Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Freestyles... The Cabin Fever Edition

It's been awhile since I've done a Friday Freestyle, hasn't it?

Today is your lucky lucky day! You get a deluxe ramble from your friendly neighborhood Oldgirl.

Today is FRIDAY! Day 4 of Snow Jam 2014 in my beloved ATL. It's 24 degrees! That's better than 12 degrees.

And it is payday.  Glory!

I am so thankful for direct deposit. Some of you may be too young to remember when paper checks were handed out. I remember I would stand in line at the check cashing place, eagerly waiting to cash my check. Those were the days.

And right now, all this fuss is going on.  Who's to blame for the fiasco of the ATL becoming third world for a few days?

The mayor of Atlanta didn't want to hear all that. He said he had Atlanta covered.  And all that which they are showing on TV isn't the city of Atlanta because he didn't have jurisdiction over the highways, and the school system are responsible for the kids, and blah blah blah.

The governor, on the other hand, took full responsibility for what happened.  As he should. All he had to do was declare a state of emergency and everyone (schools, state) would have followed suit.

But the good Governor had my excuse: the warning came out in the middle of the night and he didn't know. This made me feel like I wasn't insane because for a few days it was said that Atlanta would not get hit. There was much focus on the southern surburbs which are some 20 miles away at least.

As a matter of fact, I hung out with the Green Eyed Bandit on Monday. She lives in the Southern surburbs, and she said "We're gonna be out Wednesday because it's going to snow." I remember thinking, doggonit, wish I lived down here because it is NOT going to snow in Atlanta. Sigh.

You were on to something, Green Eyed Bandit!!  Yes you were, Oldgirl!

The southside was closed down. You didn't hear anything about them on the news. Why? Because that was where the snow was suppose to hit. All that foolishness you saw on the news was City of Atlanta. You didn't see anything past SWATS (southwest atlanta). Southern Surburbs were shut down on Monday evening. Humph.

So I'm proactive now. I have an app installed on my phone to send alerts. I mean, if stuff changes in the middle of the night like that, then I have to be proactive.

I haven't really driven on ice and snow since I was 19 years old. I was in 5 mile per hour traffic when I got stuck on a sheet of ice. The police had to stop all traffic in order for me to get off of it. I saw some horrific crashes that day and I promised myself that I would just take the zero from now on and stay home. Tuesday was the first time in 24 years I have driven in that stuff. And that's because that mess dropped so fast, within 10 minutes. Let's hope it's another 24 years. Or never. Never would be fine with me.

I think we are somewhat back to semi-normal in the city now. People who abandoned their cars had until 9 last night to get them so they wouldn't have to pay towing fees. So I hope they went and retrieved their cars!

People are in rant mode right now. I am not. Because I have my own plans. I can't depend on city of Atlanta and doing what they tell us to do. Now, ya'll who have been here for the past 20 years know good and well some level of tomfoolery occurs when it comes to snow and ice. Don't expect things to be handled like a northern state handles them. Listen real close:

It's not gonna happen.

We are suppose to report to work at 10:00 AM. My boss is going to have to call me and lure me to work if she REALLY want me to come in. The last time this happened, back in 2011, I slid down one of the side streets because there were so much ice on a hill. Never again. See you on Monday, Oppressor!

Anyway, I have cabin fever now. Not really. I have been keeping busy. As you can see, I posted up three blog posts yesterday. Much of that is because I am trying to clear out some of my posts in draft and all. I did go and check the mail and take out trash. And I've been cleaning the house. So I am getting things done.

I tell you one thing... My favorite breakfast food has been oatmeal.

Here's the first day's oatmeal.
It is a bit simple. I just wanted to eat. I cut up half an apple, added a few raisins and a little almond milk and I was good.

By the end of the week, I was getting straight fancy with it.
 Diced pears, blueberries, strawberries and walnuts... with a little almond milk of course.

A lot of that was I-got-all-this-fresh-fruit-in-the-refrigerator-so-I-better-do-something-with-it oatmeal.

Yeah. Good stuff.

I have liked my 3 days of free time off, brought to me by the ice and snow.

And I am taking today off also. I want ALL this ice and snow to melt before I get out there and try to drive.

Food-for-Thought: I'm need ya'll to help lil JB...

I am tired of seeing him on my television screen... with a plethora of girls screaming at the top of their lungs.

I try to tell ya'll... Prosperity doesn't exactly mean having a bunch of money. This young man is worth $150 million dollars. Yet he is a destructive lil' fellow.

"He is just growing up, LadyLee," you say. I agree. Like we all were growing up around that time. I had my issues and you did too. But with money in the picture, all problem areas are magnified. Money can sometimes be like a magnifying glass. And I remember as a child how I would take a magnifying glass and focus a beam of sunlight just right on a leaf or something, and watch it burn. All that power can build... or destroy.

And that is what we are seeing: watching someone burn, i.e., self destruct.

You know, prosperity is much more than money. It's a piece of the "prosperity pie" but it is not the whole pie. I want to prosperous in my emotions. I want to be prosperous in my self-love, self-worth, self-image, etc. I want to be prosperous in my relationships. I want to be prosperous in my health. I want to prosperous in my relationship with God.  I want to prosperous in my decision making, honey.  I want to beprosperous in my money, too.  But you can't have the tangible without the intangible as a foundation. Sorry, you can't. And I point to the lil' dude up above to prove that.

That's just my theory.

And what is really tripping me out is that his father is around, running with him... facilitating some of this foolishness. Dude, discipline your kid. Really.

All this slapping on the wrist for egregious and illegal acts doesn't mean much of anything. It just means he can do more of whatever he's doing. Now he's mixing his weed with xanax and sizzurp. And he's drinking? Come on, man. Don't be surprised if we turn on our televisions and it is reported that he is dead.

Yes. That's prosperity for you!

And are you saying what I have been saying, or what I heard others say when I was growing up?

"Thank goodness he ain't black."

Harsh, but true. Because you KNOW we would have to hear allllll these statistics about how awful black folks are, and all that.  When the fact is that white folk, asian folk, indian folk, ALL folks have isshas. Growth comes from conquering these issues, no matter who you are.

(Maybe they don't think about this in other places. I am in the South. The dirty south).

Enough of the LadyLee prosperity gospel for now. Just putting my 2 cents in. Whenever I see some foolishness going on in the midst of having all that money, I think about... prosperity.

 Moving on to the Song of the week.



Oh my goodness. When that song would come on the radio, or if my mother put that on the record player, I would drop everything and anything I was doing - barbie dolls, coloring books, legos- and just dance, dance, dance. You better get out of the way, honey. Move. Boogie Wonderland is on!

"I find romance, when I start to dance, in Boogie Wonderlaaaaaaaand!!"

Oh my! I want to get up and dance right now!

Might as well since I'm not going to work!!

LOL

Alright now... my birthday is 1 week from now.

I plan on doing a food-for-thought blowout extravaganza bonanza next week.  A lot of DEEP spiritual stuff that's been on mind. We're going to get into some of my personal issues; the mysterious Lucy Jr. post; some of my goals for this year (and you know they are highly intangible). And we're going to get into my thoughts on a really touchy issue. (Remember that post I owe you, Southern Black Gal?)

I'm going to have my homegirl Shai saying...

"Enough, Ladylee... enough." Shai places her hands up in surrender. "You're making my head hurt. Enough."

*ladylee hands Shai some extra stength Tylenol... the whole bottle*

Share that with whoever needs it.

Alright... my 44th Birthday sweepstakes is still in full effect. $44 gift card in drawing. $44 gift card for most comments.  I see that some of you have some serious strategies going. I am wondering if this will be the time where one person wins both cards. That's $88! That's enough for groceries, makeup and a couple packs of panties from the local Wal-mart. You might be able to get some Wal-mart gas for your car too!

I think the contest started on January 6th. It ends on my birthday February 7.

So get it in, honey! Comment to win!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fun with Mama!


Look at my Play Mama!


Doing her variation of the Wonder Woman Spin!


Go head on, Mama. Get down!!

I bet she tripped up when she was doing all that spinning. She didn't post up that picture though. She knew I would've laughed at her. After making sure she was alright, though. LOL

That dress is one of the thousands she has made. It is Vogue pattern #8765.

You can get that dress and much more over at www.adriennesessentials.com

Well, I don't know about the dress... but you can get the "much more".

Shameless plug! LOL

Anyway, I had lunch with Mama and Grandma Donna. (I know her mother is a bit O_o over me calling her Grandma Donna. But Adrienne has probably told them that I am... special... so just deal with me).

We went to a pizza joint in Midtown called Camari's a couple of weeks ago. I believe that's the name of it.

Here's my pizza... a nice veggie style pizza.


Fresh onions, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach... that was good!

Mama had the more interesting pizza:


It had proscuitto (man, I do not know how to spell that. It's the italian bacon, I think), spinach, artichoke, peppers. That looked really good. She liked it, too. She had the waiter bring her some freshly minced garlic... cuz she bougie like that.

I like a good thin crust pizza topped with veggies that haven't been cooked to death. And this place was right on time.

Grandma Donna had the lasagna.

That sure looks super tasty. She loved it.

The service was a bit slow, but I think we were just really hungry! I'm definitely going back again.

Play Mama, it was good to see you, and to have lunch with you at a new spot!

See you again soon!

Lessons from The Original Oldcat


The Original Oldcat Oscar-Tyrone teaches a class on how to properly nap during the ATL Snow Jam 2014.


That is all.

(And he has been this way for hours...)

The Knob (Alarm)

There is a knob that sits on the nightstand on the left side of my the bed.  That is the side of the bed on which I sleep.

 I found it one day during my daily walk around the neighborhood. I'd stepped on it. I was so caught up in the music streaming through my headphones that I didn't even see it. Harold Melvin and his Blue notes have me like that from time to time, where I'm not paying much attention to where I'm going.

I'd reached down and picked up this knob. In that moment I wondered where it came from and who lost it.  It was much too pretty to throw away. I slid it in my pocket and went on with my routine.

Later that night, I sat it upon my nightstand.  I meant to throw it away, but I didn't. And it has been there on the nightstand ever since.

I didn't know what it meant. But it began to mean something to me. Whenever I hit the blaring clock alarm in the mornings to shut it off,  the first thing I saw was the knob.

And after a time that knob was staring back at me.

At times it was the world, and the seas, and all that lay within.  Other times it was the sky full of birds big and small, wings spread and floating on the wind.

At other times it was wise men staring hard at me, men frowning so ho hard that their eyebrows knitted together in the hardest of lines. They were wondering, no asking, why was I there in bed besides yet another random man? Why had I just lay with man after man who didn't love me, man after man who didn't even know my name?

The world.

The seas.

The skies full of birds.

Life... at its richest and fullest.

Shielding my heart from the good times and bad.

Attempting to shield my heart from the dark times of seeking satisfaction from random man after random man. . .

. . .after random man.

I kept the knob there, right there next to the clock with the flickering and fading red digitals. It was the proper alarm I needed.

Hopefully it would someday open my eyes to all I needed to see.



From Women of Color Writing Group, January 2014.
5 minute writing prompt. Our facilitator bought some cabinet and dresser drawer knobs from the thrift store. We were to each pick one and write a story about it.

This is the knob I chose:



I see a lot there in that knob. I saw blue skies, blue water, birds... and what looked like frowning asian men or something like that.

The character... my goodness- Her and her random men. That sounds like a deep seeded secret problem. And it sounds dangerous.

She is obvious conflicted about it all. I wonder what that's about? Hmm.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Jam 2014... ATLien Style



All I can say is WOW!!!

24 hours ago, the weather was alright. Dry as a bone. Then BOOM.... SNOW.

WOW.

My city is a HOT mess right now. Hot mess. We had one to three inches of snow. And the bad thing is that it is only 12 degrees in my beloved ATL. This means that the snow and ice are not going to melt anytime soon.

Now, this would not be a problem in any other, as a couple of inches of snow is not a big deal. But here in the ATL? Uh, that might as be a couple of feet of snow.

We are not prepared for this type of thing. At all.

As a result we have this:

There's a lot of this going on.

 This actually looks like one of the streets on my commute. I wasn't stuck in all of that.
 This picture below actually looks alright.  But it was a rare thing.

Here's the problem. Folks have been stranded for hours. Many are still stranded.

Let's back up and talk about what has happened.

I have been watching the news for the past couple of days, with particular interest in the weather.  Mind you, it was near 60 degrees this weekend and very nice out.

The weather people had been saying that it was going to be snowing south of Atlanta.  The key word here is SOUTH.  Down on the southside, some 20 miles from here. We were suppose to get rain.

I thought "Hmm, that is odd. It never happens that way. It usually snows in North Georgia. How does it snow in Middle Georgia and not up here in north Georgia and Atlanta?"

These are questions I asked myself. I didn't think anything much else of it. I woke up the next morning and I texted my coworker Sushi. She was already at work. My boss later texted that we were open. And the schools were open. So I made a decision to go to work. My goal was to work from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  I usually get off around 6:30 or 7:00 pm, and I was NOT going to stay that late if it had snowed. I didn't want to have to drive on ice.

My boss texted me at 10:52 am that there was liberal leave, and I could stay home if I wanted.

This caused me to have a mini-rant in her office.

"How you gonna text me and I'm standing here looking dead at you? Why come you didn't text me at 9 this morning?"

This ellicited the hard eye roll.

Humph.

So I was at work. Working away... then Play Mama sent me a picture.



O_O

She is in Alabama, in a city a little over 2 hours away And she sent this picture around 11:30 am.

I immediately thought, uh... maybe I should leave and go home.

But I didn't. I was off this past Monday. So I needed to work for half a day at least.

As I passed by the window at work, there were flurries. And a little later, there were plenty flurries.  This didn't look too good.

But I was like everybody else. Bump liberal leave. I wanted some administrative leave. And I was sticking around for at least half a day if I had to leave and use my vacation time.

But at 11:50, our director sent out a message. I didn't read it, but people started leaving in masses.

I was still trying to work. I walked down the hall to one of my coworkers office and she was eating her lunch. She wasn't leaving. She said she didn't have vacation time. Around this time, she opened the email, that the director had sent. It basically said, in a very professional manner... "Get the hell on!"

So that's why people were running like cattle out of there... hmm.

I soon left, around 12:20 pm.

There were just heavy flurries. I noticed it sticking in my hair.

*ladylee walking faster to car*

There was no gridlock. I was concerned about this. Upon hitting a little traffic, I took a shortcut to a better street through an underground condo parking lot.

I was headed for the freeway, but I decided against it. It didn't look all that promising. So I made a detour and took my usual street way home.

Within 15 minutes, it was looking like this:

And I slid a couple of times... Uh oh.

Snow had fell fast and was beginning to stick. And you see above how far I stay behind folks. No way am I driving like it is bright and sunny and 90 degrees outside.

I slid twice. Once on a street downtown (that was in 5 minutes of the snow falling, which was baffling), and once when stopping for a stop sign.

It took me 30 minutes to get home. Around that time, I was driving extra slow. There was a small pack of us driving extra slow.  My neighborhood is extra hilly, so I made sure to keep it slow.

Here is my house...
Snow on the roof!!

Here's my mailbox.
That doesn't look to bad. You can see my yard here. That doesn't look too bad either.

Pam was on program. There was NO way I was driving Lucy Jr. to work. I didn't think it would really snow, but no need to bust up my lexus, honey. Pam would have to do, and she was a trooper.

And she had a little snow on her by the time I got home.

I thought about parking my car at the top of the driveway. But I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon. I'm not leaving until it is bone dry outside, which means I'm in the house until Thursday or Friday. So I parked my car in the usual spot.

I came home and watched the news. I am still shocked at how fast this snow fell.

Ugh.  This all happened so fast. It took me 30 minutes to get home. And I live only 4.5 miles from work, and my usual commute is no longer than 10 minutes, 15 minutes in traffic. But I remember having to use my windshield wipers to wipe away snow. I've never done that before. Snow usually falls slowly and melts on the window. Not this time.

I was fortunate. I lived close and got home expediently with no problems.

Here's a picture taken from my bedroom window just this morning after sunrise.


Uh, no. I won't be leaving anytime soon. Maybe Thursday at the earliest.

I talked to my sister Kentucky who is a school teacher. She told me that she hated to be mean, but she stood up and hollered "No disrespect, but I'm taking it to the house!"  You got that right, Kentucky.

I think it took her a couple of hours to get home, and her commute is usually 20 minutes.

What was sad that the buses were having a hard time getting to the kids. So many kids had to sleep overnight at school. Parents are furious. Someone is going to have to answer some questions.

And then there are the stranded motorists. Jackknifed trucks on the freeway will cause that mess. People have been stranded for 20 hours. Can you imagine that? People have just abandoned their cars on the highways and sleeping in Home Depot and grocery stores.  We caught up in some third world mess.

But it will be 60 degrees this weekend. And this will all be a... memory.

Will my city learn a lesson?

NO.

Same old thing next time.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Repeat Snow Jam.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Confusion 101: The "Day Party"


So, one of my favorite people these couple of years is Samantha, aka, Cinnamon Sugar.  She has trained me well in texting, as she is not hearing my whole "My smartphone is not connected to my left breast" spiel. It is almost required that we text daily.

Some of ya'll chickens gonna learn to stop trying to keep up with LadyLee.

Until that time, we will text. Text, text and more text.

Anyway Sam sent a text message earlier this year.

I don't know what I was doing at the time, but I barely glanced at it.

But I thought it was an ad for a strip club. A moment later I was thinking...  "She stripping now?? OH NO!!"

I thought this chicken was stripping at the strip club and sending out advertisements. LOL

I actually read the post a little closer. I text her my thoughts, and she thought it was funny. I am a bit slow some times.

A DJ! Some liquor! And some pictures.

I wonder if the photos were like the ones we took back in the nineties. You remember the ones in the club, where you and your friends were posed all up in front of an airbrushed picture of the skyline of your city.

And everybody was drunk as hell.

Those were the days!

But we had parties at NIGHT. What is this DAY party craziness?

A DAY party is a kid's birthday party. At the Chuckie Cheese. With pizza. And cake and candles. And those big animals singing.

I don't understand all this "Day Party" business.

Sam and Southern Black Gal tried to explain it to me a few years ago when we had all hooked in Serenity's hometown of Charlotte.

"We're going to a day party!"

"A what?" I hollered.

They were going to a day party. After breakfast.

O_o.

"It's a party in the day time, LadyLee. With a DJ and music and drinks."

"Like a party at the club, but during the day? Ya'll kidding, right?"

They were not. I could tell by their straight faces. I was laughing. And they were not. They were serious. And they had that look in their eye: they were ready to get their drank on.

I still wasn't buying the whole Day Party idea.

So when Sam text the flyer above, I still had questions about this Day Party thing.  I asked some folks at work.

Most had never heard of it. But we are all old. So I had to talk to one of the youngsters.

We have a student who's a Que Dog, and I asked him about it. He said he'd heard of them.

"We have day parties," he said. "It's like a cookout."

"Well why don't you call it a cookout, then?" I shot back.

He said nothing. He is polite when it comes to his elders. He just walked off.

One of my coworkers has a public relations business on the side, so I asked her.

"Z, do you know what a day party is?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, like I was asking if the sky was blue.

"That's some craziness. Who has a party like they in the club during the day?"

"Day parties are nice," she said, her hands making elegant movements in the air. "It's nicer than parties at night. You can actually see who you're talking to. They are nice."

"What do you mean by you can see who you are talking to? Every club I've ever been in has no windows. So it's dark all the time.I don't care if it's daytime."

"No," she said.  "Sometimes day parties are on rooftops. The sun is shining, and you can see who you're dealing with."

Z knows what she is talking about. There are pictures up in her cubicle, pictures of her with various local celebrities. And they're all smiling brightly like they are about to shoot a toothpaste commercial...

At a day party.

And that made some semblance of sense to me. You can see what's going on up on the rooftops.

I mean, with the sun shining and all. You can see.

So, Sam, never mind me snickering about the day party. I'm glad you had yours and I wish I could've come since you had the open bar and the DJ.

*ladylee sliding up to bar*

"Uh, yeah... can I have a spinach-apple-cranberry juice? And don't you dare put liquor in that. Only a couple of ice cubes. Thank you. Oh, do you have some blackberries back there?"

*LadyLee taps DJ on shoulder*

"Can ya'll play some Earth Wind and Fire up in here instead of this Chief Keef , Niki Minaj, and Lil' Wayne?? Good grief!! I don't wanna hear all that noise! Play some real music. Shoot!  At least play some Gap Band or Pointer Sisters! Turn this mess off, and-"

*ladylee being escorted expediently from day party*

HAHA!

Well, I learn something new every day. I haven't been to a day party yet, and I don't plan on going to one anytime soon.

I like ol' Sam. Ya'll should like her too. She does all my "pre-reading", i.e., she reads and approves all my food-for-thought posts before I post them. So you have her to thank for that.

She calls herself my "Stalker Stan".  Hmm.  At first I thought, that's not good. But it has turned out to be very good. She is one of my favorite chickens these days. And I treat her like I treat my sister Kentucky. (This gets dicey and could be either good or bad. You will have to ask her about that).

Hey girl, I'm still mad at you for napping on my couch last summer when there was a perfectly good bedroom upstairs that I cleaned up just for your visit. I had to be all quiet while cleaning up. Next time I won't be so nice!

Humph!!

And the next time you're down here, have one of your special... Day Parties.

I promise not to request fresh vegetable juice from the bar.

Just ask the DJ to play a Kool and the Gang song... Or some SOS band.



Or some Yarbrough and Peoples

Don't you stop it ...dont' you stop.. stop the MUSIC!!



(I always do the hard wop to that song. You better move out the way and give me space. If not, you will get knocked over).

How bout you do that for your Friendly Neighborhood Oldgirl LadyLee :)

(Why don't I just have my own Day Party... At night. LOL)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Robbed... without a Gun

Now I can't even tell you what is popular in urban current music... but I know I do like Kendrick.


And last night at the Grammys, he got robbed... without a gun. Even Macklemore admitted that much.

He shut the Grammys down with the performance of the night. I bet he sold some CDs over that one!

It's gonna be alright Kendrick.


Don't be sad, Kendrick!

Go back in the studio and make another Hip-hop classic.

You win the LadyLee award. You are the only one that done made this Old chicken LadyLee turn her head to any current rap music. Your CD is the only rap CD I have purchased in the last 10 years. Go figure.

And I'm gonna have my own Kendrick concert. Humph!!











Black Hippy BET Cypher!!





(And dear Black Hippy Collective. Please come out with a CD. Much obliged. That is all).

Poor Kendrick... I'm not sure why he didn't win. Maybe it was that unsettling Control Verse that angered everybody for a few months. Had rappers making all kind of response raps. Sigh. That might've lost him a few votes.

Better luck next time!

And there will be a next time.

Grandmother's Purse

My purse.

I carry it where ever I go.

It is bright red with white polka dots the size of silver dollars. The clasp is gold, peeling and rusting with age.
The fabric is patent leather, so it sticks to the skin of my thigh if I leave it resting there for too long.

It doesn't match my clothes and shoes. Come to think about it, it doesn't match anything I own. For I don't own any red clothing. And white is not my style.

But that's all well and fine. It doesn't have to match. It was my grandmother's purse, the one she gave to me as a child. I will always remember how she pointed to it with shaky hands as she whispered in an equally shaky voice, "I told them to pull that pocketbook out just for you, little girl."

They were the last words she'd spoken exactly an hour before she died.

The purse itself is important, but what it contains is just as important, if not more: a bible, heavily marked and tattered, the gold leaf pages now a dull yellow; a small black journal, stuffed and overflowing with my grandmother's joys and pains.

And there is a black and white photo of she and I as we sat on a bench in the pouring rain patiently waiting for a bus that must've lost its way.

I was cuddled up next to my grandmother that day. She'd pulled me close, her arm wrapped tightly around my shoulder as she held a tiny black umbrella with broken spines over our heads. That day, she asked someone passing by to take a picture of the two of us.

Later while sitting in the warmth of the bus, I asked her why we took a picture while it was raining.

She said it was because even in a storm, we could still smile.

It was simple enough, but too simple for my little mind to capture a hold of at the time.

But I understood after her death, the photo and what it meant, and how it went hand-in-hand with that bible and journal.

My grandmother left me a piece of herself, a piece of her very heart. And I leaned and understood that if I didn't have anything else in life, I was richly prepared.

For she had left me all that I would ever need to make it through every storm of life.

From Women of Color Writing Workshop, January 2014
7 minute writing workshop. We were given a sheet of paper containing some 25 items that could be found in a purse. We were told to pick 3 of these items and write a story about the purse and these three items. 

It should be obvious what I chose:  a spiritual book, a photo, and a journal.

My grandmother is still alive, but I remember back in the 70s, she was always taking pictures. She had a Kodak camera that took black and white pictures. There was a flash cube that she would have to place on top of the camera.  And even back then she had a big blocky camcorder, and so there is film of me as a little girl, running around. (It was awful whenever I brought boyfriends over, and she would pull out this projector screen and run these films. Ugh).

She is, at the age of 84, so amazed by the technology of this day. She doesn't understand it all. She was ahead her time some 40 years ago.

So I thought of her as I wrote this piece. She and I are so much alot. I love pictures and photos. I love my bible. And you know I love writing and journalling.

I think I will call her.

And the next time I see her, I will read it to her.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Year in Review: The Original Baby

The last post was about Bliss' newborn twins and the impact that had on me.

And this post is a continuation of that post. But it is about Bliss' 16- year-old daughter.

We can pretty much stop right there. Bliss has a teenage daughter AND she was busy preparing for twins.

That's a lot going on.

And you know how we were when we were teenagers. Teen angst galore.

And I wondered how this teenage girl was feeling during this time?

I myself once was a teenage girl.

Yes, that sounds silly. But let me rephrase and put it into context: I was once a 17-year-old teenage girl whose mother was expecting a baby, my brother Milk and Cookies.

And I thought back to how I felt around that time. And I asked Bliss if I could send her daughter a card and write her a letter about how I felt about it all. Bliss gave me a slight text "side-eye", expressing that I didn't need to reveal any tricks. LOL. Of course I wouldn't. I just told her that it would be positive and helpful.

I wrote about who I was and what I was doing around that time. I am sure it was a little different from her situation. I was 17 at the time, and I was beginning my sophmore year of college (I started college when I was 16). I was in school full time and I had a full time job. And I was running behind my boyfriend.

So I had a LOT going on. (My goodness, I wish I had half the energy I had back then. Wow.)

Anyway, my mother told me she was having a baby. I didn't really believe her. (She had a tumor or fibroid or something. They took a ultrasound, and lo and behold, there was a baby behind the tumor).

So my circumstances were way different (I didn't detail all that in the letter). I wasn't pissed about it, but it was all a lot going on. I had a lot going on myself so I just did my thing.

But I detailed in the letter that her little sisters would be in such awe of their big sister. I know because my baby brother was in such awe of me. The reason for that is that by the time these little ones become old enough to talk and walk, their big sister would be an adult.

(Now I also have a sister who is 11 years younger than me. We didn't get along well in our younger years. My sister saw me get in just as much trouble as she did, so she put two and two together. I was a mere child, just like her.)

But my brother has ALWAYS been wide-eyed when I came around. Even to this very day. And when I see him now, even some 25 years later, he still looks to me just like that little baby laying in his crib looking up at me. And that is how she will remember her baby sisters, even as adults.

She will be a superstar to her sisters, and with that comes great responsibility. Like I did with my brother, she will be able to break things down to her baby sisters much better than their parents... and she will have ALL the personal stories to back it up. She will have them saying amongst themselves, "Our big sister knows everything!"

I wrote about how it was such an important assignment from God, this being a much older big sister.  She will sow so much into their lives. And later on in life, they will sow so much into hers.  I wrote about how my brother has a special kind of wisdom from his experiences fighting in the wars overseas. He has seen things that I have not, nor will I ever see. And her little sisters will have life experiences that will benefit her life, also.

And that's a wonderful thing.

My three page letter to her was one of encouragement during a time where it may seem like much attention may be given to the newborns, and not so much to her. I don't think that is the case, but you know how babies are: everythingn is about them. Everything. And rightfully so. We were all babies once, and had to be taken care of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I wanted her to have something that she could go back and read from time to time, if need be. Or maybe it is something she can tuck away with her other keepsakes. It was something just for her.

You know what felt nice? Writing a handwritten letter. How often do we do that these days? I thought about typing it out (mostly for her mother to proofread and approve first). But I decided to just put pen to paper. And I liked that. We live in such an email and text age. Writing a letter like I often did as a child was a good feeling.

And you know me. I also made a card.


It is a little simpler than I like... But It conveys what I wanted it to convey...

Now, you know I am LadyLee. LadyLee is not only my blog name, it is also my street grafitti tag name. So I also put the card in a package that I tagged with some of my world class grafitti art!



Looka there, man! That makes me want to go climb a building with a can of spray paint, and...

Nevermind. I am too old for that. Might fall and bust my tail. And we don't need that.

Why don't I just write on paper...

I sent something else too...

A scarf.....

 A nice pretty scarf!!


Uh no... It's not a scarf.

Not a scarf at all.

No, no, no. It's something better:



It's a blanket!

Now... how on EARTH would I make the newborn twins four baby blankets..

And NOT make a blanket for the "Original Baby"?

Even though she is 16 years old, she is still her mother Bliss' baby.

She will always be her baby.

Always.

And I wrote that in the letter.

I name all my big blankets. This blanket is the "Honeydew and Cream Dream".   I have a ton of Honeydew yarn, as it is my best friend LadyTee's favorite color. I have a bit more than I need and I didn't know what I was going to do with it. So I made this blanket. I am gearing up to make another one just like it for LadyTee.

And the Original Baby needed something of her own, something to remember this time by.

I am sure she got so much more from so many family and friends during this time. And this blanket is something else she can add to her collection to commemorate becoming a big sister.

It was my favorite gift to give in 2013, as I kept it a secret from Bliss also. I wanted it to arrive out of the blue. And that it did.

So, the birthday sweepstakes continues. Make sure you get in on it!

And have a good weekend... On purpose!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Year in Review: Thoughts and Babies... and Thoughts

Come January of each year, I ask myself a question:

Who's gonna have a baby this year?

Someone once said, "You are, LadyLee!"

Uh, no. I don't believe so. But you never know about these things. Heck, anything is bound to happen.

But it never fails that I get the wonderful chance to crochet at least 2 or 3 baby blankets per year.

And I like doing that because it involves giving a very unique gift of something made with my own hands.

And last year was no different. I made 5 blankets. That was a lot.

Four of those blankets were for blogger Bliss...

It began as one of those things where she was just thinking about having a baby... and she was blogging about it.  And I remember thinking "Whelp! Guess it's time to do a yarn run down to the southside for baby yarn."  And even then, it was just a mere thought in her mind.

Why did I do that? Because I realize everything starts with a thought.

And a thought is merely a seed. A seed pregnant with fruit... and possiblity.

A thought meditated on eventually becomes reality. Hence... it was time to do a yarn run.

And that Bliss... I have seen over the past several years, whatever that Oldgirl get ta thinkin' on, it comes to past. Quickly.

What a wonderful thing to see in a person. Sure, it happens with us all. But my goodness, she has always been amazing to watch. Her goals are so lofty... big and bold, in 3D IMAX HD... Just big stuff.

So the baby desire was no different. I knew that would come to past. Pretty fast. So I needed to be thinking about blankets.

And hence came the Four Bliss Collection.

She was having trouble conceiving, and after a few tests, it was determined that alternative fertility methods were necessary, namely in vitro.

That could be a bit scary.

But you know, that Bliss... when that Bliss starts thinking about things... hmm.

It was fascinating to read blog posts about her in vitro fertilization treatments. I am a scientist, and I love all things science, but this fertilization process was O_O. Technology is something else! It was so fascinating to read about the different medicines and their purposes and all that. Fascinating.

She posted up pictures of the 2 embryos selected for implantation.


I was in awe of that. They can take pictures of embryos? Well of course they can. With a good magnigying microscope. I used a few in college biology class. I even took an x-ray picture of a perfectly crystallized chemical for a class in grad school. And I did all that some 20 to 25 years ago. So yes that's possible. No telling what kind of technology they have out there now!

But I was in awe because this was real. A mere thought had begun to take form.

2 embryos- no faces, no bodies, indistinguishable, over time became...

2 babies. 2 baby girls. (Don't worry, she gave me permission to snatch a photo.)

2 big healthy babies. I believe one was 6 pounds and the other was close to 7 pounds.

That whole process just amazed me. Yes, it happens every day. All the time.

Thoughts become reality. Eventually.

And can you imagine having a picture of yourself as an embryo?  Yes, we all have baby pictures. But a picture of yourself as an embryo? That just boggles my mind.

This was such a stark reminder of that principle, and it's a one of the most glaring reminder of the many reminders I had last year of that principle.

I need that type of reminder every day. And I am sure if I pay attention, that actually occurs.

So Bliss. Congratulations to you on such a HUGE change to your life. You have gone from having one daughter to three daughters... all in one year.

I know this will be a year you will always remember. It is definitely one that I will always remember, as you were so generous in sharing it in writing with us, just as we were right there with you. I am highly appreciative of the lessons I learned through the whole process...

Our thoughts are truly important. And when thoughts are meditated on, something is eventually produced.

No one robs a bank without first thinking about it.

No one does anything without first thinking about it.

With that said, we shouldn't just meditate on certain thoughts, should we? Especially the negative ones.

And it makes all the sense in the world to have grand lofty positive thoughts... on purpose.

All of this is important. You don't have to think it is. But whether you like it or not, it is. Advertisers think it's important. Why do you think it costs 4 million dollars for a 30 second commercial in the Sup.er Bo.wl?

It's worth that much to initiate a thought in your head. That simple thought may manifest itself, may make you make a decision to go out and take action. And making as many people as possible aware of something is worth THAT much. And dare I say, probably worth much more.

But I like the more organic form of thoughts. The intangible thoughts. I remember when Bliss first said she was having thoughts of it. I knew I would be making blankets as a result.

And a card. You know how I am about my cards.


That was a fun card. There's just something therapeutic about making a card. I need to make more of them.

Now, Bliss has that older daughter. I can't forget about her, can I? I thought about her because I was about the same age as her (age 16-17), when my baby brother Milk and Cookies was born. So I understand the thoughts that go through the mind when THAT big of a change occurs. It's a bit overwhelming.

So I made sure to send her a card... along with a little note also...

Hmm...

...to be continued. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Yellow light (Wait)

Daniel remembered exactly where he was on January 1, 2000 just as the clock struck midnight. No, he wasn't at home, hoping and praying like so many that the computers and the whole world didn't stop, didn't just shut down and crash all around him (This whole Y2K thing had everybody going crazy).

He was in his car, in his Brooklyn, New York neighborhood at a red light waiting for it to turn green.

But instead of turning green, it turned yellow.  And it stayed yellow.

Maybe it was a sign that things had indeed gone wrong as the clock struck 12.  What light changes from red to yellow like that?

He sat patiently staring at the yellow light, waiting for it to turn green or perhaps waiting for it to operate like most yellow lights did and turn red.

At any rate, he understood its meaning.  It meant wait.

Wait.

Wait for his anger to fade before he showed up at her house to let her know exactly what he thought of the sudden breakup over the phone a few minutes ago without warning.

Wait to see if she was just having one of her "moments" and would call back and apologize.

Or it meant wait.

Wait.

Sit and wait for the one, the one for him.

For the one for him was worth the wait.

And in that very moment, he decide that waiting was the very best thing to do.

From Women of Color Writing Workshop
5 minute writing prompt:  Use the following in a writing prompt: 

Person: Daniel
Place: Brooklyn NY
Date: January 1, 2000
Color: Yellow

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy MLK day... Happy NEW Day

While perusing some of my old MLK day posts, I came across this one. What a nice reminder of taking each day as a gift. Enjoy this repost.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to you.

For many of us, it is a day off. I like the whole idea of "Not a day off, but a day on". Uh, I am gonna let that soak in. I ain't there yet. I like the idea. I will get there eventually.

I use it as a day of reflection. A day where I go and read and ponder black history.

And I ponder my own family and our history.

When I think of the King Holiday, I think of my Grandmother.

Why?

Because she is the same age as he would've been this day. She was born on January 14, 1929. Dr. King was born on Janurary 15, 1929.

So let's just say I always remember her birthday.

She is an interesting lady. She tells good stories. She was the first to get a college degree in our family, a degree in Bible Psychology. (Maybe that's where I get my highly analytical biblical tactics from). She knows Hebrew and Greek. She told me in order to interpret my bible well, I should learn it. I said it's too hard.

She said "You mean to tell me, you have a Ph.D. in chemistry, and you can't learn greek and hebrew?"

O_o

No Grandma. I probably could. I'm just lazy.

She's a great lady. Very kind. She use to pick on me on the sly for my spiritual choices. You know me, I could care less. I do what's best for me. But as the years go by, she will tell me "Sugar, i watched your pastor on TV the other day. He is good. And funny." And we will discuss her thoughts on the sermon.

(I guess I'm not a heathen afterall. Yay me.)

Anyway, she is the subject for my food-for-thought today.

I spoke with her on New Years day, calling just to wish her a Happy New Year. We always joke about age. I always ask her how old I will be this year, and she goes through her whole story of how she remembers.

"You were born in 1970, Lisa. So I count from there."

Imagine her surprise when she figured out in 2010, that I'd be turning 40.

"Ooooo little girl. Forty years old. Forty years old!"

She was amazed. She remembers carrying me around.

And we figured out this year that I am about to be the age now that she was when I was born. So I was born when she had just turned 42.

(That created a whole conversation within itself).

But she is turning 83 this year. What an age. I told her she is getting up there. She has seen it all. World wars, presidents, everything. She has seen it all.

I told her I am happy to always see a new year. Good to see a new year.

"Happy New Year!" I hollered again.

"No, Lisa. It's not Happy New Year."

I was puzzled to hear that. "What?"

"Happy New Day! Each day is brand new. We always say 'Out with the Old, In with New' every January 1st. When actually, each day is brand new. So it's Happy New Day!"

"That's a thought," I said. "A good way to look at it."

"Lisa, imagine," she said, "If you could wake up each DAY and say 'Out with the Old, In with the New', instead of waiting til the beginning of a new year to make your goals and resolutions. Imagine the possiblities."

"Never thought of it that way. You're right."

"Happy New Day," she said. "Yes, it is Happy New Day."

You are right, Grandma. Absolutely right.

What would happen if we could get up each morning and wish ourselves and those around us a "happy new day"? What would happen if we would resolve to be rid of the old- those things which depress us, confuse us, and/or are detrimental to our lives- and, in with the new - new and fresh attitudes, hopes, direction, and dreams?

I don't know. But I tell you, I've been pondering that conversation since Janurary 1st.

Words of wisdom from a woman who has seen over 30,000 "new days" on this earth.

I could only hope to see that amount of days.

That amount of New Days.

I wish you a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.

I wish you a Happy New day.


I wrote that post 2 years ago. Grandma turned 85 on January 14.  And the wisdom of it is still as fresh as the day as I wrote it.

Happy Birthday, Grandma. Happy New Day, Grandma.

And Happy New Day to You, Readers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy 50th Birthday, First Lady!


Today our First Lady turns 50!

Happy Birthday, First Lady!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Year in Review: The "F" Word

I am still thinking about last year and my thoughts concerning it. What affected me? Why did it affect me?

And sometimes the "F" word comes up.

A couple of "F" words off the top of the head which have presented some internal issues:

Forgiveness

Finances

This year, one situation really had an interesting effect on me. And again, it is an "F" word.

FURLOUGH

That "F" word had me looking like this cat:


I had that cat's facial expression... I term that the "hostage face". It is the face of someone held at the mercy of some inflated egos.

And I didn't have the typical "Oh no, what I'm going to do? No paycheck?" thoughts running through my head.

No. I don't live paycheck to paycheck. I was good for a few months without a check if it came down to it.

I was moreso annoyed. Annoyed with the political fiasco in Washington. You mean to tell me these folks, the cream of the crop, our leadership, our ivy league educated leadership, couldn't get along? And their B.S. is affecting me? So much so that they had to shut down my job??

Not only that, but there are government employees out here living paycheck to paycheck. Their shenanigans messed some people up.

And I have thought about that a lot since the furlough.

Over the past couple of months, I have thought of the following:

I do not want my actions to negatively affect those around me. I want to affect people in a positive manner and not be a detriment. 

Because I, like you, saw the government closed down, all over some squabble over health care. And you know it's not about that. It's about folks with personal agendas. Agendas and thoughts of grandeur.  All of that affected people negatively.

And I knew it wouldn't be a long furlough when people couldn't get into the national parks and go to the national monuments. And my goodness, the World War II veterans in wheelchairs wanting to get into the WWII memorial and being turned away was a horrible thing. No one anticipated that.

It was too much. And with all that, they still didn't stop the Affordable Care Act. Not at all. It is still being implemented. All that hollering about it being bad for the country. The bigger question is, what if it was good for country and everything worked out alright?  That would mean this president would have one thing: a legacy. And we can't have that, can we?

I think that was what it was really about.

Yeah. I know I am stretching pretty far. But as Rodney King said... Can we all just get along?

Apparently not.

And someone please explain to me how a first year senator, Ted Cru.z, who is Canadian as far as I am concerned (yeah, they need to clown him as hard as they clowned the president about citizenship), come in and cause THIS much of a problem, to where the whole government is shut down... with no strategy to back it up? I am still baffled by that. John Boen.her should have locked his tail in a closet somewhere. Really.

Enough of my ranting. Back to the subject at hand. I think the furlough lasted some 15 days and we got all of our back pay for it. It was essentially a free two week vacation.  I wish I would've known the duration and terms of it all beforehand. If I'd known, I would've been laid out on some beach in the Caribbean. You gonna give me some free time off then tell me so I can be GONE.

Really though.

A question concerning furloughs went out over my Triple F (Financial Freedom Fighters) Posse email thread one day. And one of our members wanted to essentially know what kind of plan we had in place if a furlough occurred, and our thoughts on it all in general.

Since I'd been furloughed, I responded to the email:



Hello Fighters,

This is LadyLee.

I wanted to answer some of the furlough questions.

I myself was part of the government furlough, and man, it was an eyeopener.

How did I manage? I made time to sit down and look at all of my cash on hand and savings and added up how much I had. I then sat down and added up my expenses. I do this anyway from month to month, but here it felt more important.

My goal was to take care of the important things first, the "four walls"[mortgage, utilities, transportation and food]. Now, i remember us talking about this, but I made sure that the mortgage and utilities were paid. I have two cars with no car notes, so that is a plus. I prioritized everything else, and determined any "pleasure" expenditures. Most of those unnecessary things were thrown out or put on hold.

I also undid all of my automatic online bill pays so that I would have to pay everything online manually. This way, I was forced to look at my accounts a few times a week.

One thing that set a light bulb off over my head: I understand the whole notion of having 3-6 months of living expenses saved. The opportune words here are "living expenses". I've always thought that that meant 3 to 6 months of whole paychecks. While that may be the case for someone living "check-to-check", that is not my reality. So now that is a reality to me, since I know my living expense.

I have enough savings to sustain me for a little over 3 months. And I didn't really even know that until the reality of the furlough.

In light of the furlough, I have decided to shore up my savings a little more, by 20%. I also want to hurry and pay down my credit cards. Shoudn't take long at all. Since this tomfoolery may occur again in Janurary, my goal is to sit down and set up some short term 3-month money goals.

Interestingly, we received all our backpay for that time off. So that is a plus. I didn't take much of anything out of savings while I was out. I will replace that amount that I withdrew and get back on track with my regular savings efforts.

I think the worst thing for me was the unknown. How long would the furlough last? And there is that fear that it would be some strange time, like 6 months. I decided to keep myself busy so I wouldn't think about it. And I promised myself that I wouldn't think too much about it until November 1 (if we were out that long). All bills were paid, and if they needed to be paid at that time while still on furlough, I would address it. But what helped me the most was not to whine about it or expose myself to unnecessary negativity. Sometimes, the mind is the battlefield, and I didn't need any unnecessary thoughts running through my mind making me feel all afraid, worried and defeated. I woke up every day during this 16 day period, got dressed for the day, and made lists of things to do. And I made sure not to sit and watch the news. I watched only when necessary. This helped my mental a lot.

Those are my thoughts on E;s furlough questions. Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

I think I had more to write, but I kept it short.

I noticed that a January furlough was avoided. This is an election year, so all of congress is sitting tight. Don't want to piss off anyone, do they?

I don't want to go through it all again. I especially don't want anyone living paycheck to paycheck to go through it all again. That was what was truly sad.

That was a most dreded "F" word, a word no one wants to hear ever again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Christmas Gifts

Here are my Christmas gifts from my sister...


A 4 pack of Voss water. She knows how much I love "water in glass". Best water in the world.

An Amazon gift card. I haven't used it yet. I want to use it on something special.

Some mason jar labels. She must've been listening to me when I mentioned that I was going to do some canning soon...

Thanks Kentucky :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Workplace Funnies: "That Brush Looks Like..."

Funny things always happen at work. And here is one of those many funnies...

So... we have two separate cubicle areas on our floor. My coworker Lt. Commander By sits in one different from mine, so I have to walk paperwork over his way. He is usually sitting down, so I pat him on his head from time to time. That day, I commented on how well his hair laid down, even the gray hairs sprinkled throughout. I told him I couldn't get my hair to lay down like that for nothing in the world.

I went on back to my desk. About an hour later he comes rushing over. He shows me his hair brush.

"This is what I use to brush my hair," he said.


It was a nice enough brush. I thought the bristles were too fine for my rough hair.

"I can't use that type of brush," I said. "I need a heavy brush with hard bristles."

"No, this is a good brush."

I leaned towards him and whispered, "You can use that because your great great great great grandfather was white."

He looked down at his brush. "Here. Try it."

Uhhh... didn't our folks teach us not to use other folks hair combs and brushes?

I didn't want to upset him, so I took the brush, and gently brushed my edges. Very lightly and gently.

This disturbed By something awful. I knew it did because he snatched the brush from my hand...

"Brush your hair, girl," he hollered. He grabbed my head and brushed it hard, trying to smooth it down. "Brush your hair!"

I was shocked. But I tell you, it felt good.

"You brushes out my hair when I was ailing, By," I said in my best Shug Avery voice. "When I was ailing!"

At the same time I was thinking... no screaming inside:

"Lord have mercy, please don't let this negro have lice!!!!!"

(or fleas. *gasp*)

...Because you know that we're not suppose to be using each other hair stuff!

I know he didn't have hair isshas. I have played in his hair too much over the years. And besides, Mrs. By keeps him and the boys lotioned up real good. I know she keeps everybody's hair combed, too. Yes she does.

I grabbed the brush from him and examined it. I was particularly interested in the back of the brush.


*crickets*

Wow! What happened to this brush?


"Dang, man!" I hollered. "What the world happened to your brush?"

"I don't know."

You know how my mind goes all wild. "Boy, this look like you saved all your chewing gum on the back of it and you couldn't get it off. This brush look like you were eating some pancakes and spilled your syrup on it and couldn't wipe it off."

He laughed.

"Dude," I continued. "This brush looks like it got stuck under the stove. Or under the 'frigerator."

"This brush look like somebody came in the house, talking a bunch of smack, and you got fed up and bust them upside the head with it. WHAM!"

Shut a sucker up real quick. LOL.

"That's my teenage brush," he said.  "I have had that for years. Almost lost it one time when traveling, but we found it."

His teenage brush. So he's had that for over 20 years. Yes, that brush has been through a few things.

I tell you, that was one of my happy moments of the year thus far... that By brushing my hair.

I recanted that story a couple of times.

"He was rough because he has boys," my coworker said, referring to his hard brushing of my hair.

Yes. You have to be rougher with boys hair. I guess he'd been teaching them how to brush their hair.

I have a soft brush like that, but I threw it under the bathroom sink awhile ago. I dug it out the other day and brushed my hair... hard. And it worked out just fine. His brush was much better, though.

So thanks, By... for brushing my hair out while I was ailing working.

(You better not leave that brush out on your desk, dude. I might take it!)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Good Monday Morning

(Don't forget to Comment, text or email to participate in Birthday #44 sweepstakes. See post for details. Drawing on February 8th).

Good Monday Morning to YOU.

I had a good weekend. How 'bout you!?

My weekend was automatically good. Why? Because the polar vortex got the heck on. I don't know where it went and I don't care. All I know is that on Saturday, it was 65 degrees in the ATL.  It was warm enough for me to open my sunroof and let my hair blow in the wind. Yes, I was chilly, but so what? It was 5 degrees earlier in the week. 65 degrees feels like summertime right about now.

There were busted pipes all over Atlanta last week. Water everywhere! It didn't make a bit of sense. Just all over the place, even at work. We even had a day off this week because the boiler went out. I remember that morning getting out of the shower and putting on my clothes... then receiving a text saying that everyone was being sent home.  Well, I just got right on back in the bed. I was texting coworker Sushi, who was on the train, wailing about getting her hours. I told that chick to take her tail back home.  And she did. (Never seent anyone who wants to work so badly).

So, yes I was glad for a warm day. A Saturday no less.

Friday night, I had a writing workshop, which went well. Only two stories out of it, but that's cool. On Saturday I had Triple F Posse. My sister has joined up with the group. (She was part of it in the past). She is such a delight.

And yes, it was a delight when she had 2 pages of "reflections" from the last meeting. We were all O_o.

I gave her some advice before went off to college: take time and sit down and reflect.  And my goodness, it is some 13 years later and she still clings to that advice... with a a vengence.

I can learn from that.

I ran a few errands and went on home. I stayed in on Sunday. I was all tuckered out from Friday and Saturday.

In other news, congrats to 12 Years a Slave for their Golden Globe win  for best picture.


No one expected that. Not even the director. He was shell shocked.

Oh how we hate slave movies. Oh how we hate them. We hate a good butler or maid movie.

But we wouldn't be where or who you are without that slave, butler or maid.  Really.

I remember I went visit my grandparents one day, some 20 years ago when I was working on my PhD. Granddaddy ask me how school was. I whined and complained while he sat quietly glaring at me. When I was done wailing he said "Your grandmama didn't get down on her knees and clean white peoples floors so you could sit up here and whine and complain."

I remember thinking... Uh, Grandma wasn't thinking about me back in the 40s and 50s. But I thought better of it. And that's why I don't mind seeing slave, butler and maid movies. It reminds me to be thankful for my priviledged life now. Yes, convoluted reasonings, but whatever.

Grandaddy is long gone off to glory. You best believe I don't spend time complaining about stuff to Grandma, though. No way.  And she will listen. But I leave her be.

That is all I will say about that.

I too want to see more movies about our history in Africa. We have to get out there and support it, though. I am also a fan of black science fiction and black horror. But we too have to go support that also. But you know how "we" tend to be.

Book of the Week. Speaking of black horror, I love black horror books. They are very hard to come by. I am reading one right now. Well it is novella. Live Again by L.R,. Giles



It is about a widower who is trying to cope with the loss of his wife. He runs into a strange man in a bar that gives him a spell to bring her back. She comes back to life alright... but with a whole slew of isshas.

This is scaring me GOOD fashioned. Oscar-Tyrone jumped up on the bed while I was reading and I jumped sky high. Whoo-wee. That old cat almost got trampled. LOL

I'm wondering what else this author has written?
 I may check him out later. I have to get back to my spiritual reading. Amen. And amen again.

Quote of the Week. I write down so many quotes that it is hard to pick out just one. I heard this one this weekend. It is a question of sorts:

Will you spend the rest of your life living up to the ideas of what or who people think you are or should be doing? Or do you have the courage to break the mold?

That is powerful.

And I think a lot about time these days.  I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago on time (See "The 4th Dimension").  Years and years and years of worrying what people thought of me... I can't imagine it. But it is how we live, isn't it? It's how we have been trained.

I always ask myself from time to time. If I was the only person on the planet, how would I feel about myself? About the decision I am making?

And I let my answer to that be the answer.

I know one thing... the answers to my prayers always have a little "*" next to them.  And down at the bottom of the page it says...

*this answer was NOT run past other people to see how they feel about it.

Good. I won't have it any other way.

I need a good song of the week. Why don't I just play my FAVORITE song for the past 25 years or so.



*swaying in chair and sanging VERY hard*

I LOVE that song. Makes me want to jump up with my glass of brown liquor and dance in the middle of the dance floor all by myself!

Or maybe jump up in the middle of the cubicle area with my bottled water and dance all by myself.

*silence*

I can't do that, honey. Chickens will talk about me and make up stuff.  By the time it gets around the building good, it'll be said that I was drunk and crying over some dude I'm messing with... Some random dude in the building... and that I am pregnant... and I that I'm in a halfway house after beating a charge for attempted murder... and that I smoke crack.

*lee turns off song*

Maybe I should sing to myself.

I should sing quietly... using my inside voice.

Oh yes. That is what I will do... ON PURPOSE.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Year In Review: "Suspicious Activity"

Click here for Part I of this post - Year in Review: Wound Care Blues

I've been wanting to write about this ordeal, but I had no idea how. And I knew it was not a good time to do so way back when it occurred. I thought it would be best to write about it after some reflection.

So... I'd gone in for my yearly exam. I have to admit that I'd skipped a couple years. I don't know why, it just got away from me, I suppose. And during this time, I decided to have my first mammogram.

It was a bit jarring to say the least, laying my breast on a cold clear piece of plexiglass and watching it get mashed. Who on earth thought of all this?  And I have large breasts, so that was interesting. It was painful at times, but not too bad, save for the embarrassment of having my chest all out in the open like that, it was alright.

I noticed the mammographer took multiple pictures of my right breast. I didn't know what that was about.

I got a call a week later saying that something going on in my right breast, and I needed to get some advanced imaging. So an appointment was made appointment for me to go to a radiologist nearby.

I made it to that appointment, and I had another mammogram. The mammogram was to be interpreted and if things were still uncertain, I would have an ultrasound. I sat and waited for the radiologist to give his thoughts to the technicians on the results. He asked them to do an ultrasound.

When this was over, I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the radiologist to sit down with me. He came in and told me that my mammogram was suspicious and that I needed to talk to a breast surgeon.

*crickets*

He used some really big words, I don't remember them right now, but he said something about calcifications, and whatever it was, that I needed to get it biopsied and removed. And with that, he gave me my paperwork and sent me out the door.

My mind was all over the place. I can't say that I felt dread or anger or fear... I just felt numb. I REALLY needed to sit down and talk to someone, not just be told "You need to contact a breast surgeon."

What the world did I know about finding a breast surgeon?

I took my mammogram disks and slides and secured them in a place in my trunk so I wouldn't lose them. And I drove home in silence. I even pulled out the compact discs and viewed the images of my breast on the computer. I only saw a couple of small dense areas. It wasn't clearly defined, but something was there. But I still couldn't make heads or tails of it.

Then something wonderful happen: and it was one of my most important conversations of the year.

Now, I did a "Conversations week" back in June, I believe. Trust me, those were only a few of the important conversations I had last year. I had so many more, so many that I could've blogged about them for the remainder to the year and still not cover them all. But I only chose a select few to blog about because I thought they could be useful to some of my readers.

But this conversation was one that was right on time... and divinely orchestrated, as far as I am concerned.

I play Words with Friends with a few bloggers on a regular basis. Someone who plays with me, but very rarely, made a move on one of our games is blogger Blu Jewel, my favorite "British Jamerican". It made me say "Where has she been? Where she pop up from?"
I've learned so much from her over the years, especially from a spiritual standpoint. She has always challenged me to think higher. She hasn't blogged in awhile, and I only see her on facebook the few rare occasions I am on. But she made a move on WWF that day. And it was a sudden type of thing, something that made me wonder,

Then I remembered some posts she'd done a couple of years ago. She blogged about her sixth anniversary as a breast cancer survivor.


So I took my turn on our game, and then I sent her a message in the game chat. I wrote that I remembered her blogging about breast cancer and that I had an abnormal mammogram and if I could send her email because I had some questions. She said for me to give her a call, which shook me a little.  I don't like bothering people.

That was a very good phone call. I'd never talked to her before and she indeed has a british accent. I don't do well with those accents, but I hung on to her every word. I was taken aback when she said. "Listen, I'm not going to bullshit you...",She told me her story (which scared me a bit), and she let me ask as many questions as I needed to ask. Then she gave me some instructions on what to do over the next few days concerning some reading and looking for a breast surgeon, etc.

I felt better after that conversation. I followed her instructions.

I think one of her most interesting instructions was not to go discussing it with everybody. This had a few people having issues with me (after the fact), but I understood what she was saying and why. I rarely talk about my lupus, because people just don't understand it, and I don't deal well with a) a bunch of negative talk and b) anyone being upset and crying over my health.

But with this issue, I needed some time to think and read. I told my sister, only because she asked "How did your appointment go?", as she always does. I didn't want to alarm her. And Blu told me that I needed to take someone with me to my appointments and help me read about everything. And I asked for my sister for assistance in that. .

That worked out really well. It REALLY helped to have my sister there. She is great in crazy situations (as you can tell from the whole family fiasco this summer). No, I wasn't a problem or a basket case, but I had my minor moments. I had a couple of crying moments in bed at night, when I was all alone with my thoughts. But for the most part, I was being proactive.

To make a long story short, I ended up going with a surgeon that the obgyn recommended. I was trying to find someone near me, but I thought I would talk to the mammographer to see what she thought. The mammographers were pretty nice to me and explained things to me, and I'd done a lot of reading. The surgeon they recommended was a specialist in what I had, even though it was waaaaay out in the south surburbs. (That's why I was doing all that driving this summer). So that worked well for me. He asked a lot of questions, and let me ask a ton of questions.

He put the mammograms up on the screen for us to discuss. He and his nurse were a bit interested in it, pointing out things on the mammograms. I kept saying I don't really see anything. But hey, as long as he saw what he thought he saw, I trust him. Overall, he was extremely thorough in his explanations. And I remembered Blu Jewel telling me to grill him, ask questions and right everything down, which I did.

I ended up having a core needle biopsy. He was able to biopsy both areas at the same time, through the same incision since they were so close to each other. I had two small tumors ("breast mice", they call them. O_o) which came back as benign. Blu Jewel told me if everything is benign, ask them to go back in there and remove anything that remained after the biopsy. I talked to the surgeon about that, and he said "I already did that while I was in there."

Good. That was all good.

My sister was sitting over in a corner of the room when I got my results.  (I wanted her there just in case I passed out or fell out crying).  She almost clapped, but thought better of it. When he left the room, and I put my shirt back on, I gave my sister a high five and we left the building. That was back in June. I had a follow-up scheduled for december. I didn't think much about it much until then, because it was June and I was going to be concerned with December when December came. The only thing that irked me was that wound care. It took a little over a month to heal.  I have a nasty keloid left (I have keloid skin). I am fine with that.

I tell you one thing. It felt good to finally stop changing bandages after a month. I used to joke with my cubicle mate Cowgirl Cre. "Girl, I am uncomfortable. You gonna turn around one day and I am sitting in my chair with my shirt AND my bra off."

LOL

That never happened. But I was really uncomfortable. In the wake of all that, I am now an expert on bandages and saline and tape and all that. Really.

Once December rolled around, it was coming up on time for my appointment. I actually went to that appointment by myself. (It felt odd not to have my sister with me). I had another mammogram and ultrasound, and all was clear. I still didn't see much of anything when they put the two mammograms xrays up on the screen. I was a bit horrified by the big moon-type crater in the picture of my breast in the mammogram taken just after biopsy. The new mammogram, all I saw were the two titanium metal markers that are now permanently in my breast. The doctor said all was well and that I needed to be checked again in 6 months.

The breast surgeon's office is over by a restaurant that I like. I ordered some fish and chips and made the long long journey from southern surburbia back to my side of town (downtown).

I of course am thankful that all is well. I didn't pray much about this, as I don't do well with "worryin' my prayers." I included it in my prayers and made sure I walked down whatever path became open. And what I really needed at that time was a path to information and courage. Blu helped much with that. She told me she had heard a sermon the week before our conversation where the topic was on being mindful of what's going on around you, because you never know who you will have to minister to. And she was happy that I was the one that day that she ministered to. And minister to me she did.

I spoke to one of the ladies in my Women of Color Writing Workshop a couple of weeks ago and she said she too had a bad mammogram last year. We both agreed that the worse part of the whole scenario was the mental part of it: waiting around for the day when they tell you if what's going on is benign or malignant. That lapse of time is such a hard time mentally. All of a sudden things that we worried about on a daily basis took a back seat to the unknown concerning the breast issue. I agreed with her. Totally.

I was also reminded of something else, something that I already knew:

In the midst of adversity, we find out who we truly are inside. And how we react to adversity says much about us.

As for myself, I've come a long way from falling out crying over things. Yes, like anyone else, I went through my "flipping out" mode, just being initially fearful. Fear causes us to build some incredible pictures in our minds, causing us to panic.

And panic is what it is: groundless fear.  Fear with no basis or no legs to stand on.

I learned much about myself during this whole scenario. I learned to not automatically think the worse. I learned to make sure to pray, and ask for some direction, and to be attentive to what happens as a result of asking. I had to face some things that I don't particularly like about my personality (It pained me to ask my sister to accompany me on my doctor's visits. I don't like inconveniencing people. But she was more than happy and willing to go with me). It helped me understand what adjustments needed to be made in my heart and ways of dealing with issues of this type.

And I have a deeper understanding and a better appreciation of people who cross my path for a reason. (Thanks, Blu Jewell).

And it was one of the major issues of 2013 for myself.

It is amazing to talk about it now. There are women all around me who have had the same issues. And I have learned from them all.

And that's a good thing.