Archive | April, 2009

Wash your hands

30 Apr

Just when we thought we had enough on our plates, now we can add swine flu to the mix. Unless you have been actively avoiding the news (which in that case why the  hell are you reading me?) you know that the world is on the brink of a pandemic, seems every 5 minutes we are being told of a new case in a new location. Let’s see in the world of six degrees of separation, my old grammar school in Chicago is closed because of a case and just two towns over from me in Maine, there is a reported case.

Its enough to make a sista get crazy and just not leave the house but alas I must work and as part of my job, I seem to shake a lot of hands. Its sort of hard to beg effectively on behalf of a good cause without shaking folks hands. Though maybe if I am lucky we can just do away with the handshake, how about a nod? Sort of like what Black folks tend to do in public when we want to acknowledge one another in certain settings. Instead of saying Hi, I am Black Girl and shaking hands I will just say Hello and hit a nod instead.

Seriously, make no mistake while this sounds serious and scary…of course turning off the telly makes it less scary. On a separate note, maybe we need to go back to the old days when tv shut down after midnight, no news 24/7. See, I am showing my age, the good old days of when you were up at 3 am, there was nothing to watch and that meant nothing, no infomercials, just snow on the screen. Problem with constant news is that it makes things seem worse, after all we lose thousands of folks annually to traditional influenza, the only thing with the swine flu that is concerning me is that it is putting a hurting on people in age groups who traditionally don’t get as sick with traditional flu. Folks in the 20-50 age range.

Anyway to repeat the words of many others, if you are scared before you start trying to buy bootleg antibiotics off the interwebz, and stockpiling on paper masks…use some old fashioned common sense. Wash your fucking hands! I repeat wash your dirty hands and wash often, no where near soap and water, then get some alcohol based sanitizer.

I see a lot of folks in my daily life who practice poor hygiene, look its never ok to piss anywhere and not wash your hands. I know folks who do this and they are not three years old. Look, I know you hate touching the door knob of the public restroom but its not a license to avoid washing your hands. If you peed and wiped, even if you think urine is sterile (yes I know folks who think this) and you “think” you didn’t get any on your hands, fact is you were in contact with your privates and you need to wash your hands.

So eat well, get rest, wash your hands and maybe delay that trip to Mexico and hopefully we will all be fine.

My house…the rules

29 Apr

Lately I have had an increase in folks coming to this blog and that’s cool. After all its nice to know someone actually reads what I write and while its nice when folks like what I have to say and agree with me, its not my expectation that all readers will be like me.

Look, its cool to disagree with me, its cool to even question me but it is not cool to think you can come to my blog and blatantly disagree with me in a disrespectful manner. Calling me a hypocritical black heffa is very bad thing to do. You can expect that if you are a first time commenter and leave that comment as someone did, that I will not approve it and you are not welcome to post until you get some manners.

I blog because I like to, I am an opinionated person, views expressed here are mine and just like my physical house, you just cannot come here and be a asshole.

So while I welcome dissent, you can keep your disrespectful thoughts to yourself.

I am busy with work today so sorry but this will be the posting for the day. Happy Hump Day!

It’s not always racism, sometimes folks are just foul

28 Apr

Past week its been interesting up here in Maine. Last week this story broke, and then this story happened over the past weekend. In both these stories its a situation that at one point in time, I may have jumped to the defense of the Black folks because the white folks must be wrong. Yet as I get older I find myself looking at both sides of a story before I start placing judgement.

Maine being a small place, it turns out that several of the fellows who claim they were discriminated against actually were students of mine back in 2007 when I was teaching. I remember them well because they were some of the only students that almost got cussed out by me. These young brothers had chips on their shoulders and  were blatantly disrespectful, to the point they almost failed out but in a fit of craziness I passed these jokers with a D and they were able to graduate.

So based off my experience, I am not saying they were not the victims of racism but knowing what I know, I am suspect.

In the second story, David Okot, was out in Maine’s largest city, allegedly intoxicated and waving a gun….um, no where in America is a drunk Black man waving a gun a good idea. Shit, that’s what you do if you got a death wish…look the po-po takes folks waving guns rather seriously. Just last month in the town next to mine a white woman was shot and killed because she was outside waving a gun, cops told her to put the gun down instead she continued and moved closer to the cops, so they shot her. If white women waving guns in Maine can get shot and killed, let’s be real…you know Black folks doing the same can also expect to be killed as well.

So Okot was shot and killed and folks are on the local news saying he was a good guy, um….hold up, seems the man had an extensive police record and a tendency to engage in the antics that may have lead to his life coming to a sudden end. By the way the photos I have seen of brotha-man did not make me think nice guy, made me think he was a wanna be gangster and we all know what happens to gangsters.

There are those who are concerned that there is an uptick in racism here in Maine, truthfully I don’t know. I have lived here 7 years and generally find the natives to be cool. Yeah, there are some assholes but generally its a live and let live place. However, I can see if you come here intent on being a troublemaker that you might have trouble.

In 2009 though we have to move the racism discussions further along and realize that not all bad things that happen to be folks of color is because of racism. Sometimes folks are just foul and karma pays their asses back in a big fat way.

Thou shall not covet that SUV

27 Apr

It was a great weekend, the weather was just lovely up here in Maine. I hit the beach, had the local french fries known as pier fries (hard to describe, but they are delicious) local ice cream and even checked out a local concert at our church (it was a date for the hubby and I even with the girl child is tow). I even worked in a lovely pedicure in time for the weather so I could show off my purty red toes. What more could I want?

I want my friend’s new GMC Envoy, that’s what I want. I have been mostly content with our 12 year old Nissan, after all its cheap on gas (fill-up now that gas prices are down again averages $20), my insurance on it is cheap and more importantly its paid off. Only problem is its a tad rusty and really small, as I was reminded Saturday when I hit an amazing yard sale that had the most lovely chairs (vintage) for less than $20 and an amazing chaise lounger for $20. No way in hell we could get these things home. There is also the problem that when elder boy is home, our car is a tight fit for the 4 of us. So we really could use a larger car, its just that financially its not the greatest of times.

So yesterday, my girl called me and wanted to show me her new ride….Lawd, it was beautiful, its everything I want in a car. Large enough to have fun with yard sales, we could all comfortably fit and enjoy going on a drive, a large vehicle would also mean that I don’t have to wait for the annual pickup for leaves and lawn trash since we would have a vehicle big enough to take our stuff to the transfer station ourselves.

Plus with my pesky agorophobia being in a larger car would probably make me more apt to drive on a regular basis, since I would feel less like I am in a sardine can.

Thing is mathematically that car is costly, as I was asking my girl, to fill her tank up is $40 (um and gas is just a hair over $2 a gallon, gulp…what happens when it goes back to $4 a gallon). I know insurance would be more plus in Maine we have the annual excise tax, thankfully ours is only $100 a year on a 12 year old car???Imagine what it would be on a big newer car? See, these are all the things that the Spousal Unit brought up as I racked my brain trying to figure out how to get that car.

See, the Spousal Unit is more inclined to stick to our original plan of buying a used Volvo in cash late summer early fall and maybe later adding a small older pick-up truck. Both options would no doubt be cheaper than a 2-3 year old SUV and we would own the cars outright, no payments. Only thing is the Nissan just needs to get through the summer and we will be in the home stretch.

I know he is right but dammit, I want that SUV, guess I should remember the Good Book, though shall not this case I should not covet my girl’s SUV.

Oh happy day

24 Apr

Its Friday and its going to be almost 70 degrees today in Maine. So rather than sitting on my computer, I am about to head out and enjoy this delightful spring day. I actually was up early today, I took my first yoga class and I must say it was relaxing. I don’t know if I will get a class pass just yet but I will be back.

Anyway we are expecting great weather all weekend, so the goal for this weekend is to spend as much time outside as possible, enjoying the gorgeous weather.

So have a happy Friday and a merry weekend, I will catch you again on Monday.

PS: Get off the computer and connect with humans, even ones who annoy you. 😉

We no longer age, we just get younger

23 Apr

Am I the only one who gets bothered by the cheesy slogans that 30 is the new 20, 40 is the new 30 and so on? Seriously it seems that no one wants to get old, instead we all want to stay perpetually stuck in our youth, despite the fact that in many cases (not all) that with age we start to get some wisdom. Grandmas these days don’t want to be called Grammie, Granny or any word that might let folks know they are not so young. In fact Grandmas don’t even look like Grandmas anymore.

Its strange because I look a lot younger than my age but it most certainly is not because I have done anything to achieve that, more a result of my gene pool. This past week when my son (elder boy) was home, I encountered several instances where folks thought he was my husband and while some might find that complimentary, to some degree that bugged me. At first it was cute when folks mistook him for my brother or partner but the incredulous looks when I explained he was my son are starting to wear on me.

I suspect I may be one of the few almost 40 year old women, who doesn’t mind being my age. Its one of the reasons I hesitate to color my hair since the only outward indicator that I am not so young is the gray streak in my hair, it has character and despite my best friend’s insistence that I should color it, I say why? Why fear getting old?

I remember when almost 40 year old women looked old, now they look like they are 25, hello Stacey Dash? Problem is we spend so much time trying not to look our age and retain our youthful appearance that we seem to forget a key point and that is surely as we are born…guess what? We will all be checked out of this place at one point or another. In other words we are all  on train ride where the end destination is the same, last stop on the life train is a place called death. Its unavoidable, no one cheats death, it gets the best of us all. Rich, poor, black, white the one destiny we all share is that we will leave this place.

The quest for youth at times is mind boggling, get a touch of botox  only a few dollars, hair color, tummy tucks and so on…I’m sorry but its just too much for me.

I miss the ole days when Grandmas wore flowered house dresses and looked like Grannies and did nice simple Grandma shit like bake cookies and play silly games with the grand-kids, I hope that should I be blessed to grow old that I will be that type of Grandma. Nope, Grandma will not be 60 talking about I am still young, I will embrace being an elder, a crone…the last thing I want is to stuck forever in a youthful state.  Shit, getting old is the excuse I need to wear whatever I want and believe me….I will. Old folks also get to say whatever is on their mind, fuck niceties, when  I am 80, I will be the blunt old lady hopefully of sound mind spitting out truth.

So I say bring on the aging instead of praying for youthful looks, I pray to be of a healthy body and mind and spirit.

Snapping like Rice Krispies

22 Apr

Last weekend the news told of yet another family killed by the father and husband, seems the fellow had a fair amount of debt and rather then deal with it he decided to take not only his life but that of his wife and three kids.  Sadly these stories are becoming the norm, I would like to think these are folks battling with mental health issues and not just cold-blooded killers. Though truth be told does it really matter? Debt sucks without a doubt, shit I am so far in the hole I don’t know if I will ever come up for air but taking my life is just not an option. Shit, that’s what bankruptcy is for…yeah your credit is jacked for years but you can get a fresh start.

Today though brought the news that the CFOof Fannie Mae decided to take his own life, thankfully he left the family behind and while my heart goes out to his family since the loss of a loved one is never good, I am once again wondering why are folks snapping like Rice Krispies?

Excuse me for beating my drum again, but what is it about the current hard times that is causing folks to lose their ever-loving minds? In some cases, its debt, mental illness…in the case of the CFO it sounds like he was under an lot of stress with his job. Hello, its called quitting the job! No need to quit life, just walk in and say I am out of here, go the route of Kevin Spacey’s character is American Beauty but don’t end your life.

Maybe its because I was raised on the edge of poverty but I really don’t get why folks let such superficial shit bring them to their knees in such a way, again I wonder if its the lack of community and support that has so many people choosing early death over a less than perfect life? Too many of us feel the need to keep up an image that is all is well even when its not and I am sorry but I truly believe its killing us. Its no wonder that despite the fact that the economy is in the toilet services such as yoga and massage therapy are doing well, services that force us to relax if only for that hour.

What many of us including yours truly needs is time spent with folks who we care for and who care for us, time spent breaking bread and laughing and if we have mental health issues we need the appropriate treatment too.

It’s Earth Day and while we should take a moment to reflect on Mother Earth lets also take some time to reflect on the inhabitants of this planet. Let’s take some time to care for one another as well as this planet.

Frugality on hold

21 Apr

The past couple of months, I have been diligently recording all expenditures and trying to abstain from the use of plastic including the ever faithful debit card. In the past two months  I have been working hard at seeing where my money goes. I learned that the reason my budgets always seem to never work is because I am never completely truthful during the budget writing process. Its easy to forget small reoccurring expenses like Netflix, etc…

I also have a habit of running to the store for one small item to make a recipe, I am happy to say that I have cut down on extra trips to the store. Lately I have taken to doing one large grocery trip every 2 weeks and only running out for milk, water (my tap water taste like Donkey ass and the Brita filter doesn’t fit my faucet) and produce. It definitely cuts down on spending. It also meant that when the girl child’s nitrate, nitrite gluten free turkey hot dogs were out, she went a week without her favorite food and guess what? She survived.

However after 2 months of being a good frugalista, I have to confess it was driving me crazy. So this month, I took a break. My son also known as elder boy was home for spring break and truthfully while I know he would not have said anything if we just sat around the house, it was time to go out and have a little fun…sadly fun in Maine in April when the weather doesn’t quite know if its spring or winter, will cost you.

So I figured I blew the budget by at least $400 and you know what? Its okay, I realized that I will get back into my daily financial journal by May 1. While living within your means or even below should be a goal, there comes a time for some when it starts to feel like a burden and at that point I am realizing its OK to give myself permission to spend a little.

So frugality will be on hold until May 1 around here. Hopefully I can get those electric blue Chucks I spied the other day before I go back to no-spend land.

For the ladies especially the single ladies

17 Apr

My Pops used to have this corny ass saying “Don’t take advice on growing hair from a ball-headed man” now on the surface it seems rather cheesy but there is a bit of truth there. Case in point, I see both in real life and online, women who have never been married giving advice on men and marriage. Yep, I am about to go there. Look, we all are entitled to our opinions and thoughts but let’s be real, maybe getting your advice on having a man from someone with no man is a bad idea or taking advice from a man who has been married a few times and possibly stole his book idea from a woman (hello Steve Harvey) is also a bad idea.

I have been married 11 years, been with my husband 13 years, he is in fact my second marriage but I am his first. The first time I got married at 18 and it was just a bad idea, so I ended the relationship and marriage. So one could say I know a few things on marriage, my own parents were married 31 years, it was a true to death do we part situation.In the 5 years since my Mom’s death, my Dad has no desire to be with another woman, instead waiting to be reunited with my Momma when he dies. In fact he says that since her death, he no longer even has “those” thoughts and desires…

So I come from marrying stock as you can see, no missing Dad, shit at times when I was a kid I used to wish I could have a single parent home like many of my friends had, of course now I am thankful for what I had…we may not have had much money but I saw the blueprint daily on what a marriage looks like.

Oh, they had their bad times and good times, it was not all happy in the hood but they stuck it out and in some ways its those memories of how a marriage looks that keeps me grounded when I start thinking of flying the coop up here in Maine. Of course we get urges its just that as an adult I have to think about the choices I make.

Anyway I often see and hear single women particularly single Black women creating a checklist about what they want/need in a man…lets see most lists seem to include college-educated, good job (financial stability), attractive looks, no ex-wives, no baby Mamas, no Mama boys, no down-low history (that means he creeps with men at times for those not in the know), no prison record. I think that seems to sum up the list of requirements most women I know who are currently man-less seem to seek.

On the surface it seems like a good list, however as a woman who has been married a bit, that list makes me laugh, it seems so childish. I mean a man can start off with all those things but as life goes on shit happens. Shit, my own hubby is looking at a mid life career crisis, 13 years ago he met that list truth is life has gotten rocky. Thankfully the most important thing we have is friendship and love, its that love that carries us in these rough times.

I fear that many women particularly Black women have no idea of what is truly involved in marriage and we will create barriers to having relationships because we cling to some fantasy idea of what a man should or should not be or we base his worth of what he has, rather than his accomplishments as a human. Look, by all means no one needs to date or marry a hardened criminal, or share a no-good man…hell no! On the other hand I know some sistas who have their advanced degrees who only want a man with an advanced degree. I have a masters degree but truthfully if I were single and seeking a man, I would not require or need a man that matches me in education. Instead I would seek a man who is curious about the world and seeks out knowledge, there are a ton of assholes with fancy degrees who are intellectually limp. Once they got out of school, they were no longer curious or engaged with the greater world.

Also to have a relationship that lasts I think we must be flexible, I think inflexibility is the death of any relationship. You have to be willing to continue to redefine and renegotiate the relationship so  that it is mutually agreeable for both parties. I think when we are with a man and wondering if he is the one, you need to envision yourself with that man should his good looks start to flee, his amazing job and thus financial stability goes south and life throws you curve balls (death, any other bad things) yet you can still find yourself happy with that man, then he might be the one.

One thing I have  learned over the years is that life happens and it happens when we are making plans but those plans don’t always go the way we want them to…so look for a man that you can imagine being with when life is at its worse. Love is easy when all is well in our lives, the real test is when life sucks its at that point we know and learn what love is about.

Love is hard enough without setting up superficial requirments as to what we think we must have in a man.

Nope, I’m not Amish just cheap

16 Apr

I’m a city girl by ny ature despite the fact that I live in Maine, hell I was born in Chicago and spent almost 30 years there.  However after 7 years in Maine, I will admit that some “Maine” ways have crept in..Mainers by nature are a frugal lot. Folks in Maine will freely sit used shit on the side of the road so it can be recycled and no one and I am talking folks I know with millions here have any shame in hitting a thrift store. In fact rich folks here seem to go out of their way to not seem rich, generally the only outward signs is that they may have an oceanfront house which even in Maine still costs a lot.

Nope, Maine folks take pride in being frugal and its something I have come to appreciate. That said, as I have been connecting more and more with old friends and associates from back home, I am a lot more conscious on just how wasteful I used to be granted I still am wasteful by Maine standards.  I have also come to appreciate that its just wasteful to spend money on shit you can do yourself which is one reason I have become interested in learning to sew and knit. It looks relaxing but also over the years I have become a sucker for buying anything handmade that in theory I could make myself for a fraction of the costs.

Look, we all would like to believe that we are always going to be financially comfortable but the truth is that for many of us that is no longer reality. When I met the Spousal Unit he was a college grad pulling in a solid salary, now his field and career are in flux and the cash flow we used to have simply doesn’t exist. Now, I am not going to toss his ass out but I have had to have a paradigm shift in how I view the world. Weekend getaways just for the hell of it simply don’t exist any longer and while I could be bitter about that, what would be the point?

Instead I focus on what we have (good health, great kids and love) and look at our new financial reality as a time to make changes and seek the fun in those changes.  I know some folks I know wonder why I seem to put such effort in home cooked meals, well they are tastier than most outside meals, cooking can be fun and in most cases it also saves money.

I also think that as adults we owe it to ourselves to know simple shit like how to cook (opening cans doesn’t count) do simple home improvements , and even know how to sew our buttons back on our clothes. See, my Mom and Granny had the full array of domestic skills yet I chose not to learn them as a kid and they didn’t pressure me. So now I am hitting close to 40 and barely can sew a button back on which really is stupid. I taught myself to cook early in my first marriage when after months of eating out of a can, I was getting sick as a dog.

Yeah, one could count on earning a lot of cash or marrying into money but shit happens and its best to be prepared. Also 5 years of home ownership has taught me that hiring folks for every small problem gets costly as hell so I now hit the library and google to try and assess problems before I start calling folks. Just yesterday I asked my neighbor for help in the garden.

Living in such precarious times, its not about trying to live like the Amish but just as many of us prepare ourselves by going to college for our professional lives we also need to well rounded in other areas too. The ability to take care of the home and hearth are actually pretty useful skills to have and you can never go wrong knowing how to cook a meal.