Friday, November 30, 2007

Let me just start off by saying, men confuse the hell out of me. There, I said it. I cram to understand the rocket science degree it takes to understand what the hell is going on in their minds.

For instance, I attended an event and was introduced to a group of 4 men. All equally attractive, but in very different ways. As conversation flowed it became apparent that 2 of the gentlemen were interested in me. I noticed the head to toe glances, the casual but not so subtle way they asked about the whereabouts of my man. The eyebrows raised when I replied that I am single. The compliments on my hair and telling me how "tight" my shoe game is (the red patent leather 4 inch heel round toe pump is quickly becoming my new favorite.)So who's business card was in my purse at the end of the night?? Neither. They both kind of lingered when they said goodbye, like they were interested but wanted me to make the first move. One even invited me to a bar that they all frequent. What am I supposed to do? Just roll up at the bar on some random night and expect to see them there?? Or did I read this scenario wrong?? Or was this one of those "I don't want to step on my boy's toes" moments? Did they each make the first move and were then waiting for for my counter move??? Sheesh, this is harder than my Dad trying to teach me how to play chess.

Another prime example of the man induced confusion occurred on a date. I met this guy at yet another event. He was handsome and thankfully tall, impeccable preppy style attire, and most importantly made me laugh. Blue (as I will call him here) and I exchanged information and agreed to see each other soon. In subequent text and telephone conversations, we realized that we both had pretty tight schedules. The first level of "Huh?" came when he invited me to a party and requested that I bring along some of my girlfriends for his boys. Huh???? Come again??? You want me to pimp my girls to your boys, sight unseen. I'm sorry I value my friendships and hooking my girls up with dudes I know nothing about is grounds for immediate expulsion from the circle. Its right there in the handbook. But instead of saying that, I respectfully declined. Didn't want to offend him or his friends (in the event they were cute and dateable, I could invite my friends to meet them at a later date...hahahahaha). So after a few more conversations Blue suggested I meet him for dinner before he goes to this party. Sounds like a plan. A mini-date was planned for dinner at a restaurant downtown. I arrive before he did and made myself comfy at the bar with a cup of tea with honey and lemon. He sends me a text saying "running late. stuck in traffic". I respond "ok". Traffic in New York can be a bitch with a grudge - can't shake it, so you deal with it until you're back in her good graces. About 20 minutes later, he sends another text "just parked. be there in 5. my brother is with me". Huh??? Excuse me??? Come again??? Yes you read that correctly, he brought his brother with him on our date. Since when do you bring a chaperone on a date??? I called my girl, E. to freak out for the 4 minutes I had before he arrives. "WHAT THE FUCK, E.??? ME, HIM, AND HIS BROTHER??? ON A DATE??? PLEASE TELL ME I'M ON HELL DATE AND A LITTLE MIDGET IN A DEVIL COSTUME IS GOING TO COME RUNNING OUT FROM THE BACK OF THE RESTAURANT???" She laughs hysterically. I giggle my frustration away. And sure enough, he walks in a few minutes later, with a shorter version of himself. I take a deep breath, give him a hug, and in my best prep school manner, extend my hand and shake his brother's hand with a high wattage Ms. America, very genuinely fake smile. "Hi. It's so nice to meet you." I coo. Blue explains that his brother is going with him to the party. I wave it off like "it's okay". Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out just what the hell was he thinking??? So what that your brother is going to the party?? You couldn't come up with a better solution??? Or just meet up with me another time???
So the 3 of us are seated at a table and thus begins our date with talk of work and sports, sports and work. Hellllooooooo???? Aren't you supposed to at least attempt to get to know me?? Isn't this the purpose of a date?? Even if it is chaperoned. I felt like I was hanging with one of my boys and his brother - not on a first date with someone. About an hour and a half later, the date ended. He had to get to this party and I had to get home to call my friends so they can laugh with me about my chaperoned date. We're standing outside and again I shake his brother's hand with a "It was a pleasure meeting you." Blue stands there kind of awkwardly and gives me a hug. It wasn't one of those great date hugs - you know the kind where you hold on tight and never want to end?. It was more like a thanks buddy pat on the back hug. Which I was cool with. Hey, I got a free delicious meal, and definitely a story to tell. Not bad for an ordinary weeknight.
The next day, Blue sends to me a good morning text, and thus begins a text conversation. Somewhere in the midst of the convo, he throws out there " I don't think u feeling me. U didn't try to kiss me at the end of our date." Huh???? Excuse me??? What the hellll??? When was I supposed to kiss him???? Somebody please tell me. While his brother was standing right there??? He can't be serious, right?? And what does he mean "you didnt try to kiss me"?? Huh??? Since when was the attempt for a kiss placed on MY SHOULDERS??? It has been my experience that its the guy that makes the attempt, right??? Was this a passive aggressive ploy to feel out whether I was feeling him??? Or am I just, once again, confused??? Instead of saying all of this I respond "I'm a lady & ladies don't make attempts. And besides, I think your chaperone would have been offended. LOL" with the winking smiley face for good measure. He wants to go out again. I told him that we can go out again if and when his chaperone has the night off.

So here I am confused like an recent immigrant in a foreign land with foreign languages, and unfamiliar customs. Maybe I should just go back to school and get that damn degree in rocket science. It has to be easier than navigating through the land of Men and Dating.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Weekend Recap.

Yeah I know I said I hate these types of blogs before but they serve a purpose. Thankfully this weekend actually began on Friday and not on Tuesday like in my last weekend recap. hahahahhahaha

My weekend began with an afternoon conversation with Spalding. I know its been a minute since I've made any mention of him but I've had my reasons. This particular conversation was one of those lay it out on the line convos - no holding back. It leaves me more uncomfortable than at ease. Why is he the only one that gets under my skin?? I know its because of my stance on relationships and love. But I feel more naked than that stupid ass Cowboy playing the guitar in his tighty whiteys in Times Square in the dead of freaking winter. When I hung up, I was left with more questions. Mostly for myself. I wondered if I would ever be comfortable with letting go. Again. I try to tell myself that I'm here and he's there (there being aproximately one thousand two hundred eighty six miles away. approximately. hahahahahaha). But that shit isn't easing how I feel. Shit this is too heavy. Especially for a Friday. So instead of sitting in the house and replaying my afternoon convo in my mind, I went to a party to get my drink and my 2 step on. And yes, it was on! This party was exactly what I needed. A complete distraction. I flirted, got my drink on, and managed to drop down low and sweep the floor with it a few times. For some reason every guy I met kept telling me how good my hair smells. Weird, right?? But after such a heavy afternoon, I needed the frivolity of it all. No talk of relationships and feelings. Just kicking up my 4 inch red heels and shaking my ass as if rent depended on it. Good times.

I had a hell reunion. I know I've mentioned here before that my first job out of college was at a place that was pure HELL. It didn't help that the office building's number was 666 and my office was located on the 6th floor. Along with my best friend, the 5 of us were a force to be reckoned with. We were educated, confident, intelligent black women - management's worst nightmare. Thankfully, we all left HELL for bigger and better things, and above all remained friends. One of my girlfriends was in town for the holiday weekend so we all got together. We went to a restaurant in Brooklyn that was pathetic. The service was meager at best and the food was mediocre at best. I just want to know: how can you open a Caribbean restaurant in Brooklyn, the epicenter of Caribbean culture in the US, and your jerk chicken, a signature Caribbean dish, is fraudulent? Barbecue sauce on pieces of chicken breast? Are you kidding me? But I digress. The food didn't matter (even though my stomach paid the price later..hahahahaha). We were together like old times. Laughing, joking, tackling serious subjects, offering advice. I looked around at the table and realized how important each and every woman present is important to my life. I have learned so much from these women. I wanted to wrap every minute, every second into the finest, most exquisite material (what is this? velvet??? hahahahahahah), and lovingly unwrap it every time I feel happy, sad, lonely, frustrated, joyous, loved, unloved. That is how much they mean to me. I loved every minute of it. We made plans to get together soon but so often life gets in the way. Despite the terrible food and the gastric pains that ensued it was definitely good times.

I woke up pretty early because my bedroom is a sauna. Like someone installed an oven right under my bed sauna. My bedroom floors are never cold and most nights I flip my air conditioner on before I close my eyes. No, I'm not complaining because yes I am grateful for the heat. But damnit, I'm about to rent my bedroom out as a weight loss medi-spa. Guaranteed to sweat 10lbs of ya ass or your money back!!! hahahahahaa
My journal was in the bed with me (wished it was someone and not something but I digress...hahahahaha), so I started from the beginning and read and read and read. I let my legs dangle from the edge of my very high bed with the bright sun kissing my back through my window. After I laughed, cried, and laughed some more, I stared out my window with thoughts of the past couple of days swirling around. Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest but my mind was racing like it was speeding on the highway below my high story window. That need for calm forced me to get my ass up and go to church. I've been going to church more often lately. In the rebuilding of the kingdom of me (like that don't ya? hahahahah), I figured I needed to return to some basics in my life, the tangible and the intangible constants. I didn't go last Sunday because I was kidnapped by Hustle. Again, another blog for another day (or maybe not). But I've been going. Alone. No friends, no family. Just me. I focus better that way.

This particular Sunday, we had a guest priest officiating. Yes, I said priest. Yes I'm Catholic, as in Roman Catholic. (Sidebar: why do people always look at me like "Really?" when I say I'm Catholic. Yes, Black folks love the Pope too. hahahahahaha) Now a guest priest giving the sermon can lead to disaster. Either you can't understand a word they are saying because English is not their first language or you miss the message because you were too busy nodding off. Thankfully, this was not the case. This priest gave one of the most powerful sermons I've heard in a long time. He had people out their seats, shouting "AMEN" into the rafters, which we just don't do as Catholics. We calmly say "amen" with our hands reverently clasped in our laps and clap at appropriate moments for exactly 5 seconds. hahahahahahaaa. This was the only time in my life when I wished my church was one of those ginormous, altar looks like a talk show set, pastor drives a Bentley church, because I knew a DVD or CD of his sermon would be for sale in the vestibule right next to the Jesus Loves You carving knife set. I was moved to tears. Right there in church. The last time I gave way to my emotions during service was the Sunday after I found out someone I knew died in the World Trade Center.
What was the topic, you may ask? Well the priest paraphrased a Mary J. Blige song and told us "You can't hide from [God's] love" (and yes he did quote the song). Now, you know, I have issues with the whole love thing, so initially I was squirming in my pew like I was the 2 year old sitting in front of me. But since I was sitting there alone, I had no choice but to focus on his message, with my hands reverently clasped in my lap. Of course.

Sitting there on that hard ass pew in my soft grey turtleneck dress, I realized why my mind has been racing a mile a minute lately. I'm too busy running. Running away. Yes, I don't trust love in my hands. I feel that I may break it since clearly, I haven't been able to take care of it properly. So I turn and run. Run for the hills, the valleys, who cares as long as I'm not near it. The priest flat out told me that I "can never outrun God's love so cut it out." I chuckled along with everyone else but I was very uneasy. Normally, I listen to the sermon, and think "Uh huh. I know somebody just like that. Ooooh , so & so needs to be here to hear the message". Don't act like I'm the only one who does that. Well I guess this Sunday I was "so & so" because I got to hear the message. (SIDEBAR: you know I gotta ask! Who the hell is "so and so"? How do we know them??? hahahahaha) I understand that I need to sit still and figure some shit out. I let fear be my running shoes and yes I'm deathly afraid. But I'm not afraid to admit it. That has to be a step right in the right direction, right????
I left church and checked my cell phone. I had 6 text messages and 3 missed calls, all with plans for the rest of the day. Didn't feel like brunch, or going to a movie, or going shopping (yes clutch the pearls, I didn't want to go shopping...hhhahahahaha). I sent text messages to everyone, declining their offers. After this sermon, I went home, turned my phone off for the better part of the day, took my running shoes off and let my bare feet dangle from the edge of my very high bed for a minute. Yes just for a minute, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right???? Good times, indeed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

OK my plan to find a Holiday Husband didn't work out. Mainly because I put forth absolutely no effort to find one this past weekend. Thanks to Hustle. But that's another blog for another day. So here I am, at my grandmother's house, stuffed worse than the half devoured turkey on the table. And yes, my family lived up to my every expectation. Career, relationship, children, were all on my menu right beside the turkey and the sweet potatoes. Four hours and 37 minutes of intermittent interrogation. All I could do was roll my eyes, answer, and then eventually retreat to my grandmothers computer room with the worst headache. I've had this headache since I left the house this morning. I know they are worried about me but damn, can I just be? Just be to figure me out. What is soo wrong with that??? There are many things I'm thankful for on this day of thanks and turkey, but most importantly I'm thankful for this time in my life. A time when I have the opportunity to question everything. A time when I decided the status quo won't cut it in my life anymore. The time to figure out exactly what it is I want out of life. Many would kill for the opportunity but instead they remain trapped, caged in by what others say is right for their lives. I am preparing myself for the best life for me and I could care less what my family or anyone else has to say.

Next year, I'm beginning my Holiday Hubby search in July. I'll avoid the headache and just eat leftovers.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I need a Husband. ASAP. Particularly a husband with a large family. Explicitly, a husband with a large family that is gathering together for Thanksgiving dinner. My need for a husband is not only urgent but practical during this holiday season. Forget all the love shit (still not inspired to believe in it for me; not yet anyway). Me having a husband who's family is hosting Thanksgiving dinner is the ONLY reason my family would accept for me to miss Turkey Day with them.

Here's the deal. I love my family. Really I do. But just like my best friend's most adorable, most lovable Yorkie on the planet, I'd rather love them from a distance because I'm allergic to the family and dogs. But this isn't your normal allergy: no itchy, watery eyes; no stuffy nose; no hives. When it comes to my family, my nerves are allergic to them. See, many of my family members (not all) get on my fucking nerves. I mean that in the nicest way possible. Really I do. Unfortunately, Benadryl and Claritin just wont help in this situation.

So I figure a Holiday Hubby would be a perfect cure for my family allergy. No more heated arguments over spades, where my grandmother will curse me out if I underbid my hand (yes, literally CURSE ME OUT...hahahahah). No more trying to remember my aunt's fourth husband's name. No more fighting my other's aunt's dog for my plate of food. No more dying from embarrassment when someone pulls out the photo album filled with naked baby pictures of yours truly. No more dodging creepy looks from my crazy older cousin after everyone laughs over said photo album. No more having to explain the choices I've made in life both personally and professionally. I can just go to my Holiday Hubby's family's house, eat, have polite conversation, stay out of family politics, and go home with a piece of pie for later.

The downside of this cure is that I will miss my mother's cooking. Even though the family will assemble at my grandmother's house this year, my mother is going down 2 days early to cook. THANK THE LORD!!!! My grandmother and my mother's 2 sisters are not master chefs. I have mastered the art of pushing food around on my plate and have starved at plenty of family events to know this for a fact. However, since the Iron Chef is my mother, and I just so happen to be her favorite (and only) child, I'm pretty sure I can ask for a Thanksgiving replica in the middle of August, stuffing my face with her cheesy mac & cheese, her to die for greens (my father wants me to ship him some to Tennessee...hahahahahaha), the not too sweet sweet potatoes, and all the other delectable treats. Yummmm. My mouth is just watering thinking about her cooking. Still not enough to deter me from my quest to find a Holiday Hubby.

So I need to find a Holiday Hubby this weekend. I figure if we get married on Monday, Tuesday the latest, I can call my grandmother and say "Sorry. Can't make it. I have to go to the in-laws. You know how it is! Love you! Smooches!" Or maybe I will shoot her an email. Either way, I will be off the hook.

To any prospective Holiday Husbands out there, this could be mutually beneficial. Your family will FINALLY stop asking you "When are you gonna settle down?" Well at least for one day out of the year. What I am proposing here is not long term (can't have you falling in love me...hahahahah)! We can have it annulled the Friday after Thanksgiving. You can date/fuck whomever you choose ('cause it won't be me...hahahahahaha)You go your way and I go mine. Until next year. Sometime around the 4th Thursday of November when we have to do this all over again.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A client came into the office for a meeting yesterday. She's a older woman, has to be in her late seventies. But she's always spunky whenever she comes to the office. As she removed her coat, I noticed she was wearing a gold name chain. Very Carrie-Sex in the City-esque with the name written in script on a delicate rope chain, but yes Grandma was rocking it well and very sophisticated I may add. That in and of it self made me giggle. She asked if I had anything to read while she waited. I offered the newspaper, and my Marie Claire magazine. She turned down the newspaper ("Who wants to read about war all the time? Too depressing"), and reached for the magazine. While I definitely had work to do, she chatted me up like we were old friends. She sat with her legs crossed and flipped through the magazine. She saw I had a page turned back on a coat I want to purchase. She informed me that the coat would look "stunning" on me, and that I should hurry up and purchase it. All I could do is giggle and thank her. Here was this woman who I would normally never interact with (she's wealthy and white; I'm broke and black....hahahahahaha), chatting me up as she passed the time, waiting for her husband to arrive and the meeting to begin. I never got the impression from her that she was trying to be young and hip. It just seemed she is innately young at heart. She gives off this vibrant youthful vibe that doesn't seem forced or contrived. She is who she is, no matter what her birth certificate says. Can I be her when I grow old?? Well, except for the white part. hahahahaha

Her husband arrives about a half hour later. With his grey suit, big round eyeglasses, and comb over, he looks like he stepped straight out of the 1970s. The minute this man saw his wife, he literally got excited, like he hadn't seen her in years. He greeted her with a "Hey, Darling." and swooped her into an very sweet embrace. After she sat down, they compared notes on what they each did that day since they left the house that morning. He turns to me, and "says thank you for keeping my doll company." I wanted to burst into tears right then and there. Not because I'm sad but because that was the sweetest thing I've ever witnessed. She flips through my magazine and shows him the coat I plan on buying. "Darling, won't this look stunning on her?" "Hubba! Hubba! You're husband won't be able to keep his hands off of you" he says. "Because of a coat?" I reply. (didn't even want to get into the whole no husband thing...hahahahaha). He gives me a piece of advice: "Janelle, dear. It could be a potato sack. You will always be stunning to him. Just keep that twinkle in your eye" What the helllllll??? Did I just step into a Audrey Hepburn or Dorris Day movie from the sixties??? Is this man's real name Cary Grant??? Do they still make men like this??? It was obvious this man adored his wife. From the way, he held her hand while walking into the office and the way he bent down to kiss her when he realized he hadn't kissed her all day. Hands down, this couple gets the Couple of a Lifetime Award. It wasn't sugary sweet, or overwhelming. It was like a small piece of chocolate after dinner, just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, without putting you into a diabetic coma. After over 50 years of marriage, they couldn't keep there hands off each other, and they still had that twinkle in their eye. I guess I wish that this was a glimpse into my future with my un-named hubby. I know for sure I will definitely be spunky, probably rocking my name chain and my Marc Jacobs sunglasses. Need the sunglasses to protect that twinkle in my eye. hahahahahahaha

Yesterday was the born day of this here blog. Today is the anniversary of my first real blog. Thank you for all the encouragement and sharing all of my laughs, my joys, my highs, my lows. Keep reading, and I'll keep writing. Smooches.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Last night was one of extremely different experiences. I started the evening going to my best friend's son 13th birthday party at Pizzeria Uno. I can't believe he is 13. She called me the day before, to inform me of the dinner celebration. While I had already made plans for that evening, there was no way I wasn't going to show. Plans are made to be adjusted. And this is a time when always being late will work in my favor. hahahahaha

We talked for about 20 minutes, catching up on each others lives. We never talk on the phone. EVER. We usually get updates on each others lives through another best friend. There are 4 of us and we have been friends - best friends since legwarmers, name chains, and four finger rings were first in style. Since there was no Best Friend Constitution ratified on a specific date back in the early 80s, I'm not really sure exactly when our friendships were solidified. However, does it really matter when and how when you have such longstanding bonds with people?

I remember when she called me from college to tell me that she was pregnant. My first thought was "oooooooooooh. Your father is going to KILL you." Now here we are, 13 years later, laughing and joking with friends and family, and a table full of kids (not all belonging to people at the table. My best friend's son's friends were there too). When the time came for me to leave, I really didn't want to. I realize I miss my best friends. While I have so many friends, there is nothing like your childhood to adulthood friends. The ones who have seen me grow from contacts to glasses, from saddle shoes to stilettos. We intrinsically know each other because we were there to witness the formation of who we are today. We each probably played a significant part in that formation. I am who I am today partly because of these 3 women. One of my best friends is having a birthday in a couple of weeks. I asked her what did she want to do for her day, she said "nothing. just me and the kids" She is such a mother (and I mean that in a good way). I think at some point, the 3 of us should hang out. Go to dinner, go bowling, do something. We don't hang out like we used to. The last time all four of us were together was.........ummmmm, damn was it my birthday?? That was back in March. No wait. My friend hosted a sex toy party in the early part of the summer and we all went to that. But of course, I had to leave to go to another event. Story of my life. hahahahaha Either way I think we are long overdue for a girls night, just the four of us. I'm going to make that happen. Soon.

So I left the birthday celebration to meet my friend E. at a function downtown. She didn't give me much detail but insisted that I had "to be there". Okay, that's usually all the convincing I need. I stepped out of a taxi in front of the address she gave me. I was standing in front of some nondescript brownstone building on a quite side street. This is where I "had to be"? She was waiting for me outside. While she smoked a cigarette, she just kept telling me how "fabulous" this party was. As she's detailing the "fabulousity" and telling me "you just have to see for yourself", I suspected she just might be right, judging from the people floating up and down the stairs, entering and exiting the building. Beautiful brown folks, corporate browns, artistic browns, model browns, wannabe model browns, blue collar browns, white collar browns, celebrity browns, regular folk browns were everywhere. As we climbed the stairs and navigated our way through the multiple levels of the host's brownstone, I was in awe. There were so many beautiful people in the place. What was so refreshing is that everyone we encountered, everyone we passed by or shall I say squeezed by (because it was packed) was very friendly. I must have said "Hi" with a smile well over a dozen times all before we reached the center of the party on the 3rd level. So often, I find people posted up with their nose in the air at these types of events, thinking that their are too superior to be there. I always say, if that's the case, then break out homie so we can get this partay started.
As the bartender made a concoction with some kind of Spanish whiskey (which by the way, was the smoothest drink I've ever had. no clutching the chest or scrunching up my face because the taste is too strong. hahaha), a guy approached me and informed me that I look very familiar. He kept saying "I know you". So thus began a game of "Name that Negro" you know the one where you try to place how you know another black person in 5 questions or less?? After questions about school and childhood homes proved to be unsuccessful, he went to events attended as possibly being the common thread. "Were you at So-and-so's barbeque on Fire Island? "Who? Ummm, no, I wasn't there. "Were you at the Vineyard this summer?" By "the Vineyard" he meant Martha's Vineyard (SIDEBAR: I once overheard a conversation where a girl said to her friend: "Martha Stewart got so much money she has a vine-yard named after her and its a whole island!" Oh dear, somebody clutch the pearls. hahahahaha). "No I didn't make it this year." After a few more questions about even more exclusive events and places, we just concluded that I must have a twin in the world. In my mind, I concluded that my twin is stealing my invitations to great events. We parted ways, but not before he handed me his business card. I chatted with someone else and we started playing Password: the Brown Edition where the person upon hearing you went to __________ (fill in the blank with name of high school/college/grad school), they try to get you to remember someone that attended the school within a five year span of you being there by describing said person. How often do you win that game???

More fabulous brown folks and a few more fabulous brown drinks. I spent the night, sipping, two stepping, and getting to know some really fabulous people. With extended invitations to attend the soiree again, I just may have met some new friends. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, they will never compare to the three who rocked legwarmers and name chains with me back in the day.

Oh before I forget....can you pleeeeeeeaase hurry up and see American Ganster??? I have so much I want to say about it. But I'm trying to respect the fact that you haven't seen it. I can't hold these thoughts forever. It came out today. Go see it. Now. Right now. Tell your boss to shove it. The work will be there on Monday. You're not doing any real work on a Friday anyway. hahahahaha. HURRY UP, PEOPLE!!!!
Smooches ;)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In 2002, my mother became ill. For months, I watched her health deteriorate. With no clue as to what was wrong with her, she went from doctor to doctor seeking some kind of solution. She went to just about every –ist in the medical profession: gynecologist, oncologist, etc. etc. She took test after test after test. They swabbed, poked, X-rayed, and took samples of every bodily fluid. All tests came back clear. But that still didn’t explain why she had absolutely no energy to do the simplest task like crossing the street, or washing dishes. This went on for months. Initially, I was ok, thinking the doctors are handling this. But as her condition began to incapacitate her, I was simply afraid. Afraid that this was it. My mother lost her father at the age of 26, was I destined live out the same fate? Luckily, she finally saw a kidney specialist who thought my mother's lab results were erroneous. She called on a Sunday (how rare is that??) and said she wanted to see my mother in her office first thing Tuesday morning (Monday was Labor Day). She told my mother this must be a lab error because no one should be walking around with these kinds of numbers. That Tuesday morning, I had to bathe and dress my mother. She was simply too weak to do it anymore. In the cab ride to her doctor's office, I remember my mother kept patting my hand and telling me that everything was "just fine." I looked at her like she was nuts but I just nodded my head and watched the FDR Drive and the East River blur into one.

We later found out that her initial lab results weren't wrong, my mother was just that sick. She was admitted into the hospital that day for the 3rd time in my life (the first time being when I was born so she kind of had to be there for that one…hahahahah). The last time my mother was in the hospital was to have her gall bladder removed, and I was 4 years old. My most vivid memory during that time was my grandfather trying to tame my long, thick unruly mass of hair. Frustrated and without any other hair holding device left in the house (because he broke them all), he bunched my hair into a massive ponytail on top of my head with his hand- no brush, wrapped duct tape around the "ponytail" to hold it in place and took me to school. Yes, you read that correctly, duct tape. Needless to say, my nursery school teacher spent the better part of the morning doing my hair. The next day a cousin came over and braided my hair into long cornrows with pretty beads, a first for me. I just recall the sounds the beads made and how all I wanted to do was jump, run, turn my head from side to side, just to hear the sound of the beads hitting each other. I remember being told that my mother was in the hospital but didn’t quite grasp the concept. I vaguely remember going to visit her once but all I remember is climbing into her bed so she could play with the beads in my hair.

This time around I was 26 and without my grandfather to hold my hand or to take care of the situation. After calling my boss to inform him I wouldn’t be coming in, I didn't know what to do. My mother had to tell me to call the family. I had no clue what to do. I was lost. I sat down and did something my mother does everyday. I wrote a list. My mother can't make a move without writing a damn list. I always roll my eyes at her crazy list. But it gave me something to focus on. While I was writing my list of who to call, what to bring from the apartment, the doctor came over to speak with me. He informed me that my mother's "levels" were dangerously low. In doctorspeak, he threw all kinds of medical terms my way. All I heard at the end of his monologue was I may want to discuss with my mother her "plans". I remember I wanted to scream. I wanted to yell. I wanted to bash his head against the medicine cart so he would stop talking. Just mush him one good time and watch his dome bounce off the industrial sturdy plastic. Instead I asked a few questions and thanked him before he scurried off down the corridor in a blur of hospital scrubs and lab coat. I didn’t leave her side that night. For the next 3 months, I spent at least 5 nights a week in that hospital. I would leave in the morning, take a taxi home, shower, change, feed Tabitha, my mother's cat and go to work. Leave work, go to hospital, speak with doctors, nurses, specialists, have dinner with my mother, entertain her always lively dementia suffering roommate, then fall asleep in my mother's bedside chair. Wake up and my day would start all over again.

Everyday my boss, my contractors, my friends, and my neighbors would ask "How's your mom?" "She's okay." became my mantra. I realize that it still is today. I may switch it up with "She's fine" or "She's good" or the classic " "Getting on my nerves so she must be okay". What else am I supposed to say? It's automatic at this point, even though I see the signs that she isn't doing as great lately. I see the fatigue setting in again and I feel the fear creeping in again. I nag her like a bill collector about her going to see the doctor. She tries to wave me off but there is no feeling that compares to seeing the person who made you, raised you, and loves you, lying on bleary white sheets in a motorized twin size bed with tubes sprouting out of them like tentacles. I could close my eyes right now and still see her laying there, her hazel eyes not as clear and feel her hands as cold as a December morning. That memory is forever etched on my soul. I don't want to relive that feeling again.

My mom and I talk a lot all the time. But lately, we've been talking about my future. We discuss my move, and how she can decorate the second bedroom of my home for whenever she wants to rack up some frequent flier miles and come to visit. We talk about my future kids, and what she will and won't tolerate from her grandbabies. We talk about my decision to stop teaching to find my true calling in life. We discuss the changes I've made in my life. We talk about my book. She's the only person who has read a portion of Chapter 1 (I won't let her read any more than that and she is sworn to secrecy. hahahahaha). We talk about her current work on her completing her degree, and what she plans to do next. I love these talks with my mom. I see that twinkle in her hazel eyes dazzling and I feel like all is right in the world. But there is a part of me, all the way in the back of my mind, way, way in that little corner, that whispers how much of this will she be here for?? Will my children really know her or will they create her in their mind from stories I tell them and the pictures they see of her? Who will tell them that Mommy is a writer because Grandma used to help her make little books out of construction paper and the cardboard insert from pantyhose packaging when she was their age or younger? Will they ever experience the joy of tasting my mother's famous Carrot Cake or will they just have to accept my substitution (SIDEBAR: to my friends: I will NOT be making the alcohol cakes for the children, ummkay?? hahahahahah) ?? How many of my books will she have read? Will she actually get to accomplish the plans she has for her next phase in life? Lately, these are the questions that swirl in my mind when I see her get tired sooner rather than later. No she's not dying tomorrow, but ever since she was hospitalized 5 years ago, the actual possibility has always been more that a theory and more liking something lurking right around the corner. And yes I panic when I think of all that her absence would mean in my life. I wish that thought process and its accompanying feelings on no one.

I've never verbalized this story or these fears, not even when I was told to discuss "her plans" with her. I've kept it all in. No one knew about the doctors instructions. To verbalize it, makes it real. That is just a reality I wasn't ready to accept, not then or now. There is a song by Tamia, called "Smile". In it, she simply but emotionally sings:

"So I put on my make up/ put a smile on my face/ and if anyone ask me,/ 'everything is ok'/ I'm laughing cuz no one knows the joke is on me/ cuz I'm dyin inside with my pride/ and a smile on my face.../on my face singing, la la la, la la, lalala, la la, la la, la la, la la, la la, la la la Laaaa"

This is me whenever I hear "How's your mom?"