Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring is Definitely Here!

Seems like, when the first day of spring comes along, we would see pretty green leaves automatically burst forth from the branches.

But this is what I saw for the first couple of weeks of spring when I peered out the window of my workplace on April 12, 2008.

Then on April 18th, I saw a few leaves appearing.

April 24th... the leaves were really sprouting!

April 30th... full "bloom"

Yes, Spring is definitely here.

(And yet, the temps are in the 30s-50s here in the ATL)

*Lee pulling jacket back out of the closet*
I turn to my cubicle mate, Cowgirl Cre, and make her look at this post.
*Lee cheesing hard like Celie*
She looks at me like I've lost my mind and comments... "This has nothing to do with me getting my economic stimulus check, LadyLee!"
She turns around and continues reading some of her work.
I turn back to my post... and look forward to spring.

Rest in Peace, Karen.

My book club sista Karen unexpectantly made her transition on yesterday, April 29, 2008.
I light a candle for you, girl.

Rest in peace

Love, LadyLee.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cold Getting QUIRKY!!

What in the World?

That "Oldgirl-in-Training" Rosemarie tagged me.


Link the person who tagged you.
Mention the rules in your blog.
Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged

I don't like tags. I freak out upon reading what I must do. But once I sit down and do them, I am okay, and I learn something interesting about myself.

Plus, you know I'm longwinded as all get out. Will I keep it short here? Well, let's just say I will keep it short for me. Yeah, that's the right thing to say.

So being the nerd that I am, I had to go look up the word "quirk" over on

A "quirk" is defined as "a peculiarity of action, behavior, or personality; mannerism; an idiosyncrasy".


I can do this.

The Oldgirl LadyLee has mucho quirks.

So, while I was sitting in the lab, working on some flounder fillet samples (*tightened fist aimed straight at the face of my supervisor The Darth Sista T.*), I wrote out my 6 quirks.

Well, I actually wrote out 12, and could've kept on going...

... But it was getting too personal.

Hmm. Yeah. The Oldgirl is the quirkiest! LOL!

So, I decided to pick 6 "interesting" ones out of there. Some of these quirks are strange, and some bother me to no end.

So... here we go.

Ice Queen. Every morning when I get in to work, I sit at my desk and pull a large ziploc bag of ice out of my bag, and dump it into a large plastic cup. I let the ice melt and sip from it allll day long. This is my way of drinking at least a quart of water while at work. I try to drink 3 to 4 quarts of water per day.

Now, over the past 5 or 6 years, I have been severely anemic, and as a result, I've suffered from pica... which means I would eat ice like CRAZY (craving it like crack, mayne!). Well, we've corrected that problem, and I don't do that anymore. (I know my cubicle mate Cowgirl Cre is happy about that... I know she must've wanted to strangle me for my constant ice crunching activities. LOL)

Quirkiest Habit. I never know when it is time to go to sleep. I simply fall asleep. I sleep with everything on: lights, television, lap top, radio. EVERYTHING. And to top it off, I only sleep 4 to 5 hours a night. So a normal sleep time range for me is 11 to 3 or 4 a.m. (The last time I had some good 8 hour sleep was in October of last year).

Quirkiest Self-Hate Habit. I often beat myself up for making mistakes, especially with people. Much of this has to do with my refusal to kiss people's a$$. (Please don't confuse my "jocking" activities with ass-kissing. For me, "jocking" is a few levels above "utmost respect").

As my blog sista LBeezy (the leader of the Soulja Girls, lol), said something the other day that left me feeling verbally shanked: "Leezie, you beat yourself up over things for which you have no control." Serenity30 followed that up with "I noticed that, too."


*LadyLee kicking rocks HARD*

I spend too much time spinning my wheels, thinking "shoulda, woulda, coulda" said the right thing, coulda cheesed all in your face and you would have NEVER known the difference... then I wouldn't be caught up in a bunch of MESS.

Hmm. Gotta work that out and still be ME.

I totally agree with LBeezy and Serenity30. I suppose I must work on that. But it is an, uh, well developed ingrained habit. At least I am aware of it.

Quirkiest STEALTH-like Behavior. I rarely let a man I meet know my real name. I have an alias ("Judy Smith") or I just use my first name. I refuse to tell a dude where I work, what I do for a living, or God forbid, how much money I make. I also, uh, give him the impression that at least 10 people live with me (brothers, sisters, cousins, grandparents, etc.)

Hate to do that, but it gives me just enough time to figure the dude out and gather information, just enough so to figure out if he is crazy or not.

A guy told me once, "I tell you things I ain't NEVER told a woman."

Uh, yeah. I dig into your brain like that. Funny how you don't know much about me. Hmm.

Quirkiest Obsessive-Compulsive Activity. If I come across a movie I like, I will watch it over and over and over again. (You know how many of us have virtually memorized every line in The Color Purple.)

Right now, and for the past 18 months or so, I've had this thing for my 2 favorite movies, Passion Fish and American Pop. I can watch those all day and not get tired.

I am the same way with music. I pick a song and play it to death. The songs of the moment are Fat Boy's Can You Feel It and Roxanne Shante's Roxanne's Revenge.

Me and My Quirky Emotions. I am VERY guarded with my emotions. I rarely allow myself to become emotionally attached. You might even call me "emotionally unavailable." I always have people telling me "I love you" or giving me hugs. I honestly don't know how to receive all that, and I'm having to learn, as old as I am, to respond back likewise. This is TERRIBLY difficult since I didn't grow up like that. Plus, I think it stems from my having severe trust issues. ~sigh~

Multitasker! I am a super-duper multitasker. Hold your horses, because that ain't a good thing. My multitasking is on some old ADD (attention deficit disorder) tip. For example, if I'm in a meeting, I don't care how important it is, I must be doing something else besides "sitting there". I will do some puzzles, read a book, or work on a story. I have even been known to crochet. (My boss is accustomed to such things. If she got a problem with it, then she can go sit on a fat tack.)

Don't worry, I am paying attention. But I am going to have SEVERE problems if I am sitting there paying attention to one thing and one thing only. Severe!

2 things (or more) must be going on at all times. That's my rule!!

So that's it. I was suppose to do 6 but that looks like 7!

Who I am tagging?

Whoever wants to do it.

But I will follow the rules. SIGH.

Yeah, I would like to see Terry, Deepnthought, Southern Black Gal, The LBeezy, Serenity30, and Carleen Brice.

Work it out, work it out, work it out now. (Only if you want too!)

Knock yourself out!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mark Your TERRITORY, Part III (Final)

(For Terry... you, sitting over in your Cheap Seats, will get a GOOD laugh out of this.)

Click here for Mark Your TERRITORY, part I.
Click here for Mark Your TERRITORY, part II.

You know…

Certain questions come up in your life. . .certain questions people ask. . .

I don’t know, they’re not meant to be answered.

And that was a perfect example.

“What’s wrong with you black people? I don’t understand that sh**. What the f** is wrong with you all?”

I was stunned.


Yet screaming, quaking even, inside!

She was waiting for an answer.

I looked up at the TV.


Then went back to scribbling on my papers.

And hoping for a moment when I could uh, snap my fingers and disappear into thin air excuse myself to my blue room.

“You know,” she continued when I didn’t respond with a verbal answer. “I just don’t like black people.”


“Oh, but you’re okay, hon.” She leaned over and patted me on the forearm, smiled her biggest "no teeth in" smile. “You’re a nice girl, you are. But, I just don’t like your race.”

I. remained. quiet.

Somehow, a good half hour later, I was able to sneak off to my room.

That was the first time she'd mentioned her dislike for black people, but DEFINITELY not the last. (Thank God she didn’t say “coloreds”. I believe I would’ve fainted.)

I’d learn to sit quietly at the table and eat my food while she ranted about something that happened that day on the news.

Didn’t matter. This was a temporary issue. I was content to pay my $105 every Friday. I wanted to write her a check, but she frowned up on that.

“Cash only, hon. I love my country, but Uncle Sam’s a b*tch.”


*LadyLee stopping at the ATM every Friday to get cash for Ms. Clara.*

She’d get all gussied up from time to time. She’d put on a purple leisure suit, a pair of purple matching ankle boots. The outfit was rounded out by purple bracelets, a purple bead necklace, and a matching purple purse. Oh yeah… and she’d sweep her hair high up on her head, and place a HUGE purple flower in it. And her face was made up in purple: purple blush, purple lipstick, the works.

Shoot, I thought Prince was gonna jump up out of the floor and dance with her or something.


When she'd get all gussied up like that... you know I had to egg her on. You know it!

“You know you looking good, Ms. Clara,” I’d say. “You got a hot date or something?"

She’d straighten her back, prance around with her purse on her arm and bat her eyelashes.

“No hon, just dinner and drinks with some friends. There’s a fella there that I’m keeping my eyes on, though.”

“Watch out, now!” I got a kick out of egging her on. “Go on with your bad self.”

“Don’t wait up for me,” she’d say. She’d wink her eye hard.

And I didn’t wait for her. That Old girl didn’t get in til real late.

And even when she got in all late... she was always up with me, sitting there at the table with her morning coffee and cigarette, talking to me while I ate my cereal.


One morning, she was fighting mad.

Now, she was active in the community. Told me tales of going down to city hall and raising hell when one of the neighbors would ride his horse down the street on the weekend.

“That muther*****. I would run outside and shake my fist at him every time he galloped down this street. Turns out that there's a city ordinance that says you can’t keep a horse at your residence but the horse can visit on the weekends. That’s a bunch a bulls***!!! Blaah, blaaaah, BLAH!!!!”

I learned more about community awareness, the power of protests and city legislature while living at the boarding house than at any other time in my life.

But like I said, one morning she was fighting mad.

I was in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, drinking my orange juice. She, of course was up, and I heard her coming down the hall, grumbling, a frown plastered on her face.

I didn’t want to ask, but you know me. I was trying to be respectful.

“What’s wrong, Ms. Clara?”

“That muther*****”.

Wow. Wondered who pissed her off so early in the morning? I didn’t say anything. I knew she would continue to talk about what had her so mad. I noticed that she was drinking coffee, and the coffee cup was much larger than usual.

“You know, I go outside and there’s sh** all out in the yard. Dogsh***. There’s a dog from up the street coming down here and sh***** in my yard! That muther*****!!!!!”

I wanted to laugh, but I knew I better not. “Do you know whose dog it was?”

“Yes. And I told them about it. And he’s still coming down here sh****** in my yard. Can’t stand that muther******!!!!!!”

Boy, she was HOT. I looked at my watch, it was time to go.

“I got something for that muther****** though.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You calling the dog pound?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “I’m gonna Mark my Territory.”

I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t care. I continued drinking my orange juice.

“I got a big gallon bucket I’m keeping in my bathroom. I’m gonna drink my coffee, collect my pee, go outside and spread it all over the yard.”

I almost choked on my juice. I grabbed a blue napkin and wiped my mouth. “What??”

“Oh, you may find that funny, but that’s the way they use to do it in Texas, out on the range, you know. If you had a bunch of sons, the father and the sons would go outside and piss on the fence posts. That kept the coyotes away. A coyote smell that, he says to himself ‘That’s a big ol’ son of a gun there’, and he runs for the hills!”

I just stared at her. She guzzled her coffee down. “Well, gotta go pee again.”


I hurriedly washed my blue glass and sat it in the dish rack to dry. While she was hanging out in the bathroom, I used it as an opportunity to gather my things so I could get the heck out of dodge.

I hurried outside to my car. I usually walked across the lawn...

Not anymore. I stayed on the sidewalk and driveway.

I was outside, sitting in my Nova, letting it warm up, when out comes Ms. Clara. She had a large white bucket in her hand and a cigarette dangling from her mouth. She smiled and waved at me.

She splashed piss all along the curb.

I shuddered.

It didn't really bother me until I got to work and told folks the story. I got sick to my stomach thinking about that craziness.

All week, I heard tales of that dog coming down to her yard, sniffing around, and running fast back to his own house. (Yeah, she sat in the window, spying).


“Nothing in the world like Marking that territory, LadyLee!” she’d yell. “Bet he won’t come down here no more.”

She was proud of her accomplishment. She smiled hard (without her teeth in.)

Oh. My. God.

And some ten years later, I really don't care to walk across lawns. Don't want to step on
"marked territory".

This woman Ms. Clara really tripped me out. I mean there was something new everyday. She had one colorful life.

The day I left, we sat at the table and ate lunch together. I told her I wanted to take a couple of pictures with her.

“Hold on! I don’t have my teeth in. Let me go get my teeth!!”

I took pictures of her with her dogs.

I gave her a hug. Poor woman, didn't want to let me go. I had to pry myself loose.

When I left, she stood in the middle of the street, crying like crazy.

Weeping, hollering, even.

I knew then, with all her idiosyncracies… she was crazy, but she was alright.

And she’d gotten attached to me.

In the midst of her rantings about black people, she said something that I will never forget.

“LadyLee, I got a daughter about your age. And you know, I don’t care much for black people, but you're the same age as my daughter. I figure if I’m good to you, take good care of you, then well... someone out there in California is looking out for my daughter."

Now, there is some good "food for thought" up in there. I’ll let you figure out what that is. I’m still trying to figure out. But I must say, there is not a week go by where I don't think about that statement.

And wonder why I just ain't there yet.

She was real territorial with me. I was territory, and she'd marked her territory, I suppose, if only for the moment.

I'm wondering if I will ever get to that place, where I can pull a curtain over my emotions and feelings and idiosyncracies, and just “do what I gotta do".

And, I also wonder if she was worried about her daughter. She didn’t talk about her much, only mentioned that she was a nurse out in California. Not even sure if she saw her that much.

All I know, she always got up with me every morning, and drank her morning coffee, and told me a good story (chock full of cuss words). I learned much from her in the midst of all that...

I have no idea what became of Ms. Clara. The last memory I have of her is of seeing her in the rearview mirror, She was standing in the middle of the street, waving and crying.

I really don't know what to make of all of this. It's one of those interesting life experiences. How often do you meet people THAT colorful. Plus, she is the inspiration for the character Elba in one of my short stories (might even be a novella at this point).

You know it's a trip when my teacher constantly uses the character Elba as an example in some technique we're working on.

(Look out for an excerpt soon, and you'll see what I mean, lol)

My short five week stint with Ms. Clara made me feel special in that I now recognize that everyone I've ever met in my life has crossed my path for some reason. Whether that person is good for me or bad for me, I learn something that will make me a better person in the process.

That makes me feel special.

Now, If I haven't learned anything else useful, I've learned one very important thing:

If I ever have a problem with a neighborhood animal doing his bizness in my yard?

I know full well how to "mark my territory".

And now, you do too.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mark your TERRITORY, Part II.

(**Warning: loose language here. Don't have a frickin' cow, it's not my fault, just trying to be true to the story and uhhh, this Ms. Clara... Trust me, mere words can't really describe this woman in total (you had to be there), but I try my best here.)
Click here for "Mark Your TERRITORY, Part I

We made the drive down to Louisiana…
Me in my Old white 1973 Nova, Oldboy in his tinted down T-Bird.
We left on a Saturday, around 10 in the morning and planned to get there sometime in the late afternoon.

I’d made plenty of tapes for both my man’s car and my own.

(Funniest line driving down: Me and Oldboy pulling over at a rest stop, him wiping sweat from his brow and saying “Girl, give me another mixtape, because if I have to hear Snoop Dog talk about how he gonna pull that Tre-eight out his mutha******* waist one more time, I’m gonna hurl myself out the car!”)


(I was a fan of gangsta wrap. He listened… very reluctantly).

We finally got to Ms. Clara’s boarding house. It was early November, albeit warm outside. I had on a pair of sweats. Oldboy had on a white wife beater (tight white tank t-shirt) and some green sweats.

I peered at him curiously, still wanting to take a razor to his head and shave off the thin braids. I wanted to throw a three piece suit on him.

I was scared all the way up to the front door.

“Calm down, Lee,” he said. “LadyTee got you all scared! Calm down.”

We knocked on the door, and there she was… Ms. Clara.

She was an older lady, looking to be about 60 years old or so. She had long brown curly hair, definitely dyed away from her regular gray. She was short, about 5’3”, and chubby.

“Helloooo!” she said. Her teeth were yellow and crowded. ‘”Bout time you got here. I’m Ms. Clara!"

She had one of those big booming voices. Talked like she was yelling.
We introduced ourselves, sat down on the sofa in the living room.

One thing I must say about my ex-husband, Old Boy: that dude never met a person he didn’t like or didn’t like him. (Well, he didn’t like one of my friends. I must tell that story one day, lol.) I’ve always told him, “You can go in a room full of non-English speaking Chinese folks, and don’t mind it at all. As long as they have some beer, you’re gonna have a GOOD time.)

And he and Ms. Clara were like peas and carrots.

Man, she talked and talked and talked. They laughed together so hard. I was all stoic. I’m the type to be quiet and observe when I don’t know you.

I couldn’t wait to tell LadyTee that Ms. Clara didn’t go get her shot gun and run us off.

Ms. Clara’s boarding house was a simple 4 bedroom ranch home in what seem to be a predominantly white suburb. She mostly had some of the “offshore” construction workers as boarders, but at the time, I would be the only one there. She showed me to my room. It was a good size room, with a twin size bed, an oak dresser, and matching chest of drawers. The theme was blue and white flowers. Real girly. There was a 13” television sitting on a shelf high in the closet facing the bed. It was equipped with all the cable channels (and that was a plus.) I had my own private blue and white bathroom (That’s a good thing. I already had my bottle of bleach ready EVERY time I even so much as looked at the bathroom if I had to share with other people.)

She explained that she would clean my room twice per week, changing the sheets and cleaning the bathroom.

Yes, I was happy about that. And this worked out well. Even though I had only $800.00 to my name, I would get $4000 in cash and starting bonuses in about 3 weeks from my post-doc position.
So this was a fly set up.

Old Boy whispered, when we were unloading my clothes and stuff from the car..

“Yeah, you know she cleaning your room so she can make sure you ain’t got no guns, and you not selling drugs out her house.”
I gave him the *gas face* for that one. He knew I was antsy about how this chick would accept me. But he continued to chide me, nevertheless.

She gave me a house key, and she walked us out to the car. I told her that me and Oldboy were going to a hotel for the night. She suggested the Travelodge down the road.

“Let me take a picture of the two of ya, hon,” she said.

Me and Oldboy smiled real big for the Polaroid camera.

She shook the picture hard and blew on it. “Oh, that’s a fine picture there.”

She showed it to us. Yes, we looked good… tired, yet happy.

So, me and Oldboy went and got dinner and went to bed.

“You know why she took that picture of us, right?” he said.


“Just in case we come back and rob her, she got a picture of us laying around. Just in case we get the notion to come back and pull a 1-8-7 on her.”

I bristled. He laughed.

(I have no idea why he was trying to scare me. I think he and LadyTee were double teaming me.)

I saw him off the next morning, then went back to Ms. Clara’s boarding house. It was a Sunday, November 7, 1998, I believe. I was supposed to start work that first thing that Monday morning. (Yes, I know that’s cutting it close and what not.)

Ms. Clara had these two dogs. They were minature shepher.ds. You know, they looked like “”, just real small like poodles. They barked like hell. And when I got back to the boarding house, Ms. Clara was there to tell me the whole story behind these dogs.

She let me know how much she liked Old Boy.

“Hon, that’s a nice fella you got there!”

I nodded.

“I took a picture of you two because that’s a rule of mine. Just in case you two are crazy and come back and try to kill my ass, I have some proof of who you are.”


I got up for work the next day. Got up extra early because I wanted to make sure I got my makeup on right and looked a bit professional. I heard her shuffling around in the kitchen, and when she saw me come in, she was so shocked because I suppose I looked totally different.
"Oh my God, LadyLee, you're just so gorgeous."
"Uh... thank you," was all I could think to say.
"Because you look nothing like you did yesterday. Today you look really nice." She proceeded to follow me around and just... stare at me.
(What in the world? I was almost afraid she uh, had some lesbian tendencies or something. LOL!)
I made it in to work that morning, and got settled into my office and lab and whatnot...

That first week was interesting. I was the "Blue Boarder". I got accustomed real quick to the idea of living in the “blue” room. Being the blue boarder meant that anything that was blue in the kitchen was mine. I had a blue shelf in the refrigerator. I had eating utensils. I even had blue plates, bowls, napkins and glasses.
I sat at the dining room table in the blue chair, and I even had a blue placemat.
(This was cool, because my favorite color is blue, you see.)

I never ate breakfast alone, no matter how early I got up. Ms. Clara was always there, smoking a cigarette, drinking cup after cup of coffee...
...and talking up a STORM.

And Ms. Clara cussed like a sailor. I mean every other word was a cuss word. Goodness. I cussed much back then too, but shoot, she took it to a whole nother level, using combinations of cuss words that blew my mind. And you can tell, she was the Queen of the Cuss. She’d been cussing since the day she was born.

I was lectured much about letting her know of my whereabouts at all times. This was cool, since I didn’t know anyone. I’d begin meeting people at work and all. (They doted on me at work, thought I was a young college student doing an internship or something. When the new phone list came out, and “Dr.” was beside my name (yeah, management was snobbish about that- I got chastised when people called me "Lee-Lee" in the hallways), all the black folk were treating me like a movie star. LOL!!!)

Anyway, like I said, Ms. Clara was on a mission with the lectures.
“LadyLee, if I don’t see you for two days, and you haven’t call, I go straight to the city morgue. Got a picture of ya, hon! Don’t bother me one bit to go and identify a body.”

“Yes Ma’am,” I’d say. (Honestly, what do you say to such craziness?!)

“And if you get locked up, or pass out drunk somewhere, call me. Don’t bother me one bit to come get you, hon. Had a fella boarding here who like to go to some backwoods bar over in Mississippi. Use to have to go drag his drunk ass out of there and bring him on home. Cussed his ass out the whole drive back, but I got him here safely. Don’t hesitate to call me, now.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” (What else DO you say to such madness??)

"If you go wash clothes, take a left up on Esplanade, and go down there by the Winn-Dixie. Got a good laundromat down there, hon. Don't go right on Esplanade. You'll get hurt down that way. Don't want to get stabbed or shot, ya know. Can't be nothing worse than getting your head blown off while trying to wash your panties, hon!"
I got use to this. I'd just sit there at the table and eat and read my research articles or magazines. "Yes Ma'am," became my favorite two words.
In the midst of our many conversations, I learned that she was Jewish. So one day I asked her if I could cook some pork chops.

She took a long drag on her cigarette, and cocked her head and just stared at me. I thought that she was just suprised that I had more words in my vocabulary than "Yes ma'am"...
... or maybe she was about to open her Book of Cuss because I mentioned the word "pork".

“What, Ms. Clara?” I asked. “I just know you’re Jewish, and you don’t eat pork. I don’t want to be disrespectful and cook pork in your house if it bothers you.”

“Hon, I don’t give a f*** if you eat a pork chop. I’m Jewish and all, but hell, even I like to put up a nice Christmas tree for the Christmas season from time to time. Eat your damn pork. I don’t give a f***. Just clean up after yourself is all I ask.”

She took a sip of her coffee, stared at me with the hard frown. Mumbled to herself.

That stunned me.

I fried my pork chop, nevertheless.

It was quite good, it was.

And I was used to her cussing up a storm. Got really accustomed to it, even though it irritated me.

Now, this chick told me allllllllllll her business, all about her family and such. She was living alone and was widowed. Her husband was outside chopping wood one morning, and had a heart attack. He sat on the front steps and died. Her daughter, a nurse, was my age (28), and lived somewhere out in California.

I swear, that woman talked allll the time.


I would come in from work sometimes and she’d be relaxing on the couch, smoking a cigarette, and watching Oprah or the news. She would smile real hard when she saw me (she wore dentures, and she uh, rarely had those dentures in her mouth. YIKES!)

I didn't want to be disrespectful, so I would sit down with her for a few minutes… and listened to her talk, talk, TALK.

If I had some research articles to read, I would sit there and read while she talked. I was working in an area I wasn’t familiar with, working with a termi.te nutri.tionist, trying to figure out what the term.ites liked and disliked, and coming up with plans and ideas for my own research. So let’s just say I was bringing my work home with me each night.

Well, we were watching the evening news… Some brothers had gotten into a shoot out of some sort. Killed a bunch of folk. There was a big car chase with the cops and what not. Real crazy stuff. Top of the news, of course…

Ms. Clara turned to me. She got a weird look in her eye, and I soon saw that she was on the verge of getting worked up. I looked back down at my papers, continued making “to-do” notes in the margin.

I still felt her eyes on me. She was mad, indeed.

“Uh, that’s terrible right there, Ms. Clara,” I said. “Real bad.”

“Sure is,” she says. “I tell you, I just don’t get it. What’s wrong with you black people. I don’t understand that sh**. What the f** is wrong with you all?”

I thought she was talking out loud to herself or something, but she was staring at me…


… for an answer…

To be continued.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mark Your TERRITORY!!! (Part I)

Note: Uh... in the interest of not giving you a long ass post, I am breaking this post up into 2 or 3 parts..

I haven't lived with many people during my lifetime.

My sister and I live together right now. I occupy the main level of my house, while she resides over the top floor. So we can go days without seeing each other, lol. She's 26 years old, some 11 years younger than myself. That can be a trip sometimes, because she looks at me sideways when I start lecturing her. But I do better these days! We get along much better these days!

I shacked up with a dude once. Later married him. Later divorced him. Ain't shacking with no jokers no more. Humph.

I've lived with friends at times. Interesting how you learn about folks when you live with them. Hmm...

But, by far, the most interesting and memorable person I've ever lived with was a white woman. I can not for the life of me remember her name.

We will call her "Ms. Clara".

She was so interesting to me that one of the characters in my story Leaving Jersey (the character Elba, for those of you who have read it) was based on her. Whenever I work on this character, who, by the way, everyone in my writing class absolutely LOVES, I think of "Ms. Clara".

No, she wasn't this lovable "Aunt Bea" type. Uh, she was far from that. Ms. Clara is by far the most interesting (in a CRAZY, eclectic, DISTURBING kind of way), I've ever met.

And she was the first person I'd ever met who was rather adamant about one thing:

Marking her territory.

When I finished my Ph.D. in 1998 (damn, has it been THAT long ago?), I obtained a 2 year postdoctoral fellowship in New Orlea.ns with the USD.A in the area of ter.mite chemistry.

I was shacking with my man at the time, and while I was waiting for my start date, I had a little clerical job. (Imagine the looks on people's faces when they found out I was a "Dr.", yet content to happily file forms all day. Shoot, I was just happy to be done with school, and doing something non-nervewracking for a change, lol.)

So, needless to say, when it came time for me to move to New Orl.eans, I didn't have much money. I only had about 800 bucks.

That's not enough for moving expenses, apartment deposits. . . nothing.

One solution: BOARDING HOUSE.

Yeah, the Oldgirl decided to live in a boarding house for about 5 to 6 weeks.

Now, I'd never done anything like that before. But I didn't know anyone in Louisi.ana. I'd made a quick visit down there. A friend of my man's had hooked me up with a chick who drove me around to a few apartment complexes that she liked. And when the job flew me in for an interview, the sister in the research group drove me around also. So I knew where I wanted to live.

But I had no money. So I found a boarding room.

I called a couple of places. The place I settled on was in Kenner, near the LA airport, about 11 miles from my job. I spoke on the phone with a woman name "Ms. Clara".

When I got off the phone with her, I called my BFF LadyTee.

"You find somewhere to live, Lee?"
"Yeah, I think," I said. "This place is 105 bucks a week, out in the suburbs. But I don't know."
"Why you say that?"
"Because, this chick sound like a dang redneck."
"Ah hell n'awl!" LadyTee yelled.
"And, you know, I can put on my professional voice at the drop of a dime. I don't think she could tell I was black."

LadyTee laughed real hard at that one. A bit too hard, really.

Well, it came time for me to go. My man "Oldboy" packed up my ol' 73 Nova, and his Thunderbird, and we were gonna get on the road. LadyTee and I had another convo...

"You taking Oldboy with you?"
"Yeah. We're making the 6 hour drive, getting me settled in, going to get a hotel, and he'll leave in the morning."
"And you say the chick is a redneck?"
"Girl, I don't know that! She just sounding a bit crazy."
"And you taking Oldboy with you? With him looking like Thug Love with all the earrings and the braids on his head?"
"Yeah, girl!"
"Man, that Old lady gonna see him and be like 'Oh hell no, you can't stay here'".
"Shut up, girl!!"
"Haaaa! That ol' broad gonna run get her shotgun and run ya'll n***** up outta there.
"Shut up, Tee! Stop playing!"

Again... LadyTee laughed a bit too hard. I believe that chick was joning me out for a couple days.

I remember looking at Oldboy, wishing he would take off a few earrings, wishing that he would cut his hair or something.

"Baby, you better stop listening to LadyTee, with her ol' crazy self."

I listened to him, but reluctantly...

So we drove down to Louisiana...

To be continued...

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Great Book List

I did something interesting last year, but sort of forgot about it.

As I finished a book, I wrote down the name and author of that book in the back of my journal. I was thumbing through and I found that page.

Last year, I read 26 books. And here they are, in the order I read them:

The Memory Daughter’s Keeper –Kim Edwards
First Fridays –Cherlyn Michaels
Reasonable Doubt – Pamela Samuels-Young
In Firm Pursuit – Pamela Sameuls-Young
The Wave- Walter Mosely
Every Woman has a Secret- Brenda Thomas
Ladies Night Out- Electa Rome Parks
What’s Done in the Dark- Gloria Mallete
Sex.Lies.Murder.Fame-Lolita Files
Color Me Butterfly-L.Y.Marlowe
Beyond the Down Low –Keith Boykin
Bird by Bird- Anna Lamont
Granddaddy’s Dirt- Brian Eggeston
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseni
Diva’s Last Curtain Call- Angela Henry
The Fall of Rome- Martha Southgate
Third Girl from the Left- Martha Southgate
Immediate Fiction – Jerry Cleaver
Love and Lies – Kimberly Lawson Roby
The Alchemist – Paulo Coehlo
Ron Carlson Writes a Story –Ron Carlson
My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
Another Way to Dance- Martha Southgate
Every Goodbye Ain’t Gone: Family Portraits and Personal Escapades- Itaberi Njeri
My Soul Cries Out- Sherri Lewis
Breath, Eyes, Memory – Edwidge Danticat

I read 26 Books.

Let's see, there's a bit of erotica, which I detest. Like I've always said: We've all hung from the chandaliers and have gotten busy on the kitchen counter. I don't want to read about it!! There are some books written by white authors (Yes, the Oldgirl is an equal opportunity reader!). There is some interesting black law suspense fiction. There are a few memoirs (My best friend LOVES memoir, so I decided to check those out.). There's a little inspirational christian literature. And you know I got to have that black science-fiction.

The best book that I read last year, hands down, by a landslide:

Martha Southgate's Third Girl from the Left.

Man, I thought I had Mommy issues. GOOD-NESS. This was some craziness, but oh so good. Very nicely written, and it helped me push along my Fancy That manuscript. Shoot, I may have to go back and read it again.

I bow at Martha Southgate's feet. And that is someone Tayari likes as an author. You could've told me about her, Tayari. I'm gonna smack you if I catch you on the street, girl. Really. Watch. Your. Back.

The best book that I read last year that was released last year:

Khaled Hosseni's A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Yeah man. This book was off the chain. It was the Color Purple - Afghanistan style. With all the burquas and all that. Taliban and all that craziness. Had it's own version of Celie and Mister. OH MY!!! Excellent book.

Both books had me all choked up, dry heaving and hiccuping... having to excuse myself and go get a cold drink of water.

When a book has me all bent out of shape like that, IT'S A GOOD BOOK.

And, I've had to step up my reading a notch. My teacher has forbidden me from reading any commercial fiction. (But as you can see, I sneak and read it anyway. LOL!)

My writing workshop teacher fronted on me in class. I turned in something that she thought was "romantic". I didn't think it was, and that night, I was in NO mood to go toe-to-toe with her about it. She said something else that night. She first mentioned a few black writers for me to look up.

"Don't you read Toni Morrison, LadyLee?"

*gas face*

I wanted to yell, "Got Dang, man, is Toni Morrison the only black author you white people know? I don't know anyone who's not a writer who reads that complicated ish!?

But I shut up and just nodded. And jotted down the writers my teacher mentioned. That's how I got into some Edwidge Danticat.

I've only read one Toni Morrison book, and that was because Racer X, the Queen Tayari Jones, herself suggested it. And, you know, I worship the ground she spits upon. Whatever she says is gold.

It is gospel, you see.

*LadyLee running to bookstore and knocking people over trying to get to that book Tayari suggested*

Yeah, I am sure she noticed the vacant look in my eye when she suggested that book. (Well, it was part awe, starstruck because I was sitting there with my idol, lol. Don't worry, I'm much better now). I read Tar Baby in 2006. It was good. I had to concentrate like hell, and it may help if I read it, like, 10 more times. But I ain't smart enough to be reading Toni Morrison. I need total quiet to do that. But I did what Racer X said to do!

And that's a good thing:)

So this year, I will try to read more of the black literary authors. Man, it's not all that pleasurable, and I have to concentrate, but I am reading for style more and more these days.

But 26 books...

I'm a bit disappointed by that number. Sigh.


Because I usually read 40-50 books a year.

Yeah, mon. I'm a SLACKER!!


No, not quite.

I've had a ton of other activities going on. And I have been doing much writing myself. I wrote at least 600 pages of my own fiction, 60% of which is useful. 40% of the nonuseful stuff - that is me sitting down and cranking out 30 pages of what I like to call "sidebar" stories, something I banged out just to understand a minor character who's a part of a bigger story. I've been reading and editing that material.

Does all that count?


Then also, I have this wierd thing about reading sections of books. I have 20 or so books laying around the house that I pick up and only read certain chapters. This applies mostly to my books about the writing craft.

And the good 10 books of short stories I have all over the place... 100 little Murder Mysteries, Best short stories of the south, stuff like that.

So, I will adjust my book goal for 2008. I will read 25 books this year.

I've only read 4 books thus far in 2008.

Yes, the Oldgirl has much catching up to do.

So watch out. This year;s list will be very eclectic.

How many books did you read last year??

Blog Shutdown??

Warning: This a long post, maybe the longest I've ever written. I do that for a reason: I know very few will read it, so I can just flow freeeeely. That's cool, because number one, I'm not a "comment whore", and number two, 99.99999% of what I write is for ME.

Plus... it is one of the most deeply personal posts I've ever written. I had a bit of clarity and hope when I finished writing it. It is a bit of "Food for thought" sprinkled with a little "checking myself".

Cathartic even, where I've pushed aside "LadyLee", kicked aside "Original Oldgirl" to reveal a bit of the real me, revealing a bit of "Alesia"

Blog shutdown??

That's an interesting title, isn't it?

Blog Shutdown.

Hmm. . .

Well something happened last week that had me pondering such a thing...

As you noticed, last week, I only had one post up, and that was Tayari's author ebay auction for charity. It did REALLY well. (That was a great idea. Good for you, Tayari!)

Last week was an EXTREMELY busy week at work. I was working with some foodstuffs in the lab that I'm not accustomed to, and since morale is pretty much in the toilet on my job, getting some useful help from people is like pulling teeth. So, already, I was NOT a happy camper. And that's putting it very mildly.

But something like that wouldn't cause me to consider a blog shutdown. Everything just stopped.

I even got a couple of emails asking...

"You alright, LadyLee?"

My reply was usually simple. "I'm straight. Just busy."

Or, I would talk about something completely different.

I wasn't being completely truthful, just giving myself some time to process information.

A bombshell, this one more personal, caused me to think about shutting down this window to my life, my blog.


Last Wednesday, I believe (I don't quite remember the day), I was at home doing a bit of house cleaning, and some of the normal things I do when I get home from work. I'd been being a bit of a lazy bones lately though, because I've been working 10-12 hour days, and when I get home, I just want to get in the bed and pull the covers over my head. But I know that day, I was doing some cleaning.

My sister Kentucky walks in. She just got accepted into a Master's Program at my Alma Mater, so we have been in heavy discussion about things, like mainly, some of her frustrations with the red tape of getting her money together for the program, etc. I've also been on her about telling me what I can do to be of some help to her. (Convos have been along the line of: "Now Kentucky, I ain't paying no doggone car notes and insurance and stuff, but if we need to come up with a good grocery plan, blah, blah, blah, just think about what I can do to be of some help, blah, blah, blah!")

(I know I'm annoying her to death. Really.)

But Kay came in the house, and I was sitting at the dining room table, and we were talking. She was preparing to cook her dinner.

She said, "Oh, I forgot. Ma sent you something."

That caused a neck jerk so hard from me that I almost hurt myself.

The words "What is it?" didn't come from my mouth.

It was more like "Why?"

And inside I was thinking... "Here Ma come trying to start a bunch of sh**."

"She sent you a book," my sister said.

I smirked. "A book? What's the name of that book?" I asked. Demon Seed? The Evil Child?

I laughed real hard.

"I don't know. It's out in the car. I'll go get it," she said.

I watched as she walked out the front door to her car.

I sat there, talking out loud, coming up with more names for the book that my Mother possibly sent me. Since my sister had gone outside, I started talking to my cat Oscar-Tyrone.

"What's the name of that book she sent me, Oscar? Is it...

The Stupid Daughter

Reasons why you are Nothing

You are Nobody

You, the Bad Daughter

Of course, Oscar could care less. He was concentrating on arching his back and he walked between my legs and stepped on my toes. He only wanted to be rubbed.

Kentucky comes back in the house with the book. I've managed to work myself up to no good end. I am good and upset around then, thinking that I'm sitting here, minding my business, trying to be a good citizen...

And now I gotta deal with some BULLSHIT. DANG!!!!

(Sorry for opening the Book of Cuss. That's the only way I can describe what I felt at the moment).

Kentucky handed me a black book. It was thick and shiny. It had a black hard cover with white writing. I didn't look at the title immediately, only stared at my sister as she went over to the kitchen island and continued fixing her dinner.

I immediately started throwing out even more "interesting" titles:

Why You were such a Horrible Daughter

You are EVIL

All the Reasons I Hate You

Kentucky frowned. "No, it ain't nothing like that, Lisa."

I looked at the book title. It was The Bedford Handbook for Writers.


"She got a lot of books. She was going through a box, and told me to give that to you."

I frowned. "For what? How she know I like to write?"

"She reads your blog."

Man. I never expected those words to come out of my sister's mouth.

I knew my sister was joking. And it was the worst joke in the world.

But she wasn't joking. She was standing at the counter, slicing a piece of the meatloaf she'd made earlier that week. She was fixing her dinner.

When my sister said that... I don't know, I felt like all time stopped.

The earth stopped revolving around the sun . It stopped rotating on it's axis.

Time. stood. completely. still.

I didn't say anything, but I was screaming inside. There was stuff going on inside my head that I didn't even know was there. I can't describe it. The curse words haven't been invented yet. Just take my word for it. It was NOT a good look.

I didn't speak until I had quieted whatever was going on in my head. If I didn't do that, I would've jumped up and tore up everything in my house.

And that scared me. . . that all of "that" was hovering inside me, just below the surface.

Now, my mother has been trying to get a hold of my blog address for a very long time. I knew about this, but didn't fret. My blog is going on about 3 years old now, and I can't remember how she heard of it.

I've been VERY clear with my brother and sister that they could ask me anything they wanted and I would be truthful for them. But under NO circumstances were they go telling their mother ANY of my business. My business is my business. No, I have NO shadiness going on, and my life is pretty serene and all. No "mens" drama. No "I can't pay my bills drama". Nothing out of the ordinary, save for the daily cares and trials of life.

I think Grandma said something, I'm not sure. I think that is how she knew of it.

But you know, I can't run up on Grandma and say "Look here, Oldgirl, shut up!!" Grandma loves me, and is just happy I do something I enjoy.

After all, Grandma was the one that let it slip to my mother that I was buying a house. Shoot. I took her by there while it was being built, wanted her to see it. Can't blame Grandma, she loves me. She was happy and excited, and I guess she had to say something.

"How long she been reading my blog and how she know about it?" I asked.

"Da.kari gave it to her before he got married. She's been looking at it everyday."


Me and my brother Milk and Cookies haven't been on the best terms. We had a big fight before he was shipped off to his new military post. I won't get into it, but let's just say, I expressed a couple of concerns to him. He was doing a few things that damn near upset everybody (like marrying some chick, for example) and I told him about himself. Somehow, he got things confused, like I was hating and/or really gave a damn. I feel like this... do you. I was just shocked that folks were discussing this, yet smiling all in his face at the same time. Someone had to say something, and I said something to him...

I see this as some "get back". Yo, that's cool.

And I will deal with him later, whenever I catch up with him.

But anyway, I was floored at this news. Just speechless.

It was like I was a balloon, and someone just came along with a big pin, and popped me.

Busted. Deflated.

I've felt HORRIBLE, an emotional mess every since. Haven't wanted to blog or anything. Not at all.

I've always been one to keep my emotions wrapped up tight, deep inside, hidden away. But whenever I think of this, I have to hold back the tears. I have to go and think about more positive things.

And those positive things don't involve blogging, especially since that is at the center of why I'm upset.

My mother is reading my blog.

Me and my siblings have had some serious discussions in the past about our mother. I know for them that there is nothing worse than the three of us gathered in the kitchen and I just BLOW UP about how I feel about things.

They get along well enough with her. But they meet the following conditions (and this is the ONLY way to be on my Mother's good side):

1. Say all the things she wants to hear.

2. Do the things she wants you to do.

If you can do that? Heeeeyyyy. She likes you.

If not. Well, you're in the dog house.

And don't worry about that. I'm sitting in the doghouse. I'm there to keep you company.

This is the very core of one of my worst idiosyncrasies. If I even catch a whiff of you being the type of person who needs their ass kissed, or their ego stroked... I don't talk to you. I don't give you the time of day. NOTHING.

It's almost like I disappear off the face of the earth.

Let's just say, there are a few people that I'm in the doghouse with. I am very high on their "Sh** list".

This is the reason I haven't gotten a promotion at work.

A couple of coworkers have said "lee, You're a great judge of character. You know you can read people. You do be right about people?" or "Lee, why didn't you tell me that "So-n-So" was like that?"

I'm not a good judge of character. I just know that I have personality that don't mesh well with others. I can't stand shady folks or being in the midst of chaos. Plus if you got a lot of peeps around you kissing your butt, I ain't dealing with you. I'm just honest enough to know what I'm not going to deal with. What I'm not strong enough to deal with. So that puts me in a bad way with people. That's fine, because I'm not spending my time stroking your ego, or saying what you want to hear. I'm the worse "dancer" you see.

I don't DANCE.

Because after all, come on, let's be truthful, here: where does it all get you? So I gotta say what you want to hear, or there is a problem. You know that's finite, don't you? You know there's no good end to that situation, right?

Because eventually, you're going to mess up. You are going to mess up and say or do the wrong thing in this relationship. Let me correct that: this fake relationship. Because you know it's FAKE, right?

Then what?


I have two columns I put people in... You are in the fake relationship column or the real relationship column. You either INCREASE me or you DECREASE me.

Don't get it twisted. I've been in the good and bad columns my ownself when it comes to people. If I'm in your "decrease" column? Run from me as fast as you can! I am of no use to your life.

With all that said... Man. I have NO idea why my mother would be reading my blog. I mean NO idea. None.

I mean, I hate to say this, but this is someone who isn't too fond of me. And I am putting that... lightly.

Someone asked me once, since I was such a nice person, always wanting to see people do well, etc... if I'd come across anyone who has problems with me.

I told them, all the time. One of the many examples: "My mother"

Yeah, there are other people out there who got isshas with me. And I assure you, the gist of the problems folks have with me is the following:

I didn't say all the right things that they wanted to hear.

I didn't do the things they wanted me to do.

They were taken aback by that. Of course what I said made me look psycho.

But I know I have failed miserably at saying the right things my mother wants to hear, or doing all the things my mother wants me to do. And I got tired of being punished terribly for such. After all, I'm pushing 40. 40 years old. I don't have the tenacity to watch what I say or do. Nor should I have to.

I should be free to be me.

So I don't bother trying anymore. I'm polite enough, but I keep it moving. And in the past couple of years, I have cut waay down on showing up at family gatherings. It stresses me out too much to get myself mentally geared up to be in her presence. Holidays are suppose to be special times. They are not special times for me. They've become more important to me these days though, as I have friends who I spend that time with. And I do that on purpose, so I won't be alone for the holidays. A holiday is one of the rare days I have off from work, and I'd rather spend it alone doing some things I like to do, but I do make an effort to be around people these days.

So, I have NO idea as to why she's reading my blog. I just don't get it. I just don't.

And hence, my notion to delete the whole blog. It bothers me to delete something that I like to do, but I really don't want to get in "trouble" because of something I say here. I am being me. I mean, I say things I want to say here. I don't

I can't stand being "watched". Can't stand it.

This is MY blog. Mine.

Yet, I feel completely violated.

I have no right to say that, though. This is the internet. The internet is free. I totally understand that. Plus, my blog is 5% personal, and 95% funny. No blog fighting here. No bashing going around these parts. Pretty happy for the most part. It is more of a writing tool of sorts, because I know you don't know this, but I work on certain elements of my stories, parts of which I use elsewhere. Heck, I sometimes print things out, and completely rewrite them as a personal exercise for a writing technique I'm trying to refine. Just last week, I read aloud and turned in a revamped version of one of the Fancy That posts for class, posted here on this blog only a few months ago. That manuscript is 75% finished. That blog post is about to be part of one of the latter chapters of the manuscript of the same name.

I have personal journals, and even a batcave blog laying around for more personal stuff, you know.

That being said, when you read "LadyLee. . . The Original Oldgirl", you're getting a small glimpse of all that I am. Really, you are. I am an extremely reserved person, who likes being alone, and likes very quiet activities. I don't know, I like a lot of "peace". I remember a while back, one of my long time friends came over to my place once, and she said that she wanted to sit there a moment longer, because it was really really peaceful and quiet. I really liked hearing that.

That's one of my goals: total calm.

Because I am one who doesn't like chaos. I'm allergic to drama. Don't want it in my house or around me. Trust... if I gotta think TOO hard about what's going on with you, I will probably make myself pretty scarce and hard to fine. If you got a bunch of mess going on, and you're not doing anything to take care of it, well, I'm ghost.

Let's just say, you better run up on me at a stoplight or a Wal-Mart. And even then, the convo will be very short.

This blog represents that really small outlandish, creative side of my personality, a part of me that needs stimulation from time to time...

With that said...

I had my Women's Journal Writing group meeting yesterday. I really love getting together with this group of women, because it is a chance for me to work on something that I've spent most of my 30's working on: Expressing my feelings and opinion without FEAR of repercussion and punishment.

Before we go through our homework assignments for the month, we pray, then we each have to take a minute or two to talk about what has been going on in our lives since we last met together. This is difficult for me to do at times. I say the norm: I work waaay too much. My health is up and down. I am doing a ton of writing, and writing classes are going well. Things are pretty much what they are, really.

But this time I told them that I found out that my mother reads my blog. And when I told them, I was so upset and so choked up, that I could hardly get the words out. I did all I could to keep from crying. I really did. (I tend not to cry in front of people. I am hardcore. I usually cry about whatever when I am alone). I was so upset that I was shaking.

We all talked about it. They pretty much told me that I shouldn't do it, because I am the type of person that HAS to write, and I really enjoy the whole blogging thing, as it is a part of me and my writing. They had things to say that really made me think. And think hard.

And some of them thought that that is just my Mother's way of getting to know me.

I don't agree with that. That would be something normal, but I don't buy that. It's sort of how my BFF LadyTee tells me from time to time "Yeah, Lee, I talked to your Ma the other day. She asked how you are. I told her you were fine. She told me to tell you that she loves you."

LadyTee gets a earful after she says stuff like that. She listens quietly to my rants. She knows firsthand how my Mama can "flip the script" on you. I ain't falling for no more tricks. Those days of feeling "duped" and "hoodwinked" are over.

Those words, "She loves you"... I don't know, they are as foreign to me as some ancient Martian language. I don't comprehend them. Wish I did, but I don't.

And why do such words bother me when I hear them (albeit second-hand)??

I've been spending time pinpointing things that disturb me lately, and writing pages upon endless pages exploring those things in my personal coffers (journals). And I suppose it has to do with something that I've been praying about.

I know one of my biggest prayers on a prayer list (the #1 thing, really) I made at the beginning of the year was the following:

"God, please show me my heart. Please show me who I am."

That's simple enough, I suppose. But at the same time, very very complicated.

Why? Because I rarely meet people who know who they are, where they are going, and who they want to be.

Well, I want to be one of those people. With those attributes comes clarity, purpose, and peace of mind.

My prayer life is highly intangible at best. I don't care much about praying for fancy cars, jewels, and what not. I am more concerned about intangible things, because those things are FAR more real to me than all things tangible.

I'm real big on being the best person I can be, to getting to a point where I am 1000% honest with myself and willing to make changes. Just getting to a point to whatever I do, I am doing it from my heart. And not just saying that, but knowing that. I'm extremely clear on whether I am doing things from my heart or I am doing things out of jacked up motive or with an agenda in mind. I think I've written my thoughts concerning agenda and motive in pasts posts. So that is always heavily on my mind.

If I so much as catch a whiff of myself doing something with ulterior motives in mind, I DO NOT DO IT. Simple enough.

My biggest thing... My biggest fear: I don't want to get 70 years old, and I am set in my ways, and I'm unable to make changes and I have a crappy effect on myself and all the people who surround me.

I think I would just slit my throat if that was the case.

When people think of me, when I'm long gone, I want them to think... "That chick LadyLee was a good person. You know, she said something that made my day a little brighter or set me on the right track. When she thought of me, there were no ulterior motives, no personal agendas. There was nothing behind it, no strings attached. She did things out of the goodness of her heart. She only wanted me to be the best person I could be, to do the best I can."

More importantly, I want to think that of myself. May take me the rest of my life to get to that point, but just like the next person - I am a work in progress, under construction until the day I die.

This whole situation has made me sit back and realize something else about myself:

I've been angry at God about something.

Please don't look at me in that tone of voice.

Let me explain.

I know in Journal Writing meeting, I rarely talk about my issues with my mother. Why? Because several of my journal writing sister's mothers have passed since I've been in the group. (I've been in the group for 3 years). It is VERY uncomfortable for me to talk about it, even though I need to. I don't know, I guess that I feel like I'm being "disrespectul" to them. I think once, we had to write about our biggest fear, and I wrote a 3 page thing on how my biggest fear was that I would become like my mother. Anytime I write something like that, I usually write what I call a "phantom" answer: an answer that I have for the group that is more "acceptable". Yes, I do the exercise for myself, and I learn from it, but I won't DARE read it out loud to the group. That day I did. I only did it because our journal writing leader put her foot down. She wanted us to be honest with the group, and not write the "nice" answer.

And the biggest reason behind that is because I am ashamed of my situation. I'm supposed to have, especially as a black woman, a wonderful fulfilling relationship with my mother. I don't have that, and I don't remember ever having one, even as a child.

But like I said, several of my journal writing sister's mothers have died. I sit there and we all cry together. But I'm not only crying because my fellow journaling sister is in an immense amount of pain. I'm also crying because I am SO angry.

And I ask God the same question everytime.

"God, how could you let this happen? How could you take away her mother who loves her and who she loves?"

A horrible question to ask, a horrible thing to think, really. But I don't get it. I would give anything to have a mother that I was close too. I mean, I have been very stealth with my business from as far back as I can remember. Even now. VERY STEALTH. Always careful to say the right things, do the right things. ALWAYS careful, because I know the reprocussions of having a opinion or even a single thought of my own in my head that went against my mother's. Trust me, there is hell to pay for THAT.

The past few years I've been free from that to some extent.

So, I would never understand the whole "point" of a woman losing her mother. One of my favorite authors just lost her Mom. I get angry about it, because it is tragic, and a lot of this is going on lately. Why God would allow a close mother-daughter bond to be broken by death...

Oh, it infuriates me to no end.

I dont' understand such a thing... And I probably never will. I guess some things are not meant to be understood.

My pastor said something that I wrote down in my notes, and put quite a few asterisks next to:

He said we all have those doors in our hearts, those doors to places we shut off from God. They are pretty bad areas, all nasty and dusty, that really need to be cleaned up. Yet we shut the door, keep it locked tight. We don't want Him dealing with it. We trying to hide stuff. Even though He knows about it, we hide it. ALL of us have that, myself included, he said.

Maybe a week prior to hearing that from him, I told one of my blog sisters, who seems to be having a problem in an area that I don't have a problem in, that I'm pretty convinced that God is not only interested in our "pretty" perfect prayers, or our prayers about everyday things, but MUCH more interested in us being honest with Him about those dark dank areas of our lives. I knew this because I'd spent time praying about certain areas that we were discussing, and I don't have many challenges in that area. I'm a 100, no a gazillion percent sure of that. And my pastor confirmed my thoughts.

But I don't pray much about my mother and myself and our situation. That is a part of my life I keep pretty much hidden, locked off behind a door in a back corner of my mind and heart. You know, it's like that closet you throw everything into when you have company. You hide stuff, where no one can see it. Your house looks all neat and clean, but there's some junk hidden off in that closet, or under the bed, on in the basement.

You get my drift.

I've said a lot just to say this: I want some peace on this situation. I don't want it hanging over my head. I don't expect to ever have a relationship with my mother, because I don't trust her. My Auntie, my mother's sister, is who I have gone to when I'm hurting or I need advice. She listens, gives sound advice. She chastises if necessary. I don't have to worry about her using it against me later. Thank God for that. I've only recently thanked her for being a surrogate Mother. I would've thrown myself off the roof long ago if it wasn't for her patience with me, if she wasn't there for me. I'm a bit too shocked and choked up to talk to her about this situation, though. She reads my blog, so she'll probably call me.

But like I said, I want some peace on this situation.

And I know for me... it does NOT mean shutting down my blog.

NO Blog Shutdown.

That would be like cutting off one of my fingers. No, I don't need all of my fingers, and this is one of the "fingers" I don't need, but that don't make it right.

I will continue to blog. I like my blog. Will it cause me problems with my mother? I don't know. And since I haven't been concerned about such things in years, then I really need to let things be as they are now. I will continue to blog.

No matter what the repercussions are.

If my mother reads, then she reads. I have nothing to do with that. I will not be controlled.

I am more interested in being me.

In growing.

In finding me.

In expressing my thoughts, feelings and opinions with no FEAR of repercussions.

And most importantly... and this is a hard one.

In God showing me my heart, and giving me the heart to change what needs to be changed, in order to be all that I hope to be.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Manuscript Critique Announcements

What's up er'body... It's your friendly neighborhood Oldgirl!!

I probably won't be posting much this week, but I wanted to give a shout out to Racer X, i.e., my idol Tayari Jones (lol) for a fundraiser she's heading up over on her blog for the Dunbar Village survivors.

She and several authors are offering up manuscript, poetry, and story critiques on ebay. You can head over to eBay and bid on them. All proceeds go to the Dunbar Village survivors. (click here for ebay page).

Participating authors include: Tayari Jones, George Saunders, Martha Southgate, Carleen Brice, Sarah Schulman, and many more.

Now, for you writers out there... I participated in something similar to this last year, and won a manuscript critique from an author I really like, Nichelle Tramble. She edited, line for line, the first 450 pages of my Sweet Heat manuscript. I can not tell you how much her comments and advice helped me, so much so that I decided to take classes. I really grew in my writing because of it.

So you up-and-coming writers who have a manuscript, story, or piece of poetry you want critiqued... go on over and have a look-see.

And don't forget to bid, bid, bid!!

Have a good week:)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Let Me Explain

I can't believe how many years it's been since I've seen you.
And yet, you still have that same sad look in your eye, that look that says

"Don't Go. Don't do this."

But I explain to you now as I explained to you then that
I needed to leave.
I needed to find myself.
I needed to...go.

I explained it all, but I could tell you didn't believe me. You nodded your head and placed a finger to my lips to quiet me.

I didn't explain to you then but I explain to your now that I loved another.
He was there for me, a shoulder to lean on, when you had no time. And although you worked hard and took care of our family, he was there for me, even if it was to share a simple glass of wine.

Yes it's been many years, so many years filled with so many tears, far too many to count.

But I ask you again now, like I asked you then to not forget, but to simply forgive.

So I can go on with my life.


Okay. I don't know what that was. It's not a poem, because you know the Oldgirl is not poetic AT ALL. It don't even flow right. And it's not quite prose. Not sure what it is. Humph.

But it is on my mind.

So let me explain.

I wrote this in about 2 minutes time, for my women's journal writing group.

The writing prompt was: Start with "I can't believe how many years it's been since..."

Is this story about me?

Nope. That story above looks to be about a married woman who left her husband for another man. I never did that. I've never been a wine person, either (well, Boones Farm - but no glass, straight out the bottle).

And I am known for being VERY evasive and terribly passive aggressive. I don't sit around trying to explain NOTHING to nobody. If I gotta explain myself, I run for the hills. (A bad habit, I know).

Not autobiographical.

Or is it?

I don't know.

It stems from me walking through a Wal-Mart one afternoon last year, minding my own business. I have no idea what I was shopping for. I don't think I even had a buggy.

When in through the front door, past the kindly greeter, walks in a man whose heart I broke many years ago.

We made eye contact.

I ducked into the greeting card section. Got a crook in my neck from turning too fast and too hard. I pretended I was reading greeting cards. Did that for about 5 minutes and then got the HECK out of dodge. I made a mental note to make sure I not frequent THAT particular Wal-Mart ever again. (Well, I've been there a couple of times since. You know how I am about trying to get over my fears.)

What would I have said to him if he walked up to me?

Hmm... I don't know. The sound of my heart beating hard in my chest would've drowned out all conversation.

But over the years, when I've gone through ish with men, I wonder if it's punishment for breaking that dude's heart.

I remember laying in bed in the dark with the ex-husband once, and him whispering...

"You still think about him, don't you?"

Hmm... I said the answer that was appropriate at the time.

I don't know what that quick story means. There's a story all up in there, though.

I'm not going to worry myself about it.


I will go on with my life.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Book Review: Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice

I read the most interesting book over the Easter holiday weekend.

And you heard me right... over the weekend.

It is rare for me to pick up a book and read it straight through over a couple of days.

Very rare.

I spend a good week or two these days on a book. (What's up with that?)

But this particular book, Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice, really caught my attention.

I've never read anything byCarleen Brice. I just know she's a member of Miss Celie's (Tayari Jones) blog family. So I see her over in those parts, lol! Plus, she has a blog, The Pajama Gardener.

But when I read a synopsis of the book, I immediately placed it at the top of my reading list.

Now, I had plans for my Easter weekend, and I pretty much ditched all ot them...

Because I couldn't put this book down.

Orange Mint and Honey is the story of Shay Dixon, a twenty-five year old grad student attending school in Iowa. In the beginning of the story, she is at an all time low: depressed, broke, and burned out. Her only bit of joy in life is jazz music, and she is particularly enamored by the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone. A "visitiation/dream" of sorts takes place, and Nina Simone convinces her that she (Shay) needs to go home.

The problem is, home is NOT a nice place. She grew up with Nona, a mother who was an hardcore alcoholic. In fact, Shay hadn't spoken to her mother in seven years. Shay's childhood was so jacked up that Shay pretty much raised her ownself. As a result, she is angry and emotionally scarred.

When Shay returns home to Denver, she finds a mother who's totally different. Nona is now in AA, and a recovering alcoholic. She even sponsors another recovering alcoholic, a young woman around Shay's age. Nona's an avid gardener. And she is also raising Shay's 3-year-old half-sister Sunny in a healthy environment.

So, the attitude should be-

"My mother is wonderful now, and we can all hold hands and walk off into the sunset. Oh joy!"

Uh, no.

It ain't that simple.

Shay is angry and resentful. Who wouldn't be? And now, she has to look at her mother Nona who is now, all of a sudden... stable?

Can Shay accept and forgive this unrecgonizable "new" Nona?


Shay and Nona have to come to terms with each other. The past... that's the problem. That's the wall shored up between them.

The story goes on from there.

I am drawn to stories about complicated mother/daughter relationships, as I myself have terrible "Mommy isshas". These stories give me insight into my ownself, and my own problems with forgiveness. And this had to be one of the best novels I've ever read that REALLY delved deep into the complicated act of forgiveness.

The author did a fantastic job weaving themes of addiction, renewal, mother/daughter complexities, and forgiveness, all of which are very tough themes.

Now, don't let the lovely title and pretty cover fool you.

*LadyLee vigorously shaking head*

This was a tough, heart-wrenching book. Very tough and in your face. I mean, the author held nothing back and got really raw with it. I had to put it down for a minute and think hard about a few things. It really had a powerful affect on me. It's been a good two weeks since I read it, and I am still thinking about this book.

Plus, it's just very nice to read a book that is EXTREMELY well written and thought out.

I've never had Orange mint, but it is supposed to be bitter, wild, and grows all out of control.

That's how I saw the main character Shay- bitter, angry, pissed, hurt.

But is it possible, somehow, to soften out all that bitterness... with a little honey, perhaps?


If you're looking for a good fast read, and especially if you have some of these issues, you should really check out this book.

And check out the drink! Miss Celie (Tayari) has posted a nice recipe, Carleen's Orange Mint Mojitos, as a part of her Cocktails and Writers series.

Looking for a good read? Go get this book!

You won't regret it:)