Welcoming Myself Back

It has been a long time. A little more than a month to be exact, but I haven’t really felt like writing about anything. At first, I was just a little overwhelmed by the whole blogging thing in general and the expectation that good bloggers post at regular intervals and analyze all their data to optimize the best posting times and then there was the whole Black men getting killed all over the place, but I am finally ready to start this thing up again. As far as blogging is concerned, I just have decided not to care. When I have something to say, I do and when I don’t I don’t and that is that. As far as the Black men, I am honestly still processing my thoughts, but I have some ideas that I will be getting out soon.

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$10 DIY Alternative to Toiletry Travel Bag

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When it was time to pack to come to LA, I will be honest- I threw all of my toiletries and make-up into a few gallon size Ziploc bags and threw those into my suitcase. And that worked well. For the first week. Since then, Wayne has been bothering me every other day to do something with all my stuff, which has since spread all over our tiny, studio Airbnb. I considered buying one of those toiletry bags, but they are so expensive! Especially, since most days I am just a mascara and Carmex person. I want to have my foundation, eye shadow palette, and lipstick with me just in case, but I can’t justify spending $20 to carry around stuff I rarely use. All in all, I am proud to say that I only spent $4 at the dollar store today and all of my toiletries are now organized and travel ready!

Earrings

For my earrings, I have been using the same  plain cork trivet from Ikea for years (check out these much fancier earring cork boards).

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I think I am fat.

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I am fat. I think. I am not sure. Listening to This American Life’s episode, Tell Me I’m Fat felt like a roller coaster of thoughts. First there was Lindy West, representing the body positivity movement. On one hand I could totally feel where she was coming from. I did a silent cheer when she said, “The way that we are taught to think about fatness is that fat is not a permanent state. You’re just a thin person who’s failing consistently for your whole life.”

The summer before I started college I gained 20 pounds and for a long time I had this idea in my mind that one day I would go back to that weight. One day I would be my smaller self again. And I try. I watch what I eat. I am more active. I worked at a summer camp where I was constantly on my feet and running around with 12 three-five year olds, yet the needle on the scale has barely budged in the last four years and if that wasn’t going to do it, I doubt any minor life changes will. Yes, I could make some major life changes. I could go on a serious diet and start really working out, but the fact of the matter is I love food too much and I’d rather do yoga that weight lift. I want to be happy.

But in the second act of the show, Elna Baker, reminded me that happiness is not always that simple. I was reminded of the time my doctor told me that I was obese. She told me that I should not be eating cheese. That it did not count as a source of calcium, somehow the fat content negates any nutritional value. I heard her loud and clear. How dare someone my size eat anything if not purely for its nutritional value. A friend pondered aloud why they make skinny jeans in sizes larger than a 6. In my size. I doubt she remembers that conversation.

And the hard part is I am really not that big. Listening to Roxane Gay, I was reminded that I am only at the first level of fatness. I am not even Lane Bryant fat. I shop in regular stores. Granted, I am have too dig a little or find the plus sizes in the back of the store, but I am lucky. As fat as I am, and as much weight as I have gained in the last few years, I still have an hourglass(ish) shape. It may be hard to find clothes, but when I do, they are labelled curvy. I may not be a VS Angel, but I can still see plus size lingerie models who look like me. Unlike West and Gay, I have never had to worry that I might break a chair or scope at a restaurant before deciding to go.

I watch body positivity from the sideline because I am not quite sure where I fit in. I double tap when I see images from tessholliday and mzzaki, but I still cringe when Wayne picks me up and insist that I must be too heavy. I asked Wayne what he would call me. He said bigger. When I pressed him to quantify what he was saying, Bigger than what? but he refused, finally settling to agree with my prompt, bigger than average.

And so I am back to where I started. I think I am fat, but I can’t get all the way with the body positive stuff and claim it like Lindy West, and I won’t go to the extremes Elna Baker did to lose weight, and I don’t even know if I should claim it because unlike Roxane Gay, my fatness doesn’t really affect my daily life. I think I am fat, but I don’t know if I care enough to do anything about it.

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#MotivationMonday: Black Women Edition

Hurston Quote

I love a good motivation quote, especially one with a nice pretty background. In fact, the desktop of my computer plays a slideshow with more than 40 of them. More and more, it has been bugging me that very few of them are quotes from people of color, even though I have tried to actively search for them, so heeding the words of Alice Walker, “Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” I have decided to make some for myself and share them with you. Enjoy!  

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Frugal Living: Phone Service (Net10 Review)

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It is no secret that one big way to save money is by switching cell phone service from one of the big name carriers to one of the many smaller companies, but it is hard to know where to start, because there are so many companies out there and there is not a lot of information on the smaller ones, so I thought I’d review my experience with one of those smaller companies, Net10 for anyone considering taking the plunge.

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Mini Trip to Pasadena aka Foodie Paradise

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Yesterday, Wayne and I went on a mini road trip to Pasadena so he could tour the facilities at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Unfortunately, because of the tour was already at capacity I couldn’t go with him, but that is ok because I found a cool coffee and tea shop in Old Pasadena and got some work done. As a non-coffee drinker, I always feel like coffee shops include a few tea options just to placate us tea drinkers, but that was definitely not the case at Bird Pick Tea and Herb. I was overwhelmed by all the options, but settled on their Tropical Sunrise to sip on while I wrote a new blog post.

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Tropical Sunrise= White tea with muddled lemon, orange, and mint, topped with hibiscus tea

By the time I was done, Wayne was ready to be picked up and we headed back to Old Pasadena to explore some more. The stores were eh. An H&M and some other chains stores and some froufrou looking smaller stores, but I am more than a thrift store shopper so I am just going to skip over them and focus on the food. I was blow away by all the options and every restaurant we passed looked more enticing than the last one. After much debate (I vetoed a savory pie place, he vetoed sushi), we finally settled on Gyu-Kaku, a Japanese BBQ, and I am so glad we did. I have never been to a restaurant with this set up before, so I had fun doing the whole DIY grill thing, while Wayne ordered ramen.

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Grilling it up…
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Frugal Living: Eating Out

He caught me mid-chew!

I am sure there are lots of tips out there for eating out on a budget, but here are the things I do to save money when eating out.

  1. Go at lunch time. For Wayne’s 18th birthday I wanted to take him to Texas de Brazil. As an avid carnivore, I knew he’d appreciate all of the selections of meat, but that restaurant is expensive! Not one to be deterred, I checked their website and found that lunch prices are half dinner prices and you get all the same food and it is still all you can eat. Sometimes lunch portions are smaller, but dinner portions really are too much for one person. One downfall to this tip is that you are limited to lunch time hours, which can exclude weekends, but for a special occasion, it is definitely worth looking into.
  2. Drink water. This tip seems pretty straight forward, but it is an easy one to forget. Drinks, especially specialty and alcoholic ones can really had up. Wayne and I nearly always order water when we are out and I try to reserve my eating out drinks for the really special ones. A Sprite=not worth it. The Faygo Orange Creamsicle milkshake from Mercury Burger Bar we split before our marriage ceremony= totally worth drinking water most of the time.

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    Weird lighting in Mercury Burger Bar, but one of many wedding selfies
  3. Get a single entrée (and…. soup, salad or appetizers). A dinner portion may be too much food for one person-my mom and I can usually split a single entrée, but half a dinner portion isn’t enough for some people *Wayne* so sometimes we will fill out our order with cheaper options, so we both get good food and are satisfied.
  4. Make your own meal. Similar #3, but why not order an entrée at all. I love ordering a bunch of appetizers and getting the chance to sample a variety of the offerings a restaurant has. Sometimes I do this just because there are too many good things and I can’t decide. Bonus points if it is happy hour and the appetizers are discounted as well!
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Marriage Musings: Creating a New Family

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I have been struggling with the idea that when Wayne and I got married, we created our own new family, especially because so much of the conversation surrounding marriage focuses on marriage as the joining of two families to make one big happy family, which I get- our wedding day and more recently, my graduation day/Wayne’s birthday/Mother’s Day (yeah- we had a busy day!) were both a hodge podge of family and love from both sides and it was great to see everyone together, but those were a couple of special days. On a day-to-day basis, it is just me, Wayne, and Ginger.

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Ginger

It is hard for me to really feel like an independent adult sometimes when in so many ways I went from considering my mother’s house my home to building one with another person without ever having the chance to be alone. While the circumstances are a little different I don’t think we really broke apart from our respective families, it was really nice to read something that acknowledged that marriage is just as much about creating something new as it is about bringing to old things together.

“a wedding isn’t necessarily this moment where both of your families come together to become one big new family. It can be more like a breaking apart, where two people come together to form a new nuclear family.”— Erica (and Jordy) from 15 Wedding Dos and Don’ts

One of the best parts about getting to have an extended vacation honeymoon thing is that we have been able to be conscious about and focus on what it is we are building without many outside distractions. I am getting used to the idea of our little family but, as with all things, it takes adjustment and it is nice to have an affirmation that I am not just crazy, this really is something new.

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Owning My Gap Year

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With Malia Obama’s graduation and announcement that she would defer her enrollment to Harvard and take a gap year, there has been a renewed focus on gap years. There are articles about why everyone should take one, how common they are, and the inherent privilege in being able to just not go to school for a year.

I am taking a gap year. This is the first time I have really owned up to what I am doing without trying to downplay it or explain it away. As a recent graduate, lots of people have been asking me what I plan to do next and many of my peers have been posting about their job offers and post-graduate studies and all around it got me feeling a little bit like a slacker. I have been told time and time again to go ahead and get my master’s, hell why not get a Ph.D while I am at it, because of course if I don’t do it now, I might never go back. While I can see the logic in that argument, I think all these well-meaning advice givers are failing to look at the other side of the coin. The many un/under-employed graduates, with ridiculous amounts of debt, who really don’t even want to do what they spent all that time going to school for. I can’t help but wonder if maybe more students would graduating on time if they weren’t being funneled into high education without a clear direction.

Despite being a teacher, I don’t really like school. Or maybe it is because I am a teacher. Because I could see all the ways my professors’ rubrics were limiting me. Telling me that I must engage with my students on their terms, not my own. Telling me exactly what to say, when to say it and how. I have been in school for my whole life and I really just want a break. And although I have no regrets, I don’t think my undergraduate college decision was the most well-thought out and ultimately that affected my experience in ways that weren’t always positive. In hindsight, I probably should have picked a program in a place that had a community where I would have felt more at home, but as an 17-year-old I thought I just wanted to get out and see the world and anywhere would do.

So I have made the active decision not to make that mistake again. I am going to take my time and enjoy my life, be close to my family, and doing what I love best, actually engaging with children, not just reading about it through the Americorps City Year program. I do plan to enter academia again in the not to distant future, since I don’t have my teaching credential yet, but this time I will have a clear direction and goals that my break will help me to develop. From now on, when people ask me what I am doing next, I will not diminish the significance of my gap year. Instead, I will own it and celebrate it as an opportunity that will help me build a life with purpose and meaning. A life that I will enjoy to the fullest.

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