episode 7

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’ve already confirmed that living in New York is a scam, but while journeying through this city of flex gods and goddesses, we have two choices—scam or be scammed.

It’s Saturday night; Scammerella reporting for duty.

This year, the Grammys were in New York for the first time in a long time. And you already know what that means. In the timeless words of Katie Got Bandz, “Bitch, Pop Out”. 

New level alert: expensive and exclusive.

For the unofficially plugged homegirls, Grammy’s weekend had fashion week vibes (read: stress). 

Since we’ve touched down in this city, we have consciously and subconsciously attempted to align our lifestyles, aesthetics, and Instagram stories with its energy.

The city itself shifts our awareness. By our second winter, we learn Canada Goose jackets aren’t North Face knock offs, and the whites have been on the MTA in $1000 coats this whole time. 

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out if I can still shop at H&M after “the coolest monkey in the jungle” scandal and still be for the culture.

We’ve been putting on for years at this point—from carrying a Chick-Fil-A cup around all day in high school to flex on the broke boys who eat school lunch and drink tap water to those dry ass boarding pass pictures we take every time we go to the airport. 

New level, same shit.

The thing about flexing in New York, however, is that it requires a certain level of resilience.  

Leading into the weekend, I RSVP’d to nearly every event that entered the group chat…

Thank you for your interest in attending the Grammy Celebration. Due to an overwhelming response, we are unable to accommodate your request. Unconfirmed guests will not be permitted entry. 

One, if you didn’t want me to come, you wouldn’t have put the address on the flyer. Two, I got my ear to the streets, and I would’ve figured out where it was anyways. Three, bitch, I’m exclusive.

An event in New York is only as exclusive as how many people can’t get in. Once public links with complete information are circulated and mass denial emails are sent out, the streets are talking.  

I did a walk through in Zara on Thursday after work to look for something under $30 to turn up my wardrobe. 

Reason 543 of why I’m not financially free: I spend my money on disposable clothes.

Nevertheless, I’m out here and committed.

So my homegirls and I pull up to the spot. The sidewalk is crowded by a mass of unconfirmed guests—trailblazers, if you will.

It’s a function, for sure.

I scan my surroundings, and every other shorty is wearing a variation of a faux fur coat and sock booties.

It’s brick as fuck, and I fold my own unlined faux fur into itself and secure it with both arms across my chest to keep warm. 

I blow under the front collar of my coat to heat up my chest as I wonder, “at any given function, can two or more persons set off the same look? At what point, does the look become…basic? Can I be a look with hypothermia?” Being exclusive is stressful.

Two bouncers in staple wide legged pant suits shout at the crowd that the event has reached capacity, and no one will be let in. It’s 30 degrees, and my eczema is flaring up. 

But you think a hater gone stop me? The fuck. 

Niggas not on the list get into at capacity venues everyday, b.

We already took the 2 Train (which was running local) downtown. Now, all we have to do is convince the bouncer to let us in. Or, we scale the building for alternative entrances, get in through a side door, hide in the bathroom, re-emerge 20 minutes later, and walk in. Options.

This may sound like a lot to some people, but ya wcw (and probably ya mcm, too) is a panini…pressed.

We say we only drink brown but order cranberry vodkas at Ciroc open bars. We overcome obstacles.

Disclaimer: I have been actively stopped by haters, and I actually hate this shit. 

You thought Tyrese wanting to see his kids was emotional? Major events in New York City—Fashion Week, music festivals, La Marina—will show where our true loyalties lie. Before the weekend is over, somebody might be getting shaded in a group chat for being fake—and sometimes they won’t even be in it. 

It be your own friends.

I’m not the plug, sis. Best of luck.

Who you with? What a loaded question.

First of all, if we think we, our three uninvited homegirls, and one of our uninvited homegirl’s friends from home are all going to finesse into the Roc Nation Brunch with no confirmation, we’re wasting our own time—unless we’re an HBCU grad, of course.

HBCUs have produced some of this country’s premier black talent. And they’ve also produced some of its top tier finnessers. HBCU grads spent four years beefing with Financial Aid; the bouncers at Up and Down are light work. HU!

Embarrassingly, it’s not just about being there; it’s also about other people knowing we’re there, so our followers see our content, double tap, and think and/or comment, “wow, their life is lit”. 

If you can’t flex on the Internet, where the hell can you flex?

All social media engagement isn’t created equal; a DM is greater than a story reply is greater than a picture comment is greater than a picture like is greater than a story view. 

However, though story views are at the bottom of the value spectrum, when executed by our most recent mcm, its value skyrockets. 

He watched my story? Mission complete. 

On the other side, if he isn’t engaging with my content…cue heart palpitations.

Lord, my blood pressure.

The dramatics vary, and the emotional reactions to Instagram views are generally reserved for premium birds—doves, if you will. Again, there are levels.

After my Saturday night escapades, I wake up the next day at 11:45am, freezing or sweating in my full sized bed—because the temperature in my room is beyond control—just in time to miss church. I lift my phone from my nightstand, scroll through my camera roll, and hopefully search for the perfect image to immortalize my evening. 

Note: content can be captured and pictures posted whether we get in or not. 

Sometimes, the picture choice is a personal decision. Other times, we poll our homegirls for their perspectives. Once a picture is chosen, we draft a caption. The caption can be anything—song lyrics, emojis, #melanin. 

There are a range of different voices we can use when talking to the Internet. 

Two prominent styles, particularly for the flex gods and goddesses after a perceived come up, are the “humble flex” and the “full flex”. 

While the “humble flex” is usually centered around being blessed and telling our followers to “follow their dreams”, so one day, they can live a life as awe-inspiring as ours, the “full flex” is much more concise. People using this style usually incorporate captions that allude to he or she being a boss, a hustler, or on his or her grind, and may or may not be followed by the double-underlined 100 or purple devil emojis.

Talk your shit, queens and kings.

After a weekend of both successful and unsuccessful attempts to finesse our way into exclusivity, we remember why we’re here—for the free shit and the photo opps.

Analyst, marketing coordinator, or teacher, by day, influencer by night. Homegirls just want to be plugged. 

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.

ivana renee