Nikki's Favorite Places in #Charlotte

It's the end to another fun weekend and of course I trekked to a few of my favorite places in Charlotte. This is my short go-to list, and I'm open to suggestions. 

1. Salud Cerverceria

Easily tops my list for its chill vibes and awesome beers on tap. I typically have 16 oz. of #13 Los Compadres Mango & Pineapple Fruit Beer. 5.6% ABV. It tastes amazing! I like the fruity notes, and they're not overpowering. This is an easy go-to for people who like cider but want to venture further into beerland. The Watermelon Sour Beer that's on tap is a close second. Besides the beer, my friends and I enjoy the open industrial concept that features a sky light with hanging plants. Beautiful Taste! Go check it out.

2. Stache House

Even though I'm a lawyer out here in these streets, I enjoy hookah and spirits at Stache House. For the most part, it's chill during the week and offers up a healthy bit of ratchet on the weekends. What's a healthy bit of ratchet? A mix of young professionals who love rap/hiphop/trap. Taste makers adjust accordingly.

3. "The Alley" aka Latta Arcade.

It's Charlotte's restaurant row, for sure. My friends and I venture this part of downtown and call it The Alley. Whilst there, (ahem), we frequent Istanbul (hookah spot), Peculiar Pizza, QCBC (beer cheese and fries) and Nefelie's (anything on the menu). All are great spots for food and spirits. Although, if you are going to drink and need craft cocktails, I recommend The Cotton Room, which is located upstairs just before Istanbul.

4. Common Market

As a single woman who works 40+ hours, records podcasts, and designs t-shirts and things, I don't always make time to cook. This place is an easy stop for me to fill up on sandwiches, Casa Dora wine (my favorite), and Zappo chips. The Greek pasta salad here is also good. Check the fridge. 

So that's that! This is not a paid sponsorship or paid advertisement. These are my tried and true places for good eats and good times. My friends and I thoroughly enjoy our times here ... and so I'm passing on "good vibes." XnO



Open Tabs: Now That I've Failed the Bar Exam ... What's Next?

This post is about the beginning of failure ... failing in the public eye ... and how I can still get up every day with good intentions and a new plan.

Kap-Cher Failure in a Flashback

I remember the first time I failed the bar exam. It was a hot summer's day, and I was at work, reviewing documents. I was getting antsy because there was a quiet murmur about the office. My every day environment was and is occupied with both Attorneys and Juris Doctors (to be attorneys). And the air gets real thick and suffocating when the bar rejections/approval letters are being mailed to candidates. The jerks in the office ask you about your results before you even get them. The other jerks want to make comments on their success on a bar exam. It's all hazing. But for the most part, people in the office are decent and somewhat compassionate (at least to your face). DUN DUN DUN DUNNN. What more can you ask for?

Anyway, I exited my pod after getting a text from my study partner on his success. I left the room to phone him and congratulate him on his success. And I remember tearing up just then. Somehow I knew I had failed. But he was comforting; he reassured me that I didn't because we studied all night and day for three months. On top of that, I was dating an asshole attorney who wasn't much help either. Don't do this! Don't date while studying for the bar, if you can manage it. Or stay with the person you dated throughout law school. My advice is not the holy grail, but it's reasonable. (Reasonableness matters in law. It's so easy to deviate a strict course. I was triggered.) Furthermore, I was solving problems for my family and friends. What trouble did not follow?

I remember the gate wouldn't open as I pulled up to the garage. I pounded my key fob 100x over to get it to work. It didn't budge. I wrestled with my key fob with sweaty palms, praying to the Lord to give me a sign that I passed and not to let my last three months be in vain. "Lord, don't you remember I worked full time to keep all of my things, and it hurt badly, so I'mma need that pass Lord. Who haven't I helped in the past few months? Give me a sign." The dialogue went something like that. I can't quite remember.

But wait, why do we think if we over-extend ourselves, there's a reward ... bonus points awaiting us? Like there will be extra points on Earth? I truly believe that fallacy starts with Christian teachings. But ... I'm not going to go there with y'all today. I no longer over-extend myself, and I only have two cheeks, so you'll be addressed. You're welcome.

Back to the story.

A car then pulled in behind me, and the driver must've saw me struggling and buzzed the gate for me. I parked at the closest parking space, leading to the apartment building's second floor entrance.

The mailroom greeted me at the door, all painted in a deep purple. I hurried over to my mailbox, and remember getting a slight headache. You ever get filled with emotion and feel a sharp pain ... in your damn head? That's it. 

Anyway ... so I opened the mailbox, and there was a manilla envelope addressing my fate. I grabbed it quickly and held it to the light. It was as if I needed a preview to prepare myself for the main event. I kept looking for "Congratulations" then thought the lighting failed me. I turned to the hallway and swore the lighting failed me again ... but then I looked closely as I reached my front door and stomped really loudly in disgust. There was no "Congratulations!" There wasn't shit there but some words I could not make out. I called my study partner and asked him to come downstairs (he lived in the building) to open this letter for me and read my results. 

As we entered the apartment, I remember the apartment being in disarray. It had only been 4 weeks since I've stopped studying and had gone back to working full-time. So I had little energy to clean more than once a week. I opened the patio door to let in fresh air. I was sweaty, hot all over, ecstatic and frustrated. He looked at me and asked if I was ready. I sat down. He read the results: "We regret to inform you that you did not pass the North Carolina Bar Examination for February 2017." Heart sunken, I just stared at him.

"I'm sorry, Denise. But you know this stuff. You'll get it next time," said he. 

After a brief discussion, he left my apartment. Soon after, I opened a rich bottle of Cabernet that was given to me on my birthday. I saved it for my bar results ... for a glass of celebration. But it worked as a temporary fix for this occasion too. My phone had already been ranging off the hook with friends and family and fake friends asking about my results. I employed the silent option on my phone. People's anxiousness and anticipation for happenings in my life became a part of my anxiety. I felt like I had to meet those expectations.

So whenever I experience disappointment (or succeed), I go into isolation. Some people view this as a sign of depression or an onset of it, but it is not. I think every living soul should take a moment to recharge and regroup. If a plan can be devised during this time, then great. But personally, I don't force it. I use the time to breathe, in silence, quietly, leaving wine optional. "But of course, Dear!" 

After a while, I may put on some of my favorite jams. The first time, I rehashed the time and money spent and wondered why it didn't end in a WIN. A rehearsal of events was not good. I spent time looking for that flawed moment, things I could have improved, etc. I obsessed over this exam. I had post-its all over my bedroom walls, kitchen cabinets, bathroom mirrors of rules for different subjects. I had Critical Pass cards and my personal index cards spread across my work desk. Outlines were neatly organized and stacked at the corner of my desk. These are snapshots of my home. These are snapshots of a determined woman. 

As the weeks passed, I found a new respect for myself and more audacity. My biggest fear was failing, publicly. How will they see me now? You know ... a person close to me once said: "Well, you look good." It's cool that I'm attractive. I'm thankful for the good genes and a strong sense of style. That's a humble brag. But in moments like this, "Attractiveness" is placed at the bottom of the totem pole where "Accomplishment" is at the head. I want to be remembered as "Audacious, Intelligent, Successful with a heart of gold then Beautiful." In that order. 

How the Experience will Make Me a Better Lawyer

Well, I've gotten to the "IDGAF what people say about my bar exam journey" and "stop calling my damn phone so much" stage. I thinned my herd and kept my original friends. I'm actually having a lot of fun being my socialite self. Right because law came later, and it doesn't define me. It's a part of my arsenal. That's it.

In all, I'm just a spiritual soul having a life experience, in my Eckhart Tolle voice. Stuff will happen, and if I'm lucky, I get to party another day.

I hope this inspires a Do-Gooder or a Go-Getter to keep going.  xo.

P.S. Snag a Hustler's R Us shirt. That'll remind you.


Open Tab: What did Gucci and Keyshia Teach You? Practical Advice in Helping You Get Your --Ish Together!

Keyshia Ka'oir's hard work, loyalty and 1 to 3 return on a $2 million investment is rewarded on a BET platform for the World to see. #issawedding But it's funny to me how men are using this example to justify their poor decision making and encourage their women to stick it out with them since it is "hard out here."

But for you regular schmegulars, if you think you're going to get away with cheating, having a drug addiction, serving jail time amongst other things, without having been all in or not investing from jump, I gotta tell you: "It's not happening for YOU. You're Not Gucci!" Besides, there is a better way to live, that's the bottom line is this love story.

Practical Advice in Emulating the Best Rapper Alive

Too often, the every day man is mirroring the hottest rapper alive--Jay Z or some other rapper's story. But this is in error. Your story is your own. Your path has been pre-designed for you to learn your purpose. Your learning modules, your daily lessons, are tailored to your life's purpose! Emulating someone's else's process or success (the end product) is in error. So instead of believing that you can do what these men have done (lying, cheating, consuming illegal substances) and get away with it. See these examples and let their stories dissuade you from making poor choices and inspire you to be better.

Can Women Change Men?

Some might say that Keyshia Ka'oir "changed" Gucci Mane. Hmm ... I beg to differ. I believe that she was rewarded with her investment for having withstood the embarrassment and endured the bad times, which Gucci admits. But how many of you are rewarding your woman for sticking it out with you during your hard times? How long should a woman stick around before you reward her? Or should she stick it out, endure, without knowing how things will turn out ... hopeful of all things ... meanwhile you expose her to hurt, harm and danger? Nah ... men need to check other men and encourage one another to be better to themselves and their significant others. 

On another point, I don't believe women can change men. Men choose to change. It is a conscious decision that they would need to make. A man can be motivated by a woman's labor of love. A man can feel that a woman's love is incentive enough for him to change. But without a man deciding to change, it isn't happening. So my advice is not to stick around unless you are witnessing that he's changing markedly. Otherwise, what are you sticking it out for, Sis? The hurt, harm, and danger.

Time Served ... Together

Also, if one of us is doing time, so should the other. See my perspective below.

Fellas, if you have a woman who is in school, how are you going to show your progress while she's serving time to attain her educational goals? Black women are earning more degrees than black men. How can we use this information to leverage success in our romantic relationships? When women are investing in themselves, in their future, men should be doing 2 things: 1) Anything to lighten her load and 2) Investing in yourself, so that when she walks across that stage on graduation day, there's actually a ROI awaiting you both at the house. That's a good two years ... four years, at best, time where you both can PRODUCE and SUCCEED.

Also, if you're not exactly an initiator, a self-starter, there's nothing wrong with asking your woman to strategize, so you can establish some footing. After all, you're a team! No one has to know how your relationship operates, so you won't be openly criticized for what or who motivates your moves. That is, if your concern is your ego.

When compared to Gucci and Keyshia, Gucci served time, and she invested her time into their future. Do you see where this is going? How are you and your mate mapping your success story today? Have you written down your goals and reversed engineered the process to achieve them? How will you serve time in one another, in yourselves, for the next 4 years? 

As for me, I believe love is great. It is a wonderful thing, but when love is coupled with two persons who have a willingness to invest, cultivate, and wait until harvest, the ULTIMATE LOVE STORY is of consequece. If you can build a family, you can sustain a corporation, but it starts with a partnership.