I lost it over a tip…

…because I was in the nail salon and forgot to get cash. Yes, I had a mental fit over this. Allow me to explain.

This past weekend has been rough emotionally, as it was a weekend where the things that were bothering me had to do with being black. There are days when I don’t let it get to me, but then there are times where I feel like the world is imploding around me, like this weekend.

For those that are unaware, there is this preconceived notion that black people don’t tip, or tip poorly when it comes to anyone giving a service of some sort. Sometimes workers will decide how they’re going to treat you just by looking at you. I’ve worked jobs where I have had to rely on tips to supplement what I wasn’t getting per hour, so I know what it feels like when you don’t get tipped. Couple that with this idea that service persons have of black people, and you end up having a anxiety attack/mental meltdown in the nail salon, a place where you should be enjoying yourself.

I don’t know if anyone could tell I was freaking out and chiding myself for not getting cash, but it slipped my mind. I hadn’t been to a nail salon in 4 years, and had forgotten that they don’t take tip on cards. For non-POC, this is excusable. For me, not so much. It brought back memories of being in hair stores, which are mostly run by Asian people. I felt like I was being judged and watched, even though I would never steal from or rob anyone! Then I started thinking that the staff was ignoring me, when they really weren’t. I was so in my head that I was brushing back tears. The young man that did my nails helped pull me out of that just by being his smiling friendly self. He has no idea how much that helped me.

I promptly left the store to get cash so I could tip about 25%. Could I afford it? Not really, but he did a great job. Besides, it was nice not to be scolded for my nails being so short or for wanting them short. Female nail techs always get on me about that.

Sunday didn’t get any better. I was in church, and wasn’t sitting towards the front, like I usually do. I was on call, so I stayed towards the back. A young white man with a hoodie was in service worshipping with us. I don’t know why, but I felt a pain in my chest, which I know was anxiety. When I saw him, all I could think of was that church shooting in South Carolina. The shooter was white, and purposely targeted black people.

White people have come and gone from our church and I never thought twice about it; why was this bothering me today? I remember watching him for any unusual behavior, and taking notice of all the exits. I never recall feeling like this. Was I right to be suspicious? Why now and why with this particular person?

If I could sum up this past weekend in a word, it would be this: unsafe.

I’m not safe from people’s perceptions of me. I can’t be spared from people’s prejudices and how they’ll treat me based on how I look. There’s no reprieve from being black; it’s an every day thing. I hate how talking about it makes white people uncomfortable. Trust us, we don’t want to try to make you uncomfortable. If you do feel this way, maybe you should ask yourself why that is, because it probably has nothing to do with me.

I tossed, turned, and cried last night in bed, fretting about this. It’s something that’s not so simply changed. I wish I could talk to my counselor because she is black and could understand how I’m feeling, and she helped me get out of my head a bit. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to talk to her anymore.

In a world where being black could mean not returning home again, I feel lost and alone. I need my counselor back.

Highs and Lows

If we were having coffee today, I’d be sitting at Starbucks with a java chip frappuccino today experiencing a lot of feels. I also realized that I haven’t the slightest idea as to how “frappuccino” should be spelled (you should’ve seen how many times I typed it before I caved and looked at the menu. It turns out that I spelled it right the first time around).

I’m sorry that I’ve avoided writing one of these lately… it’s just that I had wanted to record them. I recorded a few of them, and fell off of it a bit. Either way, I want to stay connected, and I regret not keeping you posted.

To be honest, I haven’t fully gotten “used to” not living at home anymore, and I still feel like I suck at being an adult. My bank account’s been negative for months, work hasn’t picked up yet, and it feels like no matter how much I work, I’m not getting anywhere. The only thing I’ve managed to overcome was my fear of talking to people about my money situation. It’s embarrassing, frustrating and humiliating, but people have been mostly supportive and as helpful as they can be. It still sucks though. The only good thing that will come out of suffering the summertime swell is that I should finally have a bank account that isn’t negative. I still must endure another 2 months before that happens, but I’ve still managed to somehow enjoy myself. Yes, I don’t have money, but most of the things I’ve needed have been met. The Lord has been looking out for me in that regard.

I just wish I felt more capable as it pertains to “properly adulting”, but since I haven’t found a good sugar daddy yet, it looks like I’m stuck on the grind. (Kidding. I’m not looking).

On the flip side of things, I’m getting to deal with things that have hurt me in the past. I’m realizing that up to now, a lot of what I’ve experienced has caused me not to like myself much at all. I’ve been finding ways to try to rectify that. In reading a lot of articles, it is suggested to focus on your good traits. This makes me seriously uncomfortable, to be honest with you… so another thing I would like to focus on is doing things I enjoy. When I’m doing something I enjoy, I am the happiest I can be. This ends up translating into being a more confident person. The caveat is that some of the stuff that I like and enjoy involves money, of which I have none.

Working is what we must do; however, taking time for oneself is just as necessary for your sanity and mental well-being. I feel like most of the reason I’m not enjoying living on my own as much as I could is because I’ve been so focused on stabilizing my financial situation.

Speaking of sanity and well-being, not having a boyfriend has been bothering me a lot lately. If I’m truthful, I’m still settling for some of what I want. I want to scream on the one hand, but it’s also soothing a sore spot on the other. I’m hoping that this whole journey in learning to like myself and working on healing what has been hurt for so long will help me to at least be satisfied with where I am… and before you go there with the “you’ll find someone one day, be patient, it happens when you least expect it” rhetoric, please save it. It irks my soul. I know that sounds rude, but I’ve heard it for so long that I can’t stomach hearing it anymore.

I could write a book on all the stuff people have said to me thinking they were being helpful, but I’d be disgusted by it so much that I’d burn the book. Yes, I have strong thoughts about this. Most of them end with me flipping the bird at whoever hands me that rubbish. Before you find yourself saying ANYTHING of the sort to someone that is single, ask yourself this question: Did it help you when you were single?

If the answer is no, and it made you feel like I currently do when people said it to you, bite your tongue immediately. Do it! Though I assure you that if it does slip, I’ll be glad to flip you off in an effort to point out that transgression.

Oh, and my car got stuck in the snow. Yes, stuck. I had to call a tow, which I ended up not needing because a van full of guys were able to push me out. Ever since that incident, the whole week has been up and down like that. Well, at least I can say that I haven’t been bored, but I left ride sharing alone for about a week after that.

Good things that happened this weekend are:

  • THE BAND GOT BACK TOGETHER… and by the band, I mean that I got to be with the friends that I hung out with in high school today! We haven’t been all together in years, and it was wonderful to see everyone again. I think it’s better now that we’re all matured and have experienced life a bit more.
  • I hung out with my friend A, her boyfriend and her sister. Banana pudding cake was involved. It was very good times.
  • I saw “Hidden Figures”. Great movie.
  • I was flying for 5 days straight, which has been the longest I’ve been out for months! I really missed flying. Before that, I was barely called at all. I got to hang with my crews a bit as well, one of which was a captain I flew with before and enjoy working with.
  • I finally successfully applied the right lash! I never had problems with the left, but the right one gives me a hard time. I fought with it for a good 5 minutes, but it’s on properly! That is all that matters.
  • I visited my mom and grandmother. I try to do this when I can/feel up to it, and managed to successfully do this twice this month. I know the month isn’t over, but that’s not bad! It also helps that I live close to both of them. Now I need to work on visiting my dad. We talk on the phone, but I’m overdue for a visit.
  • All my training at the gym is paying off; someone actually noticed a difference in my appearance! I knew I felt stronger and my endurance was a lot better, but I couldn’t tell whether or not I looked different. That was quite encouraging.

I’m so sorry for the long behind update, but it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. Here’s hoping that next month is better. Heck, I’d take a better next week! I’m hoping to be more balanced emotionally, mentally, financially, and that my diet will be more balanced as well.

Looks like the key word here is balance.

#weekendcoffeeshare

 

And A Squirrel Scampered By…

…outside of the apartment building where I will now be living.

My apartment. My first apartment.

You guys… I can’t describe how surreal it all feels. I’ve been waiting for this moment for years. Out of all of the times that I have imagined having my own place and what that would feel like, fear isn’t what I expected to experience. Yet I find myself being afraid.

It’s not that I haven’t lived away from home before; it’s not so bad to be away from home. It’s actually pretty great. What’s scary to me is that I really am out this time. I’ve lived with roommates in the past when I was out of the house; therefore, responsibilities were shared.

This time, there is no such safety net; it’s just me. I, alone, am responsible for paying for the roof over my head along with other bills. I’m afraid that even with my job and my best efforts to stay afloat that I might not be able to maintain everything, let alone live comfortably. I’ve become hyper aware of what is a necessity and what is a luxury, and I realize how much that I’ve taken for granted because I didn’t have certain responsibilities. It’s one thing entirely to just help with paying bills; it’s something else when you’re the only one responsible for whether or not those bills are paid.

It’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever experienced. What if I fail?

There were times here and there that I felt a calm come over me. Yes, I do have a job and work it as much as I can; however, I will need a supplement income. As freaked out as I was about this, a peace would overcome me. In those moments, I told myself that things would work out and be fine. The journey, however, to that place where things are fine is one that tests your nerve, and your ability to press forward, even when you don’t know where you’re going or if you’ll get to where you want to be.

My friend A was very excited for me, though. She insisted on coming over to see the place, and bought hot wings with her. I felt a lot calmer being there with her. It’s one of my first memories, and I’m so glad it was a fun one. We’re going to have another fun memory when she camps out with me Friday night. I say “camping out” because my bed is not yet here, so we’ll both be sleeping on the ground. It’ll be like the old days in high school that consisted of sleepovers, and laughing until all hours of the night.

Most importantly, there will be no worrying. Things will work out as they should; I just gotta keep taking steps, and clinging to those moments of peace when I want to fret. I wonder if that’s part of the reason I was so focused on the squirrel. Its hindquarters were nearly white, but the top half of it was a light grey. It paused for a moment with a pine cone in its mouth to watch me haul a box across the parking lot, then bounded to the nearby tree, and scampered upward and out of sight.

Birthday Blues

Normally, I really like birthdays, including my own. It’s a day to celebrate the fabulousness that is you, of course!

My birthday is in 9 days and I’ll be yet another year older. Here’s why I’m not looking forward to it this year:

  • I’m not where I wanted to be at this age (not married, no children, still living at home, etc), and therefore, am embarrassed to admit to being this age/don’t want to be this age. It just reminds me that I’m too old not to have certain things in order.
  • My work week starts on my birthday. ugh. getting off is tough, and I don’t want to use sick time.
  • because of the above reason, I probably won’t get to have cake.
  • no party or celebration will be had. although the first reason has me down, I’d still like a party. I haven’t had a birthday gathering/party in a while. I tried planning one when I turned 30, and no one could come… including me! (my account was drained. it wasn’t a good birthday).
  • I won’t have much money to even take myself out! Maybe next check after my birthday.
  • when you get older, you’re stuck celebrating by yourself.

I wish I had a happy ending to this post and that despite the cons, I am looking forward to my birthday… but I don’t and I’m not. If I had the day to myself, maybe I could see the ray of sunshine coming through the clouds. Birthdays should be about you, and this one just won’t be. This is the second birthday where I’ve had to work, and that’s just depressing.

And yes, I do mean the second birthday ever. At all of the jobs I’ve had, I made it a point not to work on my birthday. I treasure it enough that I ensure that I don’t  “have” to do anything then. I don’t have that option with my current job.

So here it is. Happy birthday to me. *sigh*

Menthol & Cigarettes

“Why would you stop there?!”

This is what the bus driver yelled at someone that stopped in a place where he couldn’t complete the turn he was making. Later on, he swore at someone else for doing something stupid.

Yep, it was that kind of day. I couldn’t fault the guy, though; I’ve gotten hot-headed on the road.

He ended up swearing later on at someone else that stopped in the most inconvenient of places. A young woman across from me look toward the front of the bus, and started laughing with her hand over her mouth. I laughed too, even though I was in a foul disposition.

Once again, I was up too early on my way to work, dozing until I got to my stop at the airport. At some point, someone brought on a floral and cigarette smell, but what was forever lingering in the air was that menthol scent that comes from cough drops, or the Vicks vapor rub that your mom slapped on your chest as a kid.

Maybe it was the Lord’s way of helping me breathe, because I was feeling stifled. As much as I enjoy my job, things just weren’t going the way I wanted, and I’m still not getting paid as much as I’d prefer. What I needed to do was stop being frustrated, just breathe, and allow things to get better. It may not happen when I want it to, but they’ll get better. The answer may not even be what I think it should be, but I’ll never hear it if my mind is moving too fast.

I got off the bus that day, leaving the smell of menthol & cigarettes on there. Later on that day, which felt impossibly long because of fatigue, I laid on the floor and breathed. I remember doing this when I had voice classes in NYC, and it’s the most relaxing thing a stressed out girl can do. In fact, I laid on that floor for about a good 20 minutes simply breathing and listening to singing bowls.

I can’t tell you how many days temptation nearly led me to lay on the floor publicly just to do this, but I haven’t yielded yet. It seems counter-intuitive, but it calms and centers you when your mind moves too fast. Remember the Vicks vapor rub when you feel like you’re being choked and just… breathe.

New Ramen, New Life

So this entry will combine a life update and an entry where this SBF, once again, sought out Asian food. The best part about this meal was that I got to enjoy it with the aforementioned friend whom is the reason I am an SBF seeking Asian food.

This week was quite the week. I did a lot of things that were new to me, and that completely changed my mind about the way I was viewing life and, consequently, moving through it.

I spent some time with a young man on a layover this time last week. What’s significant about this is that he was someone I trusted easily and quickly, even though I didn’t know him. Leave it to me to find a decent young man online (I don’t think I would have the same luck if I tried this again). Considering how steamy things got, what was wonderful about it was how much fun I had with him. This completely countered the fear I had of being with the opposite sex for years due to past abuse. He was considerate and kind, and most importantly, I felt safe with him. It renewed my faith in the existence of good men, and revived the long lost hope that I, too, may find one someday that I like just as much as he likes me.

I also went on birth control.

I can see y’all being like “What?!” No, I didn’t do it with any intention of getting fresh. I did it for my overall health. I finally visited a female doctor now that I have health insurance. (Yep, it was the first time. No, it wasn’t that pleasant. But I’m glad I went.) She recommended a type of birth control that will only give me a period every 3 months. I may still have bad cramps, but at least I won’t have bad cramps every month. It sounded like a decent option to me. Taking this also means that I’ll have to be more serious about my health since it increases the risk of stroke and blood clots.

Omitting butter from my life completely is non-negotiable, but maybe we can scale it back just a bit.

AND… (can you stand it?) I changed my hair!!!

Now, there was no way I was going to get a relaxer again, but I went to a hair salon for the first time in years! After I stopped using chemicals in my hair, I had a couple of bad experiences. I was scared to visit a salon after that, and the hair horror stories on YouTube didn’t help. However, I knew my hair was in need of some professional help. So I asked for recommendations from women on a Facebook group I’m in. They have natural hair and lived within reasonable driving distance. Lo and behold, a salon was recommended. I went for the consultation to feel the place out. I liked it and felt comfortable enough to book an appointment for the following week. I was not punking out now.

This was the end result.

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It just so happened that ALL of these events happened in this one week, starting with last Sunday. A new Rachel has been birthed through all of this. I’ve always been the adventurous sort, but now I’m adventurous and feel free in all areas of my life. I feel free to love, and free to take care of myself in the way that I see best. It has produced a calmness in my spirit and soul that I haven’t experienced in a very long time. I feel unshakeable now and secure in myself and with the world around me.

In short, I feel the healthiest mentally that I have ever felt. Now I can really be me.

In this very same week, I went with an old friend to experience something new. I’ve had ramen before, but not at this place. I had the spicy ramen, and it was a bowl of happiness. Although I don’t enjoy eating pork normally (unless it’s bacon), I enjoyed the slices that were part of this ramen, AND ate the fat!

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If you’re ever in Philly, I recommend this place. This ramen fed more than my stomach; it went straight to this foodie’s heart and soul. It ushered in all of the warmness of the cold seasons that are now upon us. Fall, and even winter, are the times of year that I relish. This ramen was the beginning of good times and better things to come.

Now let me sip this tea before it gets cold…

#weekendcoffeeshare

If we were having coffee

As I drink this spiced cider, I’m glad to have you to talk to. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but there were cool things that happened too.

My emotions were on a roller coaster the past week or so because in addition to feenin, I received some pretty rough news. It affected my family and the home situation. We were told we would have to leave our home.

If you’ve ever been in that situation, now I know how that feels. I especially had a rough time because I’ve been in this house since I was 5 or 6. On Thursday, I was so in my feelings that I laid in bed, unable to get it together. It felt like I was the only one that cared about us moving so suddenly. I didn’t realize I cared so much about that house until I realized I was being forced out of it. It’s not that I never want to move out one day and be on my own, but I wanted to choose to leave when I felt ready.

Mom got me to go out to the mall with her.

This was one of those cool moments I mentioned earlier. My mom is the greatest; when you put us together, it creates an interesting dynamic that spills over onto other people. You should see what it’s like when ALL of us (mom, sister, nephew and I) are all together. People can’t stop laughing!

We walked into a higher end store, and started talking to one of the saleswomen. She showed us leather passport cases. This led to an in-depth conversation about the current political race and climate, which led to a discussion about history. What I loved most about this is that we were 3 women having an intelligent conversation, which steamrolls over the backwards thinking of those misogynist types. Yes, we discuss more than shopping, clothes, boys and kids (if we have them). Hate to break it to you boys, but I can have a conversation that airs my well-formed opinions AND do my shopping! Can YOU handle that kind of multitasking?

It’s amazing how things can change in just one day. In this same day, we went from not knowing where we’d live to receiving a call that will allow mom to reinstate her mortgage. If I didn’t know that the Lord was good, I sure do now!

Now my love life… I don’t feel as confident about that, but at least I know I’ll have a roof over my head, and a home to come back to. I hope your weekend has been wonderful, filled with brunches and shopping. And, hopefully, a stimulating conversation with a retail worker. They’re people too… sometimes highly intelligent people.

#weekendcoffeeshare