Disappear

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I made our weekly sojourn to the grocery store. (Even Pre-COVID, we shopped weekly to save time, energy, and money.) We slowly wound our way through the store we simultaneously loved and hated—large selection and great prices, narrow aisles and never enough cashiers.

A woman’s cart stood between us and the almond milk, one of the last items on our list. Eager to get this trip over with, my boyfriend moved her cart a few inches so I could push ours past. The movement must have caught her eye, and she turned to look at me.

“You’re so beautiful!” she exclaimed.

I thanked her, secretly wondering how she could think such a thing given the cloth mask covering half my face. Without missing a beat, she continued.

“Where are you from?”

That was the first of many microaggressions to come.

I quickly replied, “Kentucky,” and pushed my cart closer to the dairy case in an effort to end the conversation. But she inched closer, maskless (!) and babbling.

“Your hair is lovely. What do you do to your hair to get it like that?”

The answer? Literally nothing. (The few sprays of water I applied before the trip didn’t count—I didn’t even put any product in it!) I shrugged and responded, “It just grows this way,” struggling mightily to keep myself from rolling my eyes. I was brought up to respect my elders, and even though the gray-haired woman in front of me was trying my patience, my mama raised me to be polite.

I tried to leave but the woman continued, following one awful comment with a string of several more.

“African women are so elegant, very regal and classy. You know, I could tell you weren’t from around here. You don’t act like the Black people in Wisconsin. I work with them and they have such an attitude. They wear their hair in the braids and it just comes out. I’m from India and I help them, boil the coconut oil and castor oil to make something to help it grow back. Your hair is beautiful and healthy, and you wear it just as it is! They should be more like you.”

Racism, wrapped in compliments. From another woman of color, at that! I wanted to disappear.

As she turned and walked away, she noticed the large ginger root in our cart.

“Healthy too! You are so good. May God bless you.”

My boyfriend, having ventured to get the almond milk himself, returned to find me standing next to our cart. Seething, I recounted the interaction. We headed toward the checkout line, watching carefully to avoid seeing her again.

Usually, I leave that grocery store anxious and frustrated because of the crowded aisles and lengthy checkout lines. Today, anxiety and frustration were replaced with anger and sadness.

You cannot uplift one Black woman and simultaneously put others down.

You cannot talk badly about Black people in Wisconsin while ignoring the fact that it is one of the worst states in America for Black people.

You cannot celebrate Black hair in its natural state while trashing the protective styles many of us (including myself) wear regularly.

You can, though, be racist and a person of color at the same damn time.

Move

Today, a pretty big change is happening in my life.

My boyfriend and I are combining households–today’s the day of the move!

I must admit, I’ve been looking forward to this day for quite some time. We’ve lived apart for the entirety of our three year relationship, and I’m so excited that we’re taking this step together to really become a team…a family.

However, this move hasn’t been without it’s share of challenges. I’ve had to purge a significant amount of, well, crap. It’s amazing how much stuff a person can collect! When I went back home to Kentucky this summer to visit my family, my mom sent me back with a lot of my stuff from my childhood: pictures, knickknacks, school yearbooks–even my American Girl doll, Addy. Add that to the house full of stuff I’ve collected since I’ve lived in Wisconsin and you end up with a ton of things you have to decide to keep or throw out.

I’m not the best at letting things go. Channeling my inner Marie Kondo was a struggle for me. How do I know if this thing “brings me joy”? Isn’t it wasteful to just throw this in the trash? If I don’t have this ticket stub/t-shirt/photograph, how will I know that I saw that movie/went to that concert/knew those people?

This process has helped me understand one thing: Those tokens aren’t the important thing. The memories of those experiences are what matter.

Weekend Warrior

“I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!”

Anybody else heard that phrase?  I grew up hearing it, but perhaps it is restricted to sleepy Southern towns.  In case you aren’t familiar, it means “I haven’t seen you in a long time.”

My point for this is that I haven’t blogged in a month of Sundays.  #sorryboutit

Buuuutttttttt I have a good excuse!  I’ve been super busy living my best life.  Y’all can’t be mad at me for that, right?  🙂  Here are a few deets from some things I’ve gotten into over this month of Sundays:

Chi-stravaganza (feat. my boo and my besties)

My boyfriend and I left after work on Friday and drove down to Chicago for the weekend.  We stayed with my college BFF Cornelius, one of my best friends from college, and did so many fun things:

  • Went to a brewery and played Apples to Apples while enjoying some delicious craft beer.  This particular brewery didn’t serve food, so we ordered in burgers (for the omnivores) and fries (for the vegetarian and vegan).  Those fries were the crispiest, tastiest french fries I’d had in quite some time–the first of many delicious foods I enjoyed that weekend.
  • Played a few games of Uno over breakfast with the boo, then hit up the lakefront for the Air and Water Show.  We took a bus downtime, found a sunny spot by the lake, and watched huge planes do spectacular things–so impressive!  I struggle to keep my composure flying economy on Delta so I know I’d be freaking out if I was in the cockpit of a Navy jet.
  • Had drinks at a rooftop bar called Cindy’s.  You could also see the Air and Water Show from here, which was even cooler than watching it by the lake because it felt like the planes were flying right past your face. We met another friend from college (a former speech competitor from UT-Austin) and had a blast catching up.
  • Ate a delicious dinner at the Chicago Diner–and it was VEGAN!  The poutine was fabulous; I would dare any meat/dairy eater not to enjoy it.  The strawberry milkshake I had for dessert was phenomenal.  I can’t wait to go back there again!
  • Watched an awesome burlesque performance by The Fly Honey Show.  The show featured men and women of every body type and ethnicity.  It was funny and poignant and like nothing I’ve ever seen.  If you can catch a show, I’d highly recommend it!

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Airplanes doing crazy things–it was spectacular to watch.

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Me, my boo, and my besties!

Devil’s Lake Hiking Adventure

My wonderful boyfriend couldn’t believe I’d never been to Devil’s Lake (apparently it’s a Madison institution) so he took me for a hike!  It was tougher than I expected–I thought we’d be walking along flat trails, which did NOT happen–but I made it to the top.  I felt so empowered looking over the edge at the spectacular view.

After the hike, we went back to the car and took the ferry route back home.  The ferry was so cool!  There was a little snack stand where you could get ice cream while you waited for the ferry to arrive.  Once we drove onto the ferry, we got out of the car and watched as we went across the lake.  Check out a few photos below:

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Panoramic view of Devil’s Lake–absolutely breathtaking.

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The top–getting some Pride Rock vibes!

Birthday Turnup

This weekend is MY 30TH BIRTHDAY!  My boo has some stuff up his sleeve (I’m not sure what) and I’m also planning to eat hella cake.  Why?  Because this is a celebration!  My 20s were kind of tumultuous:  graduating from college, moving to Madison, two failed engagements (including one that was abusive), taking on home ownership, a career change, and an ongoing legal battle all took place during this time.  I’m hoping my 30s are a bit calmer–I’ve got my house, my car, my career, and a stable relationship with a wonderful man.  I couldn’t be more blessed to make it to 30 and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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Last year’s birthday cake–I may get one twice the size this year because I’m 30 and I do what I want.

 

Body Goals

Today was my monthly weigh-in with my trainer, and guess what?

I lost seven pounds in the past month!

My trainer tasked me with logging my food intake each day, which has been extremely eye-opening. The “healthy” smoothie I made for breakfast each morning? Yeah, that baby was over 1000 calories. 😳 The container of homemade trail mix wasn’t terrible…but eating it all in one sitting was. It was OOC–out of control. 

So lately, I’ve been working on eating more protein-rich, fiber-rich foods to stay fuller longer. Portion control has been a big focus as well. In the beginning it was really tedious and frustrating to log everything I ate (and honestly sometimes it still is). But lately I’ve been trying to think of it as an asset instead of an inconvenience. If this is something that keeps me on the right track, I need to do it. I don’t just want to lose weight–I want to be healthy. 

Seven pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but it feels awesome. (I couldn’t weight to text my mom to tell her!) My boyfriend–who has a degree in exercise science–said that diet is a bigger influence than exercise when it comes to weight loss. And as much as I hate to admit he was right…he was right. I’ve seen faster results in the past month than I ever expected. #thanksbabe 😘

I originally wanted to lose 30 pounds before my 30th birthday, but I’m altering that body goal. I want to be healthy. I want to be fit. I want to make good food choices. And I feel like those are goals that are worth working toward. 

Throwing Shade, Writing Poems, and Saying Goodbye #100HappyDays

Day 73:  Throwing shade makes me happy.  Two of my very best squirrel friends, Kathy and Julia, love RuPaul’s Drag Race as much as I do.  We have a call every two weeks to throw shade on the current season (and also to catch up on life).  Hearing their opinions on the queens and latest life updates makes me so happy.

Day 74:  Using analogies makes me happy.  As someone who teaches adults every day, I’ve come to realize that the adult brain learns a bit differently than the child brain does.  So, I like to come up with fun analogies to help my trainees learn the new information.  The analogy I used this time?  Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper.  🙂  A lot of my trainees said they had a “light bulb moment” after hearing that analogy, so I think I’ll keep using it!

Day 75: Being creative make me happy.  Speaking of teaching adults, I wrote a haiku for my class because they were so awesome.  They had great question and paid excellent attention during class, so I wrote them a quick poem to express my gratitude.  They really liked it!

Day 76: Weddings make me happy.  My boyfriend invited me to the wedding of one of his coworkers.  It was beautiful!  The weather was perfect for the outdoor ceremony, and the groom cried when the bride walked down the aisle (So sweet!).  I had a great time meeting the groom, bride, and other folks my boyfriend works with–and the cake was delicious!

Day 77: Reliving my childhood makes me happy.  I downloaded a bunch of sweet 90s music and it really took me back to “the good old days.”  You know–the days when I got summers off and didn’t have to pay bills.  Here’s one of the many songs I got–enjoy!

 

Day 78: Getting fit makes me happy. Today was my monthly weigh-in at the gym–and I lost 3.6 lbs!  I’m really working on lowering the number of calories I eat and getting enough protein in my diet.  Hopefully next month I’ll have even better progress!

Day 79: Getting rid of old stuff makes me happy.  Today I sold Raven, my old car. It was a bittersweet moment–that car was my college graduation gift and saw me through my first apartment, a move to Madison, and six snowy Wisconsin winters.  But now that I have Stella (peep this post to meet her) I couldn’t justify keeping Raven too.  The money I got from selling Raven will go toward paying down my credit card. (Not a fun way to spend the cash, I know, but #adulting)  I hope Raven’s new owners enjoy her as much as I did!

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Ride on, Raven! Thanks for nine awesome years!

Friends, Fathers, and Fitness #100HappyDays

Day 67:  Great conversations make me happy.  Cornelius (my bestie from college) and I had a wonderful phone conversation–I love catching up with him!  We even made plans to get together in person later this summer and I can’t wait.

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Corn and me last summer. You could say we were excited to see each other.

Day 68:  Fridays make me happy.  Sometimes you just gotta celebrate the end of the workweek!

Day 69:  Morning walks make me happy.  My boyfriend and I took a walk around the neighborhood before the heat of the day (and the rain) set it, and it was awesome.

Day 70:  Celebrating fathers makes me happy.  Father’s Day!  This day is tough for me (check this post for reasons why) but I was joyful because I got to celebrate two awesome men in my life.  My stepdad (whom I just call “Dad”) is one of the greatest men I’ve ever known (look here to see just how awesome he is).  Even though we didn’t get to celebrate together, I loved hearing his voice on the phone and was glad I got to tell him how much he means to me.  My boyfriend and I also made dinner for his parents so we could celebrate his dad–a great day spent honoring great men!

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The two men who shaped me into who I am: my biological father (top) and my stepdad (bottom).

Day 71:  Learning more about fitness makes me happy.  I had a session with my personal trainer and we talked about how diet impacts fitness goals.  He sent me home with a task to complete–track all my food for the day so we can review it during our next session.  I’m excited to find ways to improve my diet (and hopefully improve the results from my workouts)!

Day 72:  Office days make me happy.  This is my last office day before a straight week of training customers.  Trust that I’m savoring the moments of working in solitude with my headphones in.  🙂

Roses! #100HappyDays

Day 66: Roses make me happy. Imagine my surprise when my boyfriend walked in with this adorable mini rose bush for me yesterday! He usually brings me cut flowers–which I also love–but they don’t last very long. I’m excited for these roses to stick around for longer than a week (at least I hope they do–I have a tendency to overwater plants). My boo is the bomb! 

Red roses to match my kitchen–my boyfriend is awesome!

Mail call! #100HappyDays

Day 59: Getting things in the mail makes me happy. 

Quick clarification: Getting things in the mail that aren’t bills makes me happy. 😉 I ordered some pictures to hang up in my home and they finally arrived! For so long, my walls have been bare. But my boyfriend’s recent home decorating inspired me to do a little decorating myself. Family, friends, travels, and of course my favorite drag queens–I’m covering the walls with them! 

Looks like I’m gonna need to do some thrifting to find frames for all these (and the ones I still need to order)…

Yes, the picture of me with RuPaul is an 8×10. To quote Queen B, “And I don’t feel bad about it.”

Movies, Flea Markets, and Parental Advice #100HappyDays

Day 54: Curriculum design makes me happy. I spent most of the day working on new stuff for work, and it was…kind of awesome. Most people wouldn’t be geeked to spend a whole day in front of Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, but putting together this new program to help people learn our software better makes this geeky gal pretty happy. 

Day 55: Movies make me happy. Especially when you can watch them in the comfort of your own home–DVDs from the library for the win! 

Day 56: Flea markets make me happy. Yes, you read that right:  flea markets. My daddy and I used to go to the flea market all the time when I was little; I loved seeing all the cool stuff for sale. So, when I found out a flea market was going on near my house I definitely wanted to check it out. I didn’t buy anything, but I did see some interesting stuff–I’d love to go to more flea markets now that the weather is nice. 

Day 57: Parental advice makes me happy. At least once a week, I call my parents to catch up…and also ask for advice (usually about basic adult stuff that I should probably know already, but don’t). Lucky for me, they are always willing to give it andddd it’s always great advice! Win-win!

Day 58: Being in a supportive relationship makes me happy.  My boyfriend is there for me whenever I need him, and I am so lucky (and happy) because of it. 

Anniversaries, Work Life, “…and a brand new car!” #100HappyDays

Days 40-41: New cars make me happy! It’s my great pleasure to introduce…Stella. She’s a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek and she’s ALL MINE. She’s stylish and, most importantly, good for these Wisconsin winters. Last winter I got stuck in a (pretty shallow) ditch and had to be towed out–I’m hoping Stella will get me out of those sticky situations if they arise in the future. 

Day 42: Anniversaries make me happy. One year ago, my boyfriend and I went on our first date. We’ve been together ever since, and I am so grateful for him. He lets me be me, which is something I’ve never had in a relationship. We make a great team and I’m looking forward to spending many more years with him!

Day 43: Doing new workouts makes me happy. Each month, my trainer comes up with a new set of exercises for our sessions. I really like learning new stuff, so this is always a fun time for me.  I’m sure my trainer gets tired of my constant questions about what muscles will be worked and if my technique is good though. 

Day 44: Coworkers who are also friends make me happy. Imagine my surprise when I go to leave for work and my garage door wouldn’t open! I couldn’t get it open manually and had to be at work at 8am, so I called my officemate. She came to pick me up and I truly appreciated it! She is an awesome person to work with and also a good friend, which is a tough combination to find sometimes. 

Day 45: Teaching camp makes me happy. I’ve been teaching classes to internal staff this week–we call them “camps”–and I have really enjoyed this group of campers. They ask great questions and even laugh at my corny jokes. 🙂