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Letter to my teenage self.

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Letter to my younger self

Niesha, your 15 and I know that feeling loved or being in a relationship seem like the most important things in the world, but their really not. The guy your currently seeing is a douche bag with his own issues. You may feel sorry for him, you may genuinely enjoy spending time with him, when he’s not drunk, regardless, don’t allow his issues to become yours. Okay?

Stop listening to what he says, or what any guys says for that matter. Instead, only pay attention to how they treat you and how said treatment makes you feel. That other girl he’s been seeing behind your back, he’s never going to end things with her. Your best bet is to move on before he hurts you anymore. Your heart(and sanity) will thank you for it later.

While we’re on the topic of people treating you well, take some time to re-evaluate the people you call friends. If they talk about you behind your back then they aren’t really your friends. The longer you keep people like them in your circle, the harder it will be to trust others and form real friendships in the future.

Your legs are beautiful. Stop cutting them will you? Cutting yourself never accomplishes anything and really, you’re only compounding the problem. I know your home life is less than ideal right now but try to focus on things that matter to you and make you happy anyway. Oh yeah, you’re not fat and don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise. Do more theater, don’t worry about stage fright, dance more, go to more writing events. When the time comes, apply to whatever colleges you want. Don’t screw yourself out of your dream school because you think you can’t afford it. Have you ever heard of a little thing called financial aid?

Don’t worry so much and don’t sweat the negative stuff always. In a few years life will take you places you never even dreamed of. Just know that no matter what is going on now, it only gets better.

Love Niesha, age 24.

 

-If given the chance, what would you say to your younger self?

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Eating well on a food stamp budget

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Up until a few days ago(literally) I was a poor , broke college student. Since graduating in late May, not much has changed actually and only now I’m a poor, broke college graduate.  But that’s neither here nor there is it now? Between talks with friends, family members, and reading the news, I know I’m not the only one feeling the economic pinch.

If there is anything that I’ve learned it’s that now more than ever before it’s so important for me to have a handle on my finances and expenses. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to get a handle on finances is to start with the food budget. Eating frugal is the key and there is no better way to practice this than to eat and buy food on a food stamp budget. Yes, a food stamp budget. In New York City the normal allotment for a single person is $200 per month, or $50 per week. To some, it may sound like not a lot but in actuality it’s more than do-able-if your smart about it. I’ve listed a few ways that help me eat well on this type of budget.

– Pick your supermarket-or variety of supermarkets.

Being the big city gal that I am my grocery of choice is Trader Joes. It’s a great place for staples like pasta, meat, bread, and even breakfast food. Be careful though, as much as they are known for affordable prices, they are just as much known for packaged convenience foods. The ease of just being able to pop open a package and have a ready-made meal might be tempting but they can also be hazardous to the pocketbook.

Instead of buying greasy, marked up products, try making your own version. You know, the way these used to do in the old days before microwaves?

-Utilize the farmers market

If you have a farmers market in your area, use it! I can not stress this enough. The Farmers Market is a great place to buy fresh produce, and even hand-made specialty foods. Farmer’s markets are great, especially in the summer when the fruits are especially popping.

-Skip the extras

Do you really need almond butter over plain old peanut butter? Me thinks not, and you should too. A good indicator that I might be wasting my money on an item is if it’s specially flavored some how. A perfect example would be those stuffed chicken cutlets or pre-made hamburger patties. At that point, your just sacrificing dollars for laziness.

-Create

If there is anything I’ve learned from eating on a budget it’s the importance of creation. Instead of buying pre-made or hot meals, create them instead.

-Don’t buy duplicates

If I have half a box of spaghetti noodles I’m not going to be buying penne anytime soon. I’ll use what I have first before buying something new.

-Shop around a bargain

When grocery shopping it’s great to have a list, but I always make sure to have an open mind. If there’s a bargain that doesn’t fit with what’s on the list, I might buy it and change-up the food list to accommodate.

From what you’re buying to where you’re buying it, feeding yourself on a budget is all about being being flexible and keeping an open mind.

 

33 things before 33

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To do lists are the things that life is made of. I love them. Honestly. Here is a small scale life list of things I want to achieve in the next nine years. What are some of the things that you hope to achieve soon?

33 things to do before 33

1.Have my writing published

2. Be a part of a flash mob

3. Write a screenplay

4. Perform faux drag

5. Host an underground supper club party

6. Participate in a marathon

7. Volunteer to work with sex workers

8. Pay off my student loans from The New School

9. Learn to braid my own hair

10.Have the big O

11. Earn a masters degree

12. Wear a bikini

13. Write a collection of non-fiction essays

14. Take a roadtrip across the U.S.

15. Travel to South America

16. Go to Disney Land

17. Perform stand-up

18. Perform in an improv troupe

19. Host a D.I.Y Sunday brunch

20. Learn to drive

21. See Alanis Morrissette in concert

22. Enter a writing  contest

23. Wear a Betsy Johnson dress

24. Go sky diving

25. Participate in paint ball fight

26. Go on an around the world vacation

27. Teach a class or seminar

28. Go to Southern Texas and eat Tex-Mex food

29. Perfect the “afro” on my hair

30. Get boudoir photos of myself done

31. Live and laugh

32. Intern at a major magazine

33. Kiss someone in front of the Eiffel Tower

Nicca What, Nicca Who? Is the N-Word obsolete?

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So I don’t listen to much rap music. Most of it seems to revolve around shit talking and putting women down. As a child growing up, I could never understand exactly why the females in my life were so insistent on listening to it. Really, why would we want to embrace a musical genre that regularly called us bitches and hoes? Over time I’ve grown to like a few choice songs but I don’t think I could call myself a true connoisseur of rap and hip-hop music. Besides the blatant misogyny, lots of rap music insists on using the N-word. You know which one I’m talking about. The use of the N word has become so prevalent in black culture that it’s begun to seep into mainstream culture as well.

I remember one of the first times I heard, or took note of a non-white person using the N word in everyday speech, in a non derogatory way. I was driving in the car with some friends in Cleveland late one night. There was a guy in the next car who was trying to get the attention of one of us in the car, I don’t remember what he looked like but I do remember that was the situation. I didn’t see him but apparently he wasn’t very good looking. Without skipping a beat, the girl in the drivers seas says, “Ugh, that nigga was ugly!” I have to admit, I laughed as well before silently asking myself did this white chick really just use the N word?

I let it go in part because no one else seemed to have noticed or taken offense and in part because I didn’t actually know if it had offended me or not. She wasn’t trying to be offensive, I knew that much from the context of the word’s use. Nevertheless, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that the N word shouldn’t be a substitute for everyday words.

This past week there was some online hoopla about the use of the N Word by an up and coming female rapper by the name of Kreayshawn. Representing East Oakland California, I have to say her flow is one of the best I’ve seen on a white female rapper in quite some time, or a female rapper for that matter. She has an eclectic style that comes across as authentic and doesn’t seem to be using her sexuality as a selling point. While reading Clutch, one of my favorite online African-American women magazine’s I learned that Kreasyshawn had recently dropped the N bomb in an online tweet.

Perhaps signaling a signs of the times, besides this lone article on Clutch, there didn’t seem to be much uproar surrounding the event. Now that could be because she is currently a new artist that not many know or care about or does the lack of uproar speak to a larger picture?

Personally, I don’t think anyone should be using the N word, much less African-American’s. Literally the word means ignorant and for hundreds of years it was used to oppress and keep African-American’s down. Somehow though we as a people have not only embraced it but we have allowed it to become a mainstay in our culture and American pop culture as well. Just like the girl I rode with in the car, the use of the word by Kreayshwawn wasn’t mean spirited. It was just being used as a stand in for a word like: dude, man, partner, brother, or person.

I’m not even mad at her for the use of the word because I know it doesn’t represent me or who I am. But it seems like most of my brothers and sisters would think otherwise. In my opinion, the lack of uproar surrounding the tweet has more to do with the fact that we’ve come to accept the N word as a suitable replacement for other words. As a people if we want to advance, and stop the rampant use of hate speech in everyday vernacular then we have to collectively decide to ostracize the word from our speech and culture. Because really, it’s a part of our history that should remain behind us. As I stated, the word literally means ignorant but we continue to claim it as, “ours.” Words are more powerful than most of us can comprehend and by using hate speech like the N word to describe ourselves, we are internalizing it regardless of if we want to acknowledge it.