driving to my favorite Ross, where I parked, grabbed a cart, and traversed the aisles moodily, looking for things I didn’t need. In the shoe aisle, I tried on a bunch of shoes, of which neither ended up in my cart. I ventured over to the accessories, where I touched a lot of scarves and pulled them off the rack to examine them for whatever one looks for when you’re scarf shopping. One scarf ended up in my cart. I then sauntered over to the hats. I tried a few on (see above), which was interesting in light of the faux locs (I have faux locs! More in another post) on my head, but there was one hat that incited a high level of like and also, more importantly, fit over the locs. Perhaps because the color matched my mood?

ross3

It ended up in my cart, as well. So did a pair of pants. The End.

I didn’t analyze my sadness and blue too deeply though. Mostly because 1) winter; 2) Monday; 3) single. You know what I mean by #3. The grays of this seasons and its accompanying doldrums seem to be heightened when one is going through it by their lonesome. And although, to repeat, this is a year-round desire, the fall/end of the year finds it all very pronounced. It comes and goes and it is what it is. I’ve long given myself permission to call a thing a thing (praise Queen Iyanla) and feel exactly what I feel. And I felt it all yesterday. It’s interesting how the mind finds a way, any way, to cope.

Nevertheless: here’s to distractions by way of hats and scarves, and other such things. Onwards…

self care

Blogtober #5: The Autumn Boyfriend

Y’all know I’m a singleton, right? If you didn’t know: I’m a singleton. I enjoy my singleton life immensely, but yeah, full disclosure:  I also want that demographic to change.smile And I have to tell you, dear reader, that the desire to change my singleton status becomes even more heightened when autumn settles over the atmosphere.

Is it the image of walking down a leaf-strewn path with my hand inside another’s? 

Gazing up at an orange moon and marveling about its wonder to someone else and not just to myself?

The general electricity in the air that seems to call out for change?

Years ago, I mentioned this to my bestie, that I seem to crave the presence of another even more during the fall. “I get it,” she said. “There’s just something in the air that makes a lot of folks feel that way.” autumn2

Is it the prospect of dressing up in my burnt orange and boots for a non-solo dinner or movie outing?

Leaving the mark of my fall-inspired chocolate and/or burgundy lip color on another’s cheek?

Cuddling?

You’d think that a season where nature dies beautifully and bursting with color wouldn’t necessarily call for the welcoming of love. Or perhaps that’s it exactly. It is the fall of the year, after all. Nature’s last hurrah as it prepares for the unremitting winter to come. Maybe I want to fall in love in fall to prepare for the inevitable chill on its way; the darkening, cold, hushed days that, sometimes, can be unbearable when you’re alone.

#realtalk: It’s a year-round desire. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t entertain the idea of a seasonal love and then moving on when summer wakes up. But there’s just something about love and this time time of year.

C’est la vie en automne, I suppose. Happy Friday, onwards, and bon weekend…

because I’m petty.

No other way to say it.

I just am.

Anywho, I wrote this brief essay/diatribe. Happy Tuesday.

 

Miss Petty Boots 2016

You don’t recognize me, do you? You’re doing that I’m trying to place that face squint with the head tilt to the side, as if the re-positioning of your head and narrowing of your eyes will somehow ignite the memory corner of your brain. Don’t sweat it. I know exactly who you are.

What was it: about three years ago?

We all have preferences and you exercised your preferential right not to be attracted to me. So you told our Yenta that you’d rather not and I said all right and we all moved on with our lives.

But who is this woman standing a few feet away from me? The face is somewhat familiar, but…the woman from three years ago was a bit…chubbier? The face was a bit fuller? The physique a bit more zaftig? (Let’s be real; you’d never use that word.) But this woman is really svelte. The face: thinner. But I know that face, don’t I? But this woman is different. I can’t stop pretending not to stare at her. Hope she doesn’t notice.

Oh, I notice. I see you pretending.

I’m going to be Miss Petty Boots 2016 for a second: it’s because I’m hotter than you remember. I worked on my health and my fitness, and one of the pay-offs is a leaner version of the confident woman you preferentially chose to not pursue three years ago. Back then, sure, I was low-key excited at the suggestion from our Yenta that she could introduce us. After all, you smiled at me, so… (what it took back then for me to be intrigued by a fellow: a smile. *Le sigh.) And yes, my active imagination plotted our entire courtship from initial meeting to wedding day. So when our Yenta informed me shortly thereafter that you weren’t interested, it was disappointing. Not hurling myself dramatically off a nearby bridge disappointing, but disappointing nonetheless. But I moved on. You moved on. And now here we are. Don’t worry, though. I’m only Miss Petty Boots in print. I’m not the kind of woman that will saunter up to you and publicly remind you of the past.

I’m the kind of woman that will continue her conversation with her friends and peripherally remain aware of your fixed regard and leave it all there. (Still about 75% petty boots, though.)whitpetty

*A smile may be lovely, but it’s just rows of meaningless teeth. Be prepared to impress me. 

So keep narrowing your eyes and tilting your head.

Maybe you’ll figure it out.

Tips.

As a singleton, invariably, 1) I’m offered someone’s murderous son/nephew/cousin/friend/random guy on the street as a potential marriage partner, and 2) I receive plenty of tips and advice about my future marriage. Here are a few of my favorites, along with a bit of commentary.

A good marriage consists of two forgivers. I’ve heard this more than once, and I like it. To me, it means that I can forgive him for forgetting that I occupy our home when a game is on and he can forgive me for reacting…melodramatically. (Think screaming “you obviously don’t love me” from our upstairs balcony.) marriagetip

Marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s 100/100. Another good one. I may be functioning at a third-grade level when it comes to Math and numbers, but this is clear: he will 100 percent buy me pretty presents and I will 100 percent love him for it.

The first year is the hardest; it can make you or break youMy mother said this to me. I believe her. I mean, yes, I imagined Idris and I just swimming in sunshine and roses that first year, but I don’t doubt that there will be some growing pains: what to name our yacht, pestering him to leave the outgoing message on my cell phone, reminding him about our weekly galas in the city (he can be so forgetful)…

Never go to bed angryTrue. But what about infuriated, incensed, and/or enraged?

All humor intended.

Happy Wednesday.

I’d Like to Marry for Money, Please.

Got your attention, huh?

When I was a teenager, I was like most young girls. I read Tiger Beat and BOP magazine TigerBeat BOP magazineand dreamed about Jonathan Brandis and New Kids on the Block and other movie/TV/music stars. Cute was everything. Whenever I imagined being married in the future–well, quite honestly, I didn’t want a husband; I wanted to be Angela Bower, work in advertising, have a home in Connecticut and a penthouse in NYC, and have a fancy, pretty boyfriend who worked in fields like I didn’t quite understand, like venture capitalism or investment banking or stocks and bonds. And moonlighted as a singer or poet. It was light and fluffy, as dreams should be.

How things change. Being in my mid-30s. Living an adult life with bills and responsibilities and choices. Now, when I think of marriage and the future, the first thing that comes to mind is the dollar bill. (Or the pound, or the euro, etc. Look, I’m an international gal. Anyway…)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those women that needs six figures in my life. I don’t care if my future husband is an accountant or a plumber. But I’ve got bills, ya’ll. And bills will come after we marry. As such, I need someone who will nicely fuse his paycheck with mine and make them eventually go away. Is that bad? Am I being superficial and money-hungry? I don’t think so. I’ve taken care of myself financially since I was in my early 20s. Dealing with finances won’t go away, but the idea of two people backing each other up financially is far more attractive to me than a cute face. Hey, physical attraction is important. Life would be extra, uh, interesting if the guy you’re sharing your life with looks like a resident of the Black Lagoon (or we look like that to each other). In the end, however, I just don’t have those particular stars in my eyes anymore. Share my faith, undoubtedly; love me, oh, yes; make the butterflies jump and dance in my belly, absolutely; be able to support our family financially, yes, yes, yes. And yes.

When people tell me about “available” menfolk in their lives and how they’d like to introduce me to them, the first thing I think about is whether they’re employed. This is a far cry from my 20s, when I was far more concerned with the way one guy’s hair seemed to curl so beautifully in the front or the dimple in that other’s one cheek or… You get my drift. Times and what I consider important have changed. Some say that when a woman meets a man, she looks past the moment and into the future at what their lives will be like. I agree with this because I do it. While I believe men largely stay in the present, women look ahead at what you will be, what we will be, and whether we’ll be living with your parents.

From time to time, I think back to those days of afternoons on the sofa in our basement, surrounded by my glossy teen magazines and reading them like they were historical tomes. That girl was not thinking about 401Ks and renting vs. buying and how that pesky school loan will never go away unless we donate our first child to the Department of Education. This woman is, though. Just saying.

The Unmarried African Woman. (shudder)

Some of you know this woman. She’s your sister, your friend, your fellow cubicle dweller who insists on playing 70s soft rock on her Pandora station, your daughter, your cousin. Some of you don’t believe that the fact that she’s an Unmarried African Woman (UAM) needs to be capitalized, or even an issue. And if that’s you, then you’re surely not African.

(I’m aware that other cultures may experience similar discussions and silly opinions about their unmarrieds and singletons, but my vantage point is mostly African, so I’ll be commenting on my personal experience)

The truth is, this particular community doesn’t understand mid-30s and singleness. It’s not in the DNA, ya’ll. It is not. Marriage and family are the very center of lives and culture. And this isn’t a criticism, by any means. I’ve come to a place where I can look at everything with humorized (not a word) irritation. Sometimes, it’s just pure humor and downright laughter. Anyway. This is generally what I hear as a UAM. Get ready…

  1. Is Your Daughter Waiting for a White Man? This is an interesting question, huh? My mother was asked this question by a family acquaintance about yours truly. (The question in its entirety was, “Is your daughter waiting for a white man? Is that why she’s not married yet?”) Stunned by his question, she very succinctly informed him that her daughter was waiting for the right individual for her, and she wasn’t about to just marry anyone, white, black, or green. Go Mama, huh? When she’s not suggesting I marry someone who just needs to be “polished” (more on that later), she’s definitely on Team Square Peg. Anyway, I suppose he took in the fact that I’m your atypical African woman (read: Americanized, which is a completely subjective term), raised in the suburbs and speaking with her accentless Valley Girl twang, and assumed that I’m waiting for my white knight. Who knows? Who cares?
  2. I know the PERFECT Man for You. No, you don’t. You don’t know me. We’ve spoken two times. Literally. Let that one die.
  3. He Just Needs a Little Polishing. I get that one quite a bit. The future man in question apparently just needs a little varnish provided by me and my lurve, and he should be fine. It doesn’t matter that he’s typically seen talking to himself in a corner somewhere, or laughing at a private joke that only he and the invisible person next to him have shared with each other. Hey, I get that in a relationship, both will be enhancing one another here and there. I embrace it. But that’s a lot of polishing, ya’ll. He (they) needs medication. Not me and my varnish.
  4. So, Is Attraction Important to You? Nope. As a UAM, I definitely want to meet a man who looks like the creature from the black lagoon. No big deal. After all, I’m only getting older, right? And who wants to be vain and superficial? Bring it him on. (But don’t, ok? Don’t do any of that.)
  5. Perhaps Your Standards Are too High. Soooo, we have standards for the car we want to buy, for the pizza we want to eat. And don’t tell me you don’t get hot if they add anchovies when you asked them not to. This is forever. I have standards. Hopefully, so does he.
  6. Honorable Mentions. Don’t marry a short man (Mama), and don’t marry a man with a big head (also Mama). Those are my personal favorites. The reasoning behind these caveats are usually followed by curious African anecdotes that I never fully understand. But I love hearing them.

I’ve no doubt that some of these interesting comments cross cultural lines, but there’s just something about a crotchety African woman telling you that you need to stop being so picky. Kinda feels like home.

Can’t imagine what I’ll hear when I become a MAW (Married African Woman). Sheesh.