Sunday, November 29, 2015

Now What Craig?

Over the past week a very dear friend of mine lost his job. He'd put lots of time and energy in school to learn how to be a great employee, and even with all that, they still found a reason to let him go.
http://action.citizen.org/t/6693/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1823


This story has happened to several of my friends at various points in their careers and lives and I find myself holding the exact same conversation with former fry cooks to former Executives... Now what?

There seems to be a social programming of sorts that tells us that every cent of our income should be tied to a work product that we generate in the service of others. What I find the most interesting is that this concept is held the highest among my friends with higher salaries. My underpaid friends tend to understand that they can't depend on just one thing. Which I find mind boggling because when you look at which one has higher stakes, you'd think that the higher the salary the more diversified their income would be. It's just not the case.

That's the first obstacle that I felt he needed to surmount in order to avoid finding himself in the same position of playing the "Please like me" game. I am a firm believer in having full command of what it is that you offer to others as a service and never find yourself in a position too bashful to do those same things for yourself. It feels like that dynamic is the most difficult for people to grasp. Especially people that grew up as the cool kids.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of growing up as a combination of an outsider and a nerd, I grew out of seeking for others to tolerate me, to working on positioning myself in a manner that causes those that would appreciate what I have to offer to come and find me. That also requires me keeping myself marketable so that when they finally do locate me, it's worth the search. In the meanwhile, I'll hustle and lean on other talents and skills. My friend on the other hand was a star athlete and is the type of person that doesn't have a lot of friends by choice.

My pep talk to him, went a little like this;

Sometimes in life, you will find that there are people that just don't like you... F#&k Them! If you know that you've been your best self, and they still aren't feeling you, don't you dare waste one single extraneous moment on trying to make them find your value. Don't subscribe to their program, create your own! There is someone looking for exactly what it is that you do or who you are, but you'll never find those people running behind the ones that hate you or even worse pay you no attention. 

I say apply this to relationships, careers, artistry, trades because it's always true. Surround yourself, at all times, with love and light. Anyone that seeks to dim either one is not worth continuing to feed with energy... so be glad when horrible people invite you to leave.

Greater is ahead.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

"I'm Black... but I'm here" (Video)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

This year I was given the task of making the secondary staple of the table, the Mac & Cheese. On my Facebook page I expressed some frustration in creating this dish because I don't have a tangible recipe. We've already discussed that dilemma. 

What I  didn't discuss is why it was so importan that I come correct on the Macaroni & Cheese.  The dish itself makes me think of my Granny (Ellen). I miss her so much, it's been a decade but I can still go to pieces about it. My mom took me to a restaurant for my birthday back in 2008 (OK Cafe in Atlanta off I-75) and their Mac was so much like Granny's, I dropped real tears at the table. 

I tasted what I made last night and it took me back to sitting in her room wishing somebody would make a way to rewind a VHS faster so I could watch The Color Purple again. 

Some of you know that I haven't watched the whole movie since she died,  but I woke up thinking about what I'm grateful for and the scene below came to mind. There's nothing that you can't escape,  nothing you can't overcome and it's never too late to start a brand new life.

I'm thankful that I learned this lesson at 8... but I'm mostly thankful that I finally reached the point in life that I don't feel like jumping in the trunk and riding off... as often as I have in the past. I'm thankful that after several years of moving all around and working my way to a new life that I have a place of my own to call home and no need to put a three fingered curse on the people around me.

My Granny used to tell me "Find you some strangers, they'll do you better than family." and with each passing year I find great new strangers that accept me as I am and always have a spot in their trunk for me... just in case. :) 

Enjoy! 


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Authentic" Down Home Recipes

It's that time of year again. People are dusting off the old recipe books that they've either been given or bought from some Baptist church, all in an effort to prepare a down home meal worth posting on the Gram.



Here's a little known secret that all cooks with TRUE Southern roots have known for a while.

DON'T BELIEVE THAT!

Sure the title says "Aunt Myrtle's Famous Southern Fried______" but what probably happened is Aunt Myrtle got backed down into the corner by the Usher Board to submit an entry for the fundraiser or commit to buying a minimum and she wasn't on coughing up that cash... (paprika, cayenne pepper...same color right?) fast-forward to your naive self in your kitchen trusting the words on the page, looking like a fool with too spicy deviled eggs, pound cake thick as a brick, and chicken that tastes like wood. (S/o to The Sugarhill Gang)

WHY WOULD THEY DO THIS?

I have a few theories , and I'd like to put out, and I'd love to talk it out with some of you. Perhaps you've held the same suspicions.

1. If food is the key to a man's heart, then the recipe is the locksmith.
Maybe back in the day Hattie May knew that her husband was all about her hot buttered rolls, and Anna Lee down the road was always trying to get Herschel to try her version but she could never get it right. Hattie May would write out the recipe in code so whenever Anna Lee came to the house for Circle Meeting, Hattie didn't have to worry about her being all in her kitchen.

 That recipe code gets verbally passed down, but the writing stays the same.

2. Who will come and visit when I'm old and mean?
Perhaps the reason that Nana ain't coming up off that casserole recipe is because that's the only time that she can get all her family in one place at the same time because her mouth is crazy and nobody can stand to sit through that without something good to eat.

She didn't write that recipe down at all, the only way you're getting that is if you actually go and spend time with her and watch her do it. Those recipes are more art than science to even attempting to take notes will lead you down the wrong path... you're going to have to Daniel Son this one...

Muscle memory and the EYE are the only things that get you to the promised land on those dishes.

3. They just remix the store bough and you never knew it.
Martha Ann is just a flat out lie. You've been eating Stove Top stuffing with celery salt your entire life and all this time you had a picture of your dear sweet Auntie slaving away getting every ingredient just right, when the truth is half of the work was done when she opened up the packet.

She always cooks at 2am after all the drunks and kids are sleep so the only way you're catching that is if you take naps throughout the day and plan a sneak attack. You think you can just go through the trash don't you? Wrong, your Uncle Otis has been trained to make a late night store run every Holiday Eve with the main task being to get rid of all evidence. Yes your Uncle Otis sweeps in like a Gladiator and Handles her dirty little lie every year just so that your Aunt Shirley's green beans get shade.

Give up there's nothing left for you to do. That whole dinner is a lie. Next year just go to the casino buffet and save on running up Big Momma's light bill.

My advice, come up with your own recipe remixes, and while I encourage you to not be afraid to make mistakes, I also admonish you to refrain from serving your family some foolishness because they'll never let you hear the end of it.

Good Luck!!



Side Note:
In the time between Turkey day and NYE I hope to bring #MeetTheHockers to this space and share a bit of my lovely family's holiday fun with you.

Until then... Let all the food brought forth be nourishing and not fattening and allow us to go out into the world and do good works.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

You Ain't Got the Answers

Show me the person that definitively knows what they want to be when they grow up and I'll show you a possible con-artist. Some of the most well rounded individuals that I know still have unfulfilled dreams. I think that's just part of life's quest, constantly redefining goals and seeking new levels of "making it".

This journey becomes more apparently the further away from 28  one ascends in life. One day, you're killin' it among people in your age bracket, you get the job, the house, the car and suddenly you're hit with a brand new wave of "you ain't shit...". 

Don't you just love self-doubt? 

Not only will it keep you up in the wee hours of the night just to put the finishing touches on any given project that you plan for others to see, it will also in the same swift kick to the inner thigh, make you tape your finger to the backspace button until there's no possible trace of the drivel that you just wrote. There's no way that there's such thing as a well adjusted 30 something, not with all the pressure to succeed in your career, be in a solid committed relationship and at least be actively working on developing a family; while also starting a business and finishing a graduate degree. 

Who the hell is walking around with that much time and getting it all right? 

I'm convinced the whole thing is a scam by the credit card companies to make you think that your crap furniture from Ikea and the Thrift Store isn't adequate for "Entertaining" and in order to be the best host possible and not be seen as a social pariah, one MUST invest in the latest, cutlery, appliances, furniture and wall decor. I remember my couch from when I was 23 and damn it I miss it. Granted it was not a cheap couch, but I paid cash for it because I was enlisted military balling and could afford to spend my entire half-month salary on things because when it got bad enough I could go buy groceries tax-free. 

I'm just saying. People like to post crap online and make you think that you're sucking at life and that you need to kick it all up to 1000, but the truth of the matter is, nobody out here knows what the hell they are doing. We all hate where our careers have taken us, unless we're actually actively fulfilling all of our dreams, it boils down to.... Everybody is trying to DO BETTER.

 So perhaps that's enough encouragement to help take the pressure off. I hope it lets you feel like you can breathe long enough to just keep going and not worry about what's happening in anyone else's race.

If not, here's a shot... it's OK to not have all the answers. 


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hello... it's M.E.

Many of you know me from my hair blog www.OohMyHair.com , and some of you may have been reading my work since that fateful summer in 2008 when I first began to blog about my life justmarri.blogspot.com .

 Well I'm all grown up and lots of things are different now, from who I'm with to what I'm doing for a living. I have created this space to be my hideaway much like my first blog that I'm surprised to find that people are still reading.

Let me set the proper expectations:

First off, I'm finishing my MBA (August 2016) so there may be some times that I just can't post on a schedule, but if I'm gone for a long time I will come back with a recap.

Secondly, I'm exploring entrepreneurship again and I hope to share some things that I pick up along the way. While this blog is not about business... let's face it, we're talking about M.E. and EVERYTHING is about business so it is my desire to bring you some helpful hints amidst the rest of my posts.

Thirdly, I enjoy reading and writing as my primary form of communication so I expect comments, I welcome them and most of all I appreciate them. So keep them coming. That's what pushes me to continue to write.

Fourth and Final Point, I'm putting my life out here. I am a black, female, Veteran (US Navy) MBA candidate Nerd; with a dog, male domestic partner, an affinity for hair, fashion and writing about smut... and my name is Margaret Ellen. I have yet to live out a full boring day as many of you have come to learn, but to my brand new readers... I love the fact that despite the many labels that can be applied to my life, I live outside of expectations. I have been blessed with a name and nickname that affords some pretty interesting reactions and interactions and I hope to share this journey that is my crazy life.