The End

Well, it’s really not the end, but it is the end of this challenge.

This challenge has allowed me to reflect on past events that have shaped my life, drink glasses of wine (sometimes bottles) nodding with joy, laughing and/or crying over others slices, and most importantly write! I have loved every moment of it.

There were so many things that I would have enjoyed writing about that just were not my go-to topics this round. 3 weeks prior to starting the challenge, I wrote out an amazing list of all these ideas that were running rapidly through my mind. None of them fit what I wanted to purvey.

I wanted to capture Mama differently than I have captured her in the previous challenges. I wanted everyone to know how amazing of a woman she was and how she really influenced who I am and all I will ever be.

I wanted to write about my sister… maybe one day we will be able to mend everything that has transpired and clear up any miscommunication.

I really, really wanted to write about friendships…here today and gone tomorrows, lifetime friends, and seasonal employees. I’ve grown so much and are so very happy for those that I have met, those that are still with me, and those that I have to let go.

I’m so happy to have opened up about meditating and seeking my higher self. This has been and will continue to be one of the best changes that I have made in my life. Meditating has kept me centered, grounded, and full of energy (most of the time). I am also very happy that I have found others on the same journey.

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H Mart

Image result for spicy noodlesThere are so many places on my “I need to visit this place ASAP list.” Yesterday, out of desperation to finally “do something” over my spring break, I decided to go on a ride through Naperville. A year and a half ago, Naperville was my home. Like, my home. The place where I felt most comfortable. Who cares If I was paying a mortgage for a one bedroom apartment! Naperville gave me the feeling of hope! Hope that maybe someday, I would start my family there. A year and a half ago, I made the stupid decision to relocate to Lombard. Not a bad decision, just one that makes me cringe at times when I think about how much I enjoyed being a Napevrvillian.

My first stop was Penzeys spices. I had to grab this sandwich sprinkle that my friend Shan used on our baked potatoes last week. OMG, so good. I easily spent $40 bucks on spices that I have no room for. My next stop was Forever Yogurt which I will stop at again today. I went in there because my body felt like it was shutting down. I needed something to bring my blood sugar back up. It only took 20 minutes for a dark hot chocolate but I managed. I filled 6 sample cups with frozen yogurt (mostly the watermelon sorbet which was to die for). My last stop was H Mart. I was in for a surprise.

Upon my arrival, the smell of fresher than fresh maybe not fresh seafood hit my nose. Death! I can still taste the smell in my mouth. I was on a mission to grab some Asian snacks that I had seen on Youtube… Asian Flamin’ Hots, spicy noodles, Krace Popin Cookin’, Nestle Kit Kats… mostly for my nephews Easter basket. I headed through each aisle as if I could read the aisle labels. No one asked me if I needed help because no one spoke English. They were probably just as afraid of starting a conversation with me as I was with them. I literally stood in one aisle for 10 minutes pacing back and forth looking for flavored Kit Kats. In desperation, I started to look around but every employee looked busy…being busy. I finally took in all the fresh air that I could and made it over to the seafood area where there were additional employees standing around… I barely returned, there was so much S#it swimming around that I almost lost it. Prawns just laying there struggling for air, lobsters yelling, something with tentacles stared at me. I rushed back to the snack aisle and made my purchase grabbing whatever snacks looked interesting on my way out.

Visiting H Mart definitely put things into a different perspective. The smell of the seafood and whatever else was being chopped up in the fresher than fresh maybe not fresh seafood area lingers on my clothing. My beautiful Asian college roommate would always invite me out to indulge in her culture at events, grocery stores, and even at church.  I went a few times, enjoyed myself but still felt very uncomfortable. Ignorance is bliss. I wonder if she felt the same way that I did in H Mart in Jewel Osco when I would force her to go grocery shopping with me?

 

Chocolate Bunny

My favorite memories of Easter have always included picking out an Easter basket at Jewel Osco and waiting forever to open it. Mama did a great job at hammering the importance of this holiday and explaining the resurrection of Jesus but all I could think about was getting to that chocolate bunny.

Yes! I was the Easter basket bandit and it wasn’t until I got my sister involved that I was caught red-handed.

After purchasing the Easter baskets, mama would set them up in the living room high up on the glass table. My sister and I would compare Easter baskets every day after school. We were never allowed to touch them but we would undress the Easter baskets with our eyes going back and forth about which one contained the most candy. One night, in between Easter and a long week away, I decided to do the unthinkable. It took me a lot of time to analyze the way that the bow was placed. It took even longer to figure out how to untie it and replace the bow without nobody knowing.

I waited for everyone to go to sleep. I decided that I would start with my sister’s Easter basket. There was no way I was going to damage mine. Worst case, I would blame Chris the cat. I gently unraveled the bright pink bow that’s set atop my sister’s basket. “This was easy,” I thought to myself as I reached my hand inside to grab a piece of candy. I tugged and then out of frustration I pulled and finally realize that the candy was actually taped down to every single item in the basket. I guess that this mission was going to be harder than what I initially thought. I quickly rewrapped the basket and planned to strike again that night.

The next night, I was determined to pull out that piece of candy. I grabbed my school safe scissors and thought that this time I would simply cut the tape away. To my surprise, it worked. The only problem was that there was a huge gaping Gap left where the candy was missing. I pulled some of the plastic grass up to distract the spot.

The next day my sister and I stared at the two baskets, going back and forth about which basket had the most candy and surprisingly she did not notice that the box of nerds was missing from her basket.

I would continue the scheme for a few years and eventually decided to invite my sister in on the plan. We went to Jewel-Osco and picked out the Easter basket of our choice. We returned home and Mama placed them in the living room high up on the glass table.  This particular year, we both had huge chocolate bunnies and toys in the baskets as opposed to small candies and a mixture of small toys. This year, taking a small treat out of the Easter basket would be harder.

I waited until everyone was sleep, gently nudged my sister to wake up, and explained to her how it would work. I pulled out my school safe scissors and begin to nibble at the bow. Getting through a cloth Bowl was definitely harder than the plastic bows that I was used to. The cloth bow didn’t maintain the shape like the plastic bow did. “Whatever, I was a pro at this and no one would notice.”

It took longer than usual but once the bow was removed, I proceeded to the inside of the basket. It was my sister’s basket so I didn’t care about things getting rearranged. Apparently, neither did she. All we could think about was taking a nice little bite out of this chocolate bunny in which we assumed was solid, not hollow. I took my safety scissors and slid them under the lid of the chocolate bunny box. It was my sister’s Easter basket so I agreed that she should have the first bite. She went to the ear. She wiggled the bunny’s ear back and forth until she was able to pry it off. “Oh crap!” She yelled. I looked at her and then I looked at the bunny… Except that the bunny was no more. His poor little body had cracked all the way down the middle and was shattered into small tiny pieces at the bottom of the box. “Abort mission,” I thought to myself. My sister rammed the bunny ear into her mouth enjoying every bite and snuck back into the bedroom while I was left with the job of concealing the lid that now had smudged chocolate fingerprints on the top and replacing the cloth bow.

The next morning, we sat in front of the Easter baskets except we did not compare the two. My sister’s Easter basket looked damaged and second hand. The chocolate bunny was nothing but a shattered eyeball and a chocolate carrot while my Easter basket stood proudly with the chocolate bunny in place and the professionally wrapped cloth Bow.

Mama, proud of what her stretched money was able to buy us this month walked over to admire the Easter baskets. Her smile quickly turned into a frown as she looked over at the two of us and we quickly looked away. Of course, my sister began to cry. Rattling on about how destroyed her Easter basket was and how all the bad things in the world only happened to her.

Easter came quick. We listened to church on the TV no different than the other Sunday’s. Mama made an amazing feast and a spectacular doctored box cake. When it was time to open the Easter baskets, my sister started to sob again. Mama opened up both of the baskets, took out my perfectly in place chocolate bunny, and split it in half with a hot knife. my sister got the top part of the bunny and I received the bottom part. She looked over with a slight grin and I stared back at her with my resting b**** face.

The Massage

My shoulder has been killing me. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time online shopping. Maybe, researching the healing stones that I’ve been collecting are finally talking a toll on my body. Either way, the pain that has been spreading through my right shoulder has been absolutely unbearable.

Today, we decided to go get a massage at one of those rinky-dink places located down the street from our house. We found a Groupon online which would make our 1 hour massage visit $20 per person. We really couldn’t beat it. I was so excited. I changed into something more relaxing in the car. I couldn’t wait to enjoy at least 45 minutes of decent sleep and relaxation.

I entered the spa… it felt very cozy… even though the windows are blacked out. It smelled great… even though there were 20 people cramped into a room. I didn’t care. I needed this massage and this place was going to give it to me. I gave the guy who convinced us to purchase a better package my Groupon certificate… And we entered through a lacy curtain. Thank God I was already dressed down, I would have felt pretty uncomfortable getting undressed in front of the other people who stared as we walked in. We walked in at 5:04 and by 5:05 we were already covered and lotion.

I can feel my extensions being tossed from one side to the other. I tried to hold them down, I tried to speak to the man who had taken over my body, but he didn’t hear a word that I was saying. He spent 5 minutes I’m tossing my hair back and forth and covering it with lotion. Finally, I pulled my hands from underneath the cold towel and held my extensions down ( nobody touches my extensions).

He finally moved on to my feet… I most definitely couldn’t handle it. For at least 20 minutes I laughed, I snickered, and I remove the cold towel that was put on my eyeballs if you times to look over and my boyfriend to see if he was having the same reaction. He was not.

The end of the massage was the most uncomfortable. I literally have my ass beat buy an Asian man who was looking for tension in all the wrong places. He beat my back like a drum… He karate chopped my gluteus maximus until I could no longer feel my butt cheeks. Finally he moved back up to my shoulders where a heaping amount of lotion was poured onto my extensions… that was it. Game over. I looked up, only to find my head in between this guys legs and forcefully had my head forced backed down the massage table hole.

Three minutes later, the massage was over.”Was everything okay?” The guy whisper and by the time I looked out to respond he was gone.

I am now sitting at home. Chugging down water and hoping that no one questions me about the bruises on my body.

Mr. Officer Pt. 2

Previously…”I double checked my seatbelt, looked at the color of the stop light in my rearview, cycled through my car settings checking lights, oil, etc (love this feature), and checked my speed range. “Maybe this is just a routine stop,” I thought to myself. An officer walked up, I greeted him with “good morning, is there a problem?” He replied “license and registration?” I searched through my glove compartment, never had to reach in it before. I handed the officer my license and registration along with my insurance. I asked again “is there a problem?” The officer walked back to his car for a minute and then slowly walked back…he stared at my plates and proceeded towards the car. His next words put me in an automatic panic attack…” you are going to jail!” My life flashed before my eyes… it’s funny what you think of in the heat of a moment. My job, my nephews, the race, my reputation all ran through my mind as I tried to process the words….””

Before the officer could walk back to his vehicle I said, difficulty “can I call someone?” He angrily replied “call someone for what? You know someone with $500 dollars cash to bail you out? Huh?” Tears streamed down my face. I was not sure what he was implying. I could feel my throat become very dry. It was tough to swallow. I was a little taken back by his statement. He continued “we are taking the car. Someone will have to pick it up from the impound!”  I prepared myself for the worst. I called my friend and barely explained between the tears and ball in the back of my throat what was about to take place. I could hear her hysterically explaining the situation to her family in the background.

Again, So many things ran through my mind. “Why me?” There were people speeding past me on 75th street. “Why me?” I checked my speedometer religiously. I even set my car to a gear where I could not exceed over 60 MPH. More tears ran down my face. The collar of my shirt was soaked with sadness.

The officer walked back to my car…even slower than the first time. Out of respect, I placed my phone back into my bag. I wiped away the last few tears that I had left. The officer rested his arm on my window sill. He approached me with a very different tone then he had from the beginning of our encounter. He stated that he would let me off with a ticket. I would have to appear in court on the date listed on the ticket and if found guilty, would have to pay the associated fine. “What caused the change in demeanor?” I eagerly wondered to myself. I didn’t thank him. I didn’t praise him for his service. The tears disappeared but the anger inside of me raged.

~I will not discuss the other disrespectful statements that transpired~

I had already prepared myself for the slammer so I insisted, no…I demanded that the officer show me the radar. I asked him about the accuracy of the radar. I also mentioned to him that there were cars speeding past me on the same road. “Did he miss them?” He insisted that he did not have to let me see the radar but would show me this time. The numbers were definitely way off from the numbers he put on my ticket but he stated that it did not matter. We went our separate ways…I stayed at the scene to catch my breath.

I did not get his badge number. I do not remember his name. I have never felt anxiety being around cops. I have nothing against cops. I have several family members who are cops. Is this the way that cops treat civilians? why are people asked to act calm, even when cops don’t? Questions that I had never ever considered questioning myself about…especially when it came to cops ran through my mind.

This experience was one that I will take with me forever.

 

Mr. Officer

I love driving! I may have failed drivers education (the teacher didn’t like me) but I have always loved the freedom of being able to get up and get away.

In my lifetime, I have only had 4 amazing vehicles. My first car was a red Dodge Neon (or Plymouth). Lacey didn’t last very long. She was on her last leg when I purchased her and balancing on a toe when I left her 3 months later. My next vehicle was actually purchased for me by my cousin. The Green Machine had already had 3 lives before me. Always ready for a challenge and always needing extra care. She gave me the best years of her life. So many adventures in such short time. My next vehicle would last longer than the previous two. The Bu (Malibu) was also funded by my cousin who put the down payment on her. I paid the same car note on this vehicle that many may have been paying for a new Lexus or BMW. See, my identity was stolen while I was at college working my a$$ off (another slice for another day). In order to ride, I would have to pay for someone else’s mistakes costing me around ($700) dollars a month. For four + years my heart pained with every payment. On the other hand, every payment made me more responsible.

The Bu died a slow death. I maintained her the best I could but frequent visits to the ER and overnight stays at nearby hospitals just became too much for her. It was time to let go and finally purchase a new car. I did some research and immediately fell in love with the Jeep brand. I really wanted a Barbie Jeep…the Wrangler. I had to think with my Big Girl Undies on…I couldn’t fill my childhood dreams right now. The next on the list for me was the Cherokee and that’s just what I went for.

A few weeks after my purchase, I decided to support my friend by participating in a race to benefit the Pilsen area in Chicago. I packed the Jeep with water and snacks and went on my merry way. Riding down 75th street was one of my favorite things to do… from Plainfield/Naperville road the MPH ranges from 45-50. Early mornings, the route was almost always clear. without all of the rucus, the scenery was beautiful. I turned on some motivating tunes, checked my speed like a kid playing a video game, and belted out a few “Thank you Gods.” Before I could finish my last phrase, there were bright blue and red lights mirroring in my rearview.

I double checked my seatbelt, looked at the color of the  stop light in my rearview, cycled through my car settings checking lights, oil, etc (love this feature), and checked my speed range. “Maybe this is just a routine stop,” I thought to myself. An officer walked up, I greeted him with “good morning, is there a problem?” He replied “license and registration?” I searched through my glove compartment, never had to reach in it before. I handed the officer my license and registration along with my insurance. I asked again “is there a problem?” The officer walked back to his car for a minute and then slowly walked back…he stared at my plates and proceeded towards the car. His next words put me in an automatic panic attack…”you are going to jail!” My life flashed before my eyes… it’s funny what you think of in the heat of a moment. My job, my nephews, the race, my reputation all ran through my mind as I tried to process the words….

Sunday’s

Sundays, for me usually include completing 3 loads of laundry, straightening up (if there has already been a deep cleaning), answering overdue emails, running and finding a little bit of time to take care of me.

Growing up (yes, another growing up slice), Mama would always say that Sunday was God’s day. We would wake up with prayer thanking God for every and anything in our life. Mama would make a light breakfast. Dinner’s were usually light too…nothing to over the top. We would watch movies (lots of reruns) it was hard to find fulfillment with only 6 channels but we always managed.

On Sunday’s, Mama would make us a special homemade dessert. Her favorite was rice pudding. I always thought of it as an “I’ll pass dessert” but would eat it when there were no other options. On her lazy days she would whip up the best Jello. I really dislike Jello but back then, because Mama had put so much effort into making it, it was my favorite. Some Sunday’s my favorite cousin would come over. She would bring in chocolate delicacies…. AKA …. cookie dough to bake or grocery store cake (Mama hated store bought baked goods).

This Sunday, It was God’s Sunday. I made a light breakfast. I Did did not spend time straightening up (thank God for Spring Break). I slept, I woke up, watched a movie, returned to rest…repeat. I prayed, took some mindful breaths, and prayed some more. Dinner, it will be very light.

I don’t get a lot of Sunday’s like this.

Undefeated

Pride has taken over my sincerity,

to the bitter I explicitly show signs of a heartless creature

Who refuses to follow suite of meaningless cacophony

Masked by a sheet of ice, tall walls, and fears to stay guarded

Fears, immeasurable, that double in size when faced with adversity

Sophisticated soul searching for endless possibilities

Selfless artistry waiting to unleash greatness

Unseen by strangers

Misunderstood by those who resent

Yet, undefeated

 

We Made It!

I should be going on a lavish vacation for spring break. Instead, I am spring cleaning.

My space feels so heavy right now. Filled with shoulda, coulda, woulda threw away items that I have not made my way back around too. Filled with lots of great memories and some I rather not talk about. My space has been crying out for a new feel.

This spring break, I will take the time to focus on those things that I have been putting off to enjoy a weekend with friends. Endless coupons, articles, and receipts. Half empty bottles, “just in cases”, and “maybe I should keep yous”. It’s time to go. Size 2’s-Size 12’s and never agains will be packed and signed “up for the taking”. Many items will stay! Some memories will be organized and saved for reflection…others, “goodbye!”

I might not be going to my favorite place (Florida) for spring break but I am so happy for having time off to take to myself. I can’t wait to lift some weight off my shoulders!

Whirlwind

Image result for whirlwind

Today was one of those days were everything felt so non stop. Conversations moved faster than normal, the hours ran right past my watch that died midway, and the my thoughts… I left them somewhere in between trying to find a pair of pants to wear to work and bursting our of the pair I decided to role with.

I don’t favor these days like I did when I was younger. I accomplish the impossible but it has no effect because I can’t enjoy it. I sing my favorite song on the way home from work and forget the lyrics because of all the other unfulfilled thoughts that burden my brain. When I was younger, whirlwind days would make me very antsy. These days would get me into trouble. These were the days were my curiosity was at its highest. I would ask Mama thousands of questions (literally), would begin to create stories and act them out on the spot, I would also start to dream. My dreams were absolutely amazing. I would wander off into a world filled with amusement parks, friendly people, and candy, lots of candy. Those days got me through so many disappointments.

I wish I could say the same for now. At this very moment my brain feels like it is shutting down for the night. I have a lump in my throat because I’m debating between completing assignments for a course or laying down and pretending like I forgot. I left my Clear Correct braces at work or threw them out while enjoying a chocolate covered caramel marshmallow (2nd pair I’ve lost). I am hoping to have a smooth day tomorrow.

Fingers crossed for braces being on my desk!