A Dream Deferred

I still remember getting my acceptance letter to Brown University in 2007. I was going to major in Accounting and minor in Spanish (the Garifuna course was not yet available, not even on Rosetta Stone). I was looking up sororities that I would want to pledge since I didn’t (more like “was told not to”) apply to North Carolina A&T and wouldn’t be a part of AKA (Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority) as I had dreamed. I was ecstatic either way. Until it was my turn to meet with the guidance counselor to go over the next steps and I cried as I told her that I would not be attending Brown University or any of the other four colleges I was accepted to.

High school graduation 2007

That was the point in my life where I never understood the phrases “everything happens for a reason” and “God has a plan” because what the hell could be the reason for this and this don’t feel like a good plan.

So you telling me that I got straight A’s all through school, met all the academic requirements to attend college, got accepted, just to be told that I can’t go??!! This was his “plan”? Seriously? I was distraught and embarrassed. All my friends were gearing up for college and I had to shy away from every discussion because I couldn’t say “I’m not going” without tears forming. I spent homeroom period in the guidance counselors office for at least a week, crying and yelling about how much I hated the world and everyone in it.

I can’t say that I got over it but I accepted it as time passed because there was nothing I could do about what had already happened. I ended up getting a job and saved up enough to finally apply to college again 2yrs later. I got in!!! But….the week after I got my acceptance letter I lost my job. How was I going to maintain myself and pay for school? Needless to say, I had to drop out before class was even in session. That’s when I gave up entirely.

My mental capacity had no room to receive anything school related from anyone. I had tried and the universe just did not want me to succeed at that time. Seven more years would pass before I would even toy with the idea of embarking on another educational journey.

I was working for the same company for 5yrs in 2015 when I had an overwhelming feeling of complacency. There was no room for growth and the boss was convinced that I would just work there forever (rolls eyes). So I took that as a challenge and applied to community college. I started my first day of college in January 2016!

I completed my stint in college in December 2018 and graduated with an AAS in Business Management May 2019! That job I had? The one with the boss who thought I couldn’t do any better?…. I resigned on October 5th 2018. Started a new job October 29th 2018.

College graduation 2019

No I didn’t get the college life experience I had hoped for. I didn’t pledge any sorority or live in a dorm (but I did go to a few college homecomings and parties but that’s a whole other blog post lol). But I did get a degree after what seemed like years of disappointments. Years of me not believing in myself and giving up far too easy. I call it a leap of faith. I was nervous, anxious and excited through the entire process. I haven’t been in a class room in 9yrs! Would I be the oldest one in the class? Would I be able to keep up with the work? How will I balance working full time and going to school? Do I still know how to study? So many questions, so many concerns, all to conclude with YES to all. I did it.

With the emotional and financial support of my family and friends I was able to achieve a dream I thought was impossible at one point. I am proud of myself. I am happy with my accomplishment and I am determined to achieve much more.

Xoxo

Jayelle

Restaurant Review: Lolo’s Seafood Shack, Harlem New York

So my best friend from high school Chorlette got some exciting news and I wanted to celebrate her, so since she’s a pescatarian I just searched for seafood in a good location for both of us to meet up and stumbled upon Lolo’s Seafood Shack. It wasn’t until we got there that Chorlette pointed out that the menu had “Belizean Conch Fritters”. I lost it! See, I’m Belizean so I automatically put on for my people. I continued reading the menu and saw that they also served Johnny Cake (a type of bread made fresh by hand) and the Johnny Cake was the bread used for the sandwiches on the menu. I loved that idea but decided that I’ll order it on my next visit. I hope y’all didn’t think this was a one off for me lol I’ll be back to visit my play cousin’s place.

We ordered the “Belizean Conch Fritters” which were well seasoned and perfectly crisped around the edges and soft in the center. The “Crabby Dip + Plantain Chips” were delicious, the dip was the perfect balance of crab meat
callaloo, manchego cheese, and smoked gouda pano crust. For my entrée I had the “Salmon + Shrimp + Broccoli Basket” which came with “Garlic Fries”, the salmon and shrimp were flawlessly seasoned and then there was the “special sauce” that reminded me of Belize, it was savory yet sweet, light and creamy. It was the perfect sauce to dip my broccoli in! The garlic fries were drizzled with a garlic sauce that was so divine I didn’t even need ketchup!

Crabby Dip +Plantain Chips and Belizean Conch Fritters
Crabby Dip +Plantain Chips and Belizean Conch Fritters
Salmon + Shrimp + Broccoli and Garlic Fries

A meal isn’t complete without a drink now! We had Lolo’s Rum punch in a carafe and it came with an extra shot of rum in our cups!! They spoke to me with that move!

Lolo’s Rum Punch with an extra shot of rum in the cups

Lastly, there is outdoor seating that I must experience in the summer time but in this cold New York winter they provided a heated shed. We walked out and as I looked down the stairs to the shed I felt so at home. Like I was back in Belize about to eat the fresh bread my grandmother just made on the open fire! Chorlette said it made her feel like she was “back ah yaad”, which is back home in her native Jamaica. Overall, the entire vibe is welcoming and the food will make you a frequent customer. So if you’re ever in New York make sure you swing by Lolo’s Seafood Shack in Harlem!

The outdoor cabana

xoxo

Jess

My online Boyfriend

Shawn was cute, 5’10” and Guyanese. He knew how to cook, planned some dates and was super nice to my younger sister. He was caring, charismatic and hilarious. I just knew he was the one. I was done with searching so it was time to delete the apps.

Oh yes the apps, because I met Shawn on an online dating app, like Tinder – did that too and a few others but this one was POF (Plenty of Fish, because apparently there are a lot of them in the sea *insert eye roll*). After a full day of exchanging messages we realized that we lived a block away from each other. Sure he could have been some stalker/murderer but I was living my life dangerously. So we decided to meet after a week of messaging. We had exchanged numbers and he was suppose to meet me at the train station when I got off work. He was 10mins late when I called with concern and not anger as he may tell it. He was at the auto shop dropping off his car, so I was ready to write him off because why didn’t he tell me he was going to be late or couldn’t make it? Why did I have to waste my free anytime minutes to call him to find out he was at the auto shop?

Well I started to walk home since I clearly wasn’t meeting him then decided to stop to get some curry chicken roti because I deserved it after the kind of day I just had. As I’m getting ready to leave the restaurant with my to-go bag I get a call from Shawn, he’s done from the auto shop and is a few minutes away from where I am. I’m not so annoyed anymore because I have food so I wait, he pulls up and I get in the car. He looks like his pictures thank goodness, accent even stronger in person, which finally made me comfortable with speaking with my own accent. See, he always asked if I could understand him because I claimed I was born in Belize but he couldn’t detect an accent. So now that he’s hearing it, my sexy just got bumped up 10points okkuurr! He drops me home after a great 5min car ride convo and as I open my door he calls me to say he wants to talk some more (but of course you do cutie). So I grant him his wish and we sit in his car in front of my apartment just talking and laughing.

So now it’s been about two months of us being in a relationship. My cousin sends me a screenshot of a profile on POF that has Shawn’s face, the other screenshot is the bio which is his exact bio. I’m actually at his house when I receive these screenshots so I’m laughing hysterically and he’s juts so confused. So I show them to him and he simply says that he just never deleted it, that he’s not active at all and hasn’t been messaging anyone on the app. He shows me his inbox on the app as proof. There was nothing to worry about, he gets up to bring me my dinner that he cooked.

Only my roommates at the time and my sister knew about him. I had this thing where I wouldn’t make him known to my family until we reached our three month mark. Well here we are at three months and after him spending the night at my apartment we kiss goodbye because I’m heading to Boston for my annual cousins’ weekend. I’m catching up with my cousins and I reveal that I’ve been dating this cute ass Guyanese dude and I have pictures of us together to prove it (my ex never wanted to take pics with me so he always seemed to be a mystery lol his story is coming soon). After my trip has ended and I’m home all comfortable I call my boyfriend Shawn who does not answer. I text him and no response. Three days pass by and finally Shawn sends me a text saying we should break up because we don’t make time for each other. Between me working 9-5 then going to school 6-8pm and him working 12-11pm we would spend nights at each other’s apartments and go on occasional dates when he wasn’t working on weekends. That schedule actually worked for me and he never complained about it so I was completely shocked.

So my online boyfriend of three months broke up with me right after I decided to tell my family about him. As upset as I was at the time I got over it quicker than my previous break up. Shawn was great but he never wowed me. With all of Shawn’s good qualities I always compared where he lacked to my ex, the ex that had broken up with me three times in four years but he was still the blueprint for the man I saw myself with. I call Shawn my refresher relationship. He was my first non long distance boyfriend and it was so weird going out on a Tuesday night, I was so use to only going out on weekends when I would travel to see ex bae. He was my last online boyfriend, and now three years later I got on another online dating app for just one week to realize that the online dating world just ain’t for me and I’m ok with that.

Dating isn’t what it use to be and we can go back and forth about what we should do now because times have changed but I’m going to stick to the old fashion way of meeting someone when I step out the house. My next boyfriend might be the next man I run into at the train station, or it might even be someone I’ve already dated. Either way, I’m looking forward to the next dating adventure life throws me into.

xoxo

Jess

It’s just pure luck that I still have this pic (I delete everything after a break up), I was so secretive back then lol, but that’s Shawn’s hand from our Vday date circa 2016.

Comparison is the thief of Joy

My own apartment (no roommates) but my place still doesn’t measure up to my cousin’s spot in Virginia. My hair is full and past shoulder length when blown out (shrinkage is real!) but my twist outs still don’t come out as nice as Naptural85’s (look her up on Instagram she’s dope). I can give a few more examples of me comparing myself and my life situation to someone else’s but doesn’t that take away from me appreciating my own blessings?

There is a difference between aspiring to be like someone because they spark inspiration in you and actually envying them and wanting what they have. On Instagram, TheShadeRoom sometimes posts beautiful surprise proposals from couples. Some people see it as inspiration saying “One day that will be me” while some envy and even criticize the couple (usually the woman) saying “Well if she can get a man I just don’t see why I’m single”. Comparing yourself to someone else is the ultimate slap in the face to God (if you’re a believer) as He continues to bless you with things that you take for granted. We don’t know the path that led these individuals to their fortune so we shouldn’t desire their fruits without being aware of their labor.

I remember when I found out my ex got married two years after we broke up. I didn’t care that I knew he wasn’t the one for me, I was just upset that somebody else got the ring. I bashed that women passionately, calling her ugly (but she’s not) and saying things like “I made him better for her…that’s all my hard work”. You know, all the things to make me feel better because I felt like I lost. Not realizing I was just making myself miserable wondering why her and not me. As I matured I realized that there was a different path for me and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. And who’s to say I would’ve been happy as a married woman in my early 20s?! I would have missed out on all the glorious life experiences I’ve had so far.

The miserable feeling is a choice. You are choosing to rob yourself of the joys of your own life as you spend an enormous amount of time wondering why you don’t have what the next person has. Appreciate your apartment because there was a time when you only could afford a room in someone else’s apartment. Love that hair on your head because you probably had a perm once and never had this type of volume and you most likely did the big chop and didn’t even know if it was ever going to grow back. Be happy for that woman who got proposed to in Paris and don’t wonder why her and not you, just simply be happy for her. Your happiness lies within the appreciation you have for your life even if you know there is room for improvement. Your life is yours and no one else’s and you should choose to cherish it and never think that you fall short of anything.

xoxo

Jess