Sunday, September 13, 2009

... What You Got Till It's Gone

I f***ed up really, really, really, really bad tonight.

I'm typing this entry mere hours after admitting to The Voice that I ended up kicking it with one of the X-Men during our separation. And right now, I'm feeling lower than low ...

Before I go any further, I had an entry ready to be published Monday morning but decided to hold off since circumstances changed. The Voice and I have been going through a "separation" for the past few weeks (beginning of August) and in a nutshell, I've been pleading and pleading for us to get back together.

He disagrees. He had some serious personal issues to work out. I believe that you need to work together in a relationship regardless of the crazy s*** that comes your way. But he wanted to go it alone so I've relented after a few weeks and now that I'm in school again, my mind isn't dwelling on it as much.

Flashback: two weeks after he asked for the separation, I invited an X-Men over. I needed somebody, I needed to feel something, I needed love. Well, two out of three is what I got. There was no love. He didn't hold me like The Voice. He didn't smell like him, he didn't kiss like him, there was no connection between us. So was it guilt that made me realize I want him back or just an epiphany?

Flashforward: I don't know, and I don't care. Right now, as of this minute (12:34 AM), all I know is that I found the man who holds my heart. The truth is (read this slowly and carefully) that I've never, ever loved anyone more than I love The Voice. As we lay tonight holding each other, he admitted how much he misses me (albeit before my ill-timed confession) and I found myself absentmindedly scratching his back, something I know he likes. Who else knows what he likes when go out to eat? Who else knows about his strange little OCD obsession when we leave his apartment? Who else will put together his furniture or anything else he's not handy with? Who else can hold him the way I do? Who else knows his moods as if they were my own?

He is my love, my soul, my everything.

I will do anything to gain his trust back, if it's even possible. And if it is possible, I'll love him stronger than ever.

Trust and believe that.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

So I’ve returned to campus as quite the mini-celeb and I love it! When I started at UMB a few years back, I was doing night classes off campus so I didn’t take the time to make friends. Now, I can hardly walk around campus without running into a professor or fellow student I know.

I like that feeling.

I have many of the same professors (X, Hand Killer, etc.) however, a few new ones have dared to cross my path (I’ll come up with alias after a few more sessions). The hardest course? That would be Music History class, a 300 level course, which features a VERY strict professor. The easiest (of course I may regret saying that) seems to be Chorus which has nearly 100 students enrolled and is filled with creepy, crawly (ugh!) … freshmen.

Professor Hand Killer is back to her usually tricks and we’ve decided to resurrect this piece from Chopin to prepare as backup for jury in case the nine page Beethoven sonata isn’t ready. Did I mention that it’s nine pages?

Jazz Band is a blast since Professor X and my former band mates have inside jokes that the new folks just don’t get so it’s nice to have an in. Plus, it never hurts to have a professor or two on my side as reference material for grad school or job interviews down the line. I believe I’m in the band (even though I didn’t audition) and I’m going to push for us to do a favorite of mine, “Moondance” by Van Morrison.

We’ll see if I get my way...

My Theory and Ear Training course populations have diminished greatly since last semester. While most of the rowdy crowd (the kind that always have to throw in a smart comment or two in class) has mysteriously vanished, some of the familiar faces that I liked are gone as well. Not that I was getting attached by any means!

So my goals this semester are to arrive on time (ha!), do my homework over the weekends (double ha!) and get more practice time in (triple ha!) – that’ll be the day when a black man becomes president – oh wait …

Seriously though, I only have two semesters left roughly (I say roughly because it’s not guaranteed until I get the okay in February) until I obtain my full 120 credits. It’s so exciting being a senior yet extremely frightening because once my academic career ends (you’d call it that too after four schools and eleven years in college), I’m really on my own. And I’m still not 100% sure what I want to do. I’m leaning towards teaching but most of my profs recommend getting performance experience first.

In the meantime, this will prove to be by far one of the most interesting semesters ever...

Oh ... this is just my favorite back-to-school commercial ever so I just thought I'd toss it in the mix!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Song For My Father

So I’ve decided to return to the world.

But I’ve returned a changed man. I’m no longer the person I was just a few months ago. A lot has occurred that has me thinking about some things in life. I needed that short break and now I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to open up again.

The first big change has to do with my father. Pops is back home and doing well but he’s also a changed man (maybe it’s something in the air). Dirty laundry is usually never aired but after all he’s been through, what I share is out of love. Pops was a pretty heavy drinker prior to his hospitalization. My mom found him unconscious back in May and he was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital and was laid up in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit on life support for a few weeks.

A ventilator inflated his lungs, wires and tubes swirled everywhere around his body. He was bloated, unresponsive – a temporary pacemaker the only thing keeping him from crossing over. Doctors poured over his case, trying to figure out what had happened. No one knew. “Was it a stroke?” “A heart attack?” “His kidneys aren’t functioning properly …” So much was thrown at us. And if all that wasn’t so bad, we were told he coded out in the ambulance.

I almost lost my father. I would’ve been next to step up and be the man of the house … as much as my Pops and I don’t see eye to eye on many things, I love him so much and never want to go through such a frightening ride again.

After a few months in rehab, he returned home. He sits around very somberly; he doesn’t smile much, and seems genuinely different. It could be the little pacemaker in his chest that keeps him alive. Maybe it’s the changes we made in the house (we moved my parents bedroom downstairs).

But I think he’s reflecting on how close to the end he came. We cleaned out all the alcohol in the house and he claims he doesn’t want any. Still, I know it can’t be easy to get past an addiction that strong. We’re going to be there for him and try to help him through this but he’s got to want life more than anything. He’s already taken that first step and come back to life …

… now he just has to live it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pops (Update 2)

Hey everyone ...

I just want to let you know that Pops is doing a whole lot better. He's been transferred to a rehabilitation hospital and he's extremely cranky and wants to come home. He'll be getting PT to help get him walking again and he should be home by the end of the month or early August.

We're currently converting the house from a single family to a two-family so that my parents will be living on the first floor (to keep him from climbing the stairs) so I haven't been able to keep up with my blog as I'd like. I'm on vacation from work next week so I'll probably spend most of my time doing stuff around the house but I'll try to squeeze in a post or two because there are many positive changes occuring in my life that I would love to share and get feedback on!

So until next week ...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trekking For Answers

I finally broke down and went to see Star Trek.

And I'll probably receive death threats from other Trekkies but I have to speak my mind ...

... so here goes ...

I had a little difficulty swallowing this pill as I consider myself a conservative Trekkie. While I take my hat off to J.J. Abrams directorial and cinematic style, I feel like a religious zealot who has just been told there is no divine being. My concept of (and comfort level within) the Trek universe has been thrown into disarray and chaos. Simply put, my Trekkie faith has been tested.

I was introduced to the world of Star Trek by way of The Next Generation featuring the adventures of Captain Picard and his valiant crew aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. I was a die-hard geek as a youngster, building starship models from paper plates and other things I could find around the house. I even went so far as to act out storylines in my room! And that's not including the uniform I have or the myriad of models, books, magazines and props. Thankfully, I grew up and simply read the novels for my Trek fix however, something about the idea of traveling among the stars, exploring worlds and galaxies, continues to fascinate me to this very day. However, I've always been extremely reluctant to step outside "The Next Generation" series.

When Deep Space Nine debuted in 1993, I was very hesitant to tune in and avoided it like the plague. Eventually, once TNG was cancelled, I was slowly won over by Captain Sisko and his unique crew. Once I accepted that DS9 and TNG were not identical twins, I was able to enjoy every aspect of the show to the end. Consequently, the same thing happened in 1995 when Voyager first aired. Yet again, I jumped on the bandwagon several seasons in and stayed loyal to the end.

Nevertheless, the same did not ring true for The Original Series (TOS) or Enterprise (ENT). I followed Enterprise for a few episodes but disagreed with the overall concept of the series from the outset. I felt that the ship was a clone of previous designs and the continuity was all f***ed up not to mention the sexy Vulcan officer was a obvious rip-off of the sultry Seven of Nine on Voyager.

Unfortunately, I am a child of modern times and was never able to truly enjoy TOS. The halls were cardboard, the sets reeked of the 1960's and the model ship dangled from a string orbiting the same planet every week with a different color. Still, as a conservative Trekkie, I respect my elders and thus if it hadn't been for Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sotty, Uhura, Chekov and Sulu, I wouldn't be the Trekkie I am today.

All this said, I still wasn't feeling the new movie. The special effects were great but felt overtly "Star Wars," especially with Spock's ship and the warp effect. While I understand it was intended to win over a new generation of fans, I don't think the long-time fans should have caved so easily. This movie has Hollywood stamped all over, from the lens flares to the melodramatic scenes, and the youth oriented cast. Furthermore, the casting of Tyler Perry and Wynona Ryder certainly added to that Hollywood-esque look. I seriously can't take the idea of Madea as the head of Starfleet Command!

While I enjoyed the writing, I felt the storyline strove incredibly hard to separate itself from the official Trek timeline. The idea of time travel and alternate dimensions seemed a bit over the heads of the summer movie going crowd and even as a devoted fan, I found myself having an “aha!” moment about two thirds of the way through the film. The scene that did move me the most was Kirk’s father risking his life as his son was being born. The sound, effects, camera shots … nicely done!

As for the characters and their portrayal … eh, some actors really channeled their forefathers (or mothers) while others seemed placed simply for their youthful assets. Chris Pine’s Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock were right on point and the tense scenes between them were great. Chekov’s youthful clone overacted the accent and I was tremendously disappointed with Scotty’s buffoonery. While I was exceptionally glad to see Uhura’s character expanded greatly, she still seemed placed merely to attract horny teenage boys to the movie. While Karl Urban's McCoy didn’t come close to looking like him, the lines, the voice and the mannerisms screamed Bones. John Cho’s Sulu was a decent enough attempt but I think this was one of those scenarios where he was hired simply because of his ethnicity. Then again, Sulu never had much screentime (hmmm, kinda like Harry Kim from Voyager and Hoshi Sato from Enterprise). And lastly, while I applaud Ben Cross for a valiant attempt at Sarek, there can be only one Sarek of Vulcan.

The engineering set was the worst set ever for a Trek movie – a huge warehouse/factory? C’mon guys, you can do better than that … was the budget running low? The bridge was a bit nauseating but I could slowly get used to it. I’m still trying to figure out why there were price scanners on the console behind the captain’s chair …



Oh, and Nero. He was definitely one of the better villains in Trek movie history. Eric Bana acted his little heart out. Nevertheless, Nero’s intentions seemed a bit skewed. Going back in time and waiting around 25 years to exact revenge. And he was a simple miner! Not even a general or scientist or emperor! One Trek site noted that Nero did accomplish his mission, something no other Trek villain has ever done and I have to say I secretly applauded him for it. I’ve never been a fan of Vulcans so seeing their homeworld destroyed was a nice touch to bring down their arrogant selves. Still, Nero got carried away and wanted to wipe out every Federation world … dude, seriously … seriously. What’s wrong with this picture?!

Overall, my rating would be 3 out of 5 stars since I was entertained and felt it was a great way to kick off the summer movie season. Still those two stars I'm retaining because I believe it was a huge offense to the loyal fans. I've already heard rumors that a sequel is on the way and maybe this is just the jolt we need to reboot the franchise. Still, in the last few weeks, I've clung to the old ways and simply pretended this black sheep of the family doesn't exist; I've immersed myself deeper into the novels. Maybe someday I'll fully accept that which is ...

... in the meantime, I left the movie theater in a daze, walked into my boyfriend's apartment deep in thought and popped in the Star Trek: First Contact DVD to reorient myself ...

"aaaahhhh, hello old friend ... "

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set ... RUN for Mayor! (Part 1)

I usually don't get involved with politics but I thought it would be good to check out the political landscape in the race for Mayor of Boston ... Mayor Thomas Menino is the city's first Italian-American mayor and will be the longest serving mayor in Boston's history (as of July 13th). While I agree with most of his policies, there are many out there who don't feel the same. So it'll be interesting to see if he will retain his throne ...

While I can't vote (I don't live in Boston), I'll be keeping a close eye on what happens. Afterall, what happens politically in Boston, affects those surrounding communities.

Contestant #1: Michael Flaherty

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pops (Update 1)

Hey everyone ...

A real short update to let you know that my father is doing a little better. He is still in the hospital (ICU) and will be there for quite some time. He will have surgery for his heart in the coming week and he's battling pneumonia. While he's no longer sedated and off the respirator, he is a bit loopy, cantankorous and sleepy from all the meds and his general dislike of hospitals.

Java-Mama has has been to see him everyday and Rugrat, The Voice, Tweet and myself are all coming together to help out.

Thank you for all your continued support and prayers! He's not out of the woods yet but hopefully after the surgery and rehabilitation, he'll be home sometime in July. I'll keep you apprised of the situation.

If you want to leave any well-wishes, please feel free to post below and I'll show him when I visit!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pops

There is so much I've wanted to blog about over the past few weeks ...

... my new hair style ...
... The Divo graduating college ...
... J-Dub's Memorial Day cookout ...
... my grades and my new online course ...
... my long-lost friendship with Dub G ...
... my one year blog anniversary ...

... but all this is unimportant since Pops was rushed to the hospital last night. They're not sure what's exactly wrong but he's in intensive care and sedated after emergency surgery on his heart. Right now it's a waiting game and we're a mess. Rugrat and I have taken the past two nights off from work and The Voice stayed with us all night until the immeadiate threat passed and came back tonight.

I'm so mentally and physically drained and knowing Pops faces a long road of recovery (if they can get him stabilized) has left me dazed and in a fog. Hopefully once I've had a full night's rest, I'll be able to think a bit more rationally ...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

That's What Happens!

Last Thursday, we had the UMB Spring 2009 Jazz Concert titled, "That's What Happens," and I have to say we pulled it off surprisingly well!

Our band consisted of 13 members. Two drum kits, two guitarists, a bass player, two keyboardists, saxophone, clarinet, accordion and five vocalists! Several of my bandmates were returning from last semester so I was extremely comfortable performing with them. Nevertheless, I adapted quickly to the playing styles of the new drummer as well as another keyboardist.

Throughout most of the semester, we focused on a song from Miles Davis called “All Blues” as well as “Afro Blue” from Mongo Santamaria. We were drilled repeatedly on notation accuracy as well as common rhythm patterns in jazz. Unfortunately, that left little time to prepare for our end of the semester concert and we crammed in several songs within the last two or three weeks. Furthermore, we lost several days due to Professor X being ill.

We played (in order):

Well You Needn't - Thelonius Monk
Dindi - A.C. Jobim (pronounced Gin-gee)
Angel Eyes - Dennis/Brent
All Blues - Miles Davis
Peace - Horace Silver (my solo piano piece)
Song For My Father - Horace Silver
Afro Blue - Mongo Santamaria
Rebel, Rebel - David Bowie (I'll explain in a moment)
Lullaby of Birdland - Shearing/Weiss

Some of these songs have been featured over the past few months in my playlist so if you have never heard them, definitely check them out!

I got a bit nervous right before we began but once out on stage and playing, I relaxed visibly and eventually was getting into the playing and feeling the vibes. However, I didn't escape the evening's performance unscathed. We opened "Well You Needn't" with the melody played on piano and decided to close the piece out the same way ... unfortunately, when it was my cue to come in, I faltered. Silence descended rapidly as the entire band and Professor X were waiting for me to come in! Needless to say, I choked down a grimace and while deeply embarassed, I kept a professional demeanor as best I could. I became so caught up in the music, I forgot my cue.

I held featured solos in Angel Eyes, Song For My Father, Afro Blue (which became an open solo, non-vocal piece) and Lullaby of Birdland, which I believe was my best solo to date! I dedicated that one to The Voice and the vocalist on that selection really snapped off! The perfect ending to the concert!

Now, it's quite obvious that "Rebel, Rebel" isn't a standard jazz number. This was Professor X's brilliant idea to get us to arrange a song and turn it into something jazz-like. With the exception of his few bits of input, the entire band contributed in some way to this song and wow, did it come out amazing! We had a salsa type rhythm going on it, the lyrics were sung in Italian, English and Spanish (one of the vocalists is an exchange student from Italy). I wish I had some footage or a recording of that piece because we really took it to a new level!

Overall, our concert was spectacular, albeit a tad short in length. Hopefully, in the fall, we can cram in several more selections or lengthen the songs. Additionally, I'm pushing to do “Moondance” from Van Morrison, a tune I've enjoyed since I was in elementary school as well as a possible Christmas selection since we will be close to the holidays.

Some positive aspects of the night were the accordion solos which really shined through and proved a non-jazz instrument can hold its own. Moreover, I was pleased to see that the singers were forced to stand, walk around and rely on their memories during their selections.

Unfortunately, some of these vocalists were struggling and I believe it was due to the advanced sound system we utilized only a few hours prior to the concert. Coupled with nerves, I think it was a recipe for disaster. Coincidentally, the double drum kits were another bad idea. Some of the feedback I received stated, "the drums were just too overpowering!"

Well, I'm taking Jazz band for two more semesters so hopefully the band and I will perform even better the next go around!

Lastly, a huge thank you to all who attended and I must say I really appreciated your support! Once again, I extend my sincerest apologies regarding the donation/door incident. Nevertheless, I hope you'll all come back next semester!



Thank you again!

**UPDATE** On Tuesday, we viewed the video footage of the concert as well as received CD’s of the music; I’ll try to set up a playlist or something over the weekend. We’re also receiving DVD’s so maybe I can get some video up (it’s not the best since the image was stationary - no camera operator)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wolverine ... What?

I managed to catch X-Men Origins: Wolverine last weekend and I'm not sure quite where I stand. I have an affinity for mutants. All kinds of mutants. I've been extremely supportive of the X-Men film series (I went to see the first film over 10 times in the theater!) However, I'm feeling cheated and let down.

In the latest installment of the mighty mutants, we discover the origins (duh!) of our wily badger wolverine. The opening scene establishes the twisted genetic relationship between Victor Creed (aka Sabertooth) and James Howlett (aka Logan aka Wolverine) and the movie is off and running. Set during the 1970's, we find James employed on Col. William Stryker's special ops team consisting of other mutant baddies. After witnessing the brutality of Sabertooth and continually intervening on his behalf, he quits the team and relocates to northern Canada living peacefully with a school teacher yet haunted by the many wars he has fought in over the centuries.

Of course evil comes a-knocking and Sabertooth tracks him down and knocks off his lady. So what to do when you're girlfriend has been killed by a half-man, half-lion beast? Join Stryker's team, have adamantium injected into your skeleton and run butt-naked through the field! By the way, I must give Hugh credit for showing a lot of skin and he looks damn good for his age! Well of course Stryker's people track him down, explosions ensue, and the body count rises. Soon he tracks his old teammates down, locates Gambit and then squares off with Sabertooth whom we discover is hiding a lot more than he lets on.

The final showdown is at Three Mile Island and attempts to attribute the nuclear meltdown back in the 70's to events in the movie. I'm not going to give anymore away for those who haven't seen it however, it's clear that Sabertooth and Stryker won't die since they're in Part 1 and 2 respectively.

Well, let's start out on a positive note before I b**** and moan! The special effects were great as usual. The makeup job on The Blob was outstanding and Liev Schriber's portrayal of Sabertooth was extremely chilling; far better than Tyler Mane's Sabertooth. The scene with Cyclops was amazing and I’ve gained a tiny amount of respect for him in my heart.

Let me repeat, a tiny amount!

However, the plot holes between this prequel and the first movie are gaping. Holes such as Sabertooth not seeming to recognize Wolverine in X-Men 1 yet they share a complex history in Origins. I also was incredibly annoyed with Ryan Reynolds character but then again, I'm usually annoyed with any movie he does. And last time I checked, Silverfox and Emma Frost weren’t sisters?!

Most importantly, I was really looking forward to finally seeing Gambit portrayed on screen however, the accent was lousy and he came off extremely "wussified" – and where were the black and red eyes? I was simply not feeling him in this movie.

Lastly, my biggest gripe by far was the missing Storm-child. She's my favorite X-Men character and while she appeared in the trailer, she was absent in the movie.

Curses!

Anyway, go check out X-Men Origins: Wolverine if you’re in the mood for some good action, crazy mutants or just want to see Hugh in the nude! Overall, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars and it’s a valiant effort to kick off the summer movie season!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quick Question

Does anyone out there know much about the graduate studies at Philadelphia's Temple University, specifically their masters in music education or performance programs?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Doctor Is In!

Hey everyone! We welcomed a new member to the family this past weekend! A small black kitten with grayish eyes who has absolutely stolen my heart! I've decided to nickname him The Doctor and he's exceedingly energetic, exploring the house, getting himself in small corners and slowly getting acclimated to The General (who is deathly afraid of him because he’s already been clawed at once or twice!)

No one in my immediate family has owned cats but we know of plenty of people who do (The Divo, Dub-G). So we are going to take this one day at a time. It's a real learning experience for us but I have a feeling we're going to be pretty good at it!

I'm extremely allergic to these four-legged “furballs” so I guess this means I'll be on Claritin for a long time …

Bummer.

Can anyone recommend anything stronger for pet allergies?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Can You Spare Change?

This weekend, I spent time helping The Voice and his roommates, J.J., move into their new apartment.

The weekend before, we spent the night on the town because we knew that work lay upon the horizon. We met up in Boston, walked through the bustling, vibrant North End to a waterfront Chinese restaurant called Billy Tse and then cut through Faneuil Hall and the Commons to the Theatre District to check out Charlie Murphy at the Wilbur Theatre. All in all, it was a perfect last weekend in his old place! Oh yeah, neither of us really found Charlie Murphy all that funny so just an F.Y.I. ... my personal fav? Chris Rock!

This past weekend, I struggled anxiously through class on Friday and then bolted to the new crib to see what I could help out with. J-Male's parents were visiting from out of town and helped with the move along with The Voice and his son (long story but it’s not his biological son!) By the time I arrived at the apartment, most everything was done.

The Voice and I made a final sweep of the old apartment and picked up the remaining items. I looked wistfully around the barren rooms and then after slowly closing the door, decided not to look back, only forward. However, The Voice wasn't feeling that wistful and decided to stick it to the landlady for being such a royal b**** - he unscrewed the front and back porch exterior light bulbs and we bounced!

Next up was the IKEA drama! The delivery people had a little trouble finding the location. They finally got the items there while The Voice and I returned to my house to pick up his super-sized mirror and bedside lamps. We got a call from Lady J who told us that the assembly guy (contracted through IKEA as well) was running late. The Voice called him up only to receive no answer and a dial tone and after multiple phone calls, arguments between Lady J, The Voice and the assembly guy's boss, they agreed to send a person out at eight o'clock at night! Needless to say, The Voice and Lady J were VERY pissed! Please take note that J-Male and I were staying neutral and relaxed throughout all this

They don’t call us “better halves” for nothing! LOL

Well, The Voice then decided to shop at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target while the furniture was being assembled. However, he cornered the poor, defenseless BB&B saleswoman and unleashed his tirade about IKEA's exceptionally crummy customer service and then left even more irate at the amount of money he had spent! We returned most of it the next day and settled with a less expensive bathroom set with extraneous accessories we acquired at Kohl's, Homegoods and Target. While the assembly man labored away, we all dug into the Chinese food and finished unpacking.

The Voice spent his first night at the crib alone since he was starting to annoy me (chock it up to being late and we were very tired). The following day, we shopped till we dropped and came back to set the bathroom up (I'll post a few pics when I stop by his place tomorrow). After all our hard work, we attended a revival service at my cousin's church which wasn’t too far from The Empire. Java-Mama, The Voice and I were deeply moved and truly uplifted following the pastor's message and the musical selections! Afterward, we checked out X-Men Origins: Wolverine and called it a night.

Our first night together was serene and relaxing and we lay in bed discussing possible furniture arrangements for his bedroom. We spoke softly and then realized his roommates were on the far side of the apartment in their master suite so were able to talk a bit more loudly. Such an revitalizing change from the old apartment (we always kept the TV and vocal volume down for fear of disturbing his roomies).

On Sunday, we shopped again till we dropped and when we returned home, I assembled the lamps, tower fan, bathroom shelves and hung pictures. My “supervising half” arranged and decorated and by that night, his room and the bathroom were honestly starting to feel like a home. I “chillaxed” in the kitchen with J.J. and we all sat around discussing ideas for the living/kitchen area.

I beginning to feel even more at home in his apartment and I'd be a liar if I said the idea of moving in hasn't crossed my mind a few times. J-Male and Lady J get along great with me. We've dined together, I've walked their dog, I take out the trash and do dishes. I'm even planning to cook a Sunday dinner in a few weeks! While The Voice thinks moving in together is too soon, I'm wondering just when the right time is. What if we're still not ready at a year’s time or what if we've been ready all along? We're vibin' on a level that's truly unprecedented. No major fights or quarrels and the few disagreements we do have seem to fizzle out after a short "time-out." I believe people will think I'm too desperate if I move in this early in the relationship however, those same people have been repeatedly asking us when it will happen. We've firmly established our relationship and most of our friends and family have accepted the other into the circle. Although I can think of many positive reasons, I can unearth as many negative concern and that leaves me in a mental standoff.

Nonetheless, it's a spectacular feeling leaving the old behind and focusing on the future! So much has changed in my life in just a few short months. From leaving The Fund, attending school full-time, working at The Empire, to entering into a relationship, The Voice cutting his locks and moving ... even our newest family member! While all this change feels overwhelming at times, simultaneously it feels perfectly natural and I’m aware that without it, my life would be incredibly dreary and lifeless.

So bring on the change and let me feel, breathe and live once again!

Today’s advice?

“Make a change in your life…!”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Movin' On Up ... To The Eastside!

I'm moving!!!!

Well, not exactly but close enough! The Voice and his roommates are moving Friday and I can't wait!

The day after I met The Voice, I was invited up to his apartment. I immeadiately was struck with how derelict it appeared from the exterior however, upon entry, I noticed that they had really personalized it and made it their own. The Voice has two roommates, male and female whom I've dubbed J.J. (who now own a lil' dog so I guess it's J.J., Jr.!) and the place was so small and cramped, I had to enter through their bedroom to get to the living room.

Yes, I know ... ghetto.

His bedroom was on the far side of the small kitchen and while he had decorated it with an accent wall, black leather curtains and tasteful Asian themed knick-knacks, it was still small. That first day when I sat on his bed while waiting for him to finish showering and dress, I recall feeling like a stranger, glancing around, staring at his personal effects on the dresser, eyeing his photos on the mirror and gazing in wonder at his Boston Marathon medal. Within weeks, I began to feel that his room was my second home. As the months passed, I cooked meals there, watched TV in the living room, showered in the bathroom (yes, including the singing off-key), changed fuses in his roomies bedroom, and eventually gained his trust and was left alone in his bedroom when he left for work.

I recall one night, back in early December, I arrived at his apartment at 2:30 AM following my shift. When I got out of the car, I discovered about six to seven large, rather fierce some looking raccoons blocking the path to the door. I did everything I could to scare them away but they aren’t easily intimidated. I eventually got in but his landlady didn’t do much to resolve the problem. Moreover, the neighborhood was filled with problems such as the quarrelsome crack-head neighbors below, the break-in to his roommates car and the fights between neighbors to find a decent parking space.

Despite all of these problems, this upcoming move has me feeling slightly nostalgic, regardless of the fact it's only been a few months. I am going to miss that little quaint apartment ...

Nevertheless, change is on the horizon and trust me, this new place will make me forget about the old rather quickly! The new apartment complex is top-notch, a true luxury apartment feel and located about 5 minutes closer to my house. It's a three bedroom, two bath with hardwood floors, walk-in closets, granite counters, state of the art stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, and glass walk-in shower in the master bathroom. On site amenities include a club house with movie theater, fitness room, sauna, pool, convenience store, park, tennis courts, conference rooms, covered parking and so much more! The complex is still under construction so I can't wait to see how this turns out!

And the best part for me? No giant raccoons to do battle with! No crazy neighbors and a guaranteed parking space when I visit!

Two years ago, when Dub G moved into a brand new luxury apartment complex (and moved out and back again!), I was green with envy. It featured a loft, new appliances, two bedrooms and two bathrooms and while their latest apartment didn’t feature the loft, nevertheless, it was still impressive.

Seems I'm going to get a lil' taste of luxury heaven! And boy is it sweet!

J-Male, The Voice and I stopped by the new place several weeks ago and I was blown away, even after seeing the model apartment. Walking around the building was like being in a four star hotel albeit with fewer people. They don't have many units filled yet so it's like a ghost town in our wing (that's cool by me!) The three bedroom unit (the only one in the complex) was originally meant to be a condo but they decided to rent it out so they’re the first takers.

This past weekend, we went to IKEA with his roommates and they all bought their bedroom sets. He also picked out some really nice bookcases, some cute nightstand lamps, and two tower fans. I also gave him my Rundu (Warning: link leads to adult content) calendars from last year and he’s planning to take the black and white nudes and frame them as art. Lastly, he picked out the most MASSIVE mirror he could find at IKEA and we had to cram that sucker into my small SUV. On a sidenote, the Ford Escape may be small but it sure came through this weekend! Eventually, he is going to get a plasma TV for his room and I’m hoping to get a desk or workspace set up so he’s not using his bed. I’m really enjoying selecting paint samples, arranging furniture and deciding on a theme

Nevertheless, the hard work isn’t over. Most of the major things have been boxed at his place and old furniture given away. Still, moving on Friday, having the new furniture delivered and assembled is going to be absolute chaos. On top of dealing with his bedroom, he also has to decide what to do with the main bathroom. J.J. have the master suite so this bathroom will be his and like they said in Gone With The Wind, “He don’ kno’ nutin’ bout birthin’ no bathrooms!” Hopefully when all is said and done, The Voice will let me post a pic of all our hardwork and you can let me know what you think of our interior design skills! Additionally, I’m pushing to go see Obsessed and X-Men Origins: Wolverine on Saturday night as a reward for our hard work

Oh yeah, I’m already hard at work trying to claim a nightstand, a space in the closet and MAYBE a drawer in the dresser so I’ll keep you guys posted! :: wink, wink ::

Thursday, April 30, 2009

UMB Jazz Band Concert Announcement

The University of Massachusetts Jazz Band presents


End Of The Semester Jazz Concert

Thursday, May 7th, 2009, 7:30 PM
Snowden Auditorium in Wheatley Hall

Featuring selected jazz classics such as "Well You Needn't", "Gingi", "Afro Blue" and many more including an original jazz composition arranged by the band!

New students on vocals, guitar, drums, and keyboard as well as returning students on bass, piano, vocals, percussion, sax and clarinet.

The concert is free, however parking is $6.00 flat fee and is conveniently located in the South Parking Lot. UMB is also accessible by train (Red Line - JFK/UMass Station) with shuttlebuses running every few minutes. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

We look forward to you joining us for an evening of music, fun and friends!

Thanks again for your support!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Empire Strikes Back!

Welcome to the darkside!

When I left The Fund last year, I thought finding a job would be a piece of cake. After all, I worked there over five years and I figured that would look extra impressive on my resume.

As Biggie would say, "You're dead wrong!"

It was over two months before I found a job and when I did, I thought all my problems would be resolved …

Once again, Biggie said, "You're dead wrong!"

Since I probably signed some type of confidentiality agreement somewhere during my orientation, I probably shouldn't reveal what company it is so I don't get slammed with a lawsuit so I'll just assign this dreadful place the moniker of The Empire. However, The Empire performs laboratory testing and they're international so you have some idea of what this place is about.

Well, the past few months here (can you believe I'm nearly at 7 months?) have been both fraught with good and bad. The good? Well, it's full-time, the pay is slightly better than my last job, I've got my own parking space, I'm alone for 4-5 hours before my co-workers come in and the benefits are nice. That latter part is extremely important since here in Taxachusetts Massachusetts they enacted a law that requires all residents to possess health insurance which at the time I thought was great until I was without a job. It is deducted from your tax return for each month you're without it. Needless to say, I only received a lousy $18.00 back from the state! The Empire does provide fun events from time to time and this past holiday season, I won about 7-8 Visa gift cards worth about $50 each.

Moreover, the bad is far more plentiful. I dislike the hours (6 PM - 2 AM) although it beats some of my other co-workers, who by the way, also irritate the heck out of me. We have to use a time clock (ugh!), requesting time off is a pain in the a**, we had to work Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve (DOUBLE UGH!), I get a lousy half hour for break (last time I checked, isn’t it 2009?) and overall, I really don't like the work; it's far too simple.

The biggest irritants so far are my co-workers. There are only five individuals in our department, one of which is our supervisor/lead. We'll assign them alias: The Hedgehog, Mumbles (aka Sleepy Gonzalez), Lady Lazy and Chuckles.

Mumbles is my supervisor, a Hispanic guy around my age, so named because of his super-annoying habit of mumbling everything thus leading to a constant chorus of "what?" heard throughout the night.

The Hedgehog is a short, stumpy Asian (who thinks he’s black) guy who can be found continuously nodding off at his desk nearly every night. He's into reggaeton, deludes us with club remixes every Friday and tortures me with his ratings who’s hot and not at the job. He's constantly late (by an hour or two per night) and while I thought he was the most cultured of the group, I've come to despise him as much as the rest.

Next up is Lady Lazy who gave her two week notice last week. She's a complicated one simply because while she's the only one I've revealed my orientation to, I've also gained my very own fag hag in the process. Since I opened up to her, she comes to me with every little issue regarding her relationship and to be honest, I really just don’t care. When I was annexed by The Empire, I vowed to not become close to anyone and so far it’s worked, at least up until now.

Initially, I thought she was slow because of the way she spoke but came to find out she's got a brain up there … she just doesn't use it. She's been dating a guy she met online about the same time as I met The Voice and she's about to move down to his state to be with him. Problem is, she's got no money saved, she’s in debt, she's not planning to get a job and she seems to have this idea that he's her knight in shining armor that will save her from her family, debt, loneliness, insane asylum and the myriad of issues she’s got. While most of the men I've dated I met online, I still think it's rather sudden to be making such a huge move with someone she has only met twice. However, she's seriously caught up in love ... I tend to think of it more like fatal attraction since I asked about the possibility of a break up and she responded: "oh no, there will be no divorce or break ups!" Did I mention the deranged twinkle in her eye when she said it?

Lastly, we have Chuckles who is the oldest guy in our department, not to mention the lone white guy. He’s an extremely easy-going person but has a serious flatulence problem not to mention that he looks a bit creepy and says the same phrases continuously. Despite all that, I’ve learned he’s a veteran, takes cruises regularly with his wife (yeah, I was shocked by that too!) and speaks several languages fluently. Furthermore, his wife is a friend of The Pit, a former co-worker back at The Fund. Small world, eh?

Overall, I've had no problems with The Empire but I've come to feel I'm treated as nothing more than a number, a cog in the machine. The Logistics department (couriers) shares space with our department and I’ve been fairly cordial toward some of the drivers. Nevertheless, it’s a two way street as I’ve overheard conversations among the drivers regarding dissatisfaction with The Empire as a whole. Many things within The Empire are tightly regulated perhaps because of the medical nature of the job. I’m required to wear a lab coat and latex gloves throughout most of the night and frequently come in contact with blood, tissue and urine samples. Still, the medical field is the best place to be in this crummy economy.

Consequently, this segues into my first major issue with The Empire. The Voice and his roommates are moving this coming Friday. I have offered to help out and I requested that day off back in March. My manager doesn’t usually get in until 10:30 so I slipped the form under her door. Well, a whole month passed and when I spoke to her last week, she claims that she never received a form from me. So I checked my records at home but couldn’t find it. So I was left in a precarious position. I appeared to be negligent and unorganized while it was really her who didn’t have it together. I couldn’t prove anything so I resubmitted the form and luckily got the day off. Still, I prefer to request days off with as much advance notice as possible but this incident made me look desperate.

I suppose I'm spoiled and enjoyed the luxury of taking time off when I wanted at The Fund and now have to adjust to this system. While their system is archaic and flawed, I’ve decided to work within it to protect myself. I’m going to submit the form in person, check up on it within a week, and keep copies. I’m not blaming her since she may never have received it and I should have checked up on it sooner, but trust, this won’t happen again.

I guess I got lucky since the night I requested it, The Hedgehog arrived late (typical) and asked if any of us had Friday off. Then he asked if anyone had Thursday and Mumbles said he was out.
Needless to say I got the evil eye all night …

“One more year, one more year, one more year, one more year!”

Monday, April 27, 2009

Take Me Back

“Sittin’ here thinking bout yesterday
About what we did and how we used to play
Just the thought of you brings a smile upon my face
That’s how it makes me feel to see you everyday

(Chorus)
Take me there,
I wanna go there,
Take me there,
Let’s go there,
Take me to that great place
With wonders and wishes”

Blackstreet, Mya, Mase & Blinky Blink (Take Me There Remix – from The Rugrats Movie Soundtrack)


Going back to the basics was what our weekend theme two weeks ago was all about! I haven't had a weekend like that in several months and to say it was splendid was an absolute understatement!

The Voice and I met up at the train station on Saturday morning and jetted to the post office to apply for his passport. Afterwards, we timidly entered the realm of baby shopping seeking out a gift for my one year old great-niece. We made a pit stop at D'Angelo's and sat in the car in front of Babies R' Us commenting and laughing at the various couples entering. I know, I know, it sounds mean but we were getting a kick out of "who wears the pants in which relationship," poking fun at the husbands who looked like they had been dragged by their toenails into the store. Eventually, we picked out a plastic pink stroller which I hoped would help her with walking - it was also the nicest and cheapest item and you know I'm on a college student, post-Bush recession budget!

I wrapped the gift up, scooped up Pops and left for the party. We arrived very late but that means absolutely nothing at a gathering of CP's! I was especially eager to introduce my sister, nieces, nephew-in-law, and brother-in-law to The Voice. The kids (I have two great nieces and nephews) were swarming around the yard and the house was filled with one ghetto couple after another. Nevertheless, it was good to see my niece, who sorta resembles Solé. Tweet, my sister, was busy helping The Voice get his buzz on (she makes this incredible concoction that consists of Southern Comfort, sherbet and ginger ale and probably some other secret ingredient that she’ll never reveal!).

Well, an hour into the party, I was satiated with my fill of ghetto-ness and we left. Besides, The Voice and I had tickets to check out The Blue Man Group! Now, I had seen the show several years ago with one of the X-Men, Heart2Soul, but I have to say that I found it just as fascinating and inventive and was able to discern more themes the second time around. I kept stressing to The Voice that we "simply cannot be late!" and he kept questioning me. He found out when they allowed a few late-comers to enter the show, shined a spotlight on them, featured them on camera, and sang "Yooooou're laaaateee!" ... he simply glanced over at me, smirking and realized why I had been so insistent! Overall, we enjoyed the show despite not being able to see the entire stage due to several “fatheads.” Following the performance, I was trailed down the stairs by one of the blue men ... damn, those guys really give me the creeps!

We were starving and thus headed to our favorite spot. Yep, you guessed it!

Cheesecake Factory!

A perfect ending to the perfect evening. Walking around the theatre district after a riveting show, dinner at a fairly decent place (the cheesecake and drinks are the only things truly worth checking out!), it was nice to go home and “cuddle” together.

The next day, we slept in and then stopped by UMB so I could take care of my penultimate stats lab. We then spent the remainder of the afternoon furniture shopping, eventually ending up back at IKEA.

SIDEBAR: I finally heard from Crazy and suffice it to say, he's doing good and still crazy! Hopefully we'll hang out soon.

The best part of the evening was when we rushed back to the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge to watch the Poetry Slam Finals which featured eight outstanding poets who rocked the house! The place was small and packed wall to wall, not an empty chair left. I hadn’t seen it like that since the first time he introduced me to the slam. By the way, that was our first date the day after we met. Told ya! It was all about going back, waaaay back, back into tiiiiimmmmmeeee ... okay, it's late, I'm being silly!

The poets, Iyeoka Okoawo, Art, Marlon Carey, Nicole “Cole” Rodriguez, Harlym 1 two 5, Influence, Michelle and Fibo each went three rounds, three minutes apiece with topics ranging from sex and love to political issues. I don’t want to get into specifics because this blog entry will be ten times longer but all were spectacular in his or her unique way. In the end, Marlon, Cole, Harlym 1 two 5, and Iyeoka were chosen to represent the Boston Slam Team in the National Slam Finals in West Palm Beach, FL in August. The place cleared out rather quickly following the intense competition and a small gathering remained to check out the open mic. Suddenly, The Voice felt empowered and decided to get up and spit something … needless to say (and maybe I’m a bit biased), he rocked what was left of the house!

We were the very last two patrons to leave and it was late when we arrived home but that didn’t stop our hearts from caressing one another and we fell fast asleep in our arms.

Monday morning flew by rapidly. Pizzeria Regina and Barnes & Noble filled our day and then I was off to work, my head saturated with thoughts of our “chill” weekend.

I recently expressed that I felt our relationship was getting stale but in hindsight, I feel I was terribly off-base. It’s not stale but rather, we’re exceptionally comfortable with one another. We are no longer erecting our facades of the “perfect boyfriend”; the infatuation has ended. We’re very much in love, but the level we’ve attained is beyond anything I’ve felt for another human being. Many of our flaws have been revealed to one another and while I used to be extremely self-conscious about my appearance and behavior, I’ve come to understand that building a future with someone means tearing down those walls and revealing your true personality. That weekend really helped recapture those heartfelt emotions of what initially attracted me to The Voice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hate On Me

I was browsing through my external harddrive and came across some old photos of me that date back several years. I was getting a kick out of the different braided styles I've had and decided to share with you guys ... so basically this is just a post of me posin'!

And no hateration up in here! LOL

Note: *The pics are above in the slideshow

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blame It On The Alcohol

I've been sober for approximately 3 months and while I can't say it's been 100% (there have been two slip-ups), I've done pretty well for myself! Why am I doing this? Am I addicted? Well, the answer is somewhat complex and not entirely straightforward ...

In order to get a sense of where I'm coming from, let me provide a little background. You see, I originate from a family of drinkers and having been exposed to alcohol since I was a smaller, brattier version of my current self, I took to it like a duck to water.

Growing up, summer barbecues always featured my dad and beer of which my brother and I sweet talked our way into multiple sips (yeah, we were extremely devious!) until Pops caught on. As pre-teens, we visited our cousins in VA and the adults began their "special time" after us kids were sent off to bed. Java-Mama and my aunt would whip up daiquiris, margaritas and crack open wine coolers faster than ex-prez Bush left D.C. in January! Furthermore, Rugrat and I would sneak downstairs to my grandparents apartment and raid their fridge and eventually discovered why the orange juice had a tangy kick to it: my grandmother was notorious for mixing vodka and OJ.

While I laugh at these childhood memories and chalk them up as harmless, I embody memories of the darker consequences and damage alcohol has done to my family and friends. Times such as my Pops' swearing escapades that resulted in him sleeping the evening away while nearly burning the house down because he left the stove on high. Times such as holding Dub-G's hair back while watching her puke her guts out and then go ride off with strangers and her mom calling me the next day frantic and upset because she never came home. Times such as my college roommates vandalizing the dorms at 4 in the morning following a night of drinking. Times such as watching my drunk neighbor beat his pregnant wife on the street late at night while his young son looked on helplessly. Times such as watching a drunk family member beat and debase my cousin and leading my mom to take us to a hotel. Times such as being in the car with BJ as he popped open can after can of beer (I asked to be dropped off at a nearby train station). Times such as seeing my church filled with grieving teens following the car crash death of Rugrat’s close friend mere days from high school graduation.

I’ve also seen what a lifetime of drinking has done to some close friends and even some family members who now suffer from a myriad of alcohol related illnesses such as liver and kidney dysfunctions. Additionally, we have some family members who completed Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Moreover, I had a grandmother I never knew who passed away from cirrhosis of the liver at a mere 40 something years young.

If all this isn't sobering, I don't know what is.

Nevertheless, I do not escape blame as I too have experienced the "dark side" of alcohol. Such as the time I cussed out my parents and late aunt. I lunged at them while Kingston held me back and tackled me to the ground. Times such as being so drunk at the club, I couldn't drive home and Ladybug had to drive my vehicle. Times such as being wasted at a high school prom after-party which the cops raided. Or the time I drove wasted and managed to slip past a police checkpoint. The time I came home with The Voice and sprained my thumb while stumbling around intoxicated merely two weeks out from my performance jury as well as my jazz concert (a devastating injury when you're a musician). And lastly, the time I attended a party and got so trashed, that I ended up sleeping over, in a pitch-black basement, with a strange man lying next to me.

Like Erykah Badu would say, "On and on..."

The point I'm driving home is that it's time for me to take a break. I advocate social drinking and hope to return to it someday but in the meantime, I need to dry out. I enjoy alcohol, however, too much of a good thing ... well, you know the rest!

There's only one problem: I'm dating a borderline alcoholic.

I love The Voice with all my heart and considering the circumstances surrounding our meeting, I'm in no position to judge nor tell him what to do. However, I'm having extreme difficulty dealing with his social pastime amongst his social circle. Nearly everyone The Voice associates with is a regular drinker. However, not EVERYONE he knows is a bonafide alcoholic however, alcohol seems to exist abundantly in his life. When I began this crusade, I truly hoped my decision would lead him away from temptation but that line of thinking was seriously flawed. I've since given that idea up and decided to focus on the benefits to my life. I am more energized, focused and extremely clear-headed. I enjoy not experiencing heavy hangovers on the weekends and I'm more alive than ever before. Nevertheless, I've served as his designated driver on numerous occasions and I'm slowly becoming tired of his persitant need to drink.

He has stated that it isn't an addiction but it seems that everytime he is with his friends or by my house, he's always imbibing. I'm not really sure how to cope with this. While I plan to return to my alcoholic ways (though not as heavily), I'm still a bit frustrated. The Voice traveled out of town twice to party with his friends and came back with behemoth hangovers. Personally, I no longer desire drinking to the point of being wasted and sometimes I simply don't get where he's coming from; I feel as though he's still living out his college days. He's no fun when he's drinking (he falls asleep leaving me bored) and I see him morphing into a younger version of individuals who've suffered the cruel effects of alcohol addiction. Overall, I'm concerned for his health and well-being. Diabetes, liver and kidney illnesses, nervous system disorders, heart problems are all issues that can arise from his drinking. I know firsthand since I've seen what this disease has done to the people I love.

The worst part? He vehemently denies that he's got a problem.

So how can I resolve my issues and feelings surrounding alcohol and still date someone who is very much under the influence?

Is this simply a disaster waiting to happen or can we truly work it out?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On The Streets Of Philadelphia (Part 2)

So I awoke to my second day in Philly and the day was overflowing with untold possibilities. I wanted to experience everything but reality set in and I knew that was impossible since I was scheduled to depart the next day.

Needless to say, time was against us and true to the nature of our relationship, we lounged in bed most of the morning. But can you blame a brotha? It's not often you get to chill in Philadelphia with your boyfriend in a fancy loft of a semi-famous musician ...

We lay there telling stories and I discovered that The Voice used to bus tables during his undergrad years. However, that gig didn't last long after he knocked a customer out cold with a busing bucket! A long story I won't digress into but he had me in stitches for a good five minutes!

We eventually made our way out of bed and showered, eager to explore the city. And of course we couldn't have a weekend away from Boston without a small disagreement. I fussed about his slowness in getting ready but he snapped back regarding my lackadaisical attitude. The argument fizzled once we were in the car and in a few minutes, we were cruising towards downtown Philadelphia.

We zipped past Love Park and City Hall and then proceeded down the Avenue of the Arts. I pointed out the statue of William Penn at the apex of the building. We stopped at a Whole Foods on South Street to pick up some stuff. However, I was on the hunt for the one thing I craved and needed to experience before leaving this city: a cheesesteak! The Divo and his boyfriend visited Philly a few months prior and recommended Geno's Steaks, a few blocks shy of South Street. After a few wrong turns (my one significant complaint about Philly is the lab rat maze-like feel of numerous one-way streets! ARGH! There's no such thing as "around the block"!), we found the Geno's and their competition, packed with hungry people and lines wrapping around the building. I parked in a lot a few blocks away and walked back.

The line moved at a measured pace and I gazed over the many celebrity and non-celebrity photos, autographs and multitudes of fire and police patches. There was even a sidewalk dedication to law enforcement, complete with plaques and bronzed memorabilia. The turn was mine and I ordered a steak with swiss cheese and no onions (they don't agree with me) and got a side of fries and a coke. I swear I put on about 10 pounds after that meal but it was well worth it! The Voice stood with me but being a Vegan, he had no interest in joining me.

Shopping was next on the agenda and I steered us northward, back toward City Hall and down Market Street. We hopped on Interstate 76 and cruised past Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill River and down the scenic Lincoln Drive. The road curved and twisted like a boa constrictor and eventually deposited us in the Chestnut Hill area.

Having fell in love with this area from my last visit, I had go back there. The quaint shops, the cobblestone roads, the small town/village relaxed me to no end and once again, true to our relationship, we sought out the nearest bookstore (Border's) and set about buying stuff we probably didn't need. Yeah, I know, we're dorky like that but we're both huge readers and can easily spend HOURS in a bookstore and not be bored!

We then drove up to the Franklin Mills Mall after some more wrong turns and shopped around for a while. I managed to snag Musiq’s latest album and then we decided to get back to Philly so we could feed our rumbling stomachs. We returned to the apartment and snacked on some leftovers from Warmdaddy’s; little did we know, this would be our undoing. We hopped in the car. Destination: the Gayberhood. (Cute name, huh?) However, The Voice became increasingly nauseous from the food and I turned back to the apartment. He lay down leaving me anxiously bored. I flipped on the plasma TV and surfed around awhile. Eventually, I found some old menus and put in an order for a pizza from a shop around the corner.

Not quite how I envisioned my Saturday evening.

Sunday morning, we lazed in bed awhile and then I began packing. We traipsed to a small Mexican bistro a block away and I had the BEST pancakes in my life, coated with powdered sugar and strawberries and blueberries! Wow, I’m salivating just thinking about that memory …

Right before it was time to depart for the airport, the apartment manager stopped by to straighten up and we had a nice conversation. She moved to Philadelphia a few years ago from Arizona to be closer to her daughter and decided to remain. I think I can understand why.

Nevertheless, before I knew it, I was sitting in the terminal at Philadelphia International next to a bunch of bratty kids who couldn’t sit still to save their lives. I snagged a few souvenirs from the airport gift shop and soon was sailing through the air, on my way back to Boston.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Philly twice and each time has been an amazingly adventure. I’ve seen the best of Philly and the worst (visited North Philly the last time and here I thought our hoods were extremely ghetto). Overall, I find the people to be more open and friendlier (we’re a bit stuffy here in Beantown) and the general layout isn’t to hard to follow. Philadelphia is brimming with culture, music, art, and history and I see it as a kindred city. If given a chance to live there, I would definitely consider it.

However, in the spirit of Dorothy, “There’s [truly] no place like home!”

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm Going Crazy ... Wanna Come?

Hey everyone!

Contrary to the rumors, I'm still alive but extremely busy this semester! School has taken up about 75% of my time while The Voice has secured the other 25% ... couple that with no internet connection at work (crappy connection at school), two hour intervals at home between classes or work, and four hours of sleep per night and you have a recipe for "No-Posts-On-Your-Blog"!

Tasty, eh?

Anyway, I'm trying my dang hardest to get something written in the next few days but realistically, I'm not seeing it. There is a lot on my mind from my no-alcohol phase to my future and school as well as The Voice cutting his beautiful locks off! I also have several book reviews, not to mention a few family and church issues that I'd like to get feedback on ... I've tried keeping up with everyone else's blogs via my iPhone but time really is fleeting! Trust, following this semester, I'll be back in full force!

But until then, school comes first ...

Much Love,
K.C.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

On The Streets Of Philadelphia (Part 1)

This past weekend, I visited the great city of love and man was it brotherly!

Philadelphia.

I flew out Friday morning on probably the most derelict flight EVER! My flight was delayed (which was a surprise since I've never taken issue with Delta) so The Voice and I made it into a competition to see who would arrive in Philly first. I think he touched down a few minutes before me.

These three black guys in front of me were busy yakking away and constantly tapping away on their Blackberry's and Sidekicks. But sister-girl attendant wasn't having it. She made the announcement for everyone to shut down their electronic devices but they continued pecking away. So she came back and said,

"You gentlemen need to turn those off now. Thanks!"

But oh no, sister-girl wasn't done. She then went back to the front cabin and stated on the intercom,

"When I make an announcement, it's for the benefit and respect for all on board so when I say to shut off electronic devices, please adhere! Thank you!"

Wow! :: z snap :: "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!"

“Oh yes she did!”

After several more problems with the lavatory, of which she constantly reiterated,

"I don't know what happened but it wasn't me that messed it up! It was like that when I came on!',

we finally departed.

I managed a seat to myself since it wasn't a full flight and then watched the magnificent skyline pf Philadelphia gradually come into focus out the port window. I was extremely enthusiastic to touch down and see my baby!

I deplaned, breathing in the crisp, cold Philadelphia air and then made my way through the crowded terminal to retrieve my bags. By the way, the $40 fee for an extra bag is absolutely outrageous! Never mind the fact I had to spend several hundred for a weekend roundtrip ... and all I got was a half cup of soda and a tiny a** bag of peanuts that wouldn't even stuff an anorexic mouse?! Come on!

Okay, sorry, I that was the Cassandra Fierce personality taking over … where was I? Oh yeah …

The Voice made his way to my terminal via a taxi (yep, you read correctly: a taxi to go from one terminal to the next! "I'mma I'mma a diva, I'mma I'mma a diva") we hopped on the car rental shuttle to pick up our ride. Now why is it that the most OBVIOUSLY SGL guys work in service oriented businesses? And it's quite OBVIOUS that these OBVIOUS guys are hitting on you. Questions like, "Oh do you two work together?" or "Can I just see your license one more time, sir! ... mmmm-kay, thanks!" Yeah, not OBVIOUS at all! And all while my man was in the restroom ... not cute!

"I gotta man!" - Positive K

So we picked out the car and zipped down the highway to the apartment. We cruised past the Philadelphia Eagles stadium and the Citizens Bank Park and then up the east side of the city. After a harrowing ride, we pulled off the highway and I could see Penn's Landing to my right. The apartment was only a few blocks away in a heavily gentrified neighborhood. I walked in to find a two room studio-like loft. High ceilings, old painted brick walls, a modern open kitchen and a flat screen TV were just some of the luxurious features of this quaint place. It was even cooler because it’s owned by a famous musician and his memorabilia adorned the walls. However neither of us paid any attention to that because we had some “things” to take care of!

The Voice and I strolled down the cold, blustery street to a contemporary Mexican restaurant/bar, sampling their veggie chicken wings and burritos. We were starving after a day of anxious travel. We chilled at the loft for a while and then headed out to our 7:30 reservations at Warmdaddy’s, a soul-food entertainment venue that was featuring Carol Riddick, an up-and-coming R&B songstress. I had been to Warmdaddy’s before however, at their old location on Front Street. The new joint was impressive and much more elegant. Black tables with a modern bar and soothing red toned walls made us long for a Boston location. Carol Riddick came on stage with a four piece band and two backup singers and performed sultry jazz numbers under the neon glow of the Warmdaddy’s sign.

The Voice and I sampled finger foods, the drink menu (except me) as well as their salmon entrée and Cajun chicken pasta. We were both still stuffed from the Mexican food but nibbled nonetheless. Carol possessed a bubbly and bright personality, similar to Jill Scott however, was drowned out by her spotlight hogging keyboardist and drummer. The backup singers swayed to the beat but were never really heard. Such a shame since Ms. Riddick had some serious pipes. After the set, The Voice, feeling empowered by several drinks, conversed with her, offering his unique brand of criticism and complement.

So it was 9:30 and we weren’t ready to call it a night so we braved the massive, crushing crowds at the movie theater adjacent to Warmdaddy’s to check out Madea Goes To Jail. After standing in the LONGEST line of my life (I think President Obama’s first year in office passed by!) just to get some drinks and Twizzlers, we scoped out two seats and kicked back. Now, this movie theater was definitely black owned because we initially stood in line for 30 minutes for snacks. Secondly, the movie advertisements didn’t start until almost 11:05 (supposed to be 10:50) and lastly, following the movie (of which most people were talking through), a fight nearly broke out because someone in the back threw an item in the midst of a group of ghetto girls up front. Yeah, you do the math …

(Item Thrown + Crowded Theater) x Ghetto Girls2 = I’M A KICK YO A**!!!!

After the movie, we hurried back to our car and made a dash for the apartment. However, we arrived to find someone parked in our assigned space in the lot. So while I was ready to leave the wheels on the street, The Voice decided to hunt down the culprits and draw and quarter them! Nah, he just wanted to get their car towed. So I suggested the Irish bar across the street and lo and behold, he stalked in their to seek and destroy. I half expected the cops to show up a few minutes later but he eventually emerged with the guy who apologized profusely and we obtained our space.

After short make-out session on our way into the apartment, we crashed in bed and I drifted into a peaceful slumber …

… what would my second day in Philly be like?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Sickly Valentine (Part 2)

So did we manage to save V-Day weekend?

Sorta.

I was up and down all night, my stomach giving me the ultimate run for my money. The Voice rebounded from his toothache however, my ailments just wouldn't disappear. Gradually, I developed a fever and felt like I was in Shubuta, Mississippi! Every joint in my body ached and my muscles were leaden as though I was in the supergravity of a gas giant. We lay in bed nearly all of Sunday and I fitfully slept in between the gory sounds of Friday The 13th playing On Demand (he's a huge horror fan and I'm not, so I lay facing the wall).

And did he take care of me? Without a doubt! After the release of nearly all my stomach contents, I was feeling extremely dehydrated. I recalled my Nutrition course professor's lesson, that the body needs electrolytes following such an extreme loss of fluid. So I sent my man across the street to 7-Eleven to buy me several bottles of Gatorade. Additionally, he brought me some Zantac to help relieve my stomach as well as break my fever and alleviate my throbbing muscles. He even texted my bro and mom to tell them what was going on!

Later that afternoon, my fever broke and I began feeling extremely restless. So we ended up playing checkers on my phone and he kept me entertained with all sorts of stories from his past. We also watched a really lame made-for-TV horror flick called The Breed. The plot involved a group of "killer dogs" who terrorize a bunch of partying college kids vacationing on an island. Needless to say, it was downright stupid and the effects were lame but I only watched because my sexy baby Hill Harper was in it ("why Hill, why? You're a Harvard law school grad! You're sooo much better than that!") It was more laughable than anything.

This lazy day was exactly what the doctor ordered! You've no idea how great it felt to simply lounge with my boyfriend. And even though I felt like the bottom of my shoe, he stuck by me when I wasn't at my best.

Now, I think I'm beginning to understand this concept called love a lot better. Nevermind that I puked all over the place and had bed hair. Nevermind that I was funky. Nevermind that I basically looked like s****! (T.M.I. maybe?) He was with me.

I think I'm digging this love thing a whole lot! :: huge grin ::

That evening, we left the house and stopped by a Border's Bookstore and picked up some food for him at P.F. Chang's. When we got home, I was beginning to feel crummy again and simply wanted real food (I'd been eating only yogurt and Gatorade) and rest. I entered his room and to my surprise he had heated up a bowl of chicken soup with a glass of Gatorade and some aspirin to relieve my sore arms! While my baby isn't exactly a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, he can hold his own so that really made my night.

The next morning he accompanied me to my primary physician and even went along to the pharmacy. I'm telling you, it

"Don't get much better than this!"

So while our romantic V-Day weekend didn't go precisely as planned, I got to see a more caring, more nurturing side to The Voice. His kindness and patience have left a deep impression on me. In the months that I've known him, The Voice has proven time and time again his loyalty and dedication to his friends. But I often wondered where did I stand? He's opened up tenfold since we met however, feeling that unconditional love when I'm at a low point is truly indescribable and soul-warming ...

... and it's probably the best Valentine's gift I ever received!

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Addendum: To answer Sean Stone's question, it was a stomach virus that seemed to go through the entire family, two of which were on antibiotics (Java-Mama and Rugrat). My doc didn't prescribe any for me as the virus had run it's course by the time I went to see him. The craziest part? We all the same symptoms but weren't even around each other (my folks were out of town of the weekend). While I'm all better, it seems that the virus went after The Voice but more on my weekend in Philadelphia in the next post!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Sickly Valentine (Part 1)

I never understood the meaning of 'lovesick' and now I think I do! But it's not in quite the way you'd imagine ...

I was in high anticipation Friday night and after rushing through my work, I jetted to my baby's crib to hold him tighter than ever before. We curled up and snored the night away, I woke up on Valentine's Day to his grinning face and sparkling eyes. Talk about a great way to begin my special day!

The Voice and I spent most of the day lying in bed, laughing, joking, talking and simply relaxing. After a few hours of laziness, we went out to pick up a few V-Day gifts for his friends and family. We stopped to grab a bite of food and then made our rounds like Santa on Christmas Eve. We swung by Ladybug's crib and met her sister who was visiting from out of town. J-Dub was by and after a shot or two, everyone was feeling nice (except me).

As we left, I was bit annoyed because the day hadn't gone as I had planned and I didn't get all my V-Day stuff together for The Voice. So we headed on to Hollywood Video and picked up Love Jones with Larenz Tate and Nia Long and then proceeded to the Build-A-Bear Workshop where he let me design my own Valentine bear!

Above: Kindred

Some of his friends remarked that this idea was a childish but we tuned them out. Subsequently, we observed a guy and his girlfriend picking out and designing a bear so I felt less awkward.

We then made our way back to his crib and I whipped up dinner. Needless to say, it all went downhill.

How you may ask?

"Well ... " (said like Samantha Stevens from Bewitched)

I whipped up some shrimp alfredo and some fish patties for The Voice. His wisdom tooth started aching so he laid down while I popped in Love Jones. I was really getting into the movie and he presented my other gifts. He gave me a card, the Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom DVD, and a framed picture of himself with his original poem (and my favorite) titled The Voice. The most amazing part? On the frame was a quote I had texted him while I was Christmas shopping a few months ago which I thought he had forgotten all about! It read:

"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you."
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Above: The Voice's gift (he's shy so I had to block out his face!)

So after the movie ended, my stomach started rumbling.

"It's just a little indigestion," I thought.

Well I drifted off to sleep and sometime around 2 AM, I dashed into the bathroom for some one-on-one face time with the toilet bowl. I don't think there's anything worse than puking your guts up on Valentine's night and then having to clean it all up. And of course The Voice couldn't really take care of me because he was still hurting. But my body wasn't finished. I ended up back in there several more times throughout the night. My stomach felt like someone had gut punched me and was twisting my organs inside out ...

Was there any way to save the rest of our wanna-be-romantic weekend?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stop The World ... I Wanna Get Off!

First of all, I want to apologize for my absence and lack of commentary on other blogs but so far this semester has been extremely overwhelming!

I am taking five courses, the most I've taken since resuming my educational studies in 2007. Additionally, I’m working full-time and in a relationship so my head is spinning. Nevertheless, this is what I wanted and I don't have any regrets. Overall, I'd much rather remain occupied than idle similar to my month-long winter hiatus.

Therefore, in short paragraphs, these are the latest happenings in my life:

Psychology 270 (Statistics) isn't as hard as everyone made it out to be. So far I'm getting the formulas, doing the homework and keeping pace. If I begin averaging low marks, I'll take the class as Pass/Fail option. Furthermore, I think I aced the first exam today!

Music Theory II and Ear Training are much more difficult. I received a C+ on a homework assignment (I was a straight A student last semester) so I'm going to have to step up my game. However, Wednesday's homework came back with an A on it – yeah, I’m back!

Additionally, Jazz Band is looking much different than last semester. New singers, a slim mocha cutie on the keys (hey, I can window-shop as long as I don't whip out the charge card!), an accordion player (don't ask!), and I'm on the real concert grand for now. No horns and we're actually going to be tested on improv skills around mid-term. Ugh!

Private lessons with Professor Hand Killer are killing me ... loudly! I’m working on a nine page (yes, you heard correctly!) Beethoven sonata for my jury (click here for previous post - Crazy For Classical). I'm struggling so can someone just shoot me now? Ready! Aim! Fire!

My sobriety crusade continues. Nearly two months! More about that in a subsequent post.

I finally saw Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom. It was far better than the series (great cinematography, writing, acting, etc.). However, it wrapped up too neatly but hey, that's Hollywood for ya! I’d love to comment more but I don’t want to ruin it for my readers who haven’t seen it. So definitely check it out!

Pops bought a new car. A dark blue Ford Explorer. Yep, he's finally moved into the 21st century! The funny thing is that I didn't even know they purchased a car! I came home at 2:30 AM to find a strange vehicle parked in the drive. I haven't even sat in it, let alone rode in it!

Speaking of cars, I'm planning to trade mine in (yet another problem with it - over $3,000 in repairs last year) and I've got my eye on the Ford Edge. I'm looking at getting leather interior (Limited or Sport edition). Rugrat is already dissing it. "It looks like a car that a white woman would drive! Like Cameron Diaz or something... "

I sent my boyfriend flowers for V-Day. I know it's stereotypical but after seeing that Super Bowl Teleflora commercial, "flowers in a box," I just had to try it out. I know, I know, I'm easy! Nevertheless, I still have a few sweet ideas for V-Day so I'll let you know how it turns out!

We're officially booked on the Caribbean cruise! I soooooo can't wait!

I found out yesterday that The Voice and I were invited to a June wedding in Jamaica! Talk about “compound excitement” (inside joke relating to Music Theory class!)

I jailbroke my iPhone and while I was extremely hesitant to do it, I’m glad I went through with it. It took a few tries but wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve already got a Star Trek theme going (you’ve gotta love the geek in me!) and even found a way to wirelessly connect it to my desktop. The Voice had his jailbroken within a few days of receiving it. Yes, we’re that nauseating couple who has matching phones … go ahead and say something! I dare ya! Ha ha!

I'm headed to Philadelphia next weekend. Any bloggers from that area have some recommendations of things to check out? Where can a Beantown brotha get a good Philly cheesesteak? I've been to Philly before (loved it!) yet never with the man I love ... this should be fun!

The Jaybirds (The Voice's roommates) got a small puppy. Yeah, I'm oozing with excitement! Seriously though, I think she's exceedingly cute but a ton of work. I only hope she's not neglected as he and his roomies work full-time. Either way, she's already "marked" The Voice's room. So if puppies love him, I guess that's a fantastic sign! LOL

I went bowling this week for the first time since Thanksgiving 2007 (Atlanta). Man, I missed that sport! For those of you that don't know, I was on a bowling league for several years when I was a pre-teen. Java-Mama was also on a league and has a ton of trophies to prove it. However, neither of us really broke 100 in the two games so we're thinking about making this a weekly thing to get our skills back up.

I won over $300 in corporate gift cards for the past two months! Can you guess how I’ve been paying for gas?

Speaking of work, I passed my three month probation. While it took a while to adjust, I’m settled for the most part. I’m not getting too chummy with the other employees as I don’t want to develop any attachments like I did at The Fund. The work sucks (I’m glad I chose healthcare since the job market is unbelievably bad!), the pay is “okay” but what do I care? It’s paying for my education and once I snatch that degree, I’m bouncing!

Okay, my break is over (I'm typing this at 1 AM so forgive my rambling!) and I'm going to get back to work ...

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day/Presidents’ Day Weekend everyone!