Mama, I’ll just address the obvious: my most recent absence has been ridiculously long. There are SO MANY things that happened during the summer of 2013. Yeah, we talked about some of it on the phone, but of course it was only the biggest bits of news. I’m gonna give you a photo for all the things, so you can at least have scenery for this romp through your daughter’s drama.

what a sweet summer.

what a sweet summer. i had macarons galore.

My NEMO Spring: What I Dared To Do

It all started when I went to North Carolina in May. After that trip, I ventured back to Montreal in July. It was a thing I had wanted to do since the first fleeting visit in October 2011. Visiting Montreal is as close as I have ever come to actual international travel. I got the chance to visit at a crazy low cost, and I snatched it like I was playing that amazingly competitive kids game, “Steal The Bacon.”

Change your name for coffee.

Today I was Nemo. Change your name for coffee.

What do you want?

This summer was easy compared to the summers of 2007, 2009 and 2010. I spent this summer searching, justifying, unemployed, discovering, defiant, and loved. Again, I tried to pinpoint my hopes, dreams and life goals. I got this far: I want to not struggle. I want to be valued, not as a possession but as a contributor. And for the first time, I can name my own value to others with confidence and conviction.

But to answer that loaded question, “what do you want?” is more difficult. I think it’s super hard for those of us who constantly find ourselves tossed into the “unique” bucket.

The weekend breakfast tradition is revived.

The weekend breakfast tradition is revived.

Unique is good in 2 places: The Circus and The Morgue

Unique is what people call things they can’t figure out. And there are only 2 times people want to be transfixed in that way.

The First is when you are an entertainer at the circus (or whatever). Do something over and above linking those big golden rings or twirl around on those bed sheet sized ribbons, and you’re worth the price of admission.

The Second is when you are rolled on a slab through the medical examiner’s lab. He wants you to be the first supernatural being he sees, the (highly moral) vampire, the (gentle) werewolf, the (not hungry) zombie…something to make his job less boring. He wants you to have died of something completely uncharted, something he can tag with his name and become immortalized in medical journals as “the Father of the cure for” whatever syndrome or disease.

Those are the two times when being truly unique (not especially quirky or funny or entertaining or the rich kind of eccentric) are an asset. Otherwise, when they call you unique, it’s a nice way of saying you’re “in the way.” Like a cowlick on your hairline.

An awesomely delicious Latin version of Eggs Benedict.

An awesomely delicious Latin version of Eggs Benedict.

You’ll be amazing somewhere else

You know how it goes when you’ve been tossed out into the deep end of the pool and you’re flopping around trying to touch some solid edge, something to save you from dunking below the surface and sinking to your doom. Oh, you don’t? We did that in swim class. But I feel that’s what unemployment is like. All you need is OUT and it doesn’t matter that you were swimming till you got there – the point is GET OUT.

Some folks like to be the one dropping you into the pool, and in their mind they are “helping you swim.” They say things that amount to “you have an amazing future of amazing incredibleness…somewhere else…and I have no idea how or where or when you’ll find it” But the result is that you’ve been rejected from the life-saving edge of the pool.

Sure, you end up swimming eventually (for which they take credit). After fighting for your life, you either die or live. Does it matter whether you cut through the water with a machine-like butterfly stroke, or if you just float and flop your way to the edge? NOPE. You are living. You are breathing. You’ve achieved.

I'm always reveling in the fact that I'm working In NYC right now.

I’m always reveling in the fact that I’m working In NYC right now.

Success is for you, not for them

So I explained all that to say that this summer I didn’t figure out what I want. This fall, I did.

I found work. This time, I actually may have swum. I mean, I did my fair share of flopping and floating, of course. But I think I had a destination, I kicked and pushed water behind me, and got there. I’m proud of me for that. In the process, I realized what I want. I know what means success to me now.

You don’t know it but I stopped writing RIGHT HERE for about 2 weeks. What I realized this fall is that WHAT I WANT IS A SHIFTING, CHANGING, LIVING THING. In 2 years, I might want a completely different thing. Because I’m not a lifer. I’m not a long-term-er. I’m just not made to wait for things to turn out ok.

I’m made to grab clumps of life at a time and make a big mess and enjoy the crap out of it. I finally realized that success, for me, has nothing to do with ascending the ranks of power to out-perform my peers (just in case they are jealously watching which in this scenario I’m sure I’ll hope they are).

Change your name at Starbucks.

Change your name at Starbucks. Today I was Maybelle.

Success in my life is, simply put, enjoying life. I want to look back upon each and every year and want to tell people about it. I never want to look at my life at the end of the year again and say “that was a complete waste.” If I get 5 of those in a row, I think that will have kept me busy for around 20 years. Not a bad long term goal, right?

What say you? How did you get closer to your vision of success?

I watched a few videos this week, mama, that knocked me a little off my axis. You know as far as axes go (tiny note about that word, mama: did you know ‘axes’ is both the plural of axis AND axe? The plural for axis is probably pronounced in some fancy academic way like ‘axe-ease’ or something…) I’ve always rotated at a somewhat wobbly turn. So the effect of this past week’s YouTube viewing was significant, to interrupt that.

It was significant because this ongoing tag on YouTube (a tag means lots of YouTube broadcasters make a video about the same topic, or answering the same set of questions, filling in their own experience) is to make an intensely personal video. The tag is called “Draw My Life” and I have been watching them for a couple of weeks now. Continue Reading…

Remember that update post that really was just a boring little report? I forgot to tell you mama, that I tried challenging myself in writing, by guest blogging at group blog during January and February.

The place is called “The Online Safehouse” and it was organized by longtime friend and source of inspiration, Margie Clayman. She invited me to participate and for once I didn’t say “well…I dunno…I’m not that confident in what I can offer…” Because the reasons for creating this group blog were so compelling. Continue Reading…

Mama, remember my senior pictures? Nearly a disaster, for reasons we’ll be discussing today. Oh the agony, the inner struggle, the aborted diva moment and momentary resentment of biology…Oh yeah, and clothes. The following story is one I can’t tell Almay for the NYC Makeover contest, but I felt like sharing anyway.

Beauty is MORE than skin deep

Beauty as it is defined in the public world is something we rarely discuss. The Matriarch would say, “child, that doesn’t even cross my little brain,” because for us, beauty is an attitude, the result of good habits. In our family, we know you can’t change your face, and whatever IS wrong that you can change can fall within two categories: Continue Reading…

So, you remember when I first went natural, mama? It was an easy decision for me to make: I didn’t have much disposable cash to keep this open-ended investment going, and I also wasn’t pampering my hair much at all.

Continual breakoffs and battles with new growth convinced me to go ahead and make the switch to natural by getting my first big chop. I didn’t feel less pretty. If anything I got more in touch with my feminine side, finding ways to enhance that side of me. In all, it was one of the best beauty decisions I’ve made. Continue Reading…

Mama, you know my ongoing struggle and the endless saga of The Phone I got in my last Verizon phone upgrade. It was nothing but trouble for me, after the first 6 months. At the one-year mark, you were present for the ungracious “customer service” I received regarding this prolonged phone issue. What I haven’t told you about is my Knight in Shining Armor: Nokia. Continue Reading…

It’s been an action-packed couple of months, mama. Remember when I got my haircut? I haven’t done anything with my hair since then, and it’s had a chance to rest and grow out for all this time. Continue Reading…

My New Haircut Is Hot!

January 29, 2013 — 11 Comments

Mama, I’ve been looking forward to my haircut for a long time. I was fretting about where I could get it done, though. Oddly enough, the city where I live in New York is a LOT like Frankfort. I mean…’s A LOT like Frankfort. So my choice was between the multitude of barbers working locally, in the Hudson Valley and the multitude of Natural Hair salons in New York City.

Yelp Chose My Natural Hair Stylist

Since I don’t know many people up here in the first place, it’s easy to imagine I didn’t have a lot of good advice coming my way about reputable natural hair stylists. My most urgent thought: “Who’s going to respect my hair in its natural state?” A salon that caters purely to styling NATURAL hair is my priority starting point. Continue Reading…

Mama, Korean is hard.

January 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

I know you know I’m working on picking up Korean as a second language, Mama. But I’m here to tell you – Korean is hard. To keep my ear familiar with Korean, I’ve kept watching Kdramas and various Korean movies on Netflix and Drama Fever. But during 2012, there was a slight decline in picking up any new knowledge… Continue Reading…

Mama, Get In The Picture.

December 31, 2012 — 6 Comments

I know you like to take photos because you don’t like being on camera yourself, Mama. But in hindsight, is it all that pleasurable to be missing from literally years of your own life history? I say that because our photos of holidays and past visits could often leave something to be desired. Continue Reading…