Monday, March 31, 2008

Oldgirl's Gazillion thoughts on the Election and Conversations with Grandma (Part I)

Is it just me, or is anyone else out there getting really tired of this election business?

I mean, I watch the major cable news channels, and lately I've had to turn it off, and go find something useful to do. Too much WHINING. Don't these people (newscasters/commentators/ analysts) have anything else to do? I mean, I realize it's their job to "worry" about the election?

But dodging Bosnia sniper fire? Reverend Wright?

Waaay too much going on. Waaay too much to keep up with.

Can somebody talk about some isshas here? Is that too much to ask?

I mean, I feel like this: Billary gonna get the Democratic nomination by any means necessary. She and Bill are doing some "behind the curtain" ish right now, as we speak. Oldgirl pulling some serious tricks out of her bag. I can't wait to see how they explain how they stole the nomination.

I was crying when Obama mentioned in a speech and broke down how Billary was trying to pull the "okey-doke".


I thought I was bootleg.

No, Billary is the Queen of Bootleg.

Why? Because... I think it's just politics as usual. Politics is politics, man.

I'd never be a good politician. I have absolutely NO tact. None. It's all about saying exactly what people want to hear. I don't like to do that, and I think it works for only so long?

I couldn't be Barack Obama right now. Because I would've grabbed the microphone and told EVERYBODY :

"Yo... what's up ya'll? How ya doing, how ya feel!? Look, check it out--- Kiss my a$$!"

*Ladylee drops the microphone, holds hands in the air, walks off stage, and promptly drops out of the race*

Gotta be a special person to run for election. I mean, you have to have an undying passion for that. This is why Obama stays in the race. This is why Billary bootlegging it like crazy. PASSION, baby!!! I would DIE if people were all up in my business, researching my friendships and past relationships, past decisions, and where I went to church. I would loose my freaking mind!

And what's up with the Reverend J. Wright business? Hmm. Am I the only one who has come across black folk that feel the same way he does? And Obama was suppose to pull his pastor to the side and correct him, they are saying.

Are you serious?? Would you run up on someone who survived the civil rights movement, has had to drink out of the colored peoples water fountain and correct them on how they feel about white people?

My craziest and most confusing memory of my Grandfather: Every single time I complained about my college classes, I had to hear "Your grandmama didn't get on her knees and scrub white people floors so you can sit up here complaining!!! She made $3 a day, working three days a week. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I wanted to tell him, "Yo, grandma wasn't thinking about me in 1940-something when she was on her knees scrubbing white folks floors."

But I knew I'd get whipped if I said such a thing. And Obama's not running up on his pastor correcting him about anything. You say what you have to say in your head, and keep it moving.

To this day, when I get to complaining too hard... I think about how Grandma got on her knees and scrubbed white people's floors for $3 dollars a day. Somehow, I straighten my back and shut the heck up.

And that thing about the HIV virus being planted in the black community... that's old. I know a BUNCH of people who think that. I remember even hearing one of the major black film stars, whose a darling of mainstream, say the same thing a few years ago in an interview in a black magazine. (Bet he's hoping no one pulls that up! White people LOVE him. He better not run for president! LOL!).

But have you heard the new scare? The one about the new cervical cancer vaccine?

"I'm not giving my daughter that shot, because they are trying to make little black girls sterile so they can't have babies."

What???? Wow. I've actually heard that. I would've never thought about that at all. Who thought of that? And I've heard this from different women. Wow. And I hate to say it, but it scares the hell out of me each time I've heard it. Goodness.

Anybody remember a little thing called the Tuskeegee experiment? Personally, I think that's why black people think the way we do about such things. "If it happened once, don't think it can't happen again." If I hear that one more time, I'm gonna scream.

The thing is I know PLENTY of black folk who think like this. I have my own hangups. My worst one is that I don't like buying gas in the hood. The rumor has always been that they send the crappiest gas to the black areas. Took me years to get over this, and I still think about this whenever I pump gas in my neighborhood. Geez. And when I am out in the white suburbs, I feel up my tank with gas.

Yeah, I have hangups. You who don't... feel free to cast the first stone.

I think I understand the process of what's going on.

Drop a seed (words).

Dropped seed grows. It spreads like wild fire. It incites fear.

Fear is an incredible emotion... causes one to think and believe and do all kinds of things.

Hmm... Yeah, I think that's it.

It's a wonder we even choose to leave the house everyday, ya'll.

*Ladylee snatches up pom-poms and shakes them with much vigor*

Less fear. MORE FAITH.
MORE FAITH. Less fear.

Enough said.

*LadyLee throws pom-poms to the floor*

Anyway, Me and my grandma were talking about this. I go hang out with Grandma a couple of times a month, just to sit back and shoot the breeze and what-not. I go over after work somedays and we watch a little Oprah. Oh joy. (I'm not the biggest Oprah fan.)

But we got into a conversation about the election. I asked if she'd been following it, and she said yes.

"So Mama [that's what I call her], did you ever think you would see the day where a black man could had a darn good chance to become president?"
*Grandma thinks about it for a minute*
"No. Not in my lifetime."
"I don't know about that Hillary," I said. "Something just ain't right about that chick."
"I'm just confused, Lisa," Grandma said. "Is she gonna be the president or is Bill Clinton gonna be the president?" "I don't know. Look like they trying to do some bootleg or something. It all look shady to me."
Grandma leans forward and squints a little. "And didn't he have that girl all back up in the Oval office."
Grandma nods. "That Bill Clinton. Didn't he have that young girl all back up in the Oval office?"
It takes me a minute to realize that she's talking about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. "Sure did."
*Grandma leans back in her chair, and grumbles about Bill "having that girl all hemmed up in that Oval office*

Man, I wanted to scream. That ish was funny. I am so shocked that she remembered that. And the look on her face when she was talking about it.
You had to be there.

I don't know who Grandma is voting for. Didn't ask. I hate the fact that she's even thinking about that, or that she's confused (as most of us are) as to what is going on with the election. I wish she was clear on the issues.

Instead of having to hear about sniper fire and reverends and such.

I just know she don't approve of funny business going on all up in the Oval Office, and doesn't want to hear of it happening again. Ever.

And I'm glad she's not down on her knees scrubbing anyone's floors.

Glad of that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Food for Thought: "Until I Get Off My Behind..."

Every now and again, That Original Oldgirl Chele likes to pull out her Original Oldgirl platinum plus card and USE IT.

This does not suprise me. It makes me quite happy, though.

Afterall, she is one of my favorite novelists, poetess, essayist, and -

Blog fam cups hands around mouth and screams:

"Stop jocking Chele, LadyLee!!!"

*LadyLee squints hard at blog fam*

Shut up. Been a loooong time since I've jocked THAT Original Oldgirl. Hush up.

Chele drops mad knowledge. And when she does, it's like dynamite - it's explosive, blows up isshas, rearranges some things for this Old Girl.

Yes. I jock.


But on the serious tip-

Last week, she wrote in a blog post...

"Behavior dictates attitude. In other words, I can pray for a better attitude until eternity but until I get off my behind and change my behavior nothing is going to happen." (Chele, 2008)

Wow. That has been on my mind, on my mind, on my mind. I've been pondering it, chewing on it, pontificating on it left and right.

She happened to put the foot stomp on something I've been struggling with in my journals for the past few months. I've been writing much about my behavior and attitiude, struggling with consistency of them both, and trying to change each.

There's one thing that I've noticed about myself over the years:

Looks like when I pray about things, nothing happens UNTIL I get off my behind and get moving in that general direction. In other words, I can sit around and pray until the cows come home, but nothing ain't happening until I get up off my knees, make a to-do list, or AT LEAST take a baby step in that general direction - make a phone call, do SOMETHING.

I shudder to think about how many prayers have been answered over the years, but I would not get off my behind and make a few moves in the right direction towards the answer.

*LadyLee shuddering hard, and deciding not to think about passed up dreams and bad decisions*

You know, in this day and age, we are up to our necks in resources. I mean, resources abound. I wish I had the internet instead of that freakin' card catalog madness I had back in the day. In this day and time, I've been able to get the answers to my questions in a matter of minutes, in a matter of seconds even.

And yeah, I may not feel like doing something. Yeah, my feelings/attitude might be jacked up. But until I get off my behind, and get ta moving in that direction that I need to be going, my feelings or attitude WON'T change. I am fully persuaded that in the midst of making moves, my attitude and behavior will adjust accordingly.

Because if I'm waiting for my attitude and my feelings to change before I step out on a little faith...

Man, I'ma be waiting a long time. I hate to say it, but I'm STILL, in certain areas of my life, waiting around for an attitude change.

Humph. And I see that Original Oldgirl Chele has realized the same things, in her own way, of course.

I thought I was the only one struggling with that.

It is good to know that great minds think alike.

Really though.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Roasted What?!?!?!

Cowgirl Cre and I share a cubicle, and we work with a lot of food products. She and I are not in the same group though. But for some reason, her group likes to bring all their "projects" to the desk and process them in the cubicle area.

Not sure what's up with that. But ya'll need to cut that out.

(Some folks where joking the other day. They had cartloads of stuff in the cubicle area. "LadyLee gonna come around that corner and run into everthing." If I didn't know any better, I would think that they were setting up a trap to make me fall on my face. Humph.)

Anyway, I was typing away on my computer (probably blogging, lol), and Cowgirl Cre was taring open plastic packages, making up all kinds of unnecessary noise. I turned around to see what she was doing, and she was dealing with what appeared to be some seeds or something. Couldn't really tell much from the jacked up non-english packaging.

"What is that?" I asked.

"Roasted Watermelon seeds," she answered nonchalantly.


"Roasted What?!?!?"

"Watermelon seeds, girl!"

So, I got real nosy and rolled over to her side of our cubicle, and looked in the bag. Sure enough, it was a bunch of watermelon seeds.

"Yeah right!" I said. "Don't nobody eat watermelon seeds!"

"Who the heck would eat some doggone watermelon seeds?" I asked.

Cowgirl Cre shrugged and kept fooling with the bags. Hen-Dog comes over, and we have an even bigger discussion.

I got even nosier, and decided to taste one. Turns out it is similar to a sunflower seed. You have to crack the shell with your teeth, THEN eat what's inside. It taste alright, but it is much harder to eat than a sunflower seed, and you know how much you have to fight with a sunflower seed shell.

But who would ever known of such of thing?

And for me, it kills that old stereotype for sure:

"Black people love watermelon."

But doggonit, who would've known the seed was useful? If anyone should know, WE should know.

The Asians like them a lot. Watermelon seeds are a REAL popular snack over in that part of the world, and they rival sunflowere seeds over there. Also, I found out, doing a little research, that tea made from ground watermelon seeds does wonders for cleaning out the kidneys!

"Man," I said. "Somebody could've been making watermelon seed butter."

*Cowgirl Cre gives the gas face*

"I wonder why George Washington Carver never did anything with watermelon seeds?"

*Cowgirl Cre laughs hard. (A bit too hard)*

Hmm... interesting.

My biggest memory concerning watermelon seeds is swallowing one when I was around 5 years old. I cried the rest of the day about it, because I thought a watermelon was going to grow in my stomach, an my stomach would bust wide open and I would die. I was mindful about that for a couple of weeks, before deciding that maybe a watermelon was not going to grow in my stomach.

So now, after all these years I have another memory about watermelon seeds.

Now... if I can just wrap my mind around the existence of square watermelons...

Geez. Folks know they come up with ideas, don't they?!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tales O' Fire (Part II)

Now, I've had one other little fire incident in the laboratory, and incidently, it occurred in the same lab as the one talked about in Part I.

And this one involves that doofus Chang. Not directly, but it was the results of one of his mistakes/shortcuts.

As I said before, there is always one person in the chemistry lab who is a danger to himself and everyone else. And Chang was it. He broke a lot of stuff, tore up a lot of stuff... then would break out crying about it. We thought we could put him in charge of ordering our chemicals, because you can't muck that up. Just fill out an order form. Can't be that doggone hard, can it?

Well, Chang liked to take short cuts and save money. I think this may have stemmed from our advisor telling Chang "Don't spend too much money!"

Now, in a lab where we worked with HIGHLY moisture sensitive materials, it was highly important to make sure all solvents are "dry". No water whatsoever. And you can order solvents where it is already "anhydrous" (dry). (But they are expensive, you see.) We ordered "anhydrous" solvents for general use and we put them through drying/purification stills.

General rule: "Never order cheap wet solvents."

Chang rule: "It's cheap, it saves us money. I'm ordering it!"


I was doing a reaction one day, and since this was some 15 years ago, I can't really remember what it was I was working on. But it involved dropping some lithium metal in ethyl ether. I'd done this plenty of times before then.

I didn't get ether out of the stills. I got it straight out of what I thought was a bottle of anhydrous ether.

Well, I had about 1/2 liter ether in a flask, and I dropped some lithium in it.

It bubbled and fizzed like crazy. I had it in the back of a fume hood, a work area for chemistry work that contains fumes, etc...

I remember thinking..."Gee, that isn't suppose to do that."

I had my hand on the flask. I pushed it back further in the hood, thinking, maybe I just need to let that "calm down".

Then, all of sudden, before I could move my hand.


It sounded like when I'm preparing a grill, and I throw a lit match on lighter fluid-soaked coals.

And I didn't move my hand in time. My hand and wrist caught fire. What a sight.

I snatched my hand back and shook it hard in the air. The fire went out, but not before singeing a little of my hair.


Well, I almost fainted. I don't know who came and checked on me, but I remember hiding out in the ladies restroom just down the hall.. .

It is at these times that you need some alone time. To pray, to reflect... to something.

Now, I didn't need any medical attention. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that solvent will burn and burn itself out. My hand was coated in solvent that splashed out of the flask. It seems as if that was what protected my skin. (Yeah, that don't make any sense to me either. But it is what it is. Personally, I like to think it was divine protection, you know?)

It could've been bad if I wasn't curious about all the "fizzing".

My peeps joned me something terrible later that day. There was a black film festival on campus and I met up with them. They could smell the burn of my hair. (Wasn't bad, only along the edge near my left temple.) So there was a lot of "What's that smell, is something on fire??"


(Yeah, it took them a month to uh, forget about it all.)

Well, I told my advisor about this. He thought the same thing I thought: That ain't suppose to happen. Plus, I'd done whatever I was working on several times before. And there would be only one or two small bubbles. Never some alka-seltzer hard fizzling.


We went and looked at the bottle of solvent. Turns out Chang had ordered the cheap stuff. When solvents are cheap, they usually contain a good bit of water (well, too much to be using in an organic lab).

I lit into that doggone Chang. I must say to this day, I haven't cussed anyone out THAT bad since. He already thought I was the angry black woman. Every time I saw dude - in class, walking down the hall, walking around campus - I would point and say some choice words. I had him scared to death. I remember him being in tears a couple of times. (I wasn't moved by that AT ALL).

Of course, my advisor snapped on him. It wasn't good enough for me. I wanted him to take his belt off and whoop that joker. But Chang was VERY sensitive, a big cryer. He always eventually got a pat on the shoulder. I couldn't stand how him and others around me were babied.

Me and Chang didn't get along as it was, and we didn't get along AT ALL after that. I think I stopped talking to him. And he knew not to even think about me or even look at me.

Anyway... I know I make sure to check my materials before I use them. I can blame Chang's ineptness all day, but at the end of the day, I have to be careful...

Last week, some 15 years later, I googled ol' Chang to see what he's up to. He appears to be successful and doing well. He has a nice impressive list of accomplishments. I saw him at a conference some 8 years ago, and I could see the fear in his eyes when he saw me.

Yes, I thought about his "doofiness" then. All his shenanigans ran across my mind in one big blur...

But what's done is done.

Plus, I don't work with him.

And hopefully, I never will again...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy 40th Birthday LadyTee: "40 Reasons"

I'm just bursting at the seams all giddy... because it's my best friend LadyTee's birthday!!

Correction: Her 40th birthday!!

So to celebrate, I bought cards and mailed them to her for a week. She had no idea I would do such a thing, since I'm not a card person. Only one was a birthday card, the others were friendship cards.

Out of all the cards I bought, I bought her one that was simple but meant much to me. I bought LadyTee a card that simply said "Your friendship means so much..." on the front of the card. Inside, it read "...for so many reasons."

I wrote beneath that phrase "I am glad you are my friend. As you always say 'God really thought about me when He made you my friend.' Honestly, I have no idea how or why you think so highly of me, as I am not the most "fascinating" friend one can have. But you saying that about me, makes me feel real good about myself. I've always felt that, if no one else love me, Tammie loves me, and that makes me very rich, very blessed, and very proud. I am glad you are my friend."

But I thought about this, and wanted to say more.

Could I come up with 40 reasons why I am glad that LadyTee is my best friend?

I don't know. I mean, we have been "bff" since the late '70s. There is so much history there. 40 things off the top of my head? I don't know...

I couldn't write it all in that card. So I decided to do it in a blog. And I wanted to put up a sample of some of the cards she got in the mail this week from me.

So, Tam... here are the 40 reasons, for your 40th birthday, why I am glad that you are my "BFF":

You are down to earth.

I can talk to you about anything.

You do not judge me.

You are one of the smartest people I've ever met.

You give me good advice.

You will listen to me cry.

You will listen, even if you don't know why I'm tripping.

If I am tripping, you are quick to say "Shut up, man!"

You love me with no strings attached.

I can be myself around you.

You allow me to blow off steam.

You were the first person I called when I got my first period. I was 13 years old. That was back in 1983, just after I'd come home from the movies. I'd gone to see Trading Places that day. Don't remember what we talked about at the time, but I remember calling you, from the wall phone in our den.

I love it when we are having a deep discussion about something that has hurt me, and you reply with "Look, let me tell you something Lee..." I know you 'bout to tell me the exact answer and solution to my problem.

You call me up sometimes just to tell me that you love me and I was on your mind. You know that bothers me, because I don't know how to respond to that. You just leave it alone, and keep it moving. You were just thinking about me, and wanted to tell me that.

You have always been my number 1 cheerleader.

When I need support, I think of God first, and then I think of you.

You pray for me.

You allow me to be me. (You know how solitary I am). If you come over, I can wonder off somewhere else and do my own thing, or go to sleep... and you don't give me a hard time over it.

You remind me to be thankful in all things.

You remind me to work on putting God first.

You make me cook for you even if I'm sick as a dog!

You get more excited about my birthday than I do, gal.

One of the most important things you did for me was in the 10th or 11th grade. You got off the school bus and followed my "love interest" T.B. up the road, got in his face and threatened him, telling that joker to leave me alone. You thought he was taking advantage of me, but it was a nice little consending adults thing going on. (And you have the nerve to still be pissed about this, some 20 years later. You almost messed up my action, girl.)

If you read something good in your bible, you will call and tell me about it. I like that a lot.

Me and you, Ladytee, can laugh at anything. A roach crawling across the floor will have us howling.

You can listen to the sound of my voice, and automatically know that I'm upset... no matter how much I try to fake it.

I remember when I was sick some 7 years ago, you found me a doctor to go to. I know if it wasn't for that, I'd be dead right now. Thanks for thinking about me, and taking action when I couldn't.

You will tell me when I am wrong. I need that. You know how much I hate an ass-kisser.

You've taken the blame for things just so I wouldn't get in trouble (you know how My mama is, man).

You've stood up to my Mama when I couldn't.

You encourage me.

You make sure (and very loudly, I may add) to express to me when you think I am dealing with the wrong people.

I remember one time you showed up at my place with a single uncooked egg. You walked in the kitchen and held it out to me. We were having a get together, and you wanted me to make cornbread. I always wonder what you went through to protect that egg and keep it from breaking on the way over. (Yes, that sounds trivial, but I made a HUGE deal out of it today. "My friend brought me an egg, ya'll!!")

You are extremely territorial when it comes to our friendship. You snap on your kids if they even THINK about saying that I am "their friend." (Come on Tee, that is... dysfunctional. Nell is 18 years old now, and you been dogging him out about this since he turned 1. CUT THAT OUT!)

We've gone weeks without talking to each other, because we were both busy. It didn't matter, because whenever we did talk, things always picked up from where they left off.

You were the first one I called when me and Old boy decided to get a divorce. You sat and listened while I cried. At 1 in the morning. I appreciate that. And I had peace of mind before daylight.

If you see my kitchen is looking crazy, you will roll up your sleeves and wash dishes. (I will forever think you crazy for doing such a thing. But I have picked up that crazy habit from you, you know.)

You love me when I feel that no one else does.

You love me even when I am being STUPID.

You love me more than I love myself.

You take pride in knowing me better than I know my ownself. (And you're CRAZY adamant about that, for the past 28 years. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT? Geez.)

You are always excited to get my opinion on things.

You CONTINUOUSLY brag on me, telling folks that I am the smartest person you know. (CUT THAT OUT.)

You have three qualities that I wish I have, but I don't have: patience, compassion, and longsuffering. In other words, you are strong where I am very weak.

Enough said.

That was more than 40 reasons. When there are so many things to say, I often lose count.


I hope we are "bff"... forever and ever!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tales O' Fire!


I forgot to finish up my stories for chemistry week... You know, the ones involving me and fires in the lab.

Now, the fires I've experienced are nothing serious. I had a friend who had a three alarm fire in her lab in Texas. Mine aren't serious, and I didn't get hurt or anything. And when that happens, well... there is a strange thing with us chemists: Such fire stories turn into "war stories" of sorts. We sit around and retell them, like the great storytellers told ghost stories around bonfires back in the good ol' days of old. We even like to re-enact the events.

Yes it gets pretty elaborate. Yes, it is lame. We are just that nerdy.

So here's what's up...

Backdraft. So, in the same lab I mentioned before, the one where I worked with this doofus named Chang, one of the other students, had a little, uh... trouble.

In an organic lab, under no circumstances does one use a bunson burner. That is some ol' ish they did in high school. No flames in an organic lab. We had too many solvents around: acetone, ethers, hexanes, all kinds of crap we could hardly pronounce. ALL OF IT FLAMMABLE.

But we did have what we call heat guns. Heat guns look exactly like hand-held blow dryers, but not as cute, lol.

But heat guns aren't blow dryers. Blow dryers dry your hair. A heat gun heats up, and blows air at about 800-1000 degrees fahrenheit on the highest setting. You try to blow your hair dry with that type of heat and you'll set your whole head on fire.

Let's just say, I spilled something on my shirt, and took a wet paper towel and blotted it dry. My shirt was a little wet. Thought I'd use the heat gun to, you know, dry it off. I could set it on the lowest setting. I think that was 500 degrees or so.

Well I dried my shirt alright. There was a tiny burn hole, and a big scorch mark on my shirt. And I dried it while I had my shirt ON.

Big scorch mark. I remember Cowgirl Cre saying "What happened?"

Humph. Went home... and saw that my bra strap was a little scorched.


But, one day my lab partner Tom was stooped to the floor and had a large flask in his hand containing a couple of liters of pentane, a VERY volatile and HIGHLY flammable liquid. I was watching him stooped down, swirling away. I was sitting at my desk, some 20 feet away, doing my homework. So, we were talking about whatever, maybe some class assignment or something like that.

"LadyLee, I need to evaporate this pentane off real fast."

Now, we had actual machines for this. But he wanted to evaporate it fast.

I heard the heat gun switch on.

I looked over at him, and he was stooping down, swirling the large flask full of pentane.

I remember thinking, "He really shouldn't be doing that. That might be bad."

Now, I've never seen the movie Backdraft. I just remember the trailers and commercials, images of fire rolling beautifully across the ceilings and floor.

And by the time I was about to mention to Tom that he shouldn't be doing that, the flask ignited, and a fire was rolling across the floor towards me.

Tom dropped the flask and dipped. He was close to the door. All I remember seeing, past the floor of fire, which was about 8 feet by 15 feet and rolling FAST towards me, was the back of Tom's khaki pants and the tread of his shoe.

I hurdled my desk and shot through a door into another lab and then jumped out a window. (Don't worry, we were on the first floor).

The fire alarms sounded. Some 10 minutes later we went back into the building. I think Tom's woman saw his baseball cap on the floor and lost her freaking mind. Tom showed up from whereever he ran to some 5 minutes after I came back.

Turns out he had left, and then came back looking for me. I had left and was outside the building in about 15 seconds flat.

"LadyLee, you should've seen it. The waste containers had caught fire and it looked like flame throwers, and blah, blah, blah."

(I have learne that white men like this type of thing. I don't stick around for JACK. I'll holler at you later when the coast is clear.)

We talked about that for a couple of years. I remember saying, numerous times, "Man, all I saw was fire, the back of your khaki shorts, and the damn tread of your shoe. You were running that hard."

"Girl I was trying to get out of there!! I came back and you were gone!"

"But you left me!"

(I always had to do the damsel in distress move whenever I felt wronged. LOL).

Tom got a good tongue lashing from our advisor. Along with me in the background putting my two cents in, of course.

Yeah, that was some craziness...

Stay tuned for Tales O' Fire, Part II.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lo and Behold! **TORNADOES**

One thing I know...

I have NEVER heard of a Tornado hitting downtown Atlanta.

So, when I was laying in bed on Friday night, I was perplexed by the weather alerts that kept scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Then the wide-eyed weatherman issued a tornado warning.

I live in P-Town, about a mile and a half from downtown Atlanta. As a matter of fact, if I walk a block up the street, I can see the Atlanta skyline.

I kept thinking it was a joke. Tornadoes don't hit metropolitan areas. They tare up trailer parks.

I live nowhere near a trailer park.

Now, I happened to be yacking on the phone with LadyTee, and I mentioned it to her.

"You gonna be alright, Lee?" she asked.
"Girl, ain't nothing gonna happen. Downtown is on a hill. Not gonna happen."
"Well they said blah, blah, blah," she whined.

I looked over at my cat Oscar-Tyrone. He was laying at the bottom of the bed on his blanket. He was sleeping pretty hard.

"Yeah, I'm straight. I'm going to bed."
"Girl you better be careful."

"Listen, Tee. Oscar-Tyrone is sleep. As long as this doggone cat relaxing, and not acting silly, I'm gonna chill. If Oscar sit up and start acting crazy, I'm outta here. I'm grabbing my keys, and I'm coming straight down to Union City in my draws and tank top, with no shoes."

Yeah, we laughed about that for a minute. Actually, if Oscar started acting strange, I wouldn't leave, just head to the central part of the house away from windows.

I hung up the phone and went to sleep.

Woke up the next morning, turned on the news, and saw this:

That is a loft community out in Cabbagetown, known as the stacks. I drive by that place from time to time. And I live about 2 miles from Cabbagetown.

Like I said, I watched the cat just to see how he acts when the weather is bad. Why? Because they have acted CRAZY in the past, just prior to some mess going down.

I remember, about 10 years ago, I lived out in Smyrna, a suburb on the west side of metro Atlanta, and I was in bed with my man, and the doggone cats, Oscar and Jeremy, jumped on the bed. They were both wide-eyed like their eyes had been dialated. Every hair on their body was standing on end. They would not move if shushed away, just standing their petrified.

There was a tornado warning, and the city sirens were sounding. Then the power went dead.

"Stupid cats," I remember saying. We didn't care about the power going out. We were going to sleep anyway.

Woke up the next morning, and a tornado had struck... a half-mile from our apartment. And it tore up, completely destroyed everything at a major intersection: A gas station, a strip mall, a furniture store, and a car dealership.

We were like "No wonder the cats were acting crazy."

Another time, a few years ago, when I was living in Collie Park, my alarm clock sounded. I got up to get ready for work. One of the cats jumped on the bed. Jeremy was wide-eyed, looking crazy. I stared at him for a moment. I listened for rain, thundering, lightning, and didn't hear anything. And besides, the weatherman had said it would be sunny that day. Again, I shushed him away, but he wouldn't move. I mean, this cat was looking terrified as all get out.

Moments later, the apartment shook real hard. It was like a really hard vibration, for about 3 seconds. I thought to myself that the dude next door had through his girlfriend into the wall. (I had heard them arguing the day before. I muttered to myself about how stupid he was, and how he shouldn't be jumping on that chick.

Well, I turned on the news, as I do every morning while I'm getting ready for work.

Turns out that it was an earthquake, the center of which was in Alabama. And it was the first time that an earthquake had hit Atlanta. My goodness.

I looked at Jeremy. "So you knew some mess was about to go down, didn't you boy?"

Hmm. Let's just say that the Oldgirl is superstitious and observes the kitties behavior.

My sister said she got calls at midnight on Friday. My room is downstairs, and she is upstairs. She came downstairs to check on me during that time.

"You were knocked out, Lisa," she said.
"Hell yeah. Oscar was sleep, so I went to sleep. Where was Kramer [Hen-Dog's cat, and our permanent house guest]?"
"He was laying in front of my door sleep," she said.
"Well, you should've turned around and went back to sleep."
"Because cats know everything."

She laughed. But I'm just superstitious like that.

I had a book club meeting in Midtown on Saturday, and I drove through downtown to get home. Man, it was wild. Fallen trees and light poles. Traffic lights bent up and twisted around, all messed up. 2 of the major skyscrapers were looking crazy. I was telling a friend that it looked like Godzilla had ran through.

There were conventions and sporting events going on in downtown ATL. There were A LOT of people downtown that night. It is amazing that there were no fatalities.

I drove through Cabbagetown, and it looked a mess. There were blue tarps on roofs left and right. I have a homegirl who lives down there. I did a drive-by early Sunday morning on my way to the store, and her street was just fine. Looks like everything happened a block or so away from her.

One person I do respect is my mayor Shirley Franklin. She was on the case, had news conferences and explained what the city plans were. The clean-up effort was in full effect early Saturday morning.

Shirley Franklin for president! Yeah!

She always handles business when some crises ish goes down. Always.

Anyway, my hood, P-town, was all good. Rained alot, that's all. There is a stupid tree that drops a huge branch everytime the weather is bad. That tree didn't even lose any of it's limbs that night.

This was the first time in history that downtown ATL was hit by a tornado. A first.

I'd never heard of a tornado hitting downtown.

Guess I can't say that anymore.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy Birthday "!My Sistah Keepah JUDY!"

I would like to wish "My Sistah Keepa", Judy, a very very very very


Sistah Keepah, here's your virtual cake. Blow out your candle!

Now you may ask "LadyLee, what is a doggone "Sistah Keepah"?

Of course I'm not spelling it right... My Sister's Keeper is a program in our bookclub, where each sister is paired up with another sister. So it's my responsibility to make sure Judy is alright. If she is not coming to meetings, or is sick, etc, it is my responsibility to check on her and report back...

And it is Judy's responsibility to keep up with the Oldgirl LadyLee. You know, like come get me out of jail if I get locked up. Or if I have to open up a can of whoop a$$ on a sucka...

She'll stand there and hold the can.

And knowing Judy, she gonna get her two cents in, and throw a few rocks, too!


I didn't know Judy well... Just said hello in passing at the book club meetings. But I knew one thing. She drives my dream car: The 2000 Lexus ES 300.

I see that car at every bookclub meeting. I want so bad to touch it.

I might throw her 2 dollars... Maybe she'll let me drive it to the corner of the street and back.

(Yo, Judy... I know your car is that color. Hope that ain't your house, though. If so, I ain't hatin', but you need to remove those bottles from the window sill, and use that lawnmower to, I don't know, cut a little grass or something! LOL!)

So, Judy is one of those sisters who LOVES the casino. Just LOVES it.

I was sitting next to her in our book club meeting on Saturday, just smiling down. I was happy, you see, because Judy is hosting our March Journal group meeting on her birthday this Sunday.

"Yeah, Judy," I said. "We coming to your house, and I know you gonna have the games, man. I bet you got a secret wall, and you touch a button, and you got a underground bootleg casino."

Yeah... the people all up in there, having a GOOD time.

I'm expecting to see a roulette table, some slot machines, some dice or something!

She blew me off, but she had that look in her eye, that look that said if she could get away with it? She'd do the darn thing.

So here's to you, My Sistah Keepah!! Thanks for keeping up with me, even though you keep jacking up my blog name!

It is way too funny to hear her say:

"What's up, O. L. L?"
"What's going on, Original LadyLee?"


I mean, she says it like she doing something, saying something special, like she's "in the know."

Sistah Keepah, get it right!!!!

But that's okay, call me what you want!

You just make sure you have a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

And many more:)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Food for Thought: "Success and the Process"

I was cleaning out my laptop case and I found a scrap of paper, torn from a discarded envelope. I had hastily written some things on it, and I read it before I threw it away.

It had a couple of things written on it.

"Darkness thickened into night" and "Bewitched by her honeyed speech".

Hmm. I have a tendency to write down little phrases on scrap pieces of paper, and I later transfer those phrases to a small baby blue suede journal that I keep solely for things I may use in my writing and don't want to forget.

Now, I may or may not remember where I got the little things I write down from. I know I got the first two phrases from my Message bible, somewhere in Proverbs.

But, I'd also written something else on that scrap envelope.

"Success is in the process, and if you don't quit you will succeed."

I got the "Success" phrase off of some PBS station, I believe. All I know, I was cleaning up my room, picked up the remote to change channels, and heard someone say that.

I've always maintained, and this phrase proves it to me, that it's not all about achieving your goal. It's about what you learn along the way.
Why is it that, when we go for our goals, there is usually a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears involved? (In other words, why is it that we go through what seems to be so much craziness in the process of "reaching the finish line", i.e., obtaining the goal?)
And if we reached our goals with no effort... what would be the point of that?

This phrase made me think back to many of the goals I've set for myself. Some I reached, and some I didn't. I must admit, most of the goals I didn't reach... well, I caved in and quit. I attribute this to just being young and not knowing to keep moving forward. In other cases, the goal was something that I wasn't even suppose to have, and things fell through (thankfully).

But in all the goals I've attained in my life, I have learned something important:

I learned much in the journey to said goal, than from reaching the goal. In going through the "process", many things happened. I solved personal problems. I came up with new ideas. I met new people who supported me, or had the same goal. My faith was reinforced and strengthened. I learned much about my strengths and weaknesses. And no telling what else positive happened on that journey... If I spent more time thinking about it, the list would be soooo long.
THAT'S where the real success is: everything you learned on the journey, while going through the process.

Does that make any sense? (It does to me.)

So, here's to YOU reaching your goals. And all that you learn along the way, in the process of obtaining your goal.

Don't quit. That process, all you go through to reach that goal, is exceedingly important.

Don't quit... keep moving forward along your path.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Been a long time since I've done a post about my brother, Milk and Cookies, hasn't it? Well, here's an old story I've had in cue for awhile...


We always pick on Milk and Cookies, but he always stands his ground.

The last time we (meaning my sister Kentucky and me) messed with him pretty bad was over his tattoo.

"It's a tribal tattoo, ya'll."
"No way, boy, it's a African bug with it's head smashed off. "

He never gets mad, but always stands his ground. Always, lol.

But there is something else I always kid him about...


Milk and Cookies called me up one day, out of the blue, on a Saturday afternoon.

"Hey Shawty, what's up?" he said.
"Nothing much, just getting ready to spend a few hours writing."
"Look," he said, "I got this girl I want you to meet."
"What did I just tell you?"
There was a moment of silence. "You said, uh, you 'bout to do some writing or something."
"So what does that mean, boy?"
**More silence**
"Look, girl, I just want to bring this girl over so you can tell me what you think of her."
**LadyLee kicks the hard eyeroll**
"Dang girl, we won't stay long!"
*LadyLee hangs up in Milk and Cookies face*

I got REAL mad then. If I would've known he was coming over, then I would' ve done my writing earlier in the day AND cooked. This was back when I was working on my beloved Sweet Heat manuscript, and I was on a good writing clip!

Yes... an Oldgirl was quite perturbed. So he comes over with this woman. She is nice enough. She sits on the sofa, and I sit in my favorite chair. Milk and Cookies was running around in the kitchen, keeping himself busy by digging around in the fridge. Me and the chick have a decent conversation.

I don't think she can tell that I am thoroughly irritated.

Milk and Cookies sits on the sofa.

"Lee, where's Tiny?"
"Where's Tiny?"
"Why am I suppose to know where Tiny is?"

For some reason, he seems to think me and Tiny are joined at the hip. There was an explanation some time earlier that Tiny is my friend and not my man. But for some strange reason, he always wants to know where Tiny is and how he is doing. .)

"I don't know where he is? Why am I suppose to know where he is?"
"I need a haircut before I leave. "

I am NOT digging the spur of the moment ish.

I grab my cellphone and dial Tiny's cell phone. I hand the phone to Milk and Cookies.

"He said he will cut my hair, Lee."
"He's looking at a game right now. He said he's on his way."

About 30 minutes passes. Milk and Cookies gets antsy.

"Where is he at, Lee?"
"Call him back!" I say.

Milk and Cookies calls him again. Another 30 minutes pass. I got really mad then. I needed EVERYBODY up out of my house. They were cutting into my writing time.

I dialed Tiny's number, and let's just say, I uh, opened my Book of Cuss on him.

"Tiny, this boy sitting up here calling you and you trippin'!!! Blankety-blank-blank, BLAH BLAH BLAH blankety-BLANK!! What the hell is your problem? Get your butt up here right NOW! "

2 minutes later, Tiny was walking through my front door.

He looked as if he wanted to say something to me but thought better of it. I think he had visions of my laptop (which I'd decided to pull out despite my having guests) flying upside his head.

"Man, you just had to make your sister call me, didn't you?"
"We have to get back to the military base, Tiny!" he wailed.

Tiny plugged in his clippers in the kitchen island outlet, and got started.

Now, my livingroom, dining room and kitchen are all one big "great" room so we (me and Milk and Cookie's lady friend) are sitting there watching this. I decided to go get my camera so I could take a few pictures. Milk and Cookies put up a HEAVY protest, but there was nothing he could do about it.

Anyway, I proceed to harrass Tiny.

"Shorty, do you know what you're doing?"
*Tiny gives LadyLee the hard eyeroll.

"Tiny, uh, you gripping the boy's head to tight."
*Tiny ignores LadyLee. Tiny sighs REAL hard.*

"Tiny... the clippers are too close to the boy's head. Aren't you suppose to be using a clipper guard on that?"

*Tiny looks up at LadyLee*
"Dude, don't look at me, look at the boy's head, so you won't mess his head up."
*Milk and Cookie's woman falls out laughing*

He continues cutting away... and ignoring me, lol.

I get a little miffed when I see that Milk and Cookies has one of my good towels draped around his neck. But I have talked much trash as it as, and I don't want to catch Tiny's clippers in my grill.

Milk and Cookies even smiles for the camera...

(I swear, that boy has more teeth in his head than normal people.)

Some 10 minutes later, Tiny finished cutting Milk and Cookies' hair.

I peered at Milk and Cookies curiously.

"Something is wrong," I said. "You're not finished, are you?"

"Yeah, I'm done."

I watch Tiny as he cleans his clippers and swabs Milk and Cookie's hairline with alcohol.

"Uh, you need to do something about those doggone eyebrows, Tiny. The boy looks a bit funny."

"Leave my eyebrows alone," Milk and Cookies yelled.

"Tiny, do something about the eyebrows!"

"No," Tiny said.

"I like my eyebrows," Milk and Cookies said.

I grab his chin and squint hard at him. "You know who you look like, with those eyebrows and the big ol' eyes?"


"Maybe it's just me, but uh, you look like Prince!!!"

*Milk and Cookie's woman laughs a bit too hard.*

"No I don't look like no Prince."

Maybe I'm just sleepy, but sing... Sing something, Prince!!"

Poor Milk and Cookies. I harassed him, until he let out one of Prince's yelps. His woman and I laughed REAL hard. Tiny looked at us like we're half crazy.

"Naw, my bad. You're not Prince. You'll never be Prince. But I do need you to do something about the eyebrows. You need to cut those."


We argue about this for a few minutes. I don't understand the point of trimming the hair and the mustache... and not trimming the eyebrows. He stands up for himself, and I leave it be. I took a picture of him and Tiny together, and we all ate a few cookies. (I woulda cooked if folks would've given me some heads up!)

He gathered his things together, gathered his woman, and left. Tiny marched back down the street to his house. Hopefully he was able to finish watching whatever game was holding his interest.

That was back in late 2006. It's always good seeing Milk and Cookies, if only for a couple of hours. I usually get all choked up and cry when he has to go back to the army base but I am getting better. I don't see him at all these days since he was transferred from here to somewhere up in Virginia. But I know and pray that he is alright.

I still think the boy has twice the amount of teeth in his head than a normal person. And here, he doesn't have that strange Prince look about him...

I like the pictures above. They remind me of when Milk and Cookies was 2 or 3 years old, and my grandfather would bring out the clippers and cut his hair.

And, some 18 years ago, I was yelling the same thing.

"Granddaddy, his eyebrows are too bushy. Trim his eyebrows."

"No, Granddaddy, don't cut my eyebrows!!" he'd screamed in his squeaky toddler voice.

Oh, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Heavy Metal, Baby (Part II): "It Never Fails"

One thing I know about this here life of ours...

Some things never fail... they're gonna always happen.

Hot and cold.

Night and day.

The rising and setting of the sun.

And in the past few elections, some politicians trying to rig and pull the bootleg (NO BILLARY, you won't get the Florida and Michigan delegates. Stop trying to steal the election!!)


Yes, things never fail to occur.

And in the world of chemistry...

It never fails...

That some doofus dumb ass challenged individual gets a notion to work in a chemistry lab.

It never fails... and I've been around more than my share of such folks.

Now, what I mean by "challenged individuals" is those people who well, they mean well, may be even very good people, but they are a bit on the clumsy side. They don't really think about what they are doing, don't ask for help, none of that. Nice people, but need to go take up a less adventurous profession...

Like Mountain climbing, perhaps.

And clumsy in a chemistry spells DANGEROUS.

If you didn't read the last post, then you won't appreciate where I am going with all this. So go read that last post (It ain't long... yet, it is quite informative;)

Anyway, I have a ton of experience with moisture-sensitive, air-sensitive and pyrophoric chemicals. And in grad school, I did research in these areas. I even have a few publications laying around here and there.

I am a safe chick in the lab. These days I'm not, since I work with fruits and veggies and such, but with weird ish that can catch fire, I watch myself.

Anyway, back in the day, I worked in an organometallics lab. I was the only girl in a crew of a bunch of dudes. This was cool, because I learned how to do bootleg maintenance on a lot of different types of equipment. Very fun stuff.

Well, we had this one guy in our group, an Asian dude name "Chang".

Chang was nice enough. Very soft-spoken and mannerable.

But he was CLUMSY as hell. Always dropping stuff. Breaking EXPENSIVE glassware that we'd had handblown by a glassblower. Let's just say, I wasn't very fond of him. And in his eyes, I was an angry black woman.

This was fine with me. Most people think I am a little crazy.

If I can get you to think that I'm just a bit "touched", then I can keep you from harassing me or touching any of my property.

And that was the case with Chang. I heard him say one day, "Gosh, that girl LadyLee... that girl is crazy!"


Anyway, I'd rather be crazy than clumsy. Any day.


When working with moisture sensitive compounds, one must have completely dry glassware, solvents, etc. For example, your dishes and glasses sitting there in your kitchen cabinet look dry, but they are not dry. Not at all. There is water on them that you can't see.

Trust me, there is!

So we have to oven dry all of our special glassware and cool them down under a non-air atmosphere. (Yeah, there are ways to do that, and I won't get into that here.)

So, Chang was put in charge of ordering our supplies for the lab - glassware, solvents, etc...

You can't muck that up can you? I mean, you're just writing out orders. T'ain't that hard.



The year was 1993, I believe. I went to lunch one day, had a good time, and came back to the lab. I noticed my lab mates, 2 guys- Joe and Tom - staring at one of our lab benches. Chang is standing behind them, rubbing the back of his neck, looking like he was about to cry. (That boy was such a crybaby. There were several times where I wanted to tell him "Stop being a b*tch!")

No one said anything when I walked in. I was enjoying the last of a snack size bag of potato chips.
"What are ya'll doing?" I asked.

No one said a word. Chang is getting more nervous by the minute. He starts pacing.

"What's up? Why ya'll standing around?"

"Shhhhhh," Joe said. He kept staring at the counter.

I look at the bench and there is some dust all over the bench. It looks like someone ground up some chalk and threw it on the work area.

"Guys, I'm sorry!!!" Chang wailed.

I crunch on more chips and stare at him. "What's wrong with Chang? And why does it smell like ether [ethyl ether solvent] all up in here?"

"Be quiet, LadyLee."

I was quiet, but I'm standing there, rattling my chip bag, crunching on chips and watching. This was all terribly interesting, you see.

Well, this particular area of the lab bench (one of our work areas) contained our solvent stills. A solvent still is a apparatus used to purify solvents. So whenever we bought solvents, like acetone for example (you know, finger polish remover), we had to get it REALLY pure and REALLY dry. If we didn't, the tiny bit of water in it will kill our chemical reactions.

An example of a solvent still is shown in the picture to the left (above). Usually these are put in a protected area, called a fume hood, but we were an adventurous bunch: we had our stills all out in the open on the counter/lab bench. We were a careful bunch, you see. We anchored it down good, and never knocked something like that over.

And we use pieces of sodium metal to make our solvents "bone dry". Normally, we would buy blocks of sodium stored under mineral oil and chop off whatever we needed. Drop the cubes of sodium over in the still and it sucks up the miniscule amounts of water. Very nice concept, except for one thing.

Chang decided he didn't want to order sodium blocks. He got the notion to order sodium powder.

I never knew sodium powder existed. But Chang found it and got it.

So, back to my story.

I was standing there, watching the guys, crunching on my chips.

"What's all that stuff on the bench?" I finally ask.

"I broke a still!" Chang wailed. "And the sodium powder got all over the place!"

"I believe I know how we can clean this up," Tom said. he left us and went to his desk a few feet away and returned quickly with an index card.

"ARE YOU SERIOUS?" I asked. "An index card?"

"Be quiet, LadyLee. We got it under control."

"Guys, I didn't do it on purpose!"

"Shh," I said. I have no idea why we were all concerned with being quiet. I went back to eating my chips. Pondered the situation. No one ever busts a still. That would be dangerous. I look at Chang. Yep, he would do something like this.

Tom took his index card and started trying to slide the powder into a big pile.

There were tiny sparks flying, but disappearing. And there were little noises, little sounds.

psst...psst...crackle...pop... sizzle... sizzle...pssssssst.... sizzle, psssssstt... bing....

That didn't sound or look very good.

************huge crickets*************

*crickets move and LadyLee slowing stops chewing chips*

I took a small step back away from them.

(I was putting 2 and 2 together, you see.)

Took another step back. This time, a HUGE step.

"Guys, I'm sorry!" Chang hollered. He was near hysterics.

"Shut up, Chang!" Tom yelled.

"Yo, I'll see ya'll later," I said.

*Ladylee backing out of room and sprinting HARD down the hall at FULL speed like she in the Olympics*

And that's when I heard it....

It wasn't a loud BOOM.

It was more like "POOOOOOF"

But the loudest "poof" I've ever heard. Imagine what it would sound like for some dayum secret portal to another planet to open up.

Yeah. That's what it sounded like.

I'd hit a corner at the end of the hall by then and was gone.

I heard the guys yelling "Get the fire extinguisher! Run!"

I came back a few minutes later, after peeping around the corner, of course. Went back into the lab, even.

Couldn't see a thing! Just extinguisher smoke and dust everywhere, when the dust started to clear, Tom was standing there, in a hail of smoke, holding that extinguisher like it was a blow torch, or some huge weapon from a sci-fi film, like he was trying to kill some aliens.

"LadyLee you should've seen it! It was a big fire ball," Tom said.

"Ya'll are crazy!" I yelled. "You heard that stuff sparking up. And it smell like ether up in here! Ya'll are some fools!"

"I'm sorry guys." Chang hollered. He had tears in his eyes.

"I'ma tell!" I yelled. I pointed my finger hard at Chang. "You always doing stupid stuff, Chang. I'ma tell on YOU! And I ain't helping ya'll clean up in here!"

*LadyLee leaves room and goes looking to snitch on Chang*

Chang got a good tongue lashing from our advisor. Serves him right.

Here's the problem with sodium dust/powder. It has more surface area than a cube, pebble, or block. And with them skidding it around with that card, it reacted with the solvent and water vapor in the air.

Nice big fireball for YOU!

So be careful, boys and girls, when you fooling around with sodium metal.

You would think Chang would do better.

But he didn't learn a doggone thing...

It was this fool's fault that I caught fire some time later that year... and a Oldgirl opened up the book of cuss on him.


It never fails...

Thanks for hanging out with me during **CHEMISTRY WEEK**. Hope you learned a thang or two. And thanks for allowing me to be the nerd I am, lol.

My fire adventure will be continued, sometime next week.