#NoSausageLeftBehind

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When I told my friends that not only would I spent two weeks in Europe but also as #SingleBrittny, all of them rejoiced. My one friend, Jack, even found the SNL skit "Dongs All Over the World" and declared it as my official vacation anthem. As I touched down in Prague, I re-opened my Tinder account (I have such a love-hate relationship with that app) and started exploring my options. However, after a few swipes, I encountered THIS in Prague. I just couldn't do it and never opened the app again during my stay.

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Fast forward to Vienna and Budapest, I legit embodied the lyrics, "I'm a modern day Columbus and I claim this dong for me." I felt like a kid in a candy store with countless amounts of options. I knew it would be a success because the first song I heard when I arrived to Vienna was Britney Spears' "Hot As Ice." 

By the end of my stay in Vienna and the last leg of my trip in Budapest, I was getting countless date offers on Tinder and in person. I ended up going on three dates in a row. I could have gone for four but I was mentally exhausted from men (don't you hate when they do that?).

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Let's break down each man/date: 

The Austrian Novelist

First off his Tinder was very mysterious, so obviously I swiped right because I'm the kind of person who is too impatient while reading a novel and cut to the end to see what happens. Even though we connected on Tinder, he had originally said he was unable to meet with me due to personal plans. But Saturday morning I got a message from him that stated: "What are the chances of meeting an attractive writer? I can't pass up that opportunity." *Heart eyes emoji.* So we set up a date.

I'm not into blondes, however the Novelist was a very tall and handsome and I was into it. We met at a really cute bar near to where I was staying. Automatically he received cool points for not judging me for ordering like a 7 year old, after several hours of not eating from my day trip to Salzburg. He introduced me to delicious Austrian red wine, we bonded over being writers and the constant struggle of being creative, and other random things ones discuss on a first date. He explained to me a clinic in Switzerland named Dignitas, where people pay to commit suicide. I was intrigued but confused as to why anyone would willingly pay to commit suicide when you can do it for free. Aside from the melancholy topic, we had great conversations and even hotter make out session in the rain after we shut down the bar. Afterwards, I was totally in lust over the Novelist but the next morning I was off to Budapest which meant on to the next one. 

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The Italian Lover

Oh how I adored the Italian. He was such an interesting character to hang out with for a few hours. Before we met, he immediately bombarded me with basketball knowledge after I told him I live in Cleveland and he told me I live in Lebronland (which is basically true). He was a huge fan of hip-hop and expressed how much he wanted to visit places in America where hip-hop is known for, especially Compton. I have never heard anyone say the one place they want to visit in America would be....COMPTON. We met for dinner at an Italian restaurant where I chowed down on bolognese and sipped on multiple glasses of Hungarian wine (I drank a lot of wine in Europe. I'm surprised they're not low on stock in Eastern Europe). We had a great discussion on the many differences between America and Europe like "why do we call a bill, a check?" and "why do you call salami pepperoni?" (fun fact, pepperoni in Italy is simply just peppers) I of course didn't have the answers for any of these questions.

Since I knew the Italian loved hip-hop, I had to ask who were his top 5 favorite rappers. His answer: 1. Tupac, 2. 50 Cent, 3. Nelly, 4. Chingy and I can't remember the fifth because I was still stuck on the fact he had Nelly and Chingy on his top 5 list. I forgave him for his odd list because he was so handsome. However I did have to mention before the night was over that I have never met anyone who had Nelly or Chingy in their top 5 which he found alarming. Is Nelly and Chingy a huge deal in Europe and we have no clue about it?   

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Southern (Not So) Charming

How I ended up meeting another American on my "Dongs All Over the World" is beyond me and actually I'm quite mad at myself. I can get an American any time I want, and a southern one at that. But we both wanted to check out Hungarian food and drinks together which made me accept the offer. That being said, he doesn't rank high like all the European men I had met prior to him. He wasn't that much interesting, our conversations were kind of dull and I was reaching to find interesting topics to discuss to the point that my brain went on low fuel. He picked a restaurant called "Getto Giulyas," which at first I low key felt offended he wanted to take me to a place called "getto," but it had great reviews on Google. To both of our surprises it was a romantic wine restaurant, which would have been perfect with anyone BUT him. We both ordered a beef stew and tried duck liver for the first time, both were amazing. Then later that night I tried a Hungarian must, a shot of Palinka which is an awful liquor that all Hungarians know is bad but are very proud of. They say you haven't had an Hungarian experience until you've had the shot. Well... I took the shot and was chasing coke cola for the rest of the night to get rid of the after taste. Even with the strong shot didn't make him more enjoyable.  I had way more fun afterwards being drunk on Facebook live with my favorites in the Dome. 

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Then I returned back to America and realized that my love/hate relationship with Tinder really is just the quality of men on there. European men were so much more chivalrous, respectful, upfront of what they wanted, and had worldly experiences and knowledge. It was just a nice change compared to what I've experience with Tinder in Cleveland. But it was nice to date elsewhere and feel really good about myself for a few days. 

Girl Talk Vol 1: Breakups

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August was an interesting month for those who are into astrology. Not only did we experience a solar eclipse but it also happened during the mercury being in retrograde. If the last few weeks you’ve been experiencing a lot of miscommunication, you are not alone and it’s probably because of the power of the planets. During this planetary alignment is when a lot of relationships fall apart (so they say), and I thought for the first installment of the Girl Talk series, we could discuss breakups. I gathered my girl squad to open up about their toughest breakups, how they handle their own heartbreaks, and the best advice they can offer to Pierre into My Life.  The Girl Talk series is where I bring ladies together to discuss an array of topics and share their experiences. One of my favorite college professors told us, “The greatest agency a woman has is to share her story with other women.” I always remembered that quote and wanted to one day create a space where women could share their stories, which became the birth of Girl Talk. 

Pour yourself a glass a wine and let's dig into this discussion. 

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What’s your toughest breakup you have experienced?

“My first break up experience was easily my worst. I'd always feared that I would never be desirable to another and to have those fears 'realized' made the ground under me just crumble. The feeling of inadequacy made me think that I could never measure up to anyone in someone's past. It was just a perfect storm of low self esteem on my end and emotional abuse (that I didn't recognize until later) on his end.” – Suz

"It happened about 2 years ago. It wasn't even my longest relationship by any means but I was completely unprepared and the breakup was a shock. We had been dating for about 5 months and everything was going really well. We had a great emotional connection and physically it was amazing (for him as well as for me), but then he went away for a weekend and something just changed. He didn't respond to texts as quickly and didn't answer the phone. I tried not to worry and tried to just back off figuring he was busy on his boys trip and I didn't want to be "that girl" that was needy and annoying. I also went by the "everything is fine until I am told otherwise" motto, which turned out to be dumb. He got back into town and still there was not a lot of communication and he cancelled plans last minute for a date night. Finally a couple nights after he got back he came over to pick me up for dinner, he walked in the door, kissed me and we went to sit on the couch and have a glass of wine before leaving. I snuggled up to him and told him I missed him and he got quiet. He asked if I was ready to go to dinner and I told him I wanted to talk and make sure we are on same page going forward (meaning I wanted a relationship with him and wanted to hear from him the same).

Him: Well I just think there is something missing and I don't want to force anything. I think you are great but there is just something missing. I don't want to force it. 

Me: Ok..... thank you for your honesty and I really liked you and I do wish you well.

Him: I don't want to force anything, and something is just missing.

So he kissed me on the cheek and walked out the door.

A couple months go by and he got a new girlfriend and they got serious quickly. I guess nothing was missing and it wasn't "forced" because they are in love and everything is just amazing for them." - Sarah

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“Definitely my first breakup. I was 17, dating this really popular, cool, incredibly smart Senior when I was a Junior. He got accepted into Dartmouth and dumped me on his graduation day. I made this gift for him where I got letters from all his friends and family, and placed them in a box with an Ansel Adams road print image that I placed on it. I got all pretty and waited at my house for him to pick me up and he took hours, then he drove me to this park and broke up with me. My parents loved him, too, because he was in my youth group and basically perfect, so they couldn't believe that he could be an insensitive jerk. As cliche as it is, the first time really is the worst!” – Rachel

“The recent one was the hardest so far but mainly because I felt it had ended hastily and felt very unfinished.  I had a lot of anger and resentment towards the other person. I had invested a lot into that relationship and I felt like it had been tossed out the window.’ – Natalia

“The toughest breakup I have ever experienced was with my high school boyfriend.  When we went to college we stayed together for a semester and then he decided to take a semester off of school and go live in the woods.  Since he didn't have a phone we had to resort to letter writing.  We kind of broke up before he left and I stopped writing him because I was trying to move on. His mom then called me and asked me to write because he was so worried about me.  I wrote to him and kind of fell back into the relationship and was planning a welcome home party with all of his friends at my house for his return and then the day before he got back I received a letter from him dumping me.  He then proceeded to immediately start dating a girl from two grades below me who was the freaking worst and he told her that I had never loved him which then spread through the town and got back to me.  This ended up being a blessing in disguise because while he was living the woods life he stopped believing in deodorant and like clocks. The resounding image I have of the breakup in my head is opening a letter on my front porch and reading it and then just lying there crying my eyes out. I found out later that when I wrote him my last few letters, which were extremely personal and intimate, he would sometimes read them aloud to the whole group he was camping with and ask for advice. He really is a nut and I didn't see him for years until my five-year high school reunion and he has a full mountain man beard and long hair and he said we should catch up sometime and have coffee which I would be totally down for because I will always have a soft spot for him. I Facebook messaged him to try to make it happen and he didn't respond which is kind of classic.” – Austin

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“After a decade of dealing with fuckbois and dating games it's easy to forget how heartbreaking it is to lose your first love. Due to strict parents and no interest in dating, my first boyfriend came at the ripe old age of 19 (I also discovered vodka around the same time which does not mix well with first love). We had an extremely toxic relationship with me being verbally & mentally abusive and him returning the favor by lying and cheating. Even with our unhealthy dynamic, I was completely caught off guard when he broke up with me. It unlocked some dark abandonment issues and I ended up going on an all-inclusive trip to the psych ward. I had no coping mechanism in place to process the pain I was feeling, no hobbies to retreat to and shut out the world, and no dating history to build up to this monumental heartbreak. But I did have a Lindsay. She marched into the hospital loaded with Taco Bell and immediately began begging the nurses to let her spend the night in the psych ward. They had never gotten that request before. That first night she made me laugh so hard I cried which is quite the feat considering I was surrounded by the scariest cast of characters you can imagine and shaking with fear. Every evening when visiting hours began she was the first one there and the last to leave. She let me stay with her when I got out and devoted every moment to my well-being. She took me on walks and made me talk about difficult subjects when I didn't even want to talk about the weather. She made me dress up and go clubbing when I could barely brush my teeth. She brought me to church at a time I hated God. When she got worn out from my self-pity we would watch serial killer documentaries - it's hard to complain after watching one. I grew stronger and stronger but it wasn't because of medication, exercise, a hobby, or even my own doing. It was Lindsay. Life is so hard and so cruel, everybody needs a Lindsay for the darkest of days.” – Liz

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How do you cope when you’re going through a breakup?

“I try and spend time with myself and really become in tune with my mind and my body. I give myself time to go through all the emotions one goes through during a breakup, the tears, the anger, the sadness, the loneliness…all of these emotions are important and you should allow yourself to go through them. After I feel I am getting back to my old self, I begin to go out with my friends, treat myself to massages, manicure and pedicures, see a movie alone etc. It’s important for me to try and keep my mental health on track, which means I try to attend as many therapy sessions I can afford, also talk with God and attend church. Exercise was a great way to get my frustration out and to feel better about myself.” – Brittny

“Try to keep as busy as possible (even wanting to work more), lean on my friends for support.  Exercise more.  Sometimes obsess about the things said or done in the relationship, ruminate, get angry.  Talk to myself in my head about it (I become my own therapist 😩)" -Natalia

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“Go on a Netflix binge. Get a haircut, get your nails done, talk to your friends. Talk to someone on a therapy app (like 7 cups of tea). I always think about the activities I WANTED to do with him and just found some girlfriends or family members to do it with instead. You own your life, he doesn't (obviously my answers are going to be based on a heterosexual pov).” – Suz

“I actually isolate myself quite a bit because I don't want to cry in front of people and I don't want to be "that girl" who can't get over someone. I watch movies and TV, I eat whatever I want and I don't make plans because I can't control my emotions and if someone asks me about the breakup I fall apart. I have gotten better about not worrying that I am "that girl" because maybe I am and it's okay. Once I find the right guy I won't be so terrified to be "that girl" because he will respond and want to spend time with me as much as I want to spend time with him. I don't want to play games and pretend I don't care when I actually care quite a bit.” –Sarah

"I take time to grieve but after a few mopey weekends watching Netflix, eating some bad food and going to boozy brunches with friends, I reestablish what I want. In my last breakup, I did all these things for about a month and then I got back on dating sites. I got my hair done, new clothes, worked out, read empowering non fiction memoirs (I love Julie Klausner's I Don't Care About Your Band), listened to new music, whatever made myself feel like my best self and then just threw myself into dating again. I've been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years now and he meets all the qualities I wrote down on my list of what I wanted in a partner.” – Rachel

What’s the best advice to give to readers of Pierre into My Life who might be going through a breakup?

“Treat it like a death. Allow yourself to grieve and go through the steps. Don't bottle up your feelings but allow yourself to feel entirely. If this means crumbling into a ball and crying yourself into a frenzy do it. This doesn't mean to wallow but you have to give yourself time to heal. All I wanted to do was skip to the end of this and "feel better" but I couldn't do that without letting my feelings out.” – Suz

“My advice is focus on yourself and self care. What do you want out of your next relationship? What did you not like about the previous partner? Make a list of qualities you want in a new partner. I think that writing those qualities down and also the ones you do not want is very helpful. My mom is recently remarried and she did this. Her new husband is basically all of the things she wanted.” – Rachel

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“Going through a breakup reminds me a lot of the process of grieving (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance).  You mourn the life of a relationship as opposed to the life of a person. You have to go through the process and not skip steps or you'll be held back from fully moving forward.” – Natalia

“You don't want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't want to be in a relationship with you. You deserve someone who wants you and now you have learned more about what you want and what you don't want.” – Sarah

“First off, delete them from all social media. Delete their number, their text threads--delete, delete, delete. I call it spring cleaning. Get all the junk out of your life. Everything takes time. Don’t beat yourself up if it’s taking longer than you had intended. Remember to treat yourself well and find the best way to stay afloat. This is also a great time to renew yourself, try new hobbies, check out a new restaurant, travel etc.  Most importantly make sure to find the best partner for you in the next relationship.” – Brittny

“Try to remember who you are at your core and stand strong in that. Listen to your gut.”- Erika

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What are your thoughts on breakups? What's the best way to get over someone? Drop a line in the comments

4:44: Relating to Relationships Dynamics

 Photo Courtesy: SF Station 

Photo Courtesy: SF Station 

Jay Z released his album 4:44 in June and shared his side of the story from Beyoncé’s recent album Lemonade. Just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last two years, Beyoncé released the critically acclaimed album Lemonade, where she bared her soul and gave the world an insight on the normally private couple’s personal life. Sharing that there may have been infidelity, marital issues and trust issues between the two during their relationship, which shocked the world. Both chose not speak on the album or their relationship however Jay Z released his recent album, and on the LP’s title track, he opened up on their relationship’s imperfections. His ability to be vulnerable gave us insight and proved that this power couple is more like us than we had ever imagined. Hearing their relationship issues made them relatable. But one thing that sticks out is how much power men hold within the relationship when they cause issues.

 

During Jay Z’s early career the majority of his songs relating to relationships was mostly “me give my heart to a woman? Not for nothing, never happen, I’ll be forever mackin.” Until he met Beyoncé in the early 2001, and slowly we saw a transformation of a softer Jay with his music, lyrics and image throughout their relationship. Although they have always been private about their relationship, we were able to see glimpse of their relationship through their music. In Pharrell’s “Frontin,” Jay Z declared “stuntin like you ain’t my only girl but you are. I’m ready to stop when you are.” And Beyoncé’s first solo single that certified her as a super star was “Crazy in Love” where she sung how sprung she was. But nothing made their relationship’s woes more clearer then when Lemonade dropped with the HBO visual special. This was after the leaked video of Solange beating up Jay Z in the elevator after the MET gala and we all wanted to know what made Bey’s baby sister go off.

 

On the track “4:44,” Jay takes his time to explain not only his side of his story but basically gets down on bended knees for stepping out of their relationship multiple times and asking for forgiveness.  “Look I apologized, often womanize. Took for my child to be born, see through a woman’s eyes. Took me too long for this song, I don’t deserve you.” Jay admits that it wasn’t until the birth of their first daughter, Blue to realize how much hurt he has caused to Beyoncé and how he really truly doesn’t deserve her after all they’ve been through. Later on he goes, “I’ve seen the innocence leave your eyes. I still mourn this death and I apologize for all the stillborns cause I wasn’t present.” Basically, him stepping out and cheating not only caused Beyoncé heartache but miscarriages and a stillborn. “And I apologize cause at your best you are love. And because I fall short of what I say I’m all about…thinkin’ of all the times you wasted it, on all the basic shit. I apologize.” After listening to the track “4:44,” imagining from inside of their relationship, I couldn’t help but wonder how Jay, who is 15 years older than Beyoncé, not only couldn’t realize how lucky he was to have an amazing woman like the Queen of the Beyhive but also, it took years into their relationship for him to own up to his mistakes and appreciate his union with Ms. Knowles.

 

Out of context, Bey and Jay probably push through the fire due to the fact that there was a lot at stake in their union outside of romance. Beyoncé soften his image and made him more accessible. Whereas Jay gave her star power (in the early 2000’s Jay was the bigger star, I know crazy to believe.) and some street cred.

 

Too often I have heard when a man makes a mistake within a relationship that he’s “growing up,” “he’s a good guy (despite his mishaps),” “he has potential.” Why is that? Men have an agency within hetro-relationships that allows them to make as many mistakes within the relationship, because men can grow within the courtship. However, women are supposed to have it all together when they enter the relationship and if they fall short, like Jay, the relationship comes to an end without hesitation. It is okay for men to not understand how relationships work, while the woman waits for their full potential. I came across a tweet that stated, “Does a man ever wait for a woman to get her shit together?”  And very rarely does that happen. Why is that? Why have we been conditioned into believing that men are projects, they are able to be fixed and women cannot have that space within the commitment?

 

When I look at pop culture that depicts this issue, I automatically think of the August Wilson play and film Fences and the HBO series Insecure. In Fences, Denzel Washington’s character Troy steps out of his marriage with Viola Davis’ character, Rose, and impregnates his mistress. Without hesitation, although Troy place so much emotional turmoil on Rose (due to his yo-yo of emotions), it was expected of her to take care of the baby. She was expected to take care of another woman’s baby in order to keep the family together even though you could tell she was reaching her breaking point.

 

The opposite happened in the drama series Insecure.  The main character, Issa had been dating her boyfriend, Lawrence for five years, however, he had been unemployed for two of those years,  and began to slack on his end of the stick in the relationship. After many slip ups from Lawrence (forgetting Issa’s birthday, not applying to jobs when he needed to help out financially), Issa steps out of the relationship. After Lawrence finds out, he leaves Issa immediately. Even though Issa tried to be loyal during Lawrence’s hardship, her infidelity overruled her support in order to end the courtship.

 

Everyday Feminism created a list of “50 Ways People Expect Constant Emotional Labor from Women and Femme” 12 of the 50 were based on the emotional burden women face within a relationship with a man, including “when we end a relationship, we’re often demonized and blamed for not doing enough to maintain it, even if we devoted extensive time and energy to discussing problems and trying to make the relationship work,” “Our significant others expect us to initiate important conversations like defining the terms of the relationship, taking stock of how the relationship is going, and addressing conflicts,” and lastly, “we’re expected to grit our teeth and put up with disrespectful behavior from men because ‘boys will be boys.’”

 

On Lemonade, several of the lyrics expressed how much Beyonce is carrying the emotional burden within the relationship. “Love Drought,” Bey wonders “all this loving I’ve been given goes unnoticed. It’s just floating in the air, lookie there. Are you aware you’re my lifeline, are you trying to kill me?” Later on, she questions if it were her actions for the reasons why Jay seek love elsewhere, “tell me what did I do wrong? Feel like that question has been posed. “However she still wants Jay to reveal his truth in order to forgive him and continue to build their strong love. In the track, “Love on Top,” (off the album, 4)  a song celebrating love, the lyrics show the cracks that haunted their relationship and they continue to try and make it work. “ Nothing’s perfect” Beyonce sings at the top of her lungs. “But it’s worth it, after fighting through my tears, and finally you put me first.”

 

The emotional burden is even more fierce when it comes to black women. As they are always walking between either being too soft or being the angry black woman. On Twitter, it’s a common conversation how black men are sick of black women and how they’re much happier with a white woman due to their fragile egos. Iyanla Vazant spoke with three black men to explain why they have decided to date outside of their race. One man stated it was difficult to date black women because of their “strong personality” and inability to “stay in a woman’s place.”Founder of For Harriet, Kimberly N. Foster, touched on this issue and pointed out that “traits that in anyone else would be seen as positive, gets turned into negatives when they exist in black women.”  Foster continues, “We are too independent, too strong, too educated, too focused, too confident.” Foster further explains that when black men dismiss an entire race, especially their own race of women, it’s because they have determined them as the Sapphire stereotype that needs to be called out.  And the reason behind the fact black women may be seen in this matter because black women have to constantly defend themselves from negative descriptions and stereotypes we constantly have to face, from the media, at the workplace, in public, relationships and even from our own people. 

 

Black women are constantly carrying an incredible amount of weight when it comes to emotional responsibility and it’s no wonder that within a relationship, she would rather wait to see the potential than to fight and leave. In a study from the popular dating site, OkCupid, showed that Black women are the least desirable in America’s dating pool.

 

Jay Z and Beyoncé sharing an imperfection of their personal life, is incredibly brave as well as makes consumers feel more connected more than ever. Both albums are respectably one of their best albums to date. However, how do we, as women get to a place where we are no longer carrying the emotional labor of the relationship and it’s more 50/50? How will men start allowing us to make the same mistakes and be forgiven as we have forgiven them for theirs? Must we place the blame on society and how they view relationship dynamics or should we start reconstructing from our personal relationships?