Friday, April 25, 2008

Neighborhood Freaks

Every neighborhood or town has those few individuals that keep the place colorful. My little section of Brooklyn isn't any different. One might think that with this being NYC and all the freaks wouldn't stick out, but trust me, NYC depends on its freaks more than the average locale.

So here's a quick list of my neighborhood freaks:
  • There's the 85 year old Grand Dame. I swear, she spackles her foundation into place and paints on this bright blue eyeshadow that is a color that doesn't occur in nature. She wears a rhinestone headband (I wouldn't call it a tiara, but hot damn, it's close!) and a perfectly matched polyester pants suit, circa 1974. She clutches that white pleather clutch for dear life and wears pumps that are perfectly molded to her bunions. She's dolled up like this to go to Key Food and buy a container of milk and a box of Peek Freans.
  • Then there's Quarter Man. He hangs out in front of Rite-Aid in the warmer months and asks every person who passes the same question, "Got a quarter?" with this Southern/New York accent. He must have a real home when it's cold because he appears to be well-fed.
  • And then there's CH Man, CH standing for Clean Homeless. I swear, this is the cleanest homeless man you've ever seen. He probably steals from Quarter Man and donates the money to the church so he can wash in their men's room. He lugs all of his worldly possessions around in duffel bags strapped to a rather expensive looking hand-truck. His baseball hats nor his sneakers are dirty and he smiles a bit at people. I'd love to know his story.

There are also the countless normal looking people in my neighborhood. They make the place just as colorful.

That's what I love about NYC, the nuttier its residents, the more fun the area becomes. I lived in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania for a short time and their nuts are of a different breed entirely. Their nuts were the kind I steer away from in Wal-Mart. I want to get closer to the Brooklyn nuts so I can witness their antics.

There are pros and cons to every conceivable place on earth, but I'm liking my little section of the world right now. I'm used to it and it suits me.

That said, I think that will change one day. I don't see myself spending the rest of my life here. There are different places to explore and one might make me want to plant my roots someplace else.

It's one of the many things that only the future can tell.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The End of an Era

I was cruising the 'Net one day in February 2005 when I decided to google an author whose books I really enjoyed. Rebecca Wells wrote The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. These books tell the stories of four women, starting from when they were 4 years old until they are grandmothers, with lots of sassiness and love in between. The stories are about mothers and daughters, boyfriends, women and their husbands and parents, but mostly it was about their friendship.

Anyway, I learned on that fateful day that Ms. Wells was about to come out with a new book, Ya Yas in Bloom. As I looked on the page for a release date, I saw a tab called Gumbo Ya Ya. I was curious, so I clicked.


I entered the message board devoted to Ya Ya and learned that there were members/posters from every state in the Union, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, England, and all over Europe too.

Within a month of my joining the board, I saw a "Shout-Out" with several members names, including my own. MY VERY FIRST SHOUT-OUT!! To make a long story short, this is the group that I travel with every year, the group that carried me through my surgery and my divorce; the ones that make me laugh till I wept and tell me get over myself when I'm wallowing in self-pity. I met them in Atlanta in August of 2005, in Montana in August of 2006 and in Pittsburgh in June of 2007. They are all coming, hopefully, to Brooklyn for New Years.

There's also another whole group of women (and a few men) who have been so important to me. They too prayed for me when I was in the hospital after complications from my gastric bypass. They rejoiced when FRU learned to read and even sent her books to practice (I'll never forget that kindness, JC!!). They wanted to know if I had met anyone special and told me to forget the losers.

In turn, I got to rejoice in babies being born. I prayed for the ill. I sent out good job search vibes. I got about a million recipes (Ya Ya's love to cook, you see). I got fashion advice. I gave make-up advice. I saw beautiful wedding pictures. I heard of a love story that started on Gumbo with ended with two people completely devoted to one another that they give me hope.

And perhaps the greatest lesson I learned at Gumbo is about gratitude. There's a special section where one can list the things that they are grateful for on any given day. I have been grateful for many things...but always for the love in my life. I am thankful that I have many kinds of love in my life and I give many kinds of love. "Love, in all its forms" has become my standard closing. Everyday, I post my gratitude and every night, when I pray, I thank God for love, in all its forms.

We had our dust-ups, but I prefer to not dwell on that now.

And now it's over. The publisher of the Ya Ya books is closing down Gumbo Ya Ya, effective April 21. I swear, I feel like the rug has been yanked out from under me. This is what the last week of summer camp felt like. You want to make the best of it, but you can't help but be sad.

It's the end of an era for me. I have other places to post, many have the same close friends. But it won't be the same. It's like when you move and you have to put furniture in different rooms and it never had the same feel. It will be comfortable, just different.

I had a little over 3 great years on Gumbo. I can't complain, I suppose I would have like it to go on, but alas, it can't.

Will the last one out turn the light off?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Keep on Smiling!

I got this motto from a man I dated for a short while.

He has some major league issues with work, family and the physical distance between us and decided to contact me, after a few weeks, to tell me this.

Ummm, ok...

He wasn't hurtful, just a little clueless. I guess he was looking for some closure; I hope he feels better. I emotionally moved on from him after the vague message he sent on Easter Sunday telling me he was going to be away on business and wasn't going to have Internet access. Did he lose my number? Will his boss not allow him to make any calls? Will his clients dominate every hour of the whole trip? The answer to all three questions is "no." And that's when I stopped thinking about spending any more time with him.

But I will use his advice...and Keep on Smiling!! It's what I do best. I get bogged down in life's details sometimes, but it's how we handle those details that defines us.

I have managed to carve out a very happy life for myself. I have a wonderful healthy child, a family that loves me ferociously, a relatively decent working relationship with my ex-husband, a good job with security and great friends.

I also have enough respect for myself to not settle.

Life is hard enough without adding more to a plate that's already spilling over. I respect that man for wanting closure, but I just hope that he can be more honest with himself in the future.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Being Straight-Forward

Why is it so hard to be straight-forward nowadays?

Why can't a friend or co-worker or potential love interest or family member just say what on their mind or ask you what they really want to ask?

Why is everyone so afraid of having their feelings hurt? Or hurting the feelings of others?

A few months ago, I was emailing this guy and things weren't working for him. He emailed me and told me that he wasn't feeling "it" and decided to move on. And believe it or not folks, I wasn't hurt. I was happy that he was honest with me and risked hurting my feelings by telling me the truth. I have a lot a respect for him, wherever he may be.

I've always been rather open with my life and my experiences. There are certain things I won't tell anyone for years and years, but I think we all have those deep dark secrets. Starting friendships with people who aren't forthcoming at all is what irritates me. Sharing the stories that have no depth or that don't tell me about who really are or feel don't count as stories; they count as time-fillers, also known as fluff.

We aren't made of rock, people, others shouldn't have to get a hammer and chisel to get to the real you. If you want new friends, you're going to have to tell a few stories/secrets. It may be painful but think of it this way...if you make a new friend, then they'll help carry the burden of what you've told them and if they turn out to not be a friend, then it really doesn't matter.