Again.

I can’t believe I’m here again. Meaning, I’ve let my heart be broken again. And I have to say let because I saw the signs.

I simply ignored them.

Like I always do.

Am I some sort of masochist? I think I might be. The beauty of feeling so deeply despite the caution. I hold onto longer than I should. I hope. I wait. I thirst. I hunger.

I was hoping you would satiate me. Save me from myself. That was my first mistake. No one can save me but me.

Twenty years later. Why have I not learned my lesson?

To be honest, I hope I never learn. It is better to have loved and hurt than to have never loved at all.

So even though I hate you, I thank you. For all of it.

Now if only I could stop thinking about you.

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“What a cute dress! Where’d you get it?”

When your love of fast fashion puts you in hot water…

A few weeks ago I stopped into the plus size section of Forever 21. I was enamored by this polaroid photo dress that gave me non-creepy Terry Richardson vibes. I bought it. I felt like Edie in The Factory and nobody could tell me nothing. This dress was turning heads. Ladies stopped to tell me how cute it is and to ask if I made it. Suddenly the conversation took a dark turn when a woman in line at Starbucks asked me where I had gotten it from and I gleefully responded “Oh, at Forever 21!”

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The following events have been slightly dramatized for effect (emphasis on slightly).

 

 

The woman in line at Starbucks in turn threw her head back and let out a guffaw as I had never heard before. “I don’t believe it!” She said shaking her head.

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This woman did nothing to ease my discomfort. Am I a poser for shopping the lawsuit-heavy fast fashion retailer? A company targeted at a younger demographic (I’m almost 30!)

I crawled into an imaginary fetal position in my mind and vowed never to repeat the origins of the dress again.

So by the time I had hopped on the train I had concocted a new story that would save face had I met another judgmental hipster. I couldn’t say I made the dress since I flunked out of Mood’s free sewing class twice. My only other option was to lie tremendously.

I was prepared when the woman sitting next to me on the N train showered my dress with praise. “Oh my God I love this dress! Are these your photos?” I shook my head no. “Where did you get this?! I love it.” I smiled and said thank you. Maybe I could get away with this without lying. “No I need to know where you got this.” She persisted.

“Some small boutique in the city!” I offered.

“No way! I gotta take a picture. Can I take a picture?” I eyed her questionably but agreed sweetly. “Maybe if I post it on Facebook my friends can identify the store.”

I froze in my seat. My eyes darted for the subway stops display planning my escape. Out of the corner of my eye I saw tiny red notifications pop up on her feed. My life flashed before my eyes.

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When I was younger, I always wondered what it would feel like before I  died. Never did I think it would be on a semi-crowded Manhattan bound N train. At least my funeral attire would be cute.

“The next stop is Times Square – 42nd Street!”  I grabbed my things and headed for the door wishing for the platform to make a speedy appearance. With one last look over my shoulders my investigator peeked up from her phone and made direct eye contact with me.

I waved goodbye and hopped off the train to freedomville where I could breathe a sigh of relief and relax in style.

 

Growing Up West Indian

I was raised in a conservative Haitian American family. I spent a majority of my childhood on Long Island. Long Island is pretty isolated not only geographically but also culturally. So I grew up in a black and white world. There were a handful of Hispanics and even fewer Asians but for the most part it was black and white.

I was a bit of a geek and hung out with the theater kids. Theater kids are creative and expressive. They express themselves through their hair, their clothing, their speech and their body language. Me being as creative as I am, I’ve always been attracted to self-expression.

One of my classmates had a rainbow of hair colors ranging from blues to greens to pinks. She was what you would consider Goth. I always admired her boldness. I thought it would be great to dye my hair pink. I went through a pink obsession phase in high school. I wore the color every single day; a pink top with a pink belt and pink ballet flats.

One day I asked my mom if I could dye my hair pink, cotton candy pink. She calmly looked up at me and said no you can’t do that. Why not, I responded. And she replied, because you just can’t! I proceeded to tell my mom about my friend at school whose mother allowed her to dye her hair bright colors.

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“Is she white?” my mother asked. I nodded. My mother told me I couldn’t dye my hair because it would mean different things for me. I was so upset I didn’t even ask her to explain further.

That night when I was getting ready to say my prayers with my mother she elaborated on our earlier discussion.

“I can’t allow you to dye your hair a certain color or behave a certain why because people would think you’re ghetto. Life would be harder for you if you’re perceived that way.”

It was at that moment that I realized that in order to be respected in society as a black person I had to work that much harder, do that much more to be perceived as polite. Polite people get jobs. Polite people get opportunities. Polite people are treated well. Life would eventually teach me, that even if I was a polite person that because of the color of my skin being polite wouldn’t be enough.


 

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Ecuadorian Sausage

A few weekends back I decided to give a new restaurant a try instead of defaulting to my usual. Typically, I would indulge in my usual dish of oxtails and plantains. On this particular weekend, I wandered unintentionally into an Ecuadorian restaurant in Jackson Heights. If you walked too fast you would miss it. Such a hole in the wall was this spot that I can’t recall the name.

The ambiance inside was dark and sensual with music blaring out of the speakers on either side of the restaurant. I found a spot in booth in the back. I was secluded but not alone as friendly glances and tips of a hat greeted my sweetly.

“Que te gusta?”

“I’m sorry,” I responded gently, “I don’t speak Spanish.”

“I’m sorry love. What can I get you?” With pen poised she was ready to take my order.

I hadn’t quite gotten the chance to review my menu so I asked for my waitress’ recommendation. I expressed my interest in having something authentically Ecuadorian and I preferred a bit of spice with my meals. That last part came out in a rather corny fashion but my waitress spared me the embarrassment with a generous smile. She assured me I would like the Ecuadorian sausage. I trusted this woman with my life and agreed to the dish.

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After she left I felt a bit vulnerable being a woman on a solo date. I fiddled with my phone and glanced expectantly at the door for a date that would not come. Maybe I’ll spot someone I know. It was after all Jackson Heights; I only lived three train stops away. A familiar face wouldn’t prove that unusual.

“A dance before your meal guapa” spoke a deep, dark voice.

I looked up from my phone, startled. “Excuse me?”

“I said would you like to dance Hermosa?” he extended his hand and at the moment I had remembered music was playing. Despite my heritage I wasn’t the best dance partner and my fear of public humiliation kept me from sexy adventures with strangers.

“Thank you but no thank you,” I said simply.

“Don’t be shy.” He said.

“I’m not shy I just would rather not.”

He asked a bit more forcefully this time as if to demand me of my affections. I politely declined each time recognizing the response of my fellow restaurant patrons.

“Shoo, Ramon!” My waitress arrived with plate in hand. “Can’t you see la mujere isn’t playing your game?”

Ramon retreated. A scolded dog with his tail between his legs. I mouthed a thank you to my waitress and she put my plate down.

“Es delicioso!” She kissed her fingers to her lips. “Mouth-watering.”

And it was. I left no prisoner behind in the war of the plate. I hardly savored the dish before I reconciled with myself to order a to-go plate. The spices, flavors and aromas swirled like the rush of a tornado. The Ecuadorian sausage was exactly as she had said: mouth-watering. The disappointment of the end of my meal was enough to make me cry. Thankfully I kept my composure long enough to order seconds for my midnight “snack’.

Fast Times in an Illegal Parisian Artist Commune

Looking back on all the decisions I made in Europe I would never encourage any young woman traveling solo to do what I did. It was reckless and had it not been for the prayers of my family and loved ones I’m not sure I would have made it back home alive. Thankfully, I’m alive and well, here to tell the story today. In my previous post you learned about how I lost $800 in Europe, now I’ll tell you about the time I slept in an illegal artist commune.


Don’t know what an artist commune is? Remember Moulin Rouge when the penniless writer slept in a 4×4 room (cue the dramatics) a floor below that eccentric group of artists and bohemians. That is an artist commune. An eclectic, vibrant, booming mecca for creative and passionate people. Showers are optional and everything is communal: from lovers to toothbrushes to art supplies. 

How this invite to a shared space came to be one of my very limited options in Paris is embarrassing. Well for starters, I’m careless and lost money before my trip even began and I hadn’t thoughtfully or adultly prepared for lodging.

At the time I was dating a very adorable French man and he swore to me that I could lay my head in his place while I stayed in France. Unfortunately, when the Rose-colored glasses of our passionate New York affair cracked, I found myself homeless. 

NEVER EVER EVER make plans to stay with a man you only met a month ago in a foreign country. Before my trip I took the necessary precautions of course by giving my parents his address and verifying his identity via a quick Google search, but that didn’t prepare me for his attitude change once I got to Europe. 

Which led me to a slightly drunken proposition by a chubby yet charismatic womanizer in a Parisian bar. It was late and my suitcase and I were sitting with a ice-melted, watered down cranberry and vodka looking more than a little pathetic. My French ex-lover was across the bar talking to strangers taking slight empathic glances over at me. Despite the both of us realizing we weren’t a match made in Tinder heaven (yes we met on Tinder) we decided it was best to stick it out for as long as we could stand each other. 

My French ex-lover had pals with closets as masquerading as apartments in Paris but I wasn’t allowed to sleepover (girls have cooties, I guess). With little cash and being past the hour of booking a hostel I contemplated the creepy offered of my mustachioed bar mate.

We share a bed. The few of us. You could come for the night.

*side eye emoji* We? Share a bed? Me? What in the actual f-. Beggars can’t be choosers and My French ex-lover knew this fat pirate by association, so how dangerous could it be?

When fat pirate’s band of merry artistic men and I got to commune I realized I had made a grave mistake. My judgment must have been impaired by booze and poverty because there was no way I would agree to this normally. I am normal straightlaced (slight exaggeration) so maybe I was feeling risky in a foreign country. Who knows?

 I was curious to see if a slew of men had in fact, shared sleeping space. Much to my amusement, they did. 

“I’m definitely not sleeping there,” I scoffed. “I’ll sleep there.” I pointed to a mash up of a curbside sofa and a drawing table. Essentially it was a plan with pillows but you get the point. My chubby mustache friend was none-too-pleased but I didn’t care. 

The commune was all splattered paint and discarded drawings. The path to artistic expression left its mark on every inch of this illegally occupied loft space. A paint brush here, some unfinished sculpture there. This was something I had only seen in movies and now I was going to sleep here with a few strangers and a one half stranger/ex-lover person. 

I could just hear my mother praying from way across the pond. 

The night wasn’t half bad. I hadn’t gotten raped, so that’s a plus. I had a stiff arm from the less than comfy excuse for a sofa. When I woke up there was a tuna fish sandwich and some chocolate chip cookies waiting by my head.

“Thought you might be hungry,” confessed my French ex-lover. I was touched. The sandwich wasn’t fantastic but with each bite I wondered if he wanted to get back together. 

He didn’t. Like at all. I’ll save that story for another post. 

Modern girl with old school tendencies

I’ve been single for some time now. How long? I can’t quite recall. But long enough that I’ve binge-watched everything from Stranger Things to Avatar the Last Airbender to A Different World on Netflix, taught myself how to crochet and that I’ve forgotten how to pronounce Victoria’s Secret. 
I’m not sad that I’m single at all, in fact, it’s for the best. I’m taking the time to digest and discover why I’ve come to be single and who I am. I’ve learned more about myself in the last year of “no plus one Wendy” than I had in three months of being someone’s woman. 


It doesn’t hurt that I continue to get asked out on dates either. This reassures me that I’ve still got it. The trouble is I always say no or rearrange plans for one specific reason. 

No, I’m not courting celibacy or considering some other alternative lifestyle. And no I’m not anti-men either. Quite the opposite, I think men as flawed as they are are incredibly fascinating. They surprise you when you least expect it. (The key is to be one step ahead.) The reason I always rearrange or decline dates is because of finances. 


Yeah I’m a girl who won’t go on a date if I’m not prepared to pay for myself or the both of us. I know that’s very progressive sounding despite the fact that I’ve never been on a date with a man that I had to pay. Even when I wasn’t sure if it was a date or not I haven’t been expected, or even allowed to pay. And I’m comfortable with letting a man pay. I’m not THAT feminist. 

What I am uncomfortable with is being a loser. What if he can’t afford the check in the end? I should help. What if he changed his mind and didn’t want to pay? I better be ready to go Dutch. I have heard women say before that they could go on dates broke and more power to these ladies. Maybe I’m insecure and can’t know for certain if my shade of lipstick will afford me a steak dinner. Let’s just say, I’m a modern girl with old school tendencies. We live in such interesting times where rape culture is at the forefront of every gender conversation, men wonder if they raped a woman after a drunk night of debauchery. People aren’t sure if eating Chipotle is cultural appropriation or not. So it’s only fitting that I’m such a Stepford Feminist. Maybe I should choose a side. Or maybe not.