Be Very Afraid

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So far this is the theme of 2014. My plans of writing, wellness, and winning have all been surreptitiously dismantled by catching the flu, the pitfalls of becoming middle management, and unpacking my apartment. I sleep too much and often come home spent and thinking of things to write and not writing. I will do it tomorrow, I tell myself, right after I watch another episode of Criminal Minds for the seventh time. I do all this and expect things to be different.

I do this because I am afraid. Aziz Ansari was right about one thing: 30 comes at you fast. It is this mythical fantastical age where everyone in the movies has a large apartment, a career that they love, an enviable group of friends, the love of their life, and a baby. And it’s not just in the movies. In my own family I am the oldest grandchild to not be married or have a baby. In the era of instant gratification and humiliation, it’s not hard to find out weekly that the guy you dated with those mental health issues is celebrating his one year anniversary to an Evelyn Lozada look alike or the person who you used to perform with is now at Yale. In the aggregate, I feel like I have been left at the very back of my cohort. The one who never likes to read out loud. The one who is terrified of being called to the chalkboard. The one picked for dodgeball last.

I know that fear is the ultimate obstacle to purpose and to wealth. Thank you Oprah Winfrey and Suze Orman. Like the other dichotomies that have defined my life (Brooklynite from Mississippi, Ivy League sassy black girl; fat public health crusader), fear and ambition bite at my ankles enough that it’s all I can do not to fall down in a bloody, exhausted, legless heap.

How does one live their best life when they have become accustomed to mediocrity? How do you go out on a career risk after being unemployed during the Great Recession? How do you lose the weight when you know that it’s your only reprieve from the endless aggression and street harassment and black girl dating?

You don’t. Living your best life means getting over all of these things. It means fear has no place, which oddly enough makes me even more afraid. Over time fear has become the old pair of combat boots, long out of style but too comfy not to wear every time it’s damp outside. It snuggles me and let’s me sleep longer than I should and avert my eyes from attractive men with nice smiles. It tells me that trying to perform when I am this old and this brown and this tired and this fat is a waste of time. That working on my writing here is taking away time from working for publication. That no one will read what I write for publication. That I will always work nine to five. That I will always be alone.

Fear is a sickness wherein lies its own reprieve. Fear keeps us from being reckless. Sadly a certain amount of recklessness is required in risks. The shining irony is that the thing that has kept my fingers off the stove and good grades on my report card is the thing that makes me gasp for air.

2014: My Plan

I am so glad 2013 is coming to a close. I am blessed with many fortunes, but 2013 kicked me in the ass harder than an uncastrated mule. I languished in a job that wasn’t the best fit. I gained 21 pounds. I had the lamest relationship of all time. And I lived in an apartment complex that was riddled with bed bugs, trash, and homelessness. I didn’t finish one story or play.

I get excited between Christmas and New Year’s every year. This is the bane of my best friend’s existence. Over a glass of wine I excitedly ask her for her yearly resolutions and goals, and for the last 5 years she has rolled her eyes, taken the biggest sip of wine imaginable, sighed, and changed the subject. You could be doing the same, but at least I cannot see it.

This year, I am going through a little malaise. Alone in my new apartment with a small but very smelly dog, I never really got into the holiday spirit. I have no tree, I have 10 lbs of uncooked sweet potatoes that were meant to transform into a pie, and I have spent most of Christmas day asleep on an air mattress with aching lungs. There is nothing that will make you think about your life more than being sick on a holiday. Christmas tv is TERRIBLE (unless It’s A Wonderful Life is on), and when a Type A personality is left alone for more than 47 minutes, they have no choice but to make lists and plans. There is no time like the present. 2014 is coming whether or like it or not, and failing to plan is planning to fail. Here what I have up my sleeve for the coming new year.

1. Blog More

It’s no secret that I have not been around these parts in a while. I could say that life got rough, but blogging helps me through it. The truth is that I stopped knowing what to write. I love writing about dating, but since my personal life is basically as dry as the Sahara, I lost a lot of oomph. The last time I wanted to write about a guy or the trivial aspects of my brownsinglegirl life in New York, the Trayvon Martin verdict was announced. I sat in a room and cried. What was I doing with my life? Why was I writing about crushes and dates and I lived in a city/a country/a world where brown and black men AND CHILDREN were still getting robbed of their lives without any consequence? I am still trying to figure that out. I will never figure that out. But I think this blog is the place to struggle to understand. So Kelly’s Belly will be changing aesthetically and in content. I am committed to talking to you, yes you, three days a week. Be prepared.

2. Be a Pro, Not a Amateaur

Recently, a friend loaned me the book The War of Art, which pretty much put me on blast. I have watched friends perform and write in LA or write plays in NYC, while I fret out of fear. Inspiration doesn’t come from a bolt of lightning from Zeus. It comes out of habituated action. In other words, I need to find a way to but my butt in a chair and write, print, edit, and submit until I hit a nerve.

3. Make A Wellness Plan

I spend 40 hours a week worrying about the wellness of the greatest city on Earth. When I get home, I am tired. Where is my beer and pizza? NO BUENO. Again, it’s a problem of habit. I miss dancing and sweating, and I know it will help with my creative process, not to mention my cholesterol. The YMCA is right near my job. It’s where I plan to be everyday after work. I have a new kitchen where roaches don’t fall out if you open the cabinets, so homecooked meals will be a regular occurrence. Tap dance classes, I still have my eye on you!

4. Take Leisure (and Joy) Seriously

My free time tends to go either 2 ways: 1) Law and Order marathons or 2) overpriced dinner and drinks. Both are key, but neither really do anything to improve my frame of mind or quality of life. I love crafting, sewing, dancing, church, and crochet, but when I plop down after work or am faced with a wintery Saturday morning, I end up in bed until 2pm. I still need Law & Order and the ladies, but I also need quiet time to raffle through farmers’ markets, pray, and make things for friends.

5.  Travel, Dammit

I haven’t been out the country since 2008, my last trip to Africa. This is unacceptable. My NYC bestie had her 30th in Las Vegas, and the thought of putting $750 on my credit card sent me into such a panic that I told her immediately that I couldn’t go. Even if I don’t get on a plane, I need to get the hell out of this city. It drives me stir crazy. I need more trips and less shoes and cocktails. So here is to more weekend trips to Philly, bed and breakfasts in Vermont, and 16 hour trips to Boston to see Lauryn Hill in concert for free (thanks Samantha!).

6. It’s NOT Raining Men

My number one complaint besides having to step over dog poop and used condoms on the way to work? MY DATING LIFE. And what aspect of my life do I do absolutely nothing about? MY DATING LIFE. When you are trying to hussle, save, and climb the career ladder, admittedly looking for dates takes a back seat. But 30 comes at you fast. You mean I have to have kids (if I want them) in the next 10 years? Fuck. For a woman who used to have 3 dates with different men a week, this shouldn’t be an obstacle. But it is. Why…

7. Don’t Lose My Pretty

…Because I leave my house looking like a homeless person. A newly homeless person, but still. I spend my life outside thinking about how to help the poorest families in NYC achieve wellness and roughhousing with the smelliest dog in the world. I hardly get my hair done. I spent over a year without a full length mirror. Part of this has to do with body dysmorphia about my attractiveness weighing over 160 pounds. No one sees me. I spend a lot of time talking to men with no teeth. It doesn’t matter what I am wearing. And then I run into a man that has all his teeth and a good job, and I kick myself. It’s time to dust off the mascara wand and buy a new bra. Momma is letting loose.

8. Stop Worrying About Money

Should I buy Charmin or sand paper? I can save $3 if I buy the sand paper. Welcome to my life. I make tens of angst-ridden money decisions every day. It’s exhausting and prevents me from travel, hobbies, and other people I love. My friend lived in Paris for two years. I never visited because I never had the money. Now when I go, it will cost twice as much. I couldn’t raise $3k in 24 months. It’s embarrasing to think let alone write. 2014 is the year that I spend money on experiences. I want to be responsible, but I can’t take it with me. I need to spend money on making me happy, well, and whole.

9. Pay Off My Credit Card Debt

Never worrying about money it totally impractical, but as long as I am taking steps to pay off most of my debt in the next 18 months, I think I deserve the right to chill. This book is helping out.

10. Live and Love Fearlessly

Last week I saw Lauryn Hill in her post prison concert. It was life changing. During one of her Fugee renditions, she just kept singing “live fearlessly; love fearlessly” and I realized it would be my motto for 2014. I’m not too old, too fat, too poor, or too brown to accomplish what I was brought on the Earth to do. 2014 is the year for taking a breath and making the leap. Why don’t you come with?