Friday, November 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 30, 1977

Psalm 34
Day 13

Got up medium. Dressed. It has rained. So No Snow. Ate breakfast. Went shopping. Saw Ms. Noel of the Del-Rey. Came back. Helped mom cook. Crocheted, read. Ate. Washed dishes. Ate dessert. After while, Pops went out. We put on pj's. Found a balloon, twisted it, and T made them into bosoms. We all laughed. Then Mom told a story. Pops. came back (after T's bosom's popped). Ate supper. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl Maltex+honey
  • Lunch: 3 doughnuts, raw oats, veg (celery, carrots, lettuce, cabbage)
  • Dinner: Kidney beans+celery+cabbage+carrots+g-pepper+onion+tomato paste+sardines+egg+noodles, lettuce+carrot+celery salad with mustard+honey+herbs dressing, herb omelet, animal cookies
  • Snack: 1 cup honey tea, 1 1/2 sugar doughnuts, pnuts
The Del-Rey was the little low-budget overpriced supermarket up on the corner of 126th and 5th.

Hey! Sardines! We hadn't had those in a while. That dinner-thing sounded like it was a soup. We ate a lot of soup--it was cold. And we tended to eat the larger meal before dark, because we would be cooking and chopping vegetables by candlelight, otherwise.

Boys Will Always Be Boys

There is the ongoing discussion among conscientious parents about whether we refer to our private parts by "nicknames" or by their actual names. As a kid, we used nicknames but as a parent I find myself using proper names with The Sun--for the simple fact that nothing seems to be an appropriate nickname for "penis". The word itself is weird, but any thing else seems either just as weird, silly ("piche dee" comes to mind) or downright inappropriate for a small child to use. So "penis" it is.

The Sun however, disagrees, and refers to his "privates" as either "privates" or "shabbalabbadingdong." Apparently, he picked this word up from a crazy former classmate of his. Crazy as in "A very old, crass woman trapped in the body of a very young girl". (You can see where this could be a problem. The classmate has since moved away... she was Irish/Mohawk/WASP-or-some-derivative-thereof, and held her own in a predominantly working-class, Hispanic/Multi-ethnic/African-American environment. I frequently wonder how she's holding up in middle-class-Riverdale. But I digress.)

The Sun's best friend in class is this kid who I'll refer to as PreacherSon. I'm not entirely certain that his father is in fact a pastor or preacher, but the kid just strikes me that way. And he's a real spitfire, sort of sandy-colored with hazel eyes, a husky voice and an insane giggle. The Sun and PreacherSon giggle endlessly about "shabbalabbadingdong"

But yesterday, with the help of another classmate (and his mom, I think--who like me enjoys not working and hanging out in the kids school... she has a Masters Degree and used to work at the UN, and now she unabashedly takes joy in decorating the school office door and helping out in both of her kids classes), the boys were introduced to "dingaling".

So of course, when the Sun came home I had to show him this video:

He thought this was the funniest thing he'd ever heard, and loved that Chuck Berry apparently thought so too.

Tuesday, November 29, 1977

Psalm 33
Day 12

Got up medium. Dressed and then... SNOW! White and soft, it fluttered down. I wonder what Bev or Marlene would say. Going to eat breakfast. Then Pop, T+me went shopping in the snow. Came back. Mom cooked. Ate. Washed dishes. Later Pops went out. I finished "That Darn Cat." It's funny. Put on pj's. Mom told a story. Pops came back. Ate a snack. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl oatmeal + honey
  • Dinner: ground beef+carrot+cabbage+chick peas+celery+celery+onion+sweet pepper, 1/4 omelet, hash brown potatoes, 1/2 tangelo, pnuts (unroasted), 3 dates.
  • Snack: 1 1/2 coconut cookies, pnuts

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On The Other Hand...

men can be really draining. Especially the psychotic ones. Well, one in particular. That would be TF.

Last Wed: The Sun had like an hour-long webcam phone conference with him.
Last Thur (Thanksgiving): The Sun called him briefly to say hello. It turns out TF had also called him and left a message, but The Sun isn't big on checking voicemail so we didn't realize that till yesterday or so. And I can't remember if the Sun got to talk to him, or just left a message.

Last Fri: We were home all day doing nothing. The Sun went and spent the night at the Moon's.
Last Sat: The boys came and hung out over here. The Sun had his phone both days.
Last Sun: We stayed home and did nothing. I actually left the house for the first time since Thanksgiving, to walk to the store. The Sun laid on the couch all day (who needs a man? boys do all the same things.)
Mon: I get a text from TF asking where is the Sun--he hasn't called in 4 days. A.) Um. It's only been three days... and b.) Dialing goes both ways. Doesn't it? Huh. My bad. Apparently not. The Sun calls him back, TF gives him grief. The Sun, who is not me, hangs up on him "accidentally" several times. Sun comes to ask me what would happen if he told his father he was fed up and never to call him again? I said "that's a little extreme, don't you think?" He said no. I told him look... you have good times with him. He's great when he's having good days. It's just that when he's on the Dark Side it's kind of a pain. But at least you know it's not personal. He treats EVERYbody like that. The Sun says "but I'm his son, and he shouldn't treat me like that". Um, yeah. I'm the babymama, and he shouldn't treat me like that either, but he did, and that's why we're not together.
Tue: The Sun calls to say "goodnight" at bedtime. TF tells him he's still really angry with the Sun and hangs up on him.
Wed: Noon. I'm sitting in the Fat Lady's house, suffering from dog allergies (really cute dog, though) and recovering from an interesting morning at the school (which I'll have to post separately), listening to her tell me about a parent who's having issues with the Sun's teacher. I'm in the process of telling her that in my opinion, the ROOT CAUSE of the parent's issue with the teacher is that the teacher is well... Boobalicious. She's got beautiful, dark curly hair, big dark eyes, and wears cute lowcut tops or cute t-shirts. She's very curvy, and pretty tall. When ever I say to the Sun "Your teacher's cute and has big boobs" he turns bright red and hits me. The Sun's best friend in the class thinks the teacher is "hot." I told the Sun they even have a song about that, and played this video:

He turned red and hit me. Anyway. Not to discount that there may certainly be a communication breakdown, and some perception issues and maybe even a little racism, but in all honesty, I think it's just Teacher is Hot. Hell, I think she's hot, and despite my man issues I'm straight (least as far as I know). In the midst of this, at 11:45AM, I get a text message from TF:

"I am looking to fly in this Saturday morning till monday afternoon. Let me know if [The Sun] has plans".

Me: [The Sun] has a performance this saturday, & it should run all afternoon. We could meet you by 6 or 7p?

TF: What performance? And r you telling me i can't go.

*sigh*. I write back explaining what's going on (school book fair/kids are performing/big family turnout/tell him where the fair is), and that he should have received all this info in the principal's weekly emails. I say of course you can come, but your text said you were flying in Sat am. He texts back that he didn't get the email (liar, because I checked the principals "send" list, and he's on it). I send him more info, and the fact that the Sun was looking forward to hanging out with school friends for a little bit in the bookstore. TF says for me to call him later. ???? I NEVER initiate phone calls to him.

I turn to FatLady and tell her this is why I get annoyed with people who complain about perceptions and communication because until people have to deal with people like TF on a regular basis, they have no concept of what it's like to have "miscommunication".

I also speak to Lawyer, who nicely called after I forwarded a text to her. She makes me laugh. She reminds me that no, it really isn't me.

I pick the Sun up from school and take him to Violin. I fall asleep waiting for him; my head on my hand. Any contact with TF literally drains me. I realized that still, the PSTD runs deep, and I'm not equipped to deal with him. I can't. I tell the Sun his father's coming in this weekend to see him. He's happy, but insists he doesn't want to spend the night. Um, that could be a problem since TF is expecting us to give him his visit according to the agreement THAT HE STILL HASN'T SIGNED OFF ON. Which means he'll keep the Sun until Monday a.m. when he drops him off at school. I told the Sun you have to tell me what you want. You have to realize there are things you won't get. Not spending the night is one of them. We can negotiate the time of pick up, since TF didn't hold up his end of the deal by giving us a week's notice. And if you REALLY don't want to spend the night, you're going to have to fight for that. I can only back you up. I can no longer initiate the fight.

My little warrior boy calls his dad. His father excitedly tells him he's coming in. The Sun says he knows... there's just "one problem" and explains how he wants to hang out with Moon after the book fair. TF gets tight. He's flying in 5,000 miles to see him. I guess he thinks the Sun should be jumping for joy. "Right", I said, when they hung up... "but he's supposed to tell us in advance, and if he had, we wouldn't even be having this conversation since we would have rearranged everything." And never mind the fact that he went from AlecBaldwinRant to "Daddy's coming to see you!" in the space of what, 12(?) hours. I also talk to TF; I tell him look, you asked if we had plans... we did. These plans were already in the works when you texted. I'm not saying The Sun won't see you. I will pack him enough clothes for 3 days. When you get here, YOU can deal with it... I'm only telling you what he wants.

The Sun says his father will call him tomorrow (today, Thursday). I send TF an email with ALL the details, and make sure to throw in "I realize that you're flying here from a great distance, but please recognize that you did not tell us a week in advance as has been discussed in court. We all want these visits to work well for everyone, so in the future if you let us know at least a week in advance, [The Sun] has ample time to plan or re-arrange plans." I ask him (also as per what has been discussed in court) to tell me where he's staying.

TF writes back:

"I understand about the notice and that is why I text you this afternoon, explained that I was looking to fly in this Saturday morning and ASKED if [The Sun] had plans. I had to pull some strings to get 3 days off in a row with Saturdays as part of my work week and no vacation days left during a very busy time at my job. I finally saved up my flier miles for a trip to NY to see [The Sun] and spend time with him.

you told me he had percussion in the afternoon and that he wanted to hang out with his friends from school after the show, then you would meet up with me afterwards. then I speak with [The Sun] this evening, he and you say that you want to hang out with [The Moon] ( who's house he sleeps over EVERY weekend, not from his school ) his mother and your girlfriend and her daughter all the way from Con. after the show. One time you got angry at me because I said I didn't know you but I was wrong ,I do. It's about [The Sun]''s well-being and if I do go this weekend I will be tagging along. "

Notice: Not one mention of where they'll be staying. I write back that just for reference, The Sun and Moon now attend the same school. That I have no problem with him being there. I didn't bother explaining that the Sun DOES NOT spend every weekend over at the Moon's house. I didn't ask again about where they were staying. But I make sure to blind copy Lawyer and copy the LawGuardian, so that they both know, and can relay to TF's lawyer, that he'll be in town on MONDAY... and MAYBE he can sign that paper????? Yeah right.

Thur: No phone call from TF. The Sun calls him twice and leaves messages. He never calls back. So far, I haven't gotten any emails. So now we're not even sure he's actually coming.

"What is YOUR Major Malfunction, Numbnuts!?"

I'll tell you exactly what it is.

I was born and bred to be a StayAtHomeMom. I was not bred expecting to go out and have a job and leave my (one) kid at the babysitter. I learned to cook by the time I was 8. By 10 I could cook a complete meal. By 12 I could do it over an open fire. I know how to separate laundry. I can wash clothes by hand if I have to, using a scrub brush to get the knees clean, although washing them in a machine is SO MUCH easier. I know how to run a household on a tight budget.

I enjoy being pregnant, breastfeeding and walking around with no shoes on. I like making dinner from scratch. I make a mean-ass chicken soup, cornbread stuffing, roast-anything. My greens are to die for. When I have the time my home is fairly neat. I enjoy redecorating. I love the Parents Association, volunteering in the school. I like running fundraisers (even though I bitch and complain). I like children. Especially my own.

Left to my own devices, I would have happily been barefoot and pregnant, making cookies and cooking dinner.

I don't even track my man when he's out... provided whatever he's doing "stays in Vegas" and he's smart enough not to bring anything--diseases, evidence, love letters--home. Cuz once they cross my doorstep, it's on. Provided I am respected and loved, I trust unconditionally.

When I'm by myself, I can easily entertain myself; I can draw or paint or plant herbs and flowers in the pots on the deck. I can write. When I'm not by myself, I can be fairly funny, I will keep up with current events (well, if I care about them), I look damn good for forty-almost-three, and let's put it this way... it was passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me "A man wants a lady in the home and a whore in the bedroom" and "Always look good in your own home--never let him see you in curlers or coldcream". Though sometimes I break that rule, I admit. But I try.

I don't really need expensive gifts. I mean they're nice and all, but I don't *need* it, and I certainly won't accept them in lieu of genuine affection and respect. You definitely can't buy me off, which is probably why a rich husband wouldn't work for me.

I don't *need* to be rich but I do need to be warm and comfortable, and when I'm cold and uncomfortable I'm a little cranky. (OK, downright evil.) If I'm sick I don't require A LOT of care, just some... and when you're sick or hurting I do everything in my power to make it better. Unless you whine too much and you piss me off.

The only catch to all this is I have an attitude problem and I don't like being bossed around. I wholeheartedly admit to having issues with authority. And if you tell me something like "I'll be home by 7" I hold you to it, and when you don't come home it's not that I care *where* you were, but I care that you broke your word. And if I catch you in a lie your ass is mine... but you have to be pretty stupid to leave yourself open cuz I really don't go snooping. Only if you give me a reason. But I definitely have a temper and if I can't fight you outright I will definitely do a slow burn. But usually I'll fight you outright. And I HATE being ignored. I also hate being questioned and feeling "owned". I also tend to be a night-owl, mainly because it's when the world is quiet and I can hear my Voices.

All-in-all though, I think I'd make a decent StayAtHomeMom. So it pisses me off no end that as a single parent, in order to live comfortably I have to work. And the only jobs I do well in are jobs that recognize and allow that my kid will always come first; I WILL leave early to take him to karate or violin or whatever if I can't find someone else to do it; I will NEVER work weekends and it's a rare night that I'll stay late to do anything. I'll take it home, though, but most companies would rather pay you to be "on location" and waste time, than trust that you'll finish whatever at home from the comfort of your couch.

Not having a job stresses me ONLY because the rent is high, and I have student loans and some credit card debt. Not an AWFUL lot, but enough to stress me. And it's not that I'm frivolous and HAVE to have that coat or those red pumps (though I want them really badly), it's just sometimes I run out of money and have to charge groceries or a winter coat for the Sun. And OK, my fancy Treo. But hey, it helps me keep track of the money I don't have and the things I have to do.

I filed for unemployment the other day. If I could cut down some of the debt I had, I could so live comfortably off of unemployment; when you're happy, you don't NEED to spend money.

Today, I went to the Sun's school to check for last-minute fundraiser orders, I did some personal stuff that I'd brought with me and the principal nicely let me use the fax machine, then I went and helped the Sun make a diorama of our kitchen in a shoebox in his classroom. Then I went to art class with him where they were drawing birds. Carlos the art teacher let me draw a Snow Ptarmigan on some watercolor paper, and if I'm still unemployed on Tuesday when they go back to art, I'm going to go and paint it. I stopped by Bigbear's and ate fish with her and TinyOne (who is SO MUCH LIKE his mother at that age, and I loved her so completely then that I've fallen in love with TinyOne all over again).

Then I came home. Shoefly will pick the boys up on her way home from work (and see, she LIKES to work) and so I'll start pasta in a minute.

So why is it, Mr. O, that I don't have a husband? Is it my attitude problem? Could I choke it back long enough to stay quiet and keep a husband? Could I tolerate "man-isms"?

Not bloody likely.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

OK, OK, A Heroes Post....

So the Fat Lady yelled at me, because she said that when I put my Heroes theory up at the top, nobody can respond. I said well I don't want my blog to be all about Heroes, and she yelled at me again and said it wouldn't be... so OK.

Next week I'll just a post instead. Particularly since it'll be a biggie. But if you have comments about the theory presented above, you can comment from this post... I'll even make a tag for it for future reference.

But it's a good one, right? My theory, I mean.

Monday, November 28, 1977

Psalm 32
Day 11

Got up medium. It snowed a little last night, because the derelict building across the way had a white roof. Ate breakfast. Then all four of us went to the Salvation Army thrift shop. Pops + Mom got their winter wardrobe. Pops got me "That Darn Cat" and T. got "Old Yeller" (a dog story) and crochet thread. Came back. Cooked after me+mom shopped. Ate. Put on pj's. Pops out. He came back. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl Maltex+honey
  • Lunch: 4 Gem donuts
  • Dinner: chicken wing + kale+carrot+pink beans+elbows+celery+potatoes soup, pnuts, 1 tangelo, 3 dates, 2 figs.
I'm starting to remember what it felt like, living like this. I can distance myself very easily from unpleasant things, but since I've been writing this every day, it's becoming more real. Despite the cold and the dark, we were all still together, and we spent a lot of time together, the four of us. But it was cold, and dark. And cold.

I remember clearly The Salvation Army. As a matter of fact, that branch store is STILL THERE... 30 years later. It still looks EXACTLY THE SAME. It's still set up EXACTLY THE SAME. And I hate it now... I can't go in there.

The one time I've been in there since I stopped *needing* to shop there was about last March; close to Bigbear's birthday. I was walking to the old apartment to see her and pick up the Sun, and in the window was an Arabia of Finland teapot in the Anemone pattern. This pattern was my mom's wedding china, and 45 years later her entire set sits in my kitchen cabinets, minus exactly one cup. She never had the teapot, though. Bigbear likes tea, and the pot was in mint condition, even having the ceramic strainer. So I went in and bought it for her. But being in that store was painful... it even smelled the same. (By the way, I still use the set almost every day... it has never cracked or chipped... even in my porcelain sink. Even in the dishwasher. The stuff is indestructible.)

Anyway. There's a distinct smell to old, cold, empty buildings, and the apartment had it back then. And remember... no electricity, so about now when it gets dark at 4:30, it got to be pretty dank. That time between about 5P--when it got really dark--and about 6:30 when we started getting ready for "bag", became known as "The Brown Coat Hour." Bigbear would sit on the board/sofa, huddled under this brown coat she'd picked up at the Salvation Army, and just retreat. The Professor and I would pretty much leave her alone. But it was pretty depressing.

A big side effect of all this was not being able to take baths that often. We washed up every day-- nobody smelled bad, but after awhile I was appalled to realize I had a layer of grime on my neck. At some point, when we finally got the light and gas on, we could boil water if the heat wasn't on, and eventually, when we got a new (black, but still slum-) landlord, we had more regular heat. But it's those little things about living in poverty like that, like not being able to have regular baths... those are the things that get you.

I was talking to the Sun's music teacher this past evening, when I went to pick him up from percussion practice. We discovered, over the past few years, that we are about the same age, and that we didn't grow up that far from each other. And that her mother ran a kufi stand around the corner from the Tree of Life. I didn't reveal to her that we considered our kufi's far superior to her mom's, though. Competition could be fierce in the kufi trade.

But today we talked about how hard it was back then in Harlem. And how people always talk about how "the kids of today are spoiled". But these days, they really ARE spoiled. They have no idea what it was like to live rough. The only place more destitute was probably the South Bronx. There were--have always been--pockets of Black people who have lived comfortably in Harlem. But there was a bunch of really poor people living there then. Even though the Divide between the Poor and the Rich has widened so much that it has completely destroyed the middle class in NYC, the Poor are not as poor as they were in 1977. Despite Welfare reform and people not being able to stay on Welfare for long without being harassed, the benefits are better. Foodstamps are better. And there aren't blocks and blocks of derelict and abandoned buildings. Many of the buildings were owned by people who didn't live in Harlem. Some, the City took over. But nobody ever fixed them, and they sat empty and cold for YEARS.

People hustle better now... the badboys sell drugs, but more often than not, people hustle any number of minimum wage jobs and manage to hold on to subsidized housing... although this is getting to be harder to do in NY these days--damn near impossible in Harlem, and people tend to just leave and move elsewhere. But back then, there WAS no elsewhere. This was IT. When I finally got to I.S. 201 (affectionately nicknamed "The Armpit of the Board of Education") the following year, the kids who lived in the Projects were well-to-do compared to the kids who lived in the tenements, cuz most likely the kids in the Projects had parents who worked for Transit or Civil Service or something like that.

The drug trade consisted mainly of heroin or pot, (Dust didn't come along for a few years... and then of course later there was crack) and the heroin trade was pretty much run by either the mob, Nicky Barnes or a small number of well-connected brothers. Pot ( "reefa", back then) was mainly sold by the Hardest Hard crew. At least on our block.

NOBODY came uptown. There were no tourist buses, no trendy people walking around. A Yellow Cab was unheard of. It wasn't "SpaHa" or "NoHa" or "Central Park North". It was El Barrio. 110th Street. Harlem. Liquor stores and Kentucky Fried Chicken all had bulletproof plastic between them and the general public. Even the pharmacy had bulletproof glass. Your generic candy store on the corner had bullet proof glass. There were at least two pizza parlors on my block alone, and it took me YEARS to figure out why there were always so many junkies sitting around in them, eating donuts and hot chocolate. I didn't figure it out until the pizza parlours were all busted for selling heroin. We were there because it was warm.

From a New York Times article: "In addition to Cafe Aiello, Mr. Aiello operated four pizzerias in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, which Federal agents said were used for drug sales. According to the charges, heroin purchases were made by undercover agents at Tony's Pizza Parlor, 164 West 125th Street, which is across the street from the state office building in Harlem, at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue."

I remember Tony's well. We had made friends with a guy known as "Pop" who mostly worked at the pizzeria on our block this side of Lenox, but sometimes he worked at Tony's too and we'd walk up to see him, especially later when I was old enough to walk 'Two-Five without the parents. "Pop" introduced me to cheese-fries.

A few years after we'd lived on 'Two Five for a while, the City shut it down completely while it repaved the entire length. Hardly any cars drove across because they had narrowed it down to one lane at a time. Even after they re-opened the strip, if you saw a Caucasian walking along it was cause for a double-take. And a comment.

Nowadays, they let anybody up in here...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday, November 27, 1977

Psalm 31
Day 10

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate breakfast. It's 29F! There is ice on the windows. Went thru our Macy's bags. Went shopping. Came back. Ate lunch.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl oatmeal +honey, 1 1/2 coconut cookies, pnuts
The weekly summary said "A good week. We had a lot of food." And we did, actually.

So, we were pretty much adapted to life. And it didn't change much for the next two or three years.

I'll finish out the year, cuz there are still some "new" experiences I wrote about, like snow, and the fact that a few days there in December it was REALLY cold and we REALLY had no heat. I kept a diary the following year, too, but I'm not sure I'll post it. I think I might go back and post the beginning of the year 1977.

But the "adventure" of it all hardly stopped... in fact, it set the tone for many other adventures, like adopting the Diva, me getting married, then unmarried, me moving to New Jersey with the all-American Jersey Boy, etc. And even though none of those experiences were like this one, I guess what "became" me most was that nothing is ever "too strange" for me. Which is why I'm always finding myself in predicaments, I think. Where some people would look at a situation and go "It's risky--I won't do that" or "That's not logical--I won't do that" or "wow, that's weird. I won't go there" I always think to myself, "well, really how strange could it possibly be?" and I jump right in.

Which isn't always a good thing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

November 26, 1977

Psalm 30
Day 9

Got up medium. Dressed. Talked, had Sabbath School. Mr. O gave permission to Pops to cook. He did, we ate. Yum. Rested, read. Aunt Sinah came. She brought drawing pads, pens +embroidery. Then Mr. Click brought us potatoes + things. Pops only took potatoes. Ate. Pops told a story. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1/2 pkg pnuts
  • Dinner: Nana J_rice, pink beans+string beans+squash+cucumber+green banana, pops mustard (?) sauce
  • Dinner: Home fried potatoes, egg+potatoes, ketchup.
It must have been cold for Pops to even consider cooking on the Sabbath. Back then, we were WAY strict about Sabbath; we didn't cook or light the stove. Nowadays, I actually do a lot on the Sabbath. The only thing I WONT do is go to work or take a job where I have to work on Saturdays. But that's not really good enough. Poppy is surprisingly good about not getting on us for not keeping Sabbath as strictly as we used to.

I do believe the kids have suffered for this; they have no concept of it. My bad. I ought to do something about that.

In addition to keeping strict Sabbaths, Poppy's idea of "asking permission" of God for anything was to flip a coin on it. He had a special coin that he kept in a film canister, just for flipping. I think it was a Jamaican dollar or something like that; a heavy brass coin. His theory was that there was a 50/50 chance the coin would come down heads or tails, and there was no way to predict. So if you asked a yes/no question, and flipped a coin, you'd get a definitive yes/no answer.

Now "logic" will probably have the reader say "OK, that's REALLY nuts". But I've got to say... of all the crazy things in my life, this actually made a lot of sense, provided you have absolute Faith in God, which we all had back then. Implicit trust in the power of God, and in the power that God could make that coin come down the way He wanted it to, if you asked a question and believed you were going to get the right answer.

And I will vouch that there were times when the Professor and I would want something or would want to go somewhere, and Poppy would flip the coin, and it would come down "no." And then we'd find out later that there was good reason for us not going or doing that thing we wanted to do. It also saved the parents from being the bad guys. If we asked Bigbear for something and she was unsure or we didn't like her answer we'd go to Poppy. And if we didn't like Poppy's answer we'd ask him to flip the coin. And if it came down tails=no, well, there was just no arguing with that. I still do it, sometimes, if I'm in a quandary about something. I'll flip a coin. I ought to try it when the Sun wants something I don't want to give, but I've a feeling I'm too late...

Boy, we must have seemed really destitute if Ozzie Click came up and offered friggin' potatoes and stuff. Cuz Mr. Click didn't have a whole lot himself. But it was nice he looked out for us.

Aunt Sinah knew I liked to draw. I filled up the sketch pad she gave me. I look back at those pictures and wonder why and how in the hell I managed to convince myself that I couldn't draw. I stopped drawing in about 8th grade, and didn't draw again until I got to Pratt some 20 years later...

My Kid Rocks....

No, really, he does.

So we've watched snippets of "Bowfire" several times this weekend, and listened to Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" a few times, and tonight at bedtime he broke out the violin and figured out the main riff in about 10 minutes. And then he scribbled notes to himself so he wouldn't forget, and packed it in his violin case.

The thing is, I even think he knows the notes. Next he said he'll start working on the bridge, and he was gonna ask Roberta and his privatelesson teacher if they could teach him the rest of the song...


I'm so proud I could spit. I also happen to be Zeppelin fan so that just makes it all the more fun.

Then I discovered a new site has been launched, and it's worth exploring.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Friday, November 25, 1977

Greta's Birthday (b. 1975)
Psalm 29
Day 8

Got up medium. Dressed. Mom went and called Miss S_. Pops went to the laundromat. Ate breakfast. Went downstairs. S_ came. Pops put the clothes away, then S_+our family went to Macy's (Pops went on to 14th St.) Shopped. I got crochet thread. We met a little Italian boy about 4, who said he was "The Fonz". Ate lunch. Went to Ms. ?'s house. Came back. Ate soup. Put on pj's, went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.
I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl oatmeal+honey porridge
  • 1 hamburger+mustard+ketchup+onion, home fried potatoes, 1/4 glass tab, 1/2 glass coca cola.
  • Snack: 1 glass grape juice, 1 glass Hawaiian Punch, 1/2 glass apple juice, grapes, sunflower seeds
  • Supper: 1 bowl Maltex+honey
Amusing food thing: Hamburgers have to be a certain way for me, or I just don't get the same enjoyment out of them. And that hamburger is SO NOT how I eat them these days. I wonder when that changed? I guess I hadn't had them that often to have a preference. Although, when we lived on 38 Montgomery, every Thursday was "Party Day" and Poppy would make either hamburgers or chili with "Nana J_ rice" which was a red rice with chopped veggies. These days, a hamburger MUST be medium-well, MUST have mayo and ketchup (sometimes BBQ sauce, but ALWAYS mayo), and lettuce and tomato. Sometimes relish or a sweet pickle, particularly if I make them myself. I get annoyed when there's no mayo. It's like my coffee... it MUST have half and half or I get really grumpy (which reminds me that I don't have any half-and-half in the house, dammit). Another thing that amuses me is that I hate Maltex now, and Wheatina, but back then we ate it cuz it was Poppy's comfort food--cereal he ate when he was a kid. And my cereal has to have butter and brown sugar.

We learned to crochet in Jamaica, but seeing as how there was nothing to do in our new apartment, I started crocheting again. Eventually, I got really good at making Kufi's and in the late '70's very early '80's when Kufi's were HUGE in Harlem, Bigbear, the Professor and I would sit outside the Tree of Life on Lenox Avenue with a table, and sell them. The Kufi's we made looked a lot like this lady's, but the style back then was to add a long tassel. Sometimes two. We made decent money doing that, as the Kufi's ran between $7-$10 a piece, especially if they were custom ordered (which they usually were).

The Tree of Life was an interesting atmosphere, to say the least. I always liked Dr. Kanya (on the right in this picture); he was a nice guy and totally bought into what he was selling, but he had some STRANGE bedfellows. The building itself was pretty derelict, and often had no heat in the winter. I remember there being murals, and lots of incense in the air. But the people who came to the Tree were in search of spiritual enlightenment and inner peace, and it made the atmosphere very positive.

One of the people who hung around there and taught there was this younger, lightskinned brother name Yusuf. I always thought he was a bit of a flirt, but he ran meditation classes there. Ladies loved him. I think I had a crush on him for about a minute, till I figured out he was kind of a jerk.

Another guy who hung out there was Brother B, who went off and tried to start his own bookstore after the Tree was dismantled. His wife was a serious astrologer and claimed to be African American but boy did she look Cherokee. Brother B was *extremely* obnoxious, and the Professor and I, along with two friends of ours (who's lives were about as strange as ours... they were "squatting" in a building along with their mom and their mom's boyfriend who was a Vietnam Vet and um, was a little weird) took great pleasure in being as rude and disrespectful to Brother B as we possibly could. The thing was, Brother B usually took it in stride, which I guess is to his credit. He never got mad, never told on us, never did anything mean or underhanded. Actually, he treated us like he treated anybody else, which entailed him trying to convince anybody who would listen that polygamy was a good thing (but he himself only had one wife) and that Astrology would solve all your problems. To this day, I still avoid him like the plague. I just never could tolerate him.

They tore the Tree down in like 1980 or so, and it sat empty for years, with a parking lot there on the corner. It was such an insult to the community... but had we really been paying attention I guess we would have realized that it was a foreshadowing of times to come, when the Borg invaded and we lost Harlem for good. Now there's a tall, brown building on that corner that houses Marshalls, Staples, Dunkin' Donuts and CVS. I bet most people that pass through those stores have no knowledge that the Tree of Life was ever there.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thursday November 24, 1977

Thanksgiving Day
Psalm 28
Day 7

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate a delicio brunch. Rested, read, listened to the radio. Then we went out for a walk. We walked down 7th Ave. We played on the 7th Ave playground, and we went by Fruit City. They are nice folk. Came back. Ate supper. Put on pj's. Then Pops went out and Mom told us a story. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr.

I ate:
  • Brunch: grits, sausage(beef)+black eye peas+grean banana sauce, slice blueberry pie, 1 coconut macaroon.
  • Snack: 1/2 banana, 1 1/2 oatmeal cookies, pnuts, plantain chips.
  • Supper: Corn chips, pnuts, 1 tangerine, 1/2 pear, 1/2 banana, 3 datenut rolls (yum)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Because I Can be Loquacious

...on this blog (and sometimes in real life) I'm going to stop for a second and post some pictures of my world. All I'll say is... these are some of the things I love most in life...



The Sun decided, after much convincing from his friend the Moon who had been here all afternoon (his father did a drop-and-run; I was in the shower and he calls. "Can the Moon come over for a minute?" "Right now" I ask as I'm stepping out of the shower? "Yeah, we're around the corner". "Sure!" I say, as the doorbell rings.) that he should spend the night over there. Apparently, I'm much stricter about the video games. I didn't let them play all day. It's not the Moon; he can take-or-leave a game, but the Sun? Can you say "INTERVENTION"? Sheesh.

Anyway. The Moon told the Sun that if they went over there, they wouldn't have to listen to me tell them no they couldn't play DS or PS2.

So off they went.

I'm alone!

No man.

No job=no money to burn.

I'm tired anyway.

I should clean.

Instead I've been playing on MySpace and blogging. And listening to 98.7 Kiss-FM as they play Partay music from back in my day (remember when Luther was part of Change?). AAOW! D-Train! That was back when I drank Bacardi.

My, how the cookie crumbles.

Think I'll go polish off the coquito.

*Speaking of which.... you know, there is no earthly reason women should give up the poontang. Seriously. Once they get it, they are of no use to you, and yet they think they own you. I almost dumped TAN as a blogger boyfriend cuz he had a post along those lines that pissed me off (but I won't link directly to it since he's redeemed himself)... Because what I didn't get to vent about is... once a man thinks he's got it, you get NOTHING.

Whereas, BEFORE???? You get all kinds of cool shit. Why, just the other day, someone handed me a neatly folded package of frozen pasteles. And he made them with chicken instead of pork, because he remembered, despite a couple of beers, that I don't swine and dine. You MUST follow the link to understand (if you don't know and/or aren't Puerto Rican) how much work pasteles is. Now, I attribute this to a nice night out last week, and me singing. Between you and me, if I were to give it up, he'd be happy. But I'm not. Aside from him being too old (I like'em young and tender) I would never ever get a lovingly-folded package of pasteles, ever again.

Think I'll go heat up the last one and giggle my ass off.

*In case you're scratching your head at the segue, the coquito was a gift from the cousin of pasteles-man

Wednesday, November 23, 1977

Psalm 27
Day 6

Got up medium. Dressed. Mom called Ms. S_, mom's oldest friend. We got there by subway with a white junkie and a Puerto Rican going to see his lover. Miss S_ is light brown, got blue eyes, and died her brown hair blonde. We talked. Me +T each had a bubble bath and a shampoo. Got a blow-dry. Then we went to Wilson's Bakery-Restaurant. Ate. Went back to her place. Then came back, went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: fruit?, crackers+apple butter, sunflowers, 1 juicy fruit, pnuts, hershey chocolate syrup+water, 2 tsp pancake syrup.
  • Dinner: 1 strawberry soda, 1 fried+breaded croakerfish, chips*, ketchup, coleslaw, sweet potato, grapes
  • Supper, 1 sliver blueberry pie
Wow, that was an interesting day. I still remember it, though I don't remember the white junkie and the Puerto Rican lover--although I do think I kinda remember the latter. (Trying to get the most information in the least amount of time from a person is still one of my favorite things to do.)

It was cold and gray that day; it may even have been raining. Aunt S_, as she came to be known when we got to know her better, is Big Bear's oldest fried. Both are only children, but Aunt S_ was adopted. As kids, they went many places together, and my grandparents often took her on trips and vacations. Aunt S_ joked later that she always thought my mom was so sophisticated, since she was always reading movie mags and Vogue. Bigbear has always been a fashion and celebrity whore. Aunt S_ didn't live here; she lived in L.A. and was probably here on business, and this was the first time she'd seen my mom in ages.

But I remember that day because it was one of the earliest times I can remember feeling "apart". I almost want to say I remember feeling "poor" but I think that's my own grown-up feelings projecting backward. Because "poor" isn't exactly the feeling. In Paris, when I was really little, that was about all I knew, and people came to us for food and family and entertainment. That was during the 60's, and a lot of African Americans, as well as other people, ended up in Paris in protest to what was happening in America, because Paris was cool, or just because they could. Most of them were single or "coupling" but didn't really have family, and so all sorts of strange people were passing in and out of our lives. In Jamaica, we were "apart" because we were "from foreign", but we were there for so long and Jamaica is very "inclusive" if you do things their way, so that I never felt "apart". People came to see us, sometimes, and Grandma had come a few times but generally people came to us, as opposed to us having to "go out" for friends and family.

But I felt "apart" once back in the States, even though I was born here and spoke Standard English and my family had always been here. Almost as though we didn't belong. And I remember feeling that way that day, probably because of the bubble bath and shampoo. We couldn't do that in our own apartment; the water was cold usually and the pressure was too low. We went to others for warmth and comfort. That was a new feeling for me.

I'm loving that I wrote down all that stuff we ate. My guess, remembering the way I operated, was that I wanted to taste everything (Aunt S_ was staying in someone's apartment, if I remember correctly), and since things have to be "categorized", I categorized them as "breakfast" just cuz it would have been early in the day. I have to laugh, too, about the chocolate syrup and water. It wasn't that strange a concept, since in Jamaica we drank "chocolate tea" which would be about the equivalent of hot chocolate with out the milk. The chocolate flavor came in this hard ball that you would use a nutmeg grater to scrape off and boil. It was actually pretty good. I actually found a video about it. Gotta love the internet.

The Psalm of the Day... years later when I was in high school and sang with our high school's spectacular gospel chorus, the first verse of that psalm were the lyrics to one of songs we did. It was one of my favorites and I still remember it...

*French fries were still "chips" to me.

Some Notes on the Macy's Parade...

How I Spent Thanksgiving.

I watched the Macy's Parade while I was cooking yesterday morning. It was my turn to host the KrazyPeople, and the host is the one who gets to make the turkey. My turkey came out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself, and I made the stuffing completely from scratch; I baked cornbread the night before to go in the stuffing. Anyway. I've only ever seen the Parade in real life once, from like a block away on a cross street, so I couldn't see the floats, and only caught the balloons as they passed the block. But I watch it every year on TV. This year some things made me take mental note:

The Rockettes: I find it interesting that they, and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show, are such icons. Imagine being part of something where the whole climax of the show will ALWAYS be a line of women kicking their legs in unison. I saw the Christmas Show once, I think. Aunt Sinah sent us. The Sun says he wants to see it. I dunno... I can't say it's on my Top Ten of STD*'s. Also, I thought they were slightly sloppier than I've seen... they had some concentric circle thing happening, and the inside circle was definitely flat on one side. They had a number of brown-skinned girls in it this year. They didn't used to let the brown girls in, back in the day.

Cherokee National Youth Choir: Pretty cool to hear a version of "Jingle Bells" in the Cherokee language. However, I'm totally not feeling the Cherokee these days, since they kicked all their dark brothers and cousins out of the tribe. And the choir had nary a dark face among them...

Barbie's Paradise Island: Said Meredith Viera--"Barbie can be any body she wants to--an astronaut, a doctor, but here she chooses to be a princess..." You're joking, right?

National Dance Institute: This was way cool. They did an Appalachian Clog Dance.

Advertising Icons: There's something very disturbing to me about the fact that Ronald McDonald and the Pillsbury Doughboy are balloons. That someone came up with the idea for a character to sell products, and that the character takes on a life of it's own and becomes "beloved".

On the whole we had good time. The Professor's sweet potatoes with marshmallows were were really good, and she made some slammin' mac and cheese. Aside from a few snide remarks back and forth, the Diva and she got along pretty well. The new boyfriend was there; nice guy but he's a serious lump and needs a job. The Diva is using him to hide from life, I think, so I wonder how long this will last. TinyOne, though, is a joy. He is SO MUCH like the Diva at that age. He looks like her, he sounds like her, he stands like her. It's really freaky. You ask him how old he is and he says "I two!" and holds up all four of his fingers, slightly bending the thumb. And flashes all his teeth.

The Sun was a little whiny. I think he was missing his dah, who he hasn't seen since August. Last year his father came up for Thanksgiving. But he had a few whiny outburts, and at one point ran screaming into his room. TinyOne ran after him, and when he saw the Sun crying offered him "nose". "Nose" is TinyOne's word for paper--napkins, toilet tissue... anything to wipe his "nose" with. But TinyOne has this obsession with wadding up tiny pieces of Nose and stuffing them up his nose... so when he broke off a tiny piece of paper--perfect for wadding and stuffing--and handed it to the Sun we fell out laughing.

Poppy ate and slept on the couch.

UNN1 was feeling sad, and couldn't face the KrazyPeople en masse, (I told her no worries... sometimes I have a hard time facing the KrazyPeople en masse) so I brought her and Thumbelina up some food.

The family left around 10P, and we settled down for the night. We had a good time. Those KrazyPeople; they make me nuts but I enjoy the hell out of them.

*STD - Somethin' Ta Do

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Native Blog...

Larry Roy Mitchell, author of one of the blogs I check has passed away.

I never met him, and though I read fairly frequently but not frequently enough to realize his passing until days later, I am very sad. I enjoyed reading him, and he will be missed.

It's Nice When Your Kid Gets "Fired" Up

The other night Poppy called us to insist we watch "Bowfire" on NY's WLIW, and I was in the middle of trying to cook dinner, but we made sure to watch it. Sometimes the Sun gets into stuff, sometimes he doesn't, and you never can tell with a kid when you force them to do something if it will "click". Last year we fought A LOT about violin practice, but this year it's been easier.

So, we watched the program. I gotta say... it rocked. The Sun was particularly impressed by the tapdancing, long-hair-with-a-hat fiddler ("he's cool! Has a hat AND long hair!") and with George Gao, the erhu player (heck, I was impressed). But he also loved watching "Orange Blossom Special" because his teacher Roberta has an arrangement she teaches the kids.

He was SO impressed and inspired, he got his violin out all by himself, without bribery or coercion, and played. (Excuse the crappy Treo sound... he actually sounds pretty good in person.)


I was so impressed by him being inspired, I actually pledged money to get first pick on good tickets. Can't afford it AT ALL.... but I think it's something he'd love to see. And any folks who can make Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" sound better than the original... hey, I'm sold.

So, if we can't/don't make it to the big Pow Wow in New Mexico (which won't happen unless I get another job really soon), we'll be at the concert...

Sunday, November 20, 1977

Psalm 24
Day 3 •

Got up medium. Still flowing. Dressed. Going to eat breakfast. Ate. Pops went out. He came back. Rested, don't remember much more.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: Grits, fried apples + walnuts, poached eggs+beans

The weekly summary only said:

A good week. I finally got my period, 10 days late.

The next two days, November 21 and 22, I only got as far as "Got up medium. Dressed. Ate breakfast" and on the 22 I had a bowl of oatmeal and honey for breakfast.


In modern times, life is pretty much boring as well. Finally got off my ass and updated my resume, and took my lazy-not-wanting-a-real-job-ass down to a headhunter and filled out an application. I need some money. I bought some life insurance. I am now officially worth more dead than alive, and I'm not worth much dead, either.

I visited a new dojo... the commute to Yonkers is killing me, and it's expensive and I DREAD winter. The Sun is none too happy about it, but I told him if we do three months at another dojo, maybe he can go back to Yonkers in the spring. Of course, the eternal question is... if I work, how in the hell do I get him to class? *sigh*.

And my plan was, for this morning, to start pre-prep for tomorrow's dinner... but of course I'm blogging instead.

But that reminds me of my Thanksgiving Thought:

OneHalf (of the MarriedCouple, who I just love) asked me last night how we celebrate Thanksgiving, since we're Native American. Well, we're only partially (and unclaimed, at that), but the partial part is extremely aware of the myths surrounding this holiday, as well as the major injustices from which this holiday was born. However, the spiritual part of me says that any opportunity to give thanks for blessings is a worthy opportunity. And any opportunity to hang out with your beloveds is also worthy of celebrating. When we first came back to the States though, we didn't celebrate it AT ALL... and we never celebrated in Jamaica either, because it wasn't a Jamaican holiday (I wonder if that's changed, at all). 30 years ago the holiday fell on the 24th and you'll see no mention at all of it. The following year though, I remember that Hardest Hard, the reefer spot downstairs (and yes, it was a "brand-name"... all their packages were stamped with a logo. They even had T-shirts. Ah, the good ol' days....) threw a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and stuffing and everything, and I think that was the first Thanksgiving dinner we ever ate.

But anyway. To Native Americans, "'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, 'Thanksgiving' is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship." (Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin)

To read more about the myth of the first Thanksgiving, click here.

In a country dominated by consumerism, I do think it's a good idea to stop and say "Thank you", and I can't begin to tell you how annoyed I am by Christmas commercials before Thanksgiving.

But as you all sit down to eat tomorrow, just think about it. Remember that the 'truth' of the Pilgrims and friendly Indians and shared harvest is not the truth at all. And make sure to tell the kids.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Saturday, November 19, 1977

Got up medium. Still flowing. Dressed. Had Sabbath School. Ate breakfast. Mom made salad and then we ate lunch. Read. Then just hung around. Later we put on pj's and pops started a story called "Carlyle and The Devil". Aunt Sinah came, bringing walnuts, apples and library books. Ate, read, then went to bag.

Thank you, Mr. O

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1/2 apple, 1/4 orange, 1/2 banana, 1/2 tangerine
  • Dinner: white kidney beans+red herring, chicken spread +mustard +sweet peppers, cucumber +tomato+lettuce+thyme+mustard, Rye Krisps, soy nuts, p.nuts
  • Supper: 1 apple, banana, tangerine, walnuts, pear
I talked to Poppy today. There's family drama happening. The Diva isn't pulling her weight, hasn't been for a minute and the Professor is fed up. Big Bear is up in arms. Poppy was joking how he always stayed out of womenfolks business because we wanted him to, but that he would have done stuff differently with the Diva. I pointed out our childhood was a little strange but we turned out alright. He said he'd poked around the blog a little bit and wanted to know if he could comment... said he felt compelled to put up a disclaimer. I told him it wasn't necessary... no matter how strange and unnerving our life was, 30 years later we can all still sit in a small room (the same tinyass rooms we've been sitting in together for the past 30 years) and pretty much get along. It's not like I'm looking back over my life going "Wow, that crazy bastard, and now I'm screwed for life and I don't talk to the parents anymore." We can say "We're screwed for life but at least they loved us and we loved them." Don't know if that makes it OK but there you have it.

So despite the fact that the Professor claims on Dec 1st the Diva and her crap will either go into storage or into the babydaddy's house, it's going. But on Thursday, I'm fairly certain we'll all sit in my apartment and eat and get along like we usually do. At least I hope so.

That story he wrote ended up being good -- one of my favorites.

There Are Those Times in Life

...when I really truly hate people. They really get on my fucking nerves. Now is one of those times.

Maybe I should go to bed.

Maybe I'll feel better when I wake up.

And no, I'm not PMSing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Friday, November 18, 1977

Today am 12 years and 9 mths
Psalm 22
Day 38 - 1•

Got up medium. Dressed. Had to sing "Here You Come Again" for our banana. Then left for La Marqueta. Came back. Put all the fruit in the fridge (no electricity, though). I got my period. What a relief. Ate dinner. Washed dishes. This morning, we bought 4 willow-pattern plates. Pops went out. Mom told a story. Put on pj's. Pops came back. Ate supper. Looked out of the window. Going to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 banana, 1 pear
  • Lunch: 1 1/2 pears, 1/2 apple, 1/2 tangerine, 1/2 banana
  • Dinner: Beef burgers, boiled breadfruit + green banana+rice+squash (separated into Pon-De-Plate+soup), cucumber+tomato+onion+pbutter dressing, 1 apple, 1/2 pear, 1/2 tangerine
  • Snack: soy nuts, dates, 1/4 pear, 1/3 tangerine, 1 apple
Bwa ha ha. My period coming was relief cuz......????? Hmph. There was this time, see... oh but that's another story.


So we were all figuring out that I could sing. Poppy said he told us "write what you did because then you'll remember how you felt, but if you write what you felt, you won't remember why". Which is true... and which is I remember that the reason I wrote I "had" to sing for my banana was that it felt damn good. I knew I sounded like Dolly Parton. When I sang along with her on the radio, it didn't "twang" the way it does when Big Bear sings anything. The other night, with a bunch of friends on a not-formal-but-fun "double-date", we wandered into a karaoke bar. I'd had two pina coladas and was feeling pretty good, though rum and sweet drinks aren't really my thing. At the bar, I signed up for one song, not sure how I'd do, and downed two Absolut & Tonics, which ARE my thing. Since I wasn't a regular, it took a bit for the karaoke chick to call me up, and by the time she did the place was full. And I sounded damn good, once I got warmed up, if I do say so myself. It was that same feeling... that confidence in knowing there is one thing in this world you do well. Nice to know I still got it...

The Willow-patterned plates were important because they meant something to Poppy; his mother had had a set when he was a little boy. I have a platter now, with that pattern. Just because.

"Pon de plate" was a term we used in Jamaica. It meant that "Food"--green banana, dumpling and dasheen (taro), yam (tubers) and or cassava (also known as yucca) were served on the plate as a starchy side, rather than in a soup. Sometimes, the seasoned water the starches were boiled in were soup, or "tea".

By the way... I'd made a tag to see how many times we ate sardines, but I have to say--so far we haven't eaten them all that much. Funny how the memory works--sis and I still swear we ate them 365 days a year...

Thursday, November 17, 1977

Psalm 21
Day 37.9

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate breakfast. Then went to the laundromat. Came back. Mom cooked. We fussed, after Pops went out. Pops came back. Ate. Pops washed (the dishes), and I read. Then ate supper. Put on pj's. Pops went on his tin can rounds. Mom told us a story. We went to bag, Pops came back. Thank you Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 apple, 1/2 banana, 1/2 pear, 1 cup honey tea.
  • Lunch: peanuts, pistachios, 1/2 box animal crackers
  • Dinner: Grits, chicken wings+string beans+peanubutter+tomato paste+onion+hotpeppers sauce, lettuce (ice burg+romaine)+apples+scallion, pbutter+honey+? dressing, pnuts
It took Poppy a couple of days to get enough cans for all the boards... each board took 5. The professor and I each needed 5-10, the parents needed 15, and then the boards also made a table so we needed another 5 for that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Wednesday, November 16, 1977

Psalm 20
Day 36.8

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate breakfast, sorted dirty clothes. Then went shopping. Came back. Cooked. This morning we went to Daitch Shopwell and Woolworth's. Pops went downtown to get fuel for the stove and for the heater. Aunt Sinah came and brought us library books. Then we ate. Put on pj's. Fussed. Went to bag. The Tin-Can-Man (Pops) brought us tins for our bag. Thank you, Mr. O, thank you.

We ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl oatmeal+honey
  • Lunch: pnutbutter, brazil nuts, pnuts
  • Dinner: lettuce (iceberg)+romaine lettuce+pnutbutter+garlic+chili pepper+honey+water dressing, fave bean+cabbage+wheatina+rice+string beans soup, 1 apple, 1/2 pear, pnuts,1/4 pbutter omelette
Hmm. My first thought was that a pbutter omelette must be pretty gross, but then I remember that South Beach Diet makes some chocolate muffin-type things that are flourless (carb-less). And they use primarily eggs. With ground nuts. But we did eat some weird shit. Weirder than what we ate in Jamaica. But I guess we were suddenly confronted with not being able to find the things we usually ate. It was a loooooong time before I saw green bananas in the neighborhood grocery. Now, you see them everywhere in New York, thanks to the West Indians, Hispanics, and now Africans. You may notice we shopped every day. Pretty much, this was because we didn't have a refrigerator, and so whatever we were going to eat that day we had to shop for. To my parents, this actually wasn't all that strange, since when they lived in Europe it was common to shop every day, as well.

I used to say that if I ever wrote my father's autobiography, I was going to call it "Egg crates and Tin Cans." That phrase would be the essence of this phase of our lives; living an every day life in the strangest possible way. Making weird food combinations. Using every day objects in un-every day ways.

Tin cans for example. The big, industrial ones that school tomato sauce or cling peaches comes in (or used to come in since everything is plastic now... I rarely even see cans that big anywhere, even in Costco). But Poppy found them someplace. Brought them home and washed them out. And we used them as legs for the bagasse board. Since the cans were big, they lifted the boards up off the floor to a fairly comfortable level. We used 5 per board; one at each corner and one in the middle.

Tuesday, November 15, 1977

Psalm 19
Day 35.7

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate breakfast. Then Mom, T+I went a-hunting for apartments. Went shopping. We found a fishman from Brazil. Came back. Helped mom cook. Then ate. This morning when we were shopping, we saw Mr. Kalifah of United bros. Anyhow, we ate then I drew and wrote a letter to Mrs Walters, Speedy's mum. Then Pops went out, he came back, we ate supper. We will put on pj's, might hear a story, then go to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl oat porridge+honey
  • Snack: peanuts
  • Dinner: whiting fish (fried) fillets, hot pepper+zucchini+steamed greens, spaghetti alio e olio, lettuce+mustard dressing, 1/2 pear, dates and prunes
  • Snack: animal crackers, peanuts.
Yup, Mom wasn't feeling our new home at all. But I guess she got used to it, afterall. Now, we have a hard time convincing her she should move...

"Porridge" is such a Jamaican word. And it has strong emotions tied up to it for me. Porridge always seemed like a luxury breakfast to me, because mornings were usually rushed for working-class Jamaica. So buttered bread and some tea and a piece of fruit was generally what I saw people eat. But porridge usually required some time, especially if it was cornmeal porridge, and I only ever remember eating that if someone had the time to make it. Also, instant oatmeal wasn't quite invented back then...

I'd forgotton about spaghetti alio eolio till just now. We ate a lot of that. Should try it these days--I'm betting it's right up the Sun's alley.
Been MIA. Mostly, just life, being really tired from some flu/bug/cold type thing that's kicking my ass. And missing Nene, who I've decided to put on hiatus again. Love shouldn't cost you anything, and when it does, it's time to reconsider...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Monday, November 14, 1977

Psalm 18
Day 34.6

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate breakfast. Went shopping. Stopped in the Salvation Army thrift shop. Came back. Ate. Just sort of hung around and rested. Got up. Pops went out. We told stories to each other. I finished "Bob, Son of Battle" earlier. Put on pj's. Pops came back. Ate supper. Going to bed. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: grits+eggs, 1 fruit sweetie, hot p.nuts, 1/4 beef stick, raisins.
  • Dinner: Beef sausage+grits+field peas+greens+onion+garlic+rice+hot pepper soup, lettuce+onion+apple+salad, 1 banana
  • 1 roast beef+coleslaw sandwich, peanuts, 1/3 banana

Went To Court Today


At one point I had saved several of the date slips, but not all of them. I have no idea how many times I've been to court in the last five years. Figure in the beginning, once a month, just about. Later on, every other month. Over the last five years. That's what, 42 times? That's a lot.

Although today we were closer to getting a signed agreement than we ever have before. But I'm not hopeful. Because of course TF has found something else to bring up; changing one of the Sun's middle names. The Sun has five names, as does MoodMagicBarbie, who-by-the-way, turned 13(!!!) yesterday. (I have to write about her. She is definitely moody, headstrong like you wouldn't believe, very intelligent and very lazy. Tends to be quiet--a watcher like me, and WAY smarter than she lets on. Prone to Deep Thoughts. Also prone to Rules and Structure, very much like me. She makes me laugh, she's so much like me. The Diva has always given her mother a fit, but the Diva wears her entire life on her sleeve and so you ALWAYS know what she's up to. She tells you, you have a fit, and she does it anyway. MMB, on the other hand, won't give up shit. Will play victim in a heartbeat. But she's got a good heart. It's just I worry about her way more than I worry about the other one, because all these years she's been learning The Game by watching the Diva, but she can also see where the Diva gives up too much. I tell the Professor the worst is yet to come...)

But anyway. The Professor and I tend to "overname" our kids. When the Sun was almost two he and I went to Europe, and so I had to get him a passport. I took in his birth certificate and his social security card to the Big Post Office, and the clerk stared at them both a while. "I'm feelin' that name" he said dryly. The Sun's name takes up two lines. The first name is his Bible name, the one I took the most time finding, and it had a particular meaning. The second name is for Poppy, but it's not Poppy's name. I took a name common to three very important men; two were writers rumored to be multi-racial and/or descended from Africa and the third was a great conqueror who was partially Albanian. The third name was TF's father's name; a very strange sounding name that's not spelled at all like it sounds. And then the Sun's last name is hyphenated--mine and his father's.

When the Sun was a year old, someone told TF's father anonymously over the phone that he had a black grandson. Isn't that just so "Old-World"? Who DOES things like that??? Any way, the father had a cow, got into a big fight with TF and supposedly disowned him. TF claims he hasn't spoken to him since. When the Sun was about 3, I actually met TF's mother, who I thought was sort of sweet, and I do keep in touch with TF's sister though not as much while the court thing rages on. TF also has a much older brother and sister who just don't get involved. When the Sun is with his father, he NEVER sees any of them. I've never met the father.

Night before last, TF asked to speak to me on the phone. Surprised, I agreed. He wanted to know my objection to dropping his father's name off of the Sun's birth certificate. He had tried to bring this up in the court case before, and I had blatantly refused. The other night I told him it was merely because the name now belonged to the Sun. He said well, his father was a racist asshole, and he didn't want his name on the Sun's birth certificate. (Well, this may be true, but my bone of contention has always been: WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T YOU THINK OF THIS BEFORE HE WAS BORN????? TF never wanted to introduce me to his father for precisely this very reason. But whatever.) It ended up with me saying that shouldn't the Sun have something to say about this, at this point? He didn't really think so... but I said I would consider it. We got off the phone, he spoke with the Sun.

But the Sun was adamant that his father explain to him what we talked about. "You NEVER talk to her" he said, "I want to know what you were talking about." And he wouldn't let it rest. And much to my surprise, his father told him, pretty much what he told me, without the cursewords and the racism. He even said that he would prefer the Sun take Poppy's name because he respected Poppy more than he respected his own father.

I wonder what fucking meds they have him on now????

When the Sun got off the phone he came and told me "I know what you all talked about." I asked him what he thought, and I told the racism part. Which was that his other grandfather hadn't wanted to meet me because I was "black". "But you're cute!" the Sun said. But I could see he was pissed off. So he said he didn't mind dropping the name--he never liked how it sounded anyhow (people always say "WHAT???" when he tells it). I told him he had the right to choose another name; did he want another Albanian name (although they sound strange), or Poppy's name? The Sun didn't mind that, but then out of the blue he said "Truman, after great-grandpa". I was touched. Really. I could feel Grandpa smiling. So when he got in the bed, I had him call his father back and tell him of his decision.

Later on I checked email:

"I would like to have more information about [The Sun's] grandfather Truman, particularly his relationship with your mother and father. From what I remember he hasn't had much contact until your grandmother pasted away. please let me know why. please hold off discussing this subject with [The Sun] until we clarify what changes might be made."

The man has NO concept of forgiveness. Of letting go. Of healing. Of Making Peace. And he has no idea that his Sun is capable of Deep Thoughts.

So I wrote him back:

"My mother had a complicated relationship with her father, but during the last two years of his life we made regular road trips out to Chicago to visit him. The Sun enjoyed those trips; 13 hours in my sister's van going through mountains and corn fields and factory towns. After my grandmother died, my grandfather got a little warmer with us, and he enjoyed our visits and called us "his posse". But whatever we felt about him, or how he felt about us, he LOVED The Sun, probably because The Sun was the only boy on my mother's side of the family in generations since he himself was a little boy.

My grandfather had several things that he was proud of; he won a congressional medal of honor for integrating the army, he started the tradition of big-name, highly promoted boxing matches, and he helped to integrate housing in Chicago. The play "A Raisin In The Sun" is based on one of his cases. The Sun was impressed by the fact that he wrote a book, that he was a boxer's lawyer, and that he was 94 when he died. The Sun loved that my grandfather-- his great-grandfather, called him "Champ", and was very sad when he died. I was surprised by that; but my grandfather had really made an impression on him. He still talks about him a lot.

Truly, taking his name was ENTIRELY The Sun's idea. It hadn't even crossed my mind. We talked about taking another Albanian name; or just dropping the name, or taking "Poppy's" name. We talked about why you wanted to drop the name, and why I wanted to keep it. He told me he agreed with you about dropping the name, and I told him that he should be the one to pick his name. And that's the one he chose.

I do feel at 8, he is entitled to decide what he wants to do about it. Particularly since your son puts a lot of thought into the the things he says.

(I sent links to information about my grandfather.)

My grandfather was far from perfect. Even when he died, he left questions. But he was a man that lived life on his own terms and lived his life exactly as he saw fit, and I have come to respect that. But the other thing I came to respect was that The Sun was the one person in his entire life that my grandfather loved unconditionally and without reservation."

But then I began to stress, thinking this would come up in court today. It didn't. Instead, TF's lawyer decided to attack the fact that while I follow the Jewish law, I don't follow the Jewish Calendar, and the only reason it's an issue is because it interferes with "his client's" ability to take a two-week visit with Joshua in July. The ONLY reason I didn't get infuriated and go to war, was because my Lawyer did. It actually amused me, and it made me feel good to see someone else get mad, because then I didn't have to put out the energy (which was good cuz I'm still sick as a dog). TF's lawyer was really nasty about it, too. But all I want is a signed visitation agreement, and so I made a concession that hopefully showed I'm willing to be reasonable.

But I'm sure the other foot will drop somehow, because it always does. Though tonight, TF spoke with Joshua and said he was OK with Joshua's choice and reasoning.

In the meantime, I signed the proposed agreement as did the Law Guardian and the Lawyer. But TF's lawyer won't, until TF does.

I GUARANTEE that the name thing will come up and will need to be added to the agreement.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sunday, November 13, 1977

Mamabelle's Grandmother's Birthday
Psalm 17
Day 33.5

Got up medium. Dressed. I had a nosebleed. Ate breakfast. Then we lit out for Macy's, world's largest department store. It was on 32nd st. Then went to Korvettes, and Pops bought a whole lot of paint and brushes. Then went to Chock Full O' Nuts and ate lunch. Came home, then went to the Studio Museum. Came back. Mom cooked. Ate. Put on pj's. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O
I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl wheatina +1 tsp honey+raisins
  • Lunch: 1 sugar donut, 1 glass orange drink, pnuts
  • Dinner: cabbage+carrot+onion+vegetable soup, egg omelet
  • Dessert: pnuts, apple omelet, honey
The weekly summary said:

A good week. Thank goodness we found WLIB! There's a lot of Caribbean music, mostly Jamaican! The police horses are starting to get shaggy. Also on Friday, there was a protest on the Shah of Iran's visit to the US. We had a nice week. Went to the Horse Show. We now have a lot of camping gear. Mom got her coat. The weather people are expecting snow flurries. It IS getting cold. But, with Mr. O, I think we can make it.

I get a chuckle seeing that "Mamabelle" had been crossed out and replaced with "Grandmother." This was because at the beginning of the year when I got a new diary, I'd go through and write all the birthdays and holidays, and in the beginning of 1977, she was still Mamabelle. After August, she became Grandmother...

Finding WLIB was a big deal, and very welcome to hear a little bit of home. But we ended up listening to WKHK (I'm pretty sure those were the call letters), a country music station most of the time. This was also familiar, because Jamaicans were known to listen to a lot of country music from the States, particularly on Sunday mornings. The radio in Jamaica would play the slowest, saddest, drippiest country songs you ever heard. Most people who don't REALLY know Jamaica think ganja, dreadlocks, Bob Marley, wood carvings, Dunns' River Falls and the beach when they hear "Jamaica." But if you've really been there, you know the other side of Jamaica; the gated verandahs, the tropical vegetation in the mountains, quiet and clean-shaven men who worked hard and came home every night for food, dominoes and Red Stripe or "'Inekin". And the Sunday morning radio. Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto." Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Lovin' You." And drippy country music like Jim Reeves and Marty Robbins.

Those first few years here, I listened to the country music station a lot, sitting in the window watching 'Two-Five down bustle down below us, singing Dolly Parton's "Here You Come Again", Crystal Gale's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue", as well as Conway Twitty, Merl Haggard, Willie & Waylon and Charley Pride. For variety, I'd listen to "66, W NNNNNNN BC!" and my favorite dj was, hell... Don Imus. He used to do this bit about the Reverend Billy Harkness and it always cracked me up. I learned to sing by singing along to the radio--Poppy said he realized I could sing when he heard me singing Debbie Boone's '"You Light Up My Life".

The Studio Museum--boy did that get to be our home away from home. Once a month or so, there was an opening. Back then, the Studio Museum occupied a fairly small second-floor corner loft on 126th street and Fifth Avenue. We went to every opening; it was warm, there were people, and the most important thing... free food!!!! We met an awful lot of people who were there for exactly the same thing. Screw art! Free food!

Oh, and did Poppy paint the whole apartment? Mmmm, well, not really. He painted a mural of Sugar Loaf Mountain in the back room.