Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ask Naté

These days, I have a new BFF and her name is Naté. We enjoy similar music, gossip blogs and she supports my stalkerization of both Robin Thicke and Method Man. We’ve bonded with issues over being the only black person in the workplace, folks misspelling and mispronouncing our name and how our accent marks have become the bane of our existence.

The only thing is, Naté and I have never met.

See, Naté is the girlfriend of my coworker Matthew. He’s a quiet, ordinary white fella who sits near me. I didn’t think one way or the other of him when he started working with me, but my eyebrows went straight to the ceiling when I saw the picture of the beautiful sistah on his desk. I tried to keep my surprise on the inside as countless numbers of our colleagues went up to him, ogled his girlfriend’s picture and told him that he was way out of his league. Yeah, I don’t work with the most sensitive people.

Anyway, it’s no secret that I check ybf on a frequent basis for my gossip fix. But one day Matthew told me that his gf told him to tell me that the site had a mention of Robin Thicke that I needed to check out. And sure enough, there was a link to a story on my man, in all his glory. From then on, Naté has been golden with me.

Since then, Naté, via Matthew, has become my go-to person in the office. It’s not unusual for me to say something like, ‘Hey Matthew, I hate that new song by (insert famous R&B artist here), what does she think? (She agreed)’ ‘Hey Matthew, is Naté wearing her black to support the Jena 6? (She was and so did he)’ And he’ll say, ‘Hey Strength, Naté wants to know if you think Paula Patton is pregnant (I have noticed a belly bump).’

Maybe one day I’ll meet Naté. I do get a kick out of her, via Matthew. We keep telling him to bring her around, but they live too far away for socializing outside of the office. Or so he says. Truthfully, I wonder if there even is a Naté. Maybe Matthew is embracing that inner black woman that dwells in us all.

(Photo from

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Stalker of My Mother is My Stalker (or, Down with Google)

To hear Mom tell it, Barry is just someone she felt sorry for in high school. He was a bit on the geeky side and everyone wanted to beat him up, so she befriended him. They went their separate ways -- she had me, got married moved away, got remarried, moved away again, and kept moving and moving and ... you get the picture. He got married, moved away, then returned to their hometown.

Of course, I knew nothing of this when my phone rang at work three years ago. At the time, I was living in the Midwest. Apparently, Barry googled my Mom and some kind of way stumbled upon my contact information. Yeah, this sounds a little fishy to me too. I do work in a field where an Internet search makes it easy to locate me, but only if you search my name, not my mother's. Anyway, here's the conversation:

Barry: Oh my goodness!! Is this Strength/Courage/Wisdom?? Pam's daughter?
Me: Ummm, yes. How can I help you?
Barry: You won't believe this, but I'm an old friend of your Mom's and blah blah blah (basically, he said everything I listed in graph #2)
Me: Really, that's interesting. (As I type a high priority email message to my mother)
Barry: So.... do you know how I can get in touch with her?
Me: Well, I can take your information and pass it on to her.
Barry: Perfect!

We chatted for a little while and I learned that he works in the same field that I do. Apparently, my Mom told him that I entered this field and I should chat with him for some career advice. I vaguely remember her mentioning this to him. Anyway, he calls her and life goes on.

I never heard from him again. Until yesterday. I'm no longer in the Midwest; I'm at the job that I've been at for the last two years, making me much closer to my friends and family.

Barry: Is this Strength/Courage/Wisdom?? Pam's daughter?
Me: Yesssssss
Barry: You may not remember me, but I'm your Mom's friend! Barry X!!
Me: Oh yeah, I remember you.
Barry: Great! You'll never believe this, but I lost your mother's phone number. I've been in the area for a few days and I'm trying to get in touch with her. Do you think you can help me out?
Me: Sure, here's her work number... (She has caller ID there and literally only answers the phone when she knows the #)
Barry: Thanks so much! Do you happen to have her cell?
Me: No, I don't. That's in my other phone that I left at home. (A bold-faced lie, but whatever)
Barry: Ok, that's fine! So what's it like to be back home? Do you get to see your Mom alot? I bet she's happy to have you home!
Me: Yeah, it's good. I just saw her yesterday, actually.
Barry: Really! Man, your Mom ...
Me: So how's your wife and kids?
Barry: Oh, the kids are good. My son just graduated college, daugher's in college and my youngest just started second grade. My wife's alright. So anyway, about your Mom ...
Me: And how long have ya'll been married now?
Barry: Oh, we've got a 25th anniversary party in a few months.
Me: How beautiful!!!
Barry: Yeah. Now about your Mom....
Me: Well, I have another call. Gotta go!!

We hang up and I immediately call my mother to tell her that Barry will call her soon. Just like I thought, she didn't answer her work phone when he called because she didn't recognize the number. I haven't followed up with her to see if she called him back. She didn't sound too enthused to hear that he was in town. Either that, or she didn't want me to know about their elicit affair. Hah!! I hope she deals with it, cuz I do not want to get another phone call from Barry. Sheesh. I swear, it's hard being the daughter of a MILF.

(Photo from

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How (Not) to Approach Me

Honestly, I’m not making this stuff up. Here are some transcripts of conversations I’ve had with men that I’ve met over the past few weeks.

(The scene: Salsa club. The dance floor is crammed with folks and I am having a blast, even tho I’m still trying to get adjusted to this salsa thing. Dude asks me to dance and I comply. But before I go out there, I warn him as I do all my other dance partners, that I’m a beginner. So we go out there. )
Him: You’re sure you’re a beginner? You’re doing perfect!
Me: No, you’re just saying that.
Him: No, I mean it. You’re very beautiful. I love your hair.
Me: Thank you.
Him: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: Kinda. (The correct answer is no, but that’s my way of saying I’m not interested)
Him: Ah. That’s okay. I’m kind of involved myself.
Him: No, no, no. I’m not married. I’m just in love with someone and she’s not talking to me.
Me: Oh. What’d you do?
Him: Let’s just say I was just being a man.
Me: (rolling eyes) Oh, you’re one of those.
Him: I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried everything, but she just won’t give in.
Me: How long has it been since she stopped talking to you?
Him: About a year.
Me: A YEAR??? Okay, I think she’s moved on.
Him: Well, I know she’s not married. I can’t give up on her.
Me: Interesting.
Him: Anyway, if you give me your email address I can add you to my online network. (He was talking about LinkedIn)
Me: Sure. It’s

(Scene: The library. Many times, I spend my lunch break at the library just catching up on some reading. This dude was sitting in front of me. While I was immersed in a book, he was staring out the window with a bunch of bags at his feet. I wondered if he was homeless, but he looked too well kempt for that)
Him: Hey sis. What you reading?
Me: (startled) Oh, nothing.
Him: Seriously, what is it? Is it a good book?
Me: Yeah, but …
Him: What’s it called? I might want to read it.
Me: (I reluctantly hold up the cover of the book, which is titled ‘Why I’m Still Married’. It’s actually a good book)
Him: (a look of horror on his face) You married, sis?
Me: No. It’s just a good book. These real life authors are talking about their marriages and some of them are in some crazy situations.
Him: Interesting.

He continues to chat over some time and I learn that he has college age children. He won’t tell me what he does for a living, but tells me about jobs he has held in the past (pastor, head of an AIDS clinic), which typically means that he’s unemployed. He asks for my email address and I give it to him as I’m about to leave. I’m not interested, but whatever. An email address, esp one that doesn’t list my last name, is harmless. I get up to leave.

Him: So, sis …
Me: (Didn’t I just tell your ass my name is Strength?) What?
Him: Um…. What’s up with the dreads?
Me: Nothing. It’s just my hair. And they’re locs.
Him: Hmmm. Ever had a perm?
Me: Yes. Before I had these.
Him: Ever considering getting one again?
Me: Nope, I sure haven’t.
Him: Oh.

Suffice it to say, this dude never emailed me. Darn! I was so looking to having so many stimulating conversations with this brainwashed old man. Sigh. Anyway, 'Why I'm Still Married' is a great book, particularly the essay from the woman involved in an open marriage and then she later starts an affair with her husband's girlfriend's husband. Drama, drama!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Watching 'Heroes' Nekkid

This will come as a surprise to anyone who knows me, but every once in a while I struggle with my swagger. Even though 99.9 percent of the time I profess to be a queen and insert my name into damn near every song lyric I can find (Lately, it's Dream's 'Shawty You a 10'), I'm actually quite shy and insecure. Close your mouths, it's true.

One of my biggest issues has been naked phobia. Basically, I'm a bit uncomfortable being 'nekkid,' as well as having the folks around me in the buck. This was a nickname that some relatives gave my issue, but after googling it, I found out that it is actually a real problem. I wouldn't say I have a major dose of this phobia, after all, I have been able to get over it in certain situations. I have no clue where I developed it either. Maybe that whole thing in middle school where you have to undress in the locker room with all the other girls. Or maybe it's a general feeling of inadequacy with my own figure, which is something I still struggle with today. I wonder if I would have this problem if I had a bigger chest, flatter stomach and curves. Hmmm.

Anyway, I decided to cure myself. I didn't do any googling or call any 1-800 numbers for advice, I simply found my own way to make my body image better. For about a week, I slept in nothing more than my skin.

This wasn't the first time I slept with nothing on, but it was definitely the first time I did it for a continuous period. I heard people talk about how addicting it is to lie in bed and feel the sheets on your bare skin, how freeing the whole thing is. I wanted to join that club, so I shed my garmets.

For a while, I had a ritual going. I'd hop in the shower, oil down, stand in front of my mirror in the nude and chant 'I love myself, I love myself' a few times and then crawl into bed. At first, it felt a little strange, but then I got used to it. Of course, once my alarm clock came off, I reached for my robe with a quickness.

So far, I'm not addicted to sleeping in the nude, but I don't hate it either. I'm just going with the flow, seeing if I can heal myself. I don't have any answers yet. I do know that I did gain one thing from sleeping nekkid. A cold! It might be time to break out the jammies.

(Photo from

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Happiness Is

A hug from a certain 11-year-old boy who typically shuns affection ..... an easy day at work that gives me free time to blog ... tightening up my resume and realizing that I am pretty marketable ... saving hundreds of dollars by slowly printing the first draft of my book at the office (30 pages a day, baby) ... the one white girl at work who can join in when I start chanting "Broke, broke, broke, broke phi broke" .... getting an oil change and learning that there's nothing majorly wrong with my car ... a phone call from a friend I haven't heard from in a long time .... a box of my favorite cookies ... a flirtatious smile from a boy who's young enough to make it illegal in 14 states .... having my coworkers miss me when I'm on vacation ... strawberry kiwi tea ... managing not to cry when I realize both Macy Gray and the Brand New Heavies will be in town tonight and I can't go ... getting warm spirit's vetiver spray lotion for free ... returning to guitar lessons after a two-week break and making progress on The Beatles' "Blackbird" song ... feeling good that Kanye West beat 50 Cent in the sales war, but not caring enough to buy either one (tho, i'll probably burn kanye's) ... sushi lunches with the girls on fridays ... helping other folks recognize the value of Bat Star Gal ... text messages just to say hello ... discovering "heroes" .... seashells on the mexican and bahamian beaches ... fall season sales .... a raise, as paltry that it may be ... realizing that my company's recent takeover will result in a 401K match ... having my mama close enough that I can just run over there and either cry hysterically or laugh so hard that I cry. Good times!!

Alright, I just had to get that out. Stay tuned for the next installment, which could very well be things that piss me the hell off. Have a good day!

1,2,3 Push It, Babe!

Yet another reason why I should get cable is here, either that or camp out on my parents' couch once a week so I can watch. Hmmmm....everything's under consideration at this point, since I was such a big fan of there's back in the day and I have quite a few of their tapes (yes, tapes!). I even have their first release, which includes the original Spinderella.

And speaking of Spin .... where's she been? There's no mention of her on the site. The plot thickens.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have many men, many imaginary men, that is. Countless celebrities that I refer to as boyfriends who don't know they're my boyfriends. So what if Access Hollywood says he's dating some new actress, that's just something we tell folks to keep the paparazzi off our trail. What, he got somebody pregnant? That's totally innocent -- we asked that chick to be the surrogate mother to our child! As you can see, my stories tend to be a bit on the elaborate side.

Today, I want to talk about the cuteness that is Coby Bell, pictured above. I remember the first time I saw young Coby. I was in the suite of my dorm watching ER with a few of my roommates. We were barely paying attention to the TV until Coby appeared. He played a patient who was an athlete with some kind of prostate problem. We decided he was cute and got a little closer to the screen as his character became embarassed over the erection he got when the female doctor prodded him. As we remained transfixed to the screen, we wondered whether he was a brotha, hermano or gringo. In the end, we decided that it didn't even matter -- he could get it.

Over the years, I followed him onto various TV shows -- "Third Watch" and now "The Game." I always thought he had this rare cute/innocent quality about him, until I caught a glimpse of him on CSI Miami this week. I only saw enough of it to grasp that Coby was the bad guy and that he had killed someone. He had this nice little soul patch just below his lip and he was admitting to the murder with such bravado. It made him seem so dangerous ... and appealing. Gotta love a man with determination. Yum.

Yeah, there are rumors that he's married with twin girls. That's just another one of our schemes to protect the anonymity of our love.

(Photo from

Friday, September 07, 2007

On Felix, Kay and Jamaica: Mission Impossible

I have returned from my week of the sea, the beach and now I'm back in reality. Sigh.

In short, I had a FABULOUS vacation, even though it started out on a sour note. My cruise -- which was expected to hit Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- had to be rerouted because of Hurricane Felix. The storm forced our fearless captain to change our route, so we went to Cozumel, Mexico and Freeport, Bahamas instead. I was a bit disappointed about the changes, since this is the second time my Travel Buddy and myself attempted to go to Jamaica. We tried to go there with a group in 2005, but the trip changed and we wound up going to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I had a great time on that trip as well, but I can't help but desiring Jamaica even more. Sigh. I'll have to add that to my dream trip list, right up there with Egypt.

Anyway, this was the first cruise for TB and I. Day one we both showed up on the boat with a combined total of four hours of sleep and empty bellies. But we couldn't eat until the captain did a demonstration on the emergency exits and we returned our life jackets to safe places. Once we finally ate, we planned to take a little nap before we explored the boat. Well, what was planned to be a small, 1-hour nap, turned into a 11 hour slumber and we didn't wake up until early the next morning. Because we missed a series of announcements that first day, we spent much of the time not knowing what time we were supposed to eat in the dining room, that there was some kind of competition going on and which team we were on for the competition. Eventually, we got things together.

TB and I had been to Mexico before, although it was Puerto Vallarta instead of Cozumel. Cozumel is a mostly undeveloped island in the Carribbean with nice, sandy beaches. Our guide, Cesar, took us through the town, which was pretty much abandoned in the daylight (methinks this place is more of a nighttime spot) and it was filled with tons of shops and aggressive salesmen who chase people down the street to sell just about anything. We ate at a nice restaurant called Tiki Tok where I had the quesadilla of life and the main drag was filled with the American bastardizations of McDonald's, Blockbuster, etc. Cesar also hipped us to the beauty of black coral and ways that it can become this without hurting the environment, which is now making me regret not buying that heart-shaped ring one of the aggressives tried to sell me.

I don't have my Mexico pix developed yet (they're on the disposable camera), but I do have several of the Bahamas. That up top is me making my descent into the water at the Freeport beach. This is very significant because neither myself, nor TB, can swim. (I know, I know ... I should learn). Here are some more Bahamas pix:

Here's us setting up and getting ready for the water:

Me digging my toes in the sand:

One of the things that I got a kick out of on this cruise was the towel animals. Each night, we'd return to our room with a different animal made out of our towels and washcloths. It cracked me up! By the end of the week, we had three animals -- a elephant, a snail/squid and a walrus..... I think. I tried to get the animals in an erotic pose on the last day, but that didn't work out too well. (Hey, I get my kicks wherever I can!) Anyway, here's the animal art. Please let me know if the animals aren't what I say they are.

Even though I enjoyed my cruise, I think it will be several years before I take another one. I'd really just rather visit the individual cities/towns/islands etc instead of being trapped on a boat much of the time. I didn't get seasick at all, but I often went to portions of the boat where I could feel more movement than others and that was uncomfortable.

One of the best parts of the trips was karaoke and our DJ, "Kay", who hosted it. Kay was incredibly bland (think Ben Stein), except when the music came on. Then she would bust out notes like I never heard and occasionally chimed in as other folks were singing. It was hilarious. I only wished she cut off the chick who got up there to sing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." I mean, really .... who sings a song from 'Titanic' when they're on a cruise ship?? Sheesh.

Well, that's enough for now. I hope you all had good weeks!