Sweet Without the Heart

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. The day of love, though nothing “loving” ever occurred on this dreadful day. I’m talking massacres, executions of priests. Valentine’s Day should really be called the day of martyrdom, because a lot of saints were killed this day. Lord only knows which “St. Valentine” the holiday is actually named after.

Nevertheless, today we celebrate love. Couples exchange long sappy paragraphs and cheesy love poems, men break the bank buying roses, chocolates (specifically truffles), and romantic dinners for their loves, boyfriends propose to their girlfriends, and the already betrothed get married, social media addicts flaunt their relationships, much to the chagrin of their miserable single friends.

Like I said, nothing “good” ever happens on Valentine’s Day.

Truthfully, it’s a holiday I can do without. Not because I’m single and bitter, though I am half of that equation (the half that’s not bitter). I would say my hatred strong dislike for Valentine’s Day started in high school. My high school had a tradition that in hindsight was quite a nice gesture. Organized by the student council, every Valentine’s Day, students could purchase a rose for a dollar to be delivered to their sweetheart during first period.

First period, Valentine’s Day, Freshman year. Student council members walk into the classroom carrying baskets of roses. They stand before the class and read off the names on the cards. One by one, each girl, and even some guys, step up to receive their gifts. Some one rose, others two or three, a few wrap their arms around dozens. . . . And I get nothing.

For four years, I had to live that experience. It’s meaningless now, but back then, during my emotional high school years, when those teenage hormones were raging, it was like a dagger through my heart. You mean to tell me no one, not one person, thought about me on Valentine’s Day? It’s not like all of my classmates were dating someone. Most of them were single like me. It was their friends who were spending a week’s worth of lunch money on roses for them.

I bought my friends roses. When I had a boyfriend, I bought him a rose. No one got me anything.

I take that back. One year, either my Junior or Senior year, I received one rose from my little brother. It was so sweet. He signed the card with one letter, K. But I recognized his handwriting in a second. It was the thought that made me smile, though. The thought was more important.

pexels-photo-196664

Still, I’ve learned not to expect anything on Valentine’s Day. That way I’m never disappointed, and if something special does happen, I’m always surprised.

Now, the only Valentine’s gifts I receive are from my Mom or my Granddaddy. Granddaddy’s gift today really made up for the blunder he had this past Saturday. He’d invited me as his guest to a Sweetheart Breakfast at his church. Now Granddaddy already has a “lady friend” so I wasn’t sure if my invitation was just an afterthought or if he truly wanted me to be there. I came anyway, on time, though on time for that church means five minutes early. His lady friend was there, as I’d expected, but Granddaddy still pulled out the chair for me and served me breakfast, a menu he no doubt wrote himself (scrambled eggs, potatoes and onions, sausage, sweet apples, and a roll—if that ain’t a classic old black man breakfast, I don’t know what is). However, the problem came during the introduction of sweethearts, when he stood up and said:

“This is my granddaughter. She’s not married, that’s why she didn’t bring nobody.”

Valentine’s Day, a vindictive holiday created to remind the single that they ain’t got nobody.

I put on the biggest fake smile I could muster and tried to laugh with everyone else clearly amused by my exposed loneliness. The clapback came hours later while I was in my room trying to erase the embarrassment from my memory.

I don’t need a man. I’m married to Jesus.”

I dare the seasoned saints at that church to tell me He doesn’t count.

By the way, I wasn’t the only single woman there. I was just the only one who got called out. I’m still trying understand his point, other than to make a joke at my expense. His church being very old with a dying congregation, all the men there were his age. Even if there was one guy from my generation, it wouldn’t matter because they all brought their sweethearts. Remember, Sweetheart Breakfast. Maybe he’d hoped to hook me up with somebody’s grandson? Eh, I’ll pass.

Granddaddy redeemed himself today, though. He bought me roses and a box of Dove milk chocolate truffle hearts, so I guess I can forgive him.

Looky there, now two people have bought me roses on Valentine’s Day. Ain’t I special!

rose-close-up-pink-flower

Smokin’

It smells like someone’s smoking a hog at eight in the morning…

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I’d like to think that someone close by is, and that maybe they’ll share since I have no confidence the cheap-ass catered meal my granddaddy is providing will be at all satisfying.

Of course, the real reason I’m salivating for some hickory smoked bacon is much more ominous. The mountains in North Carolina are on fire, and a strong southwesterly wind is blowing the smoke right up to my back step. Meteorologists forecast the air quality to be at level orange, which isn’t good for anyone with a respiratory disease like asthma.

So this is what it’s like to live in California. Windy, dry (it hasn’t rained since Hurricane Matthew), untamable wildfires. I still remember the earthquake from a few years ago that shook the entire east coast. I even remember where I was when it happened. 2PM Linguistics class, second floor of Storrs, a maze of a building, home to the School of Architecture—where sculptures descended from ceilings and rose up from the wood floors—on UNC Charlotte’s main campus. To this day, I can’t understand why the hell an English class was in the Architecture building. But back to my story… I’d just sat down at my desk when the floor beneath me began to vibrate…

Turns out the epicenter of that quake was in DC, and it registered pretty high on the Richter scale, at least for an east coast quake, enough to damage the Washington Monument. Of course, in east coast fashion, we blew the whole thing way out of proportion, going so far as to design T-shirts and create Facebook pages called “I Survived the DC Earthquake of 2011!”

296638_269080073104549_100000076758898_1151113_2824653_n

The governor has come out and said that someone intentionally set these fires. Probably a couple of young bloods protesting Donald Trump’s election, or celebrating it, you never know with the crop of people he attracts.

I’m surprised McCrory even has time to worry about these fires, given that he and his Republican buddies are calling foul on the election, claiming there’s something fishy going on with the absentee ballots. Wow, you think! Funny, when you passed the “Voter Fraud” law, which essentially disenfranchised the minority, millennial, and senior citizen vote, you didn’t bother to touch the absentee ballots, where most of the fraud occurs. Now you’re mad that you lost. Tough luck, kid. I thought the results of this race was supposed to bring us all together, not further ripe us apart.

Knowing the Republicans, there’s probably some kind of mythical dragon flying around, blowing hot air, setting pines and Christmas trees ablaze, rigging gubernatorial elections, forcing people to flash themselves before they enter bathrooms. It’s a crazy world we live in. Good thing we still have smoked, barbecued pork in this hazy smog.

suckling-pig-1613663_960_720

New Year’s Preparations: Organizing My Life

I’ve been listening to Christmas music for a week now, so forgive me if I’m jumping the gun here with my thoughts on a New Year’s cleaning spree. I don’t mean to skip over Thanksgiving, but the most delicious holiday on the calendar may turn out to be a tad bland in my house this year. No one feels like cooking, nor do they want to eat “that healthy shit you be making,” as my brother so politely put it. Didn’t know eating whole foods (versus boxed or canned) and taking the time to make meals from scratch was turn-your-nose-up “healthy shit.” By the way, those pumpkin spice pancakes I made for breakfast this past Sunday were BOMB! But I digress.

Granddaddy has decided that he wants to pay someone to cater Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Good new: no one has to cook; bad news: Granddaddy’s cheaper than Ebeneezer Scrooge himself, so there’s no telling how this dinner will turn out. We may as well save the hassle and eat a free Thanksgiving dinner at church. We’ve done it before, and it was quite yummy.

Next year, I think I’ll drive down to Charleston to see my other Grandma. Thanksgiving dinner at her house is kind of like . . .

My aunt who passed away earlier this year was known as Grandma’s sous chef. She’d drive down the week before, and they’d spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving, in the kitchen cooking just about everything you could think of. Turkey, ham, chicken, stuffing, wild rice, white rice, giblet gravy, mac & cheese, yams, greens, beans . . . YOU NAME IT!

And a sweet potato pie for each grandchild to take home.

With her sous chef gone, Grandma just can’t cook all that food by herself. My other aunt tries to help, but—bless her poor little heart—she can’t cook worth a lick, and Grandma lets her know it, too!

So maybe next year I’ll be her little sous chef, eat a meal that’s worth the three hours I’ll spend at the gym that Friday, and finally learn how to make her infamous sweet potato pie!

They ain't better than Grandma's pies...
They ain’t better than Grandma’s pies…

But back to the New Year’s cleaning (as opposed to spring cleaning . . . because I so often get off topic), I’m kind of a neat freak—which is ironic to say since at this present moment, my bedroom is a filthy mess; I haven’t cleaned it in almost a month. I style my own hair, so I have little shed hair fur balls collecting on my carpet that I really need to vacuum before I mistake them for bugs. There’s a pile of crinkled up October receipts on my desk dumped from my purse that I have yet to file. I haven’t made my bed in weeks because I’ve been meaning to wash those sheets . . .

God! I’m really not this lazy, guys. I do get into my cleaning spurts sometimes. On those days, I clean the bathroom from floor to ceiling, dust the shelves and TVs, take out the trash, mop and sweep the kitchen floor, maybe even wipe down the refrigerator. This year alone, I’ve washed the dishes more than I ever did my whole life. When it comes to kitchen cleanliness, I’m becoming more and more like my mother. I can’t cook in a nasty kitchen . . . and I’ve been cooking a lot.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to wait to New Year’s before I actually clean my room, though. I’m just getting a head start on thinking about what changes I want to make going into 2017. It’s looking like organization will be it. At my church, we’re taught that the spiritual principle of organization is “God’s plan to simplify my life,” and boy am I desperate for some simplicity right now. I feel like I’ve spent this entire year catching up [to something], and I still haven’t caught whatever the hell it is I’m chasing.

dog-1734908_960_720

So how am I going to make life more simple in 2017? First, I need a planner. Probably not a day planner, because I’m a millennial, and I doubt I’ll ever open it, but I can start by adding reminders to my Outlook calendar so that they come to my phone. I should also make use of my dry-erase wall calendar. I thought it was the coolest thing ever when I bought it, but it’s been saying “April 2015” for the past year and a half, so I really need to be better at updating it—maybe I should add “update wall calendar” as a reminder every first of the month on my Outlook calendar too. I also need to work on blogging ahead and scheduling posts so, knock on wood, when I lose my motivation to write again, you’ll still have something to read everyday while I try to get my shit back together.

But first, I most definitely need to CLEAN MY ROOM!

pexels-photo-24105