Reblog/Re-blog: The Boob Report III – Post-op

Spinster:

This is a timely coincidence. A loved one, related to me via my late grandmother and whom I’d not spoken to on the phone for a long time, sent me a social media private message yesterday saying that she had to tell me something and asked me to call her. She informed me that she was diagnosed with breast cancer last month, and she’s only telling people who are near & dear to her. Not only am I glad that her treatment is going well so far, I’m also truly honored that she holds me in enough esteem to tell me, even after all these years. I love her.

So for the blogger who’s dealing with this now, I wish you the very best. Take it easy & take care. Bless.

P.S. Hat tip to Philosopher Mouse Of The Hedge for bringing this to my attention.

Originally posted on Susie Lindau's Wild Ride:

track-field-hurdler-athlete-17253270

When life sends you obstacles, start hurdling!

First of all words cannot, nor ever will express my deepest gratitude in the support you have given me the last few weeks. The blogging community is amazing and all of you are the absolute best! I can feel your prayers as I write this on the night before surgery. I just wish I could physically hug each and every one of you. The words, “thank you,” will never seem like enough.

If you are reading this, my bi-lateral (fancy-like name for double) mastectomy is over. Yeah! I am on the good drugs and most likely kidding around with the interns.

My husband Danny will give you an update on the surgery and my lymph nodes. The sentinel nodes were removed during surgery and tested for cancer. If they were clear, then my surgeon didn’t touch the rest of them. Thorough testing in…

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Reblog/Re-blog: 21 sighs.

Tomorrow 05.27.2013 is Memorial Day back home. It’s a day that most Americans have off as a federal holiday, and we make the most of it – countless shopping sales, gatherings, parties, and the good ol American barbecue/grill-fest. But most importantly, Memorial Day celebrates & remembers those who fought & died while fighting for the United States in different wars. I dedicate this re-blog to my friend Jeff Lebrun, who died in Iraq over 8 years ago in the name of an unjust war (another debate for another time), as well as the countless others who died fighting for the U.S. military. Enjoy the day off, but don’t forget the day’s main purpose.

Sankofa.

Sankofa: “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.” (Wikipedia)

04.02.2013

Today is an old friend’s birthday.  We’ve not spoken in a very long time.  Our friendship never really ended; life happens – work, marriage, kids, military, etc. and our lives took different directions.  Like everyone else addicted to connected to the world-wide web, I got on Facebook and got an alert reminding me about my friend’s birthday.  His settings are such that no one can write on his wall, but can send a private message instead, which I did.

I rarely view other people’s walls or pages, but I decided to be nosy skim through his friends list.  I don’t know 98% of the people on his list, but I recognised a couple of old, familiar faces.  I didn’t click on their names, but it got me thinking about where I was then, and where I am now.

I wonder about those people not because I’m nosy (well, I’m usually not nosy), but I wonder how they’re doing and if they’re still in the same place, physically and otherwise.  I look back and I’ve changed a lot since then.  Back then, I was deep into church yet filled with anger & negativity.  Those people, looking back, were ultra-religious and ultra-conservative.  Now granted, I had some good times with those people – hell, one of them wound up being my longest relationship ever – but that part of my life, and those people, can stay back there.  If I remained where I was, physically and otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  

I’ve done so much since then.  I’ve been through so much since then.  I live in another country, a life-long dream fulfilled.  I’m now agnostic, and aside from my friend, his wife, his sister and another friend, I don’t speak to any of the people from that time in my life.  I’ve seen different places, done different things, met different people, made many mistakes, learnt many things.  And while I don’t miss that part of my life, I appreciate that era for keeping me focused, out of trouble, and on the straight & narrow.  I take those things and carry them with me… not to stay stuck, but to sustain me as I move onward & forward.

Here’s to looking back on life.  Here’s to dropping dead weight distant memories of those who are in your lives for a reason and a season, no matter how short the season.  Here’s to being insane crazy scared brave enough to move to another country.  Without looking back every once in a while, one can’t move forward to new experiences, people or places.  And I’m glad that those things landed me where I am today – in the United Kingdom and in a whole new world.

Cheers.

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How have your experiences in the past led you to where you are today as an expatriate?  Did you ever think that you’d be living in another country?  

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Just another day on the IRT.

(This post title is from a movie that I’ve heard of but never saw before, Just Another Girl On The IRT.)

Growing up in New York City, I’m quite familiar with traveling on an intricate public transportation system. Its rapid transit system is one of the oldest & the largest in the world, carrying millions of passengers daily. And a few of those passengers are quite colorful. For instance, a pole dancer graced riders with a performance (YouTube video) earlier this year. There are also musicians playing everything from African drums to mariachi instruments to steel pan drums and everything in between. There are dancers doing everything from break-dancing to acrobatics, self-proclaimed prophets & preachers proclaiming that the end is quite near, and even sub-human pieces of shit jerking off in front of and/or on people people who masturbate and/or expose themselves to innocent passengers.

In less-developed nations, some people ride with live animals on certain modes of transportation. Transportation in these countries is already tricky because of overcrowding with people sometimes sitting on top of each other, so if you add a few chickens to the mix, public transportation is one hell of a ride in these countries too.

Coming from a major city, and having been to a few different countries ranging from extremely wealthy with efficient modes of transportation to less-developed with a van that comes on time if you’re lucky, I’ve seen & experienced a range of interesting rides. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see some ridiculous shit interesting stuff on public transportation over here. Here are a few examples:

- A man got on the bus with his pit-bull. It wasn’t a service dog; it was just a man with no disabilities bringing his pet pit-bull on the bus with no objections from the bus driver. He was nonchalant about it and (thankfully) had it on a leash, but I wasn’t too happy about them sitting across from me. It was a crowded bus so I couldn’t move elsewhere. :-|

- A man got on the bus and began drinking alcohol & smoking marijuana; a few passengers moved away, including me, and I reported him to the bus driver and he got off 2 stops later. That’s right – I snitch.

- One man in a nearby neighborhood is notorious for getting on a certain bus or buses drunk, first thing in the morning, during daily rush hour. Luckily, I’ve only been graced with his presence once. He likes talking about Babylon & Jamaica, and he loves cursing in front of young children on the way to school.

Babylon drunk.

This 'diamond in the drunk' said that he'd fight everyone in Babylon... during morning rush hour no less.

- Yet another man got on the bus with his young daughter… and drank a big can of beer.

Drinking beer on the bus with his kid: totally appropriate.

Drinking alcohol on public transportation has been banned in a few places in England, but clearly some people don’t care.

- A man was being verbally aggressive on a bus one weekend as I was heading to my friends’ house. The bus driver refused to move from the bus stop until or unless the man got off of the bus, which is understandable because there are plenty of signs that explicitly state that any form of abuse against public transportation workers is not tolerated. I got annoyed along with a few other people, told the man I had somewhere to be at a certain time, and to either pay the fare & leave the driver alone or get off of the bus because he was inconveniencing everyone. After extra uproar from other passengers, he finally got off. (Jerk.)

- The singing bus driver during morning rush hour. He was hysterical. He sang old-time gospel songs with an operatic voice. I was on his bus twice. At the end of the route, the passengers gave him a round of applause. I laughed my ass off. (I don’t even speak in the morning, so he had to be hilarious for me to laugh that early.)

- The children. Ahhhh yes, the wonderful cherubs. The screaming babies & crying toddlers in their gargantuan carriages [better known as pram(s)], and temper-tantrum-throwing children are an absolute delight during morning & evening rush hour.

Twirling kid.

This cherub twirled around the pole on a crowded bus while whining loudly. His mother sat next to me, oh joy.

Another darling little cherub, standing on the seat with Mother Dear's permission (sitting next to her).

Temper tantrum.

This cherub threw himself on the floor, and Mother Dear had to drag him off of the bus.

- A former expatriate & friend of mine, who was studying here but has now repatriated, got into a physical fight with a drunk woman on the bus. The drunken dame heard her accent, asked her where she was from and upon hearing the answer, began name calling & cursing. In spite of this, my friend was calm and tried staying away from Dame Drunk-A-Lot. Dame Drunk-A-Lot kept it up, along with purposely stepping on her foot 3 times… and after the 3rd time, my friend slapped her in the face.

What are your colorful stories in your part of the world? If you’re an expatriate, what are some differences that you’ve noticed between public transportation in your home country and your current country? Do you have public transportation stories and if so, are they more colorful in your home country or your current country, or are the stories just as colorful in different countries?

Life savers.

Life savers.

Aside

Going through the motions.

It’s been a while – well, a little less than a month – since my last post. My stepfather surprised me with a visit for 5 days about 2 weeks ago and we had a wonderful time. He’s wonderful and, despite him no longer being married to my mother, still considers me his daughter & vice versa. It was a necessary (albeit short) break, a breath of fresh air, in this thing called my life.

But since he left – hell, even before that – I’ve been a bit out of it. I’d rather not go into too much detail, but some of it is why I’ve not written in a while. Along with the typical “No one is reading this shit anyway” thoughts:

- I may not go home for Xmas, partly because who really gives a damn & partly because of finances

- I’m tired of living paycheck to paycheck; I thought that I could leave the overworking 2-jobs-to-make-ends-meet life behind but I may have to return to it

- I still don’t know what to do with my life even though my goal is self-employment

- The list of those whom I consider family has greatly shrunken

- The list of those whom I consider friends has greatly shrunken

- Health

And more. But I don’t complain much because people have their own lives and either don’t want to or can’t hear it, and I only 50% blame them for that. But after reading another blogger’s post today, I decided that maybe I should let out a bit of it for the world to see… oh wait no one reads this shit myself.

I’m going through the motions. I survive. I live. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. But I’ll be back to blogging sooner than later… hopefully. Although he doesn’t know it, thanks to the blog author for sparking this post.

Aside

Nomad.

Although I’m agnostic, I believe in souls, spirits, intuition and energies. As I get older, I’m learning to pay more attention to each of those things (if there’s a difference) because when it comes down to it, I know what’s best for me and need to learn to trust that. So it kinda jolted me into reality when on the way to work a few days ago, a realization hit me like a ton of bricks:

My soul/spirit has been at dis-ease lately. It hit me that a small reason is because I no longer want to go back home.

I never thought that those words would cross my mind. The United States isn’t perfect. I have a love-hate relationship with my country. But I didn’t think that I’d never want to return there.

And it’s hard to grapple with for so many reasons, a few that I’ll mention here.

1. I don’t have any real or potential suitors back home. (I don’t even have any here. Or anywhere else for that matter.) Love definitely isn’t waiting at home (or anywhere else).

2. I don’t have any children or other dependents. This isn’t hard to grapple with, as I’m child-free; it’s just another thing that doesn’t tie me down. I’ve got nephews & godsons whom I love beyond anything that they could ever imagine. But they’ve always been far away from me, so this amount of distance from their aunt & godmother won’t matter much. Hopefully they’ll visit me.

3. For reasons that I’d rather not get into now, I don’t really have any family save for a few family members. If those family members miss me, they can always visit (but they won’t).

4. Friends….. such an overused word, one of the most overused on this planet. Also for reasons that I’d rather not get into now, since I moved here I’ve seen their true colors. Sadly, I’ve had to let some go for good. It’s always been hard for me to make friends and it’s not much different here either, so maybe it’s best to cultivate a few friendships anywhere other than home and leave that behind.

5. Observing home from here has disheartened me, even scared me at times. I’ve stated that no country is perfect (not even Norway, sadly), but from an outsider now looking in, home isn’t giving me warm fuzzy feelings anymore. The political & economic climates, the outright hostility, the stripping away of civil rights/freedoms, the blatant disrespect on so many levels….. home isn’t exactly screaming “Come back! Welcome home!” lately.

It’s bittersweet. On one hand, I’ve always dreamed of traveling the world & living abroad. Ever since I was a child, having school pen pals worldwide & owning my 1st atlas, wanderlust has always been part of my life. I’d look at the atlas for hours, imagining the mountains & villages & towns & coastlines that I’d see one day. And while I’ve not seen every place that I want to see yet, I’ve been lucky enough to see a few. But however, it’s sad to look at my short list above & acknowledge that there’s nothing for me at home. A tree gets nourishment through its roots. I don’t have any roots to plant at home.

I don’t know if I’ll plant my roots in the United Kingdom. Only time will tell. I may even change my mind about home & return there after all, who knows. I know this for sure at this moment though: I don’t wanna go home & I’ll likely wander the world for the rest of my life. I’m used to doing it all solo, and that’s alright. It just so happens that along with the benefits, it comes at an unexpected price.

Aside

Anniversary.

1 year ago today, I landed at Heathrow Airport to work/live in another country.  The time went by so fast.  And I’m still alive, still standing.

I’m not gonna write a long entry about the year; instead, I already have a few posts coming down the pipe that’ll address my experience(s)/thoughts about the year, and my other blog is under re-construction and should be done by the end of the week.  You can, however, read this & this & maybe even this to get an idea (if you haven’t already) of my experience moving here, along with reading other posts right after those.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experiences so far, and I hope that it inspires someone to make that move.

Come on over (part II).

(If you missed the 1st part, just click here for it.)

J arrived with niece & daughter in tow and I got in the car. It was already dark, so I didn’t see what anyone looked like until we got to the house. J’s daughter asked where I was from, and as soon as those 3 words came out of my mouth, I regretted them.

Me: “New York City.”

Here we go…..

Oh my goodness! I’ve always wanted to go there. What’s it like? What part are you from? I just wanna go there and shop! How much does it cost to go there? What was it like growing up there? Oh, this is great! I can’t wait to go there one day. What’s their fashion like? (Sidenote: I, Spinster, am the wrong person to ask about any kind of fashion.) I’m sure there’s tons of stuff to do there! And I gotta try the make-up there too! There are probably so many things there that we don’t have here!

And on and on for most of the ride back to the home. :-| I only answered 1 or 2 of her questions before J told her to calm down a bit. Thank goodness. The anxiety was in full swing.

We got back to the home and J’s husband, a Frenchman (non-English-speaking except a few basic words), greeted me while a couple of female family members put the finishing touches on dinner. The rest of the kids were upstairs until J beckoned them to come downstairs and greet me. (The boys, who are the oldest and in their 20s, didn’t come down; that didn’t surprise me one bit.) She told them to give me hugs & kisses, which was adorable, and they did. Nice warm family. It calmed me down a bit. And wouldn’t you know it? All of the girls who were teens & adults were wearing skinny jeans along with their hijab! They didn’t think I was a whore after all! :-|

I took off my coat & sat down, staring into space whilst waiting for dinner. I felt like an exotic animal because the kids stared at me. The older ones asked me more questions while offering me food & drink. Since I was late, they’d already eaten so the food was just for me. It was strange eating alone while they talked, but at least they were talking instead of staring at me. The food was good & filling. (sampling of typical Mauritian cuisine)

After I finished, I sat back on the couch & twiddled my thumbs. One of J’s older daughters (the one in the car) asked me some more questions that made me groan inside, and then she asked me something I considered strange:

Do you like make-up?

Again, wrong person to ask.

I said

I own some but I’m not into it like most women. I keep it pretty simple when I wear it, if at all.

She asked about different make-up brands and their possible existence back home. I told her about Sephora (my usual go-to for make-up) & offered to show her the website. We wound up looking at the site for a while. This excited her because, unbeknownst to me, she studies cosmetology in college. See, J’s ancestors are from India. Mauritius (detailed Wikipedia entry – Mauritius) has a sizeable Indian-origin population, and so does the United Kingdom. In general, when Indian women get married (or have other milestone events), they sometimes require intricate make-up application, which can only be done by someone who knows their stuff. Since J’s daughter is learning, the Sephora website is perfect for her. It was as if I found some hidden pot o’ gold and gave it to her.

Although her question was strange to me, it did something to me: it decreased the anxiety, relaxing me little by little. I don’t know what it was – maybe having the focus on make-up instead of me? Whatever it was, I felt a little more at ease. I asked them questions about Mauritius, how J met her husband, their religion (born or converted), etc. As an aside, the younger children are at different levels of learning the Qur’an (online version here – Qur’an), and the younger ones had to wake up early the next morning to learn their next sura. Although I’m agnostic, I can appreciate, to a small extent, the positive role that religion can have on people. I think the family is a little relaxed when it comes to Islam (detailed Wikipedia entry – Islam) despite being orthodox; as mentioned earlier, the girls/women in the home wore skinny jeans and watched different TV shows & etc. (Please pardon me if this seems like major generalizing; this isn’t what my intent is, nor should it be taken as such.) Basically, American media doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Time flew by. We didn’t know it was so late, so I decided to get going. I got up, put on my coat, and held out my hand for a handshake. J’s daughter said

No, we don’t do that here. Give me a hug.

I gladly obliged. Younger daughter also gave me a big warm hug. My world lacks hugs, so I appreciate the few that I can get. They said “Don’t be a stranger, come back soon.”

J & her husband put on their coats and readied themselves to drop me to the overground train station. This time they used the family van. As we drove though, I noticed that we drove past the station, and that’s when J asked me for my address. It kinda caught me off guard.

Me: “Wait, you’re not taking me all the way home, are you?”

Yes. We can’t let you go home this late by yourself on the train. We’re taking you home.

Caught off guard again. Me: “Oh wow, thank you so much. You really don’t have to do this. I really appreciate it.”

And they dropped me all the way home, straight to my front door. I walked in the house, satisfied with the evening’s events. I felt the fear and did it anyway, which is 1 step forward for me. It’s hard to push past uneasy feelings, very hard, but it’s possible.

I was, and still am, overwhelmed by the unconditional acceptance given to me by certain people since being here. Sadly, it’s not something that I’m used to. Or maybe I’m looking into this too deeply, I don’t know. But in a world where one has to have certain qualities & characteristics to “fit in”, where everything about a person gets questioned, picked apart even….. Usually in a negative way, as if one isn’t good enough just the way one is….. it’s overwhelming (but nice) being welcomed with open arms.

I’ll be visiting them again, and they even offered for me to spend the night (I’ll likely accept the invitation). It’s nice to escape every once in a while, even if it’s just to another part of town, and just relax, knowing that all you have to do is just be.

GUEST POST: Oh, that’s proper.

Ashley is a friend of mine who was also my very 1st visitor from back home a few weeks ago. She’s a freelance writer & tutor. For more about her, check out Mochalocks In The City or follow her on Twitter @middleofmarch. Here’s her guest post, my first ever on this blog.
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April 5, 2011 – It’s been two weeks already since I’ve been across the pond. I’m talking about London, England. I took time out from being a busy American and I actually took a vacation to a country that I always wanted to visit.

Can I say that I love their accent? LOVE IT. With a capital L.

My trip was only for a week, but I suggest staying there for at least 2 weeks or more if you can afford it. I already made up my mind that I have to stay longer than a week on my next trip to England.

First rule of thumb when arriving in England: Learn their English. A lot of their words mean the same but they use different words from American English. For example:

Television/T.V.= Tele.

Bathroom = Toilets. (I know, this sounded weird as hell to me when I first heard it coming out of the mouth an airport employee.)

Garbage = Rubbish

Parking Lot = Garage (pronounced GAH {like the 1st syllable of the name Gary}-rage)

And so on, but you will learn their way of speaking, etc. as you venture out of your hotel room.

I was lucky enough to stay the week with my friend “Spinster”. Spinster lives in a nice little neighborhood – lots of shopping within 5-10 minutes walking distance from her house, and close enough to public transportation.

The food is good. I didn’t notice a difference between British food and American food at all but as expected, some items on the menu have different names, i.e. French Fries = Chips. And believe me when I say I’ve had enough chips in a week, to not care to have them again for another month. But you’re on vacation right? So who’s really worrying about how much you’re going to eat? British food portions are a lot smaller than American food portions. So a large size plate of rice and chicken is really a medium.

The top two restaurants I suggest you visit while in London are 1) Nando’s (it’s an American version of Dallas BBQ or even Applebee’s) and 2) Haandi (Indian restaurant). We went to one Nando’s restaurant in south-east London and another one in south-west London. With Haandi, there are only 4 of them in the world, 2 of which are in England. Spinster and I went to the one in Kingsbridge, London.

There’s no need to rent a car while you’re there because London has a good source of public transportation. If you decide to drive though, take note that the steering wheel is on the right side of the car.

What’d I love about London? It’s a little version of NYC, but it still has its old but classical buildings intact, some of them with a modern twist. For instance, they still use the antique door key.

I love that you can park any way on the street (with the hood facing each other). Crossing the streets take time to get used to because when you’re on the left side of the street, the cars are coming from your right, and vice versa.

The (over-ground) trains and the tube are very easy to use. I LOVED the fact that everywhere you go they have CCTV (security camera), especially on the bus. If there is one thing NYC can steal from London, then it should make sure all buses have a camera installed. The buses are a breeze to take as well. They use an electronic ticketing system to read the Oyster cards you use to pay to get on the bus. The same Oyster cards and electronic tickets can also be used on the trains and tubes.

What’d I hate about London? I hate that the sidewalks are small as hell but you get used to it after awhile.

Overall this trip was a learning experience, as any other trip is. But I loved it and like I said, London deserves a second trip. It’s worth the 6-8 hour plane ride.

Cheerio!