Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Hue Violet: Some Colors Never Change

“Hey!!! I need help changing my clothes!!!!”

Serena had taken to calling Annabelle “Hey” recently. It grated on Annabelle’s nerves to no end. What 39 year old woman responds to “hey”, particularly when the address is elicited from the mouth of a 3 year old brat?

Annabelle and Anitha both glanced up at the stairs.

“Hey, do you mind going to help her?” Anitha asked tersely.

Anitha was still vexed with Annabelle in the wake of a conversation they’d had the night before. Serena’s rudeness had reached a point that Annabelle had barely been able to stand, and she told Anitha as much. This morning’s utterance was simply the latest in a long line of infractions.

“Well, I don’t know where she’s getting it from,” was Anitha indignant reply. “Ravi and I don’t talk like that, and it’s only something that’s come up in the last month or so.”

Anitha thought back to the many times that Anitha had verbally abused her husband in her presence as well as that of her child, using a tone that wasn’t fit for a beast, let alone a man. She let the comment about the “last month” slide and nodded her head. There was no reasoning with the woman.

She went upstairs to see what help the child needed. She had turned her shirt inside out and couldn’t reverse. Annabelle knelt to help her and sent her downstairs.

She had decided that this was going to be a good morning, because the next day was Thanksgiving. She was going to be away from the Rajwani’s for four whole days, and was basking in the promise of peace that lay ahead of her.

When she rejoined Serena and Anitha downstairs, Anitha was tapping her chest with her fingertips, which meant she was mentally generating a list of things for Annabelle to do.

“What time were you planning on leaving tomorrow?” she asked.

“Well, I don’t think dinner is until sometime in the afternoon…”

“Because I’m going to need your help in the morning,” Anitha interjected. “We’re going to Thanksgiving at a friend’s house and she asked me to prepare the turkey.”

Okay. Where was this heading?

“I’ve never made a turkey before, so I need your help.”

“Anitha; I’m not a cook. I’ve never made a turkey before either!”

“Well we’ll have to figure something out. Surely you’ve seen a turkey prepared before?”

Annabelle took stock of the conversation. What kinds of assumptions was this woman making? Had someone cast her as the Magical Negro Who Can Solve All Life’s ills in a low budget film and she hadn’t known about it? She supposed so as she shared a turkey tidbit that she’d picked up from The Chew with the woman.

“Well, I have seen turkey decorated with oranges and placed on kale as a garnish,” she offered lamely.

“Oh good!” Anitha exclaimed. “Can you slice the oranges today? I bought some kale last week as well. And then we can figure out where we’re going to get the turkey from.”

Annabelle inspected the kale. It, like much of the produce Anitha bought in bulk, had begun to wilt and shrivel. It would be unappealing to say the least, but that wasn’t her problem. Dinner was not with the Rajwanis.

Much to Annabelle’s surprise, Anitha took the initiative and found out she could get a pre-seasoned turkey from Popeye’s. She sent Annabelle to pick it up, which she was happy to do. Serena was home from school for the holidays and she could do with a break from the demented duo. She returned with the bird in hand and went to find some mundane endeavor that would separate her from mother and child.

Anitha searched her out about an hour later, again tapping her chest.

“Hey, I’m going to need you to stay in the morning to help me roast the turkey. And can you get a jump on the laundry before you leave for the holiday? It’s beginning to pile up.”

Annabelle took a shallow breath. Despite her opining, Anitha refused to get larger laundry baskets. The family had two dorm room baskets that held just enough for one load. With 8 items of clothing capacity, it gave the illusion of piling up, when – as was just stated – it was barely enough for one load.

Anitha had already coerced Annabelle into doing the entire family’s laundry, when in reality she should only be doing Serena’s. She cursed herself for complying to this request in the first place, but she could not stand the clutter in the laundry room. There were piles and piles of clothes scattered around the floor when she first came into the family’s employ, some with tags on them, some with yoghurt stains. It had taken Annabelle 2 weeks to sort through the mess. To her disdain, she discovered a box of Cialis buried under Ravi’s pile. The man didn’t even have the decency to discard the packaging for his erectile dysfunction medication. It should have surprised Annabelle, but it didn’t. Even his penis was too lazy to get up on its own.

Strengthened by the knowledge that in a few short hours she would be away from this family and back into the land of the sane, she bent to gather Anitha and Ravi’s clothing and gathered the bulk to her chest. She let the clothing drop with a thud, and turned on the cold cycle. As she began to parse the clothing, her hand touched Anitha’s underwear. What was that buried in the silk lining?

“Oh. My. God.”

There, in the front of the dusty rose panties was a glob the color of onyx and amber. It was the fresh remnants of Anitha’s period, which remained un-rinsed and clinging stubbornly to her six 6 undergarments.

Annabelle cursed before she could do anything else. When she gathered her senses, she quickly threw the stained underwear in with the rest of the clothing and shut the lid before fleeing the laundry room. The memory of Anitha’s uterus blood stuck with her as she let the steaming hot water burn her skin as she washed her hands. Suddenly, she was screaming and didn’t know it.

“Oh my God!”

 

The Hue Violet: Serena, Serena; Cuddly as a Cactus, Sugary as Arsenic

Whatever Serena lacked in poise and politeness, she made up for in intelligence. Much as it pained Annabelle to admit it, she had to acknowledge that fact. It was with amusement that Annabelle noted the Serena had picked up on hymns and songs that she had been singing while she was completing the drudgery that had become part of her daily routine.

“What are you singing?” asked Serena.

“El Shadai,” replied Annabelle. She went back to folding the family’s clothes.

“Teach it to me!” cried Serena with much enthusiasm.

Encouraged that the child was doing something other than throwing a tantrum or her physical body across the floor, she paused from her work and pulled up the audio file online. Within minutes Serena could sing the verses to the very Christian ode to the Almighty in a croaky, but pleasant voice. She couldn’t wait to perform her newly discovered refrain for her mother…whom if you have not guessed by now is a Muslim.

“Ahh…wow Serena,” Anitha struggled. “And who taught you this song?”

“Ms. Annabelle!” Serena announced proudly.

“Perhaps Ms. Annabelle could teach you some other different songs as well?”

Anitha glanced over in Annabelle’s direction as she was sweeping the floor. Her attempt to make eye contact with her was only met with the turning of her broad back. The woman was not going to dictate what she sang during the day! Limited as their options were, even slaves had a certain entitlement over what songs they sang as they picked cotton in the fields.

On certain mornings when Serena wasn’t feeling quite so evil, she greeted Annabelle by calling for her from her bed.

“Good morning Ms. Annabelle! Good morning Ms. Annabeeeeeelle!” she’d sing again and again.  This chorus would not stop until Annabelle stuck her head in the door.

“Good morning, Serena,” Annabelle replied sweetly.

It would seem the two would be off to a good start, until Anitha’s thin frame filled in the door.

“Good morning Serena!” she would interject. This of course sent the child into a fever pitch, as though her mother’s mere presence caused a latent demon to manifest within her. At those junctures, Annabelle generally left the room and let the unnatural take its course.

As a few weeks went by, Annabelle had come to the conclusion that Anitha did not truly want her daughter to gain Annabelle’s full confidence. She paid lip service to the idea, even going so far as requesting that Annabelle teach Serena how to read. The two crossed swords once the topic was broached.

“I really don’t think that Serena is in a position to receive instruction from me,” Annabelle cautioned. “She barely listens to me at all!”

“Well just give it a try,” said Anitha dismissively. “Put her on your lap and read to her.”

“Anitha. It is very rare that Serena even wants me to touch her. To brush her hair is problematic. I don’t think she’s going to want to sit on my lap.”

Anitha paused, as though attempting to choose her words carefully.

“Well, maybe it has something to do with your personality. You know, Serena likes warm, loving people. She likes lots of hugs. You should try that.”

Annabelle thought back to all the insults and rude behavior she had suffered at the hands of the child. This was asking too much. Asking me to hug that child is like asking me to embrace a cactus! she thought. It didn’t matter how infrequently it bloomed…it was still a bloody cactus!

“Alright, Anitha.”

As usual, she let the topic drop, knowing there would be no real resolution and certain that it would arise again.

Over the next few days, Anitha began to work herself into a tizzy over her birthday plans. She wanted to spend the weekend with Ravi, but he was going to a business dinner and there were no spouses allowed. There was no denying how pissed off Anitha was, and she made sure that everyone who lived in the house knew it. In a lame attempt to make amends, he ordered a birthday cake and an impressive bouquet of roses. After dinner, Anitha invited Annabelle to join them for cake and ice cream. Anitha gushed over the effort.

“This is the best birthday ever – because you’re here!” she said adoringly to her husband.

Ravi looked her in the eye, laughed mockingly and walked out of the room to get a spoon.

He returned to the table and the couple began to talk about their evening out. The conversation soon degenerated into an argument. Annabelle could not believe they were fighting in front of her. She was the help for God’s sake! She and Serena watched the verbal volley match between Mr. and Mrs. Rajwani, silently scooping blue icing off the cake. When they had finished, Ravi got up to retrieve his jacket, waiting for Anitha by the door. Annabelle grasped for something to say to lighten the mood.

“Gosh, I wonder how Serena will sleep tonight, after all this cake and ice cream!”

Ravi laughed again.

“That’s  not our problem!”

His wife joined him in the scornful laughter and left the house for what Annabelle hoped would be a horrid evening together.

“Come on Serena. Let’s get you to bed.”

Grateful for the silence, Annabelle wiped Serena’s face and got her into her pajamas. Serena said that she had to pee, so Annabelle set her on the toilet and left the room while she finished up. She laid the child in bed and began to read her a story. Suddenly, Serena got very quiet. Then came an ungodly stench.

“Serena…are you pooping in your diaper?” cried Annabelle in disbelief.

“Yes, I am,” confirmed Serena.

“But you were just on the toilet…why didn’t you poop then?”

“Because my Daddy said I can poop in my diaper,” Serena answered impudently. “And yes, I am going to take my time.”

What the ****?!?

Serena wasn’t finished yet.

“Oh! And when I’m done, can you come and clean me up right away?”

Annabelle grunted at the child. It was her turn to laugh mockingly.

“I’m going downstairs to make a phone call,” she informed Serena. “And yes, I AM GOING to take my time. You sit there in your poop until I get ready to clean you.”

Annabelle left the stunned child in her feces and called yours truly, who laughed until Coke shot through her nostrils.

Black Friday, But Only If You Dare

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season…or at least it DID in years past. This year a number of retailers are encroaching on the holidays by sparking the Black Friday frenzy on Thanksgiving night, thereby cutting into what should be time off from the insanity. But that’s another discussion for someone else’s blog.

I myself have never participated in Black Friday. There isn’t a sweater or a microwave that I need so desperately that I am willing to risk life and limb to acquire, particularly when both are guaranteed to be rendered obsolete by the same time next year. This year, to my dismay, I discovered that I have been thrust into the melee upon pain of losing my job. You see Reader, I am a lowly retail associate at DSW.

Historically I have been able to avoid the zoo that is Black Friday by staying home. I timed my last two pregnancies (okay who am I kidding; none of them was timed, but rather a fortunate coincidence) so that I was still on maternity leave for the holidays. Last year I was in New York for the season, and I told my boss that I simply would not be here. I tried this same tactic with my current manager, and her tart reply was something akin to “Well then you will simply never be on the schedule again.”

I am a shoe addict, a shoe whore if you will, and I value my discount. I need this job, and since my womb is now a tomb for sperm and serves little more than a warm wet place for them to go and DIE, there is no chance that I can use the gestational illness/morning sickness/anything related to pregnancy excuse to get off work. I must face the dreaded dragon head on.

There are a number of people out there, who just like me, will experience Black Friday for the first time. Like any first time experience, you can either make it happen on let it happen to you. Black Friday is not for chumps. I suggest you plan thoroughly before you engage this event. Seasoned Black Friday shoppers are a rabid bunch, many of whom I am convinced are among the clinically insane. There is nothing in a regular person’s DNA that says it is rational to sit outside in frigid temperatures with nothing but the promise of getting an LCD TV for $199 to keep you warm. How often will you really watch that TV?!? I digress. The passion has overtaken me.

If you want to survive and conquer Black Friday dear Reader, you have to undergo some training, and there is scant time to do so. It starts in just a few hours. Here are some tips to get you through those hours.

 

  1. Practice your mean mug:  You are not permitted to smile at other customers. These customers are your enemy. Smiling makes you look weak, and this is certainly no time of the year to exude humility and cheer is it?
  2. Channel your inner Santa: Make a list and check it twice. Make a list of everything you want to buy, get in the store and get out. Black Friday is no time for browsing. Trust me on this one.
  3. For Heaven’s sake, do your research!: Research everything online before you set foot in any store. Some stores will only carry one high value item and trick customers by leading them to believe that there are enough of them in stock to satisfy the populace. This is the Golden Ticket effect. They want you to go out and buy as many Wonka Bars as you can before you strike gold. Know the retailers that have EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR before you set foot in their nutty marketing enclosure.
  4. Know your zones: This is by far the most important. It is imperative that you know the layout of the store before you venture in. You are going to WAR. You have to know the enemy’s camp better than the enemy! If you’re looking for blenders, please don’t idle away precious time in the electronics area. Go directly to housewares! And beware: Many retailers will place ‘hot’ items (things they want to get rid of) in risers and rolling shelves in the aisle to entice you. Don’t be charmed. Get what you came for in the designated zone and THEN come back for the carrot.
  5. Think like a bull frog: Don’t be intimidated. You have to own your space. If someone is trying to get into your 10 inches (you’re not allowed 18 on Black Friday), you widen your stance, plant your feet, and refer to tip one. On Black Friday, only the crazy buzzard gets the carcass. You have to be crazier than the next bird. Peck at her if you feel the need. That’ll get her out of your space.

Okay Reader. Good luck. I’ll be watching all of you from afar, picking up the trash and tepid half-empty Starbucks cups that you ALWAYS leave behind after the cyclone has passed. Oh, and one last thing: leave your kids at home. Bringing children out on Black Friday is a win for absolutely no one. Besides, they will only slow you down. It’s war, remember?

The Hue Violet: Analyzing Anitha

Annabelle’s first weekend had come and gone without much event. She spent the entire 48 hours holed up in her room with no agenda, aside from analyzing her current situation. Had a university degree and years spent working in corporate America all culminated into this lunacy? Was she a failure? She quickly shook the thought from her head. There was honor and dignity in her work. The problem was with those crazy people down the hall, not her.

She stretched lazily and gathered all the dishes she’d accumulated in her room during her voluntary solitary confinement. Necessity had forced her to sell her car months ago when she’d been out of work, and she had no particular desire to waste half the day waiting on MARTA to arrive at its whim. Besides, the closest bus stop was a 3 mile walk from the house. As she opened the door, she nearly stumbled over something. She turned on the hall light and looked down. There at her feet, at HER doorway, was an empty bowl of pomegranate seeds. Anitha and Serena were the only two who ate them, and she was sure the 3 year old didn’t have the wherewithal to leave her bowl by the nanny’s door. Anitha.  What gall! Annabelle sucked her teeth and walked on the kitchen, leaving the bowl exactly where it lay.

When Annabelle first interviewed with the family, they offered her Sundays and Mondays off.

“We want to spend at least one morning with Serena,” they gave as their reason.

Annabelle thought this was quite admirable of them.

However once she began working, the Rajwani’s quickly changed her days off. It turns out trash day was on Mondays, and they didn’t want to be bothered with pulling the bins to the curb for collection.

The house was still and quiet at this hour of the morning, as everyone was still asleep. It had been unseasonably cold that night and the family had turned the heat on full blast. It felt like summer downstairs. As she padded into the kitchen with her dishes, a stench assailed her nostrils. She sniffed over the sink, now piled high with 2 days’ worth of dishes. They smelled bad enough, but that wasn’t what was so offensive. As she got closer to the trash can, she recognized the smell immediately.

“Sh*t. Ugh.”

Through her door she’d heard a commotion on Saturday night after Serena had an explosion in her diaper. Her parents had fussed over who was going to clean her and finally ended the episode by throwing the soiled diaper in the kitchen trash. Two days’ worth of heat and feces now hung in the kitchen air, replacing the lemony scent that Annabelle had left when her shift had ended.

She sighed and began tidying up the mess, starting with throwing the fecal spattered trash bag into the bin outside. She was beyond offended. What did these people think of her? The sound of the family stirring upstairs interrupted her thoughts. Serena was screaming about what she didn’t want to wear, and her father was yelling back in their native tongue, which was out of character. She escaped the chaos by stepping outside to complete her janitorial duties. As she did so, Ravi walked out of the door a few steps behind her to leave for work. He noted Annabelle struggling with the two large bins, made eye contact with her and drove off without an offer of assistance.

“What a prince”, she muttered, straining with the bulky items.

She  placed them on the corner and went inside to wash her hands. Anitha had succeeded in dressing her child, who at this point was nearly late for school.

“I’m going to drop Serena at school and when I get back there are a few things I need your help with,” Anitha said hurriedly.

“Okay.”

Annabelle watched mother and daughter retreat from view and began picking up scattered toys and papers. She used her rare moment of peace to consider her boss. The woman seemed to thrive on chaos, and where there was none, she made it a point to create it. Once she succeeded, she invited everyone – anyone – to join her in it. Annabelle had found herself sucked into this perpetual vortex time and again, and had decided that she’d had her fill. Every time she offered Anitha a suggestion on how she might do things differently, she countered with details from her resume.

“No, no, Annabelle! That’s too much toothpaste on Serena’s toothbrush. You know, I’m a dental hygienist by training, and really you only need the brush in the child’s mouth. The paste is not necessary.”

“Annabelle – you know it’s very important that she eat eggs and milk every day. When I pursued my course in geriatric studies, I learned that our bodies need these essential items. I don’t think your suggestion that Serena try oatmeal for breakfast applies here.”

How does the body of a 3 year old girl compare to a 90 year old woman? The woman was mad.

Anitha returned a short while later. She had apparently done some light grocery shopping.

“Annabelle, can you go and get those bags of groceries from the car please?” She seemed irritated. “And also when you notice that we are running low on certain things, can you make a note of it? I don’t like running out of essentials.”

Arrrgghhhh!! So I’m the stock girl now too?!?

“Sure Anitha,” she replied tersely.

When she came back into the house, Anitha was in the corner making space for something.

“There is a fern in the carriage house that I’d like to be brought in before the winter comes,” she informed Annabelle. “Can you go fetch it please? It’s between the two wicker chairs in the corner.”

Annabelle walked out into the frosty fall air to retrieve the plant that the madame of the house wanted. It was a towering piece of greenery, in a pot that was as tall as it was wide. Annabelle bent her knees and prepared to pull the pot in. It didn’t budge. She strained and pushed harder, finally managing to dislodge it from its spot. Ten minutes later she succeeded in dragging it into the house where she found Anitha sitting and reading in the living room.

“Oh dear!” she cried. “I didn’t realize it was that big! It’s grown so much!”

Yes you did, heifer. You knew EXACTLY how big this thing was. That’s why you sent me outside for it!

“Where do you want me to put this?” asked Annabelle.

“Here. No wait! Here. Here will be good,” Anitha replied, pointing to various parts of the room before deciding on one.

Annabelle left the woman to talk to her plant  and went upstairs to tackle the family’s laundry. A few hours later she left to pick up Serena, who was less than pleased to see her.

“Where is Mommy! I want Mommy to pick me up! I don’t want you to touch me!”

Serena bucked and kicked as Annabellle tried to feed her. Anitha appeared in the doorway amidst the commotion and the child fled into her mother’s arms the moment she saw her.

“I don’t like Ms. Annabelle,” she screeched. “I want her to leave! She yells at me.”

“That’s not true, Serena,” Annabelle countered catching her mother’s eye.

Anitha put her wriggling child on her lap. It was not in her philosophy to correct the child for a minor infraction, such as engaging in hyperbole (her child didn’t lie after all), but she had the perfect solution.

“Well Serena, why don’t we play a game? Let’s think of some nice things that Ms. Annabelle has done for you…okay?”

Serena shook her head violently.

“Well, she picked you from school today, right?”

“Yeah.”

“And she gave you lunch in the car, right?”

“Uh huh.”

“These are all great things! Now let’s all do the happy dance!”

Anitha gave Annabelle a look that said she was meant to join them. Annabelle matched her gaze, spun on her heel and walked out of the room. She refused to shuck and jive for these two crazies, especially after they’d both screwed up her day. She retreated to the laundry room. She’d rather spend the rest of her day with the lonely sh*tty sheets that had been abandoned by the Rajwanis.

The Hue Violet: A House of Cards

All families have one outstanding trait about them. Some are renowned for their kindness and warmth, others for generational wealth, and some yet still for their cruelty. Think about your own family, Reader. Are you all jokers? Given to academics, perhaps? No doubt there are values that your parents and grandparents instilled in your lineage that carries on today.

In the short time that Annabelle had lived with the Rajwanis, there was one trait that was pervasive in every member of that family – and that was laziness.

Annabelle gave a good hard look at the kitchen for the first time since she’d been living with the family. The area was primarily Anitha’s domain, since she did all the cooking for the family. The kitchen wasn’t dirty, but it wasn’t clean either. It was in need of organization, and a closer look at the counter tops revealed long abandoned spices in nooks and corners that had changed the color of the grout.

Anitha was giving Annabelle instructions on what she would like to see done in the kitchen.

“Could you see to it that those plates are washed and organize the pantry?” she droned.

Annabelle nodded absently. Something was compelling her to open the oven to take a look inside. Unable to ignore the urge, she opened the latch. She paused before asking Anitha for clarification on what she was seeing.

“Anitha…is there a reason all these pots and pans are stacked in the oven?”

Anitha sighed.

“Yes. My husband – when he cooks his eggs – he puts his used pans in the oven.”

Annabelle was speechless. The pans looked as though they’d been there for veritable weeks. There was a spatula and a few spoons, all with hardened egg binding to the wood and metal utensils. Annabelle closed her eyes and took a calming breath. When she opened them, she noted that the dishwasher was literally right next to the oven. It would take just as much effort to put the items in the dishwasher as it would to put them in the oven! What was wrong with this man!

Anitha looked at her expectantly. That was Annabelle’s cue to begin loading the dishwasher, which she did with much irritation.

When she was finished, Anitha had produced about 50 pounds of bananas. She chirped on about how much potassium they had and how good they were for you.

“Serena loves them,” she smiled.

That’s also why the child’s turds are hard as a brick, Annabelle countered silently.

Annabelle picked up the yellow fruit and prepared to place it in the basket. To her alarm, there were already 15 or so bananas in the basket, many of them going bad.

“What do you want to do with these?” she asked Anitha.

“Oh, I’ll freeze them and make smoothies later. Can you just put them in a bag and then into the freezer for me?”

Annabelle had learned that Anitha was very particular about how things were done. She had already asked her to do, and then redo several tasks already because she was not clear on how she wanted to task carried out in the first place.

“Do you want me to peel them first, or just put them in with the skins on?”

Anitha thought for a moment.

“Just put them in with the peels on. We can take them off later. It’s just easier that way.”

Annabelle was stunned. Ignoring her employer, she peeled the bananas and then put them in a freezer bag. Everyone knows there are few things more frustrating than trying to peel a frozen banana. In fact, there were already a good number of the ice-covered corpses scattered about the freezer when Annabelle placed the fresh batch amongst them.

After the kitchen had been sufficiently cleaned, it was time to get back to her regular duties. She went to pick of Serena while Anitha ran around Atlanta and its environs, keeping herself occupied with busy rich woman work.

Later that evening Ravi joined them for dinner. He was back home after being away for the last two days. Anitha had insisted that Annabelle join them at the table for dinner, which would have been a kind gesture had she not been so eager to flee this band of people who were putting such a strain on her soul. Ravi barely said two words at dinner as Anitha chatted on about “important” things. Serena got up from the table without being excused, dropping her plate as she did so. She kept walking, ignoring the clatter of the platter she’d just throw down.

Finishing his meal, her father soon followed, stepping over his child’s plate as he made a beeline for the kitchen. Not being the most agile of men, he miscalculated the breadth of the dish, and caught his heel on the plastic princess plate. He slipped, and would have fallen belly-first in a massive heap onto the floor, had he not caught the back of a dining room chair. He glanced down at the object that nearly caused his demise. Since he was so close to the floor at that point, he decided to pick it up and place it in the sink with his own dish.

Annabelle chewed her saltless food, silently watching the lunacy unfold before her. The only thing missing was the popcorn.

Lessons From the Hue

Typically, a writer waits until the end of the series before he/she discusses lessons or insights with the reader, but I think it is prudent to do it now.

A number of people have contacted me about “Annabelle”, wonderign why she would ever keep working this horrid job. Certainly she has asked herself how much of this she could take. I haven’t asked her to go into detail about what keeps her there, because I don’t have to. I know my friend.

The theme of “The Hue” is about choices. We all have to make them.  Long time Readers of my blog know that I got pregnant out of wedlock, and despite pressure to have an abortion, I chose to keep my baby. My future was not a mystery to me. I knew that the child’s father was irresponsible and would provide scat financial support, and he has largely stuck to the typical script that you would expect of a man in this situation. Fortunately, I married my college sweetheart and Douche Bag is a non-factor in how I raise my child.

Similarly, Annabelle made a decision to take and keep this job, although she did not have the foresight to predict any of this madness. I mean, how could she? How could any of us? My friend is hanging in there with this position because it is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Annabelle had any number of choices. She could have stayed here on my sofa until she became a part of it. She could be down at Woodruff park or in L.A. occupying and destroying public property so that she could be part of a “conversation” (about NOTHING). She could be selling her body for crack. But her choice was to change career choices, escape the madness of corporate America, and work as a private individual. Little did she know, nannying brought its own kind of crazy with it. Perhaps she has jumped from the frying pan into the fire – but at least she jumped.

I want to go ahead and defend my friend NOW, because although the comments are light and humorous now, I can see a trend towards them becoming judgmental. None of us knows what we would do or how we would react to any situation until we were in it. I myself never thought that I could set a whole town on fire until I gave birth, and I know that if my child ever went missing or was hurt, I would set ablaze every structure in my path until she was found or I were arrested.

As we continue on with The Hue, but let’s not judge Annabelle so harshly. She’s got bills, just like the rest of us.

Annabelle, you keep your head up, ya hear?!

The Hue Violet: The Twilight Zone

Annabelle stood in the bathroom door and began slipping her slender fingers into the rubber cleaning gloves she’d found under the kitchen sink. There were wefts of hair everywhere – all over the sink and sprinkled on the floor. She knew that Whites and Indians shed hair, but these follicles looked as though they’d been abandoned on the porcelain and tile for at least a few weeks. Many of them were spackled into clumps with crusty mint toothpaste. She sprayed the sink and mirror with disinfectant and began to vigorously wipe them both down.

Satisfied with her efforts, she wiped a  bead of sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand. She then turned her attention to the toilet. What she saw there made her freeze. She drew a sharp breath.

“Oh, shit.”

Yes. Shit.

  There was a nickel sized nugget of shit resting lifelessly on the rim of the toilet set. Annabelle was in disbelief. It took her an eternity to process what was happening here. She knew for a fact that Ravi was the last person to use this toilet, because Anitha habitually used the downstairs facilities. She had always wondered why the woman trekked away from the master bath to use the guest facilities, and now she knew why. An image of Ravi’s hulking, sweaty frame crouched over the toilet seat flashed in her mind. She saw him getting up after wiping himself (if he actually even bothered), turning to flush, recognizing that he had left fecal matter splattered all over the porcelain and walking away, as if the poo would grow legs and walk off the seat on its own.

Did he expect to come back later and seat himself on his abandoned shit, or did he have a full expectation that one of the women in this would wipe up after him? She was indignant. She removed the gloves from her hands and placed them on the water closet. He would know that she had been there, but he would also deduce that there was no way in Hell she was going to wipe up his putrid crap! He was a medical professional for Pete’s sake!

After turning her attention to the rest of the house, Annabelle stretched her back and stared blankly out of the bay window. How could human beings live like this? At that moment, Anitha pulled into the courtyard. Annabelle watched her walk in as she washing her hands in the kitchen sink.

“Hi,” she greeted Anitha.

“Hi,” Anitha said with a sigh. She had just come back from cleaning a condo she had rented to a pair of male college students. Annabelle could only image what sort of chaos they must have left at their departure. After all, she herself had just been confronted and acquainted with another man’s turd.

“Can you go out to the car and get the bag of cleaning supplies I left in there?” Anitha asked as she poured herself a drink.

Annabelle looked at the woman and then looked out the window at the car that was no more than 50 feet away. You couldn’t grab that stuff out of the backseat of your car as you were walking in?!?

Annabelle was taken aback by the request. Anitha raised her eye brows over the rim of her glass as she drank her water.

“Yeah. No problem.”

This was insane.

When she got back into the house, Anitha had fished a book from one of the shelves in the living room.

“This is a parenting book that I refer to to help me with Serena,” she said cheerily. “It’s really helped us a lot and it has really good advice. I’d like you to read it.”

She handed the manuscript to Annabelle.

“One of the things I’d like you to stop saying at once are the words ‘calm down’ when addressing Serena,” Anitha continued. “We musn’t tell her to calm down. Rather, we must advise her to take deep breaths and breathe away her frustration.”

You gotta be kidding me.

“Anitha,” Annabelle began cautiously, “you know, I HAVE watched a number of children, and these books are not one size fits all. Perhaps we might consider…”

“Let’s just read this book first and try things my way,” Anitha said, cutting her off. “You know I WAS trained as a pediatrician, before I changed courses.”

“Sure, Anitha. Whatever you think is best.”

“Great! Well, I have to dash out again. It’s almost time to get Serena. When I get back, I think we need to discuss getting this house in order.”

House in order? You didn’t hire me to be your maid. I’m the frikkin’ nanny! Annabelle clenched her jaw and took deep breaths, as Anitha had just suggested.

“Okay,” she said limply.

“And please don’t forget to give Serena her lunch!”

Anitha reached for her keys and drove off in her Infinity. Annabelle steadied herself on the kitchen counter. Was she in the Twilight Zone? She gathered her purse and prepared to pick up Serena.

*****

School ended at 1:30, and Serena was generally hungry when Annabelle picked her up. Her mother had gotten her accustomed to getting lunch as soon as she got in the car.

“I want my lunch,” Serena said to Annabelle as she buckled herself into her seat.

“Good afternoon, Serena,” Annabelle said sarcastically. “And you can have your lunch when we get home to the table.”

Serena sulked in the back seat.

Annabelle warmed up the rice and spinach stew that her mother had prepared for her. She could smell the spices and wondered how the child could stomach the heat. It turns out she couldn’t.

Serena turned her face away from the spoon as Annabelle tried to give it to her. Eventually, she gave up and gave her humus and pita bread, one of the 3 meals that was on Serena’s approved meal list. She left the child to sort it out on her own.

When Anitha returned, Serena flung herself into her mother’s arms, whining about being hungry.

“Annabelle,” Anitha said with concern, “did you feed Serena?”

“Yes. I gave her humus and pita. She didn’t want the rice and spinach.”

“Did you give her the rice and spinach on the way home?”

“No,” Annabelle drawled. “I was driving. I waited to give it to her at home.”

“Oh! Well we try to feed her in the car so that she’s not starving by the time she gets home. The pita is for snack,” Anitha explained, as though talking to a child.

This woman is nuts. She wants me to drive AND feed the kid at the same time?

It was time to say something.

“Anitha. I thought we were trying to teach Serena to eat at the table like a big girl. And apart from that, driving and feeding her is dangerous.”

“Well, just try it,” Anitha continued, as if Annabelle had never spoken. “We don’t want her hungry, do we?”

Serena was writhing and tugging at her mother’s hem the entire conversation, playing out her obvious displeasure. Annabelle silently stared at the two of them, as if the pair were a singular inbred Siamese mythical beast.

6 months. Annabelle gave this gig 6 months before she would bail. That was plenty of time. After all, this arrangement wasn’t a celebrity marriage, was it?

Do you think you are ready to hear more of the craziness? Because it doesn’t stop here! Holla if you want to read more of The Hue!

The Hue Violet: Bring the Baby her Eggs

The next morning Annabelle woke to the sound of muffled conversation in the master bedroom a few feet away. All of the bedrooms were on the same floor, and her accommodations were adjacent to Serena’s. Anitha had told her the night before that she would like Annabelle to take over dressing and feeding Serena in the morning.

“Wake her at 7:20 am,” Anitha instructed.

Annabelle knocked on Serena’s door.

“Good morning, Serena,” she greeted the groggy 3 year old confidently.

Serena frowned.

“Where’s mommy?”

“Mommy is in her room. She would like me to help you get ready for school today. Are you ready for breakfast?”

“I don’t like you!” Serena spat. “You’re not a nice lady! I want Mommy to dress meeee!!!”

“Well, Mommy can’t come dress you right now,” Annabelle said firmly. At this hour of the morning, she was still hoarse, and her voice had a booming base to it that gradually dissipated as the day wore on. “And we aren’t getting dressed first. We’re going to have breakfast.”

Serena hurled herself out of her bed and began to thrash about.

“No, no, no!!! You’re not a nice lady! You need to go back to where you came from!!”

Annabelle had mentioned during her interview that she was from Kenya. Anitha responded by informing her that she and her husband were “familiar” with Kenya – they had gone on safari there a few years back. Was this child telling her to go back to Africa?

Stunned by the child’s visceral reaction, Annabelle stood by the bed wondering what to do next. In that instant, Anitha materialized in the doorway. This was becoming habit.

“Oh Serena,” she cooed. “Mommy’s here. Can you come downstairs for breakfast?”

“No! I don’t want eeeegggs! I hate them! And I don’t like Ms. Annabelle! She needs to leave!!”

Anitha looked at Anneblle with a strange look.

  “Well, you shouldn’t say things like that, Serena. Ms. Annabelle is here to help us,” her mother said soothingly. “Annabelle…can you go downstairs and bring Serena’s eggs?”

“You – you want me to bring her eggs to her room?”

“Yes,” Anitha confirmed. “You can feed her the eggs here in bed.”

“I…uh…okay. Sure.”

Annabelle walked down the stairs to the kitchen, her feet carrying out a task that her spirit knew was ridiculous. You don’t reward a pre-schooler’s tantrum by serving her breakfast in bed. She didn’t have kids and even she knew that! She prepared Serena’s breakfast and brought the plate upstairs.

Anitha got up from her seat beside Serena and looked on as Annabelle and she battled out the feeding procedure.

Why the hell am I even feeding this child in the first place? Annabelle wondered. Again, she’s 3!

Hearing his child’s screams, Ravi entered the room to see what all the fuss was about. Anitha snapped at him in their language and he retreated back to his room and prepared to leave for work.

After Serena had ingested a satisfactory amount of food, the battle to get dressed began. Today she was satisfied with the first outfit that was presented to her, and Annabelle slipped it over her head. Anitha looked on as the two left of Montessori school, with just a few minutes before the door was shut.

As luck would have it, Serena does not like to walk into school. She insists on being carried. In the interest of time, Annabelle hefted the child out of her car seat and carried her down the school’s  walkway and up three flights of stairs. She swore silently that today would be the last day this would be allowed to happen. Serena’s teacher greeted them at the door, with a look that was less terse than the day before. At least the child had on proper clothes.

When Annabelle got back to the house, Anitha was sipping on chai and tapping away at her laptop. She looked up in order to acknowledge Annabelle.

“How did it go?”

“Fine. Just fine,” Annabelle replied. “But I do have a question for you. How do you feel about Serena waking up at 7 am instead of 7:20, so that she’s not so pressed for time in the morning?”

Anitha stopped typing.

“No, no,” she said, as though the idea was absolutely absurd. “We’ve tried that before, and it doesn’t work.”

“Okay,” said Annabelle incredulously.  “Well, how about we get Serena dressed in the morning first before we give her breakfast?”

“Again, we’ve tried that before. Besides, if we dress her first, what is her incentive to eat?”

Why does the child need a ****ing incentive to eat! Just set her behind at the table and tell her to eat!

Annabelle steadied her breathing.

“Yes, well…I see.”

Anitha rose from her desk.

“I must go now,” she announced. “Pick up time from school in 1:30. While I’m gone, do you mind doing some light cleaning around here? Just wiping down the bathrooms and such?”

“Not at all!” said Annabelle. She didn’t might doing some straightening up. The house was in quite a state of disarray, with the evidence of being recently moved in all around them. It would give her something to do until it was time to pick up Serena.

“Great!” Anitha breathed. “Ravi will be gone all week, so you have my permission to go into the bathroom. You won’t run into him.”

She grabbed her bag and keys and left. Annabelle looked under the sink to get some cleaning supplies. She would start with the bathrooms first, then the kitchen, and finally vacuum the living room. She was oddly excited about adding her touch to the house and getting it in some sort of order. She trudged up the stairs and turned into Anitha and Ravi’s bathroom. What she was met with took her very breath away.

What could so thoroughly stun an African woman whose country has seen civil war and tribal conflict? Tune in tomorrow for the next chapter of The Hue Violet: My name is not Toby!

The Hue Violet

A little while ago I told you about a friend of mine who was staying with us until she got herself back on her feet. I am happy to report that she accepted live-in nanny position a little over 3 weeks ago. I am equally amused to report that both her charge and her employers embody everything you would expect from an Anne Hathaway movie gone awry.

Annabelle*, a Kenyan national, came to this country to get her degree (which she did) and to work in corporate America (which she has). Never in all her near 40 years did she expect that the culmination of her education and life experiences would end her up here: as a glorified domestic servant to a wealthy yet miserable Buckhead family of South East Asian descent.

Readers, I give you The Hue Violet. Move over Celie – we got women’s oppression for the new millennium on LOCK.

Annabelle began her first day as the Rajwani’s nanny with high expectations for herself. After being in the ranks of the unemployed for over a year, she had decided to make a career change and give in-home care a try. She had made ends meet by taking on baby-sitting jobs for friends to supplement her income, and had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t that bad. Since she had been forced to break her lease on her apartment, a live-in situation made perfect sense. She would have the benefit of saving a little money while not having to pay for lodging.

Anitha, the woman who had hired her, was in her early 40’s. She was a dietician/stay-at-home-mom/property owner who was always pressed her time. Her husband, Ravi, was a cardiologist at Emory Hospital. He was an enormous man who never spoke much. His work took him out of town for most of the week, and when he was home he made up for his absence by creating a mess to match his girth.

The couple had a 3 year old daughter, Serena. They had been trying to have a baby for the duration of their 11 year marriage and after rounds and rounds of fertility treatments, were blessed with a little girl. Serena greeted Annabelle at the kitchen table with a scowl.

“Annabelle I have to leave,” said Anitha, “but Ravi is going to show you the ropes around here.”

She kissed Serena and walked out of the door.

Ravi walked Annabelle through the house, showing her where they kept the cleaning supplies and Serena’s toys. He ended the brief tour back in the kitchen where Serena sat in her pajamas.

“For breakfast she eats either yoghurt and bread, or banana and peanut butter. And she must eat one egg,” he informed her limply.

“Ok!” Annabelle said with more chip than he was accustomed to in the morning.

“And before she can put on her clothes for school, she must eat all her breakfast.”

Serena scowled harder at this utterance.

“I don’t like eeeeeeeeeeeeeggggggggggggssss!!!” she howled.

Her father handed her an iPod for her to play with while he attempted to place the food in the corners of her mouth. She instinctivle forced it back with her tongue, negating all his efforts.

“If you have difficulty feeding her, try distracting her with the iPod,” he advised.

Feeding her? She’s 3 years old! She can feed herself! Annabelle swallowed back the words she was thinking. This was only Day 1. No point in stirring the waters so soon.

After only succeeding in getting Serena to take a few bites of her food, her father carried her upstairs to her room. Annabelle dutifully followed, asking mundane questions to fill up the heavy silence. Ravi responded with either a grunt or a nodding of the head to each query. He seemed weary as he placed Serena on the bed.

“I don’t want to wear that!” she screeched, smacking a dress he’s held in front of her out of his hand.

At that moment, Anitha materialized in the doorway. She and her husband conversed quickly in their own language before she addressed Serena.

“Sweetie,” she began. “I can see you’re upset. Would you like to wear another outfit?”

She offered her another set of garments.

“Noooo!!!” Serena wailed.

Her mother suggested another set of clothes, and another, until Serena had screamed her displeasure for so long that it was time to go to school.

Annabelle went to buckle Serena in the back seat, glancing at her watch. Serena was to be in school by 8 am. It was 7:52 and they need to be on their way. Anitha stopped her.

“No, no,” she sweetly scolded. “Serena takes great pride in buckling herself up. And no matter how long it takes her, just wait and let her do it.”

Ooookaaayy….

After what seemed like eons, the child succeeded in strapping herself in and her mother took off. They reached the door just before her teacher was preparing to shut and lock it. Annabelle raced up the stairs with the child and was greeted by the cold blue eyes of the Pre-K instructor.  She did not seem pleased with what she saw.

“Miss Margaret,” Serena began, “these are my princess pajamas…”

“I’m not interested,” her teacher said, cutting her off. “You need to come inside and change.”

She then turned her gaze to Annablle.

“And you need to leave.”

Annabelle gathered that this was not the first time that this set of events had occurred.

She went back to the car and relayed all that had transpired with Anitha, who gripped and ungripped the steering wheel quite fretfully.

As they drove back to the house, Annabelle wondered what she had gotten herself into. She shook her head and replaced her doubts with optimism. It was just the first day. First days are always rough, no matter where you start. She whispered her gratitude to God and prepared to face the rest of the day.

   Hmmmm!!! Just wait till you hear what they did to my friend after that! Tune in tomorrow for the next chapter of The Hue Violet: Dat Slavery for the two thou’ eleven!

Counting the Duggar Kids

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone on a hard core rant – but here it is:

Who CARES how many kids the Duggars have?!?!

It’s not often that I get a chance to sit around and watch the morning “news”, but today I had the rare occasion to stumble upon Better Mornings Atlanta on CBS, featuring some folks that are unfamiliar to me. The panel was discussing low fat Thanksgiving dishes and other inconsequential factoids when they abruptly segued into the topic of the Duggar family.

For all my international readers, the Duggars are on a reality TV show here in the States called ‘X number of kids and Counting’. They started at something like ’15 kids and counting’ and every year they’ve added a new one. We now find them at 20.

Of course, this being America, everyone has an opinion concerning the way other people live their lives.

“Why would she do that?” asked Jennier Valdez, the Hispanic looking anchor.

Then she made some glib and bitchy comment about Michelle Duggar never being able to wear a bikini because this area (rubs hands from breast to navel) was all “messed up”. The more seasoned anchor (or at the least the one with some better sense) replied that clearly Mr. Duggar didn’t need to see his wife in a bikini to feel attracted to her. She shot Jennifer a look with a smile that said “shut your mouth and let it go.” Jennifer clearly didn’t get it.

“I dunno!” she mulled in her ignorant 20-somehting voice. “I just think that at a certain number of kids, it’s enough. I just feel like every child deserves a certain level of love and attention from their parents.”

“And maybe the kids are getting that love from their siblings…” another anchor attempted to interject.

“But not from their PARENTS,” Jennifer finished. “I just think, like 5 kids, is enough.”

You. Stupid. WHORE.

Who are YOU to determine how big or how small any one’s family should be? And what is this garbage about not being able to provide your kids with attention because there’s “20 of them” in the house? What about the people with ONE kid who are neglectful because they are focused on the pursuit of their careers, their religion, their boyfriend or any other pursuit that has nothing to do with that one kid?! What a shallow ditz!

After she had spoken her piece, she got up to do the weather and I changed the channel. If it was going to rain, I didn’t want to hear it from her judgmental lips. Perhaps in her opinion, we are about get too much rain in the metro area and our crops and grass wouldn’t be able to handle it all!

What a complete imbecile.

Here’s why this has my knickers in a tight, knotted twist:

I have several friends who have 4 or more kids, myself included. The family in our circle with the most number of kids is 7, and to me, that seems a lot. But it doesn’t matter what my opinion is, because each of those kids is either in college, or on track to go to college; has been fostered to develop a sport, musical ability or dance; is incredibly intelligent; and finally, has not suffered a lack of care or devotion from their parents.

Similarly, I have only (and I use the term “only” loosely) four children, much to the dismay of half of White Roswell. When I’m out with the kids, I am often confronted with a pink-haired old lady gasping:

“Oh my GOD. How do you manage it all? You must be so EXUASTED.”

And yeah, I am. But not any more or less exhausted than I was when I was out partying or playing a sport, or running around town on errands for friends when I was single. It’s just a different type of tired.

Reader, have you ever had someone offer you an unsolicited opinion on something so personal that it sets you into a rage? and I’m not talking about whether your shoes and belt match…I’m talking about deeply personal topics.

“You shouldn’t have had your kids so close together.”

“You shouldn’t have gotten a degree in basket weaving.”

“Why on earth would you ever opt to get dreadlocks? They’re so ugly and unprofessional!”

Why is it that these “groundbreaking” opinions are never followed by a check to finance the subject of offense? Because overly-opinionated people are stingy except where their opinion is involved!

The fact is, none of the Duggar kids is on the corner slinging crack or selling their bodies for drugs. They don’t depend on the government for ANY type of assistance. They too are well spoken, well educated, and have been immersed in the arts. They have a loving  family, and how many diapers or linens this woman has to change day in and day out has nothing to do with Jennifer Valdez, you or I.  Now, I personally would never make the choice to have 20 kids, but it was just that: HER choice.

In closing, I would like to firmly recommend that Jennifer stick to what she was hired to do – and that is to read a teleprompter, wave her hands around the green screen behind her, report the weather and leaving the thinking to people with more developed grey matter. Nobody likes to be disturbed by the sound of marbles rattling around in a rusty tin can first thing in the morning. That would make it a “Better Morning”.