My Decision

January 2020 found the country I live in with a virus outbreak. Over the course of TWO WEEKS mass panic took over. I was on holiday break in Bali. I was not gonna give this issue much thought because I was in BALI. I was not gonna ruin my holiday stressing about what was going on.

However with 3 days left the situation escalated quickly. Emails from work were asking us to return as normally scheduled. Be back by February 3 and self quarantine. School will begin February 17. Stay outside of China or come back became the question I had to answer.
I looked at my bank funds FIRST how long could I really afford to stay out? What happens if I can’t get back into the country? What happens when the money runs out?
I don’t have a ‘home’ in the states. I would have to take myself and my child into other people’s homes until it is okay to return. But when will that be? I know family and friends would let me camp out with them but I HATE LIVING OUT A SUITCASE!!!!! I hate that displaced feeling.
I looked at my child who was slowly going stir-crazy in Bali in the heat. Go figure.

My flight was scheduled to leave 1:30 am January 31. I was to fly from Bali to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong to Shanghai. I was to take a private car from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

I packed enough for two weeks.

It’s crunch time.

I head to the airport.

I am still unsure of what to do.

I look at Elise. I look around me.

We head to the mall. We had LOADS of time to kill. Go to the mall. It rains. I buy two books. We have lunch. I still don’t know what to do. I grab some masks just in case. I look around and all I see are masks and Chinese folks. I’m aggravated just because I don’t know what to do.

Being an adult sucks.

Flight prices were slowing rising.

The city I live in is not highly effected. I can stay inside right?

I get in line to check in for our flight. MASKS EVERYWHERE!!!!!

A calm peace comes over me as I make a decision.

We board our plane.

We are safely back in China in our apartment. Anytime I leave my temperature is checked. I have to wear a mask. Deliveries are being left at the front gate with the guard.

I legit LIVE here. It’s not so simple to just pack up and leave your home. I gotta worry about a dog and a child. Stress cannot control me and my decisions.

I do not regret returning. I have things here I can catch up on that I have been putting off. I am not worried. I have not been contact with NOT ONE SOUL from Wuhan. I couldn’t even tell you where that place in relation to where I am.

SO please take a deep breath and relax. Stop watching the news. Check your sources before contacting me in a panic. I love you all. I am fine. Elise is fine. I came back for my sanity. I did not want to keep hopping countries. I did not want to keep checking in and out of hotels. I did not want to stress and worry my child or myself.

If the US evacuates my city I will get myself and my child on the flight out. Currently they have only evacuated ground zero.

The end of the first week finds my city on “lockdown”

Lockdown definition: an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger

Yeah I am not prevented from entering or leaving my apartment complex. They have restricted movement. Meaning I get a pick slip marking how many times I allowed to leave. On the 5th of February it was every two days by the 7th it was twice a week. Only places that are open are grocery stores. I can still order items online and have it delivered to the apartment building and as long as that is allowed, that is what I will do. If I do not need to go outside I won’t.

I send work home to my kids online. Elise completes her work online as well. Cabin fever has not set in yet.

The number of airlines no longer flying in and out of China is growing by the day. The number of countries that will allow me to visit coming from China is also growing by the day.

3 Weeks Later

So it’s been 3 weeks since I returned. Some people have left. Some have stayed. Some are returning. We have stayed put. The city is slowly coming back to life. They implemented a health code via QR code. Basically you answer a few questions and you either get a green, yellow or red QR code that let’s people know if you are healthy, at risk, or sick. If you are wondering the validity of this, there were a few cases of folks who lied and they were discovered. (I think this effects locals because of their ID and being connected to the system better than expats. However our passports get scanned as well when we enter and exit at the airport. The point is don’t think you aren’t being tracked) Any who I was gifted with a green QR code. This means I can enter and exit my apartment complex with no issues. Restaurants are open for delivery only. A few restaurants have opened for dine-in service. You still are required to wear a mask. Stores are slowly opening back up. People are outside walking around the apartment complex. School is still scheduled to re-open March 16 pending government approval and the logistics are figured out about how to return to school and keep everyone safe and healthy. It’s complex. We are still doing online learning. This comes with its own set of problems with slow internet speed when you have a billion people using the same platforms roughly at the same time.

We are relaxing working, watching TV, reading books, doing puzzles, cooking….you know trying not to be bored and go stir crazy. LOL

WEEK 6

School will not start on the 16th. No idea when school will reopen. We are now bored. Things are slowly re-opening with limited hours. The virus is now spreading across the world and things are getting downright ridiculous. I watch the news now even less than before . The numbers are dwindling in China so maybe life will be back to normal sometime in April.
Life will go on.

Online Teaching

Okay so I am going on a mini rant and an educational PD.

January 2020 found China faced with a rapidly spreading virus that will become known as the Coronavirus COVID-19. China literally shutdown and everyone was quarantined. It was a mess. Schools were closed and we as teachers were forced and thrown into this online/e-learning world.

Here is my issue I take with this: most schools are not prepared for this. Most teachers have no clue what this looks like. We live in a society where parents are ‘afraid’ of screen time because screen time at home looks a hot ass mess and they think it will apply to schools as well. So when school starts we are told to limit the amount of technology and screen time we use in class and our teaching.

Wait a minute it is the 21st century. Technology is all around us. These kids could probably operate technology in ways I didn’t even know about. Yet you are telling me to keep little Matt engaged and actively learning when all he knows is technology. Yeah okay.

I am a teacher. I am an educator. This means I have enough since, knowledge and wisdom to seek out ways to properly and effectively integrate technology into the classroom without it getting out of hand and it looking like a hot mess. I know how to implement technology to where it is an extension to learning and not a prize for learning. So I won’t turn on YouTube and let the video do the teaching. I won’t download zombies and aliens on the iPad and allow the to play this a reward. I won’t provide unlimited access to the laptop or Chromebook and not check to see what they are doing.

What technology in the classroom looks like: formal instruction.
One we are going over the ground rules. I am explaining how to properly handle the technology. I am explaining what you can and cannot do. I have set up so many teacher/parental controls, you are only allowed on what I say you are allowed. I am monitoring the usage. I am tracking the dates on the apps and websites. They are only on educational sites and apps. Teacher tested, student approved. It aligns with learning goals. It is developmentally appropriate. It is differentiated. I have formally taught a lesson and now I allow to show your learning and take responsibility.

What technology is not: turning on Youtube and letting someone else sing and teach your students. It is not handing over the iPad and say find your name or picture and “play” on the app. It is not opening the laptop/Chromebook and saying you can only access these websites.

We were thrown into online/e-learning at my school. We had not done anything that involved an iPad or laptop. My kids did not have the opportunity to experience learning with technology outside of YouTube, Starfall and ABCya. I had one student I was testing my personal iPad with.
So image telling my parents to download this app so your kid can still learn at home without your support. They were all for it in the beginning, now at week 6 going into week 7….I have about 5% of kids still completing work consistently.

My own child is doing e-learning and lord I am now teaching two grade levels. My personal class and her classes. One teacher has the brains to do a project while the rest are sending trash home as busy work.

With limited resources what can you really do? With the great firewall controlling everything you are limited to what you can actually send home that parents will have access to. I have access because I am a teacher and an expat. So I can help Elise but how can I help my kids? How can I help my kids who are learning a second language and parents are learning a second language as well. I got kids memorizing Eric Carle books to share during our video chats. I got parents telling kids what to say when they are recording themselves reading a decodable book. Not one of my parents are educator to know how to properly assist and support their child at home.

Week 7 will find us adjusting things AGAIN. The parents want this. The parents want that. What about what is best for the kids? What about what is effective learning for the kids? I can upload all the videos in the world but when the great firewall is causing the internet to be slow and when you are limited to what parents actually can access, it becomes frustrating. I can’t have everything translated because that defeats the purpose.

I am frustrated and jealous. I am jealous of those that got time to prep and plan for e-learning. I am jealous of those who will have a smooth transition because they were already implementing things inside the classroom and parents understood what was going on and the students were involved with the technology. I am jealous of those not controlled by the great firewall and can access all the educational websites. This jealously is why I am frustrated because I am not feeling very effective right now. I am frustrated because I am trying but students and parents are not participating.

Something has got to give with the state of education. Project based learning and inquiry units need to become a real thing. Technology needs to be integrated and implemented properly to where it is an extension to learning. Teachers need to be trusted to do their jobs. Parents gotta step up and support and stop complaining. Schools will never look like it did when we were in school. It is time to shift into the 21st century. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet. We are preparing students to think outside the box, problem solve, and critically think. Yet our classrooms are boxes and lack creativity. Teachers are given boxed curriculums. Limited supplies and resources. Sites like teacherspayteachers should not exist if we are honest with ourselves. Adopt-a-classroom and donors choose should not exist. If we truly valued education we would invest in education and provide unlimited resources to our schools and teachers. We won’t even touch that $250 tax credit. We spend that much in about a week. Professional development needs to improve and go beyond the box and the norm. We cannot expect our kids to rise above when we keep cutting the resources and materials to help them rise above. People who have no educational experience and knowledge and degrees should not be making education decisions. Just because you can read and write does not mean you should be a teacher. We have got to stand up and say enough is enough and take our profession back. The world is at stake. You want digital learners, you gotta provide the technology to allow it. Trust that teachers will not allow it take over the classroom. We know what we are doing and we know how to seek out the support when we don’t.

Daith Piercing

Transparency

I remember being in the 7th grade with a migraine. Didn’t know that pain had a name. I remember being in the library at school with my head on the table crying my eyes out because of the pain. EVERYTHING hurt. NOTHING helped. NOBODY knew how to help me.

Finally at 16 I remember being on a field trip with my aunt’s daycare and throwing up. Figured it was the McDonald’s I had. Went home and brushed it off. Went for my annual vision exam. Someone hung was amiss. I was sent downtown to MUSC. This can’t be good. I had a field vision test and something else. Results came back…

I had spinal fluid build up pressing in the back of my eyes causing these massive migraines.

Okay now what.

Well we are going to drain the fluid.

How

It’s called a spinal tap. I get an epidural and they get to draining. I remember my aunt being there she worked as a nurse at MUSC. Maybe my mama came down. Don’t really remember. I remember laying in my side facing the wall trying to be as still as possible and as relaxed as possible while they stuck this needle in my back to numb me and stuck another needle in my back to drain the fluid.

Got some meds and went home after the procedure. Okay so my mama was there I couldn’t drive myself back home after that.

For about two good years I had regular headaches.

My mama shared she had headaches up until she was pregnant with me. Look having a baby ain’t the logically sound solution here. Even when I did get pregnant guess who still had headaches.

I continued to have headaches and they continued to monitor the fluid.

At some point in my life I heard of this ear piercing that was supposed to help with headaches. I’ve got 6 holes I was done with piercing my ears and besides it looked like it hurt. So I put that to far back if my mind.

Then one random day in January 2020 I messaged this lady and asked if she did daith piercings even showed her a picture.

Yes we do and we are running a special until the 20th.

Do you have an appointment for Sunday

Yes

Okay see you then

I had a head time locating her but I had to pay in advance so I was gonna find it so help me God. Anyways. I get up to her place and I’m nervous as hell. I was ready to tell her never mind. I even had a headache. I get car sick often. The motion kills me. I remember being car sick as child whenever my dad drove, which was always. So as o got older and living abroad where I rely on taxis I get car sick. Headache nausea I hate it. My last cruise I was sea sick and had to hunt down some Dramamine to survive. Taking off and landing on planes are miserable for me. I keep peppermint oil and gum to help settle my stomach. I keep a supply of headache medicine. Excedrin is about the only thing that works.

I remember when I first got my glasses in 2nd grade having a headache and going to the local fair with that same headache. Miserable.

Back to the story.

She cleans my ear. Squeezes my ear. Sticks my ear and says done.

The hell. She cleans it again until it stops bleeding. Yes it will bleed. She says clean it with sodium. Basically salt water and don’t change it for a month.

It could have been physiological but I swear my headache went away. My ear was sore but that was it. The cold wind hit outside and I almost buckled.

Went to work on Monday. Now to test this cause I can tell you by 10:00 I have a headache.

Went a whole week with no headache.

Got into a taxi no headache.

Rode in a taxi through the mountains of Bali, no headache. I did almost vomit but no headache.

Airplane ride, no headache.

I don’t even have shoulder pain anymore.

Best decision of my life.

If you suffer from headaches I say give it a try. You can always take it out. But I’m a believer.

So yeah….

I’ve been silent for a while. I am not myself and I am basically going through the motions of life. That’s just life. When you lose a parent you lose a piece of yourself you just don’t get back. I try to live but bottom line it hurts and it hurts in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

I don’t talk about it because if I hear one more cliche I am going to scream.

I truly get it, everyone’s heart is in the right place but I really want to yell shut up.

Yes I am grateful that I have my memories. Yes I know she’s not in pain anymore. Yes I know she fought a good fight. Yes I know she is always with me. Yes I know she’s in a better place. Yes I know she is proud of me.

But can’t I still be sad and miss her. Can’t I still cry my eyes out. Can’t I be in pain because my mama is gone and she won’t ever come back. Can’t I still want to pick up the phone and call her. Can’t I want to go home and visit her. Can’t I be happy and sad at the same time.

My mourning and grief did not end at the funeral. I didn’t say okay she’s buried now I can go back to my life as if it’s all over.

No I walk around every day missing her so much it hurts. I walk around hiding my pain because no one around me knows what it is like to lose a parent, especially not their mama. I walk around listening to other people talk about their mama and die a little more on the inside. I avoid family like the plague because they remind of what and who is missing. I am afraid to go home because she is no longer there and I no longer have a home. I don’t post on Facebook much because I am not myself anymore.

March 31, 2018 changed me in ways I can’t even begin to explain and I hate it.

I try. I really do. I look at my daughter and I try for her. I look at myself and I try for me.

As soon as o think I’ve got a hang of things BAM I’m knocked back down and I gotta start all over again.

I am not writing this for sympathy. I’m writing this to help someone else who may be struggling like I am. Honest to God you are not alone.

I am in a Facebook group of men and women who have lost their mothers and we are ALL trying to find the normal without our mamas.

It’s hard and it sucks. It never gets any easier. Holidays are hard. Birthdays are hard. Mondays are hard. 2:00pm on Fridays are hard. EVERY SINGLE DAY that we are alive and reminded our mama is not here is hard.

We smile and laugh. We live. We eat. We sleep. We travel. We cry. We scream. We get up each day and try again.

I am finally brave enough to have this in the living room where I see it daily.

I’m making some changes in my life not only for me but for my mama.

I owe her so much and I won’t waste away doing nothing with my life but existing.

I won’t ever be the same Melissa don’t look for her anymore I will be a different version of myself hopefully a little wiser.

Yet another change

Okay so I have been pretty quiet about this most recent change. Mainly I did not want to deal with all the questions. I still want to deal with all the questions.

Let’s put it like this, it didn’t work out at the last school. Period. The end. Stick a pin in it. If I didn’t personally tell you the details you won’t get details. I didn’t even make the blog I wrote public.

So anyways……

July 3, 2019 was the last working of school.

July 15th I moved to my new city and new flat.

July 17 I walked to my new school to begin new teacher settling in things.

Let me compare the cities

First off I will say this a city will make or break your time in China. Just like a school will make or break you. Just like your accommodations.

1. The first noticeable difference was the railway station. It made sense. No one was pushing and shoving. People were lining up in an orderly fashion to exit.

2. It was quiet. I didn’t hear horns honking every 30 seconds.

3. E-bikes… I could walk and not be concerned about being run over by one

4. I could breathe and not inhale cigarette smoke. They were still smoking but it wasn’t noticeable

5. I swear it looked and felt cleaner. Not that the air still polluted but the city itself looks cleaner.

6. High rise apartments are out of control. I live on the 34th floor…why?

7. I wasn’t stared at. They still looked but it was more like hey we got new black family vs hey look black people we have never seen one of those let’s look awkwardly at them.

Pretty sure my apartment is bigger compared to the last one.

The school is smaller. Which honestly I like better something about a campus the size of a university is just not good. I like that I could actually learn all the students names. I at least know most of the staff by name if not I know most faces.

Big picture and biggest takeaway from all of this: I learned what I want and don’t want. I also learned I’m old and need stability.

To Be Continued…

When Tragedy Strikes part 2

*Edited: it’s been a year March 31 I started writing this at the 6 month mark and could never fully finish it or articulate my feelings, thoughts and emotions*

It’s been 6 months. Her 60th birthday was October 5.

I wanted to share what happened during that last week of her life. It was a shock to a lot of people. When you called and spoke with her she never let on that she was pain. When you came by and visited she never let is show that she was in pain. She joked with you. She kept life pretty damn normal. She would tell me “I don’t want to be a burden” I would roll my eyes and say “Mama that’s what we are here for, lean on us.” I know we couldn’t take the pain away but we could help life be easier and comfortable.  I would fuss at her from Kuwait on the phone. I would call and tell on her to Chris. She would call and act fake mad. I appreciate everyone who she was able to lean on in her time of need. I was her daughter and didn’t know the extent of her pain. I knew she was in pain but not how much until I got home and saw for myself.

Elise happened to call mama the day she got her results back. I rushed Elise in the shower after she said her piece because I needed to focus on what was being said. I get the phone and Betty is acting all nonchalant like there ain’t a purpose for this call. Mama didn’t you have a doctor’s appointment today? What did they say? My mama’s exact words “a lot of things” Me mentally eye rolling because we are video chatting and I was not gonna for real roll my eyes. No matter how far away I was, I wasn’t stupid. She then tells me “I have been released into hospice care” I hold the phone away and compose myself I will not let her see me cry. Then she says “don’t do anything rash” Mama I am coming home. “you don’t need to do that” Mama I am coming home. I am coming home while I have a choice not when I am forced. “oh that makes sense” Mental eye rolling again. “don’t post on Facebook and don’t tell Elise. We will tell everyone when y’all get here” Got it.

I went to work the next day and told them I need to leave and don’t ask me when I’m coming back. Let’s aim for after spring break. My mama is being released into Hospice care and that is my focus right now. I cried in every office I went into that day. I started with my VP. Then I had to go to HR. Final stop was my Principal. Then I went to my team. I was offered to go home but Elise didn’t know what was going on and I just couldn’t deal. So I let work distract me.

I flew out that Saturday morning. March 24. I landed in Charleston Saturday night. Longest flight of my life. I get to the house and she’s sitting up waiting like she normally does. She informs me about her alarm going off to her remind to take her medicine. We all go to sleep. She seems pretty darn normal.

Sunday I do not go to church because no one is supposed to know I am even home. Let’s not ruffle feathers and cause a commotion here.

Art and Regina come over after church for their version of church at the house. I get kicked out of the room like I still sit at the kid’s table. I legit had to take Elise in the room and “play” with her. Really I am 37 years old. How rude. But I get it. No way she was going to be able to hold an adult conversation AND Elise stay in the room the WHOLE time. I heard snippets of the conversation. She told them she was in hospice care and she has made peace with everything. She is tired of being in pain. She is not suicidal. Keep us in prayer. She asked Art to be the song leader at her funeral. They let her know they were going on a cruise in April for Art’s birthday and she politely told them she won’t be here for that. Of course they all laughed it off. Said good-bye and left.

Monday we go to therapy and have the leg massaged and re-wrapped. This is when I got my first glimpse of how much pain she really was in. The struggle to get in and out of the car. How uncomfortable it was for her to sit in the car.

Tuesday the Hospice nurse came over to wash her and she politely in her own way declined. I ask her how many people know. She says “you, Chris, Dee and Runette” Mama are you serious? Again I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want Naomi changing her plans. Mama?!? How Jin didn’t know is beyond me. Well mama I think you need to tell your brothers and sisters. They have a right to know what is going on. You can’t just die on them without letting them know what’s going on. Besides I told Freddie and he’s on the way. Hop to it. I’ve already spilled the beans and do you really think Art and Gina are gonna stay quiet. Don’t let your family find out at church from strangers.

She calls family one by one. Those who are able come by and visit with her. Doesn’t look like anything is wrong right? She’s sitting up being normal Betty.

Wednesday we miss the eye doctor appointment. She just couldn’t get going that morning. Once she did get up, she didn’t want to sit in the car for the 25 minute ride West Ashley.

Thursday night she falls in the front bathroom. I go across the street to get the neighbor to help me. She refused to push her help button. She fell she is fine just get her up. Mama it’s okay I am here and so is the neighbor. We get her into the bed.

Friday Chris is on his way down from Greensboro. I tell him come straight home.

I go check on her that morning. She hadn’t taken any medicine and she’s asking about me and Elise going to church. Mama what medicine do you need to take cause it’s Friday and we don’t even have clothes for church. We finally take the medicine and she goes back to sleep. Chris gets in and tell him what has been going on. She finally get up and Chris helps her down the hallway in time for the hospice nurse to come. We pull this lady to the side and tell her everything. She’s being too nonchalant for my liking. We get a bedside toilet and I am asking about what happens when Chris leaves with getting her in and out of the bed. Again too damn nonchalant. (looking back on it they knew more than what they were telling) We eat our Easter dinner. She tries out her wheelchair. The kids push her down the hall in the wheelchair. She says it’s uncomfortable to sit in for church so it was a good idea but not gonna happen. We help her get ready for bed.

I get up that night to go to the bathroom. I hear her alarm go off but don’t hear her get up to take her medicine. I can hear her coughing. I go in and check on her. Mama you alright. “I need to go to the bathroom” I go get Chris. We each take a side……………………….

I will warn you NOW this is when it happens.

*I think I can finish this.*

It’s now been a year since she’s passed. As you can see I can’t finish writing what happens that night. I think I’ve only told one person what actually happened. It’s a memory that will live with me forever.

I can’t say life has gotten easier. Nor can I say it’s gotten better.

There are days I am drowning in grief. There are days I walk with my grief and I’m okay.

When my daddy passed away he was at the hospital and I came home to find out what happened.

When my mama passed I was in the room.

This year I have felt like an orphan with both parents gone. I haven’t felt like I have a real purpose at life. I’ve been winging it.

Grief is cruel.

Grief with a child is torture.

I am grateful for therapy. I am grateful for those that take a moment to check in on us. It’s hard.

This will always be my favorite picture

October 5, 1958 to March 31, 2018

Gone but never forgotten.

Dating Abroad

So I’ve had several conversations and laughs about dating abroad.

So I’m gonna share those conversations and hopefully you will have a few laughs along the way.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Melissa Holmes. I am from Charleston, SC (Summerville to be specific) I am currently 38 years old with a 10 year old daughter. Never married. Desire to be married. Been in love a time or three.

I came abroad in August 2016 as a single parent in Kuwait. Moved to China August 2018 as a single parent.

When I was stateside I had a boyfriend or two. Dated seriously and dated for fun and dated because I was bored. So this whole dating game I am not new at. Ive dated the bad boy type who wouldn’t meet family. I’ve dated the good guy who my mama would approve of. I’ve dated guys who went to church and a the guy who only went to church for funerals and weddings. I’ve dated damaged men, well put together men, single parent, divorced, older, younger, etc. Look I’ve got all the bases covered and I’ve stories to tell.

Got into the latest trend of online dating and swiping right and left. I did OKCupid when I lived in Maryland. Meet a few cool dudes on there. Most went no where because of a lack of a follow through or inconsistency or just lack of interest.

Came abroad to Kuwait and was encouraged to download Tinder. I meet one guy with a follow through. Neither one of us were looking for anything serious. He became a cool friend to hang out with. I meet a guy through friends who tried to run game on me with a whole wife back home and a girlfriend who was in and out of Kuwait.

Tip 1: ask questions and ask around. The level of game playing has reached a whole new height abroad.

Tip 2: please know what you want BEFORE attempting to date and create a profile on ANY dating site

Tip 3: be open minded

I am too old to be further limiting my already limited dating pool.

Like I can’t make half this mess up.

Now I’m in China

OH. MY. GOD. this is whole new circle of hell.

1. There are like no black people in China. Ok I’m exaggerating. There are black people but one China is like the size of 18 countries. Yep exaggerating again. Okay. Picture the United States. Imagine you live in Florida and the next black person you will likely see lives in Ohio. Now add the next black man you will see lives in California. So Tinder becomes your life just to meet another black face alone. Yes there are WeChat groups

*wechat is like this jacked up thing with Facebook and phone and messaging combined. You can only access groups of you are invited (Facebook groups) and you message each other in these groups (like a group chat) then you post pictures in your moments( like Instagram). You can text individual people and make phone calls as well. Let’s add you can pay for anything via wechat.* look wechat is another post.

So I’m in WeChat groups with other black people but remember I’m in Florida and they are in Ohio.

Now let me explain black people. It is not limited to African Americans. It’s Africans (like 90%) British, Australian, Canadian and like one American. And I won’t even touch these new Moor people. I. DO. NOT. HAVE. THE. ENERGY.

Here’s the extra fun thing Mother Africa got jokes with her men. These babies and yes I call them babies because they are under 30 at university working on degree number 1. Baby what is we doing cause it can’t be me.

So I go back and forth. I uninstall and install again. I swipe right. I swipe left.

I just don’t even know anymore. I try. I really do

But lord you can only good morning me so many times before I lose interest. I am not up for idle chit chat. No solid plans are made.

Then I have these dudes out here trying to recuse me because I’m a single parent.

“Your daughter needs a father” sir you have sent a few good morning texts and we have not seen each other in person, I don’t know your birthday, I met you 3 seconds ago….You have not been upgraded and selected to be step daddy. Sir there are steps to this.

I don’t get it. I really don’t. It baffles my mind.

I had one dude get salty with me because I didn’t tell my child who he was and introduce them. Sir I don’t like you. I don’t have tell that little girl one thing. She don’t pay my bills and you ain’t sticking round. Matter fact you can leave for the night sir. And this was the dude that ended up with a whole wife back in his home country.

and lord don’t get me started on the roommate situation. Sir go away.

I hate dating but yet I keep doing it. I keep trying. I keep hoping and praying. If nothing else I have loads of laughs to share about dating abroad.

Maybe just maybe I will have my happy ending. I’ll keep you dated until then I have stories to share and laughs to give.

Real conversations:

Him: I have a surprise for you send me your location(address)

Me: okay

Him: shows up with jiffy cornbread mix and bacon

Me: you are my new best friend I think I love you

I lived in Kuwait and bacon was not gonna be found. I told him I wanted to make cornbread and he got me jiffy mix. He worked on base and he listened to me. He was one of my better dates.

Different guy

Him: why didn’t you tell her who I was

I had just put Elise down for the night and he was sitting on my couch after hours. He must have thought I was gonna give him some sex. Well after this conversation that option left the table.

Me: because she don’t need to know who you are

Him: why not

Me: because I said so. I don’t even know who you are and she don’t pay no bills

Him: but that’s not how this works you are American

Me: and?

Him: you are supposed to tell her because you tell your children everything

Me: look I tell her what she needs to know and she does not need to know who you are until I decide who you are. I’m a single parent and I don’t go around introducing her to every body that says hello or that is trying to get in my pants. I don’t know what you’ve been listening to but that’s not how this American mama rolls.

Him: okay I apologize

Me: good night you can sleep on the couch or you can go home

Him: you aren’t gonna keep me company

Me: no I have to work until the morning and I’m going to bed alone. There’s a blanket.

I leave him on the couch and that was the last time he came to my house.

Next conversation

Him: let’s meet

Me: okay

Him: you wanna come here

Me: no I prefer to meet somewhere public

Him: like a hotel

Me: goodbye

Random social media inbox conversation

Me: where are you from

Him: Africa

Me: sir Africa is big continent which country

Him: Nigeria, have you heard of it

Me: if I didn’t know any countries in Africa I would not have asked you to be specific. Why are you in my inbox? What’s your purpose? What’s you intention?

Next conversation different guy

Him: how’s your family

Me: my daughter and I are fine

Him: where’s your husband

Me: never married don’t have one

A few follow up questions about Elise and then

Him: so I’m part of the family now

Me: excuse me no that’s not how this works sir

Him: you don’t need me, she needs a father

Me: and who promoted you to this position. Sir there are steps to this. I haven’t even met you in person

Tip: Married folk stay married don’t come out here I these dating streets.

Tip: don’t be afraid to push the conversation along. You gotta weed out the bullshit and quick or they will waste your time and WYD you to death. Or kill you with small talk.

I have been chatting with a guy who lives in another country for a solid year and I cannot tell you his birthday or favorite color or nothing significant because we talk about nothing and I get irritated with the idle chit chat. I’ll go days without responding because I’m pissed. Sir make moves. Make plans. Use your big boy words. I work with 5 year olds all day. My attention span is nonexistent. My patience is gone. I need a real conversation. I need depth. I can’t guide a grown man on how to converse. I do that all day.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU SETUP YOUR PROFILE.

When attempting to date someone from another culture know the norms. Mess around and have a husband in a week.

Dating is fun and dating is not. One day I will date my husband for the rest of my life. Until then…..pray for me. I’m getting weary

38 Things

As I embark on year 38 of life, I have to pause and reflect.

First life doesn’t look anywhere close to what I thought it would be at 38.

Lets start here. Who remembers playing MASH to determine your life? Let’s just say it is a setup for failure.

Growing up all I really ever paid attention to was getting married and having kids. Never gave much thought to a career. I was going to get married and have kids. Work? Why? My husband was going to work and provide for the family.

Please don’t even ask me where I got this idea from both my parents worked.

I toyed around with being a lawyer….that was 8 years of schooling I did not want to do. I was too squeamish to be a doctor or a nurse. I wanted to be rich and live in a mansion. I even thought about a singing career and can’t really sing.

Lets have some laughs at the child’s mind.

So high graduation comes and here I am off to college.

Let’s face it College is not for everyone and I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life.

Wanted to become a teacher but there was no money in that field.

Went and obtained my cosmetology license

Got a job at a call center…QUIT

Got a job in retail….hung out there for a while but quit TWICE….nope wait THREE times

Alright Melissa time for a heart to heart.

1. There is no such thing as a knight in shining armor coming to rescue you and sweep you off to your mansion

2. You gonna kiss a whole bunch of frogs and only God knows when the frog will turn into a prince…. meaning you gonna have a lot of dating woes to the point of questioning your sanity.

3. Find your passion and make a career out it.

Here’s my heart to heart conversation with myself

Melissa what is the one thing you want to do no matter what?

Self: damnit I wanna be rich and live in a mansion

Melissa what could you see yourself doing for the rest of life

Self ugh I don’t wanna

Melissa stop denying your calling and get right

Self looks up schools for early childhood education

I start with my associates and working in daycare.

Got pregnant and instantly realized I can’t feed two people on minimum wage goes back to school to obtain my Bachelors degree.

Enter into the public school system.

4. Life is not all pretty and laid out. It’s a bunch of ups and downs and curve balls. You gotta learn to roll with the punches. If plan A don’t work there are 25 more letters in the alphabet. Don’t give up

5. Having a child will make you grow up real fast.

6. Being a single parent makes you grow up even faster.

7. you realize your parents were and are right and you have pretty much “wasted” 27 years of your life

8. Becoming a mother is a challenge you are never prepared for. Look playing house with doll babies and toys is bunch of lies.

Yes babies are cute but they don’t stay babies forever and they cry A LOT. Yes they can make doll babies look like real babies but a real baby requires, demands attention. Breastfeeding, yeah don’t stress over that. If you can, great. If you can’t, don’t trip. Organic go for it. Hand-me-downs, no one cares. We will all parent our children differently. What matters at the end of the day is that you loved your child and you prepared them to be adults. Humans who have to function in society with other people. Teach them manners. Teach them kindness. Teach them about integrity. Teach them about their reputation. Teach them all the things you wish you knew while not forgetting the things you do know. Our parents weren’t all idiots and fools. There are things that they taught us that are useful and wise. Provide your children with a firm foundation to hold them strong in this cruel world. I guess that’s number 9.

10. Associates, Friends, and Family
I’m gonna quote Madea on this one “there are people who come into your life for a season” you better learn QUICK who those people are. 

Growing up I had a whole bunch of “friends” and all of sudden “friends” had to pick a side and I was left on the outside looking in. I learned at the tender age of 13, keep my circle small and keep real friends close.

All you really need in life are one maybe two close friends who end up becoming family. We don’t always get to choose our family but that moment you do, choose wisely.

11. Do your job and go home
I probably should have put this up around my career advice but whatever.
Look not everyone you work you with is your friend. Don’t date where you work. Do your job and go home. I have been fortunate to have at least one co-worker I could go and talk to and not worry about it getting around. You need one person who understands your career. One person you can look at during staff meetings and roll your eyes with. One person you can ask for a reference. Don’t be that person at work who can’t hold water and knows all the gossip.

12. those who gossip with you will gossip about you.
watch who you tell your plans to, watch who you vent to. Everyone is not in your corner. Some are gaining your ideas and plans to fuel their own. They will snatch it and not even mention your name.

13. sometimes you gotta move in silence. Tell people of your plans once it is completed.

14. Mental Health is important.
I cannot stress this one enough. That whole strong black woman is utter nonsense. Being strong does not mean you don’t ask for help or even seek help. You were NOT built to carry the weight of life on your shoulders ALONE. I don’t care if you can or you have done it. STOP and STOP it now. You are killing yourself and don’t even realize it. Get some sleep, a full 8 hours if you can 7 hours is good as well. Turn off your phone. Silence the ringtone and notifications. Say NO. Mediate. Journal. Pray. Relax. Release. Relax your shoulders. Smile. Fix your face. Wear some different colors. Do something different every once in while. Let go and forgive. Talk to someone. Do NOT be afraid to seek professional help.
*bonus you can be a Christian believe in God and still seek professional help. Guess what you can also mediate and do yoga too.* I’m making this 14-20 cause I dropped some real life nuggets just now.

21. Get your passport. Leave your city. Leave your street. Leave your state. Stop letting other people tell you what do and see.

22. guess what you can travel and not go broke. You can travel and not be rich. It’s called budget and plan. Take those vacation days. America is the only….okay one of the few places where people legit work to death. Every company will give you vacation days, sick days and even personal days…..USE THEM!!!!!

23. don’t believe the media hype about any and everything. The media is there to play on your fears. I’m talking about traveling. Every country is not evil and guess what America ain’t the best place out there.

24. that thing you are afraid of doing, DO IT.

25. Cherish people while you can. I can’t even begin to explain what it is like to lose a parent. It’s crippling. I loved my mama and my daddy. My daddy I have some regrets because I was a bratty teenager when he died. When my mama passed away I just wasn’t ready and my days are filled with what if’s. You don’t get a second chance at life. Love those who love you. Repair relationships if you can while you can

26. Life is what you make it. You can do ANYTHING you want. I didn’t always believe this. But with faith and stepping out of our comfort zones you can legit do anything. I would have never thought I would live and work internationally but here I am.

27. Real talk: are parents aren’t complete idiots. I find my parents coming out of my mouth daily. Some of the things they taught us make sense and we realize they were protecting us from ourselves.

28. Live within your means. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t have a desire to travel, don’t. If you can’t afford a BMW, then don’t. This leads me to point 29…

29. Don’t go into debt trying to keep up with the Joneses. I have never wanted a house. Guess what I don’t have one. I want to purchase land and build a house, guess what I will. I have friend who have land in Ghana, Jamaica a few with property on Thailand. None of those places are my dream. So I’m not jumping on it. I want I fly business every flight but my wallet and budget say NOPE. And that’s OKAY. My dream ain’t your dream. My reality and your reality.

30. College debt is a lie and bullshit. You do not and repeat you do not have to go into debt for a college degree. Research and research and research some more on how to attend college for free. If you don’t want to attend college then don’t. Find your passion and go forth.

31. Everyone can’t be that straight A student stop stressing your child(ren) out. Know your limits and your child’s limits.

32. Encourage and uplift. You never know what people are going through. A warm friendly smile goes a long way. Call and check on your friends. Be consistent. Treat people like you want to be treated. Spread some love and cheer

33. When a child is talking LISTEN our children are going through some things and they need to know we are there for them. They need to know someone cares. Be their advocate

34. Can we bring back the village? Can we support one another? Can we truly be there for one another? it’s something about living away from home that forces you to create real and meaningful bonds with people you don’t know but you get to know. When someone looks at you and says “hey you are not okay, let’s go out” or they let you just cry it out or vent it out….that’s a village. That’s support. I have been fortunate enough to always have a village wherever I live but some people don’t have that.

35. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. This goes back to mental health. Stop carrying life on your shoulders thinking you have to do it alone. You don’t and guess what NO is a complete sentence. Stop apologizing for things you aren’t sorry for. Stop saying yes when you mean no. Stop giving excuses. Take those Ls and learn from them

36. De-clutter your life. De-clutter your social media. De-clutter your phone. I clean my social media often. What is popping up on my timeline? Is it positive uplifting helpful, do I actually know you? Do I use this app? Why do I have this number? When was the last time I wore that? Do I really need that? Why am I paying for this subscription?

37. Children and pets will make you question your sanity.

38. Birthdays mean something totally different as you get older.

Life ain’t easy and it doesn’t come with a handbook on how to live it. We make mistakes. The important thing to remember is to learn from that mistake or you are bound to repeat it again. Don’t feel like you have to live this alone. Bring along a few good friends. Have some laughs. Do something daring. Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. I’m living my life one day at time. Some days it’s one moment at time.

I made the switch

When I moved abroad it was highly common and popular to have two phones. Your American phone and your local phone.

After a while this became a pain. I mean really why put myself through this. I had a dual SIM Samsung but I didn’t like it and it was a downgrade from my current Samsung S9. So when I traveled I would get a local SIM and essentially I had 3 numbers, again was it really necessary?

Then I moved to China where EVERYTHING is blocked and monitored. Here’s where having a Samsung became a pain in the ass.

So I had to do some research on Apple and iPhones. I have a MacBook . Elise has an iPad but I LOVE my Samsung. I am loyal to Samsung. Even have a Samsung watch and Samsung wireless earbuds. I would buy stock in Samsung. I even bought a Samsung TV once.

iPhones are internationally friendly meaning who hasn’t spotted an Apple store when traveling? iPhones can sync across devices I already have a MacBook. I prefer iPads to Samsung tablets so maybe just maybe I will like an iPhone. So I booked a flight to Hong Kong to get a real iPhone not the blocked up Chinese version. I settled on the iPhone XR because it comes with a dual SIM slot. The other iPhone XR have a dual SIM but one is an e-chip and I can’t risk that not working when I travel or where I live.

I popped my T-Mobile SIM inside and BAM it works. I waited until I returned to China to put my Chinese SIM inside. BAM it worked

So I’ve been using the iPhone XR since December. It’s now February

*update it’s March*

I still don’t get the hoopla about iPhone. It’s a phone.

Yes it syncs across all my devices.

I enjoy the use of two SIM cards and only having one phone.

Honestly if you travel a lot and ever cross into China I would suggest getting an iPhone.

There are things I like and things I don’t.

I miss swiping my fingers across the keep board to type.

I miss being able to customize my ringtones and notifications. Somethings are just set to default and there is nothing I can do about it.

I miss the silly filters on my camera.

I miss not having a home button

I like the Face ID

I do like I don’t always need to have my special blocker on to access normal things like Facebook. It will move slowly so I just turn it and save myself the headache.

I do feel like there are more app options because most people create apps for iPhone before droid.

Apple maps translates nicely into English

I do like my notifications flashing across the screen and I can swipe down and not leave my current app

Never used a lot the functions on Samsung to miss them. I think I used the multi screen option twice.

I do like the syncing option across devices

I do like the Bitmoji

A phone is a phone if you ask me. Maybe an iPhone user can tell me the difference. I will more than likely get an Apple Watch but I like my Fitbit and really just want to track my steps. Not really concerned about the rest of things.

As long as my phone works and I’m not stuck without access to the rest of the world I’m good.

would I be in a rush to upgrade when a new one comes out? Doubtful

I’m still team Samsung but for now I have an iPhone.

My first vacation since

When you are born you have a lot of celebration of  firsts.

When you first sit-up on your own, roll over, sleep through the night, crawl, walk, eat baby food, eat table food, talk, etc

Your first birthday is a huge milestone followed by turning 5. Attending kindergarten and the big school.

Your sweet 16. Turning 18 and graduating high school then college.

You get a drivers license and if you are lucky a car you don’t have to share or be a taxi.

You get an apartment. You ruin your credit. You rack up debt. You realize being an adult sucks and it was a setup and you don’t always feel fully prepared.

Then one day life gives you the worse blow ever, life snatches a loved one. Then you have a whole different set of firsts.

Those first holidays. Those birthdays. Those milestones you wanna share but they are no longer there. You share with others but it’s not the same. You try and channel their voice and what they would say, but damnit it is not the same.

You work through your grief. You try to keep life normal as it once was. But let’s face it’s not the same. Life is different. There is a WHOLE person missing.

If you’ve been following me, you know my mama passed away March 31, 2018.

My life has not been the same since and it never will be the same.

There are days I come falling to my knees in a heap of tears like it just happened.

There are days I can laugh and be happy.

There are days where I am irritated and frustrated, where is all the love and support now. Don’t you know I’m still hurting. Don’t you know I’m not better. Don’t you know I still miss my mama so much it physically hurts. Don’t you know I’m afraid for what lies ahead because she’s not here to share it. Don’t you know I have to grieve for myself and my child.

There are days I’m happy and laugh.

There are days I wanna give up and not feel anymore.

There are days I lean on God and there are days I hate God.

Life keeps moving on whether I want it to or not.

We took our first vacation since moving to China.

We went to Malaysia.

First 3 days I struggled to leave the hotel grounds and explore. Not because I didn’t want to but who was I gonna call? Who was gonna be happy about the pictures?

I would get to the airport and call my mama and tell her “hey we are at the airport about to broad, call you when we land”

Didn’t call a soul. I’m not even sure who knew of our plans. We even traveled business class for the first time ever. I called no one.

When we land I would text her in the runway ” we just landed” and she would respond “thank God” I don’t care what time I texted she would immediately respond “thank god” I know on some level she worried about us traveling and making it out destination safely. She also knew I was safer in the air than on the ground.

When I landed in Malaysia I texted no one. Checked in to our hotel in silence. Mama wasn’t asking me what time it was. I wasn’t snapping pictures and sharing it with her.

My new normal was me moving in silence. My new normal was watching my daughter smile and be happy.

I finally went and had a massage along with a mani and pedi. I haven’t done these things since I left Kuwait and my body was tense and stressed. I left the massage table feeling like new money.

Elise hung out at the pool like she usually does

I, well I tried to ignore my issues.

I tried to keep a smile on my face so Elise wouldn’t pick up on my emotions.

But the string was slowly snapping and I was going to collapse under the weight of this new normal and pretending I’m okay.

We went to the theme park. We were walking along enjoying ourselves and all of a sudden my heart is racing way too fast for my liking. I go stay by a pool to catch my breath. I can’t seem to calm down. We walk a little towards the shade and all I wanna do is cry

I want my mama. Why are you people happy and enjoying life? Don’t you realize there is a WHOLE person missing from this world? There’s someone missing from my world and it will NEVER be the same.

How is this fair? She’s no longer in pain but I am in pain almost daily and the pain won’t go away.

While Elise plays in the water. I sit and cry.

While the world keeps on living and moving.

I sit and cry because I miss my mama. I want her here. I want to share this with her. I want her to see Elise will find water I don’t care what country we are in, she will find water and will play.

The worst thing ever. Housekeeping broke my MacBook I am near tears. Anyone who has ever owned a MacBook know my frustration. One I purchased this stateside so any insurance I have is only good stateside. Apple will charge me an arm and a leg. I take it next door to the mall and pray for an easy fix. Nope not gonna happen. He’s like you need a new one. Sir that’s not an option. Fixing this ain’t even in the budget but I need my MacBook.

300 USD later it’s fixed. The hotel is not responsible or liable but they will talk to housekeeping.

Lesson: keep your valuables up

Philippines on deck.

Not to say I didn’t enough Malaysia but I definitely was happy to be in the Philippines

Arrive at the hotel and I’m greeted by hotel staff by my name. Okay I see you pimping. Get to the desk greet by name again and they are all ready for me to check in. The smoothest check in of my life.

Get to my room and I am happy with the accommodations

I am not one to recommend places but look if you are ever in Manila please check out Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.

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I will leave them a glowing review.

We did not see not one sight. I wanted to relax and hang out poolside and Bay side.

I did get a massage and it was heaven.