Archive | December, 2008

Bye bye 2008

31 Dec

Well its the  end of another year, damn is it me or does it seem like the older you get the years just start to zoom by? I swear it seems like 2008 only just started and now the year is already over.

This year has definitely been one for the books, America decided to elect its first non-White president, of course they decided to do so when America is clearly in a downward spiral. I gotta be honest I don’t envy the mess that Obama is inheriting from Bush.

The economy is a mess, reports came out yesterday that showed that not even Christmas couldn’t make Americans part with their money. Well guess the truth came out, this past decade of record growth wasn’t real growth…folks was spending credit, now that no one has any and folks is forced to live within their means, not even kick ass deals can make folks shop.

I was reading how thousands of stores as well as shopping centers may close in 2009, well maybe we had too many in the first place. I like to shop like the next person but really shopping shouldn’t be the national past-time.

Anyhoo, who knows what 2009 will bring but the sista in Maine wants to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Tonight I will indulge in my last bout of unhealthy eating before I get back on my grind, catch ya in a few days.

Sorry, you are fired

30 Dec

Thankfully those are not words that I have heard recently however after many months of dealing with a client from Hell, I wrote the letter last night telling this client that I was letting them go. I must admit sending that email felt really good, I felt liberated and greatly relieved.

See, early this year I took on a client with a faith based emphasis, initially I was excited to work with this client thinking I would be able to help them grow and stabilize. Problem was that the powers to be, wanted quick solutions to long term problems and at the end of the day, I am simply a human, not a miracle worker.

However when you are self employed, the idea of letting go of a client is something you rarely want to do, but the client decided over the holiday weekend to annoy me one too many times. Yeah, I know the deadline and I don’t ever miss deadlines but when I tell you I am resting and relaxing with my family, don’t fuck with me.  Especially when you were unable to pay the full amount for my services which resulted in a reduction of 50% in my fees during these rough economic times. Truth is the only reason this client wasn’t booted last month was that I needed to make the holidays happen for the kids, that said I had gone from mildly annoyed with this client’s hi-jinks to down right pissed off.

I won’t lie it will hurt a bit to lose that revenue stream but thankfully I do have my job, but more importantly I have my dignity. See, I am a former people pleaser who used to hate to say no to others but as I get older, my desire to please others is waning. Nah, I am not a cold-hearted bitch but at the same time, I am convinced if we don’t treat ourselves well and let others talke advantage of us, we set ourselves up for heartache.

So I get ready to end this year feeling content that my days of allowing folks to step on me either professionally or personally are far behind me and it feels good. So for a woman who doesn’t do New Years resolutions but rather looks to just make changes in her life, it feels great to finally overcome that obstacle of not always standing up for myself.

As for the client…who knows what will happen since I have not had a response, on the other hand their response is irrelevant to me. I got my last check yesterday for the year and turned in the last batch of work so its all good.

TV Nation…bigger is better

26 Dec

Once again I feel compelled to comment on American’s love of tv especially flat screen, plasma tv’s or whatever the heck they are called. I was just reading the Chicago Tribune online (gotta read my hometown paper) and was struck by how the day after Christmas many bargain hunters are looking for good prices on tv’s.

Damn, do folks not have televisions? Can I ask a stupid question, but what is the allure of one of these things? Look, when I do have my occasional tv veg-out moment, I am generally doing it in front of my 13 inch tv in my bedroom. Yes, its 13 inches, no bells or whistles, I do have a DVD player hooked up to it, and I have basic digital cable which I still debate whether or not we should get rid of at least once a week. After all the $60 a month I pay could be better used but my son is adamant that we must have cable and I admit at least once every few weeks now, I love a good Sunday evening of channel surfing.

However while I like an occasional veg out session, I really don’t get the attraction of a big tv. I am a movie buff, but I actually like the theatre experience especially that of old art house theatres which are a dying breed. I don’t know but I just can’t wrap my brain around why folks seems to lust after big tv’s….can someone help me figure it out.

I don’t know but it seems Americans in general have a love for all things big….seriously up until gas prices went crazy, most folks were driving around in big ass SUV’s, even folks living in large cities like Chicago. Now I will admit there is a time and place for a big vehicle, sometimes the spousal unit and I wish we had one for hauling shit. Problem is when I lived in Chicago, folks weren’t hauling shit but their asses through a drive thru in their big ass vehicles.

No, we like big meals too hence the super size it craze. When I have my rare taste for fast food, I often marvel at how they try to up-sell me to a jumbo soda and fry…no, I don’t care that is only an extra few cents. I neither need or want to drink 24 ounces of soda.

Look a good large meal is fine occasionally preferably on large holidays when splurging is ok, problem is most of us do it all the time and it shows. However I see the effects of too much tv on folks as well, folks rarely read, can’t point out shit on a map yet they can tell you who won Survivor. Our kids and us are all walking around in a collective daze while America disintegrates before our eyes, yet for many of us as long as we have the ole Plasma and 24 ounces of soda, we don’t care.

No bigger is not better most of the time.

Tis Christmas Eve

24 Dec

It’s Christmas Eve and I am tired, the past week has been non-stop chaos. I love my new job but I am reminded of why I stopped doing direct service work, the agency I work at is small so even though I am the director, titles and position mean jack when work needs to be done.

The population I work with is poor folks, and in this current economic climate when many of us are feeling rather broke, a job like mine helps me to keep a healthy perspective. After all I was able to go purchase my Christmas dinner and gifts, I did not have to call a million agencies to get help. I have a roof over my head, my basic needs are met. Its a shame that one of the folks who saw swindled by ole Bernie Madoff, didn’t have my perspective.

See, I awoke to the sounds of NPR reporting that some cat who Bernie took for 1.5 billion dollars had committed suicide. To be honest that story pissed me off as I was getting up early to go into work today because I had a few families that needed some holiday help so even though it was technically my off day, the alternative of enjoying Christmas Eve knowing I had folks in need was not an option.

Yet to hear about some man so distraught over losing a billion dollars that he would take his own life seems strange, after all I am sure the dead man wasn’t broke…cat lived in Westchester County so I suspect even after the ride Bernie gave him he still had a few pesos. Perhaps this man should have visited a food pantry or homeless shelter to gain a better perspective on the situation. Seeing folks with no food and no roof over their heads has a funny way of making your personal shit look pretty good provided you have the basics.

Anyway rant over, to my Christian brothers and sisters I wish you a Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. To my brothers and sisters of other faith traditions, I wish you a Happy Holiday.

Perhaps in this tough times, we can start to refocus on what’s really important.

Wally where are thou?

22 Dec

So this weekend in my little town brought yet another storm, thankfully this time it was snow but it was a lot of snow, there is well over 20 inches of snow in my yard. Unlike my hearty Maine neighbors I am a cheapskate and have never bought a snow blower or any type of of snow removal implement other than an old fashioned shovel. Needless to say when we have the nasty storms that dump over a feet of snow, I am often praying that my neighbors have mercy and spread some neighborly love and plow us out.

Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t…enter Wally. See, Wally is the ole school hustler that I never expected to see in a place like Maine. He is the white version of the guy’s in my Granny’s old neighborhood in Chicago. Guys who don’t work 9-5’s instead doing odd and end jobs to get by and maybe even some things I don’t want to know. The Wally’s of the world tend to look a little rough around the edges, in this case Wally is probably not much older than me and the spousal unit, however he looks like he has lead a hard life.

I met Wally last winter when after a particularly brutal storm, he knocked on my door and offered to shovel, he was with another man and they only had one shovel. So he asked if he could use my shovel, despite my common sense I said yes, well Wally and homie did a bang-up shovel job for a mere $20 in less time than either the hubby or I usually do. After paying him, he asked could they use the other shovel while they went around the area trying to drum up more work, he promised to bring it back.

Well I said yes and the hubster figured we would never see that shovel again, but hours later after making some cash, Wally brought my shovel back and I have used him ever since for large storms. I must say that I don’t mind shoveling but when there is over a foot of snow, my enthusiasm tends to wane since at that point shoveling ceases to be relaxing and becomes hard work.

So what’s wrong with Wally the hustler? Only issue I have is he shows up early in the morning, I am talking before 7 am and I am not a morning person. Once Wally woke me up at 6 am….I don’t have a job that requires me to get up that early and ringing my bell that early is a guarantee that mini-me will wake up which is what I don’t want. So I have to remind him don’t come so early.

Which brings me to this morning, I woke up at 6:15 am figuring I would be up when Wally rang, well it seems I missed Wally based off the footsteps at the door when I went downstairs at 6:20. So when a young man not much older than elder boy came knocking at 6:45 offering to shovel, I said yes. Today is a busy day, and the spousal unit’s knees have been bugging him and frankly I am not in the mood to shovel my way out the driveway.

Um, how come when I told young man what I normally pay he looked at me like I was crazy. See, Wally does my driveway and walkway for $20, and when he has his partner they normally get it done in less than 20 mins. Now doing the math, that’s not bad money considering that by the end of a morning they probably get at least 10 houses and with a 50-50 split, not bad at all for not even a half day’s worth of work.

Well young hustler was looking like I had given him an indecent proposal, so since I only had a crispy $20 bill and wasn’t about to head to the ATM for more cash, I asked him to do the driveway and part of the walkway for $20. 30 mins later, while we can get the car our the drivewaym I still have to shovel a path to the car since young hustler apprently didn’t think it was a good idea to shovel at least a small path to the car from my door.

Damn, even young hustlers are lacking in work ethics these days…see the reason the Wally’s of the world get by is they know when its time to bust a sweat, instead young blood figured he was going to get some easy cash.

Anyway at least I am not trapped in the house and can start my day, but Wally where are thou? Don’t leave me hanging again.

You must quit

21 Dec

Barack Obama and I share a vice, we are both smokers in a time where smoking is seen as a really bad thing. Like Barry (can I you that Mister Prez-Elect?) I have tried quitting. In the past I have gone a few years without quitting but life will throw me a curve ball and since I gave up all my other vices (no drinks and drugs for me anymore) and after once taking a Louisville slugger to some furniture in a moment of stress, it seems nothing soothes that stress like a Benson and Hedges Ultra Light.

Now let me be clear, I am married to a non-smoker, I don’t smoke in my car or house or around my kids and since I only have 2 friends that smoke, it pretty much means I don’t smoke as much as I used to. Many years ago, I was a pack a day smoker, now a pack lasts me days. Pretty much I like a smoke in the morning with a cup of steaming hot coffee and now that its 8 degrees outside it really makes me not want to smoke. I also like to enjoy my afternoon hot berverage from Starbucks with a butt.

Before you feel compelled to tell me how bad this habit is, let me make it clear that I do know how bad it is, see my Mom died from lung cancer that metastisized to her brain. Yeah, my Momma was a smoker and like a dumb ass at 14, I picked up the habit. Thankfully my little brother hates smoking so at least one of us didn’t follow the dumb path.

I must admit that with a family history that includes my Mom dying at 50 thanks to cancer, its always on my mind that even though I am not a heavy smoker anymore that I need to quit….really its a filthy ass habit.

Which brings me back to Obama, frankly the fact that this guy is not caught with a butt in his mouth or hand constantly is great testament to what he is made of, shit I think I have stress, I know he has stress but dude you about to be the president, so guess what you gotta quit. After all you promised your wife, now after peeping those photos of you in Time its clear your love affair with the tobacco goes back aways like mine, but dude we are not cool.

So as I enter 2009, my only resolution is to slay the smoking beast and get it out of my life once and for all, Barry I encourage you to join me, its time…we must quit. We both have kids and you have a country to repair, yes we can!

Moment to shine

19 Dec

Just a quickie today but I want to give a shout-out to my lil brother, today he graduates with his Masters in Real Estate. In a world where twenty-seven year old Black men with no kids and no prison records is supposedly a rare thing, watching a young Black man do his thing is always worth celebrating.

Today is bittersweet though as my brother started this journey 5 years ago, when our mother was battling cancer he left the country to go to grad school in Canada. Sadly her death changed the plans and my brother had to come back to the states since one less parent meant less funds to pay for grad school. Yet my brother hung in there and eventually worked and went to school at the same time.

Bro, know that our Mama’s presence is with you today, Miss M is proud and while sadly I am in Maine preparing for another round of winter weather, know that I celebrate this day with you.

So, excuse me but I just had to give a shout out to my lil brother…now I must go to prepare for this storm. Have a good weekend all.

What’s up with the weather?

17 Dec

I should get a t-shirt made up “I survived the ice storm of 2008”. The past several days up here in my little corner of the US, the weather has been down right crazy. Now I am from Chicago, so I am used to cold and snow in fact native Mainers always seem a bit bothered that I don’t find winters to be all that taxing up here. Truth is the average winter temperature up here is warmer than Chicago, shit, I grew up back when the wind chill factor used to regularly dip below 0, so in general winter does not faze me. Truth is I will take winter any day over being hot, much to my in-laws annoyance that we will never live near them in Arizona. Shit, that place is hot as hell, might even be hotter.

However last Thursday night the weather decided to throw something new at me and for once I gotta say, yeah the weather up here is wild. We had a ice storm, initially it didn’t seem that impressive until I woke up and friends started calling me on Friday talking about how they had no power. Well our power went out too, but only in brief spurts, seems since I live in town, I am on the same grid as the police and fire department so it explains why our power has never gone out longer than an hour or two…ever.

Well I had no idea how bad it was until the spousal unit got up to get me one of those lovely hot chocolates I love from Starbucks, dude calls me to say sorry babe, Starbucks is closed, no power. Turned out the whole damn town was closed except for a few places, couldn’t even buy water because the store sold out. Now, I am a big city girl but being stuck in my house with a 3 year old going on 17 and no relief in sight is like hell, she wanted to leave the house but the damn traffic signals didn’t work and even the spousal unit who is a proficient driver having learned eons ago in California was like we need to stay in the house.

Sadly, its 5 days later and there are still a number of folks in Maine and New Hampshire who are still sitting in the dark and its snowing today. Of course Monday the temperature hit almost 60… I don’t know about you but something is really strange with the weather these days.

So what’s the weather like where you are? As for me, I am working from home today since I already braved the snow once today for an early morning meeting.

Thirty six years ago….

16 Dec

Thirty six years ago today, my parents took a long bus ride to the justice of the peace in downtown Chicago to get married. When they took that ride, they rode alone as my Mom’s folks were disgusted that she was marrying the son of sharecroppers, my grandparents were solidly middle class and well my Pops did not fit the image of what they thought my Mom should be marrying.

See, my Mom was pregnant with me infact I was due in a matter of weeks, to say that no one thought their marriage would last was an understatement. My Mom was raised with creature comforts, the expectation is that she would have gone to college and married at the same level socio-economically or higher; my Dad was one of 16 in a family where no one even celebrated birthdays because there were simply too many kids.

Well that marriage did last, it lasted until my Mom left this earth almost 5 years ago, they clocked in 31 years before she checked out early. Was it always good times? Hell no but they loved each other and they understood their vows and honored them.

Though its been almost 5 years since my Mom passed away, my Dad still refers to himself as married and has had no other woman, as he tells me he is waiting to be reunited with my Mom. I must admit at times its breaks my heart knowing that my Mom would want him to live his life but he is a stoic man so I accept his choice.

Anyway Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, thank you for hanging in there and showing me what a marriage looks like. Its a lot of work but the rewards last a lifetime and beyond.

Can you take care of yourself?

15 Dec

This is a post for the ladies, specifically for those of us with kids. In my online and even to some degree real life dealings, I know a lot of women who are stay at home Moms. Now I have no problem at all with stay at home Moms, shit I have been there myself and even now I am not a full fledged work out of the home mother since I still do a great deal of work from my home office.

However I keep stumbling across a theme with many stay at home Moms, that frankly scares the shit out of me. Many woman who are at home with their kids who I have run across say they can’t afford to work because whatever they earn would be eaten up by the cost of childcare and after paying childcare, and other related working costs, at best they would break even.

Um…..I have to say something and yeah its gonna be bitchy but I need to speak my truth. If your job skills are such that you can’t earn enough to provide a bare standard of living for you and your kids, well you need to address that skills deficit ASAP. Look, as women we get caught up in the emotions and some times that is not such a good thing.

For many of us as women, we envision a world where girl meets boy, falls in love, marries and has babies all with the expectations that boy will be the breadwinner. Ideally this is a great plan, problem is real life interferes and what happens if boy drops dead? This happened to an acquaintance of mine, our girls are  only days a part and her beloved husband died before their daughter turned 1. Thankfully my girl is an accomplished professional and was able to continue providing a decent standard of living for her and her child. Yes, losing a mate is hard but I can only imagine its a lot harder when the only income you got is those survivor benefits. Grief is hard enough without adding financial strain.

On the equally as serious side, what happens if your man just leaves, maybe after you have the babies and get caught up in the Mama love glow, maybe he decides your new size 14 ass is just not what he wants and then decides to be a bitch and not even be fair with financial support. Or maybe he does pony up his 20% for support but it turns out you can’t live on it….this happens a lot.

Lastly, what if you realize after a while you just hate his guts, maybe he is abusing you emotionally, physically or mentally? Yet with no ability to provide you choose to stay or you leave and you are forced to live a transient lifestyle while you try to rebuild.

Look, none of these are places we want to visit but life happens and as women we need to be prepared. Its one of the reasons that despite marrying a man I felt and still feel will be my life partner until I am a crusty old bitch, I went back to school and have always worked. I was married once to man who was a asshole and had I not been working and earning enough to support me and my son many moons ago, kicking his ass to the curb would have been a lot harder.

Ladies, I am not saying don’t stay home with your babies. Shoot, I stayed home with mini-me full-time the first year of her life and when I did go back to work I was only teaching part time. Yet I believed in staying plugged enough so that I never have to start over with no contacts, leads, etc.

Part of being an excellent Mama and parent is making sure we are looking at basics and basics do include boring shit like food and shelter. It truly breaks my heart to know a woman is stuck with asshole because she has no means. Its just not good.

OK, that service announcement is over, feel free to tell me how you feel.