Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

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Tat-Tat-Tatted Up

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I got the tattoos. Let’s fill you in on the rest.

I still don’t have the armoire. I took the GMAT just in time to get my scores for the application deadline to an MBA program. And I still haven’t found time to paint those Adinkra symbols on the wall.

Back to the tattoos. I had plans to go with my mom to get it done when she picked me up from the airport. Then my flight was delayed. Then both parents came to get me.

My father was unaware I was planning on getting a tattoo that day. But they drove me to the shop and dropped me off. They had no interest in joining me inside. I was there for a little over an hour, having lost my spot due to the late plane. To get my tattoos took just upwards of 10 minutes total.

When I got back in the car, the first thing my parents did was draw my attention to a woman leaving the shop after me. She had lilac hair and was heavily tattooed. “Now she looks like someone that should be coming out of a tattoo shop. But my daughter?!

My father sounded as melodramatic yet judgy yet humorous as only a member of my immediate family could. I thanked them for taking me to the shop and we moved on with our day.

I really had a wonderful visit to Chicago. I spent time with my parents and almost all of my close friends in the city. I even got to see Chris’s parents, which was great.

My parents’ new house is fantastic. I can’t wait to go back next week. We’ll be there for just a few days. It’s Chris’s birthday and he’s doing a live recording at the Green Mill Jazz club for his second CD. I’m very excited because his music is so good!

He’s playing 2 nights there. Friday, July 10th & Saturday, July 11th, 9p-1a, three sets. Right now the plan is to play the songs he wants on the CD for the first and second sets of each night. That way he’ll end up with four recordings of each song.

While we’re there, the timing works out for me to celebrate my best friend’s birthday with her. And another good friend is moving away from Chicago, so I will be there for her going away party. And my parents are considering throwing a retirement/housewarming/birthday party. So there will be a lot happening.

Also, I’m planning on getting two more tattoos when I go, as long as my tattoo guy is available. One of them is going to be part of Chris’s birthday present. He recently told me that he wanted me to get his name tattooed somewhere. I had no idea that would be something I wanted, so I thought about it. After I explained there was no way I was ever going to do that, I told him that I could get a tattoo for him though.

My three tattoos are all symbols that reflect very deeply who I feel I am as a person. I wanted the tattoo I get for Chris to be a symbol with the same depth of meaning, but it also has to represent him, and his blackness, and his love, and who he is (musician, husband, friend, son, brother, etc.).

I think I came up with the perfect thing, but I won’t mention it yet because I want it to be a surprise to him. I can’t wait to show his what it is though!

The second tattoo is going to be an ivy vine wrapping around my left arm. This is another symbol that means the almost the same thing in every culture, like the olive branch, the wisdom knot, and the Libra scales. It’s for interconnectedness & fidelity. The plant itself will grow and wrap around everything, but even as its leave ascend a tree, it only uses the tree for an anchor to get closer to the sun, not robbing it of resources.

My tolerance for pain hasn’t increased any, but dealing with the pain of getting three tattoos on my bony fingers lets me know I can handle it.

Cross your fingers for me that my tattoo guy is available next week!

Going to Grad School Instead of Buying an Armoire

I talked a few posts ago about painting, or rather not painting, my home. I realized I forgot to mention that I had some some painting. Not room painting, but wall painting.

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That’s one of the walls in our bedroom. I took one of my 30th birthday gifts from Chris (the butterfly wall hanging), and combined it with a long bit of sheer curtain. Then I painted this little curlicues design and another butterfly on the wall. It was just a little project for me to do one day to have something on the wall. I did something similar in the living room, but with shelves.

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I thought it was a nice way to accent the portion of our walls that juts out from the rest of the length. I also have put all over our walls a ton of art & street art that we’ve acquired over the years with our travels. Hopefully at some point, I’ll remember to take pictures of it to share.

Occasionally, the mood strikes me to decorate or add to the home in some way. In lieu of purchasing the fancy expensive armoire of my dreams (with all its multitasking home organizing goodness), I add crap to the walls. This time that crap comes in the form of Adinkra symbols.

Around the same time I got the desire to decorate my house, I got the idea to decorate my body.

In case you missed that, I’m considering getting another tattoo. My best friend told me when she went with me to get it that I would want another one. At the time, I thought she was likely speaking from experience, but that experience wouldn’t apply to me.

The tattoo felt exactly to me like dragging a piece of broken glass across the top of my foot. Except on purpose instead of accidentally. And I have just realized I never told this story.

So, the plan was to get the tattoo on a visit to Chicago for my best friend’s 30th birthday. We did a good job of crossing lots of items off the bucket list that weekend. I was so nervous about the pain, but I was determined to go through with it.

It just so happened that right before this trip, I was chatting on the phone with one of my girlfriends, and I stepped on what I thought was a cookie crumb (stupid Chips Ahoy). I dragged the bottom of my right foot across the top of my left foot to brush the crumb away.

It was not a crumb.

It was a tiny piece of broken glass from one of the many times Chris or I have broken something in the house (we’re both so damn clumsy). And it hurt so bad. And this tiny little shallow ass cut wouldn’t stop bleeding.

After explaining to my friend that my blood curdling scream did not, in fact, mean I was dead, I grabbed alcohol and alternated between bitching up and properly cleaning my wound.

I still have that stupid scar. And I sweep the house more frequently now. Kind of. Mostly. I also use my hands to brush away suspicious debris.

After that debacle, I arrived to the tattoo parlor fearing a similar pain. Just like I have to explain to doctors and nurses and phlebotomists, I told the tattoo man that I needed to watch him do the tattoo. Looking away would only make it worse for me. He relented and started, even though I was barely breathing and leaning as far away from him as the length of my arm would allow.

When he started my tattoo, it obviously hurt like hell. I chose my bony finger right on the bone. But it didn’t hurt like I thought it would. I thought it would be some vague level of unbearable.

But instead, it was a more dragging-glass-accidentally-across-your-foot-but-on-purpose level. I was so thrilled in that moment to have a permanent scar to accompany my new tattoo. When my best friend’s boyfriend joked that I should be crying by now based on my punkitude up to this point, I was happy to give him the middle finger, then turn back to watch the World Cup Finals. Yeah, I was handling it at this point. Feeling so used to the glass-dragging feeling that I could enjoy some sports on the huge TV in the tattoo spot.

Even after all of that, and being quite sure that day that I’d never want another tattoo, it turns out she was right.

But I’m sticking with what I know. I’m getting 2 more tattoos, both on fingers, both on fingers I always wear rings on, both of symbols of who I am that I don’t think will ever change.

So now we come full circle back to the Adinkra symbols. I’ve loved them ever since I saw them in an African-American History Museum in college. Back then, I thought that’s what my first tattoo would be of.

Each symbol stands for so much, and ultimately I decided that what if my devotion to one particular symbol changed over time. I know some people use tattoos to tell stories of their life, with each one representing a different stage, but I’m not interested in that (as of now). I just want something I can look at in 30 years and still feel happy about it representing me.

Plus, my hands already look old, so I know what the tattoos will look like all raisin-y. I rolled around the idea of a few symbols, starting with what I was considering 12 years ago.

But size limitations, plus disagreements with the meanings of some of the symbols cut the list way down. I ultimately decided on:

image via adinkra.org

This symbol is called nyansapo. It means wisdom, intelligence, and a bunch of other wonderful things. I’ve had a gift of brainpower and discernment since a young age and pending any brain injuries or disease, it will be a part of who I am. It’s such an integral part of who I am that I was floored when I first met Chris and he thought of me as “the pretty girl” rather than “the smart girl”.

 

This symbol is the olive branch. It is a religious symbol for many Western religions that gained strength in the Mediterranean. It was one of Athena’s symbols in Greek mythology. It is a symbol of peace and victory, brides and bounty, God connecting people of different backgrounds (tree grafting in the book of Romans, one of my favorite books of the Bible), and God’s covenant with his people (Noah after the whole 40 days 40 nights flood). All around it’s pretty awesome.

The picture above is the simplest image I could find. I’m thinking of getting it tattooed around my finger, but there may still be size concerns. I may have to go back to the drawing board.

When I go to Chicago in 11 days (yes, I’m counting), I plan to get these two additional tattoos. I’m very glad the ticket prices were on point. I’m also considering dyeing my hair. My best friend just got a new apartment, and it would feel so throwback to go there and do my hair. We spent many a Thursday night during college doing each other’s hair.

Personal changes aside, let’s get back to the paint I’m going to add to the walls of our home. So many of the symbols have such a wonderful meaning, that I would love to see them on our walls, hand painted as representations of the guiding principles of our marriage and adult life.

Symbols like odo nnyew fie kwan, which translates to love never loses its way home. Seeing as how we both travel so much (and travel separately), I love this one for right above our home’s entrance.

And there’s akoma ntoso, which mans understanding and agreement. That one should be in every room of the house so I can look at it and stay on task when we’re having one of our many heart-to-hearts.

I also like nsaa, which represent excellence, genuineness, and authenticity. I think that’s perfect for the music room. Having that energy when Chris is in there working sounds good to me.

There are so many others, but I’m going to run them by Chris before picking up the paint brush. I want to make sure they represent what we want, not just what I want.

I’m not sure what’s causing all of this “I simply must be me!!” that’s taking over me these days, but I’m gong with it. I’m having fun with this inching closer and closer to the person I’m supposed to be.

I was always just me, without a lot of expression of me. I spent a lot of time doing things, thinking about doing things, and thinking about what I thought about the things I did. I planned, I remembered, and I thought about those plans and memories. But putting real time into just answering “who am I?” is new.

I’m finally becoming a true millennial, I guess. I’m feeling moderately narcissistic, feeling the need to try to make the world pay attention to my self-expression. Maybe that’s not accurate, I don’t know. I just know that instead of thinking too much about it, I’m trying to focus on how good I feel.

Feeling good like this makes me want to plan for the future. I’m putting myself on a plan to get out from under my student loans in 10 years. This answers the question of whether I’m staying at this job. The answer is yes. And it answers the question of whether I’m going to grad school, and so now I’m hitting the ground running to try and get my crap together to make the application deadline.

That may adjust the timeline on us buying a place in the near-ish future. Hopefully it doesn’t, but we shall see.

Weird how I can all of this just from trying avoid spending $500 on an armoire, isn’t it?

The Whole Reason We Moved to New York

You wanna know what I did Tuesday? If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you already know what I did Tuesday. But for everyone else, I’ll tell you what I did.

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival. This is such an NYC event. Wikipedia tells me (and no one has corrected it) that this Festival was started after 9/11 with the goal of economically reviving downtown. In the years since, they have, of course grown.

This is the corner of the building where the event was held. I was so excited, I looked it up on Google Maps to make sure I had the right entrance. Image from Wikipedia.org

 

This year, they put together an amazing evening in honor of Frank Sinatra, who’s 100th birthday would’ve been this year. There was a movie, of course. Following the movie, there was a concert consisting of singing, tap dancing, and a big band. My husband Chris (along with our friends Corey and Noah) got called to play in the big band, so of course I wanted to go.

I was able to get a ticket, and I was very happy to be all, “I’m with the band.”

Since it was a Tuesday, I had to put in for PTO for a few hours at the end of my shift. I didn’t have time to go home and change, so I got ready at work. So of course, this particular Tuesday, everyone from the CEO to multiple department directors were still there past 5:30pm.

Luckily, no one thought too much of me switching to a floor length gown, pinning up my hair, and strapping on high heels. The people in my office even helped me decide between two pairs of shoes. I hopped in a cab and headed to the Festival.

The movie they showed was On the Town. It’s a musical, adapted from Broadway, and it’s adorable. Chris sat with me for the first half of the movie before he had to go backstage to get ready for the concert.

I switched into critic mode, which is what I call it when I’m half taking notes for possible future gigs of Chris’s and noting what worked and what didn’t work about the event.

During the  movie, I noticed the higher sounds (the treble) were a bit too bright. One of the characters in the movie, who simple has to be related to Heather Matarazzo, had a voice higher than the other women. She sounded so shrill during the film, and there’s no way she actually sounded like that. So I was suspicious of the sound man, and wondering why he didn’t notice and fix this issue.

It was still an issue when the band was playing. As a result, I couldn’t hear above middle C on the piano well, the bass sounded clearer than the guitar, and the trombone clearer than the saxophone.

Good thing the musicians were all so amazing that the band still sounded great.

There was also a cameraman who I believe was queuing up the multimedia videos and whatnot accompanying the concert. And he was loud, like super loud. Halfway through the second song, I was chuckling along as each queue was either mis-timed or drew the attention of everyone further back than row M.

But what was amazing was the other cameramen. They didn’t miss a beat There were two large screens on either side of the stage on which showed video of what was happening on the stage. It looked like clips from a documentary or made-for-TV concert.

It turns out they were recording to make some sort of movie/video out of the event. I heard someone say they expected to see a turnaround of only 3 weeks on the first draft. I hope whatever they make is available to the public because I’d love to see that.

As much as I was fussing about the sound mixing, I sort of understood why they did it when I watched my video back. I thought both Ne-Yo and Brandon Flowers sounded so good in my videos. But then Chris said he thought they sounded better live. I wish I knew what the difference was that our ears heard. Knowing that would help bridge the gap in what the sound man was aiming for.

That is Ne-Yo, who I was so pleasantly surprised sounded this good to my ear live. I’ve seen him on Dancing with the Stars, and that is live, but still. He was in the same room and sounded fantastic.

That is Brandon Flowers and Alice Smith (along with Ne-Yo and Lea Delaria). They’re singing New York, New York. It’s the perfect finale song for such an event as this.

There has to be a way to make it sound both amazing live and on video though. I know it’s possible because that’s what happened when we went to go see Stevie Wonder in concert. Maybe the size of the venue makes a difference?

I wish I had the key to make a uniform sound in person and video. Someone tell me I don’t have to go get an additional degree for this.

I’m taking notes and learning with each of these events. The one thing I’m pretty good at already is the schmoozing that comes after. They had a room for the performers and assorted guests. That room had a bar in it. That was a pleasant surprise because this was a “dry” event thanks to the Lincoln sponsorship and car on the premises.

After eating my tiny bag of dirt flavored popcorn– I mean my white truffle cheddar popcorn– wrapped in the loudest plastic bag available for purchase– I mean wrapped in plastic and tied with an adorable red bow, I was ready for something to wash it down with.

I had been looking forward to my flask that Chris brought for me, but now I didn’t need it. I was happy to drink whatever red wine they were serving. That meant the flask was free to pass out to people who were very interested in taking a swig of Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Chris and I were called “cute” and “adorable” and “fun” multiple times by people with varying levels of familiarity. That’s a sign of success. All of my upbringing as the daughter of the man in charge at work who’s also a deacon at church, the daughter of a judge who’s also Superintendent of Sunday School at church, the sister of a preacher who runs a school, the granddaughter of a Congressman who used to run a newspaper, the niece of a professor who was president of the national organization for education professors, has quite fully prepared me to the be the wife of an amazing musician.

I care very much about standing alone with my own name, not the __________ of someone else. But I’m damn good at being the daughter-sister-wife of my people.

I am also getting very better at being not-Fan-Girl when I meet these people. Aside from a likely scarily-large smile when I met Ne-Yo, and a moment where I begged Lea Delaria to tell me where I knew her from (not Orange is the New Black), I feel like I did pretty good.

Brandon Flowers is cool as hell, and I felt like inviting him over for a dinner party after talking to him for only a few moments. He’s just one of those people with a really warm spirit, you know?

After finishing all the whiskey, checking out the gift they gave everyone, and schmoozing, we headed out to a favorite bar of mine called Nancy’s Whiskey Pub.

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I took our friends Corey and Dericko there on a whim one day, and we’ve loved it since. It’s the type of place where you walk in and everyone eyeballs you suspiciously, but then 3 minutes later everyone’s laughing and recommending food and drink options.

We weren’t the only ones there from the event. We met a publicist, a video guy, and a venue planner. It was very cool to have people come up to the table, tell the band how much they loved them, then exchange business cards.

It’s moments like this that we moved to New York. We toasted to that like 5 times Tuesday night.

I can’t wait for the next big event. But in the mean time, there are hundreds of smaller New-York-awesome things to do. I can’t wait for those either.

Tony Bennett, Ne-Yo, Lea Delaria, Savion Glover, Brandon Flowers, Alice Smith and the JC Hopkins Biggish Band are who all participated in the tribute.

When Easter Gets Cancelled, I Bake & I Bike

One of the best things about living in New York City is that everything can be delivered or outsourced.

Laundry? We drop off our clothes and our laundry lady hooks them up.

Cleaning Supplies? Soap.com or Amazon.com are happy to help.

Need a babysitter? Care.com has you

Groceries? For my neighborhood, it’s either a co-op or FreshDirect.

Chris and I dislike grocery shopping so much that even a co-op is asking too much of us. So we use FreshDirect. And since this is New York, eventually the delivery and customer service was going to let me all the way down.

Back around Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of not submitting my order by the time deadline. Chris and I ended up in a grocery store at 10pm the night before Thanksgiving, buying all the stuff that wasn’t delivered. I wasn’t happy about that, but that was my fault.

This past weekend however, is totally on FreshDirect. When I woke up on Saturday, I saw an e-mail from them saying they were trying to reach me by phone.

I called them and they said the driver came by at 9am, but no one was home. My angry black woman almost came out right then y’all. I informed the lady on the phone that my husband and I had been home all morning, and we have the worlds loudest doorbell, so there’s no way they rang our doorbell and missed us.

She said they tried to call, and they “always call”, and why didn’t I answer the phone? I explained to her, that “always” doesn’t apply in my case because in almost 2 years of deliveries, I’ve never received a phone call from any driver ever because we only request the delivery when we’re home, and it’s “never” been an issue until today.

She said she’d reschedule the delivery and they would swing back by our house before ending their route, around 2p.

Of course, 2p came and went, with no delivery. I called back around 4p to find out what happened. This time I got a man who told me this:

-it does say it was scheduled for re-delivery

-they didn’t re-deliver my groceries

-they have gone back to the warehouse and dismantled my assembled groceries

-their shift is over and they’ve gone home

-he doesn’t know why my groceries weren’t delivered

-is there anything else he can do for me

 

So I tell him:

-you haven’t actually done anything for me

-Just confirming, that my Easter dinner is cancelled, and there’s nothing you can do about that?

-Who do I speak with to file an official complaint?

 

He took $25 of my next order. He rescheduled my delivery for Wednesday.

While waiting for the food to arrive, Easter was over, and that meant carbs!

I couldn’t decide what to make, but I knew it was going to include bread or potatoes or rice. I ended up modifying a recipe for apple muffins and made and apple-blueberry-pear loaf in a bundt pan. It was delicious.

For good measure, I also made red onion-garlic-baby bella mini frittatas. Breakfast-on-the-go was what I was going for, and it worked pretty well.

I also considered making butter cookies, but decided against that. I have quite the list of carb-y goodness that I’ve just been waiting to eat, but I don’t want to overdo it. So I’m pacing myself and only eating one thing at a time.

Sunday: that apple loaf thingee

Monday: pasta

Tuesday-Friday: I ate a bag of potato chips. I split the bag into portions so that I stayed under my daily carb limit. I’m seriously impressed that I managed to stay within the limit

And today, I had french toast. And it was so damn good. Definitely over the carb limit, so maybe no carbs tomorrow.

I fell into the trap y’all. I did a little bit of exercising, so I thought it was okay to go overboard.

In my defense, I really did a lot of exercising. I went to yoga yesterday, and it felt really good.

I love my yoga studio in Brooklyn. I go to Sacred Yoga, and the teachers are so great there. This class was a foundations class, and it was so beneficial because I got to press reset on some on my yoga poses. Reinforcing all the things I’m supposed to be focusing on in each pose was great.

Since I bought my new bike on Easter, I was happy to ride it to yoga. I love this new bike. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn’t have that step through thing that makes it easy to wear a skirt with, but just look at it.

I had to add a basket, a kickstand, head & tail lights, a water bottle holder, and tire locks. But totally worth it if I stay safe and my bike stays un-stolen. Image from Fulton Bikes

Riding it makes me feel so exhilarated. It goes pretty fast without much effort on my part and the gear shifts making riding the mild elevation changes in my neighborhood much easier than on my other bike.

I also decided I would ride the bike to the train station going to and from work to get in a little bit more exercise. The first day, I just went to the nearest station, but today I decided to go much further. I got almost all the way to downtown Brooklyn before I got tired.

I hopped off the bike, locked it up with my super high duty lock, and headed down the subway steps. I reached into my purse to grab my Metrocard.

And nothing.

I didn’t have my Metrocard. I didn’t have my backup Metrocard. I didn’t have my debit or credit cards. I didn’t even have my ID or the singles I keep just in case. I only had about $1.38 in change floating in the bottom of my purse.

Everything I needed was in my yoga bag. So I walked my tired butt back up to the bike, called work to tell them I’d be late, and biked back home.

By the time I got to my house, My legs were feeling very jelly-like. Mind you, this was hardly any distance at all, only a few miles. But for me, who has done next to no biking or serious exercising in months, I was done.

I took the bike back inside, grabbed my money and ID, and went to the bus stop.

The good news is that I got in my full exercise on the bike for the day. I’m thinking I should keep it up and do my Tracy Anderson DVD when I get home. I unfortunately can’t do yoga everyday because of working in Manhattan and the studio not being open early or late enough. We’ll see how I feel when I get home.

I’m trying to ramp up the exercise, and go with what feels good. But I’m also feeling like I should set some sort of schedule that I can make myself stick to. It’s a fine line to walk.

I’ve started and stopped this “attempt to get healthy” thing so many times. I just really want it to stick this time.

I’ve got good motivation though.

I just got plane tickets for Chris and I to go to the Dominican Republic this August for that family vacation. If that’s not motivation to get my body right, I don’t know what is.

I also got my ticket to go visit my parents next month. I’m going during the week, right before Mother’s Day. Should be a fun couple of days. It’s going to feel so weird going to their new house and that being their home. But I’m excited for it.

I’m excited for a lot right now: the sandwich I’m going to get from Potbelly one day this week, riding my bike more (NOT today), shopping for a swimsuit this summer). All these damn endorphins have got me going. Cross your fingers that the feeling lasts!

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