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

"When Y’all Gonna Have a Baby?"

I’ll never be able to get pregnant and be surprised by it. 

My final ER trip in 2015. They couldn’t draw blood from my hands or arms, so they had to get it from my neck instead. Desperate times indeed called for desperate measures, and I’m grateful to that last doctor.

My final ER trip in 2015. They couldn’t draw blood from my hands or arms, so they had to get it from my neck instead. Desperate times indeed called for desperate measures, and I’m grateful to that last doctor.

So the never-ending flood of questions like

“when are y’all gonna have a baby?”

and

“when you gonna give that man a child?”

make me sick.

That’s just not something I have the luxury of doing without a team of doctors, endless appointments, and daily injections at home because pregnant women can’t take blood thinners.  

Back in 2015, I switched back to birth control pills from Depo because I felt stable enough in life to remember to take them every day. Before I could start the second pack I started having sharp pains in my chest and back that made it hard to breathe. After seeing 3 different doctors, the final one realized it was a blood clot in my right lung that would have killed me in 2 days max. I’d seen doctors on and off for roughly 6 weeks, and each time I was prescribed bed rest and given ungodly amounts of pain pills that left me so high that I couldn’t get out of bed if I tried.

I don’t know why the clot didn’t move, but the last doctor said the pains I felt were from the clot trying to dislodge itself. During that last trip to the ER, I was actually dying. My mind raced, and I was doing everything I could to fight through the pain and stay awake. The cause of it all? My sensitivity to additional hormones found in birth control pills. Put simply: I’m allergic to anything that’s not an IUD or other contraceptive implant.

Imagine going to see a hematologist and being the youngest person in the lobby. All of the other patients smiling at you and thinking, “Isn’t she sweet to come out here and bring her grandparent to their appointment!” When they call your name, their faces change from adoration to pity. Because you’re way too young to be in their shoes.  

3 years ago, Devon almost lost me. I was told at that point that I’d be considered a high risk expectant mother when the time came, and we both understood the time commitment that would take. I have Nexplanon now, and we’d talked about me leaving it out and trying for a child this year. But the truth is...I’m scared. I got a new Nexplanon placed instead, and you know what? That’s ok. We’ll start a family on our own time, and it’s just gonna have to be ok with y’all. My health is more important.

 

Until then, we’ll keep being the best "tete" and uncle your kids have ever had the pleasure of knowing. :)

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

 

 

"How Come You Don't Post About Him on Your Page?"

Christmas is HERE.

I had this grand plan to make gifts for the ladies in my life, but that's gone so far out the window now. Those gift card stands are clutch for me this time of year!

I'm preparing to spend a solid 4 days with family, and I'm already hearing those nagging phrases:

"When's the wedding?"

"When are y'all gonna have a baby?"

"So have y'all talked about it?"

An awesome caricature this guy did of us at the Perry Fair this year when we visited family in GA. (Peep my boo's glasses! Lol) 

An awesome caricature this guy did of us at the Perry Fair this year when we visited family in GA. (Peep my boo's glasses! Lol) 

I've been told by my mother that I don't have the most tact when it comes to voicing my own annoyance with people, but a lot of times I just see no problems with my response folks. I mean, which is it? Do you want us to build together first so you can talk about how we've been together five years and he hasn't asked me yet? Or do you want me to have a kid so you can talk down on how we moved too fast? 

At the end of 2016, I'm reflecting a ton on how much social media plays into the relationships of many of the folks I follow on my own timelines. In our earlier years, I used to worry that us not posting about each other would give off the impression that we really weren't that into each other.  

I grew up.

 

Honestly, we're around each other constantly. I don't want to plaster him on my timeline. We need a break from each other sometimes. 

I can't resist this pic of him and my niece! It's only in this post for that reason!  

I can't resist this pic of him and my niece! It's only in this post for that reason!  

I've noticed that we actually spend a ton on meaningful time together when we're not on our phones. He'll help me cook, I'll help him work on his truck. We'll play board games or watch an endless string of YouTube videos.  

 

I dont post him on my page because I'm too busy enjoying him! I'm not sure I'll tell the world I'm married until after the wedding, and I need a few more years with him before I can share him with a little one who looks just like us. What's helped us sustain our relationship for this long is not worrying about what the internet thinks. So y'all...and I mean this in the most loving way:

 

Don't worry about what we have going on!  

Why Emotional Check-ins are Important for Black Women

The concept of "Community over Competition" goes against everything we've ever been taught. In environments rampant with misogynoir, we're often told that other black women are meant to be our rivals. It's an unspoken law that we must never be vulnerable. We're taught that only some of us are worthy of success and that we must take what we can get at the end of the day. 

That way of thinking got old for me so quickly. 

Who do I turn to the most for support with ventures like this blog or starting the journey of graduate school? OTHER BLACK WOMEN. I look to you all because you know exactly what it's like to feel as if you're working three times as hard for minimal payoff while others are recognized for simply breathing. Many of us come from a culture where showing emotion doesn't exist, and one where you'd take care to never utter the word "depression" and think that anyone will take you seriously. I surround myself with women who won't dismiss me with "Just pray," because sometimes I just need to be heard.

My emotional check-ins look like a weekly get-together surrounded by food and beverages with my amazing friend Andrea over at Motherland Essentials. We talk about our weeks, relationships, and the tone-deaf interactions we encounter in mostly-white spaces. Check-ins don't HAVE to be "How are you feeling today?" Ours look like tables full of food and laughing about how the only shape we'll ever get into is round (you all can thank Andrea for that clever line via late night text thread). Sometimes a black woman just needs to vent without the societal and cultural pressure of maintaining a wall of strength against everything thrown in her direction. 

Good food. Good drinks. Good vibes. Good life.

Good food. Good drinks. Good vibes. Good life.

How often do you check up on the black women in your life? Let me know in the comments below!