Sunday, December 23, 2012

Surviving Christmas: Eat, Pray, Drink

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Merry Pre-Christmas, folks!

Yes, it's the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful. Sure, there are family members and friends to see and fattening food (mac and cheese!) to eat, but in addition to presents, sometimes there's drama lurking underneath the tree that calls for heavily spiked eggnog.


So, how do you survive holiday shenanigans and relatives who irk your nerves so much that your left eye starts to twitch? Here's a few tips:

1) Pray:

If you have a family to visit during Christmas that's a great thing, so thank God for that. But, sometimes things get heavy, so pray for peace, patience and understanding on both sides. Given that Jesus is supposed to be the reason for the season, prayer seems appropriate, don't ya think?

2) Establish some boundaries:

If you have the type of family that likes to use the holidays to talk about stuff that you don't want discuss, then man up and let folks know it's not going down like that this year. Even better, GENTLY let folks know that you don't want to talk about that thing when you get home, and that you WON'T talk about that thing while you're trying to enjoy the Christmas holiday. Now, wasn't that easy? On the other hand....

3) You can't make grown people do anything:

Let's face it, even when you ask people nicely not to do something (like bring up ish that you don't want to discuss), sometimes they're going to do it anyway. There's nothing you can do about this, so when this happens, let them talk. You don't have to engage in a conversation about it. If you do engage, and given the fact that you didn't want to talk about it in the first place, things are likely to go left very quickly. So, let them talk, nod your head, say "OK," remind them of the original boundary, and keep moving.

4) Change the way you respond

So let's say you engaged in conversation about stuff you didn't want to talk about and things are starting to go in a less than optimal direction. At this point conversations can escalate and the Grinch is within striking distance of stealing Christmas. What do you do? Bring it back, take a deep breath and change the way you're responding to the situation in a way that brings about peace. You're right, they're wrong, but who the heck cares?! It's Christmas, you don't have to go to work, and someone bought you a sweater. Whatever it is, it's not that serious, at least not during the holidays. However, if this doesn't work, then all you can really do is go back to the basics...

5) Food and liquor

You have friends back home. Call them, get out of the house, and go somewhere that has food and alcohol. You deserve a break, and your friends deserve entertaining stories about your family's special brand of crazy

I'm going to try and follow my own advice. Feel free to do the same :)  Anywho, stay random and enjoy your holiday. As a gift, here's DMX rapping with glee about Rudolph.  Why? Because it's Christmas! What! Holler :)

Jay




Sunday, December 16, 2012

Leadership and courage: 2 ways to stop the mass shooting madness

To be honest, I feel weird writing anything about the senseless tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, but to write about anything else seems frivolous and disrespectful to the victims. So here goes...and this will be more of a rant than anything else.

Twenty-seven people are dead due to the evil actions of a single man. Investigators are close to releasing information as to why a 20-year-old slaughtered innocent children, the adults that tried to protect them, and his mother, but it won't change the fact that Adam Lanza was evil. I'm not sure if evil is explicable or if there are varying degrees of it, but he killed BABIES by shooting them MULTIPLE TIMES. That fact alone makes me discount all the excuses that are being made about his mental state in the news. It also won't change the fact that parents who were planning for Christmas and other celebrations are now planning funerals. This fact alone is beyond comprehension.

Lanza isn't the only culprit. We don't have real gun control in this country because of cowardly, avaricious, self-centered politicians on both sides who allow themselves to bought and pimped by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Basically, lawmakers would rather protect themselves than their constituents. This has to change.

There's also the gun obsession in this country that allows an organization like the NRA to thrive. I'm all about protecting yourself, using guns responsibly for sport, or collecting them if that's your interest. I have uncles and cousins who hunt and have several rifles, and once considered getting a gun myself because I'm a single woman in the big city living in a neighborhood that while gentrified, is still a wee bit sketchy. One of my best girlfriends is a gun owner.  I get it. What I don't get is why people ignore or don't realize there's a middle ground. You can uphold the Second Amendment for law-abiding gun owners and have strong, sensible laws that restrict gun ownership so that guns don't keep ending up in the hands of those that are irresponsible, criminally inclined, mentally ill or just plain evil.

There's also the fact that there are nearly 300 million guns already in circulation in America and that if you put laws in place today, it still won't stop someone else from obtaining guns, legally or illegally, and committing another massacre. Apparently Lanza stole his weapons from the mother that he murdered after being turned down for a gun at a sporting goods store because he didn't want to wait on the background check, a talking point that I'm sure the NRA will use in a despicable fashion.

So, how many of these MASSACRES have to happen before people stop believing the lie that the government is going to take their guns away, and how long will it take for politicians to stop putting their own self-interest ahead of the safety of their constituents before we stop the madness? Do 50 children have to be killed, 100?  How many people have to die while Christmas shopping or watching a movie? How many young Black men have to die in Chicago, New York, and Sanford, Florida? Usually when these things happen, we rightfully cry and protest, but nothing happens. This time has to be different. If not, we only have ourselves to blame for the next massacre, because there will be another one if something doesn't change.

I have very few answers, but I do know we need to force our leaders to actually lead and put gun control back on the table and keep it there until there's a meaningful change in the nation's gun laws, starting  with reinstating the assault weapons ban. We need to put relentless pressure on lawmakers to exhibit some courage and actually stand up to the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby. We as country need to be courageous enough to address the gun problem in this country and resist our tendency to let a vocal, paranoid, and dishonest minority control the debate. Without leadership and courage, we are dooming ourselves to a bloody, violent reality where tragedies like Newtown become the new normal. I think I can safely say that this is no way to live.      

If you want to help the community of Newtown, here's some information:

The United Way of Western Connecticut in partnership with the Newtown Savings Bank has set up a Sandy Hook School Support fund to provide services to families and community members affected by Friday’s school shooting.

Donations by check can be sent to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT  06470

Monday, December 10, 2012

Scandal Indeed: Am I Really Rooting for Adultery?

So, like a lot of people I'm a fan of Kerry Washington's SCANDAL on ABC. It's a political soap opera on crack and while not perfect, it's kept me entertained enough to give it a coveted spot on my TV viewing calendar.

As good SCANDAL viewers know, Washington's Olivia Pope is involved in an on-again, off-again affair with President Fitzgerald Grant played by Tony Goldwyn, A.K.A., Fitz, A.K.A. the guy who killed Patrick Swayze in Ghost. During the campaign Pope and the POTUS fell madly in love and can't seem to stay away from each other. During the Dec. 6 episode we saw Pope and Grant have sexy time at Camp David and in the Oval Office on top of President Grant's desk. Um, can we say bold...and HOTTT!

In this same episode you gained a better sense of Olivia and Fitz's devotion and connection to each other, what with the epic "I belong to you speech" and Olivia sniffing Fitz's clothes because that's just how deep their love is. I couldn't help but laugh when the The Root compared their declarations of love to R. Kelly lyrics


Washington and Goldwyn have great chemistry, and the girly girl in me wants to see love conquer all. However, while watching this particular episode of SCANDAL, I started to feel some kind of way about Olivia and Fitz and their shenanigans in the name of love. During one scene, Fitz takes Olivia to view the U.S. Constitution. Not his wife, mind you, but Olivia, his mistress, sidepiece, whatever you want to call it. I mean, if that ain't love, I don't know what is. During this visit, Olivia declares that she's all in and fully committed to carrying on a relationship with a married man. Uh, well OK then. 

Yes, Fitz and Olivia have been carrying on for a while now, but this scene got to me because it showed that their affair was a deliberate decision and not something that just happened that they couldn't control.  I know, this is a fictional TV show, but if this were real life, Olivia and Fitz would be called everything but children of God and considered the most trifling, selfish people on the planet. Yet if you were on Twitter the night of this episode, you would know that viewers are rooting for Olivia and Fitz. I mean, Olivia is miserable, and Fitz hates his wife because he can't be with Olivia. If they could just be together, rainbows, puppies, kittens, and glitter would erupt from the sky and the world would be a much better place, right? The fact that they made a conscious decision to engage in an adulterous affair for God knows how long? Chile, why you gotta bring up old ish?

If nothing else, we know two things: 1) The media influences perceptions, even among reasonable intelligent adults, and 2) nobody with morals cheers for adultery in real life. But, if we're rooting for adultery on our favorite television shows, what does that say about us?

Anywho, these are just my random thoughts. If you need another perspective on Olivia and Fitz's problematic love story, check out DistrictDiva's take.

Stay random,
Jay 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Discomfort Zone: When Dating and Websites Collide


"I wanna try something new," says the handsome brother with the questionable hairline in the Match.com commercial. Sounds reasonable, so why not? Yes, I'm in the process of joining Match.com. I say "process" because I've registered, written a profile, and answered the questions, but I haven't paid any money yet or done the most important thing: upload a profile picture.

Why am I doing this? For one, it's time. I haven't dated in a while, and single people need to date. It's the law...of nature. Secondly, I love my female friends to death, but every once in while you just get sick of looking at women (again, LOVE you guys! Smooches and xoxo!). Sometimes you gotta shake things up and get a different perspective that often times requires a different gender. Lastly, I'm just not that girl who meets guys at parties, lounges, clubs, bars, etc. The few times I have it usually didn't amount to anything, or something awkward happened. No shade to Issa Rae, but I'm the queen of Awkward Black Girls, and it's hard for ABGs out here in these streets.

Also, you can't argue with the success rate, at least among the people that I know. Way too many of my friends and acquaintances have met their husbands on Match.com and are happy as pigs in slop (or something country like that). They have babies and as far as I know, are no closer to divorce that I am with my unmarried self. How can I not try it? While I'm not necessarily looking for a husband at this very moment, I'm open to the possibility that he could be just a profile or email away.

I'd be lying if I said that my age and the marital status of my friends and family members weren't having some type of impact on my decision. My 31-year-old sister got engaged recently and two married friends are pregnant. I knew everyone else would beat me to the altar, and I believe that there's someone out there for everyone. However, I also recognize that waiting for Prince Charming to show up instead of putting myself out there won't get me any free food and long romantic walks in the park. Life is all about finding someone to manage your crazy, and I know that I'm not going to find this manager unless I post a position description.   

So, here I am, ready to embark of this journey called online dating and hopefully have something to show for it. Oh yeah, right after I pay money to meet someone who will hopefully pay for dinner and select a profile picture that will catch the eye of a potential suitor. Oh the shameless self-profession of it all!

Anywho, wish me luck, and let me know if you have any tips for successful online dating in the comments.

Stay Random,

Jay


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Cure for the Common Election

Well, you've been waiting for it and now it's FINALLY here, Election Day! Did you vote? You are going to vote, RIGHT?! People fought and died for the right to vote, so the least we can do is stand in a line. Seriously, if you bring snacks and a charged smartphone you'll be fine.

Anywho, like many of you, this election has stressed me out and driven me to drink...a little (I kid...sort of). At a certain point, I got so sick of all the election chatter that I mastered the art of not looking at the election coverage on CNN.com and going straight for the stories about any and everything else. I also stopped looking at my Twitter feed for a minute because I follow too many news outlets. For a while I actually did a pretty good job of avoiding  tiresome, deceptive ads and headache-inducing polls, pundits, and predictions. Now the campaign emails are another story.

If all this sounds melodramatic, that's fine because I never claimed that I wasn't a bit of a drama queen. I'm not going to lie, this election has me shook. However, stress relief is now in order.

So, what do you do to relieve stress when the future of your country is at stake?

1) Acknowledge that you did everything you could do: You voted, donated, canvassed, phone banked, drove "souls to the polls"...you  did it ALL! However, things could still not turn out the way you want. Accept that and refuse to be discouraged or defeated.

2) Pray: It's fine to have a preference, and God knows I do (literally), but it's also important to pray for a spirit that accepts whatever happens. Basically, give the situation to God. Releasing burdens to God is one of the best stress/pain relievers on the market.

3) Move: Resolve to keep moving forward no matter the outcome. There's still work to do no matter who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. If you're disappointed tonight, there will be a tomorrow.

Whatever happens, it is what it is...



Relax, relate and release. As I minister to you, I minister to MYSELF! Stay random.

--Jay

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday afternoons with Sandy

If you're on the East Coast, you know that ish is really real right now. Cities are shut down, flooded, busted and disgusted, and the weather can't be trusted. Grocery shelves are empty, and folks are hunkered down waiting for the full fury of Hurricane Sandy. BUTTT, that's not what's bothering me. What's bothering me is that I don't think I'm wasting my time effectively. No, that's not a typo.

This weekend, I bought extra groceries, washed clothes and cooked pork chops so that I'd have clean draws and pork chop sandwiches when the power goes out (I ate the pork chops, so no power outage sammiches for me).

I fortunately didn't have to work today, but now I'm not sure what to do since the worse of Hurricane Sandy's won't hit DC until later tonight. My cabin fever is in full effect, and I need help. Here's where I stand:
  • Television: Tried watching network TV, but the political ads are nauseating, and I refuse to engage in the negativity. I'm now reduced to HGTV reruns and First Take on ESPN. Yeah, I could watch a movie On Demand, but my frugality is trumping my boredom. I've got a trip to Europe to save for (more on that later).
  • Drinking: I broke out the red wine too early. Drinking before noon is overrated and leaves you with less wine.
  • Eating: I've cooked and eaten way too much non-Weight Watchers-approved food under the guise of "I can't be wasting food!" in case the power goes out for an extended period of time.

  • Social media: I'm a slight addict, but I can't do it today. Twitter and FB are too gloom and doom for me right now. Let social media tell it, we're all going to be eaten by Frankenstorm and I just don't need all that right now.

  • Reading: Reading online has already made my eyes tired, and I'm indecisive about what book I should pick up. Yes, these are lame excuses, but they're my excuses and I choose to embrace them :)  
  • Blogging: Uh, I think I got this covered.

So, how are you co-existing with Sandy? I could use your suggestions, Easter Coasters. After all, we're going to be in the same boat for a while.

Also, stay safe, stay inside and follow the guidance of local authorities.

Yours in Randomness,

Jay

Monday, October 22, 2012

Let me be your motivation: Why having your butt handed to you can be a good thing

I've been thinking a lot about motivation lately. Where is it? Is there a motivation GPS for sale? If not, somebody needs to get on that, because we'd all be better, more productive people if we could just find the motivation needed to change our self-defeating behaviors.

Speaking as someone who has a lot of ish that needs to be changed, my motivation for changing isn't always rooted in life experiences or just a desire to better a person. Sometimes I do something that's embarrassing or humiliating, and that's plenty motivation to NOT have a repeat performance. That's probably not the best reason to "do betta," but it works and you can't argue with success.

Take President Obama for example (yeah, let's just start at the VERY TOP, shall we?). As you we all know, the first presidential debate with Money Makin' Mitt was a failure of epic proportions. POTUS turned in an embarrassing debate performance that shifted the polls and gave Romney momentum in the final weeks leading up to the election, all in one friggin' night.  Uh, ungood.

Fast forward to the second debate on Oct. 16, and POTUS brought is "A" game. He gave Mittens a drubbing that talked the Democrat base off the cliff and contained the damage done in the first debate, again in one freakin' night (debates are funny that way). The downside/upside of all this: Tonight is the last debate.

While winning the election seems like the obvious motivator here, you can't deny the embarrassment factor in the POTUS' debate turnaround. I'm sure that the president had a lot of thoughts running through his head when watching the first debate replay, such as:
  • Man, I should have actually taken this debate seriously. Too much is at stake. 
  • I'm better than this. 
  • Well, that was a HOTTTT mess. 
  • God, I wanna punch Romney in his smug face.
I kid about the last one (well, not really), but you see my point.  Being embarrassed forces you to assess your behavior, and used correctly, can serve as a catalyst for positive change. Here's why:

1. Embarrassment bursts your bubble

Being embarrassed has a way of pricking your protective bubble and forcing you to rejoin the real world. You can't do better until you pull your head out of the sand and confront your issues.

2. Embarrassment forces you to be honest with yourself

OK, now that you've shaken off the sand, get serious and ask the hard questions: Why did this embarrassing thing happen? Was it something beyond your control? Or, did you take a situation/person for granted and not get the response and/or behavior you expected? At this point it's easy to cast blame on everyone but yourself, but it's a losing battle. You know the truth. Accept it, take responsibility and make a plan for change.


3. Embarrassment awakens your determined nature and competitive spirit
You were embarrassed doing something that you know that you can do, but you didn't live up to your own standards. It's not for lack of knowledge, skill or ability, but you "bring it" for whatever reason. You're better than this and  you're going to prove it, to yourself. Success leads to confidence and confidence leads to success (at least I think so). 

All of this is of course easier said than done because embarrassment just doesn't feel good when it happens. It stings, burns, itches...you get my point. However, once you get past the initial pain, man up; see it for the blessing in disguise that it is; and turn that damaging negative into a triumphant positive.

Was this post random enough for ya? Yeah, I thought so.

Stay random,
Jay

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Miami Spice

Headed to MIA this weekend. Hallelujah! I'm sorry, DC is cool and all, but sometimes a girl needs a break! My girl lives there so we're going to do old lady stuff like eat and lay on the beach, and be glad about it ALL.

When I get back the blog is going to be revamped for your reading pleasure. Basically, I want to use my crazy to help you, if that makes sense, which I hope it does. Either way, it's going to be fabulous, trust me.

Smooches!

Stay random,

Jay

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympics 2012: Everything Must Change

I love the Olympics, lord knows I do. I've mostly enjoyed the games, but as the XXX Olympiad closes, I've got a confession to make: I've been having a hard time with the 2012 edition. I'm even experiencing Olympic fatigue. Yes, that's a thing. For the first time that I can remember, watching the Olympics has felt more like a job than a diversion. Why you may ask? Because I'm one of those weirdos that doesn't want to know the results before I watch an event and technology has made this dang near impossible. Between the Internet, twitter and the insensitive co-workers who spill the beans, I deserve a gold medal for the effort I've exerted trying to avoid event spoilers. This write-up from The Washington Post pretty much sums up my feelings.


"...I thought it would be easy. I’d just unplug. Ignore the Twitter feed. Stay off Facebook. Scroll past the headlines. #Spoileralert, #savethesurprise — all worthy sentiments, but I’ve learned over the past three days that they don’t save you from co-workers, spouses and talking heads telling you exactly what you don’t want to know.

As reporter Tom Jackman noted in the Post’s Olympic Live Blog Sunday night: “In the all-electronic world of today, it was impossible not to know that very big stuff happened in women’s gymnastics and one of the men’s swimming relays — it just floats through the air into your brain.”

Indeed. Olympics XXX: The year suspense junkies learned to surrender and enjoy the show when they already knew the ending."

Obviously I co-sign on all of this except the last part: How can I enjoy the show when I already know the ending? Where's the fun and excitement in that? No, Washington Post writer, I don't want to surrender! That's not what watching sporting events is all about.  Seriously, as wonderful as technology is, the London 2012 Olympics have made me nostalgic for the days when you had no choice but to wait for the tape delay coverage. Even though I was around in 1984 (I was 9), my memories of the Olympics start with the 1988 games in Seoul. Back in those days, we all (Americans, that is) found out the results and cheered together. Now I'm just supposed to be happy with knowing the outcome beforehand and still FULLY enjoy the experience. Dude, that so doesn't work with Track & Field, gymnastics, swimming...heck, the WHOLE DANG OLYMPICS!

OK, I'm being melodramatic, but it's truly the end of an era. Yes, I've managed to watch a few events online, but that hasn't always worked out. Unless you live in the same time zone as the host country, you're basically screwed, if you care as much as I do. If you don't, you're a better person than me.

I still love you, Olympics. But as the song says, everything must change, nothing stays the same. Oh well, let me get my watch strategy together for Rio 2016. Holla!

Stay random,
Jay


Friday, July 27, 2012

Black-owned but no Black employees?

So there's a small business that I visit quite frequently in an adjacent neighborhood. I read about it in the local free newspaper and decided to make an effort to visit it because it was Black-owned.

For me, being able to patronize a local Black-owned business is a big deal because I feel like I hardly ever get a chance to do it. Yeah, I know what the studies and surveys say, but I feel like I don't see a lot of brick and mortar Black-owned store fronts in a city that, until recently, was majority Black. Sure, we have our consulting firms and solo practices, but it's different when you see a Black-owned shop on a busy street selling its product to the masses. Maybe it's just my neighborhood and the surrounding area, but I felt like I saw more Black shops, stores and restaurants in Atlanta. However, that's based on only living there for a little over a year, but I digress.

Anywho, after trying out the store's products (I'm not going to name the store for reasons I'll explain later), I started going back pretty regularly, mostly on Saturdays. It's a cute, but small space and the service is good. Butttttttt, something started bothering me about this place a few weeks ago and the feeling hasn't gone away because the situation hasn't changed: Besides the owners, who I see every once and a while,  I NEVER see any Black people working behind the counter at this Black-owned business.

Now, I don't know for a fact if the Black owners aren't employing Black people. I truly don't want to jump to unfair conclusions, and that's why I don't want to name the place. After all, I usually only visit this place on early Saturday afternoons when I'm running errands. If they have Black employees, maybe they don't work there when I visit. Maybe they work during the week or the evenings. However, even as I type that, I'm finding it hard to believe, and I'm wondering if my support is misplaced, not in terms of product quality, but principle.

Maybe the owners just hired friends or friend of friends when they opened their shop. Obviously, that's their right, but it's suspect. If the employees are friends/associates of the owners, then we're possibly dealing with Black people with no Black friends, and that's a side-eye worthy situation if ever there was one. However, if the employees I see simply came in and filled out application then it's still an issue. Now, you can't just hire anybody. The people you hire must be qualified and professional. However, you can't tell me that there aren't any qualified, professional Black folks out there looking for work who aren't perfectly capable of selling their products.

Black people are often strongly encouraged to buy Black-owned as a way to keep wealth in our community, but many of us don't do it for variety of reasons. That's how we end up with people who who don't look like us owning everything in our neighborhoods and then going back their houses in the 'burbs to enjoy the fruits of their labor at our expense, often with no contribution to the communities that freely gave them the means to create a comfortable lifestyle. Call me crazy, but I actually buy into the idea that if we generate and keep wealth in our communities, we can improve our communities, increase our political clout and economically empower future generations.

That's why I struggle with whether I should keep supporting this place. I guess in my mind Black-owned and Black-operated go hand in hand, but now I see that this isn't necessarily the case and it bothers me. I mean, why am I going to support you if people that look like you aren't good enough to work for you? Again, I could be completely wrong about this place. There could be a brother or sister working there right now. But, what if I'm not wrong?

What say you dear readers, could you support a Black-owned business that doesn't employ Black people, even if the business produces a good product, has good service and does everything else right? When supporting a Black-owned business, should it matter what the employees look like so long as the owner is Black?


Yours in randomness,
Jay





Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Have light-skinned brothers finally made a comeback?


Black people of a certain age know that light-skinned dudes were supposedly "in style" back in the day. Guys like El Debarge, Prince, Christopher Williams, Al B. Sure, etc. dominated the entertainment landscape and the fantasies of women everywhere with their high-yellowness in the 80s and early 90s.

At some point, mid 90s I think, dark-skinned dudes overtook their light-skinned brethren on the attractiveness scale and never really looked back. Michael Jordan probably single handily started the chocolate, bald and sexy movement, and Morris Chesnut's dark chocolate sexiness was ubiquitous for much of the 90s (and a little bit of the 2000s).

Since then there's been this running joke about light-skinned brothers making a comeback. In my mind, and probably the minds of others, this was never going to happen. But, I'm woman enough to admit when I'm wrong. I'm probably late, but I think the comeback is in full effect. Case in point:

Michael Ealy


OK, Michael Ealy has been on the slow and steady come up for a while. Now that Think Like a Man has made him a household name, he's now starring a cutesy cop show on USA called Common Law. Common Law is OK, in my opinion, but USA shows are usually successful and enjoy long runs, so it's nice to see the blue-eyed bandit finally getting the recognition he deserves.


President Obama


Ok, obviously what's most important is that a Black man is president of the United States. It wouldn't matter if he was butterscotch, caramel, milk chocolate or dark chocolate. In this case, Black is Black. But, by being leader of the free world, the POTUS is repping for light-skinned bros whether he realizes it or not.


Jesse Williams



I haven't watched Grey's Anatomy since the whole Isaiah Washington debacle, but it's still one of the hottest shows on the air, and ladies everywhere and of all shades are digging Jesse Williams. He's definitely a cutie. It will be interesting to see how he parlays his Grey's success.


Drake


I'm not the biggest fan of Aubrey/Drizzy/Wheelchair Jimmy, but when he's not fighting with fellow light-skinner and woman beater Chris Brown, he's still one of the hottest rappers in the game. He's like the hip-hop version of Al B. Sure, minus the unibrow.

Honorable mentions

Common


Yes, I know that Common has been around forever, but since he's broadened his horizons into acting, we get to see his freckled, high-yellowness even more and that's a good thing.


Tyson Chandler


I don't think I have to say anything else. *drops mic*


Ryan Bailey


Who? If you watched the Olympic trials a few weeks ago, you noticed this tall, dimpled dude qualify for the Olympic 100 meter team and possibly the 4x100 relay team. He may  totally tank at the Olympics or he may bring home a medal, but whatever he does he'll be repping for #TeamLightSkin

Now, please don't take this post as a declaration of some ridiculous, problematic "preference" for yella dudes. I like Black men of ALLLLLLLLL shades. Anyone who knows me knows this. But when I notice something I'm gonna speak on it, as unimportant as it may be :)

As far as this "comeback," it's probably not as dramatic as light-skinned brothers would have wanted. I mean, if you ask Black women who's the sexiest of them all, a lot us will probably say Idris Elba. Butttttt, sexy is as sexy does, whatever the shade. UPDATE: This post has a sequel, with more chocolate ;) Check it here.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Everything AIN'T for everybody

What's up motherfleckers! (If you watched Suits on the USA network  you would totally get that reference). Sooooo...I haven't written in a while and for that I apologize. I don't really have an explanation. "Life got in the way," sounds dishonest, but "I got lazy" doesn't really describe my absence from blogging either. All I can say is that I'm sorry and that I'll try (emphasis on "try") to do better.

Anywho,

In the words of Jill Scott, "everything ain't for everybody." I've been thinking a lot about these words lately, especially when it comes to my job issues and my relationships. It's finally starting to sink that while things and situations don't work out for a variety of reasons, the reason that's hardest to accept is that some things just aren't meant to be.

Example 1: Jobs

As many of you know, I was let got from my job in June 2011. What followed was pure and unadulterated hell for the next 10 1/2 months. I spiraled into another severe depression, ended a relationship with one of my oldest friends, drained my savings, went on that oh-so-terrible government assistance that the Republicans hate so much, became the victim of both car theft (I still don't have a car) and identity theft (3 cards were opened in my name that I knew nothing about), and just basically experienced the most soul-crushing period of my life.

The "fall" came after I was let go from my job of 3years. I took the job reluctantly and never liked it. I always felt awkward, confused, out-of-place, and just unsure of what was expected of me. Despite all this, I stayed in a position that never felt right because I needed a job and just wanted some kind of security after a challenging period living in Atlanta. 

Fast forward to 2011 and there are new managers who decide to eliminate my position. Obviously I was devastated at the time and wondering what went wrong. I beat myself up something terrible and decided that it was all my fault and that I was a horrible employee. I literally made myself sick with worry over the prospect of trying to convince another employer to hire me.

When I started my new job in April 2012, I was very paranoid about "screwing up." Do I suck? Am I good at this? Paranoia is no way to start a new job, but that's what I did. It wasn't until my boss told me that I was doing good work during two separate evaluation sessions that I finally began to think that I was going to be OK. And if I was going to be OK, that obviously meant that maybe, just maybe, I was actually....wait for it...GOOD AT MY JOB. If I was good at this job, maybe that also meant that what happened at my last job wasn't an indictment of my skills, knowledge, and abilities. Maybe the new managers didn't know what they were doing, or maybe it was God's way of getting me out of a situation that was never right for me. As Jill would say "everything ain't for everybody," and I'm glad that the "thing" that wasn't for me is no more, despite everything that happened.

Example 2: Relationships

I had a close male friend, but I kinda of ruined it by getting feelings and stuff. Things really got complicated when he got a girlfriend. Despite the girlfriend, we still talked on the phone frequently and remained close.

However, at some point, I FINALLY accepted that my feelings would never be reciprocated, that there would be no romantic comedy ending. Consequently, I ended the friendship. If he wanted me, he would done something. He wouldn't  have started dating the next chick, or he wouldn't have stayed in the relationship. If we were meant to be together, we would be, and we are not. Say it with me now, "everything AIN'T for everybody." Hopefully my decision cleared the way for the guy that actually wants me in the flesh rather than just on the phone.  

As I mentioned previously, I lost one of my best friends because of my job loss. How you ask? Long story short: I said something really offensive during a particularly low point, and she decided she couldn't deal with me anymore. I didn't attack her personally, but I did attack something that she believed. My other friends could tell that something was truly wrong when I said what I said and stood by me, but she abandoned me. We had a major flare up in our friendship about 7 years ago, but the fact that certain words said in 2011 in a moment of deep and profound despair prompted her to end our friendship, while other friends expressed concern, showed me that our season as friends was truly over. Did I mention that all of this happened around my birthday?

We weren't meant to be BFFs and that was a painful realization. In my humble opinion, out-of-character and regrettable words shouldn't have prompted the end of a 17-year friendship, but that's just me. I think you know where I'm going with this. If we were meant to be friends, we would have gotten past the situation, but we didn't and our lifetime bond just wasn't meant to be.

As much as I would have liked for all of these situations to have worked out, I'm not in control. God has the final say and He said, "Uh, no" when it came to some things in my life that I thought had staying power. I'm not thrilled, but I've reached a point of acceptance and realization that it all will work out for my good.

With that said, I can't mention the lovely Jill Scott without a video embed. Enjoy and stay random. Also, check ya girl out on Instagram at RealJCarol.

--Jay




      


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Government Assistance and Remission? Yes, please! Why May is a good month

Up until recently I didn't really think much about the month of May. It's a perfectly lovely month. There's usually nice weather, and it's basically the unofficial beginning of summer. However, it's not a month that holds any particular significance for me, like say, October (October babies ROCK!!). However, EBT and remission have changed all that.

Last week I used up the remaining balance on my Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card (that's how you get food stamps nowadays). Previously, I got a letters saying that I was no longer eligible for unemployment benefits or Medicaid. This was all fine because I did what I was supposed to do and reported my new job and salary to D.C.'s Department of Employment Services. Consequently, May 7 marked the end of my time on welfare. It also marked the true beginning of what promises to be a long journey back to financial stability after 10 EXCRUCIATING months of permanent unemployment.

Food stamps, unemployment insurance (UI), my family and friends helped me tremendously while I was unemployed. UI helped me keep the lights on. EBT kept food in my refrigerator. Don't get me wrong, government assistance is NOT enough to live on in any shape, form or fashion. My family and friends provided other vital safety nets that kept a roof over my head and clothes on my back.  The tiny bit of money I got each week relieved only a fraction of the stress that I felt each month when a bill arrived, but that's it. I wasn't sitting around living it up on the government's dime because it was impossible to do so, and that's just not in my character.

No sane, mature adult wants to be in a situation where they can't take care of themselves. That's why people who say that UI and other forms of assistance keep people lazy and complacent because they don't want to work are too stupid, ignorant and callous for me to take seriously. Government assistance saved my life and in May, when the EBT benefits ran out, it was like God was transitioning me from "critical condition" to "stable."


May also is cool for health related-reasons. I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins lymphoma in October 2010. I had my last chemotherapy treatment in April 2011 and my last radiation treatment in May 2011. So, I've officially been in remission for a year, and I pray that I'm on my way to being "cured" in the years to come. Therefore, May marks another instance of transition in my life, but also a time of reflection. Last May I transitioned from cancer patient to cancer survivor. This May I'm reflecting on God's favor and mercy and what I'm going to do with this second chance that I've been given. Basically I'm trying to live a happier, more purpose-filled life. I've been through too much not to see life through a different lens.

Conclusion: May, it's not just for BBQs and roof-top parties anymore :)

Does May or any other month hold any significance for you?

Feel free to share and remember to stay random,

Jay
 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On Dating: What's your age limit?

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing the new multiracial production of A Streetcar Named Desire in New York. Nicole Ari Parker and Blair Underwood were great, so I definitely recommend it. BUT, that's not the headline. The headline is that I realized that I could date a man knocking on 50 if he looked Blair Underwood or Lenny Kravitz.


For context, there's a scene in the play where Blair takes off his shirt, and it's quite obvious that Mr. Underwood has stepped up his workout game. Yeah, I should have been wrapped up in Tennessee William's passionate dialogue and Blanche's slow descent into madness (and I was for the most part), but I had an epiphany when I saw Blair's six pack.


Now, I know most guys in the their late 40s don't look like Blair or Lenny. Most guys of any age don't possess their fineness, but that's a blog for another day. I always said I couldn't date anyone north of the early 40s. Any older just seemed, well, OLD. Like, your uncle or father-type old. However, there are men out there that look younger than they appear and don't give off creepy old-man vibes. If a man falls into the nice-looking to FINE range and checks off the main boxes (i.e. funny, smart, good credit, loves God and his momma, etc.) but happens to fall outside of one's preferred age range, should he be dismissed? Aren't you as young as you feel? Age ain't nothing but a number, right? 

Back during that horrible period when everyone and their mother was obsessing about Black women and our marriage prospects, we were advised to expand our dating pools beyond Black men to include men of other races (because that's the solution for everything). That's fine, but since we're expanding, why not add age to the mix? No one is saying that you should date someone old enough to be your grandfather (unless you're into that sort of thing), but relaxing age restrictions when it comes to dating might not be such a bad idea, especially when it comes in the right package :)

What say you, dear readers? Do you have dating age limits? Are you willing to relax your restrictions for the right guy? Holla at ya girl.

And, stay random.

--Jay

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Job=New Food

I started the new job on April 16, and I am proud to report that I haven't screwed it up! Seriously, things seems to be going well, despite a few awkward moments on my first day. Ya know, allergies attacking me during lunch with my boss, an exploding pen, a toilet that wouldn't flush, that kind of stuff.

Beyond those embarrassments the thing that really stands out to me is that this is the first job I've had in a while that isn't baptism by fire. With my previous jobs, I had to jump right into projects, assignments and other situations with little to no direction, guidance or background. With this position, I've actually had to sit and read, figure out computer issues, go to lunch, and meet with colleagues. Yes, I've had a few assignments, but my new boss has really given me the chance to settle in and that's a foreign concept for me. I feel like I should be doing something, creating something, or just doing anything to prove my value. Am I making a good impression? Are they having second thoughts? However, when my brain starts to go off the rails, I have to remind myself that I've only been there for five days and there's still a lot I don't know and understand. I'll figure it out and for the first time in a while, I really think I'm going to be OK

The other thing about the new job is that it's going to make me fatter than ever, and if I didn't care, that would be totally fine. My job is in downtown Silver Spring, Md. The downtown area got all revitalized back in 2004-2005 and it's now how to an epic number of glorious restaurants that are a five second walk from my office. Restaurant Row, as I like to call it, includes:

Chick-fil-a (Yaaaassss!)
Cold Stone
Chipotle
Red Lobster (Cheddar Biscuits!)
Macaroni Grill
Eggspectation
Austin Grill
Lebanese Taverna
Panera Bread and many more!

As you can tell by my excitement, I'm definitely not at chain restaurant snob. I've eaten at a couple of these places, and I plan to sample as many of these eateries as possible. To understand my excitement you should know that the only places I had access to at my last job were a grocery store and a Domino's.

I know I can't eat out every day, but it's nice to have the option. It's even better to have a full-time job after 10 months of unemployment within walking distance of those options :)

Stay random,
Jay

Monday, April 9, 2012

Movin' on up, but still feeling stuck

Have you ever felt like you're making progress, but still stuck? I know that's contradiction, but I'm at a loss on how else to describe my current dilemma/good fortune.

I lost my job and had my car stolen in June 2011. I applied for HUNDREDS (I have documentation to prove it) of jobs and got 10 interviews total, including second interviews and staffing agencies. In early March, God blessed me with a part-time temp opportunity at a local university. In late March, God blessed me again with a permanent, full-time job that will start next week. So, just to review, I was jobless for 8.5 months before my part-time temp assignment and by the time I start my full-time job, it will be 10 months since I've had permanent employment.  Believe me, the recession is not a game and I am grateful God kept me.

Obviously I'm happy to have a job. The last 10 months have taken a physical, emotional and financial toll that I don't wish on anyone. But, as I prepare to re-enter the work world on a full-time basis, I find myself, well, bothered. I had to put a lot of things on hold because of my job loss, and you would think that with a job I would feel confident about hitting "play" instead of "pause." However, when I look around at everything I feel I have to do, I get overwhelmed, annoyed and anxious.

I need to study for the job. I need to finish this book on strategic thinking. I need to throw away TONS of papers, bills, books, magazines, etc., because my apartment is messy and the mess represents my life. On top of that, my confidence is shaky. Expectations are high and what if I screw up? When this perfect storm happens, I tend to shut down, which only makes the situation worse. Also, there are health issues that are always a concern, so much so that I have a doctor's appointment every day this week to address them so that I don't need to go to the doctor when I start my new job.

So, I'm moving forward job-wise, but there's so much going on that it doesn't feel like I'm making progress and that's putting me on edge. Does that make any sense? I hope it makes sense to someone else besides me.

Stay random,
Jay

Monday, April 2, 2012

Every THANG ain't got to be said!

First off, let me say that I'm not an old fart. I like technology, specifically social media. I appreciate it's impact and its ability to connect people and catalyze change. That being said, social media has a dark side that has nothing to do with bathroom mirror shots, porn or pictures of a person's dinner. Social media has given us another way to talk waaaaaaaay too much about absolutely nothing!

I remember what life was like before celebrity gossip blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., and yet me and my fellow human beings managed to live our lives and be fairly productive citizens without the ability to publicly comment to the world about every random thing that somebody did or said. We also managed to get through life without publicly describing every tedious, mundane event in our daily lives. I mean, I truly don't care if you're eating ramen noodles while watching soap operas. Why do you need to tweet that? Why does the world need to know that you like sodium-laden noodles with no nutritional value and bad television? Chile, boo.

Why you got to comment on everything?

Social media gives us all an opportunity to connect through online conversations about an endless stream of topics. Social media has the power to ignite movements and topple politicians.  However, social media is also a forum for a lot of people to talk a great deal about things that don't matter, don't warrant extensive exchanges and don't justify the energy it takes to compose a tweet or a FB post. Kim Kardashian and her fellow familial famewhores don't matter. Drake's bitchassness doesn't matter.  The random '90s movie you're watching while lying on the couch eating Doritos doesn't freakin' matter. Yet, Twitter is filled with trending topics like these because people are talking about them...just because they can and just because it will show up in somebody's Twitter feed.

The same people who talk about all things shallow and stupid on Twitter/FB also are probably the same bitter folks who comment on a blog post by asking "Why is this news?" If you don't think it's news, why the heck are you commenting about it? Again, talking loud and saying NOTHING!

Yes, there are serious discussions about substantive issues and insightful commentary to be found on social media, yet too often that's a gross imbalance between the silly and serious and all that verbal diarrhea can be messy (ha!) and overwhelming. I'm not saying you can't talk about the silly and amazingly vapid, but do you have to talk about it so much, with the WORLD? Isn't that what talking to your friends, FACE-TO-FACE, is for? 

Honestly, I get the need to comment on and tweet/FB about everything that comes into your fool head to a certain extent. When you do these things, you're engaging in a conversation, conversations can be fun and who doesn't like to have fun? Butttt...are you talking about anything important? Are you adding anything to the conversation?  If the answer is no, that's fine. But if you're going to go worldwide with your thoughts via social media, just resist the urge to tweet or post that status update unless you have something interesting to say about something that matters. OK? Cool :)

Stay random,
Jay

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taxes, Cab Drivers and Vulnerability

Soooo....it's been a while since I updated this joint. I've got to do better. In fact, I am making a public commitment to blog at LEAST once a week with the goal of blogging multiple times during the week.

OK, now that we have that out of the way, here's the randomness:

I got my taxes done on Sunday, and it was definitely a lesson in vulnerability. But, not for the reasons you might think.

I'm a little broke right now because I haven't been permanently employed since June 2011 (However, I started temping part-time at the beginning of March). With the tax deadline looming, I naturally had to find a way to get my taxes done on the cheap. Luckily the IRS has a program called VITA that offers free tax help to people who make $50,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns (see, the IRS isn't totally evil). Turns out that VITA is offered at various locations in DC, including Gallaudet University, and that's where I went on Saturday.

For those who are unfamiliar, Gallaudet is a university for deaf and hard of hearing students. I've lived in the DC area for nearly 12 years, and I've always been aware of Gallaudet. I even assume, rightly or wrongly, that most of the people I see using sign language are affiliated with the school in some way. However, the fact that I was on a campus for the deaf didn't click in my head until I asked a boyish-looking security guard for directions. Before I could finish asking my question, he stopped me and handed me a clipboard with some scrap pieces of paper. Oh yeah, he can't hear me, and I've got to write down my questions. Duh!

I eventually found my way to the Ely Center where the tax preparation services were being held. As soon as I walked in, I realized that I needed directions again. This time I was keenly aware that I was probably going to encounter the same problem I had with the security guard. To be honest, trying to figure who to ask and how to communicate my need stressed me out. I wasn't used to thinking so hard before asking for directions. I know the people I saw were probably wondering, who is this chick and why does she look so confused and crazy?

Fortunately, I had the room number listed on my Blackberry calendar and eventually mustered the courage to ask a young man for directions. He read my calendar entry and showed me how to get to my destination. Once there, it really hit me that I was in foreign territory when people started signing to me because they assumed I was deaf.

I felt like an outsider, an intruder and for some reason, a disappointment to whoever tried to talk to me via American Sign Language (ASL). Was this tax prep session only for the deaf community? Should I even be here? Needless to say, my mind was reeling. It's something I should have been prepared for, you know, being on  a deaf campus.  But again, I wasn't thinking.

Fortunately, the tax prep session was open to anyone, but I was definitely in the minority. The coordinator was hearing and fluent in ASL, but the man who prepared my taxes, as well as the other tax preparers, were all deaf. Most of the customers were deaf. I communicated with my tax preparer through messages on paper and "thumbs up" signs when I answered I answered his questions or provided the information he needed. 

Because it was a free service, the whole process took a while (a little less than 3 hours), but in the end the people were nice, my taxes were filed, and I got federal and state refunds. However, the thing I'll remember most is this: You realize how vulnerable you are when you don't know the language. It's an uneasy feeling, but it reminds you that the world is bigger than your bubble and you need to adapt to the situation and not the other way around.

Oh, but the lessons in vulnerability don't stop there!

When I left Gallaudet, I decided to get a cab, because I needed to get back to Capitol Hill by 2pm and that wasn't going to happen on metro. At least 5 cab drivers, all of them Black, passed me before one finally stopped for me. This angered me, and I vented my frustration to my cabbie by asking him why his fellow cab drivers passed me by. He laughed and told me what I knew was true, but tried to ignore: because I'm Black.

The cab drivers were Black. WTH? It didn't matter. According to my African (probably Ethiopian) cab driver, because I'm Black, they assumed I was going to a bad neighborhood, so they didn't bother with picking me up.  You know, because all Blacks in DC live in crime-ridden neighborhoods in Southeast. Never mind that I was going to Capitol Hill, which is predominantly white. Never mind that I could have been going to other white upscale areas like Georgetown or Chevy Chase. Never mind that the white girl or guy that they picked up instead of me could have been going to Anacostia, one of the BLACKEST neighborhoods in DC, because you know, gentrification is real like a mug.

I couldn't argue with him because I knew he was right. I've been in similar situations, but it didn't make the experience any less hurtful or maddening when it happened. I mean, the Trayvon Martin tragedy is reminding us once again that just being Black is reason enough for evil monsters to kill first and not even bother to ask questions later. Given the history of this country, I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. I'm Black and because of the racists and the Uncle Ruckuses of the world, that makes me, you guessed it, vulnerable. We're still dealing with this mess in 2012. Knowing this is one thing,but wrapping my head around it is something totally different.

Last vulnerability lesson of the day/night: Financial vulnerability. 

I'll make this one quick.

I had a car. The car got stolen two weeks after I lost my job. I went carless for nearly 7 months before my parents bought me a used car. My dad paid a little over $2,500 for it and put another $4,000 into it to make repairs.

I drove the car for 3 months with no problem. Last week I took the car in to my mechanic because the door handle was broken. On the way to the shop, the car died. I ended up charging nearly $1,100 on my credit card to get a new alternator, a new door handle and to fix other outstanding issues.

I picked up the car on Thursday, March 22 and drove it home. I parked the car, went into my apartment to change clothes and got back in the car. The car would not start and made horrible rumbling noises. Towed car back to the shop that night. Got the news on Friday, March 23 that the car was dead. A rod baring broke inside the engine and the engine can't be repaired. Engines cost THOUSANDS of dollars. Most mechanics will tell that when it gets to that point, you might as well get another car.

The lesson?  Don't EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER buy anything except a new or certified pre-owned car. Buying a used car, especially from an individual seller, puts in you in a  VULNERABLE position, so learn from my family's mistakes and save yourself the grief.

OK, that's all for now. Thanks for reading, God bless and good night (or day, or whatever).

Stay random,
Jay   



 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Random Deep Thoughts


Randomness: I originally tried to write this on my laptop at the MLK Library, but their Internet connection SUUUUCCCKKKSSSS (just in case you wanted my opinion about their Wi-Fi capabilities).

Anywho…

I’m about to get deep on ya, so gird your loins.

Let’s start with a couple of questions: What makes you happy? What’s your passion?

These questions drive me crazy and make me stabby, not because they’re bad questions, but because I can’t answer them.  How ‘bout you?

As for me, I honestly don’t know what makes me happy happy joy joy or what I want to be when I grow up. You’ll probably saying, “Quit whining and go figure it out!” Well, it ain’t that dang simple.

When it comes to the happiness question, the process of figuring that out gets more daunting the older I get because I don’t know where to start.  Also, in my mind at least, “What makes you happy?” isn’t a simple question. How do you figure out something that abstract? Yes, I think happiness is abstract. I honestly don’t know what happiness means for me. If I like something or get excited when I see or do something, does that mean that thing, event, etc., make me happy?  For example, I like eating Pintango’s cinnamon gelato and drinking a good mojito (not necessarily together) when I can get it.  I love watching the Olympics (winter and summer!) and got ├╝ber excited when I saw the London 2012 commercials recently. These things put a smile on my face. Smiling usually indicates happiness. However, how does knowing that I like overpriced ice cream, sugary alcoholic beverages and the parade of nations help me become a more content and joyful person?

I also know that I really like the beach. Growing up in Memphis, my only experience with water that wasn’t coming out of the faucet was being annoyed by the nastiness of the Mississippi River. When I finally visited Florida while in college, I fell in love. I would visit a beach every month if I could. I can’t swim and look horrible in a bathing suit, but I could stay at a beach all day (or most of the day) and be…happy. It’s honestly the only place where I feel calm, content and at total peace. However, there’s got to be more to happiness then just knowing that I like something, right? Just liking something feels so passive, but as far as something I do actively, I can’t name a thing right now that brings me “happiness.”

Now that we’ve confirmed that getting to happy isn’t the easiest thing to do, let’s talk about passion. Yeah, I haven’t figured this out either.  Part of the problem, when it comes to happiness and passion, is that my confidence levels have never been very high, so I abandoned things that I did poorly or scared myself out of trying things that piqued my interest. Consequently, I don’t have a clear idea of what I’m good or at and/or what I’d do for free because I love it so much, a.k.a. the definition of passion.

The other problem with passion is that it doesn’t always pay the bills. If I’m totally honest, there’s something that I’d like to try, but I’m not in a position to explore it and it doesn’t always pay well, or at all. That’s a huge problem when you’re in between jobs and your financial situation is uh, challenging.  I have to focus on finding a full-time job with a decent salary and benefits. God willing, I’ll find a job and be able to explore the potential passion on the side. Passion is great, when you know what it is and have the luxury to pursue it. Everyone isn’t that fortunate.

So, what do you know after reading all this? I like beaches, gelato, liquor and the Olympics, and there’s a thing that I kinda wanna do, but I need to find a job that I probably won’t be passionate about in order to pursue it. Sound right? Cool….or not, depending on how you look at it.  

These are my starting points, but where do I go from here?  All suggestions are welcome. I’ll let you know if I have any epiphanies anytime soon.

Stay random my friends,
Jay