Sunday, May 13, 2012

Government Assistance and Remission? Yes, please! Why May is a good month

Up until recently I didn't really think much about the month of May. It's a perfectly lovely month. There's usually nice weather, and it's basically the unofficial beginning of summer. However, it's not a month that holds any particular significance for me, like say, October (October babies ROCK!!). However, EBT and remission have changed all that.

Last week I used up the remaining balance on my Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card (that's how you get food stamps nowadays). Previously, I got a letters saying that I was no longer eligible for unemployment benefits or Medicaid. This was all fine because I did what I was supposed to do and reported my new job and salary to D.C.'s Department of Employment Services. Consequently, May 7 marked the end of my time on welfare. It also marked the true beginning of what promises to be a long journey back to financial stability after 10 EXCRUCIATING months of permanent unemployment.

Food stamps, unemployment insurance (UI), my family and friends helped me tremendously while I was unemployed. UI helped me keep the lights on. EBT kept food in my refrigerator. Don't get me wrong, government assistance is NOT enough to live on in any shape, form or fashion. My family and friends provided other vital safety nets that kept a roof over my head and clothes on my back.  The tiny bit of money I got each week relieved only a fraction of the stress that I felt each month when a bill arrived, but that's it. I wasn't sitting around living it up on the government's dime because it was impossible to do so, and that's just not in my character.

No sane, mature adult wants to be in a situation where they can't take care of themselves. That's why people who say that UI and other forms of assistance keep people lazy and complacent because they don't want to work are too stupid, ignorant and callous for me to take seriously. Government assistance saved my life and in May, when the EBT benefits ran out, it was like God was transitioning me from "critical condition" to "stable."

May also is cool for health related-reasons. I was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins lymphoma in October 2010. I had my last chemotherapy treatment in April 2011 and my last radiation treatment in May 2011. So, I've officially been in remission for a year, and I pray that I'm on my way to being "cured" in the years to come. Therefore, May marks another instance of transition in my life, but also a time of reflection. Last May I transitioned from cancer patient to cancer survivor. This May I'm reflecting on God's favor and mercy and what I'm going to do with this second chance that I've been given. Basically I'm trying to live a happier, more purpose-filled life. I've been through too much not to see life through a different lens.

Conclusion: May, it's not just for BBQs and roof-top parties anymore :)

Does May or any other month hold any significance for you?

Feel free to share and remember to stay random,


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On Dating: What's your age limit?

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing the new multiracial production of A Streetcar Named Desire in New York. Nicole Ari Parker and Blair Underwood were great, so I definitely recommend it. BUT, that's not the headline. The headline is that I realized that I could date a man knocking on 50 if he looked Blair Underwood or Lenny Kravitz.

For context, there's a scene in the play where Blair takes off his shirt, and it's quite obvious that Mr. Underwood has stepped up his workout game. Yeah, I should have been wrapped up in Tennessee William's passionate dialogue and Blanche's slow descent into madness (and I was for the most part), but I had an epiphany when I saw Blair's six pack.

Now, I know most guys in the their late 40s don't look like Blair or Lenny. Most guys of any age don't possess their fineness, but that's a blog for another day. I always said I couldn't date anyone north of the early 40s. Any older just seemed, well, OLD. Like, your uncle or father-type old. However, there are men out there that look younger than they appear and don't give off creepy old-man vibes. If a man falls into the nice-looking to FINE range and checks off the main boxes (i.e. funny, smart, good credit, loves God and his momma, etc.) but happens to fall outside of one's preferred age range, should he be dismissed? Aren't you as young as you feel? Age ain't nothing but a number, right? 

Back during that horrible period when everyone and their mother was obsessing about Black women and our marriage prospects, we were advised to expand our dating pools beyond Black men to include men of other races (because that's the solution for everything). That's fine, but since we're expanding, why not add age to the mix? No one is saying that you should date someone old enough to be your grandfather (unless you're into that sort of thing), but relaxing age restrictions when it comes to dating might not be such a bad idea, especially when it comes in the right package :)

What say you, dear readers? Do you have dating age limits? Are you willing to relax your restrictions for the right guy? Holla at ya girl.

And, stay random.