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


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


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 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'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 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


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


(This image is my mine; all rights reserved; copyright; yada, yada, ya. Do not copy without MY 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 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.