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?

Back to Black

I don’t know what happened. I turned 30 and then promptly stepped into a black hole. It’s possible that I didn’t step into it, but that it had been around me all along. I just put on glasses. Have you ever felt outside of yourself? That the life you are leading is not yours? That you are going about your life with the best of intentions, and yet is amounting to a glorious smidge of nothing? That you are so lucky to be alive, but know you are missing out of actually living?

That has been my last few months. The type A personality that I have always been loves to only speak about things after I have figured them out, hence my absence of blogging. But there is so much that I cannot figure out. Coping in New York. Financial planning when you have nothing left over. Dating in my 30s. This rash of gun violence and  unpunishable white on black crime. Marching for the same things we did exactly 50 years ago. I go to work as a public servant, and have figured out government is the place where passion goes to die.

I step past a drunk homeless man to enter my apartment. I am quiet and alone in the largest city in the country.

It will all be ok.

Living the Dream

Unless you are a sociopath, career criminal, or criminally insane, if asked what your values include, you will probably reply something akin to “family, prosperity, the American dream, homeownership, etc.”  That’s why being a discriminating voter during the primary season is so difficult. Usually, there is just a line of over-the-hill white guys talking about budgets, foreign policy, and terrorism…saying lots and nothing at the  same time. 

So, how do you tell if a person is actually true to their value system? Their actions. DUH.

This is one of the MOST simple-minded observations of human behavior. 

And it smacked me right upside the head.

I have been spending the last 2 days of subway rides reading “168 hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.” Author Laura Vanderkam dissects the lives of the truly busy, yet personally fulfilled–the women who “have it all.” She asks the general public why we lament how tired we are when sociological research shows we have more than enough time to rest, work, and have fun. According to Vanderkam, if you write down what you do in a week, you find out where your value system lies. You care about the things you spend time on.

So what is my value system?

  • Playwriting/Theater
  • Cooking
  • Connecting with Family
  • Meeting New People
  • Long Distance Walking
  • Spending Time With My Pet
  • Reading
  • Travelling
  • Crafting
  • Making a Healthier Lifestyle for Myself

Just kidding! According to how I designate my time during the week, here is my ACTUAL value system:

  • Sushi
  • Taking Naps
  • Criminal Minds
  • Law & Order
  • Law & Order: SVU
  • Scandal
  • Pizza
  • Lipstick
  • Reading fashion blogs
  • Reading in general
  • Spending Time With My Pet
  • More lipstick

Hey, I got 2 right. That’s not that bad, right?

Actually it’s horrible. I realize that I’m so spent because I don’t do things I know bring me joy. Yes, Law & Order brings me joy, but not the same kind of joy as cooking a pie from scratch or shipping hand crocheted mittens to a new baby.

I know that the life I want isn’t going to magically appear tomorrow. By the time I’m 30, I won’t be living in Rittinghouse Square, sipping a soy latte, walking 3 toy dogs, as I head to my loft that is supported solely by my freelance writing. [Also in this daydream, I am wearing a Tibi dress, C. Wonder jewelry, and Balenciaga sandals. Just in case you were wondering.] But by the time I’m 30, I can commit to a healthier lifestyle, regular writing, and going a little out of my comfort zone to meet men new people.

So yes, my dream life is pretty far off, but if I spend my time as I should, I should catch up soon.