Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

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Thoughts On Finishing Another Visit To Chicago

On my last day here in Chicago before heading back to Brooklyn, I’m thinking a few things:

  1. I don’t love the suburbs
  2. I really love my family
  3. There are not enough hours in the day
  4. 2017 can’t come soon enough

Let’s talk about the suburbs. That part of the world between the city and the farms/woods/country is the part I like the least. The only thing worse than a suburb is a small city, only a couple hundred thousand citizens (I’m looking at you Rockford).

Out here, where in a quarter mile there’s only three businesses, and everyone swears everything is 10 min from everything else. Spoiler alert, it’s not. You can’t drive 19 miles at 45 mph in 10 min. That’s not how math or suburban traffic lights work.

Luckily my best friend lives in the city. I escaped away for a couple of days to get out the suburbs, thanks to her. And being in her apartment is like a lovely dip into a world traveled, afrocentric haven, amplified with Prince on the record player.

But my family pretty much all live in the suburbs now…

So I spent most of my trip to Chicago in the south suburbs. There are so few people. I miss Brooklyn, but I’ll be back tonight.

I got to spend some time with my parents and my grandmother. Also, I got to spend time with mother- and sisters-in-law. Bonding while running errands is real people. My mother-in-law found the bowls she needed for her party. I finally found the Maybelline blue lipstick that’s been out of stock at so many stores I’ve searched in the last few months.

Back at their house, I helped them get ready for a family party they had last night in honor of my deceased father-in-law. Chopping vegetables is another way to bond with your in-laws. One of my sisters-in-law is always substituting one type of food for a healthier alternative.

The menu last night included chili and taco fixings, so sour cream was needed as a topping option. I decided to help and setup the toppings. After searching the fridge for sour cream, I finally had to interrupt her shower for help.

It turns out she had purchased plain greek yogurt as a substitute. My other sister-in-law and me had several doubts about the effectiveness of the replacement, but I decided to roll with it and hope it worked out.

When I’m serving sour cream, I usually don’t leave it plain. You’ve gotta jazz it up and add layers of flavor when you can. So I added some paprika, fresh cracked black pepper, and fresh minced cilantro. I thought it tasted great, and when it was cold, you couldn’t even tell that it wasn’t real sour cream.

The real test came with my nieces though. One of them is an adventurous, but will quickly tell you if the food is unsatisfactory. The other is a picky eater who is hesitant to try anything that “looks” or “smells” weird.

They both took a look at the “sour cream” and were excited to try it. They loved it and the picky eater dished out some extra on top of her nachos.

I helped with prep for the party, but I wasn’t able to stay for the whole party because I had already scheduled time with my other Chicago people before I knew about it. The best parts of it are those little moments like helping undo the dog’s training for not jumping into people’s laps and watching my sister-in-law teach my niece to make lemon pound cake.

This last day, I wanted to help hang up curtains in my grandmother’s room. After doing her nails, helping my mom give her a bath, shopping for extra chairs for Thanksgiving, etc., there wasn’t enough time. There never seemed to be enough time this whole weekend.

I’d look at the clock, think about how I had three hours when I really wanted six. Then what felt like 20 minutes later, it’d be time to go again. Five days is a medium length visit for me, but it still felt too short. There are a lot of people I wanted to see that I didn’t.

And also, all the crap is spectacularly craptastic. One specific example, they are considering treatment options for my grandmother because what they were doing isn’t working. Both options have a 10-20% success rate for her. That fucking sucks.

I can’t wait for 2016 to be over. There will still be awfulness in 2017, but at least it will get filed under a different memory folder in my brain.


2016 Still Isn’t Over Yet? Okay… Fine

If you’re an social media where the written word is included, you’ve seen statements both clever and blunt decrying 2016 as an entire year.

Most recently, the focus is Trump’s election or Obama’s nearing exit from the White House. According to lots of Chicagoans from the South Side, the Cubs winning the world series this year is evidence of 2016’s suckiness. Those with doomed relationships and lost job prospects say the same of this year.

My suckiest happenings of 2016: My father-in-law died. The everyday structure of my job stresses me out. The best phone I’ve ever had, the Note 7 catches fire and is banned on all aircraft. Trump won the most pledged electoral college votes last week.

2016 sucks

One common meme I see is a focus on all the deaths this year, and there have been a lot. Wikipedia has an entire section dedicated to all who have died this year, and the entertainment, journalistic, literary, etc. industries are worse off for the losses. Personally, I think of Alan Rickman, Natalie Cole and Prince.

Today, I’m not thinking about the whole world though. I’m thinking about my family. My husband’s father died in February of this year. He had some heart issues that led to his death and he ended up becoming an organ & tissue donor. We had a beautiful memorial service for him in March. There were hundreds of friends and family members there to celebrate his life.

2016 sucks.

His loss was and is hard for the family.

My dad sent this picture to us today. It really made me smile. It’s from my wedding day.

my-men

After I typed that last sentence, I couldn’t think of what to say next. I usually write an entire post in one sitting, pausing only if I get interrupted by something else.

But today is different. Today I feel more thoughtful, less wordy. I’m concerned for my husband, even though I know he’s strong. He’s grown so much since we’ve known each other and he is doing amazing self-care, especially today.

He made plans for us and a friend to hang out tonight, surrounding himself with good company and sympathetic ears. I’m looking forward to being there for him.

2016 sucks.

This whole day is serving a microcosm of this year for me.

Were there good points to this year? Well, yes, there were… I think. I can think of some things that count, but it just feels like even the good things have an edge of crappiness to them.

That being said, there is a lot of good in life, in my life in particular. I am in good health, I have a lot of loving relationships. I have the freedom to express myself when and how I choose. Most of the ways I choose to spend my time bring me great joy. We’re in a new golden age of television.

I don’t have much of a sum up point today. Something like: 2016 sucks, there’s some good in it, now leave me be while I go make sure my husband is okay today and pray that the next 46 days fly past.


Life Goes On, But Don’t Let That Fool You Into Complacency

Unless you are an undocumented immigrant, or a Muslim immigrant whose visa is about to be up for renewal soon, chances are you are not one of Trump’s immediate targets.

Do the rest of us have things to worry about? Hell yes we do. But when six months pass and the sky has yet to fall on your head, you may begin to think, “hey this Trump presidency isn’t so bad, I’m living and thriving and no one I personally know has been affected. Maybe we were being hyperbolic to be so damn afraid back in November.”

To that I say, “nah.”

We gotta stay woke out here. History’s great dictators, demagogues, and assholes didn’t attempt to burn the world down all in one day. No, they slowly ramped up their awful behavior until suddenly everyone looked around and realized the hellscape had been there all along.

As usual, I’ve fallen down several rabbit holes on Twitter. I’ve come across some amazing threads that everyone should read to understand where your focus should be. I have them posted at the bottom.

But first:

Am I suggesting you forgo living your life to sit on your porch, vigilant with a shotgun, waiting for the Trump-induced apocalypse? Mmmmmmmm, no…. Not unless you’re independently wealthy, a confirmed bachelor, and willing to raise the alarm to the rest of us as soon as that shit comes over the horizon.

Seeing as how those descriptors describe very few people, what are the rest of us to do? You must keep living and finding joy in life so that anxiety doesn’t take over the world. But you can’t put your head down and stop paying attention.

  1. Re-read Trump’s policies and consider how those policies will affect you personally. Seek out allies who are already building a coalition to fight those policies.
  2. Ask your friends, families and colleagues to do the same. Then discuss how those policies will affect each of you. Become each other’s allies. You may not have to worry about deportation, but you’d be surprised how many people you love have close family members or friends who worry deeply about it.
  3. Stay vigilant and raise the alarm. Don’t stop talking about damaging language or behavior.
  4. Resist the draw of mainstream media. Resist the words of people you admire who are asking you to do things and saying things that don’t make sense. For example, Oprah suggested Trump’s body language shows winning the election has humbled him. To that, I say a giant WHAT THE FUCK, and OH HELL NO. Have any of you ever seen a humble Trump? Even when he’s proclaiming how humble he is? I didn’t think so. Don’t let the people you admire most lead you down a dark and confusing path.
  5. Learn what gaslighting is. Begin to practice real techniques to combat it. Your sanity may literally depend on it.
  6. Lastly, find specific ways to keep life as happy as you can. I suggest exercise, sex and travel, if you can afford it. The steady stream of endorphins, along with constant exposure to different parts of the population will keep you balanced (no Fox News) and keep things in perspective.

At some point in the near future, I’m not gonna make every single blog post about how I’m feeling post-election. Right now, I’m still smack in the middle of stage two: anger.

They say you don’t necessarily reach all five stages in order or at all, but I haven’t come anywhere near bargaining. I can’t think of shit I could’ve or should’ve done that would have prevented this outcome. And I’m certainly not interested in compromising with Trump. I’m looking to resist his dangerous policies at every turn.

Right now, the only thing I can think of to support that he wants to do is improve infrastructure around the country. My main issue is concern for how he’s going to do it.

One of my best friends has this term I love to hear her use: pissed-tivity. It’s usually mentioned as a scale. For example, right now I have a high level of pissed-tivity for folks trying to normalize Trump.

I’m still going to live my life. I’m currently shopping for an external charger or perhaps a charging case for my phone because life. My husband and I are going to Paris for New Year’s Eve next month. We have to start planning activities to try and enjoy our vacation and perhaps plot becoming illegal immigrants somewhere in Northern Europe (I kid, I kid, we’d of course get tourist visas before we’ve worn out our legal welcome).

But trust that I’m maintaining a high level of pissed-tivity, even after I’ve moved past the anger stage of grief. It’s my best way to stay alert and keep motivated for this long fight we have ahead of us.

Now, please see below three amazing Twitter threads you really should check out.

This is from an Iranian American feminist. She knows what it’s like to live under a dictator. Heed her warning about how easy it is for the reality to become commonplace.

This guy is great, and if you love comic books and feminism, you’ll love him even more. This thread isn’t about politics. It’s about the place of black women in comics and media and their imperfect allies, or lack thereof.

Matt McGorry, who I love as an actor and activist, has a lot to say about how to be a better ally, He is a dedicated ally of Black Lives Matter and NoDAPL.

To sum up everything above: stay vigilant, keep living, prepare for the fight, actually fight when the time comes.


Race Baiting. Let’s Talk About It.

Oh yeah, I’m going there.

I spend a lot of time on twitter. Every time one black activist or another posts literally anything about race issues, someone responds with hateful awful language. They usually spout the worst stereotypes anyone has heard about whatever group being discussed.

Sometimes that activist retweets the words or responds to them, usually highlighting the bigotry, prejudice, or outright racism of the language.

Inevitably, a third person responds, accusing the activist of race baiting.  Every time I see that accusation show up on some activists timeline, I get confused.

My first thought always is: how is it race-baiting to simply talk about and acknowledge that race issues exist? How is that activists to blame for some awful language of some random online troll?

The mere mention of possibly settling Syrian refugees in their home state makes many an online troll express dangerous and scary views. I’m an American born and raised, and the words are frightening to me. I can’t even imagine how those words land in the world of a refugee, simply here to make a better life for themselves.

But then, the part of me that is always looking to try and understand the sliver of logic that usually exists in even the most fucked up arguments kicks in. I think: Do I know anyone who unreasonably lashes out at a culture they don’t understand the second they perceive a threat from that culture?

The unfortunate answer is I do.

In black American culture, there is a lot of intolerance towards others who don’t follow traditional black (read: protestant/intolerant Christian) views. The stereotypes towards the LGBTQ+ community, Asians, Latinxs, and women are damn near intolerable to my ears. They are mostly rooted in ignorant stereotypes because of how segregated so much of the American black population is from the rest of the country.

I think about the communities I don’t hear a lot of aggression towards: indigenous Americans, refugees, disabled people, vets. I’m not sure why those people have escaped widescale ridicule in the black community. Or maybe they have and I just don’t know those people.

Let me finally get to my point.

In the times of life where I’ve been present for one of these ignorant rants against another community from the mouths of black folks, their justification is usually along the lines of, “well, if you didn’t bring it up, wouldn’t have to share my crappy views with you on the topic.”

They literally accuse whoever mentioned the touchy subject last of being at blame for their toxic language. It’s the same though pattern that produces such gems as “I don’t care if you’re gay, I just don’t wanna see that shit” and “This is why the black family isn’t intact, feminism is tearing apart black men and women”.

For the record, I’m not saying that ignorance in the black community makes it okay for the white trolls on Twitter. The ignorance of both makes me sick to my stomach.

What I am saying is that because this toxic pattern of behavior touches closer to home for me, I think I understand this thought process a little bit.

That’s how I know it can’t be tolerated. This gaslighting bullshit cannot go without challenge. I’m not suggesting getting into an online fight with a Twitter troll, but I’m suggesting confronting it when you hear toxic language come from the mouths of your friends, family, and colleagues.

You may not change someone’s mind, but we can at least restore some decency in terms of what is okay and NOT OKAY to say to and about others. Free speech is one thing, but targeted hate speech and menacing is on a whole other level.

Even if you can’t get through to someone, you never know who is listening. Maybe the person overhearing your defense of what is right will come around.

Don’t let the accusation of race baiting back you down from talking about marginalized communities. If your words precede someone spewing toxic language, that’s not your fault. If merely the mention of someone different makes someone go off like a crazy person, that’s not your fault. Don’t let them drag the fight down to their level.

Keep standing up for what matters to you. Keep fighting. Keep speaking up. Continue to fight for your own community and work harder everyday to be an ally to other communities.

Don’t let racists, xenophobes, homophobes, and misogynists turn your words of power into bait.

If you’re looking for a sound argument against gaslighting, particularly in light of the results of this most recent American election, check out this Twitter thread.

twitter-gaslight


I’m Officially in the Second Stage of Grief

There are 5 stages of grief.

Starting pretty much from 10pm Tuesday night, I was in stage one. Full blown denial and isolation. As it became increasingly clear that Clinton was not going to be our next president, I folded in on myself.

My husband was so upset and wanted to talk about his feelings, as usual. The folded-in-on-myself version of me listened, but not really, as usual. I had empathy for what he was going through, but I had trouble getting out of my own head. I fell asleep on the couch with CNN loud enough to wake me up every time they played their Breaking News ominous music. He finally went to bed around 2am. Neither of us slept well.

I didn’t get much consistent sleep as I watched headline after headline say in different ways the Trump was going to be the next president. It was a dark night.

At work yesterday, everyone was commiserating, some people joking to get through the day. I was sitting quietly at my desk for most of the day, and people kept noting that I didn’t look okay. Some even asked, “are you okay?” With a firm answer of no, the conversation didn’t go much further than that. People aren’t used to someone claiming something other than being “okay.” But yesterday, I gave zero fucks.

I was in full blown isolation + denial. But the events of the rest of night helped push me into the next stage.

My husband Chris and I went to the Knicks game last night. We bought those tickets a while ago, excited for the chance to see the Knicks play the Nets, some new version of a cross-town rivalry for us I guess. I decided to root for the Nets because I love Jeremy Lin, but unfortunately he was out with an injury, and also Derrick Rose and his poor understanding of consent made it hard for me to root for the Knicks.

Neither of us paid close attention to the game. I fell down the rabbit hole that is Twitter. I was reading account after account of people being harassed, threatened, and menaced by Trump supporters. These people were female, trans, black, Muslim, Hispanic, Latinx, Asian, immigrants, Jewish, or some combination of those identifiers. And they were terrified. Their accounts terrified me.

If you have some time to read what happened, you can check out Shaun King’s twitter timeline, he’s done a pretty good job of tweeting and retweeting accounts of what’s happened in just the first 24 hours after Trump was elected. He’s also tweeted messages of hope as maligned communities and allies posted messages of support and reassurance to those feeling fear.

Chris was in a text message discussion with a woman he’s close to. They were in a disagreement about the appropriate reaction to someone who’s voted for Trump. To Chris, a vote for Trump was an unequivocal vote for his bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic positions. A person who’s voted for Trump gets no benefit of the doubt, no olive branch extended.

I’m sure I know a bunch of people who voted for Trump, they just aren’t saying it. Those are people I have to deal with professionally and where I do volunteer work, likely even where I go for yoga. But I sure as hell am not going to be friends with anyone I know voted for Trump, nor anyone I know doesn’t vehemently rebuke those who have voted for him.

This woman felt like Chris wasn’t being understanding of how difficult it is to have one set of beliefs, but then to make compromises to that for the sake of peace in the family. Right as he was relaying her statement to me, I came across this on Twitter.

twitter-bad-allies

He tried explaining to her that she was being an inconsistent ally, choosing her comfort over the struggle of the communities she claims she supports. In that moment, he realized that she ain’t really down for the cause. She’s not where she needs to be yet if she’s going to be a real ally. Their conversation is still ongoing with no resolution in sight.

The game ended with the Knicks winning by a bunch of points. I headed home to get some sleep before work today. Chris headed to Trump Tower to join the protest. I was so proud of him in that moment. I made sure he unlocked his phone, and my info in his phone could be searched by looking for the word wife, just in case.

He came home safely, and now he’s messaging me to tell me about how the protest was. I didn’t expect to move past denial so quickly, and there are moments where I flicker back to that stage and think: is this really life?

But for the most part, I’m in full blown anger right now. Every time I read about some poor woman who’s accosted by someone trying to rip off her hijab, I get angrier. Every time I see some member of the liberal establishment tell me we need to “unify” and “give Trump a chance to lead,” I get angrier. Every time I read the word nigger in some tweet from someone with an egg or a frog for a face on Twitter, I get angrier.

Supposedly this anger is healthy. I wonder how long I’ll feel this way before moving on to bargaining.


Numb Is the Best Word Here

I’ve been barely paying attention to social media. I’ve learned that Clinton is probably going to win the popular vote. I’ve learned that white women are to blame for Trump’s win. I’ve learned that I don’t really care about everyone’s anguish right now.

I’m numb. I’m at work, and dealing with a lot of crazies. It’s like a full moon out with all the weirdness abounding here.

And my mom is texting me about what I’m thinking. And my husband is messaging me about how I feel.

I feel meh.

I’m numb. And I think the only thing that might make me feel better again is finding a school to go to for my MBA, a school outside of this country. So I don’t have to be here for a Trump presidency.

Maybe if I can make that happen, the pollsters will have learned how to properly poll Latinos and the Rust Belt by the time I get back.


Live Blogging My Way Through Election Day

00:09 EST

I have to work in the morning, I’m done for the night.

23:59 EST

Over at Trump headquarters in NYC, they are ecstatic. All I can think is there there is one black guy and one Hispanic guy in the room. Everyone else is white.

23:57 EST

Clinton headquarters in NYC is a grim place. Their faces look like how I feel. Stunned disbelief.

23:49 EST

That bottle of champagne is gonna be in my fridge for a long time. If she loses, I won’t have much to celebrate. 2016 really is the worst fucking year.

23:38 EST

She can’t lose another vote she was expected to win. Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, come on y’all.

23:31 EST

Evangelicals man… They don’t think a woman should be in charge. And misogyny, xenophobia, and racism won’t make them not vote for you… Good to know.

23:21 EST

Just took a nap helped by the food. This shit is not looking good. People are saying the polls having been properly polling the Rust Belt and that’s why they got it wrong.

It looks like Clinton is going to lose. This is so depressing.

21:55 EST

Clinton just pulled ahead in Virginia.

Whew!

Current heart rate according to my Gear Fit 2 is 87 bpm.

21:50 EST

Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida. these four states are KILLING me right now. she’s supposed to win three of the four.

The polling this cycle apparently sucked.

21:47 EST

I’m feeling a certain amount of despair. These vote counts remind me of 2008, when Obama was leading in many vote counts. His opponent never made up the numbers. Now I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping a miracle can be pulled off for Clinton.

Nate Silver, my statistics boo, still shows Clinton winning. I really hope he’s right.

I know people who chose not to vote today. They think no matter the outcome, they won’t do well. They weren’t thinking of the people of different groups who will NOT do well with a Trump presidency.

I can’t even right now.

21:32 EST

There are a lot of votes. CNN says are too early to call. But Trump has the lead in most of these states. This is so nerve-wracking. My two home states, New York and Illinois, did their part. The rest of the country is fucking up.

21:05 EST

Trump ahead in Florida and Ohio and North Carolina. I can’t.

20:45 EST

It didn’t even occur to me to watch these results somewhere other than my own home. Why would I? This is where all the good booze is. Plus, I don’t need pants here.

On CNN, they’re showing New Yorkers watching on a rooftoop. It looks like they’re at 230 Fifth. I don’t love that rooftop, but that gathering looks fun.

Nah, I’m happy to be on my couch, agonizing over Florida in the comfort of my own home.

20:43 EST

Clinton isn’t supposed to win Ohio. She is supposed to win Florida. Those vote totals so far are upside down right now. This is upsetting.

20:30 EST

South Carolina & Alabama to Trump. No surprises there. Tons of states are too close to call. It’s still early, I’m trying to remain calm.

20:28 EST

My husband is so drunk. He’s thinking he’s attracted to Dana Bash now, lol. I get it, she looks great tonight.

Ugh, Trump is still up in Florida. This is no bueno.

He’s also currently winning in the popular vote. Clinton is winning in the electoral college vote so far. I wish they wouldn’t mention states until all the votes are in–no I don’t. I’d be so impatient if they weren’t giving me regular updates.

20:14 EST

Now Trump is up by 700 votes in Florida. Ugh. This shit is too close.

20:11 EST

Most people think they can’t drink alcohol in any order. They would be wrong. You can’t drink excessively in any order. My husband doesn’t have the strongest stomach. But tonight, he started with beer, then he drank rum (and coke), now he’s drinking wine.

You too can drink in whatever order you’d like. As long as you have a chemist on your side guiding your way, lol.

Ugh, these results are coming in now Early voting in Florida is not making me happy. We’ll see what happen though because right now Clinton is in the lead. 86% is in. And Clinton is only ahead by 11,000 votes ahead.

This is some nailbiting shit…

20:07 EST

Clinton on track to win Florida… Lord please…

19:55 EST

Trump wins West Virginia, duh.

I’ve finished the Sancerre and the beer. On to Beaujolais. That is a wonderful wine I know about because of Wine School in the New York Times last year.

19:43 EST

Ohio’s Secretary of State says that they will start reporting results soon. Republicans don’t win the country without Ohio.

Conversely, they have won Ohio without winning the presidency.

I guess we’ll see which way this will go.

19:37 EST

Nate Silver (my statistics boo) thinks that Trump will easily win Vigo County, Indiana. He thinks their bellweather status is no more because of love for Trump.

I take back what I said about understanding angry white people.

19:33 EST

Florida keeps going back and forth between Trump and Clinton.

This is nerve-wracking.

My husband can’t believe this is even a competition.

I know never to underestimate angry white people.

At least dinner was good. Chris ate so fast, he got the hiccups, lol.

I’m really really hoping Clinton wins Florida.

19:14 EST

Trump is ahead currently in Florida. This doesn’t make me happy. But at least she’s ahead in Florida, but the votes are so tiny in number right now. Taking a break to eat.

food

19:06 EST

Goodness. Bellweather county in Indiana is pissing me off. I hope Vigo County is wrong this year. Right now, it’s leaning Trump.

It’s time to eat, so at least there’s that.

19:00 EST

CNN projects Donald Trump will win Kentucky and Indiana. No surprises there. Hillary Clinton will win Vermont. No surprise there.

Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina too early to call.

My husband and I toasted and took a drink our of our glasses about Vermont.

Chris: “I’m drunk!”

Me: “Join the club!”

18:57 EST

Eric Trump violated New York election law by posting a picture of his ballot, lol.

I get it though. I took photos of my ballot when I got to vote for both my mother and Obama in the same election. It was an amazing moment for me. Of course, I knew better than to post it online.

Dummy.

18:48 EST

I’m watching Ana Navarro on CNN. This woman gives me life. This Nicaraguan-born American woman makes me so happy!

18:41 EST

Classic CNN. They’re watching the counts in Indiana. We know Indiana is going for Trump. Do we really care about the last 70,000 votes coming in from there? No we don’t.

My husband and I are going to Paris and London for New Year’s. We’re pretty damn sure that if Trump wins, we’re not coming back. When we first moved to NYC, we said we were gonna be here for three years then move to Europe.

I’ve been looking at job opportunities in London in my same industry. And I’ve been looking at the visa process in the U.K. It’s very possible for us to go over there and not come back.

We each feel better knowing we have an escape route, just in case…

18:31 EST

Every time I turn to MSNBC, they piss me off. I was just trying to check on Rachel Maddow’s eyelashes, but nope. They had an awful commercial on that made me turn back to CNN before I could see her. Fiat is at peak appropriation right now, ugh.

My husband is now drinking a very strong rum & coke I’ve made him. I’m finishing the beer, half of which I’ve poured into the italian sausages.

The first part of the food is almost done: squash, yellow rice, italian sausages. Gonna be so good!

18:24 EST

I’ve been trying to do more situps as a part of my regular workout. I prolly should’ve done those earlier today… before I started drinking. Oh well, I’ll do them tomorrow before I go to work.

18:21 EST

CNN is cracking me up with these “KEY RACE ALERTS”

I’m just glad none of the alerts are surprises thus far.

18:14 EST

My chicken still isn’t completely defrosted, so I’ve got it running under cold water now. But the rice is cooking and so are the italian sausages. So at least we’ll get dinner. The chicken may end up being our lunch for tomorrow. Gonna cook the squash and broccolini soon. I’m about to open a beer for the sausages.

And drink the rest!

This food smells so amazing!

18:08 EST

I can already tell I’m gonna be so annoyed when she wins. People keep referencing how only 100  years aho women didn’ t have the right to vote. I’m just like, “white women!!!”

Yelling at my TV is not useful.

But CNN is happily distracting me. Results from Kentucky are rolling in. Donald Trump currently holds 87% of the vote with 1% of the vote in. No surprises here. Poor white people have a long history of voting for people who don’t do anything for them. Those coal workers who can’t even afford the Trump ties made in China think Trump will get their jobs back.

At least I’m getting the results I expected. As long as I see Nate Silver’s (my statistics boo) map fill in as expected, I’ll be happy.

18:00 EST

I’ve never been an angry drunk, but I’m finding myself yelling at the TV. Every time they say something I disagree with…

But I’m still my normal happy drunk self. I’m giving my husband lots of kisses and hugs. I’m sure he’s amused by my current behavior.

17:48 EST

Drunk confession? I’ve been fussing in my head that half the damn screen is being taken up by CNN having all this info scrolling at the bottom. And I’ve also been fussing that they haven’t been releasing the exit poll results yet.

#drunkfail

The info scrolling at the bottom IS the exit polling results!

Duh…

That’s my bad. So, I’m gleaning no useful information from those results. Things like, 68% of American are ashamed to be American doesn’t capture a proper picture. I’m sure that large number encompasses those who are ashamed that xenophobia, racism, and misogyny is such a driving force for Republicans and large amounts of it aren’t enough to make someone lose the vote of the base. But I’m also sure that a large number encompasses those who feel America has gone too far away from it’s values and we’re doing too much to embrace immigrants and the gays and the Muslims.

For the record, I’m all about embracing all the newness every wave of immigrant brings. In my job, every shift, I struggle to understand the nurses and doctors who call us to report potential donors. I hate that I don’t have a good ear for accents. I know life would be so much easier at work (and when I call customer service for almost any company) if every had an American accent. But so the fuck what? I prefer this melting pot. I love that I live in a city where I can get authentic cuisine from almost any culture made by people who are from there, wherever there is.

I don’t want the world Donald Trump wants us to go back to. i want to move forward. Even if that means I’ll never clearly understand another doctor or nurse ever again. The American dream doesn’t mean shit for me. The least I can do is welcome the people who it actually exists for.

17:41 EST

My husband is home! He’s amused that I’m tipsy. But I’ve given him a Brooklyn lager, so he can start catching up. He didn’t bring me butternut squash. He brought zucchini and yellow squash. I would’ve preferred the flavor of butternut squash tonight (with brown butter sauce, drool), but at least he brought me the easier squash to prepare. #drunkbenefits #blessed lol, definitely crossing the line from tipsy to drunk

17:25 EST

I finally heard a Trump support talk about real things, like actual reality for Trump. He pointed to a number of counties in Florida where the voting is up, counties that traditionally go for Republicans. He spoke (of course with no details) of plans that Trump has to fix a lot of problems for blue collar workers.

They should’ve had this guy out a lot more speaking for Trump. I mean, his words are falling on deaf ears for me, but there are bound to be people he could’ve resonated with. Maybe some middle America white folks with half of a college degree, a high level of pragmatism, no black friends, and a ton of family members that are factory workers or police officers. Surely those people would love his message.

Of course, those folks are probably already voting for Trump. Plus this guy isn’t very attractive. I dig his facial hair (and eyes, and voice and style), but he isn’t classically handsome, and we all know Trump hates to send out people who aren’t 10s to talk for him.

17:15 EST

I’m definitely tipsy. I keep trying to fast forward through commercials because DVR is how I watch most TV. At least my nails are almost dry. I’ve only messed up one of them. This is the benefit of dark nails, you can’t really see the blemishes.

Unless I’ve missed it, we still don’t have any exit polls results. Still 45 min away from the first polls closing. Soon after that, we’ll start to get results. My anxiety is building, but it’s starting to feel like an anxious excitement.

Watching CNN is helping, believe it or not. To see all of Trump’s supporters choosing to suspend reality as their candidate’s only path to victory is reassuring. I’m not saying it’s impossible for Trump to win. I’m just saying that his own supporters don’t seem to think the reality we all currently share makes it likely.

17:02 EST

Waiting for the results of the first exit polls to be released. First polls on the East Coast close in an hour. Starting to get nervous. My heart rate is up according to my Gear Fit 2.

Hillary Clinton’s camp is reporting that she is working on two versions of her final speech tonight. I’m hoping the victory speech is the one we’ll hear.

I’m still on my first, admittedly large, glass of wine. I’m gonna check to see if the chicken and italian sausage are defrosted.

heart-rate

16:48 EST

CNN is giddy because Clinton’s motorcade is leaving Chappaqua, NY to head for the city to setup camp to hear tonight’s results.

Also, women are gather by Susan B. Anthony’s grave to put their I Voted stickers there. They’re hoping tonight is the culmination of her fight. A white woman will hopefully be president. Don’t mistake my focus on color for a lack of support for Hillary Clinton. I want her to win. I’m just not foolish enough about history to forget that the fight for women to vote didn’t include women that looked like me. My anniversary of voting right’s ain’t the same as Clinton’s.

16:44 EST

Nails are drying currently. and I’m a bit tipsy, lol. Sounds like a good time to start cooking, right? Luckily I cook while drunk often. But I gotta wait until my husband gets here with the veggies for tonight’s dinner.

Meanwhile on CNN, the anchor is mocking Trump for not knowing the difference between country and county. Peak Trump… it’s in his best interest to get facts wrong.

The dark blue nails are so fall, don’t you think?

blue-bails

16:06 EST

They’re talking about how both candidates are having their parties tonight in Midtown Manhattan, which has never happened before. As a New Yorker, I think it’s kinda cool too. I’m just even happier that I’m safe in Brooklyn today.

I feel badly for my co-workers who have to work today though. My office is on 34th & 10th, which is so close to the Javits Center which is on 34th & 11th. Security and traffic over there is gonna be crazy.

Painting my nails now, so I gotta take a break from the keyboard so I don’t fuck up my right hand.

16:00 EST

CNN pissed me off for a second white white people and their dogs. But now we’re back on track. Interviews with people at the polls, and opinionated responses from the panel.

And more ridiculousness and separation from reality from that black guy who’s there for Donald Trump.

Let’s be honest here, there’s a chance Trump can win today, but it’s not happening by secret black and brown voters. His only chance is uneducated white men showing up in large numbers.

And more wine for me.

15:52 EST

Geez, now they’re interviewing Russians on their opinion of the possible outcomes of this election?!?! I know they have a lot of hours to fill today, but geez. Who cares?! I guess we’re back to CNN to see if they’ve finished talking to that Trump woman.

15:40 EST 

As soon as I turned to MSNBC, those fuckers had that video of Jimmy Fallon mussing up Trump’s hair on his show a few months ago. Ugh, this guy. I loved Jimmy Fallon before he decided sticking his head in the sand about politics this year. I get it, it’s not your jam, but it is my jam, so you can go off my TV screen.

Ole making-Trump-look-amusing, focused-on-the-wrong-damn-thing, why-is-he-even-on-your-show-in-that-case, would-rather-be-silly-than-focused self. Ugh, I need wine.

As I’m watching MSNBC, I’m not familiar with these anchors, I’m used to watching later in the evening with Rachel Maddow and them. And now I’m hoping Maddow has a better stylist this year. She always looks great, but she had Snuffleupagus eyelashes going four years ago. Don’t do that to her again tonight guys!

There is good news from my fridge though. I found the rest of my bottle of Sancerre, I thought that was finished when out mothers visited last week. But it wasn’t!

wine-1

15:36 EST

I just checked Twitter and 538.com says their prediction model is locked. No more new information in there. The prediction I have screenshotted below is what the polling model Nate Silver (my statistics boo) setup says about who will win tonight.

At 7pm Eastern, the map will change to begin to reflect the polling results as they come in. I wonder what effect results from earlier states have on the voting of later states, if any. With so much early voting these days, I’d be surprised if it has a huge effect.

Okay… Lara Trump just showed up to CNN to be interviewed. I honestly could care less about her opinions of what life has been like for Trump in these final days. Heading over to MSNBC.

15:23 EST

Of COURSE Trump is trying to say the votes are rigged. And his team have already filed in Nevada about the polling place staying open, which they are required to do by law. Anyone already in line when the polling place closes still get a chance to vote. Gladly, the judge threw out his claim.

But seriously?? Saying that ballots that were filled out for the Republican candidates switching over to Democrats? Um…. that’s a big no. As usual, no actual evidence, no actual specific polling sites mentioned, no actual people this has happened to.

I pity the people who believe him without question. If he were winning, he’d swear the electoral process was perfect.

15:13 EST

My husband just messaged me that he’s jealous because I’m drinking and he’s not. I have no sympathy, lol. I made sure I had today off from work, he didn’t do the same. He had a rehearsal today for a new band he’s gonna be playing with every other Thursday.

While I was chuckling and thinking of which drink my husband will go for first when he returns home, Paris Dennard started speaking on CNN about Trump’s chances for winning Michigan. He’s saying the same bullshit that Ben Carson was.

Why does every Trump supporter say, “let’s throw out the polls”? It’s because they all need to suspend reality to give their candidate a chance to vote.

And why the hell do all the black men supporting Trump sound like Stepford wives who’ve taken 3 Xanax in less than 3 hours?

15:01 EST

CNN is going over whether or not polling places have had glitches. A few have, and they are requesting the ability to stay open later as a result. Mostly at places with electronic voting. When I voted this morning, I used a paper ballot with a pen filling in bubbles, and then it was fed into and counted by a machine. There seemed to be no glitches, so that was nice for my polling place. We’ll see what happens in other polling places.

I’m thinking of painting my nails. It used to be my Monday night therapy while watching Dancing with the Stars before I started doing so much yoga. But I think I could use it today. I’m going for a nice sparkly turquoise shade of blue.

I think before I do that, I’ll pop over to fivethirtyeight.com and see what they think about who will win today. Nate Silver, my statistics boo, was 100% right in 2012. Will he have a repeat performance this year?

538-prediction

14:41 EST

There is a reporter interviewing two people outside of an election place in Orange Country in Florida. A lot of people see that is a decisive county that may decide if Clinton or Trump win that state.

The New York Times says that Trump can’t win without winning Florida. Fingers cross that there is some truth to that.

Back to these two voters. This woman said that she was voting for Trump because she wanted change and no more Clintons. I can understand that sentiment. But I would like it a lot more if those words didn’t come out of the mouths of people who can’t articulate what change they’d like to see.

The reporter asked the woman how she felt about the first woman voter, and she was basically like, “meh.” When asked about friends of hers who might be excited about the first woman president, she said, “yeah, I have women friends.” What does that even mean? I’m guessing it means this woman has zero male feminist friends. Surprise, surprise.

14:35 EST

Watching Ben Carson talk about how black people are called Uncle Tom if they are publicly supporting Donald Trump. Then, he follows it up with repeating all the Republican tropes of black people. Babies out of wedlock?!?! Really?!?!

I’m just glad I was able to stay awake in spite of his zzzquil voice.

14:25 EST

Love that damn near every episode of The Flash ends so emotionally. All the feels. Glad to have this moment of happy heartedness before heading into the trenches of election coverage.

And my tea is done!

tea

13:44 EST

Now I’m getting antsy and I’m wondering what the pundits are saying about early election returns. This is a great episode of The Flash.

I love seeing Draco Malfoy all grown up but still wonderfully British-ly snotty. But… I’m itching to see what’s going on over at CNN.

I’ll probably make myself a hot toddy then head over on to CNN after this episode finishes.

13:38 EST

Why is the scary guy on this show black? Ugh, at least he’s a smart science guy.

13:34 EST

I could scream that they’re let another Wells into their mix on The Flash. These multiple Harrisons are NEVER up to any good. They always turn out okay, or develop enough of a bond with the other characters to not want to kill them completely or whatever. But damn, not on any Earth does Harrison Wells have pure intentions.

And they all keep voice diaries, lol. This may make me start drinking sooner than CNN will.

drink-options

13:06 EST 

Hi everyone! I’m sitting on my couch, having just watched Lin-Manuel Miranda’s monologue on SNL for the thirtieth time–escapism! I told myself that after I voted and stocked up on wine, I’d start watching CNN for election coverage.

after-voting

But… I just cant do it yet. I’m catching up on the DVR, watching The Flash right now. I haven’t started drinking yet, and all I know about the election is who’s been posting on IG that they voted. Oh, and Clinton won Dixville, New Hampshire shortly after midnight.

Let’s see where the day takes me.


“We’re All Gonna Be Okay, No Matter What,” She Says

Tonight was like many Monday nights I’ve had. I didn’t have to work today, so I spent most of the day on the couch, catching up on the DVR.

There are so many shows on TV, new and old, that I absolutely love. Pitch, Rosewood, NCIS, Bull, Modern Family, The Good Place, etc. are all so good. We really are in a new golden age of TV. But I digress.

Back to my night. When I’m off on a Monday, I go to vinyasa yoga at 6:30p and aerial yoga at 7:45p. I’ve been doing these back to back yoga classes for a few months now, and it really gives me life.

I have so many endorphins running through my veins after two yoga classes. But tonight, there is something battling the endorphins: anxiety.

I’ve been feeling a continuous low level of anxiety for a few weeks now, keeping my baseline heart rate higher than I’d like. I’m not sure what’s going on with that yet, but the anxiety at least lessens when I’m in the middle of yoga class.

The election is tomorrow. The country will decide whether our next president will be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The thought there are enough people in this country who are thinking of voting for Trump to give him a chance of winning the presidency gives me chills.

And anxiety. It gives me anxiety.

Then tonight in yoga, the teacher said, “we’re all gonna be okay, no matter what.” She was talking about the outcome of the election.

I thought about how many different privileges went into her making that statement so wholeheartedly. This woman, who is one of the few people I’ve met in Bed-Stuy that I liked immediately without knowing well, has got a lot going on in her world where she can say something like that so casually.

She said this right at the beginning of class, so I spent most of the class swallowing my responses to her statement. I’ve been trying to teach myself to pick and choose when I share my unrequested opinions. I felt like this wasn’t the time.

But I was thinking of Ana Navarro, who finally decided to vote for Hillary Clinton. This woman has a lot of good reasons why we aren’t “all gonna be okay” if Trump is the one who wins.

Then I was thinking of Shaun King, who made a deeply personal plea for for voting against Trump. This man has a target on his back, and he’s not crazy to think it’s only going to get worse in a Trump presidency.

For me personally, not too much in my life would change in a Trump presidency. I’m not a member of the media. I’m not an immigrant, though I did marry into a family of immigrants. I’m black, and I live in what probably counts as a gentrified inner city, but I fall smack in the middle of the middle class.

Heading into tomorrow, I can’t think of only myself. I have to think of all the groups of people whose lives really would be made worse under a Trump presidency.

I wonder who the “we” is that my teacher was thinking of when she said that. Maybe she doesn’t know any immigrants. Or Muslims. Or female journalists. Or black activists. Or Native American activists. Or military reservists who aren’t interested in being sent to go and get Iraq’s oil on a whim. Or every part of the population who would suddenly get targets on their back with a national stop and frisk policy.

She was trying to be reassuring, that much I know. It just so happened to have the opposite effect on me.

I will feel much better in about 24 hours. In 12 hours from now, I’ll be back home on my couch, watching CNN or MSNBC, having just cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for President (alone with some other important down ballot votes). In another 12 or so hours after that, hopefully we’ll have enough election results to have a new president.

Even though my vote won’t help her win New York (that’s happening no matter what), my vote will add to the total number of votes for Clinton. I’m hoping the margin of victory for the popular vote is very large.

Once she wins, I’ll feel better. Even then, we won’t all be fine. There will still be work to do, policies of hers that need changing and evolution. But at least she won’t be a demagogue who is a real threat to innumerable numbers of global citizens.


Thoughts on Getting Millennials to Vote

Do you know who Representative John Lewis is?

He’s a rather inspiring man who currently serves in the US Congress. He is an old head civil rights activist whose name is in the history books, and one of the few alive today to tell the tales of what really went down in the fight for equality for African-Americans in education, voting rights, and housing back when my parents were just children.

He thinks young people need to get out and vote because people fought and died for their right to. Because he fought and his friends died, young people today need to quit thinking whatever they’re currently thinking and go exercise their right to vote.

I happen to agree with him that everyone should vote. But his line of reasoning….. um…. I don’t think it’s effective. And it definitely can come across as a bit out of touch.

A lot of older people are dismissed as being out of touch with younger people. They try to appeal to younger people based on values (perhaps values of days gone by) that are no longer shared. Young people respond with some variation of, “I don’t appreciate your set of values because I’ve been taught something different. Where were you when the teaching was happening?”

When it comes to Rep. John Lewis, I can happily say that he has tried to be a part of the voice of education for youth. He reaches out in ways big and small to try and make sure some of his values and beliefs are seeds sown into the next generation.

In spite of the ways he works so hard to reach younger people, I still think his closing argument needs work. I say that while also believing that the reasons that he and his friends and colleagues fought for their rights and our are unimpeachable.

They fought for a better tomorrow. They fought so that I can vote and theoretically not be discriminated against for my color. A lot of people died so I can go on a 15 min morning date with my husband to the polls on Tuesday morning. That argument resonates with me because of the values I was raised with.

For those not raised with that set of values, it’s a harder argument to hear and have resonate with you. Honestly, the reasoning that made sense to them then and still makes sense to them now is… well, it’s about them. It’s about their fight and their legacy and their opinions of themselves.

It’s no wonder that younger Gen Xers and millennials (and whatever they call those born from 1975-1979) give that argument the side eye. We are the royalty of navel-gazing, self-focused, introspective, thinking-about-me-before-you, personal-happiness-above-all-else thought processes.

If you wanna reach more of us, you’ve gotta answer the question:

What’s in it for me?

I don’t have the answer on what to say. I haven’t been successful in getting people who don’t plan on voting to change their minds. But I’ve seen engagement work in some instances.

There is success in some areas by actually talking to younger people instead of at them. Engaging people my age in a conversation about why it’s important to vote (and to vote in the interest of yourself and those you care about) is not easy. There is no one tweet or tweet thread that will get the job done.

That level of engagement has to happen in small conversations. But they’re powerful conversations. Not a lot of millennials understand the electoral process and fewer get or even care why it’s important. Giving them that small bit of knowledge works, as long as it’s followed by one important question:

What’s in it for you?

If you can get a real answer back, you’ve just gained an engaged citizen, who will hopefully take part in many elections over the course of their life.

John Lewis and his books and crowd-surfing can’t get it done alone. If you believe in our democracy and our electoral process and you know younger people who don’t, bone up on the basic facts of how elections work and what decisions elected officials are in charge of at the local, state, and national level.

After you’ve done that, talk to young people. Share what you know. Pass on the knowledge. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be personally responsible for helping continue the legacy of equal voting rights that so many fought and died to get.

 


Empathy versus Me Me Me

Why is it so hard to empathize with people who are different? I’m sitting here listening to some of my co-workers fussing about early voting.

I’m so confused. If you’re not going to early vote, and if you’re lucky enough to have a job where you can take the time out of your work day to go vote, why the hell do you care what provisions are in place for other voters?

Just to be clear, these people aren’t worried about voter fraud or anything like that (we all know that’s a Trump supporter problem anyway), they’re just irritated that they have to hear about the statistics of demographics of early voting.

This got me thinking about empathy, or lack thereof. How easy is it to see things from the perspective of someone else? To put yourself in their shoes and show compassion for their situation? Does having that ability make you any more likely to accept policies at home, work, or elsewhere that don’t directly benefit you?

Maybe it’s human to get that sense of injustice or to feel like something isn’t fair when things don’t directly benefit you. Or maybe it’s just a chance to stare your own privilege in the face and realize everything doesn’t have to benefit you to be important to the world around you.

But one can dream. If the world revolved around me:

  1. My co-workers wouldn’t all take lunch at the same fucking time and leave me on the phone by myself.
  2. My bosses would fix the schedule so I never worked on a short-staffed shift.
  3. Maids in NYC would suddenly start giving out “You Don’t Have Time To Clean, You Poor Thing” discount coupons.
  4. My yoga studio would consult my work and volunteer and travel schedules before scheduling vinyasa and aerial yoga classes.
  5. No one would call my husband for gigs between February 5th and February 15th.
  6. Subway platform elevators would never again smell like pee or vomit or shit or armpit or ass crack or perfume.
  7. People without children would get to vote on which section all the people with children sat in on the plane.
  8. The vending machine at work would never run out of cheesy poofs.
  9. Everything Colin Kaepernick says about the state of blacks in this country would immediately be turned into a bumper sticker and refrigerator magnet.
  10. You could subscribe to Colin Kaepernick’s refrigerator magnets, and all proceeds would go to make the Know Your Rights Camp national.
  11. My mom and dad would move to New York.

The world doesn’t revolve around me. I get it. It’s why I have to go to yoga smack in the middle of the afternoon on my days off, when I least feel like putting on pants.

That being said, I empathize with my aerial teacher, who is able to schedule her yoga classes around her other job(s) and auditions and whatnot.

And also, I love statistics. Who gets irritated about statistics? Nate Silver, my statistics boo, could make anyone love statistics. Well… I know that’s not true, but I wish it were true.


Thinking of Oranges, Master’s Degrees, And Someone Other Than Myself

I have found a volunteer opportunity! I’m going to work with a Boys & Girls Club in Manhattan doing tutoring for high school students. It’s a pretty low time commitment and they’ll work with my not-my-choice flexible schedule.

I’m just happy that I’ll be back volunteering again. I’ve missed doing something for people I don’t know. Living in New York can turn you into a self-involved navel gazer for sure. Taking a step outside of the bubble that makes up life can be healthy. In my case, it’s super healthy.

I went for orientation last week, and we start the week after next I believe. These NYC kids are tough, but the kids in the program are there because they signed up, so fingers crossed they actually want to be there and want the help being offered.

Other than getting back into volunteering, there’s still yoga, there’s still work, there’s still supporting my husband’s career. And there’s still lots of family stuff.

My mother and mother-in-law will be here on Wednesday. They’re coming in town for my husband’s recital. All the graduating students have to have a recital, and I’m excited to see what he’s chosen for his part of it. He’s in the middle of midterms now, so we’re on the final downhill slope. In just a handful of weeks, he’ll have his Master’s Degree and never have to be a student again if he doesn’t want to.

I’m so jealous. I’d love to be done with school. Instead I’m ramping up to finally complete an application to get my MBA. I’m kinda glad I waited because I was so sure I wanted to get an MBA with a focus on healthcare. But now, staying in the same industry isn’t so appealing. Getting a less specialized degree seems wise.

Leaving my company for different job isn’t the best idea because of the salary, benefits, and job duties. Not many companies can compare for my current education level and work experience. Getting a Master’s would change a lot in terms of what jobs are available to me.

Instead of standing still, not making any one decision, I need to choose a path. All standing still has got me is three years in the exact same spot I was in when we first moved here. That is a waste of time, and I’m kinda over it. And with my husband wrapping up his degree, it seems like the perfect time to finally move forward.

People usually have introspective moments on their birthday or New Year’s or whatever. I’m having this moment because my grandfather died one year ago today. He turned 90 on October 30, 2015. One can say many things about that man, but I’m thinking about how he squeezed so much life out of 90 years.

I wonder if there are things he wanted to do that he never got a chance to. I bet that list for him was shorter than it was for most people. If I had to pick one of his traits to emulate, I’d like to it be that one. Gonna squeeze more and more out of life, like a particularly juicy citrus fruit.

I love that pleasant surprise when your lemonade (made with fresh lemons) or your margarita (made with fresh limes) or you mimosa (made with fresh oranges or blood oranges) uses less fruit than average. You get a workout from really squeezing the fruit, you feel like the world gave you a little bit extra that day. And I swear it makes your beverage that much better.

I should probably buy some oranges. My mother and mother-in-law love mimosas. Plus it’s cold and flu season and I ride the subway to and from work.


My Schedule is Full, But I Have So Much Free Time

A conversation with my husband Chris recently got me thinking about my schedule. I feel like I have a lot of time on my hands, but I’m always busy.

I only work 3 days a week, but I work at least 12 hours each work day. After work, I’m usually cooking dinner, or going out with friends.

On my off days, I’m at yoga, or simming, or blogging, or catching up on TV, or catching up with friends, or cooking, or going to one of my husband’s gigs.

That’s a long list of things, so maybe that’s why I always feel busy. Taking hobbies very seriously is my jam. The way I spend my free time is important to me.

I wish I volunteered more. I volunteered like twice a week when I first moved to New York. But the places I volunteered at didn’t pan out over time.

The soup kitchen I was at had some hinky financial things going on, and I didn’t want any part of that. The home for unwed mothers took a left turn I couldn’t be a part of either.

One day I was there, watching a baby and tutoring the mother, and my time ran over into the weekly prayer circle. They invited me to stay and I agreed. This prayer started with talking about dreams and setbacks, following God’s plan and whatnot.

Then it took a left turn into praying for gays and the hellbounded-ness. My eyes shot open, and I knew in that moment I was done.

I finished my work helping that particular mother for the duration of her stay at the home. I never went back after that though.

I’ve ended relationships over someone’s stance on homosexuality, and a place I volunteer is no different. I can’t support the views they’re pushing, so I moved on.

I think what I’m stream-of-consciousness-getting-to is that while my non-working time is spent in ways that are very fulfilling to me, the time isn’t being spent in way that is fulfilling to others.

I’m sure Chris, and our friends who happen to be at the brownstone when I’m cooking, are all appreciative of the increased amount of home cooked meals. Each new successful recipe certainly fulfills my husband.

But I’ve got to start finding another place I can volunteer. Helping people is my jam, and it’s something that’s missing.

I’ve been patting myself on the back a lot recently for taking better care of myself inside and out. I think I can extend that even further and start taking care of the world around me again.

I’m going to look for a tutoring opportunity. Or something with kids. or something with the homeless. I’ve got a lot of interest in that, so we’ll see where it goes.


And Now I Have Four Sets of Headphones

Maaaaaaan, of course my same day delivery didn’t come on the same day. They didn’t even attempt the delivery. I wasn’t at work for the next couple of days, so it got delivered at some point.

I had originally ordered replacement headphones for my cell phone because the volume buttons on the headphones weren’t working. Then I noticed they were selling them in a two pack and figured that would be a better purchase because it was close to the same price. I don’t really lose headphones, but it couldn’t hurt to have a second pair, right?

Well, I ordered the headphones, then realized I’d chosen free two-day delivery when I meant to choose same day delivery. So I ordered them again for same day delivery.

And now I have four sets of headphones.

And the volume buttons still don’t work.

I figured out it was due to the phone being messed up. One lousy little half-empty travel-size bottle of Listerine and everything goes fuzzy.

Well, not literally. The phone’s functionality has almost completely returned. That makes me very happy because I love my phone and I’ve finally got the settings just right. Fingers crossed that this phone will last until the newest Samsung Note 6 (or Note 7 Edge if the internet rumors are to be trusted) comes out.

So maybe I have to restart my phone to get the microphone on the headphones to work.

And maybe the S Pen is a little temperamental.

And maybe the phone mutes itself for no reason out of nowhere.

And maybe the phone turns itself up to the loudest possible volume for no reason out of nowhere.

But it’s my phone and I love it. And it’s really not in the budget to replace it right now.

That money has to go towards the laptop. Eventually it will stop working because I spilled a glass of red wine on the keyboard.

And Chris was just saying how I’m less clumsy with all the aerial yoga…


Same Day Delivery Anxiety

I don’t know why I did it y’all. I looked on the Amazon forums to check the reliability of the company Amazon uses for same day delivery. Why did I do that?

Up until today, I never used the Amazon Prime same day delivery. I do a lot of online shopping. A LOT.

The strong need for headphones that work coupled with an inability to take a real break at work while the stores are still open on a Sunday will make you do strange things.

Because my job is in an office building, I had my doubts as to whether this was a good idea, but decided to take the risk. The purchase on the Amazon website is always painless. This time was no different.

Item purchased, tracking number generated, then… nothing.

I was confused as to why there weren’t quicker updates, I guess I’m UPS spoiled.

I found the LaserShip company’s website and started tracking the package there. Then, for some reason I cannot explain, I googled LaserShip tracking for Amazon packages.

Welp… Google sent me to a page on the Amazon Carrier Feedback forum. It was not pretty. Since May 25, 2010, there have been 5604 posts from 2636 individual participants, with the most recent post being 2 days ago.

I read back several pages from the most recent, and only 2 statements were mildly positive.

Basically:

  1. When LaserShip invariably fucks up, ask Amazon for a free month of Prime rather than a price reduction on your purchased item
  2. Deal with Amazon first rather than LaserShip
  3. LaserShip sucks
  4. LaserShip really sucks
  5. If you ever want to see your package… TOO BAD

Yeah, if I were a person with uncontrollable anxiety or outward physiological responses to my emotions, I’d be covered in hives and hyperventilating right now.

It’s not even that big of a deal, it’s just some dumb headphones.

But I hate when things don’t work the way they’re supposed to. Amazon is quite often touting their One Day Delivery in the NYC area. I felt like this was a low stakes way to take advantage of a new service. I think I was wrong.

Capture

Fingers crossed that this goes well, and I don’t end up sending a tip to the News12 Consumer Investigations line tonight.

 


Yoga Is Kicking My Butt, At My Request

Ever since our niece came to visit NYC at the end of March, I’ve been going to yoga classes regularly. Pretty much every single day off from work, I’ve gone. I work full time, but it’s all squeezed into three days a week.

I think going to yoga 4 days a week is pretty good. It’s way up from the once a month I was exercising before. The motivation really comes from how close the studio is. This morning, my first class started at 11am, and the alarm was set for 9am.

At 10:45, I jumped out of bed. In 15 minutes, teeth got brushed, Emergen-C got drunk, yoga clothes got thrown on, and teeth got brushed. It’s really a blessing to have a studio so close to home.

I did something today I’ve never done before. I took two yoga classes. Back-to-back at that. I was tired as hell afterwards, but I felt so strong and so good and so proud of myself!

The first class was vinyasa, and for the first time since I started yoga, I was able to do tree pose equally on both sides and grow my branches. For those who don’t know what that means, I basically went from this:

to this:

Sometimes it’s like that. You do the same thing day in and day out without seeing much progress. Then suddenly, the progress leaps unexpectedly forward, surprising you.

The second class was aerial yoga, and being a bit tired from the first class added a layer of difficulty. But surprisingly, it became that much easier to push. I left the cirque tricks alone today, but did a lot more when it came to the ab and Pilates-style moves.

When I felt my legs lift off the ground for the first time, purely on the strength of my arm muscles pulling against the silk fabric, I was so elated. I want to feel like that all the time!

Because I basically know my schedule for the month, all yoga classes for this month are booked. There are thee more 2-a-days coming up. Usually vinyasa followed by aerial. I can’t wait to see what new ways my body will respond.

I am finally taking care of my body. I’m treating it better than I have in years. I’ve been saying it’s not about a goal weight or size. I haven’t lost any weight, and I still wear the same size clothes. Being not-in-my-20s means losing weight is a slower process.

If I’m being honest with myself, I don’t want to lose a bunch of weight. The smallest I’ve ever been, the day I met my husband, I thought of myself as too small. I was the size of my bone structure, so my opinion was wrong. But I grew up with a grandma who always said something to the effect of, “don’t lose too much weight, what if you get sick, you’ll need to have weight to lose.” Or something like that.

I know people aren’t really getting undiagnosable diseases like consumption anymore, at least not at the same rate they were in the 30s and 40s. But still… It’s part of my programming I can’t seem to break.

So instead, I focus on how good I feel in my body. How strong I feel. How flexible I’ve become. How much energy I have each day. The better food choices I’m making. And I try not to feel too happy that I haven’t lost weight. I’m only 31, the weight loss is inevitable if I keep this up.

Focusing on being as good to my body. Feeling pride that I can take two classes in one day and not just survive but thrive. Dreaming of the day when all of this is second nature rather than a new lifestyle I’m hoping and praying I can hold onto.


Stop Asking Me if I’m A Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers! And people who are acting mothers! And people who have a deep attachment to their pets!

In spite of the title of this post, I don’t mind when people ask if I’m a mother. It’s the follow up questions after that that usually piss me off.

“Are you a mother?”

“No.”

“Well, why not? Don’t you want kids? How old are you? Shouldn’t you be a mother by now?”

It takes all of my self-control not to snap when this happens. Full disclosure, I have snapped on a few people, but mostly I keep my angry responses to myself.

But to the point of I want to snap:

  1. Why the fuck is it your business why I don’t have children?
  2. I could have fertility issues and the assumptions could be breaking my heart.
  3. If we were close enough, you’d already know the answer to that question, and Mother’s Day is not the appropriate time to ask.
  4. I don’t want kids, why is that up for judgement?

When I calmly (or not-so-calmly) explain why I have no desire to be a mother, I get looks of either confusion, judgement, or pity.

The confusion confuses me. Do some people really know no women except me who are willing to stand up say, “at this point in my life, I have no desire to be a mother.”?

The judgement pisses me off because I am horrified to think of that person doing the same thing to a woman who’s only child was murdered. Or who has had multiple miscarriages. Or who is infertile. Or who also just doesn’t want kids but is emotionally affected by the judgement of strangers.

And the pity saddens me. There is so much is this world to feel badly about: climate change, poverty, childhood obesity, refugee safety, people constantly doing harm to the world in their god’s name. Being sad for me just seems like a waste of time and energy.

Knowing me, I will likely wake up one day and decide I must have children. As it stands right now, if I had a 2 bedroom apartment, I’d be filling out an application to be a foster mom. But raising a child from start to finish it outside of what I want right now.

I’ll just be happy with my own mom. And my grandmother. And my mother-in-law. And my godmother. And all the other women in my life who are like second mothers to me.

So feel free to ask me if I’m a mother, just keep the follow up questions to yourself. Thanks!


Putting in More… Everything

More of the same from me. My bad for not writing a new post in months, yada yada, will do better in the future… Wish I could figure out a better schedule to make time to post, etc. etc.

So I’m putting in more work. Trying to be more consistent

In my last post that wasn’t about Grey’s Anatomy, waaaay back in January I think, I discussed what my goals were for this year. I didn’t look to see if those goals were for 2016 or age 31, but at this point, it’s not important.

  • Chris graduate from grad school
  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast
  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable
  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

  • Chris graduate from grad school

Chris is not going to graduate from grad school this Spring. In life, obstacles come in your way, and you handle them as best you can. Chris had a large obstacle this year. His father died. In less than a month after we found out he had health issues, he was gone.

I’m not going to go into too many details, but it was a devastating loss for the family. We are all still struggling to reach a new normal without him. Chris spent a lot of time in Chicago with his mother when it first happened, and we ultimately decided that withdrawing from classes this semester was wise. He will continue classes in the fall and will finish in December.

There is one more thing about this that I want to say. He became an organ, tissue, and eye donor. Because I work in organ & tissue donation, this was amazing news to hear. It’s not always an easy decision for a family to make, but I’m so happy it’s the decision my family made. Being a donor family adds a new layer to why I do what I do, and it would make it very difficult for me to change and do something else with my career.

 

  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast

In terms of travel, I still have more I want to do. I went to San Diego at the end of January with my best friend David, which was a really great trip. My luck being what it is, it was the coldest it’s been there in years when we went. When I got back, my co-workers were concerned because there was a storm there that made national weather news. I was confused because it only rained one day. Apparently what seemed like a normal rainstorm was the worst they’d had in years.

But I did get to the San Diego Zoo!

2016-02-01 13.12.04

And travelling with David is always fun, I’m hoping we’ll get to do it again soon.

I also have taken quick trips around the East Coast, but unfortunately, nowhere new. Because of gigs that Chris has coming up, we’ll be back and forth to D.C. this summer, maybe we can expand that out… Maybe.

 

  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable

I definitely have gone a long way down the path of accomplishing this! One of my co-workers was fussing at us about always complaining about our sedentary lifestyle without doing anything about it. When I tell this story in person, I say she was fat-shaming us, but jokes like that don’t translate well on the internet.

Anyway, several of us were feeling bad for ourselves when she yelled at us to improve our situations and stop complaining. I told her that I would love to go to yoga more regularly. Yoga is my preferred exercise, but the studio closest to my house is 10 min drive plus parking, or a 30 minute walk. So a 1 hour class is practically a 3 hour time investment once you calculate showers and clothes changes.

She called bullshit and told me I hadn’t really looked for a studio and I should do better.

I just re-read that sentence. You should know that’s the nice version of what she said. But I respond very well to brutal honesty. So I searched far and wide to find yoga studios. My goal was to find a studio with multiple locations. One location would be on the way home from work with late night classes I could attend after my shift. The other would be less than a 15 minute walk from my house.

“And then you’ll see, I’ve really been trying!” I told her.

“Yeah, we’ll see,” she replied.

A couple hours later (I was also working, after all), I found out… she was right. There was a yoga studio around the corner from my house, literally. I felt so stupid. Then I got over myself and immediately signed up for a class the next morning.

That was over a month ago, and I’m still going strong. I also found an online on-demand yoga thing for $9.95/month. cancelled that though because I never use it. But I went from exercising hardly ever to exercising 3-4 times a week.

Chris and I went to Chicago for a wedding a couple of weeks ago. I took my mat, and did yoga there too. I haven’t felt this good or slept this well in a while. And in my defense, the studio is only about 9-10 months old. It really wasn’t there the last time I checked!

In addition to working out, I’ve started purchasing groceries more regularly, and cooking at home more. Aside from saving money, it’s healthier. I’m looking forward to seeing the added benefit of healthier food on top of increased exercise.

 

  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

After doing damage to a very important relationship at the beginning of the year, I think we’ve just about recovered. My other relationships are going pretty well, but I could be doing more.

I don’t call my parents or mother-in-law nearly enough. I communicate with most people via text or instant messaging. And I’m at the point where I really hate talking on the phone. Maybe it’s because I do it all day for work. I’m hoping that’s the reason, and not because I’m becoming anti-social.

I can’t help it if I prefer my own company and I like being left alone most of the time. But I could certainly work hard to find a better balance to makes sure the people who matter to me are getting what they need out of the relationship. Being a better friend, daughter, etc. is important, and I will work harder to make it a bigger priority.


Grey’s Anatomy Character Ages

I don’t know why my previous post on this topic, from years ago, is so popular, but I decided to bring that information over into a new post so all the updates and edits read a bit clearer. If you want to struggle through the old post feel free.

I am estimating that in this 12th season, the show has covered just under 9 years of real time. This includes a five year surgical residency for the main core cast (of whom only Meredith and Alex are left), then various career paths that add up to just under 4 years of time. Wikia disagrees with me and thinks it’s been just under 5. You can see my detailed explanation of how Meredith spent her time to see exactly how I’m adding it up.

I wrote the original post in December 2011, during Season 8, right after Derek & Meredith officially adopt Zola. At that time, I estimated Meredith to be around 36 years old.

For this update, I’ll also focus on Meredith Grey. I’m going to say more than I will for the other characters, so you get an idea of how I’m tracking the passing time: Her residency class finished residency and became fellows or attendings in the start of Season 9, where Grey is already 3 weeks pregnant with Derek Bailey Shepherd. She has that baby at the end of Season 9. It seems that she carries her baby to almost-if-not-definitely full term, so Season 10 begins 9 months-ish after Season 9.

We’re to a full year later during season 10 when Matt & April almost get married in the Season 10 mid-winter finale. Derek and Meredith struggle through the rest of Season 10, with her realizing she doesn’t need him, but she wants him. Not too long after that is when Derek comes home for a few weeks/months early in Season 11, then dies a few episodes before the Season 11 finale. In those last few episodes of Season 11, Meredith is gone for the length of a full term pregnancy, let’s just say 9 months because it obviously take a while to find out she’s pregnant, returning to her mother’s house in the season finale.

Season 12 starts approximately 3 months after that.  We lost a few months here and there in single jumps due to Penny showing up, Meredith getting attacked in the ER, suddenly April is 12 weeks pregnant, etc. Total time since Dec 2011:  just shy of 4 years (really like 3 years and ten months), so I estimate Meredith Grey to be 40-ish.

Please see below for the character list, mostly transferred over from my previous blog post about this topic.

CURRENT CAST MEMBERS

Ellen Pompeo: plays Meredith Gray; actual age is [46]; character’s age is around 40-ish (completed college at 25, did nothing for 3 or so years, 4 years med school, 5 years surgical residency, just under 2 years attending, just under 1 year “sabbatical”, currently in her 1st year as general surgery chief)

Justin Chambers: plays Alex Karev; actual age is [45]; character’s age is around 35 (completed college at 22, 4 years med school, 5 years surgical residency, 2 years fellowship, few months with Dr. Butthole, currently in his 2nd year as a pediatric surgical attending)

Chandra Wilson: plays Miranda Bailey; actual age is [46]; character’s age is around 41 (completed college at age 24, 4 years med school, 5 years surgical residency, 6 years as attending, currently in her 2nd year as chief of surgery)

James Pickens, Jr.: plays Richard Webber; actual age is [61]; character’s age is around 62 (completed college at age 22, 4 years med school, {1 year residency pre-sleeping with Ellis Grey} + Meredith Grey’s age – 5)

Sara Ramirez: plays Callie Torres; actual age is [40]; character’s age is around 41 (completed college at age 22, 4 years med school, 2 years peace corps, 5 year surgical residency, 6 years as attending, currently in her 2nd year as chief of orthopedic surgery)

Kevin McKidd: plays Owen Hunt; actual age is [42] ; character’s age is around 46 (completed college at age 23, 4 years med school, 5 year surgical residency, joined the Army after 9/11/01, discharged in 2008, 4 years as attending, 1-ish year chief of surgery, currently in his 2nd year as chief of trauma surgery)

Jessica Capshaw: plays Arizona Robbins; actual age is [39]; character’s age is around 38 (completed college at age 22, 4 years med school, 5 year surgical residency, 2-3 years that we know of at Seattle Grace as an attending, currently in her 4th year as pediatric surgery chief, including <12 months accelerated fellowship with Dr. Herman )

Sarah Drew: plays April Kepner; actual age is [35]; character’s age is around 35 (completed college at age 22, 4 years med school, 5 years surgical residency, currently in her 4th year as a trauma surgery attending, including sabbaticals to do some Doctors without Borders type situation for at least 12-15 months total that I can calculate)

Jesse Williams: plays Jackson Avery; actual age is [34]; character’s age is around 35 (completed college at age 22, 4 years med school, 5 years surgical residency, 1-2 years plastic surgery attending, currently in his 2nd year as plastic surgery chief )

Caterina Scorsone: plays Amelia Shepherd; actual age is [34]; character’s age has to be at least 38, more likely 40 (completed college at age 22, 4 years medical school, 5 year surgical residency, 2 year neurosurgical residency, 1-3 years teaching fellow, 2-5 years as neurosurgeon on Private Practice, currently in her 2nd year as neurosurgical chief)

Camilla Luddington: plays Jo Wilson; actual age is [32]; character’s age is 30 (completed college at age 22, 4 years medical school, currently in her 4th year as a surgical resident)

Jerrika Hinton; plays Stephanie Edwards; actual age is [34]; character’s age is 30 (completed college at age 22, 4 years medical school,, currently in her 4th year as a surgical resident)

Kelly McCreary: plays Maggie Pierce; actual age is [34]; character’s age is 32 (completed college at age 17-ish, 3 years medical school, 5 year surgical residency, 3 years cardiothoracic surgical fellowship, 2-3 years cardiothoracic surgical head at some other hospital, currently in her 2nd year as cardiothoracic surgical chief… AND we know her actual birthdate)

Giancomo Gianniotti: plays Andrew DeLuca; actual age is [26]; character’s age is at least 28, no more than 31 (completed high school at age 18, 1-4 years as EMT, 4 years college, 4 years medical school, currently is his 1st year as a surgical intern)

Martin Henderson: plays Nathan Riggs; actual age is [41]; character’s age is anywhere between 44-47 based on time spent with Hunt in med school (completed college at age 22-24, 4 years medical school when he met Hunt, 5 years surgical residency, some time with Hunt as an Army trauma surgeon, some time with Kepner while doing her Doctors without Borders thing, currently in his 1st year as a cardiothoracic attending)

Jason George: plays Ben Warren; actual age is [44]; character’s age is around 38-ish (completed college at age 22, 4 years medical school, 4 year anesthesia residency, came to Seattle Grace from Mercy West as an attending, so let’s say he was an attending for 2-ish years, then attending at Seattle Grace for 2 years, 1 year surgical residency at UCLA, currently in his 4th (I think…) year surgical residency after the transfer home)

OLD CAST MEMBERS

Sandra Oh: played Cristina Yang; actual age is [44]; character’s age is around 36-ish (completed college at 22-ish, somehow completed her PhD and MD in 6 years, she was 28 during her intern year, 5 years surgical residency, 1 year attending, 3rd year as director of hospital in Zurich).

T.R. Knight: played George O’Malley; actual age is [43]; character died at age 29, would be 35 had he lived (completed college at 22, 4 years med school, made it to, but not through his 3rd year of residency).

Katherine Heigl: played Izzie Stevens; actual age is [36]; character left the show at age 30, would be around 35 had she stayed (completed college at 23, 4 years med school, fired during her 3rd year of residency, doing who-the-hell-cares-what is the 6 years since)

Isaiah Washington: played Preston Burke; actual age is [52]; character’s age is 50-something (all they ever mentioned about the character was he is 40-something, and that was during casting, so presumably he’s 50-something as we’re now 9-ish years later in time)

Patrick Dempsey: played Derek Shepherd; actual age is [50]; character died at age 45, would be 47 had he lived (completed college at age 22, 4 years medical school, then got married in 1994, 5 year surgical residency, fellowship , etc. Age as of late 2015: deceased at age 45-ish)

Kate Walsh: played Addison Montgomery; actual age is [48]; character’s age is around 48 (completed college at 22, 6 years college + PhD program, 4 years med school, 5 year surgical residency, and some other stuff, but she was 39 in the season 8 finale of Grey’s Anatomy in 2006, which matches her supposed birth year of 1967, and technically another 7 years have passed in time since that season which was basically residency year 2, sooooooo weird timing there, just ignore it) [also, I’m not considering her character as really gone from the show, she could come back for a crazy surgery to assist Arizona at any time, it could happen people!]

Eric Dane: played Mark Sloan; actual age is [43] character died at age 44, would be 48 had he lived (completed college at age 22, 4 years med school, 5 year surgical residency, basically the same age as Derek and Addison, he ad Derek were friends as kids)

Brooke Smith: played Erica Hahn; actual age is [48]; they never quite got around to her age, but I estimate her as 50-something (completed college around age 22, 4 years med school, 5 year surgical residency, and she was in the same year of school as Preston Burke).

Chyler Leigh: played Lexie Grey; actual age is [34]; character died at age 27, would be 31 had she lived (completed college at age 19, 4 years med school, made it to but not through 4th year surgical residency).

Kim Raver: played Teddy Altman; actual age is [47]; they don’t say her age, but her character was at least 40 when she left the show, would be 45 had she stayed (completed college at age 22, 4 years med school, 5 year surgical residency, 2 years fellowship, joined Army after 9/11/01)

Gaius Charles: played Shane Ross; actual age is [32]; character’s age is completely a guess at 30 (completed college at age 22, 4 years medical school 2+ years surgical residency at Seattle Grace before leaving with Yang, currently in his 4th year of surgical residency at the Klausman Institute for Medical Research)

Tess Ferrer: played Leah Murphy; actual age is [30]; character’s age is a guess at 28 (they identified her birth year as 1987, which makes her four years younger than Pierce, so she completed college at age 21-ish, 4 years medical school, fired during her 2nd-ish year of surgical residency, hopefully working in that research Webber sent her to since then)

 


Starting Off 2016, I’m Still Me!

Happy New Year!!!

I’ve got no resolutions, just more of continuing to be myself. As my husband Chris says during every conversation we’ve had for the last 48 hours, 2015 was a year of big changes. He’s all about reflection. And speeches. And other people listening to his reflective speeches.

For Christmas, we were in Chicago with our families.

planeMy mother and his mother combined the Savage and McBride Christmases and we filled up my parents’ new house. I didn’t think we could fill up their big ass house, but we did it. And because Chris is Chris, he had to give a speech prior to grace. It was heartfelt and wonderful and made everyone go awwwwwww.

tree

We were in Chicago forever, almost 2 weeks (is that hyperbole? Literary purists, help me out!). That meant lots of time for other activities. There were several dinner parties, a slumber party, a couple of date nights, Chris had a gig, and there was lots of sleeping late.

bullsnets3 bullsnets2 bullsnets1

I was, however, bamboozled! I was told we’d need to help move my grandmother into my parents’ house on moving day. but I spent hours at her house the first day. Then there were more hours at her house the next day. Then there were more hours at her house the next week.

What is family for if not to help you move, literally, piece by piece? She had 30 years of stuff to sort into keep, garbage, and giveaway piles. That took a lot of hands and a lot of time.

moving

I’m pretty sure my mother purposely undersold the time commitment. She knows that I would’ve had no problem saying no ahead of time, but that there was no way I’d say no when the rest of the family was headed over to do hard work. I just can’t not help people (sorry literary purists whose attention I’ve specifically requested), not when it’s so obvious my help would make things go better for everyone.

There is one caveat, I can’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of. And my parents never make me feel that way. So it was settled, I got easily pimped out for manual labor on the big move to get my grandmother to my parents’ house.

Then there was waiting for the delivery of Christmas presents. I just bought everything online and had it shipped there rather than bring all those gifts with us. See the start and ending pics. Shit got real. That chair got added to my room when I salvaged it from the give away pile at my grandmother’s house.

presents 2 presents

There was also a funeral. The last of my great-grandmother’s siblings died. She was #16 of 16. It’s crazy to think that entire generation is now gone. I went to the funeral with my parents, and as much as the circumstances weren’t great, I was really happy to see so many family members from that branch of the family tree. After we left her burial, my daddy and I visited my Papa’s grave, who’s funeral I went to the last time I was in Chicago.

papa's grave

So after all the holiday parties, a new tattoo (more on that later), and hanging with friends I only see when in Chicago (if that often)…

paint & drink momma tattoo martinis

…it was time for New Year’s Eve!

I spent the holiday in St. Louis with my best friend David. We went to a nice dinner then a party at Ballpark Village. That party was so much fun and that DJ was everything. He was mixing songs based on: tempo, key, genre, lyrics, and theme. That’s right, lyrics and theme! Who does that?

Our tickets got us in all the 327 bars inside the village (more hyperbole! (I think…)), free drinks until midnight, free champagne toast at midnight, and endless dancing. We shut that party down like we have shut down several parties over the years.

me and david

My fancy sparkly shoes made it through the night, but barely got me back to my hotel. What should’ve been a 5 minute walk took almost 15! I wish I could blame it on being drunk, but I was happy champagne drunk, not old-school falling down vodka-and-tequila drunk. Nope, it was just a lot of dancing on concrete floors.

sparkly shoes

I got back to New York last night, and I was of course greeted by the cats who were looking at me like I was the biggest traitor for leaving them for so long. Our friend who lives around the corner watered, fed, and cleaned for the cats. So they were fine, they just have so much personality, so they had to let me know everything they were feeling.

Belle Jan 2016 2 Belle Jan 2016

I ended 2015 exactly the way I wanted to. I’m looking forward to 2016 being a great year. I’ve got hopes for this year, but there are some specific things I’d like to see happen:

  • Chris graduate from grad school
  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast
  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable
  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

Let me reiterate that those are not resolutions, but more of a way to focus my view of the year. It’s gonna be a great year! Did I say that already?


Who Needs Sleep? I Do, But Whatever! Part 2

I’m just going to pick up right from where I left off yesterday. I was telling a very long-winded story about my week of going out.

Tuesday, I was back out. This time I was at Moca Lounge. It is my spot on Tuesday nights because they have a poetry set that’s always great. A couple of drinks, some laughs, and always at least one poem that leaves the room speechless.

After Moca, I headed to Small’s Jazz Club. One of the best friends we’ve made since we moved to New York, Corey, had a gig there. His group, the Dubtet, plays and leads in the jam session every other Tuesday night. It just so happens to be the Tuesday I work in my 2 week work shift rotation. I hardly ever go because that means being awake for almost 24 hours straight.

2015-11-18 00.38.432015-11-18 00.42.202015-11-18 00.42.482015-11-18 00.43.272015-11-18 01.46.03

But I stayed out, and I’m glad I did because his girlfriend Allyson came out. And our friend Noah has his girl out, I was happy to meet her as well. Noah’s so sweet, so of course his girl is too.

I gave her a crash course on what it’s like to get thrown head first in the jazz world simply because you’re with a musician. She seemed interested, so that was a great sign for Noah. And me and Allyson too because we hardly ever see them women from the rest of the guys in the crew.

I think I got to a point where I could barely keep my eyes open, so Chris made me leave. I’m glad I listened to him because I’m no fun when I’m that tired.

Wednesday was my day off, and it takes a lot, a whole whole lot, to get me to leave the house on my day off. I do much better when I’m already out because of work or volunteering. But my friend Dericko, who I used to work with before he switched industries, invited me out.

I haven’t seen him in months, so of course I said yes. His company was having an event at Taproom 307, and there was a lot of beer to be had. I got there super late, as is my way, but I still had time to sit and have one great beer with him and his friends.

We caught up and had a lot of great laughs, then Dericko decided he had to head home because he had work in the morning. We decided to try and grab a quick bite before leaving.

One Google search later, we were at this place called Dos Caminos. This was not a quick bite, it was a full sit down restaurant. Didn’t mean to end up there at all, but I’m so glad we did. I’m not sure if that area counts at Gramercy Park or Flatiron District, but either way I would recommend it.The environment was perfect for a date or drinks out with friends.

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And the food was great. Freshly made guacamole anyone? My only complaint was the way they sliced their skirt steak. A few degrees in the wrong angle while slicing, and you take a perfectly tender bite and make it chewy. But everything was delicious, and it was great to get even more time to catch up with Dericko, and to get to know his new friend Liz.

The best thing to come out of the night was finding out that he moved into a new place. He said his place is large enough to accommodate all the people Chris and I have invited for Thanksgiving. Chris and I will probably take him up on that. We’re going to combine Friendsgiving with the McBride Thanksgiving for Traveling and Wayward Musicians.

Our tiny ass apartment was going to be really pushing it, but if his place is really big enough, that will take a big worry off my shoulders. I’ll probably still cook at home, where I’m familiar with the oven, but transporting the food over to his house shouldn’t be a problem.

Even though my DVR is busting at the seams, and I still haven’t unpacked from my visit to Chicago and St. Louis two weeks ago, I’d say it’s a fair trade off. I had a great time this past week.


Who Needs Sleep? I Do, But Whatever! Part 1

In the last week, I’ve gone out 4 times, and it should’ve been 6 if I hadn’t canceled at the last minute. For a person who’s kind of a homebody, it’s just so much!

I’ve been having a good time though, and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been to some cool spots.

Like I said, the world keeps turning, and against a backdrop of France trying to whoops ass at all the ISIS targets the apparently already knew about, bombings in Nigeria, and America fucking up by deciding not to let in refugees, I’ve still been living my life.

I don’t know how people who are so committed to these causes go through their days. Do they feel bad if they take time to go to a birthday party? Do they stop on Thursdays for TGIT? Do they every re-tweet a funny cat video?

I don’t know. Y’all know I’m struggling with feeling like I should be doing something more, saying something more. How do other personal bloggers just ignore this in their posts and only talk about their fun new recipe for peppermint pumpkin spice chai mocha martinis or whatever?

Talking about this stuff starts to give me existential angst, so I’m going to move on.

My week of not-staying-in-the-house-ness has resulted in two things that I know must frustrate Chris.

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I think he’s taken the if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em approach. On top of the unpacked travel bags is his saxophone case. I bug him constantly about not leaving it right by the front door, but clearly I’m not saying anything about it this week.

He’s going to New Orleans this weekend for his friend’s birthday, and him travelling is usually my cue to get the house together. Something about returning home to a wonderful clean house, I don’t know, ask my mother for the details of why that’s a great way to treat your husband. She’s been married for over 35 years, so I’m listening to her advice on this one.

But what have I been up to if not staying home and organizing my house? And what about those two days I didn’t go out? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Last Thursday was a music showcase by the bae of one of my favorite co-workers. It was at Manhattan Brew & Vine, which I’ve been trying to make my way to since it opened. I’m so mad I didn’t go. Everyone says it was so much fun, and the music was great. They went to Corner Social after to hang, which is always a good late night spot if you don’t care about not hearing anything except the music. So basically… double fail on my part.

Friday is when I was supposed to meet my friends who were visiting NYC in Times Square. Y’all already know how that turned out. We were supposed to go to this bar in Times Square I love called Havana Central. Instead they went to this hookah bar one of their Cali people recommended. I wish I could remember the name of it because I would put it on blast for their weak drinks.

Saturday was great though. My girl Sara came out with me to take these girls to Liberty Theater, and my promoter friend Jay Jay hooked us up. I love the look of this place because it really used to be a theater, so it still has the stage, tiered floor, and box seats. I don’t really do clubs like this very often, but I had a blast. We danced and drank and had a really good time. There are a ton of videos and photos because millennials. I think I can find a couple to show you. I wish I had one of Sara getting proposed too. That was a fun laugh when some random man decided he was in love with her and literally tried to give her  a ring.

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Sunday  night I was at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club. Our friends Willerm, Henry, and like 2 other people, were celebrating their birthdays. Willerm’s band was playing (including Chris), and he wanted a soul train line in the club after the set. He requested my presence there, so I took a nap after brunch-turned dinner.

About this brunch-turned-dinner. My friends who I took to Liberty Theater were supposed to meet us for brunch by our house in Brooklyn. By the time they woke up, got ready, checked out of their hotel, decided against the subway, took a Lyft, got through traffic, it was 4 hours and one restaurant later. That’s all I’ll say on that topic.

The gig Sunday night at Smoke was amazing, and these guys always sound good together. Chris was the “DJ,” playing songs on his iPhone through the speaker. We had the soul train line, including some confused but thoroughly entertained tourists, and all was right in the world. Then I took my butt home and got exactly 1 hour of sleep before getting up for work.

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Groid Collective 8 out of 12

Monday night, I stayed my sleepy self at home after work. My best friend David and I watch a lot of TV together even though he lives in St. Louis. We are on the phone watching the same episode at the same time. It’s a great way to spend time together because we both watch so much TV.

I was also trying to help with suggestions of what his family could do when they visit New York the Saturday after Thanksgiving. They’ll all be nearby visiting one of his sisters who just moved, so they’re coming in to the city for a day. I’m mostly excited for his dad, who’s never been here. Should be a good time next week.

This post is getting long, So I’m gonna stop here. I’ll post Part 2 tomorrow.


Heading to Times Square, After Some Prayer

I thought I’d have a funny story to tell for my first consistent blog post in months. My girl is in town with her cousin for her birthday. They’d never been to New York before, so she wanted to visit.

I know her  through some degrees of separation. My best friend joined a fraternity in college. Her husband is one of his line brothers. The first time we all hung out is when he brought a very pregnant her to their fraternity’s annual party called The Champagne Sip (don’t worry she didn’t drink).

We did have a laugh-filled night at The Waffle House though after the party. And they cemented themselves as the favorite couple I’d met through my best friend. Over the years, we’ve had some good times though we don’t see each other nearly often enough.

This couple now has three children, all of whom call my best friend godfather. There have been many gift-help-picking-out moments over the years, which always result in something fun & educational… and maybe noisy.

But I didn’t see my girl last night. She arrived to her hotel in Times Square yesterday and we planned to meet for drinks at my favorite bar in Times Square, Havana Central.

But then I started hearing about everything happening in Paris, every terrible detail as it arrived in a push notification to my phone from CNN.

I said a prayer for the people of Paris, and decided I wasn’t going out.

Since Chris and I moved to New York, I’ve been more aware of what it means when a major city gets attacked,

I know Chicago is a major city, so is L.A., and a few others. But when I worry about American cities, my first two thoughts go to D.C. and NYC.

Whenever there is a concern for the safety of major cities, my first thought is to stay in/immediately head to Brooklyn. Manhattan is where I spend a bunch of my time, but I live in Brooklyn.

I don’t know if I was overreacting, I just know that I live in New York now.

The world kept turning, people kept coming together in Paris to deal with a tragedy, and I went home last night.

At the time I’m posting this, ISIS has claimed responsibilities for the attacks in Paris last night, Belgium has already begun to make arrests, and Paris is still treating the over 300 people who got injured.

It’s hard to wrap my head around what’s happened, to just continue with a normal day knowing that so much has changed for so many people.

But I’m going to try because that’s what we do, right? We say a prayer, put something supportive on social media, donate some money to a fund, then… keep it moving.

It never seems like enough, but I don’t know what else to do. There’s power in prayer, I do know that.

I’m going to go see my friend today. In Times Square. They say it’s safe. I hope they’re right. I’m definitely going to pray some more before I go.


Remember That Time I Started Bloggging Again?

So, if you asked me on pretty much any given day, I’d swear that blogging was important to me. I think about it a lot. I’ve been working on the Grey’s Anatomy post, updating it for years. And I read so many blogs. So. Many. Blogs.

But I think actions speak louder than words. And my actions show I’ve posted nothing new here on my blog in months. So what do my actions say? They say blogging just isn’t a priority for me. I’d like it to be though.

Hell, I wish I could make time to blog every day. And those blog posts would be adorable and funny, but also intimate and deep, making the blogosphere flock to my every word. I’d turn that popularity into a platform for equality of the live-and-let-live vein. Then ABC would call, and of course, I’d happily appear on the next season of Dancing with the Stars.

But, none of that is likely to happen because I can’t manage more than 20 posts a year…

What it really comes down to is that sometimes stuff happens in life that I just don’t want to write about. Sometimes those things are major and take up all my brain, but it just doesn’t feel publicly discussable. So when that happens, instead of posting cat videos or posting about the other, less-super-important things in life, I just kinda disappear.

Never my intent, but what the hell is intent worth when the end result is the same?

I’m sitting next to my husband Chris, and he’s super shocked that I’m blogging. His exact words were, “holy shit! You still blog?!”

I think that says it all.

So after the most rambling introduction I could come up with, what am I to talk about?

I could talk about my grandfather dying. I could allude to work frustrations, avoiding HIPAA violations to tell funny co-worker stories. I could talk about Chris’s career in music and our crazy New York friends. I could talk about my friends who aren’t in New York and all the wonderful drama in their lives. I could talk about my obsession with TV. I could talk about finally having a fully livable, completely unpacked house (for the first time since Chris and I have lived together!).

Eh, I should probably figure out what this blog is going to be about these days. Having a focus is key. How else am I going to end up on Dancing with the Stars?

I could to about being a shopaholic in denial. I could talk about how domestic I am (three course meal, anyone?). I could talk about how painting my nails is totally my therapy, but it’s the one thing in life I never seem to get better at with more practice. I could talk about my hair (dreadlocks) or my tattoos (I’m up to 6 now). I could talk about my cats; they really have way too much personality. I could talk about my family and my fabulously retired parents.

Maybe I’ll talk about all of that. A lot of how I talk to my friends is just telling stories of things I think are interesting or things that matter to me. I don’t if you can tell that I’m just typing all of this as I’m thinking it, but I’ve decided just now that I’m going to treat this blog going forward as a way to tell my stories.

If something happens that I’d tell one of my friends in a story (assuming it doesn’t violate anyone else’s privacy), I’ll tell it here. Hopefully with pictures or memes to illustrate, because who wants just words?

And now for your viewing pleasure, a picture of my latest tattoo:

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This is holly & mistletoe, tied together artistically. It’s designed to match the ivy tattoo on my arm.

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I love my tattoo guy. His name is BJ Storms and he works at Code of Conduct in Chicago. He can take my crazy clip art ideas and make something wonderful and artistic from it.

Now let’s all cross our fingers that I post literally anything else between now and the end of the year.


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!