March 14, 2018

Think Before You Ask

While commuting home I like to go through my news notifications and see what articles I need to take a closer look at. I noticed an alert for a Refinery 29 article that hit closer to home than ever before. All I could think was, me too. 

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

The article gave a brief experience of five women and their experience with what it really feels like to be asked 'what are you'. I can't tell you how much I wish I could have contributed to this article. 

As a "brown girl" I will admit that I am fortunate enough to have never experienced racism or bigotry. However, there is always one question I am always asked. What are you? 

Growing up in upstate New York I was never asked this question. In retrospect I suppose everyone just assumed I was mixed. When I moved to New Jersey, the question became a regular occurrence. What are you? 

If I wasn't outwardly being asked what are you, it was where are you from? My standard answer of 'upstate New York' never seemed to be what they were looking for. It was, and still is, almost always met with a follow up question of originally? 

As I've gotten older it has occurred to me to mind that people ask this of me. Now, my response is a very curt 'why?'. They will usually feign innocence and say they were just wondering, or they were curious, or because I "look Dominican".

If I know you and we've established some type of rapport and it comes up in conversation, I am perfectly fine with discussing it. If you're some random person who thinks it's appropriate to ask me after maybe 5 minutes of interaction, I will have an earful for you.

You're unable to categorize me on first glance so you feel the need to ask. And I think the more upsetting part is that a lot of people do think it's acceptable.

Because here's the thing - these questions are never okay, and asking them makes you come off as a compete moron.

March 13, 2018

The Little Engine That Read

I don't know if you've ever burned out from reading, but it's not fun. I'm reading at a steady pace this year and it's been nice to reclaim something I always enjoyed as my own.

Here's what I've been reading lately.

White Rose, Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been a while since I've read a book that I not only liked, but absolutely loved.

I would normally say that historical fiction is not "my type" of book but in the last few months I've realized I no longer have a type. The way the book is written draws you in immediately. You feel for Franka and the struggles she's experiencing.

I can say nothing but do yourself a favor and read this.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't love or dislike this book. I was truly middle of the road about it. I found some of the points to be helpful and others to be a bit unreasonable (for me at least).

I like that she explained and gave a guide as to how to go about doing a shopping ban should one choose to do so.

Accidentally Hers by Jamie Beck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been on my Kindle TBR for quite some time and after a few "heavy" books I figured this would be a nice, quick read.

I found the characters to be likable and the story predictable, pretty much just the way I like my romance novels.

*       *       *

In the interest of not overdoing it on the reading {It still bothers me that this is a thing for me} I'm going to keep my pace nice and steady. If that means I only read one book a month, so be it. My ultimate goal is to get through the books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for the last several years. I hate to give away books I truly wanted to read, but let's be real, I've been hanging on to several of them for over 6 years.

Also, I don't know if you use it or have heard, Blogging for Books is shutting down. I was really disappointed when I get the email letting me know. I've read some great books compliments of this site and I'm sad to see it go.

While lost in the world of books I found a fun TBR calculator that told you how long it would take to read all the books on your to-be-read list, as well as how old you'd be {obviously it doesn't take in account length and reading speed}. According to my results, I better pick up the pace!

Currently Reading: Courting Sparks by Joselyn Vaughn

March 09, 2018

Words Have Feelings

The other day I was doing my once daily scroll on Facebook, and a post caught my eye. It was a short video about 10 emotions that actually have names. Several of them resonated with me. Granted, I'm not saying they're real words, just that yes, I've felt these things.

Opia: the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which feels invasive and vulnerable at the same time.

Monachopsis: the subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.

Liberosis: the desire to care less about things.

Kenopsia: the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but it now abandoned and quiet.

Chrysalism: the amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.

Ellipsism: a sadness that you'll never be able to know how history will turn out.

Occhiolism: the awareness of the smallness of your perspective.

How about you? Did any of these feeling words resonate?

March 07, 2018

On My Mind

I'm still not sure where February went but I'm pretty excited that March is here. I've been spending more time reflecting, which I'm really enjoying, and here's a bit of what's been coming up.

  • I truly have no words about these constant school shootings. The Monday following the Parkland shooting, I sat on the couch, watching the news, crying. Why, how... they're questions that have no simple answer. But something needs to be done. it used to be a tragedy that was unheard of and now it's become a tragedy that, because of its frequency, I fear we're growing immune to. But if anyone is going to effectuate change, it will be these kids from Florida. They are outspoken, strong, determined... and they are not going quietly. 
  • I hung out with a friend a few weeks ago. Nothing special. Movie, beers, hours of conversation. It made me realize that I would like to have more of these moments in my life. Not to say that I don't, but sometimes they feel few and far between. Sometimes I avoid them because it feels like work {not the friendship, the staying out, going here, meeting there. I've become a homebody}, but I can't say I've ever regretted it. 
  • I miss my mindfulness practice. This isn't to say I'm not journaling or reading or going to yoga, but I couldn't tell you the last time I sat down to meditate. Sitting in silence with my own thoughts is something I enjoy. 
  • My downstairs neighbors are starting to get on my nerves. I bought a treadmill last spring and I try to use it every night {I like to walk while I watch Jeopardy}. Every time I'm on it they pound on the wall/ceiling. Mind you, I don't use it before 9am or after 8pm. I don't run on it and I bought rubber mats to go under it. And yet, on a Monday, at 9:30 in the morning, I hear them pounding every 5 minutes or so. I sent my super an email basically saying all of this and how I feel like I can't live my life in my own home. He responds telling me they're not complaining about the treadmill but the music. Fun story: I'm not listening to music. And when I am, it's certainly not loud. Either way, I have it in writing that the treadmill is fine to use so poo on them.
  • I recently put myself on Upwork in an effort to gain more clients. My VA work will always be a side hustle to me as working solely for myself doesn't appeal to me, but having new clients and income streams is never a bad thing. 

  • The idea that society celebrates certain life "milestones" with showers and gifts annoys me. Like, where is my shower/party for paying my bills on time all year? What about for not losing my shit on people? Or how about I simply made it through another month of life? Where is my celebration? 

And that's all I have to say about that. 

March 02, 2018

Calling Bullshit

For those of you who know me in real life what I'm about to say may come as a shock. For others, it still may be a surprise, but probably not the same kind. 

For the past month I have been willingly participating in a practice that I truly disdain. 

I've been watching The Bachelor. 

Now, if this is something you're into and follow regularly, I'm not shaming you. Instead, I'm shaming everything this show represents to me. I hate shows like this. I watched and gave up RHONJ a looong time ago and you won't catch me KUWTK unless I'm in a sickness induced haze and have no energy to change the channel. Better stated, I don't even know what channel Bravo or E! are on Fios. 

However, one night, after watching "my programs" as my grandmother would say, I didn't change the channel and The Bachelor was on. The whole show is ridiculous to me but I figured I'd watch it this one time to see what people were always talking about. I truly dislike this show but every week I somehow find myself sucked into this alternate reality for  hours. {In full disclosure, it was only about 2 weeks ago that I realized it's on every Monday.}

But here's what I don't get. I'm going to break this down as I see/understand it {because I don't} and if you're a fan, feel free to explain it to me. 

  • You are living in a house with X other women, all vying for the bachelor's interest and affection.
  • You are willingly dating someone who is clearly dating X other women - in your face. 
  • You are group dating this person. Literally, there are group dates
  • Someone is ceremonially sent home when the bachelor decides he doesn't like her.
  • You start falling in love with someone who is still dating numerous people.
  • When the herd has been culled and there are only 3-4 left, "I love you" starts getting tossed around - to multiple people. 
Stop me if I'm off base but this show is the purist example of what's wrong with dating and relationships. Why does this show exist? And don't give me a line about hopeless romantics having faith in finding their true love. How many of these made for television marriages have actually panned out? Someone... anyone? Because that's a statistic I'm not interested in looking up. 

Dating on your own is hard enough. are they seeing other people? are they interested in someone else? do the feel the same about me? is this going anywhere? should I tell him/her how I feel? what if they reject me? and on and on with the internal monologue. The way I see it, these women are actually volunteering to partake in the worst part of dating. Yes, there is an upfront aspect as they know what they're getting into, but isn't that all the more reason to back run away?

I don't know. Perhaps I'm being cynical or perhaps I'm just "not the type", but there is no dollar amount that would get me to live in a house with X other women all trying to nail down the same person. 

To quote a Refinery 29 article I read the other day:

I just want to say that most of the women's issues with their relationship with Arie stem from the actual concept of the show. Kendall says there hasn't been enough time to get to know him, Lauren is insecure about sharing him with other women. Right! Because this is not how normal relationships work, and it drives me insane to watch them grapple with problems that could easily be fixed were they not on a reality TV show.

No. Kidding.

And let's not even get into the fact that none of it is real. Are you telling me that he has the lifestyle to jet set from Tahoe to Paris to Peru whenever he wants? If so, fine, but I doubt it. So on that premise alone, every date or experience they've had is built on falsehoods. This is not what day to day life will be like. You're literally basing a potential lifelong relationship - a/k/a marriage - on a bubble protected honeymoon period. Newsflash: this is not what real life will look like once the TV glamour effect is removed. 

When all is said and done I don't think this season will end any differently than the 21 that came before it. A"winner" will be chosen, there will be a proposal, possibly an actual wedding, and eventually a divorce. The probability of this type of relationship actually working out is slim. As the contestants themselves are saying, there isn't enough time to truly get to know the person. 

February 19, 2018

Things I Believe In

I am flat out ripping a page out of Steph's blog and making it my own. Or not my own, but you know what I mean. A few weeks ago she posted about the things she does and does not believe in and today I'm following suit. 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

... travelling as often as possible

... being alone sometimes

... quietly observing

... actions speaking louder than words

... family not being defined by blood

... the 21st Amendment

... having hobbies that take you out of your comfort zone

... talking to strangers

... giving for the sake of giving

... the healing properties of the ocean

... silence

... the power of positivity

... manifestation (good and bad)

... a higher power (call it the Universe, Spirit, God, Source, etc... there are forces higher than we)

... kindness

... doing things that feel good

... purging

... global warming

... having a voice and making it heard

... journaling

... karma

... days off

How about you? What do you believe in? 

February 14, 2018

Books Lately

I saw a reminder tweet from Steph yesterday about the book link up and figured I'd join in. After all, I've actually been reading!

I saw a reminder tweet from Steph yesterday about the book link up and figured I'd join in since I've been reading!

It's been so nice to actually get lost in a book again. I burned out bad at the end of 2016 and only read 14 books in all of 2017. That's a record low for me. I wanted to read, the desire was there, but it always felt like a chore and that's the last thing reading should be. It was sad for me and I was hoping this year would be a fresh start and I would be able to greet my old friend. 

So far, it's going well. 

Last Stop in Brooklyn | Lawrence H. levy

I was on Blogging For Books a few weeks ago and happened to see that Lawrence H. levy had a new Mary Handley book out. Of course I requested it and finished it immediately. I absolutely love this series and am now anxiously awaiting the fourth installment of the series. 

Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy

The Girl in the Italian Bakery | Kenneth Tingle

I dove deep into the Kindle archives for this one. I've had this on my digital shelf since.... maybe 2014? I finally decided to read it if not more so so that I could finally stop scrolling past it and feeling guilty. Also, there's that whole Committing to Less thing I have going on.... anyway. 

The book starts out a little slow in my opinion, but it is not devoid of action. Kenny and his brothers are constantly getting into mischief. As I continued reading part of me was disappointed in Kenny because I could see the potential in him. He just needed to get out of his own way. On the other hand, I found myself in his corner so to say, and was hoping life would give him a break. Overall, I enjoyed reading this. The book held my attention and I felt invested in Kenny and his life enough to need to finish the book. 

The Girl in the Italian Bakery

Not Perfect | Elizabeth LaBan

This was my January Amazon Firsts selection. I gave it three stars on Goodreads but I suppose it deserves 2 to 2.5. The book wasn't bad... the main character was just infuriating. It read quickly and effortlessly, a nice escape during my morning and evening commutes but it was a book I could have just as easily walked away from. There were parts where I was annoyed with Tabitha and her lack of... fortitude, but overall, I found her character to be likable and even though she got on my nerves occasionally, I could understand her motives and reasons for doing things. 

Not Perfect: A Novel

Currently reading: 

The Year of Less | Cait Flanders

How about you - what are you reading lately?

Life According to Steph