Literally, Judging a Book By It’s Cover!

I’m certain that at some point we’ve all heard the phrase “never judge a book by it’s cover”, which is great advice I’ve always tried to stay mindful of, especially regarding people. However, that was not the case when I stumbled upon the books featured here today. As I recall the time I came across them in my haste and excitement at a yard sale, my thoughts were not only that I was getting a great bargain for $1, but I was also intrigued by the covers which sparked my curiosity. In this particular one shown above, my hope was that it would reveal information that may be useful later in life. I’m not sure what I may have been going through at that time. I was obviously still young as well as a bit na├»ve perhaps. The second book (shown below), well let’s just say by the cover alone you can probably quess what I expected to find inside. Although both were great reads for completely different reasons, initially I was disappointed upon discovering that neither offered what I’d anticipated, resulting in a lesson why not to “literally judge a book by it’s cover”!

Not that I ever actually wanted to kill a boyfriend or think that I would have to, but lets just say I like to be prepared. The book basically revolved around a woman who abducts another female in an attempt at convincing her to help kill the boyfriend. Unfortunatly, circumstances lead to an interesting twist where suddenly the lives of the two women is in jeopardy after becoming best friends. Within the title it actually states “in ten easy steps”. During a time when consumer’s were overwhelmed by marketing strategies that convinced people certain tasks were easily accomplished in “steps”. Losing weight, how to quit smoking and even cooking meals to name a few. I found the book to be most useful by simply leaving it in plain sight on my coffee table. I loved the reaction when ever males visited. Be it friends or relatives on occassion, their responses were always interesting and somewhat humorous. My brother’s especially would say “you’re crazy as hell Toot-Toot” (my childhood nickname). When it came to a male suitor, it was obvious the book made them nervous (my various black widow tattoo’s didn’t help either). Only my brother’s or those close to me would inquire about the book. Others were afraid to ask and acted as if they hadn’t noticed it sitting there, eventhough I couldn’t help but notice their eyes repeatedly glancing at it while continuing to squirm in their seat. Most of them I never heard from again. Seemingly it was the alpha males (or those who thought they were) who were bold enough to ask about it or even go as far as to challenge me with questions that I always met with a witty response. Maybe that’s why I’m single now, lol. I was never surprised at all but did find their reactions as a whole to be extremely entertaining.

While Hung does in fact reference the myths of penis size and the endowment of African American men, it’s also a double entendre as the author writes about the times when black men were literally being hung from trees. I was surprised to find that he opens the book with a letter to Emmett Till, the young boy who was lynched in the 50’s for whistling at a white woman. The author spins a brilliant web to express how sexuality among black males is depicted throughout books, sports, movies as well as pornography. He reaches back to the times of lynching and the Jim Crow era writing about how black men were often disfigured by having their genitals cut off in an attempt of psychologically torture causing them to feel less inferior to other race groups. The author continues by sharing how African American men; when it comes to sexuality are often given the more dominent roles in film mentioning actors such as Denzel Washington as well as famous athletes often reffered to as “mandigo’s”, which according to the Urban dictionary loosely means “big black guy”. Overall Hung was a very enlightening read, offering a perspective I hadn’t given much thought until I began to adjust my mental lens while viewing men of my culture in society, particularly those of a certain social status.

Where I’m From

I’d like to share a poem I came across many years ago that has become part of my collection of favorites. George Ella Lyon is an American author from Kentucky who has published several genres, including picture books, articles, juvenile novels, and of course poetry.

I am from clothspins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it taste like beets.)
I am from forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.

I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
      from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
      and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I'm from He restoreth my soul
      with a cotton ball lamb
      and ten verses I can say myself.

I'm from Artemus and Billie's branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
      to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments--
snapped before I budded--
leaf-fall from the family tree.

(In case you were wondering, that very last line is what caught hold of me, lol. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do!)

My Greatest Fear Became My Greatest Blessing!

Most of us, when hearing the word “fear” think of certain types of phobias like claustrophobia or arachnophobia. My personal fear has always been acrophobia (fear of heights) and aerophobia (fear of flying) which I’m slowly overcoming. The type of fear I’ll be writing about today however, I don’t believe is considered as an actual phobia. My fear is more of a “fearallacy” (a made-up word of the day borrowed from a follower, thanks ShiraDest ) meaning: A fear based on false, incorrect or mistaken reasoning. During my childhood, hearing stories in the news about babies being kidnapped, dying fron SIDS, not to mention my own personal experiences of abuse in general, I told myself I would never become a mother and until my teenage years the very thought of being a parent had been my greatest fear.

I destinctly remember a time in my life when that fear turned into panic. After my mother discovered my stepfather had been sneaking into my bedroom, the series of events that shortly followed may have been more traumatizing for me than the actual abuse. Arriving at the police station, the officer had a naked doll and proceeded to ask me to point to the areas where I’d been touched. Then asking what body parts of my stepfather was I touched with. He didn’t use proper names for male or female genitals or any of the other body parts which I found to be odd. Years later I viewed a case on the news where a sex offender was aquitted mainly due to the witnesses not using the correct terms regarding genitals while testifying (one of the main reasons I taught my children it’s ok to to use the words “penis/vagina” in proper scenarious). Not long after my visit to the police station that day, I visited some sort of counseling group. The person talking told us (and I’ll never forget her exact words) “it’s more than likely that children who are abused sexually, will grow up to be abusers as well”. I knew that didn’t sound right but after all, she was the professional and I was a child. The fear stayed with me throughout my childhood that some how I was tainted and couldn’t avoid becoming a monster.

I realize that as an adult, this all sounds rediculous, but as a child with no one to talk to or confide in, the mind has a way of developing the most bizarre thoughts, hence “fearallacy”. When I had my first child, I was afraid to hold her because I didn’t know how to. She was tiny and fragile. It was because of my experience and what the lady said the one time I went to counseling that caused me to stay clear of children. I had never held a baby before and the doctors couldn’t understand why I was shaking when they placed her in my arms for the first time. Obviously as I grew older, I learned that lady was what I called a “quack counselor” and didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. My apologies to those who may be offended by this staement, but to remain truthful, I have to say that I will kill someone if I became aware they were hurting children in any fashion.

The point is that my issue with fear is that I basically let it run my life for many years, especially when it came to being a mother. I kept my children close and made all my decisions based on fears while thinking I was protecting them. One example with my daughter is a spin from my post Who You calling A BITCH. The reason my consignment shop mentioned in that piece didn’t prosper was due to fear. My daughter had just begun kindergarden and I picked an office space near her school, but that wasn’t comforting enough for me. I was fearfull she’d be kidnaped , bullied, mistreated by teachers or staff, so I actually began working at the school. First in her class as a teacher’s aide, then yard duty and eventually teaching a science outreach class for K-3. Another incident envolving my son while living in Arkansas temporarily, talking with his teacher one day regarding his progress she mentioned “cps” and I snapped. I was escorted off school grounds, couldn’t watch my son perform in the play that day and by the time I’d made it back to town, the news of what I’d done had spread across three counties. My fear was that no one was taking my children from me EVER! The problem is, after playing it back and speaking with the principle, she didn’t say “CPS” as in child protective services. Those letters were merely an acronym for something regarding a program the school offered. I embaressed my son that day and will never forget how damaging fear can be. I learned to stop letting fear control me and my decisions. Relatives, friends and co-workers, people who’ve been around me don’t actually know me. They have no clue as to the reasoning for my behavoir and strange ways. The reason I’m paranoid, so organized, determined to keep a cleen house and have only utalized a babysitter once or twice and the list goes on all from making decisions based on fears mostly regarding a possabilty of losing my children and keeping them safe. I’ve never shared this with anyone other than my children and that was in hopes of them understanding my madness so-to-speak. I can’t believe how in this very moment it feels like a weight has been lifted and I’m floating along with no worries at all.

I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes that would cause harm to my children or give reason for someone to try taking them away from me. There was/is not one person I can think of that will love and protect them like their mom which is also why I knew that no matter what I faced in this world I had to survive. I would cry many nights at the thought of if I died, I could never think of one single person that I knew capable of raising them providing everything they needed as a whole. Once they became teens, witnessing the dynamics of their friend’s and seeing for themselves what the world is like, they thanked me for not only keeping them safe but also for keeping an open line of communication with them both ways, eventually making decisions as a family and accepting their input and ideas on new perspectives. The fact that they appreciate what they now recognize I was attempting to accomplish; although on ocassion meant disappointment for them, yet the end result being that their love, compassion and understanding turned my greatest fear of becoming a mother, into my greatest blessing!

The Blind, Beautiful Faith of a Child

Note: The following story, along with several of my other works are featured in Our Black Mothers: Brave, Bold & Beautiful. This is a piece I’m extremely passionate about for various reasons. During my first few readings I was overwhelmed with joy by how it touched and resonated with the audience, resulting in future invitations to read and or speak from the heart regarding my experiences as a mother and what I’ve learned. I’d like to now share with you. (Tim’esa is shown in the above image of the book cover on the top row and far right with the beautiful smile).

My mom left me to believe I had the flu when I was 17 and had been hanging around the house for over a week vomiting, but the reality was that I’d soon become a mommy myself. Although, I wasn’t quite sure what a “mommy” was because I’d never experienced that particular relationship growing up. I had never even held a baby or changed a diaper. Yet, the instant I rubbed my belly, I knew that I would indeed be the best mother I could to the person growing inside me. Immediately I’d fallen in love with my child and in that moment there was no preference whether it was a girl or boy. Eventually I gave birth to three children over the years, but my first precious gift came on July 13th 1990 at 7:13am. I named her Tim’esa.

Being a mother has been my most cherished position in life. Even now as young adults, my children and I continue to have healthy and positve relationships even though there are constant challenges for everyone during their journey’s. While raising my children as a single mom, it has always been important for me to express honesty, love and communicate openly which happens to work both ways. I was always the “momma” which I made clear. However, life has taught me that it is especially important to listen to children. Some parents often get hung up on a power trip feeling as though their way is the only way, particularly in the old days when kids simply didn’t have a say. Yet in this day and age many of us depend on our children for input, mainly for things such as all this new technology. I personally had a hard time coming from the era of eight tracks to cassettes and from VHS to DVD’s and now iPods. I refuse to have a cell phone!

Wise mother’s learn just as much from their children as the children do from them. Children need to know they have a VOICE too. I stongly believe as human beings and children of God we can all learn from one another. At the age of four, Tim’esa and I had recently moved to a new state. We didn’t have alot and the first few days we only had enough food for her to eat. As we curled up on the floor of our unfurnished apartment, I held Tim’esa in my arms as she wiped the tears from my cheeks. She looked up into my eyes and said, ” Mommy, you know God has boxes with our names on them with everything we need up there. All you have to do is pray and ask him for it”. I admit that I wasn’t paying much attention to what she said to me at first because it wasn’t making sense. She made sure I was listening though when she said, ” He doesn’t hold what we want momma, only what we need”. Before that day, I’d never actually prayed nor was I sure how to. On that day my four year old told me “just talk to Him momma, He’s listening”. She explained to me that he actually hears us whether we talk or not because when it comes to God, even our thoughts are not private.

I was reminded of a valuable lesson that day. Somehow over the years I allowed my faith to get away from me. Later in life as my children grew older, I began to realize that the Lord had not forgotten about me. It was through my children, His cherubs, that he saved me. I was headed down a very dark, destructive and rebelliuos path. I allowed rage to overcome my heart, basically giving up. Becoming a mother restored my faith as well as my strength. I now have my babies who depend on me. Before that day, I don’t recall how many times or if ever Tim’esa had been to church. To this day, I’m still not she where she learned what she taught me that day about prayer, but the sincerity in her VOICE and the serious look in her eyes is one reason I’ll always remember that day and listen when a child has something to say.

As mother’s, we tend to be very protective of our children. Once my daughter began junior high, I was worried about the friends she’d make. Everyone always seemed to adore Tim’esa where ever she went. However, I’d warn her about befriending the “pregnant girl” concerned that such a girl would be a bad influence on my baby. I hadn’t realized or considered that I taught Tim’esa to think for herself. She was not only strong, but had proven to be a leader and very independant. One day she told me, ” momma, my friends don’t have to be a bad influence on me. Why can’t I be a good influence for them”? Silly me for never considering that perspective. It was almost as if she’d purposely seek out the troubled kids, somehow sensing they were in need of a good friend. She had never given me a reason not to trust her(other than always stealing my last slice of watermelon) and once again it was a reminder from my child to exercise my faith.

Green Eyed Monster

Envy (noun): A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities or luck

(verb): Desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else)

I’m sure this is a behavior we’ve all exhibited at some point in life even if it was an isolated moment in time, usually during childhood before we learn better. For instance, not being picked for the team or perhaps not being one of the teacher’s favorites, therefore becoming envious of those who are choosen and become the teacher’s pet. I recall myself being envious of two distinct scenarios. As a teen I remember the feeling of envy towards certain people who died. My stepfather was my first experience with the death of someone close to me. I wasn’t sad when I heard the news, more in shock, disbelief and anger. I somehow got the impression that bad people were fortunate to die and leave this world, no longer forced to face the pain, struggles or chaos in society as a whole. I can’t believe I actually thought good people were left here to suffer. Thankfully, I soon realized how ridiculous my thought process was. As an adult I then grew envy of drag queens. I know, call me crazy but the skill and patience it takes to apply makeup and wigs so flawlessly is a work of art in my opinion, also a skill , at one time I wished I possessed. On a much more serious note, unfortunately “envy” can be destructive, destroying families as well as friendships. I used to wonder why the word is refferenced to the phrase “green eyed monster”. Although the term was first coined by Shakespeare in his play Othello in 1604, jealousy is universal in human nature and can even lead the nicest people to do awful things.

I’m writing this post from a place of sadness. Recently I had to make a tough decision on whether or not I should end a nine year friendship or actually what I thought had blossomed into a sisterhood. Due to my health and medical issues I decided that because of the constant stress it was causeing me, it no longer felt like a friendship and wasn’t worth it. This particular young lady who I didn’t want to befriend initially only because it’s always been hard allowing myself to get close to people in the first place, eventually became someone I grew to love. She was a witness to all my latest storms. When my seizures began out of nowhere, my husband disappearing, homelessness along with everything else that tried to weigh me down. While watching me struggle my way through, I can’t say she didn’t help to an extent; however it didn’t go without notice, help was offered when it benefited her which was fine because I also noticed areas where she struggled, figuring we could help each other.

What many jealous people don’t realize is that someone can appear to have it all together in life from the outside, but often we don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. Just because a person lives in a big house in an upscale neighborhood, driving a fancy car doesn’t mean they’re happy. People struggle with weight and other insecurities. Some have hidden addictions, issues with self worth and burried trauma. Loneliness is a huge factor for many. Having money and people around you constantly doesn’t mean you’re not lonely when those people don’t actually give a damn about you and are only there to help spend your money. In my case, it became clear that this person desired certain qualities I possess when she’d repeatedly say ” I wish I could ??? like that”, referring to how I’d do/handle certain tasks. I was confused at first because she’d seen me at my weakest most vulnerable moments where I was contemplating suicide or just on the verdge of giving up, but my faith nor who I am won’t allow it. Often it’s offensive when people tell me how strong I am. I think to myself, if only they knew. She would ask me questions like “your weight doesn’t bother you”, “how come you have so much confidence?” Or she’d say, “I’ve never seen you cry about your husband leaving, aren’t you sad”, “why not call him and find out why he left?” Truth be told, it wasn’t that sad of an occassion. I miss her way more than I could ever miss him. The question that always gets me is “why are you always smiling and so bubbly with everything you’re going through?”

I constantly tried to explain that my actions were simply a choice. To be angry would not bring good results if any. When realizing that regardless of what I had to face wasn’t going to break me, she then began to sabotage the friendship. I desperately wanted not to believe what was happening, but soon became too obvious. Every time we were together which was suddenly rare, she would intentionally try starting an argument or push my buttons by making up things that simply didn’t make sense. Because of her I felt forced to start keeping “receipts” (not necessarily in the literal sense). Knowing I struggle with memory and minor details due to the seizures, she would say and accuse me of things that didn’t make sense and weren’t even close to my nature. So I began checking those receipts (text messages etc.) for the facts. As a friend, I’d talk to her about it giving her an opportunity to account for her actions and/or apologize, but she’d shut down claiming to either not remember (eventhough her memory was just fine all the years before) or try convincing me that I was making it all up eventhough the proof was right there in front of us. Once she was caught and as delicate as I was trying to be for the sake of the friendship, she stopped calling. She may answer if I call, but her entire demeanor had changed. I believe she was avoiding me due to shame and for some it’s too hard to admit when your wrong. It’s ok though because I’m not angry at all just sad that she doesn’t see the beauty in herself like I do. Like I prayed in making this decision, I pray for her that she learns to love herself and gain confidence in all aspects of her life. I will continue to pray for her always, we share some great memories. I have to take care of my health first and don’t want or need people in my life who don’t support my dreams or dismiss and belittle the work I’m passionate about or cause more trouble and stress on top of what the world already throws at us on a regular. If we are not careful envy/jealousy can also end in tragedy just like in Othello. I can’t help but wonder why someone would even name their child after one of the seven deadly sins. Was it coincidence or motivated by character?

Big Sexxy

As a child, every weekend I looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons and for my stepdad to finish the Sunday paper so I could get lost in the comics section. Although I’ve always loved cartoons and animated movies, I was never entertained by comic books or superheroes. Not only were there none in mainstream popculture during my childhood who looked like me, there certainly were no women superheroes to whom I could relate to. Pam Grier came on the scene around the time I was born during the 70’s in the blaxploitation Foxy Brown films, but even in my later years I couldn’t identify with her character being someone to look up to or at the very least a superhero.

One so-called hero at the time who shared my skin color was Dolemite which in my opinion was a grotesque satire of every cliche created by blaxploitation. My parents along with their friends raved about the films. Once I revisited those movies as an adult, I couldn’t help but notice the same racial archetype of the “angry black man” often depicted as mad men seeking revenge on white America or black character’s played the role of a side-kick to white superheroes. It may be safe to say that these blaxploitation films were made in an effort to appeal to urban audiences but regardless, I was unable to relate. In the 20’s before superheroes hit mainstream, minstrel shows were popular entertainment. The images in the comics pertaining to blacks were racist stereotypes. The drawings depicted blacks, specifically woman as jezebel’s and being over-sexed. There were the “mammy’s”, domestic workers who’s jobs were specifically to serve whites. These charecters were dramatically portrayed as having huge lips as well as other voluptuous physical attributes.

Eventually superheroes of color became more popular on the scene with characters like “Black Lightening” and “Luke Cage”, but they were not my idea of what a superhero is, especially since becoming an adult experiencing life first hand. Besides they were still men, unrelatable to my plight not only as a woman, but also a mother. Not to take away from the beautiful Linda Carter as Wonder Woman, but the first signs I saw of woman heroes in relation to real life along with my passion for mythology were Jane Seymore as Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and Lucy Lawless as Xena Warrior Princess. These were real women only not of color which is what led me to realizing I will become my own superhero “Big Sexxy”!

Charecteristics

  • Super Hero name: Big Sexxy (w/2 x’s because I’m plus size, lol)
  • Powers: State of mind, confidence, resilience, determination, human kindness, integrity, love
  • Super Suit: I wear the Armor of God which shields me from negativity & those who doubt me
  • Mission: Fight by being the VOICE for those who have yet to find their own and be an example for future generations

Those who choose to not keep an open mind may initially assume otherwise upon hearing the name; however, it has nothing to do with physical attributes nor sex appeal. I personally find intellect to be sexy. Reading a book or the willingness to continue seeking knowledge regardless of the amount of degrees obtained because there’s always more for us to learn. “Big Sexxy” is simply a stae of mind. The name was given to me decades ago as a sign of respect by those who recognize me as a leader in my community, know my integrety and how I carry myself as a mother and woman being a role model in various aspects. Surprisingly, it caught on and stayed with me through four states so I decided to own it. The way I conduct business ultimately getting results all while walking with my head held high with extreme confidence, determined to overcome any barriers are apparently traits that many seem to admire. Eventhough most days I’m uncertain of the right decision all while struggling with various issues along with everyone else, but I dont complain or show it. Instead I figure out another way. Superheros to me are those moms and dads who produce a full meal with only scraps or miraculously produce gifts under the Christmas tree during hard times. The foster parents and others who take on the resposability of caring for someone else’s child, etc. I believe we all have a bit of super hero in us, many simply havn’t discovered their powers yet. When you’re 14 and your mother tells you “you gone grow up to be fat and ugly just like yo aunt and ain’t nobody gone ever love you”, I had to find ways to fight that. Please understand that this is in no way about me thinking I’m better than anyone else. I have flaws as well and don’t feel a need to respond to insults or those who attempt to put me down because I actually am sad for them knowing the only reason for hurting others is usually due to lacking confidence, not yet knowing their worth. I simply like the person I am (inside & out) and I thrive to be better daily. I don’t need a compliment or a mirror to know my worth or see my beauty, for God shows me constantly weather others see it or not. All that matters is that I do!

My Most Cherished Possession

The above images are a few of my favorites from childhood through my late teens, once I enrolled in college and introduced to an entire new world of literature I thrived for more. However none can compare to the one book that initiated my love for reading as a whole.

The Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary

Preface Excerpt:

“It is the latest contribution in the great tradition of English-language lexicography, a tradition that includes the works of Nathan Bailey(1783,1730), Samuel Johnson (1755), Noah Webster (1783,1806, and 1828), Joseph Emerson Worchestor (1830) and Charles Richardson (1836-37). Our dictionary carries on the name “Webster” in recognition of and respect for American lexicographer, Noah Webster, whose work in the standardization of American usage and pronunciation set the quides for those of us who follow.”

Aside from the family photo album; this year my mother finally surrendered to me, my most cherished possession. The biggest book I had ever seen as a child and had always been curious as to what was inside. Once I began to learn how to read and my tiny arms were strong enough to lift it, putting it down then became the struggle. Perhaps my love for words was motivated by the wrong reasons in the beginning. My mother’s lack of education and struggles with literacy were an embarrassment as a child. Being a kid, I thought parents knew “everything” until it was time for me to begin school and found myself constantly debating with the teachers over certain words or phrases. My rebuttals were always “but my momma said…”, not understanding the conditions of the south where she grew up regarding the lack of education for many of color. However, that’s not to say momma was necessarily mistaken with her facts, but simply didn’t know how to express them. So I decided to take matters into my own hands learning as many words as my brain could hold. I entered every spelling bee I could, winning most with the help of “my” dictionary (I’ve always claimed it as mine even threatening my brother if he touched it). It helped me all the way through school, caring information on every subject taught. I’ve always had a love for drawing, mostly cartoons then soon fell in love during our vacations with building structures. The career guide(one of many features in the book) is what helped me discover I could become an architect, that is until I reached high school finding out how much math was required for that field of work. I used it to study the times table chart, learn about our first 38 presidents, foreign languages and phrases, moneys of the world(currency/units), the information was never ending. As I got older it became very useful for jobs with a “Secretaries Guide” showing how to format and address letters for specific individuals and budgeting with a “Salary & Compund Interest” table. Calorie conversions since I’ve done most of the cooking since the age of eight, “Metric System” and the list goes on. The only section I never took much interest in was the “Musical Signs and Abbreviations, but my favorite was the “Table of Alphabets” in Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, etc.

Although the back binding is worn, every page is still in tact. Inside it states that it is printed on glare-free long-life paper which apparently is accurate since my mom bought the dictionary along with her bible (which she still reads) back in 1971. I turned 49 a few days ago, so this book has been in my family fifty years, over four generations. Not only did I get great use out of it, but my children and grandson have as well. We all still refer to it on occasion or atleast I do, they simply google everything. I prefer the experience of rediscovering other aspects every time I open it, like seeing the words I’ve highlighted in pinks and yellows over the years or papers where one of us have taken notes that are still wedged between the pages. I cried when I opened it for this post and found where my mom was determined to learn the “Gettysburg Address” and remember it, written in her beautiful hand writing with notations along the side describing how long “4 scores” is. I remember the day she wrote it out. My brother keeps saying I should sell it. I did have it appraised out of curiosity, but even the thought of not having this dictionary with all the wonderful memories attached to it especially after begging for it for decades, saddens me. I couldn’t bare to part with it for any amount of money.

Empty Nest

One more ounce and I would have given birth to a 13lb baby boy, wow! My children (grandsons included) each have a unique role with in our immediate family. My son is the entertainer, always putting on a show making everyone laugh and the one I look to when I need cheering up. I suppose I’m being a bit selfish, but I miss my baby. I miss his soulful voice when he’s singing my favorites, wrestling with him or grabbing something I can’t reach since he was already 6 feet tall by the age of 12. As a kid he loved drawing, played nearly every sport. Most of my time was spent as soccer mom driving to and from golf courses soccer/football field and every type of mixed martial atrs studio there is. He has a beautiful personality and as he grew older all the younger kids in the neighborhood looked forward to hanging out with him. Teaching them how to do ollies and kick flips on the skateboard and simply being a role model. I’ve always been proud of him and I love him deeply. Now as an adult man married with a child and working a full time job, I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like. I tell my children use me while I’m here. Talk to me instaed of holding everything in, I’ll “listen”. I worry that the pressures of life get overwhelming for him, but he wants to be a “man” and feels he’ll bother me or stress me out with his problems. He struggled the most when I began having seizures and recieved an epilepsy diagnosis which is why I think he’s afraid he’ll be a burden. When he was two months old; although he was in the care of a babysitter, it was my daughter who was seven at the time who realized something was wrong with him. She called me at work several times and on that final call she told me she’s calling 9-1-1 because he hadn’t urinated all day (she was anxious to change his diapers) and he looked like a racoon, with two black eyes. The doctors said if he hadn’t arrived at the hospital when he did, he surely would’ve died from kidney failure. The thing is, I was told he was born a healthy baby. Turns out ( I can’t recal the technical name of the operation) he was born with part of his intestines missing and what he did have was wrapped around other organs is the best I recall his doctor’s explanation. They had to remove his appendix and put organs in their proper place. He was hospitalized for two months. When things get tough for him, I remind him how we (my daughter and I) were never afraid because he is here for a reason. God surely has a purpose for him and I’d like to share one of my favorite poems I’d recite to him in hopes of encouraging him to never give up, written in 1922 by Langston Hughes.

Mother to Son
Well, Son I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And Splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor-
Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now-
For I'se still goin; honey,
I'se still climbin';
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Who You Callin’ a B.I.T.C.H. ?

The line may sound familiar if you know about Queen Latifah’s hit song “UNITY”. The “B” word is thrown around all to often in many scenarios. Personally, it’s what I was referred to on a regular from my mother during my childhood. Later it became a common weapon of insult by males (notice I didn’t say men) who’s ego’s were shattered after politely declining their advances. Eventually; though I never understood this, it became a popular casual greeting amongst female friends. “Hey bitch, how ya doin'”, “ooh bitch come go to this party wit me”. Turns out, I didn’t have many “friends” because when I demanded to be addressed by my name, suddenly I was no longer “cool”. Mainly due to the hurt of my mother’s use of the word towards me, I grew to despise it which usually led to a beat down after I grew older against anyone who referred to me as a bitch. At least that was the case until walking in to the job one day, all eyes were on me as my boss stood at the front of the conference room as he greeted me with, “there she is everyone, give it up for the baddest B.I.T.C.H. of the cmpany!!”

In my head, I saw myself responding with my hands around his neck and asking “who you callin’ a bitch?” I wasn’t concerned with loosing my job because I didn’t like it at all. I’ve never been good at selling anything, not even girl scout cookies as a child, but while witnessing the smiles on the faces of my co-workers as they applauded me, my instincts warned me to stay calm. That’s when I noticed the cake, a congratulations banner displaying my actual name hanging over a huge table covered with gifts. The boss held a tiny box in his hand that was open as he approached me almost glowing and said “great job Tammy, you did it”, while presenting me with the box. I’m thinking, what the hell did I do? Inside was a beautiful diamond broach with the letters B-I-T-C-H. He proceeded by saying, “Tammy, we’d like to present you with this award for being a Beautiful Intelligent Talented Chic Hustler!” Now confused and still somewhat irritated, I managed a smile once he assured me the diamonds were authentic. Apparently I’d made top sales that quarter, setting a company record.

Unfortunately that broach was lost in a fire with other treasured items, mostly photos of me as a teen and when I first had my children. Thankfully, I was able to retrieve most of them due to copies I’d shared over the years with their father and my mom, but I’ll never forget the two main lessons I learned that day. One is to think before reacting so quickly. The other, is that perhaps I wasn’t too bad in sales after all. I remember feeling as though I was stuck in that job for reasons I can’t recall. However, I knew that at the time I had to make the best out of it to provide for my child which began with changing my overall attitude about the job. You all may recall a time when people were out everywhere selling large bottles of fragrances for $20 each. We traveled to surrounding cities like Clearlake, Ukiah and Vegas taking me away from my only child at the time. Soon after being presented with the broach, my confidence rose to new heights which eventually led to an opportunity to open my own consignment shop. I rented a small retail space with low over-head and ran an ad in our local PennySaver for $12/mo, a free paper magazine for an assortment of advertisements that went out of circulation years ago. My office also provided space for people to view and purchase my art work that had previously only been viewed by those closest to me. I learned that I can do anything as long as I have faith, the right attitude and determination once I put my mind to it!

Apology?

Hello beautiful people! This week I’d like to share one of many very proud moments of my children by posting a poem written by my daughter as a young teen ; her response to the first break-up.

You want to tell me your story and those other females don’t matter no more, but where were you when I read the first email and my tears fell through the keyboard?

I don’t understand your motives and the games you’re trying to play,, you talk s*** to me and expect me to forgive you because you had a bad day!

It’s like the clouds apologizing to us, “oh, I’m sorry it rained”, but we know rain will come again on another day.

You’re fake and you know it! You played the innocent role through your emails, but face to face you didn’t show it!

Aapology, a sorry a** excuse for something you did wrong. P-player’s never change their game, it’s always the same song. O-overestimating yourself thinking I’ll fall for your lies, L-love, you have to earn, it won’t simply fall from the sky. O-owning up to your mistakes, and admitting what you did was wrong. G-growing from your mistakes and moving on. Y-yesterday’s news, never take a step back because “bigger and better things is where I’m at”. I would forget, but me as a young lady, you disrespected……so it’s unfortunate for you, but Apology not accepted!!!!

By T.F.C. (Age 15)