Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Finally Being Honest

Earlier this morning, I attempted to sit in front of my computer screen and blog about what truly made me happy.

That turned out to be a much bigger and more difficult task than I thought. The very first thought I put down in my process was a negative one.

So I decided to approach this differently. I turned off the computer and grabbed a good old pen and two pieces of paper, and just started to write.

Sometimes, I just don't think I'm enough. Enough of a person, enough of a woman. Not pretty enough. Not funny enough. Not friendly. Unsuccessful.

That was the very first paragraph I wrote. Yeah, I know...
ouch. It takes a real lack of self-esteem to be able to write those things without flinching. It actually slightly hurts to know that when I challenged myself to write about being happy, the very first thing I did was put myself down.

I continued on for the next few pages, trying to pinpoint things that make me happy. Dressing up. Getting my nails done. These weren't it. I started writing about school, and wrote this:

I don't miss school as it was 2 years ago. I don't miss the life I had (entirely). What I do miss was the ability to learn new things. I miss being myself.

Lights and sirens started to blare. I hesitated slightly before writing the statement I miss being myself. I wanted to catch it, to stop myself before writing it. I felt ashamed.

I hesitated to write that last statement. And I immediately wanted to try to justify my statement. I wanted to explain myself away, maybe to soften the blow. I cared enough about what people think and the thought of who might read this that I didn't want to be honest with myself. Is that what I've come to? Have I devoted so much of my time to pleasing everyone else that I've forgotten how to be honest with myself?

I had to touch a soft spot within myself in order to admit that for a long time, I haven't been honest with myself. I'm not only referring to the big decisions in my life, such as what career I want to pursue or what I want to do with my credit. I'm referring to smaller everyday decisions. My blogger queue is chock full of half-written posts, abandoned because I felt the topic would be too sensitive to post or because I feared hurting somebody's feelings. I don't do what I want to my hair because I fear what someone might say, even though I know it would look 50 times better if I cut it shorter.

I still don't understand what caused me to start such a self-defeating cycle of doing everything for the acceptance of other people, completely ignoring everything that makes me happy.

Everything, that is, except coffee.

Coffee is the one of the few things I can think of that I've never compromised for anyone. It's the first thing I ever really rebelled with, at the age of 15. My mother forbade me to drink coffee...I drank it anyway. I wish I could say that I did it just because she told me not to...it would make me sound like I had some balls. But I drank it because it tastes delicious to me, and because I didn't understand why it's so bad. Still don't. As a matter of fact, I've told men I dated in the past that if they couldn't deal with me liking coffee, then maybe they needed to look somewhere else.

The reason I thought about coffee, and devoted a page and a half to writing about it, was that I found it interesting how I can quickly assert my beliefs regarding that but I seem to become a sissy about everything else.

But more than that, it was a lifeline of hope, a sliver of understanding in what were once murky waters. I'd asked myself what made me happy. After 3 1/2 hours of searching, I found one thing that purely makes me, and no one else, happy. It's certainly not the only thing, but it was refreshing to have at least one answer to my question. Demiera 1, Hard Life Questions 0.

People are interested in me...nay, I am interesting as a person, when I just do me. When I start doing things that I think other people want, not only am I usually very wrong, but I also stop being happy. I don't know what anybody else wants in their life. Why would I spend my life working on shaping myself to someone else's standards when I don't even know what their standards are, and honestly don't care?

How intriguing...in reading the passages excerpted from my long letter to myself, I feel like I've been more honest as a writer and a person than I have been in a long, long time. I finally see some of my personality coming out, some of my true beliefs, showing their face after so much time of being held back.

I wish I had some catchy conclusion to this post, to wrap it up. I wish I could say that I vow to always follow my own mind, to always do things the way I want them done. Let's be real. Change doesn't occur overnight, and you don't reverse 20 years of dependent thinking in a morning.

I can, however, admit that now that I've tapped a part of my soul and being that had been hidden for so long, I can finally work toward consciously changing my thought processes. I worried that nobody took me seriously...sure they didn't, because I didn't take myself seriously. Now it's time for me to start doing just that. Bit by bit, decision by decision, I'm sure I'll recover confidence that I lost, and finally start on that road to being truly happy again.


On a completely unrelated note, I want to stress the importance of family. I kind of strayed away from mine, even though they've always supported me, because I always thought that I needed to constantly impress them and once things didn't start working the way I thought they would, I felt like I was a failure and that I had let them down.

I realize now (and did for a little while, but it's really all making sense now) that everything I had projected that they were thinking was untrue, and largely a product of my own imagination. In fact, any time I think I can guess what's on someone's mind, it's normally just a product of my imagination and I almost always find later on that I was terribly wrong.

In any event, I've reached out, and they've accepted me back (as loving family does) and I'm ready to admit that I definitely was wrong in assuming that they wouldn't love or accept me just because I wasn't living life the way I thought they wanted me to live. I'm wrong in thinking anyone in my life worth having around won't love or accept me just because I don't make the decisions they want me to. Anybody who so conditionally cares for me doesn't deserve to be around me.

My uncle Calvin wrote this on my Facebook page, and as his messages always do, it really touched me and almost brought me to tears, and I wanted to share it here:

You're back in the nest so stay true to the fam and the fam will always stay true to you. Fear not the people you know, but those who are unseen and have not revealed themselves to you. Work on your instincts and learn to walk in the night fearless with your eyes closed. When you are related to something greater tha
n you, shed your fears and pursue your dreams with all the zest and vigor your heart can produce. Don't look back just stay focused on your goals and future.....I'm always watching your back so you don't have too!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pretty Mixed Babies

There's a new epidemic sweeping the nation, a trend that has silently yet powerfully taken our culture by storm. You might see them walking down the street, milling through stores, traveling in packs...

I'm referring to interracial couples.

An episode of The Golden Girls brought this topic to mind (yes, I do watch the Golden Girls faithfully). The show features a young white man and an older black woman getting married and shows the parents' difficulties dealing with that fact.

It got my mind gears cranking.

I am half of an interracial couple myself. I'm Black and Indian, and Jay is Mexican and Puerto Rican. Other than the occassional racial teasing, when he accuses me of being in love with fried chicken and I protest his insistance of eating everything on tortillas, we get along very well despite any differences in our skin tone. As a matter of fact, our relationship is very culture rich because we have the opportunity to show each other what makes each of us unique.

Unfortunately, skin color is enough of an issue to still create some discomfort at certain occasions. Meeting the parents was a scary experience for both of us because neither knew how we would be received into our respective families.

That, of course, says nothing about the looks we get from people when we walk down the street holding hands, or the comments we hear in passing that we know are directed our way.

We aren't looking for acceptance from the world. We accept each other, and that's enough for us.

But it wouldn't hurt if people weren't so damn unaccepting of the idea that a black woman and a hispanic man can love each other and be compatible enough to come together in a relationship.

What are your thoughts on interracial relationships, good or bad?

We were at Lollapalooza. We were hot, the "liquid courage" was flowing, the air was thick with Mary Jane's perfume...but we were together and we were (and still are!) HAPPY!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Designing a Home Office (Part 1)

I'm supposed to be cleaning the house.

Instead, I'm online shopping for furniture to create a home office we don't have the space for.

Let me back up. We have the space for an office. It's just not one of the more important things we need to be purchasing right now.

But, in light of the Christmas spirit, I can dream about it anyway.

I found an awesome desk at walmart.com that I've absolutely fallen in love with.

It's the Orion L-Shaped desk, running for $89.00.

How do you beat a price like that??

In addition, the desk is so cute, and looks like it would fit perfectly in the free space we have in the living room. It would be a nice place to store our documents. I think the CD tower is a little unnecessary since we don't stockpile many CDs, but I can definitely find an alternate use for it (outgoing mail, maybe? Bills to be paid?)

Regardless, it's cute. And affordable. And I want it.

Of course, you can't get a desk without a chair. And I found a cute chair too, leather no less, for $49.00.

I'm in office shopping heaven right now.

We need the desk space. Plus, the black/woodgrain will look reeeeaaaaallllllllyyyy nice with our black entertainment center and wooden cocktail table. It will do a lot to bring together the living room, while establishing that little corner as the "office corner".

We can put the laptop over there, and our books, and...

I'm probably getting a little ahead of myself. I haven't formally measured the space I have to work with, so that desk may not work as well as I'd like it to.

I'm also not considering the fact that our refrigerator is smack dab in the middle of the living room, making the task of cutting the office from the kitchen even harder.

I suppose my biggest concern is having way too much going on in the living room. But, if we've got the space, and we can make it work, why not go for it?

I'll plead my case tonight, and we'll see what happens... :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Organizing From The Inside Out

Yesterday, a trip to the bookstore yielded my second copy of Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.

I previously owned the similar book geared toward teens, written by Morgenstern's daughter Jessi. Ironically, I somehow misplaced that book. I attribute that to my own disregard of the general rules in the book and not to a lack of good advice. The book was awesome.

I am now prepared to launch an all-out organizing assault on our small, one bedroom apartment.

The good thing is that since we moved in only a few months ago, we haven't accumulated a huge amount of unnecessary items. But because the place is so small with so few storage items, it has become very difficult to control the clutter in the house while keeping it as aesthetic as possible.

The main reason not much has been done to decorate is the fact that we don't intend on staying in this apartment beyond the lease, which is up in August. We didn't want to spend a lot of time and money making this place habitable when we knew we wanted to find a new place as soon as possible.

What I'm discovering, though, is our lack of organization here is affecting much more than just the items in our house. Bills we thought were paid are turning up forgotten, important dates come and go without regard, and our important documents end up in a huge pile under the cocktail table and thrown anywhere they will fit.

We don't have much up in the form of decoration, making the apartment look boring and simply as a place to sleep, eat (though not all of the time) and bathe, versus looking like a home.

Since this is the first piece of paper Jay and I have signed our names to jointly, it holds a very sentimental aspect. But the decor doesn't reflect that.

Our bathroom is tiny and I'm an impulsive beauty product buyer, which means I have toiletries on the rims of the bathtub, the sink shelf, in containers under the sink, spread through the medicine cabinet, in the closet, and in a hamper in the living room (which I would like to relocate or even get rid of, since it's simply a shit collector).

Don't get me wrong, the place isn't a mess. And clean up usually isn't terribly painful. But the fact remains that it is aesthetically unbecoming and the important things (mainly our finances) are being left in the wind.

I haven't actually started mapping out a plan for the apartment yet. I chose to review the book first, get a general idea of what I'd be getting into, then will reread the important parts to follow the steps necessary to get organized.

I do, however, have a general idea of how I would like for this place to look.

Most importantly, though, after realizing my own goals and plans for reorganizing and decorating this space, I need to talk to Jay about his own expectations of space, living conditions, and budget agreements. After all, he lives here too (and now pays the bills) so I need to make sure whatever I do will benefit both of us, not cause more stress and problems.

I'll be documenting my progress as I go along, so you can follow along in the steps I do and maybe my journey will help you get organized, too.

Let the project begin...