Here's to Creating New Family Traditions

"Let's put up a tree this year." 

The last time we put up a Christmas tree, our cat Egypt was only a few months old. All I can remember is how hard she tried to knock the tree down to steal the candy canes we hung on it as decoration. It didn't help that one of the 3 feet was missing from the tree stand. She succeeded in knocking that tree down every other day. 

Tonight, Devon and I noticed Christmas lights popping up around us, and he looked at me and said those words like it would actually be fun. I'm sure it would be, but what does that mean for us? The start of some kind of family tradition? 

For the first time, I realized that Devon and I don't really have our own set of traditions outside of catching all the latest Marvel movies as soon as they hit theaters. Somehow, him mentioning a tree took me back to the night he proposed. That night I was so overwhelmed with the thought of how everything would be so different and how I'd have to get used to this "new life" everyone was telling me about. 

We're almost 3 months in, and not much has changed. We've been together so long that the only difference has been me running around town filling out paperwork to shed my maiden name. Karmen and Devon swore off putting up Christmas trees years ago after one minuscule kitten ruined their attempts, but The Johnsons are apparently Christmas af.

Maybe this tree is our way of switching it up in this new phase of our relationship? Whatever it is, I'm down. I should probably hop on Etsy for a custom wreath for our door to really bring the idea home, huh? 

Image by Believe, Love, & Inspire Studios

Image by Believe, Love, & Inspire Studios

So When's the Wedding?

As a newly engaged woman who worked with her partner to do things on their MUTUAL terms, I'm telling you to mind your business if you're thinking of butting in or questioning anyone's relationship. A lot of us won't go home to family dinners now because you and the aunties are probably going to ask: 

  • why they're still single
  • when they're gonna marry their "lil friend" (they've only been dating for a year)
  • when they're gonna have a baby

I started getting the "when's the wedding?" question before the ring had even warmed up to match my body heat. I figured it was just a knee-jerk reaction to the news, so it wasn't too difficult to overlook. There weren't any cameras around the evening Devon proposed, and I'm so glad we'll always have that moment between the two of us. The only reason I changed my relationship status to 'engaged' on Facebook that night was so that my parents didn't announce the news back home before I could. I thought I was doing a good thing by getting ahead of it, but I didn't expect to be so turned off by some of the underhanded congratulatory comments. The one that hurt me the most? 

KC_Mini Session_Downtown (31 of 33).jpg

"Bout time!"

This past February made 7 years in our relationship. I feel like most people think marriage should be implied after a certain amount of time has passed. We'd talked about it in year 3 of our relationship, but we both agreed that we weren't ready yet, even though we knew we wanted to be together. And THAT was the best decision for us. 

To be honest with you all, I wasn't completely sure that I wanted to get married until late last year. I was battling a lot of things, and Imposter Syndrome was very near the top of the list. No matter how many sweet things he'd say or do, I'd always speak unkindly of myself and question the good things he saw about me. I didn't want to bring someone else into my mess and age them faster than necessary if I could do myself a favor and work it out beforehand. He's already grown two gray hairs since I've known him (don't tell him I told you). 

My point is, we took our time because we were still growing together and working through  our grown-up personalities. We're very different from that 18 and 19 year old who crossed paths all those years ago, so we needed to make sure that we still meshed well with each other. Things change when you throw a mortgage and careers into the mix. Each time I read "bout time," I wondered how long people had been talking crap in the shadows about us not being married yet. It made me defensive, because (although he might live to annoy me sometimes) I refuse for ANYONE to speak ill of him and think I'll be silent about it. It made me livid when people who don't speak to me otherwise reached out to me the next day to ask if they were getting a wedding invitation. 

No couple owes you a wedding, ya'll. My friend married her husband almost 10 years ago for $30 at the courthouse, and they're pretty dang solid. Right now, the plan is to elope. That could change, but we're in no hurry to make plans. It's been seven years, so we can wait another one if we go down the road of planning. We're millennials through and through, and we take pride in saving our coins where we can. We'll make sure to post some pics on social media when I officially become his Mrs., but in the meantime I promise y'all will be ok. 

 

 

Now, stop asking people why they're single/ where their "lil friend" is and let them eat Thanksgiving Dinner in peace this year. 

 

    How I Learned about Real Black Love

    To that special guy:

    Almost seven years after becoming your partner in crime, I feel like I get what black love is really supposed to be. I'm so thankful for you, and here's seven reasons why: 

    A throwback pic of us at Centennial Park for the culture. Ya'll see the matchy-matchy fly! LOL! He was 21 here, and I was 20. 

    A throwback pic of us at Centennial Park for the culture. Ya'll see the matchy-matchy fly! LOL! He was 21 here, and I was 20. 

    1. YOU'VE GROWN WITH ME: We were babies when we met each other the first time. I was eighteen, and you were nineteen. As a country girl, the whole "ATL dude" thing took some getting used to. We've been through some crazy moments together, from surviving on ham sandwiches for our rescue kitten's surgery to me throwing your phone into the woods at our first apartment because your 22-year-old self was a complete idiot. I love that we're SO grown now and can laugh at our younger selves. 
    2. YOU'RE A NATURAL PROVIDER: The first time I went to your grandmother's house and saw you working on her car, I knew I wanted you to stick around. I'd never seen a guy close to my age who actually enjoyed getting their hands dirty. Where I come from, everyone only wants to be seen. I knew that someone who was willing to not be 'perfect' all the time might be the change I needed. 
    3. YOU'VE BEEN MY NURSE: Two years ago, I almost died from a clot in my lung. The ER doctor told us both that if it hadn't been caught that night that I would have been gone within 2 days, and it was the only time you've ever cursed me out. I was in shock and couldn't speak, but you were afraid. Your eyes always say so much without you opening your mouth, but you had TIME that day to let me know that you weren't with my hush-mouth behavior, and you sat in the hospital bed with me and hugged me tight. You told me to never suffer in silence if I felt like something was wrong. Now I tell you every time I crack my knuckles too hard LOL! 
    4. YOU LISTEN: I'm hard on myself, and never think I'm good enough. You never put me down for my feelings, but you're quick to remind me of all the things I'm capable of doing. You always encourage me to go after the ideas I have, and you're always there to support me when it gets hard to handle. 
    5. YOU SEE 'ME': So often I lack self-confidence. I'm not the same 90-pound girl with killer 8-pack abs from years ago, and I scowl at myself most days when I walk past the mirror naked. I always catch you staring at me with a grin on your face when I'm standing in the mirror picking myself apart, and I'll ask "WHAT?," ready to defend myself against the opinions of myself that I project onto you. You always say, "Nothing. Just felt like staring at you." You don't think my legs are too big, or my thighs too wide. For almost seven years you've said I'm "just right."
    6. YOU TEACH ME: You've taught me to stay patient with myself, to treat myself, trust myself, challenge myself and cherish myself. When I learned how into cars you were, I was excited but worried. I wanted to learn way more about them, but was always told that it wasn't for girls. We talked about it on one of our late night phone calls as I sat on that hideous hot pink comforter in my freshman dorm room. A few days later you called me and said to come over, "but don't wear anything nice." YOU TAUGHT ME HOW TO INSTALL A CAR RADIO THAT DAY, and I remember being so proud of myself. Now I know how to rewire steering columns, too! What are we learning next? 
    7. YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND: Now, I now it might sound corny to say..but it's TRUE! I come to you for advice on everything. When we started hanging out at the end of August 2010 (yep, I remember), I knew you'd always be my friend. We hung out almost everyday, even if it was just you helping me study for a test, playing pool in the student center or walking around the mall to talk about life (because #teenagers, right?). Six months later when you asked me to be your girlfriend I was shocked. You'd already told me you loved me three months in, but it was never weird. I remember you saying, "IDGAF if you ever say it back to me. I'll still tell you every day!" You never pushed yourself onto me, and I was never worried about you trying to harm me in any way. 

     

    We turned into some good-looking grown-ups, huh? We're both 26 now, but his 27th is coming soon and it's going to be AMAZING!  Image by  Aneris Photography  

    We turned into some good-looking grown-ups, huh? We're both 26 now, but his 27th is coming soon and it's going to be AMAZING! 
    Image by Aneris Photography 

    Best Friend,

    I'm thankful, grateful, and lucky to call you my person. Here's to 70 more.

    Love,

    Karmen

    PS- Bet I'll smoke you on my Hoveround years from now! 

    No Chaser The Series: Six Black Men on Dating, Relationships & More

     

    Starting Onyx Marten almost a year ago has opened up some amazing doors for me to collaborate with some amazing people along the way, experiencing all of the creativity that flows from my people. You all know that my blog is dedicated to uplifting black, so when I was able to collaborate with Brown in the City recently to preview a new YouTube series before the rest of the internet I was THRILLED. Follow this duo on Instagram and Twitter. You're welcome. 

    I won't drop any major spoilers into the post because you NEED to watch No Chaser The Series starting MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2017.

     

    Don't act like you didn't know, because we JUST talked about it. I'll remind you though, don't worry. 

     

    I'll admit, I was worried after I learned that the first episode was about interracial dating. Many black women feel as though black men have little to no interest in us and see us as loud, or not good enough when they "get on." Y'all know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. As a teen, my own dad (who is black af) even told me to my face that essentially men of all races would want to build a life with me last. When you're fed the idea that you're a consolation prize or placeholder until something better (and lighter) comes along, it sticks to you. The thought of sitting in front of my computer and risking feeling even more inadequate by the end had me on edge.

    Within the first minute, I felt myself relaxing. I kid you not. 

    The first episode is a digestible segment of around five minutes, and by the end of it I thought of so many women and men to share their YouTube channel with in preparation of the release date on April 3rd! I'm all for knowing your worth as a black woman and not needing validation, but sometimes it's just great to know that others, ESPECIALLY black men, see us as being more than enough. It definitely helps that the cast has great senses of humor all around, because I'd imagine that upcoming episodes will become more intense as the subjects change from episode to episode.

    Another cool element that sets this show apart from your typical interview-style videos is the incorporation of statistical information. Many of the numbers in those sidebars were brand new to me, and presenting them alongside the conversation already in progress made it so much easier to process in my opinion.

     

    I know that was a lot, so here's a quick summary to reiterate why you need to make this part of your YouTube lineup: 

    • The black male cast speak on dating with children, celibacy, racial preferences and more (yep...STRAIGHT. NO CHASER. You've got it.) 
    • The show's goal is to provoke dialogue and kill stereotypes in the black community while having a great time and sharing a few laughs

     

    ***NOTE: Season 1 premieres on 4/3/17, and there are a total of 6 episodes.***

      

     

    BONUS INFO YOU'LL NEED:

    The show is seeking sponsorship/funding to shoot season 2 later this year. So, if you like it as much as I do, get in on this and help support a much needed tool to get people talking about topics normally swept under the rug.  

    Social media links for the cast and crew are below! Make sure you follow each of them to say hey and show support. In the meantime, follow No Chaser the series on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as well to stay up to date on new episodes. Make sure you come back to Onyx Marten, because I'm itching to talk about future episodes!

     

    Cast:

    Fr!day: Instagram (@yamanfriday ) and Soundcloud (soundcloud.com/yamanfriday)

    Lex Kimbrough: Instagram (@Lexkimbrough ) & Twitter (@Lexkimbrough)

    Dion Quamina: Instagram (@PabloThaGreat42) and Twitter (@PabloThaG )

    Thomas C. Knox: Instagram (@datewhileyouwait)

    Kirk Oliver

    Lindsay Johnson

     

    Crew: 

    Executive Producer/ Director - LaPorsche Jackson, IG: @itsp Twitter: @la_porsche

    Producer/ Director - Kelsey Marie IG: @trinidadianlove

    DP/Editor/Associate Producer - Brandon Nick @brand0nnick on IG and Twitter