How Do You Pronounce Your Name?

I have a very unique name & it is often mispronounced. According to How Popular Is My Name less than 250 people in this country have my first name (per the Social Security database from the last 25 years). That’s less than a hundred-thousandth of 1% of the U.S. population!

How did I deal with it? Well, when I was in school I wouldn’t answer when the teacher calling role call mispronounced my name. Sometimes I would correct her, other times I wouldn’t. I think what bothered me the most was that they were so confident in saying my name incorrectly that they didn’t even stop to think that they could be wrong. When I was with my parents my mother always corrected other adults (since she was the one that named me) but now as an adult I have to correct everybody all the time. If I’m being introduced to someone, I simply annunciate my name to make sure that it’s pronounced properly. When I’m on the phone, however, I always say a name similar to mine so that people will “get it”. I believe my name is spelled phonetically so personally I don’t get why anyone would mispronounce it. And sometimes when I’m out I go by an alias (like Chocolate Vent!) to make sure that other people can call me by name (without me having to explain how to pronounce my real name). And when I was younger, I used to have a “club name” – a fake name that I would give to men that I met in the club or didn’t want anything to do with.

There are plenty of words that I can’t pronounce but when it comes to names, I always make sure to get it right. It might take me some time, but I hate mispronouncing someone else’s name since I have so much experience in that area. However, there are plenty of people who still won’t get it, so I’ve constructed a couple of rules for people who come across difficult-to-pronounce names:

1)      Ask me – If you see my name written down & don’t know how to say it, simply ask. Unless you’ve seen my name before, don’t assume that you already know how to say it correctly. You’re not going to hurt anyone’s feelings because you don’t know how to say their name. Trust me, we would much rather you ask & get it right then not ask and butcher up our name.

2)      Use my last name – Most people with unusual names typically have very common last names. So if the first name stumps you, go with the last one. I like being called by my last name; it makes me feel like such a real grown up!

3)      Apologize – Don’t just mess up my name & then continue with your conversation. Even though I’m the one with the “weird” name, you’re still the one that didn’t say it properly so an apology should definitely be in order.

4)      Get used to having to learn difficult names – Immigrants are moving to this country in droves. Over 10% of our nation is comprised of immigrants, many of which may have difficult-to-pronounce names. So as our country grows & people from all over the world continue to move here, names like “John” and “Ashley” are becoming less & less popular. So get used to it!

Happy Pronouncing!


Silver Alerts & Alzheimer’s

We’ve all heard about Amber Alerts for missing children, but what about a system for older missing adults? Introduced nationally in 2008, ‘Silver Alert’ is a public notification system used to broadcast information about senior citizens missing from their homes. In particular, seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia or any other mental instability.

A progressive and fatal disease, Alzheimer’s poses significant safety concerns for people living with the disease and enormous challenges and stress for caregivers. Alzheimer’s disease destroys brain cells responsible for memory, thinking and behavior. As a result, people living with Alzheimer’s may become disorientated and lost even in their own neighborhood or places that are familiar to them. Due to confusion, they are often unable to ask for help leaving them vulnerable to weather, traffic and other health complications. According to the Alzheimer’s Association 6 out of 10 people with Alzheimer’s will wander and become lost at some time during the course of their disease and if not found within 24 hours, up to half will suffer serious injury or death.

I am passionate about Alzheimer’s disease. Below is an article from the Huffington Post about Alzheimer’s & the Silver Alert system that I wanted to share -

Missing, Wandering Alzheimer’s Patients A Growing Concern

by David Lohr

In some cities, there are so many homeless people wandering the streets that others barely notice anymore.

But while mental illness is frequently to blame for their situations, those suffering specifically from Alzheimer’s disease may wander without knowing why they are there or where they’ve come from.

It’s an unfortunately common problem for people with Alzheimer’s to end up lost. But those who then vanish without a trace -– the people who cannot be located and are often never found –- constitute a rapidly growing crisis looming on the horizon for baby boomers and their loved ones.

“There should be more awareness,” Darolyn Fagg told HuffPost. “When a patient is diagnosed, a doctor’s office should be more proactive in sharing information about the available resources. We had no idea until my mother went missing.”

Fagg’s mother, Hellen Cook, 72, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2009. Her symptoms worsened and her ability to speak significantly diminished over time, according to her daughter.

Cook was last seen on July 13, near Warsaw, Mo., a small city about 100 miles southeast of Kansas City.

Cook and Fagg’s father, Howard Cook, were at their second home in rural Benton County when she disappeared. Howard Cook said his wife of 51 years was sitting on a porch swing when he went to put his lawn mower away. When he returned, she was gone.

Despite multiple searches, Hellen Cook has never been found.

“These things can happen any given time. All it takes is a caregiver who’s working really hard, to turn around for a second and the person can wander,” said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of constituent services at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s disease is fueling an increase in missing person cases worldwide and, without a cure, the problem could reach epidemic proportions by the year 2050. The disease, the most common form of dementia, is gradual, unbeatable so far and ultimately fatal. It afflicts 1 in 9 people older than 65, and according to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 of every 10 people with dementia will wander — and some never to be found.

The growing number of reported cases has not gone unnoticed by organizations committed to raising awareness about missing persons. “I’ve seen a steady increase in our own cases in the past five years,” Kelly Murphy, founder of the Omaha, Nebraska-basedProject Jason, told The Huffington Post.

Project Jason offers resources to families of the missing and has successfully organized grassroots efforts to pass missing-persons legislation. Murphy started Project Jason after her son, Jason Jolkowski, disappeared in June 2001. He is still missing.

“There’s approximately 125,000 search-and-rescue missions where volunteer teams are deployed … for missing Alzheimer’s patients every year,” said Kimberly Kelly, founder and director of Project Far From Home, an Alzheimer’s education program designed for law enforcement and search and rescue personnel.

The estimated number of reported cases is conservative, because not every department contributes to the reports, she said.

“With 5.5 million people with the disease, and 70 percent wandering away at least once, you can do the math,” she said. “Even [if] it is a 10-minute wandering episode versus a 10-day episode, you’re still looking at potentially 3 million people who would be walking away any given year. It’s huge.”

For many families, a lack of education about the disease fuels the problem.

Patricia Bryan has been looking for her father, Kenneth Lawson, since June 6. The 76-year-old was last seen at his home in Union Point, Ga. A number of exhaustive searches has been conducted, all to no avail.

“We have had no leads on the whereabouts of my father,” Bryan said. “He was not always in a state of confusion. He would have moments were he would check out or not know where he was, but this was not all the time. Up till my father went missing, I didn’t realize just how many people with dementia and Alzheimer’s went missing on a daily basis. The media does not do them justice.”

With each day, the odds of finding any missing person decrease, but when the missing person suffers from an impairment, the odds are worse. Alzheimer’s patients do not wander without an actual cause; very few have hallucinations. They typically are going somewhere, looking for something, and don’t actually consider themselves lost, so they don’t reach out for help. The environment also can play a pivotal role

“In Virginia, if an Alzheimer’s patient is not found in 24 hours, about 46 percent are found dead. In Nova Scotia, the mortality rate is 70 percent. In parts of California, we’ve never recovered a live Alzheimer’s patient after 24 hours,” Kelly said.

And it’s a problem that will continue to grow. Unless a cure is found, an estimated 16.5 million people will suffer from Alzheimer’s by the year 2050.

“In the next 20 years, it’s going to bloom because of the baby boomer population,” said Amanda Burstein, project manager of Alzheimer’s Initiatives for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “That, in tandem with people using alert system’s, we’ll be seeing it more and it will be happening more because there are more of us at risk for it.”

Earlier in 2013, the Obama administration dedicated an additional $100 million within President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget to the fight against Alzheimer’s. A “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease” was also implemented. The goal is to prevent and effectively treat the disease by 2025.

The success of the president’s initiative is difficult to predict. In the interim, better education for the families of Alzheimer’s patients and members of law enforcement could help curb the problem.

“If someone does go missing, you need to call 911 immediately,” said Kallmyer. “It’s not a situation where you wait 24 hours, because they are vulnerable and can’t necessarily find their way home or take care of themselves. It’s always an emergency.”

Thirty-two states in the United States have some form of public notification system — sometimes referred to as a Silver Alert — to broadcast information about missing seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other mental disabilities. The guidelines are governed on a state-by-state basis. The goal is to have an alert system in every state, but that has not been easy, according to Kelly, who said some of the opponents are members of abducted children’s groups.

“They are afraid that equipment would be utilized for Silver Alerts and the [public's] attention would be diluted for Amber Alerts,” she said. “The problem with that is that we’re starting to see even more cases where you have an elderly grandparent who has custody of grandchildren. You see cases where grandma is going to take a baby for a walk and doesn’t come back.”

J. Todd Matthews, southeast regional director of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, which was created by the U.S. Department of Justice, said he is seeing an increase in general in missing persons cases.

Alzheimer’s is a defining disease of a rapidly aging population and knowledge is key, he said.

“I think we will be very wise to put great thought into this issue as soon as possible,” he said. “The population is growing and so will this issue without efforts to prevent it. Awareness is the first step. It’s an investment in our own potential future. How would you want to be treated if it were you? It very well might be one day.”

For more information on the disease or to learn how you can take steps to help prevent a loved one from wandering, call the Alzheimer’s Association free 24-hour hotline at 800-272-3900.

The Alzheimer’s Association has put together a list of helpful tips.


The Forehead Is Half Full: The Case For Dating Men Who Are Losing Their Hair

I have never been attracted to men who are balding, whether it’s just a thin spot in the middle of their head or a receding hairline. The strange part about it is that there’s no real reason why men with thinning hair are less attractive to me. It’s not like a man’s hair makes him a better conversationalist or puts more money in his bank account (Ha, I wish!), I’m just not drawn to them for some reason.

I’ve read somewhere that subconsciously women view balding men as having weaker genes. In an almost primeval way, who wants to mate with someone they think is weak? It is kinda hard to think a man dressed in a tuxedo or a suit is sexy when there is a patch of hair missing on the top of his head.  Although there are some exceptions to this rule – who wouldn’t date Vin Diesel, Prince William or Jason Stratham (sexy, sexy)?! Shoot, I’d even date Donald Trump with his infamous ‘comb over’ if he wanted to. Lol!

But is premature balding such a bad thing? There must be some benefits to dating someone with less hair, right? Well, here’s what I think those might be:

  • Men who are balding tend to treat you better & are more interesting – Maybe they’re trying to make up for the fact that they don’t have a full head of hair. With any shortcoming, physical or not, people usually tend to overcompensate. This may not always be the case but I’m sure there’s some truth to this.
  • It makes my hair look better – Okay, I’ll be honest. If I’m standing next to someone who is uglier than me, doesn’t that make me look prettier? Well, in the same vein, standing next to someone who is losing their hair surely makes mine look better. And if it doesn’t make my hair look better then it at least makes me look like a good person for dating him. (Yeah, I said it)
  • I can focus more on his personality – When you are less attracted to somebody from the start, getting to know them becomes easier because you’re not blinded by their good looks. I don’t have to worry about butterflies in my stomach when I see him or staring at his pictures on Facebook because he’s so darn cute – I can really just focus on his conversation, personality and commonly shared interests. Plus, who knows it is possible to become attracted to him once I get to know him, no hair & and all.
  • I already know what I have to look forward to – I always try to imagine what a man will look like when he gets older, whether or not he’ll lose his hair or gain weight, etc. If a man is already losing his hair when I meet him then I don’t have to worry about how he’ll look in the future. I can already see what I’m getting! (Don’t men do the same thing with women & meeting their     mothers? Hhhmm)

All in all, I have never found a man who is losing his hair to be good looking but that doesn’t there aren’t any good ones out there.


*According to, African American men who experience premature balding may be more likely to develop prostate cancer so please talk to your doctor about that. Click here for more info.

Don’t Try This At Home: Getting Pregnant Later In Life

By now everyone has heard the news that recently-married Halle Berry is pregnant at the age of 46 (her first pregnancy was at 42). While I certainly wouldn’t follow in her footsteps, I do question why anyone would want to have a baby at that age. Even with modern technology we all know the challenges that women face having children later in life, such as birth defects and higher rates of miscarriage. Not to mention, the disturbance in one’s career and the sheer physical toll. But even with all of those things aside, why would you want to spend your “middle years” changing diapers & chasing after a toddler?

Other things to consider having children later in life are: fetal distress, cesarean birth, high blood pressure, diabetes, ectopic pregnancy and premature delivery. And that’s just for the mother! The baby is at risk for low birth weight, genetic disorders like Down syndrome, asphyxia, brain bleeds and stillbirth. How terrible is that?! Those are problems that occur during the pregnancy & in the delivery room. Consider what age you’ll be when your child becomes a teenager. How will your parenting abilities be as you age? Can you keep up with your children or their friend’s parents? Will you have the energy? Will you have the patience? Will you be able to keep up with the rigor of raising multiple children as you age?

According to the average life expectancy is 81 for women and 76 for men, so why spend the second half of your life raising young children? I would think that bearing children would be best to do while you’re younger. Instead of preparing for retirement, you now have to focus on raising an adolescent. While you may be more financial stable, the more out of touch you are with the younger generation that you are now raising. Not to mention all of your friends are just about done raising their children so you won’t have the support system that you probably hoped for.

Let’s look at some other famous people who had children later in life:

  • Uma Thurman – 42 years old
  • Celine Dion – 42 years old (with twins)
  • Tina Fey – 40 years old
  • Mariah Carey – 41 years old (and she’s reportedly pregnant again)
  • Nicole Kidman – 40 years old
  • Kelly Preston – 48 years old
  • Salma Hayek – 41 years old (her husband is a billionaire)
  • Molly Ringwald – 41 years old (with twins)
  • Mira Sorvino – one baby at 41 years old, and another at 44 years old
  • Charlie Chaplin – was reportedly 73 years old
  • Steve Martin – had his first child at 67 years old (and his wife was 41)
  • Hugh Grant – fathered a child at 51 years old
  • Warren Beatty – fathered a child at 55 years old
  • Tony Randall  – over 70 years old and died shortly thereafter at 84 years old
  • Luciano Pavarotti – fathered a child at 67 years old and died shortly thereafter at 71

It is a little different when you are rich – you can pay for younger help. You can also afford the best doctors to make sure that your health & the baby’s health is in excellent condition. Plus, Halle Berry looks like she’ll be young forever! But for the average woman these resources aren’t as readily available.

I am so glad that my parents aren’t “older”. This means that they’ll be around a lot longer J


Talk To Me, Baby: What Type Of Phone Call Are You?!

Life keeps us so busy that it gets difficult trying to catch up with family and friends. There are some people that I love talking to & some that I can’t stand to talk to for more than a few minutes at a time, so I’ve categorized my phone calls. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about -

  • Bathroom phone call: Sitting in the bathroom is usually one of the most peaceful times of day for me (don’t laugh) so what better time than to call someone that has stressful conversation? This way when I’m done with my “business”, I’m also done with the phone call. Sometimes I wish I could flush certain people down the toilet (lol!)
  • Lunch break: These phone calls are usually pretty quick since lunch breaks are only an hour long. Because I have to eat and possibly do other things during my lunch break people I call during this time are usually just acquaintances, business calls or family members I don’t really want to talk to for very long.
  • Making dinner: This is where I get to multitask – I call people who are not that interesting.  This way I don’t have to give them my undivided attention and once dinner is ready (usually 30 minutes or less) it’s time to get off that phone.
  • Eating dinner: While I’m eating, I usually call people who like to talk a lot. It’s not good to talk with food in my mouth so during this time I can be a really good listener. And if I go for seconds, then they can really keep talking!
  • In the car – These phone calls are reserved for people I really like because sitting in the car is the largest chunk of time I use up. Traffic can get really bad and driving a few miles can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour, so this is truly the best way to kill time. I can connect with friends that I love talking with while I get to my destination safely.

I’d like to hear from you…..what type of phone call do you think you are?


Why Are You Wearing Cologne To The Gym?

From time to time I like to write about my experiences at the gym. I try to work out about 4-5 days a week so something comes up almost every day. Here are my gym randoms for the week:

  • Men stop wearing cologne to the gym – Spraying an expensive fragrance (or even a cheap one) will never mask the odor of pure funk. Everybody at the gym smells & if you’re working out hard enough you will too.
  • Chest hairs are not sexy – If you have a lot of chest hair or hairy arms please cover that up. Nobody wants to see all that. Leave something to the imagination, guys! T-shirts are sold everywhere so there is no excuse.
  • There should be a minimum amount of weight that a man has to lift at the gym– A man should be able to lift more weight than I can. So if I leave a machine with, let’s say 25 pound weights, then a guy shouldn’t be able to sit at that machine & use the same amount of weight. He should have to automatically increase those weights by at least 50%. After all, aren’t men supposed to be stronger than women?!
  • I’ve said this before, but big arms & a big gut don’t go together – Talk about irony, why not work out so that your body looks ripped all over? It makes no sense to be strong enough to pick me up but your stomach is so big I can’t even hug you all the way. Ha!


Racism: You Can’t Determine What Is Offensive To Someone Else

Most African Americans have experienced racism at some point in their life. The problem is that most White’s in this country are apathetic to our plight. They tend to think the problems that we have are self-inflicted and our bouts with racism are over-exaggerated. I contend that another person, particular someone who is not of color, will never understand exactly what racism is & how it can affect generations of people.

White people don’t deny that there is some racism out there. And we already know that most racist acts are committed against African Americans – not Hispanics, not Asians, not Indians – but African Americans. So if we all can agree that racism exists & that African Americans are victimized more often, then we must agree that there is a perpetrator. After all, racism cannot exist without a catalyst, right?

Let’s talk about the “n-word”. There are some White people that think because some African Americans use that word, that it’s counterintuitive to discourage Whites from using this word. They can’t seem to understand why we continue to perpetuate a term that has such a hurtful past but get upset when they use that word. Here’s my response to any White person who says that:


The aggressor (in this case: White people) doesn’t get to decide whether or not it’s okay to use a word that I consider offensive coming from someone else. It’s the same example that I gave in an earlier post – if I call someone fat that’s considered rude even if they call themselves fat. And unless you grew up under a rock, everyone knows that the n-word is offensive to Blacks coming from White people. So why would you use it (especially in public)? White people aren’t always the aggressor and all Whites aren’t racist, but when it comes to race relations they don’t have the privilege of appearing to be a racist. It’s the same way with sexual harassment – if I say my co-worker is sexually harassing me then my company has an obligation to investigate even if my co-worker doesn’t agree that sexual harassment took place. Even if you don’t agree that using that word is wrong, you still know that it’s considered offensive so just don’t use it.

Some things we don’t have to agree with or even understand – Feelings are subjective. If someone is offended by something, you don’t tell them that they are wrong for being offended, instead you respect the way they feel.