Thursday, August 23, 2012

Uninvited Passenger

While driving home on Old Cutler today, a green lizard fell into my car, landing near the window where my arm had been not even thirty seconds earlier. He stared at me, unblinking, obviously waiting for me to invite him in. 

When it finally registered in my mind that this was a real reptilian being joyriding on my car, my brain scrambled for a course of action. I tried waving him back out the window but he must have mistook my hand movements for the expected invitation because he crawled across my dashboard and settled just over the passenger seat. 

So I grabbed an umbrella to make sure he perceived my next actions as the threat they were intended to be. He got the message and, instead of aiming for the open window, he jumped to the floor of the car and I lost sight of him. 

For twenty minutes, I drove with absolute paranoia, the slightest movement of anything against my foot caused me to flinch, draw up my legs, and clutch the steering wheel in a death grip while barely swallowing the scream that longed to erupt from my throat. 

Finally, I pulled up to the school to pick up my son and swung open the door. There was the stowaway, blended an ugly brown, on the side of the seat. A quick jab with the umbrella preceded his hasty departure. I guess it was his stop. 

I should have asked for gas money.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

I Want On This List

The website CELEBRITY NET WORTH recently put out a list, showing the top 25 WEALTHIEST Black female actresses. Here is the list:

The 25 Richest Black Actresses:
    • #1: Janet Jackson Net Worth – $150 Million
    • #2: Halle Berry Net Worth – $70 million
    • #3: Queen Latifah Net Worth – $50 million
    • #4: Whoopi Goldberg Net Worth – $45 million
    • #5: Raven-Symone Net Worth – $45 million
    • #6: Angela Bassett Net Worth – $28 million
    • #7: Vanessa Williams Net Worth – $27.5 million
    • #8: Jada Pinkett-Smith Net Worth – $20 million
    • #9: Thandie Newton Net Worth – $17.5 million
    • #10: Rosario Dawson Net Worth – $16 million
    • #11: Nia Long Net Worth – $13 million
    • #12: Gabrielle Union Net Worth – $12 million
    • #13: Brandy Norwood – Net Worth – $12 Million
    • #14: Regina King Net Worth – $10 million
    • #15: Loretta Devine Net Worth – $8 million
    • #16: Zoe Saldana Net Worth – $8 million
    • #17: Tia & Tamera Mowry Net Worth – $8 million (combined)
    • #18: Taraji P. Henson Net Worth – $6 million
    • #19: Garcelle Beauvais Net Worth – $6 million
    • #20: Rashida Jones Net Worth – $5 million
    • #21: Sanaa Lathan Net Worth – $4 million
    • #22: Viola Davis Net Worth – $3 million
    • #23: Paula Patton Net Worth – $3 million
    • #24: Tracee Ellis Ross Net Worth – $2.5 million
    • #25: Lauren London Net Worth – $2 million
    • Bonus: Oprah Winfrey Net Worth – $2.7 Billion (hover me right around this Oprah number)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Feeling Satisfied

It just occurred to me that I have a very fulfilling life with the people I have in it.

I cut out a lot of people over the last few years, the hardest cuts of all this year, and I thought I would miss them. I did in the beginning. But, now, I'm finding my life richer.

I'm no longer drained by people who just take, take, take my time, my money, or myself for granted. I'm no longer bothered by people who call me their best friend but either steal from me, compete with me, or don't include me in anything but their problems. I'm no longer hurt by family who chose friends during a time when family mattered most.

I may have a couple of more cuts to do on Facebook (I'm watching and waiting) but I'm satisfied with my circle, very deeply satisfied. Those around me push themselves (and me) to be better. They don't settle. They not only want something out of life; they're working to get it. Welcome to 33, girlfriend. Thank you. Glad to be here.


Friday, August 10, 2012


About a month ago, I wrote about how bothered I was by the use of the word "deserving" in The Biggest Loser's search for season 14's cast. I read elsewhere that "BL said they wanted contestants that needed, and were due for, a break…."


If they actually watched to the end of my original video (and they didn't), they definitely would have seen that I'm a person who sorely needs a break. I can't share why because it's not completely my story to tell. All I know is, just when I think I've hit bottom and I'm, finally, starting to see a way out, a sinkhole opens up. I've been hit financially, physically, emotionally, maternally, externally, internally, mentally over for a very long while but, this year, my tolerance for pain was tried and stretched.

This year, even the warden of Hell shook his head in pity and asked me what I was doing time for. This year, I've cried more tears than the cumulative number of tears I've shed in the years before. This year, I've written and performed speeches about failure, blogged about failure, talked to my students about failure-- all while wading neck deep in the stuff; I felt like a failure as a person, as a woman, as a mother. This year, I thought about something I hadn't thought about since I was sixteen.

This year, being a teacher went from being the bane of my existence to being a large reason for my continued existence.

Having something to get up for everyday just so that I could continue to provide for my children was quite the unexpected lifesaver. But needing one propelled me to seek out a therapist for myself because the things happening in my life and the life of my son were just too much to handle alone and friends had no idea how to help-- it's just that big.

Thankfully, I know trouble doesn't last always and death can be a permanent mistake.

I smile, laugh, and joke about the complexities of life. I have to because every step I take forward finds me flying a few feet back. Even the therapist was in awe of how I'm still standing with the number of hits I take/have taken. I have to stand strong because I have children; I can't let them see the cracks in my shell. So I sit in my car, shed tears, and talk to God.

Yeah, I would say I'm someone who could, definitely, use a break.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Job Wisdom I Have Now That I Wish I Knew Then

Dear young people with jobs,

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom you need to carry with you:

1) show up to work every day

2) show up to work ON TIME every day

3) treat every day like a learning experience (because it is)

4) volunteer to do something that is not part of your job description

5) go in to work with a GOOD attitude

6) remember your employers don't need you and don't owe you anything

7) make sure you're valuable enough to be considered irreplaceable

8) don't be a kiss-ass

9) pick your boss's brain

Great quotes about work
10) don't lose yourself in a job

11) move on when there is nothing new to learn

12) don't burn bridges b/c life has a way of humbling you; the people you see now may be the people you'll meet later

13) don't allow yourself to be treated as less than you are

14) dress for success (that means shower every day-- yes, there was a person at work who could have used this advice, a post-it note on his office door, or a soap and rag left on his office chair).

15) NETWORK! Don't be anti-social

16) DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING: every meeting, every praise, every accolade, every email. Paper trails are important in business.

17) there's no substitute for experience; find internships, apprenticeships, or part/full-time jobs with titles that can take you to the next level

18) never stop learning; if you ever have a thought of being a director or a head honcho, get your masters

19) a mental health day at the beach is a good way to keep the balance

20) remember to leave time for your friends.

Additional wisdom from my Facebook friends:

21) If you think you deserve a raise, ask for it and back it up with good reasons (see #16); the worst that could happen is being told no.  ~Thanks, Tq.

22) Never post anything negative about your job or anything incriminating on social networking sites ~Thanks, Leslie.

23) Leave your emotions at home; they have no business in the workplace. (see #19) ~Thanks, Jill.

24) Work hard but have a life outside of the job so that you don't burn out. (see #10 & 20) ~Thanks, again, Tq.

Do you other 30 and older people have any other advice? Yeah, I know I just asked a question at the end of my blog post. Whatevs. Go ahead and comment below.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

World Listen Up

Another essay for another 'ship:

I stepped to the podium, palms sweating, throat constricting, tongue drying, cumbersome in a mouth that’s suddenly parched. As I looked at the crowd of fresh-faced high school seniors, fidgeting with their caps, eager to hear the words beginning this first of many momentous occasions in their life, my mind raced, tripping over the lines to the speech I was to give.

I was asked to open this ceremony via a student-generated online petition. Apparently, the few pieces of fictional fodder I had written were popular enough with the young adult set to temporarily label me as “cool” (something I was not during my own high school years) and to warrant the press’s presence as evidenced by the cameras trained on my face.

The pressure was on to say something as “cool” and entertaining as the black scribbles across their e-reader screen. I wrestled for a fortnight, tossing out ideas, copying, pasting, and rearranging my thoughts on my computer, trying to force sense on the nonsensical, to share a life lesson the kids can carry with them in the 140-character restricted format in which they think.

But life doesn’t make sense; sometimes-- most times, the good loses and the bad wins—initially. Like any good book, life is filled with unexpected plot twists, brilliant antagonists, and, seemingly, unending struggle.  But, also, like any good book, those trials are there for character building.

And, just like that, I knew what to say: “You are the author of your own life.”

Essay Schmessay

Here's an essay I submitted for a 'ship (gotta pay for school somehow). Hope it makes you laugh as that was the point.

I remember the sides being muuuuch lower;
this may not be the same slide.

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, boys, and bikini babes. Well, my story contains none of those. It’s about the time my slightly pudgy seventeen-year-old self allowed two classmates to pressure her into boldly (foolishly) donning her first bikini and climbing up the tallest water slide located in one of Orlando’s water parks.

As I transcended the Babylonian stairs, I saw disapproval in the birds’ eyes as they flew by me. Shame draped my body and, once at the top, fear congealed my blood. My feet rooted to the platform; my ears heard only the muffled instructions from the ride attendant.

Instruction one: cross your arms, cross your legs. Two: you will feel nothing beneath you for four seconds. Three: do not uncross your arms or legs. There were no guardrails attached to this slide; a wrong move could mean death.

I lay down, crossed my legs and my arms, closed my eyes and sent up frantic prayers, “Dear God, make me a bird so I could fly far, far away…”

Rough hands pushed against my shoulders. I felt the slide give away to…nothing. Panicked, my arms flailed; my legs uncrossed. After what seemed like eons, my back crashed onto the hard wet surface of the slide and I jetted down the watery chute, water painfully shooting up the exit orifice of my body.

At the bottom, I opened my eyes to the sight of my girls out of my bikini top and a tourist’s camcorder in my face.

Going to Full Sail University!

Ok, just got the phone call and it's official: I'M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL (as a student myself)! Yay! With a $12k scholarship! Yay! And the possibility of another $3k after my first year. Double yay! First step to leaving the teaching profession: getting my master's degree. BIG SMILE over here.

I'm really excited (and a little worried). Can't wait to begin.


Snake Dream

Just dreamed of a random dude at my mom's yard sale picking up a large green snake and stuffing it in his mouth. Then when I tried to hurry by him, he was pulling it out of his mouth to throw at me. I jumped awake really quick before it could land. 

A snake dream = betrayal/false friends. This is a warning to me and let it be a warning to whomever it is who calls me a friend but who intends to hurt me either with their words/gossip/actions. Don't. 

People who hurt me pretty quickly see their lives take a downward turn. God said, "Do my anointed no harm", promised "no weapons formed shall prosper", and assured me He will "smite mine enemies". So if that dreams was about you, I'm not the only one who has been warned. Have a great day. I got another hour of sleep to find.

My other two dreams were: I dropped my iPhone (putting my case on it today) and my son had most of his room cleaned and needed help (will do that today). Then I had this snake one-- it was stupid and random up until that point.

Back to School

All those 1st day of school posts on Facebook page are giving me cramps. I'm trying to be all, "Oh, how sweet" but, in a shadowed corner of my mind, there's a shriveled up woman, clutching a bottle of wine with one hand, throwing once-bitten apples with the other, shrieking, "I don't wanna go back there". 

Yep, my teaching days are numbered. Just gotta get through the next 1-2 years. If I don't get out by then, I might as well stay and do another 10 years or dance in an electric storm wearing nothing but aluminum foil or place a cyanide pill in my mouth during the opening-of-school meeting or donate my body to the National Federation of Fat Teachers Who Have Finally Had Enough or-- you get the point. 

I'm getting depressed just thinking about the upcoming school year. I gotta prepare my kids for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, PERT (I'm teaching 11th and 12th), FCAT (9th grade is on the computer this year), district assessments, and AP exams (Lang & Lit). When do I get to teach? Plus, in order to score high on my teacher evaluation, I have to plan field trips, bring in speakers, and compete in contests. Oh, yeah, and I have to help my 11th & 12th grade students prepare college essays, all while completing recommendation letters. I think I'm breaking out in hives just thinking about it.


My original -ism: Once you come through a lot of personal darkness, you want to spend forever dancing in the light, even in the rain, for that matter, because it means, at least, you’re being watered for growth. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Young One

Dear young one,

Please take care of your body and your mind. The jobs will wait; your education can't. Enjoy your summers and your friends. Cherish the moments when your biggest stressors are passing all your final exams, not paying all your bills (on time). Avoid the credit cards and, if you can't, only take one, spending only what you can/WILL pay off at the end of every month. Technology changes, only invest in it if it's in the form of stocks. Otherwise, materially speaking, everything today will be outdated tomorrow. Go for quality instead of quantity. Take pictures, not of yourself but of your moments. Remember, today is always here and tomorrow never comes. YOLO is not just a catchy phrase over a groovy beat but the truth. A friend is not just a title on Facebook; cut off your computer/laptop/cell phone device and get some. "Yes" is not a word everyone deserves; neither is "no". Figure out on who and when to use them. You are just as good, if not better, than the next person. Live with these things in mind and you'll be just fine.


Your older self

Just some things I got flitting through my mind. What other words of wisdom would you share with your younger self? Take the challenge and write that letter.