Corporate Catfish….

 I always hear about cases where people have panic attacks and serious effects on their lives due to pressure from their jobs. I just never thought that would ever be me. I make the best of every situation I’m thrown and live positively. As I try to take life one day at a time, my mental strength is waning. I constantly think back on a recent work experience and how I made a bed for myself that was consistently painful. I chose this job and it was the worst work experience ever. There were so many great things about the job. The people outside of my department were very respectful, I loved the work, the company perks were amazing. There was opportunities popping up all the time and the company pride was strong. It was one of those companies that people stay at for years and eventually their family members join and do the same. Unfortunately, my role changed my life for the worst. I’m fleshing it out now on this here blog because I feel like I need to talk about it one last time and be done. This experience still has my brain hurting and foggy and when I resigned I felt like the beating was over. Except I didn’t feel relief, I felt like I was going in a downward spiral due to lack of stability. I no longer have a full-time job. I am however going to University but the uncertainty of how certain things will be covered leaves me weary and unable to concentrate. See, I have been known to go to school and work full-time, even after being a mother. It was a feat I mastered many times before but doing this at this company would have been the death of me. I held on for 8 months because of my family. It was such a draining environment for me, I began to see the parts of myself I loved slip away. There were times I had to look at pictures of my son to center myself. I could no longer bring myself to smile or even laugh when interacting with others from my team. I was always in a state of bewilderment and awe at the gall of my team members. I just never worked with people who were so clear in their message that I did not matter. It was so odd and perturbing, but I refused to give up until mentally, I was losing it. I tried meditating when hit with pressure but I couldn’t find my breathe until I added weird images. I would try to take deep breaths with my eyes closed, but I wouldn’t actually be calm until I sat still and replayed images of people doing a Tai Chi routine.  It was forcing myself to follow their rhythm that helped me quell my anxiety. I was always so anxious about work and my spouse pointed this out and opened the floodgates for tears. I had a nervous breakdown one day that shocked even him. Neither of us had ever encountered work stress on this level. I felt depressed. I didn’t feel like a victim, I more felt like I was being challenged but without a paddle to save myself. I couldn’t trust anyone. I felt like someone else was controlling my record and there was nothing I could do about it, I was to be under their thumb at all times. My manager was so absentee it made no sense causing an alarm, he didn’t have the time. People I considered peers/mentors were even advising me to retaliate with lashes but I just could not find my voice. After a few months when I gained a bit of confidence in my abilities, I attempted to defend myself and was met with a conference call to discuss my work and lack thereof. I was floored as this was real life. Everything I did incorrectly was emailed to my manager with the entire team cc’d on it with screenshots and the works. As a new person, I was so confused by this ‘call out’ trait and when I inquired was given confirmation that I was indeed being ‘reported’. There were times when it was even for things I didn’t know how to do or hadn’t been trained on. I thought it so bizarre how people refused to communicate directly to me in order to help me but would then say we’re a ‘team’. It was hodgepodge mind fuck of constant changes and finger pointing. When no one from my team but the 1 person that does the same thing as me spoke to me about my resignation; I didn’t mind. My manager spoke to me about my leaving as well, but just because it is an obvious formality. In an effort to gain wisdom on corporate going ons, I spoke to my Grand Aunt about my experiences and she told me they were making it clear they were glad I was leaving. This offended me a bit but also gave me closure. I know I didn’t give that job my best; I simply couldn’t find it, so I know she is right. I was glad to be leaving as well. I wasn’t ever on my ‘A’ game because I felt like I kept being knocked off the podium, I made a lot of mistakes and was extremely withdrawn into myself. I just couldn’t trust them. I didn’t intend to make friends, but it was like I had made enemies without them even knowing anything about me. None of them I’d seen before but one thing was for sure; that company was theirs and no one else’s! The way they treated me when I had a death in my family, sealed certain things for me and I pitied them. I felt sad for the karma that will grip their lives.

While I work on getting myself back to a good place and practice calming my mind when a thousand thoughts race to the forefront, I can’t help but try to let this devastation go. I can’t help but speak about how detrimental a horrible work life can be. In my own time of pulling myself out of the gutter, I wish that others will find the strength and courage to move on for their own health. Most importantly that opportunity will find them and heal their hearts. I wish for space and room for their brain to breathe so that they do not lose balance there and become weak. I wish that others in similar situations will hold on to at least hope that change will come.        

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*Flashback Post*-November 3rd, 2013

I remember those days,

Timeless moments nothing could intercept,

Living for each moment, not thinking we had much time left,

Hours ran into days, ran into months into pains,

 

I remember those days,

Each day awoken with a smile,

Loving each second, each embrace,

Tethered by our souls, moving by grace,

 

I remember those days,

Time flew around us, yet our gaze stood still,

Time flew around us, but our traces lingered on each others skin,

Careless spirits, moving us through,

 

I remember those days,

Nothing ever mattered, nothing was our everything,

Talks that extended past wee hours,

No interests in seeing anything but each other

 

I remember those days,

Shamelessly submissive to your every word,

Fed from your words and your releases,

Full from all you embody and all you do,

 

I remember those days,

Falling into your arms was the single point I looked forward to in my days

Even just in candle light you seemed so great,

Naked and bare I still saw you as Adonis type gold

My every fibre focused on willing your eyes to just me

 

I remember those days,

If my tears would fall, so would yours too,

I’d be felt and heard and made to feel silly because you were there,

We were one being of burning heat and hope and love

We were open, our basic selves, feeding each others strengths

 

I remember those days,

Fingers tracing lightly on skin,

Tip toeing, stealing kisses, sneaking in,

Soft touches calls flutters in,

a glow and a constant happiness;grins

 

I remember those days

I ain’t felt that way in years.

*Flashback post*-Dec. 29th 2013

It is what’s in your soul that will be the only thing that will carry you through,

When faced with adversity, when your pureness has been compromised,

Fly, fly on…..just keep swimming, it’s not the end,

 

When you gave of yourself and received naught,

It is not the end for you, your kindness has not met defeat,

It has instead met tests for a stronger self, don’t forget.

 

Fly, carry on as you are,

Don’t change when met with grunge, debris and a witless heart,

You have done no ill in being kind, extending a hand and trying to change the times,

Never change because you’re hurt, be yourself someone will see your worth.

 

Never beat yourself up. Never expect a beast to give you a rose.

You introduced your naked soul and were rebuffed.

Life goes on, no matter how tough.

 

When the dust settles it will be clear,

You made a clearing in a dark place,

You loved the unloved.

Born a Crime….a review

The irony of using a $1 bill as a book marker….money is what it always comes down to; isn’t it?

I took a ‘leap of purchase’ based on a recommendation from a podcast I was listening to. I don’t really connect with a lot of people so I usually research things I hear on podcasts; typically if I am continuing to listen there is some trust there. *deep, I know* I wanted to get back in the groove of reading but this book was $35 at my bookstore. I didn’t make a purchase then as I wasn’t even sure I’d actually finish it. I still have books on my bookshelf I haven’t touched but lost interest in and tons unfinished. It’s bad, we fight a lot about my books in my home. I perused the bookstore site again a couple days after my visit and found it to be on sale for $17.  I said, ‘ok, fine, since you insist’ and made a purchase. Now, before I discuss the book, I’ve been battling issues and concerns of raising a black son in North America. I still drift off on a fear-filled wonder thanks to scenes from the movie ‘Get Out’. I’ve purposely steered away from news about Trump and American politics because I was becoming mentally drained. I also have loosened the grip on my parenting, mainly due to work stress, so there’s been some guilt about that too. Also, I’m currently in a financial rut. I needed a hobby, I needed this purchase to be a win. I was already lagging on working on my art with no strength to change. I needed to peruse someone else’s art and TV shows were starting to bore me. So, purchased at the same time, I read The Handmaid’s Tale and got caught up on the show. I don’t usually care for autobiographies as they’re obviously meant to be self-absorbing, but I already bought this one. I was still empty and so I decided to start Trevor Noah’s ‘Born A Crime’ before it made it to my book shelf unopened.

My God, I felt so full. It was so fairly written.The delusions of race, the viewpoint of life as a mixed child, the tales of Africa; the continent misrepresented. The appreciation and honesty about his mother and her life. The history lessons. The humor. The role of religion in his life, traditional living, the misjudgments of Domestic Abuse. Parenthood. The facets of love, relationships and life. The mere voice of the author. I knew nothing about this man and have never seen him on TV or watched his shows, so I was basically going in blind. Let me tell you, when I say I could hear how he spoke and see clearly and connect with the things of which he spoke about; nothing was missed.

This boy spoke of his mother the way I would want my son to speak of me. When I read ‘The Second Girl’ I connected with the distance that caused her to be who she was. I am not a traditional mother. There are no grand/great-grand parents instilling any archaic child rearing disciplines in my son’s life. There are no rules in my house either, and I absolutely DO NOT believe a child should be seen and not heard. I also do not hide ‘real life’ from my son. I cry, laugh, fight, play, be mad and sad around him. At 2yrs old I sometimes ask him what he thinks about many things and even go along with what he chooses. The only areas of his life that I try to control is his diet, who gets to discipline him and who comes and goes in his life. I am not blinded by love either and is sure to ‘stick it to him’ when he misbehaves and will shamelessly laugh at his misfortunes. The fact that this man has understood, respected, forgiven and accepted his mother for who she is and all she gave at such a young age, warmed my heart so much. The maturity of this child had me in awe as there are still things I grapple with in my personal life. A good mother will give you everything they have, down to their bare bones and all they want in return is for you to be grateful. There is so much about humility that came from their relationship; so much mutual respect.

  The way he spoke about race and the examples he gave made me sick to my stomach. Africa, as many know is all suffering, all the time. It’s what’s been fed to us on the media and even in schools. There is a stigma that comes with being African that lets people just not want to deal. The history lessons on Apartheid and the concepts of race and their division was so mind blowing. A couple ‘WTF?!’ left my mouth more than once. It made me think how current and needed his tutelage is. I wanted to get on a podium and scream into a mic “People please read this, IT IS intentionally being done; it isn’t in your mind. They think we should not have nice things!”. The political climate in America, the need for the BLM Toronto, the fact that a certain race that far out numbers many others and are becoming lawmakers in Canada, the segregation that comes with certain religions; it is all being called out in this book. You cannot possibly read this and say ‘Man South Africans are crazy and wack for that shit’ and not point a finger on the current state of things in many countries. There is a breakdown of poverty and awareness on ‘the black tax’; ‘the cycle of poverty and violence’ and the strong hand the government and law makers play in deciding the quality of life of others based on something they cannot control. You can bleach your skin, you can do surgery, you can assume a different identity and even start to talk funny; but there will also be the fact that you were born in the skin you’re in. That, you will have to take all that comes with it and deal; be quiet and slap a smile on while doing so.

Religion was a very big part of his life growing up and for many of us. I connected with him with many things that happened in his childhood and laughed at how much a West Indian life was so similar. We just basically have different name or places for things. Friends, here is a young person that grew up in a racist time under a racist regime, portraying it as the tool it is. Information and the way generations grow and change will even religion out. There are many dark places in every religious sect and the youth are not falling for it anymore. He also vividly showed how misused it is.

Part 2 of his book lost me a bit but I read on as the writing was very good. The voice of the author was very clear and easy-going, so you could cruise through and not lose interest.  The aspects of his life that had to do with love and relationships were lost on me because I was a ‘prime’, wild child. I’d been kissing boys for years and you can imagine what else. I wasn’t much for impressions either and the one childhood crush I had, I fell in front of him outside of church one evening and that pretty much humbled me for life. Still, I read on. The love I wanted to explode was that between his mother and father. Why can’t people love who they love and be with who they want to? What does the government and religion have to do with love? This organic, natural uncontrollable emotion; why are those two so disgusting at being controlling. Why do they exist as a factor here? The relationship with his father and the way his mother handled it annoyed me to no end. There was also her own marriage to a monster that drove me nuts. In an effort to not offend those suffered/suffering from abuse and domestic abuse there won’t be much I’ll say there. Just that an unhappy life does not have to be your forever. A man that can turn his back on his own child can never be trusted and that love should never hurt.

There is a ray of hope that comes from this book in the Chapters ‘Chameleon’, ‘Outsider’ and ‘My Mother’s Life’. There is also a sick, sad detriment a CHILD was going through. Don’t become a victim of your circumstance.  It is so easy to say ‘woe is me’ and to harp on where you place blame. However, we are our choices, be conscious and alert. Every move you make is your own responsibility and determines your own future. Look ahead and see the bigger picture and keep it moving. Most importantly, accept things. We are often taught to not settle, but there are situations that you will have to accept and work with until you can do better. Fight the social/societal constructs with your brain and not your fist. Adulthood will give you a lot of clarity on this; especially in an environment like the workplace.

This memoir was worth the purchase. One I will save for my children to read. My only regret is the curry stain on the pages from when my roti fell out of my hand one day at lunch…xoxo

-Nic

The Skinny on Cuba….

Stop what you’re doing and download the Maps.me app and the Cuba map that goes along with it. This app works very well offline. To maximize your experience, you will need to be proactive and plan like hell. Here’s the thing, Havana is an extremely safe walking city. You can walk through streets and alley ways to get to where you’re going regardless of the time. There’s a lot of ways to get around but it will add up, especially when they realise you’re a tourist. Review your map and walk when you can. There’s also a lot of monuments you will zoom past in a car and each stop will cost yah! We walked a lot and enjoyed the many gems we ‘accidentally’ landed on.

If you aren’t a business person, you won’t need a lot of internet. We bought 3 cards, each with an hour and almost came back with 1. We shared 1 card each time and had more than enough to check in with loved ones. If you find yourself constantly buying cards to contact family, then they should have come with you as this cost does add up as well. We didn’t make any phone calls outside of the country, to family or friends. We used the phone in our casa to call the owner who came to see us when we had questions about things we wanted to do.

We brought a camcorder, 2 cellphones, a huge Fiji cam and a mini Sony Vaio. We only used our cellphones. Hubs had an extra battery for his. The Maps.me app used up tons of battery so if possible print and highlight your routes so you don’t lose juice and miss pictures. Additionally, work out some storage. I backed up to Google drive when I signed on the net but one day I had no pics because my phone space was used up.

Baby was pretty ok in Cuba. Everywhere we went people were very accommodating. People were always lifting him up and playing with him. I didn’t worry about him for a minute and that was a HUGE bonus to me. He didn’t do us any favors when it came to food though. He wouldn’t eat much of anything and mainly drank his ‘babba’. We almost ran out and had to give him Ensure a time or two. We didn’t anticipate that he would revert to the bottle only as usually he only took the bottle at nights before bed. We brought 3 boxes of coconut milk, 1 box of almond and 11/2 tins of formula. We brought an ice tray that was always set so that we could keep the coconut milk chilled on the road with no issues. We brought 2 baby bullet containers for this purpose. A few mornings he ate the oatmeal we brought and 1 morning he had cereal. Fig bars, granola, crackers and yogurt pouches on the road. Otherwise, he picked at a few things we ate but not much made it past his lips. They don’t have potato fries (his fave) there and while he ate the plantains chips, he didn’t love them.

The online impression of Cuba is that they are very poor and living on next to nothing. Let me add some context to that. COMPARED to first world countries their standard of living isn’t as high. They are not in poverty. They maybe don’t make a lot but they aren’t poor. Now, I haven’t seen the underbelly of this country. As we lived like locals, on the surface it didn’t look like people are cowering for their lives. Their faces are plain but they will smile and be very helpful when approached. They are more ‘relaxed’ in their living than you would think. The low crime rate plays a factor here but perhaps I need to look into this more. 

Cuba is not a cheap destination. The exchange rate will absolutely disgust you. It is still affordable once you plan hard prior to going and do your research but it isn’t cheap. I didn’t concern myself with the CUP/CUC battle. I dealt strictly in CUC and was sure to check my change when I got it. Hubs got some CUP from our casa owner, which I guess was just for the experience. He used it to buy beer. I found some on the road and we hardly used it at the end of the day. Budgeting here is hard enough, especially when you want to try so many things! Keep one currency and call it a day!

It is very hard to give the gifts you brought with you away. Just keep your alms light. Ideally, they should be dropped off at an agency and they distribute them but the gratification comes from seeing the smiles on kid’s faces. On our day trip, they stopped the bus and I gave one bag to a little boy but I didn’t like the feeling. So, I dropped majority of the bags off at a school in Havana Vieja and to another school close to our casa. We just called a teacher to the gate, we didn’t go in as I knew it wasn’t allowed and would be very weird! We wouldn’t want strangers at our kid school!

Cuban toilets will probably be the worst part of your trip, next to dealing with taxis of course. Most don’t have lids, tissue or a proper handle to push or pull for you to flush. Some don’t flush at all. Carry your tissue or wipe, as a go around the roll will cost you! When I showed the attendant that I had my own tissue, she looked like she dam near wanted to kick me right into the fucking stall so that I could hurry up and get out.

Children are the pearl of the city. I ABSOLUTELY positively loved how they are fawned over. I felt so good. So at ease and we knew no one there. It isn’t uncommon for people to pass n play in baby’s hair or tickle him. We did the same when we could. Cubans are gorgeous people and the babies barefoot, barely clothed and running about freely made me so happy.

Adios almost….

We all slept until 12pm due to the weariness of our day trip. Baby and I had some oatmeal we brought with us and we just hung out for a bit. My hair was a mess and I did not bring a single comb or brush with me. I had to rely on an old toothbrush I found in my bag, water and some hair oil I brought to work some magic. After I did the best I could, we got dressed and made​ our way through the door.
I had a set of gift bags left and so we took them to a primary school close by. We went to the bank to change money but there was a problem and we didn’t quite understand so we got stuck with the hotel rate. This wasn’t so bad as we had a WiFi card we had to use and once that was done we cruised down to the Malecon. The rain caught us and we ran​ back to Hotel Presidente and as soon as we got there it stopped! Not even a minute! We were grateful as we didn’t have an umbrella. There is one in our casa but we left it.  

Anyway, today we were going to go the Museum of Belles Artes (again), the museum of chocolate and the jardin for Princess Diana but we were cutting it too close. So we changed course. 5pm is the common closing time for most attractions and we left the hotel to 4. We hailed a cab and asked to be brought to the Ferry. Here, we paid $0.10 CUP each and hopped on. We were going to the island of Casablanca. We enjoyed peanuts and chicharron from the vendors. The ride was very short and smooth and we enjoyed the view. We were going to see El Christo de La Habana. That is, if we didn’t miss and fall in the water. You literally had to jump off the boat on to land. It was quite interesting.

Kids have a way of bringing people together and as avid football fanatics, baby asked to walk when he saw a ball being kicked around. Hubs and baby played a bit with the guys on the street then we were back to our hike up a path. The view of Havana was beautiful. I imagined at nights it’s even more glorious. We took our pics and once again baby found himself a new group of friends. This time, musicians. They wittingly gave him 2 maracas and allowed him to play as they sang and played their instruments. We later learned that we grossly overpaid for the instruments but as per hubs it was for the memories.  There is also an electric train to see here but we weren’t sure about walking around and so we decided to catch the next ferry. We bought some churros from a street vendor and while they were yummy, they almost made me sick. I knew they looked bad, they way they were being made wasn’t sanitary either but they were delicious. Immodium saved the day thankfully. We went back to Havana and walked about the city before stopping in to get our very last peso pizza. 1 CUC of deliciousness. This time with peppers and onions! We sat beside an older man on a bench and ate as he cat called the girls as they went by. All while telling hubs that he can’t look! Lol. We decided to walk to see the canon show but as we were 2 hours ahead we cruised on the Malecon as we went along.  At 9pm, it went off but we were at the wrong spot and it wasn’t a big a bang as we expected. We laughed at our misfortune and started walking towards our home before hailing a cab.

We packed our things and headed to dinner at Idillio’s again. I began to feel sick after eating the paella and so we took off. I had a headache from when we were chilling on the Malecon and it wouldn’t go away. Plus, all that street food was starting to ride my stomach so I knocked out and left the boys to party.

 

Vinales….

I thanked hubbs for waking me up at 6am but didn’t actually move. He was the only one that heard the alarm; thank goodness. Baby and I hugged up on each other and slept as he grew tired of trying to get me out of bed. When he started to cuss us out, I thanked him again and crawled to the washroom. It was 6:30am and we had less than an hour to make the bus. I sterilized bottles them showered while he prepped baby bag, snacks and water.
We were about to miss our bus and so I quickly dressed baby, grabbed the garbage and we were out. I ran all the way to Hotel Presidente in an effort to hold the bus, only to get there and be told we were on the list! We paid 134 CUC for this trip!  A phone call later and our bus was a different one from the tour we booked with and hadn’t arrived yet.  I ordered us some breakfast and as we were about to partake the bus came. Off to Vinales we go, or so we thought. We made a number of stops to pick up passengers at other hotels then we were off at 8:45am! Baby was knocked out soon after thankfully. We made a washroom stop and the attendant was displeased when I didn’t need to buy her tissue and shared my flushable wipes with the lady beside me who chatted me up as we waited in line.

If she could have kicked in into the dingy stall she would have! Lol We were en route again and the scenery was very relaxing. Our first stop was the Guayabita rum factory, where we got to see the bottling of rum and taste the fruit. We purchased 4 bottles from their shop for 20 CUC and were en route again. I knocked out and when I woke up we were being shown 2 men dressed as indians with a eagle and a Cuban hutia. It was very odd to see as they were just in a circle with no other indians around. I get that it was a re-enactment but it was very weird to see. I went to use the washroom during this part of the tour and before the attendant would let me in she said .60 CUC. I was a bit confused and was about to walk away but I really needed to pee and she let me pass. I was extremely annoyed at this practice, because people will tip on their own. The only coin I had was 1 CUC so I paid it as she literally stood in the entrance when I was about to exit. Either you were being pushed to buy toilet tissue or access to use the fucking toilet??! Disgusting. Later at lunch, I was offered the child seat and instead of bringing it over the same woman was beckoning me to come to her.
I didn’t go and we held our baby in our lap. I wasn’t going to pay to use a fucking seat! Anyway, after I passed the ‘indian’ mess they had displayed, we all watched as fresh cane was grinded with slices of fresh pineapple. This was 2 CUC and we enjoyed a cup. It was even more delicious with some Guayabita for 3 more CUCs. I had promised baby ice cream from the day before and the lil bugger remembered so I bought a small tub for us all to share. Then came the adventure we were waiting for! We ventured in and through a cave. This was an amazing experience and was very much worth it! It was majestic to me, I felt so cool! As a plus, in order to exit we got a boat ride around the cave and out to nearby steps. A hat was passed around and I kindly passed it forward.
This was a pretty neat experience. We all piled into the nearby restaurant and ate a very nice lunch of fruits, salad, chicken, pork, rice, potatoes, rice pudding and coffee. Man, I will miss Cuban coffee, it is definitely a delight. I stopped drinking it at the start of the year and refuse to even purchase a bag to take home with us! Sigh. Our next stop was at a tobacco farm. This was so serene and felt unreal. We watched one being rolled then all took turns at the delicacy. It was delicious! We bought 10 for 20 CUC and was ushered off the farm to the Mural de le Historia. This is a must see but will leave you with questions. First being, why? Lol. Baby rode a cow and we were amazed that he wasn’t scared at all. We were told to give what we can so I gave 2 CUCs and we enjoyed sipping on a pina colada for another 3 CUCs. Our last stop was at the lookout and this was majestic as well. Vinales is really the ‘Garden of Cuba’ and the ride home was just as scenic. We couldn’t wait to get through the door and shower. We were starving and tired! We showered, packed our luggage and bought dinner at El Idillio to go and came back home. I finally got to try Ropa Vieja and hubs got shrimp and lobster. They were both ok, a bit heavy on the sauce but we had our fill and was chilling about for the night!