Picture of the month

Picture of the month
Life is circular

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Grocery Day (short poetry fiction)

On occasion I dabble in fiction and usually it is not that exciting but hey this is a blog were else should I post my creative flows.I think I'll post fiction and poetry more often.I might as well add my own stories to the mix.

Morgan McWilliams and I have been friends for twenty years and over one hundred barbecues.

Time has flown by so quickly since the day we met in the meat section of Food A Rama.

That was the year I found my prize winning roast, yet to hear her tell the story I stole it.

I recall spotting that particular piece of meat laying in the bin slightly peering out at me.

It was underneath a couple of fat laden rewrapped excuses for fresh quality pork.

I scooped it up and into my cart before she even made it out of the poultry section.

Of course after the fact, miss eagle eyes came running over to view what was in my basket.
Then she had the nerve to get in line behind me,I had to find out who this noisy body was.

We started chatting,in five minutes we shared our love of cooking and similar sense of humor



Today I'm back in the same market, for the same reason, well almost.
It's smaller than I remember,the grey speckled pattern floors look old too.
At least they are clean, after all who wants to sort through dirt to find loose change.
Yes that is exactly why they put that design in here, they want their sale money back.
The minute you reach in your pocket and a dime drops a silent alarm goes off in the back.
A guy with a extra long dust mop comes out during store hours to claim these little offerings.
They could clean the floor at closing like the other chains do but customers might slip on silver. If that happened prices would go up higher than they already are in this little dinky place.
That's not why I'm here though, I'm searching for another little beauty to grill on Labor day.

I can still recall the best ever plate of swine I have had, it was in September at Morgan's.
Labor day she invited to me her house for the traditional last cookout of the year.
Front and center on the table was a beautiful piece of grilled pork, picture perfect.
Never have I tasted a piece of meat as tender and flavorful, I had to know the recipe.
She smiled and said "I would give it to you but I've suddenly developed culinary amnesia".
We laughed, I figured she would take that secret to her grave and she did so I thought.

I found it neatly written in between the creases of my birthday card,the last one she sent me. Two years, that's how long it took to discover the hidden message, girlfriend tricked me again!
I was on a budget that year having just sent my only clone off to college leaving moi in a funk. One year older and an empty nester at that the note said,it also had a gift card from Shelley's.
It fell in my purse immediately, I didn't even call her up. Instead I rushed to Shelley's boutique. What woman wouldn't like to treat herself to bath oils, soaps, chocolates and spices in a crisis. She knew I had not pampered myself in years, not since my divorce and that food was my joy.
I needed those things to get me through the insane world I found myself working in at the time.

I forgot to tell y'all I'm a pack rat,everyone knows it,I no longer deny the fact, it's pointless.
I managed to hold on to everything from the day I was born, at least it appears that way.
When Morgan passed I went back over every note,picture and card she ever sent me.
That's how I found it,Baby sis surely did get me good on that one.I can see her smiling now.
I was one month older than her but to me she was the wiser elder and a good listener.
Somehow she knew my heart stories, as I tried to sugar coat them with verbal reconstruction.

That's why I drove back across town to the old neighborhood to grocery shop.
Driving down University Ave was the only familiar left on that side of the city for me.
I wanted to go back home and walk into the memories I left behind so long ago .
We were two young sisters living a block apart.I was raising my child alone,she was all alone.
I found a built in baby sitter and she found a new extended family all was perfect.
Still holds so many memories most have faded but a few are still as clear as a Autumn day.

My cart had to be as old as the store and of course I found the one with a broken wheel.
The section for meats had more factory packaged butts than nicely trimmed butchered cuts.
Still I managed to find a nice shoulder at a decent price eighty nine cents a pound not bad at all.
My daughter the wonder lust child was coming home and I wanted to prepare aunties roast.
Never mind the child gave up meat years ago but conveniently forgets when I grill a shoulder.
We sat and talked that night a deep mother daughter exchange full of love and life tales.
It felt like she was there with us, as we cleared the table and our hearts I thought of the future.

I said a silent prayer for the both of us that we may both continue our journey in light.
My wish for my child included spiritual wealth,to be able to live a life of substance.
Her world should be balanced with enough joy to overcome any sorrow in it's many forms.
If she chooses to raise a family that she stays open to learning what must be passed on.
I hoped too she experiences the joy of unconditional friendship the core of true sisterhood.
I found that many years ago and I haven't stopped growing since .

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hillary Obama and Edwards

It's that time again when candidates in both parties gear up for the on coming presidential election. With democrats regaining both the house and the senate I guess the job looks a little more appealing.
We are however are in a whole new ball game now. Abroad Iraq has fallen in to a civil war, a holocaust is still going on in oil rich Sudan, Civil war continues in Somalia as well as Liberia which begins the long process of recovering from it's civil war. Major oil reserves in Nigeria and a few other African nations has the oil thirsty US and China looking very closely. Peaceful India wants nukes and Iran claims to have the technology for nukes, while South Korea brazenly tested theirs. I question how we will deal with these anti western places. We are also in need of mending relationships in Europe, which is probably counting the days to a new election of here.
At home in the pass six years consumer debt is up, as the war economy looks like it's booming the debt continue to rise with our grandchildren being left to pick up the bill. Sorting of health care for the elderly takes prayers, the knowledge of a lawyer, and advice from a physic predicting future ailments.Money for higher educational loans was reduced and no child left behind is kicking more than a few school districts from the curb to the gutter as they try the almost impossible task of keeping up while serving the neediest students on an ever shrinking budget. There was a battle for a living minimum wage while at the same time arguments continue about what to do with the immigration crises.My goodness who would want to deal with this mess.Well Apparently lots of folk the hats are being thrown in the fire left and right,no pun intended this week.
Former senator Edwards announced his intent to run first in New Orleans. During the last presidential election I liked what he had in mind.Living in North Carolina I was able to draw
from his service in that states affairs as a clue to his record.I'd like to know what he has learned and now that he is after the big chair and not the side car what's his vision for the country.
Hillary has announced while issuing a statement of "I'm in it to win". How will she separate from Bills presidency concerns and what issues will she push besides health acre. Senator Barak Obama has an exploratory committee out fund raising but I wonder are he Hillary and Edwards after the same dollars. Is the country ready for a black man in the white house.Most importantly can he convince African Americans that he has an inclusive plan for their needs without scaring white voters away.sadly I don't think he could ever be black enough for some people of
"American enough" for others and what about his personal safety if he runs. We have a good deal of questions in need of answering at this point.

Greys Anatomy

Isiah Washington a black male cast member of the very popular show Greys Anatomy which I will admit to not watching has come under fire recently for calling another member of the cast a F word. It was then blown up into a life of it's own, even Ellen got in to the act by having the white gay guy the comment was directed at on the show to confirm it.Now every ones calling for Isiah's firing and saying this is the most horrible thing ever. I'm not saying name calling is right but where is the equal coverage and out rage at the black faced Shirley Q Liquor a white gay male who dresses up as a so called black welfare mother of nineteen children and performs for these same white males who are out protesting for Washington to be fired. If these guys were so concerned about political correctness why are they paying to see shows like this.

I will say that the f word is thrown around way to causally in the black community as is bulldyke and the N word.It has become for better or worst part of our culture in the sense it really does not create the great outrage that this uproar has caused elsewhere.The oppression that African Americans have lived and still live under continues to manifest itself in this and so many other ways in to many circles. Still how does a personal spat turn in to national witch hunt. Even the very public friend of Seinfeld who went after his audience wasn't threaten with not being able to make a living. In my opinion Mr Washington as a public figure needs to become more aware that his comments are open for public discussion and since he has apologized be left to sort out his own sense of right and wrong while learning to deal with diverse coworkers. Every black child has been taught to watch their P's and Q's in public and if you can't just be smart enough to stay quiet, maybe Isaiah needs to take that road.I don't know what spurred the spat in the first place and so I won't take sides or excuse either for letting it come to this. American on the other hand needs to stop making blacks the ultimate demons when one seems to falls out of acceptable behavior and admit to it's double standard.What a shame for one of the few black writers in hollywood that has created a show for the masses and a black woman at that. Now she has been put in the position of soothing things over and trying to keeping the decision makers happy. Can a sister ever get enough of a break to enjoy success.


This is what blogger Jasmyne Cannick had to say about it

"After 24 hours of protest by white gay America towards “Grey’s Anatomy” star Isaiah Washington after accusations from fellow gay co-actor T.R. Knight of Washington referring to him as the f-word and Washington’s mistake of using the word at a press conference at the Golden Globes, the gays have won. In an editorial I penned yesterday, I referred to the protest as something that reminds of 1876 in the Deep South, when a white woman would scream rape at the hands of a Black man, and that Black man was then dragged out of his home into the middle of the night and beaten and lynched by an angry white mob without any proof or evidence, just the word of his accuser. It was another case of guilty until proven innocent.
At the end of the day, the issue for me and many Black Americans was the fact that in the beginning this was the issue of one man’s word against another and without any further evidence, all of white gay America pounced on Washington defending their beloved Knight.
But for the most part that’s the way it always goes.
And in the end, as I said yesterday, Isaiah was wrong for using the word at the Golden Globes, he could have said “the f-word” instead of repeating the entire slur again. However, it really didn’t matter because the gay mafia’s wheels were in motion and they smelled meat, dark meat. And whether Isaiah apologized or not, it was all down hill for him anyway. Once you’re labeled as a homophobe in the entertainment industry it’s pretty hard to shake that wrap.
But something about this whole thing reeks of white privilege, gay power, and what I commonly refer to as the hypocrisy of white gay America.
The gay mafia didn’t have a problem defending their pretty boy Knight whose career will probably sky rocket now that’s he’s out of the closet. However, at the same time, there’s been no protest launched against Charles Knipp, a white gay man who dresses up in blackface as a character he calls Shirley Q. Liquor and describes as an “inarticulate Black women on welfare with 19 kids.”
Set to perform during Black History Month in West Hollywood, this self-described comic has built an entire career of promoting the most negative and vicious stereotypes of Blacks, in particular Black women. In broken English, Liquor makes comments like “axe your mamma how she durrin” and misuses words like “ignunt.” Knipp mocks the Black American holiday Kwanzaa and makes fun of stereotypical Black names in a music video entitled, “Who Is My Baby’s Daddy?,” even going as far as to use sexually transmitted diseases as names of Black children. Knipp’s characterizations of Black woman played out on stage in city after city are ones that portray Black women as being on welfare, living in the projects, illiterate, sexually promiscuous mothers who don’t know who their children’s fathers are, alcoholics, and drug addicts.
But let’s look a bit closer at the hypocrisy I spoke of.
I already mentioned that the gay mafia has said nothing about Knipp, but do you want to know why? Because they’re the ones responsible for selling out his shows as he tours around the country.
Knipp doesn’t bring his shows to the people he’s degrading. No, he books his shows in white gay Mecca’s like L.A.’s West Hollywood, New York’s Chelsea District, San Francisco’s Castro District.
So let me get this straight, no pun intended, it’s not ok for the Black guy to use the f-word, but it is ok for the white gay guy to dress up in blackface and perform parodies that mock Blacks.
I once made the comment that if Knipp were making fun of Jews his act would have been canceled a long time ago, but I think I’ll change that to include gays as well given the recent incident with Washington.
I learned a long time ago that as a Black lesbian, my place was with Blacks. The same racism and classism issues that exists between Blacks and whites in general, applies to the gay community as well. I may have issues with the occasional homophobic Black pastor or rapper, but at the end of the day, we as Blacks know what discrimination and racism is because we’ve dealt with it all of our lives. So when it happens, we can call it out. Unfortunately, when it comes to the gay community, if it’s not affecting their rosy white lives, then they couldn’t give a damn. But hey, isn’t that what white privilege is all about? "

One night One game One fabalous Role Model


It doesn't matter where I travel North Carolina will always be home.My love of hoops came from growing up in MEAC and ACC country and nothings changed but my location. How lucky was I having watched some of the games best men's and women players and frankly it got pretty crazy with four teams in the ACC all within an hours drive of each other.Now you add in the MEAC and CIAA schools in the area and let's just say a hoopster can become obsessed with the game.That's what happened to me during the 2003/04 season.
I had this great idea to see every CIAA,MEAC,and ACC schools home game at least once. I began my Odyssey on a Friday night by driving up I40 from the triangle to Greensboro.Once in town I scooted down Gorrell circling back around to Bennett street the main road running past the school it actually makes up the perimeter of the school. I'd never been on the campus before so I was surprised to see a few buildings some of which were under going a much needed renovation and enclosed by a chain link fence,while others had a more traditional three foot brick wall to compliment them.
I noticed for the most part that the campus was empty in sight and feeling.The grounds were well kept and clean but there was no sign of college life. It was almost a feeling that the six hundred women who attend had all packed up and gone home. In the past residence life might have given the place a different feel. At the time I visited the mostly commuter school ranks shrank even more when young women who were also locals made tracks to get home to the Piedmont or triangle areas for the weekend.I did not linger on the fact since I had arrived to see some hoops and so I found a parking spot near the gym and began the short walk to the game.
It could have been a Friday night on the campus of any women's college. A group of local males piled out of a sport utility vehicle across the road from those classic Georgian style brick buildings.The structures stood dimly lit in the distance and posed a contrast to buildings on the outskirts of the quad which sat empty in the dark surrounded by a that chain link security fence that caught my eye earlier. The guys casually proceed to walk at a steady pace up Gorrel, a side street that the gymnasium is located on. I listen intently while struggling to keep up with the only other people around on the unfamiliar street.They gathered for awhile just outside it's doors to girl watch and perhaps wait on friends. Their voices were kept low as an exchange began on just how good the players and tournament will be. Before continuing in to check out the game one wondered aloud if a certain young lady will be in attendance. Just another weekend at college USA,I was felt a bit old just listening and remembering my college days.So I made my way into the building to check out pregame goings on.
This was by no means your average basketball tournament.It was in its second year and it happened to be one of many new positives floating around the school that year. Bennett is one of two historically black female colleges in the nation and until recently it's future was in doubt.Ironically the other college Spellman which was thriving would be Bennetts opponent that night.I came to see the game but it was the intermission that stays with me now.
A few minutes in to halftime I decide to stroll the halls of the gym.After awhile In walks a man dressed in a pair of black slacks with matching polo top carrying a walkie talkie. I stir as he slowly surveys the primisses before speaking into the gadget he has been holding in his right hand. I turn and continue to walk around the hall looking at torphy cases and wondering of what past glory the walls in the gym could tell me if i could command them to speak. A few moments pass and Dr Jonnetta Cole the college President walks into the building.I did not noticed her at first as I was still facing the walls looking at the cases of memorabilia and then I felt it.
A light acknowledging touch, I watched as people gave instant smiles and greetings to the woman who has affectionately known as sister pres. Moving through the hall and into the gym she continued reaching out with a combination of affirming touches, hand shakes and hugs for those in her path. Which ironically include those here to cheer on Spelman college the college that she retired from the presidency of and which she picked up that nic "sister prez" .At that moment it wasn't about rivalry it was about love and sharing in the dreams,accomplishment,and possibilities for the black community.These non monetary things are wrapped in the embrace of what African American have claimed as our own since we arrived here, hope. Dr Cole was it's symbol on that night that,the Bennett ship was starting to sail upright and steady again and I could feel it.After making her way to the stage to give out tourney trophies she thanked the audience for their support and made it clear she was here to support her Bennett Belles and proceeded to give hugs to all the players from teams participating.I have long since forgotten the score and the coaches names but I see everything as clearly as the day it happened. The memories of being on that campus at that point in time will linger with me always.I saw the rebirth of a college that had a long history and an even longer debt sheet.
This is why I say we need more Dr Coles not for her celebrity as she is well known but because passing on the tools to build our house is important.As someone who was a professor and has spent her life in education she understands that the key to opening the door to someone is a providing a positive oppurtunity in which to grow.The woman understand that in order to have a future we need to share our skills and leave that as a legacy for the next generation to build on.Dr Cole has done that,she simply is a dynamic speaker, a superstar fundraiser, a woman with a great mind for business who understands philanthrophy and she has done it all with grace.
I can tell you after witnessing her actions it occured to me that I might have some of her writing.As a great book buff I will buy anything that strikes my fancy in the bargain or clearance section.I figure even if I read it years later I at least have it. One of the books I bought in that fashion was Dr Coles, having only glanced at it. I remember after the game rushing home to find and read it.The lesson she taught me that night was one my mother had always exemplified.There is peace to be found in living a life of dignity by doing and simply being.
So I say a caged bird sings but a free bird inspires,sister pres has done that for countless members of a new generation.The best of the best of our young female leaders have and are filing through the halls of academia and the woman who is the grand daughter of Florida's first black millionaire has had a hand in showing quit a few of them what true community is.
Her tenure which started in 2002 may be coming to a close but the legacy she is leaving will grow on. She is beloved by students and many others she inspired through the years for her positives.However not long after my visit I was shocked but not surprised that the board was in disagreement with Dr Cole and she almost resign.I sighed that it was another example of black folks being resentful and of anyone who could bring success to a dieing institution. I held my breathe and prayed she would hold on for the students sake.As we approach the end of her five year self imposed term limit I feel proud.In coming back to academia she also taught us another lesson in commitment to do a job and triumph through the tough times.She knew it would not be easy yet here was a woman who absolutely did not need any accolades but she will get plenty and they are well deserved. Today Bennett has Mentoring programs for teens in the summer and students are becoming active in the areas colligiate community.There are so many happening on the campus now, the atmosphere is more alive and vibrant which makes her statement about why she chose to help the school even more clear as we move toward this spring of 07 commencement."only the challenge to help Bennett soar to the heights of it's possibilities could have brought me out of retirement"
We will soon celebrate the end of one era and look forward to the beginning of Bennett's much more certain future because of it.The sense of commitment to ones community is very contagous and Bennett has caught it in a big way.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What are our needs

Hillary, Obama, Edwards who is holding the best interest for a better America. What are our needs as a nation, a people, as women. I haven't been a member of the Democratic party in years because they proved more than unworthy of my vote along with their Republican counter parts. I'm so tired of voting for the lesser evil. This is what I feel black America has to do to improve ourselves.

Black America needs to focus on themselves and be honest with the portrait looking back in the mirror.We don't need the same five activist showing up at these national action committees harping racial justice, or CSPAN televising the state of black America from the womb of a black church in Atlanta to dilute what needs to be said or more importantly DONE to fix this mess we are in.

What we must do is circle the wagons and network with each other behind closed doors.Why does everyone else need to know our business.The things that need to be accomplished should be taken care of, not cried about to and analyzed by other groups of people.More importantly we must understand that we can do more as individuals whose deeds come together and form a stronger black American than as a group trying to be monolithic for a moment just to release the steam of frustration we all have.While relief is much needed for folks under so much stress, larger gatherings aren't the pill to ease that pain. I'm thinking those of you out there doing positive please continue to spread your wealth by networking.This worked to build the academic institutions and economic growth we had in our grand and great grand parents day.If we lose the ability to trust,respect,and communicate with each other we have lost our village forever.

To many people of all ages outside of and within this community think that being pro black is racist.Please understand that if we don't look out for our kids future in education or our economic survival no one else will.We live in a global market that requires we become knowledgeable about other countries and cultures to even do business.We can't believe the worst about the media images we are portrayed as, or continue to treat others with more value than we assign to ourselves.More importantly we should not cut ourselves off from connections with any group but we must be in charge of building and running our businesses as well as organizations with the goal of the betterment of black America for the enrichment of all America.

Instead of pointing out what is wrong I'm stating right here what we can do positively.Know of a job tell others in the community about it.We wear most of our wealth on our person how about buying things that won't depreciate like books on money management.Become educated on stocks and bonds then form a club with friends.Volunteer for a few hours somewhere.If you know a sister working going to school and maybe even trying to raise kids give her at least some verbal support.She may need a break invite her over for dinner with your family. when we see a brother working hard and doing right give that man a thank you, you will be surprised at the lift a black man gets from not knowing but hearing a sister got his back.I know I value the men that are doing the right things in the community, because our youth need both male and female positive role models.

None of us need to race off and save the world when we can make a difference in our own neighborhoods. Random acts of kindness snowball, the time to bury the "me" generation is now.The longer we keep that evil on life support the worst off we will be.Believe you can do anything,then go out and do it.On a personal note I've learned far more from my failures than I ever did from being safe and doing nothing.Don't worry about the skin folk who ain't your kin folk,you know your able and with persistence you will triumph.Turn your dreams in to reality and the whole community wins.Plenty of us are successful but how many of us have given back.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Trust where your going

I met a young lady yesterday that really made me stop and think about how the under twenty five year old set in our community view themselves and the possibilities in their future.
This young woman's dream was to become a chef but no one around her could see it for her.I strolling through the hall way of a local college on my way to pick up information on an upcoming lecture when I noticed a young lady facing a bulletin board. As I approached she turned around,I gave my customary greeting and asked if she was in the hospitality program. She replied with the question "do I look like a chef" it was said with such a lack of confidence I had to ask her way she felt that way.
She went on to say that she was told by her beautician that she did not look like a chef and beside only Mexicans work in food service. Well at that point my pressure must have hit the roof.I calmed down long enough to tell her that the hair dresser needs to stick to doing just that. Now it is true in this area the amount of immigrants legal and otherwise is very high.In fact they have long since passed the population of blacks and where once you found blacks in hospitality now Hispanics have taken over many of the fast food jobs. Not all are Latino though there is a small but sizable community of Africans from the continent and Caribbean people who don't share American blacks stigma towards the hospitality industry.Even more so many degreed positions are increasing being filled with Asians as the world begins to shrink and places in the east begin craving western style amenities.
So I told her we(as a people) have been in hospitality since we got off the ships only under the names of house negro cook,servitude and days work. Before rising to chefs, Pullman porters,hostlers and restaurant owners as well as heads of food conglomerates to name a few position.I added that she should never believe someone else's vision of who she was and that if this is the field she truly wanted to be in go for it.
As we chatted I found out she moved to this state on her own and her family was not a part of her life or into education.I sensed she was a winner already because it took more strength to rise above a situation like that then it did to stay in the familiar.That's when this tremendous energy flowed out of her. She began speaking of her hopes and dreams,love of the food network and adoration of Bobby Flay. I added she might want to watch Gavin on TV One but she had never heard of him. As I listened to her go on about wanting to learn the basics I knew one day she would be a fine chef if she so chooses to be.I told her as much before going on my way and from the bottom of my heart I hope she makes it. One day under the captain top chef I hope to see her name.












Trust who you are sister.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mary Anne (life journey #1)

In 2004 I started a history project by documenting the lives of women from the African diaspora. I began interviewing people from every walk of life, social position, age group,
sexuality and nationality to tell me about themselves.To this day it has been one of the best
gifts I have given myself. I have been enriched and restored just knowing that as black women we are resilient and holding our own in societies that challenge our existence everyday. I have chosen to continue sharing conversations with my sisters and those that care about us in this space so that more of you can read what I have be told.
Today I am truly honored to bring you Mary Anne Adams the first of hopefully many life journeys posters. Though I have never talked to this woman in person I have been touched by her openness and honesty. So I'm letting her introduce herself followed by a letter she wrote about an experience she had.

My name is Mary Anne, I moved to Atlanta in 1988 on my birthday. I'm from Oxford, Mississippi where I was born and raised. I currently live in Decatur which is 5 mins from Atlanta.My passion is reading almost anything, particularly books by Buddhist NunPema Chodron and here are three of my favorite quotes by her.
"The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new."
" We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves."
"We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who's right and who's wrong. We do that with the people who are closest tous and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don't like about our associates or our society. It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better.Blame others.Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.*In the Gap Between Right and Wrong*."
Another equal passion is Community organizing which restores my faith in humanity and allows me to witness the resiliency and grace of humankind. I've been involved here in Atlanta on various projects and served on a number of boards. Although, I have a Master of Social Work, I work in research, I'm a Project Director.I also started my own business, about a year ago and I'm very seriously thinking about working my business full-time in 2007. I can just taste the growth and I'm so excited about the possibilities.I've been in a relationship for almost 3 years and my partner has a 14 year old daughter.The most daring thing I've done in a while was to go skydiving a couple of years ago when I turned 50. Once I did that, I felt there was nothing I couldn't do ;-). Talk about stepping out on faith. I really want sisters to share information about the aging process (both giving and receiving). I have a lot of questions
though not many answers and certainly resolve to make the time to share.


Sisters,

If you've put off getting a mammogram for any reason, please take a moment to reconsider.

This is my story:

I had a mammogram in late May at Piedmont Hospital where I had not been screened before. Shortly thereafter, I received a letter requesting comparison film from Crawford Long Hospital where I had gotten many routine breast screenings. I put the letter aside because I was too busy- I then received a second letter and muttered to myself that I would get to it.

A few weeks later the postal carrier left a certified letter in my box from Piedmont Hospital and albeit, that got my attention, I never went to the postal office to pick up the letter. In my defense, I'm usually not so trifling but I assumed that because I had never been there before, and my breasts are fibrocystic that they really wanted my film for comparison. The hospital then sent me a second certified letter and called my doctor's office to report my non- compliance. After the doctor's office called- I was like damn-ok..I'll get the film.

I called and ordered the film and a couple of weeks later, Piedmont called and scheduled a follow-up mammogram. I kept the appointment on Sept 14, not daring to be a moment late. The technician kept going in and out of the room to consult with the radiologist. They then informed me that they wanted me to come back the next day at 2 pm for a biopsy on both breasts.

Lisa ( my partner) and I arrived at 2 pm on schedule and I brought my i-Pod because the procedure and process was all so new to us. I needed some soothing music.The hospital wouldn't let Lisa stay in the room which on second thought was a good idea. They allowed me to listen to my i-Pod and worked around my earplugs. So, thank you to Liz Wright for being my angel.

The experience was pretty surreal and I couldn't believe that I was lying on the table. No pun intended but I had always been worried about the bottom and not the top. My mother died of ovarian cancer at 43 and my four younger sisters and I have always kept a watchful eye. We didn't know about any breast anything in my family except they were heavy ;-)

I was told to call my doctor on Wed after 3 pm for the results. When the nurse called around 9 am on Wed morning to check on me and asked if I had called my doctor's office, I knew something was up. As soon as I hung up the phone, Maria from my doctor's office called and said that she wanted to see me at 3 pm. At that point , I really knew the news was dire but I remained very calm, finished dressing and went to work.

So, on Sept 20th at 3 pm, five days before my birthday, Dr. Thacker informed me that the path report showed ductal carcinoma in situ in the left breast. She also told me that she had already made me an appointment with a breast surgeon for that upcoming Friday at 2 pm. Couple of things about my doctor, I've been seeing her for 10 years, she's brilliant, a lesbian and has had a mastectomy...well, I guess that's four things.

I shed a few tears, made a few jokes and left her office to finish working on ZAMI's scholarship weekend activities which were ten days away. During that time, I went to my job, worked on the scholarship event and saw three doctors. I also had genetic testing last week because I've since discovered there is plenty of breast cancer in my extended family as well as other cancers, I have four sisters and five brothers and I have excellent insurance which paid for it.

I didn't have a lump or mass and the mammogram definitely caught this and it's stage 0. The surgery was scheduled for Thursday, Nov 9. I felt really good physically, emotionally and spiritually. I never worried about it because I don't move in the world as a worrier and I know in my bone marrow that i will soon be cancer free.

I wanted to share my story if it will help someone. This is the first time that I've taken the opportunity to write this all down in this way...thanks for allowing me a safe space.

Sweet Blessings,
Mary Anne
Thu Oct 26, 2006 1:05 am


On Sunday, Nov 5th, Mary Anne and friends joined together in a healing circle at the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative to inspire each other and to laugh. She didn't want any somber, formal circle because that's wasn't how she felt. She asked others to please light a candle between 3-4:30 pm for herself and all of the folks who are battling breast cancer. Stating "I have put out in the universe that I will not have to endure radiation or chemo. Please visualize wellness for me."
I'm happy to report she came though her surgery and did not need chemotherapy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Growing where we are Planted

In July 2002 I penned this reflection of my life, I now see how far I've grown and remained the same.Most importantly I feels good to have found my way to the center of these words.


I am constantly evolving into the woman I need to be but the road there has been a bit bumpy at times.Depending on where I'm at in the cycle of things I will cast a fairly unrested spirit. I am like a river that steadily moves,always changing and carving out a new path for myself.Its no surprise to those that know me that the one force I identify most with is water. Life can't be sustained without it and I remain invigorated by its many forms. From the coldest ice to a pouring rain my body is always challenged to meet the demands of its force. I am thankful that negative energy flows away from me as sweat purges all the toxic waste away from my body.
so there is no wonder I find myself in awe of its powerful energy.
Everyone has this energy around them, be it positive or negative.Mines just tends to flow like waves gravitating to the rocks on shore,persistently crashing up against ideas. I've always worked against the grain though.I find no need to look at life through the same color glasses everyone else does.This has often lead people to perceive me as not being on the same page as they are in conversations.I'm there, I just see the situation from a place that is neither right or wrong,usually I'm on another plan envisioning what is to become. So I'll admit the ora I cast is quit different,but it is exactly that type of kinetic field which fuels my mental flow.
So for the last few years I have placed myself in exile from relationships,I mean all kinds.I have had enough problems and can't afford to absorb other peoples as well.This is perhaps the toughest thing I've ever done.I know eventually I'll have to give in and walk the road I was put here to take.Destiny is a bitch, the more you try to avoid it the closer you get to it with out even realizing what you've done. Discovering me has taken years. Years of my mothers prayers for me and years of running on controlled anger. Bitterness that came from knowing at a young age I saw things different,I reach places people dare not go for fear of the truth. Only a lifetime of evolving, hitting up against stone walls, raging like a hurricane and remaining as calm as peaceful waters with a churning under current has mellowed me. My still waters still run deep However now I walk this path alone but not in spirit. For I truly understand a caged bird sings but a free bird soars across the oceans and inspires!

DREAM STREET



I have traveled the highways and back roads of this country a great deal in the past six years.So I can honestly say that no matter where I go there is still the need to check out my intended new town not just for areas of interest but for my Black safety. Yes we still have the same concerns generations before us did.Only now we even have to put ourselves on the list of suspects to be afraid of.They all seem to live near MLK too.Why is it that black organizations spend their time fighting for streets,blvds,or aves and when it's all said and done Dr Kings name ends up on every dead end,run down and industrialized road in America.There are a few exceptions but mostly MLK has become a marker for the "bad" side of town. Let's face it many whites don't want his name anywhere near their communities even if they talk a good game about wanting equality for everyone. DR. King was a man who stood for a better America through opportunity for all regardless of color, guess they don't know their history. It is with that in mind that I continue to keep record of these places in cities across the country. Sometimes I think those blocks that claim his name tell a better story then I can but you be the judge.
















Thursday, January 11, 2007

Freedom

I have met so many people in my travels but to be honest very few women in uniform even less of whom have served in any war.I'm mentioning this because as the body count continues to rise in Iraq on both sides I feel more digust than anything else about this mess.
I have a sense of even more hopelessness about the plight of the innocent people in Darfur. When I think of places such as Sudan and Somalia my blood boils. There is no comfort now in knowing as we head into yet another year and the very real possiblity that some of our thinly assorted troops might end up in yet another country messing up instead of helping.
Still today as I looked through photos from my journies I cringed a bit when I found the picture below.I thought of all the sisters I know who served in peace and war time and kids they left with relatives and or spouses.My mind flashed back to all the immigrants who fled distant lands to come to America who shared ugly stories.Then there is the case of Maj Gloria Davis deployed to Iraq in September and found dead of an unexplained "noncombat" gunshot wound in December.I know a mothers tears of seperation,hurt and loss are the same everywhere but I've had enough of the hate that keeps those salty rivers flowing.
I want to say thank you as I do every year to the men and women who show up at the many memorials,parades,and reunions.They always hold it down for those who paid with their lives. They keep alive those who could not make it back and remind us of the civilians still here but who's voices are never heard,while the media searches for some ideal hero in the name of a better news bite.I don't agree with any of the governments policies concerning our military these days instead I honor the ones who really pay the price, our troops and the innocent people around the world caught in the cross fire of various battles. Yet another generation will know nothing of the word peace, so I say a prayer for them all as my pen is the only other weapon I have to pay respects.




Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Easy on the peddle

On a recent trip back to my hometown I met a young lady from New Orleans who now resides in a small town in Colorado. Here we are going into the second year after Katrina and still so many from the not so well off neighborhoods of the crescent city are still living elsewhere.
As I sat on a rental car shuttle on the way to pick up my ride I could not help expressing my excitement about being back in the south and in particular some place warm.So I started a conversation with a few passengers seated around me.The talk went on I turned towards the only black member of the group stating to her she resembled a young Sheryl Swoopes who plays for the Houston Comets of the WNBA. She looked at me with a slightly dimpled smile and said she had never heard of her.I immediately thought of the Steely Dan song hey nineteen.That was not the part of
the conversation that troubled me though.
Just a few minutes before this her partners sister explained to me that they did not want to leave the "big easy" but do to the circumstances of course they had no choice. While the family had reservations about going to this small town in "the wilds of" Colorado it was better than the alternative which was becoming homeless.
Continuing to try and make conversation I asked them how they liked the area now.The brother in law chimed in he was pleasantly surprised and since they had a toddler it was a good place to raise their son.The sister on the other hand started by saying that the two young ladies seated to my left were getting along fine and they were quit popular as the only interracial lesbian couple in town. This came as a candid response and frankly I had not noticed or really cared but often my normal talkative southern nature leads me down streets better left unwalked. Not heeding to my own little alarm system that tells me stop here and now, I asked the young black lady
if the lack of diversity there besides herself bothered her.The response was no she did not miss blacks. Her partner, who was all of nineteen, jumped in to say she most certainly did miss black people and in fact she wondered where they were and made a point to ask around about it. I laughed at this as I commented about a similar occurrence.I told a story from my not so long ago past. I lived in a small town where I could go weeks without seeing another brown face besides my own, making a person of coloring siting a very big event for me. I connected to this young ladies feelings having shared a "where are they moment" as I refer to my cultural connection and once again it proves my theory on being linked to each other beyond any boundaries self imposed or other wise.
However today I thank her black partner too. The young woman gave me a heart felt response,one filled with a youthful exhilaration for the new and all the possibilities it could bring.One I also feel was probably born out of her very short life experiences that will continue to grow in maturity. Maybe her lessons so far dealt more with what is so wrong in the black community.She had not come up in a time like I did where legal segregation made every social economic level in the community close.We might not have hob nobbed with those on sugar hill but we saw them and knew that we were not all the constant ugly images even in success that we are projected to be.
Of course I will never know for sure but in that moment my heart felt a pang for me more than her. I know and understand what she said but I wondered to if she would grow into the kind of black person who would always feel that way. It seems to me I failed on that day myself.I was so shocked I gave a knee jerk response. I asked what have they taught you in school beyond Martin,Malcolm and Sojourna followed by saying be sure to get a college education no matter what.I went on about not being fouled by peoples initial kindness that she will have to make it in a world that does not really have much love for black women especially those of us who are darker.Even worst I said when you become a little older there are lessons you will discover and while its nice to jump the fence for a while never forget that to a wolf you are just a separated part of the flock. Way to much to lay on a kid I didn't know,who was on vacation and more importantly had more class than me on that day by not saying another word and hoping to get off that shuttle and be rid of me.
I'm not afraid to admit my mistakes, still I am more motivated not to repeat them.Today's youngsters can not be talked to like I was, there are other approaches and I already know and use them sometimes.My words came from a place I felt I was beyond.That constant reality check black give themselves. Was I reacting out of the hurt from yet another skin folk rejection of being around their own and was this an offense to be taken lightly or handled as I did.Just another day in the life of sister trying.The more I learn about other folks, the more I learn about me.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

UHURU !

Happy new year all.I wanted to start of the 2007 with some black woman liberation.
I have had my dreads for some time now and every day I feel blessed to have developed a relationship with my hair.Actually the relationship is more about having released the woman I need to be from the inside out. Somehow I knew I needed to do this way back in the day at the ripe old age of seven,but let me back up a bit.
It was 1970 something, and the black power movement was in full swing. My mother had taken me shopping and as we sat in the car getting ready to pull off two females walked out of a store in front of us.Both these women were beautiful brown skin
sisters dressed in green military style trench coats, sporting combat boots and bald heads! Now even as a child I was in awe of the beauty of their baldness.I didn't have the words but I saw true freedom in those sisters. They had those big ear rings on and lip stick but they walked with a sense of assuredness,they owned themselves.
Although my mother called them a name I had never heard of "bulldykes" I knew that even though I didn't want to be bald I did want that sense of ownership of self they had. Their image never left me,even as I type today over thirty plus years later I still see them plain as day.
Just before New Years I was in Walmart and someone complimented me on "my girls".
Yes I call them sisters but no they don't have names.Back on topic, as we talked I learned that she had a friend who passed over a few months back I think in October.
This woman had dreads too, in fact she loved them.They had come to mean so much to her she changed her name to free legally. Whenever a person called her by the old name she corrected them her friend remembered.I nodded my head in agreement I certainly knew the joy she was feeling and now I know the power and strength those ladies from my past must have felt too.
I will never know if they were part of some "radical" group, proud dykes, rebellious college students or all the above.All I know is seeing them on that day
changed my life.No matter what anyone said about conforming, I discovered there were people out in the world doing their thing to hell with societies views. I went home
to the picture of MLK at the top of the stairs in our hallway. The thinking Martin picture I liked to called it.In that place in time with so many black voices calling for justice for our community,two black women reached out and touched me.They sent a message without saying a word the meaning of which I did not feel until one day in October three years ago.
I turned my afro into god knows how many little knobs on my way to living free. I had already endured the sneers from other black folk concerning my one inch fro.A weight was lifted off my head having let go of that bad perm with the little bald spot and one last "long" strain of hair acting as a comb over! In return I found
spiritual peace.Every black woman encounters hair dilemmas,even those with straight hair.We should not be held prisoners by what we have or don't have.So if I say it a million times in this space I will say it again. Every black woman's voice needs to be heard instead of her thoughts being perceived from the way she looks and is portrayed in the media.I'm talking both the mainstream and our own,for once lets just tell our own stories.That to me is the most powerful of all quest.
In more ways than one our lives reflect out through our hair not vice versa. When we are stressed it's texture can change,when we age it greys,the list goes on and on.Is it any wonder we find true liberation by deciding how we present our pride and glory or lack of it to the world.