Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

For the first time since 9th grade or so, I’m celebrating Halloween. I loved playing dress-up as a kid, Halloween or no, so I always went hard in the paint. My favorite costume of all time is still the Tinkerbell costume my mom sewed for me when I was 3. I probably drove my parents crazy running around the house in my little tutu and slippers with the white pom pom ball. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t fly! Other highlights include the time I dressed up as every character in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  In college, I was as stumped as Cady when I realized that apparently, Halloween was all about being sexy.

Well, at 26 years old I’ve lost some of my self-consciousness. This year my friends and I are headed to Austin to do the bar crawl, apparently Sixth Street is legendary. And I’m bringing back the good old fashioned, homemade Halloween costume. Tex is going as part of the SAMCRO crew from Sons of Anarchy, and I know his flannel shirt with the iron on patches is going to be worn well past tonight. I’m going as Alice in Wonderland. I’m putting together the dress below (in the picture it looks purple but it’s actually navy blue) with a half apron, white tights, mary jane flats and a black bow headband.

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However, it also occurred to me that it can be hard to come up with low maintenance costume ideas. So here are a few that you can steal from me, some of which are particularly black girl friendly. (Because you don’t want to be the killjoy who goes as Rosa Parks. I’m just sayin’.)

 

1. Janelle Monae

Everybody has black and white in their closet. Add a red lip and a pompadour (or a bun/afro puff in a pinch) and you’re good to go. Bonus points if you’ve got some suspenders, saddle shoes or a fedora!

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2. Beyonce

You can go a few ways with this. I personally think the Single Ladies version is played out. How about Flawless (cut off denim shorts, flannel & boots)? If you have poufy prom or bridesmaid dress to recycle, you can grab a first place medal and tiara for Bow Down.

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3. Han Solo

I’m a nerd so I’m thinking about doing this next year. Tuxedo stripe pants, a white blouse, a vest, and a fake spacey looking gun from the Dollar Tree are all you need.

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4.  Suzy from Rugrats

This is for all my 90s kids. Grab some purple leggings, a yellow tunic and red Chucks. Plait your hair and you’re all set.

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5. Hogwarts Student

Recycle your college graduation gown and add socks and a scarf or bowtie in matching house colors. My favorite is Ravenclaw.

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6. Oliver Twist/Annie Hall/Steampunk

Oliver Twist was actually my Halloween costume circa 7th or 8th grade. It consisted of a pair of capri pants (for the knickers), knee high socks, a button down shirt and one of my dad’s vests, plus the piece de resistance: a newsboy hat. A flat Kangol hat works too. I used a terrible Cockney accent the whole night, to the amusement and eventual annoyance of my family. The picture below shows the high fashion version of this. You can use similar clothes to create an Annie Hall look; just straighten your hair and use a fedora. Or you can sub in a corset/bustier and add  fingerless gloves, combat boots, a chain belt and a pocket watch to make it steampunk.

 

 

 

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7. Hipster Disney Princess

I saw some of these pics floating around Pinterest and thought it was a hilarious idea. The great part is that there’s no wrong way to do it. It works great as  group costume too.

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8. Michael Jackson

An oldie but goodie. If you don’t happen to have a red leather jacket floating around, you can use his outfit from The Way You Make Me Feel. Rolled up jeans, white Hanes undershirt and a denim button up- easy as pie! If you don’t want to get embarrassed, make sure you know all the lyrics and can do at least one move from the video. Authenticity, ya know.

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9. Cheshire Cat

Put a spin on the typical cat costume by wearing pink and purple. The makeup is what will really sell the look. A pair of cat flats would add some extra sweetness.

 

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10. Wednesday Addams

No effort required. All you need is a black dress, the blankest of blank stares, and the full force of your sarcasm.

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Get off my (digital) lawn!

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It seems like we’re in the Age of the Overshare. Fortunately, Facebook and Twitter have developed features that allow me to filter out most of the nonsense because I use my social media for keeping in touch with people who I otherwise probably wouldn’t hear from. I love seeing pictures of my of my aunt and uncle’s anniversaries, my older cousins’ babies, and my younger cousins’ first weeks at college. I love sharing links to news articles and having intellectual debates with my old college classmates. What do I hate to see? When people air all the details of their relationships on social media. Especially when these same people have “don’t judge me” as their battle cry. It’s not right to judge, but humans fall short all the time. You can’t air out your dirty laundry for everyone to see and get mad when people react to it.

People seem to have lost all sense of propriety these days. My parents grew up in the 1950s so I was raised to be a lady who wore stockings, knew the importance of foundation undergarments, and let men chase her instead of vice versa. I don’t feel that any of this conflicts with my modern sensibilities because for me, all of that is more of a guideline than a blueprint. I’m not a slave to the notion that all women have to be prim and proper, and not every rule applies to every situation. But some things, like modesty, shouldn’t be thrown out. Booty and boob pics on Instagram? Tweeting about your favorite sex position or how much & how often you get it in? Ugh. Shut up and go away! Nobody but you, the person(s) you’re sleeping with, and a few internet creepers want to know all that. Some things are best kept to yourself.

Another feature of the Age of Overshare is the nude picture leak.  There’s a celebrity one every month now, and every day, some poor woman’s pictures are getting shared and uploaded without her consent. Still, folks keep foolishly putting their trust in the cloud and thinks their partner would NEVER do that to them. You don’t know what people will do when they’re hurt or angry.  99% of relationships don’t last forever, and even the ones that do have rocky periods. Everybody has a right to privacy. Unfortunately, once you put any type of sensitive information out there, it’s liable to be used against you, so why give them ammunition? I don’t even sext with my husband, and he has no problem with it. He can look at me in person when he gets home. Of course, not everyone is a victim of an unscrupulous partner. There are just as many folks out there purposely putting themselves on display. But why though????

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I don’t get it. It seems to me that sexuality is becoming increasingly commodified. Your body isn’t a temple whose holy of holies could only be accessed by the worthy few, it’s a hotel running a 50% off Groupon special. Sex isn’t something special between lovers, it’s something that has to be doled out in increasingly risque doses to even compete in the dating game. What happened to less is more? What happened to embracing your sexuality but knowing that you don’t have to flaunt it at every opportunity? What happened to wanting to be seen as a whole person, not just a fat ass or bulging biceps? I suppose this is how the Victorians felt when the fashions changed to allow women to show their ankles. The difference is that at this point, there’s literally nothing left to show. The only reason you don’t see nether regions in public is that it’s still illegal. But I guess I’ll just be sitting on the porch with the shocked and appalled senior citizens…

 

 

 

 

Millenial Blues

It’s been a rough year for me.

I graduated from law school last May and still haven’t found a full time job. Obviously, a forced relocation that uprooted me from my network and delayed my taking the bar exam for an additional six months didn’t help. Still, who knew it would be so hard for an educated, able bodied person to find meaningful work? And by meaningful I mean something in a professional field (I’d prefer to at least be a paralegal but at this point, I’ll take a secretary job) that pays at least $10/hr. It just seems like every time I get close, something happens to knock me off my ass again. I had a great internship at a non-profit last summer that was an audition for a full time job. They gave the full time position to another intern who was less qualified than me, who kept the job for just under a year and moved on (I know that because we’re connected on LinkedIn). I really wanted that job and had they given it to me, Tex and I would still be in Atlanta. But I guess it just wasn’t meant for me.

Seeing as Texas hasn’t been hit as hard in the economic downturn, I had high hopes for finding employment in Houston. Tex is employed but underpaid- we’re a hair above “just barely making it” without any income from me. I had a talk with one of my law school gal pals and realized my law degree was screening me out, so I have removed it from my resume. So I spend my days getting up at 8am like I have a job to go to, applying to jobs, working out in the afternoons, and watching tv. It’s depressing. I don’t have any friends or family of my own here. I gotta say, being a housewife is no fun unless you’re rich. It’s almost enough to make me wish I had a baby just so there would be some purpose and meaning to my days. I’ve still got the tax preparer gig, but summer session is slow and they overhired. Since I’m the newbie, I’m not getting hours anymore and tax season doesn’t start until January. Bar results aren’t out til November. So what the fuck am I supposed to do in the meantime?

I know that you shouldn’t worry and pray. But it’s hard not to be anxious when your bank account balance is always hovering close to zero after paying rent, and you have to keep borrowing from your ever dwindling savings account just to make ends meet. I wish I had Tex’s assuredness that everything is going to be okay. Part of me is just angry. I feel like I did all the right things, and even if I didn’t, I worked my ass off and made the best decisions I could. As a working class black girl from the south side of town, there were certain things I just didn’t know. Sure, I could have chosen a different major, done different extracurriculars, or chosen a different graduate degree but that only would have happened if I could somehow go back in time with what I know now. I’m not expecting to be on easy street before I turn 30. But can I at least make some fucking progress? I know there are plenty of folks out there who aren’t as smart or as hard working as I am who are doing far better financially. I try to count my blessings instead of other people’s. But will the struggle ever end? Can I at least get to the point where I can maintain instead of playing catch-up? I just want to be able to use my God-given, school-refined talents to make a living. Why is that seemingly so impossible? On top of everything, my car is breaking down so I’m scared to  go farther than the grocery store for fear my car will overheat. I’m trying to preserve it for when I really need it, like to go on job interviews. But that means I can’t go out to networking events, which are all 20-30 minutes away in downtown Houston. I don’t know anyone I can catch a ride with either, and Tex works on the opposite side of town so he can’t get me anywhere I need to be before 7pm, which is when most events are ending. Plus, apparently networking ain’t free anymore- you’ve got to pay cover.

I try really hard to put a brave face on. I pray and try to put it out of my mind. But every day I don’t have a job is a day I feel useless. Unwanted. What was the point of 7 years of higher education, when I could have stopped at high school and been in the same position? Possibly a better one, since I’d have 7 years of work experience? By the way, entry level ain’t what it used to be. Jobs that required a college degree when I was in college, now only require a GED. If you do need a degree for the job, you also need 5, 7, 10 years work experience- just to be able to make $50,000/yr or $40k/yr with benefits. It’s insane. *sigh* In my heart, I know that God will provide. He’s never let me down yet. But the doubt in my mind is hard to quiet. I used to feel like I could never fail. I was valedictorian, voted most likely to succeed, got into the honors program at a top ten public university and survived law school, even if I didn’t necessarily conquer it. I guess this is just my test…patience isn’t my biggest virtue. But giving up isn’t an option. I have to make it. I have to.

The bar exam

It’s finally over.

Actually, it was over a week ago but I’m just now getting to the point where I’m no longer too exhausted to talk about it. I studied hard, did my best, and prayed. A lot. I’m still praying for favor over my exam since it has to be graded and I won’t get the results until November. Jesus keep me near the cross and the curve! Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of my experience.

 

Bar prep isn’t fun, but it doesn’t start out completely horrible. You can focus because the fear of failure is like your very own Strict Asian Dad, goading you into reading outlines when you’d rather be using the internet.

 

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After the first two weeks, I realized that the bar exam is creeping closer and maybe I didn’t remember as much from 1L year as I thought I did. My anxiety levels were starting to rise, but it wasn’t completely out of control.

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A month out, the daily grind of waking up and studying all day was starting to wear on me. It was like reliving all the worst parts of law school without any of the breaks or socializing.

 

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At two weeks before the test it’s probably time for a nervous breakdown if you haven’t already had one. I didn’t shed any tears, but I did spend a whole day feeling sick and gave my husband the silent treatment when he dared suggest that the multiple choice portion of the bar exam couldn’t be any worse than the SAT.

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In the final week before the test, I alternated between complete apathy and utter despair.

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The day before I took care of all the logistical details. including buying 2.5 gallon Ziploc bags to carry my laptop(!) in since apparently the Board of Law Examiners is worse than TSA. I was a little keyed up but managed to get a good night’s rest. Day 1 was a half day for the procedure & evidence short answer and the practical essay, which  I felt very well prepared for. Most of the questions coincided with my review so I was pretty confident at the end of the day.

 

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Day 2 was the MBE, which should stand for Most Blatant Evil. This was the multiple choice test that made me understand why so many people HATE multiple choice tests. Even the practice tests were hard. They’re super tricky even when you KNOW the law. And unlike the SAT, each question is its own separate fact pattern. And said fact pattern is sometimes so long that one question just about takes up an entire page. Although I made significant progress during bar prep, I honestly have no clue how I did. I couldn’t do anything but go home and hit a dramatic wall slide.

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Day 3 was the state essays. Written tests are my forte because you can fudge your way through and still get points. It’s the old W.C. Fields strategy- “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull.” To put it in bar exam terms, make up a rule, throw in a dash of public policy and move on.

 

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Of course, 6 hours of feverish typing and thinking on the fly had me feeling like I was putting on a show.

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The hardest part was managing my anxiety. I was so ready to be done that my nerves were shot and every little thing was irritating me. I had to call my husband and a law school friend on lunch break because my fellow bar takers were giving me homicidal urges. There’s always a few people who who take “dress for success” to an extreme conclusion and show up in a silk dress and pumps, or suit and tie. Then there are those who are either a) completely unbothered and feel the need to smugly announce how well they did; or b) completely freaking out. Either way, people from one or both camps will inevitably be sitting next to you or walking towards the exit with you on lunch break and making you want to punch them in the face.

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Finally, the test was over for real for real, and I had my life back. Or so I thought, since the bar examiner proceeded to keep us for another 30 minutes while the proctors painstakingly collected tests, counted tests, made us backup our tests to USB, etc. All very necessary things, but I didn’t want anything more than to be out of that room!

 
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And then it was done. I survived the bar exam! Let’s all pray that come November I’ll be Wifey, Esq.

 

What’s New

Things have been so crazy lately, but here’s an update.

1. I had outpatient knee surgery back in March (dislocated kneecap- next time you sprain something, get an MRI!) and I’m finally starting to get back to normal thanks to 8 weeks of physical therapy and 4 more to go. Unfortunately, the extra cost from that ate up the money we planned to use to go back to Atlanta for Porsche & Aristocat’s wedding today (congratulations, y’all!).  Really missing my friends right now :-(

2. On the bright side, I’m really starting to feel like Houston is home.

3. Sir Whippington (my car) might don’t make it. I’m down to just 1 functional window and the air compressor broke. Unless I find out the auto shop was really trying to fleece me, it’ll cost more to repair than I’ll get on a trade-in so I may have to get a new ride. I went to run errands at 10am today and it was 80 degrees (with a feel of 88 thanks to humidity). So yeah, trying to get by with no a/c is a heat stroke waiting to happen.

4. Bar prep officially started this week. I was taking notes on Family Law after breakfast today. There’s no such thing as 3 day weekends during bar prep- or 2 day weekends either, since you need to set aside a day strictly for review if you want to have any hope of retaining all that material. The pressure is on and I’m trying not to psych myself out, with mixed results. Pray for me, wish me luck, send me good juju or whatever- it’s all welcome right now! >_<

5. Also trying not to freak out about the post-bar exam job search. FML. I’m joining the local young lawyers association and plan to set aside a few evenings this summer to network so that my bar passage won’t be in vain.

6. This year I definitely want to join a grad chapter for my sorority. Most of my friends here are guys (Tex’s buddies and a couple of folks from college who work out here) and it’d be nice to have a conversation that doesn’t veer into Neanderthal territory. LOL.

So that’s my life right now. Sh*t is getting real! And there’s nothing like bar prep to remind you how much you hated law school. OF course, 2 months of misery for a lifetime of career independence is worth it…but it still sucks.

 

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Ta-ta for now!

When I Grow Up

Even though I’m officially out of the 18-24 demographic and considered an adult, I still feel like I have a ways to go in terms of becoming a Grown Woman. You know, the boss chick who walks in and has presence. She’s smart, well-put together, and totally self-possessed. While there are a lot of potential sheroes out there for me to emulate- Michelle Obama, Oprah, or Kerry Washington to name a few- my ultimate classy dame role model is fictional. Jessica Pearson from Suits, as portrayed by Gina Torres.

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My favorite part of any Suits episode is whenever Gina Torres is on the screen. Her character is the senior named partner at  a top New York law firm. She swims with the sharks every day and always manages to come out on top, even when it’s her blood in the water. She steals every scene she’s in by deftly dressing down bad boy lawyer Harvey Specter, his protege Mike Ross, and Louis Litt (Harvey’s self-appointed nemesis).

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But even though she is undoubtedly the HBIC, Jessica never loses that feminine touch. She’s the queen of substance with style and she’s got a wardrobe to die for.

Jessica-Pearson

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Of course, Jessica isn’t a real person. But she presents herself the way that I want to be seen in my professional life. Poised, confident, polished, and always the smartest person in the room (or at least, the one who’s done the most research). It inspires me to try even harder at my job, seasonal part-time though it may be. It never hurts to overachieve and while first impressions last the longest, they can be changed. While I’m excellent at what I do, I’ll admit that I could better look the part. It’s time for me to drop some of the habits I developed in college and grad school (like staying up past my bedtime and not waking up early enough to fully put myself together). While I can’t afford designer suits or a weekly blowout, I can step up my business casual and throw on some lipstick and eyeshadow so that I people don’t mistake me for a high-schooler.

Who is your professional role model? Do you have any tips or tricks for looking put together at work?