Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

I should probably begin with an apology, a sincere ‘I’m sorry’ for my 168 day absence. I could charge it to life, work, school, forgetting my wordpress.com username and password but I won’t make excuses. Actually, there is no excuse for neglecting yourself.

Mulattotude.com is myself. I mean is me. See what absence has done to me?!

I wish I could tell you I was on a remote island studying its aboriginal inhabitants as they worshipped my every move and offered me sacrifices of mango, papaya and coconut martinis in exchange for nuggets of intellectual inspiration.

Fictional sabbatical aside, I’m very sorry for neglecting mulattotude.com, I am more sorry for neglecting myself.

Today I witnessed something that brought me back to myself.

While shopping in my favorite store, I noticed a young white male peering between a rack of sweaters at an unknown target. I tried to ignore crouching tiger, hidden dragon but my curiosity got the best of me so I knelt down beside him.

What are you looking at?

Those kids.

He was referring to the two black males between ten and eleven hovered over the jewelry counter.

Why don’t you just prevent them from getting in trouble and tell them you’re watching them followed by a lecture on the penalties of theft?

I’m just doing my job, ma’am.

Void of your humanity?

This isn’t their first time but we haven’t been able to catch them. You don’t know the whole story.

Ok. Well you have a Merry Christmas.

I contemplated walking over to the young men and demanding that they empty their pockets, apologize to the store and then escort them out with a handful of ear from each of them while admonishing their behavior. I envisioned explaining what they had done to their mother who burst into tears over the loss of their innocence as she dropped to her knees in prayer over their souls.

But I continued shopping, caught in a Catch 22. Surely they needed to learn a lesson, I just wasn’t sure Target’s loss prevention specialist was the one to do it.

I heard the security alarm sound as I proceeded to checkout and rounded the corner just in time to see the snooper marching the boys to a rear office.

9 years old, 2 years shy of the hair dryer debacle

I thought about my own experience with theft. When I was eleven, I abducted a hair dryer. Years later, my mother attributed my acting out to my way of screaming in silence. That’s what little girls do when they carry secrets. Even more years later, I attribute it to just wanting straight hair. Yes, sometimes things are just that simple. But for a biracial girl with dry, nappy, curls-hair is anything but simple.

I wonder what secrets those little boys are carrying. Did they just want a Christmas gift to put under the tree for their mother? Did their mother put them up to it? Or was it just stealing, plain and simple?

Ooo Ooo Ooo Ooo Ooooo I Got A Mulattotude

Dress by Fab'rik. Photo by JElite Photography

I am not a fan of Miss Patti Labelle. Staring at your computer screen with big, bugged out eyes will not change that fact. I’ll wait while you get yourself together from the shock of my revelation. It’s true. I’m not. I find nothing pleasurable in all of the hooping and hollering, rolling around on the ground screaming and screeching like you aint got an ounce of sense.

She gets on my nerves.

But…there’s something about New Attitude that’s got my hips swinging and lips singing here lately. “Ooo Ooo Ooo Ooo Ooooo I got a mulattotude!” That’s right! I got a new attitude and it’s all because of my mulattotude. Have you ever experienced the freedom the comes in finding yourself, your sanity, your purpose, your authenticity? I am there.

My new attitude needed a new look.

  1. In search of fresh wardrobing, singular not plural because I ain’t quite got it like that, I happened upon Fab’rik of Raleigh where Kelsey was phenomenal in finding the perfect reflection of my colorful personality.
  2. On to hair and make up with Flawless Faces of Alnita of the Tim Johnson Salon because runway diva extraordinaire and BFF, Tekora Scruggs insisted that she was

    Make up by Flawless Faces by Alnita, Photography by J.Elite

    the go-to artist for print designs. She is a facial genius!

  3. Finally, I made my way to my professional photo shoot with Jamal and Carmela of J.Elite Photography. I was prepared to be impressed, but not amazed. They were so good that I scheduled a non-traditional family photo shoot a week later.

Kelsey, Alnita, Jamal and Carmela turned this pumpkin into a crystal carriage and when midnight struck, I was still glowing from my new look and new attitude. If you’re considering making a memory, putting your best face forward or dressing to impress, let my supreme team make you over and tell ’em a very happy customer sent ya!

Plum Crazy at Plum Crazy

I have a very dear friend who turned 50 this week. I will pause for the round of applause you are sure to give; or the sigh, depending on your own chronological status. On my way to his “Big Fat Greek 5oth Birthday Party” I decided to stop for a card. But not just any card, a man of such culture, such flavor, such colorful character needed a card from the African-American collection.

I went to Walmart in the heart of Southeast Raleigh. I often refer to this particular Wally World as Plum Crazy in homage to the deceased club because on any given visit you may see two to three patrons of the former establishment (only now they appear to be responsible adults with kids in tow, sober and well robed-present company included). This specific location sits on New Bern Avenue, which I’ve previously noted for having four fried chicken joints and runs parallel to Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. Surely I can get my brother from another mother a card from the Black experience here!

Words cannot even express my disappointment with what I found. Actually, words probably can, but I’m not privy to what that word is right now.

18. Eighteen. Diez y ocho. Do you understand me? There were 18 cards in the ‘Ebony’ section. 18. And four had no mention of being ebony, no picture of an ebony man or woman, no African insignia, no nothing! And yeah….I meant that damn double negative. EIGHTEEN!

I was stunned, mesmerized,  as I began counting the other, mainstream cards in the Walmart that sits on New Bern Avenue, parallel to MLK Jr. Blvd.,  in Southeast Raleigh. I stopped at seventy-nine. I watched sister after sister pick up a card for her husband or father in honor of Father’s Day, jaw dropped.

Furthermore, there was no availability for the Spanish-speaking community who also populate this community. Where are their cards? Can they get a card that doesn’t have a white man on the front? Can their little girls give their daddies a card where the model looks like him?

I searched for the manager, knowing I was already late for Ken’s birthday party but too militant to let this moment pass and after minutes of no luck I decided to mention my frustration to the sales girl at the check out.

“Really, you should tell somebody.”

“I’m telling you.”

“I ain’t nobody. You should call Walmart.”

“We’re in Walmart.”

“Naw, like the real Walmart.”

“Where exactly is the real Walmart?”

I went on with her for a few minutes, half amused, half ashamed, completely annoyed but our banter calmed my demeanor and allowed me to move on. I took my card, which ended up reading like we were lovers more than friends and my duct tape, because every man over 50 needs duct tape in excess and made my way to the comfort of friends who feel like family and understand the need of African-American cards in the Walmart on New Bern Avenue in 27610, even if they may never need to buy one.

And when I’m done writing this post…I’m gonna write the real Walmart a letter about the fake one!

Customer (Dis)Service, Cameron Village Style

For SC, who has her hands in the earth while she figures out her place in it, from SB.

I’m a basic girl. I find joy in the simple things; a friends and family discount, finding the perfect dress on clearance, a matching cocktail ring at 25% off…you know what these all have in common-SALE! Nothing turns me on more than swiping my card to spend less than what I should have (nevermind the inflation because we know it only cost $1.99 to make). I get a rush at looking at that last line on the receipt that reads ‘You saved $73.42’. Well actually, there is one thing…I would pay full price and then some for good customer service!

Trey of Teavanna in Triangle Towne Center knows this all too well. A few months ago I discovered Japanese Matcha and began making green tea lattes in the comfort of my own home. I’ve become quite the barista-with regard to green tea. I take special care to measure the temp of the milk and whisk from the outside in as taught to me by a tea guru. When I used the last of the mixture a few days ago, I was perplexed as to where I would get my supply. My original purchase was made at Tin Roof Teas in Cameron Village but on a second visit I walked around for about three minutes before leaving without recognition. The sales associate was absorbed in what appeared to be a textbook and far be it from me to intrude on someone’s work with work.

When I walked past Teavanna in search of the perfect dress, a matching cocktail ring and all at a friends and family discount, Trey must have sensed that my cupboard was in need of loose leaf tea. His exemplary customer service skills sent me home with much more than Japanese Matcha and although I had no intention of spending a fourth of what I totaled, it was completely worth it.

Back on track and a few stores later, I found myself in Dillard’s. Who can’t find an ensemble in Dillard’s, the friends and family discount is another story unless you are related to an employee of which I am not? I was still marveling over my experience with the young man at Teavanna when I caught the eye of the young sales girl putting away remnants from the dressing room, she quickly looked away. A few minutes later I stumbled upon her in conversation with two other women over the three missing dresses “The Versace, the Gucci and the Ralph Lauren but they can have that ugly ole’ thing.” She looked at me again. I didn’t even know Dilliard’s carried such labels but then again, I’m a simple girl.

Wait, is she suggesting that I’m a thief? Does she know I just spent over a hundred dollars on tea! This broad just looked at me again. Now her coworker is looking at me too; so I’m looking back at them and still-nothing. Not one eensy weensy word. I used to work in sales so I kinda know what I’m talking about when I say, the girl carrying four bags: one from the boutique tea shop, one from another anchor store and two from overpriced specialty shops is not the girl you don’t ask “Can I help you with something?” when you work on commission.  

After an eensy weensy word with the manager I headed elsewhere in search of a dress, earrings and a discount. I ended up in Cameron Village, because the name compels me even if the customer service enrages me and the parking (as discussed with @pinkpodster via twitter) infuriates me when there it was-a free space right in front of Fab’rik (cue harps, release the doves).

As soon as I walked in, the newly engaged sales clerk (whose name I won’t mention-just in case she has yet to tell some other poor soul that he is not the one) offered her perky assistance and three dresses later, we had the one! We also had a matching cocktail ring. And wouldn’t you know it-I already had a discount coupon card from a friend! The only thing that would have made that better would have been great customer service-which I got! Awesomsauce!! She-who-shall-not-be-named even gave me a great suggestion as to where to get some fabulous earrings to complete my look.

But in true Cameron Village fashion, CatBanjo delivered excellent customer disservice and I left empty-handed. I vowed years ago to never step foot in Ann Taylor ever again in life and the memory of Victoria’s Secret makes me want to vomit. I’ve had to check someone at nearly every eatery except Piccola Italia and K&W and Lee Spa Nails gets a 3 on a scale of 1-10 (but most nail salons do). Oh don’t even get me started on the banks! Now how you gonna have poor customer service when you’re holding my money for me? Riddle me that one blondie.

I was ready to give up on Cameron Village again when a sales girl, full of life and love made me give it another chance.

Connoisseur of Peace for Happiness

I am a big fan of reading and writing (not so much of arithmetic) but I can calculate an additional 25% off a 40% off sales price in T minus 60 seconds while giving my eight year old the ‘you better not even think about it’ stare while talking on the phone and waiting in line for a dressing room vacancy during the Easter weekend rush at Belk’s. Some forms of math just come naturally.

By the way, the twenty-something, gum popper standing behind me learned a valuable lesson that day. Never question the focus ability of the ultimate multi-tasker, I see door number three opening and I see your size two, $200 skinny jeans trying to slide past me. “Excuse me sweetie, were you expecting to share this room?”

But I digress.

Reading and writing. My love of these has spilled into my décor over the past few years in the form of word art on canvas. My first piece was the definition of ‘connoisseur’ purchased on an end cap at Target for $9.98. It hangs in my kitchen, taunting my desire to become an authority on gourmet* cuisine and wine aficionado. When the weekend is extended to include Friday, the taunts shall be silenced.

My favorite canvas is a wordle of ‘peace’ in several different languages. This symbolizes my wish for multicultural harmony and if nowhere else it exists when I am curled up beneath the wall covering, wrapped in a zebra blanket, sipping Japanese matcha, eating Lebkuchen wafers and watching Frida.

While engaging in a bit of retail therapy this weekend, I ran across one of those pieces by which I am intrigued. Actually, I ran across two. One at half price had a slash in the middle of the canvas that was barely noticeable but visible nevertheless. The other, identical in every other way, was full price and flawless.

And so began the familiar debate with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, only there really was no right or wrong decision. After boredom set in amidst the myriad of household goods, my sons chimed in, “Save money. You can’t even see that little scratch.” “You’re worth the good one. Spend a little extra on yourself.” I considered the first word in the list, ‘happiness’. What would make me happy: getting the whole one at the price of the damaged one for sure. But with that option off the table (unless I wanted to consider an illegal activity) I had to choose between money and value.

In the end, the unblemished canvas found its way to the trunk of my car. After all, with two active sons, it won’t be long before we give it a scratch or two; but then, it will be ours.

Who wants to buy something someone else has already damaged? Damn. That’s an awfully loaded question.

*On the same day, at another Target, on another end cap, a girlfriend was purchasing the definition of ‘gourmet’. I have been trying to convince her to give me her hanging ever since we discovered our match. I am hopeful that this post will help.

Sole Mates and Soul Mates

Few things compare to the exhilarating feeling of finding the perfect pair of shoes! Well, maybe finding them in your exact size!! Wait, and at 50% off!!! Euphoria erupts when you get home and discover that it is the perfect color for the dress you bought last week because it embraced every inch of your curvaceous silhouette without revealing the effects of overindulgence in everything from chocolate cookies to chocolate cake (and all things chocolate in between). The fact that you paid twice your allotted budget on the garment that is sure to turn this first date into your first proposal matters not compared to its ability to give an illusion of perfection.

Perfect hair. Perfect scent. Perfect make-up (but not so much as to look fake). Perfect cleavage and now…perfect pumps.

Two hours later, your heels are blistered and your toes are numb as you try to mask the pain in your “dogs” who are barking up something terrible. That perfect smile now looks like a sign of lactose intolerance and the pain on your face is mistakenly translated into rejection. He awkwardly searches for a way to discreetly check for the body odor that has offended you. Little does he know…you are in the process of committing shoeicide.

Why can’t those perfect 5” ring-wranglers feel as good as a pair of nude, Velcro strapped, support shoes? You know the ones with the rubber sole that can be found in abundance at your local Piccadilly or K & W during the early bird special hours. Why is comfort so ugly? And why is pretty so murderous? Before you get your panties in a bunch, ugly and comfortable shoes are great-if that’s what you like and kudos to you for being the one person on earth who actually buys them. But me no likey!

You have a better chance at finding your soul mate than finding your sole mate.

That’s what I discovered this weekend, when after just a few minutes of dancing, I discovered I had been wearing my two-hour pumps for three hours.* Ache set in but the joy on my soul mate’s face pushed me past the pain and two hours later, we were still grooving. That’s what soul mates are all about. When you find someone who connects to your soul spiritually, intellectually, culturally, physically and socially, you love them too much to let a little bunion end the fun.

I found my soul mate, but not in the way one may think. Not in that romantical love that leads to matrimonial union but in that unconditional love that binds two girlfriends at their heart and core and neither miles nor years can sever the union. For clarification, I don’t use physically to describe a sexual relationship (don’t get it twisted) but a relationship where one’s experiences with body image and body issues are that of the other.

My twin soul and I are as connected as conjoined Siamese cats and for that, I would wear nude, Velcro strapped, support shoes over a pair of come-get-me-stilettos any day!

*You have to find the mathematical calculation to maximize wear and minimize pain. For example, if you can only get 5 hours in a particular pair of leather pumps and you need to wear them for 8 hours, 4.5 hours should include sitting (slightly lift the back of the heel off the foot to relieve pressure but do not-I repeat- DO NOT take the shoe off) and only 22% of the day should involve walking at a mild pace, eliminate all steps and rub a numbing agent on at 4 hours. This method will have to be tweaked if the material is cloth or synthetic and if the shoe is bright red, forego the math cause you’re hot!

“C is for Compact”

“C is for compact.”

I squeezed out of my vehicle for that! I was pissed. I imagined that the note was from some admirer who had found my beauty too bountiful to express himself in person. Maybe, the mall security guard, seeing me on surveillance saw this as his only chance. Perhaps the guy I passed when I was turning in knew he couldn’t let the opportunity pass to be blessed by my grace. The flattery of it all made me smile (more than the shoes I had just purchased for half off). It was romantic and a little creepy…but I’m an ‘everafter’ at heart.

Everafter=those who believe in the fantasy, the fairytale, the happy ending.

It wasn’t a happy ending. It was sarcasm. I know C is for compact but at 3:30 in the afternoon when the parking lot is empty and there are a million spaces…is it that serious? I imagined the author was some young college girl in a bug who probably didn’t wear shoes and spent countless hours brainstorming ways to save the world (similarity to anyone in particular is completely unintentional). Maybe it was an older gentleman, a professor of Engineering at NC State who drove one of those half-a-car things that could fit in my trunk and need to be plugged in periodically.

Stereotypical visions filled my windshield as I crumbled the paper ripped from a notebook and tossed it into the backseat. I was no different from the scribbler. They probably thought I was some oil guzzling, money wasting, mindless consumer shopping for the latest designer bag. Correction. I bought my last purse in Target and I never buy anything that isn’t on sale.

I like my truck. I kind of even like the stereotypes that are associated with it. “How much does gas cost to fill that thing up?!” I hear that at least once a day. “Are you driving your man’s car?” I hear that at least once a week. “What did you do to afford that?” I hear that at least…well never but I know they think it. Then there’s the inevitable ‘pull up’, when a hot young girl pulls up next to me at a light expecting to find some hot young guy…she’s disappointed and I’m amused.

I like that it represents me and my personality in so many ways. I like that it is so bold, so bright, so big. I like that it is the first vehicle I purchased on my own. Maybe I should have thought of the economy and the environment before I signed the contract to purchase, but I didn’t. I liked it.

It’s just that simple.

Maybe the writer drove a large vehicle too. Maybe it was a note they got once and saved it to pass on the humor. Maybe the writer was genuinely sharing a piece of information that needed to be spread across mall parking lots nationwide. Maybe it was a mall security guard overwhelmed by the number of accident reports he had to take down in a day because some big vehicle put the grand canyon in the door of a smaller one. It could be just that simple.

But just in case…maybe I should get a bumper sticker that reads “my hummer just ate your cooper”.