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

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.

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.

Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Stoic and precise: 21 men

Measured and precise: 21 steps

Sharp and cold: 21 rifles

More than 21 tears.

More than 21 should remember.

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About the Blue Star Memorial Highways:

Why the Blue Star?

During WW II, families and homes that had a son or daughter in the service frequently displayed a service banner with a blue star.

Blue Star Memorial Highways are a tribute to the armed forces that have defended the United States of America.

In 1944 the New Jersey State Council of Garden Clubs beautified a 5½-mile stretch of U.S. 22 from Mountainside to North Plainfield with approximately 8,000 dogwood trees as a living memorial to the men and women in the Armed Forces from New Jersey. The New Jersey Legislature approved a Joint Resolution on January 22, 1945, designating this highway “Blue Star Drive.”

After World War II, many wanted to honor servicemen and women. People decided…

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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?  

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!

Quick blog break.

Hello everyone. My first visitor is here. 🙂 She’ll be here for about 1 week. So pardon the lack of posting in advance. On a good note, her visit is providing lots of blogging material along with at least 2 blog drafts that are already in process.

Back to entertaining. See you later.