You Mad? Ciara Doesn’t Deserve To Be Saved, Because She Doesn’t Need To Be

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While women everywhere are swooning over Ciara’s Disney-like love story  and being blinded by the bling her engagement ring is giving off something proper, a few men think Russell Wilson is breaking major bro’ code and setting a bad example by seemingly running in to save the day.

See, it was only a few years ago that Ciara was slithering on the floor in something black and sexy for rapper and now father of her son, Future. When news broke that the pair were indeed a real life thing,  it didn’t take long for female fans everywhere to become BFF’s with the singer in their heads pleading with her to keep those “goodies” in the jar. Nayvadius Wilburn better known as Future, the raunchy rapper behind hits like “Dirty Sprite” and “Same Damn Time” already had five children by three different women at the time in 2013. Fans pleaded with Ciara via social media to proceed with caution and up until that point besides a few backbends and a twerk here or there, most would have considered her a “good girl” in R&B. I mean there was a fling with rapper 50 Cent, but for the most part Ciara didn’t have any sex tapes, no arrest record, no reality show ratchetry and the most questionable thing she may have done in her career was date Bow Wow. Fans expectedly were shocked by her entertaining a typical hip-hop bad boy.

The romance quickly unfolded despite criticism from the fans and it wasn’t long before the couple announced they were expecting. Even I wanted to root for the two and hope they would beat the odds, but I’m a firm believer that a man’s track record speaks volumes. To me it wasn’t as much as IF the break-up would happen but WHEN. The rumors started flying of Future’s infidelity shortly after Future Jr. was born and my as well as other fans’ suspicions were proven true. Break-ups happen and sometimes you don’t see them coming, but I think it’s so important for women to go into relationships with men who don’t have the best reputations being well aware of their patterns and not buying into the unlikely outcome that they will be the exception.

Fast forward to early spring of 2015 when Seattle Seahawks and Superbowl Champ Russell Wilson is escorted by Cici to the Whitehouse Correspondents’ dinner. After a messy break up that included custody battles and Future talking slick about his most recent child’s mother to the masses about how she was rushing a marriage, it seemed as if Ciara was playing it cool by giving that fuccboi the ultimate message that she was over it and moving on. But now that Russell wants to make it official after a year of courtship and a very publicized pledge to celibacy on the couple’s behalf, men around the world are side-eyeing his surprise Seychelle Island proposal as the ultimate sucka move. According to one Facebook user:

“I remember when I was in college/ high school these so called “educated” girls were refusing to date smart guys “squares” because they were too nice or too much of a square. It wasn’t cool to date a square. So instead they would choose to be ran through by all of the ball players, goons, rappers, thugs, dope dealers etc. Then after being ran through till the age of 28-30, they would try to find a “nice corporate square” and were usually successful. This is how the game was ran. So to all my young, educated, successful, brothas out there. Do not settle for hood leftovers. No second chances. Especially hood and ratchet leftovers who have their ex baby daddy’s initials tattooed on their finger. And their ex happens to be a Goon.  Don’t do it.  You deserve the cream of the crop. Russell is setting a terrible example.”

When I read this initially I figured homeboy was just bitter because he felt like he was a good guy that got passed up by all of the fine girls in undergrad. I thought it was unfair because by 28-30, most people are bringing some kind of baggage to a relationship and it’s not fair to only single out attractive women who may have made relationship mistakes in the past. Shoot, Mr. Wilson is bringing a whole ex-wife to the picture but no one is calling out his less-than-perfect past nearly as much as we are focusing on Ciara’s relationship with Future.

Another thing that shady posts like these further confirm to me that most of us have forgotten what healthy relationships actually look like. The fact is Ciara seems finally happy, although some fans can’t find it in their spirits to be happy for her. We were giving her the side-eye when she was taking “us-ies” with Future’s other children’s mothers like she was a part of the sorority Zeta-Baby-Maker. But now that she her very own Disney vault love story, we’re still not pleased. It’s as if so many of us are used to seeing one Love and Hip-Hop surprise multiple pregnancy after the other, that when a man isn’t giving off Creep Squad vibes, we get leery. Or we’ve been through so many unhealthy relationships ourselves, that we begin to forget that a man treating a woman with respect and chivalry is actually a good thing.

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Even I’ll admit that Russell Wilson is making every cheesy effort to come for Prince Charming’s crown, but as much as we’d like to make real-life love a romcom, there are no clear cut roles for anyone. I’d like to think that on his best day Future has really great qualities that made Ciara believe she could build a life with him. It’s also possible that as much as we’d like to believe Russell Wilson is Ciara’s personal caped crusader, he’s not perfect either and he indeed has a past as well according to his ex-wife. When it comes to love, whether we’d like to believe it or not people are allowed to learn, grow and simply change their mind without judgment. Most importantly when it comes to following our personal paths in life, we have to do what works for us as individuals. If you’re basing your #RelationshipGoals on what the hottest celebrity couple is doing or the example the latest sex symbol is setting, then you have a lot to learn about love and relationships. And to “Angry Facebook Man” I hate to break it to you, but the last time I checked Ciara is a Grammy-nominated singer who has a multi-million dollar modeling contract with Wilhelmina Models and endorsements with Verizon and Adidas.  She may need a lot of things, but one of them ain’t saving.

But as hard as I fight against the patriarchal stereo-types and double-standards this post is bringing, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit “Angry Facebook Man” doesn’t have a point. Ciara’s whole situation is giving me “Band-Aid Boyfriend” vibes. Not sure what exactly a Band-Aid Boyfriend is? Allow me to explain. I had a Band-Aide Boyfriend through most of my late teens and early twenties. A “Band-Aid Boyfriend” is a guy that you’ve permanently placed in the friend zone. He probably landed there because he has little swag, doesn’t put you in your place when you’re out of pocket, and swears the sun rises and falls of your smile alone. When the swagged out dude who makes your draws drop because you think his disrespect is endearing breaks your heart, who is the first person you turn to? The Band-Aid Boyfriend. Because Band-Aid Boyfriend will play basketball with your boys, take your mama to church and have a dozen roses waiting for you at work. And suddenly all those sucka moves that may have landed him a 30-year fixed- mortgage in the friend zone will suddenly make him the man you want to marry. Band-Aid Boyfriend is the best because when you’re feeling your lowest, he’ll remind you of how you deserve to be treated and that a good relationship doesn’t have to be about drama. But here’s the thing: If you’re not feeling Band-Aid Boyfriend THAT way, it’s never going to work and here is where I find where I find men’s issues with “Ciara being saved” problematic.

I don’t think any women has a strategy to date the bad boy in their twenties to get their inhibitions out of the way so they can settle down with the “Band-Aid Boyfriend” at the end of the day, but what I will say is that she has every right to. Just like every man has a right to living his bachelor days with women he wouldn’t think of bringing home to mama, only to settle down with the “good girl”. If you feel like you’re getting love’s leftovers because of your “square” status, I think that has more to do with what you allow than how any women is actually treating you. When it comes to love, you determine what you deserve and if a man respecting a woman and her kids, vowing to be celibate and not shading her on Snapchat makes him a sucka, then I’ll take two please.

 

 

 

 

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Signs You Need To Let Go of Being “Young and Fly” and Come In For a Landing

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In case you all have forgotten, let me remind you again that in the past two years I’ve become a wife AND a mother (I’m still getting used to it myself, so I apologize if this is like the umpteenth article I’ve started that way). Every once in a while, when I’m able to steal a little “me-time”, I come up for air from the sea of Mega Blocks, Gerber Puffs and adult responsibilities I’m often surrounded by to see how out-of-touch I’ve really become. Priorities done changed, ya’ll. I used to look forward to what summer music festivals my friends would need to camp out on Ticketmaster.com for and lately all I’m looking forward to are a hot shower and the two hours of Nurse Jackie I can squeeze in when my toddler passes out. On the days I feel most pathetic, I’ll reassure myself I’m still doing the damn thing and randomly blurt out “I’m still young and fly” before my husband abruptly reminds me, “I know, babe, I know.”

The funny thing is, once you hit a certain age and have a few accomplishments under your belt, you begin to realize that being “young and fly” isn’t everything and you trade it in for a little “grown and sexy”. Your tastes change and you gain some experience that makes you feel confident enough to give advice to others. Don’t get me wrong, my twenties were all the way turned up. I remember dragging my BFF on a ten-hour bus ride to Toronto attend my first OVOFest and getting caught up in customs over pepper spray (Apparently the Canadians take aerosol defense sprays very seriously). There were also the “Thirsty Thursdays” of undergrad where we felt like the baddest bitches to ever hit Middle of Nowhere, USA. But in all honesty, even though there’s a part of me that misses being twenty-something with an adventure scheduled for every weekend, and even bigger part of me wants to leave my twenties exactly where they’re at, both physically and mentally. There’s a comfort that comes with routine and having your own. Thirty doesn’t have to mean the end of random bus trips through North America, but at least now maybe I can afford an actual flight without having to eat Chef Boyardee for two weeks to afford it.

Still not convinced you’re ready to say goodbye to your days of “young and fly”, here are a few reminders it might be time to come in for a landing:

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1. Getting dressed becomes a chore.

It’s one thing if bae is treating me to that new Mediterranean place for monthly date night and I muster the effort to throw on a pair of 5” heels, but my days of putting on winged liner for game night with friends are long gone. For one thing, when you have a baby it takes an insane amount of time for your family to get out the door to do any damn thing. A trip to the bank requires a fully stocked baby bag and unrealistic goal of hoping you can make it to the car before your kid covers their outfit in snot or poop or both. More and more I find myself reserving the energy to look fresh to death for when it counts.

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2. Everything that comes on the radio sounds the same (and a tad bit annoying).

This is like the number one sign that you are now your parents. Maybe hip-hop and R&B truly has fallen off significantly, but the truth is we’re probably just old. But that’s OK, because every time I see a 45- year-old man dressed in skinny jeans blasting Fetty Wap from his car, a part of me dies inside. I think as you grow older your taste in music should too; it’s OK if you’re like my husband and don’t know WTH a “DM” is and what goes down in them. There’s nothing wrong with a little trap music to go with some shots of Bacardi every now and then, but most days I can’t tell Jhene from Kehlani. However if New Jack Swing ever makes a comeback, I’ll be waiting with open arms.

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3. You have a liquor preference.

Congratulations if you pass judgment on anyone drinking alcohol out of something that resembles a Capri Sun pouch. You are officially an adult with decent taste. In my twenties I would drink anything that was over 60 proof regardless of what Kool-Aide color it came in. Now my liver has a little more discretion and I’m able to have good time without feeling like I went headfirst into the side of Buick the next day.

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4. You kind of start to give a damn about your health.

There’s a “snatch back” that plagues your twenties that makes you think you can survive ANYTHING. You can pass out from alcohol poisoning one night and wake up the next morning ace a final, pull a double at work and then have sex until the sun comes up. But when I hit 30 all I can remember thinking is, “Damn, I know people who have gotten cancer diagnoses at this age.” Seriously, I had a sharp pain on my left side for a few days that I swore was the end a few months ago. It was actually just gas, but the good news is getting older makes you realize your mortality. And realizing you won’t be here forever makes you take your health a little more seriously and make better choices.

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5. You start to care about quality and use discretion when spending your money.

I lie to you not, one of the best purchases I’ve ever made as an official adult is a quality mattress. Once you sleep on decent furniture, you’ll wonder why futons are even still available for purchase. When you begin to build a work history and recognize the amount of work you have to do to earn so many dollars per hour, you’ll want the things you spend it on to be worth something. You’ll start to pay for quality and convenience, and stop spending your coins casually on things you know won’t survive past a month. Sure, that IKEA nightstand looks cute, but if it falls apart as soon as you put your contact case on it, is it really worth the hassle?

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6. You realize how little time you have for the BS.

When I had nothing but air and opportunity, if my home girl called me up and wanted to ride the Petty Pony when it came to man drama, I was there. But now I have responsibilities and I’m almost tempted to make my friends sign a disclaimer that begins, “If I ride out with you to destroy this man, do you solemnly swear you will not go all #RelationshipGoals with this dude in the next year taking his mama to church and making him omelets in the morning?” As I get older, my time becomes more and more valuable and I refuse to entertain BS. Every moment of my life doesn’t need to be dedicated to serious spiritual growth and introspection, but I just don’t have as much time for the shenanigans anymore.

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7. Comfort and convenience become major factors in most of your decisions.

This doesn’t translate into meaning it’s OK to become lazy as you grow older. Your thirties and beyond should still be filled with plenty of challenges and moments of discomfort to keep you sharp so you can continue to grow. But sometime a few years ago, I started to feel like I no longer had anything to prove, and there was no point in inconveniencing myself just to prove that I was making the most of my life every minute of the day.

I once saw a comedian that gave the best advice when he said, “By the age of 30, I know what I don’t like.”  There’s something about being at peace with the things you know you have no interest in. In other words, just because all of your friends are making vision boards with trips to Dubai, if you truly know you couldn’t care less about seeing the Burj Khalifa or rather have a cheese steak instead of shawarma, there’s no need to defend what makes you happy. You don’t have to push yourself to limit to things that simply aren’t that important to you just to prove your life is epic and amazing.

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8. You stop caring about being “young and fly”.

As much as I still enjoy my share of Nicki Minaj and Love and Hip Hop, I’m noticing the lifestyle I aspire to have affects my priorities. I don’t care as much about designer labels and turning up as much as I care about getting my daughter into a good school and making sure I don’t have to work a 9-5 to survive when I’m sixty. If spending a little more time learning about how a 401K works or taking the time to learn who exactly is my city council person means sacrificing knowing the juicy details of Meek Mill’s latest Twitter rant, I will make my peace with that. My role models have changed as well as my values and I take that as a good sign that I’m growing as a person.

Why I’m Proud to Be a Mom in the Middle of #BlackGirlMagic

I swore I was having a boy when I became pregnant in spring of 2014. I carried low, had no morning sickness and my baby bump left my beauty still intact. Even the Chinese birth chart took my age and the month I became pregnant and confirmed I was #TeamBoy. In hindsight I realize those old wives tales have very little say when it comes to DNA. But when the ultrasound tech left me and my fiancé in front of a screen of fuzzy white and gray patches that April, we questioned if the anatomy was THAT obvious that they shouldn’t have to tell us if we’d be getting a “Camden” or a “Cairo”. A few seconds later the doctor soon reassured us that we’d have a lifetime of training bras, Barbies and braids to look forward to. Ok, so maybe I wouldn’t have bow ties or a starting forward in a team of testosterone-pumped boys who adored their mother to prepare for, but I wasn’t disappointed. And as I see my fearless baby girl attempting to climb anything she can get steady footing on from her high chair to my face at the occasional crack of dawn, I realize how blessed I am, because I get to raise her in the era of #BlackGirlMagic.

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Remember in “Keep Ya Head Up” when Tupac rhymed, “Had me feeling like black was the thing to be…”? He was talking about #BlackGirlMagic. I can’t wait for my Camden’s black girl pride to piss off anyone that thinks she should settle for less because of the melanin in her skin or her unruly red afro. I can’t wait to reveal to her that Black privilege is the blood coursing through her veins rich in “run shit”. At one-years-old, she is just learning what her body parts are called, and can barely say more than 5 words. But already, bedtime is not about Cinderella getting saved or Rapunzel getting rescued from a tower. My daughter’s superheroes are Mara Brock Akil, Ava Duvernay and Issa Rae. I can’t wait to show her that time Beyonce shut down the Superbowl with a tribute to black heroes of the past  as a reminder to everyone that no matter how much they try to dim our shine, we are still here, overcoming and ish like it’s any given Sunday. Women like them are the storytellers that are weaving the narrative web of what it means to be a black girl today. Because that’s what black girl magic is: turning the impossible into definitely doing the damn thing and doing it well.

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When I was an middle school experimenting with my own sense of style and building my self-esteem, I anxiously awaited when my sister’s copies of Seventeen or YM would land in our mailbox once a month. Once in a while she’d even treat me to a copy of Sophisticate’s Black Hair that usually resulted in me taking gel, spritz and a roller set to my head in hopes to emulate Reagan Gomez-Preston’s latest style. I hoped that Lark Voorhees or Karyn Parsons would grace a page or two and my best friend and I would attempt the beauty routines meant for olive-skinned girls because they were the girls who were the closest matches to our caramel and chocolate chip skin tones. Usually we ended up looking more “Drowned and Overdone” than Wet & Wild, but it was because at that time it was easy to feel like no one understood our particular beauty. There was no Instagram or Twitter where we could get a little daily validation of “Black girl, you are beautiful.” The closest we got to that is an Aaliyah video premiere or a monthly subscription to a magazine where the token black girls were all identical and almost always looked more like Lisa Bonet than Lupita Nyong’o.

Today I can literally turn on the TV and see bonafide Cover Girls in Zendaya or Janelle Monae: two very different but distinctly beautiful women of color. Let’s not forget the Amandla Stenbergs, Keke Palmers and Yara Shahidis that my daughter can look at and honestly say, “Mommy they look like me.” And not only are they beautiful, but they’re bringing far more to the table than lip gloss and #OOTD’s. They have a voice, they have opinions, they are changing the conversation. And that my dear, is #BlackGirlMagic at its best. I’ve dedicated most of my career to educating and empowering young women, and now I have one walking around with my DNA that is my living say in what the world becomes.

I remember years ago praying for a world where the diversity of black women would not only be respected, but celebrated and desired. I think there’s room for Amber Rose AND Ava Duvernay and it’s important for my daughter to see that she can be anything from a banker to a ballerina.  It makes me excited for the changing world that she is growing up in where she will no longer be expected to be the authority on gum-popping, twerking, and what type of Virgin Remy is best. For the first time it truly feels like she can be anything. Because pulling hope from the haters and making the limitations disappear is what magical black girls do. No disrespect to all the ladies with mama’s boys, but I couldn’t feel more privileged to be raising a little black girl during this time. You can keep the sugar and spice. I’ll take the sass, class and a little kick-ass: That’s what #BlackGirlMagic is made of.

Why I Don’t Need Tia Mowry To Teach Me How To Make Turkey Meatballs

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There are times when I’m feeling particularly domestic. I think about all the fancy meals I can create with feta cheese, crispy prosciutto, and jicama. I’ll scour Pinterest for all kinds of sophisticated, artsy place settings and fun ideas for adult dinner parties where my friends and I debate over episodes of Politically Incorrect and actually know what to look for when pairing wine…like a boss.

But then my 8-month-old literally slaps me into reality (she’s actually just taking my glasses so she can make it rain saliva on the lenses) and suddenly I’m in the middle of Walmart facing the harsh reality that my budget and schedule will only allow me to get as fancy as the Velveeta Shells and Cheese with broccoli. Hey, at least it’s not Kraft. That vomit is for undergrads who work in the student union for $50.00 a week.

In those few moments of my Martha Stewart meets Mindy Kaling fantasies, I sometimes turn to the Cooking Channel thinking maybe I’ll find something that I can actually accomplish in reality that will look like I actually gave a damn while grocery shopping. A few weeks ago I happened to catch both actresses Tia Mowry and Tiffani Amber Thiessen’s cooking shows. I was excited to see what one half the Mowry twins would be whipping up in “Tia Mowry at Home” since she often highlighted her vegan lifestyle on the reality show she shared with her other half, Tamera a few years ago. “Dinner at Tiffani’s” seemed like a different take on a cooking show to me since we’d get to see “Kelly Kapowski” cook for celebrity friends like Seth Green and Elizabeth Berkley before engaging in moving conversation with them over Mint Chocolate Chip Mojitos about the trials and tribulations of growing up in Hollywood.

But then, in the most sobering moment of May of 2015, Ms. Mowry proceeded to instruct on how to make turkey meatballs.  You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

Why You Need To Let Shit Go

“Should I retire before my birthday or wait until the end of August?” my mom asked me this past weekend as I dropped my daughter off to spend the day with her “Glam Mom” and “Pop Pop”. After working for a Philadelphia hospital since before I was born, my mom will be retiring this year and has a pension and a retirement plan waiting for her, something that will be a rarity for many of us millennials. Lately in my life I’ve witnessed several situations unfolding for the people around me who are struggling to let go. Whether it’s a job, a relationship or an inflated sense of power, the one thing I am learning is how pitiful and sad it looks when someone is trying to make something work that won’t and refusing to move on. I told my mom to book a birthday cruise and chuck the deuces to her job before she gets a chance to blow the 62 candles out on her cake.

Have you ever seen a TV show that should have ended a few seasons before it actually did? If not, you might want to tune in to a certain ABC Family series about four attractive, petite, dishonest friends investigating the murder of their best friend (I’m sorry but they lost me after that season where they discovered Alison was still alive). Or how about a certain Saturday morning sitcom about a diverse group of high schoolers who had a love/hate relationship with their principal that tried to transition to a college-themed series at night only to leaves fans looking like, “Where the hell is Lisa Turtle?” Or my favorite: the life and times of Canadian highschoolers who get pregnant, get arrested or come out of the closet like clockwork who I learned did “whatever it takes” to keep the fun going and will now be taking their pregnancy scares to Netflix.

When Did “The Music Video” Die?

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I usually waste the first hour or so of my work day playing whatever game those geniuses over at Google have posted to commemorate that’s days mark on history and doing all those random things I previously made a mental note to do as soon as I get some wi-fi and free time (Google “real deserted islands”, look up the Shoprite circular for the week, check Drake tour dates). Yesterday after I gave up on getting a high score on Google’s version of “Pony Express” I decided to Youtube Wale’s “Girls On Drugs” and Janelle Monae’s “Yoga”. Mind you, this was only after websites like Bustle and VIBE told me these vids not only existed, but in fact were worth risking my boss’s watchful eye to make sure I was updating the Google calendar and not browsing the baby section at H&M once again.

That’s when it occurred to me: Do you know how much work goes into looking up a music video? OK, not much at all, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that finding the latest visual that accompanies your favorite artist’s new single kind of requires some researching. For someone who grew up in a time where Video Soul was the equivalent of an episode of Scandal, TRL was life and the premiere of anything by Hype Williams was a fucking world event, it saddens me that the “music video” as we know it is slowly dying.

11 Types Of People Present At ALL Office Meetings

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Congratulations. You’ve made it to tax time, that special time of the year that makes you feel like you’ve actually accomplished something or reminds you that you’re the same loser you were the year before. The Turbo Tax commercial will question, “Did you get married? Did you have a child? Did you start a new job?” Luckily, with opportunity, a few over-achieving brain cells and at least two working limbs many of us may have been able to accomplish that last one. And depending on how long you’ve been at your job, you may be questioning how you fucked up in your last life to ever be forced to spend your days wrestling with copier toner and trying not to catch a case over too much micro-management and not enough espresso.

What I loved about the show “The Office” is how the characters were just caricatures of those we unfortunately encounter during the 9-5 every day and how much it makes you realize how most of us get paid to do work that really consists of dumb shit like arguing over Helvetica and Calibri font and what kind of pretzel dip to choose for the dreaded office meeting.

At some point you’ve been all of these people or maybe you worked your way right on up the ladder to Manager on Duty of Incompetence Inc.. But if you’re lucky you might be the super cool supervisor who makes everyone feel motivated and sponsors cool events like “Most Creative Use Of A Four Letter Expletive This Week”. Either way you’ll be entertained or be inspired to get your Jigsaw on choosing which co-worker you’d like to torture first in your very own Saw-like fantasy: