Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Age is Just a Number"

The only people who should get away with saying that are young men dating cougars.  For the rest of us who have reached a certain age, the signs are telling.  Age is not just a number.  It is the new way of life.

Every year I celebrate my kids’ birthdays with a party.  And luckily we’ve been having great weather, so they are usually sports themed.  After playing cricket, baseball, soccer, basketball, dodgeball, kickball and running around in the sun, several people usually ask, “Where do you find the energy, girl?”

What they don’t know is for the next few days, after the last guests have left, I cannot leave the couch.  All my muscles hurt.  I feel completely depleted.

But it’s always worth it!

The other day, I was talking to one of my sisters, about all things, blood pressure monitors.  What?  How old are we?  Having bought mine a few years ago, I recommended that brand.

But then it hit me.  This is my fashionista sister.  We are not discussing clothes, shoes, celebrities or cute guys.  We are talking about blood pressure – pills, monitors and rates.

When did this happen?

Oftentimes I see senior citizens, and I wonder:  at what particular stage did they become old?  When did she start wearing housedresses outside?  When did she stop leaving the house without a hat? When did he start wearing only pocketless pants -- the kinds with the waist resting under his chest?  And when did he start smelling like an old man?

I hope to God, I never get to that stage.

When I stop going to the Gap and start shopping at Liz Claiborne, I know I’m there.  No offense to my LC crew.

When I stop going to Victoria’s Secret and start buying my unmentionables from Maidenform, I know I’m there.

Nah, wait, that won’t happen.  With Victoria’s Secret sending me a coupon for a free panty almost every month, there is no way I’m going to start purchasing granny panties. 

And unlike other cardholders, I don’t feel compelled to buy anything.  I leave my house, go to the store, collect my free gift and leave.  Not that there is any other kind of gift.

“Did you also get your $10 off bra coupon?” asks the saleslady.
“Yes, I did,” say I.

But I don’t need bras.  I don’t need more panties.  I don't need lotion or spritz.   I don’t need anything.  Were it not for the fact that they sent the coupons to my house, I would have no reason to be there.  But since they did, I’m not going to waste their coupons.  And then allowing all those trees to be killed for no reason?  Totally uncalled for!  I have to do my part, right.

But get this.  Just the other day, I went to get my last free panty; and I say last because I believe from now they are going to blacklist me.  The cashier asked me if I possess an Angel Card.  I said, "Yes." Then she said, "We are having a special.  If you spend $65, you get a free umbrella."

I gave her as much faux interest as I could muster, but she was not deterred.  She asked if I was interested in seeing it.  I relented.  I noticed she gave me too much time to check out the umbrella, but I pretended along with her.  

Then I became convinced that Girlfriend was on some of that good stuff that I refused many years ago, because she wanted to hold my panty hostage while I looked around to spend $65.  When she asked if she could keep it here while I checked, I said, "No, I'll take it now."

First off, I'm Antiguan; ergo I do not need an umbrella.  Everyone knows when it rains, Antiguans do not leave their homes.  Hello???

Secondly, it wasn't even a discrete umbrella.  It had the words VICTORIA'S SECRET all over it, in pink and white, no less.  I know my life is an open book, but if I wanted everyone to know where I purchase my unmentionables, I wouldn't wear pants.

And what am I going to accessorize it with?  My KOTEX T-Shirt?

But I digress.

So tell me, what's the deal with gray hair popping up in unusual places?  I have one specific gray hair that appears every so often.  In the beginning it only came about once a year; I would tweeze it, and I wouldn’t see it again for several months.  Recently I notice that it returns immediately after I have gotten rid of it.  First, how come it always comes back in the exact same spot?  And second, who the hell gets gray hair there?

Hey, hey, hey, stop that!  I’m not that kind of blogger………yet.  The hair is on my forehead!!!

Speaking of gray hairs, I started noticing them after I turned 35.  They don’t bother me, per se; well if I can’t see them, because if they are in the front, they are history.  My friend keeps warning me that one day I will become bald if I keep pulling them out, but I think, “And the problem is?”

And I never had hair on my chin.  Then I got one.  Now I get about five or six.  And I know it could be worse, but heck, I still get pimples.  Mother Nature needs to just choose one.  She can’t give me a beard and still gives me pimples!

I went for my annual checkup a few months ago, and when the doctor was done he asked if anything else was bothering me.  I said, “Can you take a look at my toenail, please?  All of a sudden it turned brown.”  He assumed I was concerned about diabetes and meant my toes, so he looked at me, and I said, “I’m getting old right, so that’s the least.”

Last year, it dawned on me that one of my favorite swimsuits was NEVER going to fit me again, so I gave it to my young daughter.  She wore it to our friends' barbeque, and I thought to myself, “Now I understand why older women resent their younger counterparts.”  Not me, but other older women! 

The last time I wore that swimsuit, I thought, "It looks okay, but……  This is fine, but……".  I looked at my daughter in the swimsuit and I think, "Oh that’s how it is supposed to look!"

But I’m not too hard on myself because the stretch marks, cellulite and c-sections bulge are all my badges of honor; the battle scars I wear with pride.  The laugh lines give me character, or so I tell myself.  But seriously, it just reiterates that I am indeed a certain age.  And it’s not a bad thing, really; it’s just confusing because I don’t feel like I am older; I don’t think that I am older; but every now and then something reminds me that I am.  And like an amnesiac….I am always taken aback.

Every time I see an extremely old picture of someone, I am always amazed how beautiful or handsome they were when young.  I sometimes wonder what happens when my 93 year old grandmother looks in the mirror.  Is she expecting to see the person she knew decades ago or has she gotten accustomed to seeing an old lady looking back at her?

But one thing I know for sure.  She is happy that she is still around.  She is happy that she bore 5 children, who begot her 27 grandchildren, 67 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great-grandchildren. Well, that I know of!  And she is happy that she is still thriving.

Because perspectively speaking, as difficult as it is watching yourself age, it sure beats the alternative.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I Started Doing It With My Clothes On!

We should at least respect, if we can't love each other because we are so much alike more than we realize. And I’m not talking deep down.  I mean even on the surface.

Take Bill Maher, for instance.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love that man.  No, not like that!  But, if it wasn’t for the fact that he was born on January 20, 1956 in New York City to a white couple while I was born in Antigua to two a black couple on December 9, 1969, I would not be convinced that we weren’t separated at birth.  We totally agree with almost every single issue.

Then there is Michelle Obama.  I see her parenting skills.  I see her family values. I listen to her. I observe her.  And I think, "That’s me".  As Wendy Williams would say, "She is my BFF in my head".

And don’t get me started with Chris Rock.  I swear he either has spies around me or we are just in sync with each other because on several occasions I have heard his jokes which were similar to ones I had previously made.  He is the one making the big bucks, but that’s neither here nor there.

But not even considering famous people, we all know or have met people and are amazed that they have so much in common with us, right down to the idiosyncrasies.

So let me get to the matter at hand…my quirky habit.

When I do this, I have to be in my element.  I cannot have any outside interference.  It has to be completely quiet.   No one can be in close proximity to me.  No disturbance whatsoever.  

Then I go to the bathroom, take all my clothes off, sit down and concentrate on my job.

I know it’s not table conversation, but just work with me a little bit here.  I promise not be graphic, unless you want me to.

The problem, however, is that I’m not always at home when I have to perform this function.  So, in my former life when I had a full time job, there were occasions when I had to do my do at work.  By the way, I wonder if that’s why some people call it do do.

First I would scope the bathroom to make sure no one was lurking around.  Then I would slip in and check the stalls to see if anyone was inside.  If someone was in the last stall, I knew she was doing the same thing and would be sympathetic to my cause, and wouldn’t mind too much if I joined her.

If however, someone was just making a quick stop, I would wash my hands and leave.  And if someone had just done the deed, there was no way I was staying because it would be impossible for me to concentrate with that lurking aroma.

Then I’d return and quickly execute my first step (scoping for idlers).  I’m a big germaphobe, so although I would not be sitting on the toilet seat, it had to be clean.  Hey, I could accidentally stumble and fall on it. So I grab a stack of paper towels, wet several and put soap on a couple.

I go into the stall, the one way at the end, and flush first.  Look, I don’t want settled water touching me because these gadgets are so strong that sometimes when you flush showers appear.  Then, I wipe the seat with the soapy paper towel. Then rinse it with a wet towel. Then I layer the seat with a few dry ones.  But I leave the seat wet, so they don’t fall off.  Then I sit down and begin my activity. 

On several occasions, as soon as I sit, someone would enter the bathroom.  And it would really be annoying if she has the nerve to come sit next to my stall.

Seriously, there are four or five empty stalls, why do you have to sit right next to me? Didn’t you get the memo about my needing to do this act without any interference?

And God forbid a few of them enter together and start yapping.  My gosh!  I need complete silence.  

Anyway, if it is a quick act, I'm alone again; but sometimes, someone comes in and does the same act like me, but performs it quickly.  Showoff!

I mean who does that in two seconds?  Something must be wrong with them because you know I’m the normal one, right.

So now I'm peeved and have to regain my bearings.  Man, these women just cannot follow simple instructions.  The nerve!

Anyway, on the occasions where no one bothers me, and I do my do, when I’m done, I need another five minutes to flush all those paper towels.  This I learned from experience.  I’ve tried to flush a few at once in my haste to leave the scene of the crime but had to really head for the hills when the toilet clogged up and appeared as if the water was running over.

And there is no way I’m sticking around to give any explanation.

But the reason why I gave all that background was because on such an occasion I was in the airport at Puerto Rico heading for Antigua.  I used to be real nervous when I fly, which sometimes caused me to have to do my do at the airport.

So I take my carryon with me, because I’m alone and can’t leave it unattended.  I also have to take my jacket and my handbag because who am I going leave them with.

So I get into the bathroom, and it’s empty.  Yes!  I’m feeling lucky.  Though really and truly I wouldn’t have cared since I wouldn’t even see these women again….EVER.  But then it’s Puerto Rico, en route to Antigua, so you never know.

Anyways, I take my shoes off, hoping I don’t have to go the full Monty.  Nothing.  I unbutton my jeans.  Nothing.  I take them off.  Nothing.  I take off my shirt.  Nothing.  I undo my bra.  Nothing.  I say "what the heck", and take EVERYTHING off.

And then finally............something!

But before I’m done, I hear the fire alarm, and I’m thinking someone accidentally touched it. Then I hear shouts and running and realize that there is a real fire at this airport, in a country where I don’t even speak the language.  

And I’m in the bathroom, butt naked.  So I struggle to quickly get my clothes on, but not before I finish my do, wipe thoroughly, then use the last wet one to clean myself.  

Hey, I don't want to spoil my day feeling not so fresh!

Then I scramble to the sink to wash my hands, with soap of course and then quickly grab some paper towels.  On my way out with the jacket in one hand, my handbag in other and my carryon clinging behind me, I’m searching for my lotion.  

Do you know how cold and dry these airports get?

And right there and then as I’m running out the airport, I vowed to find a way to do this thing with my all clothes on.

True true story, except for the part about the fire alarm and everything else that followed. 

But, perspectively speaking, anything is possible!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Naturally Hair to Stay

A couple of years ago when one of my friends visited me, she could not resist loling at my hair.  I was between braiding and was sporting an afro.  She thought it was the funniest thing she had ever seen.  Me too!  I thought it was funny for a black person to be laughing at another black person’s afro.

But seriously, it got me thinking:  Why are so many black people afraid of their natural hair? 

I have heard comments like:  ‘Natural is not for me’ or ‘I don’t have the personality’ or ‘It takes too much time’.

Well, if it’s your natural hair, then natural is for you.  If it’s your natural hair, then your natural personality will suffice.  And lastly, hair grooming takes time for everyone - male, female, black, white, brown, yellow and red.  As long as you have hair, grooming takes time.  The only people who do not have to worry about hair are bald people, and not partially bald or almost bald, TOTALLY BALD people. 

And I get it, black people who do not have….. I don’t want to say “nice hair” or “good hair” because I dislike those terms.  Maybe because they have never applied to me.  So let me put it another way.  If you are black, and as your hair grows, it grows vertically as opposed to horizontally, your daily hair grooming will be a bit of a struggle. 

And I get that whereas others can just put their hair in a pony tail in a matter of seconds, it could take you minutes, sometimes hours depending on the length and texture.  And I know, you get hot and bothered and you have to change your clothes twice before you get to work because you are sweating so much, but that is no reason to perm your hair.

You just have to figure out how to manage your natural hair.

Look it’s easy.  I cannot believe I just said that.  I hate when people tell me that.  Once my computer broke, and I called Dell.  The technician said, “Ma’am, it is very simple.”  It’s bad enough he’s calling me ma’am, he’s going to be condescending.  So I said, “Please don’t say that.  It might be easy for you, but obviously not for me.  If it were easy for me, I wouldn’t call, I’d do it myself.”  I should have been clearer about what else was bothering me because he replied, “I’m sorry, ma’am.”

But back to business. 

There are a plethora of natural hair products for black hair out there.  You just have to know how to use them.  If you have ‘wash and go with Pert’ hair, it’s safe to follow the instructions to the T.  But if you don’t, just read between the lines and please twist your hair overnight or for a few hours before styling.

When you had a perm, you put rollers in at nights, right (I didn’t, which resulted in my hair breaking). So if you have natural hair, then you simply twist them at nights.  For looser curls, make big twists.  For tighter curls, make small twists.

And I know; black hair can be very deceptive when wet.  You’ll leave the shower thinking: I can leave it like this because it feels so manageable.  Do not be tempted!  Handle it immediately, because you will be defeated.

In the past when I had gone natural, it was always temporary.  Until my hair recovered from the relaxer.   Until my hair gets thicker due to damage from the relaxer.  Until my hair gets longer after I had to cut it because of the relaxer.

But this time it’s permanent.  Why?  Because this time, it is a choice. I got tired of purposely damaging my hair so that life could be easier for me now.  Like drugs, you need more of a fix every time, but over the long run, it causes irreparable damage.  Well, that’s what I hear.

I’ve seen the future, and there is a strong possibility that when I get older I won’t have any hair.  I see so many women in their sixties and seventies, who have used lye for decades, become bald.

Sidebar – I guess they are the ones not worrying about hair grooming now.                              
Too soon?

But, I stepped away from the creamy crack six years ago.  Yep, I have been sober for six years!  And I don’t intend to relapse. 

Yeah, there are times when I miss having a perm.  But not enough to give in.  

The thing I love the most about natural hair is its versatility.  When I miss running my fingers through my hair, I get it flat ironed.  When I don’t feel like being bothered for a while, I get it braided.  When I feel like rocking a curly style, I return to the twists.  And when I’m having a real bad hair day, I wrap it.

And I do all this without the damage of lye.  I’m not specifically endorsing natural hair.  (Maybe a little.)   I’m just saying that natural hair is not the enemy.

It’s simply an option – not a last resort option, but a viable option.

Just perspectively speaking!

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Have a nice weekend."

Okay, the next time someone tells you that, just do it.  Don’t say you’ll try.  Don’t say you hope you do.  Just have a nice weekend.  And make it better than the weekend from hell that I just had.

Friday morning I was awoken from a dream. Not a nightmare, but a stressful experience.  I cannot remember the details, but I believe it entailed annoying kids because I shouted so loudly that it not only startled me but came with one of the worst headaches ever.  I felt dizzy for hours and had to miss work, which is bad because I only work two days a week.

To top things off, I heard a familiar sound and realized that one of the kids was vomiting.  She clearly wasn't going to school and came to lie in our bed (on my husband's side).  I don’t do sickness, especially vomiting, so I was glad that the Designated Sick Child Parent was home.

Saturday night, I'm doing the dishes and she awoke from the couch, rushed to the bathroom and then minutes later told me she has to vomit, but the toilet was clogged. I told her to go upstairs quickly, but she wasn’t swift enough and threw up in the hallway. Eventually, she got to the toilet and then announced that she clogged that one too.

So now, my husband is at work, and I’m the only adult around.  Look, when I signed up for this parenting thing, I don’t recall all this being in the program.  At any rate, I had to clean the carpet, the walls and the toilet because apparently she couldn’t get it opened quickly enough either. I tried to unclog the first toilet, but I'm convinced that poop dropped in sideways because nobody, much less a child can emit something that wide.

I was doing the laundry overnight and noticed that the washer was making a weird noise. Naturally, I thought about it as I went to bed. I dreamed all the appliances were in the garage and because of their proximity and constant use, they almost caused a fire; but luckily I got the fire extinguisher and defused the smoke before there was even a fire.  (That is probably my subconscious worrying about never ever having to use the fire extinguisher and not wanting to memorize the instructions just in case I jinx myself.)

Anyways, in the morning I exercised with Gilad for the entire hour, which meant that I was knocked out afterwards. So I'm watching TV for a good while because I still can't move. My youngest came downstairs and claimed he was bored.  I assured him that there is plenty to do in this house.  He can either read a book, do some work from the Work Box (that box of unfinished school books that  exits to keep them out of my hair), play his trombone or do some housework.  He suddenly wasn't that bored, but I insisted that he get a book from the Work Box which he did for about all of five minutes before disappearing.

I called them all to do some work which they did for about an hour.  They then played their instruments for another hour, but I guess they still had too much time on their hands.

In the middle of my movie my older son brings me the phone, with a troubled look on his face.  Some woman asked if I just called 911.  I said I didn't and don't think anyone else would. But she insisted that someone did, and I conceded that my kids must have been messing with the phone and assured her that everything was fine.

I asked them why they called 911 only to hear that my younger son pressed 911 but didn't dial. So his brother added a 2 and dialed; but when he heard the phone ringing he quickly hung up.  But I guess they never anticipated that someone was going to call back.

Truthfully, I laughed because which one of us hasn’t fantasized about calling 911 just to see what would happen.   Then I'm thinking they do this crap in the middle of the movie, so I told them we’ll talk later.

About 15 minutes later I hear a banging on the door and didn't have to guess who it was. Two cops!  Now I’m thinking, “Just great!  I’m in trouble too.”

Although I explained to them that it was the kids and somebody from the State Police had already called, they said they still had to check. But the funny thing was that when they asked if someone called 911, I gave them the same look my children gave me and responded, “9112”.  They asked to see my driver’s license, took the phone number and the ages of the children.

Again, I’m thinking, I’m missing the dang movie.

Of course the boys are looking at me talking to the cops, and when they left, the older one claimed that it won’t happen again.  I simply sent them to do some more work from the box and let them know we’ll deal with this later.  Clearly, I was too upset to talk, plus I wanted to finish the movie.  My daughter pointed out that she was not involved and didn’t know what they were up to initially; but I informed her that from the time she found out, it was her duty to let me know, so she’s in trouble too.

When the movie ended, I went to cook.  Wanting to keep an eye on them, I let them assist me.   That should be easy enough.

Well, I am heating up I believe about 30 oz of oil to fry some fish. I asked my eldest to boil the rice (packaged). He is getting water from the fridge door and to help, I got a covered pot and placed it on the stove. He got the first cup and asked, “This pot?”  Without looking, I said yes.

Next thing, I hear a sound and realized that he threw cold water in a pot of boiling oil!

I nearly shit my pants. (I know, quite graphic, but oh so precise.)

After one expletive and a few “oh Jesus”, I quickly covered the bubbling pot and removed it from the burner.  Hysterically, I’m asking them individually, “Have you ever seen me throw water in boiling oil?”

I’m holding my head and resting it on the fridge, on the wall, in my hands, thinking that was really close.

Next thing I know, the pressure from the pot flipped the cover over.  I quickly took it out the house and was about to leave it in the garage until I remembered my dream.  So I took it outside.

I returned and still hysterical and walking all over the kitchen asked the other two children, “Have you ever done that?”  I could tell from their looks that they are thinking, "I don't know what the heck she is asking, but I think the answer is 'no'."

I said to them, “That is why I had that dream last night.  I told you I was psychic.  I always know what is going to happen.”  With that, my younger son looked at his brother like he’s thinking, “I wonder what else she knows.”

I let the stove cool, cleaned it, and then resumed cooking.  We ate, chilled out and they went to sleep.

Later in the night, the machine finally gave up with a message: NOTICE!  There is something wrong with this unit.
You think?

On Monday, as soon as I awoke I cleaned the bathrooms.  When I was ready to bathe, I saw the children’s toothbrushes.  I know those kids so well that I couldn’t resist  testing the bristles.  And, for good reason.  My youngest “forgot” to brush his teeth.  (I swear we weren’t that nasty!) I figured if I quickly drive to the bus stop and get him, he could brush and get back before the bus arrives.

But as soon as I opened the garage door, the neighbor’s dog started running towards me.  I retreated back in the house and called my son from the front door.

I bathed, then ironed and folded the laundry while watching Judge Mathis (my guilty pleasure from Monday to Wednesday).  I then got two letters ready for the mailbox.

I nonchalantly pushed my feet in some sneakers to go to the mailbox, but I didn’t make it because when I almost got there, the neighbor’s dog saw me and just started running towards me, like I stole something.  I hesitated a bit because I thought she must have her electric collar on and wouldn’t be able to pass the invisible fence, but boy was I wrong!

When she passed the boundary, I started running.  I realized that the sneakers would keep me back, so I ran out of them and rushed to the house.  At this point I’m hoping and praying that the house doesn’t go "UP" on me today and move.  I made it to the door, opened it quickly, again hoping and praying that I didn’t accidentally lock it.  I wasn’t sure how close the dog was because I was not about to look back.  After all in the movies, whenever people do that, they always fall.  I screamed, hoping that my husband would hear me and come to my rescue.

But alas, the poor man works some crazy hours and was deep  in sleep.  I got a broom and opened the door to shoo the dog from our garden, because that was where she stayed when she ran my youngest into the house a few weeks ago.  She barely moved and instead growled at me.  The owner came for her, and I called out to her, but she either didn’t hear or ignored me.  I’m going with the latter because she went and sat right back on her porch; plus a couple weeks ago when her dog had the kids and me hostage in the car like Cujoe, I had to drive over there to let her know that we could not get into our house.

I saw the dog sniffing my shoes and noticed something white sticking out of one shoe. I had no idea what it was until I looked down on my feet and realized that I was only wearing one sock.  I had been wearing my husband’s odd socks, and one was extra big.  With my speed, it didn’t make the journey back to the house.

I marched upstairs and during my meltdown told him to speak to her or else I will kill her dog.  Yeah right! I can’t even get my own sneakers.

Finally he got them, and as I explained what had transpired, I couldn’t help but the see the humor in it all.

I never wanted to stay home with the kids because I thought not working every day was going to be boring, but perspectively speaking, it is more adventurous and excited than I ever imagined.