Thursday, December 31, 2009

chronicles of life ... the new year theme

The passing of another birthday can only mean one thing: a new year! So my year begins Dec. 30. Pop the champagne, blow the noise makers and cut the cake.

It’s time for me to unveil my yearly theme. Every year needs one, or at least that’s my mindset. A theme helps define how you will live the year ahead.

My home slice, Cee, hipped me to the theme game. Right before 2009, she told me her theme was “Living off the Wall.” Her actions that year strongly adhered to the theme, some of which even rubbed off on me. We went on many a road trip in Florida and Georgia while “living off the wall.” Sometimes you’ve just got to step outside your comfort zone. Mind you, nothing we did was illegal or wild and crazy. But we did enjoy the year a lot more.

I was inspired by her quest and followed suit with a theme of my own, “The Year of the Do Better.” Instead of just merely telling others to “Do Better,” I wanted to reach that goal for myself. It wasn’t easy. I tried to do better last year in many aspects of my life. Some were hit or miss, but it’s all a growing process.

For 2010, I have decided to step my theme game up. Earlier this month, my theme came to me. The concept is very simple. If 2009 was “The Year of the Do Better,” then in 2010 I will “Do It BIG, Then!” I’ve done better, now I need to do it BIG!

What is IT, you may wonder? IT is any and everything. Whatever I do, I will not stop at simply doing better. I am going to do it BIG! Work has already begun to fulfill the expectations of my theme.

I will “Do It BIG, Then” when I move to a new apartment Saturday. Gone is this rinky dink, one bed and one bath, dark abyss I live in now. Instead my new apartment is two beds, two baths and in a gated community. Ralphie can have his own room again.

Reading is always something I enjoyed. No more one book every two weeks. I’m going to “Do It BIG, Then” and read 35 this year. All the great writers were great readers.

This year I wrote about 40 notes, maybe half of which I actually liked. There are 52 weeks in a year. The goal is to “Do It BIG, Then” and write at least one note per week.

I could go on and on about how I plan on following my theme. I won’t bore you with my list of 20 theme points (think resolutions but with a way cooler name). Just know in every situation I will “Do It BIG, Then.”

Essentially, I want to challenge and push myself to the limit. How often do we get complacent and settle for the subpar? At times I struggle with mediocrity and a lackadaisical attitude. No more of that. I’m going to “Do It BIG, Then” for 2010. And when the end of my year rolls around, I can proudly look back and say I “Did It BIG, Then.”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... on TVs this holiday season

Holiday traditions are built around many things. For some it’s in their gift giving. Others incorporate it in their food. In my family, our traditions revolve around the movies and shows we watch. It’s just not the holidays unless we see our Christmas favorites. I present to you the Robinson Family Holiday Viewing List. Perhaps some of these are favorites for your family too.

1. A Charlie Brown Christmas. This is a classic. A tear comes to my eye every time Charlie Brown puts an ornament on his sad little Christmas tree. It reminds us to not let the holidays become too commercialized.

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We watch the animated. It’s all about seeing the Grinch slither like a snake. And why does poor little Max always think he’s going for sleigh ride? Instead, he has to be the reindeer with that one sad antler.

3. A Christmas Story. My mother, brother and I will sit and watch the marathon over and over on Christmas Eve. I think we have to make sure Ralphie is going to get his BB gun and not put his eyes out. My daddy just looks at us and shakes his head. I named my betta fish, Ralphie, in honor of this movie.

4. A Garfield Christmas. Have you ever seen how the grandma laughs? It’s like her whole mouth is eating her head. I don’t know who laughs harder, her or my mom.

5. The Preacher’s Wife. Back before Whitney Houston was a recovering crack head, she had a voice. And she acted decently. The movie is heartwarming. I wish an angel looking like Denzel Washington would come visit my family.

6. Home Alone 1 & 2. I think my dad likes these movies more than everybody else. I feel like we are always watching them. I’m not going to lie, though; these are some of the best holiday movies around.

7. Friday After Next. My parents own this movie. We watch it during Christmas. After Christmas. Before Christmas. Everyone in the family can quote lines verbatim from the movie. Sad, I know. But it brings us oh so close together.

I have several of my own Christmas favorites in addition to the above:

1. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Come on now. You know the Island of Misfit toys does it for you every year.

2. The Year Without a Santa Claus. I know the lyrics and the dance routine to the songs by the Heat Miser and Snow Miser.

3. Frosty the Snowman. I don’t know why I even watch this show every year. I think I just do it out of habit.

4. The Nutcracker. I have to see some variation of The Nutcracker. My grandmother used to take me to see the ballet every year when I was little. It is the very essence of Christmas.

5. A Christmas Carol. I’ve seen the Muppets’ Christmas Carol, A Diva’s Christmas Carol and Scrooged. I watch some variation of this story too. It’s yet another reminder about the true meaning of Christmas.

Whatever your holiday viewing may be, make sure you enjoy it the right way, with your family.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... what do YOU want

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. I love the music, the family togetherness, the food and most of all the gifts. Getting is wonderful, but I especially love giving. The problem is most of my gift recipients are making hard for me to shop for them.

It’s my own fault. I should know the things they like. They are my family. My friend, Cee, does an excellent job of gift giving by keeping track of things people mentioned during everyday conversation throughout the year. If I did that, and shopped year-round for gifts instead of waiting until Dec. 23, I would be amazing! Well I don’t!

Why can’t everyone just give me a list of what they want? I do it every year. My parents received my Christmas/birthday list Dec. 7. Neither they nor my brother extended that same courtesy.

Long ago I gave gifts without asking. Most were hit or miss. There was the era of the homemade gifts like key chains, pot holders and vases. Nothing says “I love you” like a nice homemade gift. Or at least that’s what I thought until my mother said the vases looked like they came from the Dead Sea.

Everyone received unique presents from the art museum gift shop I worked at during college. Then my parents laughed at the nose-shaped eyeglass holders they got one year. I don’t know why. They both wear glasses.

I put a lot of thought into the gifts I made/bought. But I got tired of the smart remarks. Apparently, no one appreciates my thoughtfulness. So I prefer to buy exactly what a person wants.

I’m getting better at buying mainstream gifts, I think. I bought my dad a GPS system for his birthday. It was just what he wanted. I should have saved that as his Christmas present. Now Christmas is nearly here and I still don’t know what to get him. When I first asked he said, “I don’t know.” WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE IS THAT? If you don’t know, then how am I supposed to know?

It would also be nice to receive gift lists featuring items from a variety of price ranges. Whenever I ask my family for gift suggestions, they always remind me that I’m poor. Well then, suggest something that you want and know I can afford. Throw me a bone here.

I give up. Everyone’s just going to get a gift card somewhere. OK probably not. I don’t like giving out gift cards, unless it’s specifically requested. Otherwise it seems so impersonal. Kind of like how bath and body products and shaving kits are the generic gifts.

Gift giving is starting to make my headache and bring down my holiday cheer. Next year I’ll just be the Grinch. Nobody is getting a present from me.

Who am I kidding? I’ll be at the gift giving again by Valentine’s Day. I just like to give gifts. All I want for Christmas is to know what other people really want.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... Barbie girl

Is it bad that I’m almost 25 and still love dolls? Occasionally, I visit the toy section in Wal-Mart and spend a good hour looking at them. I’ve probably scrutinized every brand of doll available. Unfortunately, there are very few I like. Most dolls seemed to have gone downhill.

For instance, baby dolls suck. What child in their right mind wants a fake baby? They weren’t my cup of tea growing up. Most of them, especially Baby Alive, are a little too realistic, and the rest are ugly.

The LIV Dolls are too bland. They all look exactly the same and lack personality. They seem so, well, plastic and doll like.

The Moxie Girlz dolls are Bratz lite. Bratz were hideous! Not to mention slutty. I don’t understand why little girls were crazy over them. But I digress. I see a vision of little girls thinking moxie means you can act grown. Then, I’m going to have to smack the moxie out of someone.

Best Friends Club Ink dolls are actually OK. They make good role models. Wait; can a doll be a role model? Nonetheless, all the dolls have a biography detailing their favorite subjects, personality profile and blah, blah, blah. Honestly, they’re kind of boring.

There is only one hope for doll kind. It is the same doll I have loved all my life. The name you know and trust: Barbie. She is officially the queen of the doll world. Who else in 50 years has had more identities than 50 women?

I got my last Barbie Doll when I was 13 from my granny. It was Peruvian Barbie from the Dolls of the World Series (turns out it’s a collector’s item). I still have that Barbie along with all my others from over the years. Somewhere in my parent’s garage is a bag filled with Barbie, Ken, Skipper, Stacey, Kelley and their friends.

Barbie keeps reinventing the wheel and diversifying because she is timeless. There is a new line called So-In-Style. These dolls are made to accurately reflect African American features. I want one so bad! I even told my parents they could buy me one (they ignored my requests). Walking through Wal-Mart is torture when I get to the Barbie section.

There is only one way to solve my Barbie obsession. I am going to become a Barbie doll collector. I needed a new hobby anyway. There is a collector Web site, newsletter, bulletin board and more. My eye is already on the Barbie Basics line which comes out in 2010. Picture it, Barbies of all shades in little black dresses. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I want the Lt. Uhura Barbie, Alvin Ailey Barbie, Julia Barbie, Pop Life Barbie and so many more. I’ll even go find my old Barbie dolls and work to restore them to their original glory. I want to collect Barbies of every style.

Some dolls run as low as $20. The big leagues are more than $100. My collection won’t be complete overnight. Slowly I will re-emerge myself in the Barbie world. I am, after all, a Barbie girl.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... the class cut up

There is just something about hair. The bond between it and a person should not be disturbed. I like to play in mine. Touching it has a soothing effect. I like feeling every little kink and curl. Who would think that’s a crime? Apparently it is if you’re in school.

A Wisconsin teacher cut one of the braids from a 7-year-old student’s hair because she wouldn’t stop twirling it. She made the little girl come up in front of the class, took the scissors and snipped about three inches. Then she told her more would get cut if she didn’t stop. The little girl went back to her seat in tears while all the other children laughed.

After school the little girl told her mother. The mother didn’t even believe the news at first. Who could imagine a teacher that cruel? Mom went to meet and discuss it with the teacher. Ms. Cuts and Such said she did it out of frustration. Is this really how you handle your frustrations? The little girl’s hair is naturally long, but the teacher thought it was fake and therefore OK to cut off.

Overall the teacher didn’t feel like she did anything wrong. The school moved the child to another classroom and is conducting a discipline hearing. The police department has issued a $175 citation for disorderly conduct. Personally, I think the teacher should be removed from teaching period. Obviously, she does not need to work with children.

Hair is a part of your body. If I cut somebody’s finger, that would be a major crime. The same should apply to cutting someone’s hair out of malice. Sure it might not hurt, but hair is a woman’s glory. Some of my friends have a hissy fit if hair dressers cut their hair unsolicited. I don’t even like people touching my hair without permission. They definitely can’t cut it.

This incident could greatly affect the child for the rest of her life. The littlest thing can leave an impression. I know firsthand. My kindergarten teacher made me drink a carton of milk in front of the entire class because I didn’t at lunch. I ended up crying and throwing it all up. To this day, I don’t like milk.

I understand teachers have a lot to deal with. Children these days are little monsters. Maybe the little girl’s hair was disruptive. She did have several beads on the end. The teacher had already kept her from recess because she didn’t stop playing. But shouldn’t the next step have been sending her to the principal’s office?

The mother said the little girl only plays in her hair when she’s nervous. How many times do we do something subconsciously? I bite my lip, play in my hair and even crack my knuckles without thinking all the time. I wouldn’t dare want to do act up in that teacher’s class. What does she do to a child talking too loud? Perhaps we’ll hear of her cutting a tongue next.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... lack of WWIT

Sometimes it's good to reminisce over the past. It helps provide insight and perspective to your life that can be valuable for the future. Recently, I took a trip down memory lane over my college days. An associate and I looked at various Facebook profiles of acquaintances. It was an enjoyable experience until I realized one tiny detail: I had a crush on almost every single cute (and not so cute) guy.

Some lasted a day and others a few weeks. The longest crush was for three years. Second place came in at about one year. I knew quite a few of the crushes on an associate level, but many more were just guys I happened to see a lot.

No one over the age of 20 should have as many crushes as me, or at least that's what my BFF said. I personally can't be bothered to actually talk to everybody I think is cute. Sometimes having a crush helps weed out candidates. But my constant state of having a crush on someone is a topic for another day. I digress.

My mother says I'm simply boy crazy. I'll cosign to that theory. Since kindergarten I have always had a crush on somebody. This got me to thinking about all my past crushes/relationships/whatever. I now realize some of those crushes were on less than ideal people. I’ve had one too many "What Was I Thinking" moments about the guys I’ve liked.

There was that irritating boy in 10th grade, the holier than thou dude who lived in my dorm complex and the guy who believed he was coming back as a cat. The list could go on and on. Out of an estimated 15 major crushes/relationships/whatever, there were maybe five who didn’t get the WWIT label.

I am greatly troubled by this revelation. Is my taste in men that bad? Do I merely go by appearance when beginning a crush before getting to know the real person? Apparently so.

I blame it on a lack of dating experience. I was a late bloomer. Dating was never really a top priority for me in high school and that extended into college. I didn't go on my first date until I was about 19, and I only went on like two thereafter. Who has time to date when you're always hanging with your friends, trying to make the grade and just enjoying the college life? Several of my friends say I'm on the dating level of about a 16-year-old. Don't teenagers make a plethora of bad dating decisions? At least the majority of mine are bad crush decisions.

Although my choice is some crushes have been really bad in the past, I am glad to recognize it now. Perhaps there is hope for me yet. Could this be a sign that I am leaving the teen years of crushes and moving forward to the adult world of dating and relating? For 2010 I plan to have more WIT, intelligence, when choosing who to date (or even just have a crush on). I don't want to wonder WWIT anymore.

Chronicles of Life ... an ideal mate

Everyone should have some set of standards when dating. I’m single and not looking, but I’ve compiled a top 10 list. For the love of cupcakes, right at the top is a man that can bake. I figure if you can bake then you can cook.

I like to eat. I don’t like to cook. I’m also not a fan of going out to eat. By all means, fix pumpkin ravioli with glazed butternut squash on the side for dinner and then a batch of cupcakes for dessert. I have no problem with washing the dishes every night. Cooking is not my forte. And I have realized I get more joy from eating then cooking anyway.

Take for instance breakfast. I don’t eat breakfast mainly because I’m too lazy to get up and cook it. Cereal does not count. I call it a morning snack. I want grits, eggs, pancakes and sausage. I’d even settle for homemade oatmeal and bacon if someone else would make it. I want, no I need, someone that will fix a home cooked breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon and a sensible dinner. OK maybe lunch is asking for too much.

I think I was spoiled from watching my daddy. He knows his way around the kitchen. His sweet potato pies and sausage cornbread dressing are always in high demand. Sometimes I think he cooks better than my mom. Of course she does make a mean lasagna and rum cake too. Together, my parents keep me well fed (when they actually, cook which is few and far between). Even my little brother is quite the chef. I seem to be the only one lacking in the kitchen.

Women are not the only ones that have to do the cooking. Everyone should know their way in the kitchen. Let the better person do the majority of the cooking. Just know it will not be me. I used to think I wanted to become Chef Girlardee. That got stressful real quick. I just don’t have the patience to cook. The key is to know your place in the kitchen hierarchy. For me, it’s washing dishes, taking food out the oven and taste testing.

In recognition of my love for eating, I have decided to pitch a new reality dating show called, “Cook to my heart.” At least 20 chefs (professional and otherwise) will vie for my affection through their meals. They will have to face numerous cooking challenges. Challenge winners receive quality time with me Think Flava of Love meets Top Chef. Players will wear chefs’ hats and remain on the show by being told “My compliments to the chef.” But you get the boot with “Check Please.”

I’m not asking for a top chef, just a good one, someone that can blow in the kitchen. It has been said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. What about the way to my heart? Well if you can cook, then I am hooked.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chronicles of Life ... Pennies From Heaven

We all probably grew up hearing the saying, “See a penny, pick it up, and all the day you’ll have good luck. See a penny, let it lay, and bad luck you’ll have all rest of the day.” However, luck is not a concept I buy. My Granny used to tell me Christians have no need to believe in luck. There is no such thing as good or bad luck. Only blessings and favor from God.

So no, I don’t say good luck. I say best wishes. I’m blessed, not lucky. Yes, I break mirrors without the slightest thought. I cross paths with a black cat quite frequently. I pay no mind to stepping on cracks. I’ll walk under a ladder in a heartbeat, if it’s the quickest route. And a severe rain storm calls for opening an umbrella inside before heading out to face the elements. The only thing I actually do is pick up pennies.

I saw a penny on the ground while walking into Wal-Mart Monday, and I picked it up. But luck has nothing to do with it. Instead it reminds me of a story I once read in a Dear Abby column. A reader sent in a letter saying when you see a penny on the ground it means someone you love in Heaven is thinking of you and wants you to know it. I remember reading this while still in elementary school. I put the story in the back of my mind, until it one day became of use to me.

Sometime later my granddaddy died, which tore me up. I was 12, and that was my first real experience with death. Not long after he died, I saw a perfectly clean penny on the ground. This reminded me of the letter. So I picked up the penny and thought about my granddaddy missing me as much as I missed him. For once I didn’t cry or feel sad. Now I was hooked on the penny legend.

Over the years, several loved ones have died. Each death is never easy, but finding the pennies help provide me with some comfort. When I find a penny, I simply look up and say, “I miss you too,” to whoever sent it. Each penny is attributed to the latest loved one that died.

I have determined this penny is from that same granny that taught me about luck. She died in February 2008. That was yet another hard death for me to take. There are good days when I don’t cry and bad ones that leaving me red in the face from sobbing. I miss her even more during the holidays. By finding that penny, I know she misses me too.

To some this is just a crazy old legend. And I’m crazy for even buying into it. But is it any crazier than believing in luck? For now, I’ll believe in pennies from Heaven. It’s nice to know you’re missed too. Now that’s something I can buy.