air hockey hindrance

i’ve been a parent for a little more than five years. the fact that my son and i are both still breathing, eating and conversing let’s me know that i may, MAY, be slightly successful at it. but don’t hold me to it…. just yet. everyday my son absorbs and learns something new. and so do i.

sometimes teaching a “concept” is not as easy as it seems. for instance: learning about his physical self was something he had to experience on his own. i could (and did) warn him a hundred times over that he could bump his head while passing the kitchen table. but it didn’t matter until he actually bumped his head. he looked at the table and then looked at me with a certifiable look of “why? why didn’t you tell me it would hurt?” this was more prevalent and far more serious when he ran into the arm of the recliner and mashed his little man business. he was horrified, upset, hurt and suddenly aware. you get my drift? no amount of conversation was going to bring to light what he was feeling. he had to experience it in order to know that he never wanted to experience it again.

it is almost impossible to teach something without simultaneously learning. most times it’s just a shortcut to the end result or maybe cutting out something unnecessary. yes, parenting is a torturous lesson in teaching lessons. all the while we must maintain simultaneous levels of care, concern, fairness, equality, just, discipline, fun, guidance, respect, admiration, and sprinkle it all with a little friendship. just a little now, we don’t want them getting the wrong idea.

yesterday we went to Balboa Beach. a classic beach town with a very seventies nostalgic feel. we went to a vintage candy store specializing in salt water taffy and items that are not stocked at the local liquor store. we walked and talked and oogled the standard beach related fare. we saw some crabs, some barnacles and too many birds. we found a tall ropey-climby thing:

the ropey-climby thing

i cannot resist climbing… i was at the top before my son took his shoes off.

my son is five, so his world revolves around him. good thing there was that strategically placed arcade. my aunt got some tokens and he played a few games. he was mostly interested in riding a fake motorcycle. it took a few minutes but i was finally able to convince him to play skeeball. you remember skeeball don’t you?


probably the most classic arcade game ever. besides pinball, of course.

after a round or two of good ole skeeball, my son bounced about on silly little token wasters. those store front rides that barely move, a game or two with buttons that didn’t really work… but, hey, what’s that in the corner? is that an air hockey game???? well sweet potato pie from the sky!! cut off my legs and call me shorty…. WHO WANTS TO PLAY? my son accepted the challenge… poor little human.

air. hockey.

let the tail-whoopin’ commence! i don’t care if you are 5!! oops.. did i say that out loud?

now. we, obviously had to get more tokens. and when the plastic puck was ejected and the soft blanket of air was on…. I lost all of my parenting skills. all of them. i was not interested in teaching fairness, sportsmanship or rules. i wanted to whoop some five year old ass and walk away with an I-WON-WITH-ALL-FIVE-TO-YOUR-ABSOLUTELY-NO-SCORE victory. i really did. and with the first few volleys of the puck, my PARENTING senses came back and i knew that it was my job to do the exact opposite of that. but i’ll be truthful, it was difficult.

you might think that i’m exaggerating, but i’m not. NOT. i spent years at the local skating rink playing air hockey, frogger, and 1942. i would consider myself an air hockey semi-pro. true story. so, you understand how difficult it was for me to hit softly, ignore his pulling the puck back to”try again” and the worst of the worst… to leave my goal wide open????? it hurt. it was painful. i actually had to look away to LET him score because if my eyes were to see the puck hurling toward the goal my arms and hands would instinctively smack the holy bajeezus out of that plastic green puck and send it in reverse at five times the speed and fifteen times the velocity and watch it crash into the back of the goal faster than my son could focus.. but ARGH! i was not allowed to and i DID NOT commit this travesty against childhood. but dammitalltohell if it wasn’t hard!!!

here’s the end result. he won. he smiled. we all cheered for him. shortly thereafter we left and i can’t seem to shake the fact that i HAD to LET him win. isn’t that just awful? I can tell you this… he better practice because when he’s old enough to THINK he can beat me, the tail whoopin’ will commence, and when it gets down to the wire, i’m gonna hafta dig real deep to possibly let him win. sad? I know. at least i’m truthful.

here’s something to smile about:

i’m part pirate.

baking blog ~ 2: lena b’s banana nut bread


i love to bake.  particularly desserts, but if you can put it in the oven — i’ll give it a try. my favorite things to bake are stand alone favorites: several types of cookies, a killer chicken pot pie, cupcakes and banana bread. i think we all (except for those that are allergic) love banana bread, don’t we? well i have a story to share about some banana bread and it is going to knock your socks off. the bread is divine. but the story, well, the story makes it better.

outside of the facts learned in school, i got (most of) my intelligence, my humor and my county-girl charm from my grandmother. she was a phenomenal person. she also taught me respect. the born-and-raised in the south and we-don’t-take-none-of-that-backtalk-’round-here respect. she taught me about personal space, real friends and why you should never keep your car and house keys in the same place. she taught me how to sew, bake and gave me Kitchen 101.

it was during our time in the kitchen that she shared with me her many recipes.  i have lots of hand written recipes and notes from her.  i have newspaper clippings, magazine pages and even some word search puzzle entries that contain recipes that she enjoyed. or at least, wanted to enjoy. of all the years and all the recipes, one of them outweighs the rest. it is her recipe for banana bread. here is an image (the measurements have been eliminated to protect the integrity of the recipe and elude the plagiarizers):

when i was in high school, the upper left corner fell off and i laminated it in an after school print shop program. we determined from the writing on the back that she had written it down in approximately 1956. *mumbling* minus the …  carry the .. and then move the… hey, yeah! that’s fifty-six years ago. that is about the same age as my parents. 🙂 i cannot provide you with any more historical information than that. she gave me the recipe and told me to hold tight to it. and i have.

i made it from time to time. not really enjoying the process or the outcome. she gave me compliments and critique along the way. if i had known, then, what i know now — i would have spent every day, since the day she gave it to me, perfecting it and honing the recipe into exactly what it is today: a legend. it’s that good.

my high school spanish teacher, used to purchase loaves from me at two dollars a piece. that was a nice little allowance until she got a loaf that wasn’t quite done in the middle and she gave up on me. understandable. i don’t remember making them too often during my college days either. what bread i did make was for my grandmother, at her request. i enjoyed it, but not enough at that time. she once told me “you make it better than i ever could”, which of course warmed my heart. i would make it for her and never think more about it.

eventually i grew up and moved out. i got a few jobs and when the spirit moved me, i would bake and share the famous bread. as time passed, i came to find that it was a certifiable crowd pleaser. it has never failed me. it has been mixed incorrectly and undercooked, but that’s user error, you see. the recipe, itself, remains consistent and predictable. exactly what a baked good should be. it has always been moist, delicious and impressive. at least, that’s what my fans tell me. 😀

i made it when i worked as a police dispatcher and have been reminded of how much it is missed.  i have made it for people along the way and always received compliments on it. i also made it for my friends at the hotel. i remember taking a loaf to the housekeeping department who promptly grabbed their morning cups of coffee and sat in silence enjoying the bread. it wasn’t until a few days later that i learned the bread was the topic of discussion that day.

i have been asked for the recipe many times to which i reply “i’m sorry, that recipe is going to make me famous. it’s a secret.” a certifiable look of disappointment comes at me followed by “well, if you change your mind”. i’ve only shared the recipe three times:

  1. after many years, my grandmother told me that she wanted to share the recipe with someone she worked with. i don’t know if you’ll believe this, but i actually refused to give it back to her. she scolded me. i retorted with my standard “make me famous” line. she didn’t buy it. i gave her the recipe. she was the author, after all.
  2. to my best friend’s grandmother (Nanny). she’s a sweet old bird who used to share “our grandkids are crazy” laughs, cured salt pork and southern lady conversation with my gramma. i made the bread, she loved it and i gave her the recipe. hesitantly.
  3. earlier today, after a little more than three weeks of deliberation and a few pleadings i shared the recipe with two of my coworkers.
    1. cee-dub (cw or coworker)one is a fellow baker who has promised me three things: a) a secret family recipe of her own, b) her help and her kitchen in creating a new baking masterpiece and c) her first-born grandchild. i intend to collect on all three.
    2. cee-dub two saved my rump last week and if my gramma were alive she would have said “you better give that girl the recipe, she helped you when she didn’t have to”… i can actually hear my gramma saying it. ugh.
    3. i started this entry a couple of months ago and have actually shared the recipe with several other people. now, you might be saying “but you didn’t share it with aaaaaaaaaaaall of those other people from way back when” and you’re right. but the fact of the matter is that i don’t follow the recipe. 😀 it’s true. i know it by heart, can predict it’s outcome and have tweaked it just enough to call it my own, so sharing it — is just a formality. it stands true, always delivers a quality product and those that have received the recipe and followed it’s instructions have yet to stop thanking me. it’s that good.

as you can see, i’m stingy. this legend of a recipe is going to put my son through college. maybe. speaking of son, he’s the number one fan. he loves the banana bread and can hardly wait for it to get out of the oven. seriously. he’s touched several hot loaf pans and stolen countless HANDFULS and slices of the bread. it is his favorite breakfast treat.

but wait, there’s more. my job recently had a bake sale. naturally, i agreed to bake. i originally intended on making cookies. but when it got down to crunch time, i didn’t have the ingredients that i needed to make the cookies i wanted to make and then i remembered the dozen-and-a-half bananas in the garage freezer. they were provided to me by a coworker after our annual benefits fair. the bananas had been a little abused from travel and were almost prime bread making real estate. she came to my section of CubicleWorld and stated “hey baker, you should take those bananas home” (thanks, Paula, i miss your smile). perfect. the recipe is simple and doesn’t require special ingredients. so i decided to make banana bread.

the sale required that all foods be individually wrapped and labeled for sale. i was completely oblivious to this fact, but decided to make mini banana bread bundts. they are just so cute and so perfect for a bake sale. i only have three mini pans, so i had to bake in shifts. grease and flour the pans, bake three breads, allow them to cool, wash the pans and then start anew. it took me six hours to bake a dozen mini bundts. and i still had batter left over.

i let them cool and sealed them up in my handy-dandy cake saver and travel container. a God send of a gift from my aunt, Martha Stewart and the fantastic folks at Wilton. the next morning i trotted off to work, proud and excited. when i got to the bake sale area, i had forgotten to wrap and label the cakes. i hurried back to the break room… found some clear plastic plates, white paper doilies and saran wrap. i printed up some labels and priced the pretty little breads at $3.50 each. the packaging was so simple and cute. the only thing that would have made them better was ribbon and instead of labels, vintage shabby chic graphic art tags. i started with twelve, took ten to work because my aunt and son claimed one each. ten mini bundts.

as i was preparing my food fare for sale, one of the potential patrons walked by. she saw the bread under the cake saver cover and was drawn in by its sheer beauty. she approached the table, eyes wide, inquiring

“what are those?”

and me, being me, went into my whole schpiel like i’ve just shared with you. she asked about my grandmother and i had to tell her that she had passed away several years ago and how my aunt and i had taken care of her those last few years and so forth and so on… well, the story ended in with the two of us hugging, and in tears. she had shown an interest in the bread from the start but revealed to me:

“the story makes the bread that much better. i can’t wait to taste it.”

the bake sale opened about thirty minutes later. she bought six of the twelve. i received an email at 9:26 in the morning stating that the bread sold out in twenty minutes. the entire sale was over about forty minutes after it started. almost one hundred dollars was made and thirty-five of it was from my breads. yay!

as the day progressed, i received many compliments and three requests for the recipe. consensus on the terms “moist and delicious”. another coworker poked her head around my cubicle wall stating:

“you’re the one who made the banana bread, right? well… i heard about them but i didn’t get one.”

i made her some a few weeks later. she returned the favor by making a Thomas the Train blanket for my son. he loves it. i have seen the “buyer of six” as well who shared how the bread was already a family favorite and she had also made mental note of my pan situation and was keeping her eye out for additional mini pans. sweet, right? she told me that day and every time that i have seen her since that the bread is “to die for”, but “the story makes it better”. all of the folks that i have “met” since the bake sale, whether in the cafeteria, break room, ladies’ room or in the walkway have said “you’re the one who makes the banana bread, right?” a great reputation to have, if i do say so myself.

i have made the bread regularly and always get smiles and hugs. we had a special meeting and presentation in our department last week and as part of the surprise, i made banana bread. jackie couldn’t contain herself and was ready to devour it upon sight. she sent an email around and within minutes the majority of a large bundt bread was gone. it was fantastic to watch. everyone passing my cubicle, eyes rolled back in their head with butter stained fingers saying “mmmmf, it’s so good”. i cut a few pieces and shared them with other work friends and received more warm and loving compliments. SuperBoy and The MadMan are known for asking for “MUUUUH” (that’s ‘moooooore’) while still having a mouthful.

some of us have no talents. some of us have one or two. some of us have a million different things that we’re “kinda” good at. i have one certifiable talent and it is recreating and baking my grandmother’s recipe banana bread. it’s a simple recipe, hand written by the queen herself. it’s a favorite of all family and friends, a crowd pleaser and has stood the test of time for more than fifty years. the kids, ALL kids, love it. i take pride in it. when i bake it, i use my heart. i concentrate, infuse and incorporate love in every bite (thanks, ma!). what i can tell you for fact is this: 1) the smell is divine and will attract hungry bears, or neighbors — whichever is closer. 2) i get more joy from baking it than i do from eating it. 3) i get more joy from sharing it than i do from baking it. 4) you hope, wish and pray that you might ever be close enough to watch, listen and smell it bake. if you are, i guarantee that you will never want to be far away again.

to my grandmother:

thanks, gertrude. i love you. i miss you and i wish you were here so i could bake for you. thank you for sharing and entrusting me with something so special and wonderful. it’s almost as special and wonderful as you.



you never really know

headaches, nausea, dizziness..

itching, cramps, being hot or cold…

these are just some of the things that happen within us. that no one else can see, hear, feel or know is real. they have to take our word for it. sadly, it doesn’t stop there. the entire world of mental disease is one that has to be shared. no one can possibly know what is going on in the mind of another. i think it’s our most crippling condition as human beings. we are amazing, intuitive, inventing, exciting, creative creatures — but, always ALWAYS locked inside of ourselves.

i was speaking with a friend who has been upset over the recent death of Whitney Houston. she made the statement that she hoped Miss Houston was “at peace”. i, too, hope that she found peace… however far away it may have been or seemed to be. it seems like such a shame. a waste. but we all know that she wasn’t the first and she won’t be the last.

i’d love to share some facts and informative information about suicide, but looking at the word makes me a little nauseous. it’s a very scary thing. i have known a few people who were suicidal and if they hadn’t actually TOLD me with their own mouths, i would not have known until they had either been successful or at least tried. if you want some factual information, try American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and go here for statistics.

when i was in high school, we had an assembly about suicide. i was shocked that the topic was even spoken aloud and that an assembly had not only been thought about, but devised, rehearsed, approved and presented to us. what i remember most was the audio recording of a high school kid that had taken his own life. the recording stopped just before his self-inflicted fatal gun shot wound. whaaaaaat? *gasp* later, my friend derek (where are you derek?) made the statement:

“anything in life is temporary. death. death is permanent.”

miss Houston joins a list of people who we all feel left too soon. someone who was “supposed” to be happy. someone who “should have” reached out for help. it wasn’t long ago that another memorable voice bowed out, never to be heard again: Amy Winehouse. she’s just one on a list of artist’s that died before they were thirty. before they were 28. the Forever 27 Club. how upsetting is that? tragic. as well as the man who put the sooOOOOoooul in the train… Mr. Don Cornelius. what happened to them? did they try to tell us there was something wrong? why did they leave us?

suicide isn’t an entertainment disease though. it affects everyone. all ages, races, religions and preferences. it’s the curse of a human being. a weight that everyone carries. i guess you could say that we are all “carriers”, but without the right combination of pain, trauma or despair… we don’t show symptoms. i don’t understand it, but being me… i sympathize, empathize and mourn for those affected and effected by it. death is devastating enough. but it’s all the more devastating when you learn that someone CHOSE to end their own life.

my thoughts linger upon the following text:

“i have been thinking about Miss Houston and realizing, yet again, how we never know people the way we think we do. we hope, but we don’t. we can’t. it’s impossible. we can only know what they tell us and what they reveal after our endless probing and questioning. and still, we have to settle with what they tell us. it is inconceivable [to me] to be in so much angst that you wish to never take another breath or dream another dream.”

i am going to insert my disclaimer here: i can only share with you what i think and what i know from my own experiences. i do not claim to be an expert on anything outside of expressing myself. but i can tell you that as a conscious member of society, a family member and friend, i see and feel what goes on around me. i ask questions about things i don’t understand and i always try to shed light and share an alternate point of view to help others see what i see. i hope no one is offended by my thoughts and questions, but if you are, please talk to me about it. let’s converse. don’t yell at me, leave obnoxious rude comments or bad mouth me. i’m one person, sharing my point of view on my blog page. you have the exact same option. i welcome your comments, criticisms and concerns.

i have experienced my own times of doubt and worry. horrible trying times that made me wish for another place and another time. i don’t claim to know what another person could be going through. i’m sure we’ve all had problems and situations that we did not know how to deal with — but that we didn’t want to share or discuss with another for whatever reason.

it’s true that money doesn’t bring happiness. fame doesn’t either. at this juncture, it appears that fame does almost the opposite. bringing “fans”, critics, paparazzi and the like… contributing to an agitated and inflamed sense of mistrust. all the money in the world won’t help the voices in your head. harsh. you can be born a genius, labeled a prodigy, test higher than anyone ever; and in the end you could also be loonier than a bed bug, crazier than a road lizard (thanks, Imelda) and plain ole bonkers. your mind could have you convinced that there’s a whole family of YOUs living inside your own head. isn’t that powerful? all of the torture methods ever conceived and developed were meant to try to pry information out of one person and into another. sometimes, that never happens.

what are we to do? how can we fix it? you want the truth??? we can’t. smh. we can talk, text, write, phone, tape, video, chat, instant message, fax, mail and email another person to relentlessly probe them about their condition. we can ask about the way they feel and how they are doing. but how do we know that what they are saying is the truth? we have to take their word for it. we have to trust in the fact that we THINK we know them well enough and that they, in turn, are comfortable enough to tell us the truth. even if neither of us knows what the truth is.

the conversation led me to read and probe the news and articles about Miss Houston. she is an icon and her career came to fruition before my ears. she’s one of my favorite voices of all times. my research led me to People Magazine (not the Encyclopedia Britannica, but mostly trustworthy) and the key to MY point and purpose:

“…she wasn’t a “goody two-shoes,” says a record exec who worked with Houston for many years. she grew up proud of her “street” roots in Newark, N.J., says the source, but Houston was meticulously groomed by [Clive] Davis to fulfill the role of America’s Singing Sweetheart — and it was, at times, a deeply uncomfortable fit. ‘she was in pain from living almost a double life,’ says the source.”

POW! did you feel that? read it again:

“…she wasn’t a “goody two-shoes,” says a record exec who worked with Houston for many years. she grew up proud of her “street” roots in Newark, N.J., says the source, but Houston was meticulously groomed by [Clive] Davis to fulfill the role of America’s Singing Sweetheart — and it was, at times, a deeply uncomfortable fit. ‘she was in pain from living almost a double life,’ says the source.”

if we are ever forced to separate who we truly are from who we want to be.. something horrible happens. it sometimes happens to our outsides, but it mostly happens to our insides.. to our minds and our personalities. some recess into their minds and never come out again. for others, their mind takes over creating different versions of themselves to deal with their situations — to help them survive. some turn into a whole other person and the person who once was.. is no more. but for Miss Houston, she lived that other life while her real hopes and dreams stared out from the inside. all the while wanting to stop the life she was living and live the life she wanted. wanting to cease, to give up, wanting to change… but unable to.

something similar happened to a friend of mine. she was openly homosexual but was married, with children, to a woman who chose not to be openly homosexual. living a life that wasn’t of her own design forced her to be who she wasn’t. she slowly got depressed and eventually withdrew from the outside world. then she withdrew into herself. hardly smiling, never laughing and living her life from behind her own eyes.

eventually my friend broke free of her cerebral prison. but it wasn’t without pain, tears and the eventual separation of her family. she took her kids and left. she’s happier now, but it was a long road to get to that happiness. some people are not strong enough to pull away. as they sink ever further into themselves and their persona becomes their personality, their grip on reality fades and eventually fails them. they seek out vices to help them maintain. any and every vice. they look for a way to hide the pain, to numb the confusion and self-hatred. they look for a way to escape and  with any vice, a tolerance can be built and eventually… enough is not enough.

how can we turn our heads, look with a blind eye or pretend that we don’t see what we see? i think it’s pretty simple. i think we are simply in denial. we chose not to see what we are seeing because it would force us to believe what we do not want to believe. we are animals by nature; therefore we are instinctual. the more advanced we become the less animalistic we remain. we sign over our instincts and rely on gadgets and devices to keep us happy, healthy and sane. we are always plugged in and turned on demanding and requiring constant input. data data data. more more more. this is a very obvious and dangerous underlying factoid in our need for instant gratification and the reason we have so much, but feel so empty.

you can have a rich life and be poor. you can have an extraordinary life and be ordinary. you can have no children, but be a parent; providing guidance and structure.  the problem with any of these things is: if they aren’t what you want, they are not what you are after. and if you aren’t “after” them, seeking them… you will not find joy in them. you will not maximize them. there are many quotes about enjoying what you do. finding a career, not a job. being who you truly are is more important than anything else on your to-do list. you might not know who you are or who you want to be, just like you might not know your exact size in Calvin Klein clothing… but you are not in the wrong for not knowing. trying and experimenting and figuring out WHAT FITs is what you’re supposed to do. give it a whirl, try it on for size. whatever you do, don’t look at it in the window, buy and exact match and force yourself to fit. you’ll regret it.

be who you are. be true to you. if it’s funny: laugh. if it’s not funny: don’t laugh. an outfit might look good in the window but look like holy hell when you put it on. it could be the wrong size, the wrong color or itchy. wearing clothes that are too small, uncomfortable or inappropriately revealing can put you in a bind. wearing the inappropriate personality can drive you insane. it is not recommended. i know nothing of such trials. if you don’t know me already, i am who i am. i am seldom regretful and offer no reasons or excuses for my behavior. i am not mean or disrespectful but most importantly, i will not compromise myself. not all people are so fortunate, lucky or passionate.

we can never know another person in their entirety. what is in their mind belongs to them and only them. just as, what is in your mind belongs to you and only you. but one bad apple can spoil the bunch. turning energizing inspirational thoughts into damaging, relentless and often abusive self-depreciation. we can never be so alone in our own heads that we forget or dismiss the rest of the world. there is no reason to be hopeless, even when you feel hopeless. there is no reason to give up, even when you want to. there is no reason to leave this life of your own accord. life is a gift. even when it hurts.

everything we deal with and experience in this life is temporary. death is permanent. nothing worth fighting for is easy, right? what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger, right? if you have a friend on your mind and want to catch up, call them. we are all on borrowed time. if you know someone who seems a bit out of sorts, check up on them, keep track of them and remind them that you care. if you know someone on the edge, pull up a chair and chat with them. share your frustrations and convince them that life, no matter how trying, is better than death. if you know someone who is suicidal, help them get help. talk with them, share with them and offer them assistance. inform them of their significance in your life. do not let them contemplate and fester alone… devising their own demise. get them! grab them! hug and squeeze them!!! make them feel your love. ❤  or you can always send them here… i have enough to share.

somewhat speechless


on Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 10:32am

if you know me, you might know that i talk a lot. i talk, laugh, yell, scream, write and text more than most of the people in my cell phone. what can i say? i’ve got a lot on my mind and there is no filter between the two. if i think it, you’re most likely going to hear it.

occasionally, i find my self at a loss for words. lately, lacking words has been my status quo. i have my blog, but haven’t blogged. i have ideas, titles and graphic organizers up to my eyeballs, but no blog entry has been made. in many weeks. honestly, i blogged myself to tears when i wasn’t working, but now that i’m part of the eight-to-fivers, typing till dawn has less ambiance. i have the words, i just don’t want to do anything with them. why is that?

to top that, my favorite guy on the planet, my son; SuperBoy has been sick. really sick. THIS IS WHAT MAKES ME SPEECHLESS. i am currently (as in, right now) sitting in the urgent care. he has a 102 fever, hives on his eyes, wheezing, coughing and a runny nose. this all happened over the last twelve hours. downhill, fast. like an elephant on skates. whooooooosh! and for the most part, it’s attributed to “a virus”. psssssh.

we have been to the doctor — or some doctorly type hangout every two weeks for the last 2 months. it started with a cold. tuesday, wednesday and thursday of that week he slowly progressed. on thursday i took him to a new doctor. breathing treatments for his asthma. the next day, friday, he still had a fever… back to the doctor for antibiotics. ten days worth. he finished the antib’s on a monday. that very next friday, BOOM! fever, cough, etcetcetc …took him to the docs office again. another new doctor that had him TRANSPORTED via ambulance to the emergency room. his blood oxygen saturation was only 80%. 😦 they gave him oxygen, breathing treatments and steroids for hours. after about eight hours, a series of xrays and 93% pulse/ox for more than an hour…, we went home.

i made a follow-up appointment with a different pediatrician through the pediatrics department. new job, new insurance, new everything. the newest doctor was concerned.. instantly. which made me concerned. he listened to my twenty minute rant and read my notes….DAMN. RAN OUTTA SPACE.

note: this was originally a “note” started from the emergency room on my aunt’s samsung tablet. i have always been inspired by the here and the now more than anything else. most of my more successful blog entries have been derived and written on the spot. obviously, i was unable to continue that day but have not lost track of what i wanted to say. i will continue now where i left off… at the new doctor’s office, sharing my son’s medical history:

thus far, my being speechless has more to do with context than content. my context, that is. where i am and what i’m doing and most importantly what it is, exactly, that is inspiring me. is it fleeting? momentary? am i trying to capture a feeling or sentiment?

in this case, the inspiration is my son and his health. an endless, topic with endless questions, quandaries and conundrums. my being rendered speechless isn’t about describing his conditions and ailments. i can tell you about so many different things, in detail, from the day he was born until now. my lack of words is directly linked with how well i am able to deal with my sons allergies, sensitivities and requirements and how prepared he is able to deal with them on his own. both off those areas could use some improvement. vast improvement.

so we were seeing the third new doctor within three weeks. his interest was definitely piqued at the beginning of our conversation. he was interested in the middle and concerned by the end. he wanted lab work. prescribed an organic diet and supplements. he wanted a return visit. I had only the look of motherhood on my face (that is a look of experience, confusion, pride, insanity, professionalism and ghetto-fabulous-ity) and my mental notebook… a cerebral trapper keeper.

simply stated: i move too slow and time moves too fast. we left the doctor that day with good intentions. soon, it was already the next week and no blood work had been done and no follow up had been made. by that next weekend, fever cough and all of those other sickly type symptoms came back to camp out. boooooo. that next saturday morning is when i started this entry. i was at urgent care. they don’t watch and monitor folk at urgent care so we were moved to the emergency room. hours later, we went home. later that night my poor SuperBoy was right back to wheezing, coughing and not being able to rest.

i took monday off, took SuperBoy to the doctor and FINALLY got him some antibiotics. my son had a rough day at child care on tuesday. he was exhausted by the time i picked him up. he spent wednesday getting some TLC from his dad, and then thursday and friday home with my aunt. it took all of those days to get him back to SuperBoy status. he was really sick. “a virus”. he did have a certifiable allergic reaction to something that he had consumed and the only thing consumed was over-the-counter fever reducer. could it have been something else? what? let’s play What Did Kenneth Eat? and we’ll try to figure out each and everything he has consumed over the last three days and see if we can’t figure it out. a game i’ve played more than once. not. a. fun. game.

it was sitting in the emergency room for the second time within a month that brought me to the most important realization ever:

i am scared to death to have anyone take care of my son and the inkling of the idea of the thought of sending him to school paralyzes me. it has scared and paralyzed me for two years and in order to not feel that fear i have completely pushed the idea of preschool and school out of my mind. stupid thing to do? certifiably! but it’s what i did just the same and it’s what i have to deal with … now.

i have been asked about my son going to school and how well he’s adapted. most folk get the most peculiar look on their face when I say “he’s not in school”. i would love to be the kind of mom that home schools, clips coupons, lives organic, and has a model behavior child. but that is simply not who we are. he is big and looks like he should be in school and he should. he needs the socialization and structure. he needs to learn commonplace behavior and acceptable misbehavior. i really do want him to be the best that he can be. but he can’t. i’ve had him here with me and with the same care provider and the same environment since i found out about the allergies. i am SCARED TO DEATH that something is going to happen.

don’t read my words in that tone of voice! you don’t know what i’ve been through. my concern is not with the school, the menu, the lunch lady (her hair net) or the teachers. my concern lies within the children. my son’s potential classmates. what if they didn’t listen or understand? what if they don’t care or are mischievous? what if the words “life threatening” are taken on a more instigatory note, as opposed to cautionary advice? what can be done if he is tempted with peanut butter or taunted with marshmallows??? how do i send my son out into the world without someone to read his labels, check his food items or refuse him something dangerous??? how do i do it?

i have watched him go from normal to asthmatic to anaphylactic while holding him in my own arms. i have seen his eyes, mouth and throat swell from the allergic reaction and watched red itchy hives take over every visible centimeter of skin. i’ve watched him struggle to breathe more times than i care to recall and honestly, i don’t ever need to see it again. every minute that he is not with me… i worry. even when he is with his father, my aunt or my best friend, i worry. and they all love and care for him. what is a stranger going to do for my baby? will it be the right thing or will it be the wrong thing?? i don’t want to think about it anymore because it makes me nervous, tense and jittery. it makes me react defensively and neurotic-like.

“educate yourself”. yes, thank you. i have done an immense amount of reading on all things related and pertaining to food allergies and guess what….? none of it will do a bit of good if he swallows a peanut. you can read until your heart is content and you can recite the symptoms forwards and backwards but if you swallow a peanut and cannot see the epinephrine auto injector to self inject a life saving fluid… you just might die. read that. but i am supposed to trust the staff and a bunch of other bad ass little kids to NOT give my son something that could kill him and he is supposed to be trained and understanding of food offers and KNOW in his little heart that even though he wants the food and would like the food that he should refuse the food because it could kill him??? heavy load for the thirty-seven year old mom of SuperBoy, but far too heavy for the cherub like and weightless wonder known as SuperBoy… who will be turning all of five years old next month.

yeah, speechless. four year old boys love their mamas. we are their suppliers. we provide sheets, blankets and pillows as forts for shelter, snacks for consumption, trash items for recycling into weapons and clean clothes so they can make dirty clothes. they love us because they devour the unconditional love and pampering provided by a mama. we love them because they are our little men. our monkeys. our buddies and our bubbas. they are our sons. for SuperBoy, i am his mama. he is my buddy, my bubba and my Poot McGroot. he’s my baby boy. seeing his face changes my whole world. he buckles me at the knees and wraps me around his fingers. he touches my hair and no one touches my hair. when i had him, i had no idea what to do with him… now i don’t know what to do without him. he rocks my world. daily.

i want the world for him. a nice pollution free allergen free environment with organic foods void of milk, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts, walnuts and scallops. a world with a springy floor, safety net, covered outlets, no sharp corners and padded everything. where the harshest statement ever made is “good night”. a world built on trust and…. yeah, i know, stop dreaming and wishing. but you do understand don’t you? i just don’t know if my heart is strong enough to survive the years, situations and complications that lie ahead. i do know that i can’t hide him, in here with me, forever….it won’t be that much longer. just until he outgrows his dimples, ok….? pleeeeeeeease?

watch one’s words

hello my faithful fans! it’s so nice to see you all. thank you for your continued support and interest.

today i would like to present to you an idea that hits very close to home: watching what you say. has your mouth ever gotten you in trouble? you ever overstepped your verbal boundaries? your mouth ever written a check your @$$ couldn’t cash? doesn’t it all feel like it goes against who you ARE? like you’re being changed or morphed into someone that is NOT you. today we are going to discuss those verbal boundaries, the rules of vulgarity and even some workplace do’s and don’ts.

in case we haven’t met before, i’m Tanisha. i say what’s on my mind. sometimes in a few choice words… other times, in thousands of words posts. i am a self-proclaimed and extremely guilty potty mouthed sailor. i enjoy talking and connecting with others — on multiple levels. i have a plethora of opinions, stories and jokes to help me do so. i am becoming more settled in my body and personality everyday and have come to the understanding that no matter how much i want to always be me and remain true to myself — there are times when I am not what’s needed. sometimes it’s better to just be, than to be me.

i recently participated in a very interesting personality assessment. i have an extroverted personality. i know it’s hard to believe, but yes really, it’s true. this was not news to me (or you). as much as i enjoy sharing and again, connecting with others, there have been more than enough situations where i could have toned it down. it’s hard to filter my thoughts without flinging words about. i think out loud. occasionally, this can be a hazard. you gotta know your limits and know when to say when. or when not to say when.

years ago i was a police dispatcher. i had a lot of fun at that job. i met some great people, made some great friends and shared some amazing experiences. as i walked into the dispatch center, on my first official night working, i realized in an instant what i had gotten myself into. there was a buzz about the room like a hive of bees. an array of sounds and noises from all directions flooded my ears and alerted every other sense in my body. i felt a slight tensing panic. phones ringing, verbal radio traffic, the pressing and releasing of the foot pedal, subtle conversation. hours later, as i fought sleep a coworker, melissa, came to chat with me. she was checking up on me and has done so ever since. 

years later as i settled into the job and we shared laughs, tears, jokes and food we also shared workplace hijinks. one night as we were horsing around just as i pushed the foot pedal and began speaking to a police unit. please accept the vagueness of the radio traffic transcript and also cover the eyes of any nearby children:

<police officer> : four-adam-twelve

<me> : four-adam-twelve

<police officer> : please show me on scene, at this location, doing something or other

<me> : four-adam-twelve, i copy, on scene at that location, doing whatever

let me pause here. understand that melissa and i enjoyed messing with each other’s chairs. there were several types of chairs that reclined and tilted into a variety of positions to accommodate the many bodies of the many dispatchers for many hours at a time. in the wee hours of the morning, you would most likely find the graveyard dispatchers in a reclined and very relaxed position. the main lever allowing the chair to recline was wound pretty tight. hitting that button at the wrong time could literally eject you from the seat. well, you guessed it. just as i pushed the foot pedal for the radio transmission, melissa smacked that lever with her foot. my chair went from a forty degree recline to more straight up than would ever be comfortable. so you can imagine my surprise. surprise + potty mouth = shame.

<police officer> : four-adam-twelve

<me> : four-adam-twelve

<police officer> : please show me on scene, at this location, doing something or other

<me> : four-adam-twelve, i copy, on scene at that location, doing whatever >>SMACK! goes my chair<<  fu¢ke®.

oh. em. gee. did that just happen? my affirmation of the officer’s radio traffic went out as:

four-adam-twelve, i copy, on scene at that location, doing whatever, fu¢ke®

melissa and i looked at each other and while she started to ask me “did that go out?” we both reached for the recorder. i hit the rewind button and much to my chagrin, it did go out. yes, my bad word bounced outta my mouth, across the microphone and out into the world… live and in living color. i instantly received dispatch instant messages from my police world. i had to call the watch commander and advise him of my bad deed in case he received a complaint from a citizen, a coworker, a city official or perhaps the f.c.c. (Federal Communications Commission). i. was. mortified.

still to follow was the instant message from the police officer that the horrible word was seemingly directed towards. her weren’t happy. i sent a blanket message to anyone that could receive it and explained the dynamics behind the horrible word. i didn’t live it down for several days. i still cringe when i replay it in my head. the potty mouth killed it. without that one word, it wouldn’t have been noticed. but, that’s not what happened. my habit of being carefree had just clashed with my need to be professional and ladylike. boooo.

i think that maturing is learning what your reaction to something is going to be and heading it off at the pass. making choices based on a realistic understanding of the long term affects and consequences. it is a feat to learn to not just let anything fall out of your mouth. being open, honest and forward has nothing to do with quick, vulgar or funny. the witty comeback is not the only comeback. perhaps it’s the fact that the mouth and the brain are so close and this allows no time for the thought to be filtered and censored before being spoken. it proves to be a sincere challenge requiring daily maintenance and monitoring. effort.

there have been countless words evoked and inspired by pain, verbalized and yelled out of angst that can never be unheard. words can do so many things. they can explain, explore, examine and they can also exact excruciating emotions. words can hurt more than any physical pain. they can also inspire, motivate, romance and entertain. the choice is yours… and mine.

a college professor once told me “talk ten percent less”. i would have never guessed it would be so difficult. i don’t think i’ve knocked two percent off, much less ten and it’s been a little more than three years that i’ve actually been making a conscious effort. i don’t know if my brain to mouth filter is broken or if it’s that innate desire to be me overriding the undeniable logic of just shutting up every now and again.

this proves especially true for the workplace. we are all hired for our capabilities and productivity. if we’re lucky, we are chosen for our personality and disposition. don’t let it go to your head though. they might like you, but they will not allow you to feel so privileged as to not obey the rules and basic conduct standards. test it. see what happens. maintaining a favorable position with your employer is of the utmost importance. they pay you. they make your life possible. do not disrespect them by proving ungrateful. you’ll be sorry and your position will be filled by someone else.

in that respect, you have to treat your workplace and your coworkers like preteens. like twelve year old kids that are impressionable and old enough to tell on you. i have just come to this realization. honestly. but within the parameters of your job description (loosely, people, be a team player), your physical work location and a reasonable work load, they can ask what they choose. they. pay. you. they give you money. respect them for that and do what is expected of you. outside of attendance, your word choice is paramount at work. be careful. watch what you say, how you say it and whom you say it to. it’s simple. it’s hard to do, but it’s simple. be conservative even if you’re not.

i am guilty of signing employment contracts, memo and the like without actually reading them. aren’t we all? no? just me?? hmm, oh well. almost all employers provide a detailed explanation of rules, regulations and procedures required legally and in the best interest of both parties. if you didn’t read the document or choose to ignore your employer’s request, you do yourself a disservice. the excuse of “look at so-and-so” is childish. when at work, worry about yourself. don’t make yourself subject to discipline because of someone else’s actions that you decided to accept responsibility for. will they accept financial responsibility for your obligations if a termination should ensue? yeah, i didn’t think so. cover your @$$.

in the course of daily work, should you be advised, warned, coached, counseled, briefed, memo’d, emailed, written or faxed anything about attitude, performance, appearance or PERFORMANCE — you need heed the warning. should you be reintroduced to any policy or procedure, you need heed the warning. don’t let your understanding come with a pink slip. if you’re ever in a meeting and something comes up and you have the thought “oh, i hope they’re not talking about me”, you need to act like they are. you need to leave that meeting and change your conduct accordingly. if you think it’s you, act like it really IS you.

from an overactive mouth to a potty mouth or an outside voice that’s inside, we must watch our words. we have to be careful not to put things out there that we can’t get back. some things can never be unheard. ever. use your words to inspire and encourage, not to berate or condemn. not to infuriate. words tend to boomerang and they sure pack a wallop on their way back at your head. do not sacrifice your livelihood to prove the point that you (and your fabulous personality) will not be stifled. that’s not a point you need to make.

where children are concerned, one must be almost overly cautious about what you let fall from your lips. children are curious, inquisitive and relentless. they are miniature detectives and professional peeping tom’s (not in a weird way, but in a quiet “i wanna see what you’re doing” way). they hear everything. during the twos, threes and fours they repeat what you say. be mindful of what you say when a child is within hearing range. not only will you provide them with the entirely wrong thing to say, they will choose the entirely wrong time to say it. think of them as the ultimate auto-correct-failure. you will spend a lifetime trying to undo the damage that can be done.

we are all role models. whether we want to be or not. whether we choose to be or not. whether we are worthy or not. children latch on and look up to the adults that are around them. they don’t have to know you, care about you or love you. if you are in their world, they are receiving from you — whatever you are putting out. make sure, MAKE SURE, that what you are sharing is appropriate. it’s not just the words they absorb. they gather context, respect and their version of like and love from the things that we share with them… and how we share with them. if you can’t handle that responsibility, you’re kinda just plain ole $h!t outta luck. watch your mouth or don’t be around any kids. ever.

if anyone is guilty of embarrassing themselves because they didn’t filter and censor before speaking, it’s me. so, i speak from experience and humility. think before you speak. choose words that convey your thoughts and feelings, but just know that your thoughts and feelings might not be needed — all the time. there’s a time to be you, to be me and then there are times to just be. don’t get them confused. save your profanity infused self loathing opinions and obnoxious jokes for your blog, not your debut at work or in front of the kids. you will benefit from this more than anyone else.

out with the old

Tanisha Ware
if you don’t plan your life, life will plan it for you. and life takes no requests. two steps forward and one step back is STILL one forward. whatever it is… do it today, because so far, tomorrow is just a hope.

while i AM an optimistic person, i am still able to see and feel the reality in most situations. I wouldn’t say that i’m more positive or negative (although, i’m sure my family and friends would have a much easier time discerning which they considered me to be). in fact, i have quoted myself, more than once as being a “realist”. i am neither too sunny, nor too depressing. i won’t admit to being too agreeable or too disagreeable. trust me, i have my moments.

this morning as i cruised about the last minute christmas eve shoppers, not really paying attention to anything, i was brought to those end of the year thoughts:

  1. planning my baking schedule over the next few hours
  2. remembering to search for the first viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life”
  3. remembering to search for animated Christmas specials for SuperBoy
  4. quickly considering and then dismissing the idea of a “resolution” with the start of a new year.
  5. wishing I could start every single morning of my life with an amped up version of “Merry Christmas Baby” sung by The King: the one and only Elvis Presley. (i just had to add that because it came on my Pandora right now and really brought a smile to my face).
  6. going back to school, vowing to eat better, eat smarter, eat cheaper, eat less sugary, workout more, sleep more or — uhh,sleep more effectively, get outside more, read more, spend more time investing in my ideas, writing, baking, creating new recipes and so forth and so on (no dammit, that’s a resolution. or is it?).

you know those thoughts, right? resolutions. New Year’s Resolution. The Resolutions of all resolutions. the sometimes private, occasionally public, sporadic yet carefully planned irregular normal things that you promise to yourself and anyone who can hear you to live a better life. this spontaneous burst of zen and chi wrapped up with spunk, zest and mojo to cover the tinge of sarcastic experienced “yeaaaaah right” that’s already oozing from your thoughts about said “Resolutions”.

i know it seems extremely negative and one sided, but i have to say: resolutions are for the birds. why wait? why january first? why the beginning of the year? does the date determine the amount of effort, value or importance over the change that is being made? or is it just a way to find a reason to not do it? why do we postpone our joy? everyday without a job is a day without a job. why would you delay employment another day? the sooner you get the job, the sooner you get everything that comes with it! and while some of what comes can be bad, most of what will come will be good. real good.

if the motivation behind a New Year’s Resolution is nothing but pure of heart, good will and true intention… why do we vow to do it later? tell me how that makes sense. perhaps you can tell that i haven’t made a resolution in a while? i haven’t. i have only vowed to be a better me. i make no other promises. not to me, not to my son, my family or friends. not to my employer, my coworkers or the maniacal Resolution Fairies in the sky. just… “be a better me”. what’s wrong with that? it’s realistic. it’s obtainable. it’s measurable. but by whom? who determines if my Resolution completion is satisfactory or not? only i. just me.

and there in lies the key. a Resolution, composed and held accountable by only it’s maker is nothing more than a thought. a cerebral to-do list. but a Resolution! a Resolution; spoken aloud, written down or taken notice of is a promise. we “resolve”. according to we will “deal with successfully”. in the course of my research i asked my aunt and number one test subject collaborator if she made Resolutions and her response was almost an exact quote from the disclaimer presented on wikipedia (yes, i know it’s not the most reliable source, however, it is a consensus of public opinion which is the extent of research that i need for my points) stating:

“The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject“.

they must have known that my next question was “is this a cultural phenomenon”? the above mentioned list Judaism and Christianity as both having a similar concept, but in fact their own statement shows that the religious aspect requires that we reflect on wrongdoings or such and seek forgiveness and atonement. no, that is not the same as planning for a prosperous and productive year.

my interpretation is this: resolutions are just part of the game. we indulge for months and months in a row. from the fourth of july through christmas, we have some sort of celebration almost every month. and who, WHO, celebrates without food? from barbecues and cookouts in the summer through formal family dinners served and shared at thanksgiving and christmas, we are eating. eating, eating, eating. who would have guessed right? in a country rampant with eating disorders, diabetes and heart disease… we eat and eat and eat and we top it all with an alcohol soaked celebration to ring in the new year and a whole new bout of guilt, side effects and repercussions. if you ask me, Resolutions are our punishment for being indulgent and gluttonous.after months of summer fun, summer food and holiday happiness rolled up and covered with whipped cream we’re forced out of our comfort zone, our comfortable pants and into the idea of buying a bigger size! hell nooooooooOo. something must be done. we must VOW to be good. to eat good, be good, treat others good and good and good and more good.

nothing is free. that’s why i don’t resolve. i am a work in progress. nothing about me, my physical person, mental aptitude or emotional stability is actually stable. all things human are also kinetic. they are constantly in motion, changing, adhering and adapting to their environment. this is why we are so amazing. and this, my friends is why i don’t resolve. i refuse to put a ceiling, glass or otherwise, over myself. you can ask anyone, i make no promises. i do not resolve. what will come will come and i will deal accordingly. i will not wait for monday. i will not wait for the first of the month nor the beginning of the year. action deserves reaction. no, action REQUIRES reaction. don’t wait. act. react.

Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat. Literally.

You’ve seen sweat marks on clothing before, right? If it wasn’t on your own clothing, on the clothing of someone in front or beside you… ? It gives you a sense of “Uhh… ewwww”. I am one of those people; with sweat marks on my clothing. Did you just say “Ewwww”? I know, I did too. It’s saddening, maddening and thoroughly disappointing. Trust me, when I tell you that if I could do something about it, I would.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had sweaty palms. Clammy hands. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the worst thing to suffer from. It always seemed to happen at the most inopportune time: while crafting, reading, cooking or socializing. My mind would be doing one thing, and my hands would be… getting moist… like they were crying or something. They would be uncomfortable, TO ME, making me uncomfortable all over and making me conscious of sweat in general. Sometimes I would sweat from my underarms or in my elbow-pit. O_o Nothing stopped it. Nothing paused it. Nothing diminished it.

Somewhere along the way, I remember watching a movie and a woman said:

“My hands are all sweaty, now I’ve got to go wash them with hot water”.

Before her suggestion, I had no understanding of how to get rid of, or momentarily suspend, the clammy hands.The very next time the clam tried to hit me, to the bathroom I went. Washing my hands furiously with water hot enough to cook noodles. WHEW! And upon returning from the bathroom, settling into my previously occupied seat, BAM! Clamminess redux. Not instantly, but soon enough to make me realize just how temporary that fix was. DAMN!!!

This went on for years. Years. I found that when I was crafting, my hands would go clammy. When I was studying or writing, my hands would go clammy. Whenever I was doing anything with plastic, my hands would go clammy. Ugh.

Eventually, the clamminess spread to my feet. Clammy feet? Yes, clammy feet. Most people have no idea that your feet could be sweating, but your underarms… well. That is the worst. The most socially hindering, difficult to deal with, embarrassing, shameful show of personal display. There is nothing like showing people who you are. It’s liberating and powerful! But, there’s nothing worse than showing people something you don’t want them to see. Or can even explain. It’s embarrassing.

Honestly, I suffered like this for years. I say suffer because that’s how it felt. I found, and sometimes find, myself to be awkward. Not out of the ordinary awkward, but just awkward enough. The sweaty clamminess though, brought me into a whole new realm of “awkward”. People associate “sweaty” with athletics or “nerves”, but people emphatically associate “clammy” with “nervousness”. I honestly didn’t want to meet new people because I didn’t want to have to shake their hand. Sad. You can’t just NOT shake hands with someone .. or you couldn’t, back then. There was no such thing as a “germophobe” and you were not given a pass on the solid social standard of shaking someone’s hand. Not shaking hands meant that you were rude. Plain and simple.

My hands would clam up for specific things. Working with plastic, material or paper. When I was warm, but it was cold around me. Whenever I used lotion, I could feel the sweat pushing its way through the lotion, breaking it down and creating a runny, liquidy situation. Did you just say “Ewww” again? I know. I was also clammy when I was nervous. I could (and can) put my hands on a glass surface and watch the area surrounding fog up. I could (and can) touch a mirror and see my fingerprints clearly. I could (and can) smear ink that has been dry for weeks with one fail swoop of the side of my clammy hand. 😦 Booooooooooo!

As time went on, I just dealt with it. I would have sweat stains on my shirts. If at all possible, I would use a hair dryer or automated public restroom hand dryer to dry the underarms of my shirts. Neither of which was a staying solution. The clamminess took over and often. I spent more time clammy than I did dry. OR normal. I couldn’t (and can’t) put lotion on my hands or feet because it sets the clamminess to an all-time high. When reading, crafting, embroidering or sewing, I have to stop and wash my hands frequently to ensure the quality of the project.

Eventually, this wore on me. I didn’t do anything major, just chatted with my primary care physician about it. He advised me that he had known of such problems, and if “I” considered it a problem or a hindrance, he could refer me to a “specialist”. Wow! That sounds promising, right? I did consider it a hindrance and I did take that referral.

The specialist’s office called me for an appointment. As the days passed until my appointment, I tried to track my clamminess. I wanted to be able to provide a clear-cut example of how and when it would happen. It’s not that I didn’t know, I just wanted to be certain (My hands are clamming up right now). The day of the appointment came, and for some reason, I had already found relief in knowing that there was a specialist and that he or she might be able to help me. I went to my appointment with bells on!

With bells on, I checked in, sat down and waited. My hands clamming. My name was called and I went to the exam room and waited. Hands clamming. I waited and waited. Hands clamming. The doctor came in, introduced himself and asked me:

“So tell me about your sweat issues.”

Bahahahah! Doesn’t that just sound horrible? It was. As I explained things to him, he nodded and took a note or two. He asked me to describe the WORST situation and try to help him understand the gravity. There was once a time when I could hold my hand in a cup-like formation, fingers pulled taut together and my palm curve like a bowl; the sweat actually pooled up in my hands and created a little watery lake in the middle of my hand. ACK! (I hated typing that out right now. It seems too horrible to admit). Upon revealing my most horrible and worst sweaty-palmed story he looked at me and said:

“That’s nothing. Well, let me say that I am sure it’s horrible for you, but I have patients that cannot even hold pens or pencils because their hands are not moist or clammy, but WET.”

WTF? Are you serious? That’s beyond comprehensible. You mean to tell me that there are people out there who can’t hold a pen or a pencil because their hands sweat too much??? I don’t feel so bad now. But then the doctor explained to me the key ingredients in this whole situation (doc talk/BSB chatter):

The sweat, the clamminess the discomfort is DIRECTLY related to your nerves. It doesn’t mean that you are actually nervous or scared, just that something was going on inside and this was how it was manifested on the outside. I can accept that.

There are major nerves that control the upper and lower portions of one’s body. One major nerve to each limb. That’s science, that’s biology and I love both of those. I can accept that.

The only way to eliminate the problem is to cut contact. To clip the nerve. OK, that’s reasonable. I think I can accept that.

Once the upper nerves are clipped, there could be an adverse effect of HYPER-stimulating the nerves to the lower half. “You won’t sweat from your underarms or elbow-pits EVER again”. I would love to accept that.

But. (what?) But, you might sweat from other places. WTF does that mean?

You might sweat MORE from your groin or behind your knee.  Uhhhhh, well…that doesn’t sound right.

Don’t discount it yet. It could be the best thing to ever happen to you. Let me explain a little more. You will never sweat from your upper appendages again. Nothing, nada, ever. No armpit sweat, no elbow-pit sweat. OK. Again, that sounds great. Is it outpatient?

Well, no.(what?) No, it’s not outpatient, and this is why. The nerve that we need to clip is down deep, so what we would do is sedate you, and then roll you onto your side. We would deflate your lung, make a small incision about 1/4 inch wide, clip the nerve and be done with that side. We’d then roll you onto your back, re-inflate that lung and roll you onto the other side where we would duplicate the procedure. After that, you’re all done and the next day you can go home. You won’t even have any scars really. How does that sound? O_o

Why are you looking at me like that? Did you say ‘deflate your lung’. I cannot accept that.

Yes, it’s not that big of a deal, we have to move the lung out-of-the-way to get to the problem nerve. Thanks, but no. I don’t need anything that requires my lung to be deflated.

Well, just think about it. We can get you in as early as two weeks. Just think about it and call me and let me know what you decide. No, that’s ok, I don’t need to think about it, I’ll pass. Again, I don’t want or need anything that requires the delay, albeit temporary, delay of a major and most important body function.

Don’t make up your mind right now, go home and weigh out your options and let me know. No, that’s ok. I don’t need time.

Well, here’s my card, just in case. No, that’s ok too, I don’t need your card. I’m not going to do anything with it. I thank you for your time, but this is not for me.

Are you sure you don’t want to think about it a little longer? Doc, I’m so positive that I don’t want you to deflate my lung for anything over than life saving surgery. I’m so positive that I can live with clammy hands and sweaty pits. I’m so positive that I will never EVER want to sweat MORE profusely from my GROIN or anywhere else. SERIOUSLY, I thank you for your time, but THIS is not the option for me.

He looked at me, sternly, shook my hand and said:

“If you need me, you know where I am.”

I nodded, while gathering my belongings and mouthing to myself “I won’t EVER need you”. That might seem harsh, because after all, I respect his knowledge, his expertise and his time. BUT! Hell-to-the-no, you ain’t collapsing a lung. No, not ever. EVER! The security that I felt walking into the office diminished when collapsing my lung came into play. There is just no need for that.

My hands and feet are a little clammy, right now. My hands get clammy when I touch or handle hard plastic (keyboard keys) or if there is a temperature conundrum: I’m warm, but my hands or feet are cold, or vice versa. There are many situations that claim the clammy. I simply choose not to let it bother me any longer. I choose to just accept it as part of who I am, like not being able to say Worcestershire or play basketball. I’m not coordinated enough for either one of those.

So, there you have it. I’m the sweaty chick. Totally gross? A turn off? I’m sorry. But there is nothing I plan to do about it.. other than wash my hands in warm or hot-as-I-can-handle water, dry my armpits with an automatic hand dryer or just change shirts. That’s it! I refuse to have my body cut, invaded, altered, manipulated and possibly permanently disabled because someone out there thinks that clammy hands are gross.

I was made this way. This is my body and I love it. It took many years for me to come into the love, but I’m here and I’m happy. I cannot change the fact that I have nerves and they create situations that might be difficult to navigate, socially. Then again, I don’t really care about that. If you know me, like me and love me, you know about it and it doesn’t bother you. If you don’t know me and are introduced to me, you’ll soon find out. If you can’t deal with it, hey, thems the breaks. I can live with it. It’s not a choice, it just is.

Sweaty or clammy hands tend to come off as gross. They aren’t. You know what’s gross? Not washing your hands frequently enough. Door handles. Belly button lint. Those things are gross. Clammy hands is just a side effect of an overtly excited person. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, to run away from or to mock. It’s no different from a lazy eye or a shorter leg. Clammy hands are part of me. They are part of who I am. Shake us or leave us. We’ll be here, happy and clammy, either way.

Hey, Neighbor!

What kind of place do you live in? An apartment? Condo? Town house? Perhaps you’re two shakes shy of the Looney bin? I live in a house. It is a nice sized house with my aunt, my son and all of our hopes and dreams. I don’t think it really matters which one you occupy, because (with the exception of a ranch, farm or villa), we all have neighbors. You know, those people who live near us, around us and sometimes above or below us. As you might know by now, I like definitions, so let’s see what we find.

neigh·bor: noun \ˈnā-bər\

Definition of NEIGHBOR

1: one living or located near another

2: fellow man

Our first Neighbor. Mr. Rogers.

Say it with me: naaaaaay-burr. Do you know your neighbors? Have you met or introduced yourselves to them? WHY NOT? Without attempting to know your neighbors you cannot live an all-inclusive happy life at home. Bear with me here and read what I have to say.

Neighbors bring something to the table that shouldn’t be dismissed and that is comfort, security and possible friendship. They provide a valuable service that should not be disregarded. We should all get to know our neighbors. We should communicate with them and in special occasions, we should like and appreciate them.

My grandma used to refer to a time when her family lived with unlocked doors. They lived in a rural area of Oklahoma and the only people around were not only known, but were welcome. She said they “had no reason” to lock the doors. Doesn’t that seem almost surreal? I have known such environments and even fostered one of my own. Growing up, the bestie’s house remained unlocked and still does during normal hours. And when I had my own apartment, in a very small complex, my front door was also unlocked during normal hours.

It seems that as time passes and we become familiar with the events of the world, we start to fear the “possible”. Of course, we are always changed after a situation or tragedy. My aunt’s apartment was once broken into. She wasn’t home, she moved shortly thereafter, but she remains uneasy and uncomfortable. As most people do, which is entirely understandable.

However, this is not about burglaries or other crimes. This is not about leaving your door unlocked. This is about simple neighbor maintenance. When you share a neighborhood, share streets and yards, you should share other things too. You don’t have to share your innermost things, just exercise kindness and courteousness because it can only serve to benefit you and yours in the future. So, are you ready to talk about being neighborly? Ok! Let’s do it.

  1. Welcome. Would you believe that when we moved into this house, our neighbors (and now our friends) welcomed us to the neighborhood with a plate of homemade cupcakes? Seriously. The lady of the house and her two little ones came over with big smiles, a warm hello and a plate of chocolate cupcakes. “We just wanted to welcome you guys to the neighborhood”. When was the last time you heard of someone doing that? Did someone do it for you? Have you done it for another? It was such a wonderful gesture. It was a few weeks later that I returned their plate with my own homemade goodies. We’ve continued this interaction for five years now. I’m so glad she started it. It certainly made us feel welcome. It sparked a neighbor-friendship that has grown and thrived throughout every day, week, month and year. We’ve shared ideas, recipes and I made her family true fans of Red Velvet cake.
  1. Be cordial. Now, I’m not saying that you should bake for everyone on the block and certainly don’t bake for each and every apartment that becomes vacant and then occupied. That is, if you bake at all. But, please, do these things:
    1. Smile. Yes, smile. It’s not hard, it’s not expensive and it goes a long way.
    2. Wave/Nod. When people look at you, wave. Or nod. If they wave to you, wave back. Or nod. It’s easy to establish boundaries and set the parameters of a potential relationship. You don’t have to invite them in for tea and cookies, just be cordial.
    3. Introduce yourself. You don’t have to share your life story, but just say “Hi. I’m Tanisha. Welcome.” If you feel uncomfortable with this, then just say “Hi. Welcome.” I cannot find a reasonable excuse to NOT say “Hi” to someone, but that’s just me.
  1. Maintenance. Take care of your home. If you can’t afford the upkeep, you should probably move. I know it sounds harsh, but don’t move into the white picket fence neighborhood and park a car on the lawn, let the grass dry up and allow the pool to turn into your own little bayou in the backyard. You tarnish the entire area. Again, I know it sounds harsh, but you need to be aware of where you’re moving and what you can maintain. If you can only afford to pay the internal bills and cannot afford the external maintenance, you’ve moved into the wrong area. Sad? Yes, but true. Landscape. If not, then landscape. There’s just no way around it. Hire a professional. If you can’t pay for it, do it yourself. If you can’t do either of those, check with your neighbors. Perhaps one of the local kids will mow the lawn or rake the leaves. Attempt! To match the yards around you.
  1. Pick your fruit. If you have fruit bearing trees, when they fruit, pick them. If you do not enjoy the fruit or do not know what to do with it, share it with your neighbors. The key point is to NOT allow your lemon tree to turn into a moldy festering pile of pseudo-lemons spoiling and oozing in your yard. It’s a waste, it’s unattractive, stinky and it attracts critters. No one wants critters.
    1. If you share your fruit, you are not entitled to the by-product. However, if you receive some fruit, you should share the by-product. It’s just the neighborly thing to do. Capicé?
    2. If none of these options is favorable to your taste, chop down the tree.
  1. Pick your papers. Do you receive the newspapers? Do you read them? Or do you leave them in the driveway to collect as if no one lives there? If you receive them, no one truly cares if you read them, collect the coupons or throw them in the trash, just do not leave them in the driveway. It doesn’t give an illusion, it’s a straight out statement: We. Don’t. Care.
  1. Pick UP after your dog. We, as a whole, really need to be conscious of our pets. Where I live, there are two rules to a dog. 1) in your yard or 2) on a leash. Anything beyond that is trouble for you. Also, where I live, you’re required to pick up after your dog. It’s your dog, it’s your responsibility and it is should not be the problem or the worry of your neighbors. Truly. I don’t have a dog, therefore, I do not want to pick up after a dog. Nor do I want your dog “watering” my plants and flowers. Please and thank you.
    1. I’d like to add my own twist in regards to spaying or neutering your pet. I am not a bleeding heart for every cat or dog. Nor any pet for that matter, but enough is enough. There are so many unwanted pets wandering the streets. If you do not want the worry and responsibility of caring for, getting shots for, naming and picking up after a litter of offspring, spay or neuter. If you’re not going to keep your pet in your yard or on a leash, spay or neuter. Please.
    2. Also, if you keep your dog in your yard never to be seen, you still need to pick up after it. A heaping pile of dog poo is nuclear in the summer heat. It’s better for all of us, especially your dog and anyone who lives downwind.
  1. Rare and/or dangerous pets are exactly that: rare and/or dangerous. Treat them as such. Check on them, double check on them and then check again. You run a huge risk having something rare and/or dangerous in your home. You run an unfathomable risk having something rare/or dangerous outside of your home. Be conscious of what you are exposing yourself and your neighbors to. If the risk is too high, return it or sell it.
  1. Prepare for parties. We all like parties, don’t we? My favorites are family oriented backyard hooplahs with lots of food, music, kids and fun. That’s what I like. My neighbors might not be so fond. If you’re going to have a party, be conscious of your party.
    1. Parties are unpredictable. Accept responsibility for your home, your guests and everything related and included. That means parking, drinking, smoking, laughing, yelling, fighting and eating. If you have a zero tolerance policy on any of the above, MAKE IT KNOWN to your guests before arrival.
    2. Keep your party at your house. Don’t let your guests wander the streets and disrupt your neighbors.
    3. Warn your guests about parking. You know where you live. If you live in a cul de sac, tell your guests. If you live on a one-way street, tell your guests. Give them an idea where to park and be certain to tell your guests to be mindful and respectful of your neighbors.
    4. Keep your bathroom stocked with necessities. Please. For all of us.
    5. In the event your party is spectacular (as we would all like for them to be) make sure you stay within your boundaries. If your boundaries find themselves expanded, make sure you conduct yourself accordingly. Here’s an example: my friend’s dad has a great party house. I’ve been there many times and stayed until wee hours of the morning. While out and about one night, he and the other bar-goers were having such a good time they didn’t want it to end. So, being the host that he is, he invited the bar back to his home. They kept the party going until well beyond reasonable. The next day, my friend’s dad purchased bottles of champagne and sparkling cider and personally delivered them to his neighbors with his sincerest apologies. His neighbors were not only surprised, they were appreciative and honored. He showed that he was conscious that they existed, could have been disturbed and that he wasn’t so much regretful as he was apologetic. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, but if it does, I’m sure they will be calm about it.
  1. Mind your music. Whether it’s from your home, your car, or your teenager’s garage band… mind your music. This is coming from a music lover! But the fact is, not everyone enjoys and appreciates music the way I do. And eve\n if they do love and appreciate it, our tastes and preferences are varied. Just be mindful. Not everyone wants to hear Nina Simone belt out “Where the Chilly Winds Don’t Blow” at the highest volume during the latest hours.
  1. Return what is not yours. Isn’t it amazing how a ball always ends up in the backyard? Kids. Give the ball back. Don’t keep it for your grandkids, don’t throw it away, give it back. Please. For some of us, that ball has been at our house for a total of 3.7 seconds and now it’s in your yard. Please return it or for the love of all things holy, or this boy (my boy) is going to rant, rave, scream and cry about it for the next week because he knows it’s in your yard. He doesn’t understand that I can’t just hop the fence, fight off your German shepherd and get the ball. So, please, just give it back. Thank you.
  1. The Pros. Now, when you’ve got neighbors that you know and trust, you have someone to pick up those papers when you’re vacationing, someone to check the mail for you, pull your trash out and to even hold a spare key in case both of you get locked out. You have someone from whom you can borrow milk or sugar when you’re in a jam. Someone to help you fix a flat, change a tire or get the sandbags off the leaky roof. You have a friend.

If none of that convinced you, let me share one last tidbit. A most important and convincing tidbit. You might be familiar with the phrase:

“Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”

Moses.. receiving the Ten Commandments.

Does that sound familiar to you at all? It should! It’s in the Bible. It’s concept is part of the Ten Commandments. The phrase itself is repeated and stressed many times over throughout the Bible. I believe it is the essential ingredient in the Golden Rule. You’re familiar with that concept aren’t you?

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Both of these concepts are older than anyone you or I have ever known. They have stood the test of time. These ideas have been used to devise laws and as a basis for punishments. They are key to the care and concern of the human spirit and mind and are representative of the status of the human condition. If you didn’t know it then, you can’t say you don’t know it now. Treat others as you would want them to treat you. Common courtesy. If that’s not enough, do it because God said so.

I was going to end with “in short, what I’m saying is”, but as you have probably come to know, nothing I say is “short”. And what “I’m saying” is what I’ve said and what you read. I am a self-proclaimed non-expert on everything. I am not trained or certified in neighbor relations. I can only tell you that this neighborhood and these people are some of the nicest and friendliest I’ve ever known. The majority of them have introduced themselves at one time or another and always share a smile or a wave (except for that one lady who I hope somehow finds this website, blog and post and knows it’s about her).

There is a couple that walks their dogs in the morning and we’ve only exchanged “hey howdys” and a little chatter about their dogs. But I wouldn’t be worried to ask them for a jump for my car, a cup of sugar or to use their phone. There are several seniors that walk in the morning and always seem anxious and eager to share their brisk morning smile and energetic waves. These people are technically strangers because I don’t know much beyond their walking routines. But, we share a common thread. We live in the same area, we share the same streets and zip code. We are neighbors. We should conduct ourselves as such. So should you.

vacation elation: part 5 ~ delicious delectables

what a ride!

we’ve been through almost every detail of my vacation. did you feel like you were there with me? that was my intention: to describe it and share it in such a way that you felt involved. i hope that in your eyes, through my eyes and words, you were able to do just that.

so let’s get you what you want. i know you’re waiting to hear about the food. at least, that’s what Charles keeps asking for. 😀 thus far, my sharings on the meals and culinary delights has been minimal and that is for one good reason: it wasn’t that great to me. say whaaaaaat? yes, it’s true. while i have heard many legends about the food, i have to be truthful and admit that it was not all that it had been cracked up to be. i know, i know.. but let me explain.

  1. my tastes are simple. the bestie says “you have a child’s palette”. and she’s right. i have no room in my flavor saver for anything out of the ordinary and that’s a huge separation in my world.
  2. i do not like condiments. this includes most actual “condiments”, as well as the majority of dips, dressings and sauces.
  3. if i don’t know what it is, what it contains or how it was prepared, i will not consume it. period.

now, i know what you’re thinking: “what a fuddy dudd”. and you’re right! i’m the first to admit it. chef skills are wasted on me. good flavor is all i need. techniques, skills and the sheer fabulosity of five-star dining is not for me. i’m a simple girl where food is concerned and when it comes to eating out, i stand reserved. if coerced into going to a fine dining restaurant, i am usually uncomfortable — feeling pressured to enjoy the experience and “try” something but so apprehensive that i stick to any and everything that appear to resemble something i am already familiar with. i know, i know..and to think.. i once wanted to be a chef.

while the entire menu everyday was not stellar, to my boring standards, i did find the many options, the endlessness and the made-to-order dishes quite divine. i didn’t sleep that much, so every few hours i would cruise the buffet and find something to nibble on. that was the best part. there was always something. always.

i started my mornings with a made-to-order egg white omelet with peppers and a little cheese. after the first morning, i never had to say it again. the young man who fashioned this marvelous breakfast treat for me each day knew what i wanted when he saw me. i am still amazed at the service. i don’t know how he was able to remember MY request while serving two thousand nine hundred twenty-eight other people… i’d like to think it’s because i’m unforgettable (hahhahahhahhahahah). along with my beautiful HOT well done omelet i added two slices of wheat toast, strawberry yogurt and a wedge or two of both cantaloupe and honeydew. there was plenty of options for the rest of the cruise to choose from: bacon, sausage, pancakes, scrambled eggs, oatmeal with the deluxe fixins (brown sugar, raisins and the like), grits and cold cereal. that’s just what i can remember! i know there was more.

my aunt ordered her breakfast in and enjoyed it in the stateroom while preparing herself for the day. they would leave the door hanger menu each day and you could order as much as you wanted. this was not my interest, mostly because i do not like food served to me that has been under a lid — cooling off, or warming up and sweating all over itself. but! that’s just me. my aunt loved her breakfast and reminded me that i didn’t have to get up five minutes after i had laid down. hahahha. after the first two mornings, i made an effort to be up and up before 8 or 9 when the majority of the boat was attempting to dine. at that time, the omelet line would be twenty or thirty minutes long. i found my quiet early morning, poolside, breakfasts quite pleasurable. i met several like-minded diners and enjoyed first morning conversations with them.

with breakfast secured, i often went poolside to catch some morning-turned-midday sun. this is not a surprising fact. as the day wore on, the satiety would subside and the hunger would surface. i mostly skipped over the lunch buffet with the day’s masterpieces. i think i ate at the burger bar everyday. that is where my other friend would greet me with

“hello ma’am. veggie burger with cheese, right? no onion?”

how did he know that??!?!?!? there was a line of hungry folks in front of me and twice as many behind me. but no matter what, the same smile, the same question and the same acknowledging head nod. super fantastic! next to my condiment-less veggie burger i would pile golden fried chicken strips that weighed no less that half a pound each. followed by beautiful crunchy skinny french fries and topped off with a pile of chips drowned in bubblin’ hot nacho cheese. most times i would fill a plate with the little plastic cups of water and then place my plate of food on top to maximize my trip and to always have enough to share.

since i have such simple tastes and prefer the simplicity of food, i CHOOSE not to try things that i am almost certain i will not like. i know that takes the adventure out of it, but what can i say? it’s just not my style. i can assure you that i gave everything a good long glance and considered several new things. perhaps my creature of habit habits talked me out of actually taking the plunge and TRYING everything. we’ll never actually know. don’t be too disappointed. i had fun, i enjoyed myself and i didn’t starve. i also did NOT gain the expected complimentary five to ten pounds that most people gain on a cruise. yay, me!

every night, we attended the formal captain’s dinner. this is pretty much the only reason that i was not poolside. i would retire to the room about 5 or 6 and give myself time to get pretty for dinner. i was delighted that i did because it was so much fun. there was a theme every night and each night there was a standby menu (just for folk like me) and the day’s menu holding all of the food secrets and surprises for that specific night. it might not be obvious at this point, but i pretty much stuck to the same ole things. on day two, i was spoiled ROTTEN by our server Tatiana. i arrived each night to find a cheese platter just above my place setting so that i might enjoy that huge chunk of bleu cheese with my salad. i have yet to find a bleu cheese that i enjoy as much as that one. she spoiled me to the hilt.

my favorite dinner was the vegetarian black bean enchiladas. they were truly delicious. i left thinking about them and spent a couple of days surfing the internet, the Carnival website and the cruiser blogs until i found the recipe. i have yet to make it, but you can be assured that when i do, you will know about it. they really were good and with my eccentricity where food is concerned it takes something quite amazing to knock my socks off. my socks were off! my eyes were closed and i’m pretty sure i was drooling and groaning like a toddler just getting control of her hands. they were goooooooooooooooood. but, the rest of the days… ? meh. nothing to take note of except…. dessert.

the real treat for me was the treats. i have a wicked sweet tooth. wicked. and every evening there were three new yummies to choose from. Tatiana is a dessert lover and she and i would discuss the dessert menu at length with one another before i made my choice. the best recommendation, the best choice and the best dessert was the crème brûlée. hands down. i do not have any photos of the foods i ate, but we’ll make do with this one:

ohhhhh.. the layers of deliciousness...

and while we’re at it, let’s get a definition of it:

Crème brûlée ( /ˌkrɛm brˈl/; French pronunciation: [kʁɛm bʁyle]), also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is normally served cold. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla. The earliest known reference of crème brûlée as we know it today appears in François Massialot‘s 1691 cookbook.

sweet candy and Jessica Tandy! (thank you Donna Tubbs-Brown). now. tell me, what is not delectable and inviting about that photo? tell me you don’t wanna bite it. i do! i can almost taste it right now.. that rich vanilla custard base, so smooth and flawless. covered by the thinnest layer of heaven, i mean, burnt caramelized sugar and topped with a few berries. oh lord it was good. how could you deny a recipe that’s eighty-five years older than the country we live in?? — well, that i live in??? and truth be told, this was my FIRST crème brûlée. before i dove face first into the shallow dish, i had flashback from a favorite movie, Amelie, when she discusses her love of the little nuances in life; including cracking the caramelized sugar with a spoon:

it is the impish grin that eludes to the joy contained within a crème brûlée

and immediately looks into the camera to ensure that you share her excitement.

i know that when Tatiana placed the dish before me i sighed. she said “and for you, crème brûlée” with her estonian accent and that added to the loveliness. as she walked away she said “enjoy TAH-knee-SHUH” and winked at me. i sighed again, picked up my spoon, closed my eyes and took a second to revel in the anticipation of the delight before me.

3, 2, 1 — SMACK! the crunchiness crunching and then the first bite. oh, heavenly goodness. so rich and delicious. it was everything i had hoped for and more. the joy of cracking the caramelized sugar was fun and i think i wore that same smile. i don’t know if there was conversation. i didn’t feel the boat rocking or moving as i did at every other sitting. i didn’t see or hear anything. the crème brûlée devoured me, and i in turn, devoured it. i wish i had one now.

so, all in all, i had basic breakfasts and lunches. nothing outstanding or rare. i had one memorable dinner and one unforgettable dessert. i have no complaints. at all.

my darlings! we have come to the end of this cruise adventure. the elation of the vacation has come to an end. thank you for walking slowly with me down this detailed recount of everything that i could remember. i know that i will think of more later and perhaps, there will be a part six. only time will tell. i so appreciate your time, effort and attentiveness in continuing to return for more.

the cruise is over, but the memories are forever burned into the soul of Brown Sugar Britches. this was an experience unlike any other. i am grateful for having had the opportunity. i am more grateful now that i’ve had time to simmer with the ideas and relay the awesomeness to you. until next time… do stay sweet!

vacation elation: part 4 ~ off the ship and on the shore

hello, hello, hello my darlings!

i hope that i haven’t bored you all to tears with my detailed explanation of How To procrastinate, deny and eventually get to your vacation. and once i got you on the line, i took a four-week long hiatus, right? sad. my apologies, darlings! the perils of the working girl have revisited and pained me beyond belief. however! i am forging ahead and doing my best to keep all avenues open and alive. so, with that said, i have returned (after a hard day at work and picking up my son) to bore you with more about my beloved vacation (also after a fight with my mouthy four-year-old about WHY i get to use the computer and he doesn’t).

so, let’s go with a little quick review:

  1. this was my first vacation in ten years. it was required, needed, wanted and thoroughly enjoyed.
  2. it was a gift. yes, a gift. the whole thing: one giant gift.
  3. while on the cruise, tropical storms detoured us from our original itinerary and had us visiting other places sooner than we had intended, and skipping other places that we’d rather have seen (those places being St. Thomas and Puerto Rico).

and now that we are caught up, let’s get moving…

our first scheduled stop was to Nassau, Bahamas. i had a late night the night before (hahhaha… or every night) and didn’t get up in a timely manner. once we (me: the one who gets ready and them: the three that say they are getting ready) were all together, we headed out to shore. i think it was about a quarter-to-one in the afternoon and we had to be back on board the boat by two-ish… so, we went into the customs office slash tourist trap, bought a fan (omg it was so humid), a pina colada and took a few pictures, we got back into the almost-hour-long line to get back on the boat. it would suffice to say that we did not have the opportunity to enjoy very much of the Bahamas. but, while we were there, Makeni and I did enjoy a very real, very authentic Pina Colada. it was delicious. the only other thing i was able to do in the short time that we were there was COMPLETELY MELT. the humidity in these tropical places is what makes them tropical, beautiful, inviting and two blips to the left of completely miserable.

the official "Bahamas" sign with "How Many miles To" arrows posted on it and a line of people waiting to be photographed with it. i skipped the line, held the camera high and snagged this very impersonal shot.

our next stop was supposed to be St. Thomas but that tropical storm pushed us on to Grand Turk Island. we were going to stop there, on day six or so, but here we are! day three and to Grand Turk we will go!

Grand Turk island is approximately seven miles long by three miles wide. it has a beautiful white sand beach (with a buncha rocks) and there are beautiful white and blue chaises and umbrellas for rent. you can’t get far without hearing about Margaritaville. yup! you guessed it.. the Jimmy Buffet song inspired Margaritaville (~singing~ wastin’ awaaaay again in Margaritaville. lookin’ fer my lost shaker of salt). so i went to the beach with the “say they are’s” and the rocky beach really put a cramp in my style… mostly by just being under my foot. so i left! i left the beach, i left the girls and went off my own. and whaddya know, there was music playing…

that’s where i found:

the DJ on the ones and twos that had MVille on full tilt!

um, sorry, that’s BSB for “this is the man that played wonderful music and brought the party, kept it alive and made it the most memorable inebriated event to date”.

Margaritaville is huge. huge on a 21 square mile island? either way, there was a bar and restaurant, but what caught my eye was the twisty windy waist-high swimming pool that didn’t seem to end. and, and, AND!! it had a swim-up bar. holy sweet tea on ice!!! that’s not what i had to drink, but boy was i excited. i got there at the same time as the other girls at our dinner table: Li and Shantel.

Shantel(L), Liana(R) and myself(M). LIVIN' IT UP AT THE 'Ville (that's right, me and the Ville are on a nickname basis)

so i met up with these two ^ and we shed our outer layers, grabbed our oversized shades and headed off into the crowd:

yup, into THIS! crowd

the crowd actually got bigger and bigger and closer together. this is a photo from when we first got there. i refused to take my phone (that’s where my camera is) into the water and so, pictures of the Ville are limited. after we got in, got familiar and sauntered over to the bar, we found these folks:

where you from? the Bay areaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

i apologize to those whose names i do not know… however. in the back row, from left to right: Stretch, Norm, Vange and “OH! I shoulda bought me some Monster, can I buy one from you?” and in the front, also from left to right is: Jay, the Homie Romie and The Mystery Man. 🙂

they brought a party, bought a party and let us join their fun. jell-o shots by the tray with tequila on top. really? can you do that? i didn’t think so either, but they did and then we did and we all did and it was all good.

mmm hmmm.. J & N lovin' up on the jell-o

i don’t know why Nikki is not in those pictures. but she is also from the bay area and she introduced me to her very fun, very generous and entertaining friends.

Vange, me and BabyCakes, havin' more fun than is legal for mothers away from their children (not really)

can you see the tequila in my eyes? hahahahah.. it was such a fun day. we had such a good time. i haven’t been that water logged since i was half the age i am now.

Stretch and Rome kickin' with the PrettyGirls

you see those smiles? look again. from the first “bay area” photo: not so much in the smile department, then Jay and Norm ensuring that a good time was going to be had, and the next two photos ain’t nothin’ but TEETH. good times, people. good times.

after the jell-o, the tequila, a mai tai (naturally), the push-up contest and the beginning of the “shake whatcha mama gave ya” contest, i was shriveling like a prune. i slowly made my way back to the boat. i got held up by security/customs/Turk-Island-Naitve who told me that i was not allowed to leave. it was his way of flirting. he was nice. i waved and kept it moving. i think it was that night that we saw Charlie Wilson. (i just consulted the itinerary and i was right, see my previous post for the goods on Mr. Wilson).

the next morning, i stumbled upon the bay area, having breakfast and perusing the photos from the day before (all taken by Vange on her fabulous evidence catching iPhone):

breakfast! with the bay. (sorry for the bright spot)

this day we spent at sea and BabyCakes (that’s Nikki) and i spent the entire day on the upper deck soakin’ up the sun and sharin’ a few laughs. we were donned “cruise celebrities” later that day and all we could was laugh and smile. we certainly made our fair share of friends and acquaintances. Rome came to hang with us later in the day and the three of us shared some of the buffets afternoon yumminess: nachos, chicken strips, french fries and as many cups of ice water that would fit on a tray. the only thing that made us depart was needing a nap before dinner.

the next day was thursday and our destination was key west. i think i gave you the low down on my aunt spraining her ankle on wednesday night. getting off shore on this day was difficult due to needing a wheelchair and all that other nonsense. it was just shy of painful. also, i know that i have complained about the tropical climate and the humidity but hear me now: key west florida is no less than four minutes from hell. apparently we made it ashore just after a little thunder storm. it was beautiful outside and very inviting but just beyond the threshold of the air condiditoned boat was air so thick with water that you could hold out a glass and quench your thirst. again, i was soaked from head to toe. we went ashore in search of key lime pie which seemed to be in every store, including the jewelry store.

“engagement ring? sure right here. and while you browse, here’s a piece of pie.”

Makeni wanted to find a key lime meringue and i was just done. i had hit my limit on the little shuttle. it was awful! awfuuuuullll! and then! my aunt said:

“look neesh, they sell Monster.”

holy smokes and artichokes! i honestly left my aunt, in her borrowed wheelchair, while i crossed the street and entered the smallest little store i have ever been in and found that sweet-glowing-jazzy-energy-in-a-can:


i walked out, Monster in hand and she said:

“i know you didn’t buy ONLY ONE. you’ve been complaining about Monster since we got on the boat and you only bought ONE?”

yeah, huh? so i went back in. spent everything i had and came out with an armful! we piddled around a little bit and then i had to protest:

“it’s just too damned hot for me, we gotta go back, i can’t take it anymore!!!”

i got on the boat buzzin’ from the charge of being Monster-sober for a week and then getting my first gulp. mmmmm mmmm. but before we go, let’s look at the few pictures i took before i melted on the sidewalk.

Mallory Square, where the shuttle dropped us off and picked us up.

the Shipwreck Historeum. doesn't it look like the ultimate treehouse or the lost extension for the Swiss Family Robinson monstrosity?

between the car and foot traffic and the unbearable humidity, this is the only picture that came out worth a hoot.. 😐

the intersection of humidity and hell... or somewhere in key west florida

shortly after staring at these two street signs i had myself-induced heat attack and went off ranting like a melting lunatic. seriously. i was just so darned hot. we went to the shuttle pick-up point which was next to a little indoor mall… WITH AIR CONDITIONING. lord love a duck.. i took my time walking in, walking around and just breathing. and then the horrible reality hit that i had to go back outside to get on the trolley and then stand in a line OUTSIDE to get back on the boat. geez. i’m not made for this. i’m a city girl, with country girl swagger. i’m not an outdoorsy camping type. i’m a hotel girl. i don’t mind being poolside, but i need less humidity and more beverage. yes, more beverage please!

out of the mall, melted. on the trolley, melted multiplied by melted as we waited for others and the loading of the wheelchair. off the trolley, melted. in the line to get on the boat, MELTED. up the ramp, through the metal detector, bag search and finally, into some air that was mostly void of moisture. sweet beans and histamines!! i hate to be so redundant about the humidity but just thinking of it makes me feel sticky.

on our last day we went to Freeport on the Grand Island of the Bahamas. there was much confusion over where to go and what to do. as one fellow shuttle-mate stated “it’s crunch time” and if you hadn’t done anything, now was the time to try and do it. i think the boat was empty that day. we went ashore and after another taxi cab squabble and a short ride we were far from where we actually wanted to be. i was with all of the girls when the day started, but once we got disparaged by the confused location, i split from them and joined up with another group of Cruise Crew members. Coincidentally, we all ended up at the same beach.

the groups merged and formed volleyball teams and a few amateur jet skiiers.

baby pine trees that were actually perfectly straight, but with the momentum of the craziest taxi ride ever, they appear bent

willie and torie. too cute. married forever and so in love.

volleyball at Taino Beach, Freeport, Grand Island of the Bahamas

me and torie. the non-volleyball players. enjoying the music, the sunlight and the company.

the winning team engaged in a group high-five!

Ruben. the best taxi driver ever.

the gang. the last outing of the last day of the cruise. that's Hank Sr. on the left and that's Hank Jr.'s on the right in the second row.

we had a lot of fun on this last day. we all tried to go to some other beach that was not what it was supposed to be. it was too far away, tiny, laden with rocks and generally lacking in all areas. we all ended up at Taino Beach. a picture perfect landscape with a little bit of everything: a bar/conch restaurant, jet ski rental, banana boat rental, sun bathing spot and impromptu gift shop. there was a group there before us that had most of the rentals tied up. so our groups split and played volleyball.

shortly there after, dwayne and i went jet skiing. whooo hooo! what fun. the water was choppy and it made for a less than smooth ride, but that had nothing to do with our fun. we fell off the jet ski twice and laughed so hard that i had a hard time getting back on. we skiied down a private channel and saw some very impressive homes. i told him “this makes me want to work twenty four hours in a day so that i can enjoy this life in the future”. it was inspirational, to say the least. we returned to the beach, to the taxi and to the boat. that last night i procrastinated and pondered on whether or not to actually go to the captain’s dinner, but i had to show my favorite server Tatiana some love and appreciation.

me and dwayne.

a good time was had by all. friends were made, experiences shared and memories forged to last a lifetime. i have relived the experience over and over again, always finding a new reason to smile. in the future i would do these things:

  1. take more pictures: you can never have enough pictures. i am going to look into the waterproof camera as suggested to me by Erika or “little miss ‘where’s my husband'” and her husband Chris.
  2. budget a little better: a few extra dollars would have given me a cushion of comfort.
  3. prepare to be solo: there’s nothing wrong with a group trip, with a group outing, with a group anything. but sometimes, it’s good to separate and take time to oneself. now, i can’t say that i didn’t enjoy a fair amount of time on my own, but i felt bad about it (at first). as if i had let the group down.
  4. get up and get out: when the boat docks, no matter where, get off the boat and see what’s going on. there’s no reason getting on a boat and taking a cruise with destinations if you’re only going to stay on the boat. don’t waste the experience.
  5. do not waiver: vacation is not the time to be timid or shy. if you want something, want to try something, want to do something, do it. it’s as simple as that. again, don’t waste the experience. like my early morning run in miami. when would i see the sun rise in miami again? i didn’t know then and i still don’t know now, but i’m so glad i got up and did it and snapped a picture to remind me.
  6. enjoy yourself. on every level.

and this concludes part four. also belated, but worth it just the same. i have one more part and that will be about the food. i hope i’ve convinced you all to think about a vacation, save for it and actually start planning it. you won’t regret it. we all take time off, we rest, we chill, we relax… on the couch, out in the yard or wherever we happen to power down at. but this! this was a vacation. a complete disconnect on every level from everything. it was needed, it was worth it and i can’t wait to do it again. so, until the next time my darlings… stay sweet.