Time For Tea (and backup assistant)

As we transition from hot summer days and weekends full of cookouts and street festivals, morning show cooking segments begin to evolve as well.  The grills are put away and television countertops are filled with crock pots and casserole dishes. Gone are the hot new recipes for grilled caesar salad (yeah) and in its stead are recipes for comfort foods.

While I love the occasional chocolate bar plank during that time of the month, I’m not big on finding comfort in food. I do find comfort in drinks. Wait. This is not a confessional. I like the sporadic glass of wine or watermelon martini but those moments are few and far between and usually end with one…usually. I actually find comfort in tea. That is not a typo. I like tea. I collect teas. Blueberry pomegranate white tea, ginger infused green tea, and chamomile and honey tea-you get the point. I get so wrapped in the names and aromas that I purchase them all and there they sit, in my kitchen cupboards waiting to be steeped in hot water.

The truth is, they will never meet the mug.

 I only actually drink four types of tea.

1-Old-fashioned sweet tea (on a Sunday afternoon as compliment to some fried chicken, collard greens and macaroni and cheese)

2-Hot tea and Halls (when I have a cold I like to place a honey lemon cough drop and tea bag in a cup of water and microwave for 3 minutes-it works wonders)

3-Hot tea latte (made at home with milk and sugar)

4-Chai tea (my favorite coffee shop treat)

 These are my comfort drinks.

It was while enjoying one of these that I realized I lost myself. Actually, I lost my phone. This isn’t an ode to the blackberry, I lost myself in my phone. Okay, I’ve confused myself and you’re ready to stop reading. About a year ago, I decided to find me, to understand me, to rediscover me, to clear the disillusions based on experience and oppression and find my true, authentic and genuine essence (you have to say the last one with escalating excitement and raise your arm into an Angela Davis position). I started making notations under the notepad on my phone every time I had a new epiphany.

I have an overactive limbic system.

I hold my breath during swimming scenes on television.

I like orange roses.

This list had grown to about fifty entries when I realized that upon getting a new phone, the notations had not transferred over. I am lost. I have no idea who I am. I try writing down as many as I can remember, after all I read the list almost daily, but my efforts are unsuccessful. I can only remember fourteen. I call the store where I turned in the phone whose Q, N,R, H and 4 keys stopped functioning. The sarcasm in the woman’s voice told me I would be lost forever.

Exhale.

That night I craved a cup of tea. I craved comfort. When I got to the bottom of that cup I still needed comforting, I had an epiphany. It’s not the tea that comforts me but the company that accompanies the tea: my family sharing a laugh over Sunday dinner, my father and his herbal supplements, my mother and her perfect combination of cream and sweetener, sharing a moment with a friend in a quaint little café. I’m starting a new list. I’m using pen and paper.

I like tea.

I waste money.

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Love @ First Write

Somer Cooper, a very very good friend, has been trying to set me up for months now. She has gone on and on about this guy she met and how he would be absolutely perfect for me. We have a lot in common; she persists before reading his list of attributes. I listen attentively, mentally checking off the things I like and those I don’t. He sounds good, but am I really ready for this?

One night, in an attempt to silence her, I look him up. It’s the age of information and I am a millennial so I google him. I’m intrigued so I hit him up.

He’s pretty easy to deal with and in my chaotic world, I crave easy. He’s simple yet wild with adventure and amazement. He’s full of information and worldly ideas. He gives me a voice and honors what I think by giving me a platform on which to say it. He inspires me to be greater than I am and invites me to bring others along. He’s open to my creativity. He doesn’t laugh at my quirkiness and even encourages it. He doesn’t judge me; when I stroke a wrong key or transpose letters in my haste, he understands and offers suggestions. He gets that I am not as techno savvy as I should be.

We’ve been on three unconventional dates thus far (we drove to the mall, did laundry together and fought over the check at dinner) and I have to admit, I’m falling hard. I think about him a lot. It’s like those first few weeks of any new relationship where everything is drama-free and fun-filled. I lay awake wondering what he’s doing and I grab my blackberry to connect with him, first thing in the morning. I want the world to know about us and I’ve professed our courtship via email, facebook, linkedin, twitter and any other medium I could think of.

I fear the inevitable; someone will come along and ruin this moment. Someone will invade our harmony with their opinion and ideas, and well there is such a thing as the first amendment. You may not subscribe to our affection but if you do, I welcome you in.

I’ve been bitten and no amount of scratching or Benadryl (or making an X with my fingernail) is gonna cure this because…

I

LOVE

BLOGGING.

Check, please!

When I was working full time in Real Estate, during the recent crash of the housing market, a fellow Realtor said to me “Business must be really good. It doesn’t look like the market hurt you.” She said this as I climbed out of my new truck. She was being sarcastic. I continued to retrieve files from my back seat and without hesitation, I responded “No. I just got a new Sugar Daddy.” I closed the door and walked off. She stood there, mouth agape, eyes wide, heart pounding.

I had checked her. Never again would she make an assumption about my finances and even though I lied-she got the point.

I learned the art of checking my first semester in college. Every time I saw a particular girl on campus, she would make a comment about my skin color. “White girls shouldn’t wear peach shirts” or “Do you know this dance white girl?” It irritated me. I had been used to being called out about my pigment but every day from the same person was a bit much. One day in response to “hey white girl” I said “hey darkie”. She never said anything in reference to my complexion again.

I checked her.

From that moment on, I checked everyone. I stopped accepting what I had learned to expect and began checking. Throughout the years I perfected the craft of checking and the rules of the art:

First-you have to be quick with the comeback. Some people are naturally witty. If you are not one of these, attempting to check someone may prove to be a difficult task when you’re at a lost for words.

Second-once the moment has passed, it’s gone. There is about a three second window of opportunity to respond and you cannot after that time is over.  There’s nothing more pathetic than a comeback five minutes into the next conversation.

Third-make your statement and move on. Don’t offer any room for commentary or follow-up. Walk away, change the subject, or completely dismiss that the person is there by turning away.

One. Two. Three. That’s how I did it. I say did because recently, I was caught by a statement that left me speechless. While enjoying a bottle of wine with some friends, we began discussing my work. One of the guest turned to me and with furrowed brow said “You’re not black enough to work there.” I was stunned. I did not check her.

Fourth-If you let the opportunity to check pass, it will haunt you.

I want to go back to that moment. I want to show her the ignorance, stereotype, stupidity in her statement. I don’t know why I didn’t. Maybe I knew that it wouldn’t make a difference. Maybe a history of being told I’m “too white” resurfaced as a belief. Maybe I would have slapped the hell out of her.

A few weeks later, I missed another moment and now I see that just as I found strength in that moment in 1996, I’ve found weakness in that moment in 2010. I’ve got to refocus because if I don’t check the college freshman, the housewife, the coworker…their ignorance prevails.

I’m not looking for the chance to prove I still got it, but don’t give me a reason to right now. 😉

Wash. Dry. Fold.

This infinite cycle of transforming dirty clothes to clean is the bane of my existence. I loathe laundry. I believe my abomination began as a child. Being the oldest of four children to two working parents, I had to take on much of the domestic duties at an early age. I remember the never-ending process of washing clothes, there would be piles on top of piles and just as your task was ending someone would add another pile. Sometimes you’d run out of dryer sheets and the clothes would be full of static electricity or you would run out of powder, pausing progress.

There was no liquid then. There was only powder. It would spill all over the place or get wet and clumpy in the box. There was no splash-less Clorox and inevitably it would spill all over my favorite jeans destroying them (the acid washed look was out of style). Our dryer was ancient and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. If the dryer went out, I’d have to hang the clothes outside to dry and without doubt…it would rain. If the dryer worked, it would leave brown marks on the clothes and I would have to wash them all over again. This process went on for years, from my parents house to my own house.

But at last…I have found salvation!

It came in the form of a kid named Hakeem*. Hakeem is a resident in the dormitory I work in. Hakeem has hygiene issues. Hakeem’s room can be smelled five doors down. One day, nauseous from conducting a room inspection in Room 712*, I pulled Hakeem in my office for a heart to heart. I asked him point blank “What’s up with the funk?” He never looked me in the eye and barely spoke above a whisper.  “I washed my clothes Saturday but I didn’t have enough quarters to dry them.” I was horrified.

There have been times where in my laziness I have “forgotten” to pull the clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer and I know that after a day, two at the most, they start to smell. By three days they are soured. This was five days later. We went to his room and there under his comforter were the clothes. He tried to hide the smell with dryer sheets but to no avail. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to hug him. I wanted to cry. Hakeem sat on the bed “I don’t have no money Ms. B.” I told him to put every stitch of clothing in his basket and meet me in the laundry room in 30 minutes. I got ten dollars in quarters, some liquid Gain, splash-less Clorox and dryer sheets (they were the store brand-he was getting expensive).

When we met again, I showed him step by step how to do laundry, a life skill he was clearly lacking. I stayed with him through four loads of laundry. We talked very little. I read a book. He listened to an mp3 player. He never looked me in the eye.

That night I taught my boys how to wash, dry and fold. We went through the entire process until I was sure they understood how to do laundry correctly. I don’t want them to be without basic life skills when they leave my home. I don’t want anyone else to teach them what they should have learned from me. I don’t want to ever have to do laundry again.

Hakeem saved me. He saved me from a world of washing and drying and folding. Finally after twenty plus years of serving as the queen of clean (clothes), my reign has ended and I have passed my crown down to my offspring!

*Name/room number has been altered to reserve privacy.

“C is for Compact”

“C is for compact.”

I squeezed out of my vehicle for that! I was pissed. I imagined that the note was from some admirer who had found my beauty too bountiful to express himself in person. Maybe, the mall security guard, seeing me on surveillance saw this as his only chance. Perhaps the guy I passed when I was turning in knew he couldn’t let the opportunity pass to be blessed by my grace. The flattery of it all made me smile (more than the shoes I had just purchased for half off). It was romantic and a little creepy…but I’m an ‘everafter’ at heart.

Everafter=those who believe in the fantasy, the fairytale, the happy ending.

It wasn’t a happy ending. It was sarcasm. I know C is for compact but at 3:30 in the afternoon when the parking lot is empty and there are a million spaces…is it that serious? I imagined the author was some young college girl in a bug who probably didn’t wear shoes and spent countless hours brainstorming ways to save the world (similarity to anyone in particular is completely unintentional). Maybe it was an older gentleman, a professor of Engineering at NC State who drove one of those half-a-car things that could fit in my trunk and need to be plugged in periodically.

Stereotypical visions filled my windshield as I crumbled the paper ripped from a notebook and tossed it into the backseat. I was no different from the scribbler. They probably thought I was some oil guzzling, money wasting, mindless consumer shopping for the latest designer bag. Correction. I bought my last purse in Target and I never buy anything that isn’t on sale.

I like my truck. I kind of even like the stereotypes that are associated with it. “How much does gas cost to fill that thing up?!” I hear that at least once a day. “Are you driving your man’s car?” I hear that at least once a week. “What did you do to afford that?” I hear that at least…well never but I know they think it. Then there’s the inevitable ‘pull up’, when a hot young girl pulls up next to me at a light expecting to find some hot young guy…she’s disappointed and I’m amused.

I like that it represents me and my personality in so many ways. I like that it is so bold, so bright, so big. I like that it is the first vehicle I purchased on my own. Maybe I should have thought of the economy and the environment before I signed the contract to purchase, but I didn’t. I liked it.

It’s just that simple.

Maybe the writer drove a large vehicle too. Maybe it was a note they got once and saved it to pass on the humor. Maybe the writer was genuinely sharing a piece of information that needed to be spread across mall parking lots nationwide. Maybe it was a mall security guard overwhelmed by the number of accident reports he had to take down in a day because some big vehicle put the grand canyon in the door of a smaller one. It could be just that simple.

But just in case…maybe I should get a bumper sticker that reads “my hummer just ate your cooper”.