Neighborhood stroll...

Neighborhood stroll…

Over the weekend as I was walking to the post office to send my mother a letter (yes, we do that sometimes lol) I found myself staring up at the buildings around me-not only in slight disbelief that I am living this life, but also in slight disgust. There’s a substantial part of my being who despises paying rent, utilities and other money-pits that are offering me zero return or incentives. Reluctantly, sometimes I include college tuition/loans in this category as well. And that’s when I got to thinking…
Americans have got the game messed up.
When you look at other cultures in the world, African, Middle Eastern and Asian included, many require their young adults to continue living with them well into their adult years. They desire their youngest contributing members of the community to work, earn decent livings and save their money for many of life’s milestones that have yet to come. These will include marriage, children, and the eventual responsibility of the family’s elderly.
In addition they also encourage their children to work hard and find a vocation. By the time many of these kids are enrolled in somebody’s college, if they ultimately wind up attending college, they have a great idea of what they need to get out of it so that minimal time is wasted.
Here in America, the culture tells you to enjoy high school, then immediately enroll in some form of overpriced higher education that is supposed to eventually support the rest of your life-long endeavors, hopes and dreams. There’s a great chance that you will enroll in a program that you probably haven’t given the most thought to because who’s able to make those sort of life-long decisions when you’re just a kid yourself? Upon graduation your parents are kicking you out of the door, cutting off your insurance and wishing you good luck.
But what if American culture coddled their young adults a bit more? Allowed them to take a break after high school to really consider what working life is like? Would they not make better choices when it came time to picking a school, major and other activities? What if the young adults could hold off paying rent a little longer? Were encouraged to pay a light or cable bill, keep gas in their cars and be given enough time to adequately figure out the employment and relationship thing out? Because ultimately, in another 40 years or so it’s going to be these same parents relying on those kids to make sure they’re comfortable in their old age.
I guess I’ll continue to stew over this later this evening as I’m leaving a job/career I didn’t go to college for and consequently don’t see myself at long-term and to an apartment who’s rent is more than the average mortgage payment in my hometown.

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It’s a Photo Shoot!

cafe henriLast weekend I was finally able to link up with a couple girlfriends that I haven’t seen in weeks.  We met for brunch at a French café, Café Henri, that was simply amazing and afterwards found ourselves roaming the calm streets of West Village.

Sunita and Christina are both fashion bloggers who take their industry very seriously.  When I suggested that we take a picture or two, I had NO IDEA that I was signing up for a photo shoot.   The next thing I know, they each whipped out their powerful Nikon cameras, found absolutely beautiful backdrops and began snapping away.

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“Raise your sleeve a bit so we can see your gorgeous wrist accessories.  Yup, amazing!”

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“Right there Ashley, in front of that door!  Yes!  It goes perfect with your outfit!”

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“Look natural!  The pictures don’t work when you’re trying to hard.  Beautiful!”

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Then after reviewing several photos, they exclaimed, “Yes, here it is!  This is the shot.  This is it!

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Out of all of those pictures however, this one is my favorite.

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XOXO.

It Was One of Those Nights…

This weekend I was telling my cousins the following story about my (then) most recent cab ride.  It was insanely ridiculous and a bit entertaining.  Afterwards Shelby insisted it was blog-worthy material so here it goes…

It was a really good night.

It was a really good night.

Friday night I partied hard in the Lower East Side with my cousins.  The youngest amongst us, Renny, was visiting NYC and celebrating her 22nd birthday so we knew we had to show her a good time.  Consequently I got quite inebriated, so much in fact that at the end of the night it was decided I take a cab home instead of the usual train.  My cousin Kenny (and Renny’s older brother) found a parked cab with his light on (a lit light indicates an available cab) so after giving me a hug goodbye, he and Renny took off down the street.

Immediately the African cabbie started rambling about how he wasn’t available because he was late picking up his wife and it was imperative that he head that way ASAP.  As he was going on his tirade I quickly opened the door and jumped in.  The cabbie was pissed and yelled at me to get out.  After going back and forth, he drove a block before pulling over to the left, turning off the ignition and getting out.  At this point I started getting nervous.

Is he about to open this door and drag me out?  I hope Kenny isn’t too far away…

Instead he headed into a convenience store for a few moments then came back out and continued to argue with me, insisting I exit his cab immediately.  He also let it slip that he wasn’t married and was actually headed to link up with a young tenderoni.  Finally, I agreed to a compromise: I’d get out after he hailed me another cab.  “Alright babe.  Give me a second.  I’m going to take care of you,” he said.  Did he just call me “babe?”  It was only a few moments before I saw a second cab pull up on the right side of ours.   As I exited from the left side of the cab and walked around the back towards the awaiting one, the waiting one abruptly pulled off from it’s parked position, leaving me stranded.

Behind me the African cab driver was rushing to the drivers side of his own cab, ready to hop in and leave me in the middle of the street I’m sure.  I’m not having that.  I beat him to the cab, hopped back in and really refused to get out this time.  The cabbie weighed his options and then completely changed his tone.  What had previously been a rude, loud aggressive cretin had become a sweet, purring apologetic gentleman who offered to let me hold onto his cab keys and not relinquish them until after I was safe and sound in a new cab that he was going to hail for me.

After accepting the keys and tucking them securely away into my coat pocket, I found myself walking in the middle of Delancy St, arm in arm with this cab driver, while whining to him about how hard it is being a Black woman trying to hail a cab and get safely home.  “I know, I know baby.  Don’t you worry.  I’m going to take good care of you,” he repeated over and over again.  He asked for my name and I gave it.

“Okay Ashley, this new cab driver is going to get you home.  Now what’s your number so I can make sure you’re properly taken care of and I can keep in touch with you?”  He asked after a second cab finally pulled over and agreed to take me to Brooklyn.  I laughed to myself as he fumbled with his phone, clumsily hitting the ignore button to the numerous incoming calls (no doubt from the young tenderoni he was extremely late picking up).  After climbing into the waiting cab, I handed him back his car keys and after rambling off a fake number, he proceeded to call me on the spot.  I hurriedly closed the door, rattled off my address to the new cabbie and was off across the Williamsburg Bridge headed back to Brooklyn, leaving that ridiculous African cabbie behind.

Peculiar Institution Indeed

I’ve recently found myself back in the peculiar institution of employment.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of 11:00PM bedtimes (that are still too late) and 6:30 AM wake up calls (that always leave me deprived of the extra hours of beauty sleep unemployment graced me with).

While not my photo, this is indeed my train station.

While not my photo, this is the station.

Although my morning struggle to avoid crowded trains is never won, it does provide relief from career panhandlers.  Apparently, they don’t get to work begging for whole dollars (they oftentimes will decline coins and food if it doesn’t meet their dietary preferences) until much later in the morning.

Upon arriving to work, I find myself going through a multitude of checkpoints and ID clearances before I make it to my floor, next my department and finally my desk.  Once seated, I take the time to drink my coffee, sit in my chair for a bit and think, talk to a girlfriend, and catch up on text messages.

Throughout a myriad of tasks, my day moves relatively quickly.  After quite a bit of filing, scanning and uploading documents, then signing off, sealing and shipping out others, the lunch hour arrives.  Upon returning, I repeat the aforementioned, and just as soon as my day began, it is done.

My evening commute home is crowded although this go round I am able to snag a cozy seat, hamper down, and dive into my latest literary obsession.  This week is Delores Phillips’ The Darkest Child.  The panhandlers are now out, running things on the trains, and I’m grateful for the distraction my book provides.

When I’m finally home I realize I have approximately three hours before it’s time for bed.  I can spend this time straightening up my apartment, catching up on some writing, calling back family and friends and attempting to cook a decent, well-structured dinner, or I can go out to an event and run around in the NYC streets.

Last night I ran the streets.  Consequently, today I almost fell asleep at work.  Tonight, right now, I am in bed.

Goodnight.

If 2012 Was The Last Year of Your Life…

Recently on Twitter I found the following question posed to various followers…

If you were notified by Heaven and told this is your final year on earth what are the things you would do this year?

For many, we would chose to aggressively pursue our life-long dreams (whatever they may be).  This would be simple(r) to do because failure would no longer be as big of a threat-we wouldn’t have to deal with the long-term consequences of any of our decisions. For me however, I’ve already pursued my life-long dream.  Since high school (or kindergarten if my mother’s telling it), my biggest life dream was to move to NYC and live my life.  While I haven’t completely taken advantage of everything NYC has to offer, I am more than satisfied with the progress that has been made.  If today was my last day I would ever have in this city, I would be okay with that.  So now that I’ve somewhat fulfilled my biggest life dream, what else is left?

So back to the question…

If you were notified by Heaven and told this is your final year on earth what are the things you would do this year?

The first thought that popped into my head was one word…

Marriage.

While I am currently clueless about which one person I am supposed to be spending my life with, I do have a Mr. Right Now…and honestly, wouldn’t it be great to enjoy married-life privileges with my Mr. Right Now?  Guilt-free living for a freaking year?  Sign me up!!!

  • I could divulge in sex, whenever and however I wanted as frequently as I wanted.
  • I could enjoy dual income! (this is only a perk if you’re broke and the other party is getting money…otherwise it would probably suck)
  • I could allow myself to be super vulnerable and semi-reckless if I wanted (because this would be my husband, not just some Man-Of-The-Week).
  • I could take long, overnight trips if I wanted.
  • I could get pregnant if I wanted.

So yeah, if 2012 was gonna be it for me, and I had confirmation of this from my Father up above, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be walking down somebody’s Christian aisle before Februrary 2012 had ended.

What about you?

If you were notified by Heaven and told this is your final year on earth what are the things you would do this year?

The Biggest Change NYC Has Brought

Since the big move, I’ve found myself becoming completely overwhelmed with the daily grind that city life entails.  I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with the new culture and lifestyle I’ve been forced to quickly adapt to.  To say that I’ve felt like the naive, country girl who has come up to the fast-paced, big city is an understatement.

  • People will honk their horn at you for the smallest infractions….if the light turns green, hesitating for a mere second will get you honked at.  Driving slow gets you honked at.  Failing to drive around a vehicle attempting to make a left-hand turn gets you honked at.  Walking across the street looking good will get you honked at 😉
  • Right outside of your residence is an entire world going on 24/7, 365.  I can easily access locally grown fruit, $15 mani/pedi combo’s, laundry service (where they wash and fold your laundry for cheaper than if you inserted the quarters and did it yourself), drug stores and light shopping within a few short blocks of home.
  • When walking around the city taking care of your business, it’s important to walk fast, with urgency, and with intent.  To walk slow, look around and stop to smell the flowers immediately identifies you as a slow-moving, annoying tourist who is taking up valuable space.
  • There is such a GROSS disrespect towards the concept of time…I’m still not used to the idea that the daily task of arising, getting to work, working, and getting home can EASILY occupy 12+ hours of your day.  The number of tasks you can get done in a single day is minimal at most.  I despise that.
  • There is literally ALWAYS something going on and something to do.  I’ve recently tried to begin doing it all but there simply is not enough time (see above point).  I’ve found myself running ragged when I try to keep up appearances at all the clubs, restaurants, hookups and meetups that I’m invited to on a weekly schedule.
  • The daily commute is exhausting as well…I find myself walking fast, my head low and constantly observing my surroundings to make sure no one is about to try me or rob me.  The only person around who can watch my back is…me.

With all of that being said, I am JUST NOW finding myself adjusting to this daily grind.  I am just now waking up in the morning and not feeling exhausted.  My body’s aches and pains are easing to a halt.  I’m finding that my thoughts are coming in clearer, and not as a disorganized jungle of randomness that I’m desperately struggling to bring order too.  After this past weekend, the realization is finally hitting me of the bigger change that has occured while I was being distracted by the other points that I just made.

The biggest change that NYC has brought into my life is a healthier, more productive, more balanced Ashley Yancey.

My mind, body and spirit are more in unison today than they ever have been in my life.

Because time is such a valuable commodity, I am CONSTANTLY thinking and preparing my daily plan of action, along with a Plan B, followed by C.  I also have to keep close tabs on my week’s schedule-it’s not uncommon to be put on the spot in the middle of the work day and have to give someone a response right then as to what I can/cannot commit to.  As a result, my memory has improved.

The daily hustle and bustle of my job in a high-volume restaurant, coupled with my daily commute, has my body flexing muscles that it never knew existed.  My legs, arms and shoulders have never been this defined.  In addition, I have found myself eating about three times a day.  Heavy, greasy foods weigh me down so I focus on lighter, healthier options.  My body thanks me for it every day.

Lastly, during my daily commute on the train to and from work, my eReader and I have gotten pretty tight.  I am able to use that time reading devotionals and books.  Also, because of my healthier eating habits, I have more energy to wake earlier and spend a few extra moments in the morning engrossed in my Bible.

To make all of those changes has not been an easy task.  There have been MANY homesick days when I have been on the verge of tears, missing Ohio like no other.  I haven’t spoken much of these moments because they aren’t things that I like to dwell on.  Now that I am looking back I am recognizing that I am making it.  Deep in my core I feel progressive-I understand the changes I am making are building blocks to the destiny I see for myself.

What better foundation than one that is rooted in a healthy mind, body and spirit?

Irony: The Day The Homeless Woman Gave The Financier Some Change

               Saturday evening I found myself enjoying some amazing Indian food with Shelby, Mike and Kenny.  We’d spent the entire afternoon and evening enjoying the Fort Greene Fair so by the time evening had hit we were tired, hungry and thirsty.  As always, it wasn’t long before our conversation took a dramatic turn towards the obnoxious, hilarious and unsightly discoveries we’ve all made in New York City.  After noticing a homeless person nearby, Kenny began sharing a few stories of his own close encounters with the homeless.

“Man, tell me why one time I was tryin to enjoy a bagel and this homeless woman sat there cryin!?” Kenny exclaimed to us.

“Crying?  Where were you dude?” I asked.

“I went to this little bagel shop, just a couple blocks from here actually.  I got my bagel, sat down on their little outside patio and started eating.  It was cut down the middle and also in half, so I had four pieces. I’m on the second piece and I hear wimpering.  I look to my side and it’s a homeless woman sitting there cryin her eyes out while she’s staring at my bagel!  I couldn’t believe it,” Kenny told us.

“Aww man,” Shelby said as she shook her head.  “So you gave her some of yours, right?”

“Nah, I sure didn’t.  I kept eatin mine,” he admitted.

While Shelby and I shook our heads in disgust, Mike burst out laughing.  “You a fool, dog!”

“I worked hard to buy my bagel.  Why should I give her some just because she’s crying?  I sat there and continued to eat my bagel.  I was going to enjoy my food.  I wasn’t about to let her ruin that for me,” Kenny explained.  “So yeah, I was on my work Blackberry, eating my bagel and she’s steadily crying.  By the time I got to the fourth piece I was feeling alright so I offered her some.”

“Man Kenny, you offered her your last little quarter of a piece AFTER you were full?  Come on dude,” I admonished.

“Yeah, I did.  But it was MY bagel.  At least I offered.  But get this you guys.  After I asked her if she wanted it, she gonna ask me, ‘What kind is it?'” He said in disgust.

We all HOWLED out in laughter!  That was so hilarious to us!  All four of us sat at the table, not believing the audacity of the question.  If you’re starving, one would think the LAST thing you would be worried about is what kind of bagel it was that someone was offering you.

“Oh no, it gets worse.  I looked at her for a second, face frowned up, and told her ‘It’s whole wheat and whole grain with some butter on it.’  She looked kind of funny but nodded her head and said, ‘Okay, I’ll take it.’  After I handed it to her she looked closer at it then asked, ‘What’s this black stuff on it?'”

Again, we all DIED laughing.  Who was this homeless woman that Kenny ran into?

Kenny continued.  “I told her I didn’t know.  She shrugged her shoulders, ate it, then asked me would I buy her one.”

“Well you did, didn’t you?”  Shelby and I asked in unison.

“No I didn’t.  Again, it’s MY money.  I didn’t have to even offer her the bit of the bagel I did give her,” Kenny said.  “So then you know what this woman does?  She asks me if she gives me the money will I go buy one for her?”

“What!?” we all exclaimed.  “Well you did, right?”  Shelby and I were unwilling to believe that Kenny was as cold-hearted as he was coming off.

“Yeah, I told her I would.  She asks, ‘How much is it?’  I told her, ‘$2.50.’  But this is what she does.  She starts going through her pockets looking for money.  Only thing is, I’m seeing all kinds of $20’s and $10’s.  She had obviously stored money in all these different pockets in her coat and was struggling to find three singles to pay for the bagel.  Do yall hear me right now?  This woman was STRUGGLING to find single dollar bills amidst a bunch of bigger bills.  She must’ve had a couple hundred dollars on her.  I’ve never seen anything like it!”

“That’s crazy!  So what’d you do next?” I asked.

“Well she finally found three singles, I went and got the bagel for her and when I got back I handed over the bagel.  Guess what she said to me when I handed her back her change?” Kenny asked.

Mike responded, “Keep the change?”

“Yup,” Kenny said.  “That homeless woman told me to keep the change.”

This entire story has me looking at the homeless with a more critical eye.  Here in New York City, finding employment isn’t the most difficult of tasks.  Truth be told, I moved up here on a Friday night with ZERO job prospects and found myself employed at a restaurant making nice money by that following Monday afternoon.  For the homeless here, general janitorial work would be pretty easy to come by, in addition to recycling plastic bottles, and other small tasks.  Many have admitted they prefer begging because it is more profitable.  According to Shelby, who once questioned a “homeless” man about his “employment,” i.e. begging, he said no he would not consider sweeping and that depending on the night, he actually did pretty well.  One can only imagine what “pretty well” means.