Tuesday, May 27, 2008

remembering my two daddies

Men are not always missing in Black families or in my stories or life. My fortune came when I was blessed to have two Daddies: Emmitt Dean and James Douglas.
Both of my fathers served in the Vietnam War for a good deal of time. Memorial Day.
I carry one's name.
I carry one's blood.
They even went to the same high school, which was my middle school. Dunbar.
They were each completely different in their future goals.
One was a musician and sketchist--a true artist.
One was a respiratory therapist, an entrepreneur--a true independent.
Both tried.
Both were determined in a time when even determination was mocked, stolen, or killed.
One smoked marijuana like cigarettes and even cultivated, baked, and sold the now medical eyebrow-raising herb.
One drank every single day and sometimes started early in the day.
Both were happy blisses under the influence.
One married once only.
One married three times and got it right in the end.
One gave me liberty and taught me to be creative even in the worst of times.
One tried to control me with an intent to do good but taught me to appreciate old things and recurring mistakes.
One perpetuated my quiet gift of singing next to his Hammond B3.
One taught me how to drive a standard out of necessity and emergency.

Their strengths:

One lived life by the minute, by and with shortcuts believing that thinking long term can often turn out to be a fated hoax.

One lived life with a dire plan understanding that survival requires thinking ahead.

Their weaknesses:

Drugs, lies, infidelity and pawn shops

An exaggerated desire to own property and a belief in abortion for college

Their respective personalities and lives were founded in early departures to Vietnam. At times, they each were not sure why they were fighting, why they were there.
One is still alive; one recently passed, but neither could explain why the Vietnam War happened, why they were each called to an unclear duty for their country. That named thing--failure of American policy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

why me?

Thanks google images.

One of my students came to her tutoring session on time. She's an A student. However, before we could get started, she said while fishing down in a bag, "Ok. This is really not--Ok--my son is doing a school project---have you heard of Flat Stanley?" I responded curiously and felt as if I was about to be punked, "No." She went on, "Ok. Flat Stanley was smashed between books because he loved to read." She continued rapidly, telling me a bit about Stanley. Then she pulled him out of her school bag and handed me a paper cutout of a white dude dressed in white collar attire--his tie was colored in blue crayon. Before I knew anything else, she had whipped out a camera and told me she needed to get a picture. Still curious and suspicious (I am a suspicious-of-all kinda woman), I said "A photo?" She said, "Yeah, it will just be your hands?" So there I sat holding a paper cutout of Flat Stanley looking down at an anthology book in front of me. She snapped the picture within what seemed like nanoseconds. She laughed a little, deep and throaty, and said, "Ok. Thanks sooo much! This will help my son a lot." I said, "Well you only got my hands right? Let me see." She hesitated because the photo included all of me---and Stanley, looking down at the book. I still wonder how it happened so quickly. She's an expert. In the end, the entire ordeal felt sly.

who the hell is Flat Stanley

Then, my colleague decided to create a "Renee Sim" to live in her neighborhood of Sims she created and has managed since 2004. Again, like wondering who the hell Flat Stanley is, I was also unaware of what Sims are. She brought in her labtop to show me. In the process of showing me, she decided to have a Renee Sim become a part of the neighborhood. Within minutes, a Sim character was created after me. What started out as a demonstration turned out to be a 'saved character'. This of course was after she said, "I don't have to save it." But she did. She found ethnic hair styled in a bun like mine, a GAP tan-colored skirt like mine, light brown eye color like mine, and even light caramel color skin like mine. I learned something new, but was seriously not thrilled about her new creation of a 'me'. She bought me a house costing $117,000, but started me off with only $200,000. Immediately, I was on a strict budget. She introduced me to new neighbors who immediately entered my new home and made themselves at home. She had me look for a job, one that pays a very high salary. But found me a job as a Mail Room Technician. The lopside to this story is that every day, during the quiet of my in-between- semester-change (my 'engaged to wait' time at work), I hear about Renee and what Renee is doing in the neighbor of Sims. Fortunately, respectfully, thanks to Jesus, we have individual tutoring offices with tutoring office doors.

what the hell are Sims

Why me?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

it's a girl and her name is cierra

I am now an Aunt! Well, Cierra is still in the making, but she's got a fine headstart. Lea is now past 20 weeks and doing beautifully well. This pic taken on April 29 shows her baby bump. We were waiting for the doc and decided to snap some shots before he came in the room.

Cierra doesn't like too much pressure on my sister's belly so when the nurse performed a sonogram, she moved and even seemed to have fussed a little. Already, she's taking after me: Don't disrupt my space, my quiet, my time!

So far, she weighs a tiny bit over 9 ounces. My sister asked the nurse, "Are you sure it's a girl?" And the nurse replied "Yes, there's a hamburger, not a turtle."

Cierra is going to be a beauty. She already has the beginnings of a college fund which is just weird, but very necessary. I'm going to be in so much trouble for kissing her and kissing her all the time. Yummy!

Monday, May 19, 2008

soy una pulga

This Sunday, I had several vintage items that sold instantly: 1970s Iron Man comic books,

carved wooden African heads and masks, and an old Keystone movie camera. I decided to keep a 1st edition Dr. Suess book: Ten Apples Up On Top!

My favorite on my table was a lot of 1960s sewing patterns, a Hello Kitty lamp and an occupied Japan miniature vase. Each...gone!

Items I sell the most: spools of thread (especially black or white), flower pots, tin buckets of buttons, pots and pans, ribbon, earrings, liquor decanters and yes, mattresses.

Least to sell...the item I continue to wrap unwrap and wrap and bring home: glass chess game.

Friday, May 2, 2008

teaching character

This is not an allusion and I can see the light. I have had to power up in the most heady kind of way. Nearing the end of the semester, my students have bombarded me with their last minute essays, essays that were due days ago, essays due within hours. The telling part about today’s younger generation is they expect us English tutors to panic with them. And some do act like it’s my responsibility that their papers are due within hours and they are not “fixed.” Some come in without a thesis idea or topics and believe they can whip out a paper within hours. Fortunately, I have a group that prepares well in advance and will bring their essays to me up to the final moments. The most interesting papers this semester have been on Ibsen’s A Doll House. Students have supported Nora to the end. I wanted desperately to read an essay where a student disagrees with her leaving her children and husband. But it just goes to show how Chopin Ibsen and Glaspell characters are timeless. Yes, even Mrs. Wright received accolades for her crime. On another note, Tennessee’s Amanda…..wow! Most students found her character rather annoying and well a little manic. They ranted and gave strong personal opinions about Amanda and I had to remind them to keep it academic. And by the end, I felt terribly bad for Amanda. Students refused to sympathize with her. When I teach my workshop on how to write a research essay, it’s so difficult for me to not go on a tangent and talk about well….characters and literature. I was recently chided for going over my time limit for teaching the class. But when I read essay after essay after essay after essay, I have to find ways to charge up---it’s my duty to read the best and the worst and even the irrelevant. Yesterday, I forgot how to spell 'prosperity'.

Now that summer is just around the corner, I will have every Friday off and will enjoy every second, shopping at garage sales, then selling at the big flea market with my love, and practicing my Spanish. This time is my vacation!