Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things That Make You Swat at *CrIcKetS*

I received the following photo in an email from a couple of coworkers.

It was suggested as "A wish for all the Difficult people in your life."



Hmmm...

First of all, what deranged mind came up with that?

Second, who knows anyone THAT difficult?

Third, I would love to give that to management right now. WOULD LOVE IT.

Oh... wait a minute, I am a part of management right now. Albeit temporarily.

My boss is on a detail doing something else for six weeks, and each of us (her lowly peasants) are taking turns (one of us a week) in the supervisory role.

Now, I PRIDE myself on not ever being chosen for a managerial role. It is well known that I have no love for management, as they have thrown this Oldgirl under the bus many a time (I have permanent tire marks on my face). A Scapegoat bumper sticker is slapped across my forehead from time to time. I don't care to be a member of their "elite" crew. So I make sure that I don't volunteer for JACK, and don't know how to do nothing extra.

Yeah, I know that sounds crazy. They've just worked your girl a bit too, uh hard, over the last 7 years. Let's just say I've been supervisor for only one day in the past 7 years, and it was during the holidays when EVERYBODY was gone and there was no chance for some craziness to pop off. And yeah, ONE TIME is enough for me to slap on my curriculum vitae that I have managerial experience.

But, my very pregnant boss, The Darth Sista T, ran up on me a couple of weeks ago.

"LadyLee, you're acting [supervisor] next week."

*LadyLee stunned beyond belief. *Crickets* fly around her head*

"Nawl, man!" I yelled a bit too loudly.
"Oh yes," Darth sista said.

And she had a smirk on her face and a funny look in her eye. It was that look that said "It's been awhile since I've thrown your a$$ under the bus, Oldgirl."

Of course, the Infamous Hen-Dog got a kick out of this.

"LadyLee, I'ma need you to put on the high heels and a suit."
"Hell no!" I yelled.

I don't dress up for work. On the VERY rare occasions that I do, the guys like to bend down with a tissue and pretend to shine my pumps. Not a good look.

They can deal with my usual bummy labwear (sneakers and sweats). And I will go to a meeting like this. That way, that will be the very last time they will have me attend a meeting. LOL!

And the past few weeks have been VERY quiet in the lab. But on my week, we get swamped. So that means some long 10-12 hour work days all week for me. It is only Thursday, and I am a very tired Oldgirl.

But... I have been very sure to WHINE to my boss. I've been blowing the Darth Sista's phone up something terrible

*Phone rings*
Darth Sista T: "Hello? "
LadyLee: "Man, I got a question!"

*Phone rings*
Darth Sista T: "Yes."
LadyLee: "Yo, how do I do blah, blah, blah?"
Darth Sista T: "I'll be right over there."

*Phone rings*
Darth Sista T: "What?"
LadyLee: "Look here, I'm confused. What's up with blah, blah, BLAH!?"
Darth Sista T: Sighs hard. "It's easy, girl. Just do A, B, then C."
LadyLee: *crickets*
Darth Sista T sighs hard again. "I'll be over there."

LOL!!

That's what she gets. I think I call her, or worse, RUN UP on her at leat 10-15 times a day.

And she don't like that ish. She's pregnant and wants NO PART of my whining. She squints hard at me like my mama use to do when I was up to no good.

Yes, I complain like the next person.

But I won't embrace the complaint. I WILL EMBRACE THE SOLUTION.

I will work my 10-12 hour days. I make some SERIOUS to do lists everyday, and it feels good to look back and see that I've made some progress that day. I've been wailing real hard about my time management skills deep in the coffers of my personal journals lately.

"There is time to work. There is time to play. The thing is, there is no time to waste." (LadyLee 2008)

So I've come up with some pretty good ideas for my own personal time management in the future.

And that's a good thang!!

And, this whole acting supervisor thing is like a hairdo: TEMPORARY. It will be over on Friday.

Really though.

The other solution is to put the role of "toilet paper" pictured above in the supervisors secret little bathroom... next week, when I'm not one of them.

I've learned much. (Don't tell the Darth Sista that).

And I've learned that managing scientists is like managing cats. I've learned that I don't care for administrative duties. I'd rather skip along like a smurf, thank you very much, and work on self management...

Yeah.

Exciting news... Next week is **CHEMISTRY WEEK**

It is not what you think...

You know how I like to flip the script, and do things LADYLEE style...

Now, us chemists have interesting war stories, i.e., stories about times where we almost blew something up, etc. We sit around and retell these stories of old to each other. In some cases if tow or more of the people involved in the craziness are present at the retelling of the said stories, we do reenactments. We do this because it is AMAZINGLY funny, ESPECIALLY if we come out of the whole bit of drama unscathed.

Blog fam yells... "Yeah, we hear you LadyLee, but that sounds boring complicated!"

Shut. Up.

This here my blog. And trust, the ish will be funny.

Here's a taste of one of the posts (rough draft).

So...

The year was 1994. I was with my man that night at his apartment in Vinings, a west Atlana suburb. It was a cold winters night and we had a nice fire crackling in the fireplace.

I was in graduate school at the time, and had come over to spend the night because he had a night off. (He worked at night).

We'd been looking at television, and SOMEHOW (LOL) ended up on the floor, in front of the fireplace fooling around and such. .

We ended up making love. It was good, I must say. Plus, I'd been drinking, both beer and wine. (I have NO idea how I ended up drinking wine, because I was NOT a wine drinker. I preferred Beer, Boones, and Malt Liquor. Hey, maybe it was the cheap Boones in that wine glass.)


There was no soft music. We were bootleg, you see. That means getting it on in the indigo glow of the televison.

So like I said, we made love in front of the fireplace. And we're laying there, wrapped up together in a bedspread in the afterglow, you know, talking and kissing and what not...

Then. . .

All of a sudden. . .

(To be continued.)

Yeah, I don't know, but I think that got your attention.

LOL!

Don't worry. I ain't going erotica on you. No way.

This is some CHEMISTRY week craziness. Been wanting to do this for a good year or so, so let me indulge my, uh... nerdiness.

I was sitting here telling the full story to a couple of chemists, Cowgirl Cre and Ol' Mean Ass Cynthia. Cowgirl Cre laughed real hard. Ol' Mean Ass Cynthia peered at me curiously and cracked a smile (and that is a lot for her to crack a smile).

Like I said... maybe it's a chemist thing. I'll let you decide.

But we gonna test this out. Come back next week and see.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

**cricket moments**

I was returning to work one afternoon from my writing class a few weeks ago, when, as I exited the elevator, I was greeted by a couple of coworkers.

"LadyLee, you need to go over to Dee's desk," Coworker "T" said.
"For what?" I asked. "I already turned my timesheet in."
"Don't worry about that. Just come on."

Dee is the secretary for our particular department at work. She LOVES to yell "Dr. LadyLee, girl, you better get your timesheet in, or you not gonna get paid!" So, naturally, I was thinking about my timesheet. . . and my money.

This causes to me to bristle to no end. Dee and ALL of management know that they better have my money straight.

"LadyLee, put your stuff down at your desk and get over to Dee's desk. We want you to see something."
"See what?"
"Just put your stuff down, and come on."

Now this happens to me from time to time. Some mess or something will go down, I will walk up the scene, and it'll be like "There go LadyLee. Come here LadyLee!"

I am just as curious as the next person, so I put my stuff down on my desk and walk with coworker "T" to D's office.

We walk around the corner of Dee's cubicle area and see this:


It's a stuffed cat. I shrug. "Man, why ya'll got me running around the corner to see a dang stuffed animal?"

Then Dee turns to the animal and starts talking to it and rubbing it.

"Hey, boo. You such a sweet kitty... yes you are."

And she makes all these cooing noises that you would make with a baby. The cat responds to her, raising it's eyebrows, meeowing, responding to her touch. I walk closer and touch it myself to make sure it's a fake cat.

Yes the cat is fake, but it is fully functional or something like that. We stand there and watch Dee play with the cat.

"She's gone crazy, girl," co-worker "T" murmurs.

I didn't say a word, just stared. It was VERY weird. Very.

But I didn't care about that. I snapped back to reality.

"Yo Dee! You sitting up here playing with this cat. You got my timesheet straight so can get my paycheck?"
"Yes, Dr. LadyLee. I already put your time in." She goes back to cooing the cat.

I march back to my desk, talking trash about how Dee has lost her freakin' mind, but my money better be right.

Dee can act as crazy as she wants. Long as my money straight? I DON'T CARE.

But Dee has been our secretary and CEO (coffee executive officer) for seven years now. "I been here for far too long, chile", she always says.

And she refuses to call me by my first name like everyone else. Simply REFUSES.

"You earned that "Dr." title, Dr. LadyLee. So that's what I'm going to call you."

There are 3 other black Docs on my job. If we are all together talking (always about something besides work or chemistry, lol), Dee will pull up a chair and sit in the midst of us. She'll sit there and smile, eyes wide, looking back and forth amongst the three of us. I almost expect her to leap from the seat, fall prostrate to the floor, and kiss my Nikes, Dr. Sunshine's sneakers, or Dr. "Hazel Eyes" high heel shoes.

"What's wrong with you, Dee?" I always ask.

"Look at ya'll. I'm in the midst of greatness. This here is something else. Three doctors. Just look at ya'll. With ya'll ol' smart selves. I'm so proud. Just look at ya'll. Three doctors. Blah, blah, blah."

We look at her like she is crazy. I even kick the hard eyeroll. Then we go back to whatever trivial matter we were talking about.

Dee is from that old school guard, and is in her mid-fifties. When older black folks find out what I do, and how much "schooling" I've had, they get ALLL excited, as they didn't have the education pportunities that I've had in the past 20 years.

So, let's just say. . . EVERY time Dee sees me, she says REAL loud and clear, something involving my title.

This, uh... makes for a problem, when I'm sneaking around or doing something I have no business doing. Plus, I like to hide from management, and have as little interaction as possible. Dee can be waaaaay on the other end of a hallway, and if she sees me, she's going to yell REAL loud:

"Hey! Dr. LadyLee!!"

Even if she has seen me a hundred times that day, she does the same thing...

One day, she said real low, "Yeah, I wonder what management think when I do that." She had a real slick smile on her face.

*crickets*

*LadyLee squints hard*

She has that same, uh, let's just say, mild annoyance that I have with management.

Hmm...

But this has taught me something. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves who we ARE. Now, I don't get wrapped up in my title. I rarely use it, except in professional situations (especially if folk acting all funny... you know what I mean. Everyonce in a while I have to do the verbal foot stomp, and the title scares folk, lol.)

But we need to take time to remind ourselves who we ARE.

Everyday, we get caught up with the negative of what people say about us.

My book club sista sends out a reminder every week for us to write down things we are grateful for. This gives us an opportunity to focus on the positive in our lives. And I AM grateful for THAT. I tend to write up a couple of pages in my journal each night before bed, and this has taught me to shift to getting caught up in the positive rather than the negative.

I do my best to be a kind person, to think of others. I am a hard worker, etc.

Some nights, even if I have to put down "I AM DR. LADYLEE.", I will do that.

We all have good postive things going on in our lives.

Take a little time today to think of all the positive.

Sure, you'll have a **cricket moment** when thinking about it, as we tend to focus on immediate problems at hand, but only for a moment.

But I bet you'll find something good in your life to focus on that will make your day just a little brighter.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

**Happy Birthday MICROPHONE QUEEN**

LadyLee knew that Original Oldgirl Sharon, the Microphone Queen, would be nowhere to be found.

She had said so over on her blog somewhere.

And that only meant one thing:

The Microphone Queen's magic microphone would be left unattended.

LadyLee relished the chance to run on stage and grab that microphone. Her hands caught fire everytime she touched it, for it was always smoking. But no one was around. Maybe it would be cool enough to hold.

LadyLee ran out on the dark stage and stood in front of the gleaming microphone.

"Mike check!" she yelled.

Her voice echoed, as if she was standing on a Swiss mountaintop.

A lone flicker of a flame went up in the back of the dark room!

"Mike check one!" she yelled again. This time, more flames flickered. All of a sudden, Ladylee saw that she was not alone. There were thousands, millions even, of people there, arms in the air, hands clutching Bic lighters with flames ablazing.

"Who the hell are you?!" someone asked.

LadyLee cleared her throat. "I'm LadyLee, The Original Oldgirl!"

All was silent, except for the sound of **crickets** permeating the warm room.

"Where is Sharon?" someone yelled from the left side of the room.

"Yeah!" someone said from the right.

LadyLee heard about this crowd. They just stood around waiting for Sharon to come on stage and address them with something new, fresh, and utterly thought provoking.

No telling what they were thinking when they saw LadyLee take the stage. Sharon's stage, no less.

"She won't be here tonight," LadyLee said. "She's hanging out with her Blog fam over at a Bloggers Delight to Write event tonight."

They all stared at her, their expressions blank.

LadyLee knew she was wrong. Yes, it was Sharon's crowd, and Sharon's smoking platinum microphone, but Ladylee loved the sound of her own voice. She even had a couple of Sharon's poems in her pocket. She reached in her pocket for the folded paper. The crowd loved Sharon's poetry.

There was something coming hard and fast at LadyLee. It was a beer bottle. LadyLee ducked just in time. It smashed and broke against the wall just behind her.

"Get off of Sharon's stage!" someone yelled.

"Yeah!" the crowd yelled.

"You know," LadyLee said. "It's not nice to throw things at people."

More beer bottles flew at the stage. LadyLee ducked them all.

Boos and hisses arose from the crowd. The flames went out one by one, and people turned to leave.

"Wait," LadyLee said. "I have one of her poems. I can recite it."

More boos and hisses.

"You're not Sharon!" a woman yelled. "We want Sharon!"

"No, I'm not Sharon. But I have one thing to say."

"We don't care what you have to say!"

LadyLee lifted the microphone from the stand. It was hot and heavy in her hands. It began to vibrate like crazy.

"I just want to say. . ." LadyLee began. She grabbed the microphone with both hands and tried to hold it steady.

"I just want to say Happy Birthday, Sharon. Happy Birthday Microphone QUEEN!!"

*Ladylee throws microphone down on stage and takes off running. Microphone bursts into flames and explodes into a million pieces.*

Yes. That's what I get for lifting your microphone and walking on your stage.

Happy 43rd Birthday Sharon !
You Original Oldgirl you!!

. . . And many more!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Foto Fridays

My Auntie Joyce is a photographer, and has a business restoring photos. She's also our family historian. (Yeah, that makes us sound aristocratic, lol.)

But we were looking through some of her collection, and came across a photo of my Great Great Grandfather, Mr. Harry Kendall.



I look at this photo and think, what a handsome fella he was. I wonder what kind of car he drove, what were his favorite TV shows, etc.

I had to catch myself. This is a photo from the late 1800's. He probably had a horse. And if not, he had to walk everywhere.

And there was no TV back then.

Humph.

Makes me feel a little weird about getting all pissed off when my cell phone goes dead because I forgot to charge it up...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Food for Thought: "Solutions"

I heard something one day last week that has burned a hole in my mind every since:

"Just by bringing up a problem, without any thought or discussion of a possible solution, makes you a complainer."

One thing I don't like is a bunch of complaining (from myself or others). I work pretty hard in catching myself, and that is more often hard to do than not. I can complain just as hard as the next guy!

But, since I heard that statement last week, I am beginning to think a bit differently.

When I find myself complaining, I've begun to immediately think:

"What's the solution to this problem?"

Then I pick up my journal (or a scrap piece of paper, lol) and start writing. I am finding that I'm focusing on what my fears are in the situation, my hurts, my anguish. (Afterall, that's what it's REALLY about, right?)

I'm not coming up with a solution every single time. I can say that when I don't, I can at least be honest with myself and find the ROOT of the issue.

. . .And I can start working on that root.

But I find that I'm becoming "solution-minded". I'm coming up with good quality plans to alleviate the problem.

And that, my friend, is a good thing.

It means I'm at least on a path...

A path leading away from the complaining, and headed fast towards the solution for my problems!

So I ask you today: Let's work on easing up on the complaining, and work harder on embracing the solution process.

Friday, February 15, 2008

"The Greyhound Blues" Part IV (Final Part)

Greyhound Blues, Part IV (Final Part)

Connie Thornton first saw the woman in the pink fur coat standing outside near the bus, enjoying a cigarette. The woman looked as if she was relaxing on a beach, staring out over a beautiful ocean. She wondered, as she leaned over her son Johnny staring out the window, why a woman as sophisticated as that one would even step foot into a bus station.


"Maybe she's waiting on someone," Connie said.

"What, Mom?" her son Johnny asked.

Connie backed away from the window and sat up straight in her seat. She didn't realize she was speaking out loud. "Oh nothing, dear," she replied.

She smiled and kissed Johnny on the forehead. "You just keep playing your game."

Connie pulled bus tickets from her purse. Their tickets said five-forty, and here it was ten minutes before six. She would've gotten up and asked the driver of th there was a problem, but she didn't want to leave Johnny sitting by himself.

Connie picked pieces of torn tissue from her lap and placed them in her purse. That was her last tissue. She forgotten to buy more in her rush to cath the bus. Now she sat there, needing more to wipe her runny nose and to cover the scratches on her face.

The scratches. She touched them gently with a her finger. The makeup she'd used to disguise them was not doing it's job. The scratches were itchy, and they'd even begun to ooze. She didn't have the time for infection. And she didn't want anyone looking at her, asking questions.

No one seemed to notice, except the black man who'd bent over to pick up a a runaway ball of yarn from the bus aisle a few minutes ago. He'd stared into her face for a few seconds, not saying a word. It seemed as if he wanted to say something, but then got caught up in a conversation with the owner of the yarn, a flirty old woman seated across the aisle. The man turned and walked back up the bus aisle. He slid into a seat a couple of rows up from them.

Besides that, no one paid her any attention. And that was fine by her.

It had been a long day, and in some 40 hours, they would be out west, far from D.C. area.

Far from Johnny's father Cameron.

Cameron St. John had full custody of Johnny, but was out of town on business for the weekend. Connie had gone over to pick up Johnny, as she had him every other weekend (whenever THAT worked out), and the maid had let her in the house as always.

But this weekend was different. Connie had a plan. She was getting Johnny for good.

Cameron had started acting silly as of late. He'd married a woman, an actress who couldn't have kids. The woman adored Johnny, so much so that she wanted to officially adopt him.

"I'll pay you whatever you want, Connie," Cameron had said with checkbook in hand. "Name your price. Just sign over your parental rights."

"My son is not for sale," Connie said. She didn't even think twice about it.

That was a year ago, when Johnny was five years old. Cameron had given her a hard time every since then. When she'd come to pick up Johnny, they'd never be around. Cameron would bring Johnny to her apartment, but always when she wasn't there.

The final draw was when Connie was standing in the grocery store line and saw Cameron's wife on the front cover of a popular tabloid clutching Johnny's hand, beaming about how much she loved her son Johnny.

Connie decided right then in that grocery store line what she had to do:

She had to get her son for good.

She'd gone over to Cameron's house that Friday morning after finding out that he was away on business. The Actress, as Connie liked to call her, was away on some movie shoot. Johnny was alone in the house with the maid.

Connie dropped by their house under the premise of bringing Johnny a gift. The maid had reluctantly let her in the house. Connie told Johnny, when the maid left to answer a phone call, to go and sit in her car and wait for her. Johnny was hesitant, but did as he was told. He was a good child, a stickler for rules, and always quick to do as he was told.

Connie made her way to Johnny's bedroom and quickly gathered a few of his favorite things in a large trash bag: his video games, his favorite orange jacket, his designer sneakers. Sure, she had clothing for him at her apartment, but it was nothing like what his father could afford for him.

She'd finished searching and gathering Johnny's things, she looked up to see the maid charging at her. They'd gotten into an awful fight, and the maid had the nerve to scratch her face. The fight ended when Connie hit the maid in the head with a bat.

Connie shivered. She could still hear the crack of the bat against the maid's head.

Better a crack of a baseball to the skull rather than a bullet in the head, she thought as she drug the woman into a closet and closed the door.

"Stupid maid," Connie mumbled. "And I liked her, too."

Connie dug in her purse for more tissues, but found none. Her hand brushed the cold metal of the gun she had when getting her son. She'd thought about tossing it, but would do that once they were well out of the D.C. area.

She pulled an old romance novel from the crowded purse. She wanted to wait until they were on there way before she started reading, but right now was as good a time as any.

Connie leaned into the aisle and tapped the shoulder of the old woman who was busy crocheting.

Excuse me, Ma'am," Connie said. "Do you happen to have any tissues?"

The old lady peered at her curiously, then sat her crochet project in her lap. She reached for her straw purse, and retrieved a small travel pack. She handed it to Connie.

"Thank you," Connie said. She removed a couple, and handed the pack back to the old woman.

"No, that's alright, dear," the old woman said. "I have plenty more."

"Connie tore open the pack.

"My name's Sarah," the old woman said. She reached her hand out across the aisle. "Sarah Baxter."

Connie looked down at the old woman's wrinkled hand. She didn't want to be rude, but she had too much on her mind and was in no mood for conversation.

"I'm Helen," Connie said.

They shook hands.

"Mom, your name's not Helen, it's Connie." Johnny broke out into a fit of giggles. He leaped into Connie's lap and smiled at the old woman. "My mom's name is Connie, rhymes with my name Johnny!"

The old woman raised an eyebrow at Connie.

Connie quickly placed Johnny back into his own seat.

"Connie's my middle name, " she explained. "Short for Constance. Everyone calls me Connie."

The old woman said nothing. only picked up her yarn and needle and went back to her project.

Good, Connie thought. Didn't want to talk to her anyway.

Connie stood up. She was ready to go. She had no idea where the bus driver was, but she could at least ask him why they hadn't departed. Just as she was about to step out into the aisle, the bus driver jogged up the bus steps and plopped down into his seat. The bus was moving before Connie could even sit back down in her own seat.

A hard rapt on the glass door caused the bus driver to hit the brakes. He grabbed the large silver handle and opened the bus door.

“Yeah, I thought you’d get the message,” the bus driver said through a hard laugh.

The mysterious woman in the pink fur coat slowly ascended the stairs of the bus. She combed her fingers through her hair, then leisurely made her way down the aisle.

Connie watched the woman as she slowly made her way down the aisle. Surely the bus driver wasn't laughing at such a sophisticated woman. The woman held her head high, and walked down the aisle like it was a high fashion runway, like she knew that all eyes were on her. She paused at the side of the young man who'd retrieved the yarn earlier, but then continued walking up the aisle.

Before Connie knew it, the woman in the pink fur coat was standing next to her, staring down at her. Connie quickly looked down. She hoped the woman wasn't looking at her scarred face. Connie began turning the pages of the tattered romance novel in her lap. The woman soon moved, and sat down in the seat directly behind her.

More time passed. The bus still hadn't moved.

“Who’s smoking back there?” the bus driver yelled.

No one said a word. A couple more minutes went by.

“Let me remind ya’ll that there’s no smoking on this bus," the driver yelled. He pointed at the blinking no smoking sign. "Now whoever’s smoking better put it out or get off the damn bus.”

Still no one said a word. And the bus didn't move.

Connie was becoming antsy. At this rate, she and Johnny could just catch another bus and be on their way.

“I’ma ask one last time. Who the hell smoking back there?”

Again, no one said a word. All was quiet, save for the hard hum of the engine.

“It’s the black lady. The black lady with the big sunglasses and the pink cat hair coat.”

Connie sat up straight. She looked over at Johnny. He was standing up in his seat, pointing at the woman sitting behind them.

“The black lady right here, Mister,” he yelled. “She’s smoking.”

Connie's breath caught in her throat. There was a frantic commotion at the front of the bus, then the sound of footsteps so heavy that they shook the entire bus.

Suddenly, the driver was standing over the woman sitting behind them.“Lady, I don’t know what your problem is, but you better put out that damn cigarette.”

No one said a word.

The nice black man who'd retrieved the yarn for the old woman earlier was suddenly standing next to the bus driver, a hard look of concern on his face. "Everything alright back here?" he asked.

"I got this," the bus driver said. He pointed to the front of the bus, and got up in the man's face. "I got this. Go sit back down. I can take care of this."

The black man hesitated. Connie looked up and he was staring straight at her, a worried look clouding his face. Connie quickly looked back down at her book. The scars must be oozing again. She touched them lightly with a tissue.

“This is my last cigarette, and I’m gonna smoke it,” the woman in the pink fur coat said.

Connie was amazed at how calm the woman was. She sounded as if she was having a friendly conversation at a cafe with her friends. She sounded nothing like a woman in the midst of a trouble.

Connie pulled on Johnny and made him sit down.

“But Mom, the lady is smoking!” Johnny yelled.

“I know, Johnny, but let the nice bus driver handle it.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to get off this bus,” the driver said.

“Uh, no. I paid for my ticket, and I make my singing debut tonight," the woman said.

A singer, Connie thought. She was on the bus with a singer. No wonder she was dressed so expensively. Maybe once they got on the road, she could ask her for a sample of her music. From what she heard, singers always carried around free samples.

“What you need to do is get up there and do your job. Drive us to New York City,” the woman said.

After a couple of minutes, the bus driver marched back up to the front of the bus.

The black man walked back and sat down in the seat behind Connie, next to the woman in the pink fur coat. She could hear him mumbling. She leaned back in her seat, hoping to hear what he and this famous singer were talking about.

The woman in the pink fur coat didn't say a word. The man left and walked back up to his seat.

After a couple of minutes, the bus driver stood up and asked for everyone's attention. “Listen up, everybody. I don’t have to put up with this shit. I been on this job thirty-five years. My retirement starts next Monday. It’s Friday night, and I could be at home right now instead of fooling with mess. And that’s what I’m gonna do. You all have a good evening, and get to New York the best way you can.” He grabbed his belongings and stomped off the bus.

Johnny leaned his head against his mother's shoulder. "Mom, the man said a bad word."

"Yes, I know Johnny. It's okay," she said. She placed her arm around his shoulder. She had a few choice bad words she would've said herself if Johnny wasn't sitting there beside her.

“Come back,” the woman in the pink fur coat yelled. “I sing tonight!”

Connie looked over her shoulder and saw the woman standing up and leaning close to the window.

“Well I’ll be,” the old woman sitting across from her said. She’d been crocheting. She threw the yarn and needle to the floor. “My family reunion starts tomorrow, and because of this heffa and her cigarette, I’m gonna miss it.”

No one else said a word. The hum of the bus engine was as loud as a that of a plane's engine. Connie leaned down and picked up the ball of yarn that had landed on her foot.

Suddenly the woman slid out of her seat and marched to the front of the bus.

“Oh, now you want to get off,” the black man said. “You should've thought about that earlier.”

Connie gathered up her things. She and Johnny were going to make their exit too. She could easily catch another bus.

Connie stood up just in time to see the woman slide into the driver's seat.

“I’m not getting off the bus.” The woman grabbed the door handle and pulled the door shut. “We’re going to New York.”

“You can’t do that,”the old woman sitting across the aisle said. “You’ll kill us all.”

“Oh, we’re going to New York," the woman in the pink fur coat yelled. “And I’m going to get us there.”

The nice black man stood up and looked back at Connie. Connie slowly sat back down in her seat.

Why did he keep looking at her?

"Damn scars," she mumbled. She touched her face. She hated they were drawing such attention.

But that wasn't the worst of her problems.

She had finally gotten her son, and was headed for a new life...

But was it all for nothing??

Would they meet their end with this woman driving the bus?



She reached in her purse and felt around for the gun. It was still there, fully loaded and ready if she needed it.

No, they wouldn't meet their end on this bus.

Not if she could help it.

Afterword for Part IV

What's up with the gun, Connie?

Why we gotta be carrying guns on the bus, Connie?

You know I can't write a story without a gun. All my stories involve somebody packing a piece. Nope, it ain't gangster, but uh... gotta have your piece!

LOL.

You know, when I was writing the first part of Greyhound Blues, I wrote that Ta.yari stopped next to a dishelved woman flipping through pages of a romance novel. Ta.yari was perturbed that the woman was even reading a romance novel ("chewing gum for the brain, they were").

But I was a bit disturbed that the woman wasn't reading. I saw her flipping through pages all nervous like. I wondered to myself, "Who is that woman, and what is her problem."

Hence, Connie Thornton. She's kidnapped little Johnny, and is doing her best to get out of D.C.

And she would've been well on her way if it wasn't for Ta.yari and that dayum cigarette!

LOL

Or would that be the case?

Why on earth was Aaron staring at Connie so hard? Yeah, there are the scratches on her face and all. That would cause me to even look at someone sideways, you know.

I'll give you a clue.

There are two undercover cops on the bus. Twist has a laptop, Aaron has that Blackberry.

And I know around my way? There is a such thing as an AMBER ALERT.

Hmmm... that's all I'll say.

Anyway, this story has been a lot of fun to write, but getting the logistics correct is driving me batty. Hopefully I will figure out how to get it all to read much smoother. That is very hard for me to do. But I'm learning:)

This story is inspired not only by Ta.yari's adventures on the Greyhound bus, but also by a theme I find myself writing under as of late.

We are all absorbed in our own problems and issues, and rightfully so. (If you're not, I know I am.) But at the same time, we have no idea what's going on with people all around us. WE ASSUME a lot from the smiles on people's faces. For instance, I sit in church and I look at people. They have it all together, look perfect and all. But what are they going through? What has them crying at night? What obstacles are they currently trying to overcome? Who do they love? Who do they hate? What are their present needs?

What's going on in their heart of hearts today?

I constantly think about such things, and it seems to be a strong thread weaving its way in and out of my writing. And it has made it's way into Greyhound Blues.

What's going on with Aaron Fletcher? Is he interested in Chandra Twist, but still mourning over his wife? If so, why won't he talk to her about it? And never mind him, what's going on with Chandra Twist? Is she going to continue to pine over Aaron?

And Connie... you can look at her and tell that she been through something, just looking at her jacked up hair and the scarred face. But one would think she is an abused woman. You'd never look at her and think that she has kidnapped her own child. I actually wrote a detailed 20 page treatment of her situation. It deeply disturbed me, as I HATE exposition. I learned much about her, though. It was too long to post, so I posted this shortened version, which makes more sense anyway.

All I know, by the time I finish the entire story... poor Ta.yari is going to be looking a bit perplexed, thinking...

"What's going on, everybody?"



"I was just trying to get to the concert so I could sing. What-, what's going on?"

So, boys and girls!

Thank you SO MUCH for stopping by for ***STORY WEEK***

And this was a looooong one! LOL.

I've gotten some really good emails behind this, and some great ideas to boot. (That's uh, usually why I do this, lol.)

I may have another story week coming up sometime this summer.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"The Greyhound Blues" Part III: "Wine and Tears"

Happy Valentine's Day
Here... have a virtual rose!


Part III of "Greyhound Blues" goes out to all the Lovers in the house.

...and for those who are loving someone from afar.



Wine and Tears
He steps on the bus, clean as always, wearing that same camel suede coat.
His favorite black thick ribbed turtleneck clings to his body like a long lost love.
His hair is neat, and looks like it was just trimmed with scissors fresh out the pack, specially manufactured for the cutting of his coarse hair .
He stops beside me just to tease me, wearing that scent, all citrusy and woodsy, that just had to be custom made just for him.
He was polite to the rowdy college crowd that sat just behind me. It was like him to do that, pinpointing the most boisterous crew on the bus and purposefully convincing them he’s one of them. I’d already assessed them, found them to be relatively harmless, although flirty, and oh so eager to practice that machismo that flows thick and fast through all mens veins.
“Hey baby, what’s your name?”
“Why a woman as fine as you riding the bus?”
“If you were my lady, you’d never have to ride the bus. I would take you wherever you wanted to go, even to the moon.”

I tell them I’m on a trip to visit my sick cousin, and the bus is cheaper than my gas guzzling car or an airline ticket. This explanation seems to work, as they express their sympathies and hope that everything will be alright.
But Fletcher does what he does well, bending over and saying my name like no other.
He never calls me Chandra, but calls me Twist, preferring my last my name to my first. Maybe it’s because it only has one syllable and not two, or because he can lazily leave off the “t” and draw out the “s”. The “sssss” that flows from his lips when he says my name is like that from the serpent that moved through the garden, and hung from a tree, convincing Eve that she can be all she all she can be. . .
. . . if she would just listen.
I use to love it, but now I hate it. I wish he'd call me Chandra, or at least put my title Seargent in front of the “Twist” like everyone else does. But I play the game as always, never blowing our Nightrider cover, making it tight like a new pair of shoes in need of breaking in.

“Twist,” he says.

I cut my eyes at him, like I always do, then look all around like I’m checking to see if he’s addressing someone that I just don’t see. I look back up at him, then flip my hair back behind my ear, then look away like I always do.

“Yeah, I’m talking to you,” he says.

“Excuse me?” I say.

His duffel bag falls to the floor. It makes a hard thump, sounding too much like the bang of his fist against the door of my hotel room during that awful snowstorm last year. He was hurting that night, and needed to talk. . .
. . . or so he said.

He leans over, folding his arms and resting them on the back of my seat, getting a little too close for comfort. He smells like the rain that fell one night during our layover in a town whose name I can’t remember. Our bus had broken down and we sat on a bench much too close, waiting for another to come our way.

“Twist that pretty thick leg out the way so I can sit with you, sugar,” he says, with a quick lick of his lips for effect, even though the only one who can see this is myself.

I grip the laptop resting on my lap like I gripped his back the night we first made love a few months ago, the night of that big snowstorm in some town whose name I can’t recall. Again, he missed his wife who’d died a year ago, and needed to lay his head on my shoulder.

Or so he said...
I listened as he cried that night over missing, wanting, and needing his dear Nia. I missed her too, as she was indeed a good friend of mine. But I wasn't in the mood that night to reminesce for life long gone. I only wanted to be alone with my two bottles of oak-aged Shiraz, bought on sale at the liquor store across the way.
But who would've known that wine and tears do blend so well. . .
Just like me and Fletcher did all through that stormy night, when his yearnings for Nia turned into yearnings for me, then back to yearnings for Nia.
To wake up the next morning with him long gone was the worst feeling I've ever had, especially since he didn't acknowledge me afterwards. . .
Acknowledge these feelings I have for him. . .
These thoughts I have flow through my heart strong like a raging river as I search for the words to say to him now.
“There’s no sugar here, player,” I say, my voice strong and nasty, my heart trembling like a baby fresh from a warm bath. “Uh, maybe you should check up front with the geriatric crew. You might find some sugar up there.”

I say it smooth as I can, like a woman spurned, not a woman sad. A series of oohs and foot stomps explodes from the back of the bus, letting me know that I’d done my job, and done it well. Fletcher glances over his shoulder at the laughing fellas, then the coal black eyes I love so much fell back against me, causing me to twitch ever so subtlely in places I don’t care to mention.
He turns and jokes with the guys, then turns back to me. I’d opened my laptop and was busy pecking away at letters, all consonants, no vowels. I lean my head back against the glass and for once, I am glad of it. The cold feel of it reminds me that I am here to handle business and to smother all things personal, to make sure those who ride this bus can anticipate of the pleasures of their destination and not fret over their safety.

But at times, I can’t help myself. I stare at this man, this man that I love, from afar no less. I ponder this man who I’ve had the pleasure to experience in the late midnight hour, when two become one, and no one knows.

But I know.
And he knows.
Even though wine mixes with tears, it’s not a good mix, as one dilutes the other.
Wine made weak, and cleansing tears made strong.
Whoever knew that such coming together could be so wrong.


Afterword for Part III.

**crickets**

Well, well, well...

Did you think that Aaron Fletcher knew the woman with the laptop? Hmm.

I didn't either. I just remember getting him on the bus and having him talk to different people. She was attitudinal with him, but I began to think...

I wonder what that chick with the laptop is thinking about? Is she looking him up and down like the pink coat, cigarette smoking Ta.yari, or what? Is there a connection between Aaron Fletcher and Chandra Twist.

I made her a bus marshall. Makes more since anyway to have TWO cops on the bus just in case anything went down, really.

But I must say, I like Chandra Twist. And I just wanted to know what was on her mind, and uh, she has A LOT on her mind.

Now something funny happened when Ms.Blackliterature.com read this piece a couple of weeks ago.

She sent back an email saying something to the effect of that she thinks that Chandra Twist is ME (LadyLee)...

**huge crickets**
Stop playing, Ms. Blackliterature.com !!

Naaaaawwwwwwwl...

First off, I'm not opening my hotel door. Nope. There would have not been any wine and tears. The story wouldn't have even started out like that. It would've started out more like...

"Look at this negro here... getting on the bus. DANG! I told them folks I didn't want to be on the same bus with him. And now look. He's coming my way. He's gonna catch this laptop in his grill if he so much as THINK about say one word to me."

Then I would've went into a long flashback of me going off on him for sleeping with me and walking off the way he did. Matter of fact, I would snap on him every time I saw him. Aaron would hate the Oldgirl! I have a bad attitude. I have anger managment isshas. I have a violent streak. I have absolutely no tact to speak of.

Nope. This ain't about me. This is about Chandra Twist.

Like I said, I like her character a lot, even though she is apparently hurt and confused. I'm wondering why she continues to work with him. I'm also remotely thinking about her past. Obviously she was good friends with Aaron's deceased wife Nia. But I'm wondering what else is up with her. Hmm...

This could all end up in a girlfight between Chandra and Ta.yari.

(Tay.ari would lose. I can see pink fur of her coat flying all over the place.)

But it's not going in that direction. (Although that would be. . . interesting.)

Hmmm....

Stay tuned for Part IV.
Warning: Not the final part, but will finish the set-up of the story.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"The Greyhound Blues" Part IIB

**Story Week Continues**

Click here for
"Greyhound Blues, Part I"
Click here for
"Greyhound Blues, Part IIA"

Aaron skipped up the narrow column of steps and onto the Greyhound bus. The bus was brighter than usual, the top lights being juiced up a bit by the personal reading lights hovering just above the individual bus seats. The bus was only half full. As usual, the elderly scattered themselves near the front, while the younger riders packed the back.

Aaron strolled to the back of the bus, eager to take his place among the hip crew. The sound of tinny rock music grew louder and louder the closer he got to the back.

Several young guys, all appearing to be college-aged, commandeered the two back rows and were laughing hard over some inside joke or tale. One spotted Aaron coming their way, and pointed at him. Another threw his backpack in the one lone empty seat in their midst. Someone turned the music down.

“What’s up, fellas?” Aaron asked.

They all laughed, one of them even mimicking his greeting.

“Nothing much, bro,” a scraggly red-headed guy replied. He unzipped his maroon down jacket, then placed his hand atop the seat occupied by his backpack “And I hope you don’t think you’re sitting back here with us. Not with all those empty seats up front.”

“That’s cool,” Aaron said. He rubbed the back of his neck. “Sounded like a lot of fun going on back here. Thought I’d be able to sit with you. Good conversation makes the ride go by faster.”

“Well, you thought wrong,” the red head replied. He looked around at his friends. “Right, fellas?”

They all nodded in agreement and exchanged fist pounds. They stared Aaron down.

Aaron turned around and started back towards the front of the bus. He was in no mood to argue over a seat that he had every right to sit in.

To his left, two seats ahead of the rowdy college crew, he spotted a sister dressed in black leather from head to toe. She sat with her legs wide open, one leg propped up, the thin heel of her high heel boot stabbing the cloth fabric of the bus seat. A small laptop computer was perched on her thigh, and she was busy peeling off her leather gloves.

“Twist,” Aaron said.

The woman cut her eyes up at him, then looked all around about her, then back up at him. She flipped stray blond streaked black hair back behind her ear.

“Yeah, I’m talking to you.”

“Excuse me?”

Aaron let his duffel bag fall to the floor. He leaned over, folding his arms and resting them on the back of the seat in an effort to get closer to her. “Twist that pretty thick leg out the way so I can sit with you, sugar.”

She frowned. She gripped the laptop then flipped her other leg up, crossing her legs at the ankle. “There’s no sugar here, player. Uh, maybe you should check up front with the geriatric crew. You might find some sugar up there.”

She delivered those words in one of the most sexiest voices he’d ever heard. A series of oohs and foot stomps exploded from the back of the bus. Aaron glanced over his shoulder at the laughing fellas then back at the young lady.

“You can’t catch a break, can you, bro?” the all to familiar red head yelled.

Aaron smiled and backed away from the woman. “I guess not.”
.
“Then I guess it’d be a good idea for you to go back up to the front, then.”

“I guess so.”

“You need to get that ancient version of the Bluetooth out your ear, looking like a Star Trek Cyborg.”


Aaron adjusted his Bluetooth in his ear.

“You will never catch me, Captain Kirk,” one of the guys growled in a low scary voice. More laughter erupted from the crew.

Aaron glanced back at the young lady. Her laptop was now open, it’s neon blue glow illuminating her soft brown skin. She was typing hard and fast, her head leaning back against the bus window. He wanted to say more, but had a disturbing vision of a laptop coming fast and hard at his head.

He gave a polite nod of defeat, lifted his duffel bag, and started back towards the front of the bus.
“You can sit with me, sexy,” he heard someone say. Aaron stopped and turned in that direction.

Two guys were staring at him, smiling hard.

One of the guys, a light brother with way too much gel caked in hair, keeping it at full attention, grinned. He licked his lips in high anticipation. His sidekick leaned in closer to his friend to get a better look.

“Uh, you don’t appear to have room for me.”
“Not really. But if you can’t find a seat up front, feel free to double back and sit on my lap.” Both men giggled.

Aaron thanked him, but declined. “Where are you fellas heading?”

They both smiled, happy for any semblance of conversation. “We’re heading to the Brand New Heavies concert.”

Aaron hadn’t heard of this Brand New Heavies, but figured it must be some type of rock band. “The Heavies. I’m going to see them, too. Been looking forward to this concert for months.”

This little tad of information really excited them. “So, you like the Heavies? What’s your favorite song?” They both leaned forward, waiting for his answer.

“I uh, like the slow songs. Love the slow ones.”

“Really,” the light brother said. “They don’t have many of those, the slow songs, I mean. But you must be a good man if you like the slow songs.”

Aaron had no idea what that meant. He gripped his duffel bag, said his goodbyes, and continued his trek towards the front of the bus. There was nothing worse than getting hit on by other men. He knew he didn’t do anything to draw such attention, but for some reason he became a homosexual magnet at times. He didn’t even notice them when he got on the bus. He quickened his step when he heard one of the guys mention something about his ass.


In his effort to get away, he tripped over something in the aisle. He almost fell forward, but grabbed the back of an empty seat to steady himself. A ball of yarn flipped back behind him and lay at his heel. He turned around, leaned down and picked it up, juggling the soft odd shaped mass in his hands. He looked up into the face of a thin white woman with blonde hair so scraggly that it looked like a bird had tried to make a nest there, but abandoned the idea. She turned away quickly, craning her neck to look out the window.


“Look Mom, I made it to the next level!” A small hand jutted a hand held game into the woman’s face.

“That’s nice, Johnny,” the dishelved woman replied as she pushed it away. “Real nice.”

She gripped a well worn tissue in her hand, tearing it into small pieces which floated like snowflakes to the floor of the bus. Thin ragged scratches faintly disguised with makeup stretched the length of her face.

A bony hand wrinkled with age appeared near Aaron’s face.

“That’s mine,” a woman said. She wiggled her hand. “I just dropped it. It’s mine.”

Aaron turned his attention to the woman sitting across the aisle from the blonde. He stood up straight and handed the ball of yarn back to her. “Oh, I wasn’t going to steal it, Ma’am.”

The old lady chuckled. “I know, I know. Just that sometimes, you know, you have to be quick on the draw. Last time I dropped my yarn on the bus, it rolled to the front and the bus driver threw it in the trash. Couldn’t even use it after that. It was all wet and sticky.”

“Well I guess you have to be more careful then.”

“I try to be. But these bones are getting old. Can’t sprint like I use to.”

“Old?” Aaron said. “Old? Ma’am, you don’t look a day over forty.”

The old woman blushed, her skin glowing a deep red. She squeezed the ball of yarn, pulling it towards her sunken chest.

Aaron winked, and the woman flashed crowded yellow teeth. He loved making an old woman’s day. She’d be gushing about his simple compliment to the ladies of her knitting circle for a long time to come, peppering her stories with tales of how such a handsome young man she met on the bus begged to wisk her away to some far off secluded isle.

Aaron slung his duffel bag on a seat a couple of rows ahead of the old woman, just far enough away so that she wouldn’t harass him for the entire trip. The elderly had the most fascinating stories, but he couldn’t be aware of what was going on around him in the midst of paying attention to such conversations.

Such was the nature of his work on the Greyhound bus routes. He was member of the stealth Night Riders, a crew of undercover cops, much like the undercover airline sky marshals, charged with keeping the Greyhound system safe from crime. Since their beginnings some five years ago, they’d reduced crime at the station and on the more popular bus routes by over ninety-five percent. The Greyhound bus had become one of the safest modes of public transportation in the country, and he felt somehow responsible for that.

He settled in and stared out the window at the tall concrete wall separating the bus station from the outside world. Tonight the crew was rowdy, but harmless. He had time to think, plan, read.

Hopefully he could do enough to keep thoughts of Nia from flooding his mind.

He was jarred by the shake of the bus. The hefty bus driver had just ran up the steps, landed in his seat, closed the bus door. The driver inched forward out of the space. A hard rapt on the glass door caused him to hit the brakes.

“Yeah, I thought you’d get the message,” the bus driver said, through a hard laugh.

The mysterious woman in the pink fur coat slowly ascended the stairs of the bus. She combed her fingers through her hair, then leisurely made her way down the aisle.

Aaron could tell she was trouble by the way her nose was all stuck up in the air. He would have to keep a close eye on her. He moved his coat and patted the seat when she got closer. She paused, as if considering his invite, but kept walking. She slid into the seat behind the nervous blonde.

Aaron stared again at the blonde, hair scraggly, fidgeting with something in her lap. The scars on her face resembled those made by type of animal, or human even.

She’d been attacked by something or someone.

Aaron lay his head back against the seat. Poor woman, he thought. Abuse was a terrible thing. That woman was on the run from someone, probably on this bus headed for a new day, a new way of life for her and her son.

He was glad to be there, making sure she got safely to her new destination.
To be continued...
Afterword for Part II
Hmm... So, this pearly toothed brotha Aaron Fletcher is an undercover cop.
Hmm...
I stumbled across the idea of that, and hope to do more with it in the future, this whole "bus marshall" idea. I tried to throw in a few clues here and there, one of the biggest being his encounter with the surly prostitute Peaches just before he got on the bus. She was NOT happy to see him, lol. Not at all.
All I know, I can do a WHOLE lotta thangs with this "bus marshall" idea.
Puts a whole new spin on Ta.yari jumping up and trying to drive the bus, don't it? LOL! Sista might just get locked up!
I had a lot of problems (and am STILL having problems) with the logistics of Aaron getting on this bus and making a quick assessment of everyone there, and coupling that with Ta.yari making her appearance on the bus. I find that I don't like dealing with a lot of folk and having to remember where everyone is sitting, etc. But I think I worked most of that out, and will continue to work on that.
Hmm... But this story isn't quite going in the direction you may think it's going. If you notice, Aaron scoped out that bus pretty hard, didn't he? Talked to a few interesting people, didn't he?
Didn't he?
Well, come back tomorrow for Part III.
And since it's Valentine's day?
Look out for, uh... bit of romance.
Really though.
Stay tuned for Part III.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"The Greyhound Blues" Part IIA

***Story week continues***

Clik here for The Greyhound Blues Part I

Aaron Fletcher walked out of the Greyhound bus depot around five thirty in the evening expecting to inhale the warm mugginess of the early morning air only to be hit with a blast of wind as cold and bitter as the hard slap of a spurned woman. The weatherman did say that a cold front was coming through, but Aaron didn’t expect it to be this cold. He didn't even have his gloves.

He trotted over to an empty stone bench and laid his newspaper and duffel bag down at his side. He opened his duffel bag and removed his wool scarf and wrapped it around his neck. His bus wasn’t set to leave for another ten minutes, but people were already pushing forward at the bus entrance, either interested to get going or to simply get out of the harsh grip of the cold air. He decided to hang out on the bench for a minute and wait for the crowd to settle down. Besides, he preferred to be the last person to board the bus before it left.


Aaron blew warm breath into his hands and rubbed them together to warm them up. He sat there and watched as people scurried along. Lovers gave each other rushed goodbye kisses, mothers clinched their children’s hands out of fear of them being snatched, and college students weighed down with heavy backpacks pandered along as if they were still on campus. The homeless huddled in corners, taking possessions of small slabs of floor, getting ready to hunker down for the night. At five-thirty, it was already as dark and cold as it would have been at midnight. Funny how the cold weather and darkness quickened everyone’s steps.

Just then, he spotted one of the regulars shuffling fast in his direction. When she spotted him, her eyes widened. She pulled the dirty hood of her cap low on her head, and zipped her jacket up around her chin, almost hiding her face. Aaron allowed her to come within a few feet of him before speaking.

“Hey Peaches,” he yelled. “How you doing this fine evening?”

Peaches shot him a look so hard that her eyes bucked. “I ain’t studyin’ you tonight Fletcher. I get in trouble every time I fool with your ass.”

Aaron rose from the bench and slowly walked towards her, his hands outstretched in surrender. “Aww Peaches, why you gotta be so mean?”

“I’m warning you. Get away from me.”

Aaron couldn’t help but to laugh. Peaches sneered. She looked around quickly, then back at Aaron.

“You eat anything today?” Aaron asked.

“Nawl, I ain’t ate nothin,’” Peaches said.

Aaron unzipped the side pocket of his duffel bag and pulled out a yellow card. “Here, take this voucher and go get yourself a cup of coffee and a doughnut from the concession stand inside.”

“I don’t want no damn coffee,” she said. “What you need to do is give me some money, so I can go get some real food.”

“Now you know I’m not giving you money. Take this voucher. Get some coffee, or at least some of that good hot chocolate. It’s gonna be a cold night.”

Peaches snatched the voucher from his hand and stuffed it in the pocket of her thin coat. “I’ma take it this time, Fletcher. You better stop messing with me.”

She walked off fast, glancing back over her shoulder at him.

“You have a goodnight, Sweetie,” Aaron said. He blew her a kiss.

“You shut up,” Peaches shot back. She snatched the hood of her coat over her matted weave and scurried into the bus station.

Aaron walked back over to the bench and sat down. He wiggled his feet around in his new Timbalands, which were a little too tight on his feet. It wouldn’t make for much comfort on the long bus ride, but now was as good as any time to break them in.

There were only a few bus passengers left to load up on the bus. The bus driver was securing the cargo bay just under the bus.

A woman was standing to the side, leaning against a pole surveying the action. She had no luggage, only a large purse which appeared to be made from some animal other than the usual cow. She wore a long pink fur coat and a pair of shiny brown gator boots. The sun had set a good half hour ago, and she had the nerve to be wearing dark sunglasses.

Aaron stood up and walked closer just to get a better look. She didn’t appear to be a working girl like Peaches, looking for a quick piece of action to support a nasty habit. Her hair was neatly braided and she was sophisticated, even though she dressed like a high price hooker. And she leaned against that pole like it belonged to her, like it was specifically made to support her classiness.

He inched closer, just to see what she would say.

She might have been a working girl, new to the bus station crowd.

The woman shifted the purse from her side and reached in and pulled out a shiny white pack of cigarettes. She reached in her pocket and retrieved a gold lighter, then flicked it, cupping her hand around the bright yellow flame and expertly lighting the long thin cigarette. She balled the pack up tight and tossed it to the ground.

His heart sank. He hated seeing women smoke. His wife Nia had smoked a pack a day for twenty years before the lung cancer took her life a couple of years ago. There was no way he was going to stand there and keep quiet.

“You know,” Aaron said. He was surprised his voice had gone so high. He cleared his throat. “You should pick that up. Littering is against the law.”

The woman turned to him, peering at him over her dark sunglasses. She looked him up and down before moving. It had been a long time since a woman blatantly took him in like that. He tugged at the scarf on his neck. It all of a sudden felt too tight.

She knelt down to the ground, her eyes still trained on him, and palmed the scrunched up pack from the ground. She stood back up, and took a long drag from her cigarette.

“You know,” she replied. Smoke flowed from her mouth as she spoke, giving her an appearance of a woman well seasoned in the art of black magic. “You need to mind your own business.”

Aaron’s chin dropped to his chest. He backed away from her, almost losing his footing on a crack in the pavement. He glanced down at his too tight shoes, and peeked back up just in time to see her slowly look away from him and back at the passengers crowding onto the bus.

She was not a working girl.

A bus sped by, and the exhaust from it blew the cigarette from the mystery woman’s fingertips. It fell into a puddle of water a few feet away left by the morning rain. They both stared down at it as it sank like the Titanic into the murky water. The woman took a step towards it, but thought better of it.

“That’s what you get,” Aaron said. He slung his duffle bag over his shoulder and headed for the bus entrance.

*Stay tuned tommorow for Greyhound Blues part IIB *

Monday, February 11, 2008

**STORY WEEK**: "The Greyhound Blues, Part I"

Good merning, Boys and Girls...

Gather around the Oldgirl, why don't cha!

It's the first story week of the year!

Aren't you excited?! I know I am.

I like story week. I usually use it as a warm-up for the start of my writing class, but this week, that's not the case. I am in a 10 week writing workshop right now, and I am pushing the first 10 chapters of Fancy That through that class, and the process seems to be more grueling than it should be. I must admit that I like the regular fiction class better because the teacher gives more instruction. In that writing workshop, well, we seem to have to stick with one project. We listen to readings of each other's work then we do some in depth, hellacious critiquing. (YIKES!)

Problem is... I work on several stories at a time. Not sure if I'm suppose to, but I have the attention span of a flea, and I like to jump around alot from story to story.

So alas... we have the Lifetime television for women story, "The Greyhound Blues".

LOL!!

If you can remember, I wrote this piece for Ta.yari Jones' 37th birthday!

(Ta.yari, I am older than you!! LOL! Okay, that ain't funny.)

The story was open-ended, and left many unanswered questions. MANY. So much so that I just kept on writing. And I'm STILL working on it.

And many questions are left unanswered. But I've written several more parts, and have passed it around to the bootleg Original Oldgirl Elite Critique Committee, and they REALLY liked it... more than expected. So all week long, I will post the different parts. Valentine's day will be the best part because there is a hint of uh, romance, all up in that part, lol. After each part, as my usual custom, I will do an Afterword to explain my thought processes.

I went back and edited part I, the intro, and I will repost here.

So this week...

I bring to yoooooooou!!

The Greyhound Blues!!!!

Starring Taya.ri Jonnnnnnnnes!!!

Enjoy!!!

Tay.ari knew she was looking good…

She had her Versace pink fur coat on,
Her Jimmy Choo crocodile boots with the clear Lucite wedge heels…
Her hair was done,
And her nails were fierce (fierce)…
And she was about to get on that Greyhou.nd bus…



(Don’t. you. want. to ride?)

Tay.ari hated buses.

Whoever came up with the idea of slapping wheels on an oversized bread box and packing people in sardine-tight needed to be shot.

But right now, it was a means to an end, for Tay.ari was attending the Brand New Hea.vies
concert that night. Ta.yari had been following the band up and down the Eastern Seabord for several years, and the “Hound” was the most affordable mode of transportation. She’d promised herself that she would start taking Air Tra.ns, since the plane ticket prices from D.C. to New York had been cut in half, but the flights were always booked solid.

Last month, after one of the more frantic Brand New Hea.vies New York concerts, she ran into the band’s lead singer N’de.a at a diner on the east side of town. N’de.a recognized Taya.ri from the front row of several concerts, and she invited her to sing a song on stage with them at the next one if she wanted to.

Of course T.ayari said she would.

And if that meant one more ride on "the Hound", then so be it.

The afternoon bus from D.C. to New York was already behind schedule, and once the driver gave the signal for everyone to load up, passengers rushed forward, jockeying for position.

Ta.yari leaned against a metal pole near the back of the bus and watched the restless crowd. She pulled her Fend.i lighter from her Doone.y and Burk.e giraffe print purse and lit her last Virginia slim cigarette. She threw the empty pack to the ground.

“You know,” a tall slender black dude with a short afro said. He walked towards her. “You should pick that up. Littering is against the law.”

Taya.ri reached down and picked up the crumpled pack and placed it in her coat pocket.

"I'm Aaron," he said. "Aaron Fletcher."

She peered at him over her sunglasses. He grinned and extended his hand. He had nice pearly white teeth and a nice body. And those thick eyebrows and mustache were to die for. He ws the color of burnt sienna. . .

. . . without the burn.

But he wasn’t her type. He was a bit too neat. She always thought twice about a man who took too much time to iron a crease as perfect in his jeans as this guy did.

“You know,” Taya.ri said, “you should mind your own business.”

His bright smile dissolved into a hard frown. Taya.ri turned away, and blew smoke into the air.
Just then, hot air from the bus exhaust blew the cigarette from her fingers. It landed in a puddle of rain water nearby. Tay.ari watched as it floated on top, then slowly sank under.

“That’s what you get,” the guy said. He laughed and walked towards the bus entrance.

That was her last cigarette, and she didn’t have time to go buy another pack.

She dug in her coat pocket for the crumpled pack, hoping that another cigarette would miraculously materialize. There was one there, but it was smashed and bent hard in three places.

It would have to do for now. The taste would be off, but she could get past that. She rolled it between her fingers to straighten it, lit it up, and took a long drag.

The last passenger stepped on the bus. The the bus driver pointed at Tay.ari, beckoning her to come along.

Tay.ari exhaled smoke. “I’ll be there as soon as I finish my cigarette.”

The bus driver snapped his fingers and ran his hands over his large stomach. “No, no Miss Lady, we’re on a schedule. You need to come on right now. Right now.”

Tayar.i looked away and continued smoking.

“Alright gal, I see you think I’m playing with you.” He ran up the steps of the bus.

Tay.ari shook her head. All she needed was two or three more minutes and she’d be finished with her smoke. Three hours was a long time to be on the bus without a cigarette, much less having to track down a pack once she got off. She was going to lean against the pole until the ashes hit the filter.

The bus pulled off a few feet. Taya.ri ran up to the door and banged on the window. The bus driver snatched the door open.

“Yeah, I thought you’d get the message,” he said.

Taya.ri slowly ascended the stairs. She wanted to wipe that silly smirk off the bus driver’s face. She turned and headed down the aisle. The pearly toothed brotha was smiling hard at her. He hastily moved his jacket to the side and patted the empty seat beside him. There was no way she was sitting with him. He would bug her to no end, and that wasn’t happening tonight. She wanted to at least sit by herself so she could stretch out her legs, and even catch a little sleep.

And even dream a little about her debut with the Brand New Heav.ies.

Luckily there was an empty row of seats midway back, just behind a young boy playing some type of hand held game. He sat next to a frizzy-haired woman. His mother, Ta.yari presumed. The woman was hastily flipping through the pages of what appeared to be a romance novel.

Ta.yari wasn’t a fan of such books. Chewing gum for the brain, that’s what they were. She had paperback copies of her own novels, The Unte.lling and Leaving Atla.nta, in her purse and thought about offering them to the woman, but she decided to pass on that. She wasn’t in the mood to talk. She’d had a long day and just wanted to get to the concert.

T.ayari slid into the seat directly behind them. She settled in and threw her purse to the side. The boots she wore were fly, but they were beginning to hurt her feet. She should've worn her pink Timberlands, as she always wore them with her pink fur coat. But she wanted to look hot for her singing debut with her favorite band.

And pink Timberlands were out of the question.

She was feening unusually hard for the rest of the cigarette she’d hidden well enough in her hand.. Since no one was looking, she flicked out her lighter and quickly lit it again. She blew smoke out of the slightly cracked window.

“Who’s smoking back there?” the bus driver yelled after a couple of minutes..

No one said a word. Taya.ri stayed cool, blew more smoke out the window.

“Let me remind ya’ll that there’s no smoking on this bus." He pointed at the blinking no smoking sign. "Now whoever’s smoking better put it out or get off the damn bus.”

Tayar.i held the crimped cigarette up closer to the window and watched the gray flume of smoke unfurl into the cold night air. She leaned back in the lumpy seat and closed her eyes. The bus was already behind schedule, and it was just a matter of time before the bus driver got the notion to get moving.

In the meantime, she was going to continue smoking. Just a few more long draws, and she'd be finished.

“I’ma ask one last time. Who the hell smoking back there?

Again, no one said a word. All was quiet, save for the hard hum of the engine. Tay.ari exhaled smoke slowly through her mouth and inhaled it through her nose.

“It’s the black lady. The black lady with the big sunglasses and the pink cat hair coat.”

Taya.ri sat up straight, opened her eyes. The boy, who’d been seated in front of her, was now standing in his seat, staring hard and pointing at her, his stubby finger only a few inches from her face.

“The black lady right here, Mister,” he yelled. “She’s smoking.”

Tayar.i’s breath caught in her throat. There was a frantic commotion at the front of the bus, then the sound of heavy footfsteps getting closer and closer. Suddenly, the driver was standing over her, his hands on his hips, his plump face tight as a fist.

“Lady, I don’t know what your problem is, but you better put out that damn cigarette.”

The pearly tooth brother, that Aaron guy, was suddenly standing next to the bus driver, a hard look of concern on his face. "Everything alright back here?" he asked.

"I got this," the bus driver said. He pointed to the front of the bus, and got up in the brotha's face. "I got this. Go sit back down. I can take care of this."

Aaron hesitated. He cut his eyes at Tayar.i, then at the frizzy-haired woman in front of her. He backed away, and headed for his seat.

Ta.yari raised the cigarette to her lips, and took an extra long drag. She was caught, might as well work it. “This is my last cigarette, and I’m gonna smoke it.”

She blew smoke into the bus driver’s face.

The boy looked back and forth between Ta.yari and the bus driver. The boy’s mother pulled him down out of the seat.

“But Mom, the lady is smoking!”

“I know, Johnny, but let the nice bus driver handle it.”

Tayar.i took another long drag and blew smoke straight up into the air.

The bus driver cocked his head . “I’m going to have to ask you to get off this bus.”

“Uh, no. I paid for my ticket, and I make my singing debut tonight.” Ta.yari pointed towards the front of the bus. “What you need to do is get up there and do your job. Drive us to New York City.”

They stared at each other for what seemed like forever. Finally the bus driver marched back up to the front of the bus.

Aaron walked back and snatched Ta.yari's purse from the unoccupied seat. He sat next to her. “Yo girl, just put out the cigarette so we can get moving," he whispered. He looked up and down the aisle, then at Taya.ri.

Tayar.i exhaled hard. Smoke floated all around her. She snatched her purse from him without even looking his way. Why were they bothering her? If they’d just left well enough alone, she would’ve finished her cigarette by now.

He tried to take the cigarette from her, but she jerked it out of his reach. He left and went back to his seat.

After a couple of minutes, the bus driver stood up and asked for everyone's attention. “Listen up, everybody. I don’t have to put up with this shit. I been on this job thirty-five years. My retirement starts next Monday. It’s Friday night, and I could be at home right now instead of fooling with mess. And that’s what I’m gonna do. You all have a good evening, and get to New York the best way you can.” He grabbed his belongings and stomped off the bus.

Tayar.i stood up and stared out the window after him, hoping he would return. Didn’t he know she was suppose to debut tonight with the Brand New Heavies?

“Come back,” she yelled. “I sing tonight!”

He continued to walk away, eventually disappearing in the crowd..

Taya.ri noticed the bus was a bit too quiet. She turned around.

All eyes were on her.

“Well I’ll be,” the old woman sitting across from her said. She’d been crocheting. She threw the yarn and needle to the floor. “My family reunion starts tomorrow, and because of this heffa and her cigarette, I’m gonna miss it.”

Taya.ri stared at her. She stared into every cold angry face on the bus.

That lady was to spend time with her family the next morning. And no telling what little Johnny and his mother had planned. The pearly toothed brotha, this Aaron man, probably had things to take care of, too.

Taya.ri grabbed her purse, snatched her fur coat tightly around her, and stepped hard to the front of the bus.

“Oh, now you want to get off,” Aaron spat. “You should've thought about that earlier.”

Tayar.i glared at him. He held her stare.

He was starting to look good to her.

She’d have to get his number later.

“I’m not getting off the bus.” She grabbed the door handle and pulled the door shut. She slid into the driver’s seat. “We’re going to New York.”

“You can’t do that,”the old woman said. “You’ll kill us all.”

“Oh, we’re going to New York,” Taya.ri yelled. She finished the last of her cigarette and tossed the spent butt out the window. “And I’m going to get us there.”

She revved the engine, adjusted the seat and mirror…

…And headed out of the bus station.

Afterword

This is a story that I derived from Tay.ari's love for chasing the Brand New Hea.vies all over the Northeast via the gr.eyhound bus. One day, she was on the bus and the bus driver started GOING OFF hard because someone was smoking on the bus. I joked with her about that, accusing her of smoking on the bus. ("Next time, put that cigarette out, Tay.ari")

Ta.yari doesn't smoke. (Do you, Ta.yari?). But when one is dressed to kill like that in the pink fur coat and the croco boots, a cigarette is just the thing needed to complete the scene, LOL.

She has a bizarre pink fur coat that she absolutely loves. (That is an actual picture up top, courtesy of her publicist's site, luxlotus.com) She gave a talk back in February, and she wore the croco boots with the lucite wedge heel. And she is feenin for the Doon.ey and Bur.ke giraffe print purse line right about now.

But I thought to myself... All of this- the bus, the coat, the band, the boots- is waaay funny.

I need to do something with that.

So "The Greyho.und Blues" was the result.

I thought it was odd that she chases the Hea.vies around. (Much like some of you think it is odd that I'm such a stalky fan of hers, LOL.) But the Brand New Hea.vies have a cult following of some sort, as a few other bloggers chase them around, too. But she loves the band, and even met the lead singer in a club or diner recently.

That first part of the story, the mini-prelude: you should recognize that as a bootleg rendition of Brenda Co.oper's monologue at the beginning of Klymaxx's "The Men All Pause". I wanted to work in the late monologue in the song (Slap me... no somebody slap me, because I know I'm looking good, attitude all over the room, people staring at me... I, I, I just look to good for these people!) but I could not figure that out. Now, what's really funny, yesterday, after a few of the Original Oldgirl elite critique team read the story, we were all in the lab prepping samples. Ol Mean Ass Cynthia and myself broke out into a very spirited AND on-key version of "The Men All Pause". OH JOY! I love that song! And we remembered all the words to it, which is a bit, uh disturbing.

LOL

Too many questions abound:

Someone asked "What happens next, Lee?"

Who knows? I'm going to switch out her name for some other swahili name, give the brotha a name, etc., and use this in my class (Ain't I industrious?). I would like to develop the character a bit, and see where it takes me.

Now...

Will Ta.yari get to NYC and make her debut with the group?

Can Tayari even drive a bus?

Is Tay.ari gonna give little Johnny's mother complimentary copies of her book?

And what's up with Aaron Fletcher, the "pearly tooth" brother?

And the more important question...We know she don't like the brothers with the hard crease in the blue jeans, but will Tayari get that brotha's phone number?

Hmmm... I don't know. We'll let Ta.yari figure all that out!!

LOL!!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Birthday Run-Down 2008

Alert: *NEXT WEEK IS STORY WEEK*

Okay, okay.. I'll kill the long posts. But you know I LIKE my long posts. Really, I do. Here's a hint: I come back and read my long posts when I need some encouragement. Yeah. You feel me? I thought you would.

We'll make this one short and sweet. Or at least try.

I took my birthday off from work. Haven't worked on my birthday in years, and never plan to work on the day ever again. I look forward to that. And here's a run-down of my day.

1. I woke up at about 4 a.m., my usual wake up time. Laid in bed and watched TV.

2. My sister Kentucky came downstairs at about 6:30 a.m. I thought she was going to say "Happy Birthday, Lisa". Nope. She said "Lisa, I can't find my glasses!!!!" I got out of bed to follow her back up to her room. She says "Oh, and happy birthday." I give her the gas face. I go upstairs and get on my knees and look under the bed for her glasses. (Gotta help her. She's blind as a bat!). She finds them on the side of the bed. I give her the gas face again. I get on her computer and finish by birthday introspection blog.

3. Around 10:00, I arrive at the accountant's office who does my taxes every year. I ride up and down the elevators more than I care to. I get lost because I forget what floor the place is on everytime.

4. A young chick welcomes me into the office. I notice that she has an UNCANNY resemblance to blogger LBeezy. She even has LBeezy's New Orleans accent. I peer at her curiously. She has a large gold hoop earring with the word "Shorty" in cursive in the hoop, in like, size 36 font. I realize that it can't be LBeezy because she don't roll like that (at least I hope she don't.) Turns out that this girl is the one doing my taxes. I want to tell her "No, Shorty", but I don't. I reluctantly hand her my large manilla envelope of paperwork.

She does my taxes, and DAYUM, she is smart as all get out. Gave me some financial advice out of this world. Shorty knew her stuff. I told her that I was trying to get debt-free this year, and I ain't down with getting all this tax money back. I NEEDS my money year-round. We came up with a plan, and it was reasonable. I took her card, so I can call her back. THAT CHICK KNEW EVERYTHING. Incredible. My goodness.

I peer at her curiously again. Is it Lbeezy in disguise? Because LBeezy is smart like that.

No, LBeezy don't have green eyes. Sigh.

GO "SHORTY", with your ghettofabulous shorty hoop earring. I ain't mad at you, because you did the hell out of my taxes!!!

5. Yacked on the phone with my Auntie Joyce when she called to wish me a happy birthday. She told me to give Grandma a call.

6. I went to the Tag office. Stood in line for about 15 minutes for my tag. Usually I am in and out in 5 minutes. They were slow that day, and I wanted to go off, lol.

7. Called Grandma. She wished me a happy birthday. We talked about her morning. (It is 11:45 a.m. at that time.) I told Grandma that I was going to cash in some change at Kroger. Grandma gets perturbed that I didn't sit down and roll up my change. I told her I am lazy. She gives me a long lesson on rolling up change. (Ain't no way I am doing that.)

8. Every year, I save spare change from birthday to birthday, then I go cash it in at the automatic machine at Krogers. I usually have about 80-90 bucks. This year I had $61.01. What a rough year. Humph.

9. Drove waaay down to Fayetteville, and went to Joanns art and fabric store. Man, this is the only place that has a GOOD supply of yarn. Too bad it's 25 miles south of downtown, where I live. But I felt like perusing the yarn.

Before I got out of the car, my cell phone rang and it was the LBeezy. She sang "Happy Birthday" in a most offkey sort of way. I called her "non-singing". She verbally snapped my neck for saying such a thing. I let her know she was NOT the next American Idol. She verbally shanked me.

(Uh, I apologize, LB... others called that day and sang versions of "Happy Birthday" that were truly horrific. As a matter of fact they made you sound like Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin, even. My dear... You ARE the next American Idol. Yes you are! LOL!)

10. LadyTee calls while I'm in the store sniffing and squeezing yarn.

"Where you at, girl?" she asked.
"Fayetteville." I sniff some gray heather yarn and start looking at the lot numbers. "Why?"
"Man, I was gonna come over! I don't have class 'til 2 o'clock."
I groan. "Why you didn't tell me that? We could've had lunch."
"Shut up, man!" she yells.

We yack a little longer. People peer at me curiously because I am so loud in my convo with LadyTee.

I don't care what they say. It's my birthday, I can talk as loud as I like. And I yack hard for about 45 minutes.

11. I stop in Wal-mart in Riverdale to get some much needed items for the house (cleaner, papertowels, tissue, detergent, etc.) I am in there for an hour.
As I am leaving, I get a phone call.

"Hello?"
"**cluttered language**"
"What?"
"How's your birthday?"
"Who is this?"
"Tiffany *unitelligble language*
I get PISSED. My supervisor's name is Tiffany. The Darth Sista KNOW she better not even THINK about calling me when I am off.
"Hold on, hold on."
I push my buggy out of the store.
"Say your name REAL clear and REAL LOUD," I yell.
"Tiffy D."
I break out into a smile. "OH! Tiffy D! My gang leader."


*LadyLee resisting the urge to throw up the Triple F Possee gang sign in the middle of the Wal-mart parking lot*

We talk for a few minutes. She is my Financial Freedom gang leader. Thought it was my supervisor and I was going to have to snap on her for disturbing me on my birthday. (That's why I made SURE I was outside first.) I didn't give a FLIP what was happening in the lab. It is my birthday. Do NOT disturb ME about no work related mess!!!

I am HAPPY to talk to Tiffy D about my tax experience with "Shorty" that morning. And it is like if you run track, and you see your track coach somewhere, you automatically start running in place.

I give her a rundown of my day financially, and I get especially elated when talking about my tax experience with "Shorty" that morning.

It is now about 3:00 p.m.

12. I go home and unload my Wal-mart loot. LadyTee calls.
"I'm coming over," she says.
"Okay!" I yell. My grin is wide like Miss Celie's!
She is around the corner, and gets to my house in 10 minutes.

13. She plays with my permanent house guest, Kramer (reluctantly. LadyTee hates cats). We chow on some left over chinese food in the fridge. I put on a wig that my Aunt gave me for Christmas, and LadyTee styles it for me. (LadyTee is a high heel wearing girly-girl and LOVES this interaction).

14. My sister Kentucky calls and asks if I want some Jamaican food. "Sure," I say. "That can be lunch for tomorrow." LadyTee wants some too.

15. Kentucky gets home with the food: 3 big styrofoam containers of oxtails, redbeans and rice, cabbage, plantains and co-co bread. LadyTee eats AGAIN. I don't. I sit and stare...watching as she groans with the "itis."

16. I show Ladytee the yarn I bought, and I crochet while we watch television.

17. LadyTee goes home. It is 6:00 p.m.

18. I wash clothes, clean up the kitchen, and clean up my room. I spoke with blogger Serenity about a plan she was working concerning a company that wants to hire her. I thought her plan was ingenious (as always). Shoot, made me want to get a plan of my own. Hmmm.

19. I go to bed at 9:00. I do a little journaling, some editing on my manuscript, read a few pages out of a finance book, and watch T.V.

That's what I call a birthday: LadyLee style. Nice and simple.

Next week is ******STORY WEEK*******. Come back and visit!