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.