Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's all Black and White

Okay, so it's been awhile since my last post.  I've had a lot of changes in my life.  Since losing my job, I realized that having an MBA is not enough, and I need a career that is recession proof.  So, I am back in school for nursing, and am studying to become a nurse practitioner.  With that, I am taking several prerequisites one of which is Race Relations and Ethnicity in America.

Can I just say that this class has made me think of things that I've not thought of in quite awhile.  Also, it has me very worried for younger generations.  The level of, and I'm not sure if it's ignorance, obliviousness that these kids have regarding race is crazy to me.  Or, should I say the level of obliviousness from the students who are not of color.  In this day and age there was a student who questioned “why do you Black people" have BET, and Black pageants, etc.  I was sitting there like REALLY!!  Are you serious right now?  Not only that, but you're concerned about one Black channel on cable TV?  What about the Spanish channels?   I am personally familiar with at least three.

However, that's when it came to my realization that folks typically don't go against things in which they don't understand.  Meaning, the folks who would have an issue with Univision, Telemundo, etc. aren’t making an issue of it because they don’t understand the language enough to bother getting upset over.  However, the idea of Blacks having a stake in something to call their own, well now, that’s worth getting up in arms about!

Most White people, in my opinion, understand racism on a Black and White level.  The young lady in my class who was soooo concerned about BET and the like also made a mention that she's tired of being blamed for slavery.  First, who is blaming her for slavery?  Secondly, perhaps they're not blaming her for slavery, but taking her very disparaging attitude regarding race as a signal of prejudice.

I for one don't think all Whites are racist, nor do I blame Whites for slavery or feel disparagingly towards Whites. Let's face it, if it weren't for certain Whites, the Underground Railroad would have collapsed and the Civil Rights Movement would have never gotten enough fuel under its wings to be successful and fly.  

With that being said, maybe Black people aren't blaming her or even other Whites for slavery, but maybe for injustices taking place say within the past 10 years or so.  Like what, you may ask?  Such as Mr. Byrd, the gentleman in Texas who was tied up to the back of a pickup and dragged for miles, until he was decapitated.  Or, the 18yo high-schooler who was Black, and was dating a White 16yo in which her parents had him brought up on charges of statutory rape; Thus, having him thrown in jail resulting in the loss of a college scholarship.

Maybe, it's these injustices that some Black folks are pissed off about.  The irony of it all is that this student "claims" to have Black friends.  I can't take it seriously, because anyone of any race who has friends of another anything else was her desire for someone to define what “Whiteness” is.  Huh?!   You’re White and you don’t know?  If some asked me what is Blackness, believe me, I wouldn’t have to look to someone else to define that for me.   I would know it because I live it

I would like to hear others thoughts on this, because as this class progresses I find myself getting swept into a conflict of my life experiences versus that of other people of color, as well as the White perception of Black.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Can I Get A Do Over From the Peanut Gallery??? Pleeeeease

Okay, I know that I am taking this waaay to personally, and up to now I am still bothered.  I met a girlfriend of mine yesterday, whom I haven't seen in several months.  To add to this, she just had her second child last month, and as such, she brought him to lunch as well.  Lunch was great, it was good to see and catch up with her, as it had been a very long time.

We met at Panera Bread, which is always a nice spot with a cozy ambience.  We were near the fireplace, which was great, because we live in the Chicago area, and it has been freezing.  As we wrapped up our time together, the baby started to wake, so I got a chance to hold him, and he is simply too adorable for words.  Since my girlfriend had parked a ways away from the location, because the parking lot was full at the time she arrived, I kept my eye on the baby while she left to pull her car closer to the entrance, and that's when it all happened.

I had this little baby cradled in my arms, with his little face twisted in a manner that was trying to settle on going back to sleep or awakening fully.  Of course, it's no surprise that when you do have a little bitty baby in your arms, you draw the attention of others who want to look and fawn over the little miracle.  However, these people can also overstep boundaries, which someone did. 

There was an unassuming lady who walked over.  She started her comment with a compliment, stating how cute the baby was.  She then inquired the age of the baby, whose name by the way is Ethan.  I shared with her that Ethan was not my child, and that I believed him to be six weeks old, at which time she chimed in a disdainful manner "oh a newborn, in this weather?".  At first, I smiled, because I'm thinking to myself, when is suppposed to be an appropriate time for a baby to be out? If he is dressed appropriately, what difference doese it make?  However, her comments didn't stop there, she followed up with, "his pacifier looks to be too big for him too."

Okay, this is the first time I've experienced this, because I don't have a child.  However, I had a taste of what my girlfriend must get on an infrequent basis at best, and I didn't appreciate it.  When my girlfriend came back from parking her car, I shared with her what was said, and she seemed to be unmoved.  Which, on a different note, made me think that perhaps I take things too personal.  Perhaps, I do, but I don't think that was the case with this woman.  I was offended! 

I was offended, because I believe she saw me sitting there, with this baby, and assumed I was some young thing (I look younger than I am, at least I like to think so, lol) that was a single parent.  Oh, by the way, this was not an old woman, I would put her around 40ish.  Anyway, I think she had some preconceived ideas regarding who she thought I was, and quite frankly that really upset me.  Nonetheless, if I had a "Do Over", I would have told the Peanut Gallery this after she made her comment:

"Do you have children?  Well, as a Citizen Of the World I can unequivocally state that women are
birthing children all over the world regardless of climate.  And, considering you know nothing regarding this child or his family let me inform you, the parents of this child are married 30 something plus year old, formally educated people who also have an older son.  And, I am certain this child is being raised in a happy loving home with the same upbringing as his three year old brother.

If this baby were my child, he would be my first, and your statements would have made me feel inadequate as a parent.  Words hurt, and you don't know what state of mind an individual is in when you make them, especially when it comes to their child.  Although your opinions are yours,
 the're just that...YOUR OPINIONS!  So, unless solicited, it would be suggested you keep them to yourself.  As someone who has served this country as a service member, I learned that your opinion need not be heard unless you are going to offer a solution.  And, unless you are going to
aid in the rearing of this child or any other that is not yours, save the snarky comments.
They are tasteless, and display a lack of class...

Unfortunately, I didn't say anything to this woman, who made her thoughts known with several other strangers in earshot (again we were at Panera Bread) garnering unwanted attention my way.  I was caught off guard, and quite frankly shocked at the audacity that total strangers think its okay to tell you what's best for you and yours.  Now, that I've experienced this, I definitely will be prepared with a quick reply should this ever happen again. 

I have to say, normally putting pen to paper regarding things like this help to make me feel better, but I'm officially still ticked. 

Till next time...
The P.O.D.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Being Me Is Enough

I was in the kitchen on Super Bowl Sunday, and asked my husband if I'm crazy in wanting to follow my passion, versus be a corporate robot, making a six figure salary?  It's funny, when I was a child I wanted to be rich.  When I was a teenager, and I had a job paying me $4.25 an hour, that was minimum wage back then in Tulsa, Ok., I wanted to be rich. 

When I graduated college, after having worked two part-time jobs while being an active duty service member, attending a junior college during the week, and a special four year university program for service members on the weekends, I really, really wanted to be rich.

Once I started working in the civilian sector, I didn't necessarily wanted to be rich anymore, it would have been nice though.  Instead, I became realistic, and just wanted to make over $100k a year, and to become VP of human resources.  I still wonder why I only shot for VP, and not president, but that's neither here nor there at this moment.  The fact is I became realistic in my goal of not being rich, but making enough money to satisfy me.  Okay, I'm lyin'.  I wanted to make as much money as possible, because what fun is being poor?

I don't know why making a LOT of money has been so important.  However, I think after working so hard for so long, chasing the corporate dream and not moving up, earning more money I'm at a point where I want to do me.  I believe, the catalyst for doing me started when was let go from my job.  I had a company car, expense account, didn't pay for gas or insurance, and worked from home.

Don't get me wrong, I worked my tail off, and was viewed as valuable by company, so much so, they sent my husband and I to Italy for nearly a week all expenses paid, where we had private tours of the Pope's Museum, Sistine Chapel, Colosseum, and more.  They also my husband and I to Costa Rica all expenses paid, to stay at the Four Season's hotel, and enjoy all the relaxation and pampering one can stand, agian for nearly a week.

However, when it came down to it, my company handed me my walking papers, while retaining co-workers who underperformed, and kissed tail versus working hard.  Quite frankly, I will never know why I was passed over.  Over the holidays, I consoled myself (was laid off just before Thanksgiving) in the fact that I was good at my job, and that I could find another gig paying me what I was making, with all the perks.  Then it donned on me.  Was this all too my life?  Is this what I really want? 

I viewed my job loss as an opportunity to follow my passions.  I did work hard, and because of that hard work, I can afford to take time to explore my options.  However, on January 4th, I received a call from my old boss wanting to know if I wanted my job back.  I was faced with a dilemma.  Do I go back, and take my place in the corporate treadmill, or do I follow the path that will undoubtedly be more challenging, yet more rewarding?

Making money has always been important, and don't get me wrong, it still is.  I want my family to be secure, and how could I turn down a job that offered the perks I have been accustomed to for over ten years.  So, I called my boss back, and I told him... "thank you, but I am headed in a different direction". 

During the course of my being laid off, I have since realized money is not the end all be all.  I don't need all the money I can make, I just simply need to make the money I need, and after that being me is simply enough.  My husband thinks I'm enough too. =)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Always Sunny in Florida??

Before I lost my job, I had received a call from a telemarketer from Caribbean Cruise Vacations.  They're a timeshare company, and were offering three vacations for $278, plus a 2 night cruise to the Bahamas.  The deal wasn't a horrible one, and because I live in Illinois, by law I don't have to attend the timeshare sales pitch.  So, I bought the trips, because I love to travel, and I thought it would be cool to get away during the winter months, especially since the trips included Florida, Puerta Vallarta, Mexico and Vegas.

Well, fast forward to the second week of November, I got the news I was getting laid off from my job.  Most people would be pretty busted up over this news, but I actually saw it as an opportunity to pursue my dreams.  I know for a fact that I would have never walked away from my job on my own, and I think this was just what I needed to get the fire going.  I've digressed, I booked a flight for the Florida vacation, because my husband was travelling there on business, and it was a good opportunity for us to get away on the cheap, well, so I thought.

The trip started with me leaving on a flight at 7:20am, which was over booked by several seats.  I used the misfortune of those passengers needing to fly standby as my opportunity to make money, and volunteered my seat for $400.  However, the flight that I was scheduled to get on later in the day left with out me.  Why, you might ask?  I fell asleep, that's why, and woke up just as they had closed the bridge.  Of course, I was just sick to my stomach.  Nonetheless, I flew standby on another overbooked flight, and eventually met my husband in Ft. Lauderdale, and this my friends is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.

The vacation package I purchased, provided a rental car, meal vouchers for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as our hotel stay.  What they failed to mention is that you pay the taxes on EVERYTHING!  What's worse is the hotel that was free was a complete dump.

Now, don't get me wrong, my husband nor I are snobs. I mean, we were both in the military for Pete's sake, so we know what crappy living conditions are.  However, I stayed in barracks that offered a better quality atmosphere than this hotel.  First of all, it reeked as if the walls were painted with a concentrated solution of simply green.  My husband seems to think it was more of a pepto bismol stink.  Whatever the case, the stench stuck in your thoughts, and had the uncanny ability to clear your sinuses if you took a deep breath. 

Needless to say, we stayed at the hotel for one night only, and requested an upgrade to the Westin for an additional $40/night.  This is a little perk they don't volunteer to you, unless you make a stink.  Once we made it to the Westin, it was like the heavens had opened, and hand selected clouds for us to sit upon.  As soon as we walked through the lobby, I couldn't help but smile.  There wasn't the essence of stale cigarette smoke, nor were there peculiar looking people peppered around the lobby like underpaid stage actors.

The trip was a nice break from the frigid winter wonderland taking place in Chicago.  At 77 degrees, I really didn't have the right to complain, but I did.  It started with this catfish joint by the name of Dewey's Catfish.  To be fair, I have to say the catfish was outstanding.  However, there was little else to be desired.  I distinctly remember the restaurant having this odor that reminded me of a fishy tainted gerbil cage, and the floor was disgusting as well.  Quite frankly, had it not been for the fact that it was late at night, and the place was nearby, I am certain we would have walked right out.  Oh yeah, the conch wasn't too my liking, but my husband was okay with it, the collard greens were under seasoned, and the key lime pie was more like sweetened condensed milk pie. 

Moving on...The next night we went to Charlie's Crab House, which changed its name to the Chart Club, but had no indications of this change, which left us driving around for several minutes, until we found the number, and the host informed us that they're one in the same.  This place had a fantastic ambience, but the food was simply average.  In my opinion, it was definitely over priced, as my food left me feeling underwhelmed.  If you do happen to go, I will say that the crab legs were good, and so were the jalapeƱo cheese biscuits.  Outside of that, aaah, I would say pass.

For entertainment, we checked out the Alligator Park which was about an hour away.  This was probably one of the best things we did.  We took a boat ride out in the swamp, watched the snake show, as well as the feeding of the alligators.  If you have kids, it is a must do.  The cost was $42 for both of us.  We did call a place that was in Ft. Lauderdale, but they were charging $50/person!! If you're looking for adult fun, then Improve or Hard Rock Hotel is a must do, and they are both in the same location.

We don't gamble, nor do well with smoke so the Hard Rock Casino was out.  However, we did catch Ralphie Mae's (a comedian) show at the improv.  Both my husband and I find Ralphie funny on XM, but in person...  Well, I'm not easily offended, but he just wasn't funny to me.  He's no Bill Burr!  

Our Florida trip was a much needed vacation, but next time, I think we'll just book our own hotels.  Oh, we did end up going to hear the timeshare presentation, and we bought into it.  The amount of vacations we take it made sense, especially since I don't plan to go back to work.  The time share will cut our usual vacation costs by half. 

As for what I plan to do to make money, I am preparing to take the Illinois licensing exam for massage therapy, and plan to work as a therapist, while building an online dating profile writer business.  I know it sounds sooo random, but it's not.  I've been certified for over 5 years, but never bothered to get licensed, and who better to have someone write a dynamite dating profile, than someone who did the online dating thing, and met her husband of 3.5 years online? =)

It's amazing how exciting life becomes, when you aren't inundated with the business as usual daily nuances of the expected.  Every day is new and exciting, because I am now in control of my future.