On Dying: Our Marjorie

My neighbor of fifteen years is dying in a hospice from pancreatic cancer. Something she didn’t want to share with anyone so I’m just finding out this week in her final days and hours. I understand her not wanting everyone to know I am just as private when it comes to my own personal tragedies but I would like to have been able to tell her what a wonderful neighbor she has been all these years. I would like to be able to tell her that I will miss her, I mean really miss her. Maybe she didn’t want to see the heartbreak in my eyes or feel my tears slip down from my face to her hands as I try to convey my feeling for her. I have told her on more than one occasion how much I appreciated her but right now I don’t feel as if it is enough.

My family and I moved into our predominately white Italian neighborhood fifteen years ago. I knew very little about Rhode Island and less about Providence or its neighborhoods. Our realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally our home in North Providence.We visited the house I was to buy on a cool October night driving down from Boston where we lived. My dream was to find us something in southern MA but the home prices were way too high for me a divorced single mother of three. A co-worker who commuted from Rhode Island suggested I take a look over the border in his neighborhood so every weekend we would drive out and just scope the neighborhoods as best we could without a guide. I liked the quietness and small town feel of Rhode Island so contacted an real estate agency. My realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally the home in North Providence. As soon as we walked in the door we all loved it. It just felt like home to all of us.

On moving day my cousin joked that my neighbors were probably peeking out their windows at this little black family moving in and saying there goes the neighborhood. I laughed but it hit me at that moment that other than my co-worker telling me North Providence was a great place to raise kids I hadn’t much thought about whether it was a great place for black kids. It never crossed my mind there were no other black families on the street or in the neighborhood I could see. My guard went up a bit from that moment not knowing what to expect and my mind prepped for anything bad. What I got however, were the best neighbors and the the absolute best neighbor in Marjorie or Ms. Marjorie as I instructed my kids to call her.

I no longer remember how or when Marjorie introduced herself to me or my family but she has been a rock for me since I moved here. All of my neighbors have been kind but especially her. She and my other neighbor Jackie looked out for my kids and home when I was working from 6:30am to about 6:00pm I was commuting to and from Boston for work. That first year I dragged my youngest with me to his school in Boston. My middle schoolers were latch key kids but for good or bad it was the way it was and we were happy in our home and they were safe with both neighbors checking in on them or spying as they would say.

Marjorie loved my youngest son from the very beginning. He was six when we moved in and although she was good to all three of my children we all joked about how Jabriel was her favorite. She would make him the best cookies and drop them off-
“Here you go I baked these for sweetie.” she would say and I would smile and say thank you knowing I was going to devour half. He could not appreciate the goodness of fresh home baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies he thought Oreos were treats for Gods sake. The cookies she made were the real treats and they were the best.

We talked often both of us being  PBS fans, political junkies, and social commentators. We talked about our failed marriages, why I wasn’t dating, my kids, her daughter, our jobs, her retirement, and her depression. She was thoughtful and meticulous. I admired her life story and her struggle to be independent. Our lives mirrored to some extents and I understood her but there were things I didn’t understand and will never know about her.

I was mad at her last year when her tree fell in my yard, a big one, and she didn’t say anything about it. Legally it is my responsibility to get rid of it but she never acknowledged it only calling our other neighbor who told her there was nothing she needed to do I just inherited a tree. I was angry with the both of them.  As angry as I was with her I felt like she didn’t want to say anything because to get it cut was expensive and she was retired on a fixed income for whatever reason she didn’t know what to say if she couldn’t help so I chose not to make it a big deal and my dad cut the tree for me. That was the only time I was ever mad at her and I’m happy I chose our friendship over a fallen tree. How could I be mad at the person who fixed my kids dinner while I was in Dallas, Texas for a work event? Or who brought my trash bins in every Wednesday morning, or who gave cards to all of my children for every milestone and wrote to my son while he was away at bootcamp- he never got the cookies she sent but I’m 100% certain some Navy officer knows how much love went into each delicious bite. She had done too much and continued to be too much of a nice person for me to make a tree a thing between us.

Now she is somewhere slowly slipping away into her light and I hope she knows I will miss her and how heartbroken I am that she will no longer be our next door neighbor. I hope there is an afterlife because I know a wonderful one awaits her because she is one of the most deserving.

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Breathe

Everyday we seem to be hit with a new hostile attack on our freedoms and our peace. Our souls need to breathe. Our souls need to take a moment to breathe and find peace. Let not the tragedies of this world and the hatefulness of others diminish our goodness, our fight for justice, and our need for a peaceful existence.

Lets take a moment to just breathe…

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Relationships: When It’s Not Right

kermitWhen your are constantly talking yourself into a man/woman… it aint right

When your nights are sleepless because there is a peace breaker soundly sleeping next to you…it aint right

When you wake up in the morning and wish for night again because the hours in the day are filled with  so much anxiety and anger…it aint right

Does not matter if it is a friendship, intimate partnership or a job…if it aint right your body and mind will tell you…in soft and loud voices. We choose to ignore them.

Bad associations are draining. We hold on to people/things/jobs that deplete our souls of happiness because we think we can scratch out happiness if only people/things/job change. Only we can change.

Change perspective. Change your value. Change expectations. Demand better.

Listen to your inner-voice it does not lie although it does nag. Your true self wants more for you than a bad relationship, an untrustworthy friend, or a meaningless belittling job.

Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of strength. However, there are times in life in which it takes much more strength to just let go.

Life does not have to suck. Don’t let people suck up your life.

 

 

 

On Horror: The Hair Downstairs

I have not yet accepted that there are gray hairs in my temples. I’m forty-eight I guess I should expect them but it does not mean I accept them and because those little bastards are resilient as hell I dye them every four to five weeks. My daughter says I should just let it go its natural course. I said the same dumb shit to my mother at twenty-five so I just roll my eyes and keep it moving, her day will come. What I need is to find a hair dye that will last for more than three weeks because these gray hairs are dye-defying ninjas kicking colors ass and winning! #ridiculous

There are two gray ninjas making themselves comfortable in my eyebrows as I type. I swear I just plucked them out two days ago and yet here they sit again. I wish my money came back into my hands as fast and without effort.

I thought this was the worse it could get until last night when I found a little white hair down there.

Yes, DOWN THERE!

I’d just stepped out shower and was drying myself off and saw it. I thought it was a piece of cat hair that got onto my towel. How disgusting. I don’t love my cat near enough to not care if I see some of his hair mixed up in my pubic hair of all damn places. I tried to grab it.

Wait…what?

I wiped it with the other side of the towel.

OMG! It was still there. WTF???????

A GRAY PUBIC HAIR!

W…T…F???
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Emotionally I am just not ready for this. I mean it’s been a rough year already. I have been dealing with a lot of shit lately with this whole ageing, empty nest, career hell thing and now this. I sat on the edge of the tub looking between my legs like ‘wow this is happening, I have a gray pubic hair.’

I have NEVER thought about hair growing gray down there even after the gray eyebrow hair came in. I never heard any of my friends mention it. Gray pubic hair never came up in the many mother daughter talks I have with my mom who I speak to every day. I don’t recall reading about gray pubic hairs in the millions of copies of women magazines I own- well truth could be that maybe one mentioned it because there are a lot I haven’t flipped open they are just sitting on the side of my bed piled high waiting. Maybe I missed it. It doesn’t matter. I consciously never gave this a thought.

NO ONE EVER WARNED ME THAT I COULD GET GRAY PUBIC HAIR! NO ONE!

I don’t keep a forest down there but I’m not for the pre-adolescent look either. I’m a peach fuzz kinda girl with a nice line-up so this single gray wasn’t long like it had been hiding out for weeks.  It was new but seemed like maybe it was chilling out for awhile. How did I miss this? I just envisioned it popping on the scene yelling

‘Whaaaaat’s up?

And my other hairs greeting it like

‘Hey, I like that silver color man!”

No damn defense like it’s just cool to let gray strangers pop up on my damn vagina!

I wanted to yell at them-

‘WTF man??? Do you not pay attention to what I go through upstairs dying my hair every crescent moon because of these bastards! If you let one pop on the scene like a dandelion another will follow and then where would I be?’

I don’t know why I still give inanimate things life and have conversations like this I just do. Don’t judge.

I didn’t cry but I felt like it. I took out the little eyebrow tweezers and yanked that sucker out and I didn’t even wince.

Fuck that I whispered to myself. I’m not giving in to this either.

I called my mom this morning; I still do that for certain life emergencies. #dontjudge

‘Mom, I found a gray hair. I didn’t even know you could get those…I mean I guess I knew but I didn’t really know.”

She laughed, “yeah, they are not a big deal though. You may get ten or so but they don’t take over.”

‘Really? Its not like my whole area is going to be covered with gray hairs?’

‘Oh, heck no. Well, mine isn’t so I wouldn’t think yours would be.’

Omg! What a relief. Yes, I know my hair does not define me blah, blah, blah but thank you God!

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And just like that the sun is shining again on my happy vagina.

 

 

On AT&T: Lesson Learned

p17839863Yesterday I spent three and a half hours on the phone disputing a bill with AT&T with five different customer service reps basically telling me four  different stories. My son has a cap that data is stopped if he goes over a certain amount. He is in Japan with the Navy and has an international plan plus a military discount with AT&T. I’m not disputing that he went over just why the cap didn’t kick in and now we are looking at a bill for $2,800

The first rep sees this and can’t explain why it didn’t kick in but it should have.We go over payments (he hadn’t missed one), over a change to increase data, and a look at the plan. He puts me on hold to verify something and we get disconnected after 40mins.  Le Sigh Le Sigh Le Sigh (I really am saying fuck, fuck, fuck because I know that when I get transferred I will have to start all over and because he had me on hold for almost 30 mins of our conversation I sense this is bigger than what I thought).

So the second rep doesn’t see any notes from the first and has no idea who I was speaking because she CLAIMS that the person you speak to previously is not on the chain of your account. I worked in customer service before and find that hard to believe but ok to so I repeat the issue. Luckily she sees the same ‘cap’ the first rep saw (GREAT!) but this is an IT issue and and international phone line issue and because he has a military discounted account she has to transfer me to another department. (NOT GREAT)  Le sigh

Since there is no lead in with the transfer I have to start all over again, again with the third rep. This rep does not see at all what the first two reps saw and can’t figure out what happened. We go over dates and payments…each month it is paid in full etc so what happened that this cap didn’t kick in? Shouldn’t there be a text when he goes over the data? I’ve gotten that MANY times but he can’t see anything significant on the account and speaks to a manager who offers a $250 credit. So I ask to THAT manager.

Third rep manager Sean tells me that the cap is not guaranteed. I ask if if it is  offered why it is not guaranteed? My son expected that once his bill reached a certain amount that he would not be able to go over his minutes till he paid it. We go back and forth. He is not pleasant and I am not pleasant. I feel he is talking in circles and not answering the only thing I’m really questioning WHY DIDN’T THE CAP KICK IN? He tells me to hold on he is going to discuss it with his manager and he comes back and says

That cap is not guaranteed and we are not going to give any credit. Nothing.

Now the tone in which he said was like a punch in the gut. I’m done with Sean and ask to speak to HIS manager that told him that.

So now I am transferred to the fifth customer service rep the second manager.My blood pressure is high and I’m feeling almost lost as the circle speak is not clear because no explanation matches the one before it. Customer service rep manager Cecilia tells me two calls were made to the phone to inform us that the data was going over. I ask, well if he was going over why did’t you stop like its set up to do and she said this

We don’t stop our customers from using their phones.

Even though he has the cap?

We actually someone called and cancelled the cap she then tells me.

WAIT….WHAT????

I spoke to FOUR different reps before her and all were looking through the account and not one ever said this. Three hours on the phone. Four people looking at notes and NOW I hear that it was canceled. Hmmmm

I ask her if I can get a copy of the notes and a transcripts of the call. I knew it would be a no but I decided to ask because you don’t know till you know for sure.

So, I have no proof of what the first and second rep tell me (except my notes on the conversation) compared to the story of what reps three and four tell me. It is very frustrating. 

In the meantime AT&T contacted me by way of twitter DM but since I had spoken with a rep they could not do anything for me. I recounted my tale to them plus the different responses I got from each rep.

The lesson I learned throughout this is to skip speaking to customer service- detail everything via DM, email or chat on their services.

It is the ONLY way you get verification of what each rep says. 

If the first customer service rep tells you there was an error and the second confirms there could be an error but they don’t work in IT and refer you to the third and fourth rep who says the safeguard to stop your data when it reaches a certain amount is not guaranteed and yells at you in his Donal Trumpesque voice you GET NOTHING and the the fourth tells you there is no such thing as this magical safeguard that the first confirmed then tells you  it was canceled. You will have no proof of anything and so you are stuck.

Now I need to go to the relaxation spot inside myself and calm the fuck down while I prepare to pay this outrageous bill.

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On Politics: Make America Great, Again?

 

I’ve been avoiding politics on my blog for some time now. It is a toxic subject for me yet I watch political commentary, read political articles, and stay tapped in from the time I open my eyes and read the first post of the day on Crooks and Liars till I read the last post  when I close them at night. I have honestly been a political junkie since my third grade class and my teacher Mr. Cummings introduced me to the Boston Globe and their commentary section in a Current Events class.

Now, this election cycle is the most unique one for anyone’s lifetime. I consider myself a conservative liberal…more middle of the road and with a basic common sense approach to life and politics but lets be real basic common sense in politics is missing no matter what side of the aisle you sit. I believe in basic human rights, I believe in basic respect for all human lives and I believe no color, religious denomination, sexual orientation, or race is exempt from that. That is what I believe as a Black American citizen.

But America, in its greatness, has always exempted people because of color, religious denomination, sexual orientation and race. It has always been in politics… it has always been in our government perpetuated by our politicians and  our justice system however surreptitious it has always been exemption has always been a part of America. ALWAYS.

Now we hear some American’s want to make America great again. I’m all for it because my  ancestors tried to make America great when they fought for their basic human rights before and after slavery but were met with Jim Crow laws. They kept fighting to make America great when they fought in American wars and yet were snubbed when they got home. They still wanted to make America great again fighting for for basic civil rights in the sixties. And here we are in 2016 trying to make America great by exposing the inequalities of a bias judicial and economic system.

I’m all for making America great and fighting for the basic human right to live especially when I see so many injustice in place when unarmed black men and women are killed by police, when my children are not treated as well as others when they need care  in a hospital, or when based on my color and gender it is almost certain I will make less than my counterparts. So HELL YEAH I’m all for making America great -its the again part I have an issue with when I look in the faces of the people chanting this slogan line at rallies.

They don’t hold up hold up signs advocating for greatness. I see signs of the confederate flag and chants to throw people out of the country and to go back to Africa. I see signs banning people based on race and religion. There are no signs of inclusion only signs of exclusion. As a Black American woman I am ALL for greatness in America but it is clear that a lot Americans, more than I want to believe, only want that greatness to be about them, to secure their safety in the world, to be the great white America they believe is denied them because other humans are just asking for the same standards.I don’t hear inclusion for anyone in any of the speeches at these Make America Great, gatherings. I see absolute giddy enthusiasm to express their freedom to hate openly like the past days of American greatness. I watch these images in  horror because I see a history repeating itself and it is not great. It is not great at all.

 

Courtesy of Photo Bucket: Bobbo Sphere

Pictures New York Daily News

 

 

On Planning: Get Organized

My organizational skills are far from the greatest which is why I write everything down and try to keep my to-do list on a schedule. I do, however, let things get away from me now and then.

Example:

My filing game starts out strong with me putting all papers in their folders neatly tucked away by subject, date, and level of importance. My desk is in order with pens easy accessible, three-hole punch and stapler at my side, and printer clear of any objects other than the paper in the bin. My mind feels clear…my focus is sharp and my game is hella strong. I am getting shit done!

Then something flips or flops. I get distracted and my mind is not as sharp, I feel a bit out of focus and that’s the day instead of filing the necessary papers away I leave them on my desk with the intent that I will file them away later. But I don’t file away later I start to build a little stack of papers that don’t go to together- household bills, leasing agreements, school assignment etc. etc. etc.- all in one stack. Now I’m pissed because it will take twenty or more to go through the pile I created when I could have forced myself to file it the first go round.

Now I’m in papers-from-hell catch-up mode and that is never a good mode to be in because it’s a pain in the ass.

Organizing for me keeps me focused. If my desk is cluttered my mind feels cluttered and I can’t seem to get back to what I’m doing till there is a semblance of order.

I buy a lot of pretty things to ‘help’ me keep myself organized because I am a product junkie and when I have something new it does help me to focus for a bit. But those few days of pretty-product-bliss is not enough to keep me proactive in organizing myself …pretty things just feed the junkie in me so I stick with the basics ideas of organization.

  • I write things down-I make a schedule every week then rewrite it every night
  • I focus on what I need few mins in the morning
  • Things come up I try to be prepared
  • I make sure to have the proper tools to help me stay organized
    • a calendar/planner
    • file folders
    • proper desk accessories
  • I set up file folders on my computer to drop documents into so I don’t need a hard file

I am the person who consistently has to put effort into decluttering and organizing.

I know a few people who can live in their organized chaos but I can’t. I like to have order. Even if I’m not 100% strict to following it I always come back to the tasks that keep me organized. After I fall off the track I take the extra time to get back to the place I need to be.

Advice:

Everyday make a conscious effort to not only be focused on what you want to accomplish but also be aware of how you are keeping your focus organized. Things will slip up because life… but get back to it.

Staying organized is staying in control.

Inspiration

 

 

 

These pics satisfy all my product junkie issues yet still keep me focused. I can’t cure all my issues in a day 🙂