Monday, December 29, 2008

Final Project

I've been neglecting my blog. School and life just didn't leave much time or many brain cells for idle musing. But I do have something to show for it. I did three video projects for one of my classes. Her is the last one...I should get the others ones up pretty soon. Of course, the day may come when I am embarrassed by these clips. But that day isn't here yet. I'm still excited about learning how to edit and finally getting to make what I want to out of my thoughts and observations.


video

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Joy!!

I feel truly blessed to have witnessed this moment. A singular achievement that means I will never have to worry about what can't be done. Despite all obstacles, all doubt... with faith, good works, and love... all things are truly possible.
Not a cure but a salve for the wounds to the souls of many, a wellspring of hope for every young person who has wondered or worried or fallen short of their capabilities in fear.

Therefore do not worry...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Copied from The Guardian

Since Brunsli posted recently about getting her hands on a copy of Italia Vogue, July featuring black models and editorials, I figured I'd pass along an article I saw about the issue during my morning gossip trawl...

From The Guardian...

Fashion world stunned by Vogue for black

Reaction to Vogue Italia's latest 'black issue' is electrifying the industry, forcing the fashion world to reconsider its resistance to using non-white models, writes Sarah Mower

Jourdan Dunn on the cover of Italian Vogue

Jourdan Dunn on the cover of Italian Vogue's black issue Photograph: Public domain

It's nearly August, the retail fashion industry is in an uneasy slump, and summer issues of women's magazines are gaunt for want of advertising. Yet in the past four weeks, the 'black issue' of Italian Vogue has caused such a phenomenal demand at news-stands in Britain and the United States that Condé Nast, the publisher, has rushed to reprint and distribute 40,000 more copies.

The explosive content of what, by any standards, is a small-circulation magazine with an average monthly sale of 109,000, is now being spoken about as a cultural watershed in fashion. With the next show season six weeks off, its influence might finally end the 'white-out' that has come to dominate catwalks and magazine pages.

On Friday, a saleswoman on the till at WH Smith in Hammersmith Mall, west London, was proudly gesturing to a Vogue Italia propped up at her cashdesk. 'We've managed to get 10 more,' she said, as a group of black and mixed-race schoolgirls broke ranks in the queue and doubled back to the shelves, hollering with delight. They have reason to celebrate, and to hope. One of the covers of Vogue Italia features Jourdan Dunn, the 18-year-old who was discovered by a Storm scout at Primark in that same mall. Perhaps those girls were her former classmates.

Conceived by editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, and shot by Steven Meisel from a roster of 18 new, established and former stars, the July 'black issue' sold out in Britain on arrival. That renowned fashion photographer Steven Meisel, the recluse whose lens has made the career of many a model (including Brits Lily Cole and Karen Elson) should be focusing on non-white subjects might have been expected to cause some debate. A mild examination of conscience among the model scouts, agencies, casting directors and designers was privately anticipated, without much hope of anything changing - in the same way that the endless skinny-model debate has resulted in little or no change in the industry. But no one anticipated the global interest.

'It has been unprecedented, a sensation, although that wasn't the aim,' said Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Condé Nast International, who masterminded the reprinting and rerouting of unsold magazines in Italy to America and Britain. In America, the issue is shrink-wrapped and stickered with the words 'First Reprint. The Most Wanted Issue Ever'.

That is no hype, according to the Kenya Hunt, the young black style editor of Metro International News in New York. 'I've been watching the news-stands since the beginning. There are lines of women when they hear of a new shipment. It's a wide cross-section of women, girls, people my parents' age who read Ebony,' she said. 'There have been email chains about it. The news-stand guys are hustling, locking it up in the back and charging $25, $28, when the real price is $16. Yesterday, I saw it on eBay for $50. There is a climate shift. This is the year of the presidential election. And this at a time when magazine sales are really hurting.'

British retail newsagents, who are often reluctant to allot shelf-space to any non-populist publication, have also been scrambling to satisfy waves of people wanting to get their hands on the £6.50 edition. Borders has had to move issues around the country after a first-day sell-out, saying that demand was 654 per cent up on the previous issue. WH Smith's women's magazine head buyer Louisa Stokes confirmed: 'I took so many queries from customers and from individual store managers - I've not seen anything like it. Italian Vogue is normally delivered to only 45 stores, but customers all over the country are asking for it.'

The first printing was so scarce in London that Edward Enninful, the black Notting Hill-born Vogue fashion editor, who worked with Meisel to style the Naomi Campbell cover (one of three versions of the edition) was forced to scour the country for an issue. 'I couldn't believe it. I ended up phoning friends in Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, who found one for me in a corner newsagent. I am so excited. I never thought I would be able to see something like this - my people, my race, wearing the collections, being gorgeous, chic, real women in that way. But the most important thing is: this proves we are bankable. We can sell.'

That, of course, is the point. Evidence of commerciality, especially in anxious times, is more likely to shift industry thinking than any amount of political correctness. For years, the excuse proffered by advertising agencies for not signing black models to lucrative contracts, and by magazine editors who failed to feature women of colour on their covers, was a supposedly factual, 'they don't sell'.

Certainly, part of the grand rebuttal has been organised through the internet, influencing an industry that is far too used to listening to its own circle of insider voices.

Sola Oyebade, chief executive of Mahogany Model Management, has been running a Facebook, text and email campaign in an attempt to make the issue the biggest-selling Vogue ever. 'We believe there's industry apartheid and this is something that the black community does feel very strongly about. I've had so many calls from people asking where they can get their hands on a copy. I've had shops like Harvey Nichols ring me up, telling me we're causing them a lot of problems with supply, so we've been liaising with them, too. Our fashion industry is institutionally racist. The explanation for why they don't use black models is always that we don't sell, but this shows that's not true. Black people are among the highest consumer spenders in the UK for material goods.'

Agencies are busy scrambling to catch up. London-based, Nigerian-born designer Duro Olowu has fought to cast black girls in his show for the past three seasons. 'I'd phone agencies, and there would be silence. Now, people will have a responsibility to make sure they have black models in their shows,' he said. 'Anybody who doesn't will look an idiot.'

However, the truth is that it has taken two central establishment leaders - Sozzani and Meisel - to make the subject even discussable in fashion circles.

Just a few months ago, anyone who voiced opinions like Olowu's would have been regarded as naïve, eccentric or speaking out of turn and in danger of ostracism. 'I wrote a piece about the absence of black models a year ago,' said Kenya Hunt. 'and no one wanted to talk about it.' Now, she says, everyone is rushing to quote it.

As Sarah Doukas of Storm, the agency that discovered Jourdan Dunn and manages Alek Wek, put it, the success of the 'black issue' 'has implications for all of us to now fully embrace the diversity within our industry, and to exploit our creative resources to celebrate our cultural and social differences.

It is, after all, a long overdue wake-up call for an industry whose precarious future will rely on reaching global markets that do not resemble the freakish army of half-starved six-foot white girls who have come to represent the Western ideal.

As Barack Obama has it, it's time for a change. Though it may seem forced to link politics with fashion, history proves that the dominant aesthetic of any era can only reflect the mood of the times. And just as in politics, what just might revolutionise fashion now is that enough white people, too, are bored to death and impatient with the way things look out there.

Speaking out

Jourdan Dunn, the teenage supermodel who was first spotted in a Primark store in west London, was interviewed in The Observer Magazine in April after she had criticised London fashion week - and its catwalks - for being too white. She spoke about race and role models ...

· On being spotted: 'Everybody says I was spotted shopping in Primark. I wasn't shopping, I was with my friend. She wanted to go in, I wanted to go home - and we were just mucking about in the sunglasses section.'

· On her comments about London Fashion Week and race: 'It needs to be said because I think about these things and other girls do, too.'

· On the reaction to what she said: 'The way people said I was stupid made me feel horrible, saying fashion's a business so they need to use models who sell things.'

· On Naomi Campbell's plan to establish a modelling agency to promote different races: 'Naomi's idea is good. I'd do an agency for black girls and Asian and Spanish, because there aren't enough of them on the runway either.'

· On posing: 'I like having spikes coming out of my head or being in something I'd never wear.'

· On being away from home: 'I miss out on getting on my brothers' nerves, so when I get back I have to get on their nerves on purpose to catch up.'




Thursday, July 17, 2008

Breaking News...

I have a white hair.

Actually I have quite a few white hairs some on my head and others in more interesting places...like my eyelashes. But this white hair is standing up mischievously right in front of my head. This is a dilemma for me. You see I noticed the hair because I have selected yet another brand and shade of hair color. I was looking in the mirror strategically planning the color application and wondering with some nervousness how it might turn out. And there was the hair just about waving at me.
I actually like white hair. My grandfather had a headful of snowy white hair and my father definitely has more white than black. Gram also had spectacularly white hair. But you'd never know it because whenever she 'washed' her hair it would magically turn jet black. And I won't even mention all my white pigtail wearing great-aunts who were all full of sparks and fun times. White hair that is actually white is quite gorgeous. A headful actually looks timeless to me. You can't really tell how old someone with all-white hair is. They look cool without trying. At least to me.
So while I am not very enamored of my natural hair color...an almost forgotten shade of muddy brown, I don't necessarily want to cover the white. Ideally I'd like to color the brown and leave the white to grow in as it will. Have my cake and eat it too. But the nice consultants at Clairol say no to that. So until the white hairs really take charge I guess they will have to fall in line.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dry spell...

So as I sit and type, I am procrastinating. I am back in school. In eighteenth grade, as my mother jokes. Last January, just for giggles, I hustled together an application to Columbia School of Journalism. I got in! Who knew? So I am back in school. It's been harder than I though to get back into the swing of being a student. I love the program. I'm taking Reporting and Writing and a New Media Skills course. I'm great in class, but I've been taking a little longer to get my stride with the stuff out of class and the rest of my life.

The worst thing happened right after my first class. Gram passed. It's one of those things you know will happen one day, you just don't want it to happen any time in the foreseeable future. But Gram decided she was ready to leave us and she did, with a dramatic flourish. So I ended the first week of classes by going home to New Orleans. It was my great honor to eulogize her. I thought I was fine. I really do believe that my Gram is at peace and I feel very fortunate to have had her in my life for so long. She was definitely one of my favorite people. She is responsible for my optimism and sense of adventure, my sense of humor and love for telling stories. So it was a little odd starting journalism school at the same time as I had to say goodbye to her. But by the end of my week in New Orleans and most definitely by the time I hit the tarmac in New York, all the reserve I mustered up for the trip home crumbled. And over the next few weeks, I slowly unravelled at the edges. I lost my focus in school. And just generally felt disoriented. I kind of arbitrarily decided that July was time for me to get it back together. So I am working at it.

At the same time, one of the best things happened. I gave up the only apartment I'll probably ever be able to afford in Manhattan to move in with the person I hope to be with...well, forever. That seems weird to even type. I was not tragically single so it has been a bit of a whirlwind of transitions and decisions. It was brought to my attention that I really don't write that much about my 'personal life' in my blog, specifically relationships. I don't intend to start. Rats, right? But we met, we clicked, and we decided to get on with it. So I'm going with the flow and hoping for the best. Well, it seemed like it would be a really good idea to move in together over the summer before I started taking classes full time in the fall. But I now believe there is never a good time to move. And moving when you are starting a new endeavor is stressful. Moving while losing a loved one was more than I could take. So I was not very graceful about the whole thing. But it's done. I know it's the right decision. I lived through my mother's Scarlett O'Hara moment when I told her about it. And now all is well. Or getting there. But it's caused a lot of introspection.

I am the only daughter of an only daughter. It wasn't until I actually thought about the implications of committing to someone else that I really realized how much of my identity is wrapped up in being independent. And I guess I never really believed the other relationships I've been in were permanent, because it had never really occurred to me before that I might miss being single. Maybe that's why I haven't written about the other relationships. They took up my time, but never really changed the trajectory of my life. I can't say I didn't think it would ever happen--meeting someone that I wanted to commit to--but I guess I was OK with the possibility it might not. It's fair to say I thought it was more likely I'd meet someone I wanted to date. So when I went to Slish's Superbowl party back in February, I had no idea what would happen next.

So once there's more to tell, I guess I will. For now, I am very happy to be sharing my very crazy, unsettled life with someone I love very much. Nairobi was not as thrilled about the move. But that's a different story altogether...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Where have I been?

Life has been like a roller coaster. Blogging just hasn't made it to the top of my to-do list, but I figured a quick note wouldn't hurt. I stopped working at UrbanIvy and started attending it instead. I moved. Anyone of these three would have been enough to hold my attention hostage, but together they definitely got the best of me. So I'm here. Eventually I'll get my wits about me and start writing again...but not today...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jigga What...Jigga Who?


A seemingly inconsequential popular culture event provides an opportunity to debate the state of media, the ongoing obfuscation of the relative importance of African American artists to mainstream popular culture, and the widely alarming recalcitrance to portray black people as anything other than pathological.

The marriage of two of the most lucrative popular culture icons in the country, race notwithstanding, is apparently not news. It's hard to imagine a figure more ubiquitous than Jay-Z to hip hop or Beyonce to pop, but I guess if Eminem married Britney that would be a big yawn too if they did so after six years (!) of anticipation and speculation.

I had to see pictures of Eva Longoria's wedding. Apparently she is more newsworthy than Beyonce and Jay-Z.

As someone who generally believes no one's wedding (even that of a celebrity) is 'news' but a private, family event, the mainstream media's claim that no one cared about this particular celebrity wedding news strains credulity to the point of exhaustion.

To be clearer... Two black people get married. According to the statistics we are usually bombarded with, that in and of itself should be worthy of an interruption of you usual programming. I distinctly recall reading and watching several features that suggested African American women were now more likely NOT to get married in their lifetime than not.

A black man gets married. According to the statistics we are usually bombarded with, if he's not dead or in jail or on the down-low or just trifling, the last thing a black man wants to do is get married. To a black woman.

A black woman becomes the wife of a black man who apparently wanted to become her husband. If we extrapolate from the kinds of media coverage we usually get of black people and popular culture, this is the equivalent of a Bigfoot sighting or a high-def shot of the Loch Ness Monster. Right?

The man who gave us Big Pimpin got married, people. And mainstream media thinks that is not news. Think about that...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Weird...




You Are Likely an Only Child



At your darkest moments, you feel frustrated.

At work and school, you do best when you're organizing.

When you love someone, you tend to worry about them.



In friendship, you are emotional and sympathetic.

Your ideal careers are: radio announcer, finance, teaching, ministry, and management.

You will leave your mark on the world with organizational leadership, maybe as the author of self-help books.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A More Perfect Union...

Even more brilliant than I could ever have imagine...

Barack, do you reject *and* denounce black people?

So Barack, do you reject *and* denounce black people?

This whole dust-up is really whites asking Obama to reassure them that black people aren't mad about racism anymore or at least that the ones who are are 'outside the mainstream.' It's Obama being cornered at the water cooler and being pressured to say he's not like 'the others' so everybody can go back to pretending race is not their issue with which to grapple.

I'll be watching because never before has a black man attempted this maneuver so publicly. But don't get it twisted, black people working in white America walk this tightrope everyday. At the lunch table, when someone makes a rude comment...when Imus makes a joke about black women...when OJ's name is invoked...

Black people in close proximity to white people are inveighed to reject unconcentrated, problematic 'blackness'- the kind that makes whites break out in a cold sweat...

Usually, of course, this ritual is writ small. The response required is a head nod or a chuckle signaling all that this black person takes no offense at the past and ongoing wrongs that might wound those other black people. The insinuation, of course, is not just that 'they' have no right to be wounded and to consequently cry out in pain and rage. 'They' are at it again...whining, crying, complaining about indignities, slaps, and blows that could easily be made inconsequential. Not by redress, but by 'their' silence...if they would only shut up...and go away. You, Representative Black Person, isn't that right? Couldn't all these problems be solved if 'they' would just stop their wailing and moaning? Notwithstanding that 'they' are our siblings, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, acquiantances, mere familiar faces...I don't know a black person who hasn't been asked to reject them as the cost for admission to what so many legion were unjustly denied.

In the script, we- as Representative Black People- are supposed to enthusiastically, even stridently, reject black pain and rage. We then must assure that, in fact, we've never even experienced the malady. But what usually happens instead is that, in lieu of reciting our lines as written, we stand quietly and the whites present en scene go on with their dialogue as if we had delivered an Oscar-worthy performance. Some dunderheaded black people do go so far as to actually say their lines. They are celebrated by white folks in myriad ways, their names held aloft for other black folks to venerate...Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly, Condoleezza Rice...They will reenact their monologues at small cocktail parties and large convention halls with little provocation.

Make no mistake, tonight Barack Obama is being given the opportunity to be similarly laureled. But Barack is much smarter than the aforementioned. To date, even other black people have underestimated his ability to avoid passionately delivering the Oath. He has managed thus far to get by with the head nod. Not too long ago though, Hilary Clinton upped the ante. On behalf of white folks at water coolers everywhere, she indicated they would not be accepting the usual tacit compromise. She wanted to hear the words. Maniacally she demanded, "Say it. Say it, Barack." And Barack subversively said the words while making Hillary's command for the performance transparent. "Is this what you want me to say? That I reject and denounce black rage. OK, if it makes you feel better. Hand that script to me and I'll read it, but this is a very strange request you are making." And that was the rhetorical tongue in cheek, because we all knew that strange request is made all the time, even as I type...

So white folks have regrouped. Come back with something stronger for Barack's ass. "Boy....I mean Barack...everyone of you smart Negroes done figured out you need to sidestep Jesse and Reverend Al...(it was that SNL carton that really got white folks all steamed)...and now you don't even blink when we ask you to answer for Farrakhan? Well, we gonna have to come back with a real switch for that ass..." And that switch is Jeremiah Wright. A black man that most white people have never even heard of, but we'll give them a clip so they will quickly understand that we are asking you to turn on one of your own, one that you know, one real close to you, one that has done nothing but love and clean up after the wounded flesh racism has left behind on the Southside of Chicago. "We want you to spit on him in front of everybody. We're going to dress him up in rags, push him out, and make you-- in front of everybody--finish him off."

Make no mistake, that is the spectacle that is expected when Barack Obama makes a speech addressing the comments and his connection to Reverend Jeremiah Wright. At least as white folks see it. And to some measure that is the mise-en-scene...

But for black folks, the drama is different for Barack. He is Denzel standing in Glory...waiting for the lash...

Denzel Washington got the Oscar for that tear. That tear that for some signalled submission, but for those of us in the know, from that same womb, was a tear of defiance...

So today, I am filled with anxiety...but still hopeful. So far, Obama has shown himself to be more consummate than any of could ever have hoped. But I feel like I am sitting beneath the biggest circus tent ever, waiting to see Barack Obama be fired out of a cannon or to attempt a quadruple trapeze somersault without a net below. And I have always HATED the circus. HATED the circus. I want him to pull this off so badly and I am ashamed that I am even a little afraid for him, afraid that even that twinge of fear is a little betrayal of my confidence in his abilities.

I am also filled with respect, because I have never attempted to push myself the way Barack Obama has pushed himself. Perversely, where he finds himself today is an awesome testimony to his ambition, his courage. To me, whatever happens after this, he is like Thurgood Marshall, like Malcolm X, like Ida Wells Barnett, like W.E.B. DuBois, like Martin Luther King, Jr, like Shirley Chisholm...because he has stepped into the full awesomeness of his own possibility and not been diminished by the limitations society all too often successfully imposes on blackness, and black people. That he is even tested this way, is testimony to how far he has come.

Those heroes were amazing because they dared live in the beautiful complexity of their humanity while black. **I'll leave that for you to chew on and come back to it another day. Because there is no such thing as a Magical Black Leader who lives life to the fullest and speaks truth to power because they are so ethereal and preternatural. We all are Magical, if we dare to conjure.**

But I digressed, this speech that Barack Obama is so awesomely game to give in Philadelphia tonight, directly addressing his relationship to Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an attempt to force him to either betray his African American base by publicly rejecting an elder and losing face or to lose the delicate, fragile, spider-web fine support he has woven together from white people. Either outcome is fine with Hillary Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, Geraldine Ferraro, and every other angry white person that Barack Obama has Matrix-moved around so far. I don't care what he says. I understand what this is all about. All those years wasted on postmodern, psychoanalytic theory. This is a mimetic moment. This is metaphor. This is spectacle. This is the Panopticon.

Obama, gird yourself for your moment in the arena. I only wish there were more of us who had been where you are going so that someone could tell you what to say. Because tonight, make no mistake, you are going where no black person has gone before. If you vanquish tonight, there is no mistaking that you are the baddest black man alive. If you vanquish tonight, you will have proven that, like Neo, you in fact are the one who can do it where and how none of us has had the opportunity to do it before.

**Thank you, Anna, for the link to the transcript of Obama's comments. Hopefully, there will be a video clip soon.**

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lent and Lies....

Actually this is two different topics...

The Northeast is not a gentle place to spend Lent. As much as I love living in New York, there is one bit of Southern snobbery that I have to confess. It is nearly impossible to find a good plate of fried fish around here. For some reason there isn't a very wide variety of good frying fish around here. I like freshwater fish, especially trout, and I just can't find it.

So Lent and its meatless Fridays can be difficult. But tomorrow...There will be fried fish.

On another front...I am now intrigued with this new show "The Moment of Truth." I don't understand why people succumb to it. Way too many questions, for way too little dough.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yawn...


Not that I care anymore, but I feel it my duty as a keen observer of popular culture and formerly bitter critic of the whole damn situation to report that Star and Al have split up.

I'm over it. There is no schedenfreude. What, really, can one say? Sigh. Everything I type I end up deleting because, what's the point? What were either of them thinking?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Spring forward, fall back...

This year Daylight Savings Time starts three weeks early. So apt. Since the year has started, I've been pushing ahead at a much faster pace. One can be methodical without being slow. A few weeks ago, I acted on resolving a few issues that I've been abiding with for months. What is the point of more time for a situation that will inevitably end the same no matter when the action is taken? Do it now. A jolt to the system? Yes. Finding myself at a point I knew I'd come to eventually, only much sooner than I actually imagined I'd arrive... Perhaps I was putting off the inevitable not to stretch time but to freeze it. Having made a decision, if I don't take action, can I alter the inevitable? I don't know. But I am certain that my attempts to find the answer to that question have only ever wasted time, my time. Spring forward, girl. Let the rest fall back.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Year

So if you're feeling froggy, you ought to jump...
Now indeed is the time for moving forward boldly, unequivocally even. And it's days like today that get me thinking about the serendipity of opportunity. Some come around in a commonplace way, like stair treads raising on an escalator. Others though have a rare quality that heighten the senses. Mundane or miraculous...jump at chances. Take them.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

State of the Black Union 2008



I'm not going to say anything about Tavis' pouting and whining this week. The important thing is that The State of the Black Union 2008 is being broadcast live on C-SPAN from New Orleans. Turn off Flavor of Love 3 and watch it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eleganza Mack


Here's Will Ferrell dressed like he's headed to a Superlounge at the Essence festival...or a Maude audition...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Therefore do not worry...

When you walk through a dark room...do you take small steps? do you stick your hand out in front of you? do you push ahead until you bump into something? And once you make your way across, do you flick the switch and flood the room with light? Do you continue to navigate in the dark? Or do you just stay in bed waiting for the sunrise.

There is nothing worth doing in life that doesn't require a confrontation with darkness, a reckoning with fear. And while it seems some days that fear gets the better part of me, truth be told, when I look back I realize that it hasn't. I have gone forward despite uncertainty. In fact, darkness itself has sometimes pushed me toward the light.

I suppose like many mothers and daughters, it took me a awhile to realize that the woman who birthed me was human, fallible, and overwhelmed with nothing but the best intentions for me. I often wondered if she and I met as strangers would we be friends. But life being the wonderful journey that it is, we --so different- are two individuals who needed to meet. Because we are a lesson for one another. And I don't think either of us would have gotten the point had we not been yoked to one another. We are very different people.

Ever since I was young, I have realized that my way of seeing the world was not the same as hers. And my mother realized the same. We were at odds for a long time because her solution was to compel me to defer to her perspective and my solution was to forge ahead anyway. The struggle took a lot out of both of us. Like any child, I wanted my mother's encouragement. I wanted her approval. I was hurt and angry that I couldn't seem to please her with my accomplishments or to inspire her with my dreams. What I said about the world and my place in it seemed to strike the wrong chord, even anger her. And to hold back heartache, I became stoic and very stubborn.

One day. One blessed day, we realized that we were fighting the wrong fight. It finally occurred to me that my mother wanted to protect me, even if she had to hold me back to do it. And my mother realized that my life, while different, was still very much connected to hers. That no matter how far or how foreign, my compass was always calibrated to home. It took some adjustment, but we have learned to learn from one another. We have learned not just to love, but to like one another. When I encounter an obstacle, she concedes at the outset that she has no point of reference from which to direct me. She offers her support and sometimes her analysis. And I continue to learn that I can discern my own way. To liberate and affirm my ability to make choices for myself...

I am also left to figure my own way through the dark. I suppose eventually we all are faced with that realization. That no parent, no mentor, no guide, no other can make what is our own way in the world. That we must do for ourselves. If we are fortunate, we will find souls who are willing to walk with us. But inevitably we must release the fantasy that someone will walk before us or leave a trail of breadcrumbs for us to find, for every life's journey is unique unto itself. If we do not come to terms with this truth, we fall short of what is possible. We may remain safe, but we will not become wise. We won't be hurt, but we will miss the journey.

It took me a long time to let go of my want for a mentor. I finally realized it was really a desire for approval and the type of childlike care that none of us who accepts the lucidity of maturity can ever wrap themselves in again. To have someone else make me feel better, what a respite that would be. I took a deep sigh. And grew up. I have to do that myself. Otherwise I will always be dependent on other people. And not know my own way. Beyond the darkness and fear is my best self and my highest aspiration. May that faith be enough to fortify me as I once again leave what is known for what is next.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I can't tell you how many nights I have not been able to get to sleep. And it is absolutely torturous because I actually enjoy sleeping and need to sleep in order to form coherent sentences during the day. But I cannot get to sleep on time. Then I wake up late and I'm fifteen minutes behind for the rest of the day.

There is something about having an animal living your house. I was thinking about why I wasn't sleeping when I heard a really loud noise. Nairobi and I locked eyes. Then without missing a beat, she stood up, jumped out of bed and came with me to see what the trouble was. And I realized that either she's 1) fearless, 2) incredibly loyal, or 3) not too bright. Having seen her purposefully hide from strangers and people she didn't like, I have to conclude it's a combination of 1 & 2. She' s pretty clever. But I think it's pretty cool that even when I'm alone, at least she has my back. I wonder what she would have done if there was trouble.

Given all the press Chicco and Marcellus get, I figured I'd post her picture. As you can see, she still wears her broken bell.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras!

If you don't know the Soul Rebels, you ought to. I can't take y'all to the Mardi Gras. But this is just a taste of how it's done.

Monday, February 04, 2008

I got tagged

A few days ago, I got tagged. Wow. I've never been tagged before.

Six non-important things/habits/quirks...
1. I really love Looney Tunes old-school cartoons.
2. The only flavor of ice cream I like is Vanilla. Though I tasted some chocolate-jalapeno ice cream a couple of weeks ago and it was pretty good.
3. Whenever I go home to New Orleans, I sneak over to the seafood market and get a soft-shell crab po-boy and eat it all by myself in my room.
4. I drive barefoot.
5. I've become addicted to cherry limeade.
6. I didn't take a shower until I went to college.

Tagged....Here are the rules:

Ok.. So,here are the rules: (1) Link to the person that tagged you. (2) Post the rules on your blog. (3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. (4) Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. (5) Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. Now let's have some fun.

Anna
Bygbaby
Linda
Mr. Slish
Muslimah
Natasha


Giants win!!


New York City is going bananas right now because the Giants pulled off a fourth quarter win over the Patriots. Pretty cool. I mean it kind of sucks that the Patriots didn't get to finish their perfect season perfectly, but it also sucks that they've been accused of some pretty underhanded tricks like bugging their opponents. It's football, not Al Quaeda. Anyhow. It was definitely fun to watch the 'home' team win. On behalf of New Orleans, I'll take partial credit. I spent my youth watching ol' Archie Manning hang his head in shame after many a Saints game. I was an adult with a voter registration card, a driver's license, and an individual retirement account before the Saints even won a playoff game. But that isn't my point. My point is that Eli and Peyton Manning are from New Orleans, so we helped y'all win. You're welcome.

Postscript-- Slish, you threw a great party! I can't say that I'm going to take your advice and go out alone more often though, because I still worry about the return trip. Once Gov. Spitzer lets me break a fool off, then I will head straight to the nearest dance club confident that no matter how late it is, I'm ok on the train. Until then I'll have to keep to my curfew. But Revival was great, I had never been in that extra room. And I won two rounds of Name That Tune. Nice. What happened to that poor chump who was rooting for the Patriots? His face broke like a cheap mirror.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Too much to do...

As I type, I am under the dryer.

Have you ever had the humbling experience of realizing your life was missing something you didn't even know existed? I have had that feeling twice in the past 48 hours. The most recent was when I sat down and started setting my hair on these new longer Soft Spikes. Ahhh. That's what I needed all along. I am blasting my hair with more heat than I usually do because, as is becoming usual for me, I am running late. I have way too much to do today.

It is the 200th Bicentennial Anniversary of the New York Archdiocese and St. Patrick's Cathedral is having a special African American mass. Since I've never been to St. Patrick's Cathedral, I really want to go for this occasion. People of African descent were involved in the founding of the diocese. In fact, the only lay person (non-religious) buried inside the church, under the altar, is the Venerable Pierre Toussaint. He contributed the money to build the first St. Patrick's Church.

Being from New Orleans, I give no more thought to being Catholic than I do being black. It's just an inextricable part of my upbringing. And I didn't realize until I left home for college that so many people were unaware of the role of African Americans in the Catholic Church. I don't agree with many of the edicts of the church , but its liturgy is completely ingrained in who I am. I am one of those black people who goes to visit a black protestant church and does NOT want to turn to my neighbor and tell them whatever the preacher said we should repeat--smile. But I digress, and some black catholic churches do that too. Anyway, to commemorate the occasion, the Office of Black Ministry has commissioned a special cloth from Nigeria that we are all being asked to wear and choirs from all over the country will be performing in the special service. But somehow, I've gone all week thinking the service was at 3. Uh, no. It is at 2. So I woke up very early this morning, went to the market, stopped at Rite Aid and rushed back here to wash my hair, set it and sit under the dryer. I intended to do all this yesterday...

And that brings me to the other time I realized my life was missing something. I found myself in Bed, Bath and Beyond last night. I usually steer clear because the place is a real money pit. But I was desperate for a mop and a few other things to organize my mess rather than throw it out. My shopping list said mop, pants hanger. That's it. Two hours later...I had a mop, a pants hanger....and a purse hanger, 3 laundry bins (on clearance), an apothecary jar (I've been meaning to start a terrarium), a gazillion tea light candles, hooks that stick on the wall so I can hang my new mop, a new rubber broom that is the answer for picking up cat fur, and some Yankee Candle tart warmers (I have a fetish for Yankee Candle...another time). Oh I got this little thingy that claims to keep tomatoes fresh after you cut them. Oh and I forget, I got ANOTHER pitcher with a plunger in it. Sigh. I love those...

I was standing in the bathroom section looking at a boutique set that was half price. Contemplating whether I should buy a tissue holder and waste basket for my tiny bathroom-- who knows where I would put it. I turned around and saw this amazing stainless steel container. You can hide your toothbrush and paste inside it. It looks like a miniature cocktail shaker. Wow! I realized I NEEDED one of those. So I stood and held it for more minutes than was necessary. Sigh. And then I put it back.

So after mass, I'm headed back uptown to go to Mr. Slish's Superbowl party. It's in Harlem at Revival. It's nearby and better than sitting around the apartment in my flannel teddy bear pajamas.

And I am excited to say...in the time it took me to sit here and ramble onto the keyboard I think my hair may have dried! This is thrilling. Absolutely thrilling. So I have to give the new longer Soft Spikes an unequivocal rave. As my hair got longer, it took longer to dry on the original size. Because I can wrap the length of my hair without overlapping, it has dried super-fast. It probably doesn't hurt that I have the 'Purple People Heater" on full blast-- which I usually never do and would recommend. But I'm in a hurry today, so just this once.

I'll post after pics on my other blog after I find someone to take my picture.

**update** I missed the service. Sigh. I couldn't get out of here. My apartment looked like a tossed salad. So I did another New York thing-- I went on craigslist and hired someone to do all the stuff I can't. But I just felt funny about leaving a stranger in my apartment. So, even though I could have gone and come back from church by the time she finished, I decided to stay until she was done

Friday, February 01, 2008

Windows...

You all have no idea how much this blog means to me. Having it has gotten me through so many tough times. And I have re-connected and met so many special people because of it.

Because of your encouragement, I decided that I am ready and now is the time for me to get started offering Sisterlocks here in NYC. When I first moved here from Virginia, I was so overwhelmed with life that I could hardly imagine doing anything. But now is the time for me to take another step toward the life I want to lead.

I will still occasionally talk about hair here, but I have started a new blog -- reneadoessisterlocks.blogspot.com -- to post information about everything related to Sisterlocks, including my own services. My first goal is to complete my qualifying installations. So I am offering a SPECIAL rate for a LIMITED time. Tell your friends, please.

And Haven? Well, this blog is going to evolve into something very special. So stay with me.

Damn, Wesley...


You're slicker than H & R Block. Mr. Biggs shoulda got your number!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coming soon...


Our favorite Soft Spikes has just gotten better! I just received new, longer Soft Spikes. And because I didn't want Brunsli to scoop me, I figured I'd better hurry up and post about it before she got to her camera.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Swan song...


And so here it is. The first of many lasts. Tonight is GW's last State of the Nation Address. Sigh. I've applied my exfoliating mask, poured myself some wine and put my feet up. So it's rollers and rhetoric. I am curious to hear what ol' George has to say. The presidential candidates in his own party are, in effect, running against his administration and its record. Besides ensnaring the country in an indefinite, undefined, misdirected military effort in Iraq, the country is on the brink of a sub-prime mortgage crisis that may pull our economy into recession. I can't think of one cabinet-level issue where his administration has made a positive contribution. Sigh. But ever the optimist, W is going to lay out a series of proposals 'to move our country forward.' Yet as soon as he takes the podium, he will become a lame duck. Hardly a strategic position for leadership. It's all taking its toll on him. George hardly laughs or even smirks anymore. It's sad really. But hey, what are you gonna do?

I wonder what W's plans are for next year. The Carlyle Group? Halliburton? Giuliani and Associates? After a long vacation in Riyadh, I'm sure everything will be clearer.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

CMB...Am I my brothers' keeper...

This just in. Ted Kennedy thinks Barack is stuntin' like his brother. Endorsements are of relative value. At the end of the day, everybody has to make their own decision. My choice is my own, nobody is in that voting booth but me. There is no denying, however, that garnering the endorsement of the two Kennedys mostly closely connected to the aura of John F. Kennedy has a certain mythological and psychological value.

Bill does not like the way this is going down. But maybe as I've already succinctly suggested, he should just shut up. Because Bill, you may be the Teflon Don Dada-- I will give you that. Game always recognizes game.-- but you are not helping Hills and she is not helping herself. Folks ain't feeling y'all. And it's her own fault. She's talking really greasy. It's only January, do you really think people want 8 years and 11 months more of this foolishness?

If you slept through your high school Civics/U.S. Government class, pay attention. Because now the Democratic race really begins.


So once again, I am up way past my bedtime. For no good reason.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Barack is stuntin' like my Daddy...


From tomorrow's New York Times...

A President Like My Father

Published: January 27, 2008

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Economics 101

I'm going to be brief. It's late and I should be in bed.
Thanks to Brunsli I was motivated to actually look at my retirement account. I do this far too infrequently. Shamefully, I have not been very proactive at all about managing this account even though it is the largest nest egg I have for the future. I don't even contribute to it anymore. When I left academia, I stopped depositing into this account and started a new one with another employer who worked with a different company--tomorrow's project is finding the info for that one.
Anyway, I have had a policy of benign neglect towards this money. I'm not clear on its terms--when I got it I was given a now forgotten explanation of why it couldn't be rolled over and somehow remained tied to the state of Tennessee. Making the best of it, I rationalized that meant I wouldn't be tempted to do anything wacky---like withdraw from it. I haven't really paid close attention to its distribution and when I left the University of Memphis the financial advisor stopped contacting me. I was surprised when I saw that I had the investment profile of a Golden Girl. There were several more aggressive funds that had yielded SUBSTANTIALLY higher rates of return than my spread.
Why the newfound interest? Since last week, I've been scared witless by all this recession talk. One of the first classes I took in college was Economics 101. Granted it was not a bright spot in my academic experience and I went on to do just as poorly in Economics 102--though strangely enough I got an A in the upper level econ course I was required to take for my major. My poor showing was largely due to my inability to make the same 'rational' decisions my textbook said people would make in the hypotheticals presented. And it seemed irrational to me that if I didn't think the way the theory predicted and I knew plenty of other people didn't make decisions the way macro- and micro- economic theory said we would, that it was IRRATIONAL to conclude that something was wrong with me instead of the theory...
But I digress. The most vivid memory I have from Econ 101 is a realization that American economics are cyclical in nature. I remember sitting in lecture, considering the gaps between previous downturns in the market, and making a mental note that we were due for one right around...well, now. I couldn't have imagined all the things that would happen to me between then and now. I figured by now I'd be a homeowner, a parent, and pretty well into a specific career. That isn't the case. I won't recap.
So I find myself unable to ignore all the recession rumbling because I am currently on track to become a sweet, old cat lady. Social Security is shot to hell. So being pragmatic, I realize I need --to paraphrase Wu Tang Financial-- to protect my neck. So I am. Finally.
Protect yours too...the sky may be falling...or at least sagging a little.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

For MLK Day...

This weekend, talk to people about who they are voting for and why.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

No Country for (Old) Black Men

This is so negroidian.

I have been meaning to write this post for a long time and hoping I wouldn't have to get to it. Apparently, I do. So I'll get started on this later. Meanwhile, discuss the myriad ways Bob Johnson has showed his @$$.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Convergences and conflicts...

Of all nights, tonight I had a whole bunch of things I wanted to do at the same time, in different parts of the city. So I had to make some tough choices. Consequently, I've only seen the last hour of the debate---but I taped it for later. Let me know how you think it went from the start.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sigh...

I told you it was coming. And it is here. Bob Johnson shut up.

Part of me doesn't even want to waste the energy required to respond to this foolishness. But really, Hillary, really. Are you going to spend the next ten months pissing me off this way? Because if that's your plan, I'd really rather you didn't.

I thought you had 'found your voice?' But now it's Obama's fault that you made a club-footed, outrageously inappropriate comment about Martin Luther King, Jr. Please. Let me get this straight, if not that your comments--which were videotaped--were offensive, Obama has found a way to influence public perception of those comments. And he's accomplished this how? By saying nothing and leaving you try and pry your foot out of your own mouth. And all you can use your voice for is to point fingers at Obama. Stop it now.

And sending Bob Johnson out to throw mud at Obama? The SAME mud you said you wouldn't tolerate in your campaign. Plea-hee-hee-heeze.

Don't go this road. It is not becoming. At all. It makes you look, dare I say, shady and desperate and shook.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Aspiration...


When did we stop aspiring? When did we stop looking in the mirror and seeing our own possibility? When did we decide to take over selling ourselves short and limiting our horizons? When did we give up on having? On being? On doing?

I was angry. But now I thank Hillary and Bill for getting me to do what I should have done months ago. I dipped into my 'allowance' and sent the Obama campaign a contribution. Not a lot. I don't have much. But I have enough do something.

Let me break it down...Black people can do what they will. They can go to Princeton. They can go to Harvard and be Law Review editor. They fall in love. They get married. They have babies and raise them together. They stand up, walk to the front of the room, take the podium and hold the floor. They can represent for everybody and remain true to themselves. They can say exactly what they mean to anybody about anything. They can be absolutely, undeniably impeccable and charming and sharp and fallible and witty and ready...

I want to know who you thought you were waiting for? When you close your eyes and imagine who would be right, who do you see? Now OPEN your eyes! Open your eyes.

I'm not even going to say that I'm going to vote for Obama--it's just my thing, I don't ever say this early that I will vote for anybody...I have until February 5th. But I am saying that I SUPPORT him. I don't think any candidate is perfect. But I know I am don't need Bill or Hillary to tell me who is 'electable.' And I damn sure don't need black people to tell me to hesitate supporting a candidate who deserves my support.

This man embodies everything that this country claims is requisite to be elected president. This woman is the baddest chick on high heels.

It would be outrageous enough to think that white people would not have the integrity to vote for this man. But is downright shameful and heartbreaking, to KNOW that there are black people who will not support him...and not because he isn't qualified. There are black people who will not support him because he IS qualified. Because of his education, because of his life experience, because of his self-assurance, because he has enough swagger to to run this race this way he wants to run it and not wait for ANYBODY's permission (I'm talking about you Jesse, and you Andrew Young, and you Bill and Hillary).

But those people can do what they want. And I know that they will. All I am responsible for is what I will do. Imagine what would happen if we all had enough AUDACITY to stand in our own light. Better yet, don't imagine...do that...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hillary Clinton...

has pissed me off.

Excuse my language. But did I hear correctly, did you actually insult the career of Martin Luther King, Jr- a man who was MURDERED because he was willing to WORK, not 'dream'- as you dismissively characterized- to make a rhetorical point about yourself? Are you seriously implying that this man did nothing of substance? And you said that to say what? That you were more qualified to be president?

Excuse me? If I'm not mistaken, you didn't take public office until 2001. And you didn't run in Arkansas where you lived for over twenty-five years. You didn't run in your home state of Illinois for the Senate seat Mr. Obama now holds. No you, Miss Thing, assembled a coalition of the willing and ran in New York. And I'm not knocking your hustle--nothing wrong with gettin' in where you fit in...but don't act like we don't know.

And, excuse me. I'm as emotional as the next one, I cry all the time. But no, you didn't get all farklempt about not wanting to see US 'fall behind,' not when you were drinking that front-runner Kool-Aid, but as soon as the campaign had a setback. Seems to me, the only one falling behind is YOU. Maybe they are just not that into you. How about that?

But that's not the only so-and-so that's ticked me off today. A big HELL no to Gloria Steinem. No, you did not write the most ahistoric, thinly veiled racist appeal I have read since the white suffragists decided not to fight for universal suffrage WITH black people, but for themselves.

Gloria, I know you are OLD enough to know that even though black men were 'given' the vote before white women, it took legal interventions well into the 20th century to make it possible for black people to actually exercise their right to cast the ballot. And I KNOW you did not mean to insinuate that black men were colluding with white men to deny an obviously SUPERIOR white woman access to office. That's not what you meant, is it Miss Anne, I mean Miss Steinem? And I KNOW you did not create a condescending, imaginary black female character to demonstrate how unqualified Obama is for office. No, that would be pitting black women against black men. And I KNOW you wouldn't bother doing that...it's beneath you AND we wouldn't fall for it anyway. I KNOW you are not suggesting that today Hillary Clinton is being discriminated against because she LOST, because you weren't saying that last week when everyone assumed she was the front-runner. What are you gonna do next? Run a Willie Horton ad so everyone will understand what a threat this black man is to white women everywhere?

And Bill Clinton. I see you. I had forgiven you for disappointing me so many times when you were in office. But today you were out suggesting that Obama wasn't 'playing fair.' What? I know y'all aren't susceptible to those kinds of sour grapes. You are one of the cleverest political strategists in the game. You mean you were out-gamed by an 'inexperienced' rookie with some freshman tricks? Not you, Bill. You and Hillary took on a 'vast, right-wing conspiracy' but the Obama campaign has got y'all strung out already?

I hope I'm not gonna have to put folks on blast until November.

Get it straight. It's about to get real ugly around here. And we are going to see what's really hood in a minute.

Hillary, get it together. You are not entitled to this nomination. You are going to have to roll up your sleeves, stop condescending to your opponents and come up with a credible response. 35 years of experience? Please. As what, wife of Bill? Apparently, democratic voters are not willing to vote for you because they liked your husband. I am not suggesting that you need to wear pastel skirts and smile. But you will not impress anyone if you continue to come off like you can't regroup when faced with obstacles. I expect W to try that 'staying the course,' 'I'm the decider' trash. But really. Do I look like I would want more of the same from you? Do better boo, do better.

Friday, January 04, 2008




Though I dreaded it, last week I went to see my grandmother's house.

In the background to the right you can see the pink installation Brad Pitt set up to draw attention to his redevelopment project. I wasn't planning to go there at all. I prefer seeing it on the Today show. But my cousin Bebe-- yes, I have one--needed a ride to our house on Christmas and specifically asked if I would pick her up. So after seeing the art installation-- you drive through it like the natural disaster version of Great Adventure Wild Safari, eh-- I took a deep breath and headed toward my grandmother's since it was on the way.

There are still no street signs. The installation is located in the same spot my father's mother lived for a short while on Jourdan Street. It was a sturdy, paint-worn house with the biggest yard ever. There was a huge tree. And when I close my eyes I see the oak leaves above my head and hear the creaky gate. I remember the view from the yard into the kitchen door and I remember the taste of her cooking---try as I might I cannot make rice like she did. Perfect long grains and always the best gravy over just about anything. I used the map hardwired in my head since childhood to count how many blocks to North Derbigny and then over ...is it one block or two? And now I'm disoriented. I look to my right and see a tan one story cottage with the remants of a terracotta colored roof. And I frown because that house is past my grandmother's...

I force myself to look to my left. I put the car in reverse and slowly back up the estimated length of three houses. That's where Gram house is. Was. I see a field of grass. In fact, I can see all the way past Reynes Street (pronounced like my name), Tennessee, and Deslonde to Brad's houses. That's when I look down to the pavement and see the numbers spray painted on the street.

This is where I drank six-ounce Cokes through a crazy straw; licked the cake batter out of the bowl while I watched Electric Company instead of going to school; soaked in the tub with Mr. Bubble and Zest soap, dried off with the 'good towels' and sprinkled way too much baby powder all over the floor. Here is where I tried on fancy hats, red lipstick, Estee Lauder perfume, and high heels then admired myself in a mirror with pictures of my cousins, shoulders draped in white fur stoles because they were graduating high school tucked in the corners.

Here is where I sat on the concrete porch playing jacks-- onesies and twosies while my Gram showed off by snatching eighties and ninesies before the ball hit the ground, flipping the jacks in the air and catching them on the back of her hand, then blowing my mind by doing the whole thing over but with a peach pit because she didn't have multicolored metal jacks and a bouncy rubber ball when she learned. It's where I slid around on the very same porch with the hose pipe in my Wonder Woman underoos while my PawPaw polished his new Impala. Where the rose bushes grew right up over the front window and the Claiborne Avenue bus passed all day and night long.

Here is where my grandfather mixed tobacco for his pipe sitting in his tweed covered recliner. And if I kissed his stubbled cheek and asked really sweeeeetly, he let me turn the huge, black and white, floor model Zenith to whatever I wanted. Even Mr. Rogers when the baseball game was on.

Here is where all my trophies from dancing school and science fair ended up on the dining room sideboard between the crystal punch bowl, fancy candle stickholders, dishes of peppermint candy, and bowl of big, fake plastic flowers.

This is where that is.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ha!

2008 is turning into my kind of year.

Day 3 has even more swagger than days 1 & 2.

I don't know about you, but I feel like there has been a change in our collective barometric pressure.

I am tilting on my axis!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Do...


(This image is my mine; all rights reserved; copyright; yada, yada, ya. Do not copy without MY permission...lol. Seriously though. Don't jack my stuff)

I have tilted on my axis...

Rather than worrying or wondering, today I DID something to move closer to a passion I have always had. In the past, whenever it came to mind or conversation, I had a perfectly good reason why I couldn't do it...But today the only thing that mattered is that I want to do it. So I am moving toward it. And I pray it comes up to meet me.

Risk is relative. In some ways, I have taken some pretty big risks and stretched a lot further than others around me thought I would or could. But I have known for a long time that I was letting fear keep me from pushing past the only expectations that mattered...my own.

If you've ever stood at the end of a high diving board or the edge of a cliff, you will know the sensation I felt in February 1992. This jolt of panic ran through me when I realized that I had actually made it through college. Not a big deal to a lot of people. To get to that point I had to rebel against family, friends, teachers, counselors. After I graduated from high school, I walked into a pitch black alley. No one had any advice for me, I didn't know how I was going to make my way at all. But I took a deep breath and stepped into the darkness. How was I going to get to college? Literally. And then, how was I going to stay? I never even thought about finishing or what would happen after. Every cell in my body was focusing on holding steady exactly where I was. In the abstract I knew in four years I would graduate. But it was like the finish line of a marathon, seemingly so very far away at the outset.

Since I had no idea what to do next, I felt like I had ran right up to the end of the diving board. To the very edge of the cliff. Stopping short just before I got to the point solid ground ended beneath my feet. Even though I was proud of myself for graduating, I did not have a sense that I could fly. So I wobbled on the edge...

For me that meant staying in graduate school. At first, I really enjoyed it. It was such a treat to spend a year in Los Angeles learning about something I loved and not being worried about anything. I thought the next move would come to me there. It didn't. So I did what someone else suggested I do. Not a bad thing to do. But not what I wanted to do. It took me six more years of graduate school and teaching to finally give myself permission not to continue doing what I had started.

Right before Katrina I had quit my job. Which is part of the reason I got nearly no assistance. I had, in fact, gotten the opportunity to pursue what I actually wanted to do but hadn't felt I deserved to pursue. But with the water and wind went my opportunity... Once again I kicked rocks.

In some ways moving to New York was a small step back to the edge. I always wanted to live here. In fact, it was a youthful dream. I like living here but I would be content to live somewhere else and I'm not sure how long I'll stay. But the statement was simply moving here at all. It was my way of thumbing my nose at disaster and stamping my foot on the ground. Fine then. I'll move to New York and start over. Sigh. That took so much energy. I got here and almost collapsed into a puddle again. I satisfied myself by encouraging other people to pursue their dreams and focused my energy on just sweeping away the rubble in my head after the storm. I have been doing that up until now. My silly posts. My small comfortable bubble here in New York. But a realization that I had last New Year's Day came to pass. And the reality of that chain of events caused me to question my risk assessment strategy and my crisis management plan. And finally, it clicked. I am already in flight. The last illusion of solid ground beneath my feet crumbled on September 29, 2005. There are no safe distances from life. And the only thing required for me to have what I have dreamed about is my willingness to do it.

Everything that I lost was keeping me in fear-- fear that I would make a mistake and fail. But I have realized that you can do everything you SHOULD, prepare for every scenario ... and you will still not be safe. I say all this not as a statement of desperation, but liberation. A couple of nights ago I was channel surfing and found Fight Club on HBO. If you haven't seen it, it's about a young man who encounters his own extreme and is pushed past every boundary. It is a violent caricature. And a fabulous allegory. --Hey I like Kara Walker, don't be surprised I love this too. Anyway toward the end the protagonist confronts the antagonist with all the chaos and ruin that has been created and the protagonist says in reply, "If you want to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs." I heard it and sat bolt upright. I say this ... all the time. I forgot where I heard it, but not that it directly spoke to me. In the movie the characters go on a psychotic spree. I have no intention of doing that. But I finally understood why that one-liner has been bouncing around my head for so long. Until I am willing to confront myself, until I am able to tolerate the certain terror and chaos that will ensue, I will never have the fulfillment of finding out whether I can fly. I could fall onto the rocks below or hit my head at the bottom of the pool. But really. That is the worst that can happen. And metaphorically speaking, I've already been pushed over the edge. Hell, literally speaking.

And I open my eyes and find that I am still here and still in motion. I must still be alive. And possibly, I have discovered that these wings I have work.