Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolved

"The past isn't dead and buried.  In fact,it isn't even past." - William Faulkner

"Self-improvement is masturbation." - Tyler Durden, FIGHT CLUB

All and all, I have had a good year, and I am thankful.  Still, I think that next year can be better.  Here’s how:

 

FAITH – I’m happy being a Muslim, but my practice could use a little more practice.


FAMILY – Reach out to the distant ones.  Get closer to the immediate ones.  Stay in better contact with friends, the chosen ones.  Give more love to all of them.

 

FITNESS – Let’s just say that most of the pictures I’ve taken as of late have been from the shoulder up; this is no coincidence.

 

FINANCE – I have gotten a little splurge-y lately, so I’m going to reign that in.  Also, I will try to pay off, in full, 1 of 2  student loans that I have.  This is super ambitious considering the amount, but I feel inspired by a friend who finished paying off her loans this year.

 

FUTURE – Set more goals.  Make a few plans.  But always know where the exits are (wink, wink).

 

I hesitate to add anything more to this list, even to feed my need for alliteration.  If I can pull off these five, that will be quite an accomplishment.  Besides, they are broad enough; if I wanted to include anything else, I’m sure I could rationalize said addition falling into one of the above categories.  I don’t want to go overbroad.  I’m [re]new to this.

 

I stopped making resolutions a few years back.  It seemed like too much pressure, and it was a big illusion anyway.  Why and how would the changing of one year to the next, via one day to the next, via one minute to the next, totally transform the way I lived my life?  I would suddenly break old habits and start new ones?  I would instantaneously abandon more pedestrian interests in pursuit of elevated endeavors?  I would leave the past behind and start anew?  Yeah right!  I knew better.

 

Yet, I wasn’t as clever as I thought.  While I nixed the NY resolutions, I suddenly began setting birthday “goals” that I would attempt to fulfill until my next birthday – a year later.  So I took the same illusion and moved it out by 6 months.  Revolutionary.  I’m back to December 31, setting intentions, making resolutions – whatever I want to call it.  I’m thankful for a chance to start fresh – even if it is an illusion. But I am not fooled.  I know there is nothing magical that occurs between 11:59pm tonight and 12:00am tomorrow morning.  If I am to have any success with these intentions/resolutions, the magic will have to come from me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rules of Thumb


I’ve come to learn that I cannot drive or cook when I am emotional, which means I am destined to be a pedestrian with a penchant for take-out. 

Let me explain…

 

I am, always have been, a feeler.  For better or worse, my emotions are the driving force of me, and my heart trumps my head on many occasions.  Indeed, not only does my heart overrule my head, sometimes my heart is so convincing that my head gets swept up in the commotion.


I’ve already told of the St. Louis incident.  Well, this time it was a culinary catastrophe.  HomeBoy and I came home one evening last week, and I was preparing to cook.  I’d received a few phone-calls and emails from family members in need throughout the day, and it vexed me.  I have no problem giving, and I love to help (esp. people I love), but I felt so overwhelmed.  Maybe it was the fact that hands were coming from so many directions at once; maybe it’s because I felt confused.  I thought the last time I did this would be the last time I did this. I became frustrated and anxious and just a little paranoid.  Note to self: these are not the emotions to indulge when chopping onions.

 

Somewhere between wondering how I could help and recalling the wisdom of “teaching a man to fish”, my hand started bleeding.  I had chopped the corner of my thumb clean off.  The sounds that I let out – I did not know they were inside me.  The way that I wailed and cried, moaned and cursed, you would think I was at war and just lost a limb!  HomeBoy ran to my aid and saw me bleeding.  He went to get gauze and bandages and told me to put pressure on my thumb to stop the bleeding.  But I couldn’t stop the crying.  I cried for the pain in my thumb, but I mostly cried for the pain in my heart and head.  HomeBoy cleaned me up and tried to console, “I know, Baby.  I know it hurts.”

 

“Yes,” I thought, “You know that it hurts, but you don’t know how it hurts – or why.”


But HomeBoy didn’t know because I didn’t tell him.  I didn’t tell him because I still worry about burdening people with my cyclical thinking and neuroses – even the people who make it plain that they want to be there for me.  It’s been just over a week since bloody Wednesday, and I am so much better in so many ways.  My thumb is healing nicely, and my heart is much better.  I’m realizing that if I don’t release at least some of what is inside, it will find its own way out – through a rental car fender  or an unsuspecting appendage.

 

 

Monday, December 08, 2008

Happy Birthday X2


December 7, 2008

Dear M&M,                                                                                               

 

I chose this card for both of you for 2 reasons: 1) I like Dr. Seuss 2) you’ve come a long way from being “Thing 1 and Thing 2”.  When you were little, that’s how I thought of you: Mark and MeLissa, always together; always in a set – a pair.  But you two are nearly young adults now and have your own identities, personalities and lives.  I don’t know if I tell you enough, but I am so proud of you two.  You are strong, smart, kind and funny (and you’re cute too, but let’s not get a big head about it).  You have handled all that has come your way, for better or worse, to the best of your abilities.  You continue to become phenomenal individuals because of and in spite of your surroundings and family.

As you approach young adulthood, I want you to examine your lives. Take a good look at the people in your lives and learn from them; they can teach you what to do or what not to do.  Both lessons are equally important.  Determine what you want from life.  Set goals and stay focused, and ask for help whenever you need it (you can always ask me).  Follow the rules, of course, but don’t shrink or back down for anyone.  Enjoy yourselves, but act responsibly, and surround yourselves with others who have common sense and a conscience.  Remember that the world doesn’t own you anything, but you don’t owe it (or anyone else) either.  This life is an equal exchange – you get what you give.  

You have so much ahead of you – graduation, college, your first real jobs… the list goes on and on.  But you also have so much behind you – memories, achievements, lessons learned.  I’m behind you too.  I’ll support your dreams, try to understand your trials and celebrate your successes (of which there will be many). I have only request – I ask you to look to each other for friendship; you are far too mature for sibling rivalry, and it is time to start confiding in and sharing with each other.  Use each other as a resource, and develop trust.  Believe in one another and love one another and protect each other – fiercely and ferociously.  This is very important.

Finally (but also primarily), remember that God is all knowing and all powerful.  When you’ve done all that you can do – tried your hardest in any situation –  sit back and be patient, for the rest is taken care of.  Happy Birthday.

 

More Love Than You Know,

Big Sister


(image came from here.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

silent nights...

things i should have written about long before now:

- the election (my reaction to the outcome, at least)

- my dad's visit (it's been, what? 3 weeks now?)

- thanksgiving (the obligatory post about all there is to be thankful for...insert warm fuzzies...etc...)*

- twenty something tuesday/thursday (what? so you have all these good bits o'wisdom and you're not even gonna share 'em? get with it!)

- home renovation progress (though that saga will always continue)

things i can still write about without feeling stupid-late:

- holiday movies, on TV and in the theaters (i don't celebrate the holidays, but i am always in front of the tube when it's time for The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Home Alone or Charlie Brown anything!)

- new years resolutions (some will call them intentions, others will call them wishes; po-TA-to, po-TAH-to - any reason for a fresh start is good with me)

- other blogs (why not, right? i mean, any medium that lasts eventually begins to comment on itself)

- home renovation progress (i said the saga continues)

resolved:

because in the past (and probably in the future) i have neglected to post in a timely manner about things that i find worthwhile, i would like to present...


THE RETRO-POST
"because the memories get better, the more i forget"**


* before anyone gets up in arms (insert mccain joke here) i'm very grateful for the innumerable good people and stuff in my life - every day


** okay, that's not really true, but it's funny


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

what's black and brown and blue all over?

To Do:

- brush & floss --- X
- make prayer --- X
- eat breakfast --- X
- get to work early --- X
- participate in making history (again) --- X


It's only 8 am, and already a very productive day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Autumn All Day

It was quintessentially autumn all day yesterday - crisp high winds rattled leaves from trees. Some were brilliant oranges, golds and reds. Some were a dying brown. Still others were green, but they were all flying. All in swirls of delight, little dancers on a bright blue backdrop. They seemed to move to the rhythm of the music we played in the car on our way to pick up some odds and ends. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Then it was 30-something degrees this morning. Was it thirty-five degrees? Thirty-nine? Is there a difference?

I guess this is what they mean when they say, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Well, it was autumn in Kansas City for an entire day, and I didn't sleep through it. So that's good.

(Sheesh, and also "Brrr".)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

breakdown, and let it all out...

Here's the funny thing, all this time I thought catharsis only worked if you spewed all over other people. I wrote a post nearly two weeks ago about what was causing my writer's block, and I have read and reread that post many times since then. I have been hesitant to post it because it contains some very vulnerable sh*t and I wonder(ed) if it would affect the way folks interact with me (especially since a number of my readers are people I interact with outside of the internet). What I've come to realize, however, is that by virtue of writing down what I have been avoiding, I have become substantially less blocked. Am I half way through the next great American novel? No. But I am writing - in this space, comments on other spaces, in my leather bound journal, poems, honorary pieces for special occasions, funny bits and pieces... I was not doing that before because the only thing that wanted to come out of me was the thing that I wanted so desperately to keep inside. (This is strictly metaphorical and not at all anatomical, folks. Don't be alarmed.)

I spoke to a very good friend of mine about this writer's block and my struggle with it. Why, if I knew what was causing the problem, would I not fix it? Why not remove the block? Well, maybe because that block is the cornerstone in a much larger wall - perhaps even a dam. And am I ready for it all to come tumbling down - am I ready to sink or swim in it - just so I can get some words out? That's a tough one.

Shouts out to the other earnest, inconsistent bloggers out there. We'll get around to it, and we'll wait.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just. Say. Something.

(Many thanks for your patience.  I'm not going to pretend that I haven't been gone, but I am going to just keep it moving...)


“The Journey Home”

Being home in Jersey was great, but I think we stayed a hair too long.  It actually was a little sad leaving.  There was almost a routine happening, and I could sense a very pleasant reality where HomeBoy & I could be near our families all the time.  Islamic studies every Sunday with one sisterfriend, weekly Sunday brunches with another, house  parties-turn-sleepovers at my Brooklyn Bgirl’s crib and plenty of time to spend quality time with those I can only currently claim as cyber companions (and Spelman sisters, of course).  Not to mention roadtrips to PA to see a niece and nephew who have to take my brother’s word that they have another aunt – out there somewhere.  I could spend more time with my parents and my married family (I don't really like "in-laws") and my grandmother and my little bro and sis who are entering their senior and junior years of high school (respectively).  But this is not me talking myself into relocation; this is just me envisioning alternate reality.  (Not the first time.  Won’t be the last.)

***

“This Is My House. I Build It”

The living room is done, for all intents and purposes.  The dining room needs at least two more coats of paint (it’s a dark color, so I don’t want to risk it).  Actual d├ęcor is a different matter entirely; we’re just trying to get the furniture back downstairs right now.  I’m swooning at the thought of buying art and hanging photos.  And I don’t mean the good “so enraptured in takes my breath away” kind of swoon, I just mean the faint-y kind.  But the house is still standing; the minor leaks we were having are finally fixed, and the growing season is over.  So no more Jumanji in the yard.  Though, a “concerned” neighbor did take it upon himself to cut our front bushes because they were, and I quote, “dangerous to look at”.  The coward did it while we were out of town, and he left one behind.  I’m told they look really nice in the fall – prick.

***

“Friends Graduating”

So my homie has finished her M.A. and is a SAG card carrying (she was already bona fide) actor.  She’s gone on to that big apple, so she can be apart of it.  I miss her already. 


Another friend transitioned last week, after her third bout with the “C” word – sucks I can’t even type it.  She was more than a friend.  She was the first friend I had in this land of Oz; she is the reason I know many of the dynamic women that I do.  She was a super cool Bronx girl who is heroic in my mind.  She was a fly photographer and a woman of God, she volunteered and brought people together.  She translated for me, “Price Chopper is like our Shop Rite back home…and Blue Belle ice cream – that’s like Turkey Hill.”  The last time I saw her, we were driving her to a doctor’s appointment, and she remarked, “Ain’t that something?  My little sister taking care of me.”  It wasn't so serious then – it was just some back and neck pain as far as we knew.  I wish I could’ve taken better care of her… for longer… At the service, her pastor said, “Be glad!  She’s not coming back here – she’s graduated!”  I know God's plan is THE plan, and she's not in pain anymore.  And the service was a comfort - a joyous time of remembrance, but still I wish her commencement felt less like an ending.  I love you Sis.


edited to include:

(how funny I am to apologize - to assume i have "readership".  i love yous guys who do check me out, but it's not like the WSJ didn't print or something... ;+)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

saw the light... it was good

(This narrative will be mostly in pictures.)

So, home improvements, right? Making moves... it's looking good.
Until we look up, that is, and see these:



These gold-gilded monstrosities were in the LR and DR.
We lived with it for a while because we are practical people
and there were more important things to take care of, but then Liberace called...



He wanted his fixtures back. We gladly obliged him.
In their stead, we found these two (dare I say) sumptuous pieces
at Home Depot. Regular, ol' Home Depot - don't sleep!



This is the dining room chandelier, and the lights are bright enough to withstand a dark wall color. Oh, espresso...



(Oh the amber drops look like candy! But I won't eat them - promise.)



This is the living room light/ceiling fan fixture. Love the smooth, curved lines on this, and the metal work will echo the dining room wall color quite nicely.



(The metal finish on this fan is beautiful. It's sturdy, but not overbearing.)
****

It's the next step in making this place look like our own. Next, we tackle the painting. Does painting the ceiling the same color as the walls really benefit a space? What about the general rule of a ceiling being a few shades lighter than the wall? Two rooms, two approaches. We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Twenty-Something Tuesday 1.6

"If I was twenty-five again,
I would be much more physical!
I was late getting into exercise,

and I wish I'd started much earlier.
The benefits are substantial!"


- Am Amazing Woman

You said it, Sister.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Twenty-Something Tuesday 1.5

"The best thing about life in your twenties
is you can do anything you want to do and still have the energy to do it."
-- An Amazing Woman



If I or any of my siblings ever complained about being tired, my mom would laugh and say, "Ya'll are the oldest children I know!" My sibs and I are years removed from those instances now, and though I would argue that puberty takes a lot out of a person (we need more sleep during that stage; science even says so), I think I get what my mom found so funny. We had fewer responsibilities and energy to spare. But sometimes we would do nothing at all with it.

As twenty-somethings, our responsibilities may have increased, but we still have amazing energy. There are probably things we do right now that we take for granted: all-nighters, late movies and concerts on a weeknight, road trips, jet-setting and not wasting the day of arrival or departure to "catch up on sleep". We will not be able to perform this way forever. So I say waste not, want not. While I do advocate taking care of yourself, we can splurge a little bit right now -- burn the candle at both ends once in a while. It's exhilarating.

GEMINI 1: Wait a minute. Didn't you just miss a post last week because you were too tired after coming in from a concert on a Tuesday?

GEMINI 2: Yep, and I'd do it again too!

**image above courtesy of the internets.**

Sunday, July 06, 2008

out of the frying pan and into the fireplace...

(This will be a narrative in pictures, mostly.)

When we moved in, we had this:




The green was a no-go, so we started to change things:




Then, upon closer examination, we saw that there was more to do than paint:


(this tile would fall out if anyone bumped into the mantle too hard)


(this cover is beautiful but was not living up to it's full potential)


So, we found a great contractor by recommendation,
and he started the transformation.
But he had to destroy...



before he could rebuild...



This is what we have now:




The end.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Twenty-Something Thursday 1.4 (the better-late-than-never edition)

The best thing about life in your twenties is
you finally get to start feeling like a "real" adult because you've got two and a half decades under your belt. When the first decade went under there, it meant that soon you'd have boobs like Pam Grier (hey, we all had dreams!) and that your teeth were beginning to shrink to match your face. The beginning of the second decade meant that soon you'd be able to drink too much LEGALLY and that you got to start believing you were smarter than you actually were. The latter half of the second decade means you've got the tits, you can start showing those teeth again (because you're through with those self-conscious years where you were above an utterly shameless grin), you know exactly how much to drink (although you don't actually need to drink at all) to find that grin without showing it to the toilet later, and you really ARE as smart as you think.
- An Amazing Woman




Besides smiling and laughing while reading the above (because, seriously, my nickname was Chiclets during that big teeth phase), I like what this response does. It reminds me that even though twenty-somethings are still children in the eyes of many, we've come a long way, Baby! We are well equipped to begin a conversation with, "I remember when..." or "Do you remember that time?..."
We have memories and experiences, we have stories to tell -- silly ones and tearjerkers alike. That's major evidence of adulthood right there.

Everyone likes to talk about how easy childhood was, but we are still close enough to our single-digit and adolescent years to remember that they weren't all snow cones and hopscotch. There were cliques, labels, bullies, heartbreaks, insecurities; there was confusion, fear, misunderstanding, embarrassment and the list probably goes on. No we didn't have to pay bills, but we sure paid dues. The fact that we can look back and laugh is a testament to the resilience of children. That we have made it far enough to look back at all suggests that we can survive, and maybe that we've learned something. Life has plenty more to teach us in this next stage, but let's not ignore or discredit the lessons that we bring with us to this point, resilience being one of the most valuable among them.

If only more adults could look back and laugh (and I'm including us when I say 'adults'). I've seen more families fissured, more friendships dissolved, more beautiful faces wrinkled by anger lines as a result of holding grudges than I even care to think about. And for what? It's so ironic that we are fastest to forgive at an age when we have "all the time in the world", and when time is flying by ever so quickly we have the audacity to waste it being bitter, wounded and scared.

I think it is worth the effort to remember childhood, the good the bad and the ugly. I think it's worth the effort to continue to practice resilience, forgiveness, sharing, wonder -- all of the great lessons of our youth. It would make us better grown-ups. We've all been told not to sweat the small stuff. Well, insha-Allah (if it be God's will) we will live long enough where it's all small stuff. And we will find the things that mattered in childhood are the things that still matter: people who love you, doing it for your self (whatever "it" is) and - best of all - recess.

** ps - that beautiful photo was found here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

late breaking...

(((((Yawn. Stretch.))))
Went to a concert last night - Ingrid Michaelson.  She was worth every penny.  However, the opening act (who was good but just a few songs too long) and the obnoxious gent who saw the need to shout at random (and ad nauseam) were not worth the sleep I lost.  I say all of that to say that Twenty-Something Tuesday will be a Thursday edition this week.  
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Twenty-Something Tuesdays 1.3

"If I was twenty-five again,
I would think less and feel more. Plan less and do more. Fear less and go forth with no plan, no expectation, no rumination. Just feel."
-An Amazing Woman




This amazes me
because it is so contrary to what so many of us have been told. As soon as we've learned to think for ourselves, we are expected to do it all the time. And in that thinking, we are supposed to prepare ourselves for the road ahead and err on the side of caution. Rationalize. Organize. Prioritize. If the answer for doing something was simply, "because I feel like it" it was assumed that person was being irresponsible or fresh (or both).

But so much good can come from abandoning those precepts - art for one. I've heard on more than one occasion that it is through suffering that the purest artist comes forth. Now, I'm not about to cosign that one go through her life miserable to make great art (though to each her own). Yet, imagine if we did not even indulge that anguish or any feeling at all? If we did not permit ourselves to feel whimsy, there might be no fiction. Without pain -- no great tragedies, and perhaps considerably fewer comedies. Without sarcasm -- no theater of the absurd (and no Woody Allen, for that matter). And that's only a slice of the literary and dramatic arts. How many great works would be lost to us, if artists were afraid of how their work would be perceived or judged? Furthermore, inspiration is nothing if not spontaneous creativity. That Muse everybody talks about? She's real, and in my experience she never comes when I sit around thinking about her.

Now, there is a time and place for everything. Thought, planning and fear exist, so they must be here for a reason. I'm not suggesting we throw caution to the wind with no regard for the repercussions of our actions (even if we can use the excuse of being young and foolish), but we cannot be immobilized by our right brains. We can learn a lot from Hamlet, who thought himself into inaction, though intensely passionate he was. Leave a little room for thinking, planning and fear but only an under-the-seat or overhead compartment's worth. If it's more than will fit in there, then check them at the door and quickly, lest life takes off without us.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Twenty-Something Tuesday 1.2

"If I had known at 25 that I'd still be working at age 60,
then I would have realized that my job was really the beginning of a career and would have been more purposeful in my choices."

-An Amazing Woman

This piece of advice resonates with me because I am not a big believer in "the meantime" Does this mean that every single moment of every single day has to be optimized for the sole purpose of one day ruling the world (or at least in one's industry)? No. But living life in a lull or in constant anticipation of a dream we are not actually pursuing is an exercise in futility. We all know, or will soon learn, that coming right out of school and landing your dream position is usually the stuff of fairy tales, right up there with charming princes and talking donkeys (but we do get our share of poisoned apples, how curious). Even within this advice I see some additional, implied gems: 1) have purpose 2) be conscious of time 3) be open.



Purpose is a big pill to swallow, and as 20somethings I don't think we should be especially hard-pressed to know what our purpose is right this instant. But knowing one's purpose probably helps decision-making to be way easier down the line. Some of us are blessed to know very early in life what our purpose, our calling, is (well la-dee-dah). If that's not you, cause it sure ain't me, be cool; this decade is about exploration too, so I've been told. Trying different things is great, and there's probably nothing so satisfying as finding your niche. However, I think approaching purpose as the themes of one's life makes it a little less daunting (of course I also love literature and the study of it, so perhaps this just sounds good to me).

When people began asking (more frequently, that is) during my last year of undergrad, "So what do you want to do?" The best, most nailed down answer I could muster was, "I want to write and travel and get paid to do it." I may have said perform as well; I don't remember exactly. Now that isn't as big as, say, wanting to perform the first open heart surgery in space, but those were my themes. Those are still my themes. While the traveling component of that equation is still, mostly, a self-sponsored hobby, 2 out of 3 ain't bad. And I still have time to work toward my Anthony Bourdain status.



Time-consciousness is something I still struggle with because I spend so much time in my head that when I come out, I've missed dinner -- or the boat, depending. I like speeding up & slowing down, savoring the moment & time that flies; I like to be organized, but not necessarily having a schedule. So, I guess the best way to be conscious of time, for me, is to remember that it is my greatest resource. Do I make the most of every day? Do I get enough sleep? Do I take time for myself (yes, every day)? Do I take time for God (yes, every day)? While time is not a renewable resource, it is a refreshable one, so how good I feel when I wake in the morning may foreshadow how satisfied I feel when I go to bed at night.



Being open is the greatest thing. It provides opportunities and experiences that we may completely miss if we stay too focused -- if we're wound too tight. It sounds a little airy-fairy and granola, but it means a lot of things: being willing to try new things, go to unfamiliar places, engage people who are a different Myers-Briggs type. ;+) Accept that there is more than one path to your purpose, and that a journey you never intended may still be one that you need to take. This is important for 20somethings who have preconceived notions in mind about where to live, what job to have, what someone their age should be doing, etc. Casting a wider net means a greater chance of picking up trash, it's true, but it can also mean snagging that prize-winner that would've been just outside of your reach otherwise.

**This sounds way too advice column-y. My apologies. I pretty much just write what the piece of advice brings to my mind. The truth is in the words of the women who've lived it. The rest is just my own speculation.**

**All pics courtesy of the internets.**


Saturday, June 14, 2008

this old house...

So the homeowner honeymoon is over. "Charm" and "character" and "architectural detail" are all well and good, but there's still work to be done. Operation hardwood redux has come to a successful close (mostly). We still have to put new trim on, but the downstairs floors have gone from this:


to this:



Not too shabby. Homeboy & I are happy with the finished product, but now it has jump-started a half dozen other renovation projects. Since I cannot talk about more than one home improvement project at a time for fear that my head will explode, let's start with something (that should be) simple - painting.

Ah, yes. The easy interior face-lift. We opted for a mustard yellow in the living room (and by "we" I mean "I" because this whole design thing is not Homeboy's bag; he'll humor me but that's about it). When we first applied the color to the walls, I had an uncontrollable urge for Nathan's hot dogs, but once the furniture came back into the room, I felt much better about the choice.

So now that the living room is empty again (thanks to the refinishing project), we can tackle the painting once more. Now the question is the trim and fireplace. Keep it light, or go darker? I'm keeping in mind that the LR opens into the DR, so whatever trim color I chose has to complement the palettes of both rooms. Here's the color scheme in the LR:

(above pics: 1) LR with furniture in it 2) curtain closeup -- both stripes and floral pattern are in the room 3) microfiber dark brown additional seating - dusty chocolate brown)

Here's what we have in the DR so far:



(pay no attention to the green & white tragedy in the background.)

I know for sure that orange will be the accent color in the DR -- what shade I don't know. Other colors I'm digging for this room include cream, taupe, chocolate, powder blue or mauve (to accent the accent). My inspiration was this pot holder I picked up in a quirky little shop:



You've seen all the evidence, ladies and gentlemen. On the question of trim color, what's the verdict? So far, the jury's still out on this one...

edited (6/15) to include:  Oh yes, I am definitely painting the DR.  So I'm open for wall color suggestions as well as trim color suggestions. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

birthday booty... (as in loot!)

Alhamdulillah, I had a beautiful birthday. Hugs, smiles, cards, gifts, well-wishes -- an all around lovely day. In addition to calls, emails, ecards, text messages, shout-outs & various and sundry outpourings of love here are the spoils:

Entertainment. Courtesy of one of my lovely sisters.


Crocheted companions (yet to be named).
Courtesy of my lovely colleague and sister-friend.


The coolest little paperweight I ever saw. Courtesy of a colleague.


A beautiful scarf. Courtesy of my sister-friend, the actor.


Many lovely cards, but we knew that was coming.


Wisdom for the ages.
Courtesy of the many amazing women I happen to know.


I am very pleased with the last item on this list because it is a gift that i initiated. (aside: And I am not very good at asking people for things; I usually get it myself or go without. But we have not because we ask not, you say? I know; dumb way to live. Which of the favors of your Lord will you deny? I know; I'm growing.) About a week or so before my birthday, I began pondering the significance (if any) of this milestone -- this quarter century. I'd found myself over the past several months reading books about and seeking out blogs written by twenty-somethings. As I talked with my peers and realized that we were having similar experiences, I decided it was time for me to stop living beyond my age & get in on the conversation. But I didn't want to come empty-handed. So I reached out to some truly amazing women in my life: family, friends, colleagues, etc., and asked the following:

I would like to create a keepsake of wonderful words to carry with me into the next quarter. So if you have the time, please complete any or all of the following & send this back to me:

If I was twenty-five again, ___________
*
The best thing about life in your twenties is __________
*
If I had known at twenty-five that _______, then __________
*
I wish somebody would have told me __________ when I was twenty-five
*


Et cetera, et cetera, some other niceties. The results of this little project have blown my mind, and I haven't even gotten all of the responses back yet. The women range from those who have recently exited their twenties (or are currently being escorted to the door) to those rounding out their third quarter. The answers are funny, poignant, hopeful and some baring a little regret. Some of these women replied straight away, while others sat with these prompts for days (some sit with them still) -- taking the time for deep introspection & a pleasant stroll down memory lane.

Though these words were given directly to me, I see fit to share the wealth. So I am hereby inaugurating Twenty-Something Tuesdays, and each week I will share an excerpt from one of the responses. I will protect the identities of these awesome women, but the wisdom -- like so much of it -- is available for the taking. I will not be posting by order of preference or anything like that; all of these words are equally important to me. I won't keep you in suspense any longer; here's the first gem:

I wish somebody would have told me
that 'love your neighbor as yourself'
can't work

when you don't even love yourself
when I was twenty-five.

*(Oh, & I joined a blog network. The nerve of me!)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

on the eve of my D.O.B.

This day feels more momentous than December 31. The day to come seems heavier than any January 1 in my recent personal history, and it is not so much the culmination of the twenty-five years behind me as it is the weight of the twenty-five before me (insha-Allah). It feels ripe with possibility and change -- full of learning and discovery. I don't even know what I have to say this evening; I just feel more compelled to write this post now rather than tomorrow.

I am much more comfortable on the verge. Perhaps that's why I like moving so much, why I like Thursdays better than Fridays, why I always want to rearrange the furniture. I like the anticipation of what's next; I crave the future. But this is not at the expense of my present. I appreciate the here&now very much; after all, it's all we ever really have.

So what do I have to say for myself? I'm not prepared to do a lengthy introspection, but I do feel a theme coming on. I've sought out birthday themes in the past, but not this time. This time it's come to me. My theme is simply what I'm feeling, and I feel on the verge. I'm anxious and excited about what's to come. I'm grateful for life and eager to fulfill my place in it.

Sometimes when I communicate with folks (email or otherwise), I ask them, "How's life treating you? How are you treating life?" I just thought it was a clever thing to say, but the latter is a question worth answering. I have been so very blessed that sometimes, well many times, I cannot figure out for the life of me what I've done so good to deserve it. Life is treating me like one of her favorites. So I'm resolved to treat her much better.

(artwork by Richard Bromley. Giclee Print. available at art.com)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

i get by with a little help from my friends...

Last night was the first night HomeBoy and I slept at home in three days. We're finally having the downstairs floors refinished and we couldn't walk on them. The sanding and such began on Wednesday, so that morning we were cast out into the wilderness. Packing a suitcase to go to work is one of the strangest things... We had a plan of course, we would sleep in the car if it came to that. But it didn't because apparently, we are not all alone in this Midwestern world.

I thought this would be a sad post about how we realized that we had no one to call on and how terrible it is to live so far away from your family, etc (cue the violins). Instead, we have come to a beautiful revelation - we are not alone or without friends. Don't get me wrong, we can meet people and be social and all that, but that's easy. Asking people for favors is hard, even if they are your friends. Asking people to encroach upon their personal space for a number of days is even harder. Maybe it's my pride that makes it so hard to ask? Well, this was a lesson in humility. I reached out to two different friends, asking if I could stay with them, and they both said yes. Easy-breezy, "yes". (The second friend was actually going out of town, but her intentions were good.)

HomeBoy was going to "rough it" while I stayed with this Beneficent Friend, but after the first night, he changed his tune. So I went back to Beneficent Friend and asked if there was room in the inn for one more, and again, "yes". Like it's the simplest question she'd ever been asked. We stayed on for two more days. As our stay concluded, we bought Beneficent Friend a gift and took her to dinner; it was the least we could do. I'm not sure if she realized what a big deal that was to us - to me. It may seem to her that she simply opened her doors to a couple of friends in need. To me it showed that we were indeed friends, for-real, more-than-pleasantries, i-need-a-big-favor friends. To me it showed that in the vast, landlocked Midwestern world, we were not alone.

As a Muslim and spiritual person for most of my life, I shouldn't be surprised. I know, from experiences as well as recorded accounts, that Allah can provide if Allah so wills. I cannot even count how many times I've heard, "ask and ye shall receive". Yet, every time some wonderful blessing befalls me, I am still shocked and awed; I am still left wondering what have I done so good to warrant this? I still can't answer that question, but Allah knows best, and the Beatles said it best, "I get by with a little help from my friends."

Friday, May 02, 2008

tis' better to give...

HomeBoy and I, we're not really materialistic people... I mean, comparatively speaking... I mean, we do okay but mostly because we can be a couple of serious spendthrifts. Add to that the fact that we're Muslim, and there ain't a whole lotta typical gift-giving going on. Plus, we're pretty self-reliant people; if he wants something - he'll get it, and I do the same.



HOWEVER! When I returned from this theater festival last weekend, I came home to a print of one of my favorite poems*, my very own mp3 player and a deluxe edition DVD of Across the Universe. (Oh yeah!) And last night? I treated my beloved to Alicia Keys, live at the Sprint Center.



Like I said, we don't do the gifting often, but dammit if we don't do it right! Love you, honey!

***


*imagine

you massage the universe's spine,
the way you twirl through time
and leave shadows on the sun
my love is the windsong
if it were up to me
i`d never die
if it is up to me
i'll die tomorrow a thousand times in an hour
just to live seven minutes later
if it is up to me
the sun will never cease to shine
and the moon will never cease to glow
and i'll dance a million tomorrow's
in the sun rays of the moon waves
and bathe in the yesterdays
of days to come
ignoring all of my after thoughts
and preconceived notions
if it is up to me
...it is up to me
and thus, is my love
untainted
eternal
the wind is the moon's imagination
wandering
it seeps through cracks
ripples the grass
explores the unknown
my love is my soul`s imagination
how do i love you?
...imagine.

-saul williams

Saturday, March 29, 2008

what's in a name?...

When I first titled this space "Rough Draft" it was because I felt like none of my writing was ever really finished - especially the poems. OMG! The poems! I would start one and decide to perform it before it was done and have to improvise the ending on stage. Or I would be commissioned (and by "commissioned", for the most part, I mean "asked very nicely") to write and perform a piece by a certain date and would not get around to the writing of it until...oh...the day of. And then there was this possessed scribbling that took place all the way until I was being introduced and called to the stage (at which point I'd try to pull a poignant ending from heaven knows where, or I would be improvising the ending...again). The good thing about this? It kept me on my toes. The bad thing? At later instances, folks would ask me to "do that poem", and I'd have to 1) break the news that parts of it were freestyle, so this may be a little different, sorry 2) start the poem and hope that i could end it the same way 3) try to convince them to listen to a different poem I've been working on - one with a middle and end. Another bad thing was that, despite the good bits I'd actually created and the typically positive response from the listeners, I always felt I was short-changing my audience. That is a sucky feeling.

What? Huh? What was I saying? Oh yes, the title...

The problem with calling this space "Rough Draft" is that life, unlike art, cannot be revised or done over. (Thankfully, like my poems, it can be improvised from time to time. Yes!) Yes, we can learn from the past as we go forward, but "Rough Draft" became misleading and mocking to me. This. Is. Life. I'm not going to get even one day back by being timid - by living in pencil. Every action is permanent, and I'd better make it count. So I've landed, for the time being on "Words, Words, Words" because, no matter what, that will always be an accurate description. *And I like Shakespeare. Whaddaya gonna do?

change is in the air...or is that pollen?...

Wait!

Don't go!

You're in the right place. I just needed a new look, so things may change a few times over here before I get it the way I like it.

Every time I log on to post, Blogger's all, "customize! update! new and improved!" Today I finally took the bait. No one told me that there were choices involved! I have a love-hate relationship with choices; I love to have them, but I hate to make them. I previewed each and every template option at least twice. Tried it on; took it off. It was a lot like shopping except it's free, and I don't have to worry about a growing line outside the door because other bloggers are waiting to try on their new layouts.

So if the appearance of this here space changes more frequently, take it with a grain of salt because I may be indecisive, but at least I'm saving money! Also, I lost some things, so I'm working on getting those links back *with some cool new additions.*

Confound you, Blogger! You and your options!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

erase. replace. embrace. new face.

A dear friend asked me recently if I thought hip hop was dead. I told him I didn't know because hip hop and I have been estranged for some time now. I remember a time when I couldn't even fathom those words. There was a period from late high school to early/mid undergrad when my headphones would have had to be surgically removed. (Common's Like Water For Chocolate and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides? Soundtracks for the best year of my high school life!) Sure, there was some jazz and alternative for good measure, but hip hop was my meat and potatoes. It was soul's food and I was always trying to fix somebody a plate --

"Let's go hit up that Roots concert."

"Got that new Talib Kweli?"

"You don't know who Jean Grae is? Here, listen to this..."

I can't pinpoint exactly when the change happened, but it must have been somewhere between: the declining skill level of most emcees, the change from crunk to snap, relocating to the midwest and the white rapper show. Suddenly, rap and radio was a thing of the past and I wasn't very interested in it's future. Even the sun goes down, heroes eventually die...

I fell into a femme phase: Corinne Bailey Rae (my condolences), Regina Spektor, Amy Winehouse, Lizz Wright, Chrisette Michelle, the new MJB (damn, it's like we grew up together), and the list goes on. There was a range from sultry and soulful to comedic and quirky. Nowadays, I seem to be leaning, evermore, towards the quirky. And it's like I told my sister, either my taste in music is truly lacking internal compass, or the sitcoms and TV commercials are getting wise. Par exemple:

Ingrid Michaels

Sara Bareilles

Yael Naim

I think I'm drawn to the lightness of it -- and the story telling. It feels free and unassuming, not bogged down by meta-messages and social implications. Maybe I just like that the treble outweighs the base, but these days I want music that puts a smile on my face - music that sounds like spring or a day out with girlfriends. Spare me the intensity of "what's real in the streets" or something that might give me an STD through the speakers. I am tentative so this may change, but for today, I choose love over sex, fantasy over "real", a little bit corny with a smile over mean-muggin and preserving my sexy.

There's room for everybody at the table, of course, but it's healthy to eat lighter every once in awhile.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

signs of life...

Small berries on branch (sometimes blue on evergreen)


Very early morning (don't miss fajr)


Cartoon grass pushing through (nature finds a way)



Today was the first official day of spring, and it didn't disappoint. Kind of made me feel like a new soul. Yeah, don't really have a handle on that embedding video thing yet. Enjoy!

Love you.
Love.
Me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

call me the negotiator...

HomeBoy and I are finally going to get the floors refinished. We've discussed it since we closed on the house last August. We've done recon since about last November. There was one referral we were holding out for - waiting on that last estimate because it could CHANGE OUR LIVES. so after our last free estimate, we'd narrowed it down to The First Guy and The Last Guy. The Guys in between were too good to be true *questionable*, so skip them. When I received an email regarding the estimated cost from The Last Guy, I decided it was time to play the game. It went like this:


ACT I
Scene 1


(on computer at work)

LAST GUY FLOORING:

Newbie Homeowner,

Hope this finds you having a great Monday.
I was able to corner Woodworker in the office
yesterday, and get his estimates completed.
I have attached your proposal to this email.
If you would please let me know that you were
able to download without a problem, I would
greatly appreciate it. After looking the
estimate over, please email or call the office w
ith ANY questions or concerns.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide you
with this estimate, and we are so sorry it took
so long to connect!
Have a wonderful week!

Woodworker & Wife
****

ME:

Woodworker & Wife,

Thank you for getting that estimate to us so quickly;
I was able to download the proposal with no problems.
Unfortunately, the cost is too high. I understand that
quality work is not cheap, but this is the most expensive
estimate we have received. So, we will have to go
in another direction.

I do truly appreciate your diligence and professionalism
in working with us. Though we cannot use your services
for this project, I will consider Last Guy Flooring for potential
future projects. After all, we have two stories
of hardwood floors that need attention.

Sincerely,
Newbie Homeowner
****

LAST GUY:

Newbie,
Please keep in mind that we are highly competitive.
If you would like me to speak with Woodworker, and we
can see if there is movement in the cost. Would this be
of interest to you? Let me know- Thanks for getting back so quickly!

Wife
****

ME:

Greetings Wife,

If there is room to reduce cost, that would be great.
Our other offer was about four hundred dollars less,
but I'd prefer to work with Last Guy Flooring since
you came as a referral. Please let me know if there's
anything you can do.

Sincerely,
Newbie (who ain't so green, by the way)
****

LAST GUY:

Miss Newbie,

I just spoke with Woodworker, and he said the lowest he could go
would be $300.00 below the original estimate. We would also
throw in a cleaning kit with the complete job. Let me know your
thoughts on the revision. If you decide that this will work for you,
I can email you a revised proposal. Hope to hear back from you soon-

Wife
****<>****

Scene 2
(on the phone with First Guy Flooring)

ME:
Hello, First Guy? Yes, this is Newbie; you came to our house some months ago to give a free estimate on refinishing our floors?

FIRST GUY:
Yes, was your address 123 Blah Blah Blah? At Yadda Yadda?

ME:
That's right. I was calling to find out if you were still avilable to do the job and if the estimates have changed (looking at original figures in appointment book).

FIRST GUY:
Now we talked about redoing your entryway for $(a few fingers), and your living and dining room for $(a couple of toes)...

ME:
That's correct. We have one other very strong offer, so I was wondering if there was any wiggle room in your etsimate.

FIRST GUY:
Well, our estimates are usually dead-on, and I don't know who's giving you a lower price, but I strive to be accurate so that halfway through the project you don't find yourself with additional [read "bs"] charges.

ME:
I see, so the cost definitely won't be higher than what you've told me?

FIRST GUY:
That's right.

ME:
(knowing his offer is still hundreds of dollars less that Last Guy's first offer, but cool as a cucumber) Thank you. We'll be in touch.
****<>****

Scene 3
(at work on computer)

ME:
Wife,

Thank you so much for inquiring about this. I really appreciate
how understanding and flexible you and Woodworker have been,
but as a young couple starting out and as first time homeowners
every little bit counts. We have to go with the lother offer.
However, we've got a lot more wood floors to tend to in this old house.
So this won't be the last time you hear from me.
Thanks again.

All the Best,
Not-So-Newbie

END

So, the moral of the story is - you might want to take me with you the next time you go to buy a car.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Love Triangle...

Dear Spring,

Just wanted to thank you for stopping by last weekend.
It was great to see you. I just wish I knew you were
coming; I would have cleaned up a little! But we spent
so much time outside, I bet you didn't even notice the
slight messiness. That's why I love having you over.
You're such a pleasant house guest -- your warm
personality and sunny disposition make you a joy to have
around. I hope you'll visit us again soon, and please
plan to stay longer next time! Don't worry about
wearing out your welcome -- it's impossible!

Until next time... (which will be some time soon, right?)

Your Friend,
Frost Bitten

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dear Winter,

WTF!? I told you it was over between us. You really need
to stop hanging around like I'm going to change my mind. I
will admit, you were very interesting at first - always playing
it cool made me want to get to know you better. And our
first snow together absolutely took my breath away. But what
then, and what now? Our relationship has grown quiet and cold.
That may be your cup of tea, but I've had enough of this -- of you.

Good Riddance...

Sidewalk Salty

Friday, February 29, 2008

the coldest winter ever...

a dear, distant friend of mine (what's a dear, distant friend? well the kind you don't connect with often but always hope the very best for them and they can make you smile - oh yes - by merely thinking of them) asked how i was doing, and this is what i had to say:

"what of my life? there is much writing and editing, but as for the becoming/unfolding/transforming - i cannot see it (yet). to be completely honest, i am on the recovering side of what i believe to have been depression. suffice it to say it's been the coldest winter ever. somehow i still manage(d) to come across in my workplace as an ambitious, high-functioning, self-starting individual, so that's good. (it's also brought about this notion of a functioning depressive which, as black women, may just be a new name for a very old reality; it needs further study.) HomeBoy has seen more of this side than i ever wanted to show him, but i applaud his endurance - he done good. we are love laborers, he and i - indeed.

but thankfully, spring is near (man i love it when the seasons are a metaphor for my life! i could do without it being in realtime though, i'm just saying...) i feel like i've had to relearn alot of the lessons i've professed (even subtly) to know for a long time. but i don't mind that, as long as i learn them. (maybe i'll even write them down.) that's all i have to say about that...

i've been thinking about a design certification program (to up my personal aestethic and also be more marketable for freelance work). it's a way to kind of "get my feet wet" in the academic environment again, in preparation for grad school? MFA programs? world domination? who knows? but my job will help foot the bill, so i'm down.

no babies - not even on the horizon. the most traditional-family-like thing i'm looking forward to is working on the house once the weather breaks. (i can hear the sanding... i can see the paint samples... i can feel my emptying wallet from overpriced contractors - ah to be a homeowner!)

i don't know if that's not enough, more than you asked for, or exactly what you wanted to know. either way - you're welcome! ;)

take care [to] be well."




this is not my photo, but i thought it fitting. google helped me find it here.