Thursday, January 26, 2006

Revenge of the Nerd

One day about a year or so ago, I was sitting in a New York pizza parlor with my dear friend Chesty LaRue. We were dining on slices of wonderfully greasy extra cheese pizza discussing who knows what. Over the course of our seven year friendship I can remember a good number of our conversations. I might have remembered the one in the pizza parlor that day had I not been distracted by my reflection in the mirrors that lined the restaurant's walls. Like Narciciss I had fallen in love with my reflection. And honestly, I can't blame myself cause I'm freaking HOT!!
Some might call me vain, and in all honesty they're right, I am. But I've earned the right to be vain. You see that picture of me in my profile? Stunning, right? Well, as hard as this is to believe, I wasn't always such a looker. In fact up until a steady turn around starting in '98, I was the definition of plain, awkward, and unmemorable. When braces are an improvement over the original packaging that's the first clue you're not in the running for the title of Best Looking in the Senior Superlatives yearbook section. I didn't have a nose job, nor did I have any major reconstructive surgery since high school. The basic palette is still the same. So how come it looks so much better now than it did then? Let me tell you, knowledge is power. If I knew then, what I know now, I could've been hot in high school.
In high school I wasn't ugly per say. I was definitely much better looking than the girls who rode the short bus to school and had all their classes in one room. However, to my dismay at the time, I wasn't considered hot. When dudes would sit around naming off all the girls they'd like to spend the five minutes before their premature ejaculation with, my name never made the list. The girls that were most coveted had something going for them that I just didn't. They were short, compact, and wore cute clothes. I, on the other hand, was an emaciated beanpole, with gangly limbs that I had absolutely no control over, and was relegated to wearing men's clothing or highwaters all the time. My hair, which I had yet to embrace in all it's nappy glory, was an odd combination of frizzy roots and sleek ends and spent most days in a careless ponytail. Now 7 years later, with a much needed 20 (or more) well placed (or not so well placed at times) pounds on my frame, the advent of extra long women jeans, and some personal grooming advice from Chesty, I'm a dime. Honestly if I decided to wax on a regular basis, I could completely get a starring role in somebody's music video (hey Nelly, if you're reading this...call me).
I don't understand why this transformation couldn't have happened when I was 14. This is sort of hard to admit, but I wasn't exactly popular in high school. Now I wasn't a complete and total dweeb cause there were plenty of people on the popularity food chain much lower than I. I did my duty and showered as much scorn and ridicule upon them as I saw fit on a daily basis. But I was NEVER the "IT" girl that I dreamed of being. I think that if me today went back to high school, my name would definitely be on the boys locker room wall. It's just not fair. I'm not gonna lie and say that I don't enjoy being hot in the here and now. But it would've been great to look this way then too. Honestly, high school is really the only time when popularity matters. In the real world, there's really not a concentrated pool of people who watch your every move and covet your status. You just sort of blend in with the crowd. And college popularity doesn't count either. Campus is too big...it's one thing to be adored within a certain set of people (The Negroes, The Salsa Dancers, Young Republicans, Future MILFs), but it's virtually impossible for that adoration to spread to the masses. So high school is really the only opportunity and once it's passed, it's over.
In case you're wondering, I'm not bitter over this whole situation. You wanna know why? Cause I've recently run into a few of those "It" girls from way back when. Let me tell ya, whatever it was they had in high school, they've definitely lost "It" now. A lot of them never left our small town and moved in to crappy apartments two blocks from their parents and raise two or three snot nose kids (who have two or three snot nose daddies) on tips earned at Big Hal's Diner. Those short, compact cuties are now short wide bodied models of their former selves. They've even fallen victim to that half mullet half Farrah Fawcett winged hairdo that's so popular amongst trailer park bunnies and WalMart employees. In a head to head comparison I look better, dress better, and live better than them. Go ME!! When I look at them (while laughing, snickering, and pointing) I don't feel so bad about being a late bloomer. Cause I mean really, it's sort of sad to peak at 18.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Golden Girl

I'm up late tonight, which is not unlike many nights before. However, instead of finishing the next chapter of my never ending novel, instant messaging my friends, or trolling message boards, I am looking for a cheap plane ticket home next month. Once again, that's nothing out of the ordinary since I travel home to New York as often as possible to escape the boredom of the Midwest. Unfortunately, this trip isn't social in nature. I won't be standing on line in the freezing cold wearing something completely inappropriate for below freezing temperatures waiting to gain entrance into the latest Manhattan hot spot. Nor will I be spending money I don't have at my favorite stores in Soho. I will be helping take care of my mother for a week while she recovers from spinal surgery to relieve arthritic pain in her lower back and hip. She is 55.
At 25, this is not a trip I expected to make for at least another 15 to 20 years. While my mother may no longer be a spring chicken, she is hardly old enough to be considered elderly. However, that's how she seemed when I saw her a few months ago. Her walk is slow and deliberate, as though she has to concentrate on the least painful way to make her next step. Once long and erect, her back is now hunched, causing her shoulders to slump. She reminds me more of my recently deceased grandmother than the mom I’ve always known. It would be na├»ve of me to think that my mother would stay forever young, but this aging feels as though it’s happening way too soon. These are supposed to be the carefree years when the children are gone, retirement benefits flow, and life is leisurely for her. Instead her life is mired in doctors appointments, medication, and invasive surgery.
Some people say that growing older is a gradual process and you can’t pinpoint exactly where it begins. I, on the other hand, know precisely when mom got old. It was right after her mother passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Grandma was 88 when she died, and although she was not terminally ill or dying, she did appear to be falling apart at the seams. Her feet, long hampered by bunions and hammer toes, grew increasingly more painful; an always present heart murmur needed to be more closely monitored; and her once agile mind could no longer keep track of all it once remembered. The family was in the process of relocating her from her home in the Bronx for over 40 years to a smaller apartment three hours north and minutes from my parents. The funeral was the week before the movers were scheduled to come pack up her belongings. Almost immediately afterwards, my mother who is usually a constant ball of motion was bedridden, suffering from extreme pain in her hip, which was later diagnosed as a side affect of a pinched nerve in her back. She could not walk, let alone work or attend the many community activities in which she is involved. Seemingly overnight, the woman who once seemed like Wonder Woman to me had been grounded. Medication and physical therapy have her up and running again, if only at half speed. During a recent phone conversation she joked, “I don’t think my mother really died. She just took up residence in my body, giving me all her ailments.” I laughed at the time, but I’m beginning to think there is a great deal of truth in her musings. In spite of herself, she has become her mother.
Interestingly enough, I’m not alone in my situation. In the last few months I’ve had countless conversations with friends who are all worried about recent physical ailments affecting their 50 something parents. Whether it’s adult onset diabetes, degenerative arthritis, failing eyesight, or terminal illnesses we are all under thirty years old and faced with the declining health and ultimate mortality of our Baby Boomer parents. While the conditions differ, our reactions to them are invariably the same, “One minute mom or dad was fine, and now they aren’t.” None of us want to lose our parents, but at the same time we don’t want to watch them slowly fade from the affects of aging, knowing that there is nothing we can do to prevent it from happening.
There was once a time when I effectively tuned my mother out during most of our weekly phone calls. I wasn’t particularly interested in hearing about the goings on in my hometown or her opinions on my unchecked shoe habit. But lately, I find myself calling her more often to see how she’s doing and get the latest updates on her therapy sessions and doctor visits. I worry about her more, but I also appreciate her more, realizing that she won’t always be here to simultaneously love and annoy me. I honestly do not know if this surgery will make her pain free for the next 10 to 15 years, but I am hopeful that I will have her around and living a full and happy life for twice that long.

Monday, January 23, 2006

And the Oscar goes to....

We are here to present the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Workplace Theatrics. Day in and day out these incredible performers pretend to be productive members of the American workforce when in actuality they really don't do shit. Amazingly enough they manage to convince everyone around them that work is actually being done. A delicate balance is needed in all areas of make believe, from pretending to like coworkers to faking an active interest in moving up the corporate ladder. Different from the acting that occurs on the silver screen, acting in the workplace requires a particularly special blend of three critical elements to really bring the performance home.

1) Pretending to care
It's one thing feign interest in Excel spreadsheets, Power Point presentations, and the newest company strategy to boost revenue for eight hours a day. However, it takes every ounce of bullshit a person can muster to sustain that act over the course of a 4 day working weekend. Sitting through hours of development sessions on how to effectively market "The Brand Called You", fueled only by vats of coffee and the very real fear of being caught snoring by the Sales VP is hard work. The truly brilliant performer even participates in the question and answer session, thereby fooling all coworkers into thinking they actually give a shit.

2) Faking it
Now this skill right here is truly incredible. Faking orgasms is easier than showing genuine enthusiasm for a job that sucks big hairy moose nuts. However, it must be done around the people who have the potential to fire you. Credit must be given to those directors and VPs who take the time to ask lowly underlings about their day to day work activities knowing damn well they couldn't give two shits. But the real magic is created by that underling who blathers endlessly about how much they are learning from photocopying, emailing, filing, and advanced paper pushing. Spin doctors indeed!

3) Unabashed ass kissing
While it's easy to ignore the existence of senior management on a day to day basis, since they spend most of their time ignoring employees anyway, it's quite difficult to do when forced together for a weekend of "networking." Listening intently while an old white guy with a bad comb over and worse breath talks and talks and talks and talks and then talks some more about supply chain logistics, Earnings Per Share Before Taxes, and other useless shit that matters to no one is a difficult feat. Doing it with a smile is the work of a genius. Extra kudos to those who ask to hear more.

Our winner tonight embodied all three of these key elements with gusto during an astounding performance over four nights of dinners, galas, and training sessions. She asked intelligent questions, engaged in meaningless small talk, and even convinced the VP of Sales that she does work on a daily basis. And the Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Workplace Theatrics goes to.....ME!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

PSA

I'm a blogger, a pretty avid one at that, depending on the month. I basically put my thoughts on the web for anyone and everyone to see. I've carved out my own little space and invited friends and strangers into my world. I'm not alone. The web is riddled with millions of blogs spotlighting people's daily activities, political leanings, religious convictions, and interpretations of world news amongst other topics. The ABB primarily addresses politics and the latest stuff going on in our world. The Corner Bruhs keep an eye on our justice system. And me, well I introduced the world to Broke Ass Niggas, The Idiot Who Made Me Cry, and the likes of Chesty LaRue.
Okay, so my topics aren't exactly ripped from the headlines, nor do they do anything to further world peace, increase awareness, or challenge the status quo. But honestly, I really don't care. Someone really perceptive once said that still waters run deep. Well I'm definitely not a constant ball of motion and I'm about as deep as a puddle. This is the 40th post to this blog and I have yet to discuss anything other than myself (except for the exception of my lovefests over Laguna Beach and Crash). The fact is, I write what I know, and the the only thing I really know is me. I rarely watch the news and I don't read the paper, so I have little to no clue about what goes on in the world around me. If it doesn't directly affect me, I don't pay attention. I know that's shallow and self centered, but I'm at peace with that. Every magazine from Essence to Shape to Cosmo is always telling me to accept myself as I am, so I embrace my inner brat willingly.
The interesting thing is that my readers don't seem to mind my narcissistic tendencies. In fact, folks who know me personally are always asking me to put them in my blog in some way. Which now that I think about it is sort of frustrating. The people regularly featured in my blog either don't know that I put their business on front street or have asked that I stop putting their business on front street (to which I say, stop complaining cause I give you perfectly good aliases so folks won't know who I'm talking about specifically, Iz-, I mean Chesty). Basically I write about what crosses my radar and then festers in my brain for a little while. Like I said earlier, current events don't do that, but people and situations that piss me off, usually do. So when I mention people in my blog it's because they've either pissed me off, or reminded me of a past situation that pissed me off. So for those of you, who have asked to be in an entry, either you missed your well disguised alias, or you haven't pissed me off. Keep trying though, cause something always gets on my nerves.
Speaking of things that get on my nerves, I really don't like when folks suggest blog topics for me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is MY blog. I mean if the state of our nation's healthcare system really bothers you, get your own damn blog and rant and rave all you want. As for me, I'm already busy complaining about crap in my life. So just to be sure that we're all on the same page here, let's recap. You will not find news, politics, or any of that crap in the pages of the Brain Dump, unless it directly affects me, of course. If you don't like that, the link to the next blog is at the top right hand corner. Thank you!