Telling my side of the story

WARNING: I'm not that deep.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Don't Take My 'Niceness' for Weakness

Sometimes, I think the fact that I say please and thank you and treat people with courtesy is misconstrued as a sign of weakness. My former best tenant, VC who has had a near-perfect year of paying on time has decided not to pay her August rent. I sent her a notice on the 8th saying that she was late. Nothing happened. Then I sent her another notice via certified mail on the 21st saying I still hadn't received her rent (plus late charges of $20 per day). Still nothing. On the 25th, I called her and she didn't pick up her phone. I guessed it was because she knew it was me so I tried calling her with my work cell and she picked up. By this time, I was more than a little ticked off. Why did I have to track her down? Shouldn't the reverse be the case? She should be tracking me down not the other way round. A simple phone call stating that she was having money issues would have been okay. I told her my phone line's always open and she should feel free to call me to let me know about things like this. I don't think I've been landlordy mean to her in the past so I was kinda hurt she didn't feel she could call me. She starts talking about how she's been sick, and how she's had other responsibilities like her insurance, etc to pay. Okay, on a scale of one to ten, I would assume it's more important for you to have a roof over your head than to pay for your car insurance. I have a mortgage I have to pay whether or not she pays her rent. I didn't tell her that though. Instead, I asked her to drop a letter in the mail with her plans for that month's rent in writing. She asked if she could send the letter the following Monday. No. I said, please send me something in writing today so I know what you plan to do. Finish. O pari. Simple. She said she needed time to talk to some agency to help her out with her rent. Fine, just put it in writing.

Monday comes round and there's still no signs of a letter from VC. I call her and by this time, I feel like she's definitely taking me for granted. Evict, I must (like Yoda would say). Her attitude was so blatantly lackadaisical. She sounded like she totally didn't care. Now, this is a woman with four grown children and one 12 year old. The reason why I feel sorry for her is because her grown kids have her to babysit their kids for free all the time yet they don't help out. Some of them even live with her but still don't help her out financially. Just this time, you would think they would help her out with the rent. Besides, the twelve year old is such a sweet girl. She is in the honors program at her school so I feel bad about displacing the family. However, I have to be businessy about this. It's not my fault that VC decides to go a month without paying her rent and does not even bother to call to make some kind of arrangement with me. After talking to her on the 29th, I decide that she's gotta go. I've received so many phone calls about people wanting to rent this property. It won't be a problem finding someone else. I called the magistrate court and they said I have to serve her with a letter to pay up or move out. I ask if there's a period of time I have to give her and they say no. In our fine state, you can serve them the same day and ask them to move out ASAP. I decide to give VC three days because of her little girl. They need to move somewhere cheaper so this doesn't happen again. I just hope that the school district they move to doesn't negatively impact her brilliant daughter's education. They are due out tomorrow at 12:00 noon. Somehow, I think she thinks I'm joking.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Channeling My Inner Martha

Wednesdays are my day to do just about anything I want. I spent part of the day making floral arrangements. Here's me trying to be a Martha. Hopefully, not a bad use of $7 at the grocery store.

Clean House

I dream of a clean house where the floors are spotless, the windowsills are dust-free, and the grout in between the tiles is dirt-free. A house so clean it reeks of fabuloso - the blue one. To make this dream a reality, I need help. After going back and forth about hiring someone else to do the house cleaning, we have reached a compromise. We'll get it professionally done every other week. The hardest part has been finding someone, not the decision making involved. I pulled out my woman of the house card. The woman of the house has spoken and so it will be that we will hire someone to replace our dear Lola. We haven't had much luck since Lola moved to Houston. No one else has been able to do as good a job as Lola. No one. Some time ago, I placed some ads on craigslist but DH was worried that we would end up with weirdos. In the meantime, I've been asking around for recommendations and we finally got a recommendation about a house cleaning crew that our friends are happy with.

I'm home to meet with Allie, the rep. Today's their first cleaning and I'm thinking about giving her an orientation to my style of cleaning. It's the start of what I hope would be a long-term relationship. The kind that progresses to the point where trust sets in and I feel okay with leaving my keys for the crew when I'm away. The last person I got from craigslist really didn't do a great job. She did less than basic cleaning in my opinion. I do a better job even at my laziest. The tiles on the kitchen floor were looked like they'd been gone over with water alone and I doubt that she even touched the tiles on the walls of the bathrooms. The last straw was when she left a trash bag in the middle of the living room for invisible man to pick up after her. As desperate as I was to have someone else do the cleaning, she had to go. In retrospect, I realize that the problem there was that I never explained what I needed done and what my expectations were. My friends seem to think it's because she wasn't Latina. They think only Latinas do a thorough cleaning job. That's not true. Anyhow, I hear that Allie's team not only does a great job, they arrange the magazines on your coffee table just like they do in hotels and better than that, they make floral arrangements out of your towels and toilet paper. That's cool but all I want is a clean house.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Thank God for Yankee

Every once in a while, I find myself wondering what my life would have been had I not come to America. I attended high school in Lagos and then went to the University of Lagos for a couple of years before finally being 'allowed' by my parents to come and study in the States. The summer before I was due to graduate high school, I visited California and my mom asked me to check out colleges and universities in the area. Naturally, I assumed that as soon as I graduated high school, I would be shipped off to the States without going through the Nigerian university system. Fortunately or unfortunately, that was not to be the case and I went through the obligatory Lag (University of Lagos) experience.

The jury is still out on whether or not that was such a great idea. Maybe not, I'm still not sure. I went to Lag even though I was not accepted into my major at the time (Law). I went to Lag knowing fully well that I would be studying a course I didn't want to study. I went to Lag despite the fact that I was given the opportunity to study Law at another university. I chose to go to Lag because it was considered a fun university and I didn't care enough about my future at the time to do the right thing. I guess that's really mistake #1. Attending college just for the fun of it. Back then, I had a lackadaisical attitude about my studies. I went to class sometimes and didn't go at other times. My natural inclination was to go to class but say a friend came to me on my way to class and said she was going shopping for a party that night; I would opt to go shopping instead. Looking back, I have no idea why I even bothered attending class on a regular basis. I had a friend who did NOT attend one day of class. To this day, I don't know how she graduated. I wasn't that interested in classes but somehow managed to do quite well. I came out top of my class in Year 1 (Sœurs, you know I had to throw that in there) and won the prize for best in my year. Naturally, I didn't attend the ceremony; after all it was for losers. Anyway, that was my life in Lag in my first year. I went to parties and I went to class. By and large, I had a good time and was bored a lot.

Then one fine day, my bestest friend got invited to a Bachelor's Eve and was asked to invite a few of her friends. This was going to be the hottest Bach Eve of the year because at the time it was Nigeria's Number 2 guy's son getting married. Whoa! HUGE! EXCLUSIVE! Anyhow, she got invited by her friend, Alan. Now, no one that we knew was going and certainly no one from our year was invited so this was indeed HUGE. We were both going and out of pity we decided to invite a couple more of our close friends and that was IT. We wanted it to be exclusive so that when gist broke out of who was there, people would hear that a few people from Lag were there making us all the more special. Anyhow, we got dressed and the cars came to pick us up. We were Moremites (the name of our dorm was Moremi Hall) so all the girls sitting in the quadrangle saw us as we were leaving. We couldn't have been happier because there was nothing happening that night, no major club parties or anything so people were really wondering what we were up to since it wasn't anything they had heard about. We trusted that our roommates who saw us leaving and heard us as we were talking about this Bach Eve would also help us spread the gist. The way things were in Moremi, you would know without a doubt when there was a hot party because girls would get dressed and there would be a general buzz going on in the quadrangle at the center of the dorm. On this night, there was no major party so most girls were just sitting around doing nothing.

Anyhow, the Bach Eve was at A Bar and all the young married and unmarried 'big' guys in the gossip magazines were there. My friends and I were giddy with excitement to be in the mix. People came up to us, introduced themselves and we couldn't believe so and so just came to talk to us. It was way cool. Being that we were young and all, we wanted to act mature and look hot so out came the grown up beverages and cigarettes. We acted like we knew what we were doing. Inwardly, we were on cloud nine happy as heck to have been there. However, when one of our friends took off with the groom to be, we were sane enough to scold her for her disappearing act. I landed myself a couple of serious toasters that night. One was Alan; he was a groomsman and invited me to come with him to the wedding. Heck no, so that my face would be all over Newsline with Frank Olize and my parents would see what their daughter was up to? I declined but got his number and another guy's number. Again, I was feeling very hot with myself that older guys were interested in me. A couple of Moremi girls in their fourth year were at the party so we were sure that people would definitely hear our gist back at school. We left the party feeling very good about ourselves.

That experience and what was to follow are reasons I look back and say thank God I was plucked away from that environment before I lost myself totally and irretrievably. I'll probably blog some more about my life before I got it back but this one is long enough as it is.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Our Money

When it comes to many things in my life, I don't believe too many people are the boss of me. I like to think that I am my own oga (boss) in a lot of ways. However, since we got married and decided that my money was his money and his money was my money, the concept of our money has been a little difficult to grasp. It makes me accountable to him and vice versa. It has been frustrating for the two of us but we still think it is important to maintain the 'our' money thing. We each have separate individual accounts but the bulk of 'our' money is in 'our' account. Decisions that I would have made on my own in the past are now made by us because it involves our money.

The reality is that I can't have it all. I want to maintain a certain level of independence yet I want to be a partner in my relationship. Take impromptu shopping for instance, I want to be able to go shopping (and I still do) and blow tons of money without a care in the world if I feel like. The truth is that I can't do that because it is our money that I will be blowing away. Obviously, one of the benefits of the 'our' money method is that it prevents me from overspending. Not that I was ever a big spender in my past life but at least I did whatever I pleased knowing that I would face the consequences, if any.

We don't have a hard number but I think $300 is where we pull the plug. I was at Bloomingdales over the weekend shopping the pre-sale ahead of the pre-sale. The sale is today, by the way, but my new friend there helped me hoard some shoes on Saturday so that sticky fingers wouldn't touch them when the sale goes live some time today. Anyhow, I picked up maybe three pairs of shoes and then I had to catch myself. I had to make a quick decision about whether or not my impromptu shopping would raise a question when I got home. One can't get away with simply hiding shopping bags these days of online banking and what not. The truth eventually comes out. In the end, I had to make do with two pairs instead of three. What point am I trying to make exactly? I don't know, I guess the 'our' money thing keeps me in check. It is still frustrating. I envy people that do as they please because they keep separate accounts from their spouses.

However, knowing that there are women out there somewhere that are unaware of the financial situation in their household makes me feel somewhat lucky that I at least have 'access' even though I may not get to do as I please. I take consolation in the fact that I am not in the dark about our finances. I should feel good about the fact that I don't have to worry about my husband buying a Mercedes behind my back only for us to have to drink garri for months on end. Unfortunately, I haven't hit that point of understanding yet. I am still coming to grips with how this our money thing should work in real life.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Best Wedding Moment Ever

Yesterday, DH and I attended the wedding of Doreen and Bayo. Not to worry, I didn't wear either of my brown dresses. I felt it was time for a change. There was no way I could in good conscience wear either one of them. Besides, five weddings with either one of those two is enough. I didn't buy a new outfit either - I recycled something I had in my closet. Anyhow, having been to so many weddings in the past year, I wasn't too excited about going through the rigmarole of another wedding - sweating which outfit I would wear, getting my hair 'did', bracing myself for long speeches, etc. Instead, I totally went to this one for the couple. I was there to support them and witness their union. Knowing the bride, I had no doubt that it would be elegant and classy but I was hoping it would be nice and short as well so that I could go home, take off my shoes and get some ice cream that I'd been craving all day long. I've been having some crazy cravings lately.

DH and I got to the church and caught a quick glimpse of the bride before she walked in. I haven't seen a bride more beautiful. The ceremony was lovely. I may have fastfowarded through the submission part though. Anyhow, the couple looked really good together. The love shining through their eyes was palpable. It was wonderful to see young love and praying for the success of the marriage. At the reception, right before the cake cutting ceremony, I lowered my voice and asked my girl who was also at the wedding if she thought the bride would kneel. This is a question I usually reserve for one of my sisters but a close friend would do. "Of course", she said, taking all the fun out of it. It's always good to have one side on the yay side and another on the nay. I got up to take a picture of this beautiful moment and the chairman announced that the groom would be doing the first rites since he's going to be bringing home the bacon. The groom fed his bride. Next, it was the wife's turn and she got down on her knees to feed her husband. The chairman remarked that if anything, that gesture was total submission. I saw a few women with their geles nodding in agreement. I walked back to my seat and then turned back to take another look at the handsome couple. What do I see? Bayo takes another piece of cake, gets on his knees and feeds his bride!

Y'all, I cannot describe my joy. I think I must have done the loudest hallelujah. By the time I got back to our table, my girl and I were besides ourselves with uncontrollable hi-fives. Bayo restoreth our faith in Nigerian men. We could not believe it! He is probably going to get a big butt-whooping from the guys but that's okay. He's proven that 'submission' if that's what it is called goes two ways. That was a wedding first for me. It was by far the best wedding moment ever for me. In all my years of attending Nigerian weddings, I have never seen a man reciprocate by getting down on his knees to feed his bride. Everyone knows that Bayo's a man's man but he showed his wife respect like I've never seen it done. I already knew without a doubt in my mind how much he loves and adores Doreen but he's got another notch under his belt and Doreen's got a man who is worthy of all her love.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Gray Ceiling

That's what they call it now - the gray ceiling. When young people cannot move ahead due to the fact that older people (baby boomers) above them will not leave, it's called the gray ceiling. The most recent issue of Fortune magazine (Aug 21) talks about this and now I understand that is was that kept me stagnant for almost five years in my previous job. Get this, I was actually promised at one point that when someone two steps ahead of me left the company, I could move into my manager's position. No one would leave so I had to leave. As loyal an employee as I would consider myself, around year 4 or so, I started getting antsy. There was no way up. No matter what I did, I wasn't going to be promoted. Yes, I got my yearly raise between 3-5% if it was a good year. Yes, I got my bonuses almost every quarter if we had a big project but that was about it. The gray ceiling kept me in my place.

Just this morning, I was chatting (emailing, more like it) back and forth with someone from my old job and we were talking about another person leaving. It is so unbelievable to me that they would let this individual go. He's such a talent to the company. I can't believe no one begged him to stay. I've worked with him on several projects and he is very dedicated to his work. If you need someone to get to work at 5:00AM in the morning and leave at 11:00PM at night, he's your man. Boy, he stuck around for a minute. He should probably have left three years ago, that gives you an indication of his dedication. Anyway, it's a shame that such people go under-appreciated for so long. Many young, ambitious, and hardworking individuals are facing this phenomenon. It's a loss for one company and a gain for another. That is corporate America. The sooner people understand the way things work, the better off the will be for it. I wonder if it's the same way elsewhere?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Family Ties

I’ve recently re-connected with one of my cousins back home that I grew up with. She is more or less my sister in the sense that we spent all our summers and holidays together in our grandma’s house when we were kids. We were practically raised with the same values, shared the same clothes, fought about stuff that does not make sense – just like real sisters. We were really tight back in the day. With me being away and through some family issues over the past few years, we’ve grown apart. Today, I’m happy about the opportunity to get things back to the way they were. She now has a job with access to the internet and we email each other practically every day. I am starting to feel like she’s back in the part of my life that she occupied a long time ago.

Her brother’s going back home tomorrow and my sisters and I are sending him off with gifts for most everyone. I sent her an email with a list of what she should be getting and who’s sending what just in case he doesn’t remember. As we send each other emails back and forth, I can feel her excitement at the thought of getting new things. I put myself in her shoes and I get excited too. She asked for really simple things that people abroad take for granted. She’s asked for school bags for the kids and activity books that they can occupy their minds with this summer. For
herself, she asked for make up (which I totally forgot to get), perfume and some work-related books. As usual, I sent my favorite cousins some clothes. I heard that one of them repeated a class (Urgh!) so I withheld some things I was going to send her. It’s so annoying! She’s in an expensive school and has a long way to go but obviously doesn’t care about the future. I can’t reward that kind of behavior with clothes when she obviously needs books. I’ve decided to wait until someone goes later in the year and send her stuff then (if she shows improvement in school, of course).

My grandma doesn’t need anything but I always try to send her things that remind me of her. I ended up sending some of her favorite cereals and a huge fluffy yellow towel. She had this huge pink fluffy towel growing up and I couldn’t find one like it so I bought a yellow one instead. When we were kids, she had a somewhat of a breakfast ritual every morning. She would wait until everyone was done with breakfast before settling down to have hers. Maybe she wanted some peace and quiet, who knows? Another thing she did was use ‘fresh’ milk instead of powdered milk. Today, I find myself wondering why she just didn’t use Dano like the rest of us. It’s difficult to talk to my grandmother but I wish I could have conversations
with her and find out more about our family. I also wish I could have some of her recipes. She could throw it down back in the day! I think that’s where I learnt my love of food. Unfortunately for my new family, I could never be as good as her. Her children banned her from cooking a few years ago and hired someone else to cook from her. I’m sure she wasn’t too happy with that!

In one of her emails, my cousin said that her kids went to a relative’s birthday party last weekend and partied like they had been starved of parties. That’s probably because they haven’t been to many parties since the beginning of the year. It’s funny because we would use any excuse to throw ourselves a party even if it was just for us. She also said her kids were surprised that they had other relatives because they only hang out with her sister’s kids. That really made me sad because her kids are growing up without knowing who we are. I hope one day I can go and visit with my kids and then have all the kids spend summers together like we did
back in the day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

How to Talk to Your Children About Marijuana

There is a book called "It's Just a Plant" that is stirring up quite a bit of controversy. You can check out the illustrations and read part of the story here. How will you talk to your children about drugs? I haven't tried any so I don't have any background to go by. Apparently "Just Say No" doesn't work that well so parents have to think of something else. Surprise, surprise.

Here are some reviews from their website:
"I do really wish that I had known about this book, and had given a copy to my son, long before I got busted. CNN is not the best way for your kid to find out... it was very hard on him and on my wife who had to explain it. Fortunately I have a genuine medical use for it and the paperwork to match gave her a place to start but the book would have been better by far."
-David Crosby Musician, Father

Notice that even Bill O'Reilly, the ultra conservative host of the O'Reilly Factor weighs in:
"Just Say No doesn't always work."
-Bill O'Reilly

"I highly recommend this little book for students in D.A.R.E., other drug abuse prevention programs, and their teachers and parents. It's a jewel."
-Ethan Nadelmann Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance

"An outrage."
-Entertainment Weekly

Strong Head

This post is about me and my strangeness. Please oblige me. Yesterday, DH went down the hall to see some friends and didn't take his keys with him. Being the safety expert that I have become since the flashing incident, I immediately got up to lock the door behind him. I'm on the couch wasting away in front of the tv and someone knocks on the door. Of course I know who it is instinctively and we have a peephole should verification be necessary but I yell straight from the couch "Who is there?" knowing fully well who it was. I was quite amused by my razzness. How many times do you get to yell at the door? He/She/The person kept knocking away and I kept yelling "Who is there?" We went back and forth like that a few more times with me totally amused and him not finding it funny. My dude is such a strong head, instead of simply yielding to my childish game, he went back from whence he came. I was like, we're so on buddy and took a small nap. After like twenty minutes he came back and knocked a couple of times and I opened the door without looking. Unbelievable. I am almost thirty and I find things like these amusing. I need help!!!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Nigerian Office

My side hustle led me to a business located about 20 miles from where I live. However, I felt like I was transported several thousand miles away to a business location in Lagos, Nigeria. This particular office is a medium-sized business owned by a couple of Nigerians. They employ several Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike. Aside from the fact that it is owned by Nigerians, here are some of the things that made it totally Nigerian:

The selling of stuff. To be precise, the sale of items totally unrelated to the business itself on the premises of the business. One overly made-up lady came by while I was there and tried to make me an Avon convert. I was on the phone and noticed her hovering around waiting for a chance to get my attention. She introduced herself and asked if I had used Avon before. I am more of a Mary Kay person when it comes to direct-sale cosmetics but being that I like to support my people, I bought $20 worth of Avon products from my sister. She helped me find a color to match my skin tone and took my order carefully when I finally decided what I wanted. She even promised to order the items that very night and get them to me at the weekend. Great customer service experience there.

Unlikely food smells. It was around lunch time but still the aroma of Bank Olemo stew was not easy to ignore. I asked if someone was indeed selling food and was told that there was indeed a food peddler on the premises. Wow. I was told to hurry if I wanted any of the $7 per plate items she was selling because the food peddler was about to leave. I found her in the parking lot and asked her what she had available. She opened her trunk and revealed several coolers with Fried Rice, Jollof Rice, White Rice, Meat Stew, Dodo, Chicken and Fish. I told her I wanted white rice - I was feening for that Bank Olemo stuff I'd just inhaled and ran inside because it was so hot outside. She brought my white styrofoam to go box replete with white rice, dodo, shaki, and fried meat. For one brief second, I thought I should have specified fish when I spotted the shaki. When I got home, I discovered that the food was really as good as it smelled and was glad to have caught her.

Name calling. You can never be sure what to call people when you meet them and while I am prone to using first names, I have been burned badly in the past and take my cue from others around me. If people are using first names freely, I will also use first names freely. There's a caveat though. If they are around my age, I will use first names freely. In this office, I mostly use first names to address the people I am familiar with. Some call me ma'am and I call them sir in return. Today, however, one guy referred to me as that "Aunty over there" and I was stomped for a short while. I won't be calling him Uncle but I'll have to remember not to call him by his first name to his face. Got it?

Yelling. Instead of picking up their phones or going over to their co-workers' desks to engage in conversation, I noticed that people were yelling from the comfort of their offices. I guess if it works for them why bother adopting other forms of communication?

Children in the hallway. There were two cute girls with neat back-to-school cornrows using the computer in the hallway. I assumed that their parents worked there and asked the super-nice Admin Coordinator whose children they were. To my surprise, they were Mama rice's children. Free babysitting, ko? She'd left them there to continue about her business. I don't blame her. A woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do. Besides, the kids were totally safe there and busied themselves with computer games while the adults conducted their business. After a little while though, the younger one got tired of the older one monopolizing the use of the computer and started crying. I went over and asked her what was wrong and she started boohooing even more - "I want my mommy!" Yepa, what have I caused? I reassured her that her mom would be back soon and motioned for one of the more familiar 'Aunties' to come and take care of their baby.

Overall, it felt good to be in that environment for a change. Nigerians are ever so helpful when it comes to explaining things that one would normally be shy to ask others in a regular American setting. I had a little bit of a problem printing a document and two of the office guys came to my rescue. Later, I forgot my password and they didn't make me feel like a complete idiot. Finally, the tech guy was very nice when I made him hold for a looooooong (maybe a minute but to me that's really long) time while I ended a phone call. People (Nigerians included) are often leery of Nigerians when it comes to doing business. I find that there is value to supporting one another and building wealth within our small community. Other immigrant communities (Indians, Chinese, Hispanics, Brazilians, Italians) have become quite adept at growing both small and large-scale businesses primarily geared towards their communities. I'm looking forward to the day that we see more Nigerians taking full advantage of this thriving economy and conducting legitimate business with one another.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yay for Us!

Our first rehab sold a couple of weeks ago and we are itching to do another. We both view real estate as a viable means of investing/storing wealth. After years and years of talking about rehabbing (renovating) property, we finally finished two houses - back to back, side by side (right next door to one another). The great news is that we've sold one of the houses! I must say that we worked quite well together on that project. There's nothing like two hustlers getting together to make some money. Perhaps I should say there's nothing like two people doing something they enjoy? Both statements are true. The fact is we love most everything about real estate. We watch a lot of HGTV (Home & Garden TV) and one of our favorite shows is Flip That House on Discovery Home. One of our favorite pastimes is scoping out neighborhoods and taking in the architectural beauties in our city. On Sundays, we go from 'hood to 'hood, suburb to suburb looking for that house that we'd love to live in or perhaps redesign.

As much as we'd like to get a bigger place to accommodate friends and family, we are chilling until we find the perfect home (or potential rehab) in our current neighborhood. If that doesn't happen (we can't hold our breath for too long because no one wants to move out!), we'll have to decide on what part of town we'd like to live in. I am partial to urban areas that were once drug-ridden (still could be) and run down but that are now infested with vibrant, artsy, young, community-building types. Those neighborhoods tend to be diverse and full of interesting people, bars, restaurants, shops - all the things I like. DH, on the other hand, has a preference for in-town living but with a suburban feel. Those neighborhoods, I find, are typically mono-hued, more established and very expensive. They are like a small town within a big city. That would be fine with me if we had two and a half kids and a minivan. Just joking!

Back to the subject of my post. It's really amazing how we pulled off the entire operation in less than a month while holding down full-time jobs. It was hectic, exciting, and fulfilling all at the same time. One day, we met our contractor during our lunch hour to discuss paint, tiles, and carpet outside a Burger King! The guy did a great job. He was really fantastic. He was recommended by my sister who heard about him from a friend who probably heard about him from another friend. Needless to say, the cycle continues because this guy continues to get many recommendations through us. He's mainly a floor guy but has a friend that also paints. Because of him, it was mainly a smooth operation. He was in and out of there in one week ripping out old carpet, laying hardwoods in the entire first floor, carpets upstairs and ceramic tiles in the bathroom. His painter friend (one single guy) came in and painted the whole place within that same week.

As could be expected, it wasn't all rosy. One of the hiccups was the little bitsy things that could easily wear one out. The little details. I'm talking about the light switches, the door handles, the hardware for the cabinets, the blinds, the toilet bowls and toilet seats, the appliances. All the things that one could do if one particularly enjoyed 'handy man' type work. However, neither of us is wont to do that kind of thing unless we actually have to. I'm talking about opportunity cost here. Is it really worth your while (and broken nails) to spend valuable time doing that kind of stuff? It's usually cheaper to hire someone to do that kind of work if you are not gifted in that domain. We chose to do that and in hindsight, I would have preferred that we did it ourselves based on wasted time and energy. We interviewed three different handy wo/man-type small businesses. They all said they would get back to us within a week with quotes. Wait a minute here! Our floor guy had come in to check out the work that needed to be done, we agreed on a price on the spot and the next day he was in there working. I thought I'd give the women a chance since it's rare to find them in this industry but they took the longest time and came back with a quote 10 times more than the other guys did. I will still consider my fellow woman next time I do a project. I am sure they would have done an excellent job if given the opportunity. They were the most professional in their approach. The women took actual measurements while the guys eyeballed it.

In general, I will say that I am particularly proud of house #1. They were both kitted out the same way - new appliances, hardwoods, new carpet, new paint, new shelving, etc but the difference is that I chose the paint on that one and it was the first so I'm partial to it. DH chose the paint on #2. We finished #2 a month after #1 so it's still on the market. There's been a lot of interest and I hope that one sells soon. Right now, we are itching to do something else. Lessons learned - get a good handy wo/man on your team or do it yourself. I'm leaning towards getting a really handy person.

Friday, August 04, 2006

'Get My Friday Night Started' Drink Recipe

It's Friday, you want to kick back and relax. You're reading a book and Kirk Whalum is playing in the background, or maybe it's BWB. You can't really tell after two of these. This is also the perfect drink to have when you're getting ready for a night out on the town or as you get ready to fold some clothes, as is the case for me. It has no name but it tastes sooooooooo good.

Here's what you need:

 Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix
 Smirnoff Raspberry Twist Vodka
 Orange Juice
 1 Lemon
 1 Teaspoonful of Sugar
 Ice Cubes

Here's what you do:

 Put some ice in your martini shaker, add three capfuls of the margarita mix, one capful of vodka (it's a small cap), and half a glass of orange juice.
 Cut the lemon in half and squeeze half into the martini shaker.
 Cover the shaker and shake it until you're satisfied it's all perfectly blended.
 Brush the lemon half along the rim of the glass.
 Spread the sugar on a plate and coat the rim of the glass.
 Pour the drink in the glass and enjoy!

Serves one. The sugar's good if you think it's too tart and want a break from the tartness.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I am under so much stress it's beginning to show on my face with the appearance of pimples on my forehead. Urgh! Where do I start? How about I start with my car? My five year old car is giving me wahala (trouble). I thought I could push it to ten since it was bought brand new but that's not looking like the case. On Friday, I took a break from work and came home to pick up some things I needed to show my sisters. Anyhow, I got home and our Baba Porter was in the garage talking to a delivery guy. I couldn't avoid not saying hi so I said a quick hello and went inside. I grab my bags, head back downstairs and lo and behold I start my car and it is dead. Completely dead. As in no lights on. Nothing. Being the paranoid person that I am, I immediately suspect that Baba Porter and his friend are trying to mess with my head and killed my car in those few seconds I was gone. Thank God I had spare keys to the 'third' wheel so I call DH to tell him what's going on and switch cars. I swear that man did something fishy under my hood. I just can't prove it. In the mean time, it looks like I might need to change my car soon. Bad timing because I don't want to make car payments and I am not ready for the car I really want.

Work. That's the next area of stress. I am glad to be done with the August meeting. Now, I have September to look forward to. ***Sarcastic yay!*** There's just so much going on. With a new job and all, I am always trying to go above and beyond to prove I am worth it. I get reviewed at the end of the fiscal year - the end of this month so I am just trying to do good by my new boss. She's cool but I don't know what to expect around review time. There are quite a few things that I feel I haven't been so great at (I can be slow sometimes) and it's stressing me out in no small way.

Side Hustle. This one client I have on my side hustle is killing me. Vivement Friday when I get rid of him (hopefully) and collect my check. I want to tell him to just lose my number come Friday. He has been so difficult. Everyone involved can testify to this. He hung up on me the other day. Why? I forget. The guy is just a pain in the crack. Sorry. The guy's just a pest. The day he hung up on me, I was happy because I thought I'd gotten rid of him. If not for his agent, I'd be done with him for sure. Hopefully, he'll only call me like twenty times between now and Friday.

Laundry. Not a real source of stress but for two people, we sure do go through a lot of laundry. It's past midnight and I'm doing yet another load. That basket is never empty. I hate folding clothes. We both hate it but I get stuck with it. If I don't do it no one else will. Need a maid. Badly.

Junk. Mail and stuff. There's just too much stuff around me. DH's in charge of mail these days and doesn't understand the filing system apparently. There's mail everywhere. I can hardly think. We've got boxes of I-know-not-what piled up, way too many clothes, and too much stuff in general. This weekend, I will be making a few trips to goodwill. All week long, I have been making mental notes of what's going to goodwill and things that just simply need to be trashed.

Whooosah! I just need to breathe.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I am very nervous. I will be giving a presentation at 2:00pm this afternoon and I am a nervous wreck at 7:00am. The presentation deck hasn't been done yet. That's not why I am nervous though. I can throw the PowerPoint together in a couple of hours. It's the progress report I'll be sharing that makes me nervous. That and public speaking. I always start out well and then my voice gets shaky towards the middle when I realize who I am talking to. I start to wonder if these people take me seriously. I am younger than all of them. It is either the age gap or the fact that I am the only black person in the room. I sometimes feel that they don't take me seriously and that affects my confidence believe it or not. However, today, my problem is the fact that I know people will get on the defensive when I share their progress reports with others. They will probably start to question the source and then shoot the messenger - me. Oh well, man must chop. I'd better start thinking of a way to break the news delicately to those that didn't do so well.