Keeping Up with the Jonzee still at the right spot.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Sky is Falling

"So, is the landlord finally taking the drop ceiling down? Or did the sky just fall?" "Huh? I know he's supposed to do it. But not until this weekend." " Well there is a big pile of rubble on the floor and its all over your clothes."

Um...what!!!!! So I went home, with baited breath both to assess whether my roommate, who has a penchant for the over dramatic was, indeed, being over dramatic, or if the ceiling had indeed collapsed all over my meager belongings. I also needed to pack for my impending vacation.

And to my dismay/surprise, the drop ceiling tiles had partially collapsed on the floor and were exposing the sub floor of the apartment above me, and also exposed to me that the idiot who previously owned the house was a cheap and untalented handyman who put up the ceiling rather than hire someone to fix the damn plaster.

I climbed over the pile and went into the bedroom and collapsed on the bed and sobbed. Its bad enough my roommates are a pain but now this.

I picked myself up. Called the landlord. Gathered some stuff that I hope matched, and marched out the door.

Oh, Vacation, thank God for you!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Here's to You

I met you again the other day. I was trying my hand at teaching a college level course...and there you were in the back of the class. Of course, it was not you. As a matter of fact, I have not actually laid eyes on you in at least three years. Though thanks to the wonders of the Internet--we connect. I run my fears by you and my ideas. I look for the shoring up of my ego that only you can provide in a big brother, tough love sort of way. Yes. We were together together once, but I think only long enough so we could be as close friends as we are now. But I digress. You. In the back of my class.

It was a night college class for non-traditional students. Adult learners, I think, is the term these days. It was a Hodgepodge of different kinds of students. Some very young and perhaps would feel more engaged in day classroom with younger students. Some were retirement age. All, however, were clearly trying to make it through college most of them for the first time and unsure if they could make it through to the end. You didn't fit the crowd. You clearly had been in college before. You probably went the first time not thinking about the job afterward as so many in college do these days. You went for the old school reason. The reason folks went on to higher learning back in the 60's --for the pursuit of knowledge and ideas.

Like I said. I know it wasn't you, but it was.

He reminded me of the conversations we used to have about school. About Harvard and Yale and how things sort of fell apart and you did not get to go. He reminded me of the slightly downtrodden and misty way you used to talk about not finishing. He also reminded me of the way you used to say you were going back but not with as much egoism as you said everything else--like you didn't quite think you would ever go. I remember thinking to myself "My. How smart he is? There is no reason for him to feel down on himself...he will go eventually and it will be the right time."

But it was not about your or his academic career that made me think about you/him in a wistful sort of way that evening. It was what you taught me about me. I learned so much with you back in the days when we were both fighting bouts of depression. You balancing precariously the family life which was irrevocably changed by your decision to be happy while also working to be the best father you could be. Me, attempting to break away from the past with a fresh start and accept my life in a new city. You taught me that I deserved more than the man I loved for so long in such a toxic way. You reminded me, in your tough love sort of way, that it is okay to expect the door to be opened for me, to let a man be a man, and to not feel like it is my job to fix what is clearly broken in the lives' of some of the men I had dated. We had fun. We did stuff. We did interesting, new, mentally, physically, and spiritually stimulating stuff. Not just drinking at the bar or at the crib. You taught me to demand more of others and myself. And then it self-destructed. But just as it was supposed to.

As I sat at the desk, while the class jotted down some ideas about their next assignment and shared the thoughts with fellow classmates, I thought about you and what a blessing you were back then and still are today. You never knew it, but you kept me off the ledge even as your ledge was crumbling.

Today we are thousands of miles away from then and in physical distance. But I remember and it was good. Today, you are in school, doing your thang. Earning credits for life experience. You are in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful lady. You are finally writing that book. You have come a long way. I have come a long way. We have come a long way.

Thanks in more ways than I can ever count.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Like We Couldn't See It Coming

I lived in DC for nearly five years. And while I am no expert on DC life, as an outsider with a certain expertise on community development initiatives and a bent for urban living, I think I can rightfully say, that it is no surprise that African Americans in DC are losing influence as this article purports. Three top black brass have been removed? That's not a surprise. And I expect more of this type of thing to come. Of course question still remains how effective were these folks prior to their removal of course. After all DC's old school patronage system wreaks of corruption and perhaps this is an attempt to correct more of it. But there is some truth to the fear that native residents--particularly the black ones are losing out much like Harlem.

No doubt DC is still Chocolate City--but much less so. Before you know it, the District will have to change those "Taxation Without Representation" quotes on the license plates because the new clearly majority folks are not gonna have it. I get why so many black folks want to move to the suburbs. I imagine that growing up in the District when shit was rough--high crime rate, low to no property appreciation, city broke as hell--would make anyone want to move. But how can folks be mad about it, when in some ways folks just gave it up. Perhaps its the fact that when gentrification happens, the gentrifiers start looking at the native residents like they are the ones in foreign territory. Perhaps, the value of the city escapes them. I don't know. But in someways, the loss of African American influence can be attributed to the fact that the black middle class, in large part, chose to relocate.

In other ways, it is purely District government's lack of planning means by which the upending of social balance might play out. Under Anthony Williams, the District did a reprehensible job in terms of community development efforts to correct the social balances that gentrification can have in terms of displacing residents. NYC has many financing programs and has wielded its influence in development by creating legislation to make sure there is some balance to the economic changes that occur--to try to maintain some semblence of mixed income. The District has simply maintained the attitude "Let PG take as many folks as they want." Other than piece meal home ownership programs, the District has provided little assistance in terms of developing low and moderate income housing. The Fenty administration is too late to stem the tide in that respect.

Suffice to say, sooner than later Chocolate City will at the best be French Vanilla City.

Chose Your Own Adventure

Monday, I was moving to Baltimore. Wednesday? I might be moving to the 'Nolia. You? Perplexed. Me? Seriously confused.

It all started when I started looking for jobs in community development finance outside of NYC. It has become apparent in my old age that my quality of life in NYC sucks--and probably always will. I want to be a home owner not an apartment owner. And here, as is probably pretty obvious, nothing short of 6 figures, or marriage to someone earning six figures, or accepting the fact that you will have roommates if you are single for the rest of your natural born life (okay maybe a little exaggeration here--but not much) will make your life easier.

I already left once before and went through 3 years of withdrawal. But then again DC is not an easy place to get used to--particularly since there is the ever looming ego and largess of its transplanted residents as well as the native born--because it is the home of the roots of US cockiness--the American Government. But I been back for two years and realize the relative ease (even with my past penchant for attracting drama) of life in the District spoiled me. And though I am doing NY better second time around--gotta go. I guess I won't get to live in Brooklyn after all.

I got offered a position for a financial intermediary half way between DC and B'more. Then I got offered the chance to be Director of Real Estate here in NYC for a non-profit. After getting over the prestige of the title of the last job and pondering the quality of life that I would have wearing 30 hats and commuting from JC to damn near the Bronx, I was ready to chose the job in MD. Even if it was a lateral move (and one should try to avoid those), it pays much better, I could live in B'more and next year buy a house (and a bulldog named Otis)and be close to the BF and my friends.

But then the night before I was to say yes, an email showed up from the same company--but on the non-profit side for a position I really wanted down South. And the confusion begins again. Definitely not a lateral move. We talking moving up to the East side on this one here.

No I have not officially been offered the 'Nolia job. Yes, I am worrying in advance. Its my way. Right now, the non-profit side is negotiating with the for-profit side to buy me sometime to finish the interview process and to make a decision on the for-profit position. The non-profit SVP called me at nearly 11 PM to ask me about speaking to HR today, and she told me they would have an answer for me by the end of the day.

Um, I guess its nice to be wanted.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Man! Get out my house!

Okay, so listen. I love my chocolate people. I really do. But as my very good and sometimes sadiddy girlfriend says..."some of my people make me feel like I just cleaned my house from top to bottom and they came by and messed it up. Like family--you get mad but you can't do nothing about 'em."

Maaaaaan! Did that come across my mind this A.M?! I strolled into my local underground deli/liqour store on my way down into the train to grab a toasted bagel with egg and cheese and a little OJ to jump start the day. As usual, I have to tell the lady about 4 times that I would like my bagel toasted before she hears me. But no mind, its a hot Fall day, and by now I am used to it. Its always chaotic behind the register--and as a former restaurant "professionale" I feel her pain. This older brother is leaning up against the counter. Quite distinguished. Clearly works for NYC other finest--the MTA (we'd be screwed for real without 'em) and he is cha-chillin waiting for his sandwhich. He looks my way as I am gently trying to remind the lady that I would like my bagel toasted and smiles. I smile back and make a gesture like "what can you do?" Which he totally misreads. And all the sudden the man who appeared to be professional and courteous becomes the dirty old man.

He looks at me again and he says, "What's up? Why you looking at me that way?" "What way? I was just smiling.", I say, and I start to look away. Before I can fully turn my head, he says "Well, you never know. There is a possibility. Now you got me looking--more than I was before. You just let me know." Eeew.

Minding mine.

I walk up to the counter to pay for my purchase--and notice the big ass wedding ring on his finger as I overhear him say something to the woman behind me that is even more inappropriate. Double eew.

But then he becomes the crazy ass inappropriately angry dirty old brother.

The woman across the counter attempts to give the man his change from his order. She give's him back $1.50. And bruh man flips out. At first, its just with unneccessary impatience that he tell her he gave her a $10 and not a $5. So the woman asks the manager to run the tape and count the drawer. After this is done. The money is right. The lady tries very nicely to offer to recount--but now bruh man is hollering. " I didn't give you know $5 all I had was 3 $10's and $100 bill. I want my money." Screaming. Got his hand in the lady's face. The he starts using all kinds of muuhfuccka's at her. Called the woman a bitch. And she is steady trying to calm dude down. Then he flips the coffee that was on the window off on to the floor and splashes it on a police officer--nearly.

Now, bruh man calms down...somewhat. And the cop tells him to get over the $4.50 and get on his bus and go on. Now this dumb ass in the cops face.

As they hand me my bagel and OJ, I can't help but feel more angry then I should have at his behavior. Embarrassed like he was some kin to me or something. I wanted to cuss his tail out. That is what I wanted to do.

I simply walked the other way.