Category Archives: Life in the Fast Lane

The Foreclosure Crisis

Excellent post on Foreclosure crisis.

Rcooley123's Blog

What happened to all the homes foreclosed on when the housing bubble burst? Millions of people lost their homes and most of their life savings when the value of their homes plummeted during the most recent financial collapse. Many found they could not keep up with mortgage payments, either because they lost their jobs during the recession or because they were overextended financially for some other reason. Some would say many never should have been offered the loans in the first place. The fact remains that many people went from pursuing the “American Dream” of home ownership to struggling just to keep a roof over their heads by renting in a very short span of time.

The banks lost tons of money on loans that would never be paid in full, but they did have something very tangible in place of the money – the property. The real estate still…

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Helping Those In Need

A few weeks ago, I landed in the Emergency room with a massive toothache. I sat for three days until the pain was shooting up into my temple and down the right side of my chest. It might seem ridiculous but I’ve never had a toothache before and thought it was just temporary until I woke up on the third day and could no longer close my mouth.

Lucky me, we were in the hospital on MLK day and the dental clinic was closed so all they could do was give me antibiotics and pain killers and refer me to the clinic. I went to the dental clinic the next day, only to be told that they were not a part of Hackensack Medical University and so did not bill clients or offer Medicare. Lacking health insurance, as I have for three years, I shelled out $100 for an X-ray and evaluation. Only to be told that I needed a Root canal and crown. $1,1100 for procedure is completely out of my reach as I’m currently on unemployment.

Since then, I have been on a mission to find low cost or charity care in NJ and what a nightmare that has been. I’m hoping that one of two sources that I’ve found may be able to help me in this week since the antibiotics have run their course.  Mind you, Bergen county is the most densely populated area of New Jersey but that is all the help I’ve been able to find.

I even spoke to an ACA representative and much to my disgust, they don’t even show you available dental plans until you’ve signed up for healthcare, which means you don’t know what the deductible will be and there are no emergency provisions for care. So, even if you signed up today, you aren’t eligible for care until April 1st.

In the ten days since the emergency room visit, I’ve contemplated just how awful and obscenely expensive our medical system is; been enraged at how little resources there are to help sick people and struggled with how completely demeaning it is to be unable to take care for yourself as an adult. My loathing for the stranglehold that the insurance companies have over this country is boundless.

For me, the financial free fall that I’ve been in since 2009 hasn’t ended as for many millions of Americans whose stories are not told. It breaks my heart to think of just how many people suffer silently while struggling valiantly with illness and financial woes.

Coincidentally, I found out today that a childhood friend of mind is ill with a rare blood disorder called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Pupura (ITP). Reading about Damon’s struggle has made my tooth woes pale into insignificance. It reminded me of what I already know, our health is a priceless gift.

Please read Damon’s story, share and support, if you can.

Damon & His Wife

**Image for this post is Keith Haring’s Heart. Keith Haring was Damon’s favorite artist as a teenager.**

Memories & Blood

Found this post that was supposed to be published on 7/20/13 *shakes head in despair*. On the other hand, since it’s about one of my ancestors and Black history month is just around the corner, today seems altogether appropriate.

See? You can always turn it around. 😉

MEMORIES AND BLOOD

I’ve been running about like a wild dog in the heat, cursing and sweating. The sweat pouring down my face brings my Great Grandmother to mind.

Strange but true.

She too despised the heat and had a per-spir-ation problem lol.

Tactile memories.

Geneva died when I was 12 years old and she was 72 years young.

This Sunday, I will be 45. Yet, she remains with me, a strong, warm, supportive, loving and tough as nails woman who as long as she drew breath, was always there for me… and all her family.

In my mind’s eye, I see her black wig, with one grey streak, askew, raving about the water pouring off her and the damned heat, damp tissue clutched in hand. Then, just like a movie scene, the focus shifts to her hands.

Hands that were rough but beautiful, careworn. Hands that could make magic out of food, or wicked hospital corners, scrub knees, or slap you like lightning if you got fresh.

Hers were the first hands I ever noticed, imbued as they were with character, and it inspired a lifelong love of hands.

She was a beautician.

They don’t say beautician anymore but that’s what my Grannie was…making beauty out of nothing much.

Standing on her feet sometimes twelve hours a day, gossiping with her booth mates, listening to the cares of her customers, offering sage advice, cursing about the Numbers, sending me off to play the Numbers, raving at her Soaps, stuffing her purse in her bra and laughing heartily. Everything Geneva did, she did heartily.

I remember her real hair, pure silver, usually in pigtails beneath her wig. She was big boned, as they used to say, about 5’9 and moved with alacrity and purpose.

She worked for everything she had and never do I remember her complaining a single day.

If you were in need and she had it to give, you had it.

When I was all grown up my mom told me that she never knew what real suffering was until Geneva passed. Every year, she’d call my mom at school time and ask what I needed without fail.

She loved to shop and taught me about the value of a good shoe and bought me kick ass clothes. I remember outfits to this day that she bought me. Gorgeous butterscotch gauchos with a chocolate banded floral ribbon around the hem and a cream skirt suit with puffy sleeves inlaid with lace. For a twelve year old, no less.

She wholeheartedly believed that you needed good, expensive shoes or you’d ruin your feet. So, when I lived with her, I was the best shod kid in my class. I will never forget Buster Brown on 125th and Lenox. Only many years later did I realize that her shoe obsession probably had to do with being deprived of shoes as a child and the red dirt roads of Virginia in the early 1900’s.

Like every Leo I’ve ever known, she was a morning person. We will never forget her snatching back the covers with a cry of, “Rise and shine, give God your glory.” A cry that was the joy and bane of the next three generations.

The only time she sat still was in church, when she fell asleep reading “the paper”, and after she ate. She’d fall asleep in a chair, spectacles sliding down her nose, paper in her lap. The very picture of repleteness.

So many memories wreathed in laughter…

Geneva had a zest for life that was unparalleled. She made time to have fun and she traveled. By bus, by plane, on foot, she was always on her way to, or from somewhere.

The year she died, she went to San Francisco and came back full of tales that she walked barefoot across the Golden Gate Bridge. And even now, I remember the joy and pride with which she said it. Maybe, that was because she had traveled so much further than she was supposed to go, as the daughter of a slave. But at 72, she still had the heart, the backbone and the spirit to actualize dreams.

As long as I draw breath, I will never forget that.

Even as a little girl, I respected her and loved her madly. Somehow, the child in me knew that I stood in the presence of greatness, gusto and grace.

The adult in me now marvels at the trajectory of her journey and the wherewithal required. Sometimes when I am lost, I cry to her for strength and remembering her example try that much harder so that she would be proud of me.

33 years later and I’m still trying.

I wish to snatch back time and tell her just what she meant to me. Tell her what I suspect that she already knew, she was the glue to my family and how sad it is that since she’s been gone no one had the strength to keep up that torch she held so high. How I wish that she could come back and remind them of what family is supposed to be. How I hoped to be that person for my children and I just need to know how to handle dreams that die, fleeing like petals, from my grasping hands.

I want to talk to her, woman to woman, share our trials and tribulations and know how she made her stand.

I want to know…

What it was like to live through segregation and the Civil Rights Movement and who did she believe in, Malcolm or Martin.

How did she meet and come to love the Cherokee Indian who was my Great Grandfather, whom I was never privileged to meet.

What stories did her mother tell her perched on her knee of slavery and survival?

Then, time skips forward.

I nod my head accepting what is and was.

Does it ever get any easier to accept? The finite nature of human existence and our quenchless thirst for the unknown?

The little twelve year old girl now turned 45 nods her head…

“Just a little,” is her knowing reply.

I am grateful for the roots from which I spring

and that Geneva’s blood runs still –

through my veins.

Want to teach your students about structural racism? Prepare for a formal reprimand.

I am in Reblog heaven! Another excellent post. What is happening to education in this country? If ever we were in need of education, beyond technocracy, it would be now. It’s sad how stupid people are becoming on subjects of any real depth. How easy we want everything handed to us. How averse AND slow we are at seeking spiritual knowledge, exploring moral depths and upholding justice SMH. Ok, but I digress. Part of this tide of eroding educational standards must be laid squarely at the doors of Corpocracy and Capitalism polluting the waters.

It’s a sad and sobering day when teachers, from grade school to college, are shouting warnings that few seem willing to listen to.

The New Ramblings of D.A. Adams

This article is from Slate:

Shannon Gibney is a professor of English and African diaspora studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). When that’s your job, there are a lot of opportunities to talk about racism, imperialism, capitalism, and history. There are also a lot of opportunities to anger students who would rather not learn about racism, imperialism, capitalism, and history. I presume MCTC knows that; they have an African diaspora studies program. Back in January 2009, white students made charges of discrimination after Gibney suggested to them that fashioning a noose in the newsroom of the campus newspaper—as an editor had done the previous fall—might alienate students of color. More recently, when Gibney led a discussion on structural racism in her mass communication class, three white students filed a discrimination complaint because it made them feel uncomfortable. This time, MCTC reprimanded Gibney under their anti-discrimination policy.

Elevating…

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Don’t you think you deserve it?

An excellent post, aptly timed. This resonated with me as I know many people who struggle with similar issues. I was not one of them, however. The day my divorce was final, I jumped up and down in the halls of justice and hugged my lawyer lmao. On my way home, I played Sweet Justice by the phenomenal Ms. Jill Scott ;).

Listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb2GBsLSMtA

Take Courage,

C.

One Sister's Rant

Happy New Year!
Image by Evan Leeson

A close friend called last night to tell me her divorce had been finalized.

Twenty three years of hardships and struggles had finally come to an end.

“I guess now I can tick the box that says single on my tax return” she said through her tears.

Hearing her sob on the other end, I felt confused.

During the two years it had taken for her divorce to become final, I had heard her talk about how unhappy she was, of how she felt like a prisoner in her home, how she wished she could break free.

Yet the day had arrived and she had welcomed it sobbing.

“What will I do now?” she wailed. “I feel utterly incomplete.”

For once, I was at a loss for words.

Should I tell her to host a party to declare her new state of independence, or should I…

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Happy 2014!!

Happy New Year, to my Blogosphere beloveds!

I’m fashionably late, as always, but let’s hope that my buoyant and well-meaning wishes bring you warmth. Know that I have thought of you all and miss the circumlocutions of your minds and words. You bring me joy, enlightenment, inspiration, humor and a world of differing perspectives at times when they are most needed. For that, I am thankful.

I look forward to 2014 with a renewed commitment to my writing and that means you’ll be seeing more of me in my ongoing quest for sanity in a world gone mad. Yeah!

I wanted to share the following poem which is a great source of inspiration for me and a perfect start to the New Year…

COURAGE

Courage not only means being able to do something new.

It also means taking steps to “be” someone new.

Some of us talk a great deal
because we are afraid we won’t be heard.

Others, never say anything
in fear of saying the wrong thing.

Some of us, are overactive and hyperactive
because we fear missing out.

There are those of us who are withdrawn,
lethargic, inactive,
in fear of messing up.

One of the first steps in developing
a courageous outlook and approach to life
is being able to look at ourselves,
our beliefs,
attitudes and patterns.

Courage enable us to examine.

Examination enables us to choose.

Courage is more than a forceful,
aggressive, bold outward action.

At it’s most infinite level,
courage is an in-depth,
inward examination
which leads to alteration and application
of a new way to be.

– Unknown

Wishing you courage, peace and passion!

Signed,

A member of the “It’s Too Damn Cold Committee”

40 Something Me…

image

All those things I said would never happen have surreptitiously crept into my peripheral vision and like a Jack in the Box appear with alarming frequency when I least expect it.

Insert blinkered sign flashing “50 Dead Ahead” here.

“How old are you?”

The fluidity, and let’s face it, honesty, with which I used to answer this question is totally gone.

Now, there is a noticeable pause and stutter as my brain grapples its way round to the inevitable mathematical conclusion and issues forth a begrudging reply.

“40 something.”

Short of hot pincers beneath my fingernails, or an official badge, it’s the best response anybody will get from me.

I am a woman after all.

Also? I’m old enough to embrace the wise adage, “A lady never admits her age.”

I think that’s pretty normal. If you’re blessed to live long enough, most of us will reach an age that serves as a mental impasse, we wish to neither discuss, or acknowledge.

For me, that’s 45. The glorious no woman’s land, halfway between sophisticated 40, and fuck it all 50.

What alarms me is the gray area where my age used to reside. Not to mention, the gray hairs.

More often than I care to admit, I pause and calculate my age because, a. I flat out don’t remember it, or b. I think my memory is wrong. This just can’t be.

I spent a whole year telling people I was 43 when I was 44 soooo not on purpose.

That’s not early, onset Alzheimer’s, it’s a very subtle form of mental erasure, a selective memory processing as it were. Mind you, it happened of its own accord and began around 42. Please tell me I’m not the only one with this affliction.

People don’t believe my age, they keep telling me that I look like I’m 30 something.

Cause celebre?

Hell to the no.

Mental circumvention tactics aside, I FEEL my age. Or more aptly, all biological and societal indicators have begun to point North.

It started with the glasses. I was prescribed glasses and in a complete state of denial refused to wear them for a whole year.

Finally, I was forced to face reality because I got tired of squinting at small print on labels and moving things back and forth in a foolish attempt to focus in public places like a moron.

Along came bizarre conversations with my friends about “appropriate” attire for 40 somethings. Seriously?!

I refuse to let anyone tell me what to wear. If I look good enough to rock it, it’s all on the table. Fierceness is ageless! Think Tina Turner ;).

Fast forward to friends calling to inform me that they’re now peri-menopausal. WTF is that? Ok no.

Or, the long minutes of my life that I’ll never get back, standing in Pharmacy aisles staring at the extensive line of products aimed at women of a certain age.

There are so many products for dark spots, wrinkles etc. that it’s nothing short of baffling. I can’t tell you how many aggrieved women I’ve met in these shadowy aisles who look completely stressed out and leave empty handed in disgust and terror.

Oh for the days when I could snatch up any product and bounce. Now, I feel like I need to be a dermatologist to pick the right one. Never mind, the obscene prices. The beauty industry is pimping us out and making a gold mine.

If one more person calls me ma’am I won’t be responsible for what I do. They can have that mess.

Nor, has it escaped my notice that most of my favorite things are now classics. Considering the gray music and movies they’re turning out today that one’s not so bad.

Words have changed in their definition. Jail bait used to mean anyone under 21. At my age, it means anyone under 35. Try as I might, physical attraction still exists but once they start speaking, I’m tripping on how little they know. I can’t help but contemplate the ocean of inexperience that lies between us and the inexorable dwindling of desire is a foregone conclusion.

Gone is my desire for the fast, the quick, the cutting edge new. In it’s place, I find the precious ability to be still and delve deeper.

I know what matters to me now and certainty guides my steps as I pursue joy, knowing fully how transient and important it is.

I savor now, not just gulp lol.

I am more compassionate and wiser in ways that I never imagined and that’s priceless.

I think of all the time I spent trying to find myself, a necessary but arduous and painful task, and I’m happy to settle more comfortably into my 40 something, requires extra care, skin. Truly.

It’s all part of the process. A process that I’m blessed to continue experience unfolding.

Besides, I cant get distracted, I have a bag of pharmaceuticals dragging behind me and it takes all my concentration to hide their bulk behind my miniskirt. 😉

Eartha Kitt: Comic Book Shero

How cool is this?! J’adore Eartha Kitt. Meowwwww lol. The legend lives on…

This Black Sista's Memorial Page

I thought this was glorious.  The girl won’t stop, not even from the grave. Far better than playing Yzma from The Emperor’s New School. From Shadow and Act:

Spinning off from the popular “The Misadventures of Adam West” & “The Secret Lives of Julie Newmarcomic book series comes the newest in the series of adventures featuring iconic Eartha Kitt.

Working with her estate, “Eartha Kitt: Femme Fatale“ which will be out this week.  The quarterly series is an all ages adventure featuring the legend.  From the same universe as the Adam West, Julie Newmar and Dirk Benedict series, Eartha Kitt is on holiday, searching for the purrfect wave. When suddenly??? Well we won’t spoil the surprise. But in the tradition of DC Nation and all good things for all ages comes “Eartha Meets The Gorgon,” the first in a series of adventures. “Eartha Meets The Gorgon” is…

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Blogging Resources: One Cool Site

Frustrated-User

Happy Black History month!!!

New Black History posts will be forthcoming this week, so stay posted.

I’ve been MIA as I work on updating my business website. I’m overjoyed to free myself from the tyranny of the web designers. Yes!!! It’s been a long road, four years in the making, so I’m uber proud :).

My site has been rebuilt using a Premium WordPress theme and it was pretty painless. Most of the information I needed, I found courtesy of the WordPress Forums which contain a wealth of information. Seek and you shall find!! Specifically, I had many questions about formatting and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and found that one member name kept jumping out at me, Timethief. When I went to check her blog I was pleasantly surprised, it contains the motherlode on Blogging, SEO and other technical stuff.

For the technophile in you, check her out at: One Cool Site Blogging Tips. The Blogging Resources Page is BOSS!

May 2013 be your most productive blogging year ever!

National Day of Service: 1/19/13

Click here for the link to events in your neighborhood.

Quvenzhané Wallis

Beasts-Of-The-Southern-Wild-UK-poster-19-October-Release-Date

So many films, so little time. It sounds like this one is worth seeing. Beasts of the Southern Wild took the Sundance Film Festival by storm and has garnered a dizzying array of coveted awards, no small feat for an Indie film. What’s more, the main actress, Quvenzhané Wallis has been nominated for Best Actress. She is the youngest person ever nominated for an Academy Award at nine years old. How cool is that?

The film is no longer showing in theatres but there are numerous ways to get a hold of it. Check out their blog here.

2012 Blogging In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

On the Sandy Hook tragedy: The God we know

http://thegrio.com/2012/12/19/on-the-sandy-hook-tragedy-the-god-we-know/#like-134071

A Nation Mourns: In Memoriam – Newtown, CT Victims

Today is a somber day. All over the TV and across the pages of our nation are stories about the victims of the Newtown, CT shooting. It’s heartbreaking enough but every time I look at a show the faces of every adult; reporter, politician, education or mental health professionals, even they who have grappled with some of this nation’s worst disasters, are sad and devastated.

I think that’s because many of us feel responsible for doing nothing, for not fighting harder, for not shrugging off cynicism…or, simply for our acceptance of a world riddled with horrors that inevitably touch our offspring.

I think that responsibility lies heaviest upon our President and it is that which undergirds the tears he could not contain. No one can convince me that having spoken out against gun violence in myriad roles; Father, African-American man, Chicago Community organizer, Senator, and finally as President, that he does not feel a degree of responsibility for not backing up his speech with action.
It is one of the lamentable truths of life that one can’t realistically hope to address all the injustices which plague society. That is as true for Presidents as it is for everyday human beings. Yet, that is part and parcel of the mantle of leadership. For all his exemplary work, that which remains undone must way heavy on his heart.

That is as it should be.

Personally, I don’t blame him for the current state of affairs. Yet many are loudly and vocally doing just that. It’s unfair and disgusting to witness. The propensity to go on a witch hunt when things go wrong is one of the most predictable and unevolved of human responses. He’s president, not God.

Which leads me also to say how interesting it is to see that while many take issue with God’s existence, and use this event as further evidence, none take issue with the presence of Evil.

I believe that we, as a nation, are equally culpable and blame should be apportioned appropriately. If you were not actively fighting for gun violence reform this is the time to take personal accountability and shut the hell up about who hasn’t done what before.

What I do expect is that he will spearhead meaningful gun violence policy reform NOW, confronting inevitable and weighty opposition, as he has on myriad fronts during his term as president. To coin one of his favorite terms, failure to do so should certainly “Not be for lack of trying…”. The tipping point has been reached and the moral implications for the country as we watch these children and their courageous protectors being laid to rest is more than sufficient impetus to address what is a national tragedy…and shame.

It’s way past time for the nation’s officials to be held accountable and I’m heartened to hear the courageous and seemingly heartfelt words of many who have begun to speak out. Still, I am less concerned about what they say than what we demand they do.

Movement has begun, he met with his cabinet today. Also, if you missed President Obama’s comments at the Newtown memorial, you can see them here.

Pray for the victims and their families that they can make some sense of this horrible tragedy, that they get the support and strength they need and we finally have the courage to pull together and change this one thing…for all our children.

This beautiful poem, On Children by Kahlil Gibran, was quoted Saturday on the Melissa Harris Perry show:

ON CHILDREN

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable

Opinion: Black Americans Must Embrace True Colors

Professor Tiya Miles, University of MichiganExcellent piece on colorism and African American culture and identity. Good enough to earn my favorite accolade, “It speaks volumes” 🙂

In America

Editor’s note: Historian and author Tiya Miles is a professor at the University of Michigan’s Afroamerican and African Studies department and a 2011 MacArthur genius award recipient.

By Tiya Miles, Special to CNN

(CNN) — In the documentary film “Black Indians,” a man who appears to be African-American recounts his delight at eliciting shocked looks from strangers when he launches into a conversation with his wife in the Cherokee language.

The man who tells this story is Cherokee as well as black and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. His is just one among thousands of examples that show diversity has always been a core aspect of African-American identity.

That diversity has been rich — from the moment when Africans from different tribes, cultures and language groups were captured as slaves and transported to North America to the present day, when African-Americans live in various regions and intermarry with…

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Thankfulness, Confidence & Courage

I have come down off my Thanksgiving euphoria and am gradually returning to regularly scheduled activities that don’t include planning for meal extravaganzas, cursing under my breath at passerby in the supermarket aisles, raving at fellow driver’s that they should learn how to use a signal (Yes, that did happen) or standing on my feet for 6 hours at a stretch sweating over the stove. It was all worthwhile in the end.

My regularly scheduled activities include Melissa Harris Perry and yesterday’s show featured Rochelle Ballyntyne, soon to be the first African American female Chess master. Rochelle attended I.S. 318 in Brooklyn who has the sole distinction of being the first U.S. Middle School to win the U.S. Chess Federation National High Shcool Chess Championship. Pretty nifty, huh? What makes this meet even more laudable is that 70% of the students live below the poverty level.

What is deeply disturbing is that the school is suffering beneath the weight of After School budget cuts and struggling to maintain their proven record of excellence. Unbelievable, but true. Check out the documentary, Brooklyn Castle, about the school, Rochelle and how chess has transformed and shaped their lives.

I’m not a chess player but I recognize the importance of what aspirational struggle, success and support means in our lives. When asked if Rochelle would have tried to get into an Ivy League college before attending I.S. 318 and playing Chess, she replied, “Chess helped me boost my confidence. My mom always told me I was good enough and I felt that I was okay but not deserving. Chess has taught me that I’m good enough…” From the mouth of babes. That statement resonated deeply with me and reminded me of my own eductaional path and my struggles with confidence.

You can see the video clip here.

I got my GED at 17 because I was advised by a school counselor to get on with my life, since I was a “bright” girl, rather than spend time taking classes to make up for truancy. That counselor was a bloomining idiot but I didn’t know it then. I was a student at Brooklyn Technical H.S which should have been a proud moment for me but my mother constantly disparaged my acceptance because I hadn’t made it into Stuyvesant or Bronx Science, rated #1 and #2 at the time, so I had no sense of the accmplishment or joy I should’ve felt. It was a short walk from that to acting out and truancy. Ready to grow up, I took the counselor’s advice, got my GED and went straight to college.

Luckily, I landed a job at Price Waterhouse at 19 which changed my path. I needed control and autonomony in my life so I quit college to focus on my career. At 23, I decided to go back to college because all my life I have loved education, posessed undying curiousity, adore books and the “life of the mind”. In an ideal world, I probably would’ve spent most of my time on intellectual pursuits and attained multiple degrees. To this day, I’ve wanted to be a Psychologist, an Archaeologist, an Interior Designer and an Author…but there never seemed to be enough time and there were always bills to pay.

And if I am honest, I’d have to say that I’ve struggled with an impediment to success, lack of confidence, which is a thread which runs throughout my life. I set my sights low on the college front but was pushed on by my boss to aspire for something better. She brought me an application for Vassar. Vassar!

I remember how moved I was that she thought an African American girl, from a low income family with a GED could go to Vassar. She was convinced, I was not. It took her several months of egging me on to get me to complete the application and in the end I did not get in…but it gave me courage. I took that courage to NYU and was accepted.

Just the acceptance was a crowning achievement in my life. I won’t ever forget how overwhelmingly proud I was at that moment…that I was deserving. And with a full time job, I busted my butt at night and on weekends to go part time. Part time was all I could afford and even with the student loans, I was still short. So, once again, angels appeared, my boss’s boss loaned me the extra money for books and tuition. He brushed my thanks away saying, “I know where you work”. 🙂 And again, I was humbled that people belived so deeply in me… People not related to me.

I did not finish at NYU because the program was simply too heavy with my other aspirations but I did excel at my job and created a career in Telecommunications which spanned 22 years of which I am proud. However, I’ve never given up that belief in my self, although it flags, that by the simple act of believing, I could.

As I’ve gotten older, I have reflected with the vantage point of wisdom and experience, just how much one person’s faith, at a critical juncture in your life, can mean. It quite literally, can make a world of difference. I believe that I’ve been lucky but I know, first hand, how difficult it can be to get over entrenched behaviors. I know how deeply I’ve had to plumb to find the faith in myself to even try to reach certain achievements and the resentment I feel that the foundational support I should’ve had as a child was not given to me because I believe that it would’ve made a significant difference. We become who we are not only because of what we receive but what we don’t receive. In Rochelle’s case, it was not the words of her mother that made the key difference but the act of proving to herself that made it come together. Coalescence. To me, the denial of opportunity is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. We should all have the gift of opportunity, it refines, hones and reveals who we may become.

So, as 2013 approaches, I have begun to ponder my next set of life goals. They get refined constantly! Number one is to finally finish what I started so many years ago and get my Bachelor’s degree. I may even push onto a Masters since I now have the confidence and the time, all the rest will follow. I have finally mastered the art of introspection, revision, resolve, falling down and getting up. It only took 44 years to get here ;). I am thankful.

P.S. – I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, whatever that may mean to you. This Thanksgiving, in particular, I gave thanks for the roof over my head, the food on my table and the relative safety and security that so many people did not share as a result of Hurricane Sandy. May you have much to be thankful for.

Hurricane Sandy: Storm Damage NJ

Almsot one year to the day, Hurricane Sandy arrived and knocked us for a loop. Who can forget that last year on 10/30, we had that freak snow storm and were treated to the horror of watching the tree limbs, not yet hardened off for winter, bend to the ground. That was scary but this was infinitely worse and will take much longer to recover from.

I sat through last night, nervous and terrified, as the house was buffeted by winds. The bed was actually shaking and just prayed. At 9 AM, half my block went dark. At 10 am, my side lost power as well. We were kinda sanguine as we kind of expected it and had taken some preparations. Shortly thereafter, the wind gusts died down and we went to sleep.

This morning was surreally quiet and so we couldn’t resist taking to the streets. Here is what we found and it is only a small measure of the devastation which just breaks my heart.

Even so, it was cool to discover this morning that thing which only happens in the aftermath of disasters, unity. It takes a disaster to bring us together and remind us of our shared humanity. Everyone is friendly, helpful, concerned and compassionate. Too bad, it’s not like that every day.

On the humourous side, people went to great lengths this morning to get coffee. There was one Dunkin Donuts open in Hackensack and the wait was one hour with cars pouring into the parking lot waiting to get in. Goes to show what services are essential as people roamed looking for open stores. The attached pictures are from Leonia, Hackensack, Maywood and Teaneck, NJ.

I’m just getting a look at the pics of the devastation and it brought me to tears. Will look to see tomorrow what I can do to help my neighbors. If you are in the recovery effort, be safe, be warm and godspeed.

Gratitudes and blessings to PSEG and the coordinated efforts of the firefighters, first responders, emergency workers and politicians. President Obama, Gov. Cuomo, Gov. Malley, Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Chris Christie have been doing an excellent job! It’s actually inspiring to see politics put aside for like 5 secs. #PeopleMatter

This my friend is the new normal…

The Illuminating Bloggers Award

I’m delighted to have received the Illuminating Bloggers Award from Somer Empress of Life As An Art Form. If you’ve not checked out her blog, do so toute suite. You wouldn’t want to miss out would you? 😉

We are all lights shining in the darkness. I hope that occasional flashes of brilliance arise from the miasma of my mind and that you find here, in equal parts, joy, illumination, knowledge and laughter.

Here are my choices for other Illuminating bloggers:

  1. Sparks in Shadow
  2. Mutuo Consensu
  3. Moet with Medusa
  4. Wine and Words
  5. Point4CounterPoint

Should you choose to accept this award, please adhere to the guidelines that require you to: leave a comment at the original award site indicating who nominated you; share a random fact about yourself, and lastly; award five (5) bloggers for this same award. (Let them know that you’ve awarded them as well, perhaps on their About Me or Introduction pages.)

If Romney wins I’m seriously considering relocating outside of the US so vote Obama lmao. That’s kind of a joke. Kinda. I’ve always wanted to live somewhere else, exotic and beachy. Of course, Europe and Africa seem to be in similarly dire straits which only leaves the Caribbean IMO. This might be my chance lol! Keep hope alive…

Resurfacing…

For those of you who wonder where I’ve been…

I’ve been treading water. Think I’m exaggerating? Read on and let me know if you STILL think so at the end.

As many of you know, I am the proud owner of a small landscaping company. It’s still new and I have a staff of 3 doing the work of 6 people. Hey! It’s still in it’s infancy lol. Spring, for reasons plantaholics will find understandable, is my favorite time of year.

The confluence of events that have transpired has ensured that I will never forget 2012, for more than the election. *smirk*

February blended seamlessly into March as I bent myself feverishly to the administrative and marketing tasks that come along with the start of landscape season.

I was focused, psyched…

But most importantly, determined.

Determination is easy to cull after three of the long months of of inactivity, stress, more stress, and steadily dwindling finances, due to the warmest NE winter in record. This winter, beach baby that I am, I actually prayed for snow.

God replied, “No can do.”

So, as we often do in the absence of cooperation, I set my sights on another goal – Spring.

I saw an early Spring as a gift and indeed it was, in many respects.

When I had a few precious moments to catch my breath, I grew heady at the rapidity with which I was moving through my to do list.

That same force of will drove me to drum up lots of Spring startup work from my clients and launch my first newsletter.

I was so successful that we had seven weeks of work booked solid and we hadn’t even begun. Woot!

“Man proposes…God disposes”

Ah joy, you fickle mistress.

On 3/17, my erstwhile employee of three years called out for the week due to a family emergency, leaving the burden of startup on my fiance and I.

We did not panic, we regrouped and soldiered on with dollar signs dancing in our eyes.

On 3/21, I received word that my work truck needed work to the tune of $5,000.

When I protested, the number miraculously dropped to $3,000.

It was then that something akin to panic stepped in and stopped all brain function in it’s tracks for about 1 hour.

I stopped the work and took some time to contemplate my next move. New truck? Or, work out of car? What to tell all the clients who were eagerly awaiting lawn work, designs, paving?

Ye gods.

Necessity as they say is the mother of invention.

We decided to use our personal vehicle while we looked for a new truck, a sane mechanic, or both.

Week 2 arrived, finding us somewhat worse for wear but ok….

until we realized that our employee was still MIA. No response to texts or phone calls.

NICE.

Never let it be said that rage is not a nice motivator.

I swear many people’s bushes were pruned and lawns were raked/stabbed in record time due to the bubbling anger that came over me whenever I thought of the sheer fuckery of the fates.

But it got done.

Week 3 arrived to find us utterly exhausted working 6 days a week, indoors or out. And you guessed it, still no word from !?%! (aka employee).

At which point, I gave in to the idea that we needed a new truck. No way could we continue on with this tiny vehicle lol, nor could I continue splitting my days bt. office and client sites. My fiance, trooper though he is, was running amok with a crick in his neck and an aching back.

It was then, that my neighbor, a mechanic offered to work on the truck for us at a reasonable rate and I started searching for a replacement.

Whoppee!

Not quite.

Week 4 and we ran through three guys in one week! Only one of them lasted two days. All in their 20’s and not ONE of them could keep up with my fiance who’s in his 40’s. What does that say to you about today’s youth? RIGHT.

FINALLY, last week, we found a replacement who has brains and stamina (pray for me that he lasts the season). The truck is now operational AND we have purchased a trailer. That was in the works but had to wait as we had no truck.

Jeezly crow. Had someone told me this is the kind of mess I’d be up against with when I took this path I honestly don’t know what I would have said LMAO. Certainly, I wouldn’t have believed that some things, seemingly so easy, would be so difficult. Like finding good help *clears throat*

Now, sleep restored, bills almost caught up, three designs done in spite of all the difficulties thrown at me and a few new clients in tow…

I am proud and happy that I am free to once again revel in the love of nature that led me to my business. When they say labor of love, they are NOT kidding. I am also somewhat impressed with my own reserves of strength which I thought depleted. It is that fortitude that I will take with me to tackle bigger things.

“Not too bad, kid.” As my boss used to say to me ;).

Next post, I will share some of the design pics with you. And hopefully, you will all forgive me for my long absence. Believe me when I say, I MISSED YOU.

Searching For Justice

Yesterday, state prosecutor Angela Corey announced the arrest of George Zimmerman on the charge of second degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Like many others, I was glued to my TV watching the 6pm news conference. By all accounts, Angela Corey performed admirably under pressure, displaying graciousness, professionalism and high ethical standards. That coupled with the feeling that the wheels of justice have finally begun to turn inspired, in most of us, a renewal of faith in the justice system.

But not all of us. There are many people, African Americans in particular, who feel that justice delayed is justice denied. After all, it took fourty five days for the arrest to occur.

Fourty five days. in which the national outcry became incredibly LOUD, in both cyberspace, in the media and on the streets. That’s what it took to get the state of Florida and federal authorities to do their job.

That, in and of itself, is terribly disheartening.

No sane person could possibly think that the Sanford PD’s handling of this case was anything but inept and biased. The Stand Your Ground law enables vigilantism and fosters institutional bias. It must be abolished in all the states where it masquerades as justice.

People can fool themselves by opining that this is an isolated incident but its not.

Just last week, the killers of Sean Bell were finally brought to “justice”. We should be grateful, it only took 2 yrs. The Diallo family never saw justice for the loss of their son, Amadou Diallo.

Since it’s taken me so long to publish this, the 20 yr anniversary of the LA riots incited by the assault on Rodney King has just passed. In his interview on The Last Word, he spoke of how he recognized and understood the “death screams” of Trayvon Martin and how disturbing that was. The sound of a human being minutes from death, fighting for their life.

I broke down and cried.

The details of these cases undoubtedly differ but the end result is the same, innocent, young African American males lost their lives in confrontations exacerbated by deeply embedded racial stereotypes. In a word, the criminalization of African Americans.

It’s heartbreaking, unjust and enraging that such gross
miscarriages of justice have become commonplace. Particularly, because the criminal justice system is charged with the protection of all citizenry.

Is this not a flagrant violation of our constitutional rights?

The social contract that exists between government and citizenry is unspoken, yet it is the very wheels upon which everything works. We agree to submit to the authority of our elected officials and perform our roles as citizens in exchange for protection, freedom, security and dignity which should be accorded to all human beings.

For far too long, these basic rights continue to be constrained by personal, social and institutional biases. But why quibble about such a minor thing?

Because, as so beautifully illustrated by the power of our collective voices crying for justice for the Martin family, if we do not injustice continues to be commonplace.