Thursday, May 29, 2008


Gone. Rooting for Stephanie because of the Chi connect, but think Antonia is going to be victorious.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 26, 2008

What do you say to the woman who gave birth, cuddled and diapered you?
Whose emotional ups and downs sometimes un-settled you?
Who fed, groomed and hollered at you at times?
Who put iodine on your scrapes, jackets on your back and second-hand KEDs on your feet?
Who made you eat lima beans (ugh) every once in a while and multiple moves in search of something, someplace just a little bit better?
Whose negativity sometimes confounded you?
Who offered slices of opportunity with a piano rental at 13?
Who has more questions than Trivial Pursuit?
Whose reprimands were rarely harsh and supplied paper for Art?
Who teased occasionally? And took a stab at understanding?
Whose volatile reactions made events even more?
Who provided the “What It Means To Be A Woman” pamphlet when that time arrived?
Whose Xs provided the beginning of you?
Whose years have stretched beyond her expectations?
Whose zigs and zags are now quite predictable?

What you say is happy 68th birthday. I wish for you peace of mind and body from this day forward.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Lake Story

Chicago’s beaches are open today. It is all of 50 degrees, overcast and dreary, but if you are so inclined, you may flock to the beach today. I’ll pass thankyouverymuch. I don’t do beach even on the best of the best of beach weather days.

I do enjoy the lakefront though. I don’t spend nearly enough time walking/biking along the lakefront.

A favorite childhood memory involved the lakefront. My brothers and I often escaped to the downtown area, often separately, but sometimes together. We’d go to the movies and then just walk around, eventually making our way to the lakefront. When I got older, the lakefront was a favorite later night biking destination.

One of those together times I felt the need to dress up for some reason that escapes me now. I decide to raid mom’s closet for some chunky high heeled sandals. We were walking (me clomping) along the lakefront, pointing at and oohing and ahhing over the boats and buoys when all of a sudden, I listed to one side. One of the chunky heels had snapped, and bounced into the lake, bobbling along like those buoys we ahhhed over. Oh shit.

My older brother, true to his nature, plopped down on the ground and laughed his little ass off. My younger brother’s eyes stretched far and wide and before he could get the, “Mommy’s gonna kill you” out fully, I was down on my daisy covered (even back then mom persisted in floral prints) belly reaching for the heel.

Younger brother freaked. His anxiety over large bodies of water trumped mine by several aces. “STOP!!! BEFORE YOU FALL IN!!” he yelled. He grabbing at me, trying to pull me away. I clung to the edge, flat against the ground trying to explain that I couldn’t fall, off my belly, into the lake, (and *I* was taking no unnecessary chances—the heel certainly was within my reach-when if first fell, having gotten caught in something) but he would not be swayed. He was more and more insistent and since older brother was still laughing his little ass off, he was no help.

The heel bobbled out of my reach. Oh shit.

The train ride home was painfully long. Older brother teasing, younger brother clinging, relieved I hadn’t drowned, me scared shitless about what my mother would say, do. Half-way home, I decided I’d toss what was left of the chunky high-heeled sandals in the incinerator outside of our apartment door.

Mom wasn’t home when we steeped through the door so I didn’t have to explain why I was walking in the apartment barefooted. My brothers and I went on with the rest of the day as though nothing out of the ordinary occurred.

A couple of weeks later, mom was getting dressed to go out. She tore up her closet looking for her white, chunky high-heeled sandals. She cussed a storm, upset that she couldn’t find them. Neither brother said a word.

Of course, older brother lorded my secret over me. That is, until I caught him doing something *he* didn’t want told, which true to his nature wasn’t very long at all.

Have a happy, safe holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I was four when I started school. It was head-start. Mom thought I needed my shyness tendencies eased a bit. I don’t think it worked, then.

Anyhoo…my teacher was Mrs. Stomper. I remember because her name rhymed with romper. Remember Romper Room? I think at some point, in some parts of the country, it was known as Romper Stomper.

Anyhoo..Mrs. Stomper looked a little like Mary Tyler Moore as she appeared on the old Dick Van Dyke show…”ooooh Roooob!” You remember. I don’t remember much else about Mrs. Stomper beyond her name and what she looked like, except, I remember liking her and for my first experience with Chicago public school teachers, she wasn’t so bad, in fact, looking back, she was probably one of the best.


How does one squeeze four months of not seeing one another into a paltry 4 day visit? One doesn’t, one just make the best of the time one has.

One did.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Thursday: 8:55 scheduled for take-off from O’Hare International. I won’t think about delays, except to be positive-there will be none. Period. Thursday: 10:05 scheduled to land in Nashville’s perpetually under construction (re-modeling) airport. Maybe, by now it’s done. Thursday: 10:35 (after a pit stop ) re-introducing myself to Miss N. She might not immediately recognize me because of the haircut (much shorter than the last time) and different glasses. Plus, she would have worked all night and I’ll be lucky she is even standing. We will alter that state as soon as we can. Thursday: 11:00 Off to Toots for fried pickles, Buffalo chicken salad and a beer or two. Yum. Thursday: 12:30 (or later if we detour to the grocery store or something) pulling into the garage, taking my bags (& such) out of the car, into the house, saying hey to the cats on the way to the shedding outside clothes. Thursday: the balance……. ahhhhhhh Friday: more ahhhhhhhhh Saturday: Repeat of Friday. Yum Sunday: more ahhhhhh until the return to Nashville’s airport at 4:00 p.m. Sunday: 7:00 p.m. Sad to be on the phone talking to Neta, yet glad for the time together, sharing meals, face-to-face conversation, laughter and ahhhhhh, until the next time.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekend Update

Saturday D and I spent the day browsing Border’s, people watching, nibbling and just enjoying the day and the weather. Sunday was cold and wet but Mom and I went to a restaurant of her choosing anyway. Compared to some of our restaurant outings, I’d have to say this one was quite pleasant.

Monday, M and his girlfriend met me at my office. We walked to one of the local eateries for some good food and great conversation.

All-in-all, a pretty decent set of days but I’m glad they’re over. I enjoy spending time with my son and daughter. I appreciate the opportunity to share some pleasant moments with my mom. But these last few weeks I haven’t been able to do much but think about going down to TN. I’ve been counting days, hours, minutes and seconds.

I just have to get through today and tomorrow and then it’s . . . flight time.

Friday, May 09, 2008


A salesperson (in this case it’s a guy, but that is not the point) has been calling you every few weeks for m-o-n-t-h-s trying to sell your business a service that might prove helpful and cost effective. You’ve looked into the service once before a few years ago and determined at that time that the savings were not sufficient to warrant the possible upheaval to the business to switch out what you’re currently doing. You’ve mentioned this to the salesperson at every interval, you express a general reluctance to talk about it more, but they persist, going on and on about technology upgrades and really, “we can save your business hundreds a year.”

Just one meeting, no more than 30 minutes, they ask.

Finally, you agree to a meeting. Times are tight and savings are harder and harder to come by. Maybe the service and technology is much improved since your last look-see. It's worth 30-40 minutes of your time on a relatively light day.

You schedule and confirm a meeting for Friday, May 9th at 1:30 in the afternoon.

1:30 no show. 2:30 no show. At 3:15 the salesperson calls, “Hey, it’s been an incredibly hectic day. I know we were supposed to get together earlier, anyway we still can? I just thought I'd give that courtesy call to see if we can meet today or re-schedule for next week."

My question isn’t whether you’d let the salesperson come on by (I didn't because I was leaving the office earlier than 5 and the rest of the afternoon was already booked). My question is: would you ever re-schedule?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Opposites Attract*

Deena paced back and forth reminding Maria of the Brookfield Zoo polar bear. That memory brings a smile to Maria’s face. Deena spies the smile, halted her pacing long enough to ask, “What’s so funny?” Maria let Deena in on the memory only to see her scowl and resume the pacing.

Maria tried once more to lighten the mood in the tiny bedroom, “come back to bed honey.” Deena kept pacing while thinking seriously of digging out and firing up the cigarette she’d hidden in the sock drawer. She treated Maria to another scowl, adding a growl and a very terse, “no, we’ve had enough sex for one day.” Deena added, “What the hell is it with you and the rains? Every time we get these torrential rains you get crazy for sex. We’ve been cooped up in this room for d-a-y-s.”

“Sweetheart” Maria reasoned, “It has only been raining for 3 hours, you have only been home for two, I think of it as being crazy for you and not just sex but making love, honey. Besides, just think how lush and green the yards will be tomorrow.” Maria met Deena’s scowl with a more playful version trying to get Deena to smile, just a little. Those smiles melted Maria’s heart, over and over again.

Deena paced some more but without resolve. She knew Maria would be able to lure her back into bed. Again she found herself wondering just what it was about Maria and why with all their differences they seemed to work. Then she decided she didn’t care. Deena made a final turn, tilted her head and treated Maria to the smile that got her motors going.

Minutes before succumbing to the kiss Maria was aiming to plant, Deena noted that they would probably have to swim to the mailbox. However, it was clear from the depth of that kiss and the active hands that Maria didn’t give one whit about mail, swimming or anything other than making love to the rhythm of the rain.

Deena decided neither did she and further found herself saying a hearty thank you to torrential rains and for Maria.

*Weekend Wordsmith prompt from 5/2/08


Weese is having critter issues. Her rat tale prompted the following memory.

I was four, maybe five years old. Dad was notorious famous for bringing home strays, mostly dogs. Many times we’d come from school, mom from work to find yet another different animal. These strays never stayed around long. They were there today, gone tomorrow pets. We hardly had time to name them before they were gone.

Mom was none too pleased with this habit. She and dad didn’t usually fight openly in front of us but mom was not shy about making her feelings known about these strays.
Dad always seemed able to calm her fears and concerns. After the initial heat, she seemed resigned to the new additions. Each time though, he promised, no more. A few days/weeks after the latest stray disappeared, a new one would appear.

One night after we were in bed, dad came bouncing up the stairs. His excitement barreled through our door and propelled us out of bed. We wanted to see the new stray.
Mom’s shriek blocked our forward motion. Dad had something, but it wasn’t a stray dog.
“Go. Back. To. Bed. Now!”

Through the door we heard that dad had brought home a rat. The rat in a mayonnaise jar, was according to mom, was a filthy, nasty, deadly . . . thing. “I do not want that, that THING!” around my kids.

Dad tried to assure mom that all would be well. She wasn’t buying that bill of goods, but she seemed to ease up a bit. It got quiet, except for the opening/closing of the sun-porch door.

We got up the next morning and though we were scared we were still eager to see the cause of all the overnight drama. We bolted towards the sun-porch but mom yelled for us to not go out there. Dad was on our side, “oh, let them see.” He went out to retrieve his find, his capture. He came back in from the sun-porch holding a mayonnaise jar full of big filthy, nasty DEAD rat.

The discussion from the previous night started anew. We were sent outside to play.

Sometime during the night, mom had stuffed aluminum foil in the air-holes dad and poked in the lid of the mayonnaise jar. Over the course of the next 2 or 3 years that they were together, dad continued to bring home strays. But that was the first and last rat.

I’ve seen a few rats since, however only one other on the inside of the apartment/house in which we were living. It wouldn’t bother me one whit to go the rest of my life without seeing another one, alive or dead.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Any Other Day

It was a routine day, a day not so routine as to render it mundane, but routine enough so as to not set it apart in any way. This could have been any day. Following work on this any day of a mountain of routine, I head home in the usual way.

Thirty minutes of non-events later I arrive at my block. There are trucks and service vans everywhere.

I’m mildly curious as they activity seems centered on my building, but there wasn’t any work scheduled. The closer I get the more I’m able to see that yes, all the coming and going is indeed our building. I get to the lobby to see that the tile has been busted up. Moving through the outer lobby, towards the inner-lobby and I can that the carpet has been ripped apart. I climb the two flights to my unit door to find that my hardwood floors in 4 rooms and the tile in the other 2 were all busted, ripped, buffed and such. What tha... Who ordered this? Who’s paying for it? Who decided it to be done all at once, inside and out? I didn’t see any other owners around. My daughter is gone. And WHERE ARE D-dog and Pete the Cat?!?

Just as I am about to grab somebody, any body to get to the bottom of whomever or whatever is behind all this work, debris and confusion, I awake.

A dream. So rare these are. So real this was. I got up, checked the locks and the alarm, got a drink of water and tried to go back to sleep. I didn't sleep, I couldn't get the dream to leave my side.

The actual day that followed was as full of routine as the day in the dream. The actual day didn't include any ripping,busting or buffing of floors or anything else. Darn.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Corner of the Sky

**Everything has its season
Everything has its time
Show me a reason and I'll soon show you a rhyme
Cats fit on the windowsill Children fit in the snow
Why do I feel I don't fit in anywhere I go?

I could fly, without a plane, without personal wings. I flew.

Not just flew, I soared higher and higher with each trip, the beginning and ending points the same each time with the middle parts of the forays varying mightily.

For most of my growing up I shared a bedroom with my brothers. The earliest part of that sharing had us in bunk beds with me on the bottom and them up top. I think I was 4 or so when I took my first flight.

To say it scared the barrettes out of my tightly wound hair would be putting it mildly. Luckily our room was right off the bathroom. After tip-toeing to and from the bathroom, I detoured to the living room. Mom often found me curled up on the sofa.

These middle of the night flights lasted for several years. Through the divorce, through our descent into poverty, through my brothers’ affiliations with gangs and drugs, through living with relatives, through me moving to my own bedrooms, always with a curtain, never a door. Through it all, the trips became less and less frightening and though I remained afraid of heights I began to welcome the flights. I’d perch atop some spire, sit and peer down into that which was my life and try to figure out how to make being down there less scary, less foreign.

I began to feel at home in the sky. I remember wishing that the winds would just carry me away, far away. But of course, they never did and the realization struck that I'd have to find my corner of the sky, on the ground.

I don't remember when the flights ended, but I do remember soaring at seventeen. I walked out of that last curtained bedroom, loading everything my brothers hadn't stolen from me into my piece of shit car and driving away from what masqueraded as home and to a place that turned out to be the first of a few corners cozy enough to be called home and my own.

**Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I've got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

**Corner of the Sky from "Pippen"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hello Dolly

During a recent phone call:
Son: Hey

Me: Hey yourself

Son: How’s it goin’?

Me: It’s goin’ how ‘bout you?

Son: Good, good. Do you still have those VHS tapes I left?

Me: Hmmm..sure, I think so

Son: could you check?

Me: Uhm, ok. Give me a minute to get up, I’m sitting on the floor and it takes awhile to get up

Son: Yeah, yeah.

I roll to a standing position and limpwalk over to the cabinet holding tapes, cds and dvds.

Me: I see the Lethal Weapon boxed set, Scarface, NBA Jam Session, Shaquille O’Neal something or another, Moonwalker . .

Son: ok, ok. I’m going to come over and get those. N (the girlfriend) has a VCR. We have to have some different things to watch. I mean, I like 9 to 5, but I don’t want to see it all the time. Hey, what is it with young white women and Dolly Parton? There were those two at school who were craaaazy about Dolly. Remember?

Me: hehehehehehehe, I do remember. I don’t know son. Personally I was / am all about Lily Tomlin.
Son: I know, right. Me too. Oh, did you see the A&E Biography tape, the Sidney Poitier? That's the one I really wanted.

Me: uhm…no…oh wait, yes, that’s here.

Son: Good. She doesn’t know who Sidney Poitier is. She should know Sidney Poitier. I’ll come by next week or so, I’ll be close, I’m a guest judge at the spoken word event at the high school.

Me: Yes, she should know Sidney Poitier. How did the guest judgeship come about? You guys still have travel plans?

Son: I couldn’t believe she said she didn’t know Sidney. The judge thing, Mr. Kahn forwarded me and e-mail and one thing led to another. She’s trying to get us somewhere.

Me: Well, if she brings up Dollywood, you should probably try to go.

Son: yeah, yeah, we’ll see. I gotta go shave my head. The show's done, I can get rid of this hair now.

Me: Ahhh...well congratulations on getting through all 60 performances. What's next?

Son: I've got some auditions and I'm doing something at Looptopia, I'll e-mail the info.

Me: I don't know about Looptopia, D might come down though.

Son: Cool. I'll call when I'm in the area

Me: Good talking with you son, take it easy. 9 to 5 what a way to make... Hello?

Son: Bye, ma.

Me: So long son.