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You can’t always get what you want. And that’s not a bad thing.

Life is quite funny.

By God’s grace, D recently found a new career opportunity in NY. What this means is that after six years of what was supposed to be a year of living in New Jersey, I’m heading back to Brooklyn and taking this Jersey Boy with me. His friends think I’m elated. I’m happy, but it is bittersweet.

When I first moved here I was sad and upset at having to leave NYC, but took comfort in the fact that it would be for only a year. 365 days. When it became clear that year would extend to four, I was bitter and disappointed. Thankfully, two years into living here, I was led to my current church – a blessing God knew I needed but wouldn’t have gotten if He hadn’t moved me to the other side of the Hudson. I had been away from God for a long time before that and was slowly (think tortoise steps) finding my way back. God placed me where I could get the support of an uncompromising bible-teaching-believing-practicing pastor and fellow believers to grow in my walk with Him. Fellow believers who helped me move past the guilt of turning my back on God and accept the forgiveness He offered after I came back in broken repentance.

I am happy for this new challenge ahead of us and the opportunity to change, shape and make a real difference in the neighborhoods of my childhood, but I am sad as well. In addition to my church family, my in-laws have made Jersey a home for me. Where there was no true emotional connection to the state when I first arrived, I must say that it now holds a special place in my heart that is uniquely its own. One that even New York can’t ever touch. How can it? This is where D and I started our married life. Jersey is forever tied to those memories.

Some may not believe me, but I am very grateful for the way life turned out. I am thankful that God overruled my wants and led me to follow His will.

Would love to hear stories of how your life took a path contrary to what you wanted but that turned out to be exactly what you needed.

Proverbs 19 21

#TBT from 2011

Same old story, different couple. 20-something Brooklyn Girl enjoys the highlights and pitfalls of everyday single life without care or thought to settling down. Brooklyn Girl meets New Jersey Boy online and thinks New Jersey Boy is funny. She’ll go out with him. Time goes by and BK Girl realizes that Jersey Boy is awesome. She’ll keep going out with him. More time passes and both BK Girl and Jersey Boy realize they want to keep hanging out with each other.

Jersey Boy proposes to BK Girl after a series of comical errors. BK Girl screams “Holy Crap, We’re Engaged!” before saying yes to nervous Jersey Boy on bended knee awaiting an answer.

BK Girl makes it clear to Jersey Boy – “THERE’S NO WAY I’M MOVING TO NEW JERSEY!” Jersey Boy agrees, but secretly wonders if maybe BK Girl doesn’t understand the meaning of compromise.

Jersey Boy starts the search for NY job. And he searches…and searches…and searches. Jersey Boy realizes NY job market is a bust. Makes more sense to keep current NJ job.

Jersey Boy agonizes over how to tell BK Girl that the stress of the reverse commute would eventually cause him to drive his car off the Brooklyn Bridge. BK Girl and Jersey Boy separately contemplate living apart while married – both agree that’s probably not the best idea. Jersey Boy nervously brings up subject of moving to Jersey to BK Girl.

Seeing the writing on the wall, BK Girl makes Mandelaesque sacrifice and leaves the bright lights of NY for the humdrum life of Jersey — at least temporarily.

What was supposed to be a one year stay has now turned into three with one more to go before Jersey Boy can be settled in his field.

With humor, BK Girl tries to embrace her current refugee status while dreaming of the day she can return to her homeland.

Join her on this cross-state journey as she embraces her life in Jersey while still maintaining her New York roots.

bklynjersey

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Thanksgiving Manners.

Show me a Haitian without manners and I’ll show you the devastated parents and grandparents wondering where they went wrong.

To “old school” Haitians a person’s manners (or lack of) is a direct reflection on the family that raised him/her. Good manners is indicative of a loving home with parents who cared enough to teach right from wrong. Bad manners…well, bad manners signals a need for pity. It elicits a shake of the head followed by a “podyab” or a “poor baby”. Bad manners is proof that you were dealt an unfair lot in life.

Which is why, even though we’re adults, my mother would still take a switch to our behinds if my siblings and I ever forgot how we were raised. God forbid we should walk into a room without properly greeting those already there, or we should ever stay seated while an elderly person stands nearby. We’d better be quick to explain that we offered and the person declined.

Tomorrow D and I head to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving, and one of the many things I’m thankful for is my mother teaching me that you don’t visit someone’s home empty handed. So along with cake and ice cream, we are bringing the stuffing. Stuffing that I’m making – and NOT from a box.

O.o

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know this is laughable. Manners I have in abundance, but my cooking skills are in short supply. *Shrugs* I didn’t learn everything my family tried to teach me. We’ll see how this turns out. I’ll post the final product here.

Are you cooking? Share what you’re making. Pictures are always invited.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving – and don’t forget the ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’.

formal-place-setting


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Losing My “Woman” Crown

Today I brought dishonor and shame to generations of Haitian women – at least the ones in my family. I maligned the good name and character of those who lived long ago and those who live today. I insulted my great-grandmother and the great-grands before her, my grandmother, my aunts, my mother and my older sister (though she’s older by just a couple of years). I disrespected all of my female relatives who pride themselves on caring for their men, their families and their homes.

What’s worst? I don’t care. That’s right. I don’t. I’m free of caring. I’ve agonized over taking this step for the last two years. Vacillating between the stress it would reduce on the one hand and the stress it would cause on the other. Today I decided I can handle the anxiety of not feeling like a loving and caring wife, a nurturer, a potential mother. If it means getting back a few extra hours of precious time, I can forfeit the title of “Proper Haitian Woman”. Not that I was ever really in the running. You can’t be crowned Ms. America without the basics of beauty, talent and poise. And you can’t be crowned Ms. Proper Haitian Woman without the most basic of basics: knowing how to cook a delicious meal.

And you lose any chance of the crown when you do what I did today: hire someone to clean your home.

Well, women of my family, there it is. I’ve failed to be the proper Haitian woman you all worked so hard to make me. While you did it – and did it well – when I was growing up, I’d rather not follow in your footsteps. I don’t want to work 10-12 hours and then come home to cook a fresh meal, scrub, mop and dust. It’s honorable, but it’s not the path for me.

Before you complain that I’m wasting money, may I remind you that the value of time can never be measured. Yes, we’ll have to rearrange our budget to fund a once or twice a month cleaning, but it’s worth it. I am your granddaughter, daughter, sister, and niece. I know how to make a few dollars go a long way. Bring on a week of eating plain spaghetti if it means D and I can spend quality, stress-free time with one another on the weekends. Time we don’t have on weekdays because of our work schedules.

So, family, here’s my crooked ruler. Use it to measure me so I won’t fall so short. Not that I care. Well…maybe a little.

joy-of-cartoon pictures

joy-of-cartoon pictures

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Teenage Memory

This #TBT post is from a 2011 post about a memory from my teen years.

misfit

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I was a gangly *no curves to save my life* and dark-skin teen who always had her head buried in a book. Not exactly the Kim Kardashian beauty of teenage boys’ lustful dreams. Their rejection hurt, but what really cut deep was being rejected by boys who should have liked me – black boys. But they didn’t. There was nothing special about me in their eyes. I wasn’t fair, I did not have light eyes and my hair wasn’t especially long. I was JUST black. Nothing exotic in my genes. Greater than the sin of being homely and black, I had no butt to speak of. No junk in my trunk. No “onion” booty: described by Urban Dictionary as a “booty that looks so good, it makes grown man want to cry.”

Those awkward teenage years were exacerbated by the bully who made it his business to torture me. My bully was an overweight and and pitch-dark boy who girls found unattractive and tended to overlook. As author Richard Sennet points out in Respect in a World of Inequality, the condition of “not being seen” had produced in him “a desire to avenge.” And I was the target of his vengeance because he saw in me his most hated feature. Every day he was forced to confront the thing about himself that caused him the most grief – his skin color.

As a teen I didn’t have the foresight to understand that his problem was not with me. I was simply an easy target. His anger was rooted much deeper. His real issue stemmed from generations of black self-hate that was encouraged during times of slavery when the darker slaves were relegated to picking cotton and working in the fields while the lighter ones (those who more closely resembled their European masters – usually as a result of interracial rape) were able to remain in the house as servants and had the opportunity to be educated. Why we play the game of who carried the heaviest burden is beyond me. Slavery is slavery is slavery. But that’s another topic for another day.

Anyway, I internalized his treatment of me and spent years chasing the standard of beauty that I was sure he and others would value. I used skin bleaching creams religiously, seared my hair straight with hot combs and relaxers, and prayed fervently for the type of butt that black boys would appreciate. Imagine being God and listening to those heartfelt prayers.

It wasn’t until years later (hello Black Studies classes in college!) that I had the strength to confront my demons and work through the self-hate. While I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity, I’ve often wondered whether my bully had the same chance. I hope so, but who knows. You can’t combat issues you never acknowledge. As they say in AA (or so TV tells me), the first step is admitting you have a problem.

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What’s a memory from your teenage years?

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