Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “international

I Literally Make Life Decisions Because of Christmas’s Commercialism

I received a great suggestion a couple of weeks ago. The short version is, “you should start blogging again because you need an outlet for all that shit you keep bottled inside.” The medium version is that a lot of our career coaching at my school seems to be therapy in disguise, and the professor assigned to this particular group saw me, felt that I felt invisible, and was doing her very best to give me even one useful suggestion for how to cope. I will keep the long version to myself for now.

The last couple of months specifically and last year in generally have been a period of upheaval in my life. According to all my social media feeds, almost everyone feels this way. There’s a lot I could dig into there, but instead, I’m going to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly in the last few days.

I live in Belgium y’all. I won’t live here permanently, I’m not about become anyone’s expat, especially not here. But I feel so good about my decision to come here and get my MBA. My class is very international. There are 42 students from 20 countries. Something that comes up a lot is the reason that each of us decided to come here.

My answer feels a bit silly sometimes, but I value honesty over appearing to be a very serious person. So here’s the reason I decided to uproot my life and move across a whole ocean:

 

A trip to Paris for New Year’s with my husband at the end of 2016 included a trip right after the new year to Brussels. Purely because of it’s proximity and affordability, we found ourselves in Brussels. And when you are in Brussels, you find yourself in Grand Place. When I walked into the area pictured above, I fell in love.

I’m not sure if this will make sense to everyone who reads it, but energy matters to me. It matter to me for people, places, and things. And the energy of Grand Place appealed to me. And it didn’t hurt that it was still gussied up from Christmas 2016. When I was 6 or so years old, I picked out a bedroom set based on the red & green decorative pillows they added because it was December. Yeah, I’m that chick, and have been my whole life. I was already considering trying to come to Europe for a 12, 15, or 18 month MBA program. But I came back from Brussels and googled “MBA programs in Brussels.”

Once I researched my school, I realized it would be a really good fit and it was the only school I applied to. I was happy to pack up my shit and move to another country, but made sure to leave roots behind in New York for when I’m done.

Christmas is here again, and I went to Grand Place, as you do when you’re in Belgium. They have the tree up again, and I was eager to get a look at it with all decorations in place. It was a bit underwhelming in the daylight, but when I went back the next night, it was better.

It was a really nice moment for me. Standing in Grand Place in early 2017, this new seed of a dream felt near impossible to make happen. And perhaps the huge upheaval of the last year made it more possible, but it didn’t change the fact that it felt huge every step of the way. So when I was standing there in late 2018, I felt really proud of myself.

I made one of my dreams come true. 2018 has been a year of doing a lot for just me, which is something I might be a bit rusty at. I’m still figuring out how to balance all of the things that matter to me. But it was really nice to take this moment and just feel pride and happiness. Christmas is my jam, and I’m excited for getting to spend this Christmas here, even if I have to deal with Zwarte Piet. I might have to do a whole other post about that shit… But for now, let’s just focus on the happy dreams-coming-true, actively-pursuing-my-goals thing for now, okay?


So… This Ban… Y’all Know We’re Being Gaslighted, Right?

[EDITED TO REFLECT A RECENT ARTICLE I READ LIKE 5 MINUTES AFTER POSTING THIS, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM TO SEE]

IF YOU’RE READING TO SEE WHAT I’VE GOT TO SAY ABOUT THIS BAN, SKIP TO THE NEXT ALL CAPS SENTENCE. I’M GETTING ALL PERSONAL BLOGGY FIRST.

Okay, personal stuff first. Did I tell y’all I am going to a bridesmaid for the first time ever this year? My girl Toya (we grew up next door to each other, and she’s thankfully not marrying the boy next door, lol) is getting married in May. She’s one of the only people on the planet who could get me to go to Florida right now.

Chris and I haven’t been to Florida since George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin. That Stand Your Ground law is such utter bullshit that we decided we would do our best to not go back until it was changed. I’m making an exception for this wedding, then the travel ban is back in place.

Being a bridesmaid is such a mind fuck. It’s like being trolled by my own thoughts. Budget worries, body worries, logistics, etc. To put it more simply, trying on bridesmaid dresses has made me get my whole life together. If I’m going to wear a strapless gown at a beach wedding and get photographed in some forever pictures, I need to do better than what I’m currently doing.

Luckily, this feeling coincided with Chris wanting to be healthier too. So for the past couple of week’s we’ve both been way more committed to exercise, and I’ve been cooking 5-6 times a week. it’s better for the budget and the waistline. Simpler meals (if blood orange & herb glazed baked ribs with mushroom rice and roasted butternut squash counts as simple) have been the goal. So far, it’s going well.

We’ve just hit that point where that initial burst of energy because we’re working out 6 days a week is starting to fade. We still have all our regular life responsibilities and we are tired, man. We are committed to pushing through and getting our bodies used to this new pattern. We just gotta get over the hill. I’m grateful that we have each other for support.

We support our goals, and also our mental well-being. We discuss all the crap going on the world, then watch SNL and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for catharsis.

HEY Y’ALL, HERE’S WHERE I SWITCH TO POLITICS, WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH SYNONYMOUS WITH SOCIETAL GASLIGHTING THESE DAYS.

So, unless you’re living under a rock or know literally no one affected by this travel ban, you’ve heard that there are new levels of dickishness that can be reached with each passing day.

That fucker in the White House spent his first week signing executive orders left and right like he was Dolores Umbridge taking over Hogwarts.

The most recent one that has caught everyone’s attention is this immigrant/refugee ban. If you need a breakdown about it, I got you. CNN explains it relatively well here, here, here, and here.

The people responded strongly and swiftly. If  you need a breakdown about that, I got you. The New York Times covers it pretty efficiently as of two days ago, and you can read that here.

I was all on board for grabbing my pitchfork to join the townsfolk to protest this newest outrage. If I didn’t have crazy work hours (also see above for newfound commitment to not having a terrible beach body), I would’ve trekked out to JFK to join the protests the first night they happened.

For the most part, I’m still on board, but I’ve seen this and I really have to share it with y’all.

If you’re like me and you simply open all links in new tabs to be read after you’ve read the main article (or not at all), I’ll sum it up for you. Shaun King, journalist and activist extraordinaire tweeted a Facebook post by political historian Heather Richardson. If you open no other links in this blog post, READ THIS ONE.

If you’re still refusing to open the link I’ve put in ALL CAPS, well fine, you’ve twisted my arm. To make a long story short, Professor Richardson describes this fuckery aka ban as a “shock event.” If you don’t know what a shock event is, well, just click on the word shock event in the previous sentence. Seriously folks, I’m spoon feeding you here. It can’t get much easier than this… unless you’re reading on a browser that won’t let you open in a new tab and won’t save where you left off on the previous screen, in that case, well, I understand.

Okay, back to this term called shock event. The idea is to do something shocking, that will both distract and divide the people. They are focused on this shocking thing, and they have knee-jerk reactions for or against it along expected lines. You know, for example, like instituting an unreviewed ban on immigrants from seven seemingly random countries who haven’t sent us jihadists.

While the people are still in disarray, mounting their response of protest or support, you sneak in the back door (that’s what he said) and enact your real agenda.

Right now you may be thinking, if he is such a badass, usurping the will of the people, why bother with the bait and switch? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because he doesn’t actually want complete anarchy. He wants the people in disarray so they can’t mount an effective defense. It’s in his best interest to keep them from unifying. He knows his true objective is NOT in the interest of the people, and if they knew what he was truly up to, they’d try and stop it. But if they’re too busy fighting over who loves Muslims more than the next person hates Muslims, they won’t notice that he’s about to fuck them all over for something that benefits only a select few.

Let me put it this way. Those fuckers who have confederate flags covering every surface they own, their wives still wearing t-shirts that say Jail the Bitch, their children bullying yours in school to go back to “where you came from,” their preachers condemning all your gay best friends to hell, their healthcare they swear they don’t want being paid for by your taxes, you know them? Can you imagine protesting along side them when whatever Bannon and Trump have planned is revealed?

I for one have a hard time imagining the same people who’ve had vitriolic responses to the protests since Inauguration Day standing beside me to fight against the complete decimation of our tax/healthcare/education/transportation/energy/housing/banking/regulation/immigration/you-name-it system, or whatever the hell their true target is.

But if Professor Richardson is right, we gotta be vigilant y’all. We CANNOT let this man and his puppeteers take away any of the few things that happen to matter to most of us.

Thanks to historians (yay education!) we have an early warning. We’ve got several jobs to do. One of them is to continue to protest the individual acts of fuckery, like this ban, as they pop up. But today, right now, move one waaaaaay up the priority list.

YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY TO STOMACH WORKING WITH THOSE YOU DISAGREE WITH ABOUT DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING.

YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY TO STOMACH WORKING WITH THOSE YOU DISAGREE WITH ABOUT DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING.

YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY TO STOMACH WORKING WITH THOSE YOU DISAGREE WITH ABOUT DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING.

You still with me? Good. Hear me out.

I’m not saying get ready to invite the Klan to your family reunion. I’m not saying continue to work with these fuckers people after the fight is won (see what I did there? I’m already growing. grow with me). I’m saying that when the shit goes down, which those smarter than us are pretty sure it will, do not let ideological divides keep you from fighting together.

I don’t know how much time you need. But do some self-assessment and figure that shit out. I don’t know how much time we have. But take some time, do some meditation, and make peace that you may one day march alongside a white nationalist against a common cause.

Take a moment right now. Breathe. It will be okay. If/When that moment comes that we all need to join together, you gotta be ready to do this with us, you can’t let it take you by surprise. If this ban really was a shock event… Don’t. Let. It. Work. On. You.

Stay strong. Resist. Take care of yourself and those you love.

EDIT: So…. I think the big move may have been started already. I think it might’ve been Trump nominating Bannon to the National Security Council. Keep an eye on this one. For a quick rundown, read this opinion piece by the New York Times Editorial Board entitled, “President Bannon.”.

shock-event


Climate Change, Panty Raids, and Toddlers (not all at once, that’d be gross)

So apparently there’s this ice shelf in Antarctica that’s about to break off and fuck us all up. It’s “hanging on by a thread” according to climate scientists. When this happens, sea levels will raise 4-ish inches. Goodbye Boston. Goodbye Venice. Good riddance most of Florida.

I don’t know about you, but that definitely reorients my travelling priorities. I’m really glad that after we go to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in October, we’re heading to Malaga, Spain after that for a week trip with my mother-in-law in her time share. I’m hoping to pop across the Strait of Gibraltar (technically the Alboran Sea) to visit Morocco as well.

Based on their coastal locations, I can assume these cities will be altered if a giant ice shelf raises water levels by inches all over the planet.

Thinking about all of that (and puppy mills, ugh, thanks Rolling Stone), I started to consider other places I want to visit. I have the plan to visit all 50 states at some point before age 50. But I also want to go to Italy and visit Venice and Naples. I want to visit Mubmai in India and Osaka in Japan. And I still haven’t been to Boston. I really love New Orleans, and I’m looking forward to visiting again. But these cities are fucked.

I’m glad that 21 people under the age of 21 filed a suit to stop this shit. And I’m really glad this district judge has this to say:

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” –U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken

Things like this give me hope. Hope for these folks born after 1990 who I rarely time the time to acknowledge as useful. Hope for my future travel. Hope that though the immediate present ain’t great, the future is salvageable.

On another note, I was in Chicago this past weekend. I visited my family for my mother’s 60th birthday. Here’s what I learned.

  • My grandmother is refusing to do what she said she’d do when starting this experimental treatment, so she’s getting worse while she’s getting better.
  • My parents’ college friends are even better than I remember. They are hilarious. And panty raids in college are a real thing, not just in movies.
    • I’m thinking I really really want to name names for who participated in these panty raids, but all the guilty parties are not yet retired, so I’ll wait for now…
  • Living in New York turns you, and people you know from back in Chicago, into whiskey drinkers.
  • Bridesmaid dresses were not created to look good on anyone.
  • My mother has chosen a theme for her sixties. She turned “50 with a snap.” But her sixties are all about being cool. There’s a hand gesture that goes along with it. I made it up, my mother is now to cool to have done something like that.
  • My entire family need to start going for walks. We are NOT maintaining a basic standard of health, myself included.

And lastly, I’m considering what drastic measures to take in preparation of my friend LaToya’s wedding in May. Is vegan too far? It probably is. I mean, I had a terrible experience with some beef lasagna that I assume was delicious but couldn’t put in my mouth in Paris that made me think vegetarianism isn’t too far off in my future.

I just can’t help thinking of 2010 me. I was unemployed, which wasn’t great, but I went no carb, hardly-no-sugar and had just discovered hot yoga. Maaaaaaan, let me tell you, I was in the best shape of my life that year. But that level of time and diet commitment is just… hard. I probably could’ve maintained it had I kept one of the two going.

I dunno. But I tell you what I do know. I’m not about to go through what bridesmaids all over the world go through. I will make sure that I can fit into the dress I ordered. I decided to order a size that will fit me today instead of some aspirational size. Hopefully I’ll have the problem of needing to have it taken in…

Switching gears again. Do you play the Sims 4? I do, and I’m losing my mind that I won’t be able to play with the toddlers until Thursday night of this week! I’ve downloaded the update, but between visiting Chicago, my work-volunteer-yoga schedule, and going to see a taping of the Harry Connick, Jr. show, there just won’t be time before then.

Seriously, how freaking cute are these toddlers?

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Fifty by Age 50: Bienvenue en Europe

If you follow me on Instagram, you know Chris and I had a great time in Europe!

I feel good about the pictures/videos I posted. I took over 1000 photos while I was there, but I only posted 29 smooshed into 12 different posts. I’m thinking of doing one more that shows all the different bands Chris ended up playing with while we were there. Don’t worry. he was just sitting in with the bands, we did NOT go and make money while on vacation because that would be a violation of their tourist visa laws.

In case you missed me talking about it in literally every blog post leading up to the trip, my husband Chris and I went to Paris and Brussels from Dec 27 – Jan 5. We flew into Paris, stayed there through New Year’s, then went to Brussels for a few days before heading back to the states.

It was a great trip for Chris and I; I feel like we really reconnected on this trip. I feel like I learned quite a bit about myself on this trip, as well as some cool stuff about Europe and travelling.

What I Learned About Myself

  • I have a hard time being around anyone for that many days in a row. I never got sick of Chris, but I got… weary. I need alone time in my life and there wasn’t much of it unless Chris was showering.
  • My body refuses to adjust to changes in time zone. I’ve noticed it when travelling to other time zones in the US, but I thought after a few days in Europe, I’d get to it. But nope, I was up until 6am, waking up at 3pm damn near every day we were there.
  • I freaking love staying in an airbnb. Being able to cook a couple of my own meals and having that “home” feeling while on vacation is great for me.
  • I’m not as out of the box with food as I’d like. I am more adventurous than a lot of people, and I will try almost anything twice (in case it wasn’t prepared properly the first time). But while in Paris, I literally had to drag myself past this one bar/restaurant that has this amazing Chanterelle mushroom penne. My thirst for trying new things was easily outweighed by my desire to keep eating what I knew I’d like. I wanted to eat it ever day, but in the spirit of exploring, we tried a new restaurant every day. I wish we had stopped there once more though before leaving Paris…

What I Learned About Europe/Travelling

  • Those Europeans are stingy with surprising things (because they’re not wasteful Americans): paper napkins, bottle of water, personal space
  • Every single person except one that we spoke to spoke English. Some not fluently, but with my leftover (never-conversational) French we were able to make it work.
  • I need to go thank my middle school and high school French teachers because I was all over those signs that were in French, and I was correctly conjugating words. They’d be proud.
  • Springing for the international data plan was sooooooo worth it. Being able to keep my pictures backed up just in case and having constant access to Google maps was essential to our spontaneous exploring.
  • Booking everything all at once up front is pointless, you book when you get that perfect combination of exchange rate and price.

I was thinking about writing some more posts, getting specific about some of the things that we did. But I may not feel like it. The story of that woman kissing me full on the mouth shortly after midnight on New Year’s is worth telling. Chris getting held up in customs at JFK airport is also a sitcommy tale. The adventures of our flask trough Paris is also nice (I wouldn’t let Chris take a swig at Notre Dame). Eh, it depends on if I’ve got good pictures to go with the stories I think.

I still have to sort through all our pictures. Finding a back door into using the Aura Frame when I have no iPad, iPod, or iPhone took some time, but soon I’ll share all my pics with my family. My parents got a frame for themselves, for my brother, and for me and Chris. I think it’ll be kinda cool to have three households worth of pictures shuffling through our frame.


I’m Gonna Say Christmas Was A Quiet Success

I’m wrapping things up at work now, and my excitement is increasing. As is my tiredness. I’m tired y’all.

I ended up staying up late Sunday night to finish packing and then adding all my clothes into this new closet app thing I’m trying on my phone. It is time consuming to photograph all your clothes, but guess who doesn’t mind lack of sleep, and really doesn’t mind not leaving her clothes overseas accidentally? That would be me!

I was unable to do maintenance on my locs Saturday like I’d planned, so that fell to last night’s intinerary. Staying up to almost 3am two nights in a row when your alarm goes off at 5:10am is just plain silly.

But I did it. And as a result, I’m all packed for my trip, my hair looks neat and well kept, and Starbucks makes coffee to keep one awake. Well, the Starbucks isn’t a result of my poor time management, but my consumption of large amounts of Starbucks is.

I’m excited for the next week or so, but I’m also really pleased with how the Christmas holiday went.

After work on Friday, Chris and I headed to a friend’s birthday party then to Smalls, just like we’d planned. As a result of tiredness and terrible waitressing at the first bar, the only picture I have is the obligatory picture of Sara and me that I almost always take when we’re hanging.

sara-and-me

When we got to Smalls, it seemed that almost the entirety of the birthday party crew had gone over there. We definitely wouldn’t put the club over capacity. Smalls charges a cover to get in, but for musicians (and their wives, cough, cough), they usually let them in. Smalls works hard to foster that homey environment for the musicians and their people.

I say all of that to say that there was no way in hell Smalls was letting in all those people for free. I’m still not sure how they worked it out, but I was cold and there was room inside for me and Sara (and Chris). Everyone else came in a few minutes after that, so I figure they worked it out and the 12+ people on that bar crawl ish paid the cover to get in.

By the time they got in there, I had my customary I’ve-been-up-since-5am-and-will-be-up-until-damn-near-5am drink: Strong, fresh coffee with Bailey’s and Bulleit Rye Whiskey. My girl Marjie, the amazing manager (and aerial yoga buddy) who was working the bar, always hooks me up. She makes it just right so it needs no sugar, and she good-naturedly fights me on the tip. The only time I couldn’t make her take her money was when we were there on my birthday, but little does she know I just gave it to my friend JS to give to her instead, ha!

The band was amazing, as usual. I listen to my own friends and their bands so much that it’s always nice when I get to the club early and can hear whoever is playing the set in front of theirs. I ended up making nice with a sweet girl who lived up the street from the club. She kept requesting a blues with such gusto. It amused me and irritated Chris, but eventually someone called it for the jam session. I stepped outside with her while she smoked (ew, smoking), and took a pretty cool picture of the entrance to Smalls. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how many times the name of the club is written on/above the door.

smalls

The night ended after 4am, as it always does. We got home and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning, finally checked my mail, and saw that Sara’s Christmas gift for me had indeed arrived like Etsy told her it had.

This tank is hilarious and will be put to good use as soon as we’re back from Europe in the New Year.

namaste

The night of Christmas Eve, we went to a party for my friend Michael from college. He looks amazing, all slim and toned. He was always handsome, but damn if he’s not aging well. We did the math and realized we met over 13 years ago. We drank more egg nog shooters and stopped talking about that, lol.

mike

We stayed at this party All. Night. Long. We were laughing and drinking and talking and playing games. Chris and I had some friends nearby who checked in our activity for the night. Michael was down for the-more-the-merrier, so we invited them over and it went from a small gathering of family and friends to a ruckus house party situation. I hope he has more parties like that in the future.

I almost forgot to take a picture with Chris, but then I remembered. I’ve greatly improved my selfie game from back when I almost always cut half my face out of the picture. But the other party guests didn’t know that. So when I raised the camera back towards us, flash ready, someone offered to help take the picture.

Apparently, without breaking my smile, I brusquely said no, and because I’d already pressed the button before he spoke, the camera flashed immediately after. Everyone found this amusing if caustic. It took them awhile to explain to me why it came across that way. I guess they didn’t know I’d already pressed the camera button, so there was no rapid fire No-Smile-Click that they perceived.

Chris was cracking up the second the word no came out my mouth, as you can see below. I’m clearly drunk, as evidenced by my big ass smile. And my lipstick is also staining his lips, lol.

no-help-chris-laugh

Christmas was a very very lowkey day for us. So lowkey that at no point did we leave the house and no point did we put on pants. I happily watched The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 while cooking dinner and lunch. The only thing I photographed all day was the shrimp wraps I made for lunch, go figure.

shrimp-wraps

I squeezed a lot into just a few days because I was on a time crunch. The only real fail was David taking forever to get home from the airport last night after spending Christmas with his family. Even with staying up to finish my hair, I couldn’t stay up as late as necessary to watch the Sense8 holiday special with him. He says he’ll wait for me and we can watch it when I get back. I hope he doesn’t leave me behind like he did when it came to watching Supergirl.

Seeing as how we have over a week in Europe, I’m hoping it can be as eventful, but also more restful. Wish me a safe flight y’all, my plane takes off in 6 hours!


Still Got Time To Get The Holidays Right, Or At Least Better Than What I’ve Been Doing So Far

There’s a medium sized chance that I’m getting Christmas, and life, back on track.

We actually got a tree yesterday. And by we, I mean, my husband went and got one before he had to be at school while I was at work. That poor little tree is still undecorated.

We still have a couple of days to make it happen though.

The cats are once again welcoming of the tree. They play with each other around it, drink from the tree water (which leads to vomiting, but you try and stop them), and pose in very photogenic ways around it.

The plan is to somehow magically find time to go buy lights for the tree, and maybe a couple of ornaments. We have a few. I bought Starbucks cup ornaments on a whim a couple of years ago, and there’s something made of glass that I don’t remember getting, so Chris must be responsible for those.

I think that will be the full extent of the Christmas decorating. If we’re in New York for Christmas next year, maybe we’ll build on that.

The main reason not to do too much is that we’re going to Paris for New Year’s! I’m super excited. I finally finalized our travel arrangements and accommodations today. I know, I know, cutting it kinda close there. But it’s done.

I’m hoping to change up our travel style a bit. We have a habit of doing a whole bunch of nothing when we travel. To be clear, I say that with extreme prejudicial fondness. My favorite thing to do on a day off is nothing. Chilling out, making sure I don’t tire myself out, and making grand efforts only to eat.

But I’ve been inspired by the travels of those close to me. They leave their rooms each day, exploring everything they can walk or ride or boat to, taking amazing pictures every step of the way. I’ve decided I wanna be more like that.

With any luck, our days will be spent exploring the city on foot, stopping at museums, shops, galleries, pubs, and cafes. Our evenings will be filled with good food and live music. And then we’ll do it all again the next day.

The leisurely nature of exploring and being spontaneous appeals to me more than making an itinerary just to see all I want to see it. I’m gonna have this attitude: If I see it, great. If I don’t, then that’s just a reason to come back again one day.

Wish me luck that when it’s time to put on pants, I actually get off my ass and seize the day.

And wish me luck that the French speakers in Paris and the French and Dutch speakers in Brussels are kind to us. Did I mention we’re going to Brussels too? Only took me 32 years to take a trip to Europe, trying to squeeze as much out of it as I can.


Christmas Fail and Harry Potter Praise

So we didn’t get the tree. I wish I could say I was surprised. In a stunning group effort, my husband Chris did not get the addresses for people he wanted to mail cards to, and I didn’t even purchase the cards had we had somewhere to send them. We are not good at Christmasing, y’all.

There’s a lot more I want to say, but I’m still finding the line for how personal I want this blog to be. Instead, I’ll completely switch topics.

Any Harry Potter fans out there?

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve never been to Europe before, but I’m going next fall to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in West End. Or is it on West End? I would say I was seeing a play on Broadway, not in Broadway. Is is the same for West End in London? Somebody help me please.

Anyway, being the huge Harry Potter fan that I am, I am so excited to get to see it in person in London before they bring it to Broadway in 2018.

Does anyone remember when Michael Jackson died? I do because it was June 25th, the 5th anniversary of the day my boyfriend from freshman year of college died. I bring him up because I remember how upset I was when his This Is It tour was announced to be NOT coming to America.

At the time, I couldn’t wrap my head around travelling to Europe for just a concert. Well, that tour never happened, and Michael currently tops my list of entertainers I regret not having had the chance to see perform live when I had the chance. Luther Vandross is a close second.

I know that ever had I purchased tickets to the concert, obviously I still wouldn’t have seen him. But just accepting the lost opportunity had an impact on me. I promised myself that if it were in my means, I would never miss another important (to me) culture event if I could help it.

That’s why I waited 15 hours in an online queue to get tickets to see the Harry Potter play.

Why did I bring up Harry Potter? Well, I’ve just finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

LEAVE NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS, and now a random picture to fill up some space you don’t accidentally read what I’ve got to say on the matter.

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That’s me and my friend Corey, both very liquored up, at my favorite NYC jazz club: Smalls Jazz Club.

Back to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Albus Severus Dumbledore is such a fuck up.

And Voldemort plus Bellatrix?? Ew. And her husband was fine with it? Double ew.

And all those magical effects? I can tell you there won’t be many high school play productions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. *smirks*

The people who said it was hard to follow because it was a stage play? Bullshit, y’all folks don’t have imagination. Almost every set was one from the books (and movies), use your imagination, or if you don’t have enough of that, use your memory! You know what Godric’s Hollow looks like. You know what the edge of the Forbidden Forest looks like. You know what Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom looks like. Come on y’all.

The British are bracingly realistic. The resolution of the relationship between Harry and Albus (both of them, come to think of it), was so messy. Messy, messy, messy. Just like real life. I suppose that’s why so many people, myself included, deeply love these characters. They’re so freaking real.

I’m so excited to see this play. Reading through all the books in a row has perfectly prepped me for watching all the movies in a row. Then it’ll be back to the books, likely next summer, before I go see that play.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them SIDENOTE.

Yoooooooooooo! When they revealed Grindelwald, I was like whaaaaaaaaaa?!?!?!?

I’m so excited about the actor they’ve cast for Grindelwald. I’m really pleased with the choice. Because of Pottermore, my perception of Grindelwald is a flamboyant genius, whose charm belies his true intentions, and they’ve chosen perfectly to fit my vision of him.

Knowing that this story ends in 1945, presumably with the big duel between Grindelwald and Dumbledore, well, I’m so excited for, let’s say 8 years from now, when they finally put out the fifth movie. Maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll do a movie a year, but I just don’t think that’s very likely. It took 10 years to put out 8 movies for the regular series, and those characters only aged 6-7 years (depending on their birth date). These characters are covering 20-ish years. Oh the possibilities…

Harry Potter is a wonderful distraction from everyday life.

I’ve just acquired a 2009 edition of Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. If you’re up your Harry Potter canon, you know this version of the book (originally published in 2001) is no longer canon. They have recently released the screenplay, which is still not the correct version of the book, though it is with the movie series. The correct version of the Hogwarts textbook will be released in March of 2017.

Lots of chances to give J.K. Rowling all our money!

I’ll certainly be giving her mine. I’ll own the Kindle or physical copy of all her books, even the Pottermore books, which are just gathered assorted writings about the wizarding world. Let’s just be happy I haven’t gone off the deep end and purchased full blown Quidditch robes, lol.

Anyone who’s still reading care to share their favorite escape? Some other escape options for me include: Leverage (TV Series), The Sims 4, and all the DC Comics and Marvel Comics TV shows on Netflix, ABC and the CW.


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

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

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

To that I say, “nah.”

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

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

But first:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Heading to Times Square, After Some Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chicago-Style Girl’s Day Off

What would you do with a day off?

Maybe you’d go shopping and have lunch with the girls? Well, I have no money for shopping and my girls live in Chicago, so that wasn’t an option.

Maybe you’d finally see a movie you’ve been dying to see and maybe even make it a double feature? There are a ton of movies out I’d like to see, but the thought didn’t even occur to me to try to see a film.

Maybe you’d stay up late dancing in your pajamas, just happy to have some time to yourself? That was an appealing thought, but I was out of the house last night, so pajamas dancing will have to wait.

Wednesday was a true day off for me for the first time since I’ve moved to New York. I normally work Monday through Friday, but some schedule shuffling made it possible.

I should have slept in, making myself mimosas and frittatas whenever I finally woke up. I should have walked around with no pants on, letting the hours slip away.

I should have been glad that for once, I didn’t have to wake up to get ready for work, or get ready for the soup kitchen, or get ready for church.

But instead, I volunteered my one morning of free time to the home I volunteer at. I mentioned before how I do tutoring at this home for new mothers who don’t have anywhere else to go. Since I started, the tutoring volunteering has expanded to include much more.

On Wednesday, it extended to babysitting an adorable 2 month old while her mom had a job interview. Getting a job is one of the big steps towards independence at the home, and I was happy to help facilitate it. Plus, that baby is freaking adorable and despite being a bit fussy, she’s a cool baby to be around.

So when I should’ve been at home determining the best proportion of orange juice to champagne, I was instead trying to coax a con artist baby to stay asleep even after I put her down.

I guess it’s not a bad trade. As much as I’m nowhere near ready for my own children, I do enjoy the companies of babies who aren’t jerks. And this baby is definitely not a jerk, so it was fine.

I’m looking forward to helping her mom more in the future once she starts her job. That’s right, she got the job!

After babysitting, I did finally engage in some day-off behavior. I sat on the couch with the husband catching up on TV shows. We watched MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Revenge, Castle, Almost Human, and a couple of other shows too. There really is some great writing on TV these days.

Then it was nap time. I highly encourage anyone with a day off to embrace nap time like you’re five years old. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a lovely nap. My heart goes out to kindergarteners who don’t have nap time these days. Poor guys. What are they going to take away next? That wonderfully goopy paste that they use to make crappy crafts projects?

After my nap, the husband and I went out because he had a gig. We went to Small’s Jazz Club, a place I love to go to. The staff is great, the venue is unique, and bonus– it’s in the Village.

I know what you’re thinking. I give any and everything in the Village extra weight of special-ness just because it’s in the Village. Well, maybe you’d be right. Or maybe they just make better versions of everything in the Village and that’s why I love it so much. No way to know.

So we’re out at the club, and as now is the trend, as soon as I sat at the bar, I attracted the attention of a random stranger who’s super friendly. Last week, the attention I attracted was awesome because I met a great couple who I can actually see the husband and myself becoming friends with. We’re hanging out with them next week I think and it will be great.

Now the random European guy who’s attention I attracted last night was a different story. This guy seemed to mean well, but this crazy European man was systematically irritating, annoying, and perplexing everyone in our general vicinity.

He made the sweet bartender ladies roll their eyes because of the way he ordered his drinks. Ten minutes to decide on Stella Artois on tap? Really?

He got pushed aside by the bass player/sound man/ general peacekeeper dude because he wouldn’t stop blocking the aisle even though he had a bar stool.

He got hushed by an already boisterous crowd because his voice carried and was interrupting other people’s ability to hear the solos. I don’t know how much time you all spend in jazz clubs, but you’re really doing too much when you get hushed by the crowd who is also talking and laughing.

And to top it all off, the crazy European man got really drunk and almost threw up, so he got kicked out of the club. I’ve never even seen someone get kicked out of a jazz club before. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen someone get throw-up drunk at a jazz club before.

Needless to say, I didn’t exchange contact information with this crazy European man (who tried to convince me my parents are hippies at heart as illustrated by the uniqueness of my name), nor did I make plans to hang out again.

I spent the rest of the night hanging out with the husband and his musician friends.

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Yeah, I have glasses now. Anyway.

Everyone was talking about how much fun our Sunday dinner was, and how they can’t wait until we do it again. I think we’ve started a new tradition, and when they make the movie about one of these musician’s lives one day, my Sunday dinners should make the script, at least it better.

Making new friends is hard, you know?

Especially when the options available are so damn weird.

But I have hope. The husband has another gig on Monday that promises a lot of fun. I ended up inviting 6 people to join me out. I didn’t even know I knew six people here in New York I’d like to hang out with socially outside of a work shift, a Sunday service, or a quick drink after the soup kitchen. The couple we met last week, a guy from work and a friend of his I haven’t met yet, and a guy we met at a bar back in September and his girlfriend.

The fact that I even had more than one person I could think of to invite made me happy. I’m perfectly comfortable hanging by myself at the husband’s gigs, but it would be nice to have some friends with me too.

On that note, I’m going to go make a list of cool ways to spend a day off. The only thing I know is that the next time it happens, I’m definitely not starting my day until after noon.

Any ideas?


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.


Fifty by Age 50: Florida and The Bahamas

If you’re familiar with this title lead, you know the husband and I came up with a crazy plan to visit 50 countries along with all 50 states in the United States plus the territories. So really it’s more like 108 by 50, but Fifty by 50 sounds way, better, don’t you think?

When we got married, only two of the 20 adults in our wedding party were married. One of them was one of my bridesmen. He got married April 2011. He and his wife decided to have their wedding in April 2012. Please, just raise your eyebrows with question and then move on. I have no good explanation.

For their wedding, they decided to go on a cruise to the Bahamas. The husband and I were more than happy to attend. He’d never been on a cruise before, I love cruising, and we saw it as an opportunity to spend more time with them as a couple. When we heard a good friend of mine from middle and high school was coming (the groom and I went to school together), we were even more excited.

We had a great time on the cruise. There are lots of pictures, most of which I didn’t take, but I finally have some from a vacation!

Other than the time on the cruise, which included karaoke, unlimited ice cream, shopping, and drinks in the hot tub, we also spent time on shore in Nassau, Bahamas.

As soon as we got on shore, we decided we didn’t want to do one of the tours sponsored by the boat. We ended up renting a scooter from the locals right outside the ship. We got on a two person scooter and drove around for a little over and hour. I was terrified because the husband is not a good driver. He kept leaning the bike and he kept weaving hard to the left and right. He was having a great time though.

It was totally worth it when I spotted this Jamaican and Bahamian restaurant. I noticed all the people who lived on the island going there for lunch. So we stopped in and got food to go. Curry chicken and oxtails with plantains, beans and rice, rum cake, and ginger beer. It was amazing! I”m not a big fan of cruise food, so it was the first satisfying meal I’d had all weekend.

When we got back near the ship, we also got a conch fritter and a seasoned meat patty. If you don’t know any of the foods I’ve mentioned, Google them and find some restaurant in your city that makes them! After the food, we took a shuttle over to the Atlantis hotel/spa/resort and hung out there a bit. A little more shopping and browsing was fun. In the Bahamas, everything is so bright and colorful.

Even though the entire trip was spent under a grey sky and temperatures no higher than 65 degreed Fahrenheit, we still had a blast. The husband agrees we should go on another cruise. I’m trying to see if we can go to one next year with the woman who does my hair. She’s setting up a group trip on the Royal Caribbean Cruise lines which has waaay more to do than shuffleboard and karaoke.