Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Deep Roots

Does anyone remember Alex Haley's Roots? I read the book when I was a teenager. When the movie came out, my family was right there in front of the television set from beginning to end. It was a very emotional thing for us. Years later, I tried to trace my ancestry and only got a few generations back before I hit a slavery wall. Once I ran out of census records, I ran right into slave records that were murky and random. I got further than I expected because I had some older relatives who had oral genealogies to share.

I have carried around with me the notes and "trees" I started. Every now and then I pull them out just to refresh my fading memory. A few months ago, a young nephew asked me to send what I had collected. That's when I realized that I have all that information still packed away somewhere from my last move. Frustrating. This is part of why I started doing the "Griot" posts (which I have slacked on lately... But here's one and the other that I did.)

Today, I spent a little time online halfheartedly looking at different ancestry sites. In the process (and this is maybe because I have been doing Bible study with an Orthodox Jewish Bible) I wondered just how far back anyone has managed to trace their roots. Mormons are wonderful about keeping genealogical records, but it was the Jewish people I was curious about.

Like most people who have read the Bible all the way through, every time I do it, I speed-read through the genealogies. I used to think of them as the "dratted begatteds" (only because they seem tedious to read through). Today, though, I suddenly found it all very interesting.

Did you know that there are people who have traced their families all the way back to King David? That's just insanely amazing to me. I worked over a year during my spare time just to get back to my maternal grandmother's father!


She died just months after I was born so all I have for memories is that one photo. Beautiful woman with a shadowed past. Something about her parents not being happy with her choice of a spouse. Thanks to the disagreement, she never talked about the parents to her own children. My mother never met her grandparents and I now have very little information about them. Yeah.

Anyway, when I found out about those people tracing their bloodline back as far as King David I was stunned. Then I read this about people who can (kinda, sorta) trace their line all the way back to Adam. Yes, that Adam. Garden-of-Eden Adam. Eve's husband. 

Mind. Completely. Blown.

By the way, there is a possibility that proving Davidic roots may entitle people to ownership of some seriously prime real estate. Seriously prime.

As for me and my house (see what I did there?) all I ever wanted was trace my roots back to before they got planted in Louisiana, Texas, and
Arkansas. Even for the relatives I did manage to trace, there are gaps from when they moved around during a census year. I think I might have to figure out a way to get an membership back into my budget. Back in the day, the price was reasonable, but those people have lost their minds with the high prices now. Yikes. To be honest, Ancestry only made things slightly easier for me. So maybe I will just have to do some digging on my own. I better get to it.


Monday, June 24, 2019

Can't See For Looking

Okay, folks, I'm going to "go religious" on you but, hang with me because there's something in here that even atheists might like.

How do you picture Jesus? I'm sure people of all faiths (or none) would be interested in knowing what he actually looked like. I have started reading other versions of the Bible in my personal studies. This weekend, I read passages from some of the Messianic Bible versions.

Years ago, my mother regularly watched a show called Zola Levitt Presents. Every now and then, I would sit and watch with her. That was the first time I ever thought seriously about the fact that Jesus was Jewish. As silly as it sounds, up until then (and I had to be at least 22 or 23) in my mind's eye, Jesus looked like this:

That's not Jesus.
That's Robert Powell

The actor Robert Powell isn't a savior but he played one in Jesus of Nazareth. Such a beautifully done movie with an amazing cast. Before that movie came along, I had imagined Jesus looking like the classic painting that was hung somewhere in the homes of most black families. You might remember the ensemble of paintings your grandma gave pride of wall space to - Jesus, MLK, and JFK.

 However, my mind's eye (and the movie and paintings and so many church fans) got it wrong.  Jesus was a Jewish man so he most likely did not have those brilliantly blue eyes and I'm pretty sure he didn't have the whole rock star look. Looking back on that movie now all I can think is that the late Michael Hutchence would've wished to be that fine. I'm not being flip. Just look at that photo again.

According to the Bible “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2 NIV) It's been opined that based on his racial makeup and manual labor occupation as a carpenter, he was probably of a darker complexion and had some sun damage to his skin. Along with the Bible identifying him as being not very handsome (whatever that means), he may have looked more like this:

Source: Popular Mechanics

That's more plausible, right?  The article at Poplar Mechanics makes a lot of good points. Our minds are so polluted with stereotypes about people that we want to think good people must be physically attractive. Just think of that so-called black doll/white doll syndrome - as true or untrue as that might be. Or the fact that attractiveness can play a huge role in our lives.

Listen, I am not pointing fingers at anyone else's ignorance here but my own. Not only did I have the wrong idea about Jesus's appearance, but I just about had heart failure when I heard the Lord's Prayer spoken in the languages Jesus used.

Uh, why doesn't he sound British!?!?!? I'm just kidding. Some filmmakers aren't kidding.

Now, it had at some point in my much younger life occurred to me that we Westerners had the wrong impressions of Jesus. And some people were just completely stupid on the subject. I can remember some kind of anti-semitic rally or demonstration taking place near wherever my family was living back in the mid-'70s. My mother and her friends stood in support of the Jewish people. What was so silly is that there were only about 6 Jewish people in that community. Maybe the racist idiots just wanted something to rally about. Who knows? But I remember my mother shaking her head in disgust at the people carrying crosses while they chanted about "dirty Jews". Much like the Klan and other so-called 'Christians' who hate just to hate or judge in hate, these people forgot, I guess, that their Savior was Jewish. (And, by the way, the saying is not "Judge not" with a period at the end. It is "Judge not lest you be judged."  People always forget that last part. So, you can judge others if you're free of sin. Anybody? Go ahead. I'll wait. I'll just be over here taking this plank out of my eye.)

My whole point is, I have never fully appreciated everything about the Lord I serve. Like most people (I'm assuming), I tend to think only in flavors I know of. Now that  I have it in the forefront of my mind that Jesus talked, walked, ate, prayed, and lived Jewish, I get it. I can see a little deeper into my study of what he said and did while on Earth.

Just like I did in seeing Jesus in my shallow and one-dimensional way, I do the same thing in other areas of my life. I have got to work on that. I need to start viewing people as they are and not how I want or imagine them to be. Same goes for life and situations in general.

One of the sayings I remember from my childhood in Texas was "Can't see for looking." It was your response when you saw something shocking and someone asked if you "saw that". I apply it to my life in other ways. Sometimes, when I make an immediate judgment about a person or situation based only on shallow information, I later realize I missed the bigger picture. Can't see for looking and sometimes, can't hear for listening.

I'm not the only one with this weakness. This is the reason that a lot of us have shallow and ever-changing standards of beauty. It's why we assume intelligence based on slick looks or words. It's why we so often don't see the full worth of people and life. We're too busy looking at the cover to read the book. Because that takes time, doesn't it?

At any rate, I'm really enjoying my Bible studies now more than ever. By the way, for those of you who may not own a Bible - or a lot of Bible study resources - you might want to check out eSword or My Sword  Both have a variety of Bible versions, concordances, commentaries, and other help. Both are free (with expanded options for purchase). I've been using eSword and I'm amazed at the number of tools available in both the app and pc versions.  Usually, when studying my Bible, I have to sit by my computer with 20 browser tabs open to all the different resources. A single app or program is more productive. Actually, the modules for the two 'sword' products are somewhat interchangeable and updates are being made all the time. Check out both no matter which operating system you use. I'm currently using eSword on both my Windows pc and Android phone. Here are the links:

By the way, there are huge selections of language options in both programs. There's a slight learning curve but, hey, I managed to figure it all out so...

That's it for now. I hope that at least some of this information is useful to you guys out there. Even if you're not "religious", information is always good to have.


Sharing a few of the songs I've been listening to this evening

Amazing, amazing, amazing grace

I have loved this song for years

Oh, blessed Prince of peace

"Stop fighting a fight that's already been won."

Saturday, June 22, 2019

All Up In My Head

I've run through most of my stashed posts so I figured it was time to slide back into real-time mode. It's been a minute since I've felt clear enough (well, mostly) to write about anything real. For the past couple of weeks, I've been living all up in my own head. 

I just realized that I used "I" 4 times up there. Yeah, so that's the mood I am in lately so if you are still reading, you're going to have to deal with it. Also, I might ramble in this post and slide all over the place. It's that kind of day.

Some more warnings: this is going to get weird, it's going to get religious, and it's going to get sad. You might want to leave now.


The world around me is not as bright and beautiful as I wish. People, politics, the whole tide of society - it just feels very weird right now. We've got a vigilante president who I hate to discuss because the mention of his name either makes people way too defensive or way too angry.

America should just be such a much better place. Those of us here, in the better and more blessed part of society, should be working harder to lift up those who are not as blessed. But we're not. We are like pigs gorging ourselves with food and sex and luxuries while the starving and oppressed watch and wait for us to notice that they are there. And we are still having to spend too much time talking about race and equality and humane treatment of others, especially the children. I can't even think too hard about the way we are treating (or mistreating) the babies right now because it makes me dizzy with grief.

Yeah, folks, this is what I mean about being in my head right now. It's like wandering around in some kind of enchanted land of What the Hell?

Things don't change enough
When I was laid up last week for my regular session of being laid the hell up, I tried watching some of the TV shows I've heard so much about. I watched a few episodes of "The Musketeers", then spent way too much time on "Spartacus". Way too much. Have you seen this show? I don't know what fascinated me more - the soft-core porn or the way-too-graphic violence. In one of the fight scenes, a guy lost an eyeball. An EYEBALL, people. It popped right out in extreme detail. I was making sure to look away or fast-forward through most of the gorier scenes but was too late to miss that one. What I don't understand is, why so much attention to the gore? It was as if, since they couldn't get more graphic with the sex - which got pretty graphic - they went all out on the blood and guts. Just nasty. Extremely nasty.

I learned nothing from that bout of TV intoxication but I was reminded that we keep living in a cycle of sex, power, and suffering. Society always consists of Insiders and Outsiders, Elite and Underdog, First World and Third World, 'Master' and 'Slave'.

What's that saying about those not learning history being doomed to repeat it? Apparently, we never learn - or we just ignore the lessons. Look around at the repeat of madness we live in right now. The Bible says:
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
The critical commentary (Holden) on that verse just highlights the misery we create for ourselves:
Rather, "no new thing at all"; as in Numbers 11:6 . This is not meant in a general sense; but there is no new source of happiness (the subject in question) which can be devised; the same round of petty pleasures, cares, business, study, wars, &c., being repeated over and over again [HOLDEN].
How depressing is that?

Anyway, (speaking of depressing) I have a birthday looming and zooming toward me like a bullet train!  I was thinking that if making birthday wishes worked, I have a list. I wouldn't wish for world peace and all the usual jazz; I'd wish that we could learn from history. I'd wish that we all wanted something better for everyone. I'd wish that we could, just for a day, look around and really see where we are going wrong. But would that be best?

One of my sisters-in-law said something interesting not long ago. We were talking about all the misery and struggle so many people live in. We groused about the state of turmoil in politics and religion and so on and so forth. I said something about wishing it could all just be better. My SIL said that she didn't. That stopped me cold until she explained.

To paraphrase my SIL, this world isn't going to get better. For those of us who believe the Bible (and we both do), we are taught that things get progressively worse. Ultimately, there will be an end game battle. And since, as Christians, we know the outcome, we should be looking forward to it.

That makes sense to me because we are too far removed from Eden to remember what Paradise was like. I don't want to get used to the world we now live in. I want to get acquainted with the better life we've been promised.

Sorry. I didn't mean to go dark so fast there. That's what happens when I'm blogging and let my coffee cup get empty! Time for a refill.

Okay, I'm back and re-caffed.

All the travels through my mind haven't been so dreary. Once I stopped getting drunk on "Spartacus" and "The Musketeers" I went in a more uplifting direction.  As a matter of fact, I went in a direction I usually avoid: toward math. Ugh. Yeah.

We all used so much math back when I worked in import brokerage that it amazes former co-workers that I now can't even deal with the basics. Just looking at too many numbers at once makes my brain hurt. Thanks, sarc. But, I made it through the first few minutes of this video to get to the beautiful part about fractals.

Dr. Lisle is one of my favorite "teachers"  along with Dr. Ross - though the two Christian physicists don't always agree in their viewpoints. I don't always agree with these guys, but I am grateful for their intelligence and ability to share it with laymen. Although I provided links to the book pages of Lisle and Ross, that wasn't to plug their work. I just like linking to scientists who happen to share my faith. What I do want to plug is the Bible Tools page (also the Tecarta Bible app) that I use all the time.

And since I am still on the topic of my faith, I have to add this short video that deals with the question of where God came from. Ken Ham is not a favorite personality of mine for a few reasons, but his answer here lifts my heart every time I hear it. And, believe it or not, we Christians sometimes need to be reminded. (I need to be reminded of lots of things. Which is why I deeply regret writing this post.) I read something that clarified the negative impact of using bad language - even in humor. I am working on that area of my life.

Well. now wasn't this a fun post? I did warn you.

Anyway. I have detoxed from the blood and gore of TV shows and feel that I'm back on solid mental footing. I have spent enough time in my head for now. This week I am deep-cleaning the apartment. That's not because I enjoy deep-cleaning. What happened is I have misplaced my Echo pen and once I started looking for it, I dumped drawers and emptied closets that I have to now clean up. What better reason to really clean?

Now I have to get back to my cleaning because I need to get out of my head for a while. Here's hoping everyone has a good upcoming week. (And, yep, I probably will have to come back and do some editing...)


I have always loved this song for so many reasons. RIP Donny.
I love the version done by H.E.R. but it's part of a longer video that I.may have already posted.
Let me tell you, baby girl sang the hell out of this song. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Lazy Shopper's Rejoice

A lot of you know that I am the world's laziest shopper. So far, I depend primarily on Amazon and Walmart for delivery of most goods. Now it looks like those guys are going to have a little more competition.

Without jabbering you to death, I'll just get right to the details. Here are some of the articles I've been seeing about shopper options:

  • "Here's how Walmart is taking on Instacart, Target, and Amazon" (Like with most long-distance deliveries, I can get everything but perishables from Walmart. I can order and pay for some grocery items to be picked up at a local store. That option is somewhat limited and, obviously defeats the "home delivery" purpose.)
  • Here's a more concise breakdown of the Walmart delivery service. This is still in a test market phase, I guess.
  • The Penny Hoarder review, "Shipt Grocery Delivery Service: Is It Worth the Added Cash for Convenience?" lays out some pros and cons of the Target-acquired delivery service. (In my opinion, you have to factor in things personal to your situation. I don't mind the hassle of arranging my budget and splitting my shopping between the different merchants. It's a hassle and there are costs but I also don't pay for a car, insurance, gas, and upkeep. As for my budget, I think that shopping this way keeps me within bounds. It's easier not to impulse shop or go over budget because I am seeing totals and fees before I actually pay. Finally, when I am shopping from home, I can run in and double-check my pantry before I order too much or too little of something.
  • It looks like Kroger is testing a delivery service. This is good news for some shoppers. I don't think there is a Kroger's near where I live.
A couple of things that I'm surprised more people don't know is that in metro areas (Hi, Houston, where my best friend lives) you can get same-day delivery of groceries via Amazon Fresh. I was just stunned that my friend didn't know about this. We both shop Amazon so much that we should get alimony if we ever break up with Prime. She lives in one of the WORST places to drive so Fresh should be her new boyfriend.

Of course, as soon as I sign into Fresh, I get notified with a quickness that it's not available in my rinky-dink town. However, if I wanted to order groceries for my elderly aunt, I could do so just by changing the delivery address. In this day of aging relatives and such, that's a nice feature for some of us.

Just choose from your address book or add a new one

I love how they don't deliver to my small town address, but I can choose to ship "outside the US". Really, Amazon? You so trifling...

If the linked articles are on your "read later" list, just know that, along with Amazon, Target and Walmart have or are testing out same-day delivery services. Instacart is another way to get deliveries from local stores. For me, that means Hyvee and Petsmart. Yay.

I hope this was helpful. Now I have to go and read some of those long articles for myself.


P.S.: I picked 2 videos this time. 

 I love this one because the editing (?) is sheer genius. The old footage is a history lesson of sorts. (And, by the way, we don't need to make America "great again". She wasn't always that great for everybody but we were moving towards better until... well, never mind.)

This one is a favorite because I love the original Glenn Miller recording. Cool how somebody "funked" it up to another level. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

**REVIEW** Ayurvedic Organic Golden Milk blend Tea Latte

Well, this is one of those columns that I'll be pulling out of my Drafts folder until I can write more posts. I'm currently too occupied with other stuff so do enjoy this.

This is the tea I treated myself to a couple of weeks back.

That is an  Ayurvedic Organic Golden Milk blend Tea Latte.

Fifteen bucks is a lot of money (for me) to pay for a 5-ounce bag of tea so this really was a treat.  On the other hand, I had already been adding turmeric (sometimes with Ceylon cinnamon) to my coffee and teas for a long while because I know that turmeric has a lot of health benefits. What I didn't know is that adding pepper to the turmeric and cinnamon helps the body better absorb the best properties of the spice.

Keep in mind that, whenever a product has any health benefits at all, people get carried away with making further claims about it. Something starts out being good for one thing and before too long someone is claiming it as a cure-all for every malady known to man. All I can attest to is that using turmeric makes me feel that I am doing something good for my body. You know, to counteract all the smoking and cussing.

If you really want to know the benefits, talk to your doctors.

I don't know about this "doc" but this is his graphic so...

(By the way, can we pause just for a moment to discuss the spelling of turmeric? Is it one of those weird Mandela Effects or has it always been TURmeric and not "TOO-mer-ic"? I could have sworn it was 'tumeric' all along. Grammarly disagrees with me and so do the dictionaries I checked. Weird.)


Since I am not a fan of anything too spicy, I was worried about the pepper in this blend. No need. The pepper is discernable but not off-putting. And I am super tastebud sensitive to peppers of any kind. I first tried drinking the tea with only plain warm milk, but it was too "heavy" tasting. I added just a little bit of honey and that evened out the flavor nicely. Keep in mind though that I'm not a big fan of black coffee either.

The part of the product description that convinced me to try this tea is where it states that it's an "Ayurvedic blend that promotes digestion and immune support". I was paying the most attention to the immune support part but the most immediate effects were on my "digestion". Let's just say that this tea has a very mild (but effective) "anti-constipation" effect. ( I know that sounds awkward and indelicate but you try finding a more ladylike way to say it and let me know how it goes.)

I have come to really enjoy the flavor of the tea and I like the peppery 'bite'. Even better than the taste is the slightly warming sensation as the spices hit your mouth and throat. It's very soothing and relaxing. After drinking a cup of this tea and hitting the CBD vape a couple of times, I sleep like I've never sinned.

There are a few more things worth mentioning. For one, I have tried this a couple different ways. Adding it to warm milk with a touch of honey is my favorite. I didn't enjoy blending this into a smoothie (using coconut milk, honey, and ice). I never did try adding it to food because I haven't baked anything in a while. I will have to give that a try. Next thing is, when I do make a milk and honey tea with this, a lot of residue remains in the cup. If I try swirling or stirring in between sips, the residue is too gritty to be pleasant. The last thing to mention is DO NOT GET THIS ON FABRIC. Turmeric is extremely staining. Some of my favorite kitchen towels have permanent bright yellow stains from cooking with and drinking turmeric. The stains are easier to clean off counters if you use bleach or a mix of vinegar (or peroxide) and baking soda. It's easier to just mix this directly over a stainless steel sink. Oddly enough, the turmeric doesn't stain your teeth.

Like I said, I haven't done so yet, but I can't wait to bake this into some of my brown sugar bread. I sometimes add plain turmeric into baked goods and have never had any problems.

The best way to gauge how much I like something is whether or not I plan to buy more. And I will be getting more of this tea. I think it will last a while because I use it maybe once every other night and it only takes a half teaspoon to make an 8-ounce beverage.


Love this song but that's some seriously new-age-y album art.
I just checked them for the first time & the 
lyrics are straight-up new age. All I ever heard was "Shine!" 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

**Quick Post** Hair & Skincare Tip

Sometimes, when you know something, you assume everyone knows that thing. Assumptions are not useful so I'm popping in to share a simple beauty tip with you all. This is for men and women. Here goes:

If you tend to have dry hair or skin, maybe try some of this:

this just happens to be the brand I ordered this time

It doesn't have to be that specific brand. I'm thrifty and have used several brands - all priced under $5. This just happens to be the one I ordered this time around.

You can use this right out of the bottle if you want or you can add it into your other hair and skin products. I rarely use it straight except for on these dry feet of mine. I like to add this to leave-in hair products and skin lotions. I almost don't know what lotion without glycerin feels like.

Glycerin is a humectant. It is ultra moisturizing. Straight out of the container, it feels thick and greasy. Don't freak. Once applied to dry skin, the greasy part goes away leaving a soft and dew-like feel.

Like I mentioned, I rarely use it right out of the bottle on my hair. That's only because it takes patience to apply it. My hair is kinky-curly and thick. When I apply straight glycerin, I have to take my time and apply it to really small sections. That's because you have to smooth the thick glycerin into the hair. It's a pain in the tail, but totally worth it. Applying to damp hair is easier. Mainly though, the easiest way is to apply when mixed in with some leave-in conditioner.

You can use glycerin on your lips and cuticles and rough elbows. I'm not sure of people can be allergic to it so... use common sense and maybe test-swatch or something.

I've been using glycerin for a while, but I did not know until recently that it seems to help perfume last longer on the skin. Score.

So there you go. I've reviewed different brands of glycerin before but assumed most people knew the general benefits. A neighbor of mine never heard of using it for the beauty benefits. It's cheap and versatile, which is why I keep some around.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

**Re-posting** Do I Really Want to be This Alone With My Thoughts?

I am doing a re-post because I don't feel like blogging today and I don't have any of my stashed posts ready to schedule yet... Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy this one (from May 28, 2013) dealing with my special brand of crazy. 

Ever since I saw a post on G+ about relaxation tanks and deprivation chambers, I've been fascinated with the idea.

It seems therapeutic to take a little time to clear your head and just think without all the distractions of life. I started thinking how nice it would be to experience this kind of restful solitude and I wondered if there were any local places that offered the chance to try it out.

You know that anytime you start a search for one thing, you have to wade through twenty-million other things, right? I always start my searches way too general and never do get around to specifics.

A check for deprivation chambers brought up the expected tidal wave of results. I ended up checking out a link to how the chambers work.

Oh boy.

I got exactly 14 seconds in with this video and damn near had to call 9-1-1. Did you see her nose going under water? I couldn't stand to watch any longer. I almost drowned by proxy.

This video is not as exciting and artistic-looking, but at least I got the point without needed follow-up therapy.

Hmmm. Sounds nice, right? Except I didn't hear anything about cost or time limits. Pretty sure these aren't the kind of setups that you can have in an apartment as small as mine, even if you could afford one. Still, I did like the idea of getting enough relaxation and stress-relief to replace hours of sleep.

I sincerely liked the idea until I realized that I would be locked into a tank with nothing but some quiet relaxation. And my thoughts.

Speaking of therapy.

I have trouble with too much relaxation. Seriously.

The other day, I started using background sound videos on YouTube. I've been playing 4 to 8 hours of rainfall, ocean waves, wind-chimes... It was starting to sound like some sort of temple in my bedroom, but the soothing noises to help me stay focused on writing tasks. I liked the effect so much that I decided to use a video of sounds to help me sleep.

Okay. Once again I need to bring up my strange personality - phobia, weirdities and all.

Night One: I drifted off to sleep to the sound of crickets and wind and something that gently ticked. I woke up having a screaming nightmare about insects crawling over my body while I stood naked in a dark windy field looking at a scarecrow that was dressed like the priest in The Exorcist.

Night Two: I tried dozing off to some meditation chants and that seemed to work. I slept longer but still woke up at around 3 in the morning with memories of having performed strange sex acts with someone who (in my dreams) reminded me of my ex. I doused my room with holy water, said some prayers and told Satan to get thee behind me.

If I react like that in my sleep when I get too relaxed, I can't imagine the counseling I'd need after an hour or two in a deprivation chamber. I write to get thoughts out of my head; nothing sane can come of spending too much time with them.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Little Word Art

I am feeling kind of wiped out today so there'll be no non-stop rambling and bitching. It's too hot out to rant. It's been so freaking warm and sunny here that I might have to get a darker shade of foundation... Anyway, I just wanted to share some poetry with you. I mentioned both poets in a previously written post (that might or might not have published yet. You know how I do.)

First up, something lovely by Nikki Giovanni (the flow reminds me of my nieces jumping Double Dutch). Next up, Gwendolyn Brooks will take over. Her piece makes me think of jazz music. By the way, I read somewhere a while back that they share(d) a birthday though Ms. Brooks is no longer alive. May she be resting in peace.

Now some word art for your ears.

And I Have You (by Nikki Giovanni)

Rain has drops
Sun has shine
Moon has beams
That make you mine

Rivers have banks
Sands for shores
Hearts have heartbeats
That make me yours

Needles have eyes
Though pins may prick
Elmer has glue
To make things stick

Winter has Spring
Stockings feet
Pepper has mint
To make it sweet

Teachers have lessons
Soup du jour
Lawyers sue bad folks
Doctors cure

All and all
This much is true
You have me
And I have you

We Real Cool (by Gwendolyn Brooks) 

               The Pool Players.
        Seven at the Golden Shovel.

            We real cool. We   
            Left school. We

            Lurk late. We
            Strike straight. We

            Sing sin. We   
            Thin gin. We

            Jazz June. We   
            Die soon.

(And, the line does read "thin gin" - not "think".)

Everyone have a beautiful day and enjoy your blessings.


I thought this was pretty. Sad but pretty.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Language is Awesome

(Note: today is a little blurry for me. I will make this post as coherent as I can.)

I was watching that show "Beyond Scared Straight" the other night and I'm ashamed to say that I found way too much humor in some of the episodes. One of the parents made a remark that was so funny I had to pause the show to call my girlfriend. First, I had to finish laughing.

First I have to tell you that back in the day, one of my mother's admonishments was "Your mouth's going to write a check your ass can't cash." Well, a parent on that show topped it. When her fast ass daughter was acting out, she told her that her alligator mouth was going to override her hummingbird ass. Man, that is freaking awesome. I'm saving that up for the next time I get to chastise a child.

In a recent post when I was discussing my potty mouth, I didn't get into how much I love the poetry of slang. I wonder if a lot of the popularity of pop music isn't more about the words than the beat. The first time I heard the phrases  "turn up" ( or "turnt" up) and "turn down", I knew they were going to be favorites. I heard "turn down" in a song by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. I'm not a huge Lil Jon fan and I still have no idea who DJ Snake is, but every now and then, I'll hear that song in my head and walk around for hours singing to myself, "Turn down for what?" One of my SILs - also too old or this mess - has started using the phrase.

Once, when my teenaged nephew accompanied me on a shopping trip, he introduced me to a trendy descriptor that I kind of love. I was looking for a specific brand of sandals but couldn't find a pair that I liked. Too pink, too orange, and too "why in the hell did they make a day-glo green pair?' Finally, I explained to the clerk the color I just had to have was muted pink on black. I wanted them to wear with a tracksuit of the same color scheme. I guess I was being just a little dramatic. My nephew made the remark that I was being "so extra". Listen. I knew immediately what he was saying about me. And I loved it. I was ashamed of being such a broke-ass drama queen, but I loved the phrase.

Words are just beautiful building blocks, aren't they? Each generation can change and rearrange them to fit the times. This is why we should read works of literature and prose from all time periods. We are missing out if we only focus on the here and now of art.

Speaking of the (not-too-distant) past, I was only about 13 o r14 when I first read Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "We Real Cool" and even then the intense wordplay aroused my brain. Later in my life, Nikki Giovanni's "And I Have You" and "Resignation" affected me in the same way. But those ladies are officially poets. What I also love is when wordplay just spills out of the streets and into the general lexicon. (By the way, I'm going to have to talk about those two ladies in another post.)

I enjoy just listening to people converse. Some of you might call that eavesdropping, but hear me out. It's not what people talk about but how they talk. The way a person uses language is such a part of their personality. I guess it's what comics call "delivery" It's why one of my nieces is so funny without even trying. (One of my favorite comedians is Kathleen Madigan. She mostly talks about her family and her fairly ordinary life. So why do I end up laughing until I can't breathe?)

Sometimes, when I am not eavesdropping, I pick up and decide to use slang words without knowing enough about them. I've always known that "bae" was a term of affection that older people don't (or shouldn't) use. What I didn't know is that it stands for "before anyone else". Well, damn. No matter what age you are, that's sweet.

To explain someone being upset by saying that they are "salty" is just too perfect. Back in the day, we'd explain someone angry as having their jaws tight or being "heated". I still use that one. I also personally love the term "slay". That so truly expresses someone on top of their game.

"Thirsty" is one of those terms I should not have used before I understood that it meant horny. I thought that when you were "thirsting" for someone, you were just attracted to them. Okay, so technically...

The first time I saw "GOAT" on social media, my silly ass automatically went into conspiracy theory mode. (Stop laughing.) When I found out it stands for "greatest of all time", I wasn't that impressed.

About 10 years back, my older nieces and nephews loved teasing me about staying up with current slang. Well, what goes around comes around and everybody ages. These days, they are getting the same teasing from my younger family members.

I wonder if most people even realize where a lot of the current social media slang comes from. Do they care? Or are they just slinging around phrases mindlessly (the way I did with "thirsty")?.

The now overused term "woke" has been appropriated by just about every internet hipster. I don't think many of them know anything about  William Melvin Kelley. Some of them might have learned about Marcus Garvey. My father taught me about the writings of Kelley and I was given an overview of Garvey at some point in school. I don't remember much about either. Now I have to add them to my list of things to research.

Of course, I know that a lot of black slang dribbled down from our slavery era ancestors. There are - or were - a lot of communities and groups of people who have their own patois.  A lot of us cobbled together languages made up of our mother tongue mated with American English. I think this is what Zora Neale Hurston was paying tribute to when writing phonetically.

Speaking of Hurston and cobbled language, if you really want your mind blown, go check out the Gullah language. My mother had relatives who grew up speaking what she called "Geechee". I wish now that I had paid more attention and asked questions when Mom talked about these people.  I met some of these relatives when I was very young so I don't remember much about their speaking style. (Now I have to go and look at the Gullah language Bible because... who knew?) Thank goodness for the internet.

Not knowing a language is one thing. You expect to feel excluded. What's crazy is that I can sit next to a person speaking English and have no idea what they are saying. I suppose every generation has its own sub-language made up out of their mother tongue. My younger nieces and nephews speak in 'slanguage' I call internet shorthand. Everything is acronyms and abbreviations spoken in rapid-fire bursts. And it's not just with the net-speak; it's the hieroglyphic texts. Adults who haven't kept up at all with internet slang can't read half the stuff on a kids phone.

We older folk should break out some of the slang we once used or at least were familiar with. I clearly remember my brothers and their friends using terms that would still work today. If someone was deeply in love, you'd say that their nose was wide open. Instead of expressing frustration by saying "doggone", you'd say "dag".

To go further back in history with black slang, check out this Glossary of Harlem Slang by Ms. Hurston. The term "jelly" was still in use when I was young and I had no idea what it meant until I was grown. As a matter of fact, a lot of music lovers have no idea what the term "jelly roll" means in the blues or why so many blues musicians include it in their names. I think Jelly Roll Morton is the most famous.

Update: A social media contact emailed to tell me that she and her friends say "Jelly" as shortspeak for "jealous". I cannot keep up with it, people. But now I know something new. Thanks, L.D.

Just for kicks, I'm going to link to this video of Bessie Smith singing "Nobody In Town Can Bake A Sweet Jelly Roll Like Mine". Enjoy.

So, yes, language is awesome, but only if we use it to include, not exclude. And that's the main point of this post. Or at least, I think it is. I don't know, I started it yesterday and kind of lost my way with it. Oh well. Now I think I am going to go and read up on that Gullah Bible I just discovered.


"I'd like to think I'm a mess you'd wear with pride."
Yes. Absolutely.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Quick Post for Couples

It's late and I should be sleeping but... I just watched the most amazing series of videos. The series is called "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage". BUT this is NOT just for marrieds. I think that it will be great for couples who are just seriously dating. The speaker is a pastor BUT (yes, I know) the information is NOT just for Christians and the pastor makes that clear at the beginning. The message is about communication and passion (he talks about sex, people) and the things that cause problems in those areas.

I just finished the last video and, even though it's late, texted the link to all my coupled nieces and friends. I think everyone can get something from this message.

By the way, did I mention that the speaker really is actually pretty funny? His delivery can be a little over the top but he made me laugh. And think.

Here is the first video. The other parts will follow on auto-play or by hitting the Next arrow. Enjoy and share it with everyone.


Cursed for Cursing?

This woman has been touching my heart for years.

NOTE: I was not well when writing this post. I just glanced back over it and... damn, I need to pay attention to Grammarly! I have no time do corrections now. I just wanted to apologize. (This is why I try not to re-read finished posts.) Peace.

Every time I think that my best friend and I have discussed everything under the sun, we come up with something new. The other day we started out discussing our need to clean up our language. We ended that conversation trying to figure out what constitutes "bad" language. Fuck if I know.

Seriously. We are both Christian. Also, we both curse. A lot. I have joked that cursing is my second language. I worry that I joke about it. I should not be joking about something that is considered "bad" or impolite. It's no secret that I have a tendency to be repressed. That's what a churchy childhood will do. I'm pretty sure I could benefit from therapy. I've worked out a lot of my issues but I still worry a lot about my cursing.

Here's the thing though: what makes a curse word a curse word? Think about that for a minute and then explain to me how telling someone to fuck off is cursing them.

What my friend and I have come up with so far is that the only wrong words to use are words that actually curse people. I don't want to curse anybody. Not at the moment.

When I curse, it's usually out of affection or camaraderie.

  • "Fuck if I know."
  • "Bitch, please" (Some people substitute that hot-topic N-word. Applies also to the next item.)
  •  "Biiitch" (translation: "You seeing this?" or "Hey, girl, what's up?" or "No you did not!" TMTL too many to list)
  • "Mother. Fuck" (for when I've slammed my hand in a door or tripped and fallen or... TMTL)
  • "Sonofabitch" (same as for above item)
Now that I am looking at that list, I realize I use my choice bad words sparingly. That's a good thing, right? Notice that I don't use words or phrases in anger. My top fave of "bitch" is only ever used with close friends and in extreme affection. It goes along nicely with the word "heifer" (aka heffa). I think I probably curse the most when I am with a bunch of women and we are all being drunky d'drunk drunks. You know, after the 3 glasses of wine.

"strike"? huh. who knew?

I'm not perfect. I do have a couple of words that I only pull out in private one-on-one conversations - and when I know that I'll be forgiven later. Also, I don't think of myself as angry at those times. Those "discussions" are just passionate. As a matter of fact, I can't wait to have another heated convo just so I can use that amazing phrase I learned from an Aussie pal: "Fucking hell." Man! That right there is perfect for so many situations...

Anyway. What is puzzling me and my friend is why is it not okay to use certain "dirty" words (~feeling like I'm ten years old saying it that way~). What made the word "fuck" into a bad word It's just letters strung together like "sex" or "making love" or "ow, I just hurt my toes". We users have made it dirty. But why? Did we just need a word for sex that sounded hotter than the none dirty words for the act of copulating?

Oh, my damn, I think I accidentally answered my own question. Answer: it's not about the words. It's about the emotions words can stir up.

As soon as I used the word "copulate" I totally understood. There is no way in hell that a lover asking if I wanted to copulate with him would sound enticing. "Baby girl, I'm about to copulate you so good..." 

And that, I suppose, is why we need alternate words that are a lot more arousing. Talk about easy population control. Shit.

Still, I don't plan to give up painting a little color into my personal conversations. There are some topics that just need a pop of "no the fuck I did not" or "are you shitting me" (Okay, maybe not that last one. That's one you don't want to think about too deeply.Ugh.")

While I was typing this, I remembered a phrase my late uncle used all the time. His signature line about almost everything was "shit hell" Not "shit and not "hell" but "shit hell". Coming from my uncle, it sounded more like shit tell. He used it for every situation: "Shit hell, Bob, I didn't know you'd been sick"; "Shit hell, I lost my keys"; and "Shit hell, there are my keys". I miss that guy. He would lose his manners in public and tell his disapproving wife: "Shit hell. It's better to be in shame than to be in pain." Fuck yeah.

Just because I like my colorful words and phrases, that doesn't mean I know when not to use them. The first time I meet someone and we hit it off, I let them lead. If they throw out a hot word, I'll give my brain editor some time off. That's a great feeling too. That is a bit of a bonding experience. Like when you reach a stage with a friend where you can unbutton that top button after a meal. Or when you don't mind that they know that you sleep with your mouth open just a little. (Okay, that last one shows how uptight I can be.)

Well, I need to go call my friend. I need to know what she thinks of all this. Hope that bitch is home.


Thursday, June 06, 2019

My Beautiful & Silly Family: The Ladies

(One of my play nieces told me that it would be cool if I put up a video for each post. Sounded cool. Go support an artist.)
I can NOT dance but I fell in love with Kinjaz & Jabbawockeez
after seeing the Jabbas' "Dreamz" show in Vegas. 
The choreographer for this performance
 is Keone. He and his wife are some badass dancers.

Today I feel especially blessed to have such a wonderful family. I mean, don't get me wrong, I have some family that I am embarrassed to claim, but... family is family and I could have done worse.
say "Cheese"

I think that the one thing my family has been blessed with is a sense of humor. The women in the family are definitely funnier than the guys, in my opinion.

This morning, I was talking with one of my nieces who still lives in Alaska. We talk almost every other day. She drives me crazy, I drive her crazy, and we love each other to pieces. She is also one of the funniest people I know. When I was telling her about the little mayflies that swarm around the back entrance of the building I live in, she teased that I was missing the Alaskan mosquitos. I asked if they were already getting bad up there this season. Her response: "One of them is knocking on my car window right now."

One time not too many years ago, this niece and I were at Walmart (as we were just about every other day) and somehow we got onto the subject of cheese (don't ask) and how many different varieties there were. She started goofing around and saying the word "cheese" with an accent somewhere between classy and drunk. I cracked up every time she said it until people around us probably were wondering if they needed to call Security. We carried on like that for at least half an hour because giggles never get old.

I have another niece who is just as hilarious. I always love to hear her tell about the first time she went to meet her then fiance's family. His whole entire family was there - from a great-grandmother down to a pre-teen cousin. It was a family get-together kind of situation and even though my niece is used to large gatherings because of our family, she was still nervous. I mean, this is the family of the love of her life, right? At dinner, my niece was glad to see that apparently, her future family-in-law could cook good food. Eating would give her something to do other than be nervous and she dug right in, picking up a dinner roll and dipping it into some gravy. She tells how, just as she had her mouth full with the first bite, she realized how quiet it had gotten. She looked up to see that everyone was waiting for her to join hands with them and say grace. She says the worst part was she had to finish chewing before she could join in. She and her husband are still together all these years later.

My other niece - who is the mother to that little piece of my heart that I call DJ - tends to have a potty mouth. She and her family were still in Alaska when I was about to move here. In the weeks before I left, I would remind my niece to watch her mouth in front of DJ and warned that he would start to repeat her swear words at the worst possible time. She was a stressed mom of two, trying to hold down the wife gig while working parttime in real estate. She was not doing well with cleaning up her language. I was over storing some of my things in their garage one day when I hear DJ getting scolded for something. I was too busy to pay much attention but when I went into the house, he ran over to me, just sobbing his little heart out. When I asked what was wrong (because I'm the fun lovable aunt this time around) he admitted to whatever bad thing he'd done. To quiet him down, I told him there was no reason to be so upset. These are the exact words he said to me in a very earnest voice: "Uh huh because when daddy gets home, he's gonna tear my ass up." I know I am a strong-willed woman because I managed not to fall out on the spot laughing. My niece heard for herself and couldn't deny that she was famous for using that threat. By the way, DJ's dad is a big old softie who only has to use his "daddy voice" to enforce the rules. My niece did learn a lesson that day though.

You've heard me talk about my sister. She was such a hoot. I have so many stories about her I don't know where to start. She was one of those people who could make you laugh just by the way she changed her expression. And whenever we were people-watching, she could look so innocent while she had me cracking up with comments she'd make. She also made up words that somehow made sense. For instance, she'd describe a fussy person as being "persticular" or a "sticular". Makes sense, doesn't it? She was also brutally honest. I remember once when I was wearing long braids and made the fashion choice to tie a bandana around my forehead one day. I really thought I was cute as could be until my sister asked why I was walking around "looking like a pirate." On the other hand, if my outfit was on point, she'd be the first to compliment me.

My sister and I had a mutual girlfriend (let's call her Liza) who was always doing something different and daring with her hair. You could see her wearing a short bob cut in the morning and by dinner, she might have curls down to her butt. If someone asked, she always said it was her hair. She rationalized that it was her hair since she'd paid for it. One time when my sister and I were out and walking somewhere downtown with Liza, my sister suddenly got so tickled about something that she stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and doubled over laughing. She was laughing so hard, she could hardly breathe. Liza and I had no idea what was so funny and we had to wait while my sister got herself under control. When she did, she stood up holding up one of the weaved in braids that had come loose and fallen from our Liza's head. That set it off and there we were, three grown women, standing on a street corner in downtown Anchorage laughing like loons. I'm pretty sure we made an impression on the tourists.

Liza once shaved off all her hair except for a little tuft at the very top that she (having been 3 shades darker than I am) dyed bright yellow. I don't know what style she was going for but my mother started calling her "Baby Buddha". Liza didn't care and I always admired her confidence.

My best friend (and surrogate sister) is unintentionally funny. When she gets excited or mad she has trouble finding the right words. She called me one day to tell me how busy she had been taking care of some business downtown. She was telling me that, to top everything, she'd had to use an inconvenient parking spot. She couldn't find one on the street and had to use (her words here) "You know - that place where they stack the cars". We are so connected that I knew right away that she was thinking of a parking garage.

My friend and I have cellphones and landlines. We call each other on whichever phone happens to be most convenient. Once when we were talking I could tell that she was distracted and rummaging around for something, She said she has lost her cellphone. She went on and on about not replacing it if she couldn't find it because she hated her service provider anyway and she was always losing the damn thing and blah blah blah. As she went on and on, I glanced down to see which number she was calling from. She was looking for her cellphone while she was talking on it. I almost didn't have the heart to tell her.

I can't tell you how much I love that I have (or had) these women in my life. Just thinking about them today has made me feel happy inside. I think I will go call my best friend now because we have a lot to laugh about.


NOTE: Mentioning "today" is not accurate since I am having to rearrange the scheduling of this post. My bad.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Raw & Exposed?

(One of my play nieces told me that it would be cool if I put up a video for each post. Sounded cool. Go support an artist.)

This is just so real. #songstothinkby
I listened to the live version during 
one of my deep blue moods and the song understood

I have just now scrapped the 16th manuscript of my book. It may be more than 16 but that's all I counted among the files on my computer. Yesterday, I got all sad and crazy for half an hour and even deleted the files from the computer. I just know that in a few weeks I'll be like a junkie looking for any crumbs that might be left somewhere.

Whoever said that writing was like giving birth probably knows what the hell they are talking about. I have never given birth but this book is long past due. This book is, seriously, festering inside me. Maybe it's more like a newborn because it's messing with my sleep and my nerves. One night not long ago, I woke up out of a dead sleep to go look at a particular passage that was lurking and re-writing itself in the back of my mind. I damn near broke my neck when I tripped over some slippers next to the bed. Now tell me if that doesn't sound like a mother irrationally worrying that her baby might have stopped breathing.

Maybe I shouldn't even worry about getting the book up on Amazon. Maybe the creation is enough in itself without being seen by anyone else? Maybe, right? (And don't even get me started on the nightmare that is Kindle Direct. I had just kind of gotten used to Create Space.)

So I am giving a lot of thought to just keeping my work to myself. I have wondered if I am even ready to share such a baring of myself. Sometimes I read a few paragraphs of the manuscript and feel mortified, Why?

I can remember reading a particular book where a character was having a sort of sexual awakening. And I kept wondering if that part of the fiction was a bit autobiographical. The character was a bit twisted in their thinking on love and connection and I wondered if the author was creating art or writing a self-portrait. Isn't all fiction a projection of the many personalities that make up the writer?

So when I am writing about something raw and exposed, I know that a reader will be examining me. I should be so lucky.

Anyway, lately, I have been grappling with my introverted nature. Everything that I am is what I am, but some of what I am cripples me. Does that make sense?

I don't know how some people do what they do as artists and creatives. How do you compartmentalize your personality? Like when an actor has on-screen sex, part of me is watching the scene as meant - an overall piece of the story - but part of me is wondering how someone can handle such exposure. (Yeah, I see what I unintentionally did there.) I would make a lousy swinger because I can't imagine having someone observe such a personal and sanctified act. I don't even like to trip in public where people can see it happen.

Have you ever seen someone in such emotional pain that they didn't care about being seen? Don't you think that takes a certain kind of honesty and realness? To just feel what you feel to the point that nothing else matters? Well, I don't lose control like that. I don't know how to. I was taught to be private with my grief but public with my joy. I always thought that was a good thing - a good way to be. It's a type of armor against a world that will exploit that kind of "weakness". But I think I've let that attitude - that emotional prudity (prudishness?) - seep into and infect the writer in me.

(And I apologize for slipping into some Ye Old English kind of language! I didn't even spell today. Grammarly is over here flashing red like DEFCON 5 but I don't have time to do a dictionary check. It's been a rough morning for my brain. Sorry.)

Writing should be, I think, raw and real. I think that as a writer, I shouldn't be afraid to "cry ugly" - you know, get all snotty nosed and red-eyed. The thing is, I have trained myself (or been trained) to hold in so much as a part of society. Now I am finding it really hard to loosen that valve a little bit when I write. And damn, I almost mentioned the "stiff upper lip" thing but I've had just about enough of Britain stalking my brain today...

So. Here I am. I need to find a way to take off my "draws" and do my nude scene. And that is going to be so difficult. If I can't do that, I might not be able to call myself a writer.

I have to go away and think about all of this some more.


Monday, June 03, 2019

Where the Loved Ones Go

Does anyone else get in a mood where they just sit and think about the people they've lost touch with or just lost? I don't mean in a sad way - like when you start grieving all over again like you never got a chance to in the first place. I mean, like when you just thought about one of the people you've loved, then think of another and another until you go ahead and give in to all the memories? That's the mood I was in earlier today.

It dawned on me long ago that I do my best thinking when I'm not trying to think. This is why I have notebooks and pens scattered all around my apartment. It's also why I have notes scribbled on pieces of scrap paper. If someone ever cleaned out my purse and tossed out all the gum wrappers and receipts, I'd break down and cry. Every now and then, I do have to go through my purses and backpack just to collect the bits of my "thinkings". I'll either transfer them to one of my journals or put them into a folder to be dealt with later. What's crazy about this is that, when I move, I have to make a box just for all that paper and the journals. Too many memories and story ideas are buried in them. I sometimes fantasize that when I die and someone is handling my belongings they will read those scribblings and think, "She wasn't crazy, she was trying to remain sane."

A lot of the notes I have are about the people I love. If I remember a story my mother or father told me, I'll hurry and write it down. My memory is bi-polar reliant so I've learned to take mental snapshots and then print them out of my brain onto a note asap. Anyway.

This morning when I was cleaning and gathering up laundry, I thought of my Auntie "Lenore". I had a scarf turbaned around my hair so I wouldn't mess up my twists. My aunt never wore a scarf like that but something about it reminded me of her. I used to call and talk with her at least a couple of times a year, then it was once a year and then it was once every other year. I hardly ever call anymore. That's because we have the exact same conversation that lasts about 3 minutes. We run through this checklist of how I and my siblings are doing, then she tells me she's doing fine, and then she wants to get off the phone because she thinks it's costing me too much money. I don't think she gets the whole AT&T gouges me really good once a month so I can make all the calls I want. The gouging does not get any more gentle if I never even touch my phone. And don't think I am heartless for not calling Auntie any more often. I have younger aunts who use social media and keep me up to date.

Once I thought about Auntie "Lenore", I thought about another of my aunties. I'm going to run out of fake names here, but let's call my other auntie "Rosa". She was killed about 15 years ago when a drunk driver ran her down. She was one of my favorite younger aunts. She was sweet as southern tea and so shy that she practically whispered when she spoke. She had a beautifully innocent smile that I will never forget. I remember how she had a habit of ducking her head if anyone paid attention to her. She was that shy. I already have some notes tucked away that I scribbled about her.

Of course, I also think a lot about the mother of one of my SIL's. I remember feeling so broken when I was leaving Alaska once because it was right when she was suffering from dementia. (By the way,  but I didn't mind sharing Marie's real name because her daughter and I decided that she would have wanted me to.) People use the term loosely but Marie really was so "full of life". I'm happy to say that if I concentrate, I can clearly hear her voice right now. I have not forgotten her sense of humor or the way she and my mother got along just enough to drive the rest of us crazy.

Anyway, there's something I started wondering about while I was in this mood. Do you suppose that when we are dying we are already glimpsing whatever is on the other side? And what do you think it feels like in your heart or soul as you realize that "this is it?"

I have very distinct memories of watching at least 2 people die. One was my mother and the other was my sister. Neither was awake for a while before the machines flatlined but they had been so still and peaceful for so long that I always wonder if their souls hadn't already gone on. With my sister, I know that at least for a while she was somehow aware of me sitting next to her. When I held her hand and talked to her, she squeezed my fingers once. But that was early in her last hours. Just before I dozed off on the night she died, I had combed her hair and talked to her. When I held her hand then, she didn't squeeze back. Like we had done with my mother, I told her she could let go because I would be okay without her. I'm such a liar

Are you afraid of dying? Why? I don't mean do you want to die. I don't think that anyone does on most days. I want to know if you are afraid of what it will mean to be dead? I have always joked that I'm more afraid of getting dead than being dead. That's true. I really would rather not see it coming. I don't want to have to stress about things left unsaid, undone,  or finished. If I had a say, I'd want to just be here one minute and gone the next. Let's make that the next second. No need stretching things out even a little bit.

On the other hand, there are times I think I'd like to get a chance to take care of a few things. Say that last "I love you" or "I'm so glad you were in my life."

Never mind. I take it back. I'd rather not have time to plan or think about it.

I also wonder what it must be like "on the other side" (and I hate that term!). I've read the Bible and some other books about the afterlife. I've never been very clear on the whole subject. Once I asked someone if they thought we were going to be instantly "aware" after death. They made a point that maybe only Christians will find interesting. They reminded me that the Bible teaches that the thief hanging next to Jesus was promised that he would be in paradise with the Lord "this day" - meaning no sleeping in his buried body or anything like that.

No matter what you choose to believe, I want to have all this stuff sorted out in my head and in my heart before I die.

When I think about sudden death, I remember one friend and former co-worker who died of a brain stem stroke. She was in her forties and had just fallen in love for probably the first time ever. "Sue" was damn near family because a cousin of hers was dating a brother of mine. She had this maniacal laugh that was freaking contagious. It sounded like Dudley Moore playing "Arthur" - only more feminine. She'd had some difficult times in her personal and work life and just when everything was coming together in a positive way, she was taken. There wasn't any time for her to ponder the situation. She woke up for work not feeling especially well but just assumed she was coming down with a cold or virus. She made it to work but developed such a bad headache that she returned home to sleep it off. And she died.

Sue and I had discussed more than once how sometimes life just didn't seem worth living. We were both dealing with heartache and disappointment. You go through enough of that as you are getting a little older and you start to feel like all your chances for happiness have passed you by. Sue struggled to live during the times she felt like dying would be better and then she died just when her life was getting good. This will make you examine your beliefs.

I always imagine that "Sue" probably laid down with that headache thinking of all the things she'd do once she felt better. Maybe she worried about the work that would have piled up on her desk in her absence. Maybe there was even one particular client she knew would be impatient about the holdup in their paperwork.  I wonder if she had gotten to kiss her boyfriend or lay down with him in love one last time. I wonder if she got to tell him she loved him before he left for work that last morning. These are not things that are easy to ask the ones who remain behind. These are things that we can only wonder about and hope the best for.

When my father died, he was almost 5000 miles away from me. On the morning he died - a couple of hours before my aunts called to tell me - I had mentioned to my mother that I thought I heard him calling my name. Of course, we knew he was sick and I had just come back from visiting him. My mother told me that it was probably just because I had him so much on my mind. I'm not sad about my father today (like I can sometimes be). Today I am thinking of his smile (much like his sister/my auntie) and how he pronounced "either" and "neither" as "eezer" and "neezer" because he never lost his Arkansas countrified accent. I inherited his flat fingernails and these nappy assed curls that have to be tamed with all kinds of products. But I also got his long-for-our-height legs and decent metabolism. And If I really get to missing my daddy, I can always go look in the mirror or visit my little brother who looks "the spitting image" of him.

So, yeah, I get in these moods where I can't help thinking about the people I've loved. I think about them and I wonder if they know how much I love and miss them even when they can't hear me saying it.

And not because I am sad today, but because I love this song and forgot to add it to my list. It's by Dani and Lizzy. Please go support them for sharing something beautiful with those of us who grieve the loss of loved ones.