Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ghana Three Days of Giving

Since Monday people have been telling me Merry Christmas.  Now as an American, I find this weird because once a holiday is over in the States there is no need to acknowledge it anymore. However, here in Ghana people still walk around saying Merry Christmas, Christmas music is still playing and people are still asking how you are enjoying the holiday. The only thing missing is the guy selling the ornaments and trees on Oxford Street. I guess he is wise enough to know when a good thing is over.

I also must admit, that I will not pass judgement for the holiday decorations and music. After all, in the States some people definitely let the decorations and music linger waaay past its time. Don't act like you haven't seen Hoarders or Clean House, where a layer of dust appears on decorative Christmas items. Then this morning a conversation with my gate boy helped me undestand why three days after Christmas,  people were saying "Merry Christmas".

As I was leaving the house, my friendly gate boy with the biggest smile on his face says, "Good morning, Madame, Merry Christmas. Now, I actually like this gate boy, who is unlike the lazy night guard that is too busy to open the gate as I leave in the evening, so I decided to strike up conversation. "How was Christmas?" I asked, with just as big of a smile. His response, "Oh Madame, not that good." Of course being a fool I ask why. "Oh Madame, there was not really any money-o". (For those not on Ghanaian lingo, o is a common syllable inserted after all words, especially when you want to emphasize something).

Now if I was a newbie to Ghana, I would have immediately reached in my purse and gave him a few cedis. However, as a vet, I knew he was lying, with a smile. I playfully pushed his shoulder and told him that I knew the house had given him his Christmas bonus, plus more. He instantly started laughing.

Then it occurred to me why it had been Christmas for the last few days. Each person that said it was hoping that I was naive enough to contribute to their after Christmas fund. It's obvious they don't know I am cheap. Not to mention, I refuse to practice the act of dashing- or giving money away because I feel like you are less fortunate and you have helped me somehow. I mean let's be real, I am the stranger in the country. I can't go broke feeding you. In America, people in Arizona don't stand at the border and ask Mexicans to give them something extra for turning a blind eye, and Arizona has a 9% unemployment rate!

All I can say, is thank God I am a New Year's baby. At least I have a legitimate reason to hassle people for funds after Christmas.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 What a Year

As 2011 wraps up, I must admit that I am sad to see it end. This year I turned 30, visited 4 different countries and 8 different cities, I relocated to another country and fell in love, a few times, before I found my perfect prince.

In fact looking back on it this year, undoubtedly, it was the best year I ever had. Seeing that in print is funny, because at the beginning of the year, I must admit, I didn't know what was going on with my life. This time last year, I was unemployed, frantically searching for a job and doing damage control, trying to maintain some resemblance of the life that I had built in DC.

Now a year later, I have successfully relocated to Ghana, started a business, which I hope will be the talk of the town soon, and most importantly, I am happier than I have ever been before. It is just amazing how life's disappointments really are God's appointments as some say.

I remember my last few weeks of work, my boss called me into his office and asked how my job search was going and what my plan was. Now, let me be clear, he probably really didn't care, he just needed someone to make conversation with and this was one of the few times I had showed up  for work since I  found out I was going to be unemployed in the New Year. I played the game told him I hadn't really found anything and the plan was that if I hadn't found a job by March I was going to sell everything and move to Africa. Little did I know, how serious I really was.

I must admit, there are still times I miss getting crazy with Mr. Connor or playing dizzy bat with my SE crew. After all, where else can you get the low down on the escapades that took place on an Atlantic City trip or hear someone's dissertation on why turkey is the best source of protein. But overall, I am making new memories and building a new life, that seems to be slightly better than the last one.  I just am thankful that my life, like me, gets better with time.

Until Next Time Smooches.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Maybe I Do Know It All

Today, I was reading an article and came across someone who said as they were being reflexive on the moment they screamed. I am sure many of you are thinking what the hell does this after do with anything, but to me this statement teaches me a life lesson.

When I first started working on the Hill I was a fairly confident individual, despite my many disappointments in life. In fact, I thank God every day for my ability to bounce back and move on, because as I grow older and meet different people,  I have come to understand that not everyone has that capability. But after reading this statement, I was reminded of the times in my life, especially while working on the Hill, which made me feel smaller than I really was/am.

You see about 8 weeks after I started the job, I was having a conversation with a co-worker that  I held in high esteem and made the statement, " I always try to be self-reflexive." She promptly corrected me and said self-reflective. Of course, I stood my ground for a while, arguing that it was in fact a term. I even went as far to type the phrase into google where it came up, but it was only in dictionary.com, which cannot always be trusted and she let that be known as well. Of course, slightly embarrassed that I didn't know what I had been talking about I quickly ceased and desisted using the phrase or any form of it. Not to mention, my mind quickly wandered to all the other people who were "smarter" than me that I had used the phrase in front of.

So when I saw the phrase today, I quickly googled it, and, what do you know, it came up, even in the Miriam Webster dictionary. Not surprising, considering each year they add thousands of new words. I guess I was just a trend setter who understood the term before it became popular.

Now the moral of the story is not about how someone talked me out of what I knew was right, but how I allowed them to do it. Looking back, I must have felt really insecure to allow someone to do that to me. In fact, I think many of us let others, consciously or subconsciously, play on our insecurities, which causes us nothing but anguish and misery internally. These people, if you allow them to, will have you thinking something is wrong with you or that you are not as smart as you know you are. Only for you to later look back and realize they weren't as smart you you thought they were.

In fact, when I look back on my entire time on the Hill, although technically it was one of my greatest experiences, it was one of the worst times in my life. I must admit, in all the jobs I have had, I have never felt more out of place then when I worked there. You see the Hill is a place where you aren't rewarded on your ingenuity or hard work. Instead you are rewarded on your personal relationships. This doesn't mean there aren't some really talented people doing great things on the Hill, but I have also ran into a lot of idiots who just got lucky. But hey, we all have different destinies and I have never been a hater that someone's life appears to be easier than mine; keyword in the sentence is appear.

I just know it is fortunate/unfortunate for me that I have never been good at kissing ass or keeping my mouth shut when I think an injustice has been committed, even if it means me not being well liked or promoted. I have also never been good at just being fake in general. Hell I either like you or I don't. There isn't much in between for me. So I guess I was destined to fail, considering many say there are no permanent enemies in politics.

Most importantly, since I left that environment and I am not worried about the scrutiny of co-workers, I enjoy my life more. I don't have to hear anyone talking about how many drinks I had or why I shouldn't be doing something. I don't have to talk to people I don't like and the best thing about it all I get to say what I want when I please.

In the words of Langston Hughes," Life ain't been no crystal stair". I didn't grow up in a wealthy home, surrounded my influential people, who supported my dreams and pushed me forward. No one has ever given me a dime to go to school, to buy my first car or get an apartment. In fact, if I go broke today, there is not a soul in the world I can call on. But I am ok with that, because it has made me who I am.

Every day, I am happy that I am able to be in an environment where I can realize that I know more than I think, instead of  being in a place where people spend their days correcting each other, in order to show their superiority- or lack thereof.

So as I try to be more self-reflexive, again,  in 2012 I will always remember to never put myself in situations where I am not fully appreciated.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Greedy Granny

In July, I rented a cute little room from an older couple here in Accra. Now that my lease is up, I am moving onto greener and better pastures, aka, my own home. I first broke the news to them when they got home a few weeks ago so they could rent the room again.

However, now I am starting to regret that decision. Allowing them to show the room with me still staying here has been disastrous. Although, I don't mind them showing the room, I do mind how inconsiderate they are. At first it was ok, but well, the other day it just all fell apart.

Thursday night I went out with a friend and had a ball. I come back home at 4 am, expecting to sleep until at least 10. So when my landlady called me at 7:30 am, I didn't answer the phone. Then about 30 minutes later, there is a knock at my door. I call out and say yes, she then responds, telling me that someone is coming to look at the room at 8:30 am. Mind you the door is still closed, because I have a general rule; if I am not expecting you, I don't answer the door.  Room rules are no different from my house rules. In fact, if I had an on hand soundtrack, I would have played Outkast for her, "I'll call before I come, I just won't pop up over out the blueeee. I hope that you do too"

This disturbed me for two reasons, 1) you don't have the right to tell someone they can look at my living space without telling me and 2) Why the hell are you knocking on my door when I didn't answer the phone. Needless to say, I was even more enraged when she came back about 30 minutes later and said the girl wanted to come in the afternoon. She stood there feebly asking if I wanted to talk to the girl to tell her a time that worked. I told her after three was fine and promptly shut the door. As I climbed back into bed, I thanked God, that I had found him years ago or else this little old woman might have been cussed out.

So when she called me today to show the room, I politely complied and came home. I thought about straightening up a little, but I thought why. This is what you get, with short notice. A few minutes later, she knocks on my door, I say I am coming and then she opens my door. You are thinking what I am thinking, "This bleep has lost her mind." I let the woman look around and she asked when I could move.

Of course, greedy granny was in the corner with dollar signs in her eyes and was like" Oh I am sure it can be soon, you are house sitting around the corner." 1) What does this have to do with me moving into my new place, you really dont expect me to move my stuff twice in one week and 2) Did you forget I have paid rent until Jan 1 not to mention, DSTV?  I politely responded it would definitely be after Christmas, maybe about the 28th.

So as the woman left, I decided I would let them know next week, that I wont be leaving until the 30th. After all, why should I be inconvenienced any further.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm Baaack , But I Never Went Anywhere

Folks, Hola. What is going on? Yes, I haven't blogged in a month and it wasnt intentional. The internet was down at the house and though I purchased a mobile modem, blogger doesnt like it for some reason. Therefore, I had to leave you hanging. Sure, I could have come to a cafe like I am doing now to blog, but well, hell I dont have a car and that is unnecessary taxi money. After all, this blog doesn't pay- yet.

Well, in the past month I have found my perfect home. I got a cute little house in Ladadi that sits directly across from the ocean. When I walk out of the compound, I can see the fishing boats. It's 2 br one bath and most importantly, its in a convenient location. I must admit, for a second I though I was going to have to move to the boonies and that was going to cause a whole other issue for me. But fortunately, the girl renting the house liked me so much she reduced the price. :) Goes to show, a little bit of honey gets you further than a whole bottle of vinegar. Keep it in mind as you move through life.

I also started to write my book. As the year unfolds you will hear more about it, but I hope to self-publish by the end of 2012. I continue to be amazed at the opportunities that surface and how people seem to be attracted to me despite my big mouth and crude sense of humor. I guess it goes to show, being yourself, even in a foreign environment, is always the best way to go.

I am expecting a fabulous New Year, as my business is launching in January and I am feeling pretty confident. I would tell everyone what it is, but its not quite time. Ghana is a competitive market and I cant risk someone taking my idea. Just know its tourist based and I am the first one. And, well, being the first always has its advantages. So hopefully, it takes me to the point of being true middle class here, which includes my maid, cook, driver, gardener, SUV and a pimp house.  Yep, the middle class still exists here, eat your heart out America.

Well, we all know, I have a length limit to my blogs, considering the short attention spans of most people. So, I will come to the cafe once a week and keep you all posted.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Always a Day Away

Every now and then, I must admit, I get overwhelmed in Accra. Boasting nearly 4 million people,  it is definitely the biggest city I have ever lived in. And though English is the national language, I have learned my American English is often too slick and fast for anyone to understand me. After all, with this being a former British colony, the Queen's English is definitely more standard in the city.

So it is not surprising that last week, I found myself quietly sobbing at the transportation center at Nkrumah Circle. In my mind, it was the worst day ever. I was an hour and a half late for an appointment, thanks to a friend that was adhering to Ghana Man Time versus Standard time. Then on my way home the sky opens up and literally floods the streets of Accra. Then to top it off, because of the rain, I couldn't find a taxi to take me home. So when I got turned around and then found myself stuck in the roundabout at Nkrumah Circle trying to cross the street,with mud in my shoe and being splashed by water, it's no wonder I broke down for just a second. Fortunately, the spell only lasted for a moment. I'm sure it might have lasted longer, but the street smart me knows its never a good thing to look  vulnerable in a busy area, especially when you are a foreigner and a woman.

So an hour and a half later, I arrived home wet with muddy shoes and feet and a little pissed off about how the day had gone. Now, we all have days like this and I have found it is particularly easy for all of us to isolate what is wrong in our life at these moments. You start to think about all of your failures and disappointments and, of course, label yourself a loser for one reason or another.

However, the next morning I awoke to an offer to do an independent contract starting in  January. Then the following day, I got a job offer for an upcoming position at a local company and, well, on Friday my resident permit came in. Not a bad way to end a week that started so poorly. It also made me realize, how quickly life can change for all of us. It goes to show one day can change your entire life and a few days can turn your whole situation can turn around. I guess little orphan Annie was on to something. Tomorrow is always a day away.

Until Next Time Smooches.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmmmm

As most people know, Africa is not known for having the most reliable media. In fact, they often still struggle with distinguishing opinion from fact. But hey, who am I to complain. I enjoy seeing stories about ju-ju man that has been arrested for casting a spell on his neighbor or the million and one stories about corrupt preachers. It's like reading the Onion, except its real news- imagine that!

However, every now and then, I am alarmed at the lies spread in the paper. So, when I ran across a paper that had "Oral Sex Risky", plastered on the front page, I just had to pick it up. Inside, it cautioned men from giving oral sex to women due to the high risk of getting candidiasis in their throat. Since most of my friends are lawyers and not doctors, let me translate- candidiasis is a yeast infection. Now, this is the point that I replay the many experiences of my friends- both male and female, and though there have been a few horror stories, candidiasis of the throat has never been one of them. In fact, I think this article is a complete lie. It's not like I don't think it can't happen, I am sure it does. I just happen to think the odds are like 1 in 1 million.

I was also alarmed because there are never any articles cautioning women against giving oral sex to men, I wonder why this is. I mean, in real life, I don't.  I know articles like these exist because Africa is still a male dominated society. I'm sure the doctor who has done the research brings this point up to all of his girlfriends at the beginning of a relationship.

In fact, I am sure he and his colleagues sat around and concocted the story after the incessant nagging of their wives and women on the side. After all, what better way to get out of a sexual act than a medical excuse. I can hear them now, " I would baby, but you know that I can get throat cancer or a yeast infection  *Sidenote: Yes, many Ghanaian men will tell you that oral sex gives you throat cancer. Fortunate for women, God has made them immune......

I guess it goes to show, women have a long way before they are really equal.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ready for My Closeup

Fortunately, I grew up during a time when the arts wasn't under attack in public schools. As a result, I was exposed to a wide variety of music programs and instruments at an early stage in life. I ended up choosing to play the viola in the fourth grade and continued to play until I was in my freshman year of highschool. I probably would have kept going, but not only was orchestra not cool, we were totally underfunded, and while the band got to go on awesome field trips the highlight of playing in the orchestra was getting to go to the old folks' home. Whoopee!! So I shed the viola and picked up choir and even participated in the school musical, Little Shop Of Horrors.

Yeah, me and the guitar are a sexy pair
All of these experiences led to me truly appreciate music, and not the trash that is on the radio today.So when I moved to Africa I decided to pick up the acoustic guitar, an instrument I have always wanted to play over the years. Over the past eight weeks I have become fairly good, I can play a few songs and I have written a few songs as well. It also happens, that I am lucky to take guitar lessons from a well-known Ghanaian musician, who often entertains other top-notch Ghanaian musicians. One of these people, recently happened to be the conductor of the Pan African Orchestra.

It just so happens he shows up at the beginning of my lesson so he and a few other friends sat quietly as I went through my regular songs and routines. At the end, he says he is working on a vocal part for the orchestra and he would thinks I would fit well and he wants me to join. Who would have thunk it. At first I thought about saying no, but I figured hell why not.

So, my first performance is Novermber 17th at the British Consul. Hopefully, there will be video which I will, of course, share.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Showing My Ass

I believe in dressing appropriately for all situations. Although, I will admit, I typically am a little bit more stylish and risque with my dress, I still try to adapt to the situation. That is why for my beach day yesterday, I chose to wear an adorable black wrap dress. This black wrap dress has always been a favorite beach wear item, because it transfers so easily from beach to dinner and, since its black, there is never a noticeable wet stain on my ass, which some people may mistake for an unfortunate drinking accident.

Now, I pretty much refuse to go to the beach in Accra due to the high level of pollution. I have never seen so much plastic surfing in on waves in my entire life. In fact, if I didnt know any better, I would think plastic is made in the ocean in Accra.  I also definitely think its possible to drown, even on the shore here- all it takes is an unfortunate attack of plastic bags. I imagine it being like the bird that gets caught in the six pack ring- scary thought, at least for me.




So I personally hike about an hour outside of Accra to go to Krokroibte- also known as the rasta beach. Although some of you may think you know my reason for choosing the spot you are wrong. I go there because its free, uncrowded and unpolluted. The only downfall is the trip there. If you take a taxi it is 20 cedis if you trotro its 1 cedi- of course, I tro-trod, which was great for my wallet but not my wardrobe choice.

Perfect for the beach, but not the trotro
Unfortunately, this dress doesnt have much bending room, so once my spine arches three inches you can clearly see under the dress. Why didnt I think about that before I left the house. To make it worse, it seemed at every time we stopped, it was the person next to me getting off. You know what this means, I was showing my bikini bottom every 5 minutes to the last three row of seats.


Fortunately, it made the men very enthusiastic to make sure I got off at the right stop. I have a funny feeling though, that they were looking forward to the finale.


Until the Next Time. Smooches.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I's Free Now

Those are exactly the words I said to myself as my eyes opened at 6 am. Today is the first day when I am back to living my life and building my empire and damn it feels good. For the first time in three weeks, I control how my time is being spent. I can do my research, attend necessary meetings and feel the sun beaming on my face when I please.

Of course, I am catching up for three weeks of lost time. Really, seven. I must admit, when I found out I got the job, my daily schedule was nothing more but watching old school cartoons and intermittent naps. Let this be a lesson to all that progress should always be constant and never thrown off track. But those afternoon naps, were refreshing.

So, now since I have more leisure time, look forward to more and exciting blogs. I know you missed it, or at least, I did. And we know these blogs are really all about me. That's why I have added the George Michael video. Freedom people, ahhh its sweet.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

15 Days of Hell

15 days in and I hate my job. When I wake up in the morning, my chest is heavy and I am already stressed about what the day may hold. It takes up too much of my time and the people, well, they really are assholes.  In fact, the other day I said "God, please let them fire me", and, today, they did.

That's right folks after 15 days of working for the US government abroad I got canned for not having my resident permit. Most people would probably be devastated, but me, Im not. Its ok, because I hated it. I remember reading a blog a few months ago,  about a girl who wished to be fired and was. She thought it was a lesson of the power of the tongue and how you can speak negative things into your life. I look at it like an answer to my prayers.

I believe that every prayer we say has a deeper origin than us. It comes from some little seed that has been planted somewhere along the way and, when it blossoms, it is always a flower and never a weed. So in this instance, I will take a moment of silence- truly just a moment, and then move forward. Because over the years I have come to learn that a door never closes without a window opening.

Plus, I really, really hated that damn job.

Until Next Time. Smooches

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You're a Jerk, As it was told to me

They often say that when you dont like someone, its because they have qualities very similar to yours. I have found, over the years, that this is true. The traits I find less than desirable about myself, are even less desirable for those I interact with. So when I started this job and found myself quickly agitated by a temporary staffer and I had to ask why? After all, she is only here for another 10 days (brief pause for a praise dance), but yet still, as we say in the South, this woman makes my ass itch!

So as I found myself wanting to bitch slap her for coming to my cubicle yesterday, I had to wonder why is it I dislike her so much and then an ex-boss' words ran through my head, "People think you are a jerk."

You see at 27 I learned I was a jerk. Of course, I had had a sneaking suspicion for years, but this was the first time someone had ever had the balls to tell me. Now let me clarify, I was not a jerk because I purposefully mistreated people, I was a jerk because I thought I was smarter than everyone else. Not only did I think I was smarter, but I also didnt know what team work was. At that time, teamwork for me was developing a project and presenting it to people for feedback, but for some reason noone ever had any feedback. Then I learned why. In teamwork, you dont keep all the information and develop a project by yourself and then ask for feedback- you get the feedback first and then make a product. People are always more interested when they feel a sense of true collaboration- after all, who wants to look bad.

Fortunately, I had someone who was willing to tell me that I sucked. It's unfortunate that this woman has not had the same; especially since retirement is soon upon her.....at least I am hoping for future co-workers' sake.

In the meanwhile, as the work day wraps up, let me put one more X on the calendar. 9 days to go *sigh*

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And So the Circle Continues

Well, hello friendly people. I haven't blogged in a week. I would say that there was a particular reason, but there isn't. I just decided to arbitrarily take last week off and I did absolutely shit. It was fabulous. There is nothing better than lazing around, napping and enjoying the day as you see fit. I really hate that more of you aren't taking those types of opportunities. Don't worry though, I will take plenty for two...hell maybe even 5 of us. Plus I find in these moments, it is truly my sixth sense calling; telling me to enjoy the last of my peaceful and relaxing time.Thank God, I know how to listen

You see, this week I started working again and, of course, someone has already worked my last nerve. However, fortunately for me, the thorn in my side will be soon be removed so I just have to smile and bear through the pain. It's funny though, because one thing I have learned in all of my now, 24, jobs, is that there is always an asshole. Always never fails, sometimes its your boss, sometimes its your peer, hell sometimes its the lady at the cafe in your building. I guarantee you though, there is always one.

I also realized, I am not going to have any damn free time. It's ok........ I guess. After all, I have had a 10 month vacation. Plus, there is nothing better than realizing you might have stumbled on the perfect opportunity- minus a few assholes. Fortunately, I think I can ride these donkeys though all the way to the finish line.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Musical TroTro

Well, ever since my Cape Coast adventure a week ago, I have felt more comfortable with the land of trotros. Sure, I haven't quite gotten down the hand signals that resemble gang signs or even understand how to properly transfer from trotro to trotro. Hell, some days, I can't even understand what the man is yelling. I just get on the car headed in the right direction and say a prayer. Overall though, the experience isn't that bad.

I am happy to report that I haven't been forced to sit next to anyone with a super strong body odor or had a goat in the back of my trotro, as some of my other friends. However, I have noticed one disturbing thing about the trootros; the unavoidable duel for a seat.

You see trotros are private vehicles and as a result, they don't really care more than 20 passengers at a time. In fact, most of them carry somewhere between 12-18 passengers. They also don't have a set schedule, so they come when they come.  Whether it is the traffic, a train or the trotro there is always a time where there is a peak number of passengers and well, with no set schedule, trotro rush hour will inevitably go bad- for some.

Well, yesterday was my first rush hour and I quickly notice that getting a seat in trotro is much like life, "Only the strongest pervail." When I tell you noone is excluded from an elbow or strong push, I mean noone. Last night, I saw mamas with babies on their backs getting elbowed and let's not talk about how the old ladies are pushed to the side like ragdolls.

It was like a bad game of musical chairs. At first, I refused to play, but after missing a few trotros because of the madness, I decided the only way to survive was to play the game. So as the next trotro approached and I heard a stop going in my direction, I quickly took my position and elbowed down anyone who came without 5 feet, while humming Ludacris.  Harsh, you say? Ha, I got my seat, because we all know, I am a survivor.

Until The Next Time. Smooches.