Friday, August 30, 2013

4 Men & A Lady....My Experience as a JOURNALIST

Have you ever had a moment where you met someone and realize that you want them in your life, regardless of their position?  Man, I have experienced that 4 times over in the last two months…I was allotted opportunities to meet some amazing guys due to a magazine project.  When I took on the assignment of finding “Young & Successful Men” from Arkansas, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Out of the 4 guys, I knew Clinton and Brandon on a personal level; I knew Niguel & Epiphany through FB.  Each guy seemed to possess qualities and features that stood out from most.   Through the span of 2 weeks, I was able to create bonds with each guy, and their respective mates. I reached out to each guy and their responses were: YES!!!   Let me take you through my personal journey as I ventured out to complete one of the most DYNAMIC assignments yet.

Niguel & Kristen Valley
My first interview was with Niguel and his lovely wife, Kristen.  I had known Niguel for quite a while, but only through Facebook (FB).   He and I would talk about him finding the love that would “stand until the end of time”.  When I found out that Niguel was marrying someone, I got super excited for him.  He was one of those cats that you knew represents “great” men everywhere, so you can’t do anything but become their personal cheerleader.  During our interview, Niguel admitted to me that he had never been interviewed before.  I took this opportunity to channel my “inner Oprah” and try to make them feel comfortable.  I would hate to leave a sour taste about interviews in their mouth. WAIT. Can I just say that they are a GORGEOUS couple in person???  The chemistry and internal passion between them was HAWT!  I couldn’t stop smiling because I fell in love with love all over again. RESUME.   Here’s the thing about interviewing a photographer like Niguel….HE conducted a photo shoot during the interview; I loved each moment of it.  A typical interview might last for about 30 to 45 minutes; however, ours lasted over an hour.  When I walked out of Starbucks that afternoon, I knew this project would become a memorable one.

Lesson Learned from The Valleys:
Trust that LOVE will carry you through the ups & downs.

Brandon & Britta Watson
The second interview was as smooth as the guy I interviewed…I call him “B”.  I’ve known B for almost 5 years and I am still in awe by the transformations in his life.  B & Britta had just gotten married about 3 or 4 weeks before the interview, so I couldn’t wait to hear about the honeymoon.  As I was seated at another Starbucks (I guess you can tell that I LOVE interviews at Starbucks…it’s like Oprah and her Season 25 runway entrance; it just makes sense), I noticed that B was alone.  He informed me that Britta had just gotten off work and was prepping for another engagement, but she did her question assignment for me.  I hated that I didn’t get to meet her, especially when I found out that she was a “K” (Skee-Wee Soror).  B and I waste no time discussing his journey to become his current status…a self-made, young black entrepreneur.  I actually learned so much about B that I didn’t know; a clothing/fashion line, how long he’s known Britta, etc. WAIT.  I have always referenced B as a “mini HOV” due to their unique fashion sense.  He told me that he was one of his inspirations, which isn’t too hard to believe.  Now, does this mean that B might start a rap career?????  RESUME.  We reminisce about our days in Cancer Control (CCOC) together and how those times are basically a distant memory.  It was a bittersweet moment, realizing that I might not talk to B as often after this interview…we don’t run in the same circle, but there’s always FB! J  One of the funniest moments during our interview was at the end…B didn’t realize that he was taped.
Him: You should start recording these.
Me: I did
Him: (laughing) WHAT?  When did you do that?  I thought you were reading your magazine when I walked in.
Me: I closed it out and went straight to the RECORD button. Too funny…
Him: You got me good Tina!

Lesson Learned from B:
Decide that the best place to go is UP.

Clinton McDonald (Bubba) & Alicia Jackson (LeLe)
Here was my third interview and I must say, it was quite different for me.  Two elements were different: I didn’t conduct the interview at Starbucks AND there was another person sitting in on the interview.  When I contacted Bubba to be a part of this issue, he didn’t hesitate.  I’m not sure if our friendship of 20+ years had anything to do with it, but I was excited to interview him.  He is the NFL player that most people didn’t hear about…the one that helps feed the homeless, visits children hospitals during Christmas (dressed as Santa Claus), and gives words of wisdom to at-risk youth.  He doesn’t really like too much limelight to be on him, so I was shocked when he agreed to sit down with me.  His girlfriend, who happens to be my 1st cousin, was willing to do her part in the interview, so it was beginning to mesh together.  We decided to meet the night before Bubba’s first football camp back in our old “stomping grounds”.  One of the trainers for the camp would be my homie, Michael Johnson (NFL Bengal #93); I had met Mike when I went to visit Bubba in Cincinnati back in 2010.  I hadn’t seen Mike in about 3 years, so I was looking forward to having dinner and drinks with him, along with completing the interview.  Well, I received the crushing news, an hour before, that Mike’s plane was still on the runway in ATL and he wouldn’t make it.  Bubba just said that his trainer would be joining us…. WAIT.  Have you EVER had that moment when you see/meet someone for the first time and you are taken back by how handsome/beautiful they are?  I can’t say that I had, until the moment I met Abraham, aka “Memphis”(Bubba’s trainer).  His skin was a smooth cocoa complexion, with a white smile that would put Crest, Colgate, and Rembrandt to shame!  I needed a distraction for this interview, but I didn’t know that God would have sent it in this form….Okay, let me get back to the subject at hand; THANK YOU GOD FOR THAT DAY. RESUME.   The four of us ate at a chic sushi restaurant in Little Rock; the food was pleasant and the interview went just like I expected.   Most of Bubba’s answers were things I already knew.  I just wanted to get it out on paper so that others could experience the guy I knew.  The evening ended with sushi to go, a few laughs, and two backward glances from Memphis & I.  In the words of Elle Varner, “Oh What A Night…”

Lesson Learned from Bubba, LeLe, & Abraham:
The FOUNDATION of my dreams can become the BLUEPRINT of my life.

Ephipany (Big Piph or SM)
I have to admit, I was happy that Piph (as most people call him, but I love to call him by his first nameJ) was my 4th and final interview.  I didn’t really know him that well, only through FB acknowledgements.  When my editor, Jas, told me that she wanted to feature Piph, I was a bit taken back.  In my mind, I knew that I wanted to feature my cousin and his best friend; they were known through Little Rock and surrounding states, but God had other plans.  Once before, I sent an email to Piph through FB and never got a response back from him….and I can’t really say that this time was different.  Wait, let me take that back….he sent me a message, only because Jas had contacted him first.  I couldn’t quite understand why it took her to spark his interest, but I knew there had to be a reason.  I will admit that my first judgment/thought of him was:  A dude that wore kufi’s, eating bean pies, while holding a fist in the air.  Okay, don’t judge me…I knew that he was a Stanford University graduate, but I wasn’t sure how down to earth he would really be.  I didn’t want to have a full conversation with someone that had a “stick up his butt”.  Needless to say, he was the TOTAL OPPOSITE!  When he walked up on me at (yes, you guessed it!!!) Starbucks, I was amazed at how calm his demeanor was and how gorgeous he was in person.  WAIT.  Ladies, this guy is HAWT!  Let me also add that he is most definitely “Crazy, Sexy, Cool”.  He’s like a guy that you could deem as “one of the fellas”, but you wouldn’t mind having him as a Saturday night date.  He was friendly, courteous, and well educated.   There were moments that he asked me questions, but I was staring into his eyes(fully lost in them…they are a hazel mixture, by the way) and didn’t understand the question….LOL!  Trust me, it was an experience that I won’t forget. RESUME.  We discussed his family background (they are literally the modern day Huxtable’s), the world’s struggle with his outer appearance as a teen (notice that I didn’t say HIS struggle…he seemed to gain so much confidence behind it), and his current stages of life.  I walked away from our conversation very empowered; it wasn’t like “I am Lion, Hear me Roar”, but more of “I am Tina, I Have a Voice & Vision” moment.  Our evening ended with me guessing his car in the parking lot….and let’s just say, I GUESSED RIGHT!  If you were to ask him, he would say that it wasn’t a fair game….however, I disagree!!!

Lesson Learned from Piph:
Keep an equilibrium lifestyle.

So, there you have it…a simple magazine project that turned into an experience of a lifetime.  I have a few friends that don me as the “young Oprah” (hoping God will speak that into my life), but I simply love what I do.  I didn’t imagine meeting each guy and being able to take away much; little did I know what was actually in store for me.  In my life thus far, I have met some phenomenal people and it will only get better from here.  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This is ONE for the "HE"story Blogs....

I assumed that heartbreaks get easier as each one come, but I was wrong; it seems like they get harder to get over.  Well, maybe I should say that they get easier to “mask”, yet harder to “get past”.  I am starting to believe that my own personal mind has gotten me into this crazy thing called “heartache & pain”.  You want to know the funny part:  He and I weren’t in an official relationship!!!!  WAIT.  Now, I know what you might be thinking….how can you have ALL of these emotions for someone that you weren’t in a committed relationship with?  Trust me, I have asked myself the SAME question, but there still is no “right or wrong” answer.  The heart can trick itself into believing that something is there, even when the mind says otherwise.  Maybe I shouldn’t even write this, but who am I kidding???  My blog life has been transparent from the beginning, so why stop now?  RESUME.  So, there was no committed relationship, but I felt like we were committed friends.  On the outside looking in, most people who didn’t know us thought we were a couple.  Everything about us screamed “Confident Couple”; from our positive energy to our heartfelt jokes, we just seemed to “click”.  With him, I learned that intimacy was far different from what society had labeled it to be.  My heart kept telling me to ask for more moments like such, while my mind reminded me that these moments wouldn’t last forever. 

I have always received wise advice from those around me, but the one that confused me this time around was: Go by what a guy does to & for you, not by his words!!!  Normally, this would mean that I should focus on if his words and actions were a match; however, this backfired in my face.  This time, I should have just gone with exactly his words and nothing more.  It was an occasion where I wouldn’t have misunderstood his word choices or mistaken them to mean something else.  For an outsider, they were crystal clear; even though the actions made me feel “mushy” on the inside, I would later find out that his words and their meanings would do the complete opposite. WAIT. Was this the guy that I constantly talked about?  Someone that I had shared my hopes and dreams with?  Invited him to family functions and events?  Attended two of his company Christmas parties with him?  Met plenty of his surrounding family and friends?  Shared drinks out of the same glass and food off of the same utensil?  Leaned on each other through difficult times?  Allowed him to play in my hair, all while renaming it as “curly fries”?  To answer my questions, YES this was the SAME guy… RESUME.   Like any other moment that made an impact on my life, I have replayed its entirety in my mind, wondering if I could have predicted it.  For the most part, my mind knew how it would play out 16 months ago, but my foolish heart continued with the illusion.  While sitting at the gas station, getting ready to pump gas, I received the final “blow to the chest”…it was the phone call that resulted in this book chapter/blog post.  For the second time in life, I witnessed my own “out of body” phenomenon.  I watched my entire being go into shock, unable to grasp his words.   He had found what he dreamed of and was leaving to pursue her; nonetheless, he was what (or so I thought) I dreamed of, so he couldn’t leave ,right?  WRONG!  He could and HE DID!  Those next few hours after the shock wore off became key factors in how well I “masked” the emotions.  Once again, I didn’t face reality; I threw myself into my work, personal projects, and life, hoping to forget.  The funny thing is when time seems to stand still for you, whatever the situation, you NEVER forget the feeling.

I have been proud of myself over the past 2 months; I have begun to dissect where I went wrong with the friendship.  I decided long ago to never place blame on anyone in a friendship/relationship; however, I try to figure out what I did (if anything) to play a part in the wrecking of the ‘ship.  I’ve turned my focus back on the things that are most important in my life: God, Family, Friends, and mostly Myself.  I look at those around me and I get excited for all that are entering marriages, producing babies, finding real love, or simply getting ‘Carrie’d away… WAIT.  So, here’s the thing with being ‘Carrie’d’ away; my Boo/LS put me on to “Sex and the City”.  I watched, like so many others,  how Carrie Bradshaw went through loops and turns with mr. Big & the emotional rollercoaster of dating.  She finally got the man, mr. Big, and the fairy tale ending.  Well, I have a LC Sister/Friend/Classmate who found her “mr. Big” and I get super geeked when I see her mention their relationship.  Just like mr. Big, he doesn’t seem flashy.  He  loves & adores his “Carrie”(trust me, it’s written on her face J).  Their relationship, like many others, helps me to really believe in love all over again.  I’ve never really told her but I admire her for taking a risk at love and going against what others might think.  No, I’m not talking in a negative way; her relationship with her “mr. Big” happens to be a LDR.  It seems like they push past society’s comments and standards and make the world their own.  For that kind of love, commitment, and dedication, I salute them….Now, if I could just meet my Dwayne Wayne, Lucky, or even Darius….BLACK LOVE. RESUME.  I will admit, this experience seems like déjà vu but I know that it will somehow strengthen me.  He has now become a distant memory (who am I kidding…it’s still less than 3 months, so it’s fresh.  Distant memory my butt!!! UGH! ) and moving past this could prevent a challenge, but guess what?  I’m most definitely up for this challenge.  To grow from this, I have to remind myself of these keys things:

  1. 1.       Everyone isn’t for everybody.  There will be times when all things align in a friendship and things just don’t work out.  Life goes on and you learn to accept things as they are.
  2. 2.       Learn to use the term “best friend” in the right context.  The level of “best friends” between males and females are slightly different.  I have many girlfriends that I consider my “sisters” or “best friends”.  My list for male best friends used to consist of 5 or so and now the list has been dropped to 1, my brother G.  I realized that I didn’t pick the right type of male best friends, or I might have used that term too loosely.  From now on, I will say I have male friends, but G will be the only one that has “best” in the front…until I am sent my mate, of course! ;)
  3. 3.       Turn your anger, hurt, and/or pain into something else.  I’ve decided to channel mine into a healthy lifestyle and writing.  I’m able to release the negative thoughts, while gaining a positive outlook on life.  I want to become more devoted to my girl’s group, the g.i.r.l.s @ the Rock, and my personal book project.  I want to grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  I want to become a better person, without regretting any mistakes or flaws.  I might have a broken friendship with him, but I won’t be broken because of it.
  4. 4.       Take it one day at a time.  I know you hear that a lot, but it has real value to it.  I have never seen anything heal over night, so don’t expect something like this too.  God will heal all wounds, internal and external, so rest in His hands.  Each day will become a new experience, something that we can all look forward to.
  5. 5.       Never lose sight of who you are during this process.  Learn from everything and move forward.  You aren’t a horrible person because things didn’t work out.  You just have to readjust and regroup for the future. 

So, there you have it…The end of my friendship with him!  You never go into a friendship with the hopes that things will end.  You try to have a clear mind about the nature of that relationship, always making room for growth.  The dilemma can sometimes be that we end up growing faster than the development of the friendship.  I’ve heard someone say that sometimes you won’t take some friends into the next cycle of life (20s to 30s, 30s to 40s, get the picture);  I guess he was one of them.  I wish him nothing but the best in life.  I always say that when God removes a guy from your life, He is doing one of two things; He’s either telling you it isn’t time or showing you what you DON’T’ need.

this creole guillory will allow God to become my Ultimate Matchmaker….I obviously suck at it!  UGH!!!  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Living in a Cosby Show World with Bud

I have been throwing a lot of topics in the air about what I wanted to catch you guys up on…I thought about discussing the excitement of my fellow Lane College classmate and friend, Jacoby Jones (if you didn’t know, he has made AMAZING records this NFL season), or even my writing adventures (I am realizing my dreams each day…writing just feels right, you know).  Instead, I have chosen to share my thoughts about Bud & me.  WAIT. Am I really going to give a piece of info about Bud & me?  I mean, I’m not sure how this might go for me…Bud could read this and all communication cease OR Bud could read this and improve EVERYTHING…well, this creole soul will take a chance and GO FOR IT!!! RESUME.   Bud and I have been friends for quite some time now; we have turned our attention away from a “budding” (how ironic, I know…) relationship feel to strictly friendship.  

Think back to the Cosby Show, during the moments that Bud, or by his “government” Kenny, stepped into Rudy’s life. WAIT.  Can you believe that one of my “Boos” told me that she didn’t know who Bud & Rudy were?  REALLY????  *blank stare* I told her that she was losing points because Bud & Rudy were my first example of a real friendship/relationship triangle.  I couldn’t stand Stanley being in the way of their friendship; Rudy could have done so much better (and I meant with Bud).  Not only that, but Bud & Rudy happen to be an iconic couple like Darius & Nina, Lucky & Justice, Dre & Sidney, Big Mike & Alicia…let’s hope you get the picture.  She still had me puzzled that she didn’t recognize how this friendship affected my love for the Cosby Show.  RESUME.  As I sit here and ponder on the development of our friendship, I begin to wonder how much we are really like Bud & Rudy (just so you know, these are the actual names that we call each other).  From what I remember, the energy that Bud put out for Rudy was untouchable; he was always giving her advice on what his “big brother” said and how Rudy was going to someday become his “woman”.  At this point in my life, I tend to laugh and smile at the fact that Bud didn’t care who knew…he saw Rudy as his woman and nothing could stop him.  Maybe back then, he was just saying that because she probably was the only girl he knew; however, over the years, his feelings for Rudy grew into something serious.

I look at Bud & Rudy and notice how my Bud & I were that close.  We shared our dreams, fails/success, and all of the things in between.  It has always been easy to turn to Bud because I knew that he listened to my emotions and tried to act accordingly.  Here lately, I have been going through changes and our whole “Cosby” world has shifted.  We are going in the same direction, but it seems at different speeds.  On October 1, 2011, I didn’t think that I would have met a man who understood me; never imagined all of my prayers would be answered.  However, it seems that God had a different idea for Bud and me.  We have developed a great friendship that has had its own emotional story, one that I couldn’t rewrite if I wanted to.  WAIT. Does that mean that our friendship is a powerful one, one that I wouldn’t want to rewrite the story?  I mean, really, who wants to change the events of a story, especially one that is full of emotions, detail, and humor.  I know many people who dream of stories like this…even though it doesn’t end in a relationship type ending, it’s still a joyous/happy ending…Okay, let’s take a step back…Who said it was ending?  Where did that come from?  Let’s make no mistake about it; Bud and I have been in our own busy world and things have the full potential to improve, remain the same, or end on a positive note.  I can’t say, but I know which one that I would LOVE for it to be.  RESUME

Here lately, I have been listening to certain songs that either remind me of Bud & me, or matched my emotions for the past weeks.  If you ever experience anything like this, I suggest making a musical list as well.  It helps to mask a few things.  My list consisted of:
1.       It Hurts Like Hell-Aretha Franklin
2.       Wildest Dream-Brandy
3.       Think Like A Man-J. Hud
4.       Someone-SWV
5.       Jesus Will-Anita Wilson
6.       You Gotta Believe-Mary J.(Live version or Album)
7.       Excuse Me-Jazmine Sullivan
8.       Got Your Back-TI
9.       Golden Time of Day-Maze ft. Frankie Beverly
10.   In a Sentimental Mood-John Coltrane & Duke Ellington

Your list will probably differ from mine, simply because our music taste might be different…either way, this list will get you through many different moments.  Some moments will become laughable later, while others might linger for a while…regardless, music will always be therapeutic to the soul.  You know, come to think of it…it’s the one thing that Bud and I will ALWAYS share.  Had it not been for “Kiss Me”, conducted by Stu Gardner and Billy Cosby, the Cosby Show wouldn’t ring in America’s ears and “Bud & Rudy” wouldn’t have made an impact on Bud & me….

this creole guillory with soul has to remember that love& music are just another component of who i am….