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Sunday, January 23, 2011

What Happened?

I bought a Zune MP3 player this weekend and it's frikkin AWESOME! It imports all music, videos, and pictures, by default, to your player. As I looked through the things that were being imported; I saw a ton of old pictures from 2003; the year I got married. I was SO THIN! And even though I was in almost all of the pictures with my then husband; I looked happy even though I don't remember ever being happy with him even though I search my mind for those fond memories.
I remember crying daily and striving for perfection. In the pictures that I found; I saw a thin, happy chick who was totally in love. It makes me sad because I can vaguely remember when things turned between he and I. Back then; I thought it was about me. Not being thin enough, smart enough, a good enough cook, American enough, Ghanaian enough, when in truth, it was all about him and his own assimilation and need to be something he could never be. Something that to this day; eight years later, he's still searching for.
The pictures of the 23 year old, fit, rock solid me, inspired the 30 year old, post mommy unfit me to find that girl again. I can remember the 5 day a week, hour long work outs that I did to please him. To show him that I wasn't a 'fattie' that I could be skinny.
It's been so long that it's hard to remember whether the transition from love to disdain was rapid or immediate. But what sticks out most in my mind were the put downs, the complaints and the arguments that left me alone in the bathroom crying and punching mirrors regretting the day that I'd met my African King.
Three and a half years in and a little girl later; I was packing she and I up to get away from the tyrannical reign that had become our home. The one that I paid for, cooked in and cleaned. I'd had enough. Enough of the girls, the trash talk and the berating. Since he thought that he could do better than me; I would give him the chance to show that he could.
That's what makes looking at the pictures so hard; we actually did love each other. Maybe it wasn't all about a Green Card. It makes me wonder if I should give credence to what he tells me now when he says that he still loves me; that I should have been more patient with him; that we could still be together.

Not. For. Real.

L. O. L.

Real love doesn't treat you that way. Ever. Proverbs 13:4-7 says "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

That's not the love I experienced in my marriage, and that, among many other reasons, is why I am no longer married. 

Thank GOD!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

10 years out.

Yesterday, I bought a (pink [don't tell anyone]) Zune from a lady on craigslist. I developed serious Zune envy after I bought one for  my boyfriend for Christmas. The seller asked to meet me at Wal-Mart in Livonia; a place that has been given new life by the Super Center. At one time, the land where the store now sits was Wonderland, my favorite mall. My mom worked at a Target connected to the mall and would take a portion of her weekly paycheck to treat us to a movie and a meal of our choosing from the food court.
On the way to the meeting place, I passed by Chi Chi's, my summer job after my second year in Huntsville. It was kitchen work as usual. When I came home, I immediately sought out my first boss from Pizza Hut for a job. She said that she'd hire me but knew a place that was closer that could pay me up to $3 more an hour.
I started about a week later as the appetizer line cook on the afternoon shift. What I loved most about the job was its proximity to my other job as a midnight stock-person at Meijer. I would work at Chi Chi's 3-11 then walk across the freeway to Meijer and work from 11-7:30.
Even back then; I loved cooking even if I wasn't preparing my own recipes. Chi Chi's was a lot of fun, the guys in the kitchen embraced me as part of the crew even though I was new and, the only girl. Meijer on the other hand, was a different story. I kept to myself, reading my novels in the smoking room on my breaks and trying my best to complete the lofty list of tasks that my manager gave me nightly. It wasn't until I ran into her one morning toward the end of my shift when she saw me sweaty and out of breath, working on a vacuum planogram that she told me that the lists that she gave to me were for me to work on over the course of a few days, not every night. She was impressed with my work ethic though, she told me, but it wasn't worth me killing myself for.
With this reprieve, I was able to slow down a bit and actually take an entire 30 minute lunch break and two 15 minute breaks. It was during those times that I got some good people watching in over the top of my Left Behind books. To those who would venture into a conversation with me; I let it be known that this job was just a summer gig; a means to an end. I was a student at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville and I was working the two jobs in order to save for a car and a place of my own there. I wasn't like them; I had a future.
Driving past the now defunct restaurant then the still booming Meijer; I was awestruck to realize that it's been nearly 10 YEARS since that summer. Back when I was so optimistic about my future and what lay ahead. I knew precisely what I wanted for myself; a career in Broadcast Journalism; probably radio, and all of the success that comes along with it. I know that there are still a lot of people who still work there that I worked with. They haven't been promoted and are still living their lives in the exact same way that they were 10 years ago except their kids are older and their paychecks are slightly bigger.
As I drove by, I wondered if I was any different from them. I'd like to think that I am but I'm really not. I'm not the person I said I would become when I was there. In my 30th year; I'm much more reluctant to place blame anywhere other than on my own shoulders. I can only control myself, as such, I have to think about my own culpability in all situations. I'm making strides now to live the life that the 20 year old me fully expected that we'd be living already. That's the best I can do; time waits for nothing, I can't go backwards so I'll just do better moving forward.

New House; New Beginning.

I'm excited. Excited is really too tame of a word for what I'm feeling. Freedom is on the other side of this move so maybe liberated is a better word. No, still not strong enough.
A new home really is a new beginning. The home I'm in now was a new beginning for me when I moved into it. It offered me and my little girl a fresh start after leaving her father for the second and final time. Our house in Warrendale was my first house. A three bedroom bungalow with a basement apartment where my landlord lives.
It was an ideal arrangement when I entered into it; an affordable house with utilities included in a great neighborhood right next to a park. Over the last almost three years; this arrangement has become less and less ideal and it has everything to do with my landlord.

I spent my college summers in Ann Arbor, MI, home of the University of Michigan, with my brother Juan who lived in a basement apartment, sometimes called an income suite. It's a separate residence within a residence; typically in a basement or an attic that is completely separate from the main home that is rented out for income. In my case however, my landlord, being the simplistic, retired senior citizen that he is, lives in the basement and rents the home out which covers the small mortgage and most of the utilities on the home.

My arrangement with my landlord, lets call him Carl became informal very quickly. We met at work. My best friend/boss owned a process serving company that also handled a lot of property maintenance and management. Carl came to her asking for assistance in finding someone to rent the house above him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

True Story; Procrastination Kills Dreams

I admit it; I am a procrastinator. I will put off the most simple tasks until the last possible second, for no apparent reason. I don't get it! Everyday I tell myself; "I'm going to do this, that, this and that." And 9 times out of ten, I just don't do it. Especially when it comes to work stuff. Don't leave me a voicemail (business or personal) because it'll sit in my mailbox for days (at least. And that's if you're lucky) before I listen to it. It'll probably a few more days (if you're lucky) for me to do or follow up on whatever it was you called me about. I've never understood this about myself. Any given task usually doesn't take much time and is usually within my ability to complete. I just. don't. do it.
It complicates my life, being a procrastinator. Usually; I create objections in my head and negative scenarios about the task at hand, or, I just find something more to my liking to do. I used to tell myself that I work best under pressure and that my procrastinating was intentional and strategic. Yeah, right. It's lazy and it's the habit of the sluggard. 
That being said; I am no longer giving myself any tasks at all. I am simply doing what I know needs to be done when it needs to be done. And EUREKA! No anxiety. By answering a voice mail as soon as it comes it; it shows a sense of urgency that my customers appreciate. And I've noticed that by doing this; if they were upset when they left the voice mail; my quick response and remedy for their problem usually satisfies them. 
What amazes me about myself is that when it comes to spending money or having fun; there was no procrastinating involved, ever. 
I, like most Black folk, suffer from the need to be gratified instantly. If I decide I want to purchase something; I'd like it ASAP, please and thank you. What's strange, even to me, is that when it comes to making money (i.e. answering my voice mails which are almost always customer requests for more products), I drag my feet. 
I once read or heard somewhere that "if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." Since I know what I know about myself; my new plan is simply to do the opposite of what feels natural to me. If I feel like popping on the TV and plopping down in front of it to watch a rerun that I've already seen 3 times; I walk away and do something that involves motion. 
Instead of leaving my dishes to turn into a petri dish during the week, saving them to be washed on Saturday, I wash them nightly. What an awesome feeling it is to wake up to a clean kitchen. The biggest changes we can make start with small steps so I'm starting small. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Finding Me Some Business.

So I work for a huge company. A very well known and established company that offers awesome benefits, paydays every Friday, lots of sick, personal, and vacation days and no weekends. And I . Hate. It. For a long time; I loved it. Lived it. Dreamed about it. Literally. As the year (yes, year as in 1 year) has passed; I've grown weary. Of the customers, the demands from the customers and the expectations. The better I do; the more they expect. To go from being top dog; the one who could do no wrong to be counseled and corrected on how to do my job better, all in a matter of one business quarter really, REALLY sucks.
Hence the subject; finding me some business. At heart; I'm an entrepreneur. Maybe because I have the heart and mind of a leader or maybe because I'm not good at taking direction from others. Maybe because I've always had God-given, innovative ideas on how to be successful. Regardless; it's time for me to be out of that place. I'm spending 10-14 hours a day at work, commuting to work or working at home for work. With that type of time invested into myself; there's no telling what other things I'd be able to accomplish. Actually; there is SOME telling because I've got a ton of ideas stored up and waiting for me to implement them.
Before taking this job with this huge company; I worked for my best friends' company as a Process Server. It was an awesome job that showed me a lot. But, I killed 2.5 cars doing it and I felt like I LIVED the job. Between spending all of my work hours at the office with my best friends, us and our kids constantly hanging out together and having to route stops for another coworker in my spare time; I never got away from the job. So when the opportunity for the job at the huge company presented itself, the stability that this mega company had to offer plus benefits was too much to resist.
After a lengthy hiring process (5 interviews, background, criminal history, background and drug test), I was offered a job and I couldn't have been happier. I started the job with a zeal and vigor that hadn't been matched since I'd had my first real job at 16. After several months of 12+ hour days for checks that barely rivaled what I made process serving; my eagerness began to wane. My parents spent more time with my daughter than I did and it was beginning to show in her attitude. And the truth of the matter was that by the time I did get to see her; I was so tired and my fuse so short from such a long, tiresome day, that I couldn't enjoy my time with her.
Until things change and I can (amicably) leave this mega company; I'm going to continue to give it my all. What's changed is that I'm no longer going to short change myself in the process. Instead of "wake, eat, work, sleep, repeat" I'm beginning to invest time in myself again; exercising, writing, caking with my boo. Doing the things that make me remember me, not the fem-bot that works for the mega company.
I'm gleaning inspiration from those around me who are taking steps toward living their dreams. I see it everyday in the simplest things; my "little" cousin who's making waves and news left and right with the first App of its kind.
Seeing all of his posts and pictures, I didn't know that he still worked a conventional job until I saw an interview with him and his partner talking about what little sleep they get and how they finance their vision with conventional jobs. I'm immensely proud of him for a number of reasons, but mostly because he's still humble, and still the good kid my favorite Uncle and Aunt raised him to be. He's going places but only because he's made a conscious effort to do so. Talk about simple wisdom.
Another inspiration; my BFF and writing partner. We do a lot together; and apparently; we are going through our quarter life crisis together (even though she's got another 3 years before she's 30). Her quarter life crisis however, is spurring the Great American Novel. Or at least the Amazing Michigan Book. She was gracious enough to share her progress with me and I was nothing short of awestruck. It's the kind of writing that I've read every great writer other than her, write. I literally think about the people (not to be confused with characters) when I'm not ensconced in the story. It's the type of writing that makes bad writers jealous and good writers want to write.
I gotta find me some business...
I keep saying that after I move; I'm going to get all this stuff going but I'm not going to wait. I'm gonna go find me some business!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Concussions, Confessions and Breaking the Back of Confusion

Three days before Christmas, I was at work, out on my route and I fell on some snow covered ice, landing on the back of my head. Now me being the tough chick that I am; I wanted to shake it off and go on about my day, servicing my customers. Fortunately, I contacted my manager who urged me to go to the clinic to get checked out. As it turns out; I have a concussion. Something I never took seriously or even knew much about prior to getting one myself.
I was released for work after four days of being off, more, I think, because of my urgency to return to work than a genuine evaporating of symptoms. I went to church today for the first time this year. In the past few months; I've been so busy and bogged down at work or with other things that I just don't get up for service. I had been pretty good about going to Wednesday night service to pay my tithes and spend some QT with JC but not this year.
So this morning, I travailed, picked up my best friend and went to church with my daughter in tow. And thank God I did! I'm believing for some SERIOUS stuff in the new year. Things that are going to allow me to serve the Lord in a different and more powerful way and much of that is what the Bishop taught about.
I've been practicing the ABCs of faith (Ask, Believe, Confess, Demonstrate, Expect, & Forgive) and all that was left to do was to sow seed for it. Service was amazing (as usual) though the loud music and bright lights REALLY did something to my head.
Ever since my fall, I've had an underlying throb that won't stop where my head bounced off the pavement. There's a ringing in my ears that hasn't subsided and makes it difficult to sleep. All things being equal and honest; I don't know that I'm really fit to drive as much as I do. I feel weird all the time. I was just starting to feel like my normal self again last week, but some moments; I feel like I've taken Benadryl or Nyquil. It's frightening. But I can't worry about that stuff right now. At the end of the month; I'm buying a house. The first house that I will both own and live in. The last property I owned was an investment that I bought for a few thousand dollars from the County. This one will most likely be the home that I will share with my future husband.
It's a cute little house on the edge of the city flanked by two small suburbs, a huge park and several horse trails. I'm more than excited. These last six months have been more than amazing; I've seen God move in ways in my life that I've prayed and believed for for YEARS. In spite of all the bad, I know that indeed "All things work together for the good of them who love God and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28) So I'm not worried or afraid of anything that's to come. In fact; I'm excited!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Wise Woman...

So one of my awesome customers gave me a gift card for Christmas. I was simultaneously taken aback and grateful. I held onto it for a few days; not knowing what to spend it on... Myself perhaps? What a concept!
One Wednesday after church, I visited the newly expanded book store and picked up a copy of a book that I kept hearing about that was written by Co-Pastor/First Lady of the church. Dr. Charisse Gibert; "A Wise Woman Builds Her House".

It took a few weeks before I got to it but ever since I've started reading it; I can't put it down! It's phenomenal! I've been doing a lot of soul searching these past few months. Leading up to and after my 30th birthday; I've been having what I like to call a quarter life crisis. But it's not a bad crisis in that I'm not making poor decisions or doing anything rash or out of the ordinary. Mostly; I've been evaluating my life and the quality of the life I've been living.

For me; 30 has always been that age that I told myself that "this" and "that" were going to have happened by. My J.D. degree; the big ole house in the suburbs (or swanky neighborhood in the city), the vacations, luxury cars and disposable income. From the outside looking in; things aren't so bad on my part really. From me looking at myself critically; I'm WAY off. A divorcee, single mom working at a demanding job (that I love but might be too old for) and carrying an extra 60 lbs that I vowed to rid myself of after my daughter was born.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Best. New Year's. Ever.

I didn't get enough hugs this weekend...

I only see my boyfriend on weekends if I'm lucky. Lately he's been working so much that he's only off on Sunday. By then; he's saved all of his other errands and obligations for his one off day and we end up out-scheduling one another. Before Christmas weekend; it had been an entire month since I'd seen him last; not since the day after Thanksgiving.

He came over to see us Christmas morning. As has become a tradition; my Dad came over for Christmas breakfast and to give my daughter her Christmas gifts. He always gives me something, usually money, which is always welcomed and appreciated. It was their first time meeting and my Dad liked my boyfriend. He later told me that he wanted to play the tough father role, but couldn't fake the funk; he liked my boo off the top. He could tell he was a good guy.

This week was my ex-husband's turn to keep our daughter so I got my boyfriend all to myself. He spent a lot of the first few hours loading the Zune MP3 player I got him for Christmas but the rest of his time was (mostly) devoted to me. We went to the movies; Tron in Imax 3D and The Chronicles of Narnia. Two movies that would not have been on my radar had it not been for him, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This weekend was also a time of 'firsts' for me; my first kiss under a mistletoe and my first kiss to ring in a New Year. Despite having been married for six years; I've never had the pleasure of these experiences. My boo was more than happy to accommodate me both times. (He also found out that I've never experienced being in a "Dutch Oven". I told him that I do not want to experience that and that if he feels the need to expose me to it that I will not cook him anything from my dutch oven or anything resembling an oven for a week!)

That aside, I enjoyed having him all to myself. We've already planned to go to the Monster Truck Jam this coming weekend so thankfully, I know a month will not lapse before our next visit. But still... I didn't get enough hugs.

Hugs are the way that my boo and I show our love for one another. Prior to meeting; both of us took a vow of celibacy until marriage. Upon meeting; we revealed said plans to one another to our mutual delight.

I will say that it has been MOST difficult. In order to maintain our celibacy pact; we are very deliberate in the way that we deal with one another. We do not share lingering kisses or embraces for that matter. Cuddling on the couch is also limited. And though he spends the night at my house; he is banished to the living room couch and I to my bedroom. While together; we are constantly reminding one another of our promise to God and to one another in order to keep our priorities in order. It is easily the most difficult thing I have ever done. But I feel that because it is so difficult and such a conscious sacrifice that the payout is going to be that much more awesome than what I can imagine.

When I left my ex husband in April of 2008; I was lost in every sense of the word. I wasn't sure if I still wanted to be with him or to be single. Unless you've been through the divorce process; it's difficult to understand the emotions that come along with it. When I was in the process of leaving my then husband; he and I shared THE BEST intimate experiences that we ever experienced. A huge part of me thinks it was him trying to show me what it was that I was leaving (which ultimately is a factor of being a controlling person) and another part of me says it was both of us being opportunistic; we were able to get our rocks off without fornicating.

After cutting off this unspoken arrangement with my ex-husband, I took a vow of celibacy that lasted eight months. When it ended; it was by my choosing with, of all people, my best friend's little brother. Our affair lasted six months before I came to my senses and cut it off. I repented of the myriad infractions and promised God that I would not give myself again to anyone other than my husband; an easy thing to do when there's not so much as a prospect in sight.

Eight and a half months later, I encounter the man, (that I soon after realize) will be my husband. The kind, unassuming, strong, sensitive, caring (and "FOINNE") man that loves me just as much as I love him. Who knew such a thing was possible? Now, all of those amazing Anita Baker songs that I love so much have a subject to pair them to when I sing along; a person who is worthy of the lyrics.

He's awesome and I'm not just saying that; he really is. I feel blessed just to know him, let alone to call him mine... As hard as it is not to be a part of the status quo; I'm happy to break the mold with him. It'll be our testimony; to say that we waited until marriage and for each other.

Amen to that!