Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

by Fantasize-Me-R93

When it comes to favorite Christmas carols, I have at least a mitt full. But “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” with its slow, thoughtful melody, has always struck me as a unique, beautiful carol tinged with melancholy.

The lyrics speak not of gifts, Santa Clause and snow. To me, this song subtly soothes the downtrodden, folks who've had a rough year. In its opening words, “Have yourself...” it echoes the way we insist someone do something nice for themselves when they don't think they should or can (“Go treat yourself to a new dress.”) It gives one permission to enjoy the holiday despite the woes, the pain and the losses of this year...”let your heart be light.”

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” offers hope (“Through the years, we all will be together”) with a shade of uncertainty (“If the fates allow”), which implores us to savor this moment, this Christmas. After all, who knows what will happen between this holiday season and the next? So say your “I love you's,” share a hug, a smile, and some egg nog.

And go ahead, have yourself a merry little Christmas.

(Dedicated to the Maxwell, Evans, Haynes/Graham and Jenkins families...and all families that suffered loss this year.)

Really nice rendition by Coldplay.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Make the yuletide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years
We all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas now

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Moody Music

During a recent long solo road trip, I rediscovered a mixed CD I created a while back entitled “Crazy,” laced with songs for those moments that can be described as just that. Not wild crazy or straitjacket crazy, but "this sucks" crazy.

And when one of those gray moments materializes, when I’m feeling like a pitiful, pathetic fool, I like to roll around in it for a while. Let the gloom marinate. Not long...maybe an hour or an afternoon. It's therapeutic, like a good cry.

This is me-against-the-world music. Brooding music. Ignore the phone, turn up the volume, ride around town, and burn-up-gas music.

Welcome to the pity party.

“Crazy” by Gnarles Barkley

(The original version of this song is on my playlist, but this version is hot fiyah...)

“I remember when I lost my mind...there was something so special about that phase...”

“Who do you think you are? Ha ha ha, bless your soul. You really think you’re in control?”

"Crazy." Fitting, I know.

“Liberation” by Outkast

“Can’t worry ‘bout what another n**** think, you see, now that’s liberation and baby I want it.”
Ahhhh, “Liberation.” So much to be said about this cut. So much to love about this cut. For one, it’s freaking long, nearly 9 minutes. A song this long gives you time to crawl inside of it and get lost.

Then there’s the beat; it’s cerebral. You don’t dance to “Liberation,” you vibe to it. Preferably up loud with good speakers and lots of bass. And the beat moves and morphs, taking you on a journey of chants, harmony, Erykah Badu, and poetry.

Shake that load off.

“Clocks” by Coldplay

“Clocks” has always reminded of something from a movie soundtrack (is it?). It’s intensity bodes well for those intense moments in life.

“...cursed missed opportunities. Am I part of the cure or am I part of the disease...”
Cursed missed opportunities. Sigh...

“Aquemeni” by Outkast

"Even the sun goes down, heroes eventually die Horoscopes often life and sometimes why Nothin' is for sure, nothin' is for certain, nothin' lasts forever But until they close the curtain It's him and I, Aquemini"

Another cut from the Aquemini album. Just an awesome album all around.

“King of Sorrow” by Sade

"I'm crying everyone's tears. I have already paid for all my future sins."

"Just another day...nothing's any good."

“Krazy” by Tupac

“A million things run through my ain’t gotta be in jail to be doing time.”

"Krazy," another aptly titled song for the "Crazy" playlist, is one of my favorite Tupac songs. From the Makaveli album, this pensive song is unknown by most because it wasn't released as a single, thus saving it from the gift and curse of radio airplay.

“Hold Ya Head” by Tupac

Another song about just trying to get through life...

“Falling” by Jay-Z

"I know I shouldn't have did that, I know it's gone come right back."
Lyrically, "Falling" relates to the events that lead to the downfall of 1970s drug lord Frank Lucas as depicted in the movie American Gangster. For me, it resonates with any moment that ends with, "What the heck was I thinking?"

“Spaceship”by Kanye West

"I been working this grave shift, and I made s***
I wish I could find me a spaceship and fly, past the sky."

I fell in love with this song from Kanye West's debut album College Dropout when I was working waiting tables at Ruby Tuesday. After my shift I'd jump in my hoopty, locate this track, and blast it on repeat all the way home.

"In the mall 'till 12 when my schedule had said 9..."

Don't you feel better now?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nike's Onto Something

I walked into the tag agency, looked around, and pulled a number—60.

There were about 15 people in the waiting area. I took a seat and prepared to spend the rest of my afternoon in the hard plastic chair with a book titled Thigh High, a recent loaner from the library.

I was there to take care of a 4-year-old thorn in my side. In 2007, I bought a new car and sold my decade-old Civic as salvage after it caught on fire. The old license plate has been riding in the Altima's trunk ever since, along with a receipt of the $250 exchange and a document with the details.

Every year I go online to renew my registration and I'm reminded that the state of Florida still thinks I own two cars. Groaning, I remind myself to take care of this. But who has time for the tag place and how much was this going to cost? Did I have all the documents I needed? Would I be penalized for taking so freaking long? Sheesh, we had a different president last time the Civic was in my possession!

It wasn't until I cleaned out the trunk last week and saw the thin manilla envelope again that I decided enough was enough.

There I was, in the tag place, ticket number 60 in my hand, seated right in front of the line-less information desk. Might as well find out what's in store when they call my number.

I told the woman my story, she held out her hand for the license plate and typed the number in.

Name?” she asked.

I told her.

Okay, thank you,” she said with an air of finality.

I stared at her, then pulled the papers out of the manilla envelope. “You don't need these?”

She shook her head.

My emotions as I left the tag agency were a mixture of fortune and shame. Four years, this issue had taken up residence in some obscure corner of my brain and handling it took less than 60 seconds. Fact is I didn't know the process and we tend to fear and avoid what we don't know.

The big lesson in this small incident? Oftentimes, the head scratching, sighing, eye rolling, complaining, analysis, and beating around the bush require way more energy than taking care of whatever it is you're putting off.

In other words, just do it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Worth It

Image by Aleksandra P.

Every now and then, an opportunity presents itself that is bliss in its purest and most potent form. Yet, the timing couldn't be worse—you've got obligations. And you also promised your bank account that better days were ahead.

But who knows when the stars will align like this again?

As you set about finding ways to crowbar this good fortune into the plan, it becomes apparent that this little venture is costing more stress, time, and Benjamins than you originally intended.

It's getting hooked up with front-row tickets and backstage passes to see your favorite music artist perform a one-time intimate engagement...on the same day as your best friend's wedding. A person outside your world could take one glance at the scenario and effortlessly point out the Dr. Phil thing to do-- go to the wedding. Of course, you already know this is the noble route. In life, the upstanding, dignified choice is usually quite clear. However, this is a situation in which the saintly path is in mortal conflict with the sweetness of seizing the day.

Forfeiting this dream come true will mess with you like losing a winning lottery ticket. Yeah, life goes on, but what could have been will haunt you forever. Well, at least in this case, you’ll be seen as responsible. Folks will marvel at your strength of character.

Or, you could deal with the guilt of choosing the concert instead.  Guilt is a more tolerable and temporary emotion than regret. It's the feeling you get when you try not to make eye contact with the homeless guy in the median at the stoplight. You feel bad, but you don't necessarily regret not breaking the guy off a dollar.

You decide to do both. That's right, both. This  requires car salesman-like finagling skills. Since you actually received two tickets, your good friend, who is more diehard than you are about this singer, has excitedly accepted the other ticket. But he's broke and you've got to buy two pricey last-minute flights, which require sloshing around in your already sad savings account. And oh yeah, you'll have to skip most of the reception, jet to the airport, pray the flight's on time, and if the traffic gods are smiling, you might just arrive during the opening act.

It's too much hassle, you think. Maybe this was a bad idea. Just give the tickets back, or better yet, sell 'em. Then you can carry on with your previously scheduled plans without pulling your hair out.

The next morning you wake up, smack yourself for even contemplating abandonment of the experience of a lifetime, and forge ahead with making this thing work. That is, until the next day, when you second-guess yourself again.

It's starting to feel like a gift and a curse. You wonder how many Extreme Makeover families were given customized homes for which they can no longer afford the maintenance. How many folks are promoted and realize they can't handle the new job responsibilities?

Is every gift a blessing?

Yet, you press on. But you yearn for the day after, when it’s all over, when the dust has settled and you can assess the collateral damage. How much are you in the hole? How many gray hairs have sprouted from your scalp?

The idea that buoys you is that you'll look back on this moment with a nostalgic smile, knowing deep down in your heart, that the utter chaos was well worth it.

"I think I don't regret a single 'excess' of my responsive youth. I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn't embrace."  -Henry James

Risky Business
Dreaming More Than Others This Is Practical

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Do I look like I belong in this picture??

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way."
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

This quote pretty much sums up the last decade of my life, better known as the Roaring Twenties. Thirty has not yet caught hold, but neither has any age since 27, which was the last time my psyche and my age were in some sort of comfortable alignment.  

It's only day 3 and as much as I try, as much as I sit still and recite softly, "Hi, I'm 30," I'm unable to connect with it. It's like saying, "Hi, I'm Paul." And since my name isn't Paul, and I'm a girl (or grown behind woman at this point), the association is zero.

I kicked the door in for 20 and was greeted by applause, ushering me into a memorable decade in which--by the grace of God--the good, fun, laughter-filled days outweighed the scary, miserable, melancholy days.  

Conversely, I tip-toed into 30 and fortunately, the other thirty-somethings don't realize I'm here yet. Which is fine. Think I'll chill on the wall and observe for a while.

It feels strange to be a member of a whole different demographic, sharing an age bracket with people who, just last week, I considered significantly older and more grown than myself. We're neighbors now. Maybe I'll send over some bran muffins.

Nonetheless, I'm blessed to be here and curious to see how the Thirties and I will get along.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: My Account

I was a 19-year-old sophomore in college on September 11, 2001. Here is my account, more or less as it was written shortly thereafter.


Not a morning person, I awoke a little after 8 a.m. that Tuesday to make it to Mrs. Fabery’s 9 a.m. Elementary Spanish class. After coaxing the alarm to cease its dream-shattering blare, I turned the radio to the Tom Joyner Morning Show to prepare my brain for another long day—two classes and work at four.

I didn’t notice that the usual early-morning FM banter laced between R&B sets was not present as I splashed cold water on my face and brushed my teeth. Nor did I pay attention to the endless news commentary while I contemplated sandals or sneakers. Somewhere among this decision-making routine, I caught a snippet of the radio. Something about the World Trade Center.

I half-listened for about ten minutes as I continued to get ready for class. Why are they still talking about this? It suddenly occurred to me that there had been no commercials since the radio had been on. “Must be serious,” I muttered, flicking on the television set. It took a few minutes to grasp what was happening as I flipped through the channels and saw the same horrific images of the smoldering Pentagon and Twin Towers on every channel. Oh my God! My jaw dropped as I sank to the bed and stared at my 13-inch screen in disbelief.

In the midst of the plane crashes, fires, and ruin, it was impossible to know what was going to happen next. Could this be the end of the world? Thoughts raced through my head of Armageddon and the Apocalypse. Passages from the Left Behind series crossed my mind along with prophetic passages from the book of Revelations.

My friend Tori called, crying frantically. I held the phone to my ear as I wandered outside and lifted my eyes to the heavens, searching for a sign of The Coming. “Oh my God, one of the towers just collapsed! Did you see that?! “ Tori screeched. I ran back inside and stared anxiously at the television screen.

“Naw, Tori, it’s just smoke…they didn’t fall. It’s smoke from the fire.”

“I’m telling you I just saw the fucking tower crumble! Oh my God what is happening…” A fugitive tear slid down my cheek as prayers fell from my lips for forgiveness, safety--and sanity.

As we all sat mesmerized in front of the television set that Tuesday, I found myself in a lonely daze. I wanted a family. What I would have given to have someone holding me as those towers came tumbling down. I called my mom and brothers down in Palm Beach County, my sister in Atlanta; not so much as to see that they were safe but for that love and security only a loved one can provide. And for some reason the number one priority in my life—school—seemed so small, so insignificant.


I actually went to campus anyway for that Spanish class. It was cancelled. I'm not sure why I went. I suppose since there had never been a foreign attack on U.S. soil, I had no idea if it constituted shutting down school.

I remember sitting at the red light, listening to the news report on the radio and looking at the people in the cars around me clutching their steering wheels, mouths agape.  Later on that day, a couple friends lumbered into my apartment and we sat around and watched the news. None of us wanted to be alone. One friend's mom worked for the Port Authority in New York; I don't believe he had heard from her yet.

The word that most accurately describes that day for most of us is "fear." Utter and total fear. "Helpless" is a close second. Borrowing the lyrics from a great song, I don't ever want to feel like I did that day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Am Not My Glasses

“I love my glasses ,” I said, almost with defiance, to the salesperson at LensCrafters. “So I want a pair basically just like these.”

Up until that very moment, I didn't know such heartfelt feelings existed for my rectangular, semi-rimless, coppery brown-framed, no-name spectacles. In fact, the strength of the proclamation caught me off guard with its undertone of Mama Grizzly protectiveness.

I've needed assistance seeing distance since I was a teenager. During those days, I mainly wore contacts, all the way through college. I didn't hate my glasses at the time—brown oval-shaped frames with light brown tint--but I rarely wore them out on the town or out of town. When I wanted to look my prettiest or sexiest, eyewear just wasn’t part of the package. So I delegated them to early classes, Wal-mart, hanging out at the house, and job interviews.

But in recent years, I've worn glasses 90 percent of the time. I got a pair that I really liked (the pair whose honor I defended to the LensCrafters salesperson) and I even wore them when painting the town. On any given night, you can count the number of glasses-donning women at the party or the club on one hand, which I dig for the sheer non-conformist aspect of it. I also have a theory that guys find a woman more approachable in her glasses. Maybe showcasing a “visual” flaw adds an air of humility.

The current eyewear upgrade is thanks to a snapped temple (the actual name for the piece that goes behind your ear) that I MacGyver’ed with clear tape. I've scoured three different shops, peering at my reflection in various modes of lighting, in search of the perfect optical complement to my persona. While I dig some of the funky pairs—green temples, sparkly rim—the ideal pair needs to give me enough flexibility to dictate the mood. And since these will be my primary specs, cat-eyed librarian will not do on a daily basis.

I finally decide on a pair that fit the bill—a slick, yet conservative Versace frame with amber temples that will house anti-reflection coating and Transitions lenses. In other words...the most souped-up accoutrement to ever grace my face.

This process has revealed a couple things to me. For one, I apparently like wearing glasses. Not sure when this happened. And it's something I've rarely heard anyone admit. After all, people wear glasses to fix a problem. You wear them because you have to, not because you want to. However in the last decade or so, glasses, particularly thick-framed ones, have become fashionable.

On the other hand, as much as I apparently like glasses, I don't consider them a part of my identity, even though glasses morph into the identities of others. See, there are some people I describe by their specs: Oh you're looking for Bill? Gates? Hang a left, he'll be the short guy in the break room eating Fig Newtons. Wears glasses.

But if I overheard, “Oh you're looking for Faith? Hang a left, she'll be the chick in the break room asking Bill Gates for $20. Wears glasses.” I'd be surprised to hear myself described as someone that wears glasses.

I suppose years of Saturday morning programming, after school specials, and feature films have done a number on my subconscious. Characters that are shy, reserved, overtly nerdy, or astute wear glasses. So in real life, I'm discovering, I only describe a person as a glasses wearer if he or she embodies those characteristics. Otherwise, they may wear glasses, but they don't “wear glasses.” Like me.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Film Connect: Eat Pray Love

Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love.

I found the book Eat, Pray, Love to be so rich that I ventured to read it twice. The movie? Not so much.

I was attracted to Elizabeth Gilbert's writing because it's introspective, raw, and delightfully funny. She reveals things about herself as she discovers them—the sweet, the neat, and the weird. It's what inspired thousands of us women to dream of similar voyages in which we too could finally figure out why the heck it is we do what we do.

The movie, on the other hand, runs its fingers along the surface. We don't really get inside Liz's head, which is where all the action is happening. There's some narration, but it's sparse, and really doesn't give the viewer who hadn't read the book any depth about the real Liz's inner workings as she experienced herself in Italy, India, and Indonesia.

To give the producers the benefit of the doubt, it's difficult to recreate a book like Eat, Pray, Love as a film, particularly in the romantic comedy genre they chose. The book is practically a 300-page journal. In order to sink your teeth into Liz's thoughts, feelings, and epiphanies, the movie would almost have to be a documentary. A lengthy one at that.

And so, as is often the case in Hollywood, they kept it light. Light as a ping pong ball in the ocean. And they cast Julia Roberts, who didn't convince me she was anyone other than Julia Roberts eating pizza, struggling to meditate, and smooching a sexy Brazilian. From the video I've seen of the real Liz Gilbert, and after having read two of her books, I don't see a whole lot of Gilbert in Roberts' performance. Gilbert is intellectual and a little clumsy, emotional and inquisitive. Julia Roberts in the role feels a little too, well, cool. (Think popular cheerleader vs. editor of the school paper.)  Yet, I enjoyed much of the other casting—Felipe (oh Felipe!), Richard from Texas, Wayman, Ketut, Luca Spaghetti.

I think Eat, Pray, Love the movie is best enjoyed sans the book. I tried to let the film objectively stand on its own, and failed. Couldn't stop comparing the two.  So watch the movie first. That way, there's a chance you'll be satisfied with both.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Theory: All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull…and Ignorant Boy

Image by Ilker

I read an article yesterday about how America is the only developed nation that does not mandate a vacation for employees (most industrial nations offer a minimum of four weeks). This morning, I was intrigued by Jeff Johnson's commentary from Kenya on the Tom Joyner Morning Show in which he talked about how most of the people he meets in his international travels view themselves as citizens of the world. They’re knowledgeable of other nations and consider themselves members of a global community.

Yet, most Americans can't see past the physical and psychological borders of the good ol' USA.

While there are beaucoup debates to be hashed out within these topics, the thought I had this morning was a simple one---there is surely a correlation between the lack of vacation time for most Americans and the lack of global sentiments/knowledge among Americans.

Think about it. If you saved the money to take a trip to Ireland, Australia, or Ghana, you wouldn't just want to go for two weeks, right? In fact, if you're like me, you don't even want to snort up your precious two weeks in one go. Therefore, with one week being the longest vacay that probably most folks are comfortable taking, there's no time to leave the country. No time to truly engulf yourself in another culture (as opposed to a high-speed tourist whirl).

And there you have it--a self-perpetuating cycle of rationing 14 PDOs between 365 days of the year, only allowing for short jaunts to locales that don't require a flight over 4 hours, a passport, or a translator app.

Experiencing other countries is not just some elitist, foofy, or bohemian thing to do. As Jeff Johnson points out, how can Americans compete globally in business without global knowledge? How can we have open political discourse on an international level if we can only identify with Democrat or Republican?

And so, we die early from decades of burnout, and ignorant from decades of not venturing out.

(Note: If you can afford a trip for four to Disney, you can afford to leave the country.)

More thoughts on vacation and working:

Paradise Minus the Packing: Your Staycation Awaits 
Permanent Vacay: How Can I Be Down? 
Will Work for Character

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thoughts on Ma

Wow, what a woman. She taught me about faith, and ensured at birth I'd never forget it. She was ol' school enough to teach me how to cook and to have manners, address adults with "Miss" or "Mister."

But she wasn't stuck in the old school. Couldn't be, not with a daughter like me, a daughter who read too much, observed too much and embodied a really old soul.

Funny thing is, she was also non-traditional, even though she was older than my friends' mothers (she had me at 40). I had a boyfriend at 15 and we were even allowed to go out to the movies.  I never had a curfew, and this was before everyone had cell phones. And if I had a bedtime, it was before I can remember. 

During the first week of eighth grade, I confessed to her that I didn't want to be in gifted anymore. I'd been in the program since 2nd grade and excelled, but with the suffocating pressure of adolescence, I was just exhausted of being isolated from the neighborhood kids I was bussed to Boca Raton with. I remember the pained expression on her face as she said okay. I don't know if it was because she hated to see me ditch advanced classes or if she sympathized with my teenage angst. (I ended up not quitting, but that's another story...)

She took my opinion and my feelings very seriously.

Long before folks got all Dr. Phil about raising kids, I don't remember Ma yelling at me. I don't even remember her being annoyed by my endless questions about every freaking thing. She never said a disparaging word about my dad, even though they'd been divorced---twice. He was very much a part of our lives. And if there was any attitude between them, I couldn't tell. I'm thankful for that.

There was a stereo in the headboard of her bed and she'd call for me when “Nightshift” by the Commodores came on. That was our song. Ma, my brother, and I lay in the big king-sized bed and watched The Arsenio Hall Show, even on school nights. Last movie we saw together was Ray; she was from Georgia and loved “Georgia On My Mind.” She used to wake us before dawn for the Easter sunrise service on the beach. Random memories...

She was so...much.

She passed away in 2005, my last semester of college. Fortunately, I was taking a workshop poetry class. Here is one of the several pieces I wrote during that period.

Love ya, Ma.


What Now?

I know you’re in a better place
but are you here sometimes
riding along in the car
perched pleasantly on my steps
or peering over my shoulder as I bake
the Chewy Cheesecake you taught me to make?

are you omnipresent now
like a demigod of sorts
can you be here with me in Florida and
in the Bronx with Aunt Weavie
at the same time?

you’re probably
chillin’ with Jesus
and Grandma
which is cool
you deserve that

I just wonder if you reminisce
on things we used to do
times we shared. I mean
I’m sure they pale in comparison
to everlasting life, but

remember that time we missed our flight
from New York and had to stay
overnight at that Travelodge in Jersey?
It was on this tumultuous highway
that we crossed to get chili
and cornbread for dinner

it took you so long to muster
the nerve to hobble across that highway
I coached you from the other side—
“Come on Ma…after this truck…no wait! Okay, go, go, go!”

then we got back to the room
you spread out on one bed
and me on the other, and we watched
the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree on TV
and laughed
and laughed

do you still laugh about that?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Death of a Bookstore

I got this email today and felt a rush of sadness. The Borders in Ocoee was more than just a concrete edifice to me. It was a refuge.

Its standalone building was right outside West Oaks Mall and just a 10-minute drive from one of the most spirit-crushing, self-esteem hijacking jobs I've ever held in my life. On many an afternoon, I ate my lunch at my desk then escaped to Borders on my closely scrutinized one-hour break.

I always paused after opening the first set of double doors to glance at the super bargain books on display in the little entry way--$2 and $3. I never found anything there I wanted, but I stopped for a minute anyway.

I'd enter the second set of double doors, sighing as if my feet had just sunk into the warm sands of a secluded beach. I usually bypassed the magazines and the new releases and drifted towards the self-help section. There, in search of inspiration, I flipped through books like Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You. On particularly heinous days, I’d whisper a prayer, asking the Lord to lead me to the words that would give me enough hope to get in my car and drive back to the Dark Side.

Of course there were days when Borders didn’t have to play the role of my therapist. I sometimes buzzed into the store on a mission, researching information for my blog or an essay. When the subject was love or lack thereof, I browsed books like He’s Not That Into You; Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay; and Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons: How to Find Your Soul Mate. Suitable quotes were typed into the memo app on my phone; longer passages were read into the recorder to transcribe later.

One of my most memorable moments at that Borders came a few days after November 4, 2008. I heard a man shouting and cursing near the front of the store. “Who in the world would be fighting inside a bookstore?” I thought, as my curiosity led me to the scene of the racket. I arrived just in time to see a white man in his 70s stomp past the huge display of all things Obama, ranting about “fire-breathing liberals.”

“Geez, somebody’s mad,” the saleswoman with the long, graying hair muttered as she rang up my purchase.

“Well...I’m not,” I said with a smile.

The saleswoman looked up and smiled too. “Me neither.”

I don’t think I’ve visited that Borders since I was blessed with a new job on the other side of town. Yet, it still saddens me to see it go. I got the emails about its massive closing sale and had every intention of stopping by to score some cheap books, but I’m glad I didn’t. I’d rather remember the store in its prime, smelling of paper and coffee; offering humor, wisdom, and ampersand bookends.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black History Month Memoriam

I created this presentation for my church's annual Black History Month program. It's been my contribution for the past six years.

I'm always surprised by the people that passed that I didn't hear about, as well as the ones I did hear about and forgot. I usually attribute one word to each person – “actor,” “singer,” “activist,” “musician,” which is weird for me every year. Their lives encompassed so much more than their professions.

The song by Teddy Pendergrass that's playing underneath, “You're My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration,” describes how every girl wants her man to feel about her.

There are people included that are not famous, but who used their gifts to bless society--Denise Jefferson of the Alvin Ailey School of Dance, Dr. William Foster of FAMU, and Margaret Taylor-Burroughs of Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History.