Dear God: When You Comin’ Back?

Dear God,

There are some strange things going on in the world today, and it could only mean one thing: you’re coming back soon. This old guy named Harold Camping has been making predictions about your return for decades now, and so far he’s been wrong each time. I don’t know if you two have spoken, but it seems like he has gotten things all mixed up.  Frankly, I’m tired of being disappointed, and being the planning fanatic who’s emotionally attached to her to-do-list, the unknown drives me a bit crazy.  Could you please tell me the exact day and time you plan to return to this earth so that I can make arrangements to accomplish some large projects? That would be wonderful. And in case you were wondering, here’s a list of things I’d accomplish starting two years years from your tentative date of return:

Book a flight to Africa

That’s right, back to my motherland. But this time I’d stay for at least 3 months. My itinerary would be PACKED! First stop: Ghana, which is my other home.  Next stop: Nigeria, to revisit all of those place I once enjoyed. Third stop: Democratic Republic of Congo to help teach orphaned girls at the Georges Malaika Foundation.  I’ve volunteered with the organization remotely, but it would be wonderful to be on the grounds, interacting with the girls directly and witnessing the organization’s impact.

Throw A Huge Party

Like every little girl, I’d always dreamed of having a large fairytale wedding. I don’t have a groom, but I’m hoping you could help me with that? (And just to let you know, I like ambitious men with cool accents :)).  We’d honeymoon in the Maldives and go on a 21 country cruise around the world.

Tell folks about Jesus

No, I’m not just saying this cause he’s your son. And no, I am not standing on someone’s street corner shoving pamphlets at pedestrians. I’m creative and spunky. I’d find a more creative method of sharing the Good News with others. I’ve been a bit shy in this regard because I care too much about what people think, but since I’ll be leaving soon, what would I care what others think of me?

Publish My Own Private Journal 

It may sound a bit eerie, but I often wonder what would happen to all the entries I wrote in my journal when I pass away.  Would someone read it and reveal my deep dark secrets to all of my family members and close friends? Would it published posthumously? Would the book become a best-seller and I become a millionaire in my death? Or would they continue to sit in parents’ basement and collect dust for the next 20 years?  Well, I’m not going to wait around to find out. I’d rather take matter into my own hands; I have nothing to hide. I would collect my entries and write my own book. In fact my struggles and private stories may help a young girl who is coming of age. She may find comforted and find affirmation in my stories.

Backpack across Europe

On my itinerary would be France, Italy, Germany, UK, and Spain. I want to go to Greece too.

Spend time with close friends and family

My Moms, Pops, Brothers, Niece, Nephews, Grandparents, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Sister-in-Laws, and friends are pretty cool folks. No really, they are actually cool people to dine with, and hang out with. We laugh, we joke; we poke fun at others and we always enjoy our time together.  When I know the day and time you’re coming back, I’ll be sure to spend a lot of time around them.

Tell my supervisor I Don’t Hate Her

I didn’t have the best relationship with one of my former co-workers. We get along now, but I never got a chance to tell her how much I have learned from her and how grateful I am that we crossed paths. I am a stronger professional thanks to her. If I had the chance, I will tell her these things.

Eat a final supper

If I had to choose between all the meals I’ve ever had in my life, my final would consist of jerk chicken, rice & peas, macaroni & cheese, and plantains. Sheesh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

So, God, this would be considered my “Bucket List” I suppose. Let me know how much time I have to complete it. If it’s soon, I have to make some moves very quickly.

Thanks!

Love your favorite daughter,

Yaa Yaa

Birthday Reflections

This year, I had a big birthday celebration. My friends, family and I celebrated my birthday on four separate days with four separate events.  Friday night we went to a lounge; Saturday night we went to a dance club.  On Sunday afternoon, we ate brunch. And on Wednesday, my actual day of birth, we went to dinner and Apache Café.

In the past two years, so many life altering situations have occurred to those around me and it made me more appreciative of my life. A distant relatives was found dead in her kitchen a few months ago. No one knows what happened. One of my mother’s friends was diagnosed with cancer and spent the better part of last year in chemotherapy. Another family friend is experiencing severe psychological problems, and though several people are encouraging him to be evaluated, he refuses. This next one hit close to home, I had a friend who was in a potentially fatal car accident last year. He came out alive, but with a severe injury on his hand.

I could go and on about unpleasant situations that I’ve witnessed in my 26th year of life. While I was worrying about where my next job would be or how to pay my car note, I had relatives and friends who were dying or dealing with the ramifications of chemotherapy, how they were going to regain full use of their hand after a severe injury, or how to deal with who apparently has a mental disorder.

Yes, I wish things were different in my life. No, my life is not perfect. But it is the life that God has blessed me with and it is the only one that I have. I spend too much time worrying about what people think of me, worrying about my career, worrying how to pay off my loans. All of these things are not important. What’s important is that we cherish every breath, every moment that we get while we’re alive because we don’t know when it will all be over.

My Best Dates Ever

I didn’t want to leave you avid S&T readers on a bad note from previous post, so I decided to lighten up the mood a little bit with stories of my best dates ever. I’m a lucky girl. I’ve had more good dates in my dating career than bad dates. And my career is not over yet 🙂

Date 1 -A Walk to Breakfast

I mentioned in my previous post that my worst date and best date were with the same guy. (Ironic isn’t it?) On one of my best dates ever, Boy and I met at a train station and took a leisurely walk one Saturday morning around Boston’s Fenway and Brighton neighborhoods. Boston is a commuter friendly city and on that particular day, the weather was gorgeous, warm with a light breeze.  We both had never been in these neighborhoods, so it was like sight-seeing in a new city.  It was our first date, but since we hit it off instantly the night before, we had a lot to talk about. When we got hungry, we stopped at a quaint restaurant to ate breakfast. I’m not sure if Boy had any plans for this date, but that’s okay because in this case spontaneity was a plus.

Date 2 – Ice Skating

This boy and I had met two weeks prior to our first date. In the two weeks that we knew each other, we texted, chatted online, and talked on the phone incessantly, so we were both equally excited for our first date. We wanted to do something unique; something different from your average dinner and a movie and when he jokingly proposed the idea of ice skating, I laughed and exclaimed, “That’s perfect!” There’s nothing that will break the ice more than ice skating, falling, and literally “breaking the ice.” Our conversations leading up the first date flowed so naturally, however, that we didn’t need any assistance in striking up conversations.

Ice skating allowed us to work up an appetite and we ate at a local Chinese restaurant. We were the only ones in the restaurant when we we arrived at 4pm, but by 6pm, the restaurant was getting busy. Our conversation was so intriguing that we hadn’t noticed the server giving us the side-eye. We were occupying one of her tables and she needed it to seat someone else.  We left the restaurant and finished our conversation at a Starbucks nearby. At Starbucks we chatted for another hour an a half. Our date ended 6.5 hours after it began, making this date not only one of the best dates ever but also one of the longest dates ever.

Date 3 – Dinner and Drinks

The funny thing about this date is that it wasn’t supposed to be a date! My new friend in a new city I was residing in at the time wanted to show me around.  We made arrangements to meet at my hotel lobby at 7:00pm but because I thought he would be on CP (Colored People) time, I wasn’t ready until about 7:30pm.

He took me to a shopping mall and restaurant. Our conversation over dinner was extremely interesting and he was so animated and engaging that I loss track of time. The restaurant closed before our conversation ended and we had to continue it at a bar. Now, for those of you who know me know that I don’t drink alcohol. But since he asked me out for drinks, I thought he drank. We were happily surprised when we got to the bar and I ordered a Sprite and he ordered a Malta.  We continued chatting, totally oblivious to the other people in the room. At 10pm my eyes started to get heavy and his did too, but we didn’t want to leave each other. Finally, at around 11pm, I insisted that he walk me to my hotel. We chatted for a moment at the hotel elevators before saying goodbye. Upon walking into my room and throwing myself across the bed, I reached for my private journal on the nightstand and wrote. “This boy gave me my best date ever!”

My Worst Date Ever

His smile is what caught my attention in the bar on that rainy Friday night in Boston.  Luckily for me, a mutual friend introduced us so striking up a conversation was not difficult. We hit it off instantly and chatted throughout the evening like old friends. Before the night was over, we exchanged numbers and he promised to take me out to breakfast the following morning.

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of a vibrating cell phone.  There was a text message from him proposing details for our breakfast date. The breakfast date was nice and in fact, has gone down in history as one of my favorite dates. (I’ll share the details with you in my next post.)  For our second date, we went to a Caribbean restaurant and to a mutual friend’s birthday party. For our third date, the worst date, we went to dinner and a movie.

Boy had been a mystery throughout our 3 months of talking. If we went on a date on Saturday, he’d call afterwards to say he had a good time. He might even call the following day to see how I was doing. But as soon as the workweek opened up again, he disappeared.  He wouldn’t respond to my text messages or phone calls from Monday through Friday. In the rare occasion that he would respond, they were one-word responses to my questions. He traveled a lot and blamed his non-responsiveness on his frequent travel trips. When he was in town and available, he’d call and ask me out on a date. Although it bothered me that he was a  “here-today-gone-tomorrow” type of guy, I overlooked it because I wanted a boyfriend. He had a promising career in front of him and with a gorgeous smile and a great personality, I wanted him to be The One.

One Saturday afternoon as I was riding home from Target on the T (Bostonians’ affectionate name for the public transportation system), my phone chimed. I rolled my eyes because I thought it was my bug-a-boo at the time (another guy who was pursuing me relentlessly) but it was the Boy. My heart skipped a beat when I saw his name on my phone’s screen. His message read, “Would you like to go out for a dinner and movie this evening?” That’s it. There was no explanation as to where he’d been in the past 3 weeks and no acknowledgement of the text messages that I previously sent. I almost didn’t respond but loneliness is a dangerous companion. It’ll make you do things you’ll later regret. I waited about an hour after the text message was sent to respond.

We text messaged back and forth for the remainder of the afternoon until around 5pm when he called to finalize the details of our date. We were going to meet at a shopping center near my apartment and “wing it.”

I was a little nervous about seeing him after 3 weeks. I was also a little self-conscious because I had cut off all my hair since the last time I saw him and was rocking a TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro). I wasn’t quite sure how he’d react.

“I love your hair!” he exclaimed when he approached me outside the shopping mall. I was happily surprised. He gave me a bear hug as if he’d missed me. And all my anger from not hearing from him disappeared.

He held the door as we walked into the restaurant. He chose the table, pulled out my chair, and I was pleased that he was acting like a gentleman. The waitress took our order and our menus and that’s when the date turned sour.

As we were waiting for our food, Boy started fiddling with his Blackberry. I didn’t say anything because I thought he was replying to an urgent e-mail from his employer.  When he finished with his Blackberry, he looked up at me and yawned and stretched as if he were bored. I asked him a question about his workweek and he replied, “busy.” That was it and silence crept over the table. I didn’t know what else to say so I started talking about my week. I was a graduate student at the time, so I talked about exams, papers, and upcoming school events. About a minute into my rant, he started looking back down at his Blackberry. I paused for a second to let him finish his task. When he looked up, I continued.

The server came with our appetizer a few moments later.  While I was cutting myself a slice of bread with a butter knife, I fumbled. (The server failed to give us a proper knife.)

“What are you doing?!” He snaps. “There are other ways of doing that!”

I was shocked. Did he just yell at me? I thought to myself. He snatched the knife from me and cut the bread himself. Then, he resumed eating and playing with his phone as if nothing happened.

A few moments later, he inquires, “What type of initiatives is Boston University engaging in to tackle the African malaria epidemic?”

I struggled to find my words initially because I was taken aback by his outburst. Since he appeared normal again, I brushed off his antics and answered his question. He replied to my responses with follow-up questions and comments and for a moment, I felt like I was on a real date with someone who was treating me with respect.

Fifteen minutes had past and our server came with the main course. My appetite was waning by now because my date was being erratic. I barely ate my food. He asked me another question about my life as a graduate student and when I attempted to answer it, his phone started ringing. He answered the phone and put his pointer finger over his lips and whispers to me, “shhh…”

Him: What panties are you wearing?  

Me: What?!?!?!

Him: Oh no, not you. (He points to the phone.)

At that moment, I should have walked out the restaurant, leaving him at the table to finish his food alone.  But for some strange reason, I didn’t. I actually sat there and continued the date.

This isn’t a story I share with a lot of people and this is not one of my best moments; I actually sat at a dinner table and allowed someone to treat me badly. Why and how I could have allowed this to happen is something I often ask myself. Perhaps I was lonely. Perhaps I was so desperate to be on a date I was willing to take anything.

Men feed off women who are desperate and lonely. There are too many women who are in relationships with men who consistently treat them poorly. Maybe these women are like how I was  – lonely and desperate and willing to take anything from a man in order to have one. Since my worst date ever, I have matured. The relationship I have with myself is the second most important thing in my life after God.  I make sure that I treat myself with respect and demand that others do also. I let men know up front what I require and if they don’t meet the expectations, then I bounce. While this is an area that I still struggle in, I will speak up when I am being mistreated. I rather be alone and lonely than with someone who treats me anywhere near how Boy treated me.

Why We Should Not Seek Relationship Advice From Others

You want to kill a relationship with the Man of Your Dreams? Seek relationship advice from someone else about how to sustain it.

Now, I’m not against all relationship advice that others have given. Sheesh, I’ve given some of my own and for that I’d like to insert a disclaimer: Please use common sense and your intuition before taking my advice. I am no expert. I just tell it like I see it.

One day when I’m feeling brave, I will disclose the details surrounding the situation that brought me to this point, but for now, I’ll just tell you why we don’t need “Relationship Experts” to give us advice on our love life.

1. Your intuition tells you everything you need to know.

Really. You are smarter than you think. That small voice inside of you is your intuition, the Holy Spirit, your inner voice, and it will guide you if you let it. Listen to it!

2. You are the relationship expert in your own relationship.

I don’t care how much information you share about your relationship with your girlfriends; she will never understand the fullness of your relationship. One of the things I value about relationships are its sacredness, the fact that no one knows the intricate details, the inside jokes, and the blissful moments that the couple shares. Those things, if not impossible, are extremely difficult to convey to an outsider. So, before you seek advice, remember you are the Expert in the relationship.

3. You are just seeking opinions because no one knows the truth.

The thing to remember about relationships is that relationships are not a  Science. There are no hardcore instructions on how to make it work. You can follow the guide book and still not achieve the desired outcomes.

4. There are a lot of bitter jealous women out there.

My situation was confusing at times, overwhelming at others, and exhilarating all the time. I felt that I needed to seek guidance from others about how to handle it, so I asked advice from “friends.” Depending on who I asked, I got a different response!  Nothing was consistent. People had so many different perspectives and it all depended on their relationship history. Women who had fulfilling relationships with men were more likely to be supportive of my relationship. The woman who had bad relationships with men who cheated were more likely to say, “He’s lying to you. Don’t believe him.” In retrospect, I should have just followed the advice from my male friends. Their advice was very neutral, very diplomatic and provided more insight into my significant other’s behavior than any of my female friends could have. Leaving each conversation with these characters left me more confused than before.

This epiphany came to me after a heart – to – heart conversation with a guy, the Special Someone who had been in my life. I regret seeking guidance from so many bitter, opinionated, and happy-go-lucky people. Moving forward, I will be tight-lipped about my relationships. This gives me an opportunity to seek guidance from within. Don’t get me wrong, I still seek other’s opinion when I need to, but their suggestion does not serve as a guide anymore. And to any other relationship bloggers or so-called-experts, I am reading your blogs with a critical eye too. You don’t know the truth.

Speak To The Heart

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you speak to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.– Nelson Mandela

I attended a Ghanaian Fundraising Cookout yesterday evening. The cookout’s purpose was to raise money for a presidential candidate. My dad, who’s very active in Ghanaian politics, loves attending to events like this; and I, wanting to explore my Ghanaian roots, like to tag along. My hope was that I found a young, single, educated attractive man, with no children. :). (My father is Ghanaian, by the way, and so is my name “Yaa Yaa.”)

I didn’t get my wish, but I did learn a valuable lesson: the importance of speaking a person’s native language.

As I was mingling at the Cookout, I noticed that the Ghanaian women were rather standoffish, while the Ghanaian men were rather friendly. Okay, so maybe they were friendly for obvious reasons. (Has anyone seen my picture lately?) But that’s neither here nor there. If I ask you how you’re doing, where you’re from, and am attempting to engage you in conversation, the least you can do is entertain me and answer my questions, as opposed to looking away or acting like you don’t want to speak.

I was explaining this phenomena to my father as we were driving home and he proposed a an explanations for the women’s behavior that shifted my perspective on this issue.

 They are not comfortable speaking English. 

Now that I think about it, the women at the Cookout were speaking my father’s language, Twi. I understand and speak a little, but am far from carrying on an entire conversation in the language. “Maybe they wanted to speak to you,” my father continues, “But they’re not comfortable speaking English.”

Excellent point.

I speak Basic Spanish. Drop me in a Spanish speaking country alone for two weeks, and I’m sure, with a Spanish to English dictionary and my 500 Verb conjugator books, I’ll survive. But please, don’t attempt to engage me in conversation in Spanish. I’m prone to look at you like you’re speaking Greek, and even though I’m a friendly person who can be rather talkative, I am extremely uncomfortable speaking Spanish. It’s not natural to me. I have to put forth effort, a lot of effort, to speak Spanish. But speak to me in English, and you’ll see how fun and outgoing I truly am.

The same attitude may apply to the Ghanaian women at the cookout, or any person who speaks English as a second language may feel. This epiphany is what propelled me to learn French.

Speaking a second language will open up a world of possibilities for me. I can travel to other countries and be able to make my way through a foreign city.  I’ll be able to speak to people’s heart. I’ll be able to put them at ease and they’ll be more prone to open up to me. They’ll be more likely to learn from and be influenced by me. They’ll respect me for taking the time and effort to learn their language, to communicate with them, and to understand their perspectives.

Learning a language is not easy, let me tell you. And French is no exception. There are rules, but thousands of exceptions to the rules. Sometimes the “s” is pronounced, oftentimes it is not. And practicing is painful sometimes. Having to remember the rules and pronunciation patterns – Ugh!!! But it’s worth it, if at the end, I’ll be able to speak to one’s heart.