Telling my side of the story

WARNING: I'm not that deep.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Out With the Wisdom (Teeth)

After doing a consultation with the oral surgeon yesterday (Thursday, I'm still on Friday time), it was decided that my wisdom teeth were impacted and I would definitely need to take all four of them out. What a way to spend two work-free days. Being that I had 22 vacation days left before the end of the year, and my oga had hinted that I should take some days off, DH and I went through our calendars and took a couple of days off in September, and a few other days every month through the end of the year. I was really looking forward to our September days off, since it would be the first four-day weekend in a while, and was hoping we could go somewhere fun or just hang out together. Turns out that our days off would be used for my oral surgery. Oh well, we've still got Saturday and Sunday left.

Prior to now, I'd heard people say that they've had to take their wisdom teeth out and always wondered why. Well, after going through the pain of feeling them grow and tear out my gums (TMI, sorry), I wanted nothing more than to take them out. I've heard some really bad horror stories from colleagues about needing a whole week off work after the surgery, how their faces doubled in size, and how they spent a lot of time in bed because of the excrutiating pain, my normally overly-confident self was not quite confident walking into the oral surgeon's office today.

During my consultation, I was told that on the day of the surgery, I would need someone to drive me there, stay with me the whole time in case something went awry and drive me back home. My plans to get my hair braided immediately after the 30-45 minute procedure went out the window and I was thankful that DH would be able to do the driving and stay with me throughout the entire time. On a side note, mucho gracias for carrying me up from the wheelchair into the car and telling me to watch my head. Thanks for getting me into the house mysteriously (I don't remember much of the drive) and helping me into bed. Thanks for changing out the gauze in my mouth and getting me salt water to rinse with. I still remember there was a time when I couldn't brush or floss with you nearby. How times have changed. Thank you for taking me around my favorite places and buying way too much food - A large cup of Tomato Basil Soup, Strawberry Romanoff Crepes, Mac and Cheese and Jerk Chicken and a Strawberry Milkshake from Johnny Rockets. In good time, I will do proper justice. Thanks for doing the laundry and cleaning up my mess. Gracias. Grazie. Arigato. Ose. Merci. Daalu.

Back to the surgery, I really had no idea it would be this serious. All I remember was the nurse asking me what flavor of laughing gas I wanted (the laughing gas is supposed to relax you before they put you under). The choices were, orange, bubble gum... I didn't let her go through the entire list but chose bubble gum. I figured, since I hadn't eaten, the bubble gum flavor would trick my senses. As the gas went through my nostrils, I realized I don't like the smell of bubble gum but it was too late. I drifted off to deep sleep and didn't wake up until I was being lifted unto a wheelchair. I've drifted on and off throughout today (still Friday in my books) and haven't had a chance to really talk to my peeps. Here's how my day went, people. Sorry I couldn't talk on the phone. I'm going back to bed now.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Couples Retreat Weekend

This weekend was DH’s church’s couples retreat weekend. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on going. In fact, we had something else planned for that very weekend and had a good excuse for not going. Eventually, those plans were botched and we had no choice but to attend the couples’ retreat. My weekends are very precious to me and there wasn’t too much that was appealing to me about spending a weekend with other couples in a marriage counseling-like setting. Or so I thought. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. I was arrogant enough to think that we didn’t need it especially since we haven’t been married long enough to have really messed up the institution. Well, I was wrong. I learnt quite a few things and enjoyed the company of other couples.

Time management is one of the things I will take away with me. We learnt about allotting time for each of your roles. For example, my roles, in no particular order include, wife, student, employee, sister, daughter, individual, business person. I put together an hourly schedule for each day based on those roles and found that in my role as wife on Mondays, I can only spare one hour. What an eye opening exercise. I can’t really do anything about it but make sure that one hour is quality time for the two of us. When I think about it, we workout together so there’s more than one hour of quality time on Mondays. However, I know that with kids, there is the possibility of that hour being a lot shorter. I don’t know that for sure, but that seemed to be the consensus from the parents in the room.

We also talked about love languages. I learned that what I thought was DH’s love language was really not and what he thought was mine was not at all. A love language is a form of communication that really speaks to your partner, child, friend, etc. A love language is something you do/say to show another person that you really love them. He thought mine was physical touch - hugging, PDA, etc. I like, but it is not. Then he guessed gifting – the display of affection through gifts – but it’s not. I thought his love language was words of affirmation – verbal communication that makes the individual feel good about him or herself - but it’s not. Eventually, after talking through it, we discovered that we both have the same love language, service. Yikes! Service involves showing another person you care by doing something for them. Yikes again! Here’s an example of how it works for me, I’m sleeping on the couch and DH wakes me up to go to bed and I go to the bedroom and right before I get into bed, I notice that it’s perfectly done up the way I like it, with an extra blanket underneath the comforter on my side. Yup, we don’t make our bed as soon as we get up each morning, but that’s a different story. Another example is him doing the dishes because I hate doing dishes. Or making dinner before I get home. That is not such a great example, but something along those lines works for me. From his point of view, fixing him a plate when I’m fixing myself one is me showing him love. Double yikes because our love language involves WORK. For some people, it is physical touch, quality time, blah, blah, blah. I could do that all day long but service? That requires actual work that we are not naturally predisposed to even though that’s what we want from each other. We’ve got homework now.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Day In Court

My court date was today and my day started out not so well. I dug out my trusty old resume holder (black leather folder that I've had since my pre-college days) and arranged my documents in possible call order. I thought I'd come out looking more prepared if I had that versus a plain old manilla folder. Before leaving the house, I had the frame of mind to grab a yellow legal pad - the American version of fullscap (sp?) paper, I guess. I got to court early and was surprised to find thirty to forty people in the courtroom. Even though the court order instructs you to appear at a precise hour, there were a bunch of people due at that same time for landlord-type cases.

The judge came in thirty minutes later and they did the "All rise for the honorable judge ..." just like they do in the movies. I was a little amused at first because I thought it would play out like tv courtroom where you get to hear other people's business. They took a roll call to make sure everyone that had a case was in the courtroom. The judge advised people to try to settle their cases outside in the hallway if possible because there were so many people awaiting hearings. She announced that people that were being represented by attorneys would go first and then simpler cases (like mine where the defendant wasn't contesting the claim or asking for a counterclaim) would go right after and finally, the more complicated ones would go last.

I looked in VC's direction to see if she wanted to go outside but she looked straight ahead, stoic in her poise. I decided that if she didn't want to go ahead with it, all she had to do was come and talk to me. Cases went by one after another, each more boring than the last and then there was a fifteen minute recess. I noticed that VC had gone outside to the hallway and I decided I'd had enough and wanted to settle. To settle, all we needed to do was to go to the court clerk and get our settlement in writing and approved by the court. Unfortunately, she was nowhere to be found. She must have taken a bathroom break or something.

Being that I'm easily irritated, the faint smell of alcohol on the breath of the woman seated next to me was all that was needed to annoy me even more. That, and the pungent BO (body odor) and bad breath that floated in the air every time people around me spoke. I know it was early but for crying out loud, take a bath and brush your teeth before you leave the house, people. You can't be in close proximity with others and just do you. One guy called James Earl Jones (believe it or not) and his girlfriend/wife came and squeezed in next to me. The lady with him said, don't worry, he's little. So what if he's little? He was still too close for comfort. I got up because I couldn't take it any longer and went to seat in the front row right next to VC, who was still avoiding any eye contact, and a well-dressed woman.

Before long, I heard the judge calling my name and noticed VC limping forward. In her response, she'd stated that she'd been ill, so I put two and two together and knew that she was planning to act literally ill in the courtroom. The judge was very sympathetic towards her (even though she didn't show any proof of her illness) but ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The judgement was for $1891 and a writ of possession. I'm not holding my breath in hopes of ever collecting the money but I do know that come Thursday (one week from the judgement), I should have my property back in my possession.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Tenant's Response

The tenant's response finally came in the mail. Here's what she says in response to the dispossessory warrant I filed:

"Due to illness, I have been unable to work and therefore I became delinquent on my rent. Given more time I willbe ableto pay late rent. I will say that up untill (sp) now my landlord and I have had an excellent relationship. I deeply regret my present circumstance. I am working on producing owed rent."

I feel bad for her but I doubt that she hasn't been working. The last time we spoke, she said that she was expecting a paycheck on Friday and that she might pay me the Tuesday after she gets her check. It was the 'might' in her statement that made me realize that she was planning to live in my townhouse rent-free. Now, that she's responded instead of letting go, we have to go to court. I'm in the middle of getting all my docs in a row. I don't have much court experience apart from Judge Mathis so I'm trying to lay out all the things that might be asked of me -
 proof that it's my property...check
 proof that the mortgage on said property is in good standing…check
 rental agreement/lease…check
 copy of dispossessory warrant…check
 copy tenant's documented response…check
 driver's license to identify myself…in my purse

Luckily, she's not disputing the fact that she is behind on her rent so we'll just need to sort out where to go from here; whether or not she'll be leaving so that I can rent the place to someone else. Other than that, I really don't know what to expect. I wonder if it's like traffic court where you have to sit through a bunch of cases before your case is called. I have a feeling that it'll be similar. Hopefully, it'll be more interesting than traffic court kinda sorta like Judge Mathis where you have sons suing their mothers. Hopefully, I won't see anyone I know. Somehow, I feel bad saying I have to go to court. Almost makes me feel like I did something wrong. There's way too much going on in my life - bootcamp, work, mid-terms, this court thingy and a dentist's appointment right after to get all four wisdom teeth out.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Business of Landlording

On September 1, I filed a Dispossessory Warrant (the first step to eviction) against my tenant, VC as she hadn't paid her rent since July 1st. It cost $76.50 and approximately 3 hours of my life to get the eviction process started. My time being more valuable, of course. On September 8th, she got served and was given 7 days to respond. Today is the seventh day and being that I hadn't received any 'response' –in person, in writing, or via phone, I called the magistrate court to find out what my next step should be. I was told that the next step would be to file a Writ of Repossession (to get my property back) on Monday. Apparently, she still has the whole of today, the seventh day to respond. Fine. They tell me that on Monday, I will need to file the Writ and wait 48 hours to make an appointment with the Marshal to supervise the repossession (the kicking out of my tenant and handing over of my property). I sigh because all this sounds like a lot of wahala (trouble). Before I get off the phone, I ask if they could check to make sure she hasn't responded.

Sho nuff, she has responded. In fact, she sent her response to the magistrate court just yesterday, the 14th. Geez Louiz. What now? Tenants can typically respond two ways – 1. to say why they can't pay their rent 2. to say that they are withholding rent because of something that the landlord did ( e.g. failure to fix a major thing – which is not the case here). I ask the court clerk what my tenant's response is and she says that they don't have it, I should be getting it in the mail. Gee, thanks! She then says, "Oh, wait a minute. You are due in court on the 21st." OMG! For what? I have to be in court on the 21st so that we can both face a judge. If this doesn't put you off the business of landlording, I don't know what will. All this is happening just as we are thinking about renting out another property. I won't let this incident put me off completely because I still think that we can continue to rent out certain property while they appreciate in value and then re-sell when the time is right. My plan is to have all this documented so that the next time I get a non-rent paying tenant, I'll know exactly what to do. When I have the time, I will put together a timeline of these events and then do a separate timeline of what to do the next time a tenant does not pay by the due date. No more waiting for them to do the right thing before bringing up the 'E' word. My advice is to do it immediately in the form of a pay or quit letter so that you don't have to waste all this time. My guess is that she is dragging this through the courts even though she knows that she will be found in default in order to gain some time while she finds a new place to live.

Side bar - When we first decided to be landlords, I thought, wouldn't it be nice to send them birthday cards on their birthdays and hampers around Christmas time? You can forget that now. I'm taking all that back. In fact, get me someone on Section 8 (government housing program) next time. The government checks are always on time. Or so I've heard.

My next move is to go to court on the 21st and hear what her response is. That's a real bummer because I would have to take time off work to meet the court date. This thing is getting more complicated than it should be. Before she got served, we decided to call her and settle (as in, leave quietly and we won't come after you; just give us back our property). However, she did not pick up her phone and is still not returning calls. I asked the court clerk what to expect and she said that judgement will most likely be in my favor and that if I accept to be paid, I'll have to drop the Writ of Repossession that I planned on pursuing. Also, she says that if I decide to accept her money, I will have to honor the remainder of our lease. I will accept the money if offered because her lease ends in September. If the lease were any longer, I'd want her gone because she really can't afford the place. All this is hearsay. I have to find out what her claim is in her response and then go from there.

30 Plus Days to Slimmer Hips

Yup, I'm in boot camp. I actually started on Monday with DH and one of my neighbors. There's about fifty or sixty people in this boot camp. Very surprising because I had no idea how many people would actually get up at 5:30 in the morning to put themselves through military drills, five to six days a week. On the first day of bootcamp, I took measurement of areas where I hope to take off inches: hips, arms, stomach, and thighs. That's about it. It's funny, when you ask women what they're areas they'd like to change, they start with one, then two, then three and before you know it, they've about covered their entire body. Anyhow, I needed motivation so I asked DH to go with me. To my sheer amazement and joy, he agreed to go as long as there were dudes there. I said yeah not knowing if there were actually going to be guys at this bootcamp. The pictures on the website only shows women but I didn't tell him that. I knew for sure that the leader was a guy so he wouldn't be the only dude there. By the time we got there on Monday, I was happy to discover that about a third or more of the participants were guys.

On to the bootcamp, for someone who likes to sleep in just about every day, it's tough waking up at 5:30 every single day. However, it's another one of the things on my list of thirty things to do before I turn thirty. I want to challenge myself physically. I never in my wildest dreams thought I could do it. I couldn't even do one push up. I still can't do a regular one, I have to be on my knees. Six weeks of this boot camp should do it. I'm not concerned about weight, I will probably shed some and build some muscle but I really want to tone up. I am hoping that this would be a start of a less sedentary lifestyle for us. Hopefully, we can both get up in the morning and go running instead of going to brunch. Who am I kidding? I love going to brunch. We'll go to brunch right after we go running.

Next Monday, I'm going to measure myself again and document any changes. I feel a lot better now that I've had a few days of boot camp. My body's stopped aching as much. Today was really rough though. Nonstop running across the track and then 30 or so push ups when you get to the other side. Nonstop running across the track and then diamond push ups when you get to the other side. Nonstop running across the track and then crunches when you get to the other side. Nonstop running across the track and then lunges when you get to the other side. Just nonstop running and drills for an entire hour. Did I mention that it had been raining and we were doing this on asphalt and grass? We'll make it through the six weeks by God's grace.

Friday, September 08, 2006

OPC (Other People's Children)

I don't have anything against other people's children but tell me why I gotta pay for their tuition? If your child is in private school, this is not for you. Maybe. Maybe not, private schools do fundraisers too. My tax bills came with a deadline for October. I went ahead and paid immediately because whether now or October, I still have to pay. I wrote the check automatically like a robot without looking at the details. However, this morning when I checked my account online, my heart sank. The checks (one for the city and one for the county) have cleared and my eyes have opened (how do you say mo la ju?). It hit me hard like a ton of bricks coming towards me at no less than 60 miles per hour. I checked the details of the tax bill and what did I pay for? I just paid to educate OPC.

What's my business with OPC? I mean, I'm not even sure I will be sending my kids to public school so I definitely don't consider it advance payment. Pray tell me, why is three quarters of my tax bill going towards something that does not consign (concern) me? I get it. Teach a child to fish and s/he'll never go hungry. And I respect that. However, that's too much now. It would be nice if I had a choice in the types of OPC that I educate. I'd much rather see that money go to Mobolaji Bank Anthony High School near Sabo, Lagos. However, the government doesn't give me that much choice on where the money goes. I've got follow their orders and pay up or go to jail. Fine. I've paid. Now, I will appreciate OPC not asking me for any more money.

This leads me to my next point. Why are kids here always selling something? If it's not shiny wrapping paper and useless gifts around Christmas, it's magazines, lame @$$ chocolates, cookie dough, fruit, and what not. Leave me alone! I am not buying. I've already bought coupon books that I'm not planning to ever use. I've bought a tub of frozen cookie dough for cookies I never baked. I've bought subscriptions to magazines that abruptly stopped coming after six months. Dude, you charged me all that for only six months??? Isn't one year the minimum subscription time? I've also bought a Domino's Pizza Card that'll give me a discount every time I go to Domino's. I NEVER go to Domino's!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a member of the OPC club. I knew immediately that it was to ask for money. I didn't open the email. Then on Tuesday, I got a reminder email: "My school really needs your support!" I succumbed and bought a $24 subscription to a magazine. That was Tuesday and I still ain't got a Thank You yet from child, parents, or school. It's all good. I've done my bit for the year. Please, don't ask me to buy anything else. Don't ask me for a DIME. I don't care if you won't be able to get into basketball camp. There are children in my country that don't know what basketball camp is. I won't be rude, I'll just say, "I'm sorry, I don't have any cash." If you think you are smart and say you take credit, I will respond with, "Aw, my husband and I have strict rules about using credit cards for emergencies only." If you respond with something even smarter, I'll show you what side of Isale Eko I am from. I have met my quota for the year, thank you very much. One caveat though, all Girl Scouts are welcome to come by when it's Girl Scout Cookie season. I was once a Brownie and I plan on always supporting my girls and their cookies.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stripper No Be Work O!

Some time ago, Sheila Kelly of S Factor was on Oprah talking about a new workout that combines striptease and pole dancing techniques. It seemed like fun but I didn't think it would be something I could do. A few months later, a friend of mine asked me if I would join her and a group of her other friends in taking a similar class. I cleverly replied that I didn't need to; in fact, I could teach the teacher a few tricks myself. As time went on, I started thinking more and more about it. I spoke to one of my close pals about it and she encouraged me to go for it. In fact, to make it binding, we each put it on our individual lists of 30 things to do before we turn 30. A few weeks ago, I discovered a place that offered the classes but we ended up not going there because the setup was dodgy. Shortly thereafter, she forwarded me an email from DailyCandy about a new studio in town that offers pole fitness classes. I kept coming up with excuses not to go until she jacked me up on IM and made me commit to a date and time.

Today, I am happy to say that I have finally taken a pole fitness class. And boy was it fun! I'll say one thing, stripping ain't for babies. Getting up on that pole is not as easy as it looks. My first attempt was pitiful. The second time around, I decided not to think about it and just did it. That was my last successful attempt. All the same, I learnt some new moves that I won't soon forget. More importantly, I discovered new things about women in general. Many women are afraid yet curious about their 'sexiness'. One of the exercises involved walking, plain and simple walking. The instructor said every woman should have a signature walk and showed us examples and had each person come out and display her walk. Man, you should have seen the shaky steps that people were taking. It was sad. Just the other day I saw transvestites on Tyra and honey, the twenty-plus women in the room today could have taken lessons from them. What is it that prevents women from owning themselves, sex appeal included? What are we afraid of? What is it that prevents us from being truly phenomenal women like the woman in Maya Angelou's poem? For sure, society conditions most women to repress their sexuality. However, in a supportive environment, it was difficult to get women to really let out their inner strippers. Even behind closed doors, not too many displayed risqué moves. When asked why we were there, most people, myself included, said for fitness. I did add that I was there for the 'performance art' as well but most people cited fitness-related reasons. Yeah right, since when did we start wearing heels to the gym?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dinner Guests

The other day, DH calls me on the phone to let me know that he and his partner were talking about how it had been long since we all hung out and ra ra ra (blah, blah, blah). Before he even finished talking, I saw the end coming. We were having a dinner party. Yay! No problem. I called a couple of my friends and asked them to come hang out with us. I'm always ready to host. In fact, I pride myself in the fact that I can whip up a three-course meal in 1 hour. Maybe not, but close to it. This time around, I had two and a half hours notice to work my magic. Luckily for us, I had gotten my butt out of the house at like 3 in the afternoon to go see my sister. After a scrumptious lunch of her well-seasoned, delicous grilled fish and green salad (yum!), we went to her farmer's market. The lucky part was that while I was there, I stocked up on fish, hen, brown eggs, veggies, and what not. So, by the time DH called at 5:30 to ask what I thought about having our friends over, I was all set. Or so I thought.

I got home and realized that my house wasn't 'ready'. I had shifted the lamp in the living room to my bedroom and needed a new lamp to help create a mellow ambiance. Knowing that hen takes forever to boil, I put it on low heat and jetted off to Pier 1 to get a new lamp and some votive candles. Don't try this at home, abeg. It's never that serious but I tend to take these things kinda sorta seriously. I was back in less than 30 minutes. Instead of worrying about food whenever I have dinner guests, my focus tends to be on my house. Thankfully, Allie's team had come during the week so things were relatively spotless. Also, my Martha Stewart self had made several floral arrangements so I was good in that area. I made sure they looked fresh, changed the water and cut out the wilting leaves. I sprayed the place with my home perfume from L'Occitane. Yes, my house has it's own perfume.

At the last minute, DH called to say one of our friend's girlfriend was veggie so I made a separate pot of jollof rice (without the chicken broth) for her and put some fish on the grill for her. By the time our first guests rolled around, I had made the salad, dodo, two sets of jollof rice, hen, fish, and spicy sauce (I didn't make the jollof rice too spicy in case some people couldn't handle it). I wasn't trying to be superwoman so I asked DH to grab dessert on his way home.

As much as I tried, it wasn't all that perfect because I forgot to put the wine in the refrigerator and we were short one dinner plate. What is that saying about women needing to have eight complete sets? I'm missing one plate people. Someone must have done a real to-go plate in times past. I'll have to go to Tarjay to replace it. I don't think they sell them individually. Maybe it's a sign that I should advance to the classic white china set that I've been eyeing. All in all, we had a great time and hung out until 2 in the morning swapping war stories. No casualties, thankfully. I nodded off around 2:30 to the sound of DH vacuuming the bare floor (don't ask).