Wednesday, October 17, 2012

2 Squirrels tried to jack me

Seriously, I wasn't even trying to be all Jim Jarmusch with the title of this post - 2 squirrels tried to jack me, in Crotona Park today while I tried to eat pizza while pondering the direction of my life.

There I was, minding my business, already accepting the fact that Monday's car collision totaled my car, feeling the aches in my body, hoping the -ish don't get worse, thinking about the fact that I have to start buying MetroCards again and learning bus and train schedules, calculating the additional time it would take for me to complete those joyful ten-minute drives and the possibility of paying for taxi service on occasion...and then smiling - like crazy people in a park sometimes do - because, even though I didn't want to, even after I just spent hundreds of dollars on the car for some "minor" repairs, even though I know I am going to have to lay Kyle Reece to rest (that was the name of my car... note to self: name your car after characters who live, bump bravery and saving Sarah Connor!)... even though all this shit is happening right now... I don't know... I mean, I'm alive. My son is alive. My credit score is going down for the firs time in 10 years, but I'm alive. And that made me even happier than I was before the accident.

So I decided to walk across the Bronx - not exaggerating - and try to figure out if I was crazy for being so happy... did I actually die like all those people in Lost, did I accidentally inhale something that messed with the chemicals in my brain, what? Because I was walking- no, "almost" strutting like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, taking deep breaths, looking around... dude, I was even walking slow and not at that normal New York Hustle pace. I think I finally let the man go in my heart, I'm thinking about vanilla candles, Grandma (that thought actually made me almost cry), the fact that my mom actually showed up... just feeling overwhelmed and relived at the same time. I don't know what that is.

And so I decided, since I was walking in the path of my son's school, that I would buy a pizza, surprise him, and we could sit in the part together and eat it and enjoy the nice Fall season weather. Well, what had happened was, I got to the park, which is across the street from the school, about 10 minutes early. I start on slice number one (these are small slices, and I haven't eaten since Monday). Then I get into slice 2, and I hear this weird like twitching noise, now I know "twitching" is an action and not a noise, but this bold, crazy, probably rabies-filled squirrel was twitching, and I heard him (and before I even saw him). It was like the Jaws music (you know Roy Schieder heard the music too). So I'm thinking to myself, 'don't make any sudden moves because you don't know where this thing that is making the noise is, but don't be a punk either and sit there in broad daylight, near a street full of traffic, and get got by no damn squirrel either!

I turn my head to the left. No squirrel. I turn it to the right. No squirrel. I look straight ahead, but the park bench is blocking, so I raise up a bit, and there he is. And as soon as he sees that I see him seeing me, unlike a roach who scatters when the lights come on, this joker hopped up onto the bench where I was sitting and was literally eyeballing my box of pizza!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I said (yes, out loud), "Oh hell no. I know you not trying to get at my pizza." And what does the little bugger do? He comes at me. I couldn't believe it. So now, I gotta fight a squirrel, but I'm thinking no one in a passenger car or truck driving by is going to see me fighting a squirrel. They're going to see a women fighting a park bench. And I am too young to be that woman just yet. So I think fast. I think sharp tone, loud noise, hit the bench. He stops, but he doesn't run back, and that's when I do the Bruce Lee head tilt. I start stomping, and hitting the bench, and yelling, yes, at a damn squirrel.

Then I noticed people starting to walk by, so I decided to move to a different park bench that was further from the tree and closer to the street. I relax. I'm finishing up that second slice of pizza. Then I hear the twitching again, but I see my old nemisis still on the park bench, but this time the twitching is closer. Another damn squirrel is rushing me! For my pizza!

And at that point I didn't care who heard or saw me. I yelled at the squirrels. If I had something to throw at them I would have. I couldn't believe they would disrespect me by trying to take my pizza. And then I came back down to Earth and conceded use of the park bench to them. I didn't want to explain to cops that the squirrels were trying to get me. So I picked up my pizza box, and left. Quickly!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Hard Truth about Self Reflection

Mirror Mirror on the wall, WTF is my problem?

We all have those moments in life when we're forced to stop and look in the mirror. Really look in the mirror, and I have to say from experience, I'm not always liking what I see. AND maybe something that I saw 10 years ago, isn't as attractive now which is in the top 5 of ultimate mind fucks if you ask me.

One of the hardest things I've found in my latest journey, is looking at myself and being open enough with myself to say 'that ain't cute. Change that now please.' I've been doing that a lot lately, and while it can sometimes be so painful to endure - giving yourself an overdue ass whooping - I will say, I think, I hope, that all of this painful self reflection is for the better, I mean it has to be, right?

I won't go into my entire laundry list of things, but one of the things I know I have to work on (and I think I've made a lot of strides with even in just the past 2 weeks) is that I am way too hard, on myself and other people. I think there are a lot of instances where I lack the patience. With myself I'm used to "oh, you want me to do something... ok, I'll get right on it" and I do, get right on it. Why? Because I said I would. Why? Because I don't want to go back on my word. Even when I have 20 million other things on my 'to do' list? Yes. But why? Because I'm fucking nutcase!

And that's a pleasant self-dialogue.

With other people, it's pretty much the same thing but with a twist, and I've found that because other people aren't as insane as I am - you know, dropping what they're doing to do something else, because why would someone want to finish one thing before starting something else? I've found that I am more apt to not trust the word of another person because they are not as willing to drive themselves insane like I am. Like I was.

Man, I'm so chill about some things now you'd think I was high, and I have never smoked a blunt in my life (true story...would you believe I told someone that and they didn't believe me? It's funny), but trust, it is/ was not an easy destination to reach. I equate it to the childbirth journey...4 days of labor pains, 11 hours on the epidural...a room full of medical students...nurses who want to tell me to lay down when I want to sit up (and I do)...a pain in a nether region that is so great that there honestly are no words to describe (unless feeling link a dragon is trying to escape the bowels of hell through your entire middle region is sufficient)...pushing that little bugger out because he's taking too long... and then passing out... that's why this period of self-reflection has felt like. And that was the PG version.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It all starts with Mufasa

I had a little talk with my son today when he mentioned that my hair - which I'm now wearing in a blow out because the -ish tangles too damn much - looks like Mufasa's. Then we proceeded to talk about how in the animal kingdom, the lion with the beautiful mane and the bird with the prettiest colors are always the male. My son asked me why. I said 'because the male has to work hard and do whatever he can to attract the female' and if those words didn't hit me as they left my mouth, I don't know what did.

The man has to work to get the woman. He has to dance, and sing sweet songs, and do a sexy dance (not no damn grinding) to get the woman.

"Why" my son asked?
"To make up for the fact that we're the one's who go through child birth" was my response.
"But we're in the animal kingdom too" he said.
"You are correct" I responded.

By on the real, it hit me in the simplest way. The male species wants to be able to say that he beat out the other males to get the female. If there was no competition between males, I seriously think they would be happy sitting around and scratching their balls all day, but let another male, with his own set of balls come along, and what are they going to do?: Compare who can scratch their own balls the fastest?

I'm going off track here, but I've decided to look at this dating thing from the female bird, lion, deer, goat, and sloth (yes, I saw a show the other day where two male sloths fought for the attention and affection of one female sloth - I done seen it all): I'm going to just be me, a woman, and if there is a man who catches my attention, he'll get a signal to get to work!

A Voice, the Memories

Today was one of those days where I hadn't plan to do much. I'd spent the better part of the past few days designing a project for a film festival. I'd also finished a short film script and felt creativity in everything that I was doing. I felt good about the work that I'd put in on myself and projects I'd committed to (even though I didn't make any money).

I went food shopping with my mom and the strangest thing happened today. I was standing by the orange juice waiting as my mom browsed the frozen food section and the strangest thing happened. A woman spoke to another woman who was either her daughter or granddaughter. I don't even remember what she said, all I know is that she sounded exactly like my Grandmother Ida.

My Grandmother was the second to last child in a family of nine children. Born and raised in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, my grandmother is what I would call a spitfire. Being the second and youngest daughter, I'm sure there was a lot of fighting for attention in such a large family, including the pain of losing her mother at the age of three. We in the family talked about it over the years, and we believe she never got over that loss. And with her being sort of the black sheep of the gang, with a super-strict hard nosed father, an eventual step mother who did not like her, and abusive siblings - my Grandma definitely grew up feeling like it was her against the world (and trust me, I know all about growing up in a large family and feeling like a black sheep).

My Grandma had four children - three boys and one girl (my mom). All by different men. Never married any of them. The interesting thing is, from what I'm told, my Grandma had one of those 'deal with it or get the fuck out of my home' attitudes when it came to men, which makes me laugh when I think about how I wish I had a tenth of that attitude. According to her children she wasn't the most outwardly affectionate of people with them, but they all agreed that Grandma worked, took care of them, made sure the bills were paid, and knew how to party as well. I've seen photos of my Grandma when she was a young woman. Wow. She just had IT. And I could see how men would follow behind her no matter how much she'd curse them out, lolololol!

Anyway, I was actually the second of all of my Grandmother's children. My older cousin - whom I've never met to this day - wasn't so much in their lives after my uncle and his ex broke up. It's no excuse, but who am I to judge I suppose.

Growing up, I often had a hard time determining whether I was loved by family, except from my Grandma. She didn't baby me, she loved me. My Grandma is the only person, other than my son, I knew whose love I never had to wonder about. When I talk about how my Grandma loved me vs. how my mom and her siblings felt growing up, I wonder if all the expression of love that she didn't show to her own children, were bestowed upon me, my siblings, and my cousins.

My Grandma was around for most of my childhood before she moved to Colorado to live with my uncle and his family. She eventually came back to NY long before she passed away.

My Grandma had a lot of demons and anger, and as I got older I could feel her demons draining the life out of me at times, and this is one of the reasons why I'd kept my distance and my pregnancy from her. When I found out I was pregnant I literally lost my mind. I was a barely functioning zombie, and while I will forever feel guilty for staying away during my pregnancy, I also understand that it was for self-preservation in order to get through such a difficult time in my life. Although in retrospect, I wonder if I had gone to her would I have gotten the support I needed. I know I would have, but I also know I was so out of my mind (and sick) during that time, that I wouldn't have been able to accept comfort from her in the first place. It is one of few things that I continue to wonder about and the answer is always different (like trying to figure out the end of Inception, we always go back and forth about what the ending really means).

My Grandma died, alone, nude (she appeared to be changing her clothes), in the basement room she rented in a private house in the Bronx. It was estimated that this occurred August 20, 2002. We found her two days later. I remember looking at her, laying on the floor, and wondering what her last thoughts were before she passed. It had to be sudden because of the surprised look on her face and the fact that she appeared to be in motion of getting dressed. I hope she didn't suffer. I hope it was quick. It still devastates me to this very moment that I couldn't be there to comfort her. I still try not to be mad at God about that.

There's a book and a half worth of things that I could write about my Grandma, but of all of the things that happened during those last years of her life. I am beyond grateful that my Grandma met and knew my son. And she loved him. My mom told me she was so hurt when she found out I had a baby, and the punk in me is grateful for not seeing the look on her face when she found out, but I am so glad that God gave me the change to witness my Grandma and son together. I have a photo of them together, and the look on my son's face epitomizes how I feel about my Grandma.  And that's why when I heard that woman's voice in the supermarket today, I broke down and cried, right in front of the orange juice section, with strangers looking at me like I'd lost my mind. And interestingly, I was so grateful that my mom was there because I know she knew.
(Grandma & Elijah)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Blow out look

I don't blow out my 'do often, but in the midst of going through some trying times I wanted a different look. I achieved this look  by washing and conditioning (I don't recall deep conditioning. I was thinking at the time that I wouldn't keep this look for more than 3 days max), blow drying with a comb attachment, and flat ironing on medium heat in pretty large sections.

Here's a recap of my journey from May 2010-2011:

And here's the recent blow out.

Side note: my skin is looking really good and you wouldn't believe what did it - niacin, aspirin and water. Stay tuned for a post on that adventure!

Back to the hair: Well, I liked the look. And I kept it for more than a week. With the change in weather, I may opt to wear a blow out look more often this winter because I am having a hell of a time keeping my 'do moisturized (even worse than the summer time).

For now I will continue to wear 'do like this top bun (or my triple bun since my hair is so thick) - it's not a blow out, but a stretched dry method simply because it takes days for my thick hair to air dry.

Side note: I started using Black Castor Oil, and I feel like it actually dries my hair out.

I would give it away if I wasn't so afraid of subjecting someone to the results I've experienced. I will be going back to my regular castor oil as soon as possible.

The 'Do-Over' Do-Over

It has been a rough road lately - even more so than usual - because I did not realize my confidence was shot until I damn near bled out from the pain.

Let me explain.

As many other people have or are experiencing, I worked in a very toxic environment for over 5 1/2  years. It would get to me at times, but I put a lot of effort into leaving the drama at the door once I left the building, so that I could put on my mommy hat and give my son all that he needed of me without the stress at the office invading our safe space at home. Before getting this last assignment, I'd done some long-term temp work at only 3 different companies over the coarse of a little over a year. Each assignment that I received was always extended because I was such a good worker. I would always get the compliment of surprise that I would get so much work done (and here I was thinking that a temp's objective was to do work, but what do I know). And it was great - set hours, set pay, and also the freedom to not get entangled in office politics. There was a time when I actually did not want a permanent gig because I felt so free just being able to come in, do my work, and leave.

The last assignment, which lasted 5 years and 7 months, was a roller coaster ride. I landed a spot at a very prestigious company with a long history and reputation in this country. It really was time and chance that landed me that spot. It was nearing the holidays, I'd been out of work for a couple of months, and I was running out of money. I also went against my fear of working in Manhattan again (after a horrible personal and work experience I started having anxiety attacks and realized that staying away from Manhattan was necessary in my recovery). With this latest gig I figured the commute was a straight ride, no transferring; if I get on the express train I'll be get to the office in a half hour (which was 15 minutes shorter than my longest commute to White Plains in heavy traffic), so I thought 'ok, I can do this 6-week assignment and then get the heck outta Dodge!'

It's interesting. I knew, the first day, the first couple of hours at this place, that it was not a place that I would be able to commit to without falling back into depression, anxiety, migraines, and resentment. I knew this within 2 hours of arriving at that office. But I stuck with it, for the money, the easy commute, the set hours (which was something I had to fight for even there - apparently they don't read contracts that they sign), and the work. The work fed my penchant for project management - taking a bunch of moving parts and bringing everything together. The work, even when it was crazy, was not difficult because I was in my lane. The problem came with the personalities - including my own.

I care about what I do. If my hands touch something, I take this weird kind of ownership for it. I feel responsible for seeing it to completion, and while that sounds great on paper, in practice that kind of behavior threatens egos. And my responsibilities grew, because people trusted me (and seemed relieved to have someone they could trust), but that threatened egos. My interpersonal connections with people - whether they were working for me or me them (I like to say that I work "WITH" people), it threatened egos. My ability to fix things when one part of the machine didn't do their part, assure the moving parts who were inconvenienced, and ask how the family is doing at the same time threatened egos. My popularity - from just doing my work, and being respectful and understanding, but by no means a pushover - threatened egos. Compliments from people from the basement to the top floor, from a VP to a Security Guard, from a business partner to a service provider threatened egos. And what happened when an ego is threatened? Like a cornered rat, the threatened strikes out.

In the beginning, it would happen every once in a while. After feeling like I'd gone to trial and then proven innocent again and again, the outbursts from those bruised egos would brush everything under the rug. Then came blatant rudeness, which I would address directly with the offending party in private, because I get it - sometimes things get overwhelming and you snap at the wrong people. Then came the constant rudeness, and with an audience. And that, my friends, is where I draw the line. That is when the money doesn't matter when you're getting migraines everyday from trying to decide if you're going to stand there and take it or stand up for yourself because, at the end of the day, your assignment is to do the work. Not to walk into battle everyday against a soldier who's supposed to be in the same regiment as me.

I kept a log while continuing to politely stand up for myself. Oftentimes I wondered if I was being pushed to react in a reality-show-black-girl sorta way. I refused to do that. I thought being professional would work. I was wrong. I knew the end was coming and I attributed it to us outgrowing each other, and after an incident that shocked everyone who witnessed or heard about it -and, if I were a permanent employee, I could sue for - I stated that I would not accept that kind of treatment anymore. This time I made sure everyone on the floor who heard me get screamed at while on a conference call heard this as well, and even then I was quite nice about it considering the circumstances (I consider not dropping any f-bombs or threats as being nice). I submitted a written complaint, which was the cherry on top of several incidents that I had 'discussed' with HR over the years. A week later, after I'd left the office for the day and went shopping, I was informed that I was not to return. And then I returned my purchases from Sephora!

I didn't have much time to really absorb the enormity of what was happening because I was immediately pulled into several directions offering support to two important people who were going through health problems. After spending half of my summer concentrating on other people - and not 'feeling' the emotional effects of the loss of my job - I was feeling ok. I was busy, I readjusted my budget, I was approved to receive unemployment benefits. Even though I'm tired of it, struggle wasn't new to me. I decided to finally embark on the mission of business ownership, I was looking into taking classes - I really saw this as an opportunity to enhance my life. And then my son started his second year of middle school and my mood plummeted.

The phone stopped ringing to go to another doctor's appointment with someone. Friends were busy with their lives. My son was busy with the new school year. Finally, for the first time since this whole ordeal started, I felt alone and unwanted. And I struggled with that - still do to some extent.

I am so used to being of service to others that even when I crave affection and support, I always find a way to suppress that need until it overflows and I explode. After my breakdowns, the tank would be empty and then I would fill it back up with denial and distraction. This time I reached out, to someone I loved. To someone I was there for during a very scary time. The minute I displayed my vulnerability, the moment I said "I need you," he shut down. And that broke my heart.

That's when you start going through your sales receipts, reviewing all the money you spent at Target without even realizing it.

  • $45 for driving to and from another state 2 times a week. 
  • $30 for sitting in a doctor's waiting room watching The Chew. 
  • $50 for driving around with no real purpose. 
  • $62.50 for walking through the mall behind him while he hardly says anything. 
  • $85 for giving and knowing you're not receiving when he says "I'm done." 
  • $100 from driving across a bridge despite being so exhausted that you could fall asleep at the wheel.

Sometimes we spend money, thinking we're investing in something. That's how I do, because I would prefer to go without something that I might want than part with my hard earned dollars. I would prefer to keep my purse closed than find out that when I hand over my dollar to someone, they wipe their ass with it instead of folding it up neatly and putting it in a safe place.

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling like you've been used. But I supposed in reality we all do it. I use people to listen to me or to lift my mood when I'm down and vice versa. Key words: vice versa. It must go both ways. When I give - whether it be to my job or a man - I have to feel like I am getting something in return. In the case of my circumstances, it's respect and affection. And when I don't get it I feel more broken than Humpty Dumpty who keeps getting put together with cheap glue from the dollar store, only to fall apart once the glue has dried.

So the question is, do I go back into some very familiar caves, lick my wounds and not come out for another seven years (in looking at my history, I noticed a pattern - it seems to take me 7 years to get over a broken heart)? Do I continue to not trust the word of an HR director (I didn't in the first place, which goes to show that I was done with that situation before it was officially over). Or do I listen to my son who gave me a hug yesterday and said "I know you're sad. I know there are things that are holding you down and I know it's hard, but you have to let those things go, even though you it hurts." My eleven year old told me that. And so I struggle with it. Up one minute and down the next. Knowing where my heart should be but fully aware of where it is right now. Knowing that real resolution is change. And knowing that I can only control my actions and not the actions of others. I don't know what's going to happen, and I wish I could pretend to be in pep-rally mode with this latest do-over, but I'm going to do it anyway, because I have to.