Showing posts from 2010

Things That I Use to Do, I Don't Do No more

Not long ago, as I was coming out of the grocery store, I bumped into my neighbor. He was driving a minivan, one that I’d never seen before.  Usually he drives an antique white Buick sedan. We talked a bit about friends and family, the usual.  Marveling at the blue shiny spotless minivan, I asked him, “Is it new? Are you planning to take a trip?” “No,” he said. “My wife and I use to go camping in it but we don’t anymore.” He said he stopped a while ago, put it into his garage and hadn’t driven it in years. I asked him why? He shrugged, “Hadn’t thought about it until now. My other car is in the shop. I haven’t been camping in years either. Just can’t find the time.” I understood his response. But it got me thinking. There are a lot of things I use to do that have fallen by the wayside like partying all night, riding a rollercoaster, playing handball, and smoking.  Some things I outgrew, some things I realized were bad for my health, but some things that I really enjoyed fell by the way…

Kalgon, Take Me Away

The other day my friend Lula dropped in to see me. The last time she visited I was stressed out, at my wits end; problems with family, too many bills, and too little money with which to pay those bills. "On top of everything else," I said, "I've spent too much time watching TV and listening to the news. Wars, drugs, political intrigue, the economy, you name it. The world's going to hell in a hand basket!"  Suddenly I stopped ranting and noticed that Lula seemed more relaxed than ever. I commented on her serene countenance. "What's your secret?  How come you look so calm and relaxed." She just smiled and sipped her tea. "Let me pass along a little advice I got from my older female acquaintances," she said.

"First of all, I realized there was nothing I could do to save the world or right society's wrongs. Then I looked at my bills and found they weren't as much as I thought they were. I could deal with them in my own time. …

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

I grew up living in an apartment in Harlem. When I moved to L.A. I lived in an apartment there. It wasn’t my desire to have a house though after experiencing rents that went up without explanation, downstairs neighbors that harassed my child when she walked across the floor or a landlord who was reluctant to fix a leaky toilet or replace a blown out light bulb on the stairs, I began to seriously think about buying a house. Home ownership in my chosen area was beyond my meager salary; however, after much searching, I finally found a house I could afford though it was many miles away from my job. 
That was years ago before the catastrophe in the housing industry. But when I hear people say, “Not all people should have a house. They should be content to live in an apartment,” I wince. Not because what they are saying is true in some instances, but because it implies only certain people should have a house. I wonder if those who say this ever lived in an apartment where rents climbed and t…

Homage to My Father

My father was a strong man. Born and raised in the South during the dark days of segregation; nonetheless, he survived with a strong set of principles and values. The oldest boy of fourteen children, though three of his sisters were older, they all looked to him for advice and guidance; Grandpa was a tyrant and womanizer. To his sisters and brother, our aunts and uncle, Daddy was the bedrock, the patriarch on whom they could depend. Whenever they had problems, they would call on him. If they needed a place to stay, our home was always open. If they needed money, advice, or help in any way, my father was there. Despite the fact that he barely finished third grade, Daddy had wisdom that he imparted to his family and his children in an attempt to prepare us for life.

He gave us children maxims to live by; tools to guide us through all phases of our lives. He counseled my sister, brothers and me about life. He told my sister, "Don't promise anything to anyone unless you mean it. …

Turn Off, Tune in, and Open Up

"Turn it off! Just turn it off!" my friend Mattie admonished me. My blood pressure was rising as I ranted and raved about what I'd heard on TV. She reached over, grabbed the remote from my hand, and turned the set off. It took several minutes before I felt myself relaxing, giving in to the silence, my emotions returning to normal.

What was I ranting about? With so much happening on the international, national, and local levels of society - political, financial, and religious manipulation; wars, right and left wing rhetoric, health care debates, high unemployment, it's enough to have one shouting at their radio, TV, computer, or worst, carrying guns openly and threatening those we disagree with.

Mattie told me of two people she knew - Vernon and Lincoln. Both represent two sides of the political spectrum, liberal and conservative. They are swayed by pundits, and even though they have never been included in a survey, they feel that issues are one way or the other, repe…

A Lifetime of Learning

"What you want to do that for?" Lincoln, an old acquaintance, said when I told him I was thinking of taking a class in photography. I explained that I'd bought a new camera and wanted to know how to take professional quality photographs. "Are you thinking of becoming a professional photographer?" he asked. "No, I just want to learn to take better pictures."

"I'll show you how," he said. "Shouldn't take more than five minutes. Just point at the person or object, make sure your back is to the sun and press the shutter. Simple." He didn't see any reason to spend time in a class to learn something that would be of little use. "You can't make any money from it. Besides, you're retired. Why waste your time?"

He and I have argued about other things. Like me, he's been retired for a number of years. He spends his time watching TV,  complaining about the state of the world and finding ways to kill time. &qu…

A Smile

There are some people who when you look at them you would think they were always in a bad mood. The look on their faces signal, "Don't bother me. Don't say anything to me. I'm not interested." Not my mother. My mother's smile would light up a room. It was her natural expression. I can't remember her ever frowning much. I'm not saying she went around with a smile on her face all the time. It's just that she had a pleasant face, a gentle face that appeared to the outside world that she was approachable, non-threatening. Some people when they see a person smile take it for weakness and get set to take advantage. My mother related once that her co-workers would sometimes get annoyed at her because of her smile. "Don't you ever get mad?" They'd ask her. Of course she got angry, particularly at things she deemed unjust or unfair. On her job, she was a shop steward, a union representative. Co-workers would come to her if they had a grie…

Six Things I Bequeath to You

My friend Mattie wanted me to pass along this bit of wisdom to all her young females who are just starting out on life's journey.  She calls it "Six things I bequeath to you"

I leave you my six-inch high heel shoes, the ones that made my feet scream at me as I strolled across the floor looking cute, trying to hide the pain that stabbed with each step. Despite the podiatrists' warnings, they are now back in style.
I leave you my mini skirts that rose up whenever I sat down revealing parts of my body better left hidden. Try having a serious conversation with a man when his eyes are drawn not to your face, but to your legs.
I leave you my push-up bras. Same reason as above.
My false eyelashes that made me look like a lovesick cow. It was hard to keep them on my eyelids. Maybe today the glue is better. I lost one once and wondered why people looked at me strangely.
I leave you my children during their teenage years when they become creatures from another planet. What they pu…