Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Recipe: Hot Water Cornbread

For a Twitter Pal of mine - flyddw - here is my sister's recipe for "Hot Water Cornbread." flyddw & ASK4ME are waiting for this post!

I have never mastered making it because I just got good with regular cornbread. I can cook my butt off with some recipes, but my sister takes after Mama - which means she does everything more by "feel" and "sense" than measuring... She says that, depending on how big you want the bread patties, you can get quite a few pieces out of this version of the recipe. *shrug* Well, here we go:

***What you need***
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • apprx tsp of butter
  • apprx 2 Tbls fried meat grease or bacon drippings or even Crisco (but not Olive Oil!)
  • enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of your skillet to almost 1/4 inch up the side.
  • a medium-sized mixing spoon (about three times size of a regular soup or place spoon)
  • a mixing bowl
  • paper towels to drain cooked bread
  • a pot to boil the water
***What you do***
  1. Mix together the cornmeal, salt & sugar in the bowl with a fork. Set aside. This is your "dry mix."
  2. Put the 2 cups of water in pot and let come to a boil. When water is boiling, stir in the 2 Tblsp of fried meat grease and the tsp of butter & let it all boil again. This is your "hot water mix."
  3. Get your skillet & cooking oil ready for frying. You are going to want the frying oil hot enough to "pop water."
  4. Slowly add some of the water mix to the dry mix in the bowl, stirring it in. You only want to add enough of the hot water mix to get a mushy consistency that will let you scoop the mush with the mixing spoon.
  5. When your skillet & frying oil is ready, you can start frying the scoops of cornmeal. Don't let it cook too fast or slow. Too fast & it will burn; too slow & it will be over oily.
  6. Let each side brown as much as you want. (My sister likes hers crunchy, but I like mine golden & kind of soft.) Take out & drain on paper towels.
Hot water cornbread is best eaten hot. If you do save some for later, you can break the patties up into hot soup, beans or gumbo, but hot is best.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Love In Action

A couple of years ago, a family member was going through some changes. They really needed to get their life together. In the meantime, they had two children who needed to be taken care of.

This is my family. When one of us needs something, the rest of us are there.

Those two kids? Well, all it took was a phone call. The next day the kids were on a plane, headed to live with a niece of mine and her husband. There was no time to prepare, no time to think. My niece and nephew didn't ask for time to prepare or think. If I remember it right, the only thing they asked was, "What time does the plane get in?"

My niece and her husband are young people. They had a small home, two jobs and bills and worries like everyone else trying to make it these days. This young couple had already made plans to have my sister live with them while she recuperated from surgeries and other medical concerns. This alone was going to be a rest-of-your-life commitment.

With two young kids and an older relative to care for, did these young people buckle under the pressure? Did they ever stop and wait for a pat on their backs? Nope. Know what they did? They rented out their small home and went out and bought a bigger house. They got cute beds for the kids and a stair-lift for my sister. They re-arranged work schedules to accommodate parent-teacher meetings and doctors' appointments. They traded out one vehicle for another to better suit this new situation. Suddenly, instead of buying and cooking and cleaning for two, they had to up the budgets for groceries, utilities, clothing and transportation. Sometimes, they had to give up vacations and personal time. Without preparation, they had to learn to deal with sibling squabbles, pre-teen mood swings and the all-around pain-in-the-ass situations that come to people with kids.

For two years, these wonderful people absorbed family into their family. They never looked at the emotional weight of anything, but always saw the love in it all. Without thinking of it any other way, they bragged to their friends that they were lucky to have family together and around them. Instead of complaining about buying school clothes and supplies, they made an adventure of it. Instead of complaining about trips to the hospital and therapy sessions, they felt pleased to have a full table of family at dinner time. They made a joy of planning birthday and holiday celebrations. They loved having the opportunity to go on field trips and have kids over for sleep-overs.

These people never once looked at what they had taken on as a burden. They just saw the joy in every single thing.

I don't know of many other families who have members like this. I don't know of many other personal examples of love in action.

Sure, people talk a lot about loving you or thinking of you or having you in their prayers... But I have seen those words acted out every day for over two years.

Tomorrow the children are going to be leaving to reunite with their dad. He got his life together. He's ready for his children and, because of my niece and nephew, the children are ready for their dad. They didn't have to go into "the system." They didn't have to be with strangers. They didn't have to be in exile for the last couple of years. They were always with people who loved them from the blood. They got to be with and within family.

Mothers and fathers who have children and love them are doing what they are supposed to do. Their sacrifices are their chosen responsibility. People who parent children who aren't their own have done so much more. They have loved and sacrificed when they didn't have to. You are supposed to love and sacrifice for your own, but when you do it for someone else's children, you've done something so amazing that it's hard to describe.

My niece and nephew don't want to be thanked. I know them well enough to know that, but I want to thank them anyway. I want them to know how glad I am that they are who and what they are. I am so proud of them. I am so thankful for them. I hope that everyone, at some time in their lifetime, will be blessed to know people like my niece and nephew.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Arrogant Ignorance

I am so upset right now that I can FEEL my blood pressure in my ears. But I have to calm down because I need to pray.

I just came from the store where I went to pick up some cold meds and some nourishment. In spite of my cold, I was feeling pretty happy. It's a beautiful day here. The sun is out and the traffic is light because of the holiday. At the store, one of my favorite people was there. (Someday I will have to tell you about Bonita, the lady who works there & is so much like an angel sent down just for me...)

Anyway, I'm at the store cruising for some juice and fruit, chatting for a few moments with Bonita (and getting my "Hello, sweetie pie" hug from her like always), and I get to the checkout counter with a smile on my face. I'm behind a nice-looking couple who are next in line behind a lady already paying for her items. As the lady is paying, she is asking the clerk something about a product or - I don't know - something. I'm not really paying attention, but I notice the customer does have an accent. The clerk patiently listened and answered her questions before cashing her out and bagging the groceries.

What happened next hurt me so bad I was speechless.

The couple in front of me watched the first customer leave, then the woman looked at the man and made a face. "Maybe she should learn to speak the language, huh?" she commented. The man laughed and agreed that it would make life easier for the rest of us. (They were so casual and open, you'd think they were discussing something really pleasant.)

I'm standing there thinking: "These are grown people saying stuff adults try to teach children not to say." I was just stunned, and when the couple tried to rope me into their ignorance by smiling back at me, I couldn't do anything but stare at them.

Now, I'm usually quicker on my feet. Matter of fact, I usually shoot off my mouth way too fast for my own good. This time, though, I think I must have been so offended that I couldn't think of what to say. I really did feel like crying.

The clerk didn't hear the comments of the couple, and so she checked their items without a clue about their behavior. I couldn't take my eyes off of them, but they didn't seem to be aware that they had shocked or offended me with their comments.

Of course, when I got to my car and was driving home, I had thought of so many things I should have said or done. (I hate when the happens.) Since I may never see those people again, I want to get something off my chest. I want to say what I wish I'd thought of at the time:

How dare you be so arrogant and ignorant. You want to make fun of someone who doesn't speak your language; someone who sounds different than you do. Well, have you ever been somewhere out of your element? Have you ever traveled or tried to connect with a different culture? How can you be so mean to someone you obviously don't even know. You should be ashamed of your own ignorance, not insinuating that this other woman was ignorant in any way. Obviously, she's smart enough to speak more than one language. If you had to, could you say in her language what she at least attempted to say in ours? Would you even try? And what kind of people are you that rudeness and mean-ness comes so natural to you?

Finally, I guess I want to say that it scares me to see that kind of ignorance in action. I know there are such people out there in the world, but I always hate when they expose themselves. I don't know what's scarier: people like that who try to hide their views or the ones who don't feel like they have to hide the way they are.

A long time ago, my mother helped out an old woman who lived in the area. I'll call her Miss Addy. This old lady called me "Colored" and she would use phrases like "your kind" and "you people." I just could not understand why my mother would do things like stop by and offer to bring things back from the store for the old bat, or send over hot food every now and then. I don't remember what happened to bring it on, but I finally asked Mama why she bothered to be nice to someone like this. I knew that there were certain people (who seemed okay to me) who my mother would have nothing to do with. My mom told me that you judge people more by their heart and their actions than just by their actions. She said that the old lady had a good heart and bad habits; that she was often talking in a way she'd been brought up to think was okay. (Miss Addy was OLD - like, maybe 85 or 90.) Mom also said that there are people in this world who have nice manners but the wrong feelings in their heart. I didn't fully understand this. It was an aunt who translated for me. She said something like: "Miss Addy might not talk nice to you, but she wouldn't do you harm for anything. She's ignorant, not hateful. There are people who will call you "Ma'am" to your face and "Nigger" behind your back. With Miss Addy, to your face or to your back, you know what's what."

That couple at the store, they are people who hide their hatred behind their ignorance. They are the most dangerous kind of people. They are both ignorant and hateful. And I have to be careful to pray for them without hatred in my own heart.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

If Spam Didn't Lie

I have about 6 or 7 email accounts. Of those, I check 3 on a regular basis and just hit the others up once a month or so. Everytime I go into one of them, I have at least 200 SPAM emails. Of course, I scan the subject lines - you know, just IN CASE a "real" email ended up in the pile...

The thing about SPAM is that I always wish the promises were for real. If I could believe the SPAM, so many of life's problems would disappear. For instance:

Weak Credit? Gone. Just like that. Matter of fact, I could (in 3 easy steps!), repair my credit or raise my limit from the bottom to the max in a matter of days. And all for either "FREE!!!" or "MINIMAL COST." Yeah. Uh huh.

Single? No prob. There are "sexy singles" out there just dying to meet me. Some of the singles are "hot Russian girls." So... Mr. Spammer, since I'm a "girl" myself and not gay, tell me again WHY I care about some hot Russian chicks? It's not like you are familiar with my blog, because if you were, you'd sell me the lie that you can hook me up with Keanu or Denzel. C'mon now...

Thinning Hair? Bald Spots? Somebody can fix that. Well, look at the damn picture on every profile I have. My problem, you morons, is not thinning hair or bald spots. My hair is good. Now, if you can offer me a stylist to work up that hot razor-cut bob Rhianna rocks, then talk to me. Til then - get your game together.

My favorite is when I get something that LOOKS like a Twitter notice. Yeah... Well, it would fool me better if the format actually resembled the real thing. After getting hundreds of authentic Twitter invitations, it's not hard to spot the fake that's missing half the key elements of the real thing. At least these emails are entertaining. Of course, it's harder to deal with the REAL Twitter invites from people who try to Spam me any way. You know about those, right? The ones who follow 8000 people, are followed by 12 people and have 2 updates. Oh, and the updates are something along the lines of "my sexy pics and vids," or "I make $100/hr and you can too!"

So, you see, it's not like I wouldn't be the perfect mark for a spammer. It's just that the spammers are lazy. They don't do any real research. They just scan the surface of my web life. If they took the time to read a blog post or two, they might luck up onto one of my weak spots. In the meantime, they are just solidifying my relationship with "Select All/Delete All."



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rewarding the Wrong Behavior

Why do we reward awful behavior and then complain about it? To me, this is one of the major things wrong with society. Let me try to explain what I mean.

I have to wonderful nieces. They grew up with us in the same house, so they were raised more like sisters than cousins. As children, they had completely opposite personalities. Cee was a very sweet-natured and soft-hearted kid. Tee was tougher and, out of jealousy (since she was in the home with us first), she could sometimes be mean to Cee. For the most part, they were very close and got along - just like siblings. Sometimes, though, their personalities clashed. Tee would do something mean and Cee would come crying to us about it. Once, when we just got tired of Cee crying to us about it, we scolded her, telling her to take up for herself. "Stop being such a baby. You have to quit letting Tee bully you."

Of course, we got on Tee about her behavior, but my point is, it's as if we blamed Cee for being the one who wasn't a little pain in the a**. I look back on it and think that we have taught the girls a better lesson if we had done something to reward Cee's sweetness. (It's all worked out. The girls are still like sisters and they love each other, but, still...)

We see this kind of thing in so many situations. We pay so much attention to celebrities who don't show the best judgement. We write headlines about serial killers and teachers who molest their students. When was the last time someone who did something wonderful got as much press? When was the last time a magazine put a celebrity on its cover for doing something amazingly nice? When was the last time such a celeb was paid to attend a club or public event - just because of the attention they'd attract. A celebrity who's been out of the news for a minute knows that all they have to do to get back in the spotlight is do something ignorant. Those of us buying magazines and reading the gossip sites are the ones paying for Paris Hilton's lifestyle. If no one paid attention to her for the way she is, she might do something more productive with her life. But can you blame her? Can you blame little girls who are poor and hungry now for wanting to be the next rich Lindsey, Paris or Britney? The media powers-that-be are not making a big deal of folks who study math and science. How many people know about the brains behind the newest medical breakthroughs. Now, how many people know who won the last American Idol?

I'm not pointing fingers without aiming the first one at myself. I mean, I just about broke my neck watching the Scott Peterson trial coverage. So did half of America. What's wrong with us??? This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder of sicko people don't go ahead and act out their sicko fantasies because they know they are going to get their 15 minutes of fame for it...

I can name a long list of tacky celebs and criminals who've made the news in the past few years, but I'd have to go to Google to find out the names of everyday people who donate their time, money and caring to others. There's something sad about that. And, yes, I am ashamed of myself.


Monday, May 18, 2009

The Devil Is A Liar!

That's a saying from the old folks in the church. You know, something gets on your nerves, or someone does something they ought to be ashamed of, and old Sister Hattie would proclaim, "The Devil is a liar!" ***

My mother, though, was one of those people who didn't believe in blaming everything on the Devil. She'd remind me when something didn't go the way I'd planned, the Devil had nothing to do with it. "That was you being hard-headed," she'd tell me. "Hard head makes a soft behind." Then I'd get a lecture about using more common sense when making important decisions. Once, when I got my first credit card, I bought some kind of expensive purse. Just had to have it. Couldn't live without it. It had cute initials on it and "everybody" who was "anybody" had one. Mama watched me loading all my stuff into the purse and said, "Got everything in there but money, don't ya?" About a month or two later, I was in between paychecks and a little bit broke. Went to Mama for a loan. She gave me the money and held my purse for collateral. I joked that the Devil had tempted me to buy the purse. Mama shook her head. "Don't blame that on the Devil. This was between you and the Joneses." Trying to keep up is what she meant.

So, Mama's right, the Devil is not to blame for a lot of stuff, but I know he should get at least partial credit for some. Has to be him whispering into the ears of some people to make them do things. Folks have just got to figure out when not to listen to that lying little voice at times. The Devil does lie and I know people who believed him:
  • To the lady with 20 extra pounds right around her middle. the Devil lied when he said you'd look good wearing the low-rise jeans with the high-rise top.
  • If you are over 25, you do not look cute with Kool-Aid-colored hair cut into a funky style.
  • Old or young, if you are not in decent shape, you do not look cute in really short shorts, going bra-less or wearing a wife-beater in public. Even if you have a body like the latest supermodel, certain clothes are not meant to be worn outside the privacy of your bedroom. I'm talking to the chicks wearing the cootchie-cutter shorts or the peek-a-boo skirts sans underwear. That's your business, please don't share it with me.
  • Rudeness is not cute. You don't have to smile to make my day, but walking around looking like we all ticked you off does not help you along in life.
  • Public affection is holding hands or a little lip-smacking every now and then. That's cute. Sucking tongues or masturbating your partner in the grocery store is simply not acceptable behavior. Get a web cam and a PayPal account and leave us non-paying folks out of it.
  • Young folk: cussing and acting thuggish does not make you look grown. It makes you look unemployable and worrisome. It either frightens or disgust the rest of us.
  • Rudeness and impatience does not make you look important, no matter what kind of suit you wear or designer bag you carry. You just look like a well-dressed jerk. You make the rest of us wonder how bad your "good life" must be treating you.
  • Playing your music at top volume and thumping the bass is annoying. I might want to listen to my own music or hear myself think. I might be off my meds and decide to jump out at a red light and take a hammer to your stereo. People are living in stressful times these days... I'm just saying.
  • If you are a store clerk, don't be impatient with me because you had a bad day. You have a job. Be thankful.
  • Single folks: If you are a really good-looking person with a really stinky attitude, you start to look like a really stinky person. Approachable works better than cute any day.
  • Married folks: Courtship does not end at the altar.
  • Christians: You are not the Lord; you are His children and the "sinners" of the world are your brothers and sisters. I think God wants us to love our family. Love does not equal agreement on everything, but it still means LOVE. (And, by the way, your sins of lying or greed are no less or greater in God's eyes than someone's else sexual sins or sins of murder.)
  • Non-Christians: Some Christians get the "love" thing.
The Devil does not want us to recognize truth - in big things or in small things.


*** I recently noticed that someone landed on my page by searching for the origins of the saying "The Devil is a liar". I'm no scholar but, as far as in my home, the saying came from John 8:44 (You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's ...When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lessons Learned Watching Haunted Stories

I love watching those shows on TV about people living in haunted houses. I’m the stereotypical chick when those shows come on cause I’m talking to the television like the people on the show can hear me: “Don’t go in there, you idiot!” and “Oooh, you’re crazy. I wouldn’t be walking around trying to find where that noise is coming from!”

Here’s the basic outline of what happens on one of these shows:

A husband and wife find the perfect house (or one that the wife loves but the husband hates or vice versa). They move in and are really happy for about 2 minutes.

At the 2.01 mark, something weird happens. There’s an unexplained smell or sound. Maybe a door or window won’t open or stay shut, or else it opens and shuts on it’s own. Maybe one of the family starts to hear footsteps they can’t explain. (No matter what, this is never enough to scare them off.)

Give it a little time and enough strange stuff happens to where one person tells the other. And no matter HOW convinced the one person is, the person they tell either doesn’t believe them or else tries to explain away what’s been happening.

Give it a little more time and the second person starts noticing strange stuff too. (Although in some cases, it takes something really convincing, like when the first person becomes slightly possessed!)

Once the second person starts getting a clue, the whole family is on guard. Not on guard enough to leave (because there are at least 3 more commercials to get through), but enough to know something is wrong. Dumbasses..

Now that everyone is aware that there was a reason they were able to rent or buy their dream house so cheaply, the haunting ramps up.

When someone starts speaking in ancient tongues or gets poked in the ass by their invisible guests, it’s time to call in a psychic or demonologist or “investigator.” Sometimes (depends on how hot the show is), you get all the bunch.

Now, this is important: the rescue crew has to have certain “It” factors. Either they are young and good-looking or quirky and interesting or “world renowned.” And they are usually fearless. They will go into a house infested with demons or spirits and wander off into rooms by themselves. Oh. Wait – I forgot; there’s always a cameraperson along. Well, it LOOKS like they are alone and fearless and that’s what counts. Gives me something to yell at the television about.

Once the investigators have checked out the family (you know, making sure to extract juicy little bits of information about previous paranormal experiences or evidence of staunch skepticism), they call in the psychics and demon-hunters. Sometimes they call these people “Sensitives” or something else exotically odd. These are the people who will feel out the house itself.

Somehow, even though we are always reassured that the psychics and such have been “told nothing” about the house or the people (it’s really cool when they add the touch of a blindfold!), I’m always tickled to wonder how the person was flown or driven to an unknown location with all that secrecy…

And the minute they walk in… they can feel something not quite right. I've not seen ONE single episode of these shows where the “sensitive” person walks in and gets through the front door without “picking up” something. Don’t you think that a demon might be a little sneakier than this? You know, hide out for a minute so it can pop out and amp up the scare factor a little?  Wow, you might think these things have no sense of humor.

Anyway, once the sensitive person starts getting their feelings about the place, they don’t ever just try to get rid of whatever the haunting thing is right away. Nooooo… they have to TALK to it. They have to try to get acquainted. I don’t know about you, but if something has been scaring the hell out of me and the kids, throwing things around and going bump in the night, I’m not trying to understand WHY. I just want to get it the hell out of the house and out of my life. I don’t care if it’s hanging around because it’s misunderstood, pissed off, lonely – whatever. I just want it gone. But apparently, that’s just me.

Now that the spirit has been introduced, we can get to the part where it has to be sent on to where it never should have come from. This gets tricky. If it’s just a haunting spirit, apparently it needs to be guided to the light (whether that light comes from Heaven, the furnace of Hell or the one in the basement, I guess depends). Maybe some of these spirits missed the Dead Bus and need new transportation. I don’t know.

But if it’s a demon haunting the place, well, that thing has to be confronted. This is cool with me. If the trained experts are willing to do the confronting, well, go on and get down with your bad self. However, I notice that someone is always trying to encourage family participation. They say things like, “You must stand your ground” and “This is your house you are taking back from this thing.”

Yeah. Okay. I’d be the smart-ass client saying something back to them like, “You’re the one getting paid to make it go away.” (Because you know and I know that somebody is making money off this. It IS on television, people…)

Once they all confront or banish the Bad Thing, the air smells cleaner, the sky is brighter (or at least, if it’s raining, it seems like a cleansing rain). Sometimes, in the case of a haunting by a lonely child or sad widow, they will have a ceremony to help put the spirit at rest…

The End.

Now, let me tell you how the show would go with me:

We find a house. I get a bad feeling or Tim tells me he has a bad feeling.

We get back in the car and leave.

The End.

Or we don’t get a bad feeling right away. Let’s say we move in. Then at some point,  door slams by itself, we hear mysterious footsteps or we smell something we can’t explain. Whatever. I’m gone. With Tim or with him trying to jump in the car as I drive off.

Don’t let me hear a voice. If it says “Get...” I’m gone before the “...out.”

And I’m playing about Tim. He’s no coward, but he’s not stupid. We’d probably be driving off and down the street before we realized we were even in the car.

So, people. Don’t be stubborn. What are you proving by getting into a pissing contest with something dead or never alive? Here’s my advice about dealing with something haunted:

1 – When you hear unexplained footsteps and/or doors closing, DON’T go to check it out. Leave the damn house until you have someone with you to check together. And you are only checking long enough to get the keys to the car so you can leave faster than running.

2 – If you hear a disembodied voice or mysterious children’s laughter, DON’T hang around to figure it out. You know those aren’t your kids. The one thing worse than Bebe’s kids are the GHOSTS of Bebe’s kids.

3 – If dishes start flying around and cupboards start opening and closing, what the hell are you doing trying to duck and dodge? Just LEAVE. NOW.

4- If you wake up to a deep, growling voice yelling “GET OUT!” Obey.

5 – If your once sweet and loving spouse starts acting like Bela Lugosi with the old organ previous tenants left behind, leave the spouse in the house and GET OUT! You can send Pastor Roy back to get the spouse. Maybe the church can pray that demon out of him.

6 – If your kid tells you that something unseen is shaking his bed or snatching off the covers in the middle of the night, this is NOT a phase they are going through. Listen to them while y’all are packing some clean drawers to take to the motel.

7 – If the hairs stand up on the back of your neck only when you go in certain parts of your home, that’s not a static electricity problem. Think “Bounce!” and I don’t mean the dryer sheets. Something is trying to tell you something!

8 – When shadows and mists tend to float around your house in the night, don’t tell me about how you can’t leave & lose your investment. Choice: be bankrupt or be possessed.

9 – If you start having nightmares that don’t end when you wake up, it’s time to go.

10 – Those mysterious stains that appear and disappear on the ceiling? That’s probably not normal. Especially if you’ve already heard voices and seen shadows. Maybe the ghosts or demons are pissing on your ceilings. Who knows? Don't stick around to find out.

Don’t be stupid, people. Don’t wait until furniture starts levitating to call in a priest. Call the priest, the pastor, Ghost Busters… Hose down the lawn with holy water if you have to. You’ve watched the shows, you’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen “The Exorcist.” You cannot be serious about hanging out in a house that has a haunting. Unless you’re just trying to get yourself on a show with a medium or “paranormal researcher.” Personally, I’d rather burn that bitch to the ground and collect the insurance! I wanna meet Chip Coffey because I think he’s cool as heck, but I can hit him up on Twitter. I don’t need a haunting to start that conversation.


With A Child's Heart

From my bedroom window I can watch the street in front of the house. In the mornings I like to watch the kids who walk to the school up the street.

Have you ever really watched kids? Their expressions, the way the interact with each other? The way the shy ones kind of hang back from the others? The way the bolder ones test and flaunt their confidence? The way they all know how to hide their feelings behind clothes and makeup and attitude?

One of the kids I see every school morning is a boy, about 12 years old. He's that kid with the glasses and non-descript clothes, the kid none of the other kids really pay attention to. They don't seem to notice him even when he's walking right behind them. It's like he's invisible. I almost think that's his super-power: invisibility.

I never really noticed himself myself until three or four weeks ago. He was walking by the house and dropped a bag he was carrying. I saw the way he stumbled when he leaned over to pick up the bag. Saw the way the way that little inconvenience seemed to be almost too much for him. He picked up the bag and then just stood there for a couple of seconds, trying to deal with a frustration. I wondered what was going through his mind. I had to wonder what his life is like to make him seem so weary at such a young age.

This kid always looks like he's got things on his mind. When he looks at the other kids - the ones who laugh and joke and play around on the way to school - I can't name the expression on his face. It's as if he's just suffering through, moment to moment, getting by. Waiting. Surviving the passing of time.

Is he a book-smart kid, I wonder? Will he get through school and have a better life as an adult? Look back on these years and be stronger for having dealt with this childhood?

I wonder if anyone in his family understands what it is to be him during this growing-up time. I hope that someone is encouraging him and giving him something to be glad about in his heart. I hope there is a really good and caring teacher who recognizes the child this boy is. A mentor, a lifeline. I hope that life doesn't wear him down before he can find a place to fit in this world.

The other kid I notice is this girl who tries too hard to be hard. I hate to say it, but I look at her and I see her a couple of years from now being too grown, too hard, too much. She's not a pretty girl. There's nothing pre-woman cute about her. She's already tough, mad, irritated. One day I watched her reach out and just shove another kid as hard as she could. When the kid stumbled and dropped all of his things on the ground, the girl laughed and swaggered away. I guess she is a tough girl. A mad girl. Sad and bitter.

These kids are so young, but not young like when I was around 12. These kids are young and stale already, as if life wears on them harder than it did on kids when I was young.

When I was 12, 13, 14, I was still playing with dolls. I can't even recall when I quit making cakes in one of those little ovens with the lightbulb for baking... I remember being 12 and still being in awe of a cousin who was 16. I remember feeling young and feeling protected by my youth. When I was young there was still so much mystery about what it meant to be "grown."

These kids I see today understand being grown before they get there. Their eyes and hearts and souls are already old and worn out. Or at least that's what it seems like to me.

At my niece's graduation barbecue last weekend, one of the guests was a school friend of hers. This child is 16 and has one infant child and is pregnant with another. She's not scared, she's not overwhelmed. She's five or six months pregnant and so nonchalant about it. She came to the bbq with her boyfriend and her mother. She wore tight knit capris and a tight, form-fitting tee. She seemed unaware that I was just fascinated by her situation. She's 16 and, to me, she seemed so old and seasoned. Nothing is a big deal to young people today.

I told my sister recently that I can't imagine being a young person in today's world. I wouldn't feel safe or protected. There are a lot of things I complained about when I was young, but I'm glad I grew up in a time and with a family that allowed me to be young. I'm glad that when I was a child, society made it okay for me to be a child, act like, think like and dream like a child. (And I grew up in a world where there wasn't even the idea of having a black president. I grew up when women and other minorities didn't have the comfort of the freedoms they have now. I can remember driving with my family through small towns where blacks were not safe after dark.)

Somehow, while we've made so much progress as a society, we've lost as much as we've gained. What good have we done by giving children so much when we've taken away the freedom and desire to be children?


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Checking In

Just checking in because I feel like I've been neglecting the blogs! Mostly I've been on Twitter, but I did have other things going on the last couple of days.

I woke up the other day with a story in my head. Felt nice. Even nicer, I put down what amounts to damn near a full outline.

I'd forgotten what it felt like to have that spark. I've been so mired down in life that I forgot one of my favorite tricks for fanning the spark. Wanna know what the trick is? If you are a budding writer you do! Here it is: Any time you run into an interesting situation, just ask the question "What if?" You don't even have to wait for an interesting situation to arrive. If you're bored and find your mind wandering, let it wander productively. "What if?..."

Anyway, at least I haven't been away doing nothing!

The Twitter addiction is a loving monkey on my back, arms around my neck, teeth snatching me back to TwitZap if I walk away for more than a couple of hours.

It's a good addiction. I get all kinds of news, encouragement, random and fun conversation... I feel like I almost personally know some of the people I've run into on Twitter. Of course, I have my favorites. There's LilianChisca and JimQuillen and this so-sweet lady, ViolaJaynes, and so many others that I start to miss if I don't see their avatar popping up in the timeline. And I've got SoSoulfull and bustabitch, not to mention the other poets, writers, workers, lovers, artists, jokesters and just straight up cool folk.

Now that I'm getting to be a Twitter vet, I've gotten wiser about not only who I follow, but even who I'll let follow me. No kidding. There are people who pop up as new followers & when I go to check out a profile, I get something like a link to some porn or something. Damn people. You've already got my Spam folder full! Give me a break. Or - and I think this is even lamer: they won't have anything in their bio. Or they have thousands of followers and 10 updates (or none!). Come on. Why are you here??? And, by the way, don't follow me if when I check your profile I'm gonna have to see your naked ass. I'm not into you, porn chicks & guys. If I want to look at naked bodies, I have a mirror and a husband. If we get bored, we'll figure out. Don't you try to handle that without at least asking me first. Please and damn.

Some Twitter-ers are sneaky. They have a bunch of cool updates - quotes, maybe - but then for hours all you see are, basically, ads. They want to sell you something or get you to their site or tell you about their friend's site... Shameless. Today was one of the very few times I linked to one of my sites. (And that's only cause I finally updated it with some new jokes!)

And other than Twitter? Well, I've been watching dang near back-to-back episodes of all my fave shows: American Dad, Family Guy, Paranormal State, A Haunting, Frasier.

Been dealing with the family life thing. My sis, after finally getting both leg prosthetics, finds out her dialysis port is going goofy. So... probably back to peritoneal dialysis. Some pros and cons to that situation. Just hoping it's not like Arizona where she had an infection every time we had a dust storm or rain... I don't know. She's a strong, strong woman. I tease about it, but I feel so serious: if it were me - after all the surgeries, the hassle, the amputations, the hassle, the not being able to drive myself, the being stuck in a damn wheelchair for almost 2 years - I just don't know. My sis? She just reminds me every day of how good God has been. Tell me she doesn't have a reserved seat at a feast in Heaven.

On my end of things? Still struggling with the marriage, the finances and the separation. Still having the anxiety attacks and insomnia. Still have days where I wake up and make real sure to check if God is there for me.

Couple of good things (other than waking up, breathing on my own and not being as bad off as so many other people are!): I made the coolest friend via the blogs. Busta is one hella cool chick. This woman CALLED me to encourage me and lend me some sisterly strength. There are people I've done for who haven't done anything that beautiful. I mean, I have the best fam and some solid friends, but this woman and I just vibed. To think that someone out there has a heart this good... Does the spirit well.

So that's the latest. When I work out the new story (at least through a few chapters and a finished outline), I'm going to take a deep breath and think about submitting. (Do I know how to commit or what???)

Keep smiling. Keep being a little as good or better than the best around you.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Color-Struck" Folk

I don't know how many people outside the Black community understand the term "color struck," but I met some people yesterday who need their pick in some dictionary next to the words.

Color struck people are those who have a sort of self-hate for their blackness. It's not hard to spot these folk. They are the ones who shuck and grin the minute they see someone white, light-skinned or with "good" hair. Put them in a crowd with 40 intelligent, friendly, decent people and they will only gravitate toward the ones lighter than themselves. Usually they make fools of themselves.

Yesterday, we had a h.s. grad party for one of my nieces. My niece is bi-racial (Native Alaskan and African-American) and she is light-brown skinned with long, straight hair. She's cute. What can I say? All my nieces and nephews are cuties - the dark and lighter ones - and I never think much about their racial heritage. Until I meet a color struck Negro like the one I met yesterday.

This woman walks in (late) to the party. We are scattered around the house and yard with kids and adults all having a great time. I'm sitting there on the deck with a family friend (white), my sis-in-law (Inupiat), my nephew (black), one niece (bi-racial), and the graduating niece (bi-racial) is standing right at my shoulder.

This woman's daughters were already at the party. Nice girls. Beautiful girls. I mean, these girls could be models. I teased them about being such "pretty girls." Their brother - a nice-looking and sweet-natured young guy - dates my niece (the bi-racial niece) and is out of the state for a while. Their dad was there. Nice guy, mingled and seemed to be enjoying himself discussing grill techniques with my brother and my nephew, teasing my niece about her drink-making skills. Having fun with everyone.

The woman shows up & I'd never met her before. I noticed though that she resembled the cute young sisters of my niece's boo. I smiled and welcomed her by introducing myself as "T's" auntie. "You must be ___'s mom," I said. My sis-in-law, sitting next to me confirms this and tells the mom my name and then introduces my other niece and my nephew.

This woman looks PAST me, PAST my nephew (who is the host, by the way), and just about KILLS herself raving over my older niece. "Oh! I saw you at the graduation ceremony! Your hair was different so I almost didn't recognize you..." (She's touching my niece's hair as she says this.)

I glance over at my sis-in-law who is just smiling and watching this like, WTF?...But, no biggie. I sat there another couple of moments while this woman skinned and grinned at all my bi-racial family members and never once again looked at me or my nephew.


I got up and wandered back into the dining room and mouthed to my sister and a friend (both black, of course), "Color-struck alert.) The dining room has a view of the deck so they'd already noticed.

After a couple of minutes, Miss Thang eventually made her way to the dining room where we had the food set up. I couldn't be rude, so I pointed out where the paper plates and all were. "Help yourself," I said.

Still being polite, I then offered to introduce her to the rest of the table. She told me her name and I did the intros. She started fixing a plate and I left that woman a.l.o.n.e.


It's been a long time since I've seen such ignorance. And this is a woman with grown children. This is a woman from the South. This is a woman with cornrowed hair and skin as dark as mine. This is a woman with a job and life experience.

I told my sister that now we know why this family had kind of glommed onto my niece from the get-go. I mean, taking her on family vacations, buying her expensive gifts and acting like their world will end if she ever breaks up with their son... I guess they have hopes the kids will marry and pro-create and bleed some of the darkness out of the family blood.

Good thing I was too tired to care as much. I'd had a long night before and that day was long enough. I made my excuses and took my tired behind up to catch a nap. Two Pina Colada's and a dose of Black Ignorance will do that to ya!

**smh** and **singing**: "We shall overcome... some day...."


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Condi Rice & That Mess

Because she is a woman and a "minority," I always had great respect for Condoleeza Rice and her acheivements. Until the other day when I saw this video on YouTube. (Go to the 5.0 mark or so to get right to the "clowning" moment...)

When I got notice of this video (on Twitter), the subject was something like "Watch Condi clown this student." The way I see it, Condi, clowned herself. This educated (I won't say "intelligent") and accomplished woman struck out at a student in such a mean way that I felt stunned. First of all, people usually only react with mean-ness when they feel on the defensive. If you really believe in your opinion, you don't have to be mean about it. Second of all, did anyone else notice that she never answered the question about whether SHE believed water boarding is torture? Meanest of all, I thought, is when she had already crushed this student and still had to keep up the bullying. Notice how she snidely informed him that another student mentioning "the Court" was talking about the Supreme Court. That was an unneccessary blow to someone who'd already been put down by her.

I give that student a lot of credit. At least he had the guts to admit he couldn't answer her question. And I do believe that took guts. He could have been more like her and gotten nasty about it.

So I hope "Condi" feels good about herself. If you're going to be a nasty bitch, be real about it, don't masquerade as a woman who has it all together. Way to go and be encouraging to a student, Miz Rice. When someone does something you don't like, you don't have to be an adult about it when you can just be nasty. Nasty is easier. And while we're being nasty, do you think George Bush could have answered your question? Probably not. After all, that's what he had your little smart ass around for.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Never Stop Laughing

I'm so thankful to my family. No matter how crappy life gets, they never let me forget to laugh. I can't even GET a pity pot to sit on. I start complaining about something & somebody in my family will have me laughing about it in seconds...

I was bitching about marital problems to "K," and since my own are never enough (or I don't want to single myself out), I had to bring up what was going on with a friend and her situation. I joked that I was sure she wished her old man would just drop dead. (This guy of hers is a real and total jerk, no kidding.) K joked back that the worse a man is, the longer he lives. "Look at that damn Mister in The Color Purple." Of course, after that, we had to list all the really rotten men we ever knew or heard about. Sure enough, those jerks all seem like they are going to live forever.

When I complained to "C" about how lazy men can be (okay, I was talking about MY man), she had to one-up me. Told me about how lazy her husband is & the day she was determined to be more stubborn than he is lazy. Guess they ran out of toothpaste. First, he was too lazy to stop and pick some up on the way home from work, so she did. Then, when she left the two new tubes in the bag downstairs, he was too lazy to bring them up to their bathroom (even though he was sitting right next to the bag for a few hours before bed...). She got up to brush her teeth the next morning, realized he'd not brought up the toothpaste. Wondering if he was SO lazy that he hadn't brushed his teeth. No.... Instead of going down and getting the brand new tubes of paste, this dude took the old and empty tube on the bathroom counter and - get this - somehow cut it open and scraped out enough to brush his teeth. She was so mad. She said she wondered if he realized that it would have taken less effort (and been more considerate) to just get the new tubes of paste. I guess not.

I know that we women tend to gripe about a lot of things, but little things make big piles. And then our men wonder why we laugh the hardest when Chris Rock does his routine on "If you have ever been in love, you have contemplated homicide..."

And, still, we love these guys. Damn. We need therapy, but I guess that's what the laughter is for.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Learning to Be Free

Soon, I am going to be making a new start. I mean, a complete new start: new place, new job, new everything. The scary thing is that I might have to do it alone.

When I think of this, it frightens and exhilarates me. It's frightening because it's so overwhelming. It's overwhelming because I'm talking about starting from scratch. It's exhilarating because it means breathing again.

I've been living the past year in a sort of limbo. Holding my breath and waiting, waiting for things to right themselves. Now I've realized that nothing is going to "right itself." I have to set things right. I have to take a step, make a move. And that brings me all the way back around to being frightened.

The only part of my plan that is sure is that I know where I want to live. I just have to take a deep breath and pull everything else together.





Sunday, May 03, 2009

Hopeless (Not me. Not yet.)

Align CenterMusic has always been my therapy. Last night, while the kids were giggling and life was going on as normal around me, I was in a funk. I was listening to Arrested Development (remember those guys?) and then realized one of the group had broken out a long while back and done a song I just love: "Hopeless" by Dionne Farris. The words are powerful & really speaking to me lately. The song's up there on my playlist now & here is the video and lyrics:

Hello Morning, Now when does the fun begin?
Goodbye Morning, Sorry it had to end
But see I cried just a little too long
Now it's time for me to be strong

Hello Morning, I sure missed you last night
Goodbye Morning, You just won't do me right, ight, ight
I stayed just a little too long
Now it's time for me to move on

They say I'm hopeless (hmmmm mmmmm)
As a penny with a hole in it (penny with a, penny with a hole in it yeaaaaaah)
They say I'm no less (no less, no less, no less, no less)
Than up to my head in it
Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba
Hey hey hey yea yea

Hello Yesterday, I sure need you now
Goodbye Yesterday, I just can't stay around
You see I cried just a little too long
And now it's time for me to be strong

Hello Yesterday, Remember how it used to be?
Goodbye Yesterday yea, I can't take you with me - no, no, no, I can't
You see I stayed just a little too long
And now it's time for me to move on

They say I'm hopeless (hopeless, hopeless yeah)
As a penny with a with a hole in it (ooou ouu whooo ouu ouu)
They say I'm no less (no less, no less, no less, no less, no less)
Than up to my head in it (oh yea yeah)
They say I'm hopeless (they say I'm hopeless, hopeless yeaaa yea yea yea)
As a penny with a hole in it (penny penny penny with a hole in it, hole in it, yea)
They say I'm no less (no less, no less, no less, no less)
Than up to my head in it (ummmmm ummm ummmm ummmm ummmmm)

Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba
Hey hey hey hey eeeeeeaaaaae

This really is a time for me to be strong.



Saturday, May 02, 2009

By a Thread

I don't know how many other married people go through this (a lot, I am sure), but right now my marriage is hanging on by a thread. A very slim and frayed thread.

Divorce is so ugly. The separation has been rough enough, but divorce (even thinking about it) sounds brutally painful.

How do you deal with maybe having to walk away from a person you so wanted to spend all the rest of your life with? How do you grieve that kind of loss? And, even if you survive, how do you ever think about trusting someone new?

I'm almost to the point of wanting to live my life alone. I mean, I have family and friends, so why do I need heartache? Why do I need to place my love in the hands of someone who takes it for granted? Why not just live, laugh and enjoy each moment as it comes and don't expect anything special from one specific person?

Marriage. Separation. Divorce. Failure.

I feel a little bitter right now, and flawed. Other people make it work. What am I doing wrong? How can someone claim to love me and need me & yet keep letting me down time and time again. You can't be weak and love someone fully. Love takes strength - or love gives you the strength you need... I don't know anymore. I really just don't know. Maybe all the other married people aren't any happier than I am. Maybe they all just settle for "it is what it is." I don't know. I wish someone could tell me.