“Two years ago, this shy little miss came to us directly from Italy. She seemed to fit right in, and has distinguished her stay in Classical High School by her good scholarship. We who are acquainted with know her as an excellent little friend, always ready to give any help she can when it is asked for, yet too shy to intrude. Anna says she likes America, and our school very much but some day hopes to return to her beloved native Italy.” So says Nonni’s high school yearbook, and it sounds about right. I said as much at her wake in 2007
One day while visiting my great grandmother she pulled out a big envelope that jingled in her hands as if it was filled with bells. What was in this magical envelope?
Picture this: You’ve just turned eighteen. You’re wearing a long red shirt with a new pair of tight jeans that you very consciously entrusted with boosting your confidence for the day. After years of dreaming about it, you worked your way to reaching a destination that is presently 1,697.41 miles away from home, and you think you’re ready. You think you’re ready in that petulant way teenagers always swear they are… but when your mami implies that she’s finally leaving the room, the fact that you’re not suddenly sneaks up on you.
Caring, determined, religious, and a star in my eyes , these are 4 words that describe my aunt Sharon. When the family has disputes and we don’t get along, she’s the one who breaks up the arguments, says a prayer and helps calms down my family members by singing a song or reading a scripture. I like how she brings the family together without complaining no matter what negative comments my family throws at her she doesn’t EVER let that get to her. She is a strong, beautiful and corageous woman that’s for sure. I only say that because it’s true, this woman has been to many trials and tribulations just like all of us. With the little that she had before she got her coporate job, she provided for her son first before herself. Whenever I need help she is always there for me. She inspires me to do better especially in college. Since there is remote learning now, I’m more comfortable in my home, I tend to watch movies more and sleep. Being at home is so relaxing to me that i felt like i wasn’t even enrolled in school. I realized that I am slacking in my classes and my homework for that matter I didn’t like that at all. I ended up calling my aunt because she is definitely my go to person whenever I need some kind of advice to get me back on track cause I know that finishing school can take me places I never been before. So I called her to see what can I do to stay on track and to pass all my classes. She told me to take deep breaths, detox from the electronics and focus on what’s important. I took that to heart because she didn’t have to take the time out her day to do that, she could had just texted it to me, but I’m glad she answered my phone call. I was on the verge of not caring about graduating anymore, and just giving up on school, the workload from each class got me tired, I was mentally drained, but my aunt encouraged me to be the best that I can be and to work as hard as I can. She helped me get back on track and I did. I couldn’t be the scholar student that I am now without her love, her words, her wisdom and her honesty. My aunt is true to herself no matter what, no matter how much she makes in her business, she tends to always give back to her community and her family.Thats what I also love about her she is kind and generous and she doesn’t have to be she chooses to. Born and raised in NYC my aunt loves to try new things like go to the museum or ride a horse carage in central park. Auntie I love you, all the trauma that you’ve endured in your life made you strong as ever. I look up to you and one day I wanna make it in the world and do what love because of you. Nobody in the world has much patience as you. You show me that’s it’s important to help people no matter what’s going on in my life. You auntie show me what it’s like to be a real woman who takes initiative and fights for what she wants. I seen that you have through out the years, volunteering at your church, the homeless shelter and teaching at the local church school. You dedicated your time to your students and your child and I am proud of you. Keep being you, a SHINING STAR☺️
Women inspiring women is such a powerful thing isn’t it? From parenting to sex work; women are always inspiring other women, breastfed to bottle fed to sharing other women’s business pages on social media to visiting sex workers at their workplace and tipping them; everyday I see posts about how inspiring it is to be a woman.
This story of an inspirational woman in my life is extremely close to my heart since it belongs to my aunt. We belong to a very humble background, where woman are only encouraged to settle down as early as possible and men are the sole bread-winners of the family. Its just how the culture has embedded this trend within our society, since the beginning. But throughout my story, you'll realize why shattering the norms is important in today's society and why ones inability to achieve their dreams shouldn't be --- " don't do it since it goes against the cultural norms and since you'll be a shame to the family's honour"
There is no shortage of women who inspire me that I could write about. My mother, who raised three children on her own earning success in her career and raising strong resilient children. My sister who fought all odds and woke up from a coma that should have killed her or my friend who gave up her favourite foods such as steak and eventually gravy because her empathy for all living things was bigger than satisfying her taste buds or her meat loving husband.
It has finally happened, folks! I’m no longer living the paycheck to paycheck life.
I hit my 30th with true drunken Dionysus style. Probably more Dionysian than strictly necessary, but it was a dream 30 years in the making, so it needed to be epic. I had two hot ass bartenders wearing speedos, because I deserve to objectify hot men on my birthday. One was a bartender I met at my farewell drinks from KRONOS, the other was his mate who was a model. I propositioned Mark at the Ivanhoe, and he said he would be happy to walk around my house half naked and serve drinks at my 30th, for a price of course. After that it just felt so unnecessary to go online looking for hot wait staff for hire, only for them to turn up looking like the elephant man’s less attractive younger brother. That’s the problem with online these days. With all the filters and stuff, a photo can be a bit deceptive. On a related note, what counts as hot these days can be a bit confusing. I blame the body positivity movement. I am all for people loving themselves just the way they are, but that doesn’t mean my penis has to agree with your self-assessment of your own hotness. No amount of social engineering is going to change the basics of mainstream attractiveness. Sure, there will always be people with specific fetishes, if bed bound morbidly obese people light your fire, no shame in that, go get your tubby lover. There are plenty of people out there who are into amputees, but the reality is most people are programmed to prefer symmetry. The reality is the vast majority of people are not going to be into non-mainstream, you can shriek on social media about how beautiful you are, and to someone you will be, but that doesn’t mean I want you in speedos serving cocktails at my party.
So I really did think a long time about this. My mother is a woman who broke the mold on single mothers. Raising her children and then some, after the seperations from our fathers. Who wouldn’t want look to a role model like her, that worked the 80hr weeks for baseball fees, and pointe shoes. Or my grandmother who fought through custodial rights (which was unheard of at that time) and the kidnapping of her only child or her battles with end stage cancer (she’s doing well currently). I’ve had more than my share of strong, empowered female role models. But in the end, I was left with one person. I met Yvette Baker about 4 years ago, and we could say that I was very nervous at first. I was the new girlfriend. A stranger from another state and not always every mother’s dream girl for their son. So there I was in an outfit that was obviously picked out to make an impression. I turned on the southern charm most people joke about and before I knew it we had kicked up a kinship that was more like a lifetime instead of a few years. The lead up to this meeting was proceeded by one of the worst years of my life. I had walked away from the home I had always known for good. Said goodbye to my nephew, who I had helped raise from birth. He was my rainbow after a long period of infertility. My mother who had become my best friend and confidant. I left for a place that at the time left everyone scratching their heads (Iowa). I was suffocating in that town and had finally got those wide open spaces all the songs promise. But do you know what keeps people from moving back home? Healthy roots? Like when you transfer a plant from one pot to another. You have to make sure the ability for new roots to grow is a possibility. And I was primed by the love of my own family. But it’s not always so easy, but people like Yvette make it seem as easy as watering a Peace Lilly. It’s like having another mother without all the relived memories of how much of an asshole you were at 16. When my grandmother was first diagnosed with the cancer. I couldn’t find it in myself to cry to my mother. She had so much on her plate and who was I to ask for a shoulder when she needed one way more. Yvette had been through this with her sister. So I thought if anyone could understand how I felt she would. And I was right, she did know how I feel and listened to every fear, helped me work out when was the right time to come home. In the end when I left we hugged and it was a hug that lifted the rain clouds. Made it easier to think more clearly. She lol helped me search flights. Loaned me a suit case, and made sure to feed the boyfriend while I was gone. She has made every holiday feel as inviting as home. I will find myself coming early to lend a hand to cook, or wrap a present, or bake cookies like I use to with my own mother. Did I mention ethe grandmother she became to my son from a previous relationship? Picking him up from an evening with Grandma Baker is always followed with regalings of how they watched Godzilla, and popcorn or pizza. Yvette is the type of Grandma that really listens to what you say you want for your birthday. She is a well of fashion advice. I’ve come to believe that before I met Yvette, that I never felt fully put together and had told her on multiple occasions how silly I always felt dressed up cause it just always seemed off. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve thought to just give her money and let her pick out my clothes cause I always look fly as hell when she’s selecting. Like the stunning dress she picked for my brother in laws wedding. When in Ulta together we sometimes make eye contact and know we aren’t leaving without dropping an easy $50. She’s never slighted me once for moaning about Thad not taking the trash out. It’s always met with understanding and the compassion of someone who has been there. I joke with Thad, that he doesn’t have to worry about me leaving cause I love his mom too much, and he makes jokes about how I’m the favorite child. There’s never a rush to leave, when I pop in for a chat or to love the puppies. How could you not nominate a woman like Yvette Baker? A woman who redefined what it is to be a mother-in-law. No longer are we stuck in the past of dreading a call from the in-laws. Now I look into a future where my family has grown, and will continue to, with the births of nephews, the weddings of brothers, and maybe a few puppies being adopted. Who could have ever known how much admiration would have been born on the day Yvette Baker got to meet her youngest son’s new girlfriend. I love you, Yvette, for all the years of love and support. I only hope one day I can return the favor.