Thursday, July 30, 2015

I Cherish These Moments

I decided to go to Joy's shower as I think she needed me more than anyone else on the list and when I write about what happened there, you'll see that I made the right decision. My grandma's actual 76th birthday was on Tuesday, July 28. And I'm a New York asshole now and forgot to call her. So I spent 20 minutes out of my work day to catch up with her on Wednesday. Here's why that's a big deal.

1. I never do personal stuff during the work day. THERE'S NO TIME.
2. My grandma doesn't sit on the phone with anyone for 20 minutes. I think she's from the old school when people used to be charged by the minute on HOME phones. So she's like get to the point and get the hell off the phone. Funniest thing I ever experienced. You'll be like "so how..." and she'll cut you off like "alright, bye now."

So here's the top 10 things I learned on the phone with my grandma yesterday:

10. She's getting all of her teeth pulled. She only has 8 left and a partial denture. She told the dentist to keep her gap. She's gone 76 years with a gap and she doesn't want to go anymore without one.

9. The man in the photo with her that my mom sent to ME is named Walter. Walter is an old "friend" of my Aunt L, but he's become a son to her. He's ALSO an old friend of  Aunt P. And Aunt P is mad at his continued friendship with Aunt L. #ButThatsNoneOfMyBusiness

8. All seven of her kids showed up for this birthday. This is rare. It's usually 5-6 of them that come at any given time. Never all 7 together.

7. She wasn't cooking NO food for her bday party and neither was anyone else in her hot kitchen. Just ice cream and cake, but Uncle J insisted that there be food, so he got hot dogs. Uncle J is most like granddaddy and granddaddy used to love to eat and COOK! 

6. My big sister has a new phone number. (Yes, my grandma has my sister's number in a notebook that looks like something detectives use on cases and gave it to me and I don't even have it.)

5. Everyone who she invited that DIDN'T come. She named them off to me one by one. (She's old and forgets things, but if she invites you to a party and you don't come, please believe she'll remember.)

4. She asked my mom if I was in town because even though I TOLD her I wasn't going to be able to make it this year, I sometimes sneak into town. But my mom told her I wasn't there, so she wasn't expecting me.

3. She went to VBS on her actual bday (the party was on the weekend). She sat on the usher board float in the VBS parade the week prior. (She wanted to know if I saw her in the pic my mother texted me. If you wonder why I'm always taking photos, you should meet my grandmother.)

2. She's still doing crafts for VBS (probably been doing that for 50 years by now). This year everyone is decorating their own [Jesus] tshirts and my cousin Chelsee has "outdone" herself. Her shirt has fringes that she tied and a very cute design on the front.

And finally, the #1 thing I learned from my grandmother on the phone yesterday. This one took me under y'all:

1. She understands that I couldn't come home and that I can't always come home and that's ok. She said I'm doing what I'm SUPPOSED to be doing. She said I'm not supposed to be laid up under my parents all the time, I should get out and see the world, like I'm doing and she's proud of me.

Traveling and seeing the world and following my dreams seems spectacular, but I have so many hard choices to make about what I can participate in and what I can't when it comes to family and relationships. It's nice to hear about things on the phone, but I would have preferred to have been there in person. Those are the tradeoffs. Adult decisions. Adult realities. What a blessing for me to have family that supports my decisions instead of making me feel bad about them.

If you have living grandparents, when is the last time you talked to them?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sway Has No Answers

Hit publish and blogger told me this is my 1500th post. I figured I should note that.


I live in Harlem. It's a black neighborhood. I don't want to come out of my face and says goods and services are subpar to a more diverse or mostly white neighborhood. I don't want to say that.

What I will say is that I am having a hard time finding a laundry delivery service. Yelp only yielded one place with good reviews that picks up in my zip code. I used them. They're ok. They are not punctual with the dropoff and deliveries and some of my clothes come back dirty.

They're better than doing laundry myself.

Or, they were.

Until this week. I called on Friday and asked for a Saturday 9-10 a.m. delivery. They came at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and only after I called to figure out why they weren't there between 9 and 10.

I ordered a Monday 6 - 7 a.m. delivery. At exactly 7 a.m. I call and they don't have me in the system AT ALL. I go "this concerns me. You have all of my clothes." They call me back and they apologized, but my clothes weren't ready. They will schedule me for 6-7 a.m. Tuesday. Fine.

Tuesday at exactly 7 a.m. still no clothes. I call. The lady says the OTHER lady didn't schedule it. So I say, ok, schedule it and can I get a discount.

She then tells me that they already gave me a discount because they're SUPPOSED to charge me $1 for every hang to dry item and they didn't. And pretty soon, they're going to start enforcing the rules. AND the girls who work at the wash n fold center are not responsible for hanging my clothes to dry and so it's problematic. And no, I can't have a discount.


I get my clothes back and I sent them 4 bags of clothes with 4 sets of instructions. Only 3 bags came back (I can't find my whites) AND they hung two entire bags of clothes to dry vs. the 4 pieces is a teeny tiny bag that I instructed them to. So all of these clothes come back stinky and mildew-y. And I essentially need to do laundry all over again.

The reason this concerns me SO much is:

1. The inconsistency. I sent similar instructions 2 weeks ago. No issues.
2. The lack of accountability. I entrusted you with MY CLOTHES and you give me a dissertation about how the "wash n fold" girls don't have time to "pay attention" to my instructions and/or wet clothes. Nah.
3. The overall unprofessionalism. The cost for my time is money. If you can't see that and are instead going to just trip about how I asked for too much, when it is your job to do a service, I can't rock with you.
4. The lack of critical thinking. If it seems odd that I wanted um 20-25 pieces of clothes that say tumble dry on the tag hung to dry, why wouldn't someone call me to ask me that.

I think it's safe to say, I'll just waste four hours every weekend doing my own damn laundry. If I ever move out of Harlem, I'll give it another try, but New York has disappointed me on this front. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Is this Balance?

Forgive me my thoughts are all over the place on this post. Going to attempt to be coherent.

I feel a bit off kilter in life right now, but surprisingly on balance.

Physically, my hair is NOT RIGHT, right now. I cut a bunch of split ends off myself and the shape is just raggedy. I've been doing wash-n-go's since the weather cracked 60 degrees in Pittsburgh, but I'm waiting for it to grow out, so I can get a proper cut and this in between is not my best look.

My face had broken out HORRIBLY when I didn't have a job. My aesthetician said it was stress. Then I'd wear make up to cover up the breakouts, then sleep in it, then breakout more. To the point where I wouldn't go out of the house without a full face of makeup on. If you know me personally, you know that's not my style.

Now that I'm in NYC (and gainfully employed, Praise the Lord!), the "unemployment" stress has gone down, but my job stress has gone up. So my face clears up, then breaks out. It's the most irritating thing in the world because there's not a facewash on the planet that can regulate a stress breakout.

I've been going out without foundation and concealer, but I rarely leave the house without a liner and mascara. That's also a bit disconcerting because when people catch me without it, I get the "oh, you look tired" feedback and that blows. I'm like no, this is my unadulterated regular face and it's still cute. LOL!

ALSO, I weigh more than I've ever weighed. I [think I] look crazy in photos. I have a double chin. I look like the homely friend in every photo with my fabolously gorgeous girlfriends. I don't think I'm unhealthy and I'm not trying to lose weight (there are benefits to a few extra pounds! AYE!), but I also know I'm not the ab-bearing twenty-something I used to be and flowy shirts aren't as sexy as crop tops.

As such, I sometimes have a hard time getting dressed. Nothing quite hits the mark and even though I seem to shop a lot, my looks are falling flat. Couple that with being in New York, when everyone steps out of their house fly. And people are just individuals... Completely self-absorbed. They don't care about the latest trends or styles or whatever. They just wear what they're comfortable in and what they can wear ALL day from event to event.

I have so few ALL day looks in my closet. I have a bbq outfit or a party outfit or a church outfit. I have like three looks that are multifunctional, but I'm working on being more comfortable in my skin, wearing whatever and rocking it because I'm awesome. Like working the look, not letting the look work me. I'm not there yet. Especially not in NYC.

Ok, and the last sort of off-balance thing is that I work a lot and I relax a lot and I don't ACTUALLY mind, but I do have a bit of FOMO. It's a beautiful summer day in NYC and I feel like I'm supposed to be at a park or a brunch or outside, but I'm in my home alternating between napping and doing work. (I'm working on a Saturday because I took Friday off and DIDN'T work. This work isn't going to do itself before Monday.)

So I teeter totter between being ok with things as they are: [hey, you knew moving to NYC was going to pick up the pace professionally and you are older now and like to relax and that's ok] to thinking I need to achieve better work-life balance and take advantage of every possible thing NYC has to offer me VERY FAST/RIGHT NOW (like it's going away or something, lol.)

The weird feeling I'm getting is that even though I acknowledge all of these feelings about not being up to par in so many areas (my weight, my style, my physical appearance and my work) I am still somehow completely happy with myself and other people notice it. The types of people I'm attracting (new girlfriends and bootentials alike) constantly mention my happy vibe and lowkey nature. They say I'm low maintenance (Meanwhile I feel like I'm extremely high maintenance) and say that my spirit is welcoming, inviting, comforting.

Perhaps this is what balance feels like. The acknowledgement that things are not perfect and they never will be and yet, still finding joy in every imperfect moment. And being at peace with my decisions whether they be to sleep for three hours on an errands day or work for six hours on a Saturday.

Thank you for reading my random life observations. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

About Working Out in New York...

I don't wanna!

Everything is harder in New York. It's hard to breathe. It's hard to walk without getting stepped on. It's hard to get ahead without working like a Hebrew slave. It's hard to schedule a meal with people you've known for years because everyone is scheduled to death. It's hard to get an apartment. It's hard to pay the rent to the apartment that you got.

This is just a hard city.

And while I love New York and all of its harshness, I relish every SINGLE moment I get to relax. This brings me to working out. I have to do it. My mental and physical state requires it, but after long days and nights, I just don't have the same desire to workout as I once did.

You walk 20 New York blocks because you don't REALLY know where you're going or because the East/West buses are slow or because you're with a native New Yorker and they think a 20 block walk is nothing... do that, then tell me do you want to see an inside of anyone's gym or run anywhere? I just want to eat and sleep.

BUT... I'm committed to working out. The most I've done lately is 2 or 3 a week. Oh, another challenge. There's no gym within walking distance of my house. There's one a train stop away, but I'm not doing that. THEN there's a boot camp near my home, but it costs $150 for 3 classes a week. That doesn't add up for me. If I'm paying that much I want to be able to come and go to a gym as I please and I've just never paid that much to work out.

AND, did I mention how expensive rent is...

The point is, I'm exercising, but I don't get joy out of it anymore. It's like another to-do on my long to-do list and I didn't know New York would have that affect on my fitness.

I'm going to keep looking for "convenient" fitness options that make me happy.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Adult Decisions

This month marks the first month since January, that I'll be able to aggressively pay down my students loans. But then life happened. Mogs are pregnant. I have three choices:

  1. Pay some on the loan, but go to Pittsburgh for Joy's baby shower & send a gift for B's baby shower on the same day at the same time in Chicago.
  2. Pay some on the loan, but go to Chicago for B's baby shower and send a gift for Joy's baby shower on the same day at the same time in Pittsburgh. It should be noted that my grandmother's 76th birthday celebration (ice cream, cake and bbq at her newly renovated home) is that same weekend. As is the New Life Singles cruise (but I'm probably not going to that because I live in New York). ALSO, P. Diddy is pregnant and I could see her and/or her newborn this weekend because she opted NOT to have a shower.
  3. Realize that I live in New York and I can't just be popping up in Pittsburgh and Chicago because people I love have things going on there. Stay in New York for the weekend and pay what I said I was going to pay on the loan. Send a gift to both B & Joy and a card to my grandmother, but be closer to my financial goals.  
 There are pros and cons to each choice. Being an adult is wack arnold's sometimes. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why Sway... Continued

Today is July 7th.

After getting what I wanted this morning from a Pittsburgh bank, I decided, let's keep the party going this afternoon and call and get things working.

Here's the situation.

After moving out of my Pittsburgh apartment and having all of my ducks in a row, I am getting bills for the new tenant's water service. The building is the ONLY entity that can change the name on the water service. I cannot change it. The water company cannot change it. The building manager told me via email that he would change on 5/27. The notarized letter I had to transfer the lease ALSO stated what I would handle. What the new tenant would handle. And what the building manager would handle, effective June 1, 2015.

Knowing all of this detail, after receiving the bill in NYC, I call the water company to see if it had been changed. The entry level worker on the phone proceeded to tell me that there's nothing that can be done and tried to shoo me off the phone.

Meanwhile, I didn't ask her to DO anything. I asked her for information. So I say ma'am, can you put your manager on the phone. Manager gets on the phone and starts talking. Doesn't ask me anything.

That's what you're NOT going to do. Please allow me repeat my question. Second hand inquiries never yield correct results.

After LISTENING to me, she goes on to tell me, she can't change it (I knew that), I can't change it (I knew that) and that the apartment manager HAS NOT called to change. Bingo. That's wtf I called to ask. Why it took 15 minutes and two grown adults to answer that baffles me.

I digress.

THEN when I inquired of the building manager on 7/1 about the change, he proceeded change it THAT day, then told me I would have to work with the new tenant to get my prorated money.

That's what I'm NOT gone do.

So that bring us to today.

Today I call and ask for the manager's manager, Kelly. The nosey receptionist hears my name and wants to know WHAT I'm calling Kelly about. (Kelly does not have voicemail.) I say it's regarding the water bill. She goes "Well the manager already changed your name on the water bill, what else do you want."

Woman, your message taking ass better just take this fucking message THE WAY I GAVE IT TO YOU and get it to the right mfer at your establishment before I come through this phone and slap the shit outta you.

I responded "She'll know what I need." and we got off the phone.

Kelly hits me back. We do the obligatory small talk. (I effing hate small talk) and then I explain the situation. Kelly proceeds to tell me that money changing hands is between me and the new tenant. I disagree. I remind her that: 

1. The water bill does not work that way. The building is responsible for changing the name on the water bill.  
2. I have an email from her employee saying he would change it. 
3. I have a notarized letter stating what I would do, what the new tenant would do and what the building would do.
4. Finally, as of 5/31/15, my name is not on the lease. I am not responsible for anything in that building, which is why I'm not receiving my security deposit. It's going to the new tenant and I have to PRAY that he'll give me my money back. Said water bill would constitute something in that building THAT I AM NO LONGER RESPONSIBLE FOR. 

She asks if I can send her the email. (This WOMAN is copied on my last correspondence that I sent on July 1, but they are so done with me for having the unmitigated gall to *gasp* lose my job and move to New York, that I'm sure she erased my email the moment she saw it.)

I am currently waiting for a response, but if it's anything less than favorable, I may pay the water bill and take them to small claims court. Yes, I will go all the way to Pittsburgh to do this because my brain does not wrap around why people don't want to do their own jobs. This is your job. Putting the water bill in the new tenant's name by June 1, 2015 is what you are SUPPOSED to do. I don't call you and ask you to pitch the New York Times on behalf of my clients. Why would you email me and tell me to get payment for a bill from YOUR tenant in my old apartment.

People like to say that I'm difficult, but back to yesterday's point. I think my combination of intelligence and work ethic make it difficult for me to empathize with others who don't share the same. WHY WOULDN'T YOU FIX YOUR MISTAKE? WHY DO I HAVE TO TALK TO 12 PARTIES OVER THE COURSE OF 7 DAYS FOR SOMETHING YOU FORGOT TO DO.



UPDATE: The person who's able to make decisions (the manager's manager) fixed this for me. She sent me a total of what I owe and what the new tenant owes. I'm going to pay my balance now. This wasted hundreds of dollars in billable time for my company, but at the end of the day I'm not paying for someone else's utilities. 

Also going to be at work all damn night now because these hours aren't going to bill themselves. Jerks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Why Sway?

Why do I have to argue about things with people? I think having a certain level of intelligence coupled with a high work ethic puts me at odds with the rest of the country. Like 80% of the people in this world do not meet my mark and most of them are providing goods and services to me.

This morning
Pittsburgh Bank charges me for a fee they've NEVER charged me for before. I call and say

  1. T: hey, what is this and ALSO have the terms changed. 
  2. Entry Level Worker says: you didn't meet "XYZ requirement" and that's why you were charged.
  3. T: I'm never met that requirement and yet, I've never been charged. Can you tell me what changed. 
  4. ELW: Well, here are the requirements. 
  5. T: I'm not disputing the requirements. I'm asking you what changed this month that prompted the charge. 
  6. ELW: Here are the requirements. 
  7. T: Ma'am. Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth. Please do not repeat to me what you've told me three times on this phone call already. Can you look into my account history and tell me what changed. 
  8. ELW: I cannot.
  9. T: Can you locate someone at your establishment who can tell me these things. 
  10. ELW: Please hold... T, I have "Person Who Makes Decisions" on the phone. She can help. 

In my opinion steps 2-9 above are UNNECESSARY. Do not tell me no if you do not have the ability to tell me yes. Just say "I'm unable" and put the right person on the phone.


Actually, I'll save this story for tomorrow.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Free Workouts in My Hood!

Monday 8-9 a.m.
Zumba Fitness 
La Marqueta Pavillion
115th and Park
(212) 534-4900

Monday 6-7 p.m.
Dance Fitness
Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue

Monday 7-8 p.m.

Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue

Monday 7-8 p.m.
Low Impact Fitness
King Towers Cornerstone Community Center
2 West 115th Street
(212) 348-5721

Tuesday 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Cardio Conditioning
32 W. 118th Street 

Tuesdays 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Jackie Robinson Community Center
110 E. 129th Street (and Lexington)

Tuesday 7-8 p.m.
Dance Fusion
Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue

Wednesday 6-7 p.m.
Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue

Wednesdays 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Fun/Fit Cardio
Family Health Center of Harlem
1824 Madison Ave (at 119th)

Wednesdays 7-8 p.m.
Cardio Bootcamp
Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue

Thursdays 6-7 p.m.
Flexible Sculpting
Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue

Thursdays 6-7 p.m.
Dance Fitness
Jackie Robinson Community Center
110 E. 129th Street (and Lexington)

Thursdays 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Afro Cardio Dance 
Dunleavy Milbank Center
32 W. 118th Street 

Thursdays 7-8 p.m.
Harlem Hospital Center
506 Lenox Avenue

Thursdays 7-8 p.m.
Dance Fitness
Jackie Robinson Community Center
110 E. 129th Street (and Lexington)

Friday 6-7 p.m.
Body Toning
Hansborough Recreation Center
35 W. 134th Street (b/t 5th and Lenox)

Saturdays 9-10 a.m.
Yoga Outdoors
MLK Playground
113th to 114th and Lenox

Saturday 10-11 a.m.
Afro-Pop Dance Fitness
Family Health Center of Harlem
1824 Madison Ave (at 119th)