On August 13, 2017, I was living off my dwindling savings account and my unemployment benefits were about to end in six weeks when I said hello to my Jesus Year. I was stable, but didn’t have much disposable income for extras. This is New York after all...
Since my 33rd revolution around the sun fell on a Sunday, I wanted to do something low-key but different. Sunday brunch seemed like a great idea. To add some glamour and flair, I thought about having a fun-filled, boozy brunch at Lips NYC - New York’s #1 Drag Brunch for over 20 years! Because... why not? I’ve always wanted to go to a drag show, and this seemed like the perfect time and occasion. Besides, just because I didn't want to spend my nest egg on extras doesn't mean I didn't feel like being EXTRAAAAA! I made reservations.
The next day while watching a marathon of "Sex and the City", I felt like I was planning something just so I could say I was doing something. I really just wanted a chill evening at home with some take-out, 3 three glasses of Chardonnay, and my vibrator. I felt like Charlotte. Being the planner that I am, I had already invited my sister and friends through an event I created on Facebook right after I made reservations. I felt like Samantha. I cancelled my reservation at Lips. Then I cancelled the Facebook event and told my crew I was "reclaiming my time" like Aunt Maxine proclaimed. I felt like Miranda. Yeah, I'm THAT extra....
Even though I cancelled the brunch, I still wanted to do something for my birthday. Some solo shit. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to experience something new, and most importantly, I wanted to get my mind off my current situation. Part of the necessary distraction I needed began a week before my birthday. I had a long talk with God about my life and the choices I made - the sacrifices and my immense gratefulness, and the direction my life was going in next. God didn't bring me this far to leave me. I knew I had accomplished a lot, but there was still so much more I wanted to do. I've never been one to rest on my laurels. My ambition is restless. I surrendered it ALL in prayer. #LetGoAndLetGod
Afterwards, I felt at ease yet very vulnerable. I had this strong urge in my spirit to write down my experiences in detail, and that scared the shit out of me.
“You know what... I’m good, God! I don't need to do alladat. Our talk was enough. I’m cool.”
Writing has always been my therapy, but the journey that led me to live out my dreams in NYC also came with a hefty price tag. I quit writing. No poems. No rhymes. No songs. No scripts. No think pieces on current events. No regular diary entries. No gratitude journal. No nothing. The output I used to have was put out of business. It's like I shut up and shut down. It was beyond writer's block. I had so much to say, I just couldn't write. Where do I start if I start? So much had happened. It's almost as if I lost a part of myself, and words weren't enough. I was in a purpose paralysis. I was so busy on my hustle and grind to “make it” in NYC that I allowed the creative part of me to wither away.
“Ayo, aye, niggas get shot everyday, B. You'll be aight nigga. You tough, right?"
While my career in sports and entertainment progressively thrived, my creative pursuits died a slow and painful death. I felt like a hitless one poetry book wonder. At the time, it had been 11 years since I released “Just My Thoughts: Mind, Body & Soul”. It wasn’t a NY Times Best Seller by far. It was nowhere near Amazon’s Top 100 Editors’ Picks or Top 100 Customer Favorites of 2006. Last time I checked, it was number #19,547,400 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank list. I'm pretty sure that's the bottom. Almost certain. I was the Milli Vanilli of literature. I am Print on Demand not In Demand boo-boo!
“Girl, you know it’s true...”
Hell, even they won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist even though it was rescinded 9 months later when the world found out they lip-synced in performances, and it wasn't even their vocals on the hit record. It's interesting to note that Rob Pilatus died of an overdose at age 33. Random facts, but I digress...
So I answered the call in my spirit and told God I'd do the thing that scared the shit out of me. I began to write what would become “Fuck It! Let’s Go to New York...”, an expose’ about my life from 2007-2010, a week before my 33rd birthday. It was the type of distraction I didn't want but knew I needed. It was a long overdue yet right/write on time painful purge on paper that gave me the peace my spirit was seeking. I spent my entire birthday writing and reminiscing, reliving the pleasure and the pain. Everyone has a chapter in their life they don’t read out loud. They bury it 6 feet deep, cover it in mounds of dirt, and hope that it never sees the light of day. Shred the receipts and cut up the scraps. Well that time period of my life was my inconspicuous chapter. Little did I know God wanted me to put that chapter on full blast. Through His strength, I had the courage to navigate the winding roads of my vulnerability. Sharing my testimony of trials and tribulations that lead to my life changing triumphs was the most gut-wrenching yet healing thing I've ever done! Praise God!!!
On August 17, 2017, WWW.JENNIFERDLAWS.COM was born. I purchased my domain name. Gabon also gained independence from France on August 17, 1960. Nothing, NO-THING is a coincidence.
Instead of having a birthday brunch, I opted to see Dave Chappelle and Solange perform at Radio City Music Hall on August 23rd. It was equal parts hilarious and awe-inspiring. It was everything I needed and wanted to help me dive deep into my psyche so I could complete the final draft of my first blog post and put the finishing touches on my website. On September 1, 2017, the 7 year anniversary of me moving (and staying) in New York, I published my site, and The Book of Laws went live. I felt like Carrie.
Writing was my resurrection. My flaws and scars laid bare. I was proud of my war wounds, and God gave me beauty for ashes. I was alive again. Free. Open. Renewed. Godbody. After that, my whole life changed! In October, I secured a position as a Web Developer at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
"Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? A little too ironic... “
It was a great opportunity, one that I didn’t even apply to. I was contacted via LinkedIn by an executive recruiter a few days after I updated my profile adding that I was a writer/blogger. It's funny how life comes full circle. My first foray into website creation was building a fan page dedicated to Marlon Wayans when I was 13 years old (for more on that irony, click here). I'm a firm believer that God uses every experience you go through for His honor and glory. He is faithful and nothing is wasted!
One of the reasons I love working in the sports and entertainment industry is the behind the scenes action of it all - the Run of Show! There are so many moving parts, and it's amazing to see it all come together! Oftentimes, running the show also meant I missed viewing the actual event itself because I was so busy managing logistics to ensure everything ran smoothly. Well that all changed this year, because my new job came with many perks! Not only do I get discounts on tickets to the hottest events in town and five work from home days a month, I'm also off on weekends and holidays - something I wasn't used to when I worked in the very demanding sports and entertainment industry.
“It’s about to be #littyinthecity...”
I updated my alerts on Ticketmaster, Live Nation, and various entertainment venues so I would be notified when an event or artist I was interested in came to NYC. I went to concert after concert, comedy show after comedy show, and book signing after book signing. I even saw King James play at The Garden. I wanted to see it all! This is what I’ve been dreaming about since I decided to pursue and obtain a Master's degree in Sports Administration at Grambling State University. I've networked and gained valuable experience. I've hired women of color in vital positions at one of the most expensive stadiums in the world. Now I get to sit back and enjoy events live as a fan. It's so true... the greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
In the last year I've seen:
What is lifeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?!!! I go to events like Carrie buys shoes!!!
It's in my soul, like it's in her sole... corny, but it works! Ha! This rasta though... #fortheculture
This year has also given me a deeper desire to learn more about myself and my heritage. Through African Ancestry, I’ve learned that my maternal lineage traces back to the Yoruba and Fulani tribes in Nigeria. My paternal lineage is rooted in the Kota and Tsogo tribes in Gabon. To discover where I come from is invaluable information that I've been able to share with my family. The strength and perseverance of my ancestors keeps me humble and keeps me going. I've gained a greater sense of identity, and my soul has awakened to a newfound layer of my existence that's always been there. I Am who I Am - UNAPOLOGETICALLY - and I'm so proud of the QUEEN that I am!!!
What a difference a year makes! Right now, I'm relaxing on the white sands of Montego Bay, Jamaica sipping rum punch, eating jerk chicken, and enjoying the views. A year older. Much wiser. Melanin poppin'. Without a care in the world. I'm on my own How Stella Got Her Groove Back vibe! Ohhhhh, and I think I just spotted my Winston...
Happy Birthday to ME! Hello 34!
I feel like Samantha, lmao