Remember conference calls? About 15 years ago, my friends and I learned how to use the three-way calling feature on our house phones and from then on, no conversation consisted of just two of us. We managed to dish about everything happening in our 9 year old lives that we didn’t get to talk about at recess or lunch. As we got older, our forms of communication evolved from conference calls to AIM chat rooms. It was still an all inclusive way of communicating with everyone at one time. Today, AIM and three-way calling have been replaced by the elusive group chat (GC). Everybody is apart of one, whether you want to be or not. The GC is inescapable. Once you’re down, you’re down for life (or until you change your phone number). And like many things, GCs are thought to vary in nature depending on the sex of those running ’em. My twitter’s timeline has touched on the topic of what goes on in a GC run my women vs what goes on in one run by men. And although the universal rule of the GC is similar to that of Las Vegas’s slogan, I’ve decided to share with you some of the things that do happen in my own group chat and what I imagine in others run by women.
1. WE SHADE
The Urban Dictionary defines shade as acting in a casual or disrespectful manner towards someone or dissing a friend. I can speak for my own GC and probably many others by saying that there is plenty of shade present in our conversations. Palm tree emojis grow tall and strong amongst those blue and grey bubbles. However, contrary to popular belief that all women are malicious and catty, much of the shade is playful. It’s sort of like playing the dozens but instead of “yo mama” jokes, it’s quick witted retorts about that tragic weave you had back in high school. It’s a sass-fest and its fun! If you’re in a GC with your real friends, you know it’s not personal. Yes, sometimes our shade isn’t innocent or playful and we do drop the dreaded screenshot here and there. But keep in mind that with all shade, comes a lesson to be learned. If you fear you may fall victim to the screenshot, then maybe you should reconsider whom you’re sharing things with. Some women know what lines not to cross and what things to keep to ourselves while others have no code of conduct. It’s all about making a judgment call.
2. WE SEND EACH OTHER SELFIES
This one is pretty basic. Sometimes we have days when we just feel fine as hell. Maybe we got a new lipstick. Maybe we tried something different with our hair and it looks like the angel Gabriel laid hands on our tresses. Or maybe we just got our eyebrows done and they are ON POINT! Whatever the reason we’re feeling ourselves at that moment, we just grab our phones, turn on that front camera and have a mini photoshoot. But sometimes we want to share our flawlessness but not with our twitter or IG followers. I know I have this complex where I don’t want to seem too narcissistic by dropping 15 selfies on my TL. So what do I do? I send a few to my GC. We fawn over and flirt with each other because its fun and it makes us feel good. Sometimes you wanna hear that you’re working that up-do and you know that nobody can handle the regal-ness of that ponytail like your GC can.
3. WE TALK ABOUT SEX
Of course we talk about sex! Who doesn’t? Women have and enjoy sex just like men do. So why wouldn’t it be a hot topic in our GCs? No person’s sex life or sexuality is identical to another’s. We ask questions, swap stories and dish out advice the best we can. It’s not pure filth but it gets pretty authentic. This isn’t the place to sugar coat shit. If one of my GC members has the strong urge to give a serious BJ but has no one to service, she can come to the GC and vent. If another wants to share with us the time she had sex in Central Park and how much fun it was, we’re all ears (or eyes) and ready to hear/read all about it. And if someone has questions about this new obsession everyone seems to have with analingus, at least one of the other members will have the knowledge. The GC is supposed to be a judgement free zone. Its place where we can let our inner freak flags fly freely. As long as you’re happy, considerate of others and responsible, we support all quests for an orgasm.
4. WE READ
I don’t mean reading in the book sense on this one (although we do have the occasional sharing of reading lists). Reading is telling someone about herself. Real friends will read you! Like I said before, the GC is a judgement free zone. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean that we let our friends walk around being ain’t shit individuals without calling em out on it and ignoring questionable behavior. Sometimes you need your friends to tell you when you’re being an asshole. When I’m making poor decisions, my GC will call me out on my bullshit and let me know when I’ve got to reevaluate some things. It’s all out of love.
5. WE DISCUSS
Whether its dieting, new fashion trends, music, or concerns about the current state of our economy and how it affects us, we discuss things. Yeah, we touch on topics like which shade of nail polish should be chosen for next week’s mani/pedi session. But it doesn’t end there. On one occasion we went from mascara to a lesson on different breeds and strands of bacteria found in a bio-chem lab. It’s not strictly “girly” stuff. And even though I put my phone down when sports come up, the conversation continues. We just talk about it all.
6. WE SUPPORT
When something amazing or not so amazing happens, my GC is usually the first to hear the news. As a writer, my notebook holds most of my secrets, fears, hopes, dreams and ideas. But those pages can’t talk back and sometimes I need a few words of encouragement. A pep talk is needed every now and then when you’re feeling hopeless about the direction in which your life is headed. Sometimes you need to be praised for landing the job you’ve been wanting. Sometimes you just want someone to listen and reassure you that she understands where you’re coming from. A good GC serves for all of these things because a good GC is made up of good friends. We laugh together. We cry together. We do our best to make sure that everyone feels loved and knows that she has someone that’s got her back.
It seems that I cannot keep a job for long. No, I haven’t been fired again. But, I’m typing this from a desk at my current place of employment, fighting the urge to walk into the HR office and scream, “I QUIT!” What I thought would be a job that would serve as a step in the right direction when I comes to having a career in a field that I love, has turned into a pain in my ass. I accepted this job with good faith in those that hired me when I should have heeded the warnings of members of the community that advised against me applying for a job here in the first place.
What bothers me most about this institution is the level of unprofessionalism that administrators show. On Monday, hours were cut for certain employees and those employees weren’t notified until a couple hours before they had to report for work. How professional is it to call someone 20 minutes before (s)he has to leave his/her home to inform him/her about something like that? How about taking into consideration that these things affect people’s lives. Our pay checks are fucking comical yet it’s a well known precaution to wait a day before depositing them into our accounts because they might bounce. UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE!
I love the children I work with but love isn’t paying bills or student loans. Everyday I try not to cry just thinking about the financial hole I’ve dug for myself for the sake of getting a college education and to just not use the stupid piece of paper sitting in a bin in my bedroom. My mother’s constant lectures that she tries to disguise as pep talks do little to comfort me either.
So here I am, a depressed postgraduate, dodging Sallie Mae phone calls like bullets and drinking more than what is healthy. A month ago I was optimistic about things but the dark clouds have rolled the fuck in and there is no sign of sunshine in sight. I’ve traveled to work too many times, despite my urge to call out, only to find out that each child that I was supposed to work with that day had been sent home early. And when there’s no children, I don’t get paid. It’s time to move on.
Previously featured on AllThingsSass.com
After having an estrogen fueled discussion with my girlfriends, it was reaffirmed to us that having vaginas is hard work. No, this is not another feminist rant and I’m not talking about having a vagina being hard work in relation to glass ceilings and double standards. I mean that it is simply not that simple to have a vagina. Once I hit 12 years old, I’ve learned that having a vagina is like owning a home. You’ve got to clean it, keep it smelling nice, looking presentable and protect it from home invasions and unwanted guests. And whether you’ve got a multimillion dollar mansion or a humble studio apartment in between your thighs, upkeep and maintenance is required and there are so many things that can and probably will go wrong.
Let’s begin with the outer appearances. Our front yards. Technically, it’s not the vagina but who really uses the word vulva besides my OBGYN? I’m one of those girls that will let the grass grow a little bit if I don’t plan on having any company. Why? To put it simply, the hair removal process can be tedious and painful. As an adult that enjoys mouth hugs (giving and receiving) I can totally understand that coughing up a hair ball kind of kills the mood. So for my guest’s sake, I not only trim the hedges, I scorch the Earth. But taking trips to Brazil via spa appointments gets costly and like I mentioned before, it f***ing hurts. Sure we can shave but having your nether region resemble the back of a Nestlé Crunch Bar won’t keep ‘em coming back (I’m talking razor bumps). I’ve experienced a chemical burn from using hair removal creams like Nair and Veet and let’s just say when a label tells you not to do something, it is for a reason. But despite all of this, me and many of my fellow vagina owners torture ourselves for whatever reasons in order to maintain the flower pots in our panties.
It’s important to keep your outside looking presentable and welcoming but if the inside is a disaster, what’s the point? Now I know Tyra Banks loves to refer to our lady parts as “self cleaning appliances”, and yes it is true that our vaginas essentially clean themselves, but things can malfunction and we don’t have warranties if things go bad. Lets have a moment for the ladies with sensitive vaginas. You girls go through so much. From yeast infections to allergies, it’s like knowing Bubble Boy if he lived between your legs. My mother can’t wear underwear that doesn’t have white cotton crotchets because dye irritates her. My girlfriend is allergic to latex and I mean how reliable are sheep skin condoms? A lot of our vaginas’ health is affected by our diets and lifestyles but some women just have more issues than others. Yeah, you can drink tons of water every day and eat yogurt, fruits and vegetables but there will still be those times when you’re the girl in the commercial wearing the red hoodie and your yeast infection symptoms are Zimmerman-like (too soon?). And then we have all of these B.S. sprays and deodorants. Newsflash: your vagina isn’t supposed to smell like summer rain or morning dew on a blade of grass. Pussy smells like pussy! It doesn’t taste like pineapples or water. It tastes like pussy! If you’re sour or smell like an edible arrangement, something is wrong. You have your own, unique smell just like many homes do. But the Pine-Sol woman should not be making visits to your vagina.
Now on to the home invasions and unwanted guests. Sometimes we can invite someone in and they’ll leave behind unwanted reminders of their stay with you. It’s bad enough that there aren’t many ways to test guys for certain STDs but we have interiors and although I’m familiar with myself, I’m not in there feeling around everyday for something strange. It’s like logging on to Web MD. You think you feel something every time you have a look or feel around and boom, you have cancer. I’ve wrongly self-diagnosed about a billion times but only because its tricky to know what exactly is happening in my body’s 4 inch deep walk in closet. Trips to the gyno aren’t on my list of favorites but what else can you do to be sure that your partner didn’t leave you a parting gift that keeps on giving? Much like Hannah Hovak, I too wonder about “the stuff that gets up around the sides of condoms”. Condoms aren’t 100% effective and STDs can still be passed along just by touching each other’s junk. And yeah Lena Dunham may have said that all adventurous women have had a brush with HPV or something but I like my adventures cancer-cell free. So it’s time we find a Sloman Shield type of security system for our love boxes, ladies.
When it comes to owning a vagina, I can sometimes feel like Tim Allen on an episode of Home Improvement and even hear myself making that confused grunting noise he does. But despite how they may sometimes leak, have squeaky floors or thin walls, our vaginas are pretty awesome. Why else would so many men and women spend the rest of their lives trying to get inside once they’ve left? There’s no place like home.
Previously featured on AllThingsSass.com
I thought he was cute when I first walked into the office. He had glasses and cute ears that pointed at the tips in a slightly elflike way. As usual, I imagined what our kids would look like. Any man I’d fuck, I think about what our kids would look like, You know, just in case. I had my hair pulled up into a sloppy bun and wasn’t wearing any make-up. I wore cut off shorts and my ex’s favorite t-shirt I’d never given back after our break up which was a little too big for me. I was sure that he thought I was fifteen instead of twenty-three. I was probably a few years older than he was. But, he was running things and I was here with the rest of the city’s youth (ages 14-24), looking for a summer gig until I could find a more “responsible” job.
Back from college with a B.A. in English and a negative account balance, I was in no position to turn down work. So when I received the call that I’d been selected for the Summer Youth Program, where they would place me at a work site and I would have a secured job for at least 2 months, I was not reluctant to agree to an 8 hour, mandatory orientation. The routine was familiar. Since the age of fourteen, I’d participated in the program until my departure from New York in 2008.
He directed me downstairs to the waiting room where I sat, freezing, for the next 3 hours listening to a woman with a thick accent talk to a room full of kids about credit, job interview attire and student loans. Looking around the room, my “I’m better than this” attitude battled with my humbler, broker side. I told myself that I could articulate better than the woman that stood in the middle of the room. I mean, come on. She used the word “talk” when she should have used “speak”. Things like that annoyed me. I should have been doing her job.
Eventually we were let go for our lunch break and I was glad to escape the frosty air of that room and venture out into the warmer, humid climate outside. I headed for the Subway sandwich restaurant instead of the pizza shop a few blocks up. I’d gained back ten pounds of the fifteen I had lost while away at school and was trying to make better food choices. While standing on line, squinting up at the list of five-dollar foot-longs, my pointy-eared interest strolled in and found a place on line behind me. I ordered my 6-inch turkey, bacon and avocado sandwich and waited to hear his order. Was he an Italian herb kind of guy? Was he one of those weird people that didn’t like cheese? Toasted or not toasted?
“Could you change your gloves because you touched the bacon?” he asked the server. He was Muslim. No pork. No bacon. This could never work I thought to myself. Is bacon a plausible deal breaker? He could be “the one” despite the fact that I hadn’t even caught his name. But I couldn’t see myself serving our future, brown babies turkey bacon for breakfast. What kind of mother would I be? Besides, I have watched enough episodes of Love and Hip Hop to know that this could get complicated. He sat at the table across from me and I thought about how silly I must be to not talk to this cute guy because of bacon. Then I took a bite into my sandwich and realized my decision was for the best.
I left that day with a job at a summer camp, yet another unflattering photo ID, and no name or phone number of the cute guy in the office. But I also left with the reassuring feeling that I’d always have bacon. Bacon forever.
This couldn’t have been my life. Of course this was my life! Things like this only happen in television series, movies and to me! Where was the camera? Where was Ashton? Did Ryan really show up at my door? Unannounced? While Kyle was here? I held my breath waiting for someone to react. What must’ve been only 30 seconds, felt like 30 years. I could’ve sworn that I felt 5 grey hairs sprout from my scalp the very second I spotted Ryan in my doorway.
“Is Quinn home?”
“Yeah. She’s here.”
I guessed that that was my cue to show myself and come out from hiding in the corner. I stepped into Ryan’s view behind Kyle and forced a smile. His expression looked confused, hurt and pissed off.
Ryan looked over at Kyle who was still standing in the doorway. Why couldn’t there have been a fire or something? Three was most certainly not company.
“I’m just gonna go. I came by to say hi but you’ve got company and I don’t want to bother you.”
I wanted to tell him to stay but I stopped myself. I began to think about all of my unanswered texts and phone calls. The times when I needed Ryan and he wasn’t there. Not just because he was with Sam, but because he didn’t want to be there. I was never a priority. I would never be a priority. I thought of all these things and felt the tips of my ears get hot. Now I was pissed.
Ryan must have expected me to have begged him to stay because his face dropped. This got to me even more. Of course that’s what he expected of you Quinn! After showing up unannounced and ignoring you countless times, of course be excepts you to ditch whatever you’re doing to cater it him. It’s because you always have before. You accepted that treatment. You accepted being second rate to him. I scolded myself. Ryan was still staring at me in disbelief. I figured he was waiting for me to tell him that I would call him later or something. I wouldn’t though. I couldn’t. I told myself as well as him that this was over and I meant it. When he finally realized that I wasn’t going to say anything more, he looked from me to Kyle once more. He nodded his head as if to say that he understood and turned to walk back down the hall towards the elevator. Kyle shut the door. I felt nauseous. I ran into the bathroom, leaned over the toilet seat and vomited. In all of the excitement, I’d forgotten about being ill for the past couple of days. Or at least I was trying to convince myself that thats what it was. After taking a moment to freshen up, I joined Kyle in the living room again. He was on the couch, staring into space. When he finally noticed that I’d come back, he motioned for me to come join him. I smiled and obliged, resting my head in his lap and allowing him to run his fingers through my curls.
At least I thought I was fine. I thought I’d feel good after ending things with Ryan but I missed him already. Despite how fucked up our relationship with one another was, I loved him. Even if it was one sided. Even if he’d never leave Sam to be with me. I was irrationally in love with him. But it didn’t matter anymore. It was time to stop being irrational.
“So that was him?”
“Huh?” Kyle’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts.
I didn’t say anything. Kyle knew who and what that was. It hurt more because he seemed to still care about me in spite of everything. Before Ryan’s visit, I’d spent an hour spilling my guts to Kyle. I told him everything. If he wanted me to feel about him the way that he felt about me, I warned him that he would only end up hurt. But if his friendship was what he was willing to give in exchange for mine, then we would be fine. He said he needed time to think about it and I understood that. But for now, I was grateful that he at least stayed awhile longer. I felt him put his lips to my forehead and exhaled.
Every once in awhile I have one of those days where I look in the mirror and say, “yuck.” I stand in front of my reflection and notice that there’s a blemish on my cheek, my eyebrows are doing their best caterpillar impersonations, my hair looks lifeless or a combination of all three and then some. I feel like I should be living under a bridge of some sort and that I better grab a brown paper bag to put over my head before subjecting society to my grisly appearance.
I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say that I have days where I feel less than flawless. But in more recent years, I’ve started to feel this way more often than not. I find more things that I dislike about my physical appearance than things that I do. My nose, my hair, my breasts, my ass. I knew something was wrong when I found myself thinking aloud in the shower about how I would consider purging after meals if I didn’t know the harmful health effects it has and that I just hate throwing up.
We live in a time where there’s always a camera in someone’s hand, and our peers are at the ready to examine, dissect, critique, double tap and retweet the images that appear on our screens. “Post Bad Whatever” pages, light skin vs dark skin debates, weave and natural hair slander are inescapable. And to be honest, I am guilty of participating in these social networking rituals from time to time. My own grandmother has said she’s afraid I won’t find a man because everyone seems to go after girls with lighter complexions and longer hair.
Female members of my family and friends tell me I’m beautiful but when the world sets a standard that has been shoved in your face since childhood, of course the road to self esteem isn’t easily traveled. When your own older brothers say that women with big butts and long curly hair are the only kinda of women worth talking to, it kind of hurts to know you don’t have these things. If every guy thinks like that, then I’m certain to spend my life alone.
I don’t have Beyoncé’s hips or J. Lo’s ass. My bone structure isn’t built for me to have a Rihanna figure. And because of these facts, I’m afraid to wear anything smaller than a large despite everyone insisting that I don’t need to wear that big of a size. I hide underneath my baggy clothes and pretend that my love of sweats is solely based on laziness and comfort (it’s 80% true though).
Of course a person that is guilty of her own form of shallowness has her own insecurities about herself. The two fit together like peas and carrots. But it doesn’t make them feel any less painful when I acknowledge that I have a distorted view of others as well as a distorted view of myself. I don’t want to think of myself as inadequate. I’m tired of having more yucky days than yummy ones. Wishing to look like anybody else besides myself isn’t healthy. But how do I stop?
I hadn’t heard from Quinn in a few weeks. It wasn’t unusual for us to go this long without speaking, but the nature of her last call told me that this time was different. I hadn’t meant to stand her up, but Sam was beginning to act strangely. The night Quinn called me, I was supposed to be going to see her but Sam had come over unannounced with a list of things she needed to talk about. She’d been doing it for weeks now and I didn’t know how to blow her off if I wasn’t prepared.
“You’re always out somewhere,” she’d whine whenever I parted my lips to protest against another night of talking or sitting in my living room pretending to listen to her talk. And when she wasn’t sure if I was really listening, I’d get showered with a million and one questions about where I went, what I did and how many breaths did I take that day. She was never this smothering before and we always allowed each other space and time alone or with our friends. Now it was like I couldn’t sneeze without Sam asking me why.
I finally was granted a pardon when Sam told me she would be hanging out with her mother and sister. Some spa day or whatever. All I knew was that I was happy to have her out of my hair for the day.
After hitting the gym and showering, I collapsed on my living room couch. I turned on the television and began to mindlessly surf through channels. I’m not a big TV watcher aside from sporting events and the occasional weather report. I landed on one of the movie channels my cable service provided and noticed that one of Quinn’s favorite movies was on. I couldn’t tell you much about the plot. I only remembered the way Quinn would laugh hysterically when the main character told a joke or found herself in an awkward situation. I missed her laugh. I missed her.
I reached for my cellphone and scrolled through my contacts. Landing on her name, I hit “call” and waited to her her usual greeting for me. “Hey loser!” she’d say. But there was no such greeting this time. I was met with the automated voicemail telling me to leave a message after the tone. Maybe she’s taking a nap. I thought as I hung up the phone. She could always nap over here. Or maybe she’s still mad at me.
I was never the type to pop up on people at their homes but all of a sudden, I was overcome with a feeling of urgency. I needed her around right that minute. I grabbed my keys to my apartment and hurried out the door. I usually made this trip when I needed an escape. When Sam and I were fighting. Or when I was lonely or needed a laugh. I found myself in front of her door, a little short of breath. I didn’t realize that I practically sprinted up the two flights of stairs that separated our floors. I heard voices coming from inside the apartment and assumed her TV was on. I pounded my fist on her door. As soon as my knocking stopped, so did the voices.
“Who is banging on my door like they’re the police??? Is that the delivery guy??”
I smiled and prepared a witty response for when she would open the door. But before I could get a word out and then scoop her into my arms, a pair of unfamiliar eyes met my confused glare.
“Can I help you?” he asked.