Friday, March 30, 2007

Celebrating LadyTee's birthday...

Okay... I haven't been around much this week.

But you know me... I've got plenty of stories to tell.

So I thought I would tell you about LadyTee's Birthday.


For some reason, I find that as LadyTee and I get older, we really like to spend our birthdays together. This was the case in our preteen and teenage years, but not so much so during our twenties. But now, as we get older, we spend the WHOLE doggone day together.

So this year we planned to do that, except there was a problem: LadyTee had to attend a funeral. She was burning MAD about it too. ("Lee, I told them, why ya'll gotta have a funeral on my birthday!! DANG!!") And the funeral was for her lil' cousin Cory's friend's brother, I think. She wanted to go pay her respects (although she don't do funerals), so the plan was to meet at my house that afternoon.

I had issues of my own. I was suppose to take the day off, but I got thrown under the bus at work, i.e., I got caught up in some pure triflement, due to trifling people, and had to work half a day. (Don't think that I didn't go off on peeps about it, though). I think I scared the crap out of my acting supervisor with my rants and raves. I had to go out back and dig up the Good Book of Cuss on her. (Ya'll negroes be tripping!! Can't a sista take a damn day off if she want to!? %^$#$!@#$%$%!!!!!!). I worked half a day and then got the heck out of dodge.

So LadyTee and I got together around 1 in the afternoon that day. She was a bit deflated about that, and I was still boiling mad about having to work. But we both calmed down after a while.

I gave her a nice birthday gift. I gave her the movie Derailed, one of my favorites, and I gave her the Fourth Season DVD collection of Quantum Leap.



Yeah, that's a weird birthday gift... but LadyTee is the Ultimate Quantum Leap fan. She jumped around my kitchen HARD for a minute when she saw that. I thought she was going to pass out or something, LOL.

But she REALLY likes Quantum Leap. I've never cared for the show. Come to think of it, we've never liked the same shows. Let's just say I've been cussed out plenty of times for calling her when Quantum Leap was on television. PLENTY of times! So I was happy to get it for her, and hopefully I can get all 5 seasons for her.

We ended up going to Up the Creek a seafood restaurant, for lunch.




Heads up, Atliens... you get a free dinner for your birthday at Up the Creek locations!

We ate HARD... Goodness gracious, talk about catching a case of the "itis"! Oh my!

We struggled out of the restaurant and went to see the Movie Pride, which starred Terrence Howard, Kimberly Elise, and Bernie Mac. It is the true story of Jim Ellis (portrayed by Terrence Howard), a swimmer who starts a swim team for troubled teens at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation(PDR). It was one of the best movies I've seen in a very long time. This was an EXCELLENT movie, a good family movie, definitely a welcome change from the norm when it comes to black movies. Go check it out if you have a chance.

LadyTee went home afterwards. But she'd been wailing about mix CDS. As much as I like making CDs, I don't make them for her because she is EXTREMELY particular about songs. So if I make a CD and it has ONE song she doesn't like on it... I have to hear her WHINE and WHINE and WHINE about it.

So we came up with a plan: I would make her Greatest hits collections (can't mess that up, you know. I made several Greatest Hits CDs for her (The Emotions, Luther, O'Jays, Earth Wind and Fire, Patti Labelle). Then I would show her how to make up her own CDs.

Well she came over on Saturday, and it took her about 4 hours to come up with 8 CDs of music that SHE likes. I took a peek at some of her saved playlists. Here's an interesting example.

LadyTee's Disco I

Dazz Dazz (Disco Jazz)- Dazz Band
Don't Look Any Further - Dennis Edwards
Don't Stop the Music - Yarbrough and Peoples
Flashlight - Parliament funkadelic
Ain't No Sunshine - Otis Redding
When a Man Loves a Woman - Otis Redding
Try a Little Tenderness - Otis Redding
The Hustle
This Christmas - Donny Hathaway
Love and Happiness - Al Green
Cutie Pie - one way
I am not my Hair - India Arie
Lady Marmalade - Labelle
One thing - Amerie
Car Wash - Rose Royce

Humph.

*LadyLee's arms crossed tightly across chest. LadyLee frowning hard*

Remember... This is supposed to be a "Disco" CD.

***crickets***

LadyTee, what's up with all the Otis Redding songs? And why do you have the Donny Hathaway Christmas song on there? How do Amerie and India.Arie figure into all this?

Yeah girl... that's a classic disco CD.

Of course, I would NEVER say any of this to her face, because she would go off on me, just like she first did when she was 13 and I was 11. She spent the night over my house, and she told me to wake her up when Solid Gold came on at 11:30. I woke her up, and she went off on me...

I cried that night...

Okay, I am getting off subject... let's just say, I treat her gingerly when it comes to certain things. (She's the same with me.) I have a feeling the CD issha is one of those things...

Yeah girl, you're quite special. You needed to make up your own CDs. I could not have gotten them made to your specifications.

Snake, my local partaker of the neighborhood wares and substances, and resident LadyLee blog Poet laureate extraordinaire stopped by. He and I were supposed to dig up a patch of land in the backyard that Saturday so that I can start up my garden (pics in a later post). I opened the front door, and for some reason, it was hot as hell outside that day. I told him to come in, because his girlfriend LadyTee was over, and I knew she wasn't stepping outside in all that heat. I threatened him real good, and told him not to steal anything and not to be casing my house.

Ladytee did the usual... "Is that you, Snake!? It's my boyfriend Snake!!!!!!"

*Snake grins, showing us all 8 of his teeth.*

I laid on the sofa, and read a book. He sat at the table with LadyTee, and they each proceeded to work hard - she on his CDs... he on a poem. I noticed that they'd gotten a bit quiet, so I took a few pics.





We made LadyTee a little mad, because we were making up so much noise. (I guess that's why the "Disco" CD was so jacked up: she couldn't concentrate.) Snake wasn't writing a new poem, he was revising the last Snake Bite: We Aim to Strive Daily. He is in some weird revision trance these days, spending time looking up new words for his poetry, etc...


(Humph. I need new material, Snake!)

Well, LadyTee and I went to the Watershed for dinner, which wasn't a good thing. (The food was great, of course, but it is so %$!#%#%! expensive). I think I spent the money I had set aside for my bills up in that place. I told my sister Kentucky that if our lights, or water, or gas gets turned off, then oh well... blame it on the Watershed.

But anything for you, LadyTee:)

And I know you'll help me if I come up short on my bills, right?

Right???

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Prelude to the "Biscuit Blues"... the other side of the story.

I posted a short story the other day entitled "Buttermilk Biscuit Blues", about Sylvia, one of my manuscript's minor character's "disagreement" with her husband Fred. That story was born out of me thinking about her thoughts and feelings about the disagreement. Her husband expressed his feelings about the whole situation in the manuscript.

A few people wanted to see that excerpt, Fred's recollection of what happened. Don't worry, it's very short. (You know how long-winded I can be, LOL.).In this excerpt, Fred has been deceased for a few years, and my male protagonist, Samuel, is reminiscing about his convo with Fred concerning the matter.

Again, it is short and to the point. But I am thinking of writing a more detailed account of what Fred was thinking about that morning when he came in drunk as a skunk, And the events that went down before he came in the house talking trash...



At the end of this post, I have pictures of my grandparents, and I talk about the inspiration behind the Biscuit Blues story.

So here ya go... enjoy.




One of my fondest memories of Fred Ellison is the look on his face when I pulled an ice cold six pack of Heineken from a large brown paper bag and sat it on the hood of his Cadillac one hot summer day a few years ago. He’d been in the backyard working on the car’s interior, and since it was damn near one hundred degrees, I thought I’d bring over some beer.

I remember using the shiny gold bottle opener on my crowded key chain to pop the top on one beer for him and another for myself. When I tried to give him a beer, he held his hand up, as if in an act of surrender. He removed a worn handkerchief from the back pocket of his overalls and wiped sweat from his forehead.

“Samuel, I haven’t had a drink since ‘81”.

“Oh, you never told me you didn’t drink, Fred,” I replied. I replaced the bottle cap back on the lip of the bottle sideways. It didn’t matter if the cap fit awkwardly. I was going to drink that bottle as soon as I finished my own.

He looked towards the house then back at me. “Hell no, I don’t drink. I’m an angry drunk. Use ta come in the house in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn talking much shit!”

I took a long draw from my bottle, downing half of it in one long swig. “One beer won’t hurt, Fred.”

“I repeat,” he belted, “I don’t drink.” He walked over to a big red tool box sitting a few feet away from us on the grass and rifled around in it until he found what he’d been looking for, a large screwdriver.

He walked back towards me, shaking the screw driver hard. “Let me tell you a story. I came in one morning back in ’81 from a juke joint over in East Atlanta, good and drunk as a skunk, and Sylvia was in the kitchen rolling out some dough for some of those good ol’ buttermilk biscuits I like. Well I got mad because I was hungry, and them biscuits weren’t ready. Didn’t even appreciate that the woman had got up to cook my breakfast, you see. Well, I ran up on her, shoved her a couple of times, and told her that the next time, she betta have my breakfast ready and on the table when I get in, or she was gonna get it.”

I leaned against the car, guzzling the beer and trying not to laugh. I couldn’t imagine him speaking to Ms. Sylvia in that manner, especially after he always behaved like a love sick puppy in her presence.

“Yeah, yeah, I know you don’t believe me. But you can ask her when we go in for dinner.”

“Yeah, okay.” There was no way on earth I was gonna ask Ms. Sylvia something that off the wall.

“Well anyway,” Fred continued, “the next thing I know, she twirled around and wacked me upside the head with that rolling pen, man. POW! Right upside the head.”

“No way!” I yelled. “Not sweet Ms. Sylvia.”

“Sweet my ass!” he yelled back.


He swung the screwdriver hard, causing me to jump back just in case it slipped from his hands. “Samuel, you woulda thought she was swinging for the game ending home run in the World Series! She hit me so hard. I saw so many stars, I thought it was the damn fourth of July or something. Everything went white. I even passed out.”

I laughed even though I was trying my best not to. He just shook his head and winced at the memory.

“I woke up with biscuit dough and flour stuck to the side of my swole up head. I’d even pissed my pants. I stumbled into the bathroom and took a long hot shower, and when I stepped out she was standing right there with that damn rolling pin in her hand. She had me all helmed up in the bathroom corner. Told me I better think twice before ever threatening her again because next time would be much worse.”

I placed my now empty bottle of beer in the empty slot of the holder and retrieved another. It had to be the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard. Ms. Sylvia was much to calm to get all rowdy like that.

“Took that knot on my head some two weeks to go down. Ain’t had a drink since then, and I don’t plan on it now. From now on, it’s water, Kool-aid, and sweet tea for me.”

I laughed at him all afternoon, even at dinner.

Funny. Right now, I think back on that conversation we had so long ago, and it’s not very funny anymore...



Alright, that's enough. Can't go any further than that, because it would not make much sense to ya if you aren't a member of my elite critique team, LOL...

But the whole Sylvia and Fred story was born out of talks with my Grandmother about being married to my grandfather.

I don't have many pictures of my grandfather. He died in 2002. Here is a picture of my grandfather and my brother Milk and Cookies circa 2000. This picture was taken at the cemetary just after my great-grandmother's funeral.


My grandparents were married for 54 years. I always thought that when people stayed together for that long, things had to have been perfect. But after talking with my grandmother, I learned that life was FAR from perfect. She endured a lot of craziness. Granddaddy had outside affairs, outside children... all kinds of issues, and she just stuck with him through it all. She told me a few interesting stories, and I must say she got PISSED one time when talking about some of that stuff.

That scared me, ya'll. My grandmother NEVER gets upset, at least not around me. Here's a pic of her with Milk and Cookies. Does she look like she gets pissed about anything?


No!

I'd never seen my grandmother angry until she talked with me about such memories.

I remember my grandfather coming into the house while we were talking one day. He asked me what we were talking about. I told him that we were talking about him and his trifling ass side of the family. His eyes got big and he immediately left the room.

Now, one of my most memorable moments of my grandfather was back in the late 90's. He and I were standing outside the house one day, leaning against his van, just shooting the breeze. He pointed across the street and said that he wished he'd had enough sense back in the day to buy up all of that land because it was so cheap back then. He told me he didn't buy it because he was too busy - out in the streets running women, clubbing and gambling. He went on to tell me that "That lady in there, in that house [my grandmother]" stuck it out with him and put up with a lot of mess. He shed a few tears as he expressed to me that he wished he could have done more for her.

I didn't know what to say to my Grandfather that day. I told him that it was alright. He had always been a good granddaddy to me. At least he'd changed.

It shocked me, to say the least. I mean, what do you say in the midst of such heartfelt confessions?

Hmm... All I could think is that I hope he made peace with himself over it all.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the "Blues" stories.

Watch out... I may explore that storyline a little more.



Friday, March 23, 2007

Happy Birthday LadyTee!

I would be remiss if I don't wish my Best friend LadyTee a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.


I love this picture of her, taken on a beautiful Sunday morning last year in my front yard... She is all fresh faced and full of glee. I wanted to smack her that day because I was depressed and dragging.


She'd just called me that Sunday morning, wanting to know why I wasn't at church.

I told her I was cramping, etc. (ladies, you know how it is...). I asked her what she was up to. She said that she was about to do some grocery shopping. I asked her (jokingly) to come pick me up, as I needed to do my own.

Well, she came and got me. The kicker is that she lives some 25 miles away. She came and picked me up, took me aaaallll the way back out to her side of town to shop, then brought me back home.

Now that's a friend. It may sound simple, but she is one of the most giving people I know.

She said something to me the other night that had me all teared up. (Of course I didn't let her know that, for I pride myself on being HARDCORE, lol). We are both creeping HARD up on 40, and have been best friends since the age of 10. We were yacking on the phone, talking about how some 20 years ago, we would have never imagined our lives turning out the way they have, with all the ups and downs, twists and turns, etc.


But she said that there was one constant that she was thankful for...

"Lee, I am so glad that I have a friend like you. I can not imagine this life without you. God really thought about me when He made you my friend."

Man, that messed me up right there. I was quiet, because if I would have said anything, I would've broke down crying.

But LadyTee, I feel the same way about you, gal. You know I do. We have been through it AAAALLLL together...

As you, LadyTee, always say, when you REFUSE to read any of my writing:

"I know the story behind you, Lee. I've been there the whole time. I don't have to read a damn thang you write."

LOL... Even though these days, I trick her. I call her up and make her listen to pieces that I am working on. She seems to like that.

But I know the story behind you too, LadyTee...


And God thought about me when He gave me a friend like you, too.


Really though.

Happy Birthday, Girl.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Buttermilk Biscuit Blues

I wrote a little short story and I thought I'd post it. I think you may enjoy it.

A little background for you... This story is an offshoot from something that happens in my manuscript, concerning a very minor character, Fred Ellison. My male protagonist asked Mr. Ellison if he wanted a beer, and he said no, because he didn't drink, and he hadn't had a drink since 1981. He goes on to site the reasons why he'd stopped drinking... It involved a "disagreement" with his wife.

I liked his point of view (which is going to be cut from the manuscript, even though it is only 2 pages long). But I woke up one morning last week, thinking about his wife, who is a character in the manuscript. I was wondering what were her thoughts that day back in 1981. How did she feel? What was she going through?

Hmm...

Read my story "Buttermilk Biscuit Blues"...

But don't read it if you are hungry... Make sure you go eat first:)

Butttermilk Biscuit Blues


I don’t know what happened early that Sunday morning in the spring of ‘81.

But something in me just snapped.

And for me, snapping ain’t normal.

I‘d always been like that taut red rubber band that held collard greens together in a tight bunch: strong, flexible and dependable. But sometimes a rubber band could be stretched too far and too wide for too long.

And finally snap.

And I guess that’s what happened with me that beautiful sunny morning. I snapped.

Now, my Sunday morning routine was just that: routine. I’d get up around 5 a.m., put on my housecoat and houseshoes, and make my husband Fred’s breakfast. Then I’d get dressed for a long day at Mount Zion Baptist church.

Fred never attended church, but felt he deserved a good hot breakfast on Sunday mornings. And he had to have his breakfast favorites: scrambled cheese eggs, hot grits, country sausage, peppered bacon, and freshly squeezed orange juice. I even made buttermilk biscuits from scratch, which he loved sopping up with Sue Bee honey or Cane Patch syrup.

Afterall, he deserved it. Fred was a very active man. He was always good and hungry by the time he staggered in from the club or from the warm bed of whichever hussy he happened to be laying up with the night before.

Fred was a lying cheating husband. A low down dirty dog, he was. That didn’t have anything to do with me being the best wife I could be. At least that’s what my pastor would say from time to time.

But that morning, being a good wife was the last thing on my mind.

That morning, when Fred came in from a long night out?

I snapped.

Now, I could blame it on the daylight savings time. We weren’t falling back, but we were springing forward. That meant a lost hour of sleep. That would’ve been a silly excuse, because I hadn’t missed getting up and fixing Fred’s Sunday morning breakfast in ten years of marriage, whether we were springing forward or falling back in time.

I’d considered blaming it on the homemade peach brandy that my best friend Eartha slipped to me last night as I was leaving her house, just after I’d dropped my five-year-old son Marcus off for a sleepover with her seven-year-old nephew Samuel.

“Sylvia, here’s a little something for ya.” She placed a pint-sized mason jar of muddy brown liquid into a crumpled brown paper bag.
I shook my head. “No now, Eartha. You know I don’t fool with that stuff.” I only needed a little of it when I had a bad cold. A teaspoon of that concoction in my hot toddy could drive a cold out like nothing else.
“Unh-unh, go on and take it. Just a little something for them blues, that’s all. Just a little something to smooth out them blues, Sylvia.”


There was no use in arguing with Eartha, as she always loved a good fight. I grabbed the jar tightly with both hands and shoved it into my large purse. Eartha was known as the neighborhood bootlegger, the woman to talk to for alcohol on Sundays. God forbid anyone see me walking out of her house with a mysterious brown paper bag. I would just pour it out when I got home.

But I didn’t pour it out.

I drank it instead, straight from the mason jar, while sitting in Fred’s big leather recliner in the den and watching Lady Sings the Blues on Channel 17.

Eartha was right. The homemade spirits, burning fire hot in my chest as I swallowed, did take away the blues. I had a good time right there in that recliner singing the blues with Diana Ross on a Saturday night.

Blaming the clock would have been easy. Blaming Eartha’s good peach brandy would have been even easier. But all that blame would have been nothing but lies.

I woke up at six o’clock that morning, which was seven o’clock really after the time change, and lay there on my side of the bed, drenched in sweat, not knowing where I was or who I was for that matter. I’d awaken on the strange end of a low moan, the sound of my own voice so early in the morning startling me. My heart was beating hard and fast like the wings of a mad hummingbird trying to steady herself in a high wind.

I’d been dreaming about the nice bus driver who drove the bus for my route to work, Lester Johnson. He always greeted me with a smile each time I stepped on the bus and dropped a quarter into the plexiglass fare box. Friday morning, my quarter missed its target and tumbled to the floor of the bus. I fell while trying to catch it before it rolled too far. Lester Johnson jumped up from the driver’s seat and helped me up from the floor. In that short moment, I could have sworn his touch held a bit more concern than it should have. And I enjoyed the warmth of his hands on my waist and forearm more than a married woman should have.

Maybe it just felt good to be touched by a man, if only in my dreams. Fred touched me about as often as the moon passed between the earth and the sun. And that was not often enough for a thirty-year old woman such as myself on the cusp of reaching my sexual peak.

Lester Johnson’s touch and comforting smile were heavy on my mind all day Friday and Saturday. And he was heavy in my dreams that Saturday night.

In my dream, far too much had gone on when I happened to get on what was usually a full bus to find it empty. Lester Johnson smiled and rose from his seat for other reasons far more pressing than casual customer assistance. He’d given me more pleasure on that bus floor than Fred had given me in years in my king sized bed.

I awaken that Sunday morning deeply disturbed by such erotic dreams, but at the same time highly disappointed that that dream was over. Nevertheless, I jumped from the bed, knelt down on my knees, and ask the Lord to forgive me...

...for wanting, for needing.

Now, I got up from my knees, composed myself, and went into the kitchen to get Fred’s breakfast together. I set the oven to preheat, then placed two sausage patties and four strips of bacon into the well seasoned cast iron skillet. I put on the grits, which would only take twenty minutes. I sifted the flour, baking powder, and salt into my favorite glass mixing bowl, and added a tablespoon of sugar to the mix to make the biscuits sweet, just the way Fred liked them. I cut in the shortening and buttermilk, and formed the dough into a ball, and proceeded to knead that ball twenty times, just like my Grandma had taught me so long ago.

I picked up the rolling pin I used for biscuits. It felt cool in my hand. A good fit, it was. It’d belonged to my grandma, and she’d passed it down to my mama, who passed it down to me. I could have easily made canned refrigerator biscuits, but that rolling pin was full of love and history. It reminded me of mornings in the kitchen as a child, watching grandma roll out those biscuits. It took me back to a time when I didn’t have a care in the world.

Just as I’d flattened the dough with my rolling pin, I heard Fred’s Cadillac come to a screeching halt in the driveway. A moment later I heard the hard angry squeak of the car door opening and shutting. Fred slammed the car door. That loud slam cut through the peaceful spring morning like a dull knife cutting through day old bread.

Fred fumbled with his keys at the front door, but finally found the right one. He shuffled in and threw the keys on the half-moon mahogany table in the foyer. His steps grew louder and louder. They weren’t sure and strong, but weak and uncertain.

Oh yes, he was good and drunk.

“What . . . What the hell? Sylvia, where’s my breakfast?”


Lies were birds perched on the tip of my tongue, ready and eager to take flight. I thought about telling him that I had to run to the store for more flour for his biscuits, or that the pilot light had gone out in the stove.

But lying was Fred’s specialty, not mine. I was determined to be the best wife I could be.

I sprinkled a little flour on the rolling pin. “Good morning, Fred.”

Fred was quiet. I glanced over my shoulder to see him leaning against the doorjamb, peering at me curiously, like I was some odd bird that had just flown into the room. Even in a wrinkled brown suit and with a hard scowl on his face, Fred, twelve years my senior, was still as handsome as the first day I met him.

I reached into a kitchen drawer and retrieved a thin round biscuit cutter. “Breakfast will be a little late this morning, Fred. I overslept. You know, I usually wake up with the birds, but I guess I was just tired last night. Give me about thirty minutes, and―”

“Thirty minutes my ass!” he yelled. He stumbled towards me. “Woman, you better have my breakfast ready when I come in this house, you hear me?”

I reached in the silverware drawer for a fork so that I could flip the bacon. The sausage cooked slower, and would need a couple of minutes before it was ready to be turned. “Fred, have a seat. Your orange juice and newspaper are on the table. Breakfast will be right up.”

He shoved me hard, causing me to drop the fork. A drop of hot grease popped from the skillet and landed on my index finger. Fred leaned against me, grasping my arm in a hard angry grip, his breath a mix of old liquor and the tart scent of a woman. “I didn’t ask you all that, Sylvia. I said you better have my breakfast ready when I come in this house.”

He shoved me hard against the counter again before backing away.

“I tell you.” He knocked the open newspaper from the square formica table. “A man has a right to a good hot breakfast after he been out all night. And here you are, talking about ‘breakfast will be right up’. You sounding crazy. I pay the bills in this house and I expect my food to be on the damn table! Woman, you better be glad I come home at all. I could be―”

He didn’t even get a chance to finish his sentence. In one quick flash, I whipped around, and swung the rolling pin like I was Arthur Ashe going for the grand slam tennis championship. Fred didn’t even know what hit him.

I hit Fred so hard upside the head that a large crack split the surface of the rolling pin. My rolling pin, so full of love and history, was now tainted by violence. I stared down at Fred, who was sprawled out and unconscious on the kitchen floor with biscuit dough stuck to the side of his head.

“So much for breakfast,” I muttered. I turned the knobs on the stove to the off position. The oven, hot and ready, wouldn’t be seeing biscuits today.
I stepped over Fred and went into the bedroom and got ready for church. I made sure to place the empty mason jar back into the crumpled brown paper bag. I shoved it deep into my purse. I was also quick to set the bedroom clock to the right time.

I went to church that morning and answered the altar call. I knelt at the steps of the altar and asked God to forgive me for hitting my husband. I asked him to forgive me for the anger I felt right before knocking Fred upside his head. I promised God that I wouldn’t yearn for Lester Johnson’s gentle touch, drink anymore of Eartha’s peach brandy, or forget to change my clock during daylight savings time...

. . . If only He’d take away the years and years of hurt and pain.

Or at least quench the nagging ache of loneliness in my life.

I knew that nothing was impossible with God. But I didn’t have much faith in His ability to stamp out loneliness.

I spoke with Pastor after church, my eyes averting his as I shook his hand. I just knew he could tell that I’d been through much that morning, but he said nothing except, “Good to see you this morning, Mrs. Ellison, and you enjoy the rest of your Sunday afternoon.”

I walked to my car and drove home. I would pick up my son Marcus a little later.

I walked into the house, and I had to admit that at that moment, I was afraid. I wasn’t afraid of whether Fred would retaliate, as he was not a violent man, save for this morning, but I was afraid that I would see him lying dead on the cold kitchen linoleum, stiff as a piece of old rotten wood.

I loved Fred. I didn’t want to see him dead.

The house was quiet, save for the distant sound of the running water of the bathroom shower. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that he was up and about. I entered the kitchen to find it as I had left it. A smear of old biscuit dough was stuck to the tan and white kitchen linoleum. The bacon and sausage were cold and hard in the cast iron skillet, caked in white grease.

I took time to clean everything up. There was nothing worse than a dirty kitchen.
As I picked up pieces of rubbery biscuit dough from the rolling pin, I noticed the small crack that was there immediately after I hit Fred had lengthened into a wide ugly fissure. The fifty year old rolling pin, passed down three generations was now useless. I would be better off using a glass tumbler to roll out my biscuits than that fractured rolling pin.

I walked over to the tall stainless steel kitchen trash can next to the refrigerator and tossed the rolling pin in. Just then, at that very moment, I remembered something my grandma said to me back when I was a little girl, no more than five or six years old, while sitting in her kitchen helping her prepare dinner. I closed my eyes tight. I could almost hear the sizzle of the chicken frying in the hot lard in the cast iron skillet and the smell of the collard greens and ham hocks simmering in a big soup pot on the old black stove. Grandma had just made biscuit dough, and had just plopped it down on the floured tabletop. She lifted the rolling pin from an old Maxwell House coffee can she used for storing large kitchen utensils and held it up by one handle. She rotated it slowly as if she was trying to work out the nagging arthritis in her wrist.

Sylvie, this right here is a good rolling pin. Real good. Good for rolling biscuits and pie crust to just the right thickness. Even good for rolling out those sugar cookies you like so much.”
I watched as she gripped the rolling pin in her large hand, weathered from so many years of living a hard life.
“Yes Lawd, yes Lawd. It’s good for all that, baby. All those good things.” She smiled and squinted at the rolling pin. “But it’s also good for impartation. And don’t you ever forget that, you hear me?”
I had no idea what she was talking about. All I could think about were those sugar cookies she and I made the past Christmas, all decorated with brightly colored sugar crystals.
She sprinkled flour on the ball of dough, then flattened the biscuit dough out with the rolling pin. “Sometimes, you just need to impart a little sense into a hard head. And a good sturdy rolling pin can be just the right thang to do that with.”

I watched as she chuckled to herself. I still had no idea what she meant, and I tucked her words back off into a dusty corner of my mind.

I finally understood her words of wisdom, so many years later. Wish I would’ve understood those words years ago, when Fred became the lying cheating husband that he was that day..

Nothing wrong with a little impartation.

I reached into the trash can and retrieved the broken rolling pin.

No, it was no longer good for rolling out those mouth watering buttermilk biscuits that Fred loved so much. . .

. . . But I’m sure it would be good for a little impartation from time to time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A LadyLee Weekend.

I had a very busy weekend. That's nothing new, because all of my weekends are very busy. I must say that I have had only one weekend this year where I was able to sit back and truly relax and do... nothing.

I had a book club meeting this weekend, but I ditched it (much to the dismay of my book club president - hey, at least I let you know, gal!). Plus I had a heck of a time finding the book club selection of the month, and didn't get a chance to read.

Oh well.

I attended the Atla.nta Wri.ter's club meeting instead. The meeting was waaaay up in North Atlanta, in Dunwoody. I've been wanting to check it out. Now, I came across this club a couple of months ago, but ditched going because I was thinking that there would be NO black folks there, and I didn't want any problems (whatever that means.) But I met a black author at the Mar.garet Mitch.ell house when I attended Tayari Jones' talk, and she said she was a member and she loved it. She found it really helpful, and thought that I should at least check it out.

Well, that was good enough for me. On Saturday, I decided to make a trek up there and check it out. If I didn't like it, oh well. I could at least say that I checked it out and I could just keep it moving.

The meeting was good. There was an open mic session, where people read their works, and there were 2- 1hour sessions of speakers. I must've taken a good 3 pages of notes. And I mean, GOOD useful notes. There was an editor of a literary journal there and an author. They talked about what they did, and answered questions. Heck, the author taught his session as a workshop session basically. Very good concepts, very good set-up. I really enjoyed myself, and even met a few interesting folks. I want to join, but it conflicts with my book club meetings.

Oh well... I'll just have to figure something out. That meeting was much too useful to pass up.

Now, after the ATL writer's club meeting, I headed down to the "Sip and Sign" book signing of Electa Rome Parks, a local author. I'd picked up her book as the book club selection for another book club meeting I am attending next Sunday (yes, I have way too much going on.) My book club sister, who is a member of 2 book clubs invited me, plus the author, Ms. Parks, was going to be there.

And ya'll know how I like to run up on authors. I always got a question or two, you know.

Well, Ms. Parks had an event in Midtown Atlanta, sponsored by my book club president. Now, I didn't get a chance to go to my own book club meeting so, I thought it would be a good idea to drop by since it was on the way home.

Back to this book... The book was titled Ladies Night Out. Just looking at that book cover, I was thinking...

Hmm... this looks a bit racy.

Yeah. It was STRONG on the erotica. And I can't stand erotica. But I decided to read it anyway. I wanted to attend my book club sister's meeting, and I wanted to meet this author. So hey, read it and bear it.

It was a good book. The erotica was just that: erotica. Very eclectic, and creative, but you know... I just don't like erotica. But I must say, I was pleasantly suprised that I picked up on the theme of the book, which seems to be the theme that I am toying with these days. And the story was very well written.

But um, the book made me think... Who wrote this book and did she run around doing research?

Well she walked into the room, and sat near me. I peered at her curiously. And her husband was with her. I'm sitting there thinking, "Damn, they look normal. They don't look off the chain."

Don't think that I didn't ask her about it, LOL. I wanted to know if she researched out all that erotica, because it was um... let's just say, very vivid and very well written. She thought that was funny.

But I got a chance to spend a couple of minutes talking with her. I rarely write in my books, but I even circled some things in her book. Really nice author, answered all of my questions... just a great all around person. She was the first author that I actually sat down with and talked with about some things in her book that I liked and/or didn't understand.

Good book... if you like erotica, then it's for you. She has an erotica story in an upcoming anthology.

She laughed hard. "Guess you won't be reading it."
"Uh, no I won't," I responded.

Nope. But she has three previous books, that are not strong on the erotica. I will most definitely read those!!

Finally... my manuscript edit came back. All I gotta say is... Wow.



It sent my head spinning. She did a thorough job, and I must have spent a couple of hours looking at what she had to say already. She seems to have liked the story, but I just have a lot of rewriting to do... I got a lot of weak points that I have to work on, like redundancy and crutch word isshas, contradiction problems, just all kinds of stuff. I really want to work on these things because I don't want them to turn into bad habits!

But I still say... WOW. My head is spinning. Kind of like when I got the corrections of the first draft of my dissertation back from my advisor so long ago... It was marked up like crazy, but man oh man... those corrections made a WORLD of a difference. They really did.

And that's how I am looking at it. Apprehensive, but pleasantly pleased. I think the good thing is that a lot of the comments that were made are already deep down somewhere else deep in the manuscript. (She only read the first 450 pages. The manuscript is 1000 pages long.) I have to figure out how to bring a lot of stuff that is revealed later in the manuscript up into the earlier parts of the manuscript. I don't know if I am experienced enough to figure all of that out, but at least all the material I need is already written out. I'm reading a very good book on editing right now, and it is REALLY providing reinforcement and helping me understand some of the points that she made.

Let's just say that I am just thankful that I won that edit. It was a VERY GOOD thing. I know already that it is going to help me A LOT.

But I have set a goal to have SOMETHING figured out by the end of the year. I will have a plan of action by the end of the month, so I think I am moving in the right direction. I have decided to do some writing workshops this year, the first of which is a fiction workshop which starts this Thursday. It is only 2 hours a week, for 6 weeks, one day a week. I wanted to start with something small this year, so I can know what the hell I am doing and what is expected of me. I am a bit nervous, but it is that excited type of nervousness (you know what I mean). I hope to learn a few things that will help me with my manuscript, and my writing in general.

Much much more happened this weekend, like hanging out at the 'Shed with my book club sisters for SupaStar's birthday. (DANG, we dropped some serious bread up in that place. And we didn't get thrown out, either.) I didn't go to church, but I had a VERY GOOD "Women of Character" meeting with some of my book club sistas, where we are taking some pretty intense looks at the character of women throughout the bible and how it applies to our daily life. (Man, I LOVE that type of stuff!). So heck, that might as well have been church. Felt like it.

I went to the doctor yesterday, after being sickly for two weeks. I almost bust out crying after telling my doctor how I was feeling all during that time, even though I fell dandy now. She explained to me what was going on, and we talked about a few things.

The convo was funny.

"You want me to prescribe you something for that, just in case you feel like that again?"
"Yes!"
"There are two types of medication. One will make you groggy, one won't. Which do you want?"
"Yes!" I yelled.
"So I take it that you want both?"
"Yes Lawd!"


Man, I was like, whatever. Just give me something that I can throw in a drawer and take when I am feeling bad. Goodness. Next time, I think I will just take a couple of days off from work or something... Geez.

But I am better now... Ready and willing and able...

To do the darn thing.

Check it out. I have a Short story coming up sometime tomorrow, entitled "Buttermilk Biscuit Blues". We've been having a little fun with it, and I think I will post it. It is a side story involving someone from my manuscript. Be sure to come back and take a look at it, because I'd really like to know what you think:)




Monday, March 19, 2007

SnaKE BiTEs: "We Aim to Strive Daily"


A goal is not all the time meant to be reached.
But it is something that you should simply wanna aim at.

Whatever the goal you strive to achieve,
Don't worry about how uncultivated your climb!
Just know the focus is on that AIM.
Do the best that's instilled within.

Take that aim and don't waste time.
It's hard once you think of eternity
Your expecatation might be far away,
But everyday
will give you a CHANCE
To aim at that goal.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Food for thought, Part III



More from the coffers of my personal diaries...

We will return to our regular broadcasting schedule next week, LOL.

Another answer to my journal writing assignment.

One thing I wish I had that I don't have is _________________.

One thing that I wish I had that I don't have is my own family.

Yeah, we all have families, but what I meant by that is that I wish that I had my own little nuclear family... the husband, the kids and myself. No, my biological clock ain't ticking or nothing like that, and I rarely think about such things, but it was an honest answer to the question.

I was married once, and my husband wanted children. I wanted children too...

But I just didn't want any with him.

Why? Because I looked around, and I saw that I was carrying the load all by myself, paying the bills, etc. Everything was in my name. I was a lonely chick. I was coming to the point of knowing that we weren't going to stay together. I wanted to go on with my life.

And there was NO WAY I was going to bring a child into that situation. NO WAY! It didn't even cross my mind. None of that "If we had a baby, that would make our relationship better." Yeah right. I don't think like that. And he was not happy with that at all.

So yeah, I wanted kids, but just not with him. Sounds silly, but hell... he was some straight up dead weight. Plain and simple. I cringe when I think of having a kid with me right now by him. That would mean that we would have to be in contact for the child's sake.

*LadyLee trying not to hurl*

So I must be satisfied with my bro The Milk and Cookies... He thinks of me as his Ma any way, LOL.

Moving right along...

I am reading a fascinating book right now, entitled How to Write What You Want and Sell What You Write, by Skip Press. It was just staring at me from the bargain books section, and it was only 8 bucks. It's basically a book that teaches the ins and outs of professional writing. No, no, I'm not looking for formulas or anything, but you know me, I like to write, so I will read a bunch of stuff about the writing craft. Cowgirl Cre says that's the way that I am wired. She taught me several years ago how to crochet, so I went off on a tangent and read everything about crocheting, then had the NERVE to come back and try to discuss everything that I was learning (especially the technical stuff) with her, to which she just shrugged her shoulders, i.e, she really didn't give a damn. She says it's the difference between a person with a Masters degree (which she has) and a person with a Ph.D. (which I have).

I have to go and pontificate, ponder, scrape, swim the ocean blue, and dig under rocks and ish... In other words, I have to read everything on the planet about whatever my interest is at the time. Let's just say that I am reading 2 fiction novels and 4 books on writing right now.

But like I said, I find the book completely fascinating. Why? Because the author gets over into mindset and thought processes. I mean, in the first chapter, he digs deep into changing the way you think about things, i.e., getting out of that fear and procrastination mode. He deals with a person's biggest hurdle being fear...

And you know I like that type of stuff. That is good reading right there!! That's well worth the 8 bucks I paid for the book.

Anyway, I wrote down 2 very good quotes from that book. They are short, but pack quite a punch.


"A Journey of a thousand miles begins with the very first step."

That's self explanatory. The author does a great job on expanding on that concept, but I think those few words are so true. I have often gotten stuck off in a mode where I am THINKING about what I want to do, trying to work it all out in my mind, and being real slow about the actual EXECUTION step, that is, just hitting the pavement with both feet and doing the darn thing. That is something that I am working on getting better about: getting a solid plan in hand AND putting that plan into action. I have a real funky habit of sitting around looking at the big picture, when I just need to look at small parts, set small goals... and keep it moving.

Now another quote... this one had me scratching my head.

"Don't run down dead end alleys chasing wild geese that bite."

Man, that had me tripping when I first read that. But once I thought about it, it all made sense. To me, it essentially means don't get caught up in a bunch of unnecessary B.S. That can apply anywhere in life- in writing, in relationships, decisions, thoughts, and habits... whatever floats your boat.

Just don't get caught up doing a bunch of mess for no reason at all...

I am sure there is a much deeper meaning than that. But that right there is deep enough for the Oldgirl.

Okay! I posted 3 days in a row! The whole "food for thought" was fun! I've been feeling too "blah" to be funny. But those posts were was quick and fun.

I may do this again sometime soon.

You all have a FANTASTIC weekend:)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Food for Thought, Part II

(sidenote: Auntie Joyce, what's up? Hey, you see all these flowers? Well, I ain't posting them for no reason at all. I want to paint some of them. Let me know which ones you think are good projects. Let's get together and do it!!)

More from deep, deep, deep in the depths of the Oldgirl's Journals...

Fuzzy fuzzy lines, fade to black, harp music and a turntable scratch please.

People who really know me would say ________________________.

People who really know me would say that I have a wild undecover sense of humor, even though I am a quiet person. People who really know me would say that I am a good person, with a kind heart, but you've got one good time to do her wrong on purpose and she's completely done with you.

Now this is something that I hate about myself. I really don't like being pissed upon AT ALL. (Who does?) I mean, I don't lay up at night thinking about it, but I at the same time, I just don't deal well with that type of craziness at all. You got one good time to throw me under the bus, and then I am done. I can work with you, do whatever I have to for you, but just in the area of hanging out and shooting the breeze? Or making small talk?

No.

Strictly business, baby.

I don't know, I don't see the point of getting back into the pit with a rabid dog. I'm only going to get bit over and over again.

Why don't I just stand outside the fence and watch the rabid dog.

I have several friends who possess the uncanny ability to skin and grin like nobody's business. They can have nothing but complete and utter disdain for you, but can make you feel like you are the most wonderful person on the planet.

I don't possess that ability. It would make life a bit easier if I did though.

But... I'm just going to be me with all my funky idiosyncracies. I like being me. LOL.

And oh yeah... I have a strange undercover sense of humor. That's the LadyLee side of my personality. Sort of like the serial killer side of my personality. I am normally quiet... and very observant. It takes me a LONG time to warm up to people. Gotta make sure you ain't that "rabid dog" I mentioned above.

I may not talk to you, but... I. am. watching. you. LOL.

got you hearing them *crickets* with that one, don't I. LOL.


Moving right along.

Now, if you haven't visited that Original Oldgirl Chele's Blog, go have a look-see... She is not only one of my favorite authors, but she can be brutally honest over at her spot. She definitely gets me thinking, that's for sure.

She had an interesting post up a couple of days ago entitled "Four Books", where she essentially talked about how she felt like she was in a rut, and how in order to get out of that rut, she had to first change her thinking. In other words she is dealing with changing her thought life.

I loved that post. Heck, I love anything she posts. I printed that one out and tucked it away in my journal. I need to look at it when I'm in a bad spot.

But it had me thinking about something that I posted earlier that day in my Online journaling group. (Yes, yet another activity... Yes I have A LOT of stuff going on.) Every once in a while, our fearless leader Shunda asks us to post a piece of bible scripture that is meaningful to us, and why...

I had a couple of scripture from the Message Bible, but only posted one of them, Proverbs 19:24...




*silence*


(My goodness... that pie looks good. Someone pass me a fork and a plate, please.)

Proverbs 19:24 Some people dig a fork into the pie but are too lazy to raise it to their mouth.

Proverbs 26:15 A shiftless sluggard puts his fork in the pie, but is too lazy to lift it to his mouth.


Yeah... those aren't your average flowery scripture. I found those a few years ago.

I like scripture that kicks me all up in my grill. I have a tendency to both remember and use those.

And I think about the ones above at least once a week. And we are talking about over the past few years here.

That's a lot of thinking.

Those first two scripture are similar... I think about "follow-through" when I read those, you know, like finish whatever you begin. I know for myself, I really don't have many excuses for not following through on many things. I know that I am living in a time where I have an abundance of resources available to accomplish my goals. But due to my laziness (a funky mix of procrastination, fear, self-doubt, hard-headedness, bad thinking, etc.), I won't take the time to use those resources to do what I have to do... And if I do start towards those goals, I fail to follow through and complete some of those goals.

Those two verses speak to me... Any task I have, I have the proper resources available to see them through to completion. It is up to me to perservere... I must FOLLOW THROUGH to completion. Afterall, I do have all I need to complete that goal.

God makes sure of that, don't He?

Don't know if that makes any sense... but I think you know what I'm trying to say.

One more...


Proverbs 22:13 The loafer says, "There's a lion on the loose! If I go out I'll be eaten alive!"

I thought that was funny to death when I first read it, but when I thought about it, it rung true, even in my own life. I can remember many a time where I didn't set out to do something because I was just straight up scared to do it. Fear can paralyze me sometimes like nothing else can. I can say that for my ownself right now, I'm afraid to do things because I might fail, then I have the nerve to come up with an excuse (i.e., the proverbial "lion") as to WHY I can't do it.
This was more of a problem in my teens and early twenties, but seems to be dissapating as I get older. I think it is because I recognize what is going on, and I have to make myself jump the fear hurdle... and use my faith. For the past few years, I have been taking a few leaps of faith, and found out things were tougher when I was sitting around imagining what dreadful things would happen if I TRIED that task... Once I overcame all the negative thoughts, and got busy doing what I had to do, things went just find.

And you know, a good outcome occurs WAAAAAY much more than a bad outcome.

Hmmmm....

Come on ya'll... let's leap those fear hurdles. There's SO much more out there that we ALL could be accomplishing. Time to reach for the stars!

I should be feeling better and back to my regular self, next week after I go to the doctor and get a PHAT shot, some pills... something.

Then we can get bac k to my usual funny, funny!!

Stay tuned for more food for thought, part III...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Food For Thought, Part I



Shame on me for not posting this week.

I have been a little under the weather, and trying to get it together.

(Hey, that rhymes. Drop an Oldschool beat behind that.)

I'm not feeling very smurfy this week. But I want to post something. So I thought I would go ahead and eek out a post, LOL. So over the next 3 days, I will post some "food for thought." Just a little sumthin' from my personal journals...

This Sunday, I met with my Journal Writing Sisters. I REALLY love this group, and I look forward to hanging out with them once a month. It's a place I can be totally free about how I feel without judgement. I am a bit more quiet than most, but heck, I am just happy to be there. I soak up so much, I learn SO much from these phenomenal ladies. And it always amazes me that many of us are going through the same feelings about a lot of different things that are going on in our lives... It helps to know that I am not alone in my hurt, pain, or even my joy.

Now, I keep several journals. I have a "Morning Pages" Journal. I write out three full pages in that one every morning (which can be excruciating at times... This oldgirl has hidden isshas). I have my journal writing group journal, where I journal out answers to journal writing group assignments. I also use that one to write out mix CD lists, book reading lists, and to document a few other things. Then I have a Finance Journal and a Prayer Journal, and I also have journals for story ideas.

Yeah... I have a lot of journals laying around, LOL.

Now, for the JW group, we have exercises that we do during the month, and I thought that I would post some of the answers to this month assignment. Some of which I am still thinking about, long after journaling. I also will throw in a couple of affirmations/quotes from my "Morning Pages", i.e., some food for thought, that I have come across that have me... thinking.

Sometimes I feel ____________________________.

Sometimes I feel like I did something wrong in life. Sometimes, although rarely because I honestly do enjoy my life at the moment, I think about what would have happened if I took another path in life some 10 or 20 years ago. What if I'd chosen a different career? What if I wasn't raised in a dysfunctional environment? What if I chose to marry this man instead of that man? Or what if I chose not to marry at all?

Sometimes I feel as though I spend too much time regretting many of my choices, but I realize my choices in life haven't been so bad, and they shape me into the person I am today.

You know, I had to take a step back and think about that for a moment. Although it was an answer right off the top of my head, I very rarely feel this way. I think I moreso felt that way in my teens and twenties. As I get older, I have seen those feelings burn away, and I think I am beginning to understand that everything happens for a reason. Everything. I simply cannot worry about the "What ifs?". There is a path for each of us. We each have our own portions.

And if I make the wrong choices here and there?

So be it. It'll just take me a little longer to get down my path.

And I remain mindful of the fact tthat I have made some good choices along the way, too.

Okay, some affirmations/quotes that I've come across while reading, etc.

I solved a cryptogram on the cryptogram weekly website a couple of weeks ago, and got this one:

"If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worry over what might happen tomorrow, then we have no today in which to live. Regret is insight that comes a day too late."

That was an interesting quote, and it kind of ties into my journal writing assignment answer I gave above. Can't sit around regretting stuff, man. But I think it takes practice to get to the point of "Dang, I regret that I have done this" or "I shouldn't have done that."

And from the novel Ladies Night Out by Electa Rome Parks, p. 75.


"Mature Adults realize at some point that you have to stop worrying about what other people think of you and live for yourself. Life is too short."

That one right there is self explanatory...

Really though.

I was telling my journal writing sistas on Sunday that I have come to the realization that there are people out there who don't like other people for the simple fact that said people don't do what they WANT them to do, i.e., kiss up to them, stroke their ego, etc...

I also realized that if I have to worry about what YOU think of me? Then I won't be dealing with you. I will cross you off my list and won't have a second thought about it. And the reverse is also true...
If you are sitting around worrying about what I think of you?

Then you really don't need to be bothered with me.

Harsh, but it is what it is...
But we are suppose to be "Mature adults", right?

stay tuned for part II...


Friday, March 09, 2007

The Great Wrap-Up...

I thought I would use my Fridays to do either a "Friday Funnies" or a wrap up of what has been on my mind during the week, what has been going on with me, etc... Just an amalgamtion of stuff.

So this week, I will do a wrap-up... Beware... I am a bit long-winded today!

Serenity23. I FINALLY got a chance to meet The Fabulous and Infamous Super Shoe Queen Blogger Serenity23. I had breakfast with her and another blogger, Heartdrops.

Serenity was passing through town, on her way to Charlotte, NC. She was moving there from Baton Rouge. I have NO idea what brought this on, but I am sure we will talk about this someday.

Serenity is an "Oldgirl-in-training", a "Baby Oldgirl", and has been a bit "disturbed" by it. (Yes... that's a serene way of putting it. She has been snapping HARD on me about it all.) She has been sitting on the curb, clutching her "oldgirl-in-training" secured credit card with the $10 dollar limit and the 50% interest rate, frowning hard, to say the least.

She's been wailing about receiving her Original Oldgirl Platinum Plus card.. I knew she was serious about getting her Original Oldgirl Platinum Plus card when I read this on her blog...

"I strongly believe that if something is in God's will for me, then it won't be almost impossible to obtain. Meaning, I won't have to do everything under the sun to get myself to Charlotte. I'm not saying things will be easy as pie, but I'm saying things will be plain for me and I will have his favor in getting where I need to be and getting what I need to get there."

I got HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY when I saw that. I knew that it was about to go down. She later went on to say:

"When I decided to stop worrying about moving and the new job and turned it over to God, it was only a day or so before my hopes had come to fruition. I also spoke about not living in my apt one day past the month of March. Well, I'm moving out on March 1st."

Girl, you jacked my faith up a notch with those statements!! Now THAT'S what I call getting results and answered prayer.Really though.

Now, I am of the firm belief, and many have agreed with me in various discussions that one does not know what the heck is going on until one is 30 years old or close to turning 30. It's like, at that age, a light bulb goes off above one's head, as if one knows that one has to FINALLY get serious and handle one's business. One begins assessing oneself and one's life, and the path towards one's goals become a bit clearer.

(Yeah, that sounds like some Kung-Fu, grasshopper, teacher craziness... but you get my point.)

I think you are figuring that out, Serenity... You're even inspiring me to step out and make some life-changing decisions of my own...

Additionally, something happened which I consider to be the most FASCINATING conincidences in the world. I have a character in my manuscript that has the EXACT same temperment and circumstances as Serenity23, all the way down to having the very same job (paralegal) and having a son about the same age as the character's son. I think I met Serenity23 about 6 months after writing that character, and I nervously asked her to read some parts that involve that particular character (Um... girl, can you take a look at my Nicole character?). Serenity schooled me on the paralegal profession and how she likes to straight up snap on anyone who annoys her (LOL! I still don't think my character is as BRUTAL as she is... one time she said "I'm MUCH meaner than that, Lee", which absolutely HORRIFIED me.). Her thoughts and advice REALLY helped me to shape up that character a bit... much more than she would ever know.

Thanks, girl!!

You're on the fast track to earning your platinum plus card, gal!

Writing Progress. The first draft of Sweet Heat has been completed for over a month, now. I haven't really looked at it again, as I needed a little mental distance from it. I printed out the first 450 pages (the point at which there seems to be a natural break in the storyline) of it and sent it to Niche.lle Tra.mble, who offered up a manuscript critique that I won last year on ebay. She sent 2 pages of intense notes and thoughts, and it was chocked full of stuff that just had me thinking about how to redo many sections. It's funny how someone can make one or two suggestions, and it opens up a whole box of ideas...

I can't wait for my marked up redline manuscript to come back some time next week... I plan to spend the remainder of the year on my rewrites (Yes, I'm just that slow.)

I will leave you with a small excerpt... My female protagonist Vaughn in bed with my male protagonist Samuel.

I’m a hard ass sleeper. I can sleep with the lights on, the radio blasting, or in the midst of a rowdy crowd if need be. My Mother always said “A freight train could plow full speed right through this house, girl, and you would sleep right through it.”

Nothing interrupted me once I’d been sleep for a couple of hours. Nothing at all.

Yet his warm breath wisping lightly past my ear woke me immediately...

Whoa!! LOL!!!

That was from the only sex scene in the manuscript. I've gone through that before, being bone tired, sleeping hard, and my man breathing on my neck, and waking up to realize that, um...

It's about to be ON!

It's about to go DOWN!

And it was something that my readers were waiting on. I can't stand sex scenes, especially if it borders on erotica. I look at anyone who can write that type of stuff on a whim a bit strangely. But I was told that I handled it tastefully. Nevertheless, I was deeply disturbed. Took me a month to figure it all out... Not sure if I want to do that again.

I ran all around at work, though, poking my head into office doors and labs, and yelling that first line...

"I'm a hard ass sleeper! I'm a hard ass sleeper!"

Yeah... but not THAT hard of a sleeper.

LOL!!

Of Lamps and the Locals. (An example of what I go through at home a few times a week.) So I went to Kroger on Thursday evening to get a prescription filled. I also went by the 'Shed, since I was down that way, and picked up something for dinner. Well, I am driving up my street, on my way home, and I see Tiny. I roll down my window to speak.

"Where you been, Lee?"
"To the store and to get something to eat."
He has a pleading look in his eye. "Are you about to cook?"
"NO!" I yelled. I was NOT sharing any of my food. It was too doggone expensive!
He still has that pleading HUNGRY look in his eye. I didn't care. The only thing I'd eaten all day was a piece of cheese toast at six that morning on the way to work.
He sighed hard. "I'm going to get something to eat, then."
"Alright, see ya later," I yelled. I let up my window, and I drove on up the street to my house.

So, later, I'm in the house, watching TV, yacking hard on the phone with LadyTee, and eating dinner... and I hear the doorbell ring. I answer it, because I know who it is. It is Tiny.

"Lee, did you take the lamp from the garage?"
"Yeah, man, I did. That's my living room lamp!"
"Oh, okay, can I have it back? "
"NO!" I yelled. He'd borrowed the lamp last week due to needing more light in the garage, and never returned it. I got sick of walking around my living room without a lamp. (I have top lights, but I like very low lighting.) I retrieved it from the garage last night.
LadyTee chimes in. "Who in the world are you fussing at, Lee?"
"That fool Tiny. That negro always want something."
Stan, my next door neighbor, saunters out of the house.
Tiny yells to Stan. "Stan, I need a lamp!"
"Don't do it, Stan! You better charge him, Stan!" I yell. "He will keep your lamp, Stan!"

I slam the door and go back in the house. I hear them talking outside. Stan says he has a lamp, but he is going to the gym. I feel bad about yelling at Tiny (is the Oldgirl gaining some compassion? Heck no! THE HORROR!), and I grab a bedroom lamp and go to the back door leading down into the garage. I open the back door and I see this:





Scared the heck out of me. I thought Tiny had ran over someone in my driveway. I imagined having to help Tiny dump a body over my fence. I quickly realized that it was Mr. Thomas, one of the "locals" in my hood. He is mostly known for yard work, and he stained my porch last year.
So Tiny yells, "No Lee, that's alright."

Good, because I need my lamp.

"Tiny, what is he doing?"
"Oh, he's tightening up my oil pan."
"Oh," I said.


I give Tiny a look that says, "You are crazy as hell."

"Oh, and Lee... you have some oil leaks. Go get an oil pan so Mr. Thomas can put it on and tighten it up."

*silence*



Tiny and I have had this convo before. Mr. Thomas is cool and all, but AIN'T NO WAY a crackhead is touching anything on my Zoom-zoom (Mazda). Man, I can just see myself rolling down I-85 and my whole engine and transmission just falls out of my car.

"Uh, no, Tiny. That's alright. I will go to the shop and have them fool around with it."

Like I said... Ain't no way a crackhead is fooling with my car. I've got nothing for love for Mr. Thomas, but...

And speaking of Mr. Thomas... He rang my doorbell at 8:00 p.m. and asked if he could edge up my yard... for $15.00.

Uh, I don't think so. I gave him 5 dollars. He better be glad I'm not Hen-Dog... who will only pay $2.00. The last time I paid Mr. Thomas $15.00, he didn't do a good job. He took off running, and I didn't see him for a couple of weeks...

I learned my lesson.

So that's my week's wrap up. Yeah, I should've made this three different posts... but I didn't.

One long post! You know how I do! LOL!


Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Kat on Program.

Of course... not my cat Oscar-Tryone. Oscar doesn't care about programs. He just wants his food and water bowl kept full. He just wants for someone to rub him...

I am talking about "Kat", the Obi-Wan Kenobi of my book club.


Yeah, she's just like Obi Wan Kenobi, but she's a black female, slim with curly hair. She would never wear such a funky outfit, although I do believe she does stand like that... bold, ready and confident, ready to handle a thang or two...

She is always thinking about something, always on a self-improvement track, always seeking and searching to do better...

And I am down for that, man!!!

I am a Diva, and I need a STAFF, so the Kat has been added to my staff... She has written a little sumethin' for my blog, some food for thought. I've been thinking about how to go about posting it, so I'm trying to work that out... maybe her thoughts, followed by a little of my commentary on what it means to me... something like that.

So stay tuned for "Kat in the Korner" sometime this month...

Now, I like making music CDs for Kat because she jumps all around like it's Christmas or something each time I give her a set. For some reason, she LOVES my CDs. I think I've made somewhere between 15 and 20 CDs for her. She has a lot going on - she's a world class Diva Extraordinaire with things to do, places to go, and people to see.

I think the CDs give her a little solace... a little mental relaxation in these days of hustle and bustle.

So, I made 3 CDs, and I gave them to her at our bookclub's Financial Freedom class... of course she jumped around. Too funny...

And here are the song lists... Enjoy!

Slow Moving Kat V

The fifth in the series of Slow Moving Kat Quiet Storm CDs... Watch out, now!

Lately – Tyrese
My First Love – Avant/ K Wyatt
Sweet Lady – Tyrese
Beauty is Her Name – Dru Hill
Honey Molasses – Jill Scott
Any time, Any Place – Janet Jackson
Anxious – Ginuine
My place – Tweet
The Way – Jill Scott
Don’t let Go – En Vogue
Déjà vu – Dionne Warrick
The Secret Garden – Quincy Jones
Take Me as I am – Mary J. Blige
Don’t Leave me Girl – Blackstreet
Float on – The Floaters



The Dancing Kat

a grab bag of music to dance to...

This place Hotel – The Jacksons
The Kissing Game – High-Five
Little Walter – Tony, Tone, Toni
Off on Your On – Al B. Sure!
Every Little thing you do – Soul For Real
Comfort Zone – Vanessa Williams
Love Makes No Sense – Alexander O’Neal
If it Isn’t Love – New Edition
Lover Girl – Teena Marie
Fake – Alexander O’Neal
Come Into my Life – Joyce Sims
Encore (long version) – Cheryl Lynn
Wrap My Body Tight – Johnny Gill



Erykah Badu Mix CD

Rim Shot
On and On
… and On
Cleva
Kiss Me on my Neck
Sometimes
Why We Still Living
Would you Gonna Do?
Four Leaf Clover
Bag Lady
Rim Shot (Live)
On and On (Live)
Searchin’ (live)
Time’s a wastin’
Green Eyes

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Essential Art of Pimping, Part II



So...

Tayari Jones was at the MM House...

And as usual, she gave a great read and wittingly answered questions.

And she signed a lot of books. Heck, I even wanted to buy a book for her to sign. Mine were signed 2 years ago. I brought my copy of Gumbo, which contained her short story, Press and Curl, the first piece I've read by her. So she signed it.





(Next time, use my real name, Man... Although "Nettie" is cool! LOL)

Anyway, that was that. I hung out a little longer to talk to her and take a few pictures. No, I didn't ask her any writer questions. I look at her like she is Celie now, a cousin or something, and I got a WHOLE bunch of questions answered about some things that were deeply disturbing me about writing during the "conversation" between Tayari and Le.e Smi.th, so I was exceedingly happy about that.

Another exciting thing... I met an author at MM House, who is in a writing club here in Atlanta and she gave me some information about it. I, LadyLee, am in DESPERATE need of some type of writing group, critique group something, as I write profusely these days. So I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I'm definitely going to check it out.

Well, Tayari had a headlining talk at the .AWP conference. From what I can tell, this appears to be a conference for writers and people in the writing profession (publishers, editors, etc.). It was held at the downtown Atlanta Hil.ton. I was stoked about that because I live two miles from the Hilton. So it was just a matter of jumping in the car and getting on down there!

Well, I walked into the hotel and walked around. Even went and checked out some of the tables and brochures, etc...

Let's just say, there was A LOT going on. There were a couple of mixers going on, a bit of rowdiness...

And let's just say I heard a few convos that were a bit too much for my tender ears.

Yeah, let's just leave it at that. The point: people were having a GOOD time.

Well, Tayari's talk was at 8:30 pm. I wanted to sit on the front row, but I sat on the third row. (I would have hurt whoever would've told me to get off the first row!) Tayari came in dressed to kill as always and she was sporting some insane boots.



(And what was up with the fishnet stockings, Tayari? Hmmm?)

Whoa. A crocodile skin get-up with the clear heels. More specifically, a pair of "brown croco-embossed boots with a clear lucite wedge heel". (Yeah, the way she said it sounds muuuuuch better).

I don't know, man. I don't know how she pulled it off, but she was rocking those boots. I am thoroughly convinced that Tayari does not shop for shoes at all... She has her own special shoe fairy that jumps off a cloud or climbs down a tree with a lovely display of highly eclectic shoes. No one could pick shoes that so perfectly coordinate with their outfits like her.

Let's just say everyone was completely and utterly mesmerized by the boots. They made a statement, that's for sure.


And again, she had to walk up on stage. And again, I was sitting there thinking...


"Please don't fall!!!"

I, however, am so disturbed by clear heels. I was chatting over email last year with Serenity23 and The DJ Diva, and the subject of clear heels came up. Serenity23 was irate about them, and I asked her what the problem was with clear heels. She said they were stripper shoes. And low and behold, everytime I see a story about strippers on the news, etc...


They always show pictures of the high heel shoes having the clear heels... and it's those big blocky looking clear heels, not the lucite wedge type.

But Gee Tayari... clear heels and fishnet stockings...

*crickets*

Okay, never mind. I don't feel like getting blasted today.

The boots were hot, and you rocked them! Go on, Celie! YOU do YOU!

Moving right along...

I was overly excited by this talk because she was reading from her novel-in-progress, "The Outside Child". And I tell you, she did a fantastic job as always. It looks like it is going to be a very good story. Can't wait for it to come out.

Tayari, feel free to send the first 100 pages my way. You have my e-mail address, my home address... just send that ish whenever you feel like it. (Yes, i will continue to lobby for it FOREVER).

I also got a chance to meet Tayari's mother. We rode up in the elevator together. Her mother's friend recognized me, but didnt' say anything. But she talked to me later. That was so funny to hear "Are you LadyLee?!!" My 5 seconds of celebrity! Oh joy!

Well, I talked with Tayari again, took a few pics (darn, I HATE that I lost my pics!), and headed on home.

And I pondered the whole experience.

I will go on and say it. The title of this post is pretty harsh... so much so that Tayari couldn't link it, due to it possibly disturbing some of the readers of her site. (It's. A. Metaphor.)

"The Essential Art of Pimping"

I didn't name it that to be funny, but it is just harsh. But that is how I feel about the whole experience of writing your work and having to work hard to get out there and sell your book, whether it be to an agent, a publisher, or a fickle audience. It is harsh, just like the word "pimping", because one has to essentially get out there stomping the pavement, talking about that book, reading from that book, talking about WHY you wrote the book, why you write in general, etc... the whole nine.

Shoot man, I understand the whole "pimping ain't easy" cliche these days.

It is a harsh thing. And I must say that it leaves me completely exasperated and deflated. To think that I have written something great (in my own eyes, of course-- am I not suppose to feel that way about my own stuff? LOL) and have to fight through all the nerves, the criticisms, the EVERYTHING just to sell it... a harsh thing indeed.

And man, I am feeling like I am too old for all this hoop jumping...

I told Tayari's friend The Good Nurse that she might have to watch out... I may just throw everything I write up on my blog... Not sure if I can handle a publisher clutching me by the throat concerning my work or anything I do. I am not sure if my skin is thick enough. Not sure I can handle not being thought of as a writer just because I don't have all these publication, etc.

Like I said in the previous post, and something that I am trying to come to terms with... I LIKE WHAT I WRITE. If no one does, I DO. And I take solace in that.

I think it bothers me that writing is such a solitary profession, and all of a sudden, you have to be this outgoing person to sell your book. And I have seen and met a lot of authors who are not all that outgoing, who don't care to even talk to people... just a bundle of nervers. I mean, they are not being hard-asses or anything... It's just their personality.

But at the same time, I am biased... You gotta do what you gotta do. Period. I've had to stand up and give scientific talks with no notes and no stuttering. It took me two hours to defend my dissertation. There was nothing worse than giving a talk while being scrutinized and shot down.

Shoot, what's wrong with doing all you can to sell your book, then?


Get over and do it, I want to scream. Jump the freakin' hurdle!


But like I said, and totally understand, some authors... it's just not their thing. And I am beginning to understand that after pumping out my own manuscript and getting in shape for submission, having to discuss it with people, etc. When Tayari asked me what my manuscript was about (I would have NEVER bought the subject on my own due to it being bad etiquette), I was a bag of nerves, not knowing what to say or do...

Which brings me back to this whole "pimping" exercise. I think I commented to an author, I can't remember who right now, that I realized that one really has to be excited about their work, and really get out there in the streets and grind. It is almost like a dealer selling drugs or a pimp selling women... That is harsh, and I don't care for that AT ALL.

Which brings me back to Tayari. She is most definitely one of the most vigilant authors I've ever seen. She does it RIGHT. She is powerfully efficient and successful at stepping on stage, reading excerpts and making people WANT to buy the book. I am completely and utterly blown away by the fact that she can take a book that is 5 years old, and make it sound new, fresh, and exciting. I mean, that just rocks my damn world.

Hell, I almost bought more copies of both of her books my ownself.

Now THAT'S why I get so freakin' excited when she comes to town. Don't mean to jock her, but it is what it is. I am not all that big on questions... I just like to watch her, and learn how it is done, how to do it all RIGHT. She does it all, and she does it well... Almost like a case study, a "how to" of how to sell your product... something that I have been a bit worried about for a while now. Like I said, I LIKE WHAT I WRITE. You want to buy my stuff, fine. If you don't, then fine. I LIKE IT.

I gots to kill that attitude. Real quick. And it is slowly burning away the more I sit back and watch someone who has mastered it.

Watching her do what she do, i.e., watching her pimp...

Gives me hope.

And that's all I can ask for.

So Tayari, you did good, gal! I will be there, taking mental notes, learning this "game" from the best...

See ya soon... and uh rah... hurry up with The Outside Child.


Your fans have waited MUCH too long!