Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm finally writing a blog post, like to read it? Here it go...

Happy Holidays, Happy New Year and all that jazz.... I can't believe it's been two months since I've written a blog post... I had so many thoughts that I started and just didn't post.... Like I planned to write about Heavy D's death went down in my workplace, and it was pretty much similar to how my coworkers have responded to other black deaths.... But I didn't write it up, and now it's old news, shame on me .... I'm having a good Christmas this year, and it'll be fantastic if I could get through this family meal that I'm sort of dreading at the moment .... I'm desperate to see Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Artist, but something tells me I'll have to wait for one of those bad boys to come out on dvd .... Aside from a few tragedies, I'd say 2011 has turned out better for me than 2010..... And even though the world is supposed to end, I'm looking forward to 2012

Thursday, October 06, 2011

On Noise

My workplace is quiet. Too quiet. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of talking going on. My coworkers and I talk constantly, from the minute we get in to the minute we leave. But this is the 21st century. Our communication is centered over email and the company’s i.m. system. When you’re in a silent environment, you don’t want to disrupt it with useless noise. So I’ll send Coworker A a note where I compliment her shoes; I’ll get a message from Coworker B that there are doughnuts in the back of the room and Coworker C will electronically ask me about my lunch plans.

There are times when the quiet gives me a headache. I have a lot of cds downloaded on my computer, so there are times when I put my headphones on and zone out. But sometimes this is problematic. My musical tastes go from gospel to gangsta, so catch me at the wrong moment and I’ll either pray for you or bust a cap in your ass.

This week, I tried to cut down on my musical tug of war. One day, I streamed NPR on my computer. It was cool, but the constant conversations had me so interested in what the hosts were saying, that I couldn’t concentrate on my work. Then I decided to stream NPR’s classical music station. Maybe listening to Mozart would not only motivate me, but it would simultaneously make me a genius. Well, I had the same problem as I did with my own musical selection. One song would have my heart beating out of my chest, and the very next one would depress me.

Today, it is quiet again. I’m going to talk to my plants. If that doesn’t work, I may just start talking aloud to my coworkers. We’ll see how they like that.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Here's a Personal Story: Bring Your Friends!

I mentioned before that I got a part-time job to help cope with the furloughs and other cutbacks my full-time gig had implemented. The second job is retail, so that means I would spend portions of my time going into this store and transforming myself into the bubbly aggressive salesperson that everyone ‘loves.’ Yes, this was very difficult for me.

I’d been leading the dual-job life for nearly three years now. We have secret shoppers who come in and evaluate us. It’s all very easy to get a 100 percent. And you’ll definitely get accolades if a customer complains that you were bothering them, because that just shows that we value customer service. So imagine my surprise when I got my secret shopper evaluation. My evaluator gave me a 91 percent. I didn’t get a perfect score because I didn’t tell her a personal story (i.e. “I love these pants because they make my butt look cute”) and I didn’t end our conversation with the company mantra: “Next time, bring your friends!” So here’s a personal story from me to her:

Dearest Secret Shopper:

Thank you so much for submitting your opinion about my customer service. Because we see hundreds (ok, dozens) of women a day, it is hard for me to remember exactly who you are. Could you be the shopper who came in pushing a stroller. I rushed over to give your child a sticker, only to realize you were not pushing a child, but a dog. Or could you be the shopper who came in wearing M-sized pants, but then only wanted to be fitted in XS? And after each pair of XS’s wouldn’t do, you’d look at yourself in the mirror and screech “MY LITTLE GIRL PARTS ARE SHOWING!”

So after struggles like that, you an imagine why I may have neglected to share a personal story with you. You don’t want to hear about the acrobatics I have to pull in my main job’s bathroom stall when it’s time to change into my job #2 uniform. Surely you don’t want to hear about those times I’ve hidden myself in the fitting room, closed the curtains and took a cat nap. Or maybe you’d like to know that working in a store full of women has made me ravenous for practically every man that walks by. (See UPS Man, water cooler man, light fixture man, shoppers’ husbands, etc etc etc)

See, I knew all of that would bore you. Never the less, you asked and I answered. And it is because of silly demands like that that today will be my last day at the store. I’m going to catch up on two things I value in life -- Sleep and Sanity. But don’t let that stop you from coming in the store. I’m sure my (former) coworkers would love to entertain you and your retail values. But as for me.... I’m gone.

Next time, bring your friends!

Best,

S/C/W

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dirty Dishes


I was running late for work yesterday morning when I was confronted with a severe case of D.D.G -- Dirty Dish Guilt. My sink was overflowing with used pots, bowls, silverware, plates and glasses. I was already running late … what could I do?

People judge you on your dirty dishes. Just like they judge you on your unmade bed. When I was a kid, Mom used to make a big fuss about my messy bedroom. I found that as long as I made my bed, she didn’t fuss as much. It’s the same with dirty dishes. Look at the media portrayal. You remember those movies where the police had to enter the home of a a drug addict/unfit mother/pedophile/hoarder/otherwise poor person? The first thing they do is zero in on the sink and the flies that swarm off of the tiny bits of crud that’s caked onto their dirty dishes. Think back to the 1980s and that movie, Lean On Me. Remember when Mista Clark had to visit Kaneesha’s home, because her mom didn’t want her anymore? When they went inside the apartment, the first thing they showed was the huge pile of dirty dishes in the mom’s sink. Ok, maybe not. But that’s how I remember it.

So the last thing I want is for some sort of a emergency arise, where maintenance has to get in and they see my dirty dishes. Or better yet, what if my apt is burglarized?? Criminals don’t need to know about the scrambled eggs, broccoli, cream of wheat, and turkey burgers that had been fortifying me. I am NOT Kaneesha’s Mother. I’m also not a drug addict/unfit mother/pedophile/hoarder/otherwise poor person.

I glanced at the clock, and I glanced at the dishes. I did what any sensible person would do. I stuffed my dishes inside my microwave, and my oven. I drove off to work with ‘Lean On Me’ theme song stuck in my head.


Photo from
http://tinyurl.com/3gtnf44

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Where Ya Been?


Sorry I've been gone so long. Believe me, it wasn't intentional. I have just been so friggin busy that I began lacking the two things I value most: sleep and sanity. So I decided to quit my part time job in order to catch up on sleep. And the loss of that extra cash has given me a bit of a struggle with sanity, but I'll manage. It just means I'll have to adapt to a biweekly pay cycle once again. In the last two months, I survived an earthquake, endured Hurricane Irene, dodged Katia and soaked up remnants of Lee. In that same time frame, my family was hit with one wedding and three funerals. Two deaths were expected; one was not. I visited my hometown, where relatives filled me up with goodies that I can only get from that area. It was there that I met cousins who previously only existed as Facebook friends, listened to stories about my great grandmother and dethroned my favorite cousin after he displayed my tragic childhood pictures to strangers. I saw the house I was born in and resisted the urge to burst in and scream 'GET OUT' to the new owners. I assembled the critique team for my latest novel and am slowly moving toward the finish line of draft #7. I laughed more than I cried. I made new friends. Traveled to new places. Relaunched with my Sunday Beauty Ritual. Shared french fries with a 3 year old. Stole french fries from a 3 year old. Got a compliment that still has me grinning from ear to ear. with a few glitches, it was a pretty good summer. As usual, it was too short and I'm sad to see it go. I promise to have a more substantial post sometime soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Ya Say Wednesday (**We have a coconut between us")

To even understand that quote above, you have to check out this video series. And if you think that is funny, just wait until you see the other ones. Sometimes, I don't know how I'd survive without some sort of dysfunction, whether it makes me laugh or cry. And did you know there's a list of black women bloggers you should know? Neither did I. So check them out here, here, and here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What Ya Say Wednesday (**"Idris Elba 'mistakenly' twit pic'd a semi-naked pic of himself on Twitter..."**)

And thank God, this is a true story. Much thanks to BGLU to making me aware of it. I usually do my nails myself, so I wish there was a way I could do this at home. I'm not a big fantasy reader, but I am a fan of Acacia and writer David Anthony Durham so I'll be pleased when the last book in the trilogy comes out. There have been times in my life where I needed to recite the words in this poem repeatedly. (Thankfully, I got the hang of it) And, Lauryn Hill. Need I say more?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The Things I Carry

I decided to undertake a few reorganization projects this year. It's not that I'm terribly unorganized, but we all have some baggage that we need to get rid of from time to time. So I'm thanking Eminem and the TV show "Hoarders" for giving me the inpsiration to start Cleaning out My Closet.

I've gotten rid of quite a few things, but there are some objects that I'm going to hold onto:

My favorite tshirt:



Yes, that does say class of 2000. Yes, that shirt is that old. And yes, if you look closely, you can see holes dotting along the collar and the 'Class of 2000' section. And if you lift up the right arm, you'll see a giant hole right by my ribcage area. But I'm not letting it go. It's comfy. I only wear it on laundry day, and even then, I don't leave the house in it. And it's fun to look down and think back to those lazy college weekends.


Correspondence:


I've received lots of cards and letters over the years. I don't keep all of them, but there are some that hold special places in my heart. This pile mostly contains greeting cards from relatives and friends. There are also a few touching letters in there, like the one my mom sent me during my first year of college, or one another friend sent with the plea "TAKE YOUR BUTT BACK TO CHURCH" and a revamped Teletubbies birthday card from my college roomie, Bianca.



More tshirts:


Ok, it's true. I have a lot of tshirts. Most vacations and concerts, I pick up one. Sue me. Yes, that is a New Edition Reunion Tour shirt you see, along with a Lauryn Hill concert shirt, circa 1999. Hey, I'm keeping them. I found a new use for my N.E. shirt when I went to an '80s party this year and wore it with leggings and a scrunchy on my wrist. And as a die hard Lauryn Hill fan, I reserve the right to wear that shirt whenever I please. The other photo is of a shirt that I still have, never wear, but won't throw away. The last time I wore it was when my dad died.


Weapons of mass destruction:

It's been several years since I've taken karate lessons, but I do still have my uniform and my belts. (Yes, my black belt is in there) Somewhere along the way, my sparring equipment, nunchucks and sai were lost in the shuffle. However, my uniform and/or belts comes in handy around Halloween time. Or when I want to stress to the mailman the importance of putting my mail in the right slot. Ahh, memories.



Anyway, these are just a few things that I'm holding on to. I did get rid of a lot more. I'm not a hoarder, I'm not!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Now I DO Wanna Play

One of the things I miss about being a kid is how easy it was to make friends, girlfriends in particular. You show up to algebra class and are assigned to work with the chick next to you. Friend. You’re late to school and have to slip into math class unnoticed, when someone discretely opens the door for you. Friend. Your senile English teacher keeps confusing you with the Italian -- not the other black girl -- in class, simply because you both get good grades. Friend, Amico.

But it gets harder to make those connections when you’re an adult. My post college years were spent in a state where I knew absolutely no one. Everyone in my satellite office was older, married and too uninteresting for me to want to hang out with. So I went on the prowl for some friends, and wound up with a series of one night stand friends. You know those friends, the ones you only hang out with because you don’t want to go to that movie/concert/art exhibit/restaurant by yourself? Well I had quite a few. There was the Insecure one, who often needed to be told that there was nothing wrong with her outfit; the Alcoholic one, who peed in my car after a night of drinking; the Cheap one, who could never do anything because she always “only had $5”; and the Hypochondriac, who had to bail on several outings because she didn’t have her back acne medication. It took me quite a while before I found some good friends who fill the void.

So that brings me to today. See, I’ve met someone. *blushes* Rosie and I have had casual conversations as we wait for the gym doors open at 6 a.m. I’ve learned we have a lot in common. She’s around my age and appreciates fine literature and cinema as much as I do. That’s right, she’s a Harry Potter/True Blood/Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones kinda gal. So when Alcide (True Blood) disrobed shortly before transforming into a werewolf, we swooned together all throughout spin class. When she and her boyfriend got tickets to the Harry Potter Theme Park, we became screaming teenage girls. When she bought the Game of Thrones book series, she promised I could borrow it since I was HBO-less when the series aired. But those 15 minutes we chat before class just doesn’t seem enough, and after class we’re both running to work. I’d like to take things to the next step -- dinner, a movie maybe -- but I’m not sure how to go about it without seeming like a weirdo. Yet there is something about Rosie that whenever I see her, the theme song to ‘Girlfriends’ rings out in my head.


Rosie sent me an email recently, letting me know that a work project is interfering with her workouts, so she won’t be back to class until like mid August. Well, that sucks, and I told her so. Then we did our True Blood and Harry Potter gossip and that was that. But what now? Do I email her back with my opinions on last season’s True Blood (Can you believe what Bill did to Sookie? And OMG! That ALCIDE!!)? Do I ask if she’s finished Friday Night Lights yet, and how will we ever survive without Coach Taylor? Do I inquire about the Game of Thrones book? Or do I ....*sigh*.... wait till August? Anyway, it’s all under consideration. Thankfully, I do have a nice amount of good friends. It is rare that I want to open the circle for one more, but Rosie seems like she might have the qualifications.

And as a tribute to good Girlfriends everywhere, here’s a clip of the only web series I’m watching these days:



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Ya Say Wednesday? ("I'm anti-war but pro pie-fight"**)

I've been watching the News of the World scandal unfold, and I'm now obsessed with all things Wendi Deng, aka "The Smack Down Sister." Here is where I learned she's an Obama supporter and producer of 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" (loved the book, can't wait for it to come out in the U.S. of A!) And of course, I can't forget about the actions that led to her nickname. Anyway .... I'd like to think there is more diversity to the male population. I'm a big fan of soy sauce, so my pantry stays stocked with La Choy. I also need to go back to church, and I hope the Lord forgives me for not doing a Sunday Spin in such a long time. Blasphemous? Eh, maybe a little. =) I'll end this post with a great smile.



(**Quote from Emily Chang via Twitter on July 19)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Ya Say Wednesday? ('Oh, you think I'm playin bitch?')

How bout I just realized today is Thursday, and not Wednesday? Ah well. I found a new rap song to channel my inner anger. I spent much of my childhood digging up worms, so I'm glad to know I'm not alone. The book/movie 'The Help' isn't the first to shed light on the plight of black domestic workers. Here's some natural hair care advice. And Big Daddy Kane gets the job done.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Soc(k)rates Saved My Life

A sock puppet saved my life

I’m sitting at work with a sock puppet on my neck and I am NOT ashamed. I have named the puppet Soc(k)rates, and it has saved my life.

Previously, I mentioned that I was out of town, on vacation. I mentioned the beautiful beaches, the wedding and the scenery. But I did not mention The Pain. You see, I am not as young as I once was. That means I can still hold a drank while dropping it like it’s hot, but I can’t do it as easily as I once did. So after a weekend of electric slidin’, wave ridin’, and old man hidin’, I was in PAIN. The left side of my neck felt like somebody had been beating it with a hammer. The only way I could get relief was by popping pills, applying hot compresses and cocking my head to the side in a not so sophisticated gangsta lean. I just hope I don't have this.

So I did what most people do. Go to the doctor? Nope. I googled my symptoms and whined about my pain until someone gave me a solution. A trusted friend suggested I take a sock, fill it with uncooked rice, warm it up in the microwave, and place it on my pained neck. I did it and by golly it worked. But then I’d go to sleep, and wake up in pain again. So I had to start breakfast with my new sock puppet on my neck, get dressed and drive to work that way. Heck, once I arrived at work, I warmed Socrates up again and placed him back on my neck. Most folks looked at me and just shook their heads. Of course, one person asked me about it and when I explained Socrates’ function, she said ‘don’t you know they sell real heating pads nowadays?’ Point taken, but I enjoy the level of comfort Socrates and I have reached.

In my crazier thoughts -- and my ongoing efforts to get sent home for Mental Health Day -- I’ve drawn eyes and a mouth on Soc(k)rates. I’ve propped him up right beside my morning cup of tea and asked him about his goals and aspirations. I’d gossip with him about coworkers, all within earshot. I’d dance with him in the middle of the day. But no, I didn’t do any of those things. I do keep Socrates perched on my neck. And I do warm him up in the microwave a few times a day. Whenever anyone inquires about him, I say “This is Soc(k)rates. And he makes me feel good.” Then they march away quietly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vacation -- The Afterglow

I just returned from a fabulous island/beach vacation. I was gone for seven whole days and Toni Braxton was right, that is way to long to go without getting in touch. So here's what I did while I was away.





I shot stuff with my new camera:







I drank stuff:



----- That's an Obamarita. It wasn't that great, but I drank it for vacation's sake


I ate stuff:



--- That's an apple fritter. According to the bakery, one is good enough to feed three people. I shared one with two friends, and it has taken me two days to finish the one I bought for just little ole me.




I beached, I read, I napped outdoors:





I watched other people exercise, without feeling guilty:




And most importantly, I was honored to see one of my oldest friends get married:





Tomorrow it is back to reality, and work. Playtime is over. Sigh.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Ya Say Wednesday? ("To catch me is to catch a leprechaun"**)

If you're single and looking, you might want to check this out. Should we look at new ways to compliment young girls? I want to be a quitter, but BGLU says that does NOT mean I should quit my job. Shucks! Apparently, I'm not alone in my feelings about my job. As much as I love strawberry jam, I've never made it myself so this makes my mouth water.


(**Erykah Badu's "4 Leaf Clover")

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Letters from the Darker Populace (#5 Postracial America has arrived!)




Dear Mr. President,

We had our company cookout, which is a result of the higher ups trying to create a friendlier work environment. Their efforts have resulted in a daily emailed newsletter, suggestion boxes placed everywhere and constant encouragement to buy raffle tickets. Do I sound unappreciative? Quite the contrary. We could’ve used this committee last year, when we had the cookout and ran out of food, or the year before, when we had so many layoffs that nobody showed up to what was then the company picnic.We could’ve especially used it in the heyday of ‘06, when the execs were so busy popping bottles that no one arranged for a designated driver for the receptionist or our 40-year-old intern who can’t get work anywhere else.

Anyway, we got an email that lunch would be ready at 12:30, so we piled out there at 12:15, with paper plates and empty hamburger buns in hand. I stood beside my road dog “Tracy,” a member of the Paler Populace and we exchanged workplace woes. I told her about how the company continues to discriminate against me. Yes, we now have a vending machine that supplies Sprite, thanks to my previous requests. Yet whenever I go over to said machine, it eats my money and I have to fill out a form to get a refund. I don’t need to remind you, Mr. President, how necessary Sprite is for the members of the Darker Populace. You know how the bubbles in the drink help sustain our melanin, how the lemon lime flavor gives our hair that necessary snap. I’ve seen your pimp walk. I know about your prowess on the basketball court. Think you could do that without Sprite? Think again.

I could understand if this happens on occasion, but no. Every time I go to the vending machine, I have to endure The Great Sprite Fight. Once I lose, I have to submit my refund form to the receptionist who becomes chattier and chattier. Thanks to this defective machine, I know all about the drunken night of passion she had with the intern, how they continue to hook up and how she hasn’t announced her latest pregnancy because she fears that her husband isn’t the father.

So it was with great pleasure that I went to this cookout, which was a tirade of tacky Hawaiian shirts and hefty thighs squished in hot pants. But none of that mattered, because I could have free Sprite with my meal. I noshed, I drank, I even laughed a little. When I was finished, I tossed my plate and returned to work.

And that’s when it happened, Mr. President. I was at my desk, when Tracy approached and handed me two cans of Sprite. The person behind her did the same, as well as the next person and the next person. Thanks to the Paler Populace, I stuffed 24 cans of free Sprite into my bottom drawer. I was so happy I could’ve wept. It was almost like that last scene in Beautiful Mind when the mathematics faculty left pens on John Nash’s (played by Russell Crowe) desk to signify respect. Well, I felt just like John Nash, minus the schizophrenia, genius, imaginary friends and shock therapy. So I’m writing to thank you, Mr. President. Because of your tireless efforts, I’m finally getting a tiny piece of postracial America. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s something waiting in my bottom drawer.

Best,
Strength




Photo from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/31/Barack_Obama_basketball_at_Martha%27s_Vineyard.jpg/452px-Barack_Obama_basketball_at_Martha%27s_Vineyard.jpg

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Ya Say Wednesday? ("This is My Machismo"0

Father's Day has come and gone, but it's never too late to celebrate a great dad. But let's not forget mothers, particularly this Black breastfeeding mom. "Fighting is easier than dancing or making love." He's right, this is certainly a 'Diversion.' And here it is, a groove slightly transformed, just a bit of a break from the norm.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Ya Say Wednesday? "I am so hip, even my errors are correct . . . "

Good reads from around the blogosphere:

The Awkward Black Girl creator is just as cool as I'd imagined. I could use this to stomp out the bugs on my messy coworker's desk. "Never be afraid to embrace what you have naturally." I like you, do you like me? An upcoming documentary explores the challenges of dark skinned women, but that's no reason not to love your brown skin. Nikki Giovanni celebrated a birthday recently, which gives me one reason to watch this clip of my favorite Different World episode.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Don't Wanna Play




I’ve matured over the years. I’m a woman, ok? I’m no longer that bespectacled little girl who screamed “I don’t wanna play!” whenever I was forced to join my Lego's with the Boy Who Eats Paste, or asked to make room in my sandbox for the Girl With the Orthodontic Headgear. You see, when you’re already uncool, there is nothing that knocks you further down the popularity scale than being teamed with someone who is even less cool.

Those years are long behind me, but I’ve found myself in an adult version of this scenario in the workplace. As an adult, how do you tell someone that you don’t want to be their friend? How do you tell someone that their good intentions are coming across as stalkerish and insane? This is my problem.

Several weeks ago, I met Pat while washing my hands in the restroom.(Red flag #1) She introduced herself and noted that we were among the .5 percent of black folks in the building. We shared a few “No, I don’t eat watermelon” and “Yes, the president is very articulate” stories and went our separate ways. I was fine with that, I’m always open to seeing a friendly face in the building, especially one of color.

But, I began to see Pat everywhere. And everywhere I see Pat, she wants to TALK. If I’m entering the building while she’s outside smoking, Pat will put out her cigarette to ask me about the weather. If I’m reading and eating in the lunchroom, Pat will come in to ask me what I’m reading. If Pat is on her cell phone when I walk by, she’ll end her conversation to ask me about something on television. Or to gossip about another coworker. Or a popular song.

She leaves books on my desk, with promises of sending more. She interrupts my conversations with other people to ask if I’ve read said book. Once, I found Pat in the restroom and I swear she was waiting by the sink for me to finish up in the stall. I had to fake a bowel movement – lots of grunting, ya’ll – to get her to leave.

Pat is making me a prisoner at my own job. I have no desire to go to the vending machine, to my car, or even to the bathroom. I’m tired of being caught up in the web of her one-sided conversations that go nowhere. Yes, she may be a lonely person who is just hungry for a friend. But she needs to realize that I’m a loud, ticking time bomb of an introvert with raging bouts of pms and my dance card is full, thank you very much. So the next time she comes at me with some of her gibberish, I may just throw my hands up and shout: I DON'T WANNA PLAY!

Photo from http://witchnextdoor.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/sandbox_boy1.gif

Monday, June 13, 2011

The C.R.E.A.M. Update




I finally got my money, an issue I agonized about in a previous post. I had great plans of how I was going to use my hard earned cash. I was going to save, pay off some debts, and have some fun. But because I’m trying to explore my financial literacy, I’m going to do more saving than I originally planned.

Now that it’s getting warm, the No Goods are making their presence known in my neighborhood and that pushes me further and further toward my homeownership goal. But as much as I’ve been saving, I fear that have not saved enough. So I toss a chunk of the cash into my Dream Home Fund, lock it up and throw away the key.

My new car came about with a great deal of help from my parents. I don’t like to owe anybody anything, so I took another chunk of dough and hoped to pay them back the rest of the money I owed them. However, they threw me for a loop when they told me they didn’t want it, that I should use it to save for the Dream Home. So I took their chunk and placed it in a CD, money that I can’t touch until fall 2012 after it ears a good interest rate.

That leaves a little bit leftover for me. What shall I do? My early plan was to place some into my Sharebuilder stock account and then another chunk in my Vacation account (I’ll be in Martha’s Vineyard soon, there’s nothing cheap about that!) However, there are the Wants, like a new television, a new iPod, a new guitar. Hell, maybe even a new wardrobe. But I’ll tread lightly, because I know that my list of Wants could get pretty extensive.






(Photo from http://theshirtjunkie.com/files/Creambox.jpg

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Sunday Spin ("Life is short. Call somebody today and tell them you love them."**)

1. I'm trying desperately to get into a regular blogging schedule once again

2. I learned that I've been bored, so I did some redecorating to help motivate me

3. The new design and the addition of Twitter has given me some additional motivation, so bear with me as I think of some worthwhile stuff to say

4. I did finally get my money, after mentioning the battle I went through previously

5. I did earn my master's degree, and Hemorrhoid is no longer my problem

6. I've developed mad love for Cee Lo Green, after receiving the Lady Killer cd as a bday gift

7. And I can't wait to tell you all about the web series that is eerily similar to my own life

I'd say that gives me posts to last me through the week, right?? Anyway, have a great week everybody!!

(**Tweet from Malcolm Jamal Warner, May 29, 2011)

Monday, June 06, 2011

'The Help' highlights a familiar hair battle



At the recommendation of a friend, I picked up a book that a white lady wrote about black maids. I had reservations about reading it -- I tend to havea bias against white writers using black characters -- but I enjoyed the book. The book is set in the 1960s, so there's lots of talk about the civil rights movment, the power struggle between blacks and whites, black domestics battling against their white employers, etc etc etc. All that is fine and good, but the thing that struck me was The Hair.




One of the main characters is a woman named Skeeter and she often battles her mother over her clothes and hairstyles. Apparently, her hair is too frizzy for her mother's tastes, so she always sends her to the salon or fusses at her when it's not done right. At one point, Skeeter goes through some kind of excessive hair regimen -- It was foreign to me, so I can't offer details -- that temporarily gives her the hair her mother desires. Sounded a bit like a relaxer for white people. But here is how Skeeter sums up her looks:



My own mother is looking at me as if I completely baffle her mind with my looks, my height, my hair. To say I have frizzy hair is an understatement. It is kinky, more pubic than cranial, and whitish blond, breaking off easily, like hay. (Pg. 65-66)



Her hair struggle is one that speaks volumes to me. I've been natural for about five years, so that has meant that I also baffle my mother with my looks -- this thick head of kinky hair in particular. I often get compliments on my locks, twists, 'fro, etc, but Mom has never been on the natural hair team. She hasn't been as vocal as Skeeter's mother, yet she has made it clear that she would like me to have a relaxer. It's become a bit of a joke in the family. I'll ask if I can borrow something, she'll joke that I can, only if I have a relaxer. She nearly had a heart attack the few times she saw my 'fro. Of course, she had nothing to say when I pointed out that I look eerily similar to her high school graduation picture, the one where she could barely fit her cap over her huge 'fro.



We laugh about it, and I'm still hoping Mom will come around. (I've given up on some other members of my family) I found this online and I know I'm not alone in the mother-daughter hair conflict. Maybe we can all start a support group, and invite Skeeter.


Photo from http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTDvLzuUkdhPGbS4Jd67FS0Bsm9hqpg9DMcdo_FDhP1oljJqOIf

Thursday, June 02, 2011

On Tears

It surprises many people to know that I am a big crier. Beyond this wise cracking facade, I can be, as my mother likes to put it, an Emotional Wreck. While I cry at movies quite often, The Passion of Christ, Joy Luck Club, and Marley & Me, are a trifecta that brings about The Ugly Cry. Throughout my life, I’ve shed tears when I’m about to get punished and when I’ve gotten away with murder, when some boy told me he didn’t love me and when another told me he did, at my grandmother’s funeral and pretty much whenever anyone talks about her, when the goddaughter runs toward me with a hug, and when she’s not in the mood. I cry when I’m happy, sad, mad, glad, etc.

So yes,I have a bad case of the waterworks. It is my handicap, and I hate it. Growing up, my mom always said, “Don’t ever get a boyfriend. Because you will be crying for the rest of your life.” No one else in my immediate family has this issue. I only saw my Dad cry once, and with Mom, it is a rare occasion. Just the other day, she watched ‘The Notebook’ for the first time and didn’t shed a single tear. The only movie that gets to her is the funeral scene in ‘Imitation of Life.’

Recently, we learned that my grandpa is dealing with a terminal lung disease. There is not much doctors can do, other than keep him comfortable. He doesn’t have the best of relationships with his children, since he abandoned the family years ago and recent news of other children hasn’t helped much, but we grandkids check in from time to time. He’s in good spirits, despite everything.

Somebody thought it would be a good idea to ask him why he bailed out on grandma all those years ago. Somebody also thought it would be a good idea to have a person ask him a series of questions and record the response. Guess who was nominated? I was never asked directly, but I heard through the grapevine that my aunt wants me to do it. “I’d do it myself, but I’d get too emotional.” My mom outed me as the Emotional Wreck that I am, and volunteered to do the task. She offered to get straight Barbara Walters with it: “The day you left your family, and we had no food to eat, and barely any clothes on our backs, how did you feel?” Sigh. Nothing good can come from this.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cash Rules Everything Around Me (CREAM)

Now, I'm not a blog jacker, let me say that up front. But if I see that one of my blog peeps is going through a tribulation similar to mine, well darnit, I'm gonna write about it. First, read here about how folks are trying to be shady with The L's money. Crazy scenario, right? Now allow me to piggy back on her plight.

I've been CRAZY busy. Good busy, but busy just the same. I learned in April that I won a creative writing award from my university. Awesome news. I play a little midday hooky to get down to the university where the grad and undergrad students were given certificates and checks. But my antenna was raised when I was given a certificate and a promise that I would get my check "soon." *side eye* (there will be an upcoming post about my years at this university)

I'm an optimistic person. When you tell me I'm going to win money, I make plans. I was going to repay my parents the money I owe, get a new camera, upgrade my guitar, and do my saving/investing hussle. Everyday I checked my mailbox, only to be greeted with nothing.

So I sent a polite email to my professor that if you read closely, spelled out WHY YOU TRYIN TO STICK ME FOR MY PAPERS? She told me that the university is now having "an issue" with the foundation that administers the awards. This foundation had wanted me to apply again (side eye/head roll/two snaps in a circle), but the university is trying to get it resolved on their own. I'm supposed to be given a check within the month. Let's hope I do. You can't imagine how violent I get when I think about the money that hasn't been sent my way. It's enough to make me wanna cut somebody's face off.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

4 o’clock in the morning, where you gonna be?





I know where I’ll be.








Awake, but still in my pj’s, scarf and glasses, with my eyes glued to the screen. Yep, I’m going to watch THAT WEDDNG, a portion of it anyway. My first alarm clock is usually set for 4:30 a.m. for the gym, so I figured there was nothing wrong with getting up a half hour earlier so I can watch Billy and Kate walk down the aisle. But since I have to be at my spin class by 6:15 (coverage starts at 4, wedding starts at 6), I’ll likely only see images of Matt, Meredith, Al and Ann prancing around London in their weddng finery.

Why would I subject myself to this, you may ask? Why am I attending a wedding with bleary eyes and morning breath? One reason is simple. THE DRESS. I.want.to.see.the.dress!!!! And the other is because I’m intrigued by the drama of it all. Diana’s first born is marrying a commoner, and that means the royals are going to have to endure a variety of things, like Kate’s sister who wants to hang disco balls at the ceremony, her drug dealing uncle who is going to the wedding and her exotic dancing second cousin who is not. How will The Queen hande this madness?

Like Her Majesty, I’ve been subjected to joinings of Royals and Commoners. When Cousin Tina married Tyrone From Down Da Street, I was front and center. I wish I had popcorn for a variety of scenes, like when the caterer (his sister) got drunk and peed herself, or when his dad demonstrated how he could carry on long conversations with a mouth full of chicken. When Second Cousin Annettte married Yo, Yo, Yo, James In The House!, I was there. How was I to know that the dance floor would become a battleground for his sisters who wanted to do the electric slide vs his cousins who wanted to do the booty call, all while Frankie Beverly sang ‘Before I Let You Go’? But I was grateful to be there, with my camera in tow. If these heffas ever make me mad, I shall post this evidence right on Facebook and I will tag EVERYBODY.

So as you can see, this royal wedding has potential to be a royal mess. Unfortunately, us viewers won’t be able to see how the blue bloods handle it when Kate’s crew starts droppin it like it’s hot. But we can only imagine. And boy, will I imagine.




Photo from
http://www.royalweddinglive.com/wp-content/uploads/prince-william-and-kate-middleton-pic-reuters-134052115.jpg

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Sunday Spin (**"I'm gonna make me love me.")

1. Ugh, the weekends just keep getting shorter and shorter, don't they? 2. I did manage to have a good time. I hung out with my literary peeps and we went to a festival where writer Danielle Evans signed our copies of her book, 'Before You Strangle Your Own Fool Self" 3. I watched Toy Story 3, which made me happy and sad 4. But I need to call my granddad. I've been meaning to do it for weeks, I just haven't. 5. My professor emailed me his suggestions for some minor changes to my thesis 6. They were minor formatting requirements, but it was enough to frustrate me 7. But I'll get that straightened out today, press Send and be free of it all. Have an awesome week everybody! (**Overheard, stolen from a friend)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Birthday!!

It's my birthday and I'm so happy to be 34 I could scream. The number 33 was so cruel to me. How cruel was it Strength? It was so cruel that if I'm walking down the street and I come across a 33-legged ant, I'm stepping on it and then urinating on its corpse. It was so cruel that if I'm watching Sesame Street and they do an ode to #33, I will throw my television out the window and hope it lands on the corpse of that mutilated 33-legged ant corpse. Once, a coworker was on the eve of this fair age, the so-called Jesus Year, and asked me how it was going. I promptly told him that it feels like you're spending 365 days nailed to the cross. But I'm getting off the cross today and celebrating. I took the day off (something I usually do, but didn't last year. perhaps that sealed my fate) and I'm getting a manicure and pedicure. Good friends will take me out to dinner where I will dine on cranberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, french fries, and birthday cake. My family is going to take me out for some hibachi food and even though I'm not a fan of red wine, I'm going to down my bottle of pinot noir like a champ and dare somebody to say something. I earned it. So I raise my glass to 34 and all the good things that I know will come with it. And I'll even raise a glass to you, 33, because you have only made me stronger.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Sunday Spin ("My goal is to always come from a place of love, but sometimes I just have to break it down for a motherf*&%$ker'**)

1. Thanks for all your kind words of support on my thesis, I really needed it

2. There have been no developments since I turned it in, so I'll take that as good news, Shrug

3. I've spent the thesis afterglow discovering season 1 of 'Breaking Bad'. Good stuff

4. I finished reading my cavemen books, and I'm eager for the last installment to come out later this month

5. I've also been immersed in revising my latest work of fiction, which I hope to complete soon

6. This week, I have a three-day work week, so by Wednesday evening, I plan to be footloose and fancy free

7. I'm hoping my wallet can hang with these plans I'm beginning to develop. We shall see.

Have a great week, everyone!

(**Tweet from Rupaul on March 4)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Birth of a Thesis


I have recently given birth, and unlike many new mothers I can say unequivocally that I despise my child. Ok, it’s not a child, exactly, but a 170-page 36,000-word document that has caused me to exist on nothing but bananas and green tea for the last several weeks. Yes, I’m talking about my thesis, or as I affectionately call it, Hemorrhoid.

In the early stages of my Hemorrhoid pregnancy, I was excited. Yes, there were the usual bouts of morning sickness that comes with assembling my committee, making my topic as specific as possible, structuring my abstract and review of literature, but I knew it would all pay off in the end. I looked forward to the day little Hemorrhoid was in my arms, beaming up at me with my name in print.

Months passed and I realized this would be a difficult pregnancy. One member of my committee had gone MIA, another forgot all about Hemorrhoid and the committee chair put me on a diet that stretched my baby beyond anything I’d ever imagined. But again, I was excited. Thrilled even. How long is your typical pregnancy? Nine months? More specifically, 40 weeks? I could handle that.

Two years and some change later, I remained face up, legs spread as members of my committee used various instruments to pull, heave and even drag Hemorrhoid from my womb. A portion of Hemorrhoid’s bloody body was extricated in time for me to meet with The Big Man this week. The Big Man has the final say on all things thesis, and if he doesn’t like an aspect of your formatting – don’t come with a ‘…’ when you should come with a ‘. . . ‘—then it’s over. The two members of my committee and I hemmed and hawed over the measurement of page numbers at the bottom, the MIA member told me his middle intial on the signature page was incorrect, etc etc. Like all mothers in labor, I pushed and pushed and I pushed until it came out to the way it was supposed to be. I paid my $200 to have Hemorrhoid bound and copyrighted (a copy for me and a copy for the school) and I was on my way to the Big Man.

Well, what can I say about my meeting with The Big Man? A LOT, but I’ll keep it brief. The first thing he says is that my committee and I have been working off of an out of date checklist, which means that I didn’t have all the materials he needed and that my formatting was again, incorrect. And since said out of date checklist was created, the fees for the thesis have gone down, so in the amount I paid, I actually bought THREE copies of the thesis (Happy birthday, Mom) instead of my desired two. So I had to go back to work on my day off to do some hasty reformatting (took me six hours), switching to pdf, signing and faxing before I could send dear Hemorrhoid away.

But you know how they say never look back? Well I do, often. My dear pdf version of Hemorrhoid has blank pages in the file, a wrong completion date and page numbers with issues. I can’t make any corrections now, I just have to wait for the grad school to come back with their revisions and/or instructions for me to go straight to hell because Hemorrhoid is such a mess. It’s only fitting that everytime I turn on the radio, Cee Lo is screaming for me to … uh…. ‘forget’ everyone who has made my life a mess.


So I’ve been trying to listen to Cee Lo as I make mani/pedi plans for next week. World Tuberculosis Day is coming up and I hope to spend it with a tiara on my head, Hill Harper in my bed and Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’ in my soul. And no Hemorrhoid is getting in the way of that.


Photo from http://bp3.blogger.com/_-sB70EGpMqY/SE3bT3_tdsI/AAAAAAAAAMg/l8gspFcsML4/s400/thesis+draft.jpeg

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Firsts: To the Rock, the Alien & All the Pets I've Loved Before

I woke up the other day to a sneezing cat. He sneezed twice, then glared at me until I said ‘bless you.’ I did, then promptly fed and watered him. I stood there and watched till he told me I could go about my business. Days like this, I wonder how I reached this point in my life. Young Strength wasn’t always a slave to all things threatening and feline.

There was a time when I had a bit of a backbone, when I didn’t even care about furry creatures. And then there was another time when all I wanted was an animal – a dog, not a cat – but I was blocked at every turn by my animal-hating family. This isn’t a post about the guppies, the goldfish, and birds that all served as poor substitutes as a pet. No, this is about the pets they tried to pass of to me as pets. This is about the rock, and the alien in a jar.

The first time I approached Mom about a pet, I was a young little thing. We were living with my grandmom and my mom made all kinds of promises about how our lives would be different when she and Dad married and we'd move away. So I asked if I could have a dog. Her repsonse was to get me a pet rock. Yes, a rock. It even came in a carrying case and instructions on how to handle it. It was rather insulting, but I was enamored in a way that only a first grader can be. I gave my pet rock a bath. I took my pet rock to school for Show and Tell. I took my pet rock on walks. And then …. Well, I guess I lost interest in it (it never got a name). Either that or my cousin/nemesis found a way to break it/kill it (which is the way most things in my life went back then).

After the rock, there was the alien. I was a regular visitor to a nearby science geek store and after realizing Mom and Dad weren’t trying to get me a dog, or a chemistry set, I picked out a pet alien. Picture a can of chicken noodle soup. Now imagine pouring the soup out, putting a penny inside to make a noise and sealing the can again. And there you have my pet Alien in a Jar.

The instructions were simple. I had to keep it at room temperature, that was easy enough. For food, all I had to do was set it about 10 feet away from me and it would feed on my brain waves. There were two rules I needed to abide by – don’t shake the can too much (that would anger the alien) and never, ever, open the can (that would unleash an alien onto the earth!) . My last memory of that alien was my cousin/nemesis getting a hold of it and shaking it furiously as I chased him around the house, desperately trying to save my pet, and the universe. Perhaps that made the parentals worry about my psyche. Did I get a dog after that? Nope. Next came a tragic spiral of goldfish, guppies and parakeets.

About eight years ago, I was feeling the 'I'm Growns and decided to make some moves on what my life would be like with a dog. And after all that research, I opted for a cat instead. The animal and I have our ups and downs. I love him to death; he patiently tolerates me. I guess I owe my sanity to him, cuz I surely would've wound up in a straitjacket if I kept that pet Rock or Alien in a jar. I'm so glad things changed!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Sunday Spin ("You're born naked, and the rest is drag"**)

1. Spent the weekend working on my thesis AGAIN

2. At this point, I just want to throw it on somebody's doorstep and walk away

3. Thankfully, my fellow grad students got together for a potluck Saturday, and there was moral support everywhere

4. Many folks gave me pats on the back after our professor told everyone that I had finished a novel, and was almost done with the program

5. It was cool to have so many people come up to me, and ask me how I did it

6. I spent most of this rainy day on my couch, reading through a pile of books. I'm almost finished book 6, so I eagerly await the publication of "The Land of the Painted Caves."

7. Now I'm watching Celebrity Apprentice (Lil John is on this season, wtf?) and preparing for what I hope will be a wonderful work week

Have a good week everyone!

(**Tweet from RuPaul on March 3)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Letters from the Darker Populace (#4 Protect my femininity)


Dear Mr. President --


First off, bravo for rectifying the racism that existed at my company. Now that I wrote a letter to you, we have new vending machines that supply hearty amounts of Sprite. I thank you, Mr. Prez, and so do the two other black people who signed my petition.




But today, I'd like to talk to you about those two other black people. They're new, and they are what I call SWISS -- Sistahs Who are Into SisterS (I know that's a stretch, but I needed an acronym that made sense). That means they are black women who are related and they just so happen to be lesbians. Let me just say that I welcome diversity in the workplace, Barry. I was sad when they fired the black guy, when the Hispanic dude quit, and when the Asian woman shouted "Get me outta this damn place" and was never heard from again. In terms of the Darker Populace, I've been the last one standing here for sometime.




And now the SWISS folks have arrived. Initially, I felt a little threatened. I'd reached a point when I enjoyed the white folks' reactions to my hair and it's various changes. But then the universe shifted, I cut my dreads and was rocking a press n curl that had me looking like a 1960s civil rights worker. Wouldn't you know this would be the day that SWISS arrived, in their long dreadlocked glory. The white folks oohed and ahhhed and hovered around their desks as if they were on the auction block. I smiled and welcomed them, then hightailed it to the hairdresser and abandoned the straight look for some two-strand twists. You may find it petty, but a girl's gotta do what a girls gotta do.


Let me also say that I love both of the SWISS gals. We talk often, they're hilarious. But my MAJOR problem with them is that each and every day they dress like they are on the pages of Vogue, the runway or Young Black & Fabulous. I have a decent wardrobe for work, but nothing to the extravagance of theirs. By working with them, my femininity is under attack. The lipstick lesbians are making me look like a butch!


Here's where you come in Barry, ole buddy ole pal. If you could get my company to set up a special wardrobe budget for me, I do believe I'd be on the right track. That would allow me to go shopping at least once a week so I can wear the clothing I'm entitled to wear. Either that, or you'll just have to make SWISS go shopping with me. I'll await your response.


Best,

Strength
Photo from http://www.prwatch.org/files/images/lipstick.png

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Blogger's Soul



Recently I heard from a blogger that had disappeared from the scene for sometime. This was someone I had linked to, but after noticing the page hadn’t been updated for some months, I eliminated it from list of ‘Goodies’ that you see to the right. Thankfully, the blogger has returned and I’m offering a hearty ‘welcome back.’

This writer’s resurfacing on the blogosphere has caused me to peruse my blogging list a bit. It saddens me to learn that quite a few of my virtual peers have either eliminated their blogs, or not updated in so long that they might as well. I won’t mention any names, but I will say that I miss reading about their issues, whether it be paying off a car note, living frugally, balancing a fitness routine with motherhood , adventures in France, blurbs about Battlestar Galactica or any juicy tales they might want to share. (If any of this sounds familiar, I might be talking about you!)

Now, it is not my intention to criticize or embarass anyone, especially since it’s well known that I go through periods of blogger malaise. There have been times when the last thing I wanted to do was blog. There have been times where I’ve considered shutting the blog down completely. But, here are a few things that keep me blogging:

-Growth. I like to look back on some of my experiences and be thankful that I survived. And alot of my issues weren't that serious anyway.

-Outlet. Writing is a good target for my rage. Whether I’m writing on the blog or elsewhere, it is one thing that keeps me from killing someone.

-Discipline. Yes, I’ve had my absences from the blogosphere a time or two. But I’m glad to have great blogging friends who send me firm reminders when I haven’t posted in awhile.

-Humor. I’ve always wondered if there are other people out there aside from my mother who think I’m funny. Now I know that there are at least two of you. =)

-Anonymity. Some of you know me, but for those who don’t, I like to imagine I’m shielded behind an iron curtain that allows me to say whatever I want. That’s what I’d like to think anyway.

And for my absentee bloggers, please read this article and know that you are not alone. But you should also know that S/C/W is out here missing you.
Photo from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pzr1iQI3NTg/TVWmhXMpM5I/AAAAAAAAAL4/4hPiYknUcc0/s1600/chicken_soup.jpg

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Sunday Spin ('Whereever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine')**

1. It's been so long since I've written a Sunday Spin I've nearly forgotten how to do it

2. If I remember correctly, the purpose is to summarize my happenings in seven brief bullet points

3. And now that I've thrown away two items, I guess now I can mention what a nice relaxing weekend I had

4. I didn't have to work my second job, so that was a plus. I had dinner and drinks with a good friend.

5. We went to a pizza parlor we'd never heard of before and while the pizza was DELICIOUS, we suspect the waitresses were also part of a brothel.

6. But Bambi gave us free wine and free dessert, so who was gonna argue with that?

7. In my efforts to get back into a regular blogging routine, I realize how many blogging heads have done away with their blogs and that makes me sad. Be prepared for me to call you out soon in an upcoming post!

Have a great week everybody!

**Quote from Anthony J. D'Angelo, via Twitter

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hey, Mr (Computer) Man, there's something wrong with my line ....




(week 1)


Dear Dan The Computer Man:


I appreciate all the rearranging you've done to my work area and giving me a new computer monitor. With all the cutbacks at the company, I'm glad you were able to fit my technical needs into your additional tasks of custodian/payroll supervisor/carpenter. When I saw you leveling that desk the other day, you were less than pleased when I told you about my blank computer screen. Nevertheless, I'm glad you got to it.


That being said, you should know that I keep a variety of items at my desk as a source of inspiration. That Method Man picture you saw, taped to the bottom of my screen? Yeah, I'mmma need that back. There is nothing like a gorgeous, thuggish man staring at me with those possessed eyes, silently encouraging me to represent Wu. Yes, I know he wouldn't want me in all my natural glory, but let me have my fantasy. I'll patiently await my picture to be returned.




Best,


Strength




(week 2)


Dear Dan The Computer Man:


First off, I want to apologize for interrupting you while you were plunging that toilet. Apparently, the unisex bathroom isn't enough for us anymore. And poor you, having to fill in for Craig n dem who rolled out on the company earlier this month. I mean, he could've at least left a uniform behind for you to wear. You look so out of place in your suit and tie, fiercely wielding a plunger.


So it breaks my heart to have to share another computer problem with you. I'm not able to retrieve pertinent documents from my hard drive. Now, I can understand the confusion. When you saw a document saved as 'FUCK YA'LL', you probably thought it was nonsense. Actually, that 12-page document is my letter of resignation. Whenever the Powers That Be give me unneeded stress, I whip out this treaty and add to it. When I leave this company, I want them to know each and every reason for my departure. At least count, I reached reason #274. Please locate my document so I can add reasons #275-#312. Yes, it's been that kind of week. I'll wait for you to work your magic.




Peace and blessings,


Strength




(week 3)


Hey Dan:


Fine, I'll stop calling you at home. But what else am I supposed to do when you don't return my emails or work IMs? I know I scared you when I was sitting at your desk yesterday morning, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If you hadn't called security on me, I would've explained this.


Anyway, my latest computer problem is with my music. In the nearly six years I've been here, I've taken the time to load inspirational music onto my computer. But ever since you did your extreme makeover, I can't find any of my old tunes. I'm a woman who needs to be fed with copious amounts of Eminem/Jay-Z/Me'shell N'degeoHoweverYouSpellIt/Amel Larrieux. And I'm talking DAILY. If I seemed especially aggressive, that was because I didn't get my dose of 'Dead Nigga Boulevard' or 'Way I Am' or 'Kill You.' These are my lullabyes. Once the security guards let me go, I hope to return to a musical computer.


Thanks,


Strength




(week 4)


Hi Dan:


Fine, leave if you want to. You should know that the rumor mill is blazing with tales of your departure. Did you really just erupt when you learned that my latest computer monitor had failed me, and you'd have to get me another one? Did you really storm out of the building shrieking 'FUCK YA'LL!!'? If so, that's copyright infringement, and I hope my check is in the mail.


You'll be happy to know that your replacement is handling my needs. Leo is not disturbed by my bobbleheads, or my Avenging Unicorns. He also has the same musical interests as me. Just the other night at karaoke, we entertained the audience with our duet of 'Renegade.' He did Jay-Z's verses, and I did Eminem's. It was a great time. But I do believe I scared the audience when I jumped up on the table and shrieked 'What did I do (huh)/I'm just a kid from the gutter/makin this butter off these bloodsuckers/cuz I'm a muh'fuckin RENEGADE.' I can't begin to emphasize the sexiness of a man who is strong enough to carry his drunken/deranged colleague off the table, yet gentle enough to hand her another beer and tell her to get back on that stage. I do believe I'm in love.


Anyway, it was great working with you Dan. I heard that a going away party is being planned. Expect Leo and I to be there, carrying microphones and a karaoke machine.




Best wishes,


MC Strength



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poems for a Thursday


I once said I'd start reading more poetry. And now that I've started, I'm also sharing. I didn't write any of these, so follow the links to read the poems in their entirety.

In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were it bore not beauty's name:
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame

every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him


you get yours
and i'll get mine
if i learn
to sit and wait
you got yours
i want mine
and i'm gonna get it
cause i gotta get it
cause i need to get it
if i learn how

Is it my turn to hold you by your hands
Tell you I love you and you hear me
Is it my turn to totally understand
To watch you walk out of my life
And not do a damn thing

Monday, January 24, 2011

My First Wedding

There was a time when I was terribly young and terribly cute, which meant I wanted to be neither. My mother liked to put me in frilly dresses, despite the fact that I lived in an all boy environment, which meant that I needed to dig up worms and play with GIJoes in order to get any street cred. She fought as hard as she could, putting me in ballet, tap and even baton lessons, while I was content to sit in my Wranglers and watch Dukes of Hazzard with my cousins.

In one of these battles for girlishness, I became a flower girl. The Bride and Groom were were more like a surrogate aunt and uncle. She was a petite, perky professional cheerleader with gorgeous high cheekbones. He was a handsome weatherman and we all liked to brag that we knew him whenever he was on television. I wasn’t happy on their wedding day, because I was suffocating in layers and layers of flowers and frilly misery. The only thing I remember about the wedding was the Bride telling me I looked nice. When I frowned, she said “you might as well get used to it, because people are gonna tell you that all day.”

Fast forward many decades and mom and I moved away. I grew up and even though I was not a so-called Girly Girl, I was not the militant tomboy I once was. I decided to attend college in another state and dabble in journalism. I liked my first class, but I was concerned about my professor and the way I’d catch him eyeing me. Then he’d interrupt my class questions with inquiries of his own, like “where are you from, originally?” Eventually, he stopped me before class and revealed himself as The Weatherman aka The Groom that I’d known so many years before. He and The Bride were doing well, had two young boys and lived in a suburb near the college.

I transferred to another college, but The Groom and his family became active participants in my life. We both were involved in the same professional organization, and I’d see the Bride and Groom at various summer getaways that the organization hosted. And if I didn’t run into them, they were sure to find me. I was young and na├»ve back then, so I was grateful to have The Groom’s career advice and The Bride’s efforts to steer me away from the Dirty Old Men that tended to dwell at these affairs.

Life went on, and my pockets started to thin. I could no longer afford these getaways around the country, but I’d always drop a note to the Bride and Groom come summertime. There was an event in California that I couldn’t attend, and neither could they. The Groom explained that it was because the Bride had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatments. He mentioned this in his normal upbeat way and I said I’d keep them in my prayers.

That was the last time we spoke. The organization’s summer event seems like it could be in my financial future this year, so I looked forward to catching up to the Bride and Groom and their kids. I was on Facebook the other night and saw that an aunt seemed to be thinking about them as well and posted several 1980s era pictures of the happy couple. I clicked on a particularly stunning picture of The Bride, one where her cheekbones were at their finest, and saw several comments of “rest in peace” and “my deepest condolences.” Online investigator that I am, I learned that The Bride was undergoing brain surgery to remove tumors that were a result of the cancer when she suddenly died.

To say that I am sad about it would be the understatement of the year. But sometime soon I’ll get it together enough to send my own condolences and figure out the funeral arrangements. Then maybe, just maybe, I will go to the summertime getaway and remember the good ole days.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Don't Ask My Neighbor

I was going to the gym in the cover of darkness when I hear this whisper, “Strength, can I talk to you for a minute?” It was my buddy Jen, my exercise partner in crime. We talk all the time, but this time I was concerned about the cryptic nature of our conversation. Did she want to sell me drugs? If so, was she giving me a good deal? But then she pulled me aside and asked me if I was seeing anyone. Then she told me that someone at the gym is interested in me.



And this where I get into what is becoming a pet peeve of mine. If you are interested in me, could you let me know? Don’t leave notes on my desk and don’t send a third party. That was good and fine in high school, but that is a time I put behind me long ago. When I’m approached this way it makes me uncomfortable for a number of reasons, including the fact that I now have this third party involved in aspects of my life that I’d rather not put him/her.



At first, I thought Jen was sent just to test the waters, to see if I was in a relationship, and then this guy would approach me himself. But no. Jen identifed the guy to me, then asked for my number to pass it to him. Odd. And the guy in question is someone I’ve seen quite often at the gym and we’ve had several face to face conversations, so he is not a complete stranger. But no, I’m not interested. So now I have to find a polite way to tell Jen that I’m in a deep sleep having my little dreams, this guy's face is not the one that hovers above me even in my most absurd fantasies. And trust, dude is MUCH too old to be playing the he say/she say phone number game. The fact that he reminds me of my uncle doesn't help, especially since there's a possibility that he could even be a distant relative. I hemmed and I hawed, then I just told Jen something about how I'm just taking a break from men and therefore I'm not going to give him my phone number.

She said she understood and planned to pass that message on to him. And who do I see as I'm leaving the gym? Dude. We spoke and that was it. I told some folks about the situation and they said dude did that because I'm intimidating. Seriously? Interesting. Anyway, it made me think of this old school song. I hope you enjoy it!


Friday, January 14, 2011

The DNA Detective

Growing up I always looked forward to those times when Grandpop would visit. He always watched the Muppets with me and enjoyed playing with my pet parakeets. He often told me about the parakeet he once had – Pretty Boy – and how he was so well trained that he was allowed to roam freely around the house. His life was a mystery. I knew he was an amazing piano player, but I didn’t know why nobody in the family took up lessons from him. He and my grandma married and had five kids together, but I didn’t know why he lived on one end of town and he on another, and both had significant others.

Of course, kids can’t ask these kinds of things without being brushed off or being told to stop being grown. So I just relied on my instincts to piece things together. Grandma never cracked a smile when he was around. My mom treated him as politely as she would any guest. My aunts and uncle smirked whenever he told one of his stories. And then my older cousin – who often played the role of Evil Older Brother in my life – told me that no one liked Grandpop and that half of the stories he told were lies. I told him to shut up, which was pretty much all I had to say to him in those days.

Years went by and I saw Grandpop less and less. When I did see him, he was the same happy man, just smaller and older. It was easier to distinguish his tall tales from the truth. The whisperings among my mom’s siblings got louder. I concluded that Grandpop had a way with the ladies. He left a trail of broken hearts, and in some cases, he also left babies.

So, I wasn’t surprised when my aunt got a phone call alerting her to an adult brother who lives down south. She confronted Grandpop, who admitted this guy was his son. Then auntie noticed a picture of a young woman with our trademark nose. Grandpop reluctantly admitted that was her sister. She stormed off. Another cousin visited Grandpop and he was in full confession mode, with his version of the truth. From that, we learned that there is another daughter in the Midwest.

And now the plot thickens. There are three camps. Camp A is through with Grandpa and his rollin’ stone ways. Camp B doesn’t see how this is different from anything else he’s done and learning about these other siblings doesn’t take them by surprise. And then there’s me and the next generation who are in Camp C. We’d like to know how many other children there are, their ages (new uncle is only four years older than me) and their current location. I’m tempted to go over to Grandpop’s with a map and have him tell me all the places he visited. I will dispatch all of my cousins to each location and have them be on the lookout for anyone who could be family. I’m trying to prevent incest before it happens. That is not a good look for the 21st century.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

She's Baaaack


I mentioned before how I’d been avoiding my good friend “Sheila”, because all of our outings tend to revolve around me sitting in on various kid-friendly events. Yes it may sound cruel from the outside, but picture yourself as a single, 30 something eager to spend time with a friend who only invites you to Chuck E Cheese and kindergarten singalongs. This was not a good look for me in the 21st century.

While I didn’t let go of our friendship, but I scaled it back to ‘see as needed’ levels. I must admit, the last time we hung out, she made every attempt to make things adult. We decided to go to dinner, so she picked me up. Somehow, our plans evolved into going to a restaurant where her friend was having a “party.” It was in this restaurant’s tiny room where I endured 67 minutes of the most boring, foodless pyramid scheme I had ever endured. My stomach growled so loud that it sounded like a cell phone with a dying battery. When they finally unveiled the food, it was a bunch of teeny-tiny appetizers, not even enough to feed everyone who gathered there. I remember leaving there a bitter, hungry wretch, then racing home to eat everything in sight.

Sheila and I exchanged a few halfhearted emails and texts after that. I’ve been keeping up with her from a distance. Her older child – the attitudinal daughter – has gone off to college. Her younger son – my road dog, who has the best dimples I’ve ever seen – is in all sorts of activities and is often on the honor roll. And this week I had the pleasure of receiving a message from her, inviting me to her birthday party next month. I hope her definition of “party” has changed since the last time we hung out. **FINGERS CROSSED**
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