Sunday, March 30, 2008

Am I Finally Gonna Take a Bite of The Big Apple?

"the mind is turbulent, strong and unyielding and control over it is as difficult as controlling the wind" (Bhagavad Gita [ancient yogic text])

Now, before you all start thinking I'm off my rocker and quoting some new-age bullshit in my blogs, I just want you to know that I have had more moments of clarity in these last few weeks than I've ever had before in life. I took a trip to Philadelphia for a work-related conference, and I actually enjoyed myself and learned a lot. But, this trip also gave me a lot of time to mull things over. I am becoming very introspective and learning a lot about myself and I'm actually enjoying what I have discovered so far and look forward to learning more about the Brown Girl. At any rate, I'm sorry it took me almost a week to post. Y'all know I'm a work in progress and that I'm trying to get better, but I keep letting things distract me. That's what inspired the quote above from the Bhagavad Gita. My mind is restless, turbulent, unwieldy, and sometimes out of control. I think so much and sometimes it's hard for me to reign-in my thoughts. I've mentioned this before, but it's just really tough sometimes to calm my thoughts down long enough to put fingers to keys and type a post. I began this post last Wednesday right before I left for Philly and I'm just now getting the energy to sit down and complete it. Anyway, my thoughts...

Alright y’all. So, I’ve gotten so many comments regarding Valentina and Chad over the last couple of days. First of all, lemme just say that I had no idea how many of you are reading my blog. Thanks! No, really. Thanks! Anyway, yes, Valentina and Chad are completely real. And, as far as I know, they are completely and utterly happy. Yes, that kind of happiness really does exist. It’s just that only certain people are blessed enough to encounter it. And, sure, it can be fleeting. But, just learn to enjoy it while you have it, because some of us would give up a major part to us (arm, leg) for the opportunity. [← Did you get the Biggie reference?]

Anyway, today’s post also stems from my trip to New York. And I was only there for five days y’all! Can you imagine if I lived there? I would have stories for days. Possibly a short novel…

The first time I ever went to New York (that I remember), I think I was about 5 or 6 years old. My parents decided that they would take me to see Alfonso Ribiero - “Carlton” from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, who at the time was playing Ricky Schroder’s best friend in Silver Spoons - be the “Tap Dance Kid” on Broadway. I remember that we stayed in a nice hotel with a grand lobby, but the room was so tiny that you hit the television every time you opened the front door. I remember attending the show, waiting outside the theater to get Alphonso’s autograph (he signed my Playbill!), and then going to a nice restaurant for dinner afterward. We retired to our miniscule room and the next morning got up, headed out for a tour of the City, and bought a shitload of trinkets and souvenirs for our family back home. My mom and I took great care to pick out gifts that we thought each person back home would particularly love. We were so proud of what we had gotten.

The next morning, we packed all our things into our suitcases, including our souvenirs, checked our bags with the bellman, and went to breakfast outside the hotel. We got back about two hours later to collect our things and get on the road back to DC, but when my dad gave the bellman our ticket to retrieve the bags, our luggage was nowhere to be seen. After a few arguments with a few different people, it became clear that someone had stolen our bags. Now, my mother, who is a worrier supreme, had attended college in Brooklyn and hated New York City with a passion. She had never wanted to come to see the show in the first place. So, she began with a round of “I told you sos” and vowed to never return to New York as long as she lived. I didn’t really understand the concept of stealing at that age, but I do remember being very pissed that someone had taken all of our souvenirs and that we didn’t have enough time to replace them. And, even though, I was angry that someone had done something unkind to us, it did not ruin the trip for me. I was hooked. I loved everything about the City. And I knew that I would be back many, many more times. In my kindergartener’s mind, I pretty much knew that one day I would grow up and live in this grand place called New York City. A place where I could go to plays, meet celebrities, eat good food, and shop. (Even in kindergarten these were my favorite activities.)

I had tried to go to college in New York like my mom had done so many years before me. But, as I sat and filled out the NYU application (these were the days when you filled those things in by hand!), my mom took one look at the cover sheet, laughed, and told my I was wasting my time filling out the app because there was no way she was letting me go to school in New York City. She was dead serious. Her child would not be attending school in “that hellhole”. I allowed myself to be persuaded not to attend any schools in New York. Given the fact that I was a broke college senior and mom and dad were paying for my college application, I didn’t really have a choice. So, I gave up on that dream.

The first time I went to New York on my own – without Mommy and Daddy – it was the spring of 1998. I had just started college that previous fall at the state university and Jenna had left the area to attend college in NYC. My good friend Rebecca and I decided that we would visit a friend who was attending college in Philly and then continue up north to stay with Jenna in her dorm. We took Amtrak and made our way up the East Coast. In Philly we had fun, but in New York… we had a BLAST!! We went to college parties and went to dinner at trendy restaurants and went to clubs with older people. It was nonstop fun. When that trip was over, I went back to school and decided that I would go to grad school in New York. I had to get there somehow, some way.

By the time law school rolled around, I was in a relationship and no longer wanted to relocate because my “man” wasn’t interested in moving with me. So, I applied to several schools, but they were all located within an hour of DC. In retrospect, I realize how stupid this was. But, at the time, I was 21 and “in love” with Jeremy. And I wasn’t leaving him behind. By the time I had to start thinking about where I would work after law school, Jeremy and I were finished. So, I applied to firms in New York and DC. In the end I accepted an offer with a firm in the DC area. It wasn’t really what I had planned. It just sort of worked out that way. And so, I got trapped. You’ll remember me saying in another post that DC is the kind of place that sucks you in. Natives get tied up and they never leave. My father calls it “Potomac fever”, which is basically a disease that causes you to become ill if you are too far away from the Potomac River. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I suffer from this malady. It’s not that I don’t want to leave DC, it’s that I CAN’T. Like, for what I guess is a variety of reasons, I can’t physically extract myself from DC and all that it stands for. My entire immediate family is here. And for some reason, I get panicked when I think about moving away from them. I think about what my parents would do if I wasn’t around and I can’t imagine what that would be like for them. I know that sounds crazy. Especially since they have two other children. But, still… this is ME we’re talking about. I don’t think they could handle it. People think I’m crazy because my reluctance to move away from DC specifically surrounds my parents and a little bit of separation anxiety.

I was discussing this issue with Chad and Valentina during brunch. Chad said, “Parents only want their kids to be happy. If you told your parents you wanted to move to New York, I’m sure they would support you if they thought you would be happy here.”

I laughed inside because, little does Chad know, my parents are not like that. Most parents are eager, anxious even, to get their children out of the house so that they can become lovebirds in an empty nest. But my parents don’t want to be alone. They want to be with me.

Sounds nuts, doesn’t it?

But, I’m serious. You don’t even have any idea…

My friend Susie says that if this situation with my parents and me is really that complicated, then the best thing really would be for me to leave my parents and the rest of the family behind because a little separation is what we need. She tells me the story of her mother who stayed within her parents grasp until… well, she’s STILL in her parents grasp… and she’s like 60 years old. Susie’s mom encouraged her to get out of their small town so that Susie wouldn’t make the same mistake that she had. And Susie said that moving away from her town is probably the best thing she ever did in life. Now, what Susie’s mom did for her - that’s unselfish and kind. But my parents don’t think that way! I mean, obviously DC is no small Midwestern town like the one that Susie could’ve possibly gotten trapped in. But DC is a black hole. At least it is for me…

The time I spent in New York this year was fabulous. I’ve had a lot of good times in the City, but this trip was especially exciting, dramatic, and fulfilling. And I got to thinking about that abandoned dream of living in the City. Each time I go, I have a social calendar that is jam packed with activities and is filled with people who’s company I genuinely enjoy. In DC, I sit by the phone and wait until someone calls with a proposed activity that is unusual enough to motivate me to leave my couch. And that call rarely comes. But in New York, my phone doesn’t stop ringing! There is always some party going on, or some happy hour I should try, or some brunch spot I need to check out. And I’m always joined by amazing people who know how to have fun. Every time!

Well… not EVERY time.

You see, back in 2005, I got the opportunity to do some work for my firm on Wall Street. I moved to New York and stayed with Jenna who has an amazing two-bedroom apartment in a brownstone in Harlem, two blocks from the Apollo Theater. Every day, I take the subway to Wall Street and go to work. And then I would come home. And then I would wait for Jenna to come home. And then we would retire to our rooms and go to sleep. And that was it! We went out a few times here and there, but nothing spectacular was going on. When I arrived in New York and settled into Jenna’s second bedroom, I sat down and called all my friends in the City to announce the fact that I was now a resident of Harlem. I told each person, “Let’s get together this week or next.” And I was met with excuses from everyone about why they were busy, but they wanted to make sure to “take a raincheck” or to “get together soon”. My phone was not blowing up. Far from it. A few times, I would pick up Jenna’s cell phone to call my own just to make sure that it was working, or I would check the settings on my phone just to make sure that I hadn’t inadvertently turned the ringer off.

A few days later, I still hadn’t started my job, so I was at home at the middle of the day when everyone was working and… busy. I was walking down 125th Street toward the Starbucks and even though there were about a million people around me, and even though Jenna was just at work and would be free to hang out within two hours, and even though bestie was on the other end of my cell phone and chatting away about this or that, I was overcome by the most intense feeling of loneliness that I had ever encountered in life. I was used to going to New York and having every drop everything to accommodate me and my schedule. It had always been the case that every moment of my time in New York was taken up by any number of activities. But for some reason, when I decided that I would move to New York, everyone was too busy to hang out. The change in everyone’s tune was startling to say the least. And then, I got homesick. I had been dying to get out of Washington, DC, for as long as I could remember. But, by the time I got to Starbucks and ordered my caramel macchiato, I wanted nothing more than to be in the Nation’s Capital. I hung up with my bestie and started to cry. Tears were streaming down my face and, luckily, New Yorkers (God bless ‘em) are too self-absorbed to notice a girl carrying a Starbucks cup, blubbering her way down 125th Street, on the middle of the day on a Tuesday.

Anyway, the disappearing friends can be explained by a phenomenon that a friend, Belle, once described in one of her blogs. She told the story of a man who was from New York, but had gone to college in DC. He moved back to NYC after college and he was miserable. He explained to Belle that he was moving to DC because in DC everyone knows his name, he is the center of attention, everybody loves him, he has nothing but days upon days of nonstop fun. Then, he goes back to NYC and reality hits and all he can do is pine for DC days once more. And Belle explained to him that the only reason why people are so interested in him when he visited DC was simply because… well, because he was VISITING. People make you a priority when they realize that you are only available for a limited amount of time. The second that it becomes apparent that you are a resident of a particular city and are at their disposal whenever they would like to see you, you are no longer a priority. There is no reason for them to drop everything and clear their schedules just because you want to hang out now. That’s just the way that it is. So, basically, the point is that you shouldn’t move somewhere just because you have these wonderful friends and the city is loads of fun. Well, then, why SHOULD you move?

I have two shining examples of why relocation could be a good thing. First, Valentina moved to New York and her whole life fell into place. She swears on all that she loves that things would not turned out the same way had she stayed in DC. Here, she was going to community college and working as a hostess in a restaurant with no real other aspirations, but she got to NYC, got on her grind, got a husband, a house and a career, all within a year or so of making the transition. Second, Asia’s situation skyrocketed when she moved to Manhattan and she promised my bestie that if she moved to NYC she, too, would develop into a better person because there are so many opportunities for enrichment and so many chances to prove your personal morality.

What did Asia mean by that? How does a CITY make you a better person? Well, for me PERSONALLY, it’s like this:

When I am in DC, I stay at home on my couch. I watch a lot of TV. I go back and forth to a job that doesn’t even come close to moving me and then come home and watch TV some more. I am not a fun person. I am not motivated to achieve. I am sluggish, stagnant, comfortable, lazy, depressed. That kind of mentality sounds pretty pathetic doesn’t it? Yeah. DC does not a fun person make. I feel like everything is a been-there, done-that situation. Nothing is new. Nothing is exciting.

But New York… Oh! New York! It makes me so happy! There is always something going on. If you are bored, venture around the corner or to another borough and you’ll find something totally exciting and – lots of times – free! The vibe of the city is just inspiring. Creativity abounds (as opposed to DC which is a city where, as Belle put it, “creativity comes to die”). There is always some new restaurant or bar to try out, a new boutique to feed my window-shopping habit (too broke to actually buy). All these things are GREAT things!

However, the thing I love the MOST about New York? The hustle. The grind. Everyone you meet in New York has got a hustle and everyone is constantly on their grind. I mean, sure, in every city in the world you’ll find those special people who are just consistently on the move. Their energy drives the rest of the slowpokes in that particular city. But in New York – EVERYONE is on a mission to shine. Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book “Eat Pray Love” (which you should start reading now if you haven’t read it already) discusses a concept that basically says that every city has a word that describes the great majority of its people and therefore is the heart and soul of that particular location. The word theory says that if your personal word is not synonymous with the word of the city in which you live, then you will never truly be at home there. So, New York’s word: “ACHIEVE”. (As opposed to LA’s word “SUCCEED”. I still haven’t really figured out the difference) But, I can totally feel that in New York. That drive for achievement. Everyone has a side gig because in New York, you NEED to hustle to survive. People are more than happy to chat with you about their 9-5, but become so passionate when they begin describing their 5-9. New Yorkers are rude, but passionate; motivated, yet cynical; diverse, although oddly similar. I just LOVE everything about it.

I am not sure what DC’s word is. And I’m not sure what MY word is yet, but I’m pretty sure that my word and DC’s word are not in harmony. I’ve been thinking about my word a lot and I’m leaning somewhat toward “CONFORMED” or “CONFUSED” or “REPRESSED”. I am fully aware that all of these words have negative connotations, but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I am not completely happy with the life that I’m living. I’ll get into that more later, but the point is that, as my friend Jillian said to me the other day, “Girl, you only live once! MOVE!”

I mean, thanks for the advice Jillian, but could it really be that simple?

Yeah… I think it can be…

Monday, March 24, 2008

V&C: A Love Story

I was doing entirely too much in NYC. I tried to see all my friends during this one weekend, and I wasn’t quite successful. But someone that I couldn’t miss seeing was my homegirl Valentina. She is one of those Latin beauties who makes you question your beloved God because surely he could not be a “fair” God if he makes some people look like Valentina and other people look… well… NOT like Valentina. The only thing that makes her stunning outer beauty acceptable is the fact that she is just as beautiful – if not more – on the inside.

Valentina and I met when she was in sixth grade and I was in seventh. I am not really sure how we were introduced, but we became fast friends. We would pass handwritten notes to each other between classes. This was before the days of cell phones and text messages, so I was a champion note-writer instead. We would then go home and talk on the phone for hours. We had sleepovers and dinners and brunches with each other’s families. Her older sister and my older brother had mutual friends and we secretly hoped that they would marry each other so we could be sisters (that didn’t happen, but we’re both happy with the way that things actually turned out – and besides, we ARE sisters!).

The first time I ever got dumped, Valentina relayed the message. My boyfriend was a 13-year-old Casanova who had dated half the girls in the class. School ended and we were in love. One month later, he had met someone new in summer camp and decided that I was old news. Instead of breaking the news to me himself, he called Valentina to tell her about his new woman and left her with the task of informing her best friend that her boyfriend had moved on. She broke the news as gently as she could and I was happier to have heard it from her… even now looking back on it I’m sure that I wouldn’t have been able to take hearing Chase tell me himself that he was no longer interested. After that painful breakup conversation with Valentina, I cried for days and obsessed about Chase for months! And Valentina listened patiently just like a good girlfriend does. Never complaining and never telling me that I needed to really let Chase go because he had definitely moved on.

We remained friends even through the first part of high school, but then we lost touch. Senior year, I attended her 18th birthday party in her parents’ living room and it seemed like we were worlds apart. By college, we had completely lost touch, although I wondered many times over the years what had happened to her. When I turned 25 years old, my friends arranged a wonderful surprise party for me. I hadn’t had a surprise party since I’d turned 14 and Valentina and my bestie planned a party for me at my parents house (which, by the way, Chase attended and by the end of which, we were back together – STRONG). But this party was unparalleled. I was truly surprised, and had the time of my life, but my bestie promised me that my surprise wasn’t over. I couldn’t even imagine what else she could do to make my birthday any better.

My bestie called me Saturday night – after the surprise party – and told me to dress nicely because we were going to brunch and that there would be a surprise waiting for me. Based on her words, the surpise was a “who” and not a “what”. I couldn’t even imagine who or what the surprise would be! Boy was I surprised when we pulled up to Valentina’s parents’ house. When we got there, it was awkward for about the first 5 seconds and then we were giggling and gabbing like we had seen each other just the other day. In reality, about 5 years had passed. But that’s the way it is when your friendship is genuine. When you get together it’s like no time has passed at all and you pick up right where you left off.

I found out that Valentina had moved to New York. She and her on-again/off-again boyfriend, Chad, had broken up and this time it seemed like he wasn’t coming back, so she packed up her things and moved in with her sister in the City. She had been living downtown in the Financial District and had lost her apartment on 9/11. Thank God she and her sister were both safe, but she – along with most other New Yorkers – was forever scarred by the memory of that day. After 9/11, Chad decided to move to NY to be closer to her, and during my birthday brunch she shared her deep love for Chad and told us that her hope was that they could marry and build a family together in the City. They had been together for approximately six years at the time, but it had been a fragmented relationship, so who knew what the future held for them.

Now, Valentina is a true romantic at heart. She sees the good in everything and everyone and her inner joy radiates throughout her. She is just one of those people that you only want to see succeed and be happy in life because she deserves it! And she genuinely wants the same for everyone that she knows and loves. So, because of that, I wanted nothing more than to see her dreams realized. I wouldn’t have to wait long because in July of that same year, Chad proposed at the top of a mountain during a European vacation. Valentina came home with a ring that was radiant enough to match her glow.

A few weeks later, Valentina came home for a visit. Chad, who is also from DC didn’t come along because he had work commitments. We were sitting in the middle of a posh restaurant in Georgetown, drinking wine and talking loudly. During a lull in conversation, we all decided to do a cell phone check and Valentina noticed that she had missed Chad’s call. She looked at the phone and blushed.

“Aww! He called!” she gushed, sounding genuinely surprised that he had reached out to her.

“Um, sweetie,” I said. “He’s been calling you for six years now. And you’re still surprised?”

“Not surprised, just grateful,” she said, dialing his number.

Wow. Just… wow. During this time, I was with Mr. Ex. And even then, though I thought I loved him dearly, I watched Valentina giggle like a schoolgirl as she talked to Chad on her cell phone and thought – I want THAT. I don’t know what THAT is, but I want it.

Of course, when Valentina and Chad got married a year later on the beach in the Caribbean, I was there front and center. After the ceremony, I went back to my room to nurse my mosquito bites before the reception and I placed a call to Mr. Ex. I told him about how beautiful the ceremony was and how I was looking very forward to the reception. I told him how Valentina had seemed perfectly calm and how exchanging vows seemed like the most natural thing to her and Chad. No nervousness, no anxiety. And then I thought about a possible marriage to Mr. Ex and I started hyperventilating. No joke. Panic-stricken, I ran to the bathroom and started wretching over the toilet. WTF?! This was the man I supposedly loved and the thought of marrying him brought me to my knees over the toilet bowl?? Not the reaction I expected. And maybe I was also surprised because I had imagined our wedding before and never had such a violent reaction.

But I think seeing how great Valentina and Chad were together made me recognize that what Mr. Ex and I had was not healthy. I thought of how his ghetto-psycho-mental case of a mother would interact with my own calm and prim mother. I wondered how his drug-dealing friends would get along with my very judgmental girlfriends and overprotective guy friends. It hit me that we were not at all compatible.

Without going into too much detail, I will share that Mr. Ex and I called it quits not long after I returned from that trip. I had seen with my own eyes the kind of love that I dreamed about and that was enough to make me want to stop accepting the crap that I was settling for with Mr. Ex. And typically, I am a jealous person. I can’t even lie. It’s one of those vices that I am trying to work on. But, I couldn’t even hate on Valentina and her hubby. If anybody deserved to find love, she did. She and Chad just inspired me to find real, true, genuine love. And for that, I will always be thankful.

Last Sunday, Valentina and her husband hosted a brunch in me and my BFF’s honor at their new apartment in Queens. Their place was charming, and modern, and adorable, and I immediately felt at home there. They’ve been married for two years now, which I guess is considered newlywed in some circles, but to me, I think that’s a fair amount of time to live as man and wife. I think the honeymoon could probably be over at this point. But in their case, they are still as in love as they were eight years ago.

I watched their interaction as they moved around the small kitchen preparing brunch for their friends. Though I don’t make it to the City often enough, I get the feeling that they regularly host people in their home. I realized that they compliment each other perfectly. And even though I’m sure life is not all peaches and cream for them, I think they are really in it for the long haul. This isn’t some fly-by-night romance. This is a love that’s eight years in the making. I mean, let’s keep it real. Who still gets excited by a phone call from the man they love SIX YEARS LATER? That’s some deep ish.

As Valentina poured us mimosas and whipped up torta, we laughed and talked about the old days and caught up with each other about new things that are happening with us and our families. Every now and then, she and Chad would take a break to give each other a casual kiss, or stare longingly at each other with a look that basically said “I can’t wait to get these people out of here so that we can be alone again.” Oh, that look! That’s what I want. To be totally comfortable with someone else. To know that being together might not always be easy, but being apart is impossible.

But just like everyone is not blessed with Valentina’s looks, everyone certainly will NOT be blessed with her luck in love. I am, however, hopeful that one day soon all this back-and-forth, rollercoaster-ride, bullshit that I have been calling “relationships” will be over and I will be settled in with one spectacular person who does not “complete me” a la Jerry Maguire, but instead complements the already complete me.

If that makes sense…

I am not looking for Mr. Perfect, just Mr. Perfect-for-Me.

But I won’t look for him. I hear that looking for love is the worst thing you can do. But just because I’m no longer looking doesn’t mean I will stop longing for it.

Until I find him, I will remind myself that there are people like Asia and Jack and Valentina and Chad. Some people really do find true love.

And I'll find it, too. Maybe…

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The (Minor) Epiphany

Um, ok, yeah. So I had tried something new with the blog layout and that shit was for the birds. Sorry if I hurt your eyes, but I was trying to get creative and do my own customized layout. Could you tell I've had little to NO experience with HTML?? If you say you didn't notice, you're simply trying to be kind. I know that shit looked retarded. For your sake (and mine), I've tried something new once again. This is one of those boring-ass Blogger templates, so we'll work with it for now. Test it, try it, and trash it if we don't like it.


After being stressed out beyond belief as a result of my job (which I am totally OVER), I decided that it was time to take a much needed vacation. So my BFF and I decided to take a trip to The Big Apple to visit Jenna. We arrived on a Thursday and we were moving nonstop until we left on Sunday afternoon. Even though we were busy each day and each night with tons of fun things to do, we still didn’t get around to seeing everyone we had set out to see or do everything we set out to do. But we had a lot of fun trying! I am so sorry I left y’all hanging, reading about Love for OVER A WEEK! That’s shameful. SHAMEFUL. And I apologize. If y’all are still interested in reading me despite my abandonment, then just know that this trip is the inspiration behind a lot of future posts (that I haven’t written yet, but they are coming!!) because a lot of crazy shit (good and bad) happened while I was in NYC and hilarity inevitably ensued.

On with the post!

So, while in NYC, I had an epiphany: Gotdammit! I want to be in love!! Ok, so obviously, everyday I feel differently about love. I know, I know. Are you guys confused yet? Cause, I am!

This revelation occurred to me on Saturday night. My bestie had gotten in contact with Asia, a girl we had gone to middle school with, who is now a model living and working in various locales but primarily in NYC. We had a ton of other things to do Saturday, but we were intent on meeting up with Asia on Saturday night come hell or high water. She had told us that she had a view that we didn’t want to miss, claiming that it was “unreal”. I have seen a lot of “views” in my life and have been impressed by a few, so I was curious to see what she described as “unreal”.

After dinner at Melba’s, a soul food spot in Harlem, we cabbed it to 52nd and 8th Avenue. The cabbie dropped us off at a humongous skyscraper that stood out like a sore thumb amongst the much shorter, much less modern edifices around it. We walked in and were surrounded by glass, chrome, and fluorescent blue lights under our feet. The Eastern European doorman made us wait downstairs for Asia to pick us up because… well, because we were three brown girls who probably looked as though we didn’t belong in such a nice building. Within minutes, Asia was downstairs and we all were screaming and hugging and jumping around. We introduced Jenna to Asia and then Asian introduced us all to her boyfriend, Jack.

We got on the elevator and rode up to the 38th floor. When we got off the elevator, our noses picked up on the spicy “new-apartment” scent that permeated the floor. Jack explained that the building was only 6 months old, so everything was still rather new. From the minute he opened the door to the corner unit, the oooh-ing and aahh-ing started. I was standing in the middle of the SICKEST apartment I have EVER seen!! There were two HUGE bedrooms, two HUGE full bathrooms, a totally modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a marble floor, a sitting area filled with trendy couches, chairs, and a glass table, and – of course – the requisite 60-inch flat-screen TV and state of the art stereo system.

But, I didn’t even notice all that because I was too busy noticing the fact that there were no outer walls… just FLOOR-TO-CEILING WINDOWS!! And I was also discovering that from every part of the house you could see a New York City from a different angle. It was like being at the top of the world. I walked closer to a window to see the view and started suffering from vertigo and started sweating as a result of my already debilitating acrophobia. But, I was floored. Dumbfounded even. I have never seen anything like this.

“So, Jack. How much does a place like this cost you?” I asked. I know it was rude but I just HAD to know.

“Well, to purchase, probably like $5 million.”

“Probably?” I ask.

“Oh, yeah. This isn’t my place, it’s my uncle’s. He just moved to California and gave me the keys until he sells it. But I can’t stay here for long.”

“Why not?”

“I have a great apartment downtown. I mean, I absolutely love it, but it’s nothing like this. Staying here will make me spoiled. I’ll never want to leave.”

“True story,” I say, already losing interest in the conversation because I am distracted by the blinking lights outside the window.

Jack pours us all glasses of red wine and we sip and watch the view as he points out buildings for us. Over there is the Hudson River. That right there is the West Side Highway. Just behind that building is the Upper West Side. Right there is the Time Warner Center and Trump Tower and Columbus Circle. Jay-Z lives in that building. I stopped listening after awhile, simply mesmerized.

So, then, it hits me that I don’t know their story. How did you meet, I ask. And I am told that they met on a plane from California to NYC. He was in a window seat and she was in an aisle seat. One very unlucky girl separated them, but they hit it off immediately and asked her to move out of the way. They spent the entire five hours getting to know each other and the rest is history. They tell me that they are madly in love with each other –randomly confessing their passion for one another in the middle of serious conversations – and they both imply that a proposal is imminent. I watch them beam at each other and I am overtaken by the desire to be in love with someone.

But then, it occurs to me that I had yet to ask how long they’d known each other. So, I ask, how long have you know each other.

They look at each other and blush. “Ten days,” they say in unison while staring deep into each other’s eyes.

Jenna, my bestie, and I exchange awkward glances over the lovers’ heads and silently communicate our reluctance to believe that two people could meet and fall madly in love in just 10 days. Forever the skeptics (we all take turns seeing who can hate men and curse love the most times in one conversation), we quickly try to size up whether this “love” is realistic, because it seems impossible. So, we begin to pepper them with questions like “how many times have you seen each other in the last 10 days”. The answer: she has been home to get clothes twice, but has come back to his house each time. Other than that, they have not left each other’s site. Then we ask, “how do you know it’s love” and they respond, “you just know when you know”. Ok, we ask, are you really sure about this thing?

And Jack responds, “With us, everything is easy. It just comes naturally. Being apart is the only thing that’s hard.”

Well… that about sums it up.

To me, what he said was beautiful, even if it was a bit cliché. This is the kind of thing that is only said in movies. And classic cinema at that! But, as corny as it may have been on one level, it was touching on another level. I have never in my life had someone say anything like that about me. Mainly because, as I am well aware, being with me is NOT easy. I make a dude put in work. As he should. But, this guy wasn’t slacking off by any means. He had ventured somewhere outside of the city to an Italian bakery known for this delicious, chewy, almond cookie that Asia likes to eat – when she’s eating (afterall, no working high-fashion model can go around in good conscience eating cookies all day, since her girlish figure is what keeps the paychecks rolling in).

At any rate, even though this romance seems doomed from the start – what with them only knowing each other 10 days and the proposal supposedly in the not too distant future – the budding romantic in me would like to see it work out. In a lot of ways, it gives me hope. Hope that there is someone out there waiting for me in the friendly skies.

Anyway, as Jenna, my BFF, and I were riding in a cab toward the Lower East Side later that night (to complete what turns out to be a very disastrous evening), I get to thinking. I want "love" dammit! Even if it's just "love" (in quotation marks). When will this happen to me? When will I be sitting on an airplane, buying apples at the market, pumping gas at the station, asking someone for directions, etc., and encounter Mr. Backyard BBQ?

(A little background on “Backyard BBQ” – because I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned him yet and I am pretty darn sure I will mention him a lot in the future. Backyard BBQ is my dream man, my Prince Charming. I developed this term back in college and it signifies my transformation from thug-loving youngster, to Buppie-loving young adult.

One night, my friends and I were walking toward a club in downtown DC and I see a guy walking toward me. He is dressed in totally preppy gear – he is wearing a blue button down with the sleeves rolled up, khaki pants, and loafers with no socks. His haircut is faded and he’s wearing trendy wire-rimmed glasses. While I’m observing him and the way that he is striding confidently down the street alone, a vision pops into my head. Mr. Khakis and Loafers is in a backyard, standing at a grill, flipping burgers, tiny brown children are running all around him, and he looks happy. I walk out with a pitcher of lemonade and set it on the table and then walk over to the grill to inspect his work. I say something (there is no sound in this vision, so I don’t know what is being said), we laugh, and then he kisses me on the mouth and pats me on my bottom. We are loving life. This man and this vision represent what I like to call “Backyard BBQ” a.k.a. husband material.)

A few years ago, right before I broke things off with Mr. Ex, I complained to my sister-in-law that I was having bad luck with men and she said, “We all have bad luck with men up to a point, because it’s never ‘the one’ until it’s ‘the one’.” What she means by that is that no relationship has a happy ending until you meet your Prince Charming. That’s the only time you ever have a chance to live happily ever after. And, it’s just that – a chance – because in romance there are no guarantees.

But I... I KNOW he is out there. I know that Mr. Backyard BBQ – my Jack – is out there. My desire for romance ebbs and flows… and I KNOW I’m guilty of flip-flopping. I’ll be the first to admit it. Today, I’m love-starved and optimistic that Backyard BBQ is waiting right around the bend. But, tomorrow or the next day, who’s to say that I won’t be back to my cynical old, pessimistic self? In fact, I’ll place my bets that within a week, I’ll be back to normal, and comfy again with my single life.

Until then, though, I want a Jack of my own. I wanna wake up on the 38th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper and make morning love with the NYC skyline as a backdrop. No need to worry about voyeurs that high up. (Like Remy Ma says, “Who’s that peekin in my window? Nobody, cause I live in a penthouse.” Um… yeah.)

I want to come home to a box of my favorite baked goods that BBBQ picked up for me from a specialty shop 20 miles out of his way on his way home from work – just because. I want someone who, when we’re having conversations with different people on opposite ends of the apartment, feels the need to interrupt his conversation and walk over to me to plant a kiss on my forehead just because he feels the need to make contact with my body – even when other people are around and he could be distracted by other things. Cause that’s exactly what Jack did with Asia.

Yes, I KNOW this is only 10 days into the relationship, but let’s just assume – for argument’s sake – that his romantic ways have a shelf-life of more than two weeks. If he keeps all that shit up, then things are looking pretty good for them!


Yeah, I want THAT (or something that closely resembles that)!

So my conclusion: I gotta start taking more cross-country trips on JetBlue since this is the airline that brought Asia and Jack together. I’m also told that JetBlue features in-flight DirecTV. And we ALL know how I love to feed my boob-tube addiction as frequently as possible.

Good Lawd, I am sounding schizo than a muhfugga…

Anywho, if you pray, send one up for me y’all, cause I need some clarity regarding this confusion!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It Could've Been Love...

I promised the new blog would come on Monday, but it's Sunday night and my favorite show in the history of television - "The Wire" - just had it's series finale, so I'm a bit down in the dumps; the blog has been written for days; and so I figured I should just go ahead and post it. No need to wait til Monday...

I know that my last post was a bit out of left field and some people were weirded out by it, so I'm going to hold back on posting about my dreams. For the record, I'm still having my dreams and they are getting stranger, so I think it's best not to let you in on what I've been thinking about in my sleep. Back to what I know and love - men!

Several years ago, I took a trip to the Bahamas where my brother was headlining a music festival. I remember that I woke early on the morning of my flight and was picked up by the airport limousine (aka the Blue Van, but doesn’t “airport limousine” sound so much more impressive??) and caught a plane to Miami. That leg of the trip wasn’t so bad. But when I got to Miami, we had to walk outside to board a smaller prop plane that didn’t really look so sturdy. First of all, I had never been on a plane with actual propellers. And the propellers on this one didn’t look like they would do much to keep us in the air. But, I got on the plane anyway. I had no choice. I called my parents to say goodbye to them one last time just in case the plane didn’t make it all the way across the Atlantic, and settled in for the relatively short flight to the Bahamas.

The first few minutes of the trip were uneventful. Then, we hit turbulence. I looked around to see if anybody else was panicking. The people around me all seemed to be old pros at this flight between Miami and the Caribbean, so I was the only one who looked nervous. After the third of fourth violent turbulence attack, I was visibly shaken. The older man in the seat across from me kept glancing over and chuckling, and I scowled back in response. The flight just got worse and eventually the plane grew quiet. I could tell then that I wasn’t the only nervous person. We all gripped our seats and looked out the window at the expansive Atlantic Ocean beneath us. In time, I lost my bearings and I was pretty certain at one point that the plane was actually flying upside down. And that was when I started singing old Negro spirituals. Not gospel songs by Kirk Franklin and all that jazzy contemporary stuff. No, I was singing the hardcore joints – the ones that got my people through slavery and Jim Crow, because I was certain that only Jesus could save me now!

Well, just when I lost all hope that I’d see my brother and our friends in Nassau, the plane began its descent and we landed safely at the Nassau airport. I had never been so happy to see the ground. I almost kissed it, but then thought better of that idea when I realized just how dirty the floor was. When I got out of baggage claim, I was totally confused. I tried to call my brother multiple times until I realized that my cell phone didn’t work. Fuckin Nextel (got rid of them after that trip)! I finally got outside of the airport and located the shuttle from our resort. But not before I had to fight off the advances of probably 40 men within 5 minutes of walking out the front door. When I found my driver, I was so relieved. I sat back, put on my headphones and watched green, green grass and blue, blue water zoom past me outside the window. I have been to 8 Caribbean islands (Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Guadaloupe, and the Bahamas) but I have to admit that the Bahamas are probably the most beautiful out of all those islands. (Many apologies to my Jamaican peeps, but I gotta tell the truth on that one!)

I arrive at my hotel and settle-in and later that night, my good friend and I decided to go to an outdoor festival that was being held in a public lot a few blocks from our hotel. It had rained earlier in the day (it rains frequently in the islands) and the ground was still a little damp. It was January and it was very breezy, but the breeze was warm and coming from the ocean, so I was comfortable with a light sweater over my tank dress. My friend and I walked from stand to stand looking at the wares that each vendor was peddling. We walked over to a stall where a man was making conch salad, pulling the fish out of the large shell, chopping it up with onion and pepper and sprinkling it with salt and lemon juice. We decided to be brave and eat it even though there was no cooking involved. We were delighted to find that it was delicious. We continued visiting stalls, chomping the conch salad on the way.

We saw a stall with a Bacardi sign and immediately made our way over to where they were mixing free drinks. The “bartender” at this stall was wearing a baseball cap and his head was bent as he mixed drinks. I busied myself reading the different bottles on display until he looked up from the table to take my order. He smiled and I was stunned. I was looking at, quite possibly, one of the most handsome men I had ever seen. He had a round sturdy face, with the deepest dimples framing his smile, and bright eyes that crinkled when he grinned. His skin was golden and his head was bald (by choice). He asked what I was drinking and the lilt in his voice brought me back to reality. I ordered my drink and squeezed my girl’s hand, letting her know that a cutie was in the vicinity. She peeped the bartender and immediately started flirting with him.

“Whoa, pump your breaks chick!” I hissed in her ear. “I saw him first.”

We spent the rest of the night hanging around the table making small talk with the bartender and trying to out-flirt each other. This was a test of determination and whoever wanted him most would have him. So, we complimented him, asked him questions, offered to grab him samples from other tables. The competition was really getting kind of ugly. We asked him what his name was. It was the French word for love. My friend, who is fluent in French picked it up right away.

“Is that really your name,” she cooed.

“Yes, that is what my mum named me,” he said. We sighed at “mum”.

Before we retired to our room, we learned that Love had grown up in Nassau, his father was a very well-known local politician. During the day, Love worked for a bank in Nassau and he supplemented his income by doing promotions for Bacardi in the evening and on weekends. We told him where we were staying and gave him the number to our room. We told him to call… and he did. That night, he called the room and spoke to my friend for almost an hour while I pouted on my bed and watched television. He didn’t even ask to speak to me!

I pretty much gave up at that moment, accepting the fact that he wasn’t interested in me. I know not every guy is going to like me, and I’m ok with that. After my friend hung up the phone, she told me that they had agreed to meet for lunch the next day and they wanted me to come along. Great! I get to be the third wheel, I thought. But, of course, I agreed. I really had nothing else planned the next day and it was too breezy to relax on the beach. So, I tagged along with the lovebirds.

Around noon the next day, Love came to pick us up for lunch. He was dressed for work in a blue button-down, tie, and khaki slacks. He drove a yellow jeep that didn’t have any windows or roof. I didn’t really understand how this kind of car was practical given the fact that it rained just about every day in the Bahamas, but I didn’t ask questions. I just sat in the back seat and listened to Love and my friend make small talk on the way to the restaurant. Love took us to an outdoor café a few miles from the hotel. We could see the Sandals couples resort from our table and I thought, this is just fabulous; more reminders of coupledom. When Love excused himself to use the restroom, my friend made fun of the shoes he was wearing. I was wondering how she could even tear her eyes away from his handsome face long enough to see his shoes, much less care about what they looked like. The dude was F-I-N-E.

I ordered a heavy lunch, thinking that if I wasn’t going to meet the man of my dreams on this trip, I might as well eat what I wanted. My friend excused herself to go to the restroom and Love and I were sitting at the table alone. I was slurping away at my pasta and just when sauce dripped onto my shirt, Love looks over at me and giggles.

“You’re so cute!” he said. I rolled my eyes in response.

“Thanks,” I said, taking a sip of my Sprite and dabbing at the spot on my shirt. I then busied myself salting my pasta until my friend came out (yes, it was waaaay too salty by the time she showed back up, but I ate it anyway) – anything to keep me from having to make eye contact with Love.

We hung out with Love pretty much everyday until it was time for us to go back home. He would come by after work and chill with us by the pool or meet us for lunch in the middle of the day, but it was always the same: Love and my homegirl chatting it up while I pretended to be bored and took every chance I could get to stare at him out of the corner of my eye without him noticing.

On the last night of our trip, we all got together to go to dinner – my brother, one of his friends, my friend, me and Love. We to an outdoor restaurant that was right by the water. The food was amazing, the service was impeccable. Love noticed me staring at him a few times during dinner, and once he winked at me to let me know I had been caught. Another time, his leg brushed mine under the table and he looked up at me and grinned. It was all a bit too much for me, the atmosphere, the company, the food… the wine. It was all going to my head.

After dinner, we made our way to a tiny cigar shop, where Love knew the owner. We bought cigars and puffed them, while strains of Andrea Bocelli, singing some Italian masterpiece, filled the humidor. My friend was literally throwing herself all over Love, which seemed to make him uncomfortable. I couldn’t see why. She looked great in her seagreen tube dress and I looked frumpy in my black slacks and summer top. But for some reason, tonight, he didn’t seem interested in my friend’s advances.

We finally made it back to our hotel and my brother went to meet up with some other friends. My friend and I sat on the beach with Love until late in the evening. All of a sudden, my friend, growing bored with Love’s lack of interest in her flirtatious ways, announced that she was tired and was going back to the room to lie down. So, that left me and Love together. Alone. For the first time since my friend excused herself to go to the restroom during lunch so many days before.

It gpt breezier than usual and, even though I am wearing a jean jacket, I begin to shiver. Love, who was wearing only a polo shirt and shorts, put his arm around me to warm me up.

“Is that better?” he asks softly.

“Yes, thank you,” I said weakly. I am all of a sudden very nervous to be sitting here with him alone.

“So, I take it that you don’t like Nassau,” he says.

“Are you kidding?!” I shout. “I love it here! I’m so sad that I’m going home tomorrow.”

“So how come you always look so bored.”

I just laugh. I didn’t know how to tell him that I had been feigning boredom in an attempt to hide my disappointment that he favored my friend over me.

“I’m not bored at all,” I say. “You just make me nervous.”

If I am not mistaken, I think he actually blushes. He looks down and then away.

“If I make you nervous, does that mean that you… like me?” he asks, staring at the surf.

“Well, I…” my voice trails off. “I… I mean, yes, I guess that’s what it means. But I am not going to disrespect my friend. She likes you, you like her. So I just stay in my lane.”

He looks at me like I am crazy. “I don’t like her!” he shouts. “I mean, she’s cool, but it’s not her that I’m interested in.”

“What?” I ask, genuinely confused. “But ever since we’ve been here, all you have wanted to do is spend time with her.”

“Well, she’s the one who asked me to hang out. She’s the one who engaged me in conversation. But, you’re the one I’m interested in. Haven’t you noticed that every time she and I make plans, I always ask you to come along? It was you…” His voice trails off and we just look at each other.

“I can’t believe you’re just telling me this now!” I say. “We could’ve spent time together. Alone!”

He stands up, grabs my hand and we walk back into my hotel. We don’t say much to each other along the way. I guess we are reflecting on all the things that could’ve happened had we just communicated our desires a little better. I walk him through the lobby and out the front door. His jeep is parked across the street. Now, it is probably 2:30am and my flight leaves at 8am, but I don’t want this night to end. He stands there staring at me. The ocean breeze is blowing all around us. My hair is in my face. He reaches down, brushes it away, leans into me and kisses me. The feeling is surreal. And the kiss is even better than I could have ever imagined. When we finally break away from each other, he backs away from me.

“I am glad that I know you,” he said. “Please call me sometimes when you are back at home.”

All I can say is, “I will.”

I move toward him, hoping to kiss him again, but he turns and starts walking toward the jeep. In my head I am screaming “NO! DON’T GO! COME BACK!” But, in reality, I say nothing. I just watch him walk away. Before he hops into the driver’s seat of the jeep, he turns and looks back toward me and gives me a slight wave. I blow him a kiss. Then, he is in the jeep and speeding down the road toward home.

I go to sleep that night, thinking about him, the way he smelled, his handsome face, and I wonder whether it would’ve been better if I had continued thinking that he had no interest in me. In fact, I think it definitely would’ve been preferable given the fact that I now cannot stop thinking of all the fun we could’ve had. Torturous thoughts of coulda, woulda, shoulda, plagued me all night.

The next morning, I boarded a plane back to DC. And once I got settled back into my routine, Love and I emailed each other regularly for a time. There was even a brief period when we discussed him coming to DC for a visit. But it never happened. Eventually, we communicated less and less, until we stopped altogether, and all I was left with were memories of our kiss by the ocean.

These last few weeks, my girls and I have been planning our annual Girl’s Getaway. We threw out a lot of destinations and someone mentioned the Bahamas. Love immediately popped into my mind. All of a sudden, I had to know what had become of him. I email him, praying that he still used the address I had for him. I tell him that he had been on my mind a lot lately, that I missed him, and I hoped all was well with him. The next day, he replies and says:

Hey stranger!

It's funny that you emailed me... I thought about you the other day... How have you been?

I got married! January 6, 2008 was our one year anniversary. How about you? Any news? Marrige? Kids?

How is....????? (Can't remember her name) You know, the one who came down with you that time.

I really hope all of you are well. It was so good hearing from you, and I hope to hear from you again soon.


After reading his message, I literally laughed out loud. First and foremost because my Love got married. I should’ve expected it. It was really only a matter of time. He was a catch and practically royalty in Nassau. I knew there had to be many women waiting in the wings. Second, because of the line of questions that he threw at me. Am I married? Hardly! Kids? Far from it. Third because he couldn’t even remember my friend’s name. (That made me feel kind of good, in a sick and twisted way.)

So, another one bites the dust, huh? All my men are moving on. For whatever reason they are finding happiness with any woman but me! I am happy that Love is happy, though. He is a good man who is worth his weight in gold. And his wife is a lucky woman to be able to wake up next to that face every morning. Good Lawd!

I probably won’t contact Love again. What good would it do? I am just glad to know that he is ok and content to have the memory of our time together so many years ago…

Friday, March 07, 2008

Tuna Salad Nightmare... Huh?

Every once in a while I get so restless that I can’t take the time to ponder any one particular topic. So on those days, I give y’all a blog where I just ramble on. Today is one of those days. It’s Friday, which ordinarily makes me happy, but it’s also overcast and cold, which makes me sad. So, I’m about neutral on the emotional scale right now since one good thing is coupled with a few not so good things and therefore cancel each other out. I’m just glad the weekend is here. I’m planning to take it easy and get my mind right for next week. The time changes late Saturday/early Sunday, so don’t forget to spring forward (clocks move ahead one hour). I only posted twice this week. Shameful. I'm back on my grind, so expect a new post Monday… Have a safe and restful weekend!

So, this morning started out kinda strange. First of all, I was wearing my brand new, very warm, Kelly green coat this morning because the temperature has dropped significantly in DC in the last few days. Well, the zipper got stuck and I couldn’t get out of it! I was really afraid that I was going to spend the day wearing a very cute, but very WARM coat all day because the zipper just wouldn’t budge! I came into the office and stopped at the Front Desk to ask the receptionist to help me get out of my coat. He pulled and tugged, but finally got it loose. Thank God!

Anyway, I am tired of this weather fluctuating all over the place, but such is DC in March. Jeremy’s grandma used to always say “Beware of March. It’ll give you pneumonia.” She was not lying. One day it’s 70 degrees and sunny, two days later it’s 30 degrees with snow flurries. The body was not made to handle such drastic weather changes! But, one thing is for sure about March in DC, they do not lie when they say that “It comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.” On March 1, I was headed to the mall with my mom and the wind nearly knocked my car off the Beltway! That was nuts. The day before, there was hardly even a breeze and then on 3/1, the roaring wind appeared. Crazy how God works! But I bet that by the time March 31 rolls around, it’ll be mild. I cannot wait!

Wow. That was totally a stream of consciousness.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Every year, I observe the Easter/Lenten season. The Lenten period encompasses the weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday – there are approximately 40 days between the two holy days. Catholics take this time very seriously. The season is associated with sacrifice. The Lord sacrificed his life for our sins and now we should make sacrifices to acknowledge what he gave up for us. I have sacrificed things that I love for the last four of five years. One year, I gave up fried foods. Another year, I gave up soda. The next year, I gave up sweets. This year, I gave up meat…

Now, the meat thing has been kind of difficult. I grew up in a household where my mother cooked dinner EVERY night. And, a meal was not complete unless it had a protein, a starch, and at least one vegetable. So, to me, I didn’t understand being a vegetarian. It just seemed like a major part of your meal would be missing ALL THE TIME. We’ve already discussed how much I love food in general, so that’s why all my sacrifices at Lent have centered on food. It’s one of the most important aspects of my life, so to muck around with it defines true sacrifice for me.

Anyway, giving up meat has taken a conscious effort. I have to think about EVERY food choice that I make. Sometimes, I am afraid that I will forget that I am not supposed to eat meat and that I’ll buy something at lunch, eat it, and THEN realize that I am eating meat and I have just ruined my fast! So far, that hasn’t happened but, it’s constantly on my mind. I’ll be sitting at my desk at work, thinking of what I’m having for lunch and – immediately – chicken or beef or pork will pop into my head and I have to remind myself that I am not supposed to eat any of that! Last weekend, I went to brunch with a friend who was visiting from NYC and I ordered waffles and then couldn’t think of a side that would compliment them. Who eats waffles without bacon or sausage?? It just doesn’t seem right! In the end, I ate some scrambled eggs and fruit with them and it turned out just fine. I didn’t even miss the swine.

In addition to fasting on meat, I had also decided to cut back on sweets. Not in association with Lent, but just in general. I did some reflection and realized that I eat something sweet EVERYDAY. That cannot be healthy. So, I decided that it would be best to limit my baked goods consumption to once per week. So far it’s been tough, but I’ve been doing a pretty good job. Besides, I’m not supposed to eat sweets on the Fat Smash at all, so you can see that I’ve already modified that plan a lil bit. Hello! Before you judge me, I am a work in progress, remember?!

Ok, so yesterday was my boss’s birthday. We bought her a cake… my most FAVORITE cake in the whole world – golden fudge cake, which consists of moist yellow cake and fudge frosting. It is probably one of the most delicious desserts ever. Well, when we started passing slices around the conference room table, a plate got to me and I couldn’t resist. (Mind you, I had already had a chocolate chip pecan cookie from Whole Foods the night before and it was supposed to have lasted me a week! There goes that plan right on down the commode…) The cake was soooo ooey-gooey and delicious. I did not regret eating it. Not even one bit. Sad, I know.

So, this leads me to the dream.

Last night, I had a very weird dream. I dreamed that I was taking a long trip by bus. I’m not sure where I was going, but there were a lot of people on the bus and I knew all of them. My cousin was sitting next to me and I was vaguely aware that my aunt was on the bus, but I don’t remember seeing her. We made a rest stop in a place that looked a lot like Clarendon, Virginia. (Now, I’ve only been to Clarendon twice. In fact, I have lived in DC my whole life and the second time I ventured over that way was this past weekend for that aforementioned brunch. As I left Georgetown for Virginia by way of the Key Bridge, I realized that it was the first time I had EVER crossed the Key Bridge. In my life! Even I was surprised by that one. But, I digress…)

Everyone unloaded from the bus and went into this one grocery store to pick up a snack. I made a beeline for the sandwich case that held a bunch of different wrap sandwiches. I could see the labels on the sandwiches and most of them were roast beef, turkey and chicken. I couldn’t eat any of them because I was, apparently, fasting from meat in my dream. I saw that there was ONE tuna salad sandwich left (in case I forgot to mention this earlier, I AM eating fish and seafood, just no red meat, chicken, or “the other white meat”). I grabbed it before anyone else could and made my way to the cashier. I took out money to pay and put my sandwich on the conveyor belt. The person in front of me, who did not appear to be from the bus I had been riding on, also had a wrap sandwich on the conveyor belt. Just then, my cousin came over to speak to me and distracted me for a few seconds. The person in front of me had moved on and the cashier rang up my wrap and told me how much it would cost. I paid the money and took the sandwich from him.

When I looked at it, I noticed that the package said “Chicken salad wrap”. I had read it before and it clearly said “Tuna salad wrap”. I then realized what he had done. He had accidentally given the man who was in line before me my tuna sandwich. I was furious! I told him about his error and he looked at me with absolutely no expression on his face. Then, I started to panic because I knew that there were no more non-meat options in the sandwich case and that the bus would be leaving soon. I couldn’t eat the chicken salad wrap because then I would be breaking my fast, but I had to think fast because if I didn’t get anything to eat, I would starve on the bus! I began to look around for other options and all of a sudden, everything in the store had meat in it. Even the gum in the checkout line had been stamped with the words “Contains meat”. Then, I started screaming and woke up.

Weird, huh?

Not as weird as my friend who just got a new Crackberry (a.k.a Blackberry) and told me she had a dream that she was pregnant, but had the opportunity to handpick her baby. When she got to the place where the babies were being held, she scrolled through their bassinets like they were Blackberry icons.

Yeah, I know. Crazy!

So, the point of ALL that backstory I gave you above was because in my subconscious, I am obviously disturbed and concerned by my meat fast. It is very hard to plan a veggie menu EVERYDAY. I am tired of beans, tired of tuna, tired of vegetables. Yesterday, they served BBQ chicken in the cafeteria and I would’ve given my right arm to have a taste. (Come on, we all know that black people love their chicken. Add some BBQ sauce and we are in HOG HEAVEN!!) It was so hard to resist it, but I did. I actually had to pray over my food that I could get it down because I really just wanted some crispy bacon or greasy sausage and instead I was eating some dry ass mahi mahi, which was infinitely better for my heart, but just not as tasty. I’m sure that all this contributed to my tuna salad nightmare. And, as Daddy always says, sweets give you bad dreams. I went from having none to have two servings in two days and I’m sure that had something to do with it.

Pray for me about this fast. It’s getting to me! Curried chicken is being served for lunch today. Thank God I can’t stand the taste or smell (yuck) of curry. I know this is blasphemy to my Caribbean and Indian peoples, but that shit is just stank. I can’t even do it. I suppose that would be a good dieting aid! I’ll just sprinkle curry on everything!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Be ye ever "ready"... (it's in the Bible, y'all!)

I’m sitting here listening to the driving rain beat against my window. The sound is both calming and relaxing. It reminds me of another rainy night many months ago. I, along with Jenna, and my bestie, ended up at Chi-Cha Lounge on U Street on some very cold and low-key night. There are times when the girls and I feel like doing it big, although those nights are becoming less and less frequent. Some days, it scares me that I don’t have the stamina that I used to. Other days, I am comforted by the fact that I am, indeed, growing up and it is evidenced by the fact that I no longer get dolled up every Friday and Saturday to party until dawn. At any rate, on this particular night, we wanted to get out of the house but didn’t want to do anything that would require any real effort. Chi-Cha can be a great place when you are surrounded with the right people. I can’t think of two more “right” people than Jenna and my bestie, so needless to say we were having loads of fun commenting on the colorful characters milling around us as we sipped on equally colorful cocktails.

Just then, the front door opens and a tall, dark, and handsome man comes gliding through the room. Although the meeting was not arranged in advance, he heads straight for our table and when he presents himself in front of us, there are hugs shared around the table. Tall, Dark, and Handsome was this really great guy I had gone to high school with and hadn’t seen probably since… well, now that I think about it, probably since high school. In high school, he was nothing to write home about (as Daddy would say). He was known more for his bright smile and lovely personality in those days. He was tall, lanky, and somewhat awkward at the time – all qualities that were lost on teenage girls.

But suffice it to say that he had definitely grown up since then! He was all man… and FINE. He had grown into his long limbs and added some weight to his slender frame. He was dressed nicely and smelled fantastic! (Always a plus, dudes! Please take notes.) He sat down in an armchair across from our couch (the atmosphere and décor of Chi-Cha is sorta like somebody’s half-finished basement) and caught us up on his life. Since high school, he had earned a degree in business from a small school out West, played football for his college team, interned at a bunch of sports agencies, and worked for the the NFL. He had just hung out his own shingle to rep a few guys playing European and Candian ball and was doing quite well for himself, which – of course – made him all the more attractive. He had just happened to stop into Chi-Cha as he was wandering the city searching for something to do on such a frigid, gloomy night. He was "happy" that he had run into us (his words, not mine!).

Agent (as he will be known for our purposes) settled in and joined our conversation. After a couple of drinks, the conversation moved in the direction it inevitably switches to whenever there is mixed company: relationships. We were, admittedly, tipsy at this point. Agent was not, but seemed to enjoy our giddiness and our frank language in the course of our conversation. None of the three of us are women with disciplined tongues. We pretty much say what we want, when we want, to whom we want. Some people love that about us, but more people hate that about us. Funny thing is, we don’t really care. When we are together, we feed off each other and our conversations become loud and animated.

Agent just soaked it all in. Occasionally, he would throw in his two cents – not that we paid him any real mind. He was more an audience than a participant in our conversation. But then, someone posed a question to him. It had to do with the signs we should look for that will tell us whether a significant other is “the one”. I am always interested in what men think about “the one” mainly because I have this theory that says, in a nutshell, that when men settle down it is more about timing and when women settle down it is more about the person a.k.a. "the One"(I will break this down in a future post). Wanting to see whether this rang true, I basically asked him if he was ready to settle down. Just the mere thought caused him to virtually go pale, which is pretty damn hard for him to do since he is about Djimoun Honsou’s complexion! He answers with an emphatic “no”. I can respect that, I say. At least you know. I continue. So, if you met the perfect woman right now and you were given an ultimatum, stipulating that you either marry her right now on the spot, or you would never see her again and never get the chance to be with her ever again, which would you choose? He doesn’t even have to think on it.

“I would let her go,” he says.

We all groan. This dude has got to be smoking some serious crack. He flipped the question to us. Without hesitating, we all agreed that we’d be getting married right then and there to the man of our dreams. He shook his head, almost as though he were pitying us, and took a sip of his drink.

“You just haven’t met the right person,” I point out. “If you had met a woman who made your knees weak, you would never even consider letting her go.”

He looks uncomfortable. “Look,” he says. “I’ve already met the perfect woman. I was with her for a while. But then I broke up with her because I knew I wasn’t being fair to her. I am not ready to settle down and I thought it was best for me to let her go rather than to string her along.”

I am flabbergasted. (I love that word. Don’t use it enough…) How could this man be sitting here saying that he thinks he’s already met “the one”, but he let her go because he wasn’t “ready for a relationship”.

“You think she was ‘the one’ and you let her go?” I ask incredulously.

He nods his head in the affirmative.

“Why?” Jenna, bestie, and I say in unison.

“I already explained. That’s all there is to it,” he answers.

“Bu… but, what if she meets someone else? What if she… what if she moves on and you haven’t found anybody and you… you have to watch her settle down with a new man?” I stammer. The thought alone has me sweating bullets and I can’t see why he is taking it so calmly.

“Well, you know what? If she does, I’ll be happy for her. I’ll deserve it because I let her go. I know it’s immature, but I’d rather be fair to her than to make her be in a relationship with me before I can do right by her.”

At this point, I was pretty much done with the conversation. I mean, despite the flawless complexion, breathtaking smile, and magnetic personality, it was obvious to me that this dude was a complete fucking idiot. I, just off GP, don’t debate with idiots. I also don’t try to make sense out of things that will never make sense since that is essentially an utter waste of time. So, because I was undeniably disgusted by what I had just heard, I left Jenna and bestie to try to make sense of Agent’s thought-processes and I retreated into my own thoughts to contemplate the reasons why an otherwise perfectly sensible person for all intents and purposes turns into a absolute fool when it comes to relationships. I never came to any real conclusion, but I do feel like my men/timing v. women/person theory was validated based on what I had heard. At some point in his life, Agent will be dating a perfectly acceptable woman who is clearly not “the one” and will recognize that now he is “ready for a relationship” and that woman – remember, she is NOT “the one” – will become Mrs. Agent. And she will be totally oblivious to the fact that she got wifed by pure luck. She simply happened to be in the right place at the right time. This doesn’t make sense to me, as I’m sure it won’t make sense to most women and probably even a few reasonble men. I am baffled. Not baffled because I expected Agent to say something different. His answer was appalling, although not necessarily surprising. I am more baffled about why God would put men and women on Earth together and expect us to peacefully coexist even though our thought-processes are so drastically different.

I later found out from a mutual friend that I actually know the woman who is Agent’s “the one” personally. And she is, by all accounts, one of the sweetest, most beautiful (inside and out), classy, funny, intelligent woman you will ever encounter. How he could pass her up… well, I’m still not sure about that one. For all that he has to offer, she matches that and THEN some. He is literally on drugs (or mentally challenged - PC term for RETARDED) to let her walk away. His argument is, of course, that he is not “ready”. At first I respected that, but after a little thought... what is “ready”, really? (As Daddy says) Everything in life is a choice. If he wanted to be “ready” he could choose to MAKE himself ready for the sake of being with the love of his life. Now THAT makes perfect sense to me. After all, he is not complaining about the quality of the person in question, rather the convenience of the timing, which is irrelevant to me.

I know that I am making Agent sound like a terrible person. He’s really not, though. He’s pretty much universally acknowledged as a cool-ass dude who has his shit together. And I don’t want to take that away from him. I also don’t want to take away from the fact that rather than be selfish and dog out this very special lady we were discussing, he did decide to be selfLESS and let her go. I (begrudgingly) admit that is not necessarily the worst thing he could've done. There I said it. Anyway, I am sure that she will find someone who is more than willing to take her off Agent’s hands. And when that happens, I wonder if Agent will be kicking himself for not sucking it up, growing up, and getting himself “ready”.

In my other life, I am routinely guilty of making broad, sweeping generalizations about large groups of people. I really don’t want to be guilty of it here, but I have to say that sometimes men can be stupid. Not SOME men, but ALL men. Y’all dudes really trip me out. This was an egregious situation, but I honestly think that most men would probably follow Agent’s suit, which makes me really sad.

I recently heard that Agent is still in contact with “the one”, which doesn’t really surprise me. All the regular readers will remember my “The Boys Are Back in Town” series where every single one of my long-term boyfriends came back to me at some point to let me know that they had jacked up a good thing with me. And I suspect that Agent is keeping the lines of communication open with “the one” because propping that door open makes it easy for him to be able to walk back through it at a later date if he so chooses. That pisses me off… no, that’s an understatement. That INFURIATES me. Because when/if he is ever ready, she might just be there to receive him, which he soooo does not deserve. I think letting him attempt to walk through the proverbial door, only to find that there is no one home is the only way for him to see the error of his ways. I would love for “the one” to be standing there with her new man who appreciates her and values her presence and I hope that she would be strong enough to look Agent in the eye and tell him that his interest is “too little, too late”, spin on her stiletto heel, and walk off into the sunset. That would serve his ass right! But, then again, maybe this is just a sensitive subject and I am overreacting…


Monday, March 03, 2008

Battle of the Bulge

Last week, I gave y'all a whole lot of drama. At first, I was worried that I should space out the posts of my personal life. My fear was that I would run out of things to write about. But, this weekend, I realized that I could post for WEEKS about this stuff without running out! So, no worries... the Romance & Relationship posts will be back later this week. For now, I wanted to update you on some other stuff I'm getting into...

Here I go again.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my body since elementary school. I can remember the promise I would make at the end of every school year, always promising myself that I would come back to school the next year new and improved. Thinner. That’s really what I meant. But, before I knew it, the summer would be over and I’d start the school year looking the same way that I had when I left three months before.

As a very small child, I was mad skinny. People used to ask my mother whether she fed me because my legs were like twigs. My grandmother said I looked like one of the kids on the “Feed the Children” infomercials. I can remember my mother begging me to eat. But, I was too busy to eat! I never stayed still and, for some reason, I just wasn’t interested in food. I can remember my parents taking my brother and I to O’Donnell’s, a seafood restaurant that used to be here in DC. If a kid ordered from the kid’s menu and finished all the food on their plate, they could go to the “treasure chest” to pick out a prize. I would always order fried shrimp. Now, I suppose that there couldn’t have been more than six shrimp on the plate, right? I mean, it was a KID’S meal after all. But, I can recall giving a shrimp to my mother and my brother and still not being able to finish the food on my plate. My whole family would have to take some of the shrimp and fries just so I could get some treasure. I can guarantee you that I do not have that problem anymore!

The weight started creeping on around third grade. I look at one school picture from second grade and I was a normal-sized little girl. By third grade, I was a bit chubby. By fourth grade, I was downright plump. I went to a school where I was the only black girl in my class. I stuck out like a sore thumb, with my round face, round belly, slightly protruding breasts (I developed early, then stopped early!), and very fuzzy hair. I was always popular – always considered one of the cool kids, though I’m not sure why. I never felt comfortable with myself, but I carried myself with a fake air of confidence that other kids were either too immature or too self-absorbed to see through. I fought and fought with my body for years. I tried everything, including Weight Watchers before they began using the points system and you had to measure every bite of food and count calories, too. That was a lot of responsibility for a twelve year old!

Middle school and high school weren’t so bad. Occasionally, someone would remind me that my weight was creeping up, but for the most part I was still an acceptable weight. I thinned out in high school and, by the time I reached senior year, I was at my ideal weight. I can remember back to a few months before my senior prom, I can see myself standing in my bathroom staring at the scale, frustrated because it wouldn’t go below 115 lbs. I ran downstairs complaining to my mother, “I can’t get past 115 lbs! What am I gonna doooo?” She looked at me with a serious expression and said, “I guess you’re going to have to go on a diet. You don’t want any bulges to show through your prom dress.”

I had been on a meal plan that included french fries and fruit punch for lunch Monday through Friday. I finally made the decision that in order to lose those pesky 5 lbs, I would stop eating french fries and leave the fruit punch alone. Sure enough, I had lost those extra 5 lbs. While I had always promised myself that I would wear a Cinderella-esque prom dress, I ended up buying a pale green, slinky slip dress that showed everything – good and bad. Because my mother had made me self-conscious about bulges, I was determined to look toned in that dress. So, even though my 110 lbs frame was sleek and slender, I wore a girdle under my dress. I remembered looking in the mirror and feeling sad because I thought I looked fat. I weighed 110 lbs and was wearing a size 2 dress. I look at pictures of myself from that night and I can’t help but to think how different I look now. If I thought I was fat then… well, what the hell am I now so many pounds later.

I started to really pack on the pounds in college. College students are warned about the “freshman 15”, but I gained the “freshman 30”. Maybe more now that I think about it. It happened so quickly, not only did it shock everyone else, but it shocked the hell out of me. I came from a family where eating out was uncommon. My father had been diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes when I was in middle school and so my parents didn’t keep treats and snacks and such around the house. We barely had juice in the house much less soda. Rarely had air-popped popcorn much less potato chips. We didn’t use butter, barely used sugar, and just about everything was baked, not fried.

When I went off to college, I was introduced to a little thing I’ll call food-freedom. Food-freedom is a dangerous liberty for someone who loves food. Basically, I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted, and whatever amount I wanted of it. Hot wings at midnight? Sure! Belgian waffles at 2 am? Why not? I did it all. I never thought of the consequences of my actions, so I was genuinely shocked when I hurt my ankle during my sophomore year of college and went to the health center for an emergency appointment. They weighed me… and I was sickened by the scale’s read-out. How could I have gained so much so fast? The saddest part about it is that I did nothing to prevent myself from gaining more. By then, I was hooked on eating whatever, whenever. So, the pounds kept on coming.

LA Weight Loss, Weight Watchers, Atkins, the Zone, South Beach… I’ve tried them all and failed miserably. The one time I lost weight was during one of my “off-again” periods with Jeremy. I was so sick and depressed over the possibility of Jeremy being out of my life that, with the help of LA Weight Loss, 15 lbs melted from my frame in 2 months. Of course, then Jeremy and I got back together and I packed the pounds on again until I reached my all time highest weight during our last summer together. He had been so busy trying to get back into my good graces that he was taking me to dinner a couple times a week and I was eating whatever I wanted when we went out. I was in law school, so whenever we stayed in, I didn’t feel like cooking so we’d eat pizza or Chinese.

These days, I am approaching my 30th birthday. I am frightened by the chatter I hear around my office that says that after 30 it’s much harder for a woman to lose weight. Having been in such a violent battle with my weight for so many years, I find it hard to believe that losing weight could get any more difficult. So, the prospect of an even more challenging uphill battle with my body has me scared shitless. Also, someday, I would like to produce offspring and I am aware that my body will change – most likely for the worst – as a result of this experience. I kind of want to make sure that I’m not starting the pregnancy journey with an already-jacked up body. It would be good to start with a somewhat slim body and to then progress from there. I would also like some time to enjoy a slim and svelte body before I become a mother. That would be nice…

So, I know that people say that you should just enjoy the body you’re in. But the truth is that, no matter how hard I try, I won’t be happy until I lose some of this weight. Do I think I’m fat? No. But I do think that I could stand to lose a few pounds and tighten up in a few areas. So, in an effort to make that happen, I have been watching what I eat and exercising. I am taking it slow because, for the last several years, I haven’t really been paying attention to the food I eat nor been cognizant of the overall unhealthiness of my body. This has been challenging. I had made the decision to give up meat for 40 days in observance of Lent. That really hasn’t been that difficult. But add in the fact that I am now trying to eliminate sweets and fried foods, limit carbs and foods high in fat and cholesterol, and that doesn’t leave me with much to eat. I’ve mostly been eating fruits and vegetables and beans and loosely following Dr. Ian’s Fat Smash Plan. The good thing is, it’s more of a lifestyle change than a diet and I’m not hungry. With past dieting experiences, I will have exhausted all my points or calories or whatever it is I am counting and I’ll be sitting at home at the end of the day listening to my stomach growl like an angry lion and not being able to eat anything to satisfy it. This time around, I don’t seem to have that problem.

Now, who knows how long this kick will last? I’m just taking it one day at a time and remaining hopeful that this time I finally get it right. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and I’ll be honest! If I screw up, then I screw up. With past eating programs, I would fall off the wagon and stay off. My attitude was, I already messed up, so I might as well go all the way. But a friend said something today that made perfect sense to me: “Don’t ever tell yourself that you’re off the wagon.” Seems simple right? But my attitude beforehand has always been defeatist. And if I start the battle already accepting defeat, then there is no reason to fight in the first place.

My plan is to go into this Battle of the Bulge with guns blazing and emerge victorious.

But, we’ll see…