Saturday, September 6, 2014

Help! I smell smoke: How I was able to break out of my shell and attract the man I'm seeing

There's something to be said about not being a shivering waif waiting for someone to speak up for you.  I'm single.  So much so, I've forgotten what it's like to have a steady companion aside from my daughter.  But one day, I decided to stop waiting for a man to speak to me and show interest.  After all, that method didn't seem to be working for me.

The last man that showed interest, after about a month and some change of dating straight disappeared.  I'm talking that Harry Houdini himself would have been amazed at how crazy the shit was when it happened.  I figured at that point that I was slipping.  I expressed my concerns to a couple of my friends when I had a gut feeling that something was amiss and they said I was basically paranoid.  But when he vanished.  I knew.  And I was pissed.  I was pissed because I let my guard down and suspended my disbelief only to be disappointed.

Then there was the man before that.  He was my companion of all of a year.  I'd overlooked a few key things: the hatred in his heart for his ex wife, the gas and lights at his home being shutoff, and his perpetual need to prove that he could sustain a business -- even when it was painfully clear that he could not.  But the final straw was how clear I could see his character when my mother died.  That was it.  Check please.  I'm outta here.  And I was gone.

So flash forward to today.  I'm leaner, meaner and a lot more discerning about who is allowed to call my home and say that they are interested in a date.  I've for the most part, laid back and watched and waited someone I was interested in, not just the lucky dude who flags me down.  I could hear my cousin's voice saying you better stop waiting on them to say something to you.

I was sauntering out of my condo on afternoon, sundress and natural puff of curls blowing in the breeze when what to my eyes should appear?  Not one, two or three firefighters.  Four!  I said hello and there was one.  Our eyes caught and his hello seemed just a tad friendlier than the others.  So I locked onto his glaze and smiled.  But I had my daughter with me.  That's a no go.  I don't flirt with her in view.  But what was I to do?

He was handsome with his rugged exterior and twinkling eyes.  Well, I did what any girl would do.  I proceeded to the gas station.  After all, I was low on gas.  As soon as I stepped out of my SUV, I calmly called the gatehouse at my condo.  I asked the security officer if the fire department was still there and she said yes.  So I asked her to convey a phone number to Mr. Twinkly Eyes and I heard her as she gave him my name and phone number.  Later that night, I had a text of him introducing himself and my heart almost jumped out of my chest.

Well. that was at the tail end of July.  I am happy to report that I've been seeing him pretty much ever since and there is something to be said for taking a hell of a chance.  He makes me feel extra girly and he's an unparalleled cook.  Who knew?  Well, I wouldn't have, had I not said a simple hello that afternoon...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Made it back from Vegas.  Whew!  Needed a vacation from the vacation.  A sista was tired.  Sure, there were dance shoes to keep track of and a hormonal 'tween.  But there was also Circus Cicus' Adventuredome, the Michael Jackson ONE show by Cirque du Soleil, and countless hours roaming around The Strip.  I stayed within my budget and enjoyed our time.

And now, I'm settling back into life in the big city and back to reality.

The reality that I'm in need of working out a realistic budget for myself.  I've already started saying no to going places and it really is quite liberating.  When I discovered that I could not be everywhere at once -- something I often tell my daughter about her social schedule -- it freed me to stop spending so damned much.  Take for instance last pay period, I allotted myself an entertainment allowance and guess what?  When that money was spent, no more outings for that pay period.  Simple as that.  I don't think I allowed myself as much fun as I wanted, but hey!  Live and learn, so this paycheck's fun money will have a little bump in the fun money fund.

The joys of budgeting out my existence as a single mama extraordinaire!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Here I am set to embark upon our trip to Las Vegas.  I've never been with a child before.  The first time I ventured there was to get married in December of 2001.  What an adventure that turned out to be...

So now we'll be headed there tomorrow for a dance competition.  Gotta get my head in the game.  This dance season has worn on me unlike any other and I am not quite sure why.  Maybe it was the financial stress.  Maybe it is the realization that no matter how long I wait, my mom is simply not coming back to assist me.  Maybe it is just the thankless life of a single parent.  It is really hard to say.

I've spent the better part of two weeks counting shoes, tights and costumes while learning on the fly to apply false eyelashes.  Oh, the life of a dance mom...

My goal on this time is to find a little corner of sanity.  Just a fragment of vacation time because right now, I have the impending dread that every moment will be consumed by thoughts of tights and leotards when I'm in the country's adult playground.

Then there is the fear that sweeps over me when I wonder do I have enough money to go.  Food everyday.  Souvenirs.  Admission to various places.  Oh, the stress.  But then I hear the little voice saying you have all that you need.  What more could you bring?

As a single mama, the crunching of the numbers doesn't stop just because I get a temporary change of zip code.  So, I'm just going to brace myself and enjoy as much of this one as possible.  After all, a girl doesn't get to travel to Vegas everyday.  Alone or with a kid in tow...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Change is Gonna Come (with respect to the late Sam Cooke)

I was born by the river in a little tent / Oh, just like the river I've been running ever since

The winds of change have been all around me.  I excitedly packed my 11+ boxes of belongings and headed across town to bring my youthful managerial style to a new location.  I feared the unknown and wondered -- both privately and publicly -- what I had just asked for when I began the journey.  And, yes, it is only across town, but even that is a world away from the dissatisfaction I felt trapped in a passive-aggressive environment.

That freed up a lot of my life.  I felt like a weight had been removed from my chest and that everything else would fall into line.

And it pretty much has.  

I'm with people that I work well with and that understand my vision.  I have freedom to experience the world as other managers do.  I can hit the streets and do outreach and attend meetings without eyeballing my dreaded enemy: The Clock.

There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long / But now I think I'm able to carry on

But more than that, it has freed my personal life.  I know that I spent an unhealthy amount of time internally hating those who hated on me.  I was unhappy because of them and because I had allowed myself to grow to hate them so.  I also discovered the magic of carving out my own time.  I no longer feel as though I have to report to those that I supervise.  The people that I left felt as though I needed to explain the inner workings of my life so they could validate my rationales.  No more.

Then the cherry on top of it all is that I got the opportunity to do something I've wanted to do forever and because my career has right-sided itself, I am able to embark upon another journey.  How exciting.  More on that later...

I am thankful for the opportunity that I have been given to recharge and reshape my focus!

It's been a long, a long time coming / But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year

This year, more than those passed, it hit my that my daughter is growing up.  She wants to continue believing in Santa though the evidence from friends and classmates is mounting.  She still wanted to visit Santa at the mall and let him know that she had her eye on a shiny new MacBook for Christmas (didn't happen).

But she's still a kiddie.  For now.  Don't get it twisted.  She is a girly girl with the gifts of social graces, beauty and dance.  But the little girl part still resides there.  And as long as it does, I will do my best to stoke its fire.  Too often, kids find themselves forced to be miniature adults due to circumstance and peers.  I know my job is to counteract this.

What better way that the holidays?  It's the time of year when magic can happen and reindeer can make their way from houses to apartments in the blink of an eye.  It's a time when there is still something quite magical about snowflakes and snowballs, so I take advantage of it.

Yesterday, was a day full of Santa's sleigh offering the magic of Monster High dolls and fun bands to make jewelry.  For the last two years, the sleigh has docked at our humble home unleashing everything from nail polish to iPhone cases.  And I've been thankful to have a little girl who still battles to believe.

After shifting through mounds of wrapping paper and twistie ties, I needed a nap before heading us out forty minutes west to my cousin's home.  There, children played throughout the home's spacious upper level and sounded as though they'd come through the floor and they stomped so hard.  Adults laughed and ate our homemade casseroles and drank mysterious alcohol concoctions out of a cooler.  We laughed as people tried their hand at karaoke and my aunt explained why she felt the need to purchase a walker that she found an insanely good deal on at a local estate sale -- despite the fact that she's an avid dancer and ceaselessly spry.

But somehow this combination of laughter, kids and -- the ever present -- wine, made the holiday brighter.  I am reminded this morning that we all went through the losses of 2011 and said goodbye to my mom and uncle.  And we are still standing and able to come together and celebrate what remains.

The magic of family.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

This is your life & there's no sleepwalking allowed

I always find shards of my life entertaining.  My daughter came to me and informed me that for Halloween, her school asked that students wear a shirt that indicates their chosen college.  Bear in mind that we are talking about the college leanings of an 8 year old.  :)  Anyhow, she lets me know that she needs a Spelman College shirt and instantly, I am flashed to the 17-year-old me moving into my dorm room at Spelman's Howard-Harreld Hall on the second floor.  How I wished I had stuck it out and -- from time to time -- it plain haunts me.  I regret leaving in the second year of my stay there.

I was haunted that morning and into the afternoon when I pined away for greener pastures behind the gates of Spelman College.  I spent the day assessing my life and wondering where it would all lead me.  My career as a librarian has stalled out.  When I walked across the stage at 24 having received my Master's, I remember the longing to rise.  I was already a Librarian I at a suburban library.  I dreamed at the time of becoming an Assistant Manager, but that was not to be at that place, so I set my sights on a library that offered more opportunities.

So, here I sit.  Monday will mark my 35th birthday.  I became that Assistant Manager I dreamed of.  Then I became the Manager that I sought out to become and then...  Well, that is where it seems to escape me.  Somehow along the way, I stopped dreaming and envisioning something better.  I could blame it on the death of my mom, which would be a logical out.  But the truth of the matter is I settled into this complacency long before that ever happened.  I digress...

On Thursday, I spent the afternoon volunteering to arrange the library's Friends book sale items and was all prepped for the dust and cobwebs that would mar my clothing and hair.  When what should I discover as I set out to arrange the Black biographies?  The book by Spelman College's first Black female president Johnnetta B. Cole.  Hmmm.  I could say maybe this is a sign of something greater...  As I continued my quest to make the section more inviting, I stumbled across a worn copy of The Story of Spelman College.  I could say at this point, someone is trying to communicate a very clear message to me.  But then it was certain as I continued working only to find the text for Spelman's required African Diaspora & the World class.  That was it.  I would be blind and lying to myself if I said that it wasn't clear to me at this point.

So today, I have decided to create my five year plan because in just five years, I will be looking at 40 and there will need to be change and progress.  Otherwise, I'm not living and breathing.  I can't just sleepwalk through the next five years of my life.  I often tell my daughter to walk with purpose.  This time, I am listening to my own advice.  I must walk boldly with purpose into the next five years.  No sleepwalking allowed.  :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hawaii 5-0

I ride this plane somewhere between time zones and jet lagged enough to still be wired.  I think about how strange my life has been.  Here I sit with my daughter's head in my lap wondering about ways to soften myself. After all, I bred this incredible fireball who is so talented that we are leaving her dance troupe's Hawaiian performance tour.

When I see her, I am certain that her fierce femininity is a mirror of mine. I would like to soften myself enough to be girly, whatever the hell that means.  Seriously, I've been glancing at my hardened persona and how it has arisen out of the need not to be hurt or continuously invest my emotions in those who do not deserve my air.

I can't help but ponder the ways in which I used to question why I was selected to be the beacon for educated single mothers and why I wasn't instead the beacon for happily married women.  But this is the lot I've drawn and it became painfully clear that this life had been carefully designed long before I could make choices.

My lot was cast when my mom showed me that single women don't cry about their lot as they empty mouse traps and model beer can Christmas ornaments.  Single women say fuck it and lean in.  The do what they have to do and say to hell with the rest.  Single women teach their little girls to be independent while enjoying themselves.   Single women say I'm going to make sure that I don't trip over that same landmine dressed as a handsome face.  

When my mom died unexpectedly, I had a short body to snuggle with who loved me more than I could love myself at the time.  An surprisingly tiny set of hands to wipe my face and push me to get dressed in the morning. Then it all made perfect sense.  We were alone so that we would forge a relationship that would slay one another's dragons when they rose.  We were alone to make jokes no one else would understand while being able to weep when we most needed it.


But somewhere in there is still the need for intimacy and not the type that I'm prone to do, where I select the body I'm most comfortable with for the evening.  The kind where I opt not be bothered for another few months until I feel like being bothered again.  I find myself lusting after cozy movie nights where I fall asleep in his pajama bottoms after being too sleepy to even watch more than half an hour of the movie.   That is the intimacy I value even though my drive allows for way more than that.

As I've become increasingly clear that my life was designed this way -- flaws and all -- I have no choice, but to believe my king is out there and he's just being prepped for how to best handle me.  And maybe I'll be ready when he appears.  I'm learning to wait...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Looking back on Love (with respect to Lenny Kravitz)

"Looking back on love through a broken, old TV..."

I am beginning to wonder if I have ever really known love as an adult.  I can see my relationships clearly now that they have expired and I am beginning to wonder if I've ever been in love for the right reason and at the same time as I was loved by someone else.  When I think of my most recent relationship -- which has been dead for almost two years -- I clearly see someone going above and beyond to make sure that my every need was met.  If I cleared my throat there was water.  If I rubbed my neck, firm hands would massage my shoulders easing away tension.  And sex? Oh please! It was of Olympian portions.  But did I love him, too?  Did he love me fully the way I needed to be loved? The way I needed my daughter to be loved?  I'm not so sure and that's why he is in the rear view.

"Looking back on love though the faces have all changed..."

My daughter sprang forth from the love I had for her father when he was a seventh grader and i was a  sixth grader.  We had been kids playing basketball in alleyways and walking the city carefree and young.  That later blossomed into a high school romance that would withstand absences caused by his stints in juvenile detention centers.  I didn't see him change because to me, we were still those same kids talking shit and hitting layups in the alley.  Problem was, he was a grown man and there were no traces of the small-statured boy I once loved.  He was a monster, yet I was fiercely in love with the ghost of his twelve-year-old self.  He was an abuser, liar, and cheater, but I didn't see him.  What I saw was the same little boy who wrote me a stack of letters so high that I had to ribbon them together to make certain that none were lost.  That boy was dead.    So what's a girl to do?

"I should be running / like a baby I still crawl..."

So here I am years later and what have I learned?  I don't really have a ravenous dating life as some would assume and you can catch me at home watching Matlock wearing my sexy, satin bonnet.  I would like to date, but I am not so certain that the man I need really exists.  It's almost like I've seen glimpses of what I like and need in the last one.  But, alas, even he was broken.  Content with using me once I offered my kindness.  So now, I am suspicious. Like the Vietnam veteran's child I am, I lay in wait for the first sign of suspect behavior with my twig helmet on ready to make a full- blown army crawl the hell out....

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stand clear of the wreckage ma'am...

I knew it would come.  The day when I couldn't escape the feelings that I had been harboring after the ex disappeared and it is funny the things that can dredge it all up.

Here I sit at my desk.  I had just put out of my mind some information I had received regarding child support -- information that instantly triggered a headache -- when I witnessed a woman in an abusive relationship at my library.  It was subtle and to the untrained eye, it looked like a normal dispute.  But because the hushed tones and sad faces were right by my desk, I was right there in it.

Sitting at my desk, I am often an innocent bystander in so many lives as an anonymous librarian.  I heard the woman's frustration as her man refused to engage her son and his need for attention.  I saw her man stomp off in a huff because she wasn't focusing enough on him and his quiet disregard for her children who wanted to check out their games from the library.  I saw her sad, defeated nature when she gave into his behavior by rounding up her children and telling them that they couldn't get their games and now had to leave because he was in a bad mood.

I watched her daughter mount her legs into their braces so that they could follow the man who had already stormed out.  Her disappointed toddler not understanding why their trip had ended so abruptly.  What was most disappointing of all was that I saw myself.

I remember the wreckage of trying to appease someone who was insatiably unhappy.  I remember compromising my mothering in order to be more of the nonexistent person that my ex wanted.  I often wish that I never have to run into that version of myself again.  Sadly, time and time again I am greeted by her when I hear stories of women who can't talk on the phone too long, go anywhere, or that have to rush home for fear of World War III visiting their home otherwise.  My Nonna recently told me that if you live long enough, you will meet yourself.  Sadly, that is too true sometimes.  I look forward to a time when domestic violence is not the norm.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Disney World, the land of dreams, well, kind of...

Mini Me was in Florida dancing her little heart out at the Tremaine convention and there I was without my mom as my travel buddy.  I'm still adjusting to catching flights without her and her reaching out to touch the seat in front of her during each and every landing.

My daughter rocked during the trip!  Every morning we arose at some crazy hour and she danced from the time she arose until damned near the time she passed out for the evening.  When the conference and competition was over, she had two shiny, new first place trophies to display on the trophy shelf that I've only been in the process of hanging for six months.  :-o

Anyhow, we were able to escape to Disney World after it was all over and we had a free day to ourselves.  So there we were dodging in and out of lines between the unrelenting rain.  We laughed and walked and rode It's a Small World when we tired of wearing our sweltering plastic ponchos.  But as night fell, we prepped for the electric parade.

As the lights on the pretend streets dimmed and people gathered behind ropes to get a closer view, we sat on an otherwise unoccupied porch to watch.  I was teleported to our trip to Disneyland in 2008.  That was when things were normal and my mom wasn't present only in my head.  Back when my daughter smiled as she peed into a Pull-Up so that she didn't have to get out of the line for riding Dumbo.  Back then, we stood in the mock up of New Orleans French Quarter that had been popped down into California for our pleasure.  We drank mint juleps and marveled as fireworks lit up the night sky at Disney.

But in 2012, it was different.  As the parade passed us by, I felt like the loneliness was only amplified by those around me.  I felt like Disney World was the loneliest place on earth without my mom there to laugh.  I sat there on the wood planked porch and allowed the tears to flow as I felt an indescribable isolation in the presence of hundreds of people gathered in my immediate area.  As the lights came up, we headed into a shop to purchase our trinkets and when my daughter turned to me and asked if I was ready to go, I could not have more positively said yes.