The Hov Attack, and my beef with a violent double standard

I’ll admit it. I canon-balled right into the ignorance that was the Solange/Jay-Z blow up yesterday. The internet was on it and I have to say, the internet won. I laughed, I cried, I cringed looking at the memes and the videos. With that said, I found the actual incident to be disgusting. It’s not even the fact that this crazy woman is trying to fight a man… in couture, stilettos, and a semi-loose wig (keep it real, it was a tad crooked when she walked out to the car) … in public… but the overwhelming acceptance of what she did and  finger-pointing at the victim. Anyone subject to an attack like that, regardless of what was done, is a victim. Yes, Jay-Z was the victim.

When Chris Brown was part of a similar incident as a teenager, and there were no cameras. No one knows what went on in that car

sidebar: how do these people fight in such small quarters?

Despite the fact that we all know Rihanna is crazy, no one questioned what she did, and he was automatically the worst person in the world. Hell,  he’s still dealing with it five years later– some of the memes out there included him!

Now Solange is an almost-30-year-old divorced mother. She’s lived life. She’s old enough to know better and should want to set an example for her son and her niece. She’s been in the public eye long enough to know how to act when you suspect cameras are rolling (it’s 2014, if you think cameras aren’t in elevators, you need to get out more). But instead of calling her out for acting as if Miss Tina didn’t teach her anything as a child, I’ve heard: “well we don’t know what happened,” and, “we don’t know what he did,” “maybe she was defending her sister,” (like home girl wasn’t standing right there to defend herself), and other excuses that would enable such ratchetry.

What happened, is really no one’s business. They’re adults; adults argue. Whatever. But her reaction to whatever was said or done– that was caught on video — was dead wrong. Nothing in the world warrants being punched, kicked with high heels, being spit on, or hit with a metal purse. Lord knows if he tried in the slightest to defend himself–which is a human right, he’d somehow be in the wrong. I can’t knock any way he handled it– you have the right to do what you want when someone invades your space like that. She really took a chance on this one: this is the same man that shot his brother, and stabbed a man. Who’s to say he hasn’t paid some girl out of Marcy Projects to go get Solange?

In a time where women are ALWAYS talking about equal rights, it’s always struck me as odd that there’s still this, “men can’t hit women” argument. But somehow, the other half– women shouldn’t hit men– is always forgotten or brushed off as if it doesn’t exist.

Well, Men are stronger

Not really. Male physiology, more than hormones, explains men’s superior absolute strength. When other measures of strength are used, such as strength relative to cross-sectional area of muscle, the strength of men and women is nearly equal. Not every woman out here is meek and fraile. If Leila Ali swings at someone, it’s gon’ be a problem! But even if they are, that can be even more dangerous. What they lack in size and strength, they make up for with knives, guns, and blunt objects. If you’ve ever watched the news or a Lifetime movie, you know it’s real.

Women are victims more than men

Statisically,  yes, but not by much: more than 40% of domestic violence victims are men. Of course, that number doesn’t include the ignored reports, because law enforcement doesn’t believe a man can be a victim of domestic violence. Also, take into account the number of guys who don’t even report it. Y’all see how Mr. Carter somehow got made out to be the punk in this? It’s a lose-lose situation for him. I can understand why a man wouldn’t want to come forward with that kind of claim.

Beyond the physical, the same emotional and mental scars remain. Men don’t get the same help; that’s a double standard that just isn’t fair.

My mom and my grandmother have always taught my brother and me  to keep our hands to ourselves, don’t hit anyone unless you expect to get hit back. At the same time, it was made clear to us that no one is to EVER put their hands on us, man or woman. What I was taught was self-defense; I was fortunate enough to have someone to talk to me about that. However, not everyone does. Women like Solange don’t realize they’re playing Russian Roulette when they raise their hand to a man, and you may not walk away the same.

They say real men don’t hit women. But what real woman hits anyone?  I grew up in a family mostly made up of women. I was raised by a single mother.  Four of my mother’s six siblings are women. Most of my cousins are girls. I’ve seen them handle disagreements with themselves and others like ladies.

Of course, a couple have of them have fought men and bragged about it. I know one time where it backfired. Do I feel bad? No. Everyone has the option to either talk it out or walk it out.

Y’all just… Man, woman, animal, all of y’all…. just keep your hands to yourself.


When Money Can’t Keep You Safe…

I can’t say that growing up in the suburbs didn’t have it’s perks. I always got a surprised, “Oh!” from older people when I told them where I lved. When the racist bouncer at the only under-21 club in Pittsburgh would check my ID, I always got in after he saw my zip code.

Another well-to-do neighborhood borders mine. It’s called Murrysville. Surely, you’ve heard it all over the news over the last 24 hours, because that’s where one kid stabbed about two dozen Franklin Regional students . Thankfully, no one has died. I know one of the big reasons a lot of people are terrified by this is because it’s such a, “family-friendly, upper-class neighborhood”

Associated Press

Despite that translating to “rich white neighborhood”, my issue isn’t at all a race thing. It’s a class thing and unrealistic mindsets.

What’s annoyed me about growing up in the suburbs is the odd assumption that things that usually happen in urban areas would NEVER happen in the ‘burbs. Two-parent homes with two-car garages and a Golden Retriever in the front yard compensates for any issues one may have, am I right??

I remember a conversation classmates and my 11th grade Chemistry teacher had that highlighted this theory. The teacher lived in a rougher–meaning  Black population in Pittsburgh– part of the city called Wilkinsburg. I heard the laughs, and someone made a comment about drugs, comparing it to the Wire. Her response shut that down

Drugs are just as accessible here; you just don’t hear about it as much

She was right. Sure, city kids had access to it. But there were kids in my school that were high on weed and heroin more than the unsuspecting adults knew. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get away from the harmful things in life; that’s usually the goal when families move to the suburbs. But being naive enough to think that there’s a crime fence around your town is really dangerous. Living in that fantasy world will deprive your child of some vital survival skills.

Case in point, this stabbing. I’ll start with this Alex Hribal kid.


It’s being said that he was bullied. This has been around as long as kids have gone to school. It might be a bit more advanced with social media, but it leaves the same scars. Despite what these anti-bullying campaigns beat into people, It doesn’t necessarily end after high school. It evolves into something adults accept as part of the working world. Think about it: That boss you hate? How’s that any different from the popular kid at school that looked down on you?

I digress. This only non-Columbine thing about this kid I’ve seen so far is that he’s still alive. But I guess when you live in a nice neighborhood, go to a nice school, it makes it easy for others to ignore any possible signs.

At the same time, it makes me wonder… When you do have all of that, what do you have to be so angry about? There’s a children who don’t know if they’ll live another day, who would love to have that first-world problem. Had this kid Google’d how to handle bullies, or someone talked to him, his parent’s Paula Deen Collection knives would still be in the kitchen.

Now to these other kids…

God, y’all are going to hate me…

My sympathy gets mixed with confusion after the first four or five people. Bullets don’t have names: that”s evident in every mass shooting. They also travel a great distance. But to be successful with stabbing, you have to make fairly intimate contact. This kid wasn’t the biggest or the strongest. He was stabbing these people deep enough to hit  internal organs. The in-and-out action takes time… Time that someone could have been used to grab and book or an iPad and knock this boy upside his head. It might catch you off-guard when you see him stab the first one or two, but how does one manage to stab almost two dozen people? I just thank God, Allah, Buddha, ________ (I want the Atheists to feel included) that this kid didn’t get a gun. Aside from the gun control debate revivals, I don’t believe anyone would have made it out.

I say that not because of the school’s set up. The “Sheltered Suburbanite Syndrome” seemed to take over. I’m not sure whether to point to street smarts or common sense, but it’s clear a majority of these folks seemed to lack it. While this child is running around swinging knives, and these kids are tweeting about it.


The same way you know not to talk to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, being aware of your surroundings in case of an emergency is important. People are crazy these days! I know I spot emergency exits everywhere I go. I’m not paranoid; I’m alert. Being this way has saved me from getting mugged and jumped on a few occasions.


Everyone will light candles, pray, and donate money (more first-world logic) for the next week, and go back to their upper-class lives until this repeats. Why does it repeat? Acknowledging that bad can happen anywhere in life is draining, so everyone avoids it. What’s worse: avoiding it now, or having it judo-chop you in the throat down the road? It’s important because once this happens, the conversation can move toward solutions and plans. That conversation could save a life at some point. Can’t put a price on that.

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The Four Types of Nosy I Can’t (and No Longer) Do

There’s a fine line between genuine interest and downright nosy. I think the line becomes blurred even further, with everyone sharing every. single. detail. of their life on social media. Some people will just throw their entire life in your face. I know intrusive people who admit to loving that.

I know most nosy people feed on negativity: whether it makes them feel better about themselves or gives them something to talk about. I’ve had nosies make attempts on my business, and I know how to shut them down. I’ve made a game out of it at times. But I’m at a point now where I don’t have the energy for it– especially when dealing with certain types of intruders.

1. The Messenger

They’re the worst, but there’s a microscopic part of me that can respect their boldness. The Messenger is willing put his neck on the line to get info back his friends, who are either too lazy to get it themselves, or were busted in their attempts.

My beef: There’s little-to-no effort to hide their nosiness

My take on trying to get in my business is the same as lying to me: If you’re going to have the balls to do it, I want to be like “Man, I guess I was worth the effort,” in the end. I mean, of course I’ll know what you’re up to, but I’ll appreciate the work.

I can spot Messengers because I show genuine interest in my friends. I have an idea of the type of questions they’re likely to ask me. So it’s pretty clear to me when a question is coming from someone else.  I have to laugh at the other party: if someone’s this willing to get dirt on another person, what makes you exempt?

2. The Social Worker

The ones that pop up to get interrogate you, then disappear. Each time feels like an interview: where have I been, what have you been up to, where are you working, who are you seeing, and so on.

My rule of thumb: If I’m asked more than three questions in a row– and I’m not in an actual interview of some sort– I lie through my teeth. You don’t need to know that much, Sir/Ma’am.

My beef with this: It’s assumed that I won’t catch onto the pattern

I had a friend who I nicknamed The Social Worker. In a two-year span, I saw him six times. Each time, he asked all of those questions and dove back into the shadows. If you cared this much about what I’m doing, why not occasionally shoot a Facebook message in between these appointments? I’m not a some oblivious five-year-old kid; I know you’re not really concerned about me. You’re just looking for something good.

3. The “Private” Investigator

After dealing with all of these nosy people, you may find yourself saying, “well I’m going to show them how it feels!” Then you run into the “Private” Investigator. They will ask a slew of personal questions. But when your time in the conversation/interview comes up to ask a question or two, they shut down. They’re evasive, totally ignore your questions, or find ways to switch it back to you.

So you see my beef with this, right?


You can dig into every detail of my life… But your life is off-limits??? I know when I do it, it’s not because I care what’s going on in your life: I’m doing it to show you how it feels. Sadly, they usually never get it.

4. The Back Burner

They’re horrible at prioritizing. Their lives are usually in shambles, but unlike the Private Investigator, concealing it isn’t their concern. Their life is on the back burner. They need to know what YOU and everyone else is up to… even if it means letting what they have crumble to the ground.

My beef: You have enough to focus on in your own life (as most adults do). Go handle that!!!

This one is a bit sad, because it’s clear that it’s something deeper. I don’t know if they don’t know how bad their situation is, or if being concerned about other people’s lives helps escape their own. I know someone who could tell you everyone else’s business…

But doesn’t that their significant other is currently cheating on them.

Had this person been more focused on their own household, this would not be an issue. Running around worrying about everyone else, leaves the door open for those same people to pick your life apart.

Again, I don’t knock all nosiness. When it’s genuine interest and curiosity, enough to maintain a two-way conversation, there’s nothing wrong with it.  But when that conversation starts to feel like an interrogation, I walk away. I have, and will continue to do it. Because sometimes, saying, “none of your damn business” isn’t clear enough.

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My Questions for Women Who Aren’t Used to “Nice”

To the delight of single folks, Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Somewhere in the world, it wasn’t a loving day. The reasons may vary, but there’s one that may not immediately come to mind: an insecure person’s response to nice gestures.

No, this is not a, “Nice-Guys-Finish-Last” rant. I digress. I’m talking the kind of treatment most would consider normal relationship behavior.When I was a teenager, I remember treating this girl I was dating very nice: nothing extraordinary, but enough to get her attention. How do I know it got her attention? I stopped. One day, I decided to act like a distant weirdo I didn’t call her all day, picked her up at her house and said nothing the entire ride. The silence got to her and she admitted, “You were just so nice, no one’s ever treated me like that”.

I can laugh it off at 17, 18. But when I hear adult women using this, they get a side-eye and a slew of questions:

  1. Exactly how bad were you treated? I’m pretty quick to call BS when I hear this, because a lot of women like to play the Damsel in Distress. I used to be one of the guys who felt he had to break out the superhero cape to change her mind. Now, if I see you were treated that poorly and you choose to hold onto it, rather than wipe the slate clean for the next person, that’s on you, boo: I’m not playing damage control for men everywhere.
  2. How many times has this happened to you? There’s really no good way to answer this question, but the less, the better. Without an explanation, once can come off as dramatic. Who hasn’t had one bad relationship? Why keep giving one person you’re no longer dating that much power over you? If it happens more than once, clearly the problem isn’t the other person. You need to take a moment to ask yourself what you’re doing to attract this kind of behavior. Reminds me of Luna from the Boondocks. Several different men hit her with the same bad treatment… But Grandad, Riley and Huey had to pay for it.

    Luna aka Killer Kung-Fu Wolf Bitch

  3. How often do you examine your standards? Some like to make it seem as if they have no part in someone treating them like garbage: woe is me, I’m the victim. Sometimes, “I’m not used to being treated this nice”, can be code for, “I settled for mediocre treatment in the past”. People will treat you as poorly as you allow. Unless a bomb is strapped to the doorknob, there’s always an exit.
  4. What’s your definition of nice? This kind of ties into standards, in that it doesn’t take much at all for some to consider something extraordinary. In my specific instance, holding the door open for her attributed to my “niceness”… That’s not nice as much as… a human reflex if you’re standing behind me?
  5. What’s there to get used to? I mean, really… If a nice gesture is done, just accept it and go on about your life. There are people who’d give up a duplicate organ for nice treatment, and genuinely appreciate it. But you sittin’ here looking at the other person sideways for it.
  6. Do you not believe you deserve it? I don’t think being treated nice is necessarily a privilege. I would assume it’s something everyone expects-. But when you’re willing to put up with anything, the actions say something different.

Every situation is different; I’d never judge across the board. However, I’m sure plenty would agree that “nice” is a justified expectation, never something you should ever have to get used to… at any point in time… ever.


Or it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

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Black History Lesson #346759502 : We All Don’t Look Alike

I remember being called Sean quite a bit in middle school. No, that’s not my name and my classmates knew that: it’s the name of another Black kid that every teacher seemed to assume was me. We were about the same height, beige, and we had short hair– that’s where the similarities stopped. He had light eyes and a mustache. I was heavier and had braces. Anyone that looked us in the face could tell who we were. I remember the school Principal walking toward me in the hallway–plenty of time to look me in my face and see who I was– and proceeded to tell me, “good game the other night, Sean”.

I decided to grow my hair out in the middle of eighth grade just to see if it would stop. Sean stopped… but every beige man with braids — from Ludacris to Carmelo Anthony– came up. It was around this time that I discovered the “all Black people look alike” stereotype.

It All.



Last night, I stumbled upon this gem from KTLA’s Sam Rubin

It’s not the first time I’ve seen that happen on TV. I remember watching the reporter who had mistaken Will.I.Am for Wale and Wyclef. I remember the reporter being mortified but he got to recover. Mr. Jackson didn’t get mad (I guess he learned from Richard Sherman–anything more than a whisper makes you angry), but he certainly didn’t quite let this one slip by! I mean, you’re mixing “Snakes On a Plane” up with “The Matrix”? “Coming to America” with “School Daze”?!?! WHO DOES THAT???

I died laughing at this, but it’s just as uncomfortable for Mr. Jackson as it is for the reporter.  Plus it’s annoying, because it comes off as lazy. You can’t take an extra second to see what distinguishes me from the other Black guy? As much as it annoys me, I’ve always felt even worse for Asians. I’ve heard others describe a person from Asia– Regardless of whether that person is actually Korean, Filipino, Japanese, Cambodian, Indonesian, etc– as “Chinese”. Heaven forbid you get more than one in a room.

There have been studies on this. This laziness has been called the cross-race effect.

the tendency to be worse at recognizing individuals from other racial/ethnic groups than one’s own racial/ethnic group. also known as the own-race bias.

Does it sound racist off-grip? A little: You only make an effort to recognize your own, the others who aren’t worth the effort get clumped together. It screams “SHELTERED” too: have you ever been around more than one person of a different race at a time?

It’s something you can laugh off when you’ve never been on the wrong side of this. It seems harmless, but I know if I lived in certain places

*cough* FLORIDA *cough*

I’d be terrified! Think of Tim Cole, a regular Black man from Texas who was wrongfully convicted of serial rape in the 80’s. One of the rape victims, a White woman, ID’d him as the man behind it, and he got 25 years in prison. Meanwhile, the man who actually did it CONFESSED TO POLICE AND COLE’S FAMILY… and it was years before anything came of it. The only connection the two had: they were Black men. Cole died of an asthma attack behind bars. His name wasn’t cleared for a decade.

Sound like a serious problem? It doesn’t have to be. Basically, the studies I’ve seen say that the recognition skills are done by the time you’re nine. However, practice and motivation can help it.

So get out there and get you a Rainbow Coalition of friends! If you’re lucky, you’ll avoid… everything this guy felt on live television.

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42 Years a Butler, Unchained: The Slavery Overkill in Hollywood

Much like gang culture in the early 90’s, Slavery seems to be the new thing on  the silver screen. So much so, I wondered if the slave trade was about to make a comeback– or a Wayans satire is on the way.  While I prepare my freedom papers/House Slave skills, I know a lot of people are gearing up to see the latest cotton field flick, “12 Days A Slave”. I’ve heard about screenings, seen some reviews, and everyone seems to be rather interested.

Except for me… I ain’t gon’ go see it.

it’s based on a true story!

Oh that’s interesting… I still ain’t gon’ go see it.

It’s cool though– Morgan Freeman is with me on this. I agree 100% with his reason,

– It’s going to further piss you off, beyond normal levels of pissed-tivity. There was “Django Unchained”— another movie I didn’t see in theaters. Then there was “42″. Although it was after slavery, the blatant racism was a lot to take. I know I needed to give my Blackness a chance to regroup, so I skipped The Help, But… I happened to be staying at a hotel across the street from a theater that made the news for heavy police presence at a screening of “The Butler” in Silver Spring. I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. So I walked over and saw it. As I’m sure most Black people did, I left feeling some type of way.

My issue is the overkill, for several reasons.

The topic is thrown in your face so much, it just becomes a source of division and tension. Considering some of these movies are based on true events, I know there’s something to be taken from them.  I would think the goal is to spark a conversation, possibly on how to prevent history from repeating itself, right? Instead, the conversation seems like, “What’s another way a White man can crack a whip or call a Black man a nigger?” after a while. It’s hard not to be angry, because once upon a time, all of this was reality. Treading lightly behind the Black anger out of the theaters, is the White Guilt. I can’t personally say what it’s like as a White person watching other White people rape, beat, and demean other people based on their race… but it can’t be comfortable. It’s unfortunate, because so many of them are finding themselves apologizing for something that happened hundreds of years before their grandparents were a twinkle in someone’s eye. Then there’s the justifications

Slavery’s been over for centuries, why are Black people mad now? They didn’t go through it

While it may be true– movies like The Butler show how little changed after slavery for quite some time, aside from the setting. For example, my grandparents may not have been in the cotton field, dodging whips. Still, my grandmother has told me how she’s had to go to the back of restaurants to get food, go to different bathrooms, and probably called out of her name in the process. Hell, when a 19-year-old can’t buy an expensive belt without being followed at Barney’s in 2013, it makes you wonder if anything changed at all.

While the regular White folk battle guilt and side-eyes, the ones in Hollywood win. I mean, look at Django.

A freed slave (Jamie Foxx) sets out to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a mean Mississippi plantation owner. Neither of these two are unknown actors, nor did they do a poor job. Yet, they were only acknowledged at minority award shows: BET Awards, NAACP Image Awards, and the like. Christopher Waltz and Quentin Tarantino, on the other hand, made out like bandits at the Oscars, Golden Globes, etc.

One could shrug this off as “that’s Hollywood for you”, but it’s irritating. The line between fiction and reality are blurred: you sit through two hours of the “White man on top, Black man in the field”. Then the awards shows come, and they’re the only winners?

The final annoyance comes with a bit of fear: Slavery becomes a joke. It’s no secret that aspects of Blackness have always been synonymous with Cool:  You’ve got Hannah Montana who just picked up on the 20-year-old dance known as “twerking”.

If I had a nickel for every suburban White kid I’ve met who idolizes Eminem simply for being brave enough to do what other Black people have done since the late 70’s (rap, if you haven’t guessed already), I’d be rich.

Now ask one of these kids anything about Black history before Martin Luther King, Jr., and they’ll mention slavery, right? Putting an entertainment spin on such a grim time period so many times almost makes it seem like fun.

Forest Whitaker watched his dad die in a field.. but he got to meet President Obama! Jamie Foxx’s wife was held captive…but he shot white people! Slavery is cool!

I appreciate the fact that these movies do slap some people in the face with a subject so often swept under the rug because it’s uncomfortable. But once you’re hit with it so many times, you will become numb to it. I don’t want to overhear a conversation one day, and hear people discuss slavery in a fictional tone.

Bottom line, I’d rather see the impressionable learn about this in a classroom, than in the nearest Loews theater.

Do you plan on seeing this in theaters? Why or Why not?

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Family First

It took death for me to stop and take a risk in my life.

Let’s go back to July 18th. I was in the control room at work– about 6:55 in the morning–  when my mother called to tell me my Aunt died.  When I thought nothing could be worse, I called my mother back when I got home from work. Every relative within a four-hour drive is at the hospital. This left a cousin in Georgia, an uncle in Florida (who was on his way), and me in New York.

I moved to Albany last year knowing that I would miss holidays, graduations, birthday parties, etc. back in Pittsburgh. “It’s just a year”, I told everyone. “It’s just a part of the job”, I told myself: the news doesn’t stop for anyone.  But I swear on my life, losing someone before I could make it closer to home never, ever crossed my mind.

Everything that happened to my aunt was so sudden

Tuesday, she was kind of sick.

Wednesday afternoon, she went to the hospital.

Thursday morning, she was gone.

I’ve always made decisions based on how the outcome will affect me later. If I’m unhappy now, I can deal with it if I see the potential down the road. However, reality has smacked me in the face with the fact that “down the road”, may never come.

If today was my last day,  would I be happy with what I’m doing?

The abruptness of that situation made me rethink my “light at the end of the tunnel” mentality. In some cases, it pays to think about your happiness now, and walk away from what doesn’t. I’ve put this new process into effect in a big way

I quit my job. No backup.  For the time being, I’m back in Pittsburgh.

The financial side isn’t an issue for me at the moment. I had plenty of emergency money set aside before I moved. My job hunt began long before this decision. The most important thing for me now is to spend the holidays with my family, namely my Grandmother. A couple of weeks before I gave my notice, I met my mom, brother, and grandmother in DC. She was talking to her sister-in-law about how her knee had been stiff and had been bothering her, and she said

Since Brenda died, I ain’t really been out much

I’m terrified of Thanksgiving and Christmas for me; I know this year’s going to be rough. I can’t imagine what she’s going through now, let alone what’s ahead.  Knowing that I won’t have to worry about the plane tickets and fight for time off to get home (being the new kid in a 24-hour business… I wouldn’t get the time off) to be with her makes me happy now. Besides, where I want to be permanently is much closer to Pittsburgh. Interviews and visits there and back are much easier on my life and my wallet.

Of course, there’s always the chance that this could blow up, and be one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  Hey, they’re bound to happen at some point, why not make them while I don’t have any dependents. Even if it is, nothing lasts forever: even the US Government shutdown ended eventually.  I’m not 100% on where life’s going to take me after this. The ride’s been interesting so far, so why get off now?

Family and stability are both very important to me. Reaching a point where I feel like I have to choose between the two isn’t the most pleasant, but it certainly took a lot of courage to bypass fear of the unknown and make the decision that’s best for me. I’m proud of my decision. I know my aunt would be too.

I love you, Aunt Benny🙂

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