Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “growing up

Working on Living My Truth

This blog is supposed to be a personal blog where I share things about myself, and my experiences as I explore the world around me. Feeling like a city girl, born and raised in Chicago, there are some Midwestern mores I’ve struggled to let go of.

You want to live out and proud? Eh, sure, but not so loud. The people who chose to do that when I was growing up were always looked at as weird and odd and not the type of people you want to be too close to.

But my parents raised me to be weird, to let my freak flag fly. They never encouraged me to seek out oddities simply for the sake of uniqueness, but they taught me to embrace the things that made me stand out and to take pride in the ways I wasn’t like everyone else.

I’m sure these days, when I’m fussing at them about toxic masculinity (which neither of them fully understand their complicit roles in) and the shortcomings of affirmative action (which several family members dedicated their careers to enacting and supporting), they are wondering where they went wrong.

My mother even jokes that she advises her friends to give their kids less choices. Choices is where she went wrong with my brother and me. I think we turned out just fine, better than fine either. But there is the evidence: the amount of illicit substances we consume (mostly alcohol, calm down), the fact that neither of us is happily married (more on that later), and the fact that only one of my seven first cousins of childbearing age have or even seem to want a child.

I’d like to think my parents are satisfied with us. I’m satisfied with them. Actually, that’s an understatement. Like any good Libra child, I’m obsessed with them. I intended on writing about trying to stand more in my truth, but yet I’m talking about what my parents opinion of that might be.

They’ve had to deal with a lot from me in the last year. They’ve heard about my plans for grad school. They’ve heard about the dissolution of my marriage (sorry if you actually know me and this is how you’re hearing about it). They’ve heard about polyamory (more on that later). They’ve taken it all in stride, certainly better than they did when I gave them unasked for progress reports on how well they’re doing at fixing their inherent racial prejudices.

I’m one of the lucky ones. My parents try to hard to let me be me, and tried to teach me to let me be myself. Ever the aging millennial, I cannot possibly move forward with confidence without rooting around for parental support. But I have it, so I should probably move on to step two, right?

So what is step two? Am I such a Libra cliche that I must spend time every few years “finding myself?” Here’s what I know. The only constant in life is change. If you’re exactly who you were five years ago, you’re doing something wrong.

This was me around five years ago.

I am pretty sure I took that picture at work, some night shift I was working when I still lived in Chicago. I was coming up on my first wedding anniversary and feeling myself because my locs had just about reached my shoulders. I knew my husband wanted to move to New York, but I had no idea what it would look like to live anywhere else other than Chicago. I was just as proud of my eyebrows then, which I didn’t have to do anything to for them to look like that.

This is me just a couple of months ago.

I like this picture enough that it’s currently my profile picture. I could talk for another 500 words about the process of eradicating my marriage from all my profile pics and blurbs, but I’d rather talk about this picture. My vision makes it so that I now have to wear my glasses all the time. I’m no longer afraid of a bright red lip. Too much hair dye means my locs aren’t as long as they should be at this point, but I’m working on it. Oh, and I’m wearing a Slytherin scarf that was my actual winter scarf. My husband and work husband both worked hard to make sure I didn’t lose that thing by retrieving it when I drunkenly left it behind at all the bars. I’ve learned this half smile thing (don’t know that it qualifies as a whole smize) that does a nice job at camouflaging the lines around my eyes. And I still have wonderful eyebrows with very little effort.

I’ve worked hard to stay happy with myself, and I’m proud of it because self-confidence is not a given. I think step two isn’t so much about finding myself, but more about authentically expressing myself. I’ve always been the girl with an opinion on everything, whether someone asked me or not. Hopefully I can take those skills and apply them to this.


I Enjoy Less Because Feminism

The patriarchal cisgendered norms of my worldview have been buffeted by intersectional feminism.

In case that sentence was gibberish to you, let me break it down.

Patriarchal: When I use this term, I’m referring to the second definition, which refers to a society controlled by men.

Cisgendered: When I use this term, I’m referring to people who identify as being the same gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersectional: When I use this term, I’m referring to the concept that the problems of marginalized communities are interconnected, and cannot be separated.

Feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to the belief in and fight for the rights of women based on the belief in their equality to men.

Intersectional feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to an idea that the fight for equality for women is a fight for all women and femmes, crossing racial and social and economic and age and gender lines.

Having defined those terms as I am currently using them, let’s say that first sentence again using a lot more words.

The world defaults to the best interest of men, particularly those who were assigned the male gender at birth, and I was raised with those same patterns of behavior and views. In learning more about the world around me, particularly as it relates to the equality of all people, and the way all marginalized communities are connected, I no longer view the world that way.

I notice this in ways small and large. It has affected the way I see things, and changed the things I used to take for granted. I count myself lucky because I was raised by parents who taught me to be independent and decide for myself how I view the world. They taught me that even if I disagree with everyone I love, I must think, feel, and do what I think is right.

Some examples:

  • I can no longer watch TGIT with my mother because she and I disagree on the normalcy of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot recently for my mother because my grandmother is sick. This last visit, I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious, and How to Get Away with Murder with my mom. Every show that night featured characters engaging in homosexual behavior. Each time my mother would say something along the lines of, “they’re so gay.” Her tone and redundancy bugged me, and I expressed my dissatisfaction. But aside from learning to not voice certain things, I don’t think much can be done to fix this situation. I no longer enjoy watching television with my mother. I am no fan of Raven-Symone, but I was so irritated when over the summer my mother spoke of her sexuality while we watched an eipsode of The View.
  • I can no longer attend church services at the church where I grew up. The last sermon I sat through there was a ranting mess about how gays and Muslim immigrants and bankers were responsible for the economic hardships. I was completely fucking floored and done with the church after that. The pastor of the church wasn’t there that day. The preacher who gave that awful ass sermon is now the pastor of another church, thank God. But his departure doesn’t change the reaction of the congregation during the sermon. I was horrified, openly horrified at that sermon, and I seemed to be the only one. The people who were actually listening, and who managed to follow his bullshit line of reasoning were responding as if it were any other barely mediocre sermon. I cannnot attend a church where they think blaming marginilized communities for our community’s problems is okay.
  • The song Hallelujah is one I have always loved. That mournful tone and the way the music swells as it builds to its peak have always been so beautiful to me. But the lyrics maaaaaan… The second verse is all biblical references normalizing a lot of crap towards women. It gets real rapey and hateful in just five lines. Pretty much the only version of the song I can listen to these days is the one by Pentatonix. I can easily listen to the beauty of their voices without the lyrics penetrating.
  • Eminem, who I would call one of my favorite rappers, says some awful things about women, homosexuals, etc. I don’t really love rap to begin with, and that is now tested even more. His song Rap God, which I used to listen to on repeat, now is like a slap across the face every time he uses the word faggot. It’s just not the same now that I no longer make excuses for the use of that word in music.

Those are just a few, but there are many more. Obviously, a lot of the issues I have come as a consumer. Music, television, even news articles just fall flat to me when they aren’t doing enough to fight for progress.

Several articles in the Washington Post recently address feminism, but they do it in such an incomplete way, that without a good knowledge base, you’d think they hate feminism and have never heard the word intersectional. I know feminism has a lot of problems, mostly that it tend to leave out those are aren’t white, cis, middle class, career-focused, American women. But these articles, which you can read here, here, and here, seem so limited in their scope. They seemed to make the point that there is feminism and there is black/poor/non-white feminism. In my opinion, they are not helping the cause.

The unity that is essential to resisting future overlord DJT feels like it’s being attacked from all sides. For any Harry Potter fans out there, remember that sucky speech Dolores Umbridge gave at the start of year feast when she was Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? Basically she spoke a lot about preserving some traditions and pruning others. Just like DJT’s narcissistic ass, she sought to only keep the “traditions” that forwarded her and the Ministry’s selfish aims, damn those who are hurt in the wake.

If we are going to properly resist what’s coming (and already happening), we can’t let mainstream media twist and/or make light of important movements. And you can’t let the constant stream of music, online videos, television and movies (white-washed Dr. Strange, I’m looking at you… “Celtic” my ass…) shape and re-shape your perception of what’s normal–and what isn’t.

If you believe in equality, if you believe in progress, then pay attention. Learn their code words, and learn your code words. When I hear the word urban come up in politics, I know what they mean. It catches my ear and puts me on alert because what follows the use of that word is almost always some bullshit, and almost always is an attempt to harm my community.

I’m paying attention. And when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Listen. Progress. Resist. Thrive.


Going to Grad School Instead of Buying an Armoire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was not a crumb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

image via adinkra.org

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I Won’t Paint My Home, But Can I Paint Yours?

I can’t even say why, but I really love talking about the weather y’all. It’s finally over 60 degrees in New York now. And that makes me very happy. And the forecast is holding. It’s not supposed to go any lower than 38 for the next 10 days.

You know it’s been a brutal winter when you’re happy for a low of 38 in April.

In celebration of Spring, there will be pastel nail polish, there will be spring cleaning, and there might be packing away winter clothes.

Now that I live in NYC, and there are pretty distinct seasons, I feel like I should put away the sweaters and heavy boots until November. But now that I live in NYC, I don’t have any freaking room for extra storage. I know, I know, first world problems.

But I really want to put away the clothes. I want to put some lavender potpourri in with the clothes so they smell good when unearthed in 6-7 months. And I would love being a size too small to fit some of the clothes at that time.

A girl can dream.

Pinterest isn’t helping. I dream of amazing storage solutions and a multi-tasking armoire, and basically just other ways to spend up all the money. Thank God I married a man who likes to save.

It’s nice to add things to my apartment to make it feel more at home. Brooklyn still doesn’t feel like home to me, but that apartment is feeling more like home.

We’ve been in the apartment since July 2013, which is quite a while for me. So. Much. Moving.

In all that time, it always felt like this super temporary place, and even unpacking the suitcases seems extra. But everything changed when my parents came to visit.

My mother and father came for New Year’s, and it was amazing. We didn’t really even do much of anything. But on New Year’s Eve, it was perfect. I came home from work, my dad made steaks, we popped some champagne.

We watched the New Year’s Eve programming on ABC, flipping back and forth between that and a Law & Order marathon. At one point my mother fell asleep, and then Belle took a nap of her head. My dad and I were the only ones awake in the house, just bantering back and forth about whatever was on the screen, and I’m pretty sure we went through almost 3 full bottles of champagne.

It was like someone picked out my favorite New Year’s Eve moments from the last 30 years and smushed them all into one evening. Having that time, just on the couch with my parents, finally made that apartment feel like home.

Since their visit, I’ve been doing more decorating and organizing. Knowing our 3-ish year plan, it just makes sense. Why feel temporary in a place for 3 years if you don’t have to?

But there are certain things I just can’t bring myself to do until I’m in my permanent home. I won’t paint the rooms any color. I won’t get any more custom shelves made. I won’t buy curtains that cost more than $25. And I’m not buying my dream couch.

Something like this is what I’d love. To be able to lay down in front of the TV also facing the TV… that’s the dream…

It would suck so bad to have this amazing couch and then have to get rid of it because it doesn’t fit in a new place. Ditto for those custom-made shelving solutions I’ve seen at the Container Store. And on Instagram. And Pinterest.

Pinterest really isn’t helping.

I take it as a sign of growing up that I’m having this desire to set up a more permanent home. That, and I watch a lot of HGTV. I would be falling over myself to get on one of those shows if they filmed in New York.

I would love to go on Property Brothers. If not them, then Fixer Upper. Worst case scenario, I’d buy a crap place with a lot of space, then go on Love It or List It. But none of these shows are in New York. Why?! It’s just not fair.

In the mean time, I’m living vicariously through my parents. They just bought a new house. I’m trying to work out my schedule so I can go visit and see it in person sooner rather than later. I am not painting my apartment, but I can certainly paint in their new place.

Yes, a bit of a nesting fix is exactly what I need.

I’m off to check ticket prices on expedia.com.


So About This Bucket List

I mentioned this bucket list about a year ago. My friends and I had grand plans to get all this cool stuff done before our 30th birthdays. Well, I’m happy to report I got most of it done. I did a post about the first things I did, but now I’m just going to do a round-up of everything.

That’s what happens when you miss 100+ days of blogging. You gotta summarize.

Just to remind you, my best friend and I made a list of different categories. Each of us then had to choose something within that category and attempt to complete it by our 30th birthdays (give or take as everyone didn’t have a full year to make it happen).

Let’s just say that out of the 10 or so people who liked the idea, not many people actually worked on crossing items off their list.

But a few of us really tried. My best friend did the most, she even completed her task of skydviving! Her mom, who is amazing, scheduled it and went with her.

This is what I came up with when we first settled on the idea. The left column holds the categories, and the right column are my chosen activities. Each thing I chose had to be approved by someone else doing the bucket list.

“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love
Dating Five unique dates with husband
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships
Hobby/Lessons Horseback riding lessons
Physical Appearance Tattoo
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B
Wildcard

I did make some changes over the year. Since I didn’t choose a wildcard, I decided to use my nose piercing to count as that one. It felt quite wild and spontaneous when I did it, plus it was something I ordinarily wouldn’t have done. I decided on a whim to get it done while a friend was visiting from out of town.

I also changed the hobby. I changed from horseback riding lessons to Wine School. Following along with the New York Times’s Eric Asimov and learning a lot about an existing passion (wine), made sense for a good replacement because I simply didn’t have the funds or time to pursue horseback riding right now.

That being said, here’s how I did on the updated categories:

Category Activity Completion
“All the kids are doing it” Watch one whole season of Bad Girls Club Binge watched all of Season 11. The girls were in Miami. I didn’t enjoy it. At least I confirmed for myself that I really don’t like that type of reality show. ANTM and DWTS, plus a smidge of Chopped and Iron Chef is all I need.
Culinary Exploration Find soy/tofu dish to love Tofu just wasn’t gonna happen. I really tried. But a great suggestion from an online friend led me to chocolate soy milk. I genuinely enjoyed it and it’s currently the only store bought chocolate milk I like to drink.
Dating Five unique dates with husband I had so many rules for this one, I was setup for failure! The date couldn’t include one of Chris’s gigs, couldn’t be a group date, and couldn’t happen at home. We only did one date that was outside of those three categories. Life gets busy and all that… Major Fail.
Free Spirit Table-top dance at bar This one I did. When some friends came to town to celebrate a med school graduation, I went out with them. We danced all night, and some of my dancing included a table top at a bar. Good times.
Friendships Make 2 new NYC friendships Done and done. I’ve made more than 2 friends. I think if I’m being honest, there are 3 total friendships I made that I would continue to pursue even if I (or they) moved away from NYC tomorrow. I had such a hard time making friends when I first moved here, so I’m glad this one worked out.
Hobby/Lessons Wine School I’m months behind, but I’ve done every month up until July. And I have all the bottle up until November, just waiting to try them. This counts as a win for me!
Physical Appearance Tattoo I got the tattoo. I watched the World Cup final, literally watching the second tick away. Probably the tiniest tattoo ever, but I love it so much!
Thrill-Seeking Activity Bungee Jumping Nope. Didn’t even schedule it. Still a punk. I need to get my life.
Unconventional Travel Backpacking train ride to ME B&B Nope. I even took off a weekend from work to make it happen. But travel costs, and pricing, and trying to find the perfect place on airbnb. Excuses, excuses.
Wildcard Pierce Something Other Than your Ears Yes sir! Because I kinda rolled this one in at the end, it counts! I got my nose pierced. It’s almost healed, and I’m currently shopping for a great nose ring.
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This is my favorite new friend here. Corey is a musician, he plays trombone, and he’s amazing!

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These are a good number of my NYC friends and co-workers. This is the surprise 30th birthday party Chris threw me.

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This is the almost-finished glass of chocolate soy milk when I first tried it. Trader Joe’s is the only brand I’ve tried. It’s so yummy!

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The is the best shot I have of me dancing on a table top. There were about 4 of us crammed onto this not very strong table, but we made it work. The girl was shocked that I wanted pictures, which is why she’s making that face. Too bad the random stranger I enlisted to take the photo wasn’t a better cameraman.

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Me right after my nose ring piercing. Hopefully you can see it well. I didn’t get great shots of it that night. Too much darkness, too much alcohol.

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And the tattoo, last but not least. Libra scales on my ring finger. Love it so much!

 

So I didn’t finish them all, but 7 out of 10 ain’t bad.

There’s good news here. My friend and I decided to extend the list until the end of the year. I don’t know that I’ll get to Maine, but I can at least try to finish the dates with Chris and maybe, maybe, think about possibly looking into the chance of seeking out a schedule for bungee jumping.

At that point, I’ll have 9 out of 10. Not all accomplished by my 30th birthday, but damn close.

We were also talking about doing this again next year. Fewer categories of course. We were just far too ambitious this time around.

We haven’t decided on the categories yet, but they will definitely have the same intention of pushing us outside of our comfort levels.

The only category we’ve decided on so far is “Creative Project”. That’s a working title for now. But the idea is to take something we like to do, and to commit to taking it to the next level creatively.

For me that would be continuing with the video posts. I’ve made more test videos, but I don’t like them enough to post them. I need to just get over myself and go with it. I don’t really have issues with avoiding attention or anything like that. But I do have some hesitancy when it comes to public attention, especially seeking out public attention. But I’m trying to get over that, and I think the video blogs will help.

I had some other ideas for other categories. I was thinking something like “Grown-Up Skill Building”. The idea of this category is to learn something that a fully functioning adult should know, but perhaps you don’t. For me, that might be learning to change my own oil or something. It’s not a very exciting category, so it probably won’t make the cut.

Another idea was to try on someone else’s hobby. I don’t have a title for that yet, but it would be something like picking an interesting friend, finding out their favorite hobby, and then trying it out with them or alone.

And one more is to focus on health/fitness. Really pushing ourselves into something fitness-related that’s outside our normal bounds. For me that might be like committing to do some sort of workout 5 days a week. For my friend, maybe training for a bike marathon maybe?

These are all just ideas. We have another month and a half to sort it out. But I’m loving this bucket list idea because it gives you focus for the year. Having specific fun-or-self-improving-or-meaningful goals gives you a sense of purpose. At least it feels that way to me.

Wish me luck on getting those dates planned an executed. Did I mention Chris is heading to Poland in two days? The life of a musician’s wife.


On Getting Ready For Birthdays

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it enough, but I’m turning 30 this year! I’m super excited about it. I honestly don’t know why exactly, but I just am!

I love my birthday more than most people I know. The fact that I have a handful of friends with birthdays around mine adds to it because we celebrate together every couple of years or so. I think for this 30th birthday, it’s going to be all about me though.

But I’m not the only one turning 30 this year. I’ve mentioned before that a group of us have this 30th birthday bucket list. I’m enjoying crossing items off of mine. I can’t wait to talk about what I’m doing to alter my physical appearance in ode to my 20s. And my friends have been doing some interesting things for their buckets lists as well.

Not everyone doing this bucket list is a close friend of mine, but a couple of them are. In fact, one of my best friends is the one who had the idea for the bucket list. And it just so happens her birthday is one of the first up for my people who are turning 30 this year.

The absolute first of my people who are turning 30 has a birthday next Thursday. He’s so excited about his birthday, and he should be. He has a lot to celebrate this year. He just graduated Harvard Medical School and he got the residency of his choice in Dermatology.

Up next is Easy. His birthday is July7th. Easy is my husband for those of you who missed the post where I said he wanted me to go back to using the nickname I gave him on my old blog when we first started dating.

Anyway, Easy turns 30 in a few weeks and he’s excited too. We don’t really have the funds for me to do something super extravagant for his birthday, but I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve been having so much fun getting ready for his birthday.

I’m doing something I’m going to call Gifting Mondays. It’s a crappy title, but it requires no explanation at least. Starting last Monday, and going for every Monday until his birthday (which falls on a Monday), I’m getting him an awesome you’re-a-grown-up-now gift. It’s been so much fun getting these gifts for him. I think I purchased the first one back in March and just hit it at work for a few months.

Last week, I got him and iPad mini. If you about the Apple products, you know this is a pretty cool gift. I got him a bluetooth keyboard to go with it. I think it could be a functional and fun gifor him because most everything he would do on the laptop, he can also do on the iPad Mini.

This week, I got him a flask. It’s a pretty nice flask, if I do say so myself. We have *cough* like four flasks already at our house. We usually use them as to go cups whenever someone leaves one of our parties early. And because our people are awesome, they return them. The flasks I bought are super girly, so they never get given out; we usually give away one of Chris’s. I really wanted to get him a flask that would be all his.

Things Remembered is a great store for personalized booze-y gifts if you didn’t already know. I would link you to the page with the one I bought him, but it doesn’t apear to be on sale on their website anymore. But I did find a picture online from QVC. I want to show you because it’s so cool looking to me.

image

I got it engraved with his initials to look like a nice monogram on the front. On the back I have a simple quote. It says: Best. Day. Ever.

I’m not going to discuss what’s coming next week because Easy reads this blog, so no spoiler alerts!

After Easy’s birthday is one of my best friend’s birthdays. Hers is actually one day apart from his. I love celebrating her birthday with her because we always have a good time. Also, it’s important to me to make her birthday special because occasionally her other friends drop the ball when it comes to her big day.

I think it’s because she’s nonchalant about things maybe they don’t get that her birthday is important to her. Nonchalant isn’t the right word. She’s just not the type of girl to get all giddy about every little thing. But lack of giddiness doesn’t equate to lack of interest, and I get that. So I try to always make sure she knows I care about her birthday.

Because this birthday is the big 3-0, I’m making a special trip to Chicago to visit her. Usually when I’m in town, my schedule is packed full with all the other family, wedding, friends’ birthdays crap, and we can’t always get together. So this time, I’m coming to Chicago just for her. Seeing other people will fit around our schedule.

I’m waiting until the weekend after her and Easy’s birthdays. I’m doing so because I want to be in town the weekend before Easy’s birthday, and secondly, she won’t even be in Chicago. She’s taking a trip to Europe for her 30th birthday. Quite a gift to give yourself, right?

Her job includes a lot of event planning, so she doesn’t want to plan a whole big thing for her birthday. I get that, so I told her I’d look up a couple of options, and when I got to town, we’d just pick something off of the list and see where the weekend takes us.

And also, I’ve been working on a playlist. We have been friends for over 20 years now, and music has been an integral part of our friendship. Back in college, we would get together Thursday nights and do each other’s hair. There was so much experimentation with color and cut, what we would have for dinner, and what we would talk about while we were hairstyling. But one thing that stayed consistent was the music.

We listen to a lot of the same songs over and over again. When a new album or single comes out that is really amazing, that gets put into rotation. I still remember when Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black came out. That really got put into heavy rotation.

So now that it’s time to have an epic birthday celebration, it wouldn’t be right without a playlist. An epic playlist that includes almost every song we’ve loved in the last 20 years. I have most of the music we like on my phone and synced with my Google account, so I’ve been working on this playlist. I know I haven’t caught all the songs, but I’m trying. In Chicago, we’ll be driving pretty much everywhere we go, so I have enough music to fill an entire weekend with the soundtrack of our friendship.

I’m not going to say too much about the activities I’m looking into because she reads this blog too, so I’ll just have a list ready when I get to Chicago, no spoilers!

After that, there are a couple of birthdays for old friends. The most important of which is my friend who was one of my bridesmen in my wedding. He’s my favorite Libra (besides myself of course), and it sucks that I probably won’t get to do any celebrating with him this year. We have had some amazing birthday celebrations over the years together, and including another Libra friend of ours (who doesn’t turn 30 for a few more years).

Then there is my birthday! Hopefully, Easy will have something fun planned. Hopefully, my girls will make the trip here for Halloween and help me finish out my birthday month. And hopefully, I’ll have finished the bucket list by then.

Then last is another one of my bridesmen, who is a Scorpio. He’s making a trip to NYC at the end of the summer, so maybe we can do some early celebrating as I don’t expect to make it back to Chicago any time in November or December of this year.

Then next year, there’s a whole other slew of 30th birthdays. But we’ll get to that later. Because this year, it’s all about those of us born in 1984!


On Making A Bucket List… Sort Of

God willing, I’m not going anywhere any time soon, so I don’t have a bucket list in the traditional sense. However, I am turning 30 this year, and when one of my best friends suggested we do a 30th Birthday Bucket List, I immediately loved the idea.

This was at the end of last summer, around August-ish. There are a number of folks we know who are turning 30 this year or who have already turned 30 this year. So we put together some fun categories that we could each pick something from to embrace and bid farewell to our 20s.

I won’t bore you with all the categories now– there are 10– but I will talk about them as I cross them off the list. Even though we set this up over 6 months ago, it’s been slow going for me to really start crossing things off.

I enjoyed my 20s tremendously, and I’m really looking forward to my 30th birthday. Even though I chose bucket list items that pushed my comfort zone, I still had to dig to find the motivation to just make it happen.

But enough about my 20-something hesitancy, let’s talk about what I’ve actually done (or rather, tried to do).

One of the categories is Culinary Exploration. This category came out of the idea that we all have some food item we were afraid to try. Your 20s is a time where you embrace new experiences and expand your horizons. It’s kind of hard to expand your horizons when there are things you won’t even try.

For me, culinary exploration only had one option: tofu/soy. I decided to find one tofu/soy item that I could truly enjoy and maybe even love.

I have tried tofu on many occasions, with several cuisines, in multiple countries. My mouth just no likey.

One or two (or five) had experiences with it, and I had given up. I lived in a world where soy sauce was the only soy product to cross my lips. I’ve never tried soy milk, I can barely swallow tofu of any kind.

I hated feeling defeated by food. I’ll eat pretty much anything. Except white sweet potatoes from Asia or the Caribbean. I just don’t like that grainy texture, yuck. I’m a texture person, and there’s no saving that awful veggie.

But tofu was a different story. People who eat it talk about its ability to take on whatever you want to give it. Grilling, frying, baking, etc. it supposedly has a lot of options.

In my experience tofu just always tasted like flavorless powdered scrambled eggs. No matter how they cooked it. But upon further review, I realized the majority of the way I’ve tried it is sautéed in Asian food.

Since tofu/soy ended up on my 30th Birthday Bucket list, I’ve tried. I ordered a tofu roti, which is a delicious dish from Trinidad at this amazing West Indian restaurant. I mentioned it in a previous post. I got the tofu on the side, and while I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, which is a huge step forward.

I’m thinking if I could get it cut into even tinier pieces, kind of like how I get Easy to eat tomatoes and onions, I could maybe make it work.

I’m not giving up on soy yet though. I think my next attempt is soy milk. Maybe I’ll love it and then I’ll be done with this bucket list item.

I’m not holding my breath, but I”m also not giving up.

You hear that soy? I’m not giving up.

At some point soon, I’ll talk about the second 30th Birthday Bucket List item I tackled, which is reality TV. I never watch reality TV that’s not a competition (i.e., American Idol and Dancing with the Stars), but I went there.

Three words. Bad. Girls. Club.

Screenshot from one of many fights. Image via fanpop


On Hanging With My Family

My family is pretty great. I say this referring to both my parents, etc. and also my in-laws. I genuinely enjoy the company of most people I am related to by blood or marriage.

But since we’ve moved to New York City, I just don’t get to spend time with them. Obviously, I don’t see them as much, but also my work schedule makes speaking with them hard.

When everyone else is getting off of work, I’m just going in to work, and who would want to chat and catch up when I get off and get home at 1 o’clock in the morning?

Because we’re not having dinner and hanging out watching tv together in the evenings anymore, we spend our time planning visits. Easy and I are going to the Midwest for a wedding at the end of the month, so we’ll squeeze a lot of visits in there.

This weekend, my parents, grandfather, and I are all descending on North Carolina for my cousin’s college graduation. This particular combination of family includes my father, his sister, his father, his wife, his niece, and his daughter. So far, Easy and my brother aren’t usually there.

We get together every couple of years for graduations, weddings, and funerals. It’s because we’re spread all across the country, but I know it’s going to be so great once we get together.

There will be good food, an inevitable debate about the state of black America, and a nice amount of drinking. I’m looking forward to having a nice drink with my cousin because I haven’t hung out with her where she could legally drink yet. It’s kind of a rite of passage in my family.

My parents offered to get me my own hotel room for the purposes of freedom to wildly party with my college graduating cousin, but I kind of chuckled at the idea. I turn 30 this year, and while that’s nowhere near being old, it might be too old to hang with the coeds.

I love hanging out with my people, no matter their age. My mom was at my bachelorette party, and I would’ve been pissed had she been unable to make it. But I know that I am in the minority compared to others my age.

If my cousin wants me to go party with her, I’ll grab a cup of coffee and join in, which means I have to take some sort of club-y outfit I guess. But I didn’t think I needed an extra room for it.

I’ll just bunk with my parents like I did when we all went to South Carolina for this same cousin’s high school graduation.

I do wish Easy were coming with me. We’ve never been one of those couples who can’t go anywhere alone, but we’re usually there for the big family things. This is likely the last first cousin graduating from college for a while, so it sucks that he is unable to come.

That makes me think of another post that I’m going to call, “On Being A Musician’s Wife” where I will discuss how awesome it is to hang out with artsy types all the time now. But it will also talk about how Easy cancels our anniversary every year.

But back to my family. My cousin and I have something pretty cool planned for our moms since we’ll be together on Mother’s Day. I have no idea if my parents read this blog, so I’m not going to talk about what we’re doing. I’ll gladly talk about it after Sunday though.

When I get back from North Carolina. Where it is warmer that New York. Which is really what’s most important–the weather.

Eh, it is second most important. Most important is having a weekend-long slumber party with my parents.


On Coming Back to Blogging

Back again. It’s so hard to post consistently when there is living to do, mood swings to pretend I’m not having, and recaps that feel so cumbersome to put together.

But here I am, back and better than ever.

What makes me better this time?

Well, instead of pressing reset and acting like the time that’s passed didn’t happen, I’m going to pickup where I left off.

I left off talking about helping one of my best friends put together his second-to-last best man speech.

And I was talking about Wine School for the New York Times.

And I was talking about trying to get back in shape, and not really having the motivation to do so. Apparently pre-paying for exercise classes isn’t a great motivator for me.

And I was talking about embracing this wonderful city I now call home. New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do.

I’ve decided I’m going to also start talking more about the reason I’m here. I moved to New York City because of Easy, my jazz musician husband. There’s lot of stuff going on with that to talk about. And when they make a movie about his life and the lives of his contemporaries one day (it’s totally gonna happen), they’ll have some scene where I’m typing away on my blog as I’m cooking the guys dinner. The producers will have to include that scene as a condition of Easy’s participation in the movie. He just doesn’t know it yet, well now that he’s read that sentence, he knows. Hi Easy.

But until the movie gets made, this blog will document the mention-worthy crap that I know about his NYC jazz music world.

The first thing I want to talk about is the effort to get in shape.

I’m coming up on my 30th birthday soon. I have barely started on that bucket list some of my friends and I are doing that I keep promising to talk about. I should’ve put “get back to the size I was at college graduation” on the list.

What’s crazy is that around the time I graduated college, I felt like a fat ass. I weighed 125 lbs, which isn’t a lot at all. But when you’re only 5 feet tall and you have a tiny bone structure, it feels like a lot, especially when I floated around 100 pounds from age 13 to age 21.

But now I’m a good 15 pounds heavier than that. Which, again, I know is not a lot in terms of average adult weight. But all of my friends who weigh that much wear a size 2, 4, or 6. Because I am a ton of inches shorter than them, I’m wider and wear a size 8, pushing a 10 in some brands.

That shit is unacceptable.

If I lost 10 pounds, I’d lose an inch or so all around and immediately drop down a few sizes. I don’t ever want to reach a size 0 or 2 again because my fat girl boobs are kind of awesome (34C woot woot!), but I just want to reduce the jigglies.

My girls back in Chicago and I have a plan. We’re going to start keeping up with each other’s diet/exercise efforts. They all joined myfitnesspal and we’re going to keep each other motivated.

I think that having my girls trying to get healthy with me, along with the varied workout plan I’ve already paid for–and just have to start using– and the ease of online grocery shopping makes it pretty foolproof to stay on track.

At least, it certainly sounds foolproof.

I think there’s a saying, “it’s better to be thought of as a fool that to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

I’m feeling at this moment that my blog is a doubt remover.

But perhaps it’ll be wrong.

Perhaps I’m not a fool…?

I just want to wear a bikini and feel proud of what I see in the mirror.

When I’m home, alone or with my husband, I don’t have a lot of body issues. Even being overweight, I’m pretty happy with how I look naked. I’m shaped well enough, and again, I’ve got my fat girl boobs going. It’s mainly how I look in clothes that is a concern for me

I feel pretty strongly about dressing for my body type. I’m all about structured clothing items and fabrics that float away from the body. But I miss the days when I could literally put on any piece of clothing and it worked as long as it wasn’t intended for someone who was 5’10”. I want that back.

I promise if I get that back, I will still dress age appropriately.

Except for crop tops.

I figure it will take me until my 30th birthday to get a completely flat tummy, and my almost-but-not-quite-old ass will be wearing crop tops and lots of them.

But other than that, completely age appropriate.

I’m just hoping that when I get into bed tonight I can turn my brain off so I can get enough sleep to wake up early Friday and start working out.


Always The Best Man, Never The Groom

First I must say, this title is misleading. One of my best friends is often a best man, but I seriously doubt he’s itching to be a groom. I just picked this title because I thought it might catch your attention.

I wrote a post about six months ago about one of my best friend’s and his best man speech at our friend’s wedding. This coming fall, there is another wedding.

He was also my best man at my wedding.

The good news is that after this wedding, he’s out of best friends. I got married in 2012, the second one in 2013, now this last one in 2014. He will probably be the best man for his big brother whenever he marries, but then he’s done.

I have admit, I’m kind of jealous. The last wedding I was in besides my own was when I was a flower girl back in 1992.

I had 10 people standing up with me at my wedding. One of the guy’s has since married, and one of the guys has since divorced. All of the women are still unmarried.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any rush for my friends to get married, nor am I in any rush to pay hundreds of dollars for someone else’s big day. But still, it would be fun to get all dolled up and bake a penis-shaped cake for one of my girls, not at the same time of course.

Instead, I live vicariously through my friend. I do get a kick out of planning out his best man speeches with him.

Because his two other best friends chose fall dates for their weddings, we get to make the speech planning and all-year thing.

It reminds me of when we worked together on projects in college and I love it.

We have hours-long debates about the correct balance of emotional vs. funny. We pick out which are the best stories to tell. Then we hem and haw about the order of the speech (is chronological always best?).

His speech at my wedding was lovely. People didn’t really pay attention because everyone got notifications on their smart phones that Whitney Houston had just died. But he covered all the main points I’d want: 1) good luck Easy in dealing with her “strong” personality, 2) A crazy story or two from back in the day that is embarrassing for her, but also kind of sweet, and 3) a good joke that feels like an inside joke but makes everyone laugh.

As I already said in my previous post, he did a great job with his other best friend’s wedding last fall.

This time, his job is a bit more difficult. The basis of his friendship with this friend is because they were on the same line of a fraternity.

Sidenote: this fraternity throws the best part ever, but Easy and I aren’t going to the party this year because Florida. We’re black and we’d prefer to stay alive. Florida is feeling a little murder-y right now for folks of color you know?

Anyway, because their friendship started in the secrecy of pledging a fraternity, there’s a whole bunch of stuff he can’t say during the speech. They pledged almost ten years ago though, so there is plenty to say about their friendship since that time.

This one is going to be a bit more difficult than the last two though. Easy and I spent a a good amount of time with my friend when Easy lived down in St. Louis. And he never talked to his other friend on the phone without also talking to wife too.

But my friend doesn’t really know this couple too well as a couple. He was down in Texas visiting them last weekend, so hopefully he stored up some great stories for this speech.

My friend is a best man veteran though, so he’ll make it work. And because none of my girls are headed towards marriage any time soon, I’ll continue to live vicariously through him.

At the wedding last fall, I was hanging with the bride’s friends the day before the wedding. It was fun, but I didn’t know anyone that well, so there was a limit on how much fun I could have.

This fall, things will be better. The groom has decided he wants a co-ed bachelor party. It won’t be like mine, which was combined with all of my friends and Easy’s friends (his idea, not mine, but still so much fun). It will be more like, all his friends, male and female, are going to his party.

It’s a really cool concept, I think. It felt a bit like being sent to the kid’s table when I have to go hang out with the women even though I’m only friends with the men.

This fall, I’ll be at the big kids table (or strip club), then watching the finale of a great trio of best man speeches. Should be fun, don’t you think?


It’s Our Anniversary

The husband has been gone since the 4th, and I’ve barely talked to him. I forgot how busy he is when he’s in Chicago. But I’m definitely going to talk to him today because it’s our anniversary!

Two years today. And two years on Tuesday too. We got married at my church on Feb 8th, then had a big ass wedding Feb 11th. It’s been an interesting two years.

We made the move to NYC and it’s been amazing here. We had this plan to spend a few years here, then maybe go overseas to Europe for a few years. Then we’d come back to the states and maybe spend some time in Honduras where the husband’s family is from.

But I’m feeling very nest-y and both the husband and I are over moving. Perhaps in a few years we can reassess. But I love New York so much, I could lay down roots here and be happy.

The only problem is the public schools here are not so great. There are charter schools and magnet programs and whatnot, but I have to say as a potential future parent, it has me worried.

The school conversation can wait though because it’s my anniversary.

The traditional US 2nd anniversary gift is cotton. What is that about?

When I searched on Amazon for gift options, they basically showed me a bunch of pillowcases and linen scented candles. Those scented candles are wrong anyway because linen is the gift for another year’s anniversary.

At least cotton is pretty affordable. I should buy him a ream of fabric. Considering the fact that the husband’s creativity is pretty music-centric, that would amount to the worst gift ever for him.

There is also the relatively easy dinner-candles-lingerie option, but he’s out-of-town for a month, so that’s a no go.

Whatever I decide to gift him, I know he’ll appreciate. We agreed no Christmas gifts, then he wrote me beautiful letter as his gift. Then he got upset at me later for not getting him a gift. I don’t know how that happened, but I won’t repeat that mistake for our anniversary.

There is also Valentine’s Day coming up, but we don’t usually make too big of a deal out of. We generally exchange cards and some candy, and maybe do dinner.

I was this person who would go all out for celebrations. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, didn’t matter. If there was a formal reason to celebrate, I was all over it.

The husband isn’t really like that, so my celebration tendencies have decreased a bit. We still do birthdays really well, but everything else, not so much.

One of my best friends decided she and I would be BFF Valentine’s Day buddies. That isn’t a thing, but it is now. She sent me two cards in the mail. One to the husband and me for our anniversary, and the other to me for Valentine’s Day. She also bought me a necklace on Etsy and it’s freaking adorable!

piano necklas

It’s a little tiny piano and a C mini-pendant. It’s like my version of a Carrie necklace.

Getting gifts lately reminded how much I love them. The husband and I did this quiz forever ago to determine our love languages. I am a gifts and acts person, and a bit of a quality time person. I don’t need the words and the touch so much.

Because we live in a sitcom, the husband is a words and touch person, and a bit of a quality time person.

We know we have different languages, so we have to remind ourselves to value stronger what we wouldn’t naturally value for love expressions. And occasionally, we remember to give gifts in the other person’s love language.

I know the husband reads all my blog posts (because he loves me!), so I thought I would include some wonderful loving words for him.

Hey husband, you’re awesome. When I think about our life as it stands, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love New York and I love being in New York with you. The people I’ve met and things I’ve experienced here is all because of you.

I’m proud of who you are as a person. You are someone I can depend on and someone who has helped me grow as a person too.

We’re two years in with hopefully another 50+ years to go. I can’t wait to see what’s next for us. But if stay right where we are now, I’d love that too.

I can’t wait until we see each other again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all of that.


The Sitcom Continues

A comment on my last post from catskillblogger reminded me that I left out part of the story. The part where we went to get gas because the gas light came on while I was at the airport.

The husband only likes us to put gas is the car from recognizable gas stations. So BP, Shell, Mobil, but really not anyone else. So with the gas light on, I drove past many gas stations before we saw a BP. This BP was on the street just up the road from the expressway on ramp of doom.

That on ramp and the street leading to it were so full of potholes, that’s where the trouble with the wheel started.

Before we got to the on ramp of doom, we pulled into the gas station. The husband gets out to pump the gas even though I’m driving because he’s wonderful and spoils me and let me stay comfortable in our seat.

Our friend had to use the bathroom, so he got out to go into the gas station. He asked me if I wanted anything, so I requested salt & vinegar potato chip. I totally heart salt & vinegar potato chip. The way to my heart is through my stomach via salt & vinegar potato chips. It’s that serious.

As I was waxing poetic about the potato chips in my head, our friend is back in the car 30 seconds later. I know there’s no way he’d have the chips by then, so I turn around and get ready to forcefully demand an explanation.

Before I could even spring my tough questions on our poor unsuspecting friend (who had no knowledge of my love affair with salt & vinegar potato chips), he launches into a mini tirade because the store was empty.

Saying a store is empty requires clarification, so I asked what he meant because I couldn’t see inside the store.

He meant the store was truly empty. Nothing on any of the shelves. No employees. No bathroom. No nothing. But for some reason, the light was on so you could see all of the nothingness inside. I’ve never seen an empty store at a gas station with all of its gas pumps fully functional.

My concern about the chips disappeared because now I just felt bad for our friend who couldn’t go to the bathroom. By this time, the husband is back in the car and he’s upset because the gas pump couldn’t provide him with a receipt because it was out of paper.

He was considering complaining to the clerk inside, and our friend had to explain that there was no clerk, which was also probably why there was no paper for receipts.

We pull away from the gas station all shaking our heads and I realize there’s a huge truck blocking the street. It’s one of those city maintenance trucks, and it’s literally parked in the street, parallel to oncoming traffic. There was only one lane open to get around it, and it was the lane furthest away from the gas station.

The light was about to turn green, so I quickly pulled out and around the truck to that far lane. As I pulled around the truck, I immediately hit the first of several potholes. And it was just downhill from there. Unavoidable pothole after unavoidable pothole. You all know the rest of the story.

So we’re fast-forwarding to the husband taking the car for service.

It turns out the tire needs replacing. And the rim has a pretty bad bend in it. And there was a problem with the suspension and wheel alignment. But as far as they could tell, there was nothing wrong with the axle.

In true sitcom style, we were both wrong.

I thought I broke the axle by hitting all those potholes. The husband thought a tire change alone would solve the problem. Neither of us were correct.

But the ridiculousness (is that a word) doesn’t stop there. The shop that the husband went to for our car issues refused to fix the car. You read that right.

They refused.

They said they couldn’t fix the suspension or rim problem, and sent him to another shop.

In true NYC poor ass customer service style, the second shop told him the first shop should’ve been able to handle the problem. It’s like calling any 1-800 here, they just transfer you back and forth until someone finally gets frustrated and addresses your concerns.

The second shop told him if he decided to stay there to get the car fixed, he’d have to come back because they were too busy to help him.

So he drove the car home.

He plans on calling Geico today both to complain, and for another place he can take the car to because he doesn’t want to deal with either place.

I told him as long as it’s handled before he leaves town next week, I’ll be happy. I really don’t have the time to take a car to get fixed. Or worse, what if it breaks down further and I’m not able to move it around to follow our streets ridiculous parking rules and we get a bunch of tickets?

He’s promised he will handle it. But since we live in a sitcom, I have my doubts. Wish the husband luck!


Husbands and Birthdays

My daddy came into town this past weekend. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, along with some family friends from church. There were five of them total; the couple has a 10-year-old son.

Once we realized we could comfortable fit 6 adults and one kid into the apartment, a whole world of opportunity opened up. That’s why we keep doing musician’s dinners, and we’ll probably do a Super Bowl party this weekend.

But this post isn’t about Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl, it’s about my daddy’s trip. When they were here for Thanksgiving, my daddy and the husband of the family friend couple decided they loved New York City so much that they were coming back– with or without their wives.

The timing ended up working out so they could come at the end of January. The husband had a pretty big couple of gigs with Winard Harper at Smalls Jazz Club. Plus it was my daddy’s birthday.

Is it weird that my daddy took a birthday trip out-of-town for his birthday without my mom? Honestly, it’s not. My parents are cool like that. They do their own thing from time to time and I think it’s great. Plus, he came to see his daughter, so it’s not exactly like he was running off.

That didn’t stop me from making many wife-centered jokes for the weekend. The one I really ran into the ground was when I kept checking to make sure it was fine I was there seeing as how they uninvited all the wives for the weekend. But spending time with the husband, my daddy, and our good family friend was a lot of fun.

They came to the Brooklyn brownstone for dinner with some of the members of Winard’s band before the gig on Friday.

There is this scene in the Temptations movie that shows the guys sitting around the dinner table eating dinner after one of their gigs. They’re just bonding and eating home-made good food and becoming even more themselves because of the time spent.

At some point, one of these musicians is going to get a movie made about them, and I need a scene with me serving these guys dinner.

And I need the actress who plays me to look like Lela Rochon.

Lela Rochon with her husband from Wikipedia

But anyway. My daddy and our family friend are just so much fun. Cooking dinner for the guys as we’re all laughing, talking, drinking, and listening to music before the gig was so much fun. Socializing is so much easier in the comfort of my home.

After dinner, we headed out to the gig and the music was amazing. I’ve never heard Winard Harper play before, but I immediately understood why he’s famous. He’s Wikipedia-paging, Lincoln Center-gigging, Google update-requesting famous.

And he’s so nice and gregarious and funny. That man knows how to command a microphone in between songs.

The fact that we’re barely six months in to our lives here in New York and the husband is already doing these things is freaking amazing.

winard smalls 1 winard smalls 2

The first picture is from the last song they played Friday night. If you look on the right side of the picture, you’ll see a line of horns reflecting the soft lighting.

Winard Harper announced they were going to finish it out with a short song, and they would just take one chorus each. If you know anything about jazz, you know that means shorter solos and a (possibly) shorter song.

Then he invited all the horn guys he saw in the back to “come up and get some of this.” If you know anything about jazz, you know that means that even though they were only playing one solo each, he’d just invited an additional 3-6 guys to each take a solo, thus lengthening the song even further.

But man, if you could’ve been there, you would’ve been glad for it. They played the hell out of that song. Because there were so many playing, they kept building and building and by the time they got to the end, the whole crowd was screaming in approval.

Fast forward 20 or so minutes, and we were all sad for them to finally stop playing.

My daddy, who loves live music had an amazing time. I don’t think he could’ve had a better birthday in Chicago this year.

He ended up going to the 9/11 Memorial early Saturday with the family friend. They found it really interesting. I can totally see why as my daddy is a fan of history and America and tourism.

After they finished with that, the four of us went to dinner. I was so tired at this point, I went to their hotel room to take a nap while the three men went back to Smalls for another gig.

I of course cracked some more jokes about how they finally got rid of the last wife.

My daddy and our family friend headed back to Chicago on Sunday evening. They had a really great weekend hanging out in New York.

I feel like a need to get a testimonial posted somewhere that a quick celebratory trip to NYC is great. Especially if you get your hotel room. Please tell my friends and family that so more of them can come visit us.

So far, I’ve had 7 of the 10 people who stood up with me at my wedding come visit me, which is actually pretty amazing. I love my friends. I’m trying to get a perfect 10 before our one year anniversary here in NYC, but it probably won’t happen since one of my girls had a baby a few days ago.

Poor thing was in labor for two days.

Two days.

Think on that for a minute. I’m personally making a note to postpone having children for at least a few more months.

And I’m also making a note so that whenever I do have children, my daughter will know I’m making a birthday trip to come visit her without the husband in 30 years, and she better show me a good time.

Super random, I wasn’t the only one tuckered out this weekend.

sleepy jazz

That’s our cat Jazz giving me the eye for daring to photograph her while she’s trying to sleep


I Don’t Want To Wash My Clothes, And You Can’t Make Me

The husband and I have always had issues with washing clothes. Neither of us like doing it. I probably like it a bit more than he does, but it’s just so time consuming. The only apartment I ever had that came with a washer and a dryer was lovely. I washed clothes once a week and kept everything hung up and in its drawer.

You know our brownstone in Brooklyn doesn’t have a washer and a dryer. There are a number of Laundromats in the area, but none of them are terribly close. They are all a number of blocks away. Even when I only have one load of clothes, it’s still a large effort to get it done.

I haven’t washed clothes in a few weeks, which isn’t unusual for me. The problem is that I threw away half my clothes when I moved to NYC. I was so proud of myself for downsizing. I didn’t even consider the lifestyle change needed to make it work.

I was at the point that when it was time to pack to go to Chicago and Atlanta last weekend, I didn’t have enough clothes. I actually packed some dirty clothes that I had to wash as soon as I got to my parents’ house.

Awful right?

So I’m still adjusting to being a New Yorker, having less closet space, having less clothes, and washing the clothes I do have more frequently.

I have all the essentials at least: Tide pods, Downy dryer sheets, a laundry bag, and that roll-y cart you see everyone in New York with.

Even with all the ease I’ve provided for myself, it’s still not working for me.

I intended to wash clothes right when I got back from Atlanta, but I didn’t feel like it. Then I intended to do it yesterday, but the location I chose to go to was closed and it was too late to go anywhere else. This working Monday-Friday 9-5 thing is messing up my body’s natural clock.

The tiny part of me that likes doing laundry likes doing laundry at 10 am. That isn’t an option unless I get up on Saturday to do it. This week, that isn’t an option because I’m starting my other volunteer work.

I’m just gonna have to bite the bullet and make it happen. Argh, sometimes I really hate being an adult. Which isn’t even really fair to say because I’ve been washing my own clothes since I was big enough to load the machine. My parents didn’t play that.

I think it’s safe to say my nesting phase is over. At least when it comes to properly organizing my drawers and closets. Maybe I’ll get that feeling back when I finish unpacking our apartment. I’ve made some good progress and I really should take advantage of the fact that the husband is out of town for another three weeks and get it all done.

Until all of that happens, I’ll be showing up to work in quite questionable combinations. Like today. I’m wearing a blue button up blouse, an orange wife beater, and a brown stretchy asymmetrical hem skirt. It’s an odd combination, believe me. The shame of having to look at myself in the mirror ought to motivate me to wash clothes quicker than waiting on the nesting feeling to return I think.


Confession: I’m A Bit Of A Nesting Monster

When it comes to moving, I’m a bit of a monster.

Scratch that.

It’s become clear that I’m a full out bitch.

I don’t start off with that intention, but it always ends this way.

After moving my crap around this country eleven times in the last ten years, it’s become clear that I turn into a raving mad awful no good person on moving day.

Hello, my name is CeCe, and I’m a moveaholic.

I forgot this about myself because I hated our apartment in Hyde Park in Chicago, but I get a rush out of settling into a new place. Unpacking boxes and rearranging our items just so gets me going.

All of this sounds positive, right?

Wrong.

When it comes to my feelings about moving into a new place, it’s just not a group activity.

Not even a little bit.

Last night the husband and the future divorcé arrived to our cute little Brooklyn brownstone. They had a UHaul truck mostly full of stuff. We quickly decided that I’d watch the truck and move the items to the edge of the truck. The divorcé would take the items from the back of the truck into the building. The husband’s job was to get the items inside the apartment.

The whole thing took under two hours I think. I honestly wasn’t checking the time. We have a lot of crap, even with the downsize to prepare for New York living. Once we got everything into the apartment, all I wanted to do was setup the bed so I could sleep in my own bed.

I also needed to setup the shelves for the entertainment area and get the TV ready for the cable guy who’s supposed to come today.

When I walked into the apartment and saw how the husband had placed things, I got upset. I was fussing about why the clothes weren’t put into the bedroom and why the coast weren’t put into the closet and why the kitchen stuff wasn’t put into the kitchen and why everything was piled against the wall where I’d already told him the TV would be setup on.

The divorcé offered to help move some things around, but then abruptly changed his mind and rescinded his offer.

That’s when I realized I’d just given him a look of death.

I gave him a how-dare-you-offer-to-help-you’ll-probably-only-just-fuck-it-up-save-yourself-and-get-the-hell-out-of-my-face look.

It was a look the husband knew all too well. All he said was, “we’re going to go park the UHaul somewhere we won’t get a ticket, then we’re going to find food. We’ll see you later.”

I really married the right man y’all. Other guys I’ve dated would’ve reacted in less.. productive ways. But not the husband. He saw the signs of a woman on the rampage and cleared out. Also, he probably didn’t want to have to snap on me after all my fussing. He saved himself and he saved me.

While they were gone, I got to work. There’s just something so great about organizing. I don’t even know how to explain it.

All of the stress I feel when moving to a new place comes lashing out at the nearest person who tries to help. As a personal self-growth note, I really need to fix that shit. I shouldn’t have my loved ones running for the hills just because I’ve moved, especially because I move so damn often.

But all that stress just melts away with each new shelf I setup. And when the bed was fully put together, I really relaxed. By the time the basics were setup, it was after 1:00am and I was overdue to get some sleep so I could get up for work in the morning.

Except one thing.

I couldn’t find the cord to plug in the TV. the way our TV is setup, the power cord can detach. I didn’t remember where I packed it, and I was worried the cable guy wouldn’t be able to get our stuff setup today. But it worked out. The husband found the cord this morning and plugged it in.

Even though I didn’t have the cord when I went to bed last night, I didn’t stress because I knew the husband would handle it. That’s how I knew my release therapy via shelf-building worked.

So now I just have to go home after work and finish unpacking, hopefully while watching the new episode of Property Virgins on HGTV. But that’s not guaranteed. The cable company called while I was writing this post to tell me the guy was running late, and they didn’t know what time he’d get to me.

Lord, let this man arrive today, otherwise I’m going to revert right back to how I was last night. And I don’t think the husband will put up with that shit two days in a row.


So You Think You Wanna Live Here

I know I’m jumping back and forth here, but as I’ve said many times, I do what I want.

Now that I’ve covered the details of how I put myself in a position of having only three weeks to move to NYC, I’d like to talk about actually getting here.

The initial plan was to have my last day of work in Chicago on July 12th or 13th. Then I would head to New York around the 15th and have a week to find an apartment to start work on July 22nd. Quite the ambitious plan, no?

Before you assume I’m a crazy person, let me tell you that I had it on good authority that it’s an awful idea to rent a New York City apartment sight unseen. There are all types of shitholes and scams that will take all your money and leave you with little or nothing in return.

As I mentioned previously, I had my best friend with me. She lived in New York, so she was a great resource. I also wrangled my father and the husband’s father. The three of us got in the car and drove to New York on Sunday July 14th.

A benefit of marrying into a large family is that these people live everywhere. Some cousins of the husband agreed to let us stay in one of their apartments while we looked for a place.

They live in Staten Island, so we had the additional task of getting back and forth across all the bridges. Those tolls are freaking ridiculous. I know my dads spent at least $100 just getting us from Staten Island to Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again the three days there were here.

Side note. What does the phrase “my dads” mean to you? When you see it, do you think a father and a father-in-law? Do you think a biological father and a stepfather? What about a biological father and an adoptive father?

Maybe your two dads are married to each other (unless you live down south, then they’re still “life partners”). I guess it all depends. I have three grandfathers. One is my dad’s dad. The other two are the biological dad and adoptive/step-dad of my mom.

Blended families really do make for some interesting family trees. The family tree for the husband’s family is really something. Or it would be if someone wrote it down.

Okay, we’re back from the side note. So at this point in the story, I’m in Staten Island with my best friend and my two dads. I was hoping (and my mother was really hoping that I could bring the cats with us. But the cousin giving us a place to stay for free is allergic.

Once we settled in on Sunday night, we relaxed and ate ox tails, salmon, and rice and beans before heading to bed. The plan was to get up Monday morning and go look at apartments in Brooklyn.

Originally, I wanted to live in Manhattan. The husband wanted Brooklyn. After the hatred I felt towards our Hyde Park apartment in Chicago, we agreed that my preference would win for New York. But after looking at apartments on line and really assessing what we could afford, I narrowed down our search to Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan and to Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

I’d seen all sorts of apartments online in the weeks preceding the move. The good ones were posted and removed the same day. Apparently that’s now NYC works. I was convinced that I could find a great 1 bedroom apartment in the upper edge of Harlem for less than $1400/month.

Then I stumbled across this wonderful apartment. 1 bedroom, 1 bath, exposed brick, north-facing windows, newly renovated apartment. And it was in a brownstone building. A gorgeous brownstone.

My whole thinking changed. All of a sudden, it was all about Brooklyn. Perhaps it’s because I grew up watching the Cosby Show and feeling like I could totally be one of their kids. But either way, I had a plan.

I spoke with a few brokers and picked two, one for Manhattan and one for Brooklyn. After I saw that amazing apartment, I set the Brooklyn broker appointment for Monday and the Manhattan broker appointment for Tuesday.

The apartment the broker showed us first was pretty good. Turned out she only had the one apartment to show, which sucked. My dads were pissed about that. After she showed us the apartment, she gave me the hard sell. Very aggressive, very put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is-or-else-and-else-means-this-apartment-will-be-gone-in-the-morning.

My dads didn’t like that one bit. They wanted me to keep looking. They wanted to look in Manhattan and maybe find a new broker to keep looking in Brooklyn as well. My best friend asked me how I would feel if the apartment was gone and I missed it. I told her I’d be pissed.

After hearing that, she encouraged me to go ahead and do what I needed to do to take this apartment off the market. That meant filling out the complete application for my husband and myself.

That also meant handing over all of the financial paperwork to prove I could afford the apartment. They require all you information to approve you. You need lots of money, proof of more money, a blood sample, a voucher for your firstborn, and a reference from your priest.

Even if you have all that, it still doesn’t guarantee you the apartment. If you turn in an application, but you don’t put down a deposit to take it off the market, someone else can apply too. Then the landlord can pick which tenant (s)he’d prefer, which is what happened to a friend of mine just last week.

I put down a deposit to take the apartment off the market, which really pissed off my father-in-law. I think it was because the money was going toward the broker fee instead of toward rent or deposit. I didn’t care, I just wanted the apartment.

After the application was complete, then it was time to wait. Normally it takes a couple of days to find out if your application is approved. The broker and landlord knew I was what counts as a “motivated renter.” That basically meant I had the money in hand ready to take the first apartment I loved.

The broker promised to get a quick response from the landlord. I think she pushed it even harder once my father announced we were headed to Manhattan the next day to keep looking. We left her office around 4:30 pm or so to head back to Staten Island.

About an hour later, the phone rang. It was the broker calling back. We were expecting a call from her the next day, certainly not so soon. In my next post, I’ll let you know what she said.


To Reunion or Not Reunion

I’ve mentioned once or twice that the exercise plan I’m using to try to get back in shape is Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis. There reviews are bad and good, mostly because she doesn’t give you explicit instructions throughout her videos. I happen to prefer it that way. I hate watching an exercise DVD for a week straight, hearing the same voice telling me the same things that stop being inspirational after day one.

Her methods work great for me, when I”m actually working out. Since I’ve gotten back on track, it’s been just as great as the first time. Her plan is that by the time you reach Day 90 of exercising, you’ll have a whole new body.

Day 90 of exercising is your 90th day of working out, not 90 calendar days after the day you start. I have a countdown widget at the bottom of my blog that I had to reset when I started working out again. That counter happened to land on Day 90 of August 16, 2013. That is the first day of my 10 year high school reunion.

I’ve been thinking about this reunion, especially because the husband’s ten-year reunion was last year. The question is, do I really want to go?

All the movies about reunions show people agonizing over their reunions. How do they look? Are they where they want professionally, romantically, and otherwise?

I don’t want to describe me, but I feel like I might be.

I used to attend medical school. You don’t just leave medical school. Not unless you get kicked out or hauled off to the loony bin. I chose to leave on my own because I wasn’t happy and decided I didn’t want to become a doctor anymore.

Hell, I’m not sure I ever wanted to become a doctor. I just made so much sense. I’m great at math and science. I love helping people. I have no issues with blood or injuries (unless it’s a horror movie or a person coughing near my open mouth). Obviously, I’d become a doctor if I tested and interviewed well enough to get into medical school, right?

Eh, but it wasn’t meant for me. I love what I do now, but I feel like former med student is all people will see.

On top of the not-that-easily-understandable career path, there is only one friend of mine in my graduating class. The people from my high school that are still around are from all different classes except mine. One of the people I mentioned in a previous post who is getting divorced was one of the bridesmen at my wedding. He’s the only one.

I’m not even sure if he’s planning on going or not.

But then again, if I can show up to the reunion with my wonderful husband, a great job that made me supervisor in one year, great hair, great body, and genuinely happy, that’s got be worth something right?

My school has a reputation for being pretentious and a lot of other negative words. It’s full of smart kids that tested to get in who knew  they were smart. I didn’t have trouble making friends, but I definitely wasn’t the most outgoing person. Most of the time when I attracted attention, it was on accident because I can get loud if I get excited.

I suppose there is a part of me wondering what the old choir members, ROTC members, and ex-boyfriends are up to these days. Yup, high school for me mainly consisted of ROTC, choir, and dating. Oh, and taking hella extra science and math classes to prepare for college.

Aren’t reunions these exciting events, setup so you can reconnect with lost friends and catch up on old times? Do I really care to do that?

I don’t know yet.

What I know is I’ve made it past Day 10 on my 90 Day workout plan. That means I have 80 more days to decide.

Probably less. There’s no way my high school would hold these events without some seriously advanced RSVPs.


Couples Therapy

When the husband and I got married, we each had a maid of honor and a best man. We do what we want like that. His people were one of his sisters and one of his oldest friends. My people were two friends who graduated from the same college I did. I met my best man the day I arrived to college, and my maid and honor has been one of best friends since age 9.

The fraternity my best man belongs to throws this amazing party every year. I learned this year it’s only been open to the public outside the frat since 2004, which happens to be the first year I started attending. I’ve only missed two since then.

Last year, the husband went with my best man, and without me, to the party. I couldn’t get off from work after taking off so much time for our wedding. This year, we were all determined to go.

The husband decided to invite some people to join us. The only people who took us up on our offer, and then actually made financial plans to go, were the couple whose wedding I attended when I met the husband. The four of us made plans to drive to Florida and back, meeting my best man and some other college friends there to attend this party.

You may be scratching your head at this point, wondering how old I am. I’m 28. This is just a really great party. The group we were hanging out with were all in college or college age back in 2005. So, yes, we’d be older than most of the people there.

We would be even close to the oldest there though. A lot of people (mostly those associated closely with the fraternity) came back for that party every year. I”m not the type of person to want to go back for Homecoming. Honestly, Homecoming was never fun for me during college. But I like visiting, and this seemed to be as good a reason as any to visit.

So the four of us are in the husband’s car, preparing for a 16-ish hour drive to Florida. We’re laughing, joking, and eating the food the two wives had put together in preparation for the road trip.

Then, as I mentioned in a previous post, the husband of the couple announced we were on a couples’ retreat.

The husband and I looked at each other and said, “we didn’t sign up for this shit. What do you mean a couples’ retreat?”

They laughed at us and explained that as newly married couples (us just over one year, them coming up on three), it was inevitable that we’d discuss some things.

The husband and I were doubtful as we usually handle all of our couple issues in house. Then they explained that they didn’t really have any other couple friends that were  married or even heavily committed, so this was happening.

I looked at the husband and he could tell all I was saying from that glance. I was thinking, “you set this up and invited these people and now we’re on a damn couples retreat!”

He started laughing because he perfectly understood my look. His humor was infectious and then I was laughing too.

And then we spent the next three hours having what felt like a couples’ therapy session. We compared and contrasted some common arguments we had. I’d never done anything like that, and I don’t know that I want to again.

It was certainly interesting to have an outside take on things we did and said. There were definitely a  lot of, “see I told you! I’m not crazy, they both agree with me!”s being said by all four of us, which was hilarious.

Craziness like the first half of that car ride are part of the reason we’d be friends for a very long time. We all grew up in he same circles, but being married drew us together in a different, unexpected way.

I guess that goes to show that relationships grow and change, even complicated ones like a pair of newly married couples.


Conversation With The Husband That Ends In A High Five

The other day I was working out for the first time in many many months, but I’ll talk about that in a later post.

Working out really clears your head, you know? In that moment of clarity, I realized a conversation with the husband was in order. He was in the bedroom, so I walked in and started talking.

Me: Hey baby, I just thought I should tell you… I took a pregnancy test today.

Husband: Oh shit.

Me: Don’t worry, not pregnant. Thank God, right?

Husband: Oh shit. Yeah, thank God.

Me: It’s just that it’s been 8 weeks, and I was starting to get worried. I know I stopped the birth controls pills at an odd time in cycle and threw my body off, so it’s not that unusual. But I had to be sure sure, you know?

Husband: Yeah, I know. That’s shit’s crazy.

Me: I know right. If I was pregnant, I would blame you. I mean, for other than the obvious reasons. I would think you jinxed me when you held a three year old up to the sky and claimed you wanted one.

Husband: I did do that, huh? Well, I didn’t mean it. Not yet.

Me: Better not have meant it. Jinxing me… No babies yet.

Husband: Damn right.

That’s basically the gist of what happened. I’m paraphrasing because I waited too many days to get the quotes exactly right. Husband, If I got some part of that wrong, let me know please.

One of my favorite blogs to read is Single Infertile Female. Her story is just so inspiring and interesting to me. At the moments where I’m so grateful to push off motherhood, I kind of feel like a douche because there are so many women who would love to be mothers if the opportunity were available.

But on the other hand, I’ve never had a real pregnancy scare. This is mostly due to my irregularity. Without birth control pills, my cycle does what the hell it wants. And after stopping pills and throwing my body out of whack, I’m sure it’s just rebounding.

There’s just this tiny part of me that is a bit worried. I’ve never been pregnant before, and I’d like to think that’s because I’ve been smart and careful. But I’ve also never had a fertility test done. I’d like to think when the time comes, I’ll have no problems in that area, but it’s not guaranteed.

Knowing I’m not pregnant, but also knowing how weird my body is being right now, I’m thinking I need to take a trip to the doctor just to make sure things are okay. I figure I’ll give it another week or so.

But aside from my inkling of a worry that something may be wrong, I’m just celebrating the lack of an unplanned pregnancy. The husband and I high fived each other at the end of our conversation.

It’s really for the best. The husband I are so inappropriate, we’d crack jokes at how our first-born was an unexpected accident at that child’s first ten birthday parties. No kid should be put through that.


IRS Says No, Part II

This time last year, I wrote a post about how the IRS rejected my taxes. They basically said I had it coming because I changed my name and got a new SSN card, ID, debit card, etc. around tax time.

As I learned last year, getting married right before tax time is a gamble with your personal information. But after the weeks passed, I got my refund last year and moved on with my life. I was thankful no one tried to steal my full identity, just my SSN.

This year, I figured things would go better. Obviously, the title of this post lets you know it did not go better.

I got my W-2 from work months ago. I was ready to file and get my refund and continue the very new trend of paying all of our bills exactly on time. The husband and I decided to file jointly though, so I had to wait until he got all his paperwork together.

Between finishing up the school year as a teacher, working at his alma mater’s jazz band camp, interest on student loans, and all the itemized costs and cash income of being a musician, this was no easy task.

The husband had to pull information from two different W-2s, a 1098 form, and track CD sales and cash from gigs. I was glad we made the decision for him to just directly deposit all cash from gigs into the bank. Because we use Mint, it was a lot easier to track accurately rather than guess.

Figuring his income and expenses as a musician turned out to be the easy part. We got the band camp W-2 and the student loan 1098. But we were still missing the W-2 from when he was a teacher.

The husband waited.

Then he called and left a message on the voicemail of the woman whose job it was to send out W-2 forms to all employees.

Then he waited.

Then he finally went to the office to find out what the holdup was. When he got there, he found out the woman died sometime late last year. It seems the school district never assigned anyone to take over that particular part of her job.

They gave the husband a website to go to in order to access and print off his own W-2. I’m not sure if that is common practice or not, but it sounds extra janky to me. Good thing we intended to e-file, otherwise our paperwork would be so suspect.

By the time all of this goes down, it’s April already. The husband kept saying he was “almost done” figuring out all his musician numbers.

One things leads to another and suddenly we’re rushing back home from Florida after a lovely weekend trip-turned-couples-retreat, which I’ll talk about in another post.

We sit in front of the computer around 8:00 pm on April 15th, filling out the forms to file taxes. If you read last year’s post on the topic, this was only my second year filing my own taxes without my daddy. This was also the husband’s first year filing taxes without his mother.

Needless to say, he wasn’t really prepared for the automatic steps you always have to have before filing. And I wasn’t prepared for trying to figure out a way around his lack of preparation.

When you e-file, you need and AGI and/or PIN that you setup from the previous year. We stayed with H&R Block, so my numbers were easily available on the forms I printed the previous year and online in the account info.

The husband, however, didn’t know what and AGI or PIN was, let alone how to find it. He called his mother, but she wasn’t at home. He took a guess at what his PIN was, and we filed.

Of course, the very next day, we got an e-mail saying our filing was rejected. I logged back in and the only mistake in the filing was his PIN. By this time, the husband got in touch with his mother and got his AGI from the previous year.

So we entered that and then went on to the page for filing state taxes for Illinois.

Of course, the very next day, we got an e-mail saying our state filing was rejected. I logged back in and the only mistake was how the husband setup his e-signature for the state filing. It’s based on previous years of tax returns and his information was incorrect. So, we fixed that too and finally filed our taxes.

That was three days ago and so far, we’ve not been rejected again.

But damn, right?

I look at it as a learning experience. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Keep track of important numbers and documents for myself and the husband
  2. Filing joint taxes was far less painful than I thought it would be, so that bodes well for future group projects
  3. Mint.com is the best tool ever if you don’t make enough money to worry about having a personal accountant

Yesterday Things Changed

Everything didn’t change. I’m still sick. I’m still being carted off to a wedding in Virginia this weekend. I’m still going to kick butt at Fantasy Football this weekend.

But something else changed…

Trust me, it sound even better than it looks, and it looks amazing!

The husband’s CD arrived yesterday, which you know if you follow me on Twitter. For the rest of you, why don’t you follow me on Twitter?

Last summer, the husband got together with some amazing musicians and recorded this project. With all that we’ve had going on in the last 18 months or so– getting engaged, married, moving, job changes– there hasn’t been a lot of room to make the husband’s music a priority like we wanted to.

But all that has changed. And it’s culminated in his completed CD. Actually, for me, the culmination will be the CD release party next week in Chicago. It will be next Thursday at L26, the restaurant that I love so much I’ve mentioned it in a blog post before. We had our engagement party there last year in August.

The CD design, which looks amazing on the front, back, and inside, is the work of a friend of ours who is an amazing artist. She did our wedding invitations too. Please check out her blog and see how amazing she is.

The husband sold his first copy of his CD last night. He sold way more than one, and for that I’m excited. He’s had this dream for so long, and it means the world to me to witness it as it happens. Because of this wedding this weekend, I had to trade nights with someone and work the night of his first gig with his newly formed band, so I could be off tomorrow for the drive to VA. It sucks that I wasn’t there looking sexified to support the man I married. But I know he understands that I was there in spirit.

I’ll definitely be there Thursday night next week. The original group he gathered to record the CD are the ones playing the release party, and I love them so much. I will show that I can support and schmooze (and swipe credit cards for CD purchases) with the best of them, and I can’t wait. If you want to check out some of the husband’s music (yes, you’re still “the husband” even though your whole name is now plastered on my blog), go to his website www.crmcbride.com.

We’ve invited family, friends, co-workers, random folks who’ve come to music events the husband has played at throughout the summer, and now you. If you read my blog and you live in Chicago, you should come to the release party. Let me know ahead of time and I’ll have one of L26’s famous “L” line martinis waiting for you when you arrive.

The party starts at 8:00 PM. The DJ, who’s from St. Louis, is kicking off the night. He’s so amazing, he did us a favor by doing our wedding reception, even though he doesn’t really do weddings. Notice a theme here? The husband and I are big supporters of hard workers who produce a good product. If we like your work, and we like you, we keep coming back, bringing lots of business along with us.

I never thought I’d be married to a musician. I mean never. But being the wife of a musician is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I’m so grateful he’s letting me be such a big part of this process. Hey husband, yeah you, I’m so freaking proud of you and I love you. You did good.


Playing Catch-Up All Weekend

I had gotten quite used to working just two days in a row and then having a day or two off. That is officially my favorite way to work, at least at my job. There’s virtually no chance of emotional or mental burn out. But that is not always my life. This weekend, I’m working three days (Friday-Sunday), and I’m trying to be okay with it. But there’s just so much to do. As I’m writing this, I’m half-way through the weekend, but I already feel behind.

My job is doing this annual competency review thing. It basically means we do all the things we normally do every day for work. But instead of it being real life-saving work, we’re doing it for fake. And we’re putting it into a binder for our supervisors to go through. My opinion on this project can be deduced, so I’ll just not state it.

My job is pretty extensive, so my binder is freaking huge. It’s due in a few days, but I haven’t had the time to work on the fake job assignments because I’m too busy doing real job assignments. I long for last years review when I wasn’t fully trained yet so I was exempt from several parts of the binder.

To make like just a bit more crowded, I had to get up early before work yesterday. A girl from my church I mentor is headed to Hampton for college on Thursday. HBCU whoop whoop! Her trunk party was yesterday. I was representing both of my families: my parents/sibling, and my husband/in-laws.

I had to drop off a gift, grab a snack, a snap some pictures before heading to work. Her parents live about 35 min south of me and work it about 35 miles northwest of me. That wasn’t a fun driving trip, but it was worth it because otherwise I wouldn’t see her before she left.

I feel good about taking care of my girl. I gave her an ATM card that goes to an emergency fund. Anyone who has been to college without a silver spoon in their mouth knows having that emergency fund is a lifesaver when you can’t take the meal plan or you need to bail a friend out of jail. What? You didn’t bail at least three friends out of jail while you were at college? Well, she is going to Hampton and not FAMU, so maybe she won’t need to use the emergency money for bail like I did.

Once I got my butt to work, I decided today was the day for some serious multi-tasking. I had a big stack of charts to QA, so I figured I’d watch the Olympics while I was working. I know, the Olympics have been over for a week. I don’t want to hear it though because I didn’t get to watch a single event. I was always at work, or sleep, or doing laundry at my apartment without a laptop or cable. So I didn’t get to see anything. I’m playing late as hell catchup.

Mostly the events played in the background and I kept and eye out for runners crossing the finish line and things like that. The rhythmic gymnastics made me pause my work and really pay attention. Luckily, I had break time to use to do this because I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t know how I missed this is previous Olympic years, but I had missed it. I thought the floor routine and balance beams were great. But those things don’t have anything on this team event. It was like ballet and Cirque du Soleil and that one scene from Old School with Will Ferrel all mixed in. The things they could do in synchronization. Okay, I’m done going on about it, but seriously, if you’ve never seen it, you should check it out.

As the night came to and end, it really hit me that I am to getting enough sleep this weekend. I know I’ll pay for that on Monday when I’m still playing catch-up with chores. And working 5 days out of 6 makes it hard. I’ll have to clean the floor, the mirrors, the laundry, the cats’ area, etc. all in one day. So even though I do get one day off, I won’t be doing anything fun with that time. Unless you count whatever lingerie the husband picks for me to put on after my workout. Giggity.

I’m also looking forward to next weekend. The husband is playing in downtown Chicago. Then one of the bands he plays with is having a CD release party. If it goes well, I will be taking notes on things we can make happen for the husband’s CD release party which will hopefully be next month. If you like jazz, check out the group the husband will be playing with. It’s called Marquis Hill’s Blacktet.


A Grown Up House Party, I Think

So, I’ve gone all the way out of my comfort zone and agreed to hang out with a co-worker this weekend. This is the girl I mentioned in two previous posts. She is the one dating a man who doesn’t play games. She had a refreshing story and a follow-up to that story that I simply had to share.

When she’s not enjoying the affections of a man who is coming correct, she spends a lot of time with her friends. A good number of her friends have married; she’s one of the last single girls. I wonder if she’s invited me along to hang with her friends this weekend because I’m married so I won’t throw off the balance of the group.

Every time I hang out with a new friend, I feel like I’m on a date. Most of my dates recently have been double dates. The husband and I are like each other’s wingman as we see if the couple across the table is compatible with us. But I’ll be doing this one on my own without my wingman.

The plan is to go out for drinks and possibly appetizers. Next stop is a house party at one of her friend’s house. Apparently they just moved in, but this is not a housewarming, it’s a house party. Occasionally, I like meeting new people, so I’m looking forward to it.

I figure best case scenario, I’ll find some new couples for the husband and I to date. Worst case scenario, they’ll make me feel completely out-of-place because I’m about five years younger than most of them and haven’t been part of this group of friends for years.

I doubt she would’ve invited to me to this party if the worst case scenario was possible. What’s most likely is that in order to have a real house party, you need random fun new blood there. I”m totally random being a friend from work in a different age box. I’m sometimes fun (can’t say I was much fun at those two weddings I went to last weekend). And I’m definitely new blood.

Even though these people will probably know some people I know, I doubt I’ll see anyone I actually know. I’m just sort of used to meeting random people at a party who have either 1) seen the husband play or know him somehow, 2) knew my brother from hanging out with him before or after he became a minister, or 3) been in my mother’s courtroom. Yup, musician, minister, and judge for family members reduces degrees of separation like you wouldn’t believe.

I can’t figure out why I’m looking forward to this party so much that I had to write an ahead-of-time blog post about it. Perhaps because it’s the first uniquely new activity I’ve done in such a long time. I can’t remember the last time I went to a random ass house party. Likely it was back in 2007, right before I graduated college.  No wait, it was in 2008 for Halloween in med school.

I’m interested to see how grown ass people do a house party. As in, people who are over 30, done with being full-time students and have a full-time job, married with children, but still (reportedly) know how to have a good time.

And then when I’m done, I’ll gladly take my butt back home and climb into bed with the husband. I have to admit that this being an adult this is really working for me so far.

Go optimism.


Party Like We’re In High School

What do I think of as high school partying? Here’s the scenario:

Your parents have just gone out of town. You get together with some friends, party all night, drink, random people you don’t remember inviting show up and you hope the nosy neighbors across the street don’t tell on you when your parents get back.

This is the situation I find myself in. Last month,the husband and I threw a party simple for party’s sake. We had people over and it was so much fun. This month is the husband’s birthday. It’s in four days. We decided last month we’d do another party this month and make it birthday themed.

That naturally meant an even bigger guest list. That meant barbecue. That meant cramming a lot of people into our apt on one of the hottest days of the year.

When I started inviting people to the party, I sent the information to my brother. He immediately suggests we move the party to my parents’ house. When I ask if he thinks they’ll mind he says, “who cares, they’ll be out of town.”

That’s pretty much the first thing I think. Just take those old records off the shelf…

We’re not going to set up a business that will get us thrown in jail, but we are going to party and set up said party only hours after my parents drive away from the house.

I meant to call my mom or dad to tell them about the party move. I swear I meant to, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. And so I’m feeling surreptitious, hoping they don’t hear from someone else about the party.

They won’t mind. We’ll just be using their house air conditioning, several rooms. Oh, and their grill. What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s hope that previous sentence don’t end up to be Famous Last Words, mwah ha ha.