Brown Betties Inspiration My Life

How to not look (and feel) broke ass


So. We moved. I haven’t been able to write about it because honestly, my identity has been so wrapped up in LA, LA, LA or Prague, Prague, Prague or New York, New York … and now, I’m … Chandler, Arizona.

What is sexy about Chandler, Arizona? I guess it’s going to have to be ME! (ha!)

Here’s why I said this: Ghandi says, ‘Be the change you want to see.’ So, who am I not to listen to Ghandi? He was a pretty successful guy. He was well-traveled, helped folks, did some things. I can do the same.

Chandler. 2021. Our sexy new backsplash for the forthcoming bar area.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I started writing this blog when I travelled and subsequently moved to Prague in 2015. I was finding my way and myself; trying to understand who I was working to become. Writing about the journey was the best way to not feel so scared about the process while being a foreigner in a foreign land. It also allowed me to update family and friends. (I’d done the same when I moved from LA to NY in 2004, but back then it was email updates that I tried to turn into a book and never did.)

Each one of my cities has been cool or sexy or exotic in some way to someone or another, including me. Each has been chosen for a reason, usually related to my career pursuit of singing, dancing or acting, or, you know, To Be Famous.

Los Angeles. 2011. Just dropped a $12.00 glass of champagne. Photo by Prentice Smith. Vintage Levi’s jacket. Vintage dress from Paris my stepmom got me in the 90s. Earrings handmade by Tina McDowell

As life has it, when you pursue one thing, something quite different (and useful) often presents itself instead. I moved from Chicago to New York not only because I wanted to be a singer, but also because I wanted to be around different types of people doing different types of things. Because, y’ see, the Midwest is practical like your grandpa’s dark grey wool overcoat. It’s boxy, warm and sustainable…something you never get rid of because it’s a sturdy staple and you know you’re gonna need it one day. Meanwhile, New York is like that fluffy, neon orange, waist-length stunner you see other girls strutting around town in while rocking short-shorts and chunky boots. That neon number is fabulous, impractical and blingy…something that stands out, makes you follow her with your eyeballs and wonder, “Who is that girl?” And LA? We know what LA is. Los Angeles is a $5,000 see-through, polyurethane, fur-cuffed, floor-length duster with peace symbols all over it. And the girl wearing it is not wearing much else underneath. And this time your eyeballs follow and you think, “What the hell is she thinking?” Yet, your eyeballs still follow her, ’cause, you know, you sorta want to be her.

For those that know me, you’ve seen my style. I’m pretty much all about that gramps wool overcoat. I may scrunch up the sleeves, pull up the collar and maybe throw a vintage brooch on it, or try to zhuzh it up with a vintagey scarf of some sort, but I’m still pretty much rocking the same old coat. I learn to adapt. Meanwhile, on the inside, I’m still following the other girls with my eyeballs and often wondering, when am I gonna adapt to being that girl over there?

New York City. 2018. Chelsea. Photo by my cousin, Henry Young, after visiting a burlesque spot. Right before I moved back to LA to pursue Matthew.

Welp. Let’s cue another quote I heard recently during a session with my new community over at London Writers Salon:

“Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.” – Paulo Coehlo

Whooooaoaoaoaaa!! Does that not kick you in the gut and have you flying backwards through the air like when Doc Shultz dies in Django Unchained, but, like, not so violent?

I find that quote to be so darn sexy. So Hot. So, The One. I’mma say it again for me and for the folks in the back:

“Stop being who you were and change into who you are.

So. Where does THAT leave us?

(I just love this conversation so much, BTW. Thanks for being here.)

So, we can either ditch the grandpa and go neon fluff, like, STAT. Orrrrr, we can ditch the habit of eyeballs looking elsewhere, and fully change into what we already are, which IS grandpa!

Whaddya think about that?

Now, Matthew and I have bought I house. The other day on a Zoom, my LA dear friend Ricco was like, “Oh, you moved to Arizona. Is that permanent?” I said, “Dude. We bought a house. We’re 30 years permanent now.” A home owner himself, he laughed, “Oh.” Haaa!

For you house-having OGs, you already know what kinda permanency this is like. I find it a little scary, honestly. I refer to my younger brother Darnell and his wife Brooke. They consistently speak about their life changes in terms of how many years they have left to pay off their mortgage. “In XX years we might think about moving. ” Oh my god. What kind of speak is that? In all my Pursuit of Being Famous Years, I never went into a new city thinking how long I would be there. LA was my longest place of living — fourteen years approximately. And now we’re talkin’ THIRTY YEARS? I mean, can I still even be famous now??

It feels like the end of the line of a long train ride that started in 1992 upon graduation when I was launched into the world of “go get ’em, tiger!”

But is it really the end…?

I bring all this up to really say that while I am in a state of flu(ma)x, I am also looking to stop being who I was and become who I am. (I think I write about this every few years, actually!) A homeowner. A new person in a new beginning place. A woman with an opportunity to step into greater greatness.

Personally, in answer to my question above, I think it’s time to shrug off grandpa-type thinking, yeah? I think I’mma go for a l’il somethin’ else. Somethin’ good. Something more me. No, I do not live in a sparkly, exotic, exciting place now, as before. But you know what, it’s HOT and that’s good for my branding is nothing else, right?

This place Chandler is not the most fashion forward of places. It is not like any other place I’ve lived and it ain’t supposed to be. This means, I’m not really going to go for a neon fluffy anything because that would just be sorta gauche, non? And so 2018, perhaps? Fashion may not be the way in as it was before. I mean, all of my heels are still in a bin, for Pete’s sake. I’m not sure how I feel about that. (At least once a month I look at the beauties and think about if I should let them go or not. I’ll keep you posted on that decision.)

I think there’s another way. Those eyeball girls always look sort of sleek. Put together. Polished. This is something good I can do that will make me feel more me. Nothin’ worse than having to hide your hands while drinking wine because your nails are uneven and look like crap. Therefore, I have taken a different approach to getting to me. I finally got my nails done yesterday at a cute place. I have been getting facials regularly and getting my eyebrows did at a quaint spot…loving all of that. I’m getting my hair done tomorrow at a new place. I know for some folks it is super easy to make appointments and go do these things. I have a hard time with it. (I literally cried during my facial yesterday because I get so emotional with decision making, and taking time for myself, and taking care of myself that the minute I relax everything tumbles out! Whaaahhh!)

I’m changing into someone who takes care of herself on the outside as a way to take care of the inside. I know looks are deceiving. I know I clean up pretty good and I have the wherewithal to look put together. I just don’t do it consistently and that messes with my confidence in myself. So, I’m going to work on that and I’m going to keep working on being the change I want to see. In me.

This hot place is going to make The Hot One sizzle, guys. (And if you see me looking broke ass, like Anna Delvey says in Inventing Anna, then I’m gonna need you to send a text, email or something and remind me to sizzle. Don’t be afraid. Instead, be like my other brother, Shakir. Last month, after scanning my ashy feet and my fuzzy hair, said, “Pep. You need to tighten it up.” Ummm… okay. Rude. But true.

But lest you think the ‘good stuff’ is only about hair, nails and facials, I’m here to tell you it’s about much more. Remember how I said the pursuit of one thing often leads you to something else? Well, now that we have left LA (we still go back for work and fun, man), I have obtained something really fancy that I have never had in all my years elsewhere.

An office.

With a door.

My very own office where I can write. Alone. Uninterrupted.

So freaking sexy.

So while I was doing all the things to get to where I was going, I just sorta wonder if this was the place all along? No one really knows this answer and this is why life is a journey. It’s a never ending destination until it isn’t, I guess. Whaddya think…?

Yeah.

So, listen, I have loads of things to share with you now that I’ve gotten all that off my chest. The first thing will be the news about our home renovation. Talk about ‘stop being who you were’…!! I realized the renovation process was a lot like producing theater in LA. Fabulous. Messy. And quite a show. I was so overwhelmed, which is a huge reason why I looked so frazzled for months and why you didn’t hear from me. I’ll tell you all about it. If you can’t wait and want a sneak peek, go to our designer’s website or insta (YESSS we had an interior designer. Ashley of Authentic Design Studio. We were so freakin’ HGTV sexy.)

Okay. Off to write more in other places of my life like “Harlem’s Last Dance” (I promise, really, it’s coming. Got notes back from my editor, Kathryn H. Ross who is also an amaaazing writer; she says it’s in a great place. Yay!) And I got notes back on “The Brown Betties Guide: Knowing Your NO” from a fabulous editor on Fiverr of all places!! My client, Anthony, hired her to proof his book I edited. Aaaand, I’m working on the next installment to the newly released story podcast, “The Boll Weevil and Chester Higgensworth.”

I have a lot going on, which is why it’s important to take care of oneself, tighten it up and not look broke ass so you can feel productive and amazing…no matter where you are.

Love you all.

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