FOR AULD LANG SYNE

 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And auld lang syne

I guess poet Robert Burns was in a sentimental mood when he penned this ditty in 1788.  Bet he had no idea it would become the anthem heard round the world on the day the ball drops.  This song about preserving old friendships and looking back over the events of the year is certainly apropos.

Writers and Bloggers are busy doing their Year in Review. The media and talking heads will all be serenading us daily with their particular take on the Year That Was.

For many, 2016 was a tough year, full of national tragedies, political upheaval, personal trials, and of course, unexpected deaths. The image of PBS Journalist Gwen Ifill’s smiling but now silent image on the 6 o’clock news still unnerves me.

I like to think the metaphor for my life is….Like a song and as I reflect back on this year …a song is playing somewhere in the background.  Kinda like…Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.

Like most recent New Year’s, I found myself soundly asleep in 2016 when the ball dropped.  Only to be awakened shortly afterwards by a phone call from the One Who Remains Nameless or more recently daughter J or one of the grandsons who revels in the fact that he is now old enough to stay awake until midnight.

Yes, Virginia, there were the years of dressing up in my finest glad rags and hitting the town for the passage of the Old into the New…but like most things life/time  intervened and the need to go cavorting out in the streets with all kinds of drunk, high strangers has ceased to appeal to me.

I do know quite a few people who find themselves on their knees in church at midnight, but I often wonder about the safety of those folk when they leave the church en route to home and come face to face with an errant drunk driver coming back from da club.  Much like those unfortunate souls in Charlestown who met their untimely and tragic end while trying to save a soul…in church.

Despite my Rip Van Winkle entrance to 2016, the year proved to be one of challenges for family, close friends and even Moi!

It began with my 90+ father’s unexpected trip to the ER and an ensuing 12 hour wait and see game played by the hospital staff only to be unceremoniously tossed out of said hospital because my father’s PCP thought “he would be better off at home”. Despite documented lab and test results to the contrary showing a need, in the words of the treating Resident, for if nothing else a few days of observation.

The months that followed became somewhat tortuous for my father who up until that time was spry, sharp of mind, and except for occasional bouts of arthritis in his knees a poster child for AARP.  I mean the man mastered the computer many years ago and regularly emails, searches the internet, and googles with the best of them. His collection of scrapbooks documenting important stages of his life is a hobby with a purpose that keeps his mind sharp and old age at bay.

Watching his cognitive skills decline as a result of an unfortunate happenstance was difficult, but more difficult was the way the medical profession responded to his condition.  I don’t want to belabor this issue but several tersely written letters from me to the appropriate folk at higher levels of Medical Authority did not go unnoticed and I think helped to speed up the diagnostic and treatment phase of his condition.

The pen IS mightier than the sword.

Right on the heels of my father’s illness, my body began to flirt with what became a 4 month descent into uncertainty and downright fear as I struggled with an unnamed illness that resisted diagnosis.  Fortunately, in the capable hands of my PCP, Dr. E, I was finally diagnosed by Summer’s end and began the ascent to recovery.

During those dark months of my illness, I watched as my closest friend struggled with her fight against the big C.  She is and remains the definition of a Trooper, and became my hero as I watched her undergo devastating chemo treatments, return to work the next 2 days infusion intact, without missing a beat.  All the while maintaining her part time Vendor business and being the Matriarch of her large and needy clan. Fran is the definition of a Shero and watching her fight became my Will to overcome the demons that had invaded my body.

Troubles don’t last always….

2016 had its bright moments as well.  Much of the goings on at the White House with the first AA President and his Lady Michelle were designed to take our minds off the dreary, nasty battles between the candidates fighting for the title to become King.  Watching First Lady Michelle and the President host galas, state dinners, and musical performances at the White House was a great distraction and mood lifter for many of us.  Even if Congress thwarted the President’s attempts to bring about Real Change…the first couple showed America…when Others go Low…they go High… AND  dang it..they know how to Par tay.

And now we are about to be Trumped…I’m not sure exactly sure what that means, not being a card player, but it has some ominous undertones.

However, Readers, I remain hopeful that the same spirit that brought us Hamilton, Memes, Drones, Bacon flavored ice cream, Kengen Water, Quinoa, Turmeric, Bathroom signs proclaiming P…People Room and Garth Brooks concerts where all tickets start out at $67 only to be resold  online for up to $2,000…is a Country/People that can Survive Anything!

Happy New Year !

BLACK LOVE

READERS: Many folks Talk about it, Blog about it, Post FB pictures ( President Obama and First Lady Michelle mostly) about it, BUT what does it REALLY Mean?

.. HE grabs your hand tightly as you cross the street headed to the 7:30 A.M. Service and seats you in the pew behind the friendly, devout, notafraidtositclosetoeachother,  80 year old couple and you both share a knowing look as you ponder will that…could that…pray that it will be US in another 20 years.

…He posts your picture on ALL his Social Media sites after you crack the glass ceiling at your job proclaiming your success to the www.

…He buys you a month’s worth of Meat and secretly stores it in the recesses of the freezer even though you are trying to become a Vegetarian; he knows you will be craving a steak,chop or burger soon.

,,,He knows your affinity for Capt D’s, Feather & Fin, Popeyes, Bojangles, Mickey Ds, Cookout, and other purveyors of grease-soaked foods and keeps a collection of newpaper coupons handy in your glove compartment.

…He plugs himself into the 50″ Sanyo every Sunday and travels to Fanatic Football Land but not before fixing you a mound  of pancakes, bacon and homefries.

…He lets you eat the first half of Chunky Monkey/Butter Pecan from the carton  while bingewatching House of cards and doesn’t complain about the uneaten (slightly wet) chocoate chips/nuts you leave in the carton.

…He  expertly and flawlessly sings your favorite Temptations song at Karaoke nite while the entire bar makes a collective sigh.

…He is short on cash, but “acquires” some New tires from Questionable sources for your aging vehicle

…He fries your favorite fish, runs you an epsom salt-lavender scented bath, puts your 80s mixtape in the player, chills a bottle of Red Stripe, and leaves the house so you can have some Me Time.

…He gets your voicemail and goes to Kay jeweler to purchase the sapphire ring and pendant set YOU selected earlier for your birthday/anniversary/mothers day/ Christmas/Valentines day…

…He responds to your BLACKPEOPEMEET post with “Hello Beautiful” even before he meets you for the first time, and after the first meeting, greets your phone calls with the same quiet,sincere, straight from the heart greeting.

…He avoids commenting when you load the shopping cart with jalapeno cheetos, famous amos, triple buttered microwave popcorn, chunky monkey, frozen jalapeno poppers, and an assortment of other waist expanding goodies.

TO Be Continued… Don’t forget to leave your comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B IS FOR BABY BOOMER

 

What happened?  One minute she’s turning out Blogs like a well oiled machine and then BAM! Nothing! Silence where there used to be laughter, songs, shared experiences, reminiscing, poetry, etc. etc. etc.

Such is the nature of a Writer; the ebb and flow of life sometimes takes us away from the Words and then brings us haltingly back again.

I won’t bore you with the details of my absence from these pages except to say Life happened.  And when you are 60+ (as many of you fellow Boomers can attest to) it can be challenging.  No one prepares you to be a Senior…there is no course you can take…(sorry AARP)…it just seems you wake up one day and nature has started taking its course.  And the best laid plans are just that… Plans.

Like working in the dirt (gardening), writing had become my antidote to no longer being a 9 to 5er.  But as with so many endeavors, we often need to pause, step back, take a break and regroup.  And that is what I have been doing.

 Boy, she is the master of roundaboutthebush!  Still aint said WHAT she being doing all these months!

I have been buoyed by those of you who have missed my Words and inquired about when/if I would return to blogging.  And to those of you who have signed on to follow me during the period of my absence, I apologize.

I will say during my absence from the page, I have been musing pretty heavily about what it means to be a Senior.  I moved from my urban townhouse/garden to a Senior community this year and have some real serious questions about whether people of the same age should all be thrown into one living environment.  I will write more about this in the coming months ( a la the horrible, no good Vegas trip Blog) as I consider whether to renew my lease at “The Villa”.  For those of you who saw the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel (I and II) and left the theater fantasizing about living with other Boomers…remember that was a movie AND they were in  India (or a Hollywood set).

Health issues, mine and others (family/friends) have found their way into my sphere.  I have watched on the sidelines the past few years as others have succumbed to ravages of age and now it seems it is my turn to dip my toes in this pool.  It certainly does give one pause and challenge those of us who have always been strong of mind, spirit and body.

Changing relationships with parents/siblings/peers/significant others seem to be a hallmark of becoming a Senior.  Again, No one prepares you for this…it just happens it seems and can be daunting to say the least…somewhere between the muck and the mire, I would say.

And of course, the usual concern of the nolongeremployed.  What am I going to do today? Tomorrow?  Many Boomers are so obsessed with doingsomething that they forget they are supposed to enjoy their retirement. Does that include the whopping $5 increase in SS benefits?

Yeah, I have those moments sometimes, but I also have no guilt about spending an entire day binge watching House of Cards, Catfish, All the seasons of Dowtown  Abbey, Love and Hip Hop (New York and Hollywood), Being Mary Jane(future research)…in my pjs surrounded by my snacks of choice. Thank goodness for the Senior discount at Harris Teeter, Kroger,Walgreen..unfortunately the ABC store hasn’t figured out we are one of their most consuming consumers).Now if I can just remember which day they give the damn discount…(must be a test of our fleeting memory).

Many thoughts to share with you in the coming months.  I hope you will once again join me for the Ride! And Thanks for Reading…I’ve missed you!

HAVING THEIR SAY: Our Grandmothers

Lately, I’ve been thinking about being a Nana ( to 4 grandsons). The announcement by two close Boomer friends ( FH, SS) that they were about to enter Nanaland was the trigger for this contemplation. Like many other Boomers who are now being called Granny, Grandmama, Mima, Abuela, Baba, Nai Nai, Grandmere, Ya Ya, Oma and the super cool hip hop Gmom, my knowledge of this role comes from my interaction with my own Grandmother Rachel.

Grandma Rachel lived to be 100 plus years. No, she didn’t get her picture on the Today show smucker jelly commercial, but she did receive many accolades/awards during her lifetime. Much of it was for service in her NY community and church where she remained active until her later years.

My fondest memories of her were the summers she traveled from the big Apple to Norfolk to make her yearly sojourn down South. A native North Carolinian, Grandma Rachel had made her home in New York, but her roots ran deep in southern soil.

News of her impending visit, would always cause a bustle of activity in our household as my mother supervised our cleaning/polishing/scrubbing activity….girl you better use that comet to clean under that toilet..what you afraid of?

But I knew Grandma Rachel didn’t care about whether the house was spic and span, she just wanted to visit her children and enjoy afternoons on the porch sipping ice cold coke while she braided my long Indian rope hair and reminisced about summertime in Scotland Neck. The memory of those visits can literally turn my frown into a smile and brighten my hectic days.

A few years ago, I reconnected with my 93 year old cousin Mamie who also has fond memories of Grandma Rachel…she called her Mama. The 30 year difference in our age makes the idea of her being my cousin somewhat eyebrow raising to many, but she was in fact my 90 something year old father’s niece…talk about a family tree. Out of respect for her and the significant age difference between us, I always referred to her as Aunt Mamie which seemed more fitting.

Aunt Mamie was a phenomenon. A survivor. A Bible Scholar. A pillar of the community. Loved by many grands, nieces, nephews, blood and non-blood. She was a praying/God fearing/believing Grandma whose hands had seen many days hard work. She raised her own 5 children and those of many others including my brother and I (for one year).

Her melodious voice which often reminded me of someone singing was never without a word of encouragement/praise/forgiveness for those who had the good fortune to be in her presence. She loved a good laugh and often delivered some one liners that were comedian worthy. As the ravages of old age began to invade her body, she remained stalwart believing that her God was always right there delivering her from the pain, the sickness, the dark days. He is worthy to be praised she would sing, smiling that almost ethereal smile. She was a blessing. She was Mima . (Thank you Minnie).

The book Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 years by sisters Bessie and Sadie Delany comes to mind when I reflect on these strong women. Their story is a testament to the strength/survival of African Americans. It is also an example of the oral tradition so important in documenting the lives of African American in this country.

For the Delany sisters, their story begins with freedom and ends with an understanding of the importance, not only of their lives, but of all who struggle to comprehend our raison d’etre.

Although the Delany sisters did not experience slavery firsthand, their account in Having Our Say replicates the structure of the slave narrative juxtaposing the slave’s experience with that of eventual freedom. The color issue, ever present in this personal history, impacts the lives of the two sisters with a deafening insistence often found in African American culture, even today.

The opening chapters of the book provide an introduction to the members of the Delany family complete with a description of their physical attributes including color.

People would look at us Delany children and wonder where in the world this bunch came from. We were very different shades from nearly white to brown sugar. I (Sadie) was one of the lighter children and Bessie was browner.

Sadie’s forthright, philosophical approach to the color issues does not, however, reflect the general sentiment of other members of the race. In fact, the acceptance of racial identity is an integral part of the rite of passage of the black female in this society. Her acceptance of racial identity is crucial to survival in a world which is often hostile to people of color.

As we learn more about the personalities of the sisters, we find that Sadie is the calmer, more passive sibling while Bessie struggles with the anger and frustration brought on by dealing with a hostile, color conscious world. Adversity has made Bessie the stronger of the two. She attributes her longevity to meanness and sheer determination. This same attitude/fortitude has made survivors of many of our mothers and grandmothers.

The sisters eventually (like my Grandmother Rachel) left the South and migrated North to Harlem. Bessie continued to battle racism and sexism by gaining admission as the sole black female in Columbia University Dental School. Sadie became her mother’s companion and spent much of her time traveling through the South. The sisters finally made their home in Mt. Vernon, NY where they enjoyed the privileges of the Negro Intelligentsia.

The sisters’ journey ended following the publication of their book…Sadie at 106 and Dr. Bessie at 104. Their memoir remains an important document in American history. It refutes the portrayal so common in history/literature of the black woman as mammy/matriarch/sex object/ or THOT.

The Delany sisters experienced the multifarious damage and distance of class and race in the segregated South and went on to battle the racism and sexism of a Renaissance North. This oral history is a testament to the determination and strength which makes GrandMamas a force to be reckoned with.

In a Reminiscing Mood

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The World yawns, stretches and braces for a New Day

Birds chirp their morning Anthem.

Leaves unfurl

Grass shakes off its dew

And I lie here sleepless, thinking of you.

Missing the voice that cradles my heart.

Soothes and calms my fears.

Whispers gently, trust me

I will Not let you go

I get you.

Missing the Smile that twinkles

those gray/brown eyes

Deepening the dimples

bringing out the impish boy hiding inside.

Missing the Hands that heal the wounded

Pray to the Creator

And catch hold of mine

Carefully guiding me beside not behind.

Missing the Mind, lightning quick

complex, collecting, processing, storing

Zoom zoom on multiple tracks

Yet carving out some

cerebral space for me.

Missing the pet names

A language shared only by us.

Missing the passion

The volcano erupting, bubbling over

Spreading its fiery furnace over My land.

Missing my smile, my lightness, my glow

That touches all who knowingly Know.

Missing the love songs dedicated By you

Shuffling through my collection

Finding the perfect response to send to you.

Missing the kitchen. The back forty. The Farmers’ Market.

The half watched DVDs. The Lake. The Woods.

Damn, I am Missing You.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPOKEN WORD

1406038038668  I like the way that sounds…the feeling that it arouses in me when I hear that phrase–Spoken Word. It’s different from poetry with its meters and rhymes, iambic pentameter, structure, form. Roses are red/violets are blue.  It reminds me of blues/jazz/ playing late at night in some darkened room, shades drawn, voices hushed. Spoken Word.

The biggest problem I see with you/me is Time

Or should I say the lack thereof

I know it’s only been 2 months

And there are things you must do

But understand

I am not

Content to be alone

To face minuteless days/clock-watching nights

Of solitude/boredom/loneliness

In fact, I have had about

All the loneliness With a man

These past 5 years

That I can stand.

I deserve more

Need more

Want more.

You said it yourself

The last time

We entered Paradise.

When I was 20 I used to

Play this game

With my friend Pam

Called Isyoutheone?

Hanging out in bars, malls, jazz spots, bowling alleys

Searching each strange new face

For some sign

Of compatibility.

20 years later

The game ceases to

amuse me

I am a love song

Searching for lyrics.

Needing someone who

Unselfishly understands my needs

Whose first thought

Upon awakening

And giving thanks to the Creator

Is of ME.

And when life

Requires separation

I understand.

We are given

So little time

Why waste it.

When there are so

Many things/Places/Feelings/Thoughts

To Share…Together.

I really don’t relish

Doing this alone

In my

40th year

It is really no fun

And sooooo unnatural

And if having you

Wanting you

Means that I will

Still be alone

Then

Perhaps I am better off

Without You.

 

Blogging: Lesson Learned

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Songstress Alicia Keyes’ melodious lyrics filter into my pre- dawn bedroom.  Yes, I was burned but I called it a lesson learned. Mistakes overturned So I call it a lesson learned. My soul has returned So I call it a lesson learned. Another lesson learned.

My three year journey into the world of Blogging has certainly been filled with lessons learned.

For someone who has authored 4 nonfiction children’s books and edited many more; completed a 300 plus page fiction/memoir about a 20 somethings R rated adventures/life in Los Angeles in the 70s; published journal articles in everything from the Ohio Middle School Journal to Afro Americans in New York Life and History; mastered the art of researching/writing complex legal pleadings (for lawyers); taught countless middle, high and college level students the joy of writing; successfully written federal/national/ and local grants; and conducted workshops/seminars on the teaching of writing to folks from 6 to 60– Blogging is by far the most challenging writing I have ever done.

A fellow Blogger (and English teacher) opined in her post that Blogging is the New Persuasive Essay. She provides a logical argument for this premise asserting that Blogging has the potential to reach and influence many, both in and outside of the classroom. Blogging represents a 21st century skill with real world uses. When was the last time your boss asked you to write a narrative essay? (S.Wright, Making the Shift)

After reading this Post and the comments (and they were numerous), I realized that I too have come to some startling truths about Blogging.

The idea of sharing your writing with others in a public forum sounds harmless but is certainly not for the thin-skinned. It is one thing to have a publisher reject your work (isn’t that what they are paid to do?) but to have an anonymous reader question your word choice, your style, your editing, your grammar, your font, your raison d’etre…well it can be, let’s say, a bit daunting.

 Blogging, despite what some hard working people think, is WORK. It is a most intensive type of writing-writing on demand- for an audience that you are totally unfamiliar with (age, gender, race, politics, etc.). And while you may be familiar with some of the readers, once the post gets passed on to a friend of a friend or available to the www public ..the audience issue becomes a slippery slope.

 Blogging can cause you to question friendship with people you thought really had your back and were supportive of your efforts to get your voice heard. After a few conversations with them and not once do they mention ANYTHING that was in any of your last 20 posts, you realize they have not taken the time to even peruse your site. You then begin to question the true nature of this relationship since you can literally make lists of the times you have been there for that person over the years providing money/advice/meals/a shoulder/a ride/late night phone calls/a ride/money..I digress.  There she go….grinding that axe..hmph

Blogging can make you realize what you already know… that ultimately writing is a solitary endeavor…best done in the privacy of one’s home/office/cabin. And only shared when it is finished…in final form… as in A Book.

But… on the other hand…

Blogging can bring together like- minded people who share common interests and who are there to uplift each other as they all struggle to find their Voice. Many Bloggers on WordPress actually read each other’s blogs and post thoughtful comments/questions on their site.

Blogging can inspire, challenge, inform, entertain and even delight the Readers who take the time to read your Blog.

And  finally, for many creative types who suffer from the curse of insomnia, Blogging can give you something to do when the whole world except you and the people in another time zone are all fast asleep.

Does this girl have a man?  She need a boy toy or something!

Bon soir