Thursday, September 29, 2005


I think I was channeling a little Luda this morning during my subway rush hour commute to work. The 2/3 line is never usually packed liked the East side trains, yet over the past few days, more people have been jamming into the cars and the adults (both big and small) have been pushing it.

No, I didn't knock anyone's child out of the way, nor did I purposedly throw any 'bows, though I have been known to toss a couple of retalitory jabs when injured. However, a little girl of 7 or 8 (ok, really about 4 or 5) years old was occupying more than her allotment of seat and honey needed to raise up.

Donning pigtails and pink pants, she lay there stretched across her mom's lap. For the record: 1) she was not asleep; 2) her legs were stretched across the last empty chair, and 3) she did not appear to have any mental abnormalities, as neither did her mother. Therefore, somebody should have known better.

All the other adults didn't bother the child, but this big kid said 'excuse me' and waited for my chair. Was I wrong? Perhaps. Did my mom teach me better? Of course. But was I comfy? Damn straight. After all, this is New York and I am an only child. She had a sibling, so she should have been used to sharing.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

On Dressing and Keeping it Real (dumb) at Work

I damn near lost it after reading an article posted on's "diversity" web site, which is supposed to help Cocoas like you and me get a job. I should have known that I had just opened the Pandora's box of 'ignance' when I read the title Keep It Real...Express Your Heritage in the Workplace. To that I say: saggiN, please, there ain't no such thing...

Perhaps Monster is having troubles attracting candidates to its site, as its heritage-based articles will surely render many cubicle Cocoas immediately unemployed and intensely in need of a gig (and surfing Monster's database of 1.5 gazillion jobs!). Check out these examples:

Carlton* - "a successful investment banker...[was caught off guard] by concerns over how his so-called conservative clients would react to his diamond earring and flamboyant dress."
Anyone with common sense knows the asterisk represents an attempt to protect the identity of this giN's mother b/c her son is so got-damned stupid. You slave away at college for 4 years, graduate with honors and get a good job that would put even the super Negro Calvin to shame and now you wanna trip out over some bling and Coogi wear?? This is obviously an example of what my grandma meant during her rantings about "educated saggin."

Theresa - a lawyer ..."When our secretary started wearing dreadlocks, a senior partner in our Mid-Atlantic law firm commented that he didn't find the style attractive...I'm pretty sure the dreads were the reason she didn't get a promotion...."
Yeah, me too, Theresa, as it doesn't require rocket science or a career in linguistics to read "vanilla" and "even mo' vanilla" into 'law firm' and 'Mid-Atlantic.' Perhaps her secretary could have taken a few tips from Star's husband-wife, Al, about being ethnic on the weekends and vaca via weave-locks, ahem, dread extensions...

Sales Manager* - "...If my saying ‘bling, bling' at work makes somebody uncomfortable, I just let that be their problem. If it shows up on my review that I lack command of the English language, then I deal with the situation accordingly."
Wow. Obviously S&M doesn't only denote this worker's title. Matter of fact, I bet his or her quote is more telling of an addiction to self-inflict pain via bouts of hunger and depression, compliments of the fact that this gin surely can't keep a job.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

In Loving Memory of Mr. Oscar

Mr. Oscar Nesbitt was my neighbor on Convent Avenue for just a little over nine months. I had moved to New York earlier that winter and we were introduced later one Spring afternoon. Though I don't remember all the details, I recall our first interaction going something like this:

Mr. Oscar: "Helllloooo, deary....whaaat's your name?" (Cheshire cat grin)

Me: "Rachel, nice to meet you."

Neighbor 1 (playfully): "Oh, don't talk to him, he's a dirty old man!"

Mr. Oscar (to me): "Let me tell you something, sweety, I may be a lot of 'tings, but 'old' AIN'T one of them..." (insert eye wink).

Yes, Mr. Oscar was up there in age (sorry Mr. O) and although he was not "dirty" he did swear up and down that he was quite debonair. However, he never got the chance to put all his suaveness and talk and strut into action toward his ultimate desire - a wife and child - because he lost his life on September 11, 2001. He worked in the 2nd Tower (can't recall if it was the North or South) on the 84th floor. Judging by all of the media diagrams and crash reenactment, if he was in his chair at the time of impact, he would have been among the blessed, as the second plane struck right between the 92nd and 82nd floors. Therefore, the suffering, dreadful decisions and desperation that the other employees faced would have remained foreign to him in his final minutes on earth.

All of us - especially the New Yorkers - who survived 9-11 bore witness to the pain, depression, fear and grief that followed for days, weeks, months and still lingers with so many of us today. So, my post is not to rehash all things so bad. Rather, since I have been blessed to live four years beyond said catastrophe and God has blessed me with bouncing back, persevering and moving on, I'd never want to live this day again without pausing to reflect on the memory of the innocent people who lost their lives at the hand of evil.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

My new life as Smurfette...

Is there some freak force of nature that dictates the higher a man's pay, the lower his rank on the good looks, height and charm totem pole???

After nearly four years of working in PR firms with mostly J.A.P.s and a handful of Don Divas, I was more than eager to make the switch to my latest industry, which happens to boast a male-to-female ratio that is only contested by a Catholic seminary, Riker's Island, or a 'fab' state-of-the-art condo at Bleecker & 7th Ave. Yet, while I began my new career single and presumably as happy as Smurfette the morning after, I soon realized that in addition mostly-male surroundings, the men of Wall $treet (or at least my bank) actually share a few more characteristics with CartoonLand's favorite 'ville of 100. Like the Smurfs, they're vertically-challenged; wear entirely too much pale blue (I think wearing Royal is an actual a sin, punishable by death); oft times appear pale themselves, and look, talk and walk exactly the same as all the nymphs in the tribe.

Upon realizing that it's not 1987 and my office is not a movie set - so I shouldn't expect for a young, sexy Charlie Sheen to round my desk at any moment - I began to come to terms with the fact that a higher quantity of men does not necessarily equal a higher quantity of good looking men. It could really mean just more not so good-looking men.

I am sure Smurfette figured it out, too, which probably explains why homey never bothered to change her outfit.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Trapped? Carpe Diem!

No, this is not a shot-out to all those choco-coated idiots in New Orleans stealing Air Force Ones and throwback jerseys for the entire world to see while their City and families lives are in ruins. Rather, I am referring to those of us that might be trapped in not-so hot situations - from bad jobs to poor relationships to unaffordable leases w/ slumlords (big ups to my fellow NYers). I actually really like my workplace, can't complain about my relationships with others and won't complain about my lease (at least not until I have to start paying for the heat, again). Nonetheless, as my life seems thus far, the only child forces that be refuse to let me feel left out of anything - including a serious bout of pre-workday stress at 7:30 in the morning...

Long story short: I got locked in my apartment. Yes, you read correctly, not "outside of," but rather "inside" my crib. Yet, since I have never been one to wear the "damsel in distress" gown (I just don't think it goes too well with brown skin), I tried to find a few ways to remain employed, low-maintenance and calm, while fully utilizing the (now) extra batch of time on my hands.

First plan of attack: Call Boss Lady
Choking back laughter, I informed my boss of my situation via voicemail and ensured her that it marks the first time that she has probably received said excuse (which she later confirmed once I arrived to work). Thank goodness for cool folk at work.

Second plan of attack: Call the Neighbors
I guess two single, straight, fairly attractive and pretty social men in their 20s do have better things to do than answer their cell phones at (approaching) 8a on a Thursday. Yet, I suppose that I also had better things to do at 430a, 130a and 930p, which marks the times that said individuals (and even a lady friend) rang my buzzer when locked outside of their place. I'll just chalk the difference in urgency up to the fact that as men they were locked outside, subject to the dangers of a dark, scary Harlem street, while this lady was locked in the comfort (and safety?) of her own home. I mean, it only makes sense, right?

Third plan of attack: Seek Out Good Samaritans
Contrary to what you may have heard, Harlem is not all that bad of a place. Many of the neighbors are friendly and will help a good-looking (haha) woman in a heartbeat. With that said, I threw open my window and tried to convince myself that it was really okay to flag down help from a passerby on the street. Yet, before I could really bring myself to do it (and perhaps holding out a little hope that my neighbors had not completely abandoned me), I summoned up enough courage to tap my unabashed black girl inside: from the 2nd floor of my townhouse, I yelled downstairs toward my neighbor's window, but quickly ducked back inside. It was just too damn ghetto and I was embarrassed. I started feeling like one of those women in rollers and an eight-color satin cap who dangle out their apartment windows with baby powder and a too-small tank top covering their DD'd chest. Yet, low and behold, I spotted a fan from the building next door, who kindly rang my neighbors' buzzer for me.

Fourth plan of attack: Wardrobe Change!
Judging by the fact that a fourth POA even exists, I should not have to say that last step was fruitless. Still locked inside, I decided to make even greater use of my time. And, since we're being totally honest, I can say without problem that I rose late this morning and ended up looking a hot mess. I did not like the hair and the outfit was not flattering. So, based on my predicament, I did what any urban, vain and concerned with the looks woman would do: I did my hair, makeup and tossed about a few different tops. Within 10 minutes, I was looking good, feeling even better and ready to get back to the task at hand.

Fifth plan of attack: Call the Property Owner
Yes, I know many of you are wondering why I did not do this first. Well, I am a woman, and, like we oft do, I guess I wanted to test the "I helped you, now let's see if you will help me out" waters of neighborly life. But we all know what our mothers taught us about testing people...

So, there you have it. The owner came, I slid the key under the door and after a few minutes I was free. Free to leave my apartment, free to go to work and free to fake sleep the next time I hear my buzzer ring at 2a or later, and I happen to be donning a multi-colored scarf, "libre" D cups and a too-small tank top.