Give No Fucks and Waste No Time

closerflourishinprogress on Instagram

This is really, really important and if you never read anything else here again, please let these two thoughts linger in your head for a minute before you move on to something urgent (!!) that needs your attention right now (!!): If something is important to you, don’t give a fuck what others think as you pursue it. Also, try not to waste time on stupid shit that doesn’t matter.

For the past four days, I’ve been cleaning and rearranging my office. I walked in one day last week and slipped on a spray of greetings cards I haphazardly threw on the floor the night before (like, I literally tossed a dozen cards into my office from the doorway because I was tired and cranky and pissed about something I can’t even remember now). I didn’t immediately bend down to pick them up so I wouldn’t slip on them again because I don’t like being reasonable, and also, I was busy assessing my office with fresh eyes. Sometimes, when we look at the same thing over and over again, no matter how beloved it is to us, we just become immune to its wonder and worth.

Unlike the rest of our home, my office is bursting with knick-knacks and sparkle and pink. Every surface is covered with found treasures, and for years, these objects made me feel rich and full and whole.

There have been periods in my life when I had nothing. When I was 18 and couch-surfing, I had to remember to wash my underwear every night because they were the only pair I had. During that time, I had to eat what was available to me because I didn’t have money or a job and it was hard to come across either because I was constantly on the move from couch to couch and city to city.

I like to come into my office just to touch all of my cool shit from time to time because it’s there and I bought it and it’s miiiiiiiiiiine. I have been known to buy two of the same sticker packs at my favorite craft store. That way, I can say, “Go ahead, Cal. Use that shimmery sun sticker. I got another one just like it.” If you’ve ever purchased a duplicate item just for the sake of owning it, you’ll understand how incredible my life is today.

The more I acquired, the better I felt about myself. When I started going down self-pitying roads like “I wish my father had wanted a daughter as much as I had wanted a father,” I would buy an assortment of multicolored grommets, and all the stars aligned. My world was perfect and good again.

Then I slipped on some greeting cards. I suddenly felt suffocated and my treasures seemed more like worthless junk. When I finally convinced myself that I didn’t need to keep all of my possessions in plain view to signify that I BELONG HERE, I purchased a dozen small moving boxes and started packing. Once those first twelve boxes filled up, I bought twelve more.

I walked to the bank between my first and second dozen boxes, and as I filled out a deposit slip (I ain’t about that ATM life), I overheard a man asking a teller if he could take one of the helium balloons on display. The teller then asked another teller who asked the supervisor (The ratio of employees to patrons at my bank is, like, 7 to 1. Also, they give you a bottle of water if you come in, and that’s why I don’t use the ATM, cuz….free water.)

Not that I would ever ask for a bank balloon in the first place, but if my request had to go up the chain of command, I most certainly would run the fuck out of there because that shit is kind of embarrassing and who the fuck asks for a bank balloon? Come on, bro.

But he stayed. And he waited. And the manager went into the kitchen to get him a balloon because the ones on display were part of a larger arrangement they were not allowed to touch. I know because I eavesdropped in rapt fascination. I finally looked up as the Bank Balloon Man thanked the manager, “My son loves balloons and this is going to make his day.” It was simultaneously the coolest and most weirdest, cheapskatiest shit I have ever seen in my life. It blew me away.

This Bank Balloon Man gave no fucks about what anyone thought. When life gives you a potential free balloon, you just gotta hold on and never let go I guess.

I thought about Bank Balloon Man as I packed the second set of boxes. I imagined what his son’s face might look upon receiving his gift. That was the beautiful image I had in my head as I peeled a handmade red envelope from between two books and coaxed the index card out. The ensemble was a gift from Cal many, many years ago, and this very perfect present had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of so much shit that really meant nothing to me.

In Cal’s newly-learned cursive: What you need is closer than you think.

This process of packing and purging has forced me to reevaluate the clutter I keep in my life. Now that I’ve let go of so much, I do not feel empty and untethered. I feel free.

ccskate
____
Welp, you’ve made it this far. Congrats on your amazing attention span and sorry about the excessive length today. This is probably not the right time to ask you to subscribe via Feedly or Bloglovin for more of this shit, but I give no fucks.

I’m not as longwinded on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). Probably.

High Class Problems Are Real Problems Too

cover

I learned a lot while working a series of shitty, low-paying jobs. I don’t care how often I hear the same joke, I can still muster a laugh. That skill came during my time at French Connection. At least one katrillion times a day, a customer would point to one of our F.C.U.K. shirts and say, “Has anyone ever told you that looks like FUCK!?!”

I would slowly glance over, look away, do a quick double-take, then chuckle real authentic-like. “Sharp, broseph.” Sometimes I would wink or give a thug respect nod (head bobs slightly upward instead of the standard downward motion of a regular people nod), but it really depended on my mood. My paycheck wasn’t going to reflect those little extras. A non commission-based rate of $7.75 doesn’t come with a lot of Give-A-Fucks.

I learned the art of dodging phone calls while peddling beauty products at Crabtree and Evelyn. My manager, a decent lady with an extensive collection of sexually-provocative hosiery, often ignored the shift schedule she created each week. She also didn’t have a lot of Give-A-Fucks because she would repeatedly call until that employee answered the phone, then she would badger the person to come in right now. I’m not good at saying “no” so I became good at turning my ringer off.

Also, Evelyn is pronounced with a long “e” sound (eee-vuh-lin), not “eh” (eh-vuh-lin). When my spirit of volunteerism hits, I still go to my nearest Crabtree and Evelyn and just mill around, waiting for someone to mispronounce the store name. I’ll correct them, and then I let people know it’s okay to make mistakes because each mistake just adds to our unique patina as Earth beings. I know I’ve made a difference in people’s lives, but it’s the classic conundrum of any Giver: How far-reaching is my kindness? How many people will be affected by this one small act?

You’ve heard of the Butterfly Effect, yes?

The most important thing I learned while blackening my soul as a cog in the retail machine was this: Do not make assumptions about people based solely on their exterior. (I also blackened my soul working at non-retail establishments like a dry cleaner and a tutoring center, but I can’t go into all of that right now because I don’t keep alcohol in my home.) I’ve assisted customers who looked “young and broke” or “two steps away from homeless” who ended up spending way more and treating me with a lot more courtesy than customers who were “of a certain age” and “dressed impeccably.” That’s not always the case, but it happened enough for me to understand the value of giving each person a baseline level of respect. Well, until they got sassy with me. Then I would fuck ‘em up and no, I’m still not sorry about it.

I’m now the customer, and I wish more sales associates would adopt this way of thinking.

I am often ignored when I walk into stores. Maybe I’m not dressed well enough. Maybe I look broke. Maybe I look subversive with the streaks of color in my hair. Maybe I look like a drain on society because I seem young and a teenager keeps calling me “Mommy” so I most likely receive public assistance and why the fuck am I looking at hand-stitched handbags with a two-year wait list? I might be getting ready to steal it so make sure the security guard follows me around.

Harv didn’t believe me at first when I told him that this is A Real Thing that happens to me. About four years into our marriage, he witnessed it. He has never been marginalized because of the way he looks or carries himself, and although he didn’t actually say these words, I’m pretty sure he thought I was being sensitive or high maintenance.

I walked into a store about 20 steps ahead of Harv because he was finishing a phone call. He had an unobstructed view as I crossed the threshold, becoming the sole patron. No one greeted me. No one asked if I’d like assistance as I was rifling through a pile of sweaters. When Harv walked in, the two sales associates who had previously glanced in my direction but remained silent warmly welcomed him. As he came to a stop by my side, one SA said out loud, “Oh you two are together.” She looked at my Air Jordans and my JESUS IS MY HOMEBOY t-shirt, and then at Harv’s buttery loafers and lavender bespoke shirt. I recognized the look (Judgment) because I sport it on my face about 40% of my waking hours. I’d like to think it’s one of my more finely-honed skills.

Y’all seem like the type of people who can handle this kind of information without getting all up in my face about what a pampered housewife I’ve become or threatening to revoke my hood pass: High class problems are real problems too. Sure, being ignored in a store that sells key chains which cost the equivalent of 7 welfare checks I used to receive is no big deal when I think about the really dark and life-altering moments I’ve encountered. But in the world of things that don’t matter, this shit is legit.

One Ivy League dollar is worth 100 pennies. One Thug dollar is also worth 100 pennies. Please don’t ignore me because you think I’m not valuable according to your standards. Fuck bitches. Get money.
___

If Fuck Bitches, Get Money is a philosophy that resonates with you, you might want to subscribe to blog posts via Feedly or Bloglovin. You’ll be the first to know about my high class problems.

If wasting time during the day is one of your more finely-honed skills, “like” the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress) which has a picture of my ratchet hoe thigh-high hosiery at a Hollywood club. I don’t know how long it’s going to stay up. Probably until the next time Harv checks my Insta. 

Monday Dare: C.R.E.A.M. aka Cash Rules Everything Around Me

thetwoofus

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or to learn more about its origin.

This week: Spend wisely

Between 7:46-7:49 every Tuesday and Friday evening, I cycle through intense waves of disappointment and depression as I digest the fact that I have, YET AGAIN,  been passed over by the California Mega Millions Lottery. It used to take a lot longer for the tightness in my chest to subside, but I’ve condensed the grieving process down to less than five minutes these days. I guess that’s what happens when something as fragile as hope is sullied over and over again. It becomes hard and ugly, and each new assault is less apparent.

Harv will rub my back and say some bullshit about how I have to buy a lottery ticket in order to win. “The lottery is a ‘pay to play’ deal. That’s how they get the jackpot in the first place. How do you expect to win if you don’t even have any numbers to match?”

This “pay to play” idea scares me. It’s not that I’m unwilling to fork over one whole dollar twice a week. I just don’t trust myself when it comes to making solid decisions about my dolla dolla billz.

Money, or rather, the lack thereof, ruled my life for a long time. Whoever is going around perpetuating the myth that money doesn’t buy happiness is either really rich and doesn’t give a shit or really poor and self-soothing. Being poor is fucking miserable. Working a series of low-paying, soul-sucking jobs colored every decision I made.

Cash ruled everything around me.

When Cal was five, a young photographer offered to do a Mother and Daughter photo session for $75. I was working the front end at a dry cleaner, settling tabs, rifling through pockets, and noting stains for $8 an hour before taxes, and the thought of wasting two days’ wages on something we couldn’t eat or put on our backs seemed ridiculous and unnecessary. I didn’t even give the offer a second thought.

A friend who had taken advantage of the photographer’s offer challenged my decision. This homegirl’s background in advertising really helped as she campaigned for me to change my mind, unafraid to mention that I would regret not having “nice pictures” someday.

My hands shook a little as I wrote the $75 check, mostly because I was afraid it wasn’t going to clear, but also because I was mentally scrolling through everything I would have to give up for the next few weeks to make those stupid pictures happen.

When it came time to order pictures, I passed on most of them, ordering just a handful in 5×7.

What I didn’t realize then…What I know now, is that I should have been glad to sift through dirty suit pockets, extracting crumpled receipts and used condoms (come on guys, what the fuck compels you to put these back in your pocket?) for the chance to capture this slice of time with my kid.

My favorite 5×7 is clipped to a floral pinboard, and each day, when I’m looking around my office instead of doing real work, my eyes land on it. I am reminded of the time when it was just the two of us.

When I got married, I let cash rule my life again. I suddenly had more. And I was determined to spend the shit out of my newfound cash flow. I didn’t even know what I was buying most of the time, but damn, it just felt good to buy it. YES, I WILL TAKE THAT CAFTAN IN EVERY SINGLE COLOR. Do I wear caftans? Fuck no. But I have ‘em, just in case.

I am now coming to a middle place. A middle place where I know the real value of a dollar fluctuates, determined by the experiences I trade it in for. I emailed that photographer. I hope she still has our pictures on file. I plan to buy the biggest fucking size of every single shot.

View more slices of life like the Mother/Daughter picture above on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress).
Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page for (t)hug life thoughts and random shit.