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.

Snowy Days

Winter in Wisconsin is in full swing, y’all. And ya girl is NOT FEELING IT.

Something Everything about the blistering cold, the gray skies, and the seemingly unending snowfall just makes me depressed. Being cooped up inside doesn’t help my anxiety either. The days are so short it feels like you never see the sun. The wind chill is so cold that it burns your skin. Now how much sense does that make–weather so cold it feels hot?!?

We got four inches of snow on Saturday, and another inch on Monday. More snow is predicted for tonight, and even more next week. My snow shovel and I have been best friends the past couple of days. #truestory I shoveled my driveway as my cardio warmup before my personal training session on Monday. There’s a silver lining to this cloud after all! 🙂

But, in all honestly, I know this rough patch won’t last. Where there is cold, eventually there will be warmth. Gray skies will be blue again. And summer will be here and make me forget all about these snowy days. Here is a snapshot from a hike at Devil’s Lake last summer–I cannot wait until I see green trees and feel the warm sun again!

Pura Vida: Part 1

Currently, the temperature is barely above freezing where I live.  Believe it or not, that’s WARM.  Last week it was literally -20 degrees.  #notcool  (I swear, if I didn’t love my job I’d absolutely move to a warmer climate.)

So, in an effort to get away from the cold (at least, mentally escape it) I’m hitting y’all with a recap of my trip to Costa Rica last year!  My job is awesome because on your five-year anniversary, you are awarded a sabbatical:  four weeks (paid) to take a trip to anywhere in the world you haven’t been before–with a companion!  I chose to use half of my sabbatical to take this vacation to Costa Rica with the woman I love above all others, my wonderful mother!  It really was the trip of a lifetime–Mom and I had a spectacular time experiencing the “pura vida” (pure life) spirit of Costa Rica and its people.  My mother is the most spectacular person I know–I owe EVERY OUNCE of success I’ve had in life to her–and I wanted to show her my appreciation with an international adventure.

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My mommy and me enjoying Costa Rica!

This post is the first in a series, so look for additional updates over the next couple of weeks.  But, for now, let’s start at the beginning…

Day 1:  Arrival day in San Jose!

Mom and I met up in Atlanta to take the flight to Costa Rica.  Airports are usually pretty boring, but for some reason we had a few funny interactions while we were there.

First, Mom got a complement from an airport worker on her smile.  After she said “thank you” (as a good Southern woman does) the airport worker asks loudly, “Who yo dentist is?!?”  This tickled her because she was not expecting to be asked for a dental referral (since usually dudes ask for a lady’s phone number instead).

Second, we discovered we were wearing the same pants–yoga pants with mesh cutouts.  #likemotherlikedaughter #goodstylerunsinthefamily

When we landed in San Jose, we did so under gray skies, but that didn’t make us any less excited to be there!  As we made our way to customs, I got to bust out my high school Spanish with “Donde esta el bano?” or “Where is the bathroom?”  Throughout the trip, many friendly Costa Ricans let me practice my terrible Spanish on them (and I really appreciated that they didn’t laugh at me).

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Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!

Our travel agent arranged a shuttle from the airport to our hotel, which was about 30 minutes away.  Our driver, a young guy with skinny sweatpants and braces, welcomed us and gave us our itinerary for the week.  We definitely over-tipped him because not only was he friendly, he safely got us to our hotel.

The hotel was fantastic!  The lobby and room were so nice, and the staff were very accommodating.  After getting checked in, we settled down in the room with some Chinese takeout.  We couldn’t get too comfortable though, as the next day we headed to the first town on our tour…

Day 2:  Journey to Tortuguero!

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up early to pack up and head to our next destination, Tortuguero. The hotel had a delicious continental breakfast, which included the best fresh pineapple I’ve ever put in my mouth and gallopinto, a tasty rice and bean dish.  I later learned that gallopinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast food–it was served at every single location we went to for breakfast!  (After the trip, I attempted to make gallopinto myself–my version was nowhere near as good as the real stuff.)  We also had a few cups of the BEST FREAKIN’ COFFEE I’VE EVER TASTED.  Seriously–I don’t even drink coffee and I was gulping that stuff down like water.

It was a good thing we caffeinated with all that delicious coffee too, because the bus ride to Tortuguero was longggggg.  We actually had to take a longer route because the main road was washed out (due to the rainy season).  But the lengthy trip wasn’t terrible, because we got to see lots of tiny towns in the countryside.

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First by land…

The lengthy trip wasn’t over with the bus ride either–after we got off the boat, we grabbed our luggage and traveled by boat to get to our hotel.

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…then by boat!

Once we got off the boat and got our luggage unpacked, we went on a hike (which was really more of a nature walk) .  The hike couldn’t have taken more than an hour, but during that time we saw:

  • Sloths
  • Howler monkeys
  • Spider monkeys
  • Land crabs
  • Bullet ants
  • Baby lizards
  • Tons of cool plants
  • Golden spiders

 

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Golden spider sparkle

When I tell y’all we were in the jungle, WE WERE IN THE JUNGLE.  Our hotel was actually built inside a national park!  There was no internet in the room, no TV in the room, and NO AIR CONDITIONING in the room, but it was so neat to be right there in the middle of the jungle.  Mom and I were sweating our faces off, but were so thrilled with all the animals we got to see.  After dinner and a shower, we headed to bed to prepare for our first full day in Tortuguero.

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Sweet dreams!

Day 3:  Tortuguero!

Weirdest wake up call ever–monkeys!  Yes, Mom and I were woken up by howler monkeys, well, howling.  It was strange but cool at the same time–who can say they used live howler monkeys as an alarm clock?  Apparently those monkeys wanted an early breakfast, because they woke us up veryyyyyyy early.  Not a problem though–we got up, had breakfast (and more delicious coffee) and took a boat tour through the canals of Tortuguero.

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Good morning!

The boat tour was just as cool as the hike we took the previous day.  On the boat tour, we saw:

  • More monkeys
  • More lizards (including a Jesus Christ lizard!)
  • Tons of cool birds
  • Turtles
  • A crocodile (which was so close it could have jumped into the damn boat)

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He looks hungry!

Our tour guide was so awesome, and the boat driver was too–they made sure to point out all the interesting animals and plants so we could take lots of pictures.

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Drying her wings in the sun

After our boat tour, the adventure continued with…zip lining!  Zip lining was hot (heat rises, and we were up in the treetops), scary (at least for me, because I’m afraid of heights), and FUN!  Mom was really good at it too!  She made it through the course like it was nothing!

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Safety first!

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We watched our instructors (literally) show us the ropes.

 

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Climbing up to the first platform–and praying I don’t fall off the ladder.

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Look at her go!

 

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Terrified?  YES.

After zip lining, we headed into the village to do some shopping.  We bought some ice cream and snacks, and I picked up a few postcards for folks back home.  We also saw vendors selling fresh coconut water, jewelry, and souvenirs.  Also, there were so many adorable dogs everywhere (off leash).

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Tortuguero Village

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Toucan statues in town!

The final activity of the day was an hour-long massage in the spa.  Now, earlier I mentioned our room did not have air conditioning.  And after all the adventuring we did, we were super hot.  The humidity was out of control too, which made the heat feel even hotter!  Mom and I thought, surely the spa will have air conditioning–we can get a massage *and* beat the heat for a little while!

Come to find out, the spa did NOT have air conditioning.  In fact, it was COMPLETELY OUTDOORS.  #weweresowrong The spa did have some high-powered ceiling fans, so we were still able to beat the heat and enjoy our massages even without air conditioning.  🙂

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Outdoor spa!

Relaxed after our massages, we enjoyed dinner with the other folks in our tour group.  We dined with two gentlemen from the Netherlands (in Costa Rica for the surfing!) and a couple from the Caribbean too.  A dog also joined us for dinner–I think he belonged to the front desk manager–and he patiently sat next to us (hoping for snacks I guess).

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Our friendly (and furry) dinner companion

After the meal, as we were walking back to our bungalow, we saw an armadillo!  It was hanging out near the bushes outside the bungalow, and ran away before we could snap a picture.  I’ve never seen an armadillo in real life–that sucker was big and fast!  Even with the excitement of running into an armadillo, we fell asleep quickly after our action-packed day.

Day 4:  Journey to La Fortuna!

Our time in Tortuguero drew to a close, so we packed our bags and began the next leg of our tour.  Next stop, La Fortuna!

Home

Guess what, y’all?

I’m a homeowner.

Due to my ridiculously slightly superstitious nature, I wanted to wait until things were certain before I made the big announcement.  It happened so quickly–it was only a few months ago that JB and I decided to start looking at houses–but the opportunity presented itself right way and we took it.  I once heard, “Good things happen slowly; great things happen all at once,” and hoped that mantra applied to the house we wanted to purchase.  After numerous phone calls, scanned documents, and trips to the bank, I signed a ton of papers and received a house in return.

I’m excited, relieved, and more than a bit terrified about all this.  Aside from moving to Wisconsin, this is the only “adult” decision I’ve ever really made.  There’s definitely the legal aspect of it to make it scary (30 year mortgage, taxes, home emergencies that I can’t call the landlord to fix now) but the idea of having a new “home” really freaked me out.  To me, “home” has always been Kentucky and the house where my mom lives.

Now I’ve got my own “home” which, in my mind, meant that my old home isn’t mine anymore.  Though I haven’t lived there in years, that house on Shady Lawn was the one place I knew I could always run to.  Now I’ve got something of my own to take care of, to take responsibility for.  I’ve got a place to build my own family and raise my own children…a place that is 8.5 hours away from the only place I’ve ever known and the people that mean the most to me.

So I guess it’s time for me to learn a new place.  My heart will always belong to Kentucky–no amount of time in the Midwest will change that–but after living in Madison for three years I can finally say that I like it enough to stay for a spell.  Y’all come visit anytime.  🙂

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