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

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 SolĂ©. 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,