Episode 1

See transcription below:

This project is a collection of thoughts transcribed and dictated by ivana renee and informed by the honest experiences of various homegirls in the city. In this project, “I” is for all of us.

We are simultaneously stressed out by white supremacy, #LawrenceHive, and work-life balance. We split our time between bottomless brunch, jobs, creative pursuits, and niggas. We are homegirls in the city.

Together, we’ve thot and bopped. Some of us even fell in love, and our friendship grew out of our collective analysis of each other and our situations. We’ve navigated relationships and reconciled emotions, from first dates to baecations and all the scrubs in between.

Well, there haven’t been a lot of definitive scrubs, less that credit card scammer from the Bronx and the hotep from Soul Swipe.

Anyways, a few cornballs but limited scrubs.

In fact, a lot of these guys aren’t actually terrible. They look good on paper, and I don’t always hate their face or their shoes.

But the statistical advantage of a reasonably poppin’ black man combined with the growing epidemic of niggas thinking they’re fine and the aforementioned #LawrenceHive leads to these niggas (generally speaking) being on their heads and thus the “dating while a black woman” struggle.

Yes, we dedicate a good amount of our text message threads to reminding each other that “niggas are trash”. But again, let’s be honest, ultimately, we’re still trying to get chose.

There are good guys in the world, allegedly. But where are they? And are they fine?
Note. Fineness is immediately disqualified by the excessive use of the front-facing camera and animal filters.

I met a guy while out of town. He was my kind of fine. Clean but not too shiny. Suave yet manly. Dark skin, white teeth, a papi. We had really great conversation all night. We just vibed. It’s hard to explain. Fast forward, we have sex.

I mean, he didn’t blow my brains out or anything, but I would do it again.

We kept talking after we left vacation and decided that he should come visit me in the city. You know me I like to rush shit, so after a week of going back and forth about scheduling his trip, I told him I’d book his ticket.

It wasn’t expensive but definitely an act of a bitch going after it.

He insisted that I didn’t have to buy the ticket, and most of my homegirls clowned me for even offering.

“Damn bitch, you importing niggas now? Does this make him a sex worker? Let me have a dollar since you so rich,” they echoed.

A couple days later, I was texting my homegirl from college. I gave her the rundown, and she texted me, in all caps, “Yousa boss bitch. You better summon the dick (egg plant emoji)”.

So I booked it. Because let’s be honest I don’t take advice for real. And that was what I wanted to do anyway.

He came, and we got lit and bopped around the city together. The weekend was cool at first, but as it progressed I became increasingly less attracted to him.

Listen, I’m not here to judge anyone’s drug and alcohol use, but he got so trashed, like tequila shots out the bottle, people asking if he’s okay, come home and fall straight to sleep, trashed. And to be honest, the falling straight to sleep part was the most irritating.

“Like you know what you’re here for, right?”

He wakes up, hurt. Blows up my bathroom and slowly comes back to life.

Cooking is intimate, and I wasn’t trying to do too much. So we order breakfast from this spot by my crib. I’m eating my egg and cheese on a roll, and we’re chatting while looking for something to stream on Netflix. Somehow we get on some gender roles topic, which is honestly a pretty regular conversation these days. I’ve noticed that guys around me have been really comfortable expressing their opinions on women — their likes, dislikes, preferences, whatever.

While we’re eating, he tells me how he thinks women shouldn’t have had sex with more than 4 men in their lifetime, says that natural hair isn’t for everybody, and then goes on to say how he couldn’t see himself in a relationship until his mid-40s. He’s 25. Niggas are garbage cans, example 784.

No one, or very few people rather, stay in New York long term. The city itself is time sensitive. We’re all in transition, grinding for our own self-actualization.

There’s an implicit selfishness here in everyone, a selfishness potentially inflated by our status as 20-somethings.

And whether true or false a lot of us make the argument that relationships are a detriment to reaching our goals.

We’re fine just “focusing on ourselves” until our kinda-not for real bae doesn’t invite us to their birthday brunch or our potential future bae that we’ve went out to drinks with a few times leaves the day party with a shorty with soft hair.

Overall, the city makes us feel like everyone is a scammer.

Be safe though.

Our homegirls in finance graduated college and entered the workforce with a defined track on how to grow within their companies and a $70K salary with a signing bonus to get them started. Our media and entertainment homegirls were more likely to be finessed by the industry.

Media companies are the ultimate scammers.

“These roles are very competitive, so we’re going to have to pay you in nickels. BUT you do get to tell people you work here”

Straight out of college and unable to advocate for ourselves a lot of us accept bullshit salaries without even attempting to negotiate.

“The creative industry doesn’t pay well now, but I’m working my way up and it’s my passion.”

This keeps us afloat until we realize that we are also passionate about having a savings account and eating, and in fact, we’re actually not passionate about a job that pays us in office snacks and doesn’t recognize our brilliance.

I got my current job through a staffing agency. I started two years ago with a three-month contract. It’s been two years, and they’ve been renewing my contract every quarter since. They still haven’t brought me on as staff.

I’m young. I’m black. I’m brilliant. My company is trying to appeal to a consumer base that is me.

Most recently, they were intrigued when I told them that using Spanglish in ads to appeal to Latino millennials is both ineffective and offensive.

Auntie Maxine told us to reclaim our time, and I finally worked up the courage to ask to be converted to staff.

Being poor was cute two years ago, but struggle looked better on The Pursuit of Happiness.

So I made a list of all my contributions to the company and put a meeting on my supervisor’s calendar.

My supervisor took notes through my mini-presentation. At the end, she thanks me, and tells me that converting me to staff is out of her control. But we could maybe work on converting me after the first of the year.

Bitch, it’s April.

Just last week, she made the intern cry because she booked her a window seat rather than an aisle seat on her hour long flight from New York to DC. She isn’t a “this is out of my control” kind of shorty. I’m being played.

Our parents don’t completely get it either. They’re hardworking, self-sacrificing people, but by their mid-twenties, they had kids. They had real responsibility outside of themselves and work was a means to an end, not something that they looked to be fulfilled by.

We, on other hand, get a lot of our validation from our work. Not saying that we have the best system either. But for us, work is intertwined with our identities. We’re emotional about it.

When we’re unenthused by our work and haven’t truly identified our passion projects, it affects us at our core.

It can feel like we’re always interviewing, attempting to define ourselves. First, we’re questioned about what we do. Then, our jobs will be qualified as cool or not, and the conversation shifts based on that evaluation.

Next, we’re asked where we live: East Harlem, anything above 145th, all of Queens, the Bronx, and Jersey will be shaded by most (but that’s neither here nor there).

Finding an apartment in the city is probably one of the most irritating activities of all time. We wonder how our white co-workers who presumably have the same salaries as us can afford apartments in the West Village and finance Equinox memberships while we split bodega sandwiches into two meals.

But we figure it out. We find roommates and forgo central air, laundry, elevators, closet space and windows just to make it work.

Everyone in this city is a Pressed Patty. We kind of have to be to survive, especially in the beginning. New York is an experience. It is something that we go through, and because we’re all going through it together, it’s pretty easy to connect with people, if we try.

After a few weeks in the city, the promotions tab of our gmail is full of Splashthat and Eventbrite links, and we have a consistent itinerary of moves should we so please to engage. People we meet at day parties or in GroupMes plug us to roommates, jobs, moves, friends, flight deals, drugs, alladat.

A few Christmas’ ago, Groupme plugged me to the flex of the year — a flight deal from New York to Dubai. So I assembled a squad of Abu Dhabi mamis and blew a bag. (Well, $279.19 to be exact, like I said, flight deal). We coordinated outfits and tagged TravelNoire in our IG posts.

If you go abroad and don’t flex on the gram, did you really go anywhere?

One of my homegirls risked it all for her followers. She caught herself doing the prayer hands while squatting in front of a camel. I guess the camel didn’t believe in that and he stomped her out. She still got a picture off though.

3 posts, 868 likes, and minus 5 vacation days later, we’re hungover in our economy class seat on the connecting flight back to real life, dreading our domestic responsibilities.

But it’s not all bad. The city can feel euphoric. A lot of us got our first real jobs, signed our first leases, and truly began our adult lives here. We’ve been at the highest we’ve ever been.

One time, I got so high that I thought the chocolate from the fun-sized snickers I was eating was cementing in my throat, and I was choking to death. But I digress.

Like I said, we’ve had our highs.

But we’ve had our lows too.

We spend a lot of time with other people, but we spend all of our time with ourselves. We put in our headphones and act like we don’t see that girl we know on the subway car and explore our own minds.

Our childhood dreams are fresh in our heads, and we aren’t willing to give them up for what is practical.
But it’s hard. And we’re muhhfucking tired.

We are both energized and daunted by our undefined futures.

And at times, our self-talk turns dark and self-deprecating.

NYC is a concept, a status symbol, but the grandeur of the city wears off when we’re unenthused by our day-to-day.

Nothing is happening for me. Will it ever? My life is in shambles.

I just don’t want to do this anymore.

But in our own time, on our own terms, we find ways to transcend these dark spaces.

We go out. We stay in. We start things. We quit things. We write. We sing. We online shop. We do what we need to do. We talk ourselves off the edge.

We learn ourselves — our likes, dislikes, and preferences. We learn we don’t have to do shit we don’t want to do. We learn no one is going to ride for us like we ride for ourselves. We learn that we have options. We witness our own strength.

This is a collection of stories from homegirls who are honest with themselves, each other, and the world. In this project, “I” is for all of us.


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