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How To Fangirl All Over Your Boss Without Becoming Unbearable (With Examples From Last Week’s Episode of Mad Men)

20 Oct

by Janday Wilson

We’ve all been there: The uncomfortable pauses in conversation, the cagey disposition in the presence of a boss you want to be just like, the desire to do everything perfectly under her gaze.

I cringed during last week’s episode of Mad Men, watching eager beaver secretaries Meredith and Dawn fight so hard for approval from Joan, the Queen Bee of SCDP. I was embarrassed for them and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t totally identify with them. See, I used to be that earnest assistant who wanted nothing more than to please her fabulous boss, and I learned a few lessons from those first steps up the ladder.

joanie

I don’t blame the women at SCDP for being stunned into silence by Joan’s mere presence. In that Sunday’s episode, she woke up from an all-night bender with a torn dress and smeared makeup and still managed to look glorious. Joan’s that put-together woman in every office who exudes a quiet confidence.

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I Suffer from “Too Good to Be True” Syndrome

20 Oct

by Janday Wilson

A few days ago I found out that I did not get the job that I desperately needed.

Fuck. Before the words even left the recruiter’s mouth, I knew. I live my life on the defense, always in anticipation of disappointment and bad news. I am especially distrustful when life is going too well.

I’m working on this terrible mindset, especially since popular opinion has me convinced that my brain has special powers to actually manifest my thoughts. I swear that I did not want to lose out on this job opportunity, despite the fact that way back in the recesses of my mind my thoughts convinced me that it was too fortuitous.

I had just had a conversation with my boyfriend about my desperate need for funds when the temporary agency contacted me. And the position had the exact start date that I needed. I was beyond thrilled, but suspicious of the fact that I kept getting so many unexpected bits of good news that day.

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“I Heard Haitian Men Are Crazy!” And Other Brilliant Reactions To My Intercultural Relationship

20 Oct

by Janday Wilson

“Watch out for them Africans.” How does one say that in Kreyòl?

I need to know so that I can ask my boyfriend’s grandmother what she meant when she delivered that warning to her beloved grandson upon learning that I was of Liberian descent.

He is a first-generation American of Haitian descent. For the two-and-a-half years that we have been dating, I haven’t been concerned about the differences in our backgrounds. I mean, we are both black folks (if from different cultures).

Sure, I’ve imagined uncomfortable family scenes in which I’m sitting at a dinner table in silence as everyone around me speaks Kreyòl. But I’ve also fantasized about stunning his grandmother into silence once she finally meets “the African” and I say hello in perfect Kreyòl.

There was at least one week when I practiced Kreyòl in earnest with my Byki app.

There was at least one week when I practiced Kreyòl in earnest with my Byki app.

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My Love Life Is Dictated By My iTunes Playlist

20 Oct

by Janday Wilson

This picture was in my 7th grade diary. Did I write diary entries about B2K? You bet I did!

This picture was in my 7th grade diary. Did I write diary entries about B2K? You bet I did!

It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I finally acknowledged I had a problem.

I’d started hooking up with a friend that I had been crushing on for a semester and a summer. Hanging out always involved music in some way, and we were watching a Kid Cudi interview when he exclaimed, “I like Kid Cudi, man. He’s a regular dude, just like me!”

I agreed with him, but I was chuckling inside. He didn’t know it but my fascination with him, and the unshakeable crush that followed, developed at the exact same time that I was obsessively listening to Kid Cudi’s debut mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi.

I can actually pinpoint the precise moment my conflation of music and relationships began. I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music freely until middle school, the same time I started caring about boys. Back then I was all about B2K. J-Boog was my favorite, but I also welcomed Lil’ Bow Wow, Mario, and Lil’ Romeo into my heart. My allowance money was constantly wasted on Right On! magazine for the free posters. When you stepped into my room all you saw were cornrows and matching baggy outfits.

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“Where Are You Really From?” I’m An “Exotic” Black Girl

20 Oct

by Janday Wilson

To some, this is the face of an African queen.

To some, this is the face of an African queen.

“Oooh, you’re exotic. I’m going to call y’all Godiva!”

That was what a Southern gentleman exclaimed to me and my friend after we told him that our families originated from Liberia and Nigeria, respectively. We had struck up conversation with him and his friends outside of a club and, in exchanging the usual pleasantries and the bits of information you feel comfortable sharing with strangers, he asked us where we were from. I told him Connecticut, she told him New Jersey.

“No, where are you really from?” he countered.

I am always slightly thrown off by these compliments tempered with inquiries into my cultural background, no matter how frequently I get them. I do not know which features give away the fact that my roots are not in America, but the comments that I receive about my appearance often reveal people’s thoughtful or ignorant perspectives on Africa and Afrocentric standards of beauty.

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