I tried the carrot cake…

…and I stared at it. Just stared at it in awe struck wonder. How can something taste so perfect?

Carrot cake is my favourite kind, and I hadn’t had any since becoming vegan. Now I’m finally reunited with my beloved in it’s vegan form, and it’s undoubtedly the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted. Sometimes carrot cakes tend not to have enough of the spices in them, and end up being woefully bland. This was not the case with this beautiful cake. It was plenty “spicy”, just the way I like it. It had walnuts (WALNUTS, PEOPLE! All nuts matter, but none work as well as the walnut with a carrot cake), the icing was just the right amount for me (I don’t like excessive amounts of icing),  it was perfectly moist, AND the icing had the nerve to have a tang to it, just like cream cheese… though no cream cheese was used in the making of this cake.

How did I come to such a place of cake appreciation?

1. I learned young. My mom loves cake, and always had some around the house.

2. The amazing Miss Heather of Pie Pie My Darling (no, she didn’t ask me to do this. Yes, I’m plugging her business. Every cake I’ve had has never disappointed) has showed me what vegan baking could really be. To be fair, I wasn’t vegan back in Philadelphia. Lucky her, she got to be the first to pop my vegan baked goods cherry! (I had to y’all).

3. I had one heck of a week, which I will tell you about right now…

I had been enjoying the benefits of having a real schedule up until last month and this month. Unfortunately, you can get bumped back to reserve, and it happened, folks. I was on reserve from Monday-Friday this week. Scheduling called, and I was originally assigned a 2-day. Tuesday morning, that changed to a 3-day, which spilled into Wednesday. Wednesday morning, I was extended until the last day of my reserve.

I was out 5 days, people. From an hours standpoint, that’s a good thing. Here’s why it sucked otherwise:

  • I started feeling sick Sunday. I didn’t call out because I had called out last week. I hate calling out, but the cramps were that bad. I experienced the worst of the cold M-W, and barely had the energy to work. All I could basically do was work, eat, and sleep. I think it was the 2nd of the month for 2 days according to my paperwork.
  • I started running out of food. 3/4 of the overnights weren’t near any markets that I knew of.
  • I was running out of money to get food.
  • I forgot my deodorant. I was ripe all of those days because of the reason above.
  • I ran out of underwear. Yes people… I committed the traveler’s cardinal sin of not packing enough underwear. Don’t worry, though; there was a sink and soap that I put to good use to rectify the wrong I committed against myself.

Plus, I had to endure a bit of disrespect from someone. It was frustrating, and I was so done with life. I went home, dumped my bags into my room, and promptly turned heel and left the house. At first, I didn’t think I was hungry, but this sort of  terrible day called for good food. I found myself walking the well-worn path I’ve made to Handlebar. I’ve started haunting this place ever since I found out I was a 15-minute walk away, and I fell in love with their Nashville Hot “Chik’n” sandwich. AND… they sell Pie Pie My Darling by the slice. What more could a girl want??

So there I was on a Friday night, desperately needing to decompress, and eat something good.

No, I didn’t order the Nashville Hot “Chik’n” this time. They still have the buffalo mac & Chz (vegan) on the specials list, so you know I’m on board; I love buffalo anything. I had this before I became vegan, and lusted over it for months. Now, not only have I found a vegan version, I found THE vegan version! I ate it slowly, slower than I ate it the first time I tried it.

I savored every bite. The creaminess of the “chz” sauce, the tang and bite from the buffalo sauce, the soft noodles, the fried seitan bits, which were crispy, and loved on by that buffalo sauce. Let’s not forget to mention the bread crumbs, AND the crack-laced house made vegan ranch dressing that was on top. They were not shy with it people. (There’s no crack in the sauce, I swear. At least none of which I’m aware, though it is addictive). Stuff that tastes this good is why there are fat vegans. I’m about to be one of them, but at least I’ll be eating good food.

Afterward, you know I had to have my cake!

How did I even find out about PPMD? Well, I creepily obsessed over found her on Instagram, shortly before or after coming to Chicago last January. I didn’t realize the cakes were vegan at first; they simply looked drool-worthy and amazing. I went to a vegan food fest in the summer, where she was selling some of her cake. I tried the funfetti, and it was so good, I cried. I’ve been obsessed ever since.

Now that we’ve got the back story, let’s go back to the cake.

It was JUST the sweetness that I needed after such a tumultuous week. I felt like I sucked at adulting, life, breathing… just everything. Having the cake somehow made it better. It was nice to take time for myself to do what I love best: eat really good food. I couldn’t finish the whole cake right then, however. I always get to a certain part of the cake before I have to ask for a box. Then I put the remainder in the box, and greedily lick the plate (I promise I use a fork).

I have a lot going on: I don’t know what my future holds as far as where I’ll be living in the next 3 weeks. I don’t have a clear picture on my state of health. I don’t even know what my schedule looks like next week! All I know is that I was fat and happy last night; everything else will work itself out.

I paid my tab and gave a generous tip, then slipped out of the restaurant into the comfortable cool of the night to walk myself home.


A “Thank You Universe” Moment

So, this year, I decided that I wanted to work on my health and my book (yes, I’m writing a book). This last week and a half has gone wild… and by ‘wild’, I mean it’s been a true Charlie Foxtrot. (Take the first letter of both of those words, and you’ll know what I mean).

  • I went to the ER on the 15th. They found ovarian cysts. I went to the gynecologist today. They see something else that isn’t normal. I’m going back in 2 weeks.
  • I live in a house with 5 men and 1 woman. The other woman and I are apparently getting booted out at the end of April. I then went on to have a serious panic attack, and began frantically looking for places to live.
  • My account went negative.
  • I was told immediately on one of my apartment searches that my application wouldn’t be approved because of my credit score. Whoop de doo.

This is one of those times where it feels like life is torturing you, and laughing in your face. But don’t fret, friends! Some pretty good things happened too!

  • I did go to see an apartment that I’m applying for. In fact, I’ve seen 3 in different areas, and ended up shooting the breeze with the realtor. We even had coffee together! I may apply for the more expensive apartment. I wanted to be economical, but I don’t think the less expensive option is the right place for me.
  • I went out to socialize that evening, and it was fun! I ended up having a conversation with a nice young man.
  • I went to a vegan mac down, which was a vegan mac & cheese competition (Oh yeah! I forgot to tell y’all that I’m vegan. That happened last January). It was there that I met my first vegan friend, and my first Chicago friend that wasn’t a coworker or a roommate.
  • That night, I went out to sing karaoke. It was a blast.
  • I met a pig for the first time. One of the roommates is from a farm, and his family rescued a pig named Truffles. I was weirded out by the situation at first, but she’s very cute. I enjoyed her being around. (she’s actually right outside my room right now).

It seems like after things went to crap, they started to get better. It was hard to see at the time, but even the crappy stuff was a gift. I now am taking care of myself physically and finally (hopefully) figuring out why I’ve had debilitating cramps for 20+ years. I’m also starting to feel more at home in Chicago, and am getting closer to having a place of my own… so I can make this new town my own.

It will also be very nice to not have to hide in my room from my roommates when I need to be to myself. I will be very thankful for this. After such an action-packed weekend, this introvert is extroverted out. I need to unwind and recharge. All in all, though, things are finally starting to look up.

more on “adventures to the ‘hood” another time…


So much change, so much to tell…

Friends, it’s been a while since I’ve been here. A while since I’ve posted an entry. So much has happened. I don’t even remember when I last wrote to you, and told you all that was going on.

I think the best way to try updating you all is bullet points, which I’m sure I’ll expand on here and there. This way, when I write future entries, you’ll be able to put things in context. I think the biggest thing I need to tell you first is that I don’t live in PA anymore.

I’m still a flight attendant (in fact, my 3 yr anniversary was in October), but I’m not based in Philly anymore, which was close to home. I’m now based in Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and I’ve moved there to reduce the stress of getting back and forth to work. I was displaced from Philly International last December, and started working from O’Hare last January.

I gave up my lease to my beloved apartment in May of last year, and was officially moved here in June. Since then, I’ve been on a road to healing emotionally, and it’s been crazy. I’ve been actually seeing a therapist to deal with emotional hurts (which included being raped in November of 2017), almost drank myself into unconsciousness this past August, and started dating more. Currently, I live in a house full of hippies and male energy. That brought out a lot of anxiety and depression, and maybe a little alcohol abuse.

Oh, and since we’re airing out dirty laundry, let’s add this in: I’m pretty sure my PMS has morphed into PMD because I haven’t coped well with moving so far away from home. It has been good for my soul in a lot of ways, but some crazy things have surfaced, too. Mainly, when I’ve had suicidal thoughts this past year, it was before my period, when I would typically have PMS. It’s not that I don’t have real issues, but all of the angst and torment goes away as soon as the period comes. Thank God for Susan, my therapist, who reminds me that this isn’t a normal way to live, and made me sign a no harm agreement, which I am determined to honor.

Long story short, I’m grateful to be in Chicago. It has helped me realize how messed up I am. How is this good, you ask? Well, it helps me realize what’s going on so that I can attempt to heal from it, instead of sweeping it under the rug, and putting on a brave face. That’s not healthy, and I may have never known how truly unhealthy I was had I not moved away. Discovering myself hasn’t been all bad, though. I’ve been doing things and figuring out what I do and don’t like, now that I finally feel like I have the freedom and liberty to see who Rachel really is. So I guess I’m excavating my true self more than discovering. Maybe that’s a better word choice?

So, here’s to the scary and exciting road to healing and spiritual spelunking. I’m back, friends. Cheers.


Can’t Women All Just Get Along?…

Skinny women, fluffy women, in between women? I’ve been in 2 out of 3 of those categories, and I get tired of the evil looks. All I ever did was walk by and be nice to you. I know that look because I used to get it from people that said they were friends.

I woke up thinking of that song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. The line that makes me giggle is when she says “I’m bringing booty back”. I love that this song became a mainstream song that celebrates the big girl.

I’ve been friends with my share of fluffy women, and honestly, I wish I was them. I always wished I was them. It’s a shame that only a certain type of woman is seen as beautiful and even sexy, because the truth of the matter is that guys really do like “a little more booty to hold at night.” Besides, there are places in the world where I would never get a second glance because I’m not full figured.

Yet bigger women wish they were thinner. That’s a true shame, really. I hope some of them get to go to places where they get to experience men fawning over them. Every woman deserves to feel sexy. Because she is. No matter what size she may be.

If some of us thinner women are honest (and there are those of us that are), we wish we had the hips, booty and thighs that some bigger women have got. I’ve had friends that were thinner and desired to gain weight. I was one of them at a point in my life. Mostly, I wanted people to stop thinking I was sick and too thin. I felt like an ugly duckling when I was at my thinnest. Before I had time to accept my smaller size, people were thrusting their opinions on me. There were those that thought I looked amazing, which made me question how I looked before and if it was really that awful. Then there was the other camp of people that asked if I had been sick or if I was eating.

Being a person that doesn’t like to be the center of anyone’s attention, it was overwhelming. I ended up being very depressed because I thought I was ugly because of things people said. I wanted to be an in-between girl like I used to be, but maybe with some more booty. But I began to wonder if I should stay thinner because maybe I didn’t look as good as I thought I did then. It was a hard time.

You know what I hate too? The way clothing fits on bigger women, including the intimates. There is this automatic assumption that you have bigger breasts if you’re a larger woman, and that’s not always the case. I can’t imagine what the bra search must be like! Clothing designers also act like bigger women want to hide their figures under circus tents that people dare to call clothing! What for?! This is why, even though I’m not a bigger woman and never have been, I’m thankful for stores like Torrid that have fashionable clothing for plus-sized women. They deserve to look their best just as much as any skinny or in-between woman.

Now I’m still an in-between woman in terms of size, but I got the extra booty that I wanted. That was all thanks to my wonderful personal trainer. Hiring a personal trainer, even though it was for a short time, made me feel empowered and confident in my body. Through thick(er) and thin, I had never felt like that. One day recently, I tried on a swimsuit, and I actually liked the way I looked in it. My body had changed a little bit in terms of how it looked, but what really changed was my mind. If for no other reason, hiring a personal trainer was worth that.

Whatever it takes, I hope that more women start to love themselves and be comfortable in and with their bodies, no matter what size it may be at the time. Let’s face it; our bodies are going to change a lot. Though it won’t be easy all of the time, I wish we loved ourselves where we were, and not because the scale is showing a smaller number.

Only then will we be able to look at another woman and say to her “You look amazing”, and mean it, without feeling like it takes anything away from our beauty. That would be a beautiful thing.

I lost it over a tip…

…because I was in the nail salon and forgot to get cash. Yes, I had a mental fit over this. Allow me to explain.

This past weekend has been rough emotionally, as it was a weekend where the things that were bothering me had to do with being black. There are days when I don’t let it get to me, but then there are times where I feel like the world is imploding around me, like this weekend.

For those that are unaware, there is this preconceived notion that black people don’t tip, or tip poorly when it comes to anyone giving a service of some sort. Sometimes workers will decide how they’re going to treat you just by looking at you. I’ve worked jobs where I have had to rely on tips to supplement what I wasn’t getting per hour, so I know what it feels like when you don’t get tipped. Couple that with this idea that service persons have of black people, and you end up having a anxiety attack/mental meltdown in the nail salon, a place where you should be enjoying yourself.

I don’t know if anyone could tell I was freaking out and chiding myself for not getting cash, but it slipped my mind. I hadn’t been to a nail salon in 4 years, and had forgottenĀ that they don’t take tip on cards. For non-POC, this is excusable. For me, not so much. It brought back memories of being in hair stores, which are mostly run by Asian people. I felt like I was being judged and watched, even though I would never steal from or rob anyone! Then I started thinking that the staff was ignoring me, when they really weren’t. I was so in my head that I was brushing back tears. The young man that did my nails helped pull me out of that just by being his smiling friendly self. He has no idea how much that helped me.

I promptly left the store to get cash so I could tip about 25%. Could I afford it? Not really, but he did a great job. Besides, it was nice not to be scolded for my nails being so short or for wanting them short. Female nail techs always get on me about that.

Sunday didn’t get any better. I was in church, and wasn’t sitting towards the front, like I usually do. I was on call, so I stayed towards the back. A young white man with a hoodie was in service worshipping with us. I don’t know why, but I felt a pain in my chest, which I know was anxiety. When I saw him, all I could think of was that church shooting in South Carolina. The shooter was white, and purposely targeted black people.

White people have come and gone from our church and I never thought twice about it; why was this bothering me today? I remember watching him for any unusual behavior, and taking notice of all the exits. I never recall feeling like this. Was I right to be suspicious? Why now and why with this particular person?

If I could sum up this past weekend in a word, it would be this: unsafe.

I’m not safe from people’s perceptions of me. I can’t be spared from people’s prejudices and how they’ll treat me based on how I look. There’s no reprieve from being black; it’s an every day thing. I hate how talking about it makes white people uncomfortable. Trust us, we don’t want to try to make you uncomfortable. If you do feel this way, maybe you should ask yourself why that is, because it probably has nothing to do with me.

I tossed, turned, and cried last night in bed, fretting about this. It’s something that’s not so simply changed. I wish I could talk to my counselor because she is black and could understand how I’m feeling, and she helped me get out of my head a bit. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to talk to her anymore.

In a world where being black could mean not returning home again, I feel lost and alone. I need my counselor back.

To The Childless Mother

Being a mom has nothing to do with having birthed a child. The same can be said about being a father. There are women and men that have children together, and they are not mothers or fathers. Being a mother or father is something that you already are, whether you’ve had children or not; however, having children or having someone dependent on you to be that mother or father figure brings out what has already been in you.

I think back to when I was a member at a Bally Total Fitness that was in the next town over. There was a young man that was a personal trainer named William. I scheduled a free personal training session with William and enjoyed that time. If I could have, I would have hired him to be my personal trainer because we had a great chemistry; we got on right away. At the end of it, I remember this thought passing through my head: “He’d be a great father someday.” Now William wasn’t much younger or older than me at the time, but I saw something in him that said “father”. Being a father isn’t something that you become; it’s something you already are.

Likewise, I have a friend Katie that is finally with child after quite a wait. I remember her venting to me with frustrations about not having her own children, and how she would wonder if it would happen. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to the point of tears when she made that announcement.

Katie is younger than me, and has been a mother for as long as I’ve known her, well before she married her husband and became pregnant. She has dutifully raised her nieces, who look to her as their mother, and love being with and around their “Aunt Katie”. When she lived in an apartment, she helped a grandmother that lived down the hall with two of her granddaughters. Even in those times when she was wanting her own children and didn’t know if that would happen, she availed herself to those that needed the care and nurturing of a mother; after all, that’s what she has always been.

Mother’s Day is coming up, and when people would wish me a “Happy Mother’s Day” in church, my heart would drop to my feet and shatter. I would cry uncontrollably because I wanted to be a mother and had no children to show for it. Now I understand why people were doing it; just as I saw a mothering spirit in Katie and in other women that I know (even before they had children), they must see it in me.

They can see who I am, and what I always was.

I can’t promise that I won’t cry this Mother’s Day, but I must remind myself that being a mother has nothing to do with having birthed children. Rather, it has everything to do with having the spirit of a mother. When I think back on it, I’ve been doing this since I was in high school with my friends. They didn’t take it well, but a mom has always been in me. I was much rougher then and could have stood to not be so brash with my words, but I bore no intentions of being mean. I said certain things because I cared about my friends, and wanted what was best for them. Just like any good mother would.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my childless mothers. Your influence can still leave a legacy for children that need a mother like you.

Weekend Workers

“Thank God it’s Friday!” people always said. There’s this buzz that surrounds Fridays because it signifies the end of the work week for some.

I always found the phrase to be annoying. For me and others like me, Friday is my Monday… or even hump day depending on when my work week started.

While we’re all familiar with the portion of the population that dreads Monday and drags themselves through the week trying to make it to Friday, there is that other section of the population that goes unnoticed and is unappreciated. Take nurses and cops, for example. People don’t stop being sick or breaking the law because it’s Friday. In fact, those may be busy times for nurses and police officers. There are those that overindulge and need professional medical attention… and those that overindulge and do things that land them in the back seat of a police car. I would think professions like this relate to the Lord in the sense that they neither sleep, nor slumber. Nurses and cops are always at work, keeping us healthy and safe.

Then there are privileges that we enjoy that (gasp!) involve someone having to work the weekend. Flight crews work around the clock (sometimes literally!), delivering packages, passengers, and shooting photos of the earth for GPS info. All so you can have that quick weekend in Jamaica, make your way to the dance hall using your GPS, or receive that thing you had to have from Amazon. Retailers are open on weekends, so you can get a new dress and shoes to go out in. I know; I used to work in retail.

Not to mention grocery stores and restaurants, who usually experience their highest volume of customers on the weekends. While people are so glad for it to be Friday, the real weekend warriors are working flights, bussing tables, restocking produce (that is hopefully fresh, depending on where you go), and making life livable, easier, and even enjoyable for those that work during the week.

And the night club. Those bouncers that let you in? Bartenders? Dancers (depending on where you are)? Servers (if there’s food), kitchen staff and venue owners? Yep. While you’re dancing the night away, they’re chasing Benjamins.

But hey, don’t feel sorry for us; it’s really not that bad! I actually used to love working the weekend and live to have the week off, and honestly, I still do! I have my reasons:

  • It’s not as crowded when you do any kind of shopping. You’ll rarely have to worry about a line, especially mid-morning or during the day before rush hour. Just watch out for OAPs (Old Aged Persons) with carts!
  • It’s easy to make most of your appointments because most offices are open during the week, and you’re off!
  • Some activities that people experience on the weekend will be less crowded. Sometimes you won’t be able to go dancing or do brunch, but you can do the movies and you might be the only one in the theater! The art museum will be as quiet as a church sanctuary, Reading Terminal… well, let’s face it, that will always be crowded. But there’s a stark difference between going on the weekend and going during the week. I’ve done both, and I daresay I won’t do weekends any time soon. The last time I went on the weekend was a couple of years ago. That was enough
  • No weekend price hikes! It’s terrible, but some things get more expensive on the weekend, including parking! I’ve even seen admission to places get more expensive on the weekend because places know there will be more people then. Go during the week and save that money!
  • You will NEVER experience the dread that comes with Mondays like everyone else does. That’s YOUR weekend. While everyone else has to go to work, you’re sleeping in. Preferably in your drawers. You might eat Lucky Charms in bed when you get around to waking up.
  • You might actually make more money working on the weekend. This especially applies to jobs where people tip (PLEASE tip your waitstaff).

I read a book once called “Waiter Rant”. A friend to the main character was upset because she had to miss work to be in a friend’s wedding. The reason this was so hard was because the weekends were the time for her to make up the money she wasn’t getting during the week. As a result, she couldn’t afford a gift for the bridal shower or the bachelorette party, could barely afford her dress, was short on rent, and had to endure the other bridesmaids talking badly about her.

If only those other chicks understood. They were obviously Monday through Friday 9 to 5ers who couldn’t imagine what this poor woman was going through. This isn’t to look down on 9 to 5ers, but just to give them insight into our world. I hope that they come to at least appreciate us… because without the weekend workers, what would your life be like?