2016 in Review: Highs (so few), Lows (so many), Dating Woes

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So, I have been doing much reflecting on this shit-show we call 2016. Caught in yet another discussion with someone on the plight of black women, specifically dark skinned ones, specifically dark skinned ones with African Featuers, specifically dark skinned ones with African features whose bodies are not of the main stream ideal variety and are more curvy (whether we are regular, overweight or obese).

And I breathed a heavy sigh. Maybe a year ago now, a mixed friend, one who is black and Asian made me feel pretty bad…ha ha . We weren’t friends quite yet, but I was making a comment about standards of beauty, especially as internalized by men and how that translates into how different groups of women are treated. And her response was basically to state outright that no matter how bad it was for the kind of black women I outlined above, it’s worse for her because she is mixed and fetishized for her Asian-ness. I sort of just sat there quietly: I knew then that there would be a limit to the kinds of convos we could have.

I was talking about feeling invisible, of dealing with really shitty situations and people who try to make you feel less than dirt (even if they deign to date you), I was talking about being at the bottom of the totem pole, and her reaction was basically “Well you’re lucky because I never know if people really want me for me or because of how I look”….

 

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I don’t know Kat, I really don’t know…

Honestly, the second conversation was practically triggering as I had filed this lack of empathy incident away in my “Oh well, we knew human beings lacked basic empathy.” file.  I mean, I am talking about not even being under consideration in many circles, and you are talking about being wanted by many.

When I talk about these things, I am not looking for pity. I am just looking for people to acknowledge that maybe, someone has it worse than they do, that maybe it’s a little harder for some of us than it is for others. I acknowledge my privilege all the freaking time! I know it’s there, I know I enjoy it: I work in a space where most of the poc serve the food or clean or are security guards. I was born in a hospital in country that had 5 doctors total— 4 years ago (have no idea how many there were when I was born!).

But I digress.

Yest another conversation, this time with a black man, educated one, elite educated one, elite job holder now… who was lamenting his lack of matches on social media. Because I had gotten more matches that somehow meant that things were so bad for him.

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seriously

 

This is despite the fact that the negro had 3 count em 3 girlfriends (all reasonable attractive, at least two really well educated with white collars jobs, a plethora of travel experiences… etc. etc. etc….  in the past year alone, along with FWB/DTF – type deals as well. Ugh. No. You don’t have it worse. Nowhere in the neighborhood of worse.

After listing all the awful (honest to God awful individuals I have dealt with this year, his response was “well, I had better quality” but you had better “quantity” …..

Last time I checked having five bags of garbage as compared to his one containter full of recyclables means his house is a lot neater than my own.

And no, I am not comparing people per se, I am comparing experiences. But this entry has become more like an intro. more on the horrors of the individuals I’ve interacted with this year in the next post.

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2016 In Review… Part I

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This year has had it’s ups and downs for us all. For many, 2016 can suck it.  I can’t say that I blame them. I don’t even want to think about what America will look and feel like come Jan 21, 2017. But that is for another post.

It’s coming down to the wire. This block will close in May and 10 years of doing this thing (off an on) will come to an end). For now, I am reflecting on this year as I do at the end of everyone. I’m trying really hard to count my blessings and not be too sour about what didn’t work out as planned. In doing this I am acknowledging the things that are awesome about me that I take for granted.

Writing for a lot of people is not a release. I say this as grad school application season is upon us and I have become ad-hoc admissions advisor to some. It’s real gift to be able to express oneself clearly with written words, and typos aside, I can do that. So Alhamdullilah. Writing is the way I lay my burdens down. Now, moreso in my private journal than on this public blog, but it’s all the same. I had some real frustrations in the last entry, but now, looking at it, it doesn’t feel like me.

I mean, I am completely cognizant of the fact that I felt that way, and sting and frustration of that moment has not completely left me… but writing about it helped calm me. I think I need to dedicate more time in 2017 to writing. Especially once this space closes, especially if it’s just letters to my future self.

I made the reverse switch and came back to America this year. When I started 2016 I had no idea how it was all gonna pull together. But something that I kind of just gave up on is what in the end fell into place. It’s almost as whirlwind like as when I up and moved to the UAE. Except, I am not the same person I was then, so some of the wonder if gone, as is my trust in human beings (to be real), but I embraced it all the same. Honestly a transAtlantic trip has its rough parts, as does starting a new job in a new place where you have to (try to) make friends, understand what your duties are and strategize my future plans as THE POC on your team… ha ha (I kid, but not really ;-/)

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On a happier/prouder note, I also stood up for myself a little more this year, which was very, very good. I am not sure I blogged about it, but a married man in my friend group in the UAE kissed me in public (and of course without my permission!) just feet away from people who knew the both of us and his wife. He then had the gumption to message me out of the blue and inform me that he had always had a crush on me (double eww—).

I was happy to put it plainly and succinctly that his advances were unwelcome, his “secret” crush was no secret at all and he should stop messaging me. This was a big deal because I would normally just ignore the message (much like I changed my lifestyle to avoid him at all costs during my last few months… and he took no hints!… ha ha).  It was a year where I cut off quite a few people who don’t help bring the best out of me… (and give me food for thought for doing the same to some more in 2017).

On an even happier/prouder note, my mother graduated from college this year! It’s an accomplishment I am so proud of her for taking on and finishing well. I haven’t made a post about it because it’s hard to describe/talk about. It’s awesome that she was able to do this, that she didn’t give up, that she did something a lot of folk with a lot less responsibility and baggage aren’t able to do. Three cheers for mama Gazelle!

There is still a lot to figure out in these last few days of 2016. Here’s to figuring it all out…. eventually!

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On Chumps and Men Part II

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The previous post was getting too long, so I am continuing here. Well actually, in this post I really get to the heart in what bothers me in all this. I am someone who takes time to process things and my reaction at the time was contrite, we had several super long hugs goodbye (his doing, not mine, all the while I was thinking “Please just go” ).

I think my gut knew what my head knows now…this was a load of bullshit. sigh. I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my actions, that last conversation and how in the heck I got into that situation as my weekends have been freeed up quite a bit… ha ha.

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I guess I just wanted to put some words to electronic paper. I am mad.  But not for the reasons many would assume…

There is a certain type of man out that prides himself on being a cut above the rest in terms his moral compass

I really have a problem with men like SB. They pride themselves on being “good guys” because they don’t sleep around with women…i.e. because they aren’t super sleazy like many of their own damn guy friends. They pride themselves on being honest, honorable etc. and yet, here I am. I have to ask, (and perhaps should ask SB) what about his interaction with me showcasess his honesty? His trustworthiness.

What I didn’t mention in the first post, is that a lot of little things slipped out during SB’s soliloquy: One of the main ones being that he had known since at least our second date that he was the one dragging his feet and he had known since at least our third that he didn’t want a relationship with (presumably) anyone right now. Oh and that he thanked me for having the honesty to bring our situation up because he didn’t.

But here’s the thing, I don’t fault him for not being in a place where he is ready for anything. But I do fault him for KNOWING this and continuing to interact with me as if he was. Ugh.

So there you have it, folks. “Nice guys” can be and will be assholes too. He wanted the external trappings of a relationship, but with no formalized commitment. Part of me can see how we could have gone on for several more months, messaging talking, hanging out and he would have no qualms about that. The larger part of me wonders why his honesty only showed up when he had to declare that he IS NOT my boyfriend (using caps cause it was said with emphasis).

When faced with the fact that they have in fact hurt someone, they turn to even shittier behavior like heaping on empty compliments and declaring how important your friendship is to them

This is the part that makes me very, mad. Because it’s about THEM, THEIR ego and THEIR need to hold to the idea of being good, honest people in the face of showing that they are human and are assholes just as much as the broey friend they measure themselves against. Being used emotionally can hurt just as much as being used physically.

So when Surfer Boy segued into random statements about how amazing I am, I didn’t take the bait. He can keep his shitty complements. Because it wasn’t about me (first of all, I know how wonderful I am. But people sometimes take my railings against racism and colorism to mean that I am insecure about myself looks. They take my not wanting to brag about x, y or z to mean I have low self-esteem. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I live in a world that does not value me at worst and devalues me at best. Fuck this world and this society. I know I am fucking amazing).

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This is my internalized mantra: “You are precious, it’s society that is (a piece of) shit”

So hearing him say that I am smart, beautful, blah blah was about the show he was putting on for himself.

Claiming to value my friendship is perhaps the biggest Cop-out of all and goes back to points 1 and 2

The one thing I did say to SB besides, “I don’t like gray” was that this conversation felt like de ja vu, because I was in a long, protracted gray area before, and was really sad to see that I had ended up there again. The details are different, as is my level of complicity, but those posts are not for today.

The point being, that I know this response quite well. In the last situation I took responsibility for my own complicity (mainly my stupidity) in making things go so badly and because the person was someone I had known for a long time, agreed to try to make the friendship work. (In fact, in relaying SB’s overtures of friendship I remarked to a friend, what do I want him for now? To be the white version of the bullshit I am already going through????? ha ha)

BUt again, I take issue with this because just like when they declare all of my positive attributes like they just discovered them in that moment…. claims of valuing me as human being ring hollow, to say nothing of my “friendship.”

I see it as a weak ass move to offer their conscience some reprieve: They can still feel like “good guys” because they have offered me this awesome consolation prize “Their friendship.” I am being cynical here perhaps, but I wonder if they ever really think about the scenario that they are proposing:

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This is pretty much what he said, but what it sounded like to me was more like:

“I don’t really want to acknowledge the extent to which I treated you like shit, but I am such an awesome person that you obviously want to stay in my life at any cost, so how about I have the benefit of pointing to you and saying “friend.” That way,  I don’t feel like an asshole and absolve myself of any hurt my actions may have cost. And you still get to be around my magnificence.”

I don’t doubt that they perhaps think they are being sincere, but again it rings hollow for me. A friend who won’t level with me? A friend who doesn’t respect me enough not to waste my time? I think I can do bad all by myself.

I honestly would have preferred SB to say that look like  a train ran over my face, or that I smell, or something more meaningful than dull, lifeless compliments however animated he was when he said it. It’s funny because I knew that that weekend would be our last one, (again, if you have to ask, you know the answer) but I didn’t expect to hear what Surfer Boy said. I knew something was off and this wasn’t going to continue, but I didn’t expect the bull shit that he threw my way.

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You know I am sadly perhaps most of all mad at myself

Every time I think I have it figured out, things crumble and I wonder, wtf was the point? I feel like assholes seek me out, lull me into a false sense of security and then display their  fuckery. The silver lining is that I caught this relatively soon. I lament the time wasted that I can’t get back. But that is neither here nor there.

So there you have it folks. My latest foray into the dating world. It feels good to put in words what has bothered me for a long time

 

(and yes, LJ Cul de Sac if you see some of yourself in these posts, you should… But I give credit where it’s due and you apologized— I won’t say without prodding, but it surprised me all the same that you had the moxy to do it…. but this situation for all it’s parrallels and perpendiculars is a lot different… I will leave it at that).

I feel like a used prop, and am perhaps more cynical of the whole situation than I will be in the future but it’s how I am doing now. I wonder if the contrasts in our interests and backgrounds made being around me an escape of some sort for him… you know for one day a week he didn’t have to deal with certain things. bah. It was a three month thing and now it’s over. Get over it, Gazelle, ha ha.

I’ve tried to psychoanalyze so much of this.

What I do now? Who knows. Over the past year, I have been thinking about how marriage isn’t for everyone, about how I could adopt a kid when I’m 35 if no relationship materializes by then….  By then, this blog will have been retired. It will be interesting to come back and look at this post at that time though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Chumps and Men

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Boy sees woman’s profile on a dating site, boy actually reads profile and sends a message that reflects he has. Woman is surprised as anyone who has done the online dating thing knows most of the men on these sites and apps really suck, or so many women lament. Where the story goes from here is interesting, to some perhaps, to others perhaps not.

I have an off again, on again relationship with these  dating apps as I’ve tried quite a few, some for as little as 15 minutes at a time.  Most, I have deleted and then downloaded again at times when I felt more optimistic. I preface with all this because I wary of people only looking for hook-ups, I am cautious or perhaps fear rejection.. ha ha so I never message a man first.

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It’s my prerogative, but I find this an easier way to gauge genuine interest. Most of these virtual swipes right or online convos are short-lived: There is no spark, I am not available to go for “drinks,” the conversation gets dull because he doesn’t like writing.

But it wasn’t like that with Surfer Boy (SB for short). It was a surprising breath of fresh air. I will admit I was skeptical as all get out at first; We are like night and day. He is tall super athletic (a pro surfer in a past life of all things!) and white, I am none of those things ha ha. But our messages were super long, and when we moved to Skype we still felt like we clicked, well I guess I can only speak for me, but I assume it was the same. We had started chatting when I came to the US briefly in June and interviewed where I now work. So he knew I was coming back and moving to his area, but he knew it was going to be several weeks. And yet, SB didn’t mind.  It was a weird feeling, because logically on some level I felt like we didn’t fit, and I let him know that, and downplayed the “positive signs” that our continued interactions supposedly revealed.

We kept it up with daily text conversations, 4+hr Skype calls, and definitive declarations of how great it would be when we finally meet. When we did it was great. Probably the funniest first date I’ve ever had. From then on we didn’t stop texting every day, and pretty much a day of every weekend was a SurferGazelle Day. We fit, I thought because SB was ok with taking things very slowly, we both agreed that hookup culture of today didn’t suit either of us, that it was important to get to know a person well, develop emotional attachment and intellectual connection.  And as time wore on, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, that maybe he just needed more points of connection before deciding how he felt.

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But then September rolled around, and as that month waxed on and the responsibilities of my new job did too, I really took stock of just how much of the fabric of my social life here was connected to connecting with SB.  And I ponied up the courage to clarify what exactly was going on. If after constantly communicating with someone for 3 months you are still unsure of what you want with or of them, then you’re not unsure at all. I felt like I had nothing else to show, and honestly didn’t want to waste my time on something that had many of the external trappings of a relationship: a seemingly attentive man, a proactive one who would drive an hour or so each way to see me every weekend, one who was thoughtful and encouraging and real (as I was with him).

But of course, if you have to ask, you already know the answer.

My recollection of the jumbled mess of the response he gave me is naturally jumbled. I said something short and sweet like “I like you a lot and have enjoyed spending time together, but I feel like we are in something of a gray area and wanted to check in with you and see, I dunno, what you are thinking.”

He was packing his bag to leave at the time, but to his credit seemed to take in my words and stopped what he was doing so we could have the conversation. Again, he then rambled a lot, but I can break his response into a few big chunks: 1. Acknowledgement that I am right this is gray because while I am NOT his girlfriend I am not just a friend either. 2. Further exposition on why he can’t commit to anything right now — needs to find himself and work through some issues/he is not confident he could be the kind of boyfriend to me he wants to be and doesn’t think it would be right to even make me wait till the day he is ready for a relationship 3. (empty) Praise of all my positive attributes, my honesty, kindness, beauty blah blah bblah 4. Him wanting to remain friends because he is very picky about who his  friends are and he only has a small circle of them,  and I supposedly pass the snuff test. 5. Him taking the possibility of a relationship off the table  if that means he can just be a part of my life, giving examples of how he could be useful to me.

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Yup, in the pendeja of a situation that is pretty much what I did… sigh.

My main interjection in all this was “I don’t like gray.” Because I don’t.

 

 

 

 

On What I’m Doing Now: Too much has changed

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Wow, a lot has happened in the past few, for one thing I am NO LONGER and ex-pat!

ha ha… and not a moment too soon. Ex-pat life was getting to me in ways you can’t even imagine. It’s a relief to be done with that place. I never felt home. I never felt at-ease, not completely.

My leaving was bittersweet. I haven’t been able to come into focus on a lot of things. I have grown so much over the past few years. There were some important milestones that I reached while living abroad (this time). All of that is not behind me.

But the experience took a heck of a lot out of me too. It’s like the older, wiser me, still has plenty of battle scars. I wonder what this will mean for me and life adjusting back into being an American. I’m living in the US, but in a different place than I have lived before, and trying to navigate life as the “new” girl. It was just three years ago that I was excited about moving to the UAE and giving this American life the big eff you… ha ha.

Maybe worst of all, somewhere along the way, I lost my will to write. I still can’t tell if it was because of self-sensorship, or just working full time or what. Maybe I just didn’t have anything to tell you all.

The urge to write something, to force myself to write something came today as I finally removed the last vestiges of my life there from my life here. A few FB friend deletes aside, I should be good to go in a very little while… ha ha.

So what happened?

Alhamdullilah for the past… now I look forward to the future.

 

 

She Did it!

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I am breaking my hiatus to mark the moment: Hillary Clinton is accepting her party’s nomination for presidential candidacy.

My emotions are not as strong as they were eight years ago, when Barack Obama accepted his nomination. But, I am relieved and happy and pleased for her: As a woman, as a fellow Wellesley alum (Go Blue!) and as an American. It’s about darn time. To be honest, regardless of your views on her politics or “trustworthiness” she’s smart, she’s capable, and she’s had to work twice as hard to get to this point in her career. This election is making me reflect more on my feelings redarding racism vs. sexism. Being at least a double minority gives me the dubious honor of sifting through what he purported causes for discrimination against me might be.

But I’ve grown up in a family and community where women hold up half the sky. And so, I have never questioned that women are just as good (and better) than any man. Perhaps in time that will be something to post more about.

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I don’t post political stuff (or anything anymore for that matter )… but stuff is in the oven, it’s just gonna take a little bit to get those buns perfectly golden brown before dropping some new entries.

Suffice it so say, so many changes are afoot. I am saying Alhamdullilah, for me, for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Here’s to one heck of a presidential election season.

#ImwithHer

Better Late than Never: On Indonesia and Malaysia

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I’m baaaack! from where?

Well from Indonesia and Malaysia. No, I didn’t go to the resort towns, this trip was really to see my friends from my Qatar program. It was great in a lot of ways.

I think I’ve mentioned how much I regret not doing this trip sooner, but it is what it is. Overall, it was nice to go where I really felt wanted. All three ladies appreciated my trek to see them and it was great catching up. I’m happy I also have a more positive Asia experience to add to my list now. China was weird… I have never felt so utterly different from everyone around me and clown-like (heck even on this trip a little Chinese child looked at me in horror as she pointed at me and told her mom whatever the heck she said to her… sigh… but that was in the airport. And it doesn’t really matter). Thailand as a place was great, but in retrospect the circumstances around my going and my company during that trip weren’t optimal, to say the least…. I should never have gone. sigh. First world problems, I guess.

So it was great to walk down the streets of Jakarta, alone, black woman with natural hair and no one batted an eyelid, little children didn’t run away from me down the sidewalk. Everyone minded their own business. It’s a feeling a girl could really get used to… ha ha… but in Indonesia the language barrier was real and the currency had a lot of zeros in it, so I was always getting confused… ha ha. I am so happy I had my friend to take me around and translate.

here are some pics of my experience… Food, the view from my hotel room window, the national monument as I rode by (I did see it up close, but either I or my friend are in those photos so not posting them up… nope, nope and a family with a child on a motorcycle. Ya’ll I saw babies, I mean like 6 month old kids riding motorcyles standing up and it wasn’t a thing. ha ha… but people drive a lot slower there. Oh yes, and the Cathedral. The National Mosque of Jakarta is right across the street from a catholic church (pictured below). I didn’t go inside because it was Good Friday and services were being held all day long :-/…. but it’s such a great testament to the religious tolerance in the region. I loooooooved it. (sorry no mosque photos as I am in all of them… ha ha)

 

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Malaysia was more developed, and even less people giving a shit about a black woman being there. Here I met up with my friend who is still a single lady, so the spots we hit up kind of reflected that… ha ha. (I mean don’t let your minds go too crazy, she is Muslim and wears hijab so we weren’t doing anything too out of this world… ha ha). Like Jakarta, I stayed near the city center, and it was awesome.  Food was great, the twin towers (which the UAE totally copied for their burj Khalifa and water show  ha ha), the view from the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and the outside part of the National mosque of Malaysia.

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The trips were great, but they are honestly probably the last one I will do for a while. I enjoyed my time, but I was tired out (and gained 2 kilos!)…. It’s taken me about a week to get back to normal (including weight-wise).

If I could sum it up I would probably say Indonesia is older-feeling and the social stratification was more apparent there, but it was very clean and I think I enjoyed the food there more.

Malaysia was more modern, and the racial diversity was all around us (including tons of Arabs presumably there on holiday, I have heard Arabs say they love Malaysia, but my oh my, they were not lying… there wasn’t a single day that went by that I didn’t hear tons of Arabic or see tons of Arabs) the foods were a mix of Asian cuisines: Malay, Chinese and Indian.

All in all a great experience, I would definitely go back to either place as I barely scratched the surface of what there is to see (and eat!)… ha ha. Alhamdullilah I made it this time.