Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Desires for 2009

Emptying my head on virtual paper right now, planning what the business needs/wants to do for 2009. But while I'm thinking about that, a.k.a reality, I am also thinking about how things would be in an ideal world where time and money are not a concern.

What do I want to see happen in 2009? Well there's a personal level and a business level and I suppose the twain meet quite often. And no, this is not a resolution list. I don't do resolutions. I have goals and to-do lists that change all the time. Resolutions are mental prisons. I am free.

Now personally, I have two things that are my realistic goals:
1 - Seriously think about and work toward MAAAAYYBE planning for a baby next year. Can I be less concrete here? The physical prep for it can only do me good even if we decide against it but for now I want to act like it will be a go.
2 - Finish the freakin' book proposal! Spent the fall and start of winter working on the new line of greeting cards but that's not an excuse anymore.

Business-wise, I have a list of ideals. If someone said, "Monica, tell me what you want and I will make it happen," this is what I'd want:
1 - 8 more stores across the country gung-ho to sell our puzzles/greeting cards.
2 - 1 dozen teen-agers working as our teen sales team.
3 - One assistant to help me bring my ideas to life and to help us track the new and the old projects/products and one to help us focus on the customers.
4 - The website completely updated with all the bells and whistles we seek.
5 - A major vending piece in the summer and for the 2009 holidays, which will give us 4 for the year.
6 - 6 magazine mention/articles as the fun, hot, must-have product.
7 - At least 10 more sizeable custom jobs for the year.
8 - Noticeable profit for everyone involved, especially for the ones who've patiently stuck with us for the long haul.
9 - to grow from there in 2010 (even if a new baby joins the family).

So forget the resolutions. Anyone else have some goals/ideas for 2009?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's Going On?

A lot. And not much.

I am sitting in bed on my wonderful, free laptop, which is sitting securely on my gifted purple lapdesk which is perched comfortably on my lap as I listen to Mr. T snore and I am letting you all know that not much is going on.

Bizzy Girl and I have been vending and we have one more to do for this month before we can start focusing on the new products for next year. We are going to do our first really large expo next September - about 17,000 people expected - so the job is to prepare for that while not missing our opportunities on the way. I am really excited.

I am not doing much.

The snow and ice has covered our world and more is expected. So I sit here watching whatever is on TV, catching up on my DVR'd shows, listening to the kids running and screaming. Earlier I pointed out to my husband the really fat diamond ring on some starlet's finger on Access and told him I really want one of those one day - a ring you can see from across a really wide street. We talked about that hypothetical third child and once again came to no real conclusion.

I am not doing much tonight.

A work friend texted me to thank me for recommending one of my favorite movies, Love, Actually, which I just bought but I loaned to her to watch first because she had never seen it before and I couldn't bear the thought of her not knowing that it's really not a chick flick but one of those romantic movies that is real but happy, not sappy. I've got Spanglish sitting in on my closet shelf. Do I feel like watching it tonight? Hmmm.

I am not doing much right now.

The kids just kissed me goodnight. They are planning to sleep together again tonight. I think Son thinks we don't know that he gets up in the middle of the night to play his DS or watch TV. He'll pull Daughter in with him again and she'll be tired tomorrow like she was this morning. But kids need to feel like they are getting away with things from time to time right? Not too often.

It's quiet now.

I know there is so much work to do at my job, and I managed to do 2 more jobs for my PT proofreading gig so they have stuff to do too. But tonight I won't sign on to the website or check work emails. I won't go looking on the proofreading server to see what's there. I'm just going to chill.

I am not doing much. Usually I am but right now, I am not. It's nice. Need to do this more often.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another Precious Year

38 today. Wow. It's kinda weird to see that in writing.

Daughter said I will be old soon but I think she's 5 and dazzled by the freedom of her youth. Silly rabbit.

It's was sweet to open my laptop this morning and see "Happy Birthday" and heart stickers on it. It was funny to see a card from my editorial/IT co-workers and to have chocolate on chocolate cake. How'd they guess that? :-) My laptop now sits on my purple lapdesk on my outstretched legs as I write this right now, courtesy of these same co-workers, and even though it wasn't planned for me specifically, I even got a beautiful red Swingline stapler via the Yankee swap and that too was awesome. And lunch! Don't forget my birthday lunch that one co-worker/friend took me to.

Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Lots of birthday wishes on Facebook, an ice cream cake and my son reading to his sister AND helping her finish her homework so I can eat my cake and chill. Now THAT was the best gift of all.

Husband has to go to work so I get the bed to myself.

Oh yes. It's been a very good day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Three's the Harm?

Visited my gyno this week. I always manage to forget my little medical issue until I do - if I have a third child, will he have to literally cut through bone to get to him? The X-rays I did earlier this year showed nothing. Except he's been there personally and knows I have some kind of calcification going on. It's enough to make him wonder if he'd need a bone expert with him should we go for #3. (Oh, in case you don't know. I get c-sections, thus the cutting.)

"I'd want to be prepared so I think I'd want you to do a cat scan, if you think you want to have another baby."

"uh, yeah. I'll get back to you on that."

Deliberately planning to have a child is no easy decision. Money, time, space, age and lack of energy come into play. Mr. T won't get off the fence and I can't seem to either. So I remain hopeful that God will override man's medical marvels and, if it's meant to be, Baby 3 - to be here known as The Baby - will come of his own accord, or God's.

In the meanwhile, I have my now 1-month-old nephew I can look at daily and wish I could hold. I can spend money on him if I choose and I don't lose energy doing it either. Plus, the distance actually keeps that baby bell from ringing because there is no physical contact to make me get off the fence one way or the other.

"But you keep talking about it, Monica."

You don't think I notice that? I don't know what to tell ya. The story continues.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A High Note

First of all, I just want to say my nephew is ADORABLE! Looking at his face. Had to say it. Nope. Haven't met him in person yet. Hopefully by March. I just wanted to say he's adorable and no, I'm sorry. I can't post his picture because while he is mine, he's not mine mine, you know?

I digress.

One week before my birthday - last night - I gave myself the gift of humiliation. Humiliation, once you have it, can make it easier to do something again because really, everyone already saw it so what's the mystery now?

"It" is me. Singing. Karaoke. With 2 co-workers in a contest at the office holiday party. Ok, singing isn't the best word. Nervousness had all 3 of us deciding to imbibe a bit, except I'm not a drinker so I sipped the one drink I had. Plus, it was only last week that I practically had no voice due to sinus issues. That + alcohol + nerves = 3 people singing You Can Ring My Bell in all sorts of keys. Not sure any of them were in the order they should have been.

We've discussed this before. I love to sing. Doesn't mean I'm good at it but I'm not horrible either. Of course, on a microphone, I learned that my voice sounds like someone is throwing it and it's hard to find your lost key when you don't even recognize the sound coming from your own mouth.

Nevertheless, there are some things in life that I need to do because it's part of who I am and it's not fair to bottle it up forever. Singing was one of them, whether it's karaoke or in the church choir, which I still need to do. Karaoke, at least, has the bar set really low and you have a shot at not disappointing too many people since they don't expect much anyway. After all, if I were like Whitney, I wouldn't be here blogging.

When they announced the contest, I immediately openly denounced it. "Are you doing it?" "No way!" But secretly I knew it was my chance to put that fear to rest, or at least have it take a nap for awhile. An innocent discussion with one of my departmental co-worker friends turned into her saying, "We should do it Monica!" Oh Lord. What have I gotten myself into? Next thing I know, we're convincing one of the guys to sing with us because we knew he'd be unexpected (I don't typically hang with him but I have nothing against him.) and he'd be comic relief, taking the attention from our nerves. He said yes immediately.

Then he said no. What the heck?

His departmental co-workers, he said, gave him such a hard time, next thing I know, my friend is telling me he's IMing that he's out.

So now I'm REALLY locked in while we talk him back in. After we rehearsed together a couple of times, we were laughing so hard, he was completely comfortable once again and raring to go.

Then the night came.

And he backed out again. Come on!

I won't tell you why. It will make this 6 foot something, hulking Russian guy look like a baby. But our 3rd partner came to rescue and got him back in again.

The rumors were flying. Everyone expected the Editorial chicks to do something. After all, we'd been playing "Put a Ring On It" out loud for about 2 days before the party. Playing. Singing. Dancing. Who was going to be Beyonce? That was the question. But we had no desire to humiliate ourselves THAT much.

All three of us ended up at different tables for dinner and the DJ said he wanted at least one rep from every table to sing. No one ran to the mic. So who serenaded us for awhile while we got our guts together? American Idol 5th season contestant Kevin Covais. He's 19 and adorable. He also has diabetes, thus the connection.

Still, no takers so we manned up. The Russian donned the feather boas and took the tiny bell that was drowned out by his deep voice and we had fun. Everyone else did too. People say we were brave. I guess. I only know I had something to prove to myself.

On the way home, I tried to figure out how I talked myself into this thing in the first place. What could have given me the courage? Alcohol? Naw. It's wasn't even a whole drink, though Mr. T. says I get tipsy off one. The prize money? Well, it was an incentive. Me getting ever older and less concerned about what others think? Could be. Was it that I'm working with a great group of people that I can genuinely work hard with and play hard with too? That's a possibility as well. In the end I decided I was just happy. Happy to be so blessed doing what I love, with people I respect. Living a life of purpose with a family that endlessly entertains me. I'm content. So maybe this was me showing that.

I'm glad I sorta conquered this nagging fear. It was worth it.

And yes, we won.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

My cell phone woke up my Christmas tree this morning. At least I'm pretty sure that's why it was twinkling its lights angrily at me when I went into my living room looking for my faithful purple friend who usually sleeps face down next to my bed. I had had a lot to drink last night - uh soda. Not spirits, thank you very much - so my bladder was kind enough to step in this morning to make sure I got going.

So I picked up my phone and in seconds it was screaming its usual wake up song at me, causing me to jump in fright.

"What gives? Why the yell, cell?"


"OK. I accidentally left you in the living room last night..."

"And I bet you didn't even notice," she hissed.

"Woah. Power down there. I noticed....this morning," I replied sheepishly.

"Ever since you won that laptop. It's been Twitter this and Facebook that and blogging more. Visiting your business groups more. Meeting people more. Networking more. Getting word out more about your business. You even play cards on it! You used to play with ME that way, looking for fun ringtones to add to your list!"

"I know, I know. I'm sorry!"

"You walked right out last night and didn't even look back! Didn't you feel like something was missing? I remember hearing you tearing up the house once before when you'd thought you lost me. I was willing someone to call you or for an alarm to go off or something because I hated hearing you in agony. I loved you!"

"But I love you too! Don't you hear me cursing myself if I get in the car in the morning and think I left you on the kitchen table? Just yesterday I was patting myself down like a criminal thinking I had to go all the way back in the house to find you..."

"But I was in your pocket the whole time."

"That's right! You're a part of me. I do notice when you're not there. You. Complete. Me."

"Awww! It's just..."

"...that the laptop is here now and yes, it's letting me do all the stuff I was too lazy to do before because I'd have to trudge all the way downstairs in the cold to my stationary computer. I'm pretty sure it's not speaking to me now."

"Yeah. It does feel neglected."

"See? And I love it too. After all, we have that special bond. It will always be my first raffle prize. Irreplaceable."

"Should have seen this coming."

"What do you mean?"

"I know. Your last cell phone told me what happened last time a laptop was in this house."

"Oh. Yeah."

"What happened to that one?"

I looked away wistfully. "It was Mr T.'s. He...sold it."

Cell phone was quiet. "Why?"

"Someone saw it at work and liked it. That man is moved by the buck."

"Hmm..." I could hear it's batteries charging. "Any chance...."

"No. Way."

We sat in silence as I blogged our story.

"Um, Monica?"


"Don't you have to get to work and get the kids up for school?"

"Oh shoot! What time is it?"

"Almost 7. What's wrong, your new laptop couldn't tell you that?"

I chose not to answer that. Laptop tells me the time alright, but in gentle prodding ways over in the corner of the screen. It doesn't like to intrude.

"Naw. Guess it can't do what you can Celly. And it's not a cool color like you are either."

"You're darn skippy it's not. Anybody can wear black. It's takes someone cool to pull off purple the way I do."

"Come on. Let me here that familiar ring again. Just, please, tone it down this time?"

Ahhh, the sweet sound of a cell phone alarm. Nothing like it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Order in My Court

I am going to be 38 in 15 days. So you'd think I'd know me by now. But I seem to be at some odd stage where I am noticing things about myself again, like I did in my 20s, and realizing I've been this way my whole life. It's like Dorothy discovering she could get home the whole time.

Take this organization compulsion I have. Never thought a thing about it before now. Never saw it as a positive or a negative. Never put it on a resume as a skill. It simply didn't stand out for me as a trait. Only now does it seem to be proving it plays a huge part in who I am and how I do things.

All my life I have:

1 - liked things to balance in every way possible.
2 - hated for things to be out of place and that goes for people too.
3 - loathed messiness. My space, whatever it was, was neat when I started and neat when I ended because who wants to come back to the same stuff from a different day?
4 - made lists.
5 - preferred even numbers to odd. Ok that one may be a little off but it's just another form of balance to me.
6 - nothing really. Just wanted to end with an even number.

People noticed how my desk at work was always clean at the end of the day. When writing papers in school, organizing my thoughts was never the issue. Neither was organizing my locker. If you look in my car's glove compartment, you won't be afraid that you'll lose a hand in there.

I get a thrill at just seeing things in place. I feel at peace. I feel content. If it's messy, I feel scattered. I feel wrong. I get jumpy. I just can't think straight. Normal. I didn't think much about this. So what if I think clothes should be put in rainbow order. How else do you know what you have? Books should be categorized according to subject first, then either alphabetical by author or according to size (depends on my mood). And if you take something out of place, put it back so you'll never have to hunt for things.

I've been known to leave the house late for something because things are out of order. I tend to count things too like how many grapes I put into a sandwich bag to take to work. Gotta be an even number. I suppose I have a little Monk disorder.

So here I am facing 38 - and I have no problem with that - and I find myself growing less and less tolerant of certain behaviors in others as my own compulsions come more fully into the light. To my family: Will everyone please stop coming home and dropping stuff in the middle of the kitchen floor and dumping crap on the table? Why can't the stupid towels get hung up and why do people keep asking me whose is whose when I am the only one who hangs them up in the first place - in the same places - every time?

Balance and order. That's all I want. Is that too much to hope for? I suppose it is for some. I suppose I can be over the top. I laughingly tell people the extent to which I try to balance things, just to see their heads spin. For instance, I told you my birthday. Dec. 18th. Well, Daughter's birthday is Oct. 28. Note the 8 in her number like in mine. (I picked the day so it's no coincidence. I love 8's.) I didn't pick Son's date, however. His is March 14. I didn't pick Mr. T's either. His is Jan. 4. See all the even numbers? Makes me very happy. And notice the way the birthdays fell. the 1st and 3rd month of the year for the boys. The 10th and 12th months for the girls. The balancing of the placement of the months overrides the odd number of the boys' months. (Hey! I'm letting you in my head here for a sec. No judgments!) Soooo, you might remember that a 3rd child (nope, no fourth) has always been up in the air. But I know I'd be picking that date too. How do I get my balance? Well, I'd have to get pregnant in September, first of all. It's an anniversary month so not unlikely. That way I can shoot for June 6 or 16th. Middle month, middle number. Head spinning yet? This is my world. Thanks for visiting.

Back to my patience, she is a dwindling. Take my kids (please!). My kids' rooms stay in a war-torn state and it sickens me every time I look in there. "But they're kids!" "All kids' rooms are messy!" Are they? Really? REALLY? I called my mother not long ago because I had to know. I was giving myself this same excuse in my head but for the life of me it wasn't ringing true. I couldn't remember junk being all over my floor as a kid. Now, I never liked making up a bed, I admit. But I was forever trying to find ways to make things fit neatly together so I could get to whatever I wanted fast. I distinctly remember moving things around a lot always looking for the better way. Dolls were fitted neatly on each others' laps. Games were together and boxes were in size order. My mother confirmed it. I liked everything in its place. So, this mess my kids live in? It's because this is who they are, not simply because they are kids. They will mature and get better, I know. But I will be cleaning up behind them because it's who I am and it stresses me out to do nothing about it.

Who am I? Apparently I am who I always was but I didn't know this aspect until now. But it pleases me to know that I am this way because I have always admired it in others. So now, I admire myself. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy abstract stuff too , if only because I like to try to bring order to it, in my own mind anyway. Yeah. This is me. It's a little neurotic to others but when those same people are missing something, who they gonna call? You got it. And I'll be there to answer.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oh Sonny Boy

I have 2 children. They are both the offspring of Mr. T and myself. They look alike, they act like, sometimes they even annoy alike. In my analysis thus far, Daughter exhibits the traits I like or accept in myself. Son exhibits the ones I have issues with.

I've talked about him before and will continue to do so not just because it's my blog and I'll whine I want to, but because this is how I process.

Daughter is moody, like me. It doesn't bother me.
Daughter isn't really a morning person, like me. I respect that.
Daughter has a fiery temper, like me. Son fears her at times. I just smile in recognition or else put her in her place.

Son is picky. I never called myself this but yeah, I like what I like and forget the rest. Still, I want him to be open because I wish I had been braver about things when I was younger.
Son is dramatic. Don't really see myself this way but that fiery temper tends to be my response to things sometimes and certainly that is over the top.
Son is slow to accept change. This could be related to the pickiness. I'm cool with change that I initiate. Otherwise, I may need a minute to readjust.

If you put my two baby bears on a rainbow and gave them a color, Daughter would be red and Son would probably be blue. So why do I clash more with my blue Son? Still figuring that out.

I admitted to a friend not too long ago that I prefer dealing with Daughter because she's easier for me. Ironic, considering I never wanted a daughter in the first place for fear we'd be too much alike and fight all the time. Son is actually easy to love. He's sweet, respectful, sincere, affectionate, smart, and when you really think about that whole pickiness thing, I suppose it shows he's strong-willed too. Who can't like those qualities? Well, those aren't the things that get to me.

Before you tell me not to compare my children, I tell you I already know they are individuals and to love them for who they are, blah blah blah. The fact is Daughter is brave. I wish Son were moreso. So many times things have come up that I am certain he would have liked if only he weren't so afraid of new things. When Daughter gets stressed, she gets angry. I suppose that is an emotion I understand so it doesn't bug me as much, though I do tell her she'll get nowhere with it. Son, on the other hand, cries and whines and repeats himself over and over and it nearly drives me nuts because of the relentless repetition of it all. If something doesn't make sense in his homework, he whines for help (I really never liked whining.) and there is this whole begging thing in his voice that grates on my nerves. I want to tell him to man up. Stop whimpering. Just say you don't get it in a normal voice. (I told you I know he's 8. Doesn't change how I feel.)

Now, I don't make things easy on them, I confess. When it comes to homework, I don't hand out answers like candy on Halloween. I say, "Look at it again. Read it again. Tell me what you understand. Tell me what you don't understand. Look at the homework in its totality. Is there nothing there to clue you in as to how you should get your answer?" (Generally, this is related to math homework.) Unlike me, Son is a linear thinker and that is something I don't know what to do with. If he knows one way to get an answer, then that is what he does forever. The moment the numbers change order or the math turns to words, all hell breaks loose.

"Son. You CAN do this. Stop. Think. Read it slowly. Doesn't some of this look familiar?"

"I don't know! I can't do it!"

Wanna get me riled up? Tell me you "can't" when you haven't even tried.

So I get stressed and wonder how to teach him how to think creatively. How do I convey that there is usually more than one way to get an answer. 9 times out of 10, when I come home to that unfinished homework he says he can't do, I ask questions, I say what I said before and suddenly he can do it after all. Still, he doesn't realize yet that he CAN do it if he tries and that all I ever ask is that you at least try before you give up. Don't immediately jump to how you can't or how it won't work or how it's not exactly how you thought it should be so it must not be the right way.

My struggles with him is in his confidence. I get angry when he downs himself, saying he's stupid or doesn't know how to do things. "I don't like math because I can't do it." But he can! Even his teachers from every single grade so far say he can. Now, I tell him he may not like it, and that's fine but he can't do it? He's lying to himself and needs to cut it out.

I suppose my fight with him is not about today, it's about tomorrow. I'm afraid he won't see what I see - a smart, creative kid with so many natural abilities if he'd let himself be aware of them. I fear he'll be a follower. Sometimes you have to but never at the expense of your own will and morals. I'm scared he'll miss out because he's suspicious of new things. When we have our shouting matches - well, me shouting, him whining - I'm pretty sure he's in the moment. I keep thinking of what today's insecurity could develop into if I don't snap him out of it. But the counselor in me also is aware that I have to be here and just make myself chill out and embrace the boy of today lest he think I don't like him for who he is. Couldn't be further from the truth. It's who he is that I see so clearly. But right now it is masked by the qualities that need refinining. And that remains the challenge - setting aside my ways so I can deal with his effectively and shine a spotlight on the things he has yet to appreciate.

It's simply not easy for me. Don't be surprised if I vent some more on the topic one day. I know all of this frustration on my part risks our future relationship, at least during those teen and early adult years when so many people are coming into their own and don't know what they don't know yet. I know that I risk giving him some sort of complex maybe or driving him into himself because he thinks I don't accept him.

Still, in all my frustration, it is easy for me to tell him how great he is and in my imperfection, I can only pray that he will one day see that all I ever wanted was the best for him and we'll finally reach a place where he too fully loves himself as much as I love him. He's my first-born after all; the one who showed me that being a parent is an honor and receiving the love of a child is a privilege. He's the one who started me on the path to enjoying simply providing for him because it made me feel good to see him healthy and happy and content to just be my son. The last thing I want to do is jeopardize all that but I have my signs. I listen out for the familiar, "Hug and kiss. I love you" that I get every night before he goes to bed. He insists upon it, in fact. That's how I know we're still in the game. I intend for us to win it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Months of work and waiting. Done. The 2 new children's puzzles are finally done and ready to be released to the world. And that's not all! The new traditional greeting cards are ready too and as always, there are greeting card puzzles galore.

The challenge now? Get the word out because we want to get these kids inspired and keep them that way. So what do we have?

Well there's this one - Dream Big. This one has a minor tweak being done to it but the picture willk be the same. It's 11x17, 35 pieces and you can get it for $10.

And then there is this one:

Also 11x17, this one has 200 pieces and sells for $15.

These babies are our brain children. Been rooting about in our heads for a while now. I'm just glad to finally see them out and about! Now, holiday cards. We have a package of 12 cards for $10 available and there are 4 designs in it. You'll have to contact me to see that one. We also have a new Kwanzaa cards - with mini puzzles to go with it! - and so much more in the works. So exciting!

There you go. Part of what I've been up to. And with this blogpost, I'm not even halfway through my list of ways I'm telling people about this. So I've gotta go!

By the way, we take cash, credit, checks and money orders. Oh and if you really like the children's puzzles and want them for Christmas, you must order by Dec. 1st. Sorry so tight but I tell you this stuff is FRESH!

Next time!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Savoring the Thought of Success

My partner is afraid of success. Can't blame her. It's an exotic dish that you have to know how to swallow or it may kill you. So, fear is a good thing. But the fear makes her freeze, well it's only thin ice maybe. For instance, because of one of my groups, we have a very real chance to be on one of my favorite shows - The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch - if I ever want to get us there. That freaks her out. I therefore have to pretend like nothing is happening and be the one who is scared too but keep heading toward it anyway. I hate bugs so I scoot them out of my house or look for my husband. My kids hate bugs. No husband around? Mommy becomes a killer. We all do what we have to do.

We have to succeed. We will. That's a given. Just a matter of when.

The timing of things lately has been interesting and the opportunities have been nothing short of miraculous. Store owners who know us or have worked with us already are making space for us - for free - simply because they believe in what we are doing. Prices to produce things are rock bottom as a result. Vending opportunities are coming right at the very moment new projects are finishing. Quirky friends are making it big in their own right and sharing the wealth - simply because they want to do that with us. Other friends we haven't seen in a while are literally walking into our lives the very moment we think we need to contact them for something.

Right now it's all a jumble what needs to be done and for who and when. There is much to sort out very quickly in order to get on the shelves, in racks and hopefully into very influential hands. And why do I want this? Why do WE want this? Because we love what we do and believe in it, but even more so because we so desperately want to give back in droves what others have given us over the years to help us.

It's not easy doing this when you have a family and a full-time job, I admit. I'd love to sleep more but it's hard to sleep when ideas are stomping about in your head demanding attention. Someone once said, "I can sleep when I'm dead," right? Well, I don't want to wait quite that long. Still, I've got to keep pushing. We do. We all do. I love this so very much because this whole endeavor started with three of us and the 3rd person was never gone, only preoccupied with other things. She's back with a vengeance and to succeed in a major way right now with her fully in the picture would just be the cherry on the sundae. We would have come full circle.

Tonight I go to dinner with a friend and chill for a moment before diving back into all the logistics that need to be worked out this very week. My goodness! Look at the time. Thanksgiving is next week already?

I'm late! I'm late! Back down the rabbit hole I go.

Friday, November 14, 2008

He Is Born

It is official. I am an aunt. Happy birthday, baby!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's a Laptop, Baby!

A new laptop today, a new nephew tomorrow? Awesome!

God is great. Joining the PTA - again - netted me a much-coveted prize ever since Mr. T. sold his laptop earlier this year. The PTA had a membership drive and was raffling off a Dell laptop. I won. (Interestingly enough, I won my Dell desktop too a few years back in a raffle for people who had perfect attendance in the business workshop I took.) Now I have my own, which I sorely needed due to the impending side gig. I am finally at phase 3 over a month after I first sent my resume to them. It's not them, though. Twice I had to have 3-hour blocks of time to take the test and that's not easy to find during a typical week let alone the crazy ones I've had lately. But now I am laptop happy and can go back to wandering the house to do what I need to do instead of sitting at a desk. I suppose it may be the fact that I am already sorta tied to a desk all day that makes me resent doing it at night too. And with Son taking over more and more every day, I need to see what he sees a little easier than I do right now. So tonight I go play with it and hopefully it has wireless already so I don't have to buy a card.

And speaking of buying, I've got to jump online tonight to get what I was going to buy my new nephew. He wasn't due for another week but his mom needed to be induced because he is apparently smaller than he should be and they think he would be better out than in. So my guess is he'll be here tomorrow - maybe tonight! - and November will forever be the month the U.S. made history and my family got another boy to carry on the family name.

Can't wait!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Let the Healing Begin

You know, my blog is supposed to be about me trying to juggle everything in my life, and there are things coming at me - trying to get things organized regarding our newest puzzles and greeting card project; our stress in refinancing our mortgage (well, the stress in finding my MIA accountant lately to get what we need to get the process going); my neverending online job interview in my quest to get a gig I can do from home whenever I feel like it because there is simply never enough money these days. It's life, therefore la la la la, it goes on. But lately the election has taken over my blog just like it has the rest of the world. Of course now the election is over - YES! - but issues remain. Well, one issue in particular and I thought I'd see what I could do with it.

I was talking with someone after the election.

PERSON: Isn't it great? The whole world is watching. It's such an exciting time!

ME: Yeah, it's fantastic. It's really great for my people. We really needed this.

PERSON: Yeah, but it's really good for everyone, you know?

ME: Absolutely! But it's also a fantastic thing for the African-American community.

I forget what she said after this. I just smiled at her and let her think I was the clueless one.

I said it in my previous post, I'm not trying to keep the racial divide alive but the cards are on the table and we may as well look at them. Everyone is trying to be in a unifying mood, right? Well, denial is not productive. Do you want to understand this thing or not? Because I can't fully explain no matter how hard I try and I can't expect everyone to fully get it. But do you want to try? Well listen up.

The African-American community is a large and diverse one and I cannot speak for us all nor do I want to so don't think you can ask me to. No generality will ever suffice either. That being said, culturally we are a private people who don't want our business in the street. What happens at home stays there. This is part of the reason we aren't big on therapy. Again, this is collective. Plenty of us endorse therapy, do it, give it.

The fact that there are issues in our community isn't a secret, I don't think. But is this brand new day one that excludes racial issues? Nope. Don't be so naïve as to think it does. We took a gigantic leap forward, that's for sure and it's a healing thing for our community to see this. But it's not a cure. Just the start. Hatred toward us and within us toward ourselves continue.

Case in point 1. Ralph Nader and his wondering if Obama will be an Uncle Sam or an Uncle Tom? I think he may have thought he was speaking on behalf of minorities. I think he mispoke.

Case in point 2. Watch this lovely little Journey's video.

That happened in 2008. Think no one is going to call President-Elect Obama this name? I promise you he knows people do.

Case in point 3. Talked to my mother after the election. She lives in one of those red states and she helped at the polls. When trying to get people to register to vote - and why are there still people over 18 who aren't anyway? - she was met with a variety of reasons why they couldn't do it such as, "I might get called for jury duty." And there was a really good one, "It might affect my paycheck." Huh? Want to know the best reason of all? Well, some of the people worked for a powerful white man who successfully threatened them with, "If you vote, I will know."

Again, this is 2008 folks. Starting to grasp what we are still dealing with? No? Ok here's a little of how we think on a daily basis without even trying - I've shared some of this before:

1 - Someone was arrested for a crime. "Oh Lord, please don't let it be a black person." It was. ::collective groan::

2 - We are accepted OR rejected for something. "Was it because I am black?" That's right, even when something good happens, we can never be too sure it's not because someone had a quota to fill and therefore we wonder if our merits were good enough on their own or not? This is more likely to be when the situation involved people we don't know or who don't know us.

3 - One too many "helpful" people come up to you in a store. "Are they following me thinking I am going to steal something?" Sometimes, that's precisely the reason. Yes, in 2008.

4 - "All rise to say the pledge of allegiance." So we do and maybe we say something or maybe we don't. But can we look at an American flag and not think betrayal and past wrongs? Nope. The red is the blood of the dark (represented by blue) people who were trampled by the whites once upon a time. Not just us, either. We know that. That red represents our red brothers and sisters as well.

5 - Ever started a new job and noticed how many people of your race are around you? We do. Every time. Generally - at least on the corporate level - we are one of a handful, if we're lucky. One of 2 usually. Me? It's me and a Latina and, for a year now, our wonderful intern from Tobago.

Some of this is the daily reality of some of us. Much of this is instinct. We don't train our kids to think this way - not all of us, anyway. I know no one trained ME to think this way. To be aware, yes, but to be suspicious of so much? No. But I suppose self-preservation is something that can be picked up even without words.

I do not consider myself hypersensitive. Nor are my friends. Nor are my parents. But for certain they would all agree that we have a lot of baggage we carry around and while we don't want it, it is there nevertheless, popping open when we least expect it. If you have any sort of baggage - and you do - then you will understand how this works. So don't tell me, "Just get over it, already." If it were that easy it would have been done by now.

I mentioned already the concerns of African-American parents in raising our children to be in the world but not scarred by it, at least not when it comes to something beyond our control like skin color - Michael Jackson aside.

So are you getting close to figuring out why Barack Obama's win is a good thing for everyone but we, as a people, REALLY needed this? Why it doesn't take away from anyone else at all or the victory we all shared, it's simply something that is personal and healing for us as a people? I hope you do see it as just that - a personal issue - and don't try to take that away from us with comments such as, "Time's have changed!" and "Look on the bright side." Instead, if someone does share that with you, feel free to listen and commiserate. Got a true similar experience? You might be able to share it if you have that kind of relationship where the other person already feels you are a trusted friend. Otherwise, listening is enough. Really.

It's simply going to take time and a willingness to be healed before this issue will really be a thing of the past. I personally think the first steps to accepting that healing have to be made by us. But I just don't know if it will be done this side of heaven. One thing is for sure, communication is opening up a bit more and that is good. A black man in the White House may cause some bigots to feel free to express their hostility a little more openly. That could be good too if only because we'll all really know who we are dealing with.

I am choosing to emphasize even more to my children that only they limit themselves. I am going to continue to look at this new beginning with the optimism I still feel, so in love with my people and now my country too.

OK. Time for a new topic.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes, He Did

Yesterday, to raise a black child in this world, you had to know the fine art of instilling hope and optimism while teaching reality and skepticism.

Yesterday, my people went to work and took tiny steps toward their individual goals with the dreams, blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors in the back of their minds, clothed in the garments, hair and sometimes the speech of the people we thought we needed to be like in order to succeed.

Yesterday, apathy was the order of the day.

Yesterday, wrong was right and morals were left behind.

Yesterday, you could not have convinced me that real, defining change will take hold of this nation while I am alive to see it.

Yesterday is gone.

TODAY, children like my soon-to-be nephew will be born into a world where it's normal for people of color and women to be as much in power as white men.

TODAY, black parents can say, "You can be president someday if you want to" and they - and their children - will believe it.

TODAY, being a black male who does well in school will be greatly admired instead of teased.

TODAY, there is no more "talking white" but just the respected ability to communicate.

Hear me, my friends. This win is a win for EVERYONE but first and foremost, for me, this win is the breath of life MY people needed. I do not say this to keep the racial divide alive. I say it because we are part of this country - helped to build it - but we were sick and tired and angry and hopeless and divided among ourselves. We, as a people, needed to be reinvigorated in order to be on one accord with everyone else, thus making us able to celebrate with you instead of feeling animosity toward you. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. African-Americans are one of the links and Barack Obama, along with his beautiful and intelligent wife, Michelle, helped strengthen us for the sake of the whole.

You want to know the beauty of this miraculous event? Even those who hate the thought of this man as president will get to reap the rewards of us working together and choosing to set aside the things that make us different (and, by the way, special) and focusing instead on the things that make us the same. One of those things being this country we live in. Whether you are rich or poor or black or white, don't we ALL want the best for our children? Don't we ALL want to lead lives of purpose and fulfillment as well as have the option to just do whatever the heck we we want to do sometimes? Don't we ALL want to retire while we are healthy and have the money to do so? Don't we ALL want to be able to go to the doctor when we are sick and not when we are too desperate to wait another second? Don't we ALL want to know peace?

It's no question that I guarded my heart with this man. I saw the possibility of him winning becoming more and more real but I know all too well that we can get close and have victory snatched away. I needed to hear them all say - Barak Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America. Then I could let it go. I would only then be free to tell all of you who don't really know just how much it hurts a parent to place any limits on their child, even though that was never the goal. For their safety, you had to surround them with bumpers, constantly hovering to catch them in case they fell into the wrong situation. Now, we only need to say, "Yes, you can."

Suddenly the playing field has been leveled even for those of us that have already been in the game for a while. Even better, this man's election simply removed blindfolds for many of us because the way it should be was the way it could have been all along if we took the time to recognize it. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore and thank God for it!

This man is the best in ALL of us. His family is the picture of how a family should be. His marriage is the definition of support no matter what. His cool demeanor is alllll jazz, baby. And we are babies in this world, finally learning to walk and the rest of the globe is supporting us. That too feels good.

Black people. Remember the determination our enslaved forefathers and mothers carried on their backs, never to be beaten away? Remember the struggles for common humanity our grandparents reminisced about with that sadness in their voices? Remember the sacrifices our hardworking parents made, forcing many of us to be latchkey kids? Remember that Dream Dr. King so eloquently spoke into history? Though we could feel it, we couldn't see what was in their heart but here it is. This is it. This is that dream personified. Now we all know.

I wish I were a fly on the wall of the gangbangers' lair. I wish I were a little birdie on the windowsill of the incarcerated brothers who know better but chose worse because jail is preferable to the streets or to a minimum wage job. I wish I were a goldfish in the bowl of that black frat house, hearing them mull over this new road that has opened before them. A freshly paved road that takes them to a moral high ground that was once too treacherous to climb.

So why did Obama win, the critics ask?

Because even the people who thought they were beyond the power of cynicism were dragged into the depths of frustration that too many of us already live in daily. Even the ones who did not know or did not choose to acknowledge that the price for equality was more than most people could afford, found out that when one of us gets hurts we all suffer. God allowed the blind to see and the marginalized to find hope again. Obama won because he pointed the way out and enough people realized it would be stupid and self-destructive to not listen.

Listen to this video. Over and over. Hear those voices in unison. Allow yourself to feel that hope, people. And resolve that you too will make the sacrifices needed to advance us all.

It's a brand new day folk. And I am so very, very proud to be an American right now. I am even prouder still of our children for whom ancestral memory is clearly intact and who heard this call, answering with a resounding, "Yes, we can!"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Can You Feel A Brand New Day?

Today's the day and I am on pins and needles, bouncing on the inside, anxious to get home and watch the news until the whole shebang is finally over. I've said it twice already - It's like Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve all rolled into one. The anticipation of the gift of a new president and new sense of direction. The dawning of a new time. It's hard to even write this. Just. So. Much. Stuff.

Kids are excited, man. People who never voted before are coming out to vote. People are choosing to wait in long lines in the dark and cold and they are NOT complaining. It is awesome. I got up at 4:30 because I wanted to be there at 6 to get my vote done and to not have to needlessly deal with a crazy long line after work. The kids are out of school today so they went with me. They know the names Obama and McCain and I admit, it's not because I've been talking non-stop about either of them. You know where they are hearing stuff? From other kids in school. Son's class did a vote. Most voted Obama, he said. Daughter says no to McCain because "he takes money." She thinks because he has money, he stole it. "No, Daughter. He's wealthy and so is Obama, actually, though it might not be quite the same amount. It's OK if people have money. It's not bad." In line they sang their own Obama-Yes-McCain-No song. And actually, I have some stupid cold/allergy thing going on so I just wanted to get out of the cold so my nose would open up again. Other than that, the feeling in the air was amazing.

I got more texts before 8 a.m. than I've ever gotten before. My brother is forward texting a prayer that Obama is protected and I second that with my prayer that we ALL keep our cool no matter what. Everywhere I turn it seems Obama is the man all over the place. I don't normally care what celebs endorse but I've been thinking maybe I'm just not paying attention but what celeb has come out to publicly endorse McCain so far? Obama is getting it right and left - politically and literally - but McCain? Interesting. The idea that that race may FINALLY become a lesser issue? Fantastic.

This time is simply like no other. Watching the news this morning while I waited for Mr. T to take over the kids so I could go to work, I listened to Eric Michael Dyson as Matt Laurer finally brought the race issue all the way to the front - because really, I think we've been doing our best not to tackle fully that just yet. But time's up so let's call it out. Basically Matt wondered what it would say if he won and if he didn't. So I'll let you listen to that yourself - after you get past the commercial:

Watch more NBC TODAY Show videos on AOL Video

I admit it, it's hard to work today. On the one hand, I welcome the distraction of my job. It's better than sitting and waiting, but all I can do, it seems, it keep up with what's going on out there while I am in here - via Twitter, YouTube, emails, blogs, co-workers. Who can concentrate?! Clearly it's not just me.

It's the best election ever. It truly is. I just read:

Parks sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Obama could run.
Obama is running so our children can fly.

And I leave you with this song that got stuck in my head when Kerri showed it to me this morning. Watching these kids be so enthusiastic. I need Obama to win just so they can keep on feeling like the winners they are.

In case you need the lyrics:
Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

(McCain supporters)
McCain’s the best candidate
With Palin as his running mate
They’ll fight for gun rights, pro life,
The conservative right
Our future is bright
Better economy in site
And all the world will feel our military might

(Obama supporters)
But McCain and Bush are real close right
They vote alike and keep it tight
Obama’s new, he’s younger too
The Middle Class he will help you
He’ll bring a change, he’s got the brains
McCain and Bush are just the same
You are to blame, Iraq’s a shame
Four more years would be insane

Lower your Taxes - you know Obama Won’t
PROTECT THE LOWER CLASS - You know McCain won’t!
Have enough experience - you know that they don’t
STOP GLOBAL WARMING - you know that you won’t

I want Obama
Stick with McCain and you’re going to have some drama
We need it
He’ll be it
We’ll do it
Let’s move it

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

I’m talking big pipe lines, and low gas prices
Below $2.00 that would be nice

But to do it right we gotta start today
Finding renewable ways that are here to stay

I want Obama
Stick wit McCain you gone have some drama
Iran he will attack
We gotta vote Barack!

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

Democratic left
Republican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah

Monday, November 03, 2008

Waiting to Party Like It's 1999

First, a moment of silence for Madelyn Dunham, Barack Obama's grandmother.


I've said it often and I'll say it again. Grandparents are crucial in the development of a child. For everyone who has theirs, thank God for it. I know mine were - and one still is - awesome.


I am so excited. More than I have ever been during an election year. And part of that excitement is for the usual reason - I am thinking my choice is going to win this and that is beyond exciting. The other part? I am just so ready for this thing to be over with already! I am tired of it. I am glad for it but tired of it. I am anxious to go vote tomorrow but not looking forward to the potential wait either. My plan is to be there for when the polls open at 6 a.m. and that means dragging the kids with me since Mr. T won't be able to be with them. But since they don't have school, I don't mind disrupting their sleep. My hope is that I can be among the first to get in there and get done. And then I can go home, make popcorn and watch the news all night long. Know the last time that happened? NEVER!

I don't know why Connecticut doesn't have early voting and I haven't had a chance to go figure out exactly what the difference is between early voting and absentee voting. But it's not fair. Why can't all the states have that option? At least during a Presidential election and definitely for one as big as this. Everyone knows this is huge. Somebody could have made an exception this year. But, we'll forgo sleep and hopefully skip a long line to go get the deed done and then bug people all day to make sure they did they same.

I may have blogged about 2008 back when the year changed. (I have to go see.) But if you don't recall, 2008 was set to be a year of major changes. That's what the number 8 means - New Beginnings. For me, it's one sign that Obama is the pick. Want to know another sign? McCain's latest ad trying once again to make it seem controversial to pick Obama because of who he knew or knows or met on a random street one day. If they are drudging out that old Rev. Wright issue again, they must be desperate. And it also goes to show how out of touch McCain is when it comes to non-whites because Rev. Wright didn't say anything that many of us black folk haven't already heard in our own churches. But what people need to understand is that this kind of racial talk is not about white folk. It's about healing black folk and getting us all to understand that we must stand on our own power and stop blaming white people for our problems. The anger is still there and to pretend like it isn't is naïve. But there is also work toward community healing going on. A boosting of the collective self-esteem. Obama would be a huge boost indeed.

It's been a great year so far - even if I do have to refinance my mortgage this month. (It went up twice already and a new mortgage will send it up a little more. Whoopie! Feeling the effects of that bailout probably.) I think things will end on a very interesting note.

Tomorrow night is going to be like waiting on New Year's Day to dawn. I have seen a lot of major changes in my lifetime already - cell phones, personal computers, the Internet. How cool that I get to witness one that the whole world has been waiting for forever.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Need More Proof?

More ringing endorsements from people who are stepping up to the plate.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Get in the Game

For some reason the code I need to embed this won't pop up for me so I'll just say, here's a little video for you. And you can click when you are up to it.

So, I was just wondering. Are you one of those people who is still on the fence regarding who to vote for this Nov. 4th? I was just wondering - why? When the choice was Hillary or Barack, OK. I could see some confusion about what the real differences were other than the obvious. But that's a done deal now. So now you're still wondering Obama or McCain. Why? Because their beliefs are so much alike? Because their backgrounds are so similar? Because the differences in what they vow to do in office are negligible? I honestly can't understand not knowing by now - 13 days away. I've voted a few times now and I've done the lesser-of-2-evils kind of voting. I can see that. But this time? Really? You still don't know?

Now I presume you've heard all the debates and/or read articles and/or visited their websites and/or watched their infomercials and/or discussed all this with umpteen people at work and everywhere. I am guessing you can get the news from wherever you are so you do hear that too.

I'm curious. If you are on the fence and you come across my blog, will you be willing to share why you stay on the fence? I'm truly curious about what it could be that's got you so unsure. Now if it's that you just don't believe in sharing who your choice is, that's not on the fence. That's just being private and that's your right. I don't mind telling you my vote goes to Barack Obama because this is one of those times when I think it helps some people to know they are not alone in making this "radical" choice. I am curious though. Even the Bible will tell you that you must choose. There is no lukewarm, only hot or cold.

My concern? Whatever side you choose, you need to show it by actually voting. Lip service is not enough. And don't wait until the end of the day if you can help it. First thing in the morning. Take your children. Set your cell phone alarm to remind you if you have to wait until the end of the day. Or go on your lunch hour. A friend said we should get Nov. 4th off as a holiday so there are no excuses. I totally agree. It will be interesting to see how many people say Obama and then back out at the last minute - aka The Bradley Effect you've been hearing about - or even how many swear McCain but in their heart say Obama - The Reverse Bradley Effect. It's going to be interesting to see how many voting issues come up and claims of wrongdoing. Will it be another month-and-a-half-long counting process? Will it be a landslide? Will you get off the fence and go vote?

The world shall see. Watch that video yet?

Quick P.S.: Obama is awesome but remember he is NOT God. He is just a man trying to make a difference and to expect anyone to go in and save us all is unrealistic. Great if it happened, but maybe you shouldn't get your hopes up. It has taken years upon years to get to where we are. It is unfair to expect anyone to clean it up in just 4 years. Taxes go up whether they say they won't raise them or not. People lose jobs whether they say they will save the economy or not. Global warming continues whether we drill offshore or suddenly find all kinds of new ways to create safe, clean energy for ourselves. Take your realism to the voting booth with you. You are voting for the person who you truly think is going to try to do what they say they will and who best represents the majority of your interests. No one can represent your EVERY interest. All this goes for McCain too. Who would you want to work with on fixing our present state? Pick him.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Race Matters

I love this and I hate this. My brother forwarded this to me recently and it's fitting because I know it is on the minds of every black person who sees the significance of this but no one wants to utter it out loud too much. No one wants to make too many waves and get this brother off course.

The email that came with it said:

What must it feel like?
To carry the hopes and dreams of an entire race of people on your shoulders? As much as I hate to say it, I know beyond a doubt that the next four weeks are going to be nasty. He's leading, and there are people who simply cannot stomach the idea of his beautiful family living in the White House. There is going to be smears, slander and lies, the likes of which you¢ve probably rarely seen. So ya'll, we got to pray for this man. And please . . . make sure you VOTE!!!

And so we wait. This is a scary place for any black person who cares about their people. This man DESERVES to win. But the burden on him, whether he articulates it or not, is not just to help this country as a whole. He has the perception of our race in his hands. Whether any of us like it or not. We are excited for him and scared for him. To fail hurts us all. To succeed puts his life in jeopardy. It's not fair and we HATE to think like this. But we do without even trying, without being taught. It is ancestral memory at its best. When he wins, we will all hold our collective breath for four years praying he makes it through and does not do anything any worse than any other president has done. But here's the thing - he can't do anything wrong. He does not have that luxury. He's got to be damn near perfect. It's not fair. Still, it's the reality of being black in this country and YES, it is the reality in 2008 whether you were born a minute ago or a lifetime ago. It is what we still have to teach our African-American babies. It is what they know instinctively as well. (Remember Daughter choosing white dolls over black dolls?)

What angers me is knowing for a fact that if Obama were white, there would be fewer people on the fence. And you know why they are there but won't admit to? They like him and what he has to say. After all, it's really no better or worse than any other presidential hopeful as said. It is because he is black that they hesitate. It is because he is half-white that he gets some support. There are those giving lip service but will white entitlement win again and pull the lever when it's time to vote, despite what their common sense is saying? We'll see. It's gonna be close, I'm sure. I wouldn't be surprised if it ended up being so close votes will have to be re-counted. Amazingly, some may disappear or suddenly be found. But I have to check my cynicism and pray that God is saying the time for this foolishness to end is now and no matter how hard "they" try, this deserving man will rise above it all anyway. God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. I'm going to keep looking for the good.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sigh of the Times

So my friend says, "Blog already!" Well, not those words precisely but close enough. It's not that I have nothing to say. It's that I have no time to say it. My job has been INSANE lately but we have those times. Times of still waters and times when it's all hands on deck, every man and woman doing everything that needs to be done. For at least two solid weeks I could think of nothing but all the stuff I had to do at work and I'd go home wishing I could do some more from home but knowing I needed to chill.

What I NEED is a laptop, much like the one Mr. T. once bought and promptly sold to the first person who asked him if he'd be willing. The freedom of the laptop is that when I get home tired, I just want to sit and let the TV watch me while I maybe work on something for the project we're doing for my business or maybe while I edit some columns to go on the website at my job. What I don't want to do is go all the way back downstairs to sit on my stool and work my way through my email and catch up on a few things. I'd be willing to do that in my bed right before I fell asleep though. So I need a laptop. Again.

But the issue here was time and time is money, right? I have no time, so what does that mean? Yep, not enough money either and I'm about sick of it. As I told said friend, we have money to survive. What we need is money to live. Cub scouts cost. Halloween costumes cost. New earrings for my newly pierced 4-year-old cost. (Yeah. I'm sorry I didn't blog about it. She hounded me and hounded me and I knew she didn't know what she was in for but I didn't want to put fear in her either so I gave in. She tried to jump out of the chair after the first one went in. It took 10 minutes to talk her into the second hole and now she is over the moon.) Anyway, she's turning 5 soon and birthday parties cost. My car REALLY needs help on all fronts. But that costs. Basically, I've been maintaining but it's time to get ahead.

So I thought, what can I do? The business can't help right now. We have 2 FANTASTIC new children's puzzles in the works and when they are done, I will share that with you all as I look for stores to take a chance on them. We do have our printer taking a chance on our holiday cards in his highly trafficked store, though, and we still have the first store we were in, so the potential exposure IS there. We just have to work them - after the artwork is finally done. It's taking longer than I hoped but I anticipate something awesome because both of these women are dynamic artists. The puzzles are election related, however, thus the time concern.

So I keep thinking, what can I do? I can't work outside the home more than I already do. I can't do anything that will require more gas to get there, you know? But I can edit and I can write and that has to be enough. But I am working on my own book and I don't write as much as I'd like for my job due to the millions of other things that need to be done, but I write for them nonetheless. So do I want a third writing job? Not really. Copy editing? A form of writing and very time consuming but doable. You know what's even more doable? Proofreading. Haven't done it since I was temping after I got out of college but I do have that weird gene one has to have to even like this kind of work. I didn't know I had it until after college but I suppose it was like having a disease and just not having the diagnosis until years later. This stuff is in my blood somehow so this is what I do.

I went looking for a proofreading company I can deal with virtually. Took no time to find one but now I had to go looking for my resume again. I updated it 3 years ago after I had been working my new job for a bit but I hadn't done it since. I had different versions for different positions so I had to find the right, well-edited one so I wouldn't have to worry about typos. Then I had to update it.

This morning I sent it off to the guy and I was honest in the cover letter because honesty works for me. Basically, I can do what he's looking for in an editor and proofreader. I can use the programs he wants the person to be able to use. There is one program I don't have or use because I never needed to but I told him if I have just cause, I will buy it and use it. No big deal.

No typos in the email and off it went. It must have taken him 5 minutes to respond. Cool. He was impressed. A far cry from the days when I first started and just needed a chance to get started. I needed a job to get experience but first you had to have experience to get a job. At last, experience is no longer an issue. He sent the preliminary test and it sits waiting for me. I glanced at it and the number of errors in it is making me jumpy but you can't do these things quickly. I intend to take all weekend.

If I make it through this part, there are THREE MORE PARTS, they say. Yikes! Am I sure I don't want to go back to SAT Prep teaching? Naw. Who has time to get re-trained and I don't want to drive all over the state anyway. I want to be with my kids as much as I can. They are so grown. Son has his friends he likes to go see and thankfully those boys' mothers adore him and welcome him when he comes. Daughter is sad thinking Son doesn't have time for her anymore. "He's MY best friend!" she cried recently. I explained that Son had made those friends in kindergarten and now that she was in kindergarten, she'd make her own friends too. "He's not moving out, you know. You'll always have each other." In the meanwhile, she comes home and tells me about all the kids she gives turns to on the schoolbus so they can sit next to her.

My children are social and I don't want to think about what their social lives are going to cost me over the years. I've got my own friends though and it costs to hang out, you know? But hang out with them is what I like to do. And my co-workers have joined that group since just about every wall that SHOULD be up, went down over the past few months. I won't even go into the stuff we've shared - with each other AND our boss! - but I am thankful to work with people I like and can relate to. Of course that's more people to do stuff with (we're going shooting next month. More later.) and that requires disposable funds.

I can't think about the economy or continue to watch my retirement going down in huge chunks like it is right now. I just trust things will work out in the end and I do thank God I have some more time ahead of me for things to rebound. In the meanwhile, I'm praying this at-home stuff works out and that somehow I'll find time for that and puzzles and my own writing and my own life.

This is my sigh of the times.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Quick Election Word

Thanks to two friends, I have some wonderful video to upload - later. After I get some other stuff under control. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you I got an email from a friend that says this:





Now, this IS partially true so don't ignore it. I always go looking to verify so what I found was this from WKBN Fox News in Ohio:

Planning on wearing your Barack Obama shirt or John McCain pin to the polls November fourth? You might want to pack a change of clothes.

"If someone's wearing a pin or a shirt with a candidate or an issue on it, we ask that person to either remove the pin or cover up their shirt with any campaign material on it", says Tom McCabe, Director of the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

The Pennsylvania Elections Commissioner was recently quoted as saying it's okay to wear shirts, hats, pins and other items promoting candidates and issues in polling places, as long as a voter doesn't try to campaign there. But the final decision is up to the counties, and Mercer County Commissioners say even though a state official says it's all good, they won't allow it. It won't fly in Ohio either.

"It is a gray area in some cases, and with over one hundred polling locations it's so hard to enforce that throughout the day, we do our best", says McCabe.

The gray area falls between campaigning and something called electioneering. Ohio law says no one can campaign within one hundred feet of a polling place, but is wearing a shirt for a specific candidate really campaigning? McCabe says,

"It's important that voters feel no pressure from any campaign, or poll worker, or other voters, and they're free to make their own choices within the polling location."

So the best way to support your candidate on election day is to vote for them, and the sticker you can proudly display at any polling location is the one that says, "I voted today."

"Fortunately with November, the weather will be a little colder so if they do have a t-shirt on, we'll ask them to cover it with their jacket.", says McCabe.

McCabe adds no one will be turned away or denied their right to vote because of their Election Day outfit. The worst case scenario would be a poll worker asking you to cover up, or turn your shirt inside out.
In short, it looks like this really depends on your state, but just in case, be sure you take a jacket. Some people are counting on others' ignorance and looking to exploit that. Obama is ahead. Keep him there. Don't fall for this crap.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1,000 Words

A friend at work sent this around. I loved it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Eyes Half Closed, I Am Still in The Race

My kids are in school. So why am I the one exhausted already?

I have been trying to make sure to be home by 8 each night so I can have both my ears pulled by their stories and their questions and their list of things they need BY TOMORROW. Checking homework that isn't really in depth just yet. Figuring out who will eat the next day's school lunch and who won't. Covering text books (think I'm done now). Baths, laundry, cleaning in an effort to not be too overwhelmed the next morning. My refrigerator REALLY needs cleaning but there's too much stuff in there right now and I'm too lazy to pull it all out. But maybe I will this weekend. Daughter got a hold of a toy catalog and is regaling me with her Christmas wish list, marking up about 75% of the catalog with things she "needs" and Son "needs" and the back yard is "empty. So we need to get stuff back there so we can play." Yes, your highness.

I have a to-do list at work that is miles long and my own to-do list isn't as long but it's VERY involved. Last night I was hoping to fold laundry and read a little bit while Mr. T watched football. But the business emails I had to go through first took longer than I expected and the laundry was actually 3 loads sitting around waiting for me, because clearly I'm the only one in the whole house who knows how to put seams together and fold.

And then McCain made his speech. I'm curious about him so I listened. It was all I could do not to fall asleep. The speech was uninspired and uninspiring. The man clearly has nothing on his Veep, that's for sure, but he solidified one thing for me - I do NOT want him running the show.

I've got a mortgage to refinance. I've got kids who want the moon. I've got a car that I think wants to retire but it has to keep working for me. I've got a business I can't give the proper time to. I've got a husband who works two jobs and yes, he loves to work, but I hate the thought of him working overtime some days, which means the kids need to get off the school bus at Nana's house and that increases the likelihood of them getting off at the wrong bus stop again and then I'll have TWO misplaced children. I've got a job that I love but that needs a ton of my time - just like everything and everyone else. I don't see McCain being able to empathize with me. Frankly, I don't see Palin in my boat either.

I need debates now. That where the differences will show up. I was just telling a friend earlier that I am glad things have gone the way they have because there's a black man on one side and a woman on the other. If you hate one, you'll go for the other out of spite. But guess what? Racists and sexists all have to bite the bullet on this one because you will get one or the other like it or not, baby. So what's your choice? To forget the unimportant stuff like race and gender, and actually LISTEN to these people and pick the best person for YOU and YOUR family. Maybe hate will spur people to vote! What a concept!

I'll be watching it all through sleepy eyes, I'm sure, but I know I'll be wide awake when it's time to vote. If you haven't registered yet, get your butt in gear. It takes SECONDS and you'd wait longer than that to get into a club or to buy the latest cell phone. Look at your family or just consider your life and make a choice.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

McCain and Veep "Palin" Comparison

So I had to say something. I can't let my extreme activity stop me from stating what I think is becoming more and more obvious now: I do believe we are about to get our first African-American president.

It's more real to me now than ever before. I watched the bulk of the Dem convention, although a few days late since I had to tape it when it originally ran. Michelle was compelling. Hillary was convincing. Barack was simply captivating. But will the good old boys stop the show? It looks like even they are being outnumbered. Still, we had to wait to see. And Hillary, by the way, is probably not 100% thrilled that Barack got the nod. She's not supposed to be! The woman has a right to be upset, so let her and let's stop trying to make her pretend it's OK. She lost. Don't be a sore loser, but it's OK to be sad by the loss. Maybe if she admitted it, her posse would stop being so vindictive giving votes to the Republicans just to spite the black man.

Then McCain made his VP pick. At first glance, I thought it a cunning move to grab Hillary's people. I know I didn't see it coming. But as we learned more about this woman, I began to think it was the dumbest thing he could have done. Now, I give him a thumbs up for giving the finger to convention and going with a woman. For people like me, history will be made either way. It's a victory for this country, whether we want to believe it or not. But an unknown from step-state Alaska? Come on! When I think of her, I keep seeing re-runs of Northern Exposure in my head!

She seems smart, capable, personable and all that. But I do NOT want this woman running the country when old McCain has a health issue. And you just KNOW he's going to have health issues. Come on folks. He's OLD! Yes, I'm being ageist right now. Sue me. The man is past retirement. Now is not the time to take on the most stressful job in country! So Palin will run the show when he can't? You think she can? I don't.

And Bush. Making history by being the first President to not show up at his own party's convention in what? 40 some years or something like that? Niiiice.

I tell you it's like McCain is handing the reigns to Obama. And thank you much if you are, dear sir. The choice of Palin does at least make that stupid concern about Barack's experience no longer a matter of such consequence, I say. Now maybe people can focus on his message and not be blinded by his youth. And the fact that her teen-age daughter is pregnant? Who cares! With Laura Bush I must agree. This wouldn't have been an issue if she were a man. Nevertheless, as nice as this woman may be, Palin is no Hillary Clinton and is not an adequate stand in for her. It's amazing that Hillary's own people are being duped into thinking she is.

I just hope the non-voters out there are finally stimulted enough to go out and cast a vote in the most fascinating race in a VERY long time. And with enough of those - on Baracks' side, of course - maybe we can outnumber the vindictive voters, the uninspired uninformed, and racist right-wing and give this country a real chance to find out what it's like to work together for a real change.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Welcome, September

I'm on a break - sort of. It's been another hectic week and I didn't blog (here) and I had about 100 emails to catch up on and a new tool on my job's website just launched and I am basically in charge of running it and my eyes are hurting from my stupid allergeies that didn't come when I was expecting it and I was therefore lulled into a false sense of freedom thinking this was my better allergy year when it was all just delayed until mid-July and continues through right now.

I missed blogging about my kids' first day of school basically because it was all screwed up and it took two days to get it sorted. Daughter had kindergarten orientation on Thursday. She went in for a 20-minute or so tour of her classroom and treasure hunt. She loved it even though she can't seem to remember her teacher's name. That's OK. I keep pronouncing it two different ways myself.

As we prepared to go home, I asked the teacher about all the kids who were there that day. "Oh, it's the first day of school for the rest of the school."

"Excuse me, what?"

You see, the information we got in Daughter's letter from her teacher mentioned that the first full day of school was Friday.

"Oh, that's just the kindergarteners," she said. Yes, of course it is! I hopped on my cell phone while she spoke. "Mr. T. get Son dressed. He's missing his first day of school!"

"It's tomorrow."

"No it isn't! I'm talking to Daughter's teacher right now!"

"But the paper said Friday."

"That's just for the kindergartners. I know. I was confused too. Just get him dressed and we'll switch kids!"

I made sure the office was cool as Daughter and I trotted out to go get her brother. All was well when I brought him in approximately an hour and a half late. "We're just glad he's here now," the office secretary said as she wrote an excused tardy note for him. Funny how she, the principal and Daughter's teacher all had the same it-was-a stupid-mistake-but-we-won't tell-you-that-though-we'll-smile-patronizing-smiles-instead voices. Well, at least Mr. T got confused too. He's as aware as I am when it comes to the kids' needs and school goings-on. At least we were clueless together.

And the next day was no better, I suppose. As we waited for the bus and it didn't come, I called the bus company to make sure the route had not changed. Normally they would be the last ones on, which makes sense since we are close to the school but right at the line between the kids having to get themselves to school (because they are close by) and the school bus being made available. Come to find out, our stop will now be the first stop and we were about 10 minutes late getting there. So, no first day on the school bus pictures for our new kindergartner. I can't care too much. Honestly. There was just so much confusion over those two days and between those two days when our two public school kids came home with folders full of stuff to do and sign and buy (or find in the house). I just needed a break. I haven't really Tweet on Twitter, faced the nation on Facebook, Linked with anyone or socialized on my 3 business networking sites in about a week. What have I been doing? Well, working on my book proposal, which I hope to wrap up tomorrow and chillaxin' with Mr. T whenever possible. I really just needed to do that. Plus my eyes. My tired eyes. My allergic, aching eyes have been plaguing me. But I had to get back here to my neglected blog as she was calling me for days but I've been too busy to answer. I'm here, sweet blog! You're never too far from my heart. I haven't even commented on the Dem convention and McCain's VP pick! You KNOW I have thoughts on those!

I'm kind of glad September is here. It's a fresh month and a fresh start. I can't wait to get started!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Time's Up!

Tomorrow I go get the kids. Summer at Camp Grandma must have been really good because this was the first time ever that no one said, "Mommy, when do you come get us?" They are growing up and getting used to it and I'm glad. Mr. T is too. I know he was happy that he was able to take every overtime opportunity that came at him at work, which is good for the bills but takes away from our time. Still, we found our moments so it wasn't a total waste of freedom. Plus, I got a chance to get my book proposal to near completion. I had hoped to have it mailed out today but I found another expert to add to it and I waited to hear from her and some of the others I had already talked to about being in it. So now I'm shooting to mail it on Friday because I really want it moving before September hits. It will have been 3 months and a week since I last talked to the agent and told her I didn't have a proposal yet but I would do one. On that front, time's up as well.

School starts on Friday and Mr. T keeps mentioning Daughter getting on the school bus. I don't recall him mentioning it quite as much when Son went for the first time but it's probably because she is still the baby and there's that whole father/daughter thing I'm sure. He's right. It's a big step. New school; a public school. Riding the school bus. New teacher (for the school as well). New friends. At least she has Son and that makes it easier for me to handle it. Plus she, unlike when Son was in kindergarten and we were living with my MIL, is getting on at the last stop before they hit school, which makes it the first stop home so I know they won't even have to deal with a long ride. I'm looking forward to the new adventure for her but it conjures up thoughts that time will be up in another way as well - deciding on that 3rd kid.

Yeah, God is in charge ultimately but we're not exactly winging it here. Deliberate decisions would still have to be made but that's OK. We have enough on our plates with kindergarten and having to refinance our mortgage soon. I'll just wait until my 38th birthday at the end of the year and see what's what. I told Mr. T about a dream I had recently that I saw some boxes in a store that had my MIL's name on it. They were baby shower gifts being held for her to buy for us. Surely just a random reaction to a topic that stays at the back of my mind. The first part of that dream was he and I running around France trying to catch a cab to the airport to get back home. The only thing we had were the suits we were born in. ;-) Not likely to happen either, right? So I guess nothing is for certain.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Iota Forever

This weekend I reconnected with my sorority. For some people, my being in one may not fit who they think I am. I can understand that. At the time, I wasn't expecting to fit one either. I went to a small college with a minority population of about 10% at the time. We're talking about 300 of us out of 3,000. Of the traditional 4 black Greek sororities that make up the Super 8, only 2 were represented on my campus (Super 8 = the 4 sororities and 4 fraternities that somehow are expected to fit the personalities of the millions of young blacks who may be interested in such an organization. The white groups, on the contrary, are numerous, as it should be. ) I wasn't close enough to another, larger school to even look into the other two sororities that weren't on my campus. I wasn't interested in the two sororities we had. I wasn't interested in joining a white sorority, which I could have done. I also wasn't interested in the nonsense that came with pledging one; i.e. hazing was the norm. I doubt it has gotten much better over the years.

Then one of the financial advisors asked to speak to me one day - I don't recall how she thought of me. Maybe it was my visibility on the campus. She told me about her sorority, Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. (emphasis on the Inc. please if you're going to say that out loud), and that she was looking to bring a chapter to our campus. She told me about their philosophies and the fact that they normally don't do undergrad chapters but they were looking to expand their membership base. She told me Iota was for business and professional women. She told they weren't part of the Super 8. (I then earned there are LOTS of us black Greeks out there who aren't part of the Super 8.)

Claudia Logan - that was her name - was the type of woman I liked personally so I listened to her and I considered what she said. I met the other girls she had spoken to and we all had one thing in common - none of us were the sorority type. We liked that, though the irony of joining a group because we DID fit in wasn't lost on us. We liked the focus on professionalism that the group had. We were of similar minds and behaviors, and agreed we liked what we heard - we especially liked being the pioneers for the organization on our campus - so we said yes.

We had fun together. We developed our own language. We worked hard to NOT be what we didn't like in other groups. We participated in a Step Show to show the other groups someone new was in town. We truly became sisters except now I only talk to one of them regularly and she keeps tabs on a couple of the others. But I know if we ever get back together again, it will be like no time has passed.

When I graduated and moved back home to Maryland, my focus was on getting a job and figuring out if I could move out on my own. It was tough. After a year, I'd resigned myself to living at home and being glad I could pay bills and save money. I had just started thinking about the rest of my life - possibly dating a guy I had met nearby, joining the local chapter of my sorority - when a full-time opportunity opened up in Connecticut and of course I had to take it because I didn't want to go to Texas where the other two newspaper opportunities were located because, well, let's just say, if I wanted to visit Mexico, it would have taken me all of 5 minutes to get there. Too deep for me.

When I moved here, I kept in touch with one of the sorors from the Maryland chapter I was considering. I learned that the nearest chapter was either a potentially 2-hour trip away in NY or 1 hour away in Hartford. I had just moved to this strange land and one hour seemed like a trip to the moon, despite the fact that I was driving 5 hours on the weekends to go home with no problem at all.

I wasn't interested in exploring beyond my new town and the surrounding ones just yet. In time, I branched out and expanded my horizon to include the neighboring states but I still wasn't ready to go to NY or Hartford for regular meetings of any kind. I was too lazy to do all that driving and soon too busy with a life and new family of my own. After fifteen years now in this state, and it is only now that I have an urge to reacquaint myself with the group I once loved.

So one Saturday I visited a meeting about 1 1/2 hours away at the house of one of the sorors in Hartford. I told them that I was interested in being reinstated but a monthly drive there would not be happening. Maybe every other month. They understood. We just had another meeting recently to discuss the upcoming regional conference which is being hosted by my new chapter and will conveniently be held in Hartford next year. Sitting there with these ladies, having nothing in common beyond our race, gender and Iota, I thought about a friend's recent discussion with her friend and the need to connect to other people. (My friend was on the pro side of this argument.) It's amazing how being in a sorority tears down at least one wall of suspicion and uncertainty we tend to put up when dealing with strangers, even when that stranger is of the same race as you. Sometimes that wall is at least partially torn down, however, when you are in a situation where there may only be a few of you of like same race. In that case, the fraternity is apparent once again.

The divisions I see now are between chapters but the rivalry is friendly and the feelings are mutual when you find yourself in the midst of women all donned in green (preferably kelly) and white. It was funny to listen as one soror spoke about wearing the apparel whenever we do community events - any event - in the name of Iota. She unbuttoned her jacket to reveal a shirt a new vendor had made. She turned around to show the turtle (our unofficial mascot which is all over the place so I don't know why it's not official yet) and the gasps and applause rose up. I was probably one of the youngest in the room. Some of the older ones were retired. But we were all on the same wavelength. I left there feeling glad I had found them again.

So now, as if I needed to add something else to my to-do list, I am back in the fold. I plan to work hard to keep my involvement on a level I can handle. If I had realized it was my chapter's turn to host the regional conference, I might have planned my re-entrance for another time. But then again, I never got the chance to do a lot of this stuff the first time around. Soror Logan died of lung cancer before we graduated. We were devastated and that made it difficult to stay plugged in like we needed to. But I bet you'd she'd be smiling a high-watt smile if she were here now. So happy she would be to know that the seed she planted was more deeply rooted than even I could have predicted. And I was glad too to know that the feeling wasn't superficial. Iota is still as relevant to my life today as I hoped it would be when I pledged 18 years ago, proving that choosing to join a sorority should not be something done frivolously. One should look beyond the pretty colors and popularity of the members to the meaning behind the organization, the fruit of the women who hail from there, and the possibility of what it can provide for you in the future. This is one family you can choose so why not choose someone of which you can be proud?

If you are in a sorority, feel free to show your pride. :-D