Just Another (Brand New) Day in the Life of a BadAssMama

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Oh, hey there! Remember me? It's been about three weeks since I've been here. But let's be honest - it's been more like 3 months since I've written on anything that might even slightly resemble a consistent basis.

Let me explain.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've taken a new job. After 15 years in the entertainment industry, I've decided that it was time for a change. There are lots of reasons for that change that I won't go into here, but suffice it to say that when this particular opportunity came up, The Hubs and I had a heart-to-heart and decided that I would be an idiot to not go for it. And these folks must have decided that I'm as awesome as my moniker on this blog, so they offered me a job!

The great news is that it's an AMAZING company, with an equally amazing opportunity to contribute and learn and grow and show all of the professional stuff that I'm good at (including, but not limited to grammatically incorrect run-on sentences). The crazy part is that it required relocating The Hubs, the kids, Bailey the cat and Fishy Torres from New York to California.

Sounds great in theory. In practice, that shit was insane.

The past 6 weeks have been an object lesson in perpetual motion - even more so than my typical perpetual motion-filled life. There was the expected clean-sort-purge-a-palooza involved in any move, but the last time I did this I was a single 27 year old moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a room in a two bedroom apartment. I could pretty much fit all of my crap into one big suitcase and limited my company-sponsored relocation package to a bed, dresser and 12 inch TV.

This time, there was a house to sell, a new house to buy, 2 small children, 2 pets, an unreasonable number of cars (both people-sized and of the Hot Wheels variety), a 4 bedroom house worth of 15 years of stuff to pack and ship. There were doctor appointments and summer camp deadlines, wrapping up one job while prepping to start another. True, most of the packing was done as party of my new company-sponsored relocation, but there was still an inordinate amount of crap to do before our flight took off for the left coast on July 17.

And now we're here. While the journey was insane (I'm going to need a few more weeks of decompression before I can even THINK about describing the utter hell that was our actual cross-country move day), the landing has been remarkably smooth. The boys are adjusting nicely (who couldn't get used to a weather forecast of 80 degree days with 0% humidity as far as the eye can see?). The Hubs is slowly but surely finding his footing. And while I'm still in a heightened sense of alert (kind of hard to go from 60-to-0 in 10 seconds flat if you're not a Ferrari), I am beside myself with glee to be back home.

Last Sunday, I had a dinner meeting with 4 of my 10 aunts and uncles, to plan my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. This week, The Hubs and I looked for houses then got down to the serious business of re-connecting as a family after 6 weeks of pure insanity. We've gone to California's Great America, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and spent today lounging by the pool at our temporary apartment. I hope to spend the next few weeks before I start work continuing my East Coast decontamination shower (no offense), reconnecting with family and friends and preparing to throw myself into the new job.

I'm writing this from our roof deck (partly because it's awesome, but mainly because the Wifi only works here  or in Victor's bedroom where the router is. So much for the advanced tech of the Silicon Valley). The kids are sitting next to me eating Oreos in their pajamas after showering from the pool. The sun is shining, there is a gorgeous breeze, and not a cloud in the sky.

I could get used to this.

Just another (brand new) day in the life of a BadAssMama...

A Lesson Re-Learned

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You would think that  I'd know better.

I have a major life transition on the horizon (for those of you who don't know, I have accepted a new job with an awesome company out West and am packing up the whole family to move from Long Island to California, like, next week). After many years of taming the panic/anxiety/depression beast, you would think that I would know the right way to manage this transition.

Be kind to yourself. Allot extra time to get things done. Be patient with your family. Make time to decompress.

Yeah, not so much.

How did this genius set herself up for a cross-country-move with The Hubs and 2 kids in tow? (Mind you, the last time I did this I was a single, 26 year old ready to take on the world with a fierce handbag and 3 hours of sleep). Things started off well enough. As soon as I decided to take the job, I made a plan  - including transition time at work, purging and donating excess stuff, finding schools, arranging temporary housing, etc.

The plan worked well for the first  few weeks. Now that we're down to the wire,  I am, quite frankly, a hot mess.

Instead of reveling in my last few days in New York, I find myself cursing the traffic and the smells of summertime in the city. Instead of appreciating my last few days in the office, I'm overwhelmed with trying to schedule time to connect with every person who has ever meant something to me. Instead of enjoying some much-needed downtime with The Hubs and my kids, I'm yelling at them approximately every 15 seconds for any conceivable slight and inconvenience (including yelling at BOTH kids this morning when they complained of achy knees and ankles after a day in the pool yesterday).

Yeah, I'm a hot mess.

I knew that things were falling apart after I rushed Victor to the hematologist this morning.  (He complained of pain in his right ankle. When it didn't pass overnight, we assumed it was a sickle cell crisis from the cold pool. It wasn't. His bloodwork is better than mine). As soon the doctor gave him a clean bill of health, I lost it. The tears began to flow and I couldn't hold them back. To the point that Victor looked at me like, what the hell is wrong with you, lady?

The understandable, but largely self-imposed pressures of the past few weeks had finally come to a head. I dropped Victor back at home to spend the day with The Hubs (no point in going to a half day of summer camp), and headed off to my doctor for a physical (because there is nothing more soothing than  having your blood drawn and official weight taken, right?). After an honest discussion about my stress levels, she made a few recommendations, wrote a prescription to help me get over the hump and reminded me to be kind to myself.

So I will.

Rather than rushing home to complete more of the never-ending-but-increasingly-time-limited to-do list,  I took myself to lunch. I took a seat at my favorite tea parlor and began to unwind over a cup of Sencha Green Organic. After an hour to myself (the indulgence!), I came home to watch the kids while The Hubs ran out to complete more items on his crazy-long to-do-before-we-move-NEXT WEEK list.

We know what we should do. But it is so easy to fall back into the same old destructive habits. Running ourselves into the ground just to get it all done (and done perfectly, at that), rather than taking time to check in on what we really need.

These final days in New York are a reminder of exactly what I DO NOT want in my life moving forward. I am not just building a new career in California. I want to build a better life for myself and for  my family. And that means consciously moving away from destructive, stress-inducing behaviors. I can get things done without sacrificing myself or my family in the process.

I don't have a list of requirements for this new phase of my life, but I definitely have a list of things that I don't want. I don't want to sacrifice what matters most for what matters least. I don't want to lose track of the days in front of me while frantically planning for the years ahead. I don't want to be so busy doing that I fail to get around to living.

This post is nearly as much of a hot mess as I am, but I needed it to be raw and real. The BadAssMama does a great job of smiling for the camera and keeping it together on most days. But I have come so undone in the past 2 weeks that I can't even keep a poker face. My emotions are on display for everyone to see. I used to think that was a bad thing. Maybe I needed a few (or a few dozen) people to ask me why I looked like I wanted to kill someone to prove to myself that I needed to slow down and take inventory of what was really going on inside.

I don't have a clear plan or next steps . But what I do know is that it's time to do something differently.

I promise to keep you posted. Warm thoughts and prayers are welcome!

My Brush with Post-Racial America

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It all started well enough. An epic playdate with great friends, followed by lunch at Friendly's and the ever-elusive weekend afternoon nap. Around 5, The Hubs reminded me that we should get ready to go. We had tickets to a much-anticipated Dave Chappelle stand-up show at 8. I did a quick change then came down to bid adieu to the boys. Victor complained that we went on too many dates. 

"You go on a date, like, every WEEK!" proclaimed the five-year-old.

"That's what you do when you love someone" I replied. "When you fall in love, you will go on dates too."

Fast forward to a quick sushi bite and an incredible show at Radio City. I must say that, despite a few fits and starts over the past 7 years, Dave Chappelle is truly a master of stand-up. His closing bit in particular was pure genius. Charlie Murphy held his own as well. 

We strolled down to 52nd Street on a balmy summer night, to the busy parking garage to retrieve our car and make it home before one of the boys decided to have a nightmare at 4am (why do kids always wake up at 4am when their parents dare to stay out past 9?). As we entered the garage, there was a commotion. A disgruntled patron making clear to basically the entire neighborhood her displeasure at the credit/debit card-only payment policy. She was loud, rude, relatively ignorant and generally annoying. We payed it little mind, but I did change into my flats just in case we needed to make a speedy exit (hey - you never know who's carrying what these days).

After roughly five high-decibel minutes, the commotion subsided and the disgruntled patron and her companion were given their car and exited with little fanfare. I paid for two bottles of water from the vending machine and waited patiently for our car to arrive. After 20 minutes or so, The Hubs and I noticed that patrons who had just arrived seemed to be receiving their cars immediately, while we and several others were still waiting. We gave each other a look and continued to wait patiently.

Ten more minutes passed, the clock making its turn toward midnight. Six groups remained  - one couple who'd been waiting roughly the same amount of time as myself and The Hubs and four others who had just arrived. Like clockwork, the recent arrivals were quickly given their cars while we continued to wait. Before long, only we and a pair of newly arriving women remained. The attendant pulled up their car while ours remained in plain view a few slots away. 

At this point, I decided to speak up to the attendant. 

"Excuse me, sir. My husband and I have been waiting for over 45 minutes, and 10 customers who arrived after us - including these women right here - have received their cars while we are still waiting." 

Without hesitation, the attendant replied, "You had to wait for your car because every black person here tonight gave me a problem." 

***pause***

"I'm sorry - WHAT did you just say to me?"

Without hesitation, he not only repeated his initial statement but went into additional detail about all the trouble that "all these black people" had given him over the course of the night. 

My spine stiffened and I began to sweat. I could sense The Hubs hover closer.

"Sir, I'm going to need to speak to your manager right now. Please give me the number of the manager on call and your full name."

Luis (he would offer no last name) simply continued his tirade on all of the problems that "these black people" had put him through this evening. 

I firmly asked for the manager's name and number again (as none were listed on the "The Garage Manager is" sign on the door). Again, Luis refused. I explained, calmly but at a gradually increasing volume that he had a choice. Either I could call his manager to register my complaint, or I could call the police. 

I felt my hands begin to shake.

At this point, Luis called my a bitch under his breath in Spanish and began to walk into the office. As I dialed 911 I replied, "Oh, and sir? Hablo Espanol..."

The two women who arrived last and received their car before us overheard the entire exchange and proactively offered to stay as witnesses. I thanked them for their kindness and fought back hot tears. 

I called 911 and explained the situation. The operator promised that officers would arrive shortly and gave me her operator number. I then called 311 to file a complaint with the New York Department of Consumer Affairs. The kind man on the phone explained that there was nothing he could do. The New York Department of Consumer Affairs did not handle complaints involving "rude or inappropriate comments from employees of private facilities." I thanked him for his time (in hindsight, I'm not sure why) and hung up the phone. 

As we waited, The Hubs began to talk to me about the situation - mainly to calm me down but partially to judge just how unhinged I had become. He agreed that what the man had done was unacceptable and stupid, but likely due to how rattled he was by the unruly crowd. I took a beat, and replied that it still did not justify his use of race to explain away the situation, or his refusal to take responsibility for his actions. The Hubs, ever the voice of reason between us, asked if an apology would de-escalate the situation. I nodded, then proceeded up the ramp to look for additional phone numbers to call. 

As I began the slow walk back down the exit ramp (all of the phone numbers listed for both the management company and the direct line to the New York Department of Consumer Affairs were no longer in service), I see Luis walking up the ramp with my husband. Luis begins to apologize for offending me. I am listening through my rage and begin to soften toward him, until he goes down to one knee to beg forgiveness. 

Now he's just pissing me off.

I seethe, "Enough" and begin to stalk down the ramp toward our car. Then I stop and turn. I give Luis a piece of advice. I tell him, the next time someone or even a group of people behaves inappropriately, do not attribute it to their race. I exhort him to not include race in his description of the offending party. Say that they were rude. Say that they were jerks. Say that they were fucking assholes if that fits the bill, but leave race out of it. I then tell Luis that we are both people of color and that he should know better. He tries to say something about having dark skin like mine and solidarity when I cut him off. I raise my pointer finger for emphasis and repeat.

"You should know better." 

He asks if I forgive him. I say no and get into the car. 

We make our way back up the ramp in time to see a lone police cruiser arrive, nearly 25 minutes after my initial call. I get out of the car to explain the situation to the officers, still seeking a closure that will never come. The officer explains that the behavior, while reprehensible, is not a criminal offense. He suggests that I file a civil suit against the parent company and proceeds down the ramp to give Luis a firm talking to. I thank the officer and get into the car. As The Hubs drives away,  hot tears long withheld begin to flow. 

As we drive home, I can't help but dwell on the idea of a post-racial society. We have a black president, right? Doesn't that mean we can pack up our civil rights bags and go home? No. Racism still exists in this country, and in this world. If anything, a society which believes the refusal to talk about racial bias makes it go away may be even more nefarious. As Melody Hobson so eloquently stated in her recent TED Talk, we should strive not to be color-blind, but color-brave. To face discussions of on-going racial discrimination and bias head-on, refusing to bury our heads in the sand.

After a blessedly short drive back to Long Island, The Hubs made his way upstairs and I buried myself in busy work to unwind. A load of laundry, a light snack. Put away the dishes. But then I turned to my trusty laptop to sort through this evening the best way I know how - by getting the spaghetti out of my head and putting it down on "paper". 

It's now 2:05am. My children will be awake in a few hours (please, dear God, let them sleep for a few more hours) and I will have to become a productive member of the workforce by 9:30am. But one issue continues to haunt me. Do I contribute to the on-going racism in our world through my action or inaction? As I sat through a by-and-large hilarious stand-up set, did I add to the problem by failing to acknowledge the whiff of racism here, the stench of sexism there, the reek of homophobia throughout? Does my ability to brush over these issues and laugh only at the jokes I find to be funny equate to turning a blind eye? Am I a part of the problem? 

I don't know the answers these questions, and am far too exhausted to ponder them any further tonight. What I do know is that we do not live in a color-blind, post-racial society. What I do know is that there is still work to be done. I am willing to do my part.

What about you? 





When I Grow Up...

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I used to think that being a grown-up was reaching a certain age. The older I get, the more I realize that age really has little to do with it.

True, with age comes the benefit of experience and for some, wisdom. But when you get right down to it the true hallmark of being a grown-up is learning how to not only accept but to OWN who you really are - and to work the hell out of if.

For a precious few, this comes early. You've met those old souls who seem to konw their purpose in life, are comfortable in their skin and know how to live each day with purpose. For others this takes years of life, love and loss to attain. Sadly, the vast majority of us may never truly know our purpose and own the space that we take on this planet.

I used to think that I would finally achieve grown-up status once I had kids. To the contrary, in many ways motherhood has caused me to revert to being a little kid. I get cranky when sleep-deprived (which is almost ALWAYS with two-under-the-age-of-six). I yell when I don't get my way, and pout when I don't feel like I am Angel or Victor's "favorite girl". But, in many ways they have made me more grown-up than I could ever imagine. I've learned that I am capable of more strength and joy and fear and pain and exhaustion and exhilaration than I'd ever imagined. I've learned to put someone else's needs above my own, to love a tiny being more than life itself. I am in awe of my body because of what it can do, not just how it looks (because Lord knows that can be a hot mess....especially after two kids).

Growing up can be painful. In addition to feeling comfortable in your own skin and accepting your worth comes the realization that life is not always fair. Bad things can and do happen to good people. Your life can change in an instant, and yet the world keeps spinning and expects you to keep up. Life does not get easier, but as we grow up we become stronger and better equipped to deal with the madness.

I am taking baby steps into grown-up land. I'm learning to live life by my own rules, because I will never be able to please everyone. I'm learning to follow my own path to joy, rather than holding others responsible for my happiness. I'm accepting that I am beautiful - inside and out - and worthy of the many good things that have come my way simply by virtue of being born. I do not have to earn happiness, to earn worthiness. I am worthy, because I am alive.

What do YOU want to be when you grow up?

Makeup Mondays with D'angelo Thompson: 4.21.14

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Primed Beauty
By D'angelo Thompson

Primer, to use or not to use that is the question. Ideally after skincare, you would apply primer before foundation but if you have oily skin I would suggest primer and then foundation. Primer gives a smoother make up finish and adds longevity to your foundation. Some of my favorites on the market are  Smashbox, Laura Mercier and L'oreal.



-- 
D'angelo Thompson, make up, groomer, beauty educator, blogger  and author
www.dangelothompson.com

Represented by ARTISTS AT WILHELMINA, for bookings contact jay.tedder@wilhelmina.com