A fresh 30 year old’s letter to her 20-something self

Ashley, young, glorious, courageous, curious child
You have grown
Grown into a confident, honest, humble, vulnerable being
Twenties were fun, spontaneous, reckless, painful, disappointing and full of meaningful experiences
You made it and now stand on the other side, reflective and grateful
You’ve learned patience, understanding, compassion, love and how to walk away
You’ve experienced heartbreak, shame, sorrow and forgiveness
Been uncertain about who you were and your worth
Allowed others to define you
That doesn’t work so well young dreamer […]

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Ashley, young, glorious, courageous, curious child
You have grown
Grown into a confident, honest, humble, vulnerable being
Twenties were fun, spontaneous, reckless, painful, disappointing and full of meaningful experiences
You made it and now stand on the other side, reflective and grateful
You’ve learned patience, understanding, compassion, love and how to walk away
You’ve experienced heartbreak, shame, sorrow and forgiveness
Been uncertain about who you were and your worth
Allowed others to define you
That doesn’t work so well young dreamer
We partied, Patron your equivalent to water
Walgreen, your MAC counter
Foundation never matching quite right
Eye shadow reminiscent of a Halloween costume
Thank God for YouTube, minimalism and your late twenties
More shots than we can recall
We worshipped the porcelain God, visited the throne faithfully
Paid tithes of vomit like a committed member
Lived with no regret
Regret but you convinced yourself that it was all a part of the journey
Love
Damn you loved
The idiots, the abusers, the promiser, the leech, the jerk, the prince charming, the ones you didn’t deserve
The one who saw more in you than you saw in yourself-swallowing the lump of guilt
You love hard young romantic
Love was painful, a high you constantly longed for, sat in, fought for and went chasing again
Love, the drug of choice
Breaking hearts and collecting pain to carry along and savor later
Your badge, young sweet savage
Your worked hard V-tine
Graduated from undergrad after a few academic probation threats
Worked twenty-’leven job
Quit ‘em all
But you’re a millennial-it’s normal
Now you thirst for more knowledge and seem to be on a path of fa eva’ schooling
Your dreams are being painted into existence young genius
You were fire
Tongue a torch
Attitude of a young diva
That was a lot of work huh?
Apologizing after reflection sucks
But the cloud moving from overhead, revealing the warmth of the sun absorbs well
You were generous
Giving
Giving every piece of you until you were left with fragments of what you wanted to be
Selfless fool
Honesty
Honest, your strongest attribute
You wave it like a white flag
Warm water to wash away the damage
You’ve grown so much, yet still stand in between doorways trying to figure out what next look likes
Waiting for signs
Signs you struggle to identify and listen to
30-year-old Ashley hugs you
Deeply
Embracing all of you
Loving the pieces of you, you hated
Loving the wounds you licked in the dark, hiding from the world
Loving the hurt you sang and hummed away
Smiling as we recall inside jokes
Grinning when we look at old pictures
Cheering when we win
The glorious twenties, led us here
We have traveled
Fell in love with exploration and thirst for the next adventure
We have taken the road less traveled
We have committed to being true to Ashley and living intentionally

We have sat in quiet spaces and listened to the soul speak

You will forever be a part of what makes me Ashley
The twenties were lived, exploited and enjoyed to the fullest
I rest a kiss on your forehead and walk into 30 ready for the next chapter
Appreciating and never forgetting the many lessons we’ve learned
Good-bye twenty-something

We had an amazing run kid

You will forever be a piece of who I am

Happy belated birthday to you locs

Happy birthday dear locs, today you are a young one year old

This time last year I was moving around the city with a teal blue fro

Running errands and spending money I didn’t really have to spend on styles I never ended up liking anyway
I had visited my sistahs from the motherland and pulled out my best bartering skills […]

Happy birthday dear locs, today you are a young one year old

This time last year I was moving around the city with a teal blue fro

Running errands and spending money I didn’t really have to spend, on styles I never ended up liking anyway

I had visited my sistahs from the motherland and pulled out my best bartering skills as they looked at my mass of hair and thought up a price that would send me out the door

Puppy dog eyes were in full effect and I was desperate for someone to tame the fro

They were booked and no one was up for the challenge of manipulating the beautiful beast that was my mane

I drove past a shop off of Dr Martin Luther King Drive and thought, “that’s it, let’s just do it today”

I had previously contemplated getting dreadlocks but always worried how me and my locs would fit in

Who would sign my pay check as my hair unapologetically entered a space and filled the room

How would young budding locs look in pictures – I’ve got to be fine, there are weddings to attend

Those thoughts seem to have left my mind and migrated somewhere towards the ends of my aqua coils because I strolled into the shop and made an appointment to lock my hair the next day

I hadn’t done extensive research and honestly, didn’t think I needed to

I brushed my full head of hair back with my hand to expose my full cheeks and brown eyes, and explained to my loctician how my hair behaved and the level of maintenance I wanted to maintain at home (equivalent to none)

I left feeling free

Free from YouTube tutorials

Wearing scarves over half damp, failed twist outs

Edge Control that just made my forehead greasy

The Flat Iron

Pressing Comb

Blow Dryer

Hooded Blow Dryer

Heavy hand of an African Woman

Confused hands of beauticians

Free from accidental bald spots

Edge loss

The trim that turned into a full Halle Berry

Free from barbers who insisted I needed a lining with my low fade and watched my bum bounce as I exited their chairs looking like a #2 off of the poster that was Scotch-taped to the wall, dirty from years of cigarette smoke and clipped hair residue

Free from hours of waiting after my scheduled appointment time as I watched beauticians chatter as if they weren’t behind schedule with my big brown, laser beam eyes staring holes into them

Free from the burning of a relaxer left on too long on a scalp too tender

Roller sets squeezing the pulp of my scalp

Cornrows tugging at the root of each precious strand

Free from the anxiety of walking in humid air after a day spent at the salon

Free to swim without the weight of Saran Wrap and 2 swimming caps squeezing my brains as I dove into a pool

I washed and deep conditioning my loose strands for the last time feeling each juicy curl wrap around my fingers

Happy that I would no longer be prisoner to my head full of free spirited coils that I thought I needed to tame

Happy that I wouldn’t be spending any more full days getting my hair done to come home in tears and often re-doing the mess someone left on top of my head

I was in labor a total of 16 hours birthing you, Saturday evening through Sunday morning

From the moment you were revealed I was in love

I nurtured you

Slept with my bonnet, washed you once every 2 weeks and glowed while explaining to others to process of interlocking my hair

I kept my appointments with my loctician to check up on your care and maintenance

I admired how each strand intertwined over time to create the locs that adorn my head while leaving the curls I so adore to still peek out at the ends

It captivates me how you have a mind of your own and decide in which direction you want to grow, or which strands will be the foundation of each loc while rejecting my input and suggestions

I am learning to listen to you

As you grow, I experiment with bantu-knots, cornrows and any style my tender scalp can bear

But my favorite is still however you fall after a fresh wash

Happy birthday locs

May you continue to flourish, mature and captivate me

Love Ashley

Don’t Touch My Hair- Solange 

Hit play. Enjoy.

 

Damn you Chromebook

Powell industries

A late afternoon of slight panic, turned into a journey to the city, to only be disappointed in the end.  

Since last week’s post, I have been (clap) writ- (clap) -ing ⎯ black girls and gay guys use claps between syllables or words to add inflection, black guys pound one fist inside the other palm.  In between my shift and during my free time, I wrote.  I dreamed about writing.  During my shift, I kept a notebook of things I wanted to make sure to go back and reflect on, then later turn into posts.  I took showers, looking around and observing my surrounding to even post about that!  I thought deeply about conversations I had with family via phone while here. Found that blog-able ⎯ one blog was about my dad, maybe what happened was an act from God encouraging me to pump the brakes on that one.  If I

⎯  WHOA, so one of the guys who works here just came up to the front desk looking suspicious.  The other guys that are around him are laughing, he looks at me.  I say, “buenos dias”, greeting him and I’m waiting for him to tell me what he needs.  The boxy Guatemalan (that is not an insult, just an observation.  He, like many Guatemalan men, is shorter in stature, but muscular, so in my mind he looks like a large-sized U-Haul moving box) holds out his time card for me to punch it.  Stamped (that’s me stamping it).  This dude, pulls up his athletic tan-colored arm from his side, smiles a big bright smile, and is holding a dead bird.  I’m looking at him, concerned.  In the US, you don’t just go picking up dead birds bare hand, anxious to show someone.  He is standing here explaining what happened.  My Spanish is still not perfect so I make out what I can.  From the keywords, I was able to gather that a Mayan, was shooting arrows and accidentally hit the bird mid-air while the bird was trying to fly through a small opening in a gate.  This bird is one of four in the last two weeks.  I am 99.9% sure that what I thought he said, is wrong. I’m looking out right now to where he is pointing and their isn’t even a gate.  But what I do know is that this man is playing with a dead bird. Jolting its body back and forth so the head swivels on its lifeless neck.  Don’t tell PETA, but I’m laughing.  One because the dead bird’s head swiveling is actually funny.  Secondly, because when else in my life is a Guatemalan box going to be standing in front of me, holding a dead bird, telling me the story of how this dead, swive-ly headed bird found it’s way into his hand.  

⎯  If I experienced it, I wrote about it.  Well, not everything.  I’m clearly over exaggerating here.  The truth is I wrote 3 blog posts that I had revisited several times to add details, review with a fresh set of eyes, and manipulate.  That was several hours of work!

What happened?

I bought a Chromebook to Guatemala.  I know, no adult has a Chromebook unless they work for MPS and have decided to borrow it for personal use indefinitely.  I purchased mines, thank you very much.  I needed a tool that allowed me to quickly draft written tasks, surf the web, and was portable.  The Chromebook with all of its limitations does at least these things.  Another good thing about this cheapo computer thing-y, is that when you are online, everything automatically saves to your Google Drive.  For those people who are technologically challenged, when connected to WiFi everything saves to a puffy cloud in the sky that doesn’t produce precipitation, but instead houses information (including those disgusting pictures you send to your boo after you’ve worked out and ate right for a week so think you doing something⎯  thought that stuff was private did you?).  Where I encountered difficulties, is in being offline.  Somehow, I cannot (clap) for (clap) the life (clap) of me (clap) ⎯  Get slowed down there? I was checking to see if you remember the rule I taught you/clarified earlier.  Still need some supports?  I’m a special education teacher. I have no problem revisiting, reviewing and modifying.  Ok, say the sentence again and clap while saying the words that have a clap advisory just after them.  Let’s pause to give everyone a chance to be engaged.  

⎯ I don’t know how, but I erased everything I had worked on since last week when I was last using this wack little gadget.  Everything meaning blogs, work related tasks I was working on, as well as completed work tasks.  I sat and tried to figure it all out for an hour ⎯  to know avail.  Frustrated, I packed my bag with the computer, money (a mix of American and Guatemalan) grabbed my baseball cap, tightened the laces on my hiking shoes Huarache’s (tennis shoes, not going to deep on those, if you need further clarification Google it) and started hiking up the trail to the National Park to get a ride to the city.  

I arrived at the Park and was welcomed by the children who corral people to get a small profit for steering business to specific people.  The whip (translation: car, vehicle, mode of transportation), a small Toyota Hilux pick up with an A-frame metal structure on the back and high side rails, also metal.  I climbed in and stood on the back next to some French tourists and off we went.  It starts raining, tiny beads initially.  I held on to the structure with one hand, recording with the other.  We journeyed on this dirt road and I grew more and more nervous about my choice of transportation, like I had much choice.  It was either the blue truck with people-herding metal bars, or the white.  This road looks to me like a one-way road. If a vehicle comes from the opposite direction passing, you are halfway in the jungle shrubs and greenery.  I remind you that we are not in an enclosed structure so the shrubs and greenery would be swapping me if the driver inched past someone or allowed others to.  On some of the journey, you are already looking over the edge of a cliff.  Imagine squeezing over to allow another car to pass.  It’s like being at a restaurant that’s packed and a person who knows full well they CANNOT squeeze past without smashing the organs housed in your mid-torso into the table, says in that high “I know I’m inconveniencing you” pleading tone, “Excuse me please” as they pretend to suck it in… I dunno, to me looks like they just raise their shoulders towards their ears and straighten up a little.  

Mid way into the 30-45 minute journey, it starts pouring.  I had no rain gear on, my backpack was getting wet and the air around me smelled like Latina flight attendant tresses (if you didn’t read my last blog, then you have no idea what I’m referencing.  And I have no sympathy for you.  Go back and read it).

⎯  I had gone to the farmacia (translation: drug store  stand) to get shampoo last week and when I saw the Herbal Essences bottle I thought of that flight attendant.  Yep, I’d like to smell like her, so I bought it.  As I rode back to town, the air in the truck cab started to smell sweet.  I thought I was daydreaming about the flight experience, am I gay?  Until I noticed my hand was wet and slippery.  The smell only got stronger.  I realized that shampoo was spilling in the bag.  I never cleaned it out.

In this situation, the dried shampoo started to foam and the scent filled the thick humid jungle air.  It actually calmed me as I thought about how illegal this whole thing would’ve been in America.  My mind flooded with thoughts of how unsafe this had to be, how I didn’t want to be dead on a dirt road in Semuc Champey.  How I didn’t have on my best pair of underwear (I was taught to always wear nice underwear, you never know when you’ll be in the back of an ambulance having your pants ripped off).  How I didn’t want a pack of homeless, sickly, skinny dogs to devour my injured body and expose my ugly undies in the middle of the jungle.  

At some point I decided that it would be a good idea to stop recording and actually hold on with two hands because I was sliding to the back of the black, muddy, wet pick-up bed.  As I watched in amazement as we sped down a hill, in the rain, on a mud road I yelled, “Whoo!”  I didn’t put my hands up though ⎯ that’s too ballsy for me!  Once my Six Flags roller coaster ride with no safety equipment ended, I was in the city and quickly ran to the bank to exchange money.  The exchange rate at the hostel hotel is about $1 less than at the bank.  I waited in this line, watched several people skip me (I gather they were coming from a personal bankers cubicle and got a skip you pass) and finally it was my turn.  I tell the teller “yo necesito cambiar dinero por favor”.  I pull out my passport and $60 US.  I had already calculated it, I should’ve receive 447 quetzal.  Did I get the change ⎯ Nope.  

This Guatemalan box with hair pomade and a pressed button-down told me that their bank doesn’t accept $20’s, only 50’s and 100’s.  I assumed I wasn’t listening well, so I repeated back to him what I understood him to say (uncle Dannie taught me this strategy).  ⎯  Yep I heard it right the first time.  Thoughts of fury flooded my mind!  I was still unable to fully articulate uncommon phrases in Spanish.  Phrases like:

“how does a National Bank choose some denominations to exchange and not others?”

“what type of non-customer service friendly experience is this?”

“you gon’ have to make an exception today”

“I can’t wait to fill out your customer service experience survey”

“let me speak to the manager because this is a huge inconvenience”⎯  well I know how to say that, but I was sure I would be unable to sound professional and polished to the manager (well maybe if they hire managers with the same level of scrutiny that McDonald’s on North Avenue in Milwaukee does, than I would’ve been fine).  What did I do?  Tried to look as pissed off as possible, snatched my stuff up from the counter and left ⎯  I forgot that I still needed money.  So in a serious, I mean business demeanor, I got back in line.  I waited and in my “now look here” tone asked, “¿Si tu no me puedes brindar el servicio, entonces con quien me comunico?” (translation: “if you can’t provide me with this service, who should I communicate with?”)  The pomade box kindly smiled and directed me a farmacia a few doors down.  Of course I say thank you in my condescending voice with a hint of a grin before walking out and hurrying to this store.  I get there for the man to tell me that the exchange rate is 6 quetzal to 1 dollar ⎯  $1.40 less than the bank, and $0.60 less than the hostel hotel.  He even had the nerve to try to sell me something.  Needless to say I left there quetzal-less and headed to the internet cafe to try to fix my lame, cheap, malfunctioning computer.  I can’t quite blame it all on the computer because I do recall doing something to free up more space on it.  The something must have been deleting some stuff (I cleared the cache and cookies, but who knew that cache and cookies meant documents stored offline).  

I got on the internet to troubleshoot and search my computer for my precious works of genius. Nothing.  I even whispered “Ok google” to have the computer help me, help us.  Nothing.  I started asking Alexa to help me.  My computer didn’t respond to my “Alexa, where are the blogs from June 23” cries for help.  Because I don’t have Alexa, but I only knew that because I asked Google after thinking that whatever I had done to the computer caused Alexa to crash.  I worked hard trying to recall my IT hacking skills from elementary school that helped me play unauthorized games, but none of that helped recover anything.  

I made peace with the fact that those files were in “non-cloud stored data files of Christmas past” heaven.  I bought a micro SD card with the few quetzales I had on me, and left the city via one of the ENCLOSED hostel hotel shuttles.  As mad as I was then, I’m over it.  Gave me something else to blog about.  

 

I saw an Instragram post that stuck with me.  

Did you really have a horrible day or did you have a bad 5 minutes that you milked for the rest of the day?

This was another experience to add to the books, and a lesson learned ⎯ stop pressing “ok” for things that you know nothing about it on this little kid computer.

 

Get over setbacks and continue being great.  

Stop crying over spilled milk, unless it was

hand-milked, organic, free-range, grass-fed, no-water-added, filtered, almond milk from Whole Foods that you ordered through Amazon Prime

Until next time!

The Brown Privileged Underprivileged Millennial

File, save as, open, micro sd card, open, save. Twice