Sunday, June 27, 2010


As I prepared for my guests yesterday, a number of things went through my mind. Like who was showing up. And about the long list of people who had stated that they wouldn't be able to make it. In the past I probably would have felt hurt but surprisingly my feeling was more like "Whatever."

I thought about my college days. There was another university across town that was known for its parties. My classmates and I eventually decided that their parties were not necessarily better than ours though. They were known for having these parties with tons of people. But does more actually mean better? We decided that when you have to wait way too long in line at the keg, more isn't better. So we argued that we went for quality over quantity.

And so that's what yesterday was. The only people who had previously met were Zombie Mom and Fluffycat but that didn't seem to matter. We were joined by Marin and one of my high school friends and his wife. Oh yeah. And the Zombie girls who seemed quite concerned that Boris kept hiding from them. And who also insisted that a birthday celebration was not complete without cupcakes and singing.

So yes, yesterday was great. And today? Well I cleaned everything before going to sleep last night. I have plenty of leftovers, some of which will probably end up in the freezer. And as I am quite sore from all the scrubbing and cooking, a long soak in the tub is starting to sound like a good idea -- if I can move off of the couch, away from my Netflix instant viewing choice of "Quincy." But whatever I decide, it will all be fine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Like Kermit

I have invited some friends to join me this weekend for some grilled foods in celebration of aging another year. Now usually I run out to the party supply store to buy color-coordinated napkins, paper plates and plastic utensils. But I got to thinking. That's just now very environmentally friendly.

That meant that I have been spending a good portion of my lunch hour throughout this week exploring other options. I found the plates at Target. They are plastic and dishwasher safe. Plus they are my favorite color. Four plates for $1.99. The flatware came from my stepmother's favorite place -- The 99 Cent Store. Six forks or six knives for 99 cents. I know. Ridiculous. Next is a search for cloth napkins. And maybe some glass plates. I love the plastic because I won't have to worry about little people but sometimes you want something a little fancier.

It's kind of strange. This year I feel like I'm in a really good place. It's like I care but I don't care if people acknowledge my birthday. I know it will be wonderful even if I were to spend it all completely on my own. And so for me, that's being in a good place.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I read Sizzle's post earlier today and I thought, "How nice." I thought how it's really easy to look back on the positive stuff someone has done when they are no longer here. But when you're thigh deep in the crazy and trying to find your way out of the swamp? Not so easy.

I spoke to my "real dad" and my uncle today. Because you know. They're dads. And they both asked if I had spoken to my father today. Uh no. I was even asked if I had at least sent a card. Once more no. Real dad then said, "But he's your father." My response was, "Oh. You mean the DNA donor."

Because right now I can't think of that man as my father. Recent reports indicate that his behavior is much improved. But I've seen that before. I just can't trust him anymore. I never really could

The first time that I realized that he would lie to make himself look good in the eyes of others -- to my detriment -- was when I was about ten or so. It was yet another one of the many bricks in my wall that started when my parents' marriage deteriorated. It's when I learned to be what people want you to be -- if it suits your purpose at that time. But the most important lesson was that no one could ever see all of you at one time. Because then they had the power to hurt you. And I was never going to let anyone hurt me that much ever again in my life. Looking back, I want to cry for my ten-year-old self. Because that's not what being ten should be about.

I have spent years forgiving my parents of their past transgressions. But I never forgot. And I know that if I spoke to them now, they would ask, "Why are you bringing up all this old shit once more?" Why? Because I feel like we've gone full circle. But I choose to not have the conversation because I know the words have been spoken before and it's pointless.

And so I'd like to say Happy Father's Day to the guys who are really dads. Me? I just have a couple of people who donated some DNA -- and a bunch of baggage. Me? I'm just trying to lighten the load -- especially since I was evidence today that the crazy is about to get a lot more crazy. Good thing? I don't have to be in the middle of it now.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Single ladies

Every now and then Emerald's husband packs the kids up to go see his parents. Such is the case currently. As a result, I received a call from Emerald on Wednesday asking if I wanted to check out a new restaurant, Miliki, in the Laurel District. (Note to self -- Must write a post in the future about the various neighborhoods in Oakland.)

What little you can find about Miliki tells you that they are West African. But then I spied one word in their description -- Lagos. This told me that we were in store for traditional Nigerian food. I love the food of East Africa -- like Ethiopia -- and want to marry the food of Northern Africa but my knowledge of West African food has been limited to what my cousin's husband has prepared for the family. (He's Nigerian.)

Unfortunately -- or fortunately -- the place was packed and we were asked to share a table. Our tablemates being Nigerian were able to help us navigate the menu.

The standard dinner consists of a soup/stew accompanied by a dough. Our tablemates told us that some of the stews were an acquired taste so I went with one of the ones they said was not so.

Egusi is a mixture of tomatoes, pepper, spices, melon and vegetables with meat. The meat in this case was a mixture of chicken and various beef products. I told them that they could leave the tripe out as I have never been a fan of the stuff. There was a taste that I could not distinguish that just seemed off to me. Perhaps it was a result of the melon as the menu stated that it could be optional.

Then there was the Iyan -- pounded yam also known as fufu. Emerald and I decided that it needed to be bland to combat the spiciness of the other food.

Now before you start believing that the food was unacceptable to the Western palate, let me share Emerald's menu choices.

She saw Moin Moin listed and was deeply fascinated. It is a mixture of steamed ground beans, tomato, onion and red pepper. It looked like the fufu -- except color - but had so much flavor.

She also ordered the Pepper Soup with goat meat. Upon tasting it, I thought that I was on my way to heaven. If and when I return, I will be ordering this dish.

And I'll try to do so in another month or so -- once they have gotten past tonight's grand opening. Because tonight the service was way below par. Since it was their grand opening, I'll cut them some slack.

Missing is a photo of the wonderful drummers who were there for entertainment. I thought too late of snapping a photo and so missed the opportunity.

But tonight reminded me that the Laurel District is only a five to ten minute drive away. It's like the perfect meld of Berkeley and Oakland. And I absolutely love it.

And as I parked my car, I also remembered my realtor's statement in convincing me to buy my condo -- You only have to plan to stay there for five years or so. Because yes, this house is for sale.Way out of my price range now but in four years? I might just have to check out the open house on Sunday. Because right now I'm all about building my dreams.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reality check

Anyone who knows me knows that I watch a lot of reality TV. My usual morning routine is to grab a glass of juice or a cup of tea and settle down in front of the TV. After I catch up on some of my stuff saved on the DVR, I usually watch the Style channel.

This morning I got treated to an episode of "Tacky House." If you've never seen it, it's a show on which a friend or relative turns someone in for their tacky decorating taste. The poor victim is tricked into thinking that they are actually going to be on a show called "My Awesome House." I'm surprised there is not more cursing on the show personally. And maybe some bitch slaps.

So there I was this morning enjoying some juice and the show. This morning a woman turned in her fiance and his sister for living in a castle somewhere in the Los Angeles area. I mean this place actually had a moat. As the show went on, I realized that I recognized the woman's voice and so did a little rewinding. Yes, the woman who had turned in the pair was indeed Lisa D'Amato who first appeared on "America's Next Top Model" and later on "Celebrity Rehab." I told y'all I watch a lot of reality TV.

The thing is that since I was looking at the mobile version of Wikipedia on my phone, the first thing I read were Lisa's stats. It seems we wear about the same size. OK. So sometimes I wear a smaller size. But then I looked at her measurements. Because you know since she's a model, it's really important that they share that information. And it confirmed what I know to be true now. I don't necessarily need to lose weight but I do need to firm some stuff up. Because if I firm it up, I'll lose those last pesky few inches. Now to just get motivated...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

So many things

So since that last post I've been meaning to write. The stuff there? A temporary setback. That was a sign of my warring inner selves -- the one who knows these people cannot be trusted and the one who wants to believe that people will understand and respect what I say. Notice I did not say agree. Unlike my mom, I'm not looking for agreement. All I've ever wanted is understanding.

I first thought of writing on Thursday night when I got home and found this lad howling on my deck. Seems he wanted in. And he eventually got his way. I refused to name him though since once you name them, they're yours. I sent him home with a coworker on Friday. Hopefully now he has a new home.

I took a half day on Friday. Besides packing up the kitten to go home with my coworker, I had my hair done and got a pedicure. Lesson learned is that I should not wait this long between pedicures. Another lesson learned is that I should take more time for me.

Finally, Drummer Boy was supposed to show up this weekend. In younger days, I would be crying over this slight. (Especially since I did not find out until Friday afternoon that he was not showing up -- because I texted him. Thin rope.) So I continued on with my weekend plans. I know you've seen this before but it's been quite some time since I have grilled ribs. And once it's lit, you just have to throw other stuff on it. I had to make sure that I had not forgotten what I learned. It was basically a practice run.

This year for my birthday, I'm hosting a BBQ. Last year I invited one of my coworkers and his wife. They were expecting an invite this year as well. So they responded yes but now they are rethinking. Why? Because the vast majority of the people invited are female. I explained that most of my friends are married and that some will be bringing their husbands. See my coworker didn't want to be the only guy present. So now he wants me to let him know a few days beforehand if other men will be present. My feeling is that if you are so worried about who else will be present, then you don't need to be present. So yeah, I uninvited them. Life's too short for that kind of bullshit in my opinion.

Final thought of the weekend is this song. I first heard it on "Ugly Betty" when they played it for the first dance at Hilda's wedding. I was near tears. I'm pretty sure that Maddie was bawling. After hearing it, I thought that I could suggest it to my dad and his fiance for their wedding -- because I was still speaking to them then. So if one of y'all out there is planning on getting married, I highly recommend this song to you. Although I still love Stevie Wonder's "As" but that song is something like six minutes long.

And maybe soon I'll be able to put together something that isn't as rambling in the near future.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The abyss

There is a deep hole in me that I hide with smiles and sarcasm. It started with the stuff from yesterday's post but includes so much more. It is my opinion that perfectionists are made and not born.

The craziness of my childhood turned me into a people pleaser. I don't like conflict and am always trying to figure out how to make others happy. This is why the one therapist made me go through all the exercises on self-esteem.

Thing is I have never been able to get rid of the nagging voice in my head. The voice that says that I have fucked up. The voice that says that I will never be good enough.

I realized this in the last month. My boss makes everyone who reports to him come up with annual goals and we check in with him every two weeks to report our progress. I met with my boss a day or so before my dad had been released from the hospital. In the prior two week period I had done absolutely nothing to meet my goals. I had also made a couple of major mistakes at work. I just hadn't been present. So two weeks later, it was time for the meeting and I was scrambling to figure out what I had accomplished. I pulled some stuff together and was prepared to bullshit my way through it all. If anything, I can always spin things so that I look good. But I sat there in the chair across the desk from my boss and thought about how I was about to be told what a major fuck-up I am. There's not really a reason why I should think this. When I had my annual review (and received my bonus check), I was told how much they appreciate me. The only explanation is that I have spent a lot of years not feeling appreciated.

And so I realized just how deep the hole in me goes. I am always worrying about being accepted, appreciated, liked. Really. Almost every single second. I say or do something and I worry what others will think. I see two people I know having a conversation in which I am not included and a part of my mind will at times think that they are discussing what a loser I am.

This is the root of what makes me suck at the whole dating thing. I become this needy person who needs constant reassurance. And even if you say that you love me, why should I really believe you? The people who were supposed to love me first -- my parents -- said it plenty of times but their actions said something different.

So imagine my dismay this weekend. After a Friday spent under assault, in my opinion, all I really wanted was someone who would reassure me that even if I didn't do what others wanted, I was still an OK person. Originally the weekend was supposed to be spent with Drummer Boy but then he found out that he needed to work. I understand that. The hurt little girl doesn't understand not hearing from him though. No, he doesn't know about what went down but I just kind of figured that he would contact me regardless. And then I started thinking that perhaps this is why he had stopped being a part of my life before. I did try to get in touch with him but refrained from doing so more than once. Because that abyss inside of me? Well sometimes I worry that it makes me too needy. To contact him more than the one time that I had might make him feel this way was what I argued in my mind.

And so instead I wrote yesterday's post. It felt much safer.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The road to here

Life started out OK, or at least it seemed that way to me. I was born a year after the college sweethearts moved to California. They had been married for two years at that point. My mother chose to be a SAHM until I was three. There were baked goods, dinner on the table at six and quality time with mom that included sitting on her lap while she read various books to me. She knit sweaters and made wonderful Halloween costumes for me. It was many years later when I found that my mother was a pretty skilled artist and besides the textile arts, she does a decent job with drawing and painting. But that was at a point at which the world had already shifted quite a bit.

I remember all of this clearly since my memory starts sometime between ages two and three for me. Really. But there are about two years missing from my memory that I know I will never be able to retrieve. As an adult, I now know that this lapse starts about the time at which my parents' marriage began to disintegrate. But it's not all gone. I can tell you about school during that time period. Just don't ask me about home.

I can tell you why my parents split. They started telling me the why of it all when I was about ten, I believe. (They divorced when I was eight but the deterioration of their relationship started when I was about six.) I know that my mother was not satisfied with being a SAHM. I know that my dad felt that in his role as the provider, there was no need for his wife to work. As such, why did she insist upon working? It had been fine for his mother after all. Then the divorce happened and we began our journey on becoming the people we are today.

My mother while loving her job felt empty. She filled the emptiness with daily shopping. Dinner was no longer on the table at six. Instead I was often told that I was on my own. I often dined with my "real parents." And I would escape to Jade's house.

My father tried to adjust to being single and along the way dived into the bottle. By the time I was 12, I was able to figure out that someone who can kill a fifth of whatever in a single afternoon had a problem. He would drink and tell me how he had failed as a husband and how it pained him. That's about the time I stopped the biweekly visits. It's not like he was showing up on the doorway, beating it down and demanding his visitation rights anyway.

And me? I felt alone but slowly figured out how to get through it all. But every now and then I wanted them to listen to me. And so I'd do something self-destructive. That is our dynamic. They can only hear me when I have done something completely fucked up.

In looking back, I realize that it all began much earlier than I had previously thought. At age 11, my best friend and I proclaimed that we were tired of getting straight A's. Apparently our teacher overheard us and shared this with my mom at a parent-teacher conference. The adults were concerned because getting A's had always come easy to me; getting anything less took conscious effort. And so I just stopped doing the work.

By the next school year, I found myself in for a conference with both my parents and my English teacher. My decision to stop turning in work had earned me a D. I was allowed to make up the work and so received a C instead. It could have been higher if I had actually completed all of the make-up work.

This is what I remember most though. I remember sitting at the kitchen table at my mom's house while both my parents lectured me on how this just was not acceptable. They may have even asked why I did it. And I sat there in silence. Finally they asked what I wanted. "You wish you were somewhere else, don't you?" I looked them in their eyes and calmly said, "I wish I were dead." There was a great deal of fussing about how I should never say that. And so I never said the words again.

Instead I quietly skipped meals. Because at 5'9" and 110 pounds, I had decided that I was fat. When I looked in the mirror, I'm not sure that there was anything about myself that I liked. Why should I? The message that I got at home was that I rarely got anything right. Or it was, "You can't say or act that way because your behavior is a reflection upon me. I will not have people talking about how I am not doing things right because of how you act." Those may not be the exact words but that was the gist of it. And I now know that this is when I learned to lock away little bits of myself, how to let others see only what I thought they wanted to see.

It all started to eat away at me though. By junior year of high school, I was clearly depressed. I felt very alone in the world save for a handful of friends. These wonderful people are still my friends today. Besides my friends, the other thing that kept me going was knowing that I'd go to college soon and have a chance at freedom.

Somehow it all came to a head in my college years though. I spent a great deal of my 20s in and out of therapy. I would try to talk to my parents but they just couldn't hear me. And so there were the suicide attempts that would finally make them listen if only for a few days. My first therapist recognized what was I doing. She told me, "You don't really want to die. You just want people to pay attention, to listen. You don't know how to get them to listen otherwise. I'm just afraid that one of these days in trying to get them to listen, you'll actually succeed in killing yourself."

I spent a year with another therapist after my last suicide attempt. She's the one who made me go through all the self-esteem exercises. She reiterated what the previous therapist -- and the ones after both of them -- have said. In order to save myself, I might one day have to let go of certain people.

I was well into my 30s before the thought of suicide finally was no longer an option in my mind. I promised myself then that I would never go down that road again. I now knew how to recognize the early signs. This is what I have seen over the last couple of years -- that I was no longer going forward, but instead was moving backward.

Why write this now? Because yesterday I let my guard down a little too much. First there was the phone call from my "real dad." I have been talking to his wife over the last week or so. She understands. He on the other hand has heard my dad crying, whining, whatever about how he didn't understand why I no longer want to speak to him. Real dad wanted to mediate things. Problem is that in my mind there just isn't anything to mediate. There was nothing that I could say to my dad that I haven't said before. I said I was tired of the lies, the false promises. I just can't go down that road again.

And then I got a visit from my dad's oldest brother and his wife last night. They wanted me to patch things up with my dad -- because that's what family does. There was talk about how sometimes you swallow things to prevent discord in the family. Oh, and that they accept me as I am. This was in response to my saying that I feel like I get lost along the way in the whole family dynamic, that friends who have seen me around them say that I stop being me. I won't be talking to them any time soon.

That's why I can share this now. To help you to understand something that they never will. That to go back into all of this now feels like it would just kill me. I can talk myself blue in the face yet they will never get it. And I just can't ever go back to that place again. Mostly because I kind of enjoy rediscovering who I really am.

If you haven't guessed yet, this is something I wrote for me. Something to make sense of it all.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Supporting role

How we ate changed drastically once my mom divorced my dad. It started off with little things -- lowfat instead of whole milk, wheat instead of white bread. (I still feel that squishy white bread has its place though, namely with fried fish or barbecue. Kind of irks me that now places give you wheat. Just not the same.) My mom also toyed with idea of us becoming pescatarians like her younger sister. My mom only saw one problem with that though. Occasionally she was going to need a pork chop. I quite agree.

Now I had planned on cooking this up earlier in the week but I just didn't have the energy to light up the grill. Next thought was to cook the chops on the grill pan indoors but what about the asparagus? The asparagus deserved to feel flame. But I don't think that the chop is really the star here; instead it's all about giving the peach salsa a home. Because this week has been about fruit for me.

And I'm looking forward to getting home tonight to have leftover chop and salsa. And maybe a little ice cream after.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


A few weeks ago some of my coworkers started a biggest loser challenge. I am not participating. Yes, I still would like to lose some more weight but at this point I am more concerned with being healthy than the number on the scale. Of course I suppose that is a luxury that one has when one's BMI is somewhere between 19 and 20.

I love all things dairy and have spent the past week or so reintroducing ice cream into my diet. The stuff pictured? Cherry Garcia. Homemade. Because it is the start of cherry season. Bing cherries and fair trade dark chocolate. The cream part of it could have had more cherry flavor in my opinion. Not bad for a first attempt though. I have at least another month to perfect it.

And yes, I actually ate the ice cream pictured. Well half of it. If I had not succumbed to the extra large chili dog from Sonic earlier in the day for lunch, I would have eaten it all. But now it's all about having tastes of things instead of sitting down and eating an entire pint as a meal.

Different day, same crap

There was supposed to be a food photo here but I just didn't have the energy when I left work today. Instead I decided to return a call from one of my dad's best friends as well as one to my uncle in Colorado. Part of me wishes that I hadn't.

Apparently my cousin never went to stay with my dad. And that crap about him attending meetings as he claimed in his text on Friday? Total bullshit. Or at least that's the read I've gotten from those who still have contact with him.

One of my uncles is in town with his wife specifically to see my dad. Thing is my dad is at his fiance's house while they are staying at his house.

And this past weekend they had a cookout at my dad's house at which no one smoked nor drank. But my dad kept disappearing for long periods of time. And near the end they could smell the alcohol on him.

Funny how some things never change. But they have. I wasn't there. And I refuse to be a part of this crap anymore. My dad may not think that he deserves better but I damn well know that I do.

I thought at the beginning that this would be a temporary thing but as each day passes, it feels more like something permanent. But like I said before. I've thought about this for over 20 years. Nothing new necessarily. Just finally taking action. Because this is all about living life and as long as I'm caught up in that bullshit, I'm not really living.