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

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.


Photo from