Girl’s Best Friend?

August 27, 2010
 From my Lovestruck column at Heart & Soul Magazine's website ...

Is being in a relationship like riding a bike?

I was catching up with my cousin last week, who is probably just like one of your cousins. She’s the gorgeous, successful, fly and single one, with enough ambition to share.

After getting her career to where she wants it and hearing her biological clock get a little louder (her words: “I feel my eggs starting to dry up. I’m not Halle Berry!”), she is ready and hoping for a serious relationship that leads to more.

With her own starting five of men to take her out, meeting guys isn’t the problem.

But wanting to actually share her time and space with someone? An issue.

She’s gotten so used to doing her own thing and having the place to herself, she’s looking at her watch and ready to show any suitor the door before the nightly news starts.

So she developed the perfect plan to getting better with intimacy: get a dog.

My eyes lit up with this revelation.

She then filled me in how a dog was the perfect prep for a boyfriend, how it will make her more warm and affectionate, her top choices for dog (must fit in purse) and friends who’ve rebounded from depression by getting a dog.

I congratulated her on being honest enough with herself to realize she wasn’t totally open to the intimacy she craves. That’s not easy. I also wished her well, if this was what she really wants.
But later that night I wondered if Madame Fifi will become another reason the new guy can’t come over.

If the real issue is wanting to build stronger connections with the opposite sex, than that’s where your focus has to be. A dog can be a beautiful part of your life and more studies prove how smart they really are. But, I have yet to meet the dog who can rub your feet or make pancakes on Saturday morning.

What do you think? Is getting a dog a good way to prepare yourself for a relationship?

Charreah K. Jackson is a writer, editor and certified family life educator. An Atlanta-native, she now lives in Harlem, New York.

I'm Lovestruck . . .

August 24, 2010

I'm excited for a new column on HeartandSoul.com called Lovestruck.

Here's my first post:

I told myself these would be my Regine years. The years where I would have fun dates learning about life and myself. Have a rotation of guys to take me out on my schedule. Then right around 30 meet my special guy and begin my version of happily ever after, which includes keeping my career and splitting all household duties.

But making plans of course made God laugh. I soon realized quantity wasn’t quality and took a break from the dating scene all together. And as these stories go, the imperfect guy who was perfect for me showed up, and ahead of schedule. Along with splitting kitchen duties when we are together, our happily ever after also included us getting laid off exactly three weeks a part last year. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m Charreah and I am lovestruck. Not the sappy-can’t-live-without-you kind. But literally spellbound by the power of one word and emotion to transform our lives. And I’m on a mission to do my part to encourage more people to value it, and know what to do when they find it.

In relationship workshops I host, I always ask why spend so much money on dating from new hairdos to dinner, and not know how to make it work after date three or the first fight?

And for Black women loving Black men, the issues are even more complex.

I look forward to sharing my experiences and those of others with you here. But we all know what can happen to the best-made plans.

Check it out at Heart & Soul's website every Tuesday and Thursday.

Fashion's Night In

August 20, 2010
I had an amazing time yesterday!! Ending up in Brooklyn mistakenly couldn't even dim the light on a great night.

I went to the Jones Magazine Fashion Preview at the mag's tip of Manhattan office. Already downtown at my job near 8th st, I trained it down. I quickly learned that just because the N now goes local in midtown, it doesnt below 8th st and the train went from Canal St. to Atlantic Ave.

But it all worked out perfectly, as I arrived at the cute office of the North Star Group, which houses the Source and Jones magazines. "From hip hop to high fashion" publisher Londell McMillian of both shared during his talk . . .

I felt like I was at another family reunion with so many fabulous and positive people of color. Well some are family, as a few former Essence coworkers now work at Jones including their Web Director and Glamazon herself Jessica, my fellow HU grad Judene heads up sells for the fashion glossy and more.

It was time to head in the conference room for the presentation by Jessica and the mag's EIC Tracey Ferguson. I was a big fan of the show "Keeping Up with the Joneses" and was excited to see this magazine continue to grow and Tracey, a friend in my head, in person. Up until that point I wasnt sure who the event was targeted for, then realized it was for fashion bloggers. The magazine wanted to invite bloggers in to start to build a relationship. How sexy and smart! Social media is the present and future . . .

I flipped through and could see the growth from the last issue, literally. The magazine was thicker. good sign. The content is AMAZING. Great sign.

Tracey shared the theme of the next few issues (including a Black Girls Rock one) and encouraged those in the room to send ideas. I asked about the realities of going in to high-end businesses for advertising and explaining women like us to the brands Black women covet and they discussed the new grounds the magazine is breaking including a partnership with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. I felt an excitement I didn't realize had waned. I was known as the magazine-loving girl in college , and hanging with the Jones crew made me remember why. As Londell said, Jones is the little magazine that did!

It all felt full circle, as the gift bags were from Motions, one of the clients at my firm. Leaving out I ran into my old Essence cube mate and surrogate big sister Bridgette. Be sure to check out her blog, Black Bridal Bliss, which she still manages to update while styling for People Style Watch. Work! That's what we as Black women have mastered.

I am filling out my subscription card (something I haven't done in YEARS) and cant wait for my next issue to arrive. Be sure to check out the magazine, the Jonesmag.com site and support a brand that is supporting us!!

A Family Affair

August 13, 2010
You know I love a family reunion.

So seeing my dad and boyfriend dressed in similar ties before we headed to church on Sunday had me grinning.

We were in the deep South for the gathering of my dad's family. And my New York-born and bred manfriend handled it like a champ.

But getting there was a headache. We got to the airport in good time, only to find that though we booked on United and our printouts said that, we were actually leaving from US Airways. We got on a airpot shuttle to get to our gate. That bus went everywhere but where we wanted. I was fighting the feeling that we were going to miss our flight. Finally we get to the gate. I'm wondering if they will let us check in and mad at everyone including my boyfriend for not being as mad as me. We check in but our seats are gone so we are now both in middle seats. Le sigh. At least we made it.

We land in Charlotte and the rental car company of course tries to slide in weird charges. We start the 1.5 hour drive and there is a Bojangles on every block.  We definitely aren't in New York anymore. I sing off key to the radio and Steph cracks jokes if all my family will be singing. I let him know he is in store for a treat. We get turned around a few times, but finally we arrive in Cheraw, SC.

We check into the hotel then head over to the banquet hall. The first person who spots me is my Aunt Sug, better known as Gloria to her lawyer friends.

For the next 40 minutes its more of the same as I get warm hugs from relatives and introduce this man who means enough to me to bring to the reunion. It felt good to be surrounded by so many people who love me.

My grandmother was pretty in pink and commented on how good we looked together. Her brother, the funniest and oldest guy in our family regaled Steph with stories of his time in the big city.

Then the busy body cousin was upon me to pay my dues. I paid and introduced her to the boyfriend I mentioned last summer. She replies by introducing me to her husband. She was single at last year's reunion. Work!

We played cards, ate good and caught up with family for the rest of the day.  Sunday morning we spotted my great uncle and cousin looking sharp as they got ready to head to church to lead the service. We headed to my grandmom's house where my dad was happily preparing breakfast. He wanted to spend more time with Steph and got it over a plate of grits and eggs. Dad was quick to invite him to Atlanta for some of his legendary fish, and was confident I had told Steph about his cooking skills. My brother is als a good cook. Having the three most important men in your life cook better than you as a woman is very new age. I'm getting use to it.

I'm also getting use to my 11-year-old sister continuing to grow. She gave me some cute white sandals and I wore them to church. Someone had given them to her and they were too small. Yes, you read that right.

We headed over to the family church which sits across the street from my grandmother's house. Before I could get too comfortable in the pew, my aunt was telling me and other cousins around to head to the choir loft. The family was the featured choir. As I tried to think of every excuse, I got beckoned again.

Well, guess Im in the choir and they'll be some singing Jacksons after all. We loudly whisper hymnal numbers down the row. Then its time to sing. I snuck this picture of my dad and his brother from my seat in the choir loft. It's the same head!

After service we grabbed a plate at grandmom's then it was time to head back Charlotte. But not before different relatives gave me their feedback on my boyfriend: they liked them, they liked us together.

We played punchbuggy but with Bojangles spottings. I won 6 to 2. See how many Bojangles their are in Charlotte?

Even though we were only in South Carolina for a day, it felt like five with all the time we spent with my relatives. Gotta love family.

Scar Tissue

August 12, 2010
It's not every day, every week or even every month, that I think about my cancer past.

It's intentional not to dwell on the what-ifs of what could have happened and focus on what-is. I am alive. That is the blessing.

But every now and again the tight lid I have on that chapter of my life opens just a little and leaves me undone.

It can be visiting a friend and seeing their orange dish washing detergent that bares a striking resemblence to the chemo IV.  Or noticing someone notice the scar on my left arm from my port.

Or days like today, when I feel someone has wasted my time.

I'm not easily offended. I am my father's child in that regard. he can even find a compliment when he is being insulted:)

But what gets under my skin every time is feeling like my time, my precious precious time, has been wasted.

In those moments I come to face to face with the reality of how much I cram into every day, every week of my life.

Of the reality that I live like there is no tomorrow, knowing there really could not be.

Of the reality that being faced with death has me gulping down life.

Damn scar tissue.

Window Seat Revisited

August 9, 2010
Me and my boyfriend were both stuck in the middle seats on the flight down to Charlotte over the weekend. Yes, E.Badu was on repeat for takeoff.

And I get back to this new "Window Seat/Get Munny" video. I dig. But why was the first thing I noticed was that he opened her car door when they were changing cars? You can take the girl out of the South, but . . .