Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Diary of an Urban Child

My new book, Diary of an Urban Child is available through in 
eBook, paperback and hardback.

What is going on in there? The mind of Brooklyn born Almost Josephina is a wonderous and sometimes confusing place. You may find signs of wit, trouble, sassiness, and it may get a little serious but you will laugh till you pee yourself a little. Diary Of An Urban Child is a compilation of just a few of Josephina's humorous and insightful essays, poems, blog and diary entries. She will take you through 20 years of growing up and out of NYC and into the suburbs of Houston, TX. You can take the girl out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the girl.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Childless By Choice

To be a 30-something childless Hispanic woman must be the greatest act of defiance.  I feel I am somewhere between a hang glider and those people who parachute from the tops of famous tall buildings.  There is an element of rebellion in being a purposefully childless Latin woman.

If panic on behalf of some of my relatives is any indication, then my fertile years are passing me by at lightning speed.  My clock is tickin' like this, Clack, Clack, Clack.  The train is leaving the station.  Not that it worries me.  

So, why does it worry them?  Do they need another child? Are they going to raise mine?  

Besides, I don't understand what the fascination is with seeing me pregnant.  Do they resent my independence?  While they are agonizing over the price of diapers, I am trying to decide whether to buy those leopard print shoes now or wait for a sale and risk them being sold out later.  In both decisions there is an element of sacrifice.  

Regardless, each of us chose our way of life.  They chose the joy
of parenthood, which has its wonderful, exhilarating and crazy moments.  We chose to be married yet childless, which also has its wonderful, exhilarating and crazy moments.  Just more on the normal side of crazy.  Like the calm side of crazy.  Like a calm crazy with a margarita in my hand while chillin' at the beach crazy.  That is the sort of crazy I'm into.

It is what my husband and I chose.  We were straightforward about it from the beginning. We come from big families.  We know about kids, diapers and drool.  We know that nothing smells so good as a new baby.  I love that new baby smell.  I also love that I can hand them back to their mother, give a nice big yawn and retire to the comfort of my peaceful bed for the night.

At present, I have other goals.  It isn't that I am repressing any motherly instincts for these goals.  If I felt the pull of motherhood tugging at me, I would drop everything and become one.  But I don't want to.  

I admire women that just feel within them the unrelenting need to have their own children.  I have never felt it.  But I do love children.  One of my goals in life is to be the crazy, lovable aunt.  I want to teach my nieces and nephews about all the cool things that their parents are not allowed by convention to teach them.  Like how to make a catapult out of rubber bands, popsicle sticks and a bottle cap.  Or how to fish for koi in grandpa's pond.  I want to take them to the bulk candy store and give them a one-pound allowance for whatever they want and read them all the books I love.  But I am not the mother type.

I think they forgot to give me the mothering chip.  When all the baby girls were on the assembly line getting their sugar and spice and everything nice, which includes the "Mothering" chip; I was passed up.  They must have run out and the next shipment was not for a couple of days, which would have delayed production and started a big mess.  Imagine all those late babies!  So they improvised and decided to give me an extra "Wears two coats of mascara" chip and an "Owns too many shoes" chip, just to even it out.

In the Hispanic culture, when you marry, it is a given that you will have kids. If you aren't going to have kids then, what is the point?  Also there is the expectation that now the two of you have to adhere to the roles of care-taking mother and providing father. For example, I found myself, once again, mixed up in the "What should we do about Josephina's aging womb" debate and this is what I was told...

"What do you mean you don't want no babies?  What will you do?  Una mujer no esta realizada hasta que tenga hijos."

That last sentence translates to, "A woman is not fulfilled until she has had children."  This one sentence chilled and angered me.  Is this what they teach their daughters?  That they will never be fulfilled until they have children.  Nothing else will do, I guess.  Anything else she accomplishes will not be fulfilling.  If she dies childless, she dies unfulfilled.  A torn and embittered basket case that never reached her prime however hard she tried.  I can see this elderly woman sitting at the edge of a dock in a yellowed wedding dress, holding a burpy cloth and crying into the sea.  

All this time I thought I had done many fulfilling things.  Look.  Having a child is one of the biggest accomplishments; I'll give them that.  But it is not the only accomplishment.  May I ask, what does it take for a man to feel ultimately fulfilled in life?  For some reason, I'm thinking it's something less painful than labor, conveniently enough.

Let's be straight, it might happen - because it can.  I may have to eat my words and prepare myself for morning sickness, nine months of feeling extremely warm and having to find a bathroom every thirty minutes, labor, and the next twenty-six years of child-rearing.  Yes, twenty-six years.  I do have to consider the increasing prevalence of Failure to Launch Syndrome amongst our youngsters thanks to the state of the economy and smart phones.  Thus our children would finally mature and become independent at a later age.  

So, if it does happen... that's ok, too.  Every change in life, whether planned or unplanned, should start first as a wonderful adventure full of unknowns.  But I can't promise you that I won't pass out at first.

I thought that my sister-in-law being pregnant would finally save me from the unceasing question, "So, when are you going to have a baby?"  I thought, "Good... now everyone will be happy with the new baby and no one will pay attention to little ol' me."  

I was wrong.  The question at every gathering is still the same.  "So, when are you going to have a baby?"

Oy vey...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I take naps when no one is around

I think it was Hemingway who said that to write all you have to do is sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.  He was right.  It feels just like that.

It's not pretty and usually, because I faint at the thought of blood, I try to suture myself when I get to the keyboard.  Not everything needs to be said or explained.  But fifty percent of that is pride and the other half is fear.  This leads to confusion sometimes.  And lots of plot holes.

In the present, my life is full of plot holes.  Not for me.  I know the story.  I was the one that cut out the juicy parts and passed the book over.  I realize there are holes in Swiss cheese that are smaller.

Not that I lead this super secret life full of adventure and mystery.  I don't work for a top-secret agency or have a cool secret agent name.  If I did it would be Boricua Chula.  I just feel bad giving out the unhappy details of my life.  I don't want to be the overly dramatic killjoy.  Even though lately I could care less and less if I am inconveniencing anyone.  Please understand, if I am having a bad day, I am going to say so.

The reason I am filling in these gaps today is that I have been suffering from a strange illness for the past year.  I haven't talked much about it because I am just beginning to understand it myself.  My doctor can't find anything majorly wrong with me other than that my symptoms, which are more frustrating and varied than they are debilitating, seem to be stress related.  From my symptoms I deduce that my cortisol levels are out of whack and the stress on my adrenals have led to other issues.  Getting up in the morning is the hardest part of the day.  I feel like I tumbled down a long bumpy hill.  In other words, exhausted and tense.

After I stretch myself out and clean myself up it takes eons for my mind to wake up.  I was using coffee to help me through the morning.  It usually took two cups but after a while that didn't work any more and the caffeine overload was working against me.  It seems to kick in half a day later and at the wrong time.

Around 11am I can mentally start my day.  I get some work in until about 2pm when I dip in energy again. Sometimes I have no choice but to take a quick nap.  It is a sickening kind of tired.  Then my energy rises steadily till about 10-11pm when I start running laps in my house and dancing to old Mariah Carey songs like it’s the summer of 1998.  I take a bath and drink some tea.  I get a book or watch something soothing and try to wind down.  For a time I would drink a tall glass of wine before bed but I was told that was a sure path to alcoholism and alcohol aggravates the problem anyway.

About 12:30am I nod off into a light sleep and start dreaming of every worst-case scenario.  I kid you not.  Every night I air an episode of Josephina's Worst Case Scenario Adventure in my head.  I jump off of tall buildings to get away from assassins.  I run from one fiery obstacle course after another saving loved ones from disaster. Sometimes I am as agile as Bear Grylls other times I run into walls or nearly get myself killed at the hands of mad penguins.  Sometimes I just get lost for hours in a mall where nothing is remotely stylish, nothing fits, the shoes are a disaster and there are no exits.

Then I wake up like clockwork at 4am.  I drink some water.  Say
a prayer.  Go to the bathroom.  Fall back asleep and have the most restful 3-6 hours of sleep if I am so allowed.

Sometimes this syndrome (which my doctor doesn't officially want to call Adrenal Fatigue) makes me think I have finally lost my marbles.  When I am up, I’m as fun as two three-year-olds in a four room bouncy castle.  When I am down I don't want to be around anyone and I am glued to my couch.

I say no a lot these days.  I'm gaining the reputation for being antisocial and I've decided to be careful about who I tell my reasons to.  Some people are very understanding, others try to create instant remedies and still others tell me I need to be more disciplined in my habits.  When I say Adrenal Fatigue they look puzzled like if its some newfangled 21st century syndrome developed by marketers to sell more vitamins.  So needless to say I don't get very far.

My other symptoms are crazy too.  I crave salt.  I have brain fog.  Sometimes I mentally wake up and can't remember what I've been doing before I "woke". 

I have noticed improvement while taking Ashwagandha and eating avocados with sea salt.  I try to eat well and on time.  When I'm tired I stop and rest.  I try not to do too much in one day so I don't completely ruin the next day by being bound to my couch.  Strenuous activity has to be carefully planned and carried out in stages.  On the up side I can claim I am too tired to iron and need to send everything to the dry cleaners.  Ay, it causes too much fatigue to iron.  ‘Endito.

All this laying down lets me think about how I got myself to this place.  It's a harrowing story starring chronic stress, putting yourself second, not knowing when to say No, and too many grande caffe mochas.  I know that I have usually turned to writing when I am most stressed.  So Almost Josephina is the road map to how to exhaust your adrenal glands.  I need a nap.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

And now a public service announcement

It seems for the last seven years we have been fighting for every last inch.  I don't think we will get a break anytime soon but then again I am looking around and everyone else is fighting too.  So take a deep breath and dance a little, sing a little and get ready to get back in there.  At least the sun is out and the Earth is rotating and there are people out there who are good and we are stronger than we seem.

Take it day by day.  Pace yourself.

I sound like one of those daily inspiration books and I don't care.  Besides you know you secretly love life affirming prose, admit it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Leaky Boats and High Tide

Copyright ShutterPlum Photography

Have you ever been in a boat and all the sudden...

This is where the trouble starts.  It all goes down hill at all the sudden but if we look way back it wasn't so all the sudden.  It was actually happening under your nose the whole time.  Little by little, inch by inch or in this case in whole nautical miles.

All the sudden... you noticed your boat has drifted away.  Away, away!  You may have drifted asleep or you were distracted. The dreaded twong of panic rings in your head.  Then you say, "It can't get any worse" and your boat springs a leak.  Simply a consequence of your bad decision to sit in an old boat during high tide.  They warned you about high tide but you didn't listen.  So now you are condemning yourself for your mistake.  You know you messed up.

The boat is leaking badly.  The good thing is that if you squint real hard you can still make out land.  We have to be positive. There might as well be a whole continent between you and that shore but you can see it and you don't want to die.

All the panic alarms in your head are saying, "Life!  Life!  We choose to live!"

In a minute you will be in the water anyway so you take off your shoes and any extra clothes.  You dive in and start to swim.  

You are alone now.  Just you, the water and the sky.  The sound of silence surprises you and despite the situation you find yourself in, do or die, you find the sound of the water and your breathing to be calming.  You can hear every thought in your head clearly and those thoughts are good.  They are memories of the good things of the past and the good things you will miss in the future if you don't make it to that shore.  

You know it will take time to get there.  You drifted quite a bit.  Steady.  If you panic there will be less energy, less hope.  You must think over every stroke and keep your eye on the shore.

Time passes...

Stroke… stroke… stroke...

You can see the docks clearly now.  

Enough time has passed for someone to notice you were gone.  There should be people waiting for you at the docks, drawn there by the knowledge that it was the last place you were seen.  But you don't see anybody.  What hurts the most is knowing that nobody has come looking for you.  

Your strokes get heavier and breathing is so labored that you have to stop.  You float for a while and wonder where everyone is.  Then you push past and start swimming again.  It is painful.  Your body is in pain and, deep down, so is your heart.  You want to give up but you push past all that.  You will get there.  Even if no one is waiting.  

After hours of swimming you feel the break of a wave pull you in.  You are there.  The last couple of pushes take everything and little by little the waves dump you on the shore.

Sand between your fingers.  

You could cry. 

You set it in your heart to make the effort when you dove off that leaky boat.  That shows you are a survivor. 

It could have helped tremendously to have a cheering crowd of loved ones on that shore telling you that you can make it.   The power of their belief in you would have made that journey so much easier.

This is to illustrate the predicament some people find themselves in after making a very big mistake. Maybe the mistake cost friendships, a relationship, or hurt family members deeply.  Maybe it put the people they love in danger.  Or they may have just created problems for themselves.  Either way they felt as tall and important as an ant.

Everything had to be made right but it would take time and some thinking.  You would be the only one who could make it right.  It would be hard and very lonely and the shore would be far away.  Everyone else had to watch from afar.  Some would split off into the positive thinking group of waiters.  They would wait for you and in seeing the splashing arms and legs breaking the water and getting closer and closer, they would smile and cheer.

But then there are the they'll-never-make-its.  They've decided early on that you will never make it to shore and take off to spread the news that you are a careless person, undeserving of any encouragement.  If you have been surrounded by judgmental people, you know what this is like.  

You know that you can make it with or without a cheering crowd on the shore.  But having that cheering crowd would make the journey back so much easier on your heart.  When you finally got to safety, the celebration for your return would encourage you to be more careful next time, appreciating what you might have lost.

No one person can claim to be perfect or without their share of battles, so lets be kind to each other.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Para Cuando Te Pierdas, Poetry by Josephina Ferrer

It is in Spanish and contains some of my poetry.  Sorry for all of you non-Spanish speakers but I will have something in English out soon.

Aqui les presento....

Para Cuando Te Pierdas

by Josephina Ferrer

Poemas Para Ayudarte A Recordar

Dejamos huellas hechas de palabras, de verdades, que nos ayudan cuando estamos perdidos en la jungla que crea la mente. Huellas que nos hacen recordar quien somos y de donde vinimos. Nos ayudan a ser valientes y resistentes aun cuando nos sentimos, aparentemente, indefensos. Este libro de recuerdos en forma de poemas viene de una Nuyoriqueña que creció en los barrios de Williamsburg, Brooklyn y que anda con las lecciones que aprendió adondequiera que va.

Disponible en

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to De-Clutter Yourself in Three Steps

Copyright ShutterPlum Photography

I like to sort closets.  When you grow up in a tiny New York City apartment closet sorting is a necessity.  Hundreds of people die each year because they opened their closet and were buried in an avalanche.  My only hope is that if this were ever to happen to me I want my death certificate to read, "Died in an avalanche of stylish clothes, a devastating collection of cute shoes and unique accessories."

De-cluttering is key to our survival in so many ways.  It makes us more in-charge, secure in ourselves and keeps us sane.  I find de-cluttering to be therapeutic.  So I learned to apply my closet sorting tendencies to the mess I have going on in my head.  The rules of de-cluttering apply in life as well.

#1.  If you haven't used it in a year, GET RID OF IT.

I have things rummaging in my head that have no use.  Worries that have no foundation and negative thoughts that appeared out of nowhere.  There are also misunderstandings that I came to when reading too far between the lines.  These things surface at weird times like when I'm having a bad day or someone cuts me off in traffic.  Instead of surrendering to tears and aggressive horn-honking, I have learned to say, "To the garbage pile with that!"

#2.  If you don't absolutely love it, GET RID OF IT.

Basically, if it's not working for you, be done with it.  Maybe it worked for someone else, but you clearly have held on to that thought for too long.  Long enough to know it is not you.  Besides it makes your thighs look bulky.  Throw it away.

#3.  If you don't know what to do with it, give it a trial run.

There are some thoughts we don't know how to classify.  Are they useful for us or not?  Allow that thought to be and play around with it.  Examine it closely but don't give it a permanent residence yet.  It's OK to not know something right away.  Let it all play out in the calm of your mind.  Put it in the Maybe Pile.

If you come upon something in there that confuses you a bit, examine it to find out why it is there. Don't be afraid of what you may find because it might shed some light on your inner workings and help you become a better you.

Have fun sorting your marbles.

What is Your Worth?

Copyright ShutterPlum Photography

If I let myself breakdown right now I might never recover.  I feel broke down and it is my own fault.  I didn't understand my worth and I didn't speak up for it.

I didn't say, No.  I didn't say, "This isn't even my problem.  Why do I have to fix it for you?"  I didn't stick up for myself and say, "You are wrong about me.  That is not who I am."  I didn't stop the unhealthy opinions, suggestions and unwanted problems that I had no hand in creating from entering my home.  I wanted to be cooperative, polite, obedient, and generous.  I wanted to keep the peace.  But not everyone deserved these things from me.

Why did I let the toxic people in?  Because I didn't value myself enough to control the influence they had over me.


What am I worth?  We don't ask ourselves that enough as women.  We know the worth of our husbands if we are lucky enough to have a good one. We protect our children with our lives because they are worth everything to us.  We help our other family members when they are in need because, "If they can't count on us, who can they count on?"  We help others because we appreciate what they have done for us or want to be generous with what we have been blessed.

But when we need help we try to be as self sufficient as possible so as to not bother anyone with our worries and not put an extra burden on anyone.  We bend ever so slightly under the weight of all we have let pile up on ourselves so that those we love don't hurt or want or suffer.  We don't value ourselves enough to say, "Hey this is getting unfair. Will someone take back their issues? I have my own.  For once, I need help."

Some of the toxic people are easy to cast off.  They are jerks and you can easily separate yourself from them.  It becomes harder when these people are in your family, circle of friends, "adoptive family", or at work.  Or if this person is really good at heart but is just very, very misguided.  What do you do then?  You have to see them often and it becomes an unpleasant experience, over and over again.

I just try to play nice and I make a game plan.  One that involves my escape, if that is an option.  Flee!

Running isn't always an option.  So civility and limited exposure becomes the way.   Even though limiting the amount of time you allow certain people to be around you will eventually breed suspicion.  They will wonder why, all the sudden, you are no longer putting up with what they dish out.  They will get antsy and uncomfortable.  They will become inquisitive except you won't satiate their thirst for your business.  It is a subtle kind of revenge and necessary.  They will soon move on to some other poor, unsuspecting victim.

It takes great patience to live this way. On the positive side, if I can live this way, exercising great patience and being civil while still holding my ground, then I would have helped to build character.  This is what I tell myself.  I am building character.  Until I can flee to that island where no one knows my name.

Then there comes full-on confrontation.  I hate confrontations, not because I'm a wuss, well... maybe I am a little.  But I usually regret what I say in anger.  I think everyone does.  It turns out to be about 30% relief and satisfaction and 70% regret.  I can go from calm to cruel in .08 seconds.  It is not something I am proud of.  I try to never resort to speaking out of anger.

The idea is to wean these toxic people away from you.  Eventually you can get rid of them all together and, if not, at least you’ve set your boundaries.  Try not to think of what you have lost, like say your sanity.  Instead, think of the qualities you are cultivating. 

Don’t feel bad about running from these people.  They are not for you.  Run and hide your tracks so they can’t follow you and burn bridges if you must.  The idea is to keep the crazies from finding you.

Remember, you are BUILDING CHARACTER…



If you forgot how much you are worth ask a good friend to tell you or just remember how much you are worth in HIS eyes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Evilest Myth of Them All

Copyright ShutterPlum Photography

The Perfect Suburban Housewife does not exist.  For all the ambition of this DIY'er generation, this “Housewife” person still is just an unrealistic and delusional idea.   I have proved she doesn't exist.  Here is why:

Insight #1:  I have taken a course in suburban housewife; I am still neither suburban nor housewife. I won't even touch on the perfect part.  I still, on occasion, burn water and I killed all of my plants.

Insight #2:  I am distracted by the voices in my head and frequently tell them to take a hike.

Men like to think that because you iron their shirts then, by default, you must 'love' to iron.  No I hate ironing.  It just makes me mad to see him walk off into the world in a wrinkled shirt.  Men don't care that they look like a raisin.  But other women do and they whisper behind your back about your lack of skills.  Then I have to give them the look.  It creates chaos if I don't iron.

Women in the suburbs have to do all sorts of inhumane things that I was not prepared for.  How do you hold down a job and take care of a huge house with a huge yard while making sure that everyone has clean underwear and still have dinner ready before seven?  I cannot be bothered with all this nonsense.  All that work and I'm not supposed to look disheveled.  

The voices of those we love, those of other women, and the voice of society telling you what you should be doing can drown out your own logic.  The voices in your head are sometimes deceitful and manipulative little minions. Don't let them bully you into trying to be something you are not or do things you simply can't do for lack of time and energy.  Learn to say NO.  Then go get a manicure.

Which leads me to Insight #3 - Those voices are part a collective conspiracy and Martha Stewart is their leader.  

That Stewart lady and her perfect DIY projects get on my nerves.  They never come out like they should and it's no wonder.  She has a team of people to design and make that table runner made of whimsical fabric scraps.  She just came down to take the picture and then ran off to go shopping with all the money she made from selling you whimsical fabric scraps.  

Insight #4 - I speak and clean my house in tangents, deal with it.
I pick up doing one thing over here and then leave that to go organize the closet over there.  This makes me look like a harried squirrel but it's how I work.  It is also how I think and speak.  When I was younger my grammar teacher frowned upon this tendency.  I am not in school anymore and I don't care.  This is what I sound like and I love it.  My life is one big tangent.  Housewives frown at tangents.  They swat at them with wooden spoons. 

Insight #5 - Don't buy into other people's interpretations of you. 

They don't know all about you and your life, so how can they tell you what you need to be doing?  And if you must, tell them so. Take care of what YOU need to take care of.  Hold as valuable the opinions of a small group of close friends and family but remember they are just opinions.

Insight #6 - The life expectancy for women is 70.

Which means I'm almost halfway there and I don't have time for triflin' people or perfecting the art of removing neck stains.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

Insight #7 - Celebrate your good traits and your 'truth'.  

Don't criticize yourself and add to the nasty voices in your head.  Your truth is yours and you will know it when you see it.  Stand by it.  Unless it is illegal, naughty or unethical.  In which case, seek counseling immediately and leave me out of it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Left our manners at home, did we?

Copyright ShutterPlum Photography

Has anyone else ever had to deal with a person who brings up money at the dinner table?  He doesn't just bring it up, he actually gets snippy about it.  

This is one of my pet peeves.  But this one makes me feel especially peevish.  As in - I start to squirm and my eye twitches.  I may suddenly lunge out in anger.  

This is why.

When the waitress asked us how we are going to divide the tab - Sir emphatically volunteered us to pay the whole tab for a group of nine.  He must've thought we had recently come into some money.  I didn't get the memo.  Then Sir said, "You never pay the tab for everyone".  Maybe because we can't and that is why we always go dutch.  Not one of our friends have ever gotten mad about going dutch.  It is safe to go dutch.

Sir must not have realized that we were now, understandably, mortified and about to crawl under the table.  Thank you Sir.

Everyone else has now, in a state of panic, proceeded to look down at something invisible under the table in the same way a drowning person looks for a float.  All the sudden everyone looses their appetite.  

This is when I order a big plate of barbecue ribs - which I may or may not be able to fully digest. I make an effort to control myself but I want to jump across the table and plant Sir headfirst in the first pot I find.  Instead I find comfort in devouring the ribs like a hungry tiger.

In reality we stayed put and ate despite the urge to leave.  There was a family guest at the table and we didn't want to seem as bad mannered as Sir.  We asked to go dutch and paid for ourselves and the guest, like was originally intended.  We should have said that we were going to powder our noses and then quietly ditched them all.  There were other things I would have rather been doing.

What irritates me more is that this person thinks of himself as Well-To-Do.  

Dillard's doesn't sell manners.  
You actually have to grow them yourself.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

To My Long Ago Friends

Copyright ShutterPlum Photography

We are all guilty of being a bad friend at some time or another.  It happens.  Especially in adulthood when so many things get in the way and daily life is a challenging maze.  We may forget to stop, smell the flowers and reconnect.

When you have a great group of friends’ life is instantly better.  Lots of bad things can happen to you but you don't allow yourself to be your situation.  You don't have time for that because you have plans with your friends.  Friends help you make light of the heavy things.  Things will get better because your friends help you will them to into being better.  That is the power of having a support system.

Maybe like me you left all your childhood friends 1,800 miles behind and slowly this one got married and moved there and the other one got a job and moved here and the other had a baby and you don't hear from her anymore.  Or maybe there was a difference of opinion and you shrank back from your entire group of friends.

It sometimes happens gradually.  You lose touch.  Then one day you hear from a family member who knows someone close to your friend that she did indeed give birth two weeks ago.  Two weeks and not even a picture.  Then you get an email string from one of them and in reading down the trail you realize just how much your long lost group of friends email each other and don't include your name in the address bar.  But you aren't mad about it.  Just sad because you finally realized, acknowledged the deterioration of a friendship.  

Or maybe a good friend of yours, one who you looked up to as a big sister, suddenly had a crisis and took off without a word to her family or you.  At first you felt guilty that you couldn't do more to change her mind.  With time and experience you realize you could've done something but, at that time, you were too young to know what to do even if it hit you in the face.  Maybe her problems were way to deep and complicated for you to have done anything about them.

So when you finally wake up from that little dream world you've been living in - pick up the phone, send an email or visit if they are close but don't let your friends go.  Especially those you met when you were a geeky kid with eccentricities and going through a weird growth spurt where your nose was bigger than your face and you didn't know the importance of deodorant.  Because if they stuck with you then, they'll forgive you for anything.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Quiting My Job With Reckless Abandon and The Organizational Aftermath

Copyright ShutterPlum Photography

Yesterday, in the middle of a horrid economy and without a plan b, I decided to quit my job.  Any responsible person would have stayed till something else came along.  Not I.  When was the last time I waited for anything?   I blame it on being raised by New Yorkers.  Of course I am letting my husband be the sole breadwinner for now.  I have the blessing of being able to take a break, which is a luxury not many have.

So I did it.  I quit.  I wasn't mistreated or underpaid.  I liked my job but it was too far from my house.  On average I would spend 9 hours at work and 2-3 hours a day commuting.  I rarely had time or energy for anything else.

Today I spent half of my day calmly scanning the clothes racks at Macy's.  It reminded me of my first two jobs.  When I worked in downtown Manhattan, I would go to Century 21 on my lunch hour and the music store that used to be in the mall under the World Trade.  By the time I went to work in midtown I had become a certified shopaholic.  My field of expertise was bargain shopping.  My danger room was the 34th Street Macy's and the semi-annual shoe clearance was my favorite obstacle course.  

I had gorgeous shoes.  My current collection is made up of hasty choices.  I frantically picked them because I had a wedding to run to and here I was, stuck in rural Texas without a single shoe that would say "pretty", "intelligent", "urban", and "blessed with excellent taste".  So I picked out of desperation.  My closet is now full of second-rate shoes.  This has crushed my self-esteem tremendously.

I have always tried to look at quitting a job as the beginning of something new.  I feel the urge to purge the old and worn.  To reinvent.  So after I leave a job I usually go on a house cleaning frenzy.  I take the time to calmly look into every nook of my house.  I've pulled out things I had forgotten about.  I found tons of pictures here and there.  I found my collection of greeting cards and invitations given to me by my friends and family over the years.  I never throw them out. 

It's amazing how many things you forget you had.  Especially if you've moved and piled a closet up with stuff you were to organize later.  I love organizing.  I do, it's true.  I am just too good at it and it shows.  Celebrate your strengths, I always say.

I also say to share your strengths with others even if they roundly protest.  Yesterday, I tackled my mom's house while she went shopping with my dad, who was in on it.  She was livid.

My mom has what she calls an organized mess.  The office supplies are piled in a drawer with household odds and ends about two rooms removed from the office but that makes sense to her.  There are books and papers all over the house.  It makes me crazy.  Clean freak she may be, but I am the Czarina of Organization.

I unloaded thirty moving boxes at the least.  She moved to Texas more than six months ago and hasn't fully settled in.  I just think she has been putting it off.  Unpacking means, "I'm here to stay."  My mom, like myself, still hasn't resigned herself to the fact that Texas is now home.  My version of this denial is keeping things both simple and tidy in my home in the event of us moving back to New York in an emergency.  I don't exactly know how that would happen or why but my things are ready to be plopped into boxes at a moments notice.  Yes, this is denial at its most stubborn level.

She has a collection of encyclopedias from 1991 in English and Spanish, a VHS collection of 100 or so movies, 80 cassette tapes and telephone books for the past three years.   I also found about 10 bulky winter coats.  We live in Houston.  We don't even get a winter but, you never know when a freak Nor’easter is going to come barreling down to Texas.  When a wayward blizzard will dump 3 feet of snow right on Houston burying all the palm trees.  Then we can break out those 10 oversized coats and roll right out the door.  Makes tons of sense.

Ma, by the way thanks for the box of goodies I snagged from you. That vase will look great once I find an available surface to put it on.  I might as well buy an accent table for it.