Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting back in the habit....

I am not really sure what has happened... I have announced my intention to blog again to the world. I have even started mentally planning some blog post topics, thinking in "blogpostese", but I haven't managed to put words to screen. It is a funny thing. Maybe I am just out of the habit but I have trouble feeling like have time to blog, that I have the spare time to do it.

Is it because I am still mentally recuperating from all the stuff that contributed to me stopping blogging in the first place?? Primarily, most of that stress has subsided. (most of it.) But I am still feeling a little mentally inefficient. Maybe I have PTSD? I do know that I have felt like I have not been as good a communicator as I once was over the past few months/year. So, I will use this blog for communication rehab! After all, I do feel like there are some things in my life again that warrant talking about. I guess it is okay to start out slow.

So here we go....

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back on the Blog!

I know I said it before but.... It's 2010! 2009 is gone (thankfully!) and I was able to sort through a bunch of things that were stressing me and taking up mental space. (Whew!)

I have missed my blog friends. I have even gotten a few nudges from the digital galaxy over the past couple months to remind me that my blog is still out here, waiting....

So, I am answering the call! I promise!

Stay tuned..... more to come! ;-)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Spring is a time of rebirth and resurrection..... A time to start anew. And so.... I am resurrecting my blog. It has been a while since I have been able to write regularly and so now, I am working on rededicating myself to that. But.... the reason why I ended up stopping last year was that it became another requirement or obligation as opposed to something that I enjoyed. Like I have said before, I often think in blog posts.... that would make a good post.... I structure descriptive thoughts as draft blog entries in my brain, etc...

But last year was just a hard year for me... so many things became burdens, so many things were complicated. I have dedicated myself to simplifying my life --- I have no husband or kids. Shouldn't have been as stressed or pressed up as I had been.

So.... I am restructuring my life.... see my new blog posts soon!

Monday, December 01, 2008

My absence: Just call me Pat Benetar!

So the reason why I have not managed to make my regular appearances in the blogesphere for the past few month, well really, at least a half a year is because life has just been working me out!

I went from having no job to basically having 3 jobs! My regular full-time job has been going really well. I am really enjoying what I am doing and feel like I am making a contribution that is being valued. I have had two bosses in the past 8 months but that is because the guy who hired me got promoted to his boss' position, which is not a bad thing for me since he thought well enough of me to hire me in the first place and has direct knowledge of my work. And I like my new boss, who is a woman. I was not sure of her when I first started the job and she was in another group within my department. I got a strange vibe from her then but now that I report to her, she has been really great. She was promoted when she came to my group and is very inclusive and treats me very congenially, which is the opposite of what I felt from her before. So things are good!

Additionally, I am still working at The Container Store. A lot of people have asked me why I am still working there and it is not that the money makes a huge difference but I like it and it doesn't really interfere with my schedule that much. I work truck uploads, which is normally one night every 5-7 days (9-midnight on a weeknight/Saturday or 6-9 on Sunday) and I have started picking up store hours on some evenings and on the weekend. I cannot under emphasize how different this company is from regular retail --- and the people I work with are all pretty much very nice, helpful, agreeable people. But of course, that is why they were hired.

And lastly, I have been dealing with some investment properties that I purchased last year. The long and the short of it is that they have not worked out quite as I had originally envisioned. I have ended up renting them out as Section 8 housing, at a loss, and using a property manager (who is also an owner in the subdivision) to manage them. I was very hands off for a little less than a year but then the finances of it all caused me to take a closer look. I had not foreseen not having a job for 6 months when I purchased them and any extra that I could have dedicated to these properties disappeared into living expenses. But honestly, even if I had kept my job, the economics of this endeavor disintegrated as the housing market started going south. So while I am able to collect income on each property every month, it is not enough to cover the mortgage by a sizable amount. So I have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what to do. And I still haven't gotten it figured out.

What I did figure out was that I could not continue to afford a property manager if I was already losing money so this fall I started the process of managing them myself. And in the process I discovered that a few things were not being managed as I expected. So I had to dive in on my own -- manage the transition in management with the manager and tenants, sign new leases, sort through a whole mess of things with the housing authority including rent increase requests, etc, steering clear of an investigation that they launched against my former property manager, and finding someone to do maintenance for the units. Additionally, one tenant and the former property manager did not get along, for a number of reasons, and while I has trusted his advice in the past with regard to tenant matters, I started to question if the rendition of events he had been telling me was completely accurate.

There have been periods where I worked at least 5 hours a day for 13 days straight plus had to manage stuff with the properties in addition.

I definitely feel like an adult these days.... Got some big ol' adult issues to deal with. Whew!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Birth and Death

I have had a very pivotal year this year. Not that major life changing events have happened in my life, but I have seen things happen around me. A number of folks I know have had babies in the past couple years but a few months ago, I learned that my best friend is pregnant. We have been friends for 22 years now. As an only child I have the gift to be able to choose the people I get to think of as sisters, and she is about the closest thing to a sister I will have. So, in spring next year, I will become an aunt!

On an opposite note however, I have seen the family of some good friends struck with some unbelievable tragedy. A friend of mine from graduate school was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29, a few months after we graduated and a week after she married another classmate of ours. In May, 3 years after a great 35th birthday celebration at her parent's home in NC, five and a half years after she was diagnosed, she lost her fight with this disease. I have been meeting to write about her, her wonderful spirit, and the joy with which she embraced life for months now. And I will do so soon.

But tonight I wanted to write about another friend of mine, who I mentioned in an earlier post. Ryan was living his dream, getting the recognition he deserved and being able to earn a living pursuing his passion --- opera singing. Ryan attended Morehouse University as a voice major and was a proud member of the Morehouse Glee Club. After graduation he went on to pursue a masters degree at Ohio University. But after school he struggled to earn a living singing. He secured a few regular paying gigs, including parts with the Atlanta Opera and as a featured tenor with a church in the area. But after numerous rejections, he started to give up on his dream. In a last attempt, he decided to audition for the Metropolitan Opera's Young Artist competition, a yearly competition that whittles down approximately 11,000 applicants into the 6 most promising young singers in the industry. The cut off age for the competition is 30 and this was Ryan's last year of eligibility. And in 2007, at age 30, Ryan became one of the winners of this pretigious competition. As a winner, he finally started getting recognition for he talent. He performed in a couple Met performances. He won an internship to the Summer Opera program in Sante Fe, New Mexico, something analygous to Summer Stock for opera singers. Agents were starting to take notice of him. He won a position this year as an ensemble member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and started in the cast in April of this year. As an ensemble member with a regular salary, he was finally able to make a living solely from pursuing his passion and also given regular opportunity to audition for larger roles in Opera performances.

Unfortunately, Ryan was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late March of this year and started going through treatment while in Chicago. Initial accounts were encouraging. Burkitt's Lymphona is considered one of the more treatable forms of cancer and he was expected to recover quickly and be back to singing at the Opera. He went through 2 rounds of chemo and was back at home recuperating and started attending rehearsals again. Then, he got an infection and had to return to the hospital since his immune system was so compromised from the chemo. He did not end up leaving.... At first, I would talk to him pretty regularly on the phone. And then, the calls became less frequent. Me and his best friend discussed going to visit him. We were not able to go the same week, so he and some other friends went up one weekend and I went up the next. I am not really sure what I expected when I got there but I have to say that I was startled when I first saw him in the hospital.

Honestly, I could have walked by him 5 times and not known it was him if he hadn't opened his mouth! Ryan had been working out and losing weight before he went off to Chicago but he had probable lost another 50 pounds since then. Also, apparently, an affect of chemotherapy can be the darkening of skin because he was probably 4 shades darker than he used to be. Also, the shape of his face and facial features had totally changed. He had very little soft tissue on his face so his nose was even shaped differently. His teeth had an orangish hue from the medecine he had been taking. It was startling. But he was the same Ryan. I sat there with him and his family all day. He dosed in and out and we watched the documentary from his MET competition. To see and hear him perform was amazing! It was just beautiful! Such a gift! And to be watching it in him hotel room was particularly poignant. We all teared up..... It was hard to know what to do other than just be there. His parents were upset by the latest discussions with the doctors which seemed to not give them much hope. They had started trying to sneak herbal therapies into his room. A friend from NY had sent a reiki therapist over to do a treatment on him. I came back to see him the next morning on my way to the airport.

Three days later, on my birthday, I heard that the doctors had reported that his tumor has shrunk 40% so they were encouraged and were going to try to boost up his immune system for another round of chemo. It never happened. Ryan died a few weeks later. It was awful...... so much promise unrealized..... so young, only 32......

With all these tragedies happening amongst my peers, it has really gotten me thinking about my age. For me, there is not really anyone around generationally older than my parents. Death is a much closer reality for me now after this year. I reflect on what I have accomplished in my life and I don't really have regrets. I have had some great experiences, wonderful friends and learned a lot from the challenges I have worked through. I have not yet found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and have children with but I understand that this is something that cannot be rushed. I don't particularly feel anxious about it personally. But what I am starting to comtemplate is that I really want to give my parents the experience of seeing me married and meeting their first grandchild. I know two friends whose mothers died right before they gave birth to their first child. So it is not for me that I feel anxious, but for my parents. However, my parents are not the kind to pressure me about these types of things and I know that they would not want me to rush into something that was not fulfilling for them. So, I will just concentrate in enjoying all my moments, my experiences with the people I love, searching for other fulfilling connections with new people and not taking any of it for granted!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today's hip hop

There are very few instances these days that I am impressed by the lyrics in today's popular music. There are very few poets, especially in hip hop music, and very few fully crafted thoughts and images that get portrayed lyrically with any type of skill.

So eventhough, he doesn't make the "h" silent when he says it, I would like to pay homage to T.I.'s lyrics in the song, Live Your Life. Now, he is not talking about curing world hunger or anything, but I applaud his word play!

Here is one of my favorite parts....

" I got love for the game but ay I’m not in love with all of it.
Could do without the fame and the rappers nowadays are comedy.
The hootin’ and the hollerin’, back and forth with the arguing.
Where you from, who you know, what you make and what kind of car you in.
Seems as though you lost sight of whats important when depositin
them checks into your bank account, and you’re up out poverty.
Your values is a disarray, prioritizing horribly.
Unhappy with the riches cause you piss-poor morally.
Ignoring all prior advice and fore warning.
And we mighty full of ourselves all of a sudden aren’t we?"

On my daily commute this morning.....

People are a trip....

This morning, while I was driving to work this woman honked at me because I didn't let her in front on me when and where she wanted to be let in! Mind you, we were on a street where there was no one in front of her, no one behind me, and she was at least 2000 ft from the place where she was going to turn right.

Where does this sense of entitlement come from?? These people need to be put on the streets in a real city. Then they would learn to drive!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My friend Ryan......

Here is the obituary of my friend..... (I am really too young to be saying something like that!)

Ryan Smith, 31, sang with Morehouse, Met


Saturday, November 15, 2008

After years of setbacks and struggles, Ryan Smith fulfilled a dream this past spring. He sang on stage at the Metropolitan Opera, playing the minor role of Don Ricardo in the rarely performed Verdi opera “Ernani.”

Not long ago, Mr. Smith, formerly of Decatur, was working in a Lithonia video game store and had given up his unlikely goal of becoming an opera singer.

Friends prodded him to get back to singing and auditioning. He did, and was a national winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera Auditions — leading to stage roles, interest from talent agents, and a prominent part in an upcoming documentary about the Met auditions.

Mr. Smith, 31, died Wednesday of lymphoma at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he was a first-year ensemble member of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s prestigious artist development program. His family plans a private funeral in Los Angeles, where he grew up. There also will be a memorial service at 3 p.m. November 30 at First Presbyterian Church.

In the opera world, Mr. Smith was an up-and-coming talent to watch, said Dennis Hanthorn, general director of the Atlanta Opera, where Mr. Smith portrayed Camp Williams in “Cold Sassy Tree,” last February.

“He would have been one of the leading lyric tenors in the next five years,” Mr. Hanthorn predicted. “He would have been performing all over North America and Europe.”

Mr. Smith was from South-Central Los Angeles and sang in his church and school. A career in the opera never occurred to him until he won a scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival at age 17.

There, he was moved to tears by a performance of “Che Galida Manina,” a famous romantic aria from “La Boheme.” Mr. Smith went on to study music at Morehouse College and was featured in performances by the famous Morehouse Glee Club. He earned a master’s in music at Ohio University.

Mr. Smith returned to Atlanta but was stymied on the audition circuit. After being told at one tryout that he was “too fat,” he vowed to give up singing. He took the video store job and spent the next three years in a funk, he told the AJC.

It wasn’t until friends pressured him to return to singing that he began to practice for the Met auditions — opera’s version of “American Idol.” He made it to the regional finals in 2006 and won the nationals in 2007.

Chosen as an understudy for the Met’s production of “Ernani,” he won the role when the singer had to drop out. “It was great. It came out of the blue,” he told the AJC. “I started break dancing.”

Shortly before his Met debut in March, Mr. Smith began feeling extremely tired, said his father Paul Smith of Los Angeles. “He would perform and then go back to his apartment and sleep all day,” he said.

Doctors later confirmed the diagnosis of lymphoma, said his father, who described seeing his son on stage at the Met as one of the most rewarding moments of his life.

“Many opera singers can be heard to say, ‘My dream is to sing at the Metropolitan Opera.’ Ryan accomplished that goal in a very short time — through disappointment and joy, through hard work, and belief in his gifts,” said Walter Huff, chorus master for the Atlanta Opera and a voice coach to Mr. Smith.

“But just as important were his personal gifts of humility, kindness and a down-to-earth genuineness that made you root for him on stage, even before he began to sing,” he said.

Other survivors are his mother Renee Smith and sister Nya Assis, both of Los Angeles.


Ryan is featured in a documentary that was produced chronicling the 2007 Metropolitan Opera Auditions called "The Audition" by Susan Froemke, which premiered at the Tokyo Film Festival in October. The film is planned to be shown stateside in spring of 2009. Check out a link to a clip on the Met website.

Also see the press release issued by the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Well, you knew there would be haters......

Here are some folks already creating Impeach Obama paraphenalia.

And here is a summary of racially motivated incidents that have been occuring since the election....

There is still a lot of work to do....