Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

Posts tagged “strangers

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

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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.

20140116_005712_5_bestshot 20140116_021419

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?


That Time I Almost Stabbed An Old Man In The Street

Before I talk about that time I almost stabbed an old man in the street, I first want to follow-up on yesterday. It’s like God heard my not-actually-prayed prayers and found a solution to my problems.

I will have time to wash my clothes before I have to wear more awful clothing combinations to work. I was sitting at work when one of the other shift leaders asks me if I want to go home, take a nap, then come back that night.

I did a quick thinking process and decided I was in. I gathered my things and left. I got home and took a nice long nap until it was time to get up to go do my volunteer thing. I definitely went the wrong way once or twice on the way (anyone want to teach me the difference between north and south?), but I finally got to the place.

The woman I’m working with has her final next week. So when I go back on Monday, we’re going to work hard to make sure she’s as prepared as possible for the final. Then the following weekend, we will celebrate her doing well by taking an excursion somewhere. We haven’t figured out where yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m glad this is going well because I know sometimes volunteer work can be unfulfilling and boring. This work is anything but. She even showed me her latest sonogram today! My personal opinion happens to be that sonograms look weird and pretty icky, but I was just happy for her that she wanted to show the pictures off.

I’m sure the husband will want to pat me on the back for keeping my strong ass opinions to myself for once. Thank God I have this blog to let it out on you people. I figure you’re asking for my opinions because you bother to read my words.

I’ll probably be one of the few ladies who shuns her own sonograms while she’s pregnant. The doctor will be all, “hey, want a picture of your baby? Isn’t it grand?” And I’ll be all, “um, no that alien looking thing belongs in my womb, not floating around in my purse or on my refrigerator blown up 100x. No thank you.” Then the husband will shake his head at me and request the picture anyway.

Back on topic now. After I was done with the tutoring, I headed to work. I worked until the morning at which point I went home. Now I’m not due back until Friday, so I actually have time to, you guessed it, wash my clothes!

Because I worked last night, I could wear causal clothes, which I haven’t run out of yet. And on casual Friday, I can also wear the jeans instead of the slacks. That gives me four whole days to manage to wash some clothes for work on Monday. Of course, I’ll be quite tired from flipping back and forth from day sleep to night sleep, so I still may not get it done. I’m not gonna worry about that just yet though.

On to the point of this post. In the course of getting ready for my trip out of town last weekend, I decided to take a trip down to Greenwich Village in Manhattan rather than to the Laundromat, you know, to wash clothes.

Down in Greenwich Village, I was reminded yet again of why I love that neighborhood. It just feels neighborhood-y and community-ish. The people all seem to carry the sense of belonging and lack of judgment with them everywhere they go.

My destination when I got there was this lovely little shop that sells essential oils. I’ll explain in a later post why I needed essential oils, but there I was, making some purchases, feeling very Village-like. I left the shop and noticed there was a vegan grocery store, a yoga studio, a sushi bar, and a LGBT community center all within the same half a block.

Even though I’m heterosexual and such a carnivore (pun intended), I felt so at home. That type of acceptance of any lifestyle put a big smile on my face. I don’t know how much time you people have spent around others who aren’t like yourself. I’ve encountered communities that are so supportive of vegans that they judge meat-eaters. I’ve also been around homosexuals and bisexuals that shun heterosexuals.

But nobody was eye-ing my I heart bacon sweatshirt with ire. I fit right in and happily so.

Just as I was reveling in my daydreams about moving into this building that looked like a fancy version of my current brownstone, my thoughts were interrupted by this man. He was leaning forward, swaying unsteadily on his feet. For some reason, he was holding a 7-Eleven big gulp cup partially in front of his eyes in a very I-can-see-you-but-you-can’t-see-me kind of way.

He swayed into my path and began lumbering toward me. When I stepped to the side to go around him, he stepped to the side to stay in my way. Then he started talking. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but he kept calling me Lady and laughing each time he said it.

When he got closer, I stopped walking forward and actually started taking steps back. As I stepped back, he stepped forward. This was officially an awful moment. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I ran through the options.

1)      Mace his ass.

2)      Cut his ass.

3)      Run away.

4)      See if he needed help.

The first option was a good one since I had an adorable pink bottle of pepper spray in my purse. The second option was the most attractive, but I didn’t have a box cutter with me because the husband refused to buy me one. I’m pretty sure it was out of pure laziness that he didn’t buy it for me. And I’m pretty sure it was out of pure laziness that I didn’t buy it for myself.

The third option just isn’t my style. I prefer fight over flight. The last option didn’t feel very safe. I’m alone in New York, so I can’t afford the risk to my safety by reaching out to strangers like that. I just got here, and I’d like to keep myself safe.

Based on those options, I began reaching for my pepper spray, cursing both myself and my husband that I didn’t have a box cutter. I’m not against cutting an old man who’s starting to scare me. But before I could pull out the pepper spray, another man on the street told the man to leave me alone because he was clearly scaring me.

They argued back and forth a bit over whether or not he was scaring me. Ultimately the creepy old man with the big gulp cup gave up and crossed the street, muttering to himself.

I left my pepper spray in my purse and thanked the man for his intervention.

Then I called the husband and fussed at him for not buying me a box cutter. I clearly needed to cut an old man, but wasn’t able to because he was being lazy.

The husband, who is saner than I am, immediately let me know that it wasn’t a bad thing that I got through the afternoon without cutting an old man.

Agree to disagree.

On my agenda while I have some time at the Laundromat: heading to the nearby hardware store to purchase a box cutter.

That old man may have been harmless, but I don’t want to be naïve enough to think everybody who walks up on me in this city will be. I’ve got plans for my life, and they don’t include becoming a statistic to senseless violence. Yeah, that just got real.


Seriously, I Can Teach Anyone Math

I mentioned before how I was starting to do volunteer work. It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to make that happen, and I’d forgotten how much it means to me to help people for no better reason than they need it.

Reaching out to the organization I did was totally on a whim, inspired by my need to get some “extra-curriculars” for grad school. There was just something about the website they setup that really reached out to me.

They take a lot of different types of volunteers, including tutors. Tutoring is right up my alley. I did a lot of tutoring at my church in Chicago. I also worked in the Chemistry tutoring lab when I was in undergrad. I’ve helped out a few friends over the years with classes they struggled with as well.

As the title of this post says, I feel quite confident I can teach anyone math. I can teach them almost anything. Just not history. It’s hard to teach a subject I don’t know well. I can’t tell you dates and quote all that stuff from history, nor have I ever figured out a way to remember it effectively. But enough about history, I want to focus on math!

If you don’t like math or you swear you’re no good at it, I blame your math teach from the fourth or fifth grade. That seems to be the time in life where people either realize they are great at math and/or enjoy it. If you don’t realize that, resentment builds until it’s finally released the day you don’t have to do math anymore (except for counting money).

The woman I’m tutoring is from the category of people who don’t like math. As expected, her dislike stemmed more from not understanding some of the fundamentals than truly disliking the subject. I blame her fourth grade teacher.

Getting to the location to begin tutoring wasn’t easy. It was a part of Brooklyn I’ve never been to before (there are still so many parts unexplored honestly), but luckily my HopStop app helped me find it. When I got there, the lady who runs the place confirmed I was who I said I was, and let me know the house rules.

They are pretty strict, but they are providing a service to teach women who have no place else to go how to create a stable life for themselves and their unborn child. The work they do and the people they’ve helped is really inspiring.

Some of the people they help come from some pretty bad situations, so I won’t say any more about the actual organization for safety’s sake.

When I mentioned some of my other hobbies and interests, the lady seemed interested in other ways I could help the woman I’m working with as well. She asked if I’d like to come over and show her a few healthy home-cooked recipes for dinner once or twice a month. Also, she asked If I could take her out in Brooklyn or in the city for some cultural excursions.

I thought I’d just be helping someone advance in their pursuit of a degree, but it looks like I’ll be taking on a much more active role with her. It’s pretty exciting to think I could help even more than originally expected.

Once we got through the formalities and introductions, we jumped right into the math. One of the reasons I’m so good at teaching people math is that I teach them not just what they need to know for that lesson, I teach them how to learn the next thing even before it comes.

Math is a language and you have to learn the language if you want to excel in the subject. That’s the fundamental piece most people are missing. Math teachers all over the country are slacking by not teaching their students the language of math.

If you have no idea what I mean, and I haven’t lost you by mentioning the word math 100 times in the last four paragraphs, I’ll explain what I mean.

3 + 2 = 5                3 – 2 = 1

That simple addition is a sentence in math. So is the subtraction. If you want to learn to add, you can learn on a number line.

Image from SparkNotes

If you’re using a number line, then the three represents your starting point. The plus and the minus both represent the direction you’re going to move. The two represents how far you must move. The equal sign represents that the answer is coming. The five and the one represent the answer.

Okay, enough teaching. If anyone is still reading this post, I swear I’m moving on.

We focused on the basics for the first tutoring session. We filled in some gaps in her knowledge and found out how she learns best. She is a visual learner, so the number line method, along with some almond for counting, worked best for her.

We ended up having a pretty good time, laughing and learning. By the time I was heading home, she was asking me to give her some sample problems that were tough for her skill level so she could practice.

When someone requests more work, that’s always I sign that I’ve made the learning fun. I left feeling so energized. It’s been so long since I’ve taught, and I kind of forgot how much I love it. If only they paid teachers more, I might’ve considered that as a career field.

Anyway, I’ll be going back again this week. I gave her a bit of homework to do, so hopefully she got it all done and we can move forward. This woman has an interest in going into the medical field. I’m feeling pretty good about helping someone reach their goals, just because. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy yet energized like one of those USA Character commercials.

This week I also start my other volunteer projects I’ve reached out to. Wish me luck that it goes well.