Thursday, January 31, 2008

Celebrity Apprentice

is one of those things that I watch cringing, peeking through my hands. I thought the very first season was pretty good, and reminded me so much of places I used to work, that I had a REALLY hard time getting through it. Then I stopped watching. This season, I kept one eye on it because of Vinnie Pastore, who happens to live not far from me. He keeps a low profile, being kind of a strange dude, and this is a quiet nabe and most folks leave him alone. Except one morning I was out early (for some reason... cuz I'm rarely out early) and I saw him prowling the streets, obviously looking for coffee. Some guy in a car passing by yelled out "Big Pusseeeeeyyyy!" and I thought to myself, wow sucks to have to live with that first thing in the morning!

Well, Vinnie quit the show tonight. And he did it in a pretty classy way, I thought, and it gave me a whole new perspective of him. And I got a HUGE kick out of the show producers ending the episode with Journey's "Don't Stop" the same way "Sopranos" ended. It just made me laugh...

Thursday, December 15, 1977

Pop+Mom Anniv
Psalm 49
Day 28

Got up medium. Dressed. Had a talk with mom about growing up. Practiced my recorder. Ate breakfast. Wrote [Christmas] cards to people in Jamdown. Went shopping. Came back. Helped cook. Mom+Pops fussed about sewing, then they made up. T. Made ann. cards for them. Ate Put on p.j's went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 2 3/4 granola cookies, 1 cup honey tea, 1 1/4 tangerine, 3 walnuts, pnuts
  • Lunch: pnuts
  • Dinner: Spaghetti, soy nuts+ground beef+kidney beans+onion+green pepper+garlic sauce, tomato+lettuce salad.
  • Dessert: pineapple chunks+figs+banana salad, figs, pnuts, neighborhood cookies

This past December, the parents anniversary fell on a Saturday. I'd called to talk to Bigbear, and forgotten to say Happy Anniversary. When I remembered, I called her back. "Happy Anniversary", I said. She cracked up laughing... she'd completely forgotten. "Poppy! Poppy! Do you know what today is?" she asked. I heard Poppy mumble something in the background. Bigbear laughed again... he too had forgotten.

It was their 45th anniversary.


Friday, December 16, 1977
Psalm 50
Day 29

Got up medium. Dressed. Practiced my recorder. Had a (?) practice-fuss. It's hard for a12-year-old. Then we went to A&P on 8th Avenue. Came back. Helped with cooking. Then all four of us went to the park Had a long swing. Came back. Ate supper. Put on p.j's after helping pops with dishes. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I didn't write down food that day...

It was hard for a 12-year-old... especially when she HATED playing the recorder.


Saturday, December 17, 1977

Psalm 51
Day 30

Got up medium. Dressed. Going to have Sabbath School. Listened to radio, ate lunch. Rested played in T's box. Then ate supper. Put on p.j.'s Went to bag. Thank you,Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Dinner: Corn chips, chicken spread, lettuce+romaine dressing salad, cucumber+(?)and carrot salad, neighborhood cookies.
  • Snack: neighborhood cookies, soy nuts, dried apples, brazil nuts, soy nuts, figs, orange
  • peanuts with the lunch.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tribute to Grandpa

Grandpa's birthday was last week Tuesday, the 22nd of January. He would have been 95. But I was busy looking for the fallout from TF, and Blogging For Choice, and I meant to post something about Grandpa but didn't get around to it.

I didn't realize I missed him until the tournament last Sunday. He would have been "over the moon" (as Bigbear said) if he'd known about the Sun's tournament. Grandpa got a HUGE kick out of the fact that the Sun is half Albanian. He knew of my troubles with TF, and Bigbear would always tell him what TF was up to. As a lawyer, he always had interest in the legal issues, but he was of no help since Family Law wasn't his thing.

He died last December, a month before his birthday. It was before I started this blog, so I never had the occasion to post about him here.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1912. His father was an all-around scrapper/ busyman type, who ended up in the insurance business and co-founded the largest (at the time) "black" life insurance company, Supreme Liberty. So Grandpa sort of grew up like a prince. He attended Chicago University where he got a law degree. Rather than go through his official biography, you can read it in his obit here.

If you've followed my 1977 adventures, you know already that there was a rift that year, and we didn't see Grandpa regularly for years after that. But when Grandma died, my mother--who had always had a better relationship with him than with her mother--was free to repair that rift, and we went out there to Chicago once or twice a year to see him. The kids loved him.

He was funny as hell, cursed like a sailor and was extremely to-the-point. Though he always identified as "Black"-- and fiercely so, he was real quick to talk about "niggers". Only at the very end did he hint about the Native part. Which cracks me up, cuz boy does the Native part show in his baby face.

He knew EVERYBODY, or had at least met them once. You'd mention someone and in his gravelly voice and midwest accent he'd go "Yeah, I met so-and-so in 1962 at this-and-that function" and then proceed to tell you what he really thought about that person. He was not at all politically correct. There are pictures of him with Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell, Lena Horne, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, President Truman. During our last visit he'd mentioned he'd met Obama, and didn't have anything particularly biting to say. Which I take as a good thing. The Diva had mentioned LL Cool J once, and he'd met him. I'd said something about liking rock music and he said he'd done some work for the Smashing Pumpkins.

He was a snazzy dresser, and loved clothes and shoes. He wasn't flashy, but his coats tended to be cashmere and his suits well-made. He was a hard drinker but he held his liquor... even when he was 90 and we'd go out to dinner, 3 or 4 drinks in you couldn't tell he was drunk. He would just get kind of quiet. His drink of choice was scotch--Dewar's or Johnny, with soda on the side. He was impressed that I liked vodka.

He was very independent, and lived on his own until the bitter end. When he couldn't get out of bed on his own anymore, we knew he wasn't going to stick around long... it was a matter of months. And loyal... loyalty was a trait he stood by. No matter how he felt about his wife, and though he cheated (um, blatantly) he was loyal in that he never left her. When she went senile and everyone begged him, for his health as well as hers, to put her in a nursing home, he refused, and took care of her until she died. He also took care of his younger brother, as well as his "baby" sister. He was furious that her daughter had put her in a nursing home miles outside of Chicago. About the second-to-last time we'd gone to visit, he quietly and determinedly got my sister to drive out to see her... even though we got lost. He never complained, but turning around wasn't an option. We were GOING to see Alberta THAT DAY... and everyone in the car knew it. We got to her finally, and had a great visit. She died the next day.

He outlived everyone he knew, just about. There were people he did business with and loyalties he had that he never ever discussed and took with him to his grave... But put it this way--at his funeral several "hard" individuals with pinky rings came to quietly pay their respects.

Why he didn't really take care of my mother is beyond any of us... except maybe he knew that my mother, like him, was fiercely independent and would always make it. When he died he left no will... and no money either but also no debt and no estate. We packed up his apartment and that was it.

He was very proud of his accomplishments, and was so proud that he got to publish his autobiography.

Here's some YouTube video about the Joe Louis/Schmeling fights, and there's a glimpses of Grandpa at about 1:55 in the video:





Strange, complex man. I miss him.

Because I'm Crazy....

I'm actually considering taking the Sun to the Golden Gate International Martial Arts Tournament in April. Yeah I know, Shoefly, I got no job. But when has that ever stopped me from doing anything?

Besides, the Senseis think he should go. It seems to be about points... you accumulate a certain amount of points by going to certain tournaments, and then at the end when you go to SuperGrands, you have a seat.

You think this is a mindless hobby? I think not... I keep telling people I am an all-or-nothing chick, and I never do anything (not even blog... trust me I have an Ultimate Goal) without a reason. However insane that reason is. So the reasons are:

  • I can't afford college. I assume TF is saving for the Sun (but knowing him, it'll come with strings), and I've re-started his fund, but whatever money I had put into when I was working I took out when I sent myself to school.

  • The way the world works, as far as I can see, is that you need at least a BS degree to do anything. Gone are the days of getting by on a HS diploma (or a GED, unless you have a plan). And a BS is really not enough... in New York state you need a Masters to teach school (not that I disagree, but damn!). And a "brand-name" BS is better than anything, despite what public education advocates try to tell you. It's why I chose Pratt. Poor people can't afford brand name college, so when you're Livin' La Vida Low Budget, you need a scholarship.

  • The Sun has two things going for him... Martial Arts and Music. He fights me on both, but one of them will stick, I hope. So he either needs a scholarship to a music college, or he needs a scholarship to the University of Bridgeport (which isn't that far from here so it'll cut travel costs). But both of those talents require a plan, money for lessons, tournaments, etc.

Which is why I'm considering a trip to San Jose. Do I know anybody out there? From blogworld or Other? If I do, holla. We may need a place to stay...

Because I must...

Monday December 12, 1977
Psalm 46
Day 25
Lloyd (1973)

Got up medium. Dressed. Went to the Salvation Army thrift shop. I got a blue-red and yellow smock-sweater, a blue corduroy shirt, and a red knit dress. Then mom had to give me the purple corduroy jeans + the blue wranglers she had gotten for herself. Shopped. Ate. Rested. Then Aunt Sinah came. We're going out on Wed. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I didn't write any food...

Bigbear still does that... and the Professor does it too. Buy stuff they like in totally the wrong size and then have to give it away. I mean, way not the right size. I do it too, sometimes, but the size isn't that way off.

I remember those purple corduroys. Purple has always been a color I liked, but the next year when I got to Junior High, purple was NOT a fashionable color, and I got hell for those jeans.


Tuesday, December 13, 1977
Psalm 47
Day 26

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate a snack. Went again to the S.A. thrift shop. I got a blue stretch nylon shirt and a cream cotton skirt. Shopped. cooked. Ate rested. Ate supper, put on p.j.'s, went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

Note: Pops went out Monday morn, and stayed rather late, and we went to get a snack. Pops went out Tue, too.

I have to ask Poppy where he was going. I didn't write any food down this day, either.

I also remember that nylon shirt. It was very trendy. It also tended to make me stink like crazy, cuz it was polyester. Old-school 1970's polyester. Not a good combination with pubescent hormones... I notice a trend in shopping at the Salvation Army every day (though "shopping" meant "food shopping", since we didn't have a 'fridge and had to buy food everyday, Euro-style). You see, this ties into my theory that being very rich and being very poor have one thing in common... lots of free time.


Wednesday, December 14, 1977
Psalm 48
Day 27

Got up medium. Mom helped me dress on account of the fact that I couldn't decide what to wear. Dressed. Cleaned up. Went and called Aunt Sinah. The D_'s aren't coming so Aunt Sinah came and we went tot he P(ost) O(ffice), then downtown to Liberty House + a health food store. Came back. Ate Pops put us (out?) and decorated the back room. Went to bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

I ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 cup honey tea, marbled cookies (1/2), 1/2 chocolate chip by Neighborhood*, p.nuts.
  • Lunch: 3 1/2 p.nutbutter cookies, soy nuts + pnuts + sunflower seed mix
  • Dinner: Rye Krisps, corned beef spread, pnutbutter grits, carrot+celery+sweet pepper+tomato sauce, string beans+carrot+walnuts+soynuts+lettuce+celery salad
* Neighborhood made the best damn cookies and pies you ever tasted. They were packaged, but they tasted homemade. Don't see them around the 'hood anymore....

And see, for the first time, I didn't know what to wear cuz I had too many clothes. Granted, they were all from the Salvation Army, but I was becoming quite the fashionista....

Man, we ate some weird shit. Peanutbutter grits? Good Lord.

The World Is Standing Still

at least it feels like that today. Nothing's moving. Maybe cuz I've been in the house for 3 days? But nothing seems to be moving... not outside, not in blogworld, not in my own mind.

I'm feeling really frustrated today, with love, with ambition, with everything. Getting my shelves up helped, but I'm still not feeling different. Maybe if I fold and put away the HUGE pile of laundry, I'd feel better. Or clear off my desk. Or get a job. I know it's me... there are thousands of things I could be doing but I feel like standing still. Only, I can't really afford to.

Despite every effort to stay uninvolved with Nene, I still am, though only mentally. There's been an awful lot of phone time. But that seems to have ended, largely due to the fact that Mercury is in retrograde and that means communication gets screwed up. As in... his phone is out. I was on the phone with him yesterday when the cable people came and reclaimed all the boxes. It would be funny except it's really not. But I guess I should take that as a sign. And there's no one else on the horizon, though I've looked. I've come back to the conclusion that really, men are full of shit. Especially the ones my age that are single.

But I also realized, in an offline conversation with Ros the other day, that sometimes the only way out the other side is through the fire. I realize I've been trying to protect myself from feeling broken, trying to hold back but it's not working. It still comes down to the fact that I'm an all-or-nothing chick, so there's nothing left for me to do but to give all, get it out of my system and then go "Back to Black". It just doesn't work otherwise. I'll feel broken whether I try and get some things but not everything, or if I don't try at all and kick myself for not trying. So I may as well go for broke. Afterall, it's what I do.

I also know that my time at home is coming to an end. I'm starting to feel the burn. The financial waters are rising quickly. I know that if I gave my all I'd accomplish a lot of things... I'm still trying to figure out why I'm not giving it.

My home is a reflection of how I'm feeling... the shelves helped but everything else is in disarray.... standing still...

Rolling Along...

life is.

The Sun woke me--well, rather he woke himself as I had been up completely unable to sleep--at 4:30 am Monday morning, complaining of a stomach ache. We got to the bathroom, and he yuked. And then he yuked about every half hour until 4:30PM. So no school. Also, no mandatory appointment with unemployment.

By this evening he was feeling much better, but he still hadn't eaten anything and had kept nothing done but pedialyte. I hope it's not contagious....

I hung shelves in my room. Elfa rocks... you only need to screw in the top brace and voila, shelves! But I figured out why it was so hard to find studs in the walls... I think the walls in this joint or so old, I don't have drywall. I have those slats of wood slathered over with plaster. I hope I have the right anchors. I hope my shelves don't come crashing down...

Monday, January 28, 2008

I Really Have To Finish...

cuz it's bugging me.

Friday, December 9, 1977
Psalm 43
Day 22

Got up medium. Dressed. Ate breakfast. Read "The Red Pony". Then all four of us went to an Italian fruit stand, and the Key. Came back. Pops went out. He came back about 6:00. Ate dinner. Put on pj's, got in bag. Thank you, Mr. O.

We ate:
  • Breakfast: 1 bowl oatmeal+honey
  • Lunch: 1 1/2 dates, 1 fig, p.nuts, soy nuts, honey+pnuts
  • Dinner--didn't write it.

Saturday, December 10, 1977
Day 23
Psalm 44

Got up late. Dressed. Looked at pictures of JA, the T.S.U.*, Greta, and the puppies. Also saw dear Speedy. Then read, had Sabbath School. We read Genesis 10, Deut. 5, psalms 62, 44 and 117. then pops cooked. Ate Then Pops +T went downstairs to get a snack. They came back. Played scrabble and ate.

I didn't write the food.

(Added 1/29/09 -- I was so tired posting this the other night that I neglected to put in an explanation... something I've been meaning to do but it had never come up.

When we read psalms during the Sabbath Service, whatever the "Psalm of the Day" was would be reduced to it's basic number... in this case 4+4 equals 8. So whatever other psalms equaled 8, we'd read. Again,in this case, 62. It was a way of picking another psalm to read. Also, the first chapter we'd read would be wherever we were in the reading of the entire Bible. We were in Genesis, so we must have started again, having read the Bible in it's entirety, a feat that took a few years seeing as how we read a chapter or two a week. And we always read The Ten Commandments, which are first listed in
Exodus 20, but are repeated in Deuteronomy. We'd read the second version for variety.)

And I also didn't write anything on December 11, other than "Got up medium. Dressed. Ate snack."

*Three Star United

Kickboxing Rocks...

and it almost makes me wonder if my old ass could get into shape enough to try.

The Sun was in a tournament yesterday (well, Saturday, seeing as how it's passed midnight on Sunday); the Gotham Classic. He got a big-ass trophy, taller than he, for Traditional Forms. He got a smaller one for participating in Shihan's Continuous Contact division.... a two-minute bout in which there is no no stopping unless somebody gets hurt or quits.

The kid he got in the ring with trained at BarsBoxing in Brooklyn... looking them up later I realized they were a gym that really trains in boxing as opposed to kickboxing... so the kid--the same height and weight as the Sun--didn't do a whole lot of kicking, but a whole lot of whaling away on my kid. Who really wanted nothing more than to get the hell out out, but he stuck it out. Once or twice, when he realized he just had to go through it, I saw that "look" cross over his face, and he hauled off and decked the kid with everything he had. The kid was Russian... I kept teasing the Sun that he really should have fought for the "Red and Black"... reach into his Albanian roots and go for broke. I was very very proud of him for sticking it out, though. That was a tough thing to do. I don't even know if I could have done it. His senseis were also proud. Here's the Sun, chewing on his mouthguard, not entirely sure he was happy about the whole thing, but Sensei made him laugh. After that, the Sun stood and watched several more fights, deep in thought.

Ha ha! good mom am I, encouraging my kid to go off on another kid--Shoefly was mortified when I told her about it this morning. But the thing is, in those bouts there were no winners or losers, and it was all about sportsmanship, and everyone participating was very well-mannered. And well padded. Even in the adult ranks (though not as well-padded). Youngerbrother Sensei fought as well, and was doing really well till he got kicked in the groin and dropped like a stone. But he got up and finished, and won the bout. Already hurt, he fought two bouts later, but couldn't continue. There should be video up on YouTube in a few days, and I'll link it when it's up. In the meantime, pictures are up on Flickr.

My grandpa would have been SO PROUD of the Sun... he called him "Champ" anyway. He would have been thrilled to know the Sun got in a real ring with real gloves. And got a few hits in. I realized that a love of boxing--brutal sport it may be--is in the blood. Grandpa may have been most proud of his accomplishments integrating the army and fighting for justice, but the best stories he ever told had to do with boxing. Here he is with the great Sugar Ray Robinson. Grandpa's the dude on the far left with the glasses and the hat.

We took the subway home, the Sun carrying the bigger trophy (cuz it was actually lighter than the smaller one) and I, the littler one. He gazed up at it the entire time, not noticing that other people looked at him and smiled. The Professor and Moodmagic Barbie met us where the train ends, so we didn't have to take the bus home, and Moodmagic gave the Sun the best present of all... her complete and genuine admiration (MMB doesn't give that freely... much like her auntie)...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Not Much To Say...

oddly enough. Or maybe again, so much ruminating that not much is escaping. The other day, I called Fat Lady up to scream about TF and his lawyer. I was so angry, so outraged that I wanted to punch somebody. I wrote an email to my lawyer documenting what I did on the 15th and the 21st, but I told her really, this has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with Power and Control... TF, seeking to regain power of me and what I do. I told her I don't have to answer to him, and I won't. I don't care if he signs a visitation agreement. If he wants to see the Sun, and he lets me know in advance, and it doesn't interfere with anything and he can confirm everything by email, he'll see him. If he won't, then I simply won't do it. I asked her "what happens if I start saying no to everything?" Five years later, he wants to celebrate "his" holidays? Whatever.

Fat Lady said it was only designed to piss me off, which is true, but the problem is is that if his lawyer wants to yeast everything up, it can get to be a big deal. But, I'm not going to stress it too much... if they *want* to get into a religious debate, bring it on. If he's simply trying to mess with me, well, he ends up paying for it, not me.

Oh... there was big news. The Diva almost died.

The other day I'd made ackee and saltfish cuz I had a craving for it. The Sun will only eat but so much, so I had leftovers. Yesterday, I sent the Sun off to school with Shoefly, and came back and went to bed since I was fighting a cold (I won, for a change). But then I had to go down to get the Sun from school and take him to karate, so I heated up the leftovers and split it with the Diva. She was trying to leave the house cuz Tiny One had a doctor's appointment, so I left to get on the 2:50 (ish) bus. She told me her stomach was burning. I called her from the bus to tell her the next bus was at 3:15. She said she was a little itchy. When I got to the train, she was on the bus, and she called me to say she was definitely itchy. I told her get off and get some Benadryl from CVS, but she didn't have any money.

Right before the subway went underground, Bigbear called me. The Diva had called her, in a panic. She had hives. I said "I just spoke to her, and she was itchy". I confess to not being too sympathetic, mainly cuz I was annoyed the Diva was walking without any money, and she should have gotten some Benadryl.

The train takes about a half hour to the stop where the Sun's school is, and when I got off the train, there was another message from Bigbear... the Diva was DEFINITELY having a reaction to something, and Bigbear was going to meet her at the subway and give her cabfare to go to the hospital.

The Professor called me as I walked with the Sun to catch the bus to Yonkers... they were finally stabilizing the Diva. Her whole body had swollen up, her throat was closing, her blood pressure was dropping, her hands had turned blue. The Diva told me today that she felt like if she closed her eyes, she wasn't going to wake up, so she kept talking, rambling, keeping herself awake. Her body felt like it was on fire, and she itched from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. The doctors (must be interns) had no idea what ackee was, and were frantically trying to look it up on the internet. Meantime, they were pumping her full of every antihistamine they could think of, put her on oxygen and were monitoring her vitals. Once they got her settled ("I guess no more ackee for YOU!" the Jamaican nurse said) the Professor took Tiny One upstairs for his doc's appointment with Dr. B, who has been the family pediatrician since the Professor and I took a baby Diva to her for her first check up. The Professor told Doctor B that they wanted Tiny One to have a full battery of tests for allergies, seeing as how he'd had a recent bout with "asthma" and his mother was downstairs having a major reaction to something.

She got out of the hospital last night; they only kept her for 6 hours to make sure she was OK. She came back here today. She's still a little puffy and a little itchy, but she's OK. I offered her dinner but she was hesitant. Turns out she's allergic to beef, too (which I had). So she just ate potatoes and spinach. TinyOne was already asleep, since the Professor had driven her home.

I'm glad she's OK. Poor baby. I'm a little annoyed that she doesn't keep up with her epi pen, but I guess she'll do it now.

Today, I lived La Vida Low Budget with the Fat Lady and Lilac Blue. And Spice. It must be noted that Lilac Blue bought a dress. I've known her for as long as our kids have been in school, and have never ever seen her looking the least bit girly. So I'm writing this, in case she reads my blog, to publicly rag on her. But I have to say, she looked really cute and girly in a dress. It's just not anything I'm used to seeing...

I bought my Elfa shelves from the Container Store for my room. Can't afford them, not even on a good day. But I think they will help get me organized, and if I'm organized in my inner sanctum, maybe it can spread outward. Because I'm running out of time... I've got to pull it together quickly cuz I'm going to be in deep waters very soon... drat it all.

I'd much rather be home...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who's really running the country?

These guys.

And this is why I don't believe in the government anymore....

This article is old, almost a year old, but it's worth reading. A few years back, I worked at a place that did the back-office accounting for quite a few of the people mentioned in this article.

That place was the last corporate job I held, and I think it scarred me for life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Speaking of Hell....

as in the hell that TF tries to create for me, he's still at it. He's trying to "catch me in a lie" to prove I don't do what I say I do--specifically, keep Passover--and now his lawyer is questioning my lawyer. Claiming I wasn't home. That I did such and such. Etcetera.

I swear... it takes everything I have not to wish him harm, mainly cuz I know there's this belief that if you wish harm on someone it comes back to you times three. I have stated that you should always take the high road. Always. And I've been saying that to myself all evening... but sometimes I really wonder why the fuck should I? I'm tired. I really am. I just want for him to disappear. And he never will. What did I say yesterday about choices and no regrets???

Why? What is the purpose of me enduring crap from him? It's hard to ignore. The Professor is always saying "ignore him" but I tell you it's hard. It's hard because precisely when I do ignore him and go on and live my life, it comes back to bite me in the ass. I'm so in the habit of knowing where I am on any given day, or what I was doing, so that I can always prove where I was or what I said at a moment's notice. I betcha I can even tell you what I was wearing. I used to make mental notes of everything, so that when he would "confront" me with a "lie" I could say "Oh no. I know because I was here at precisely such and such time, doing a, b, and c and I was wearing a pink bra and matching underwear, furry socks and red sneakers." I'm really fucking tired of remembering shit like that.

I can't wish him harm, but I swear by all that is holy that I pray that one day, he will endure the type of crap he's put on me. When will that day come?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

To choose, or not to choose...

Blog for Choice Day

I decided to do this today,"Blog for Choice", because I believe that a woman has the right to choose whether or not to have a baby. It's an unfortunate fact that many women are faced with the decision--at some point in their lives--whether or not to have a baby.

You can argue the fact that young women should abstain from premarital sex, but the fact is it's just not going to happen. You can argue the fact that life begins at conception, or that that abortion is murder. You can argue the fact if you're old enough to make the decision to have sex, and you get pregnant, you should be responsible for your actions, and accept the pregnancy and have the baby.

All this may be true, depending on the circumstances. It also depends on what you believe. The bottom line is, it's a really individual decision.

I will say that I am unashamedly undeniably unabashedly and unequivocally 100% pro-choice. When faced with that the decision, however, I decided to choose life. Well, the second time.

The first time, I was 16. It was the first time I had ever had sex, and my period was 20 days late. Talk about scared shitless. I knew that a baby wasn't an option... not even remotely. My own family was barely surviving; we had only recently gotten acclimated to life in America, had only recently begun to assimilate. All my life I had heard "when you grow up and get married and have kids", and I couldn't bear the thought of my father's disappointment that I wasn't grown up or married. Was afraid to tell my mother. Matter of fact, I told no-one. I carried that worry and fear around with me for almost 3 weeks... I prayed every day "dear God please don't let me be pregnant."

It turned out I wasn't pregnant, and a more joyful bitch you've never seen. But I kept my promise to God after that, that I would always be careful and not play Russian Roulette. And that I wouldn't have sex again until I really was in love with someone. It turned out that I fell in love at 17, and one day fooling around we went "all the way." The next day, the boy and I went down to Planned Parenthood and he sat in the waiting room while I went and got fitted for a diaphragm. We broke up when I was 20, and during that entire relationship we never once had a "scare".

The second time I was faced with the decision, I was 33. I was involved in an extremely tumultuous relationship. I should have walked away from that relationship immediately. But to me, sex was a commitment. Even at my hoe-iest ( a brief period of time after I had gotten married and divorced when I was 23), when I was angry at men and used anyone I could, I had narrowed down my escapades to a particular few. (Yeah, Ma, "few". But I'm not elaborating any more than that.) And I was pretty much faithful to those few... sort of rotated them through my life. But that didn't last very long, because it's not something I do naturally. Being a hoe-bag requires way too much thought on my part.

Anyway... the tumultuous relationship. We started talking on Veterans Day. We went out the next weekend, in a group. We went out on a date, just the two of us, the following weekend, and he ended up staying over. The weekend after that, we got into a screaming fight where he accused me of stringing him along and that he never wanted to see me again, and stormed out right before we were supposed to go out. I was hurt, and bewildered, and cried my eyes out and went out with my friend BeautifulHair instead. The following week he called me up and apologized profusely, said how vulnerable he was, that I was beautiful and he didn't deserve me, he was sorry.

Yeah, I admit I went for it... and it was like that for the next fucking year and a half. I figured out pretty quickly he had way bigger issues than I could handle, and started therapy to figure out why I kept giving him chances, but also I hoped maybe he'd think it was a good idea and want to go too. (That didn't work at all.) But I finally couldn't take it anymore, and broke up with him around my birthday. I got my first tattoo in March. In April I went out with an old boyfriend and told him how I was going to say single. In late May, he came calling. He had lost weight, was acting really sane, and anyway I loved him (when he wasn't psycho he was really nice) and I went back, on condition we go to couples therapy. I got pregnant on Father's Day of that year, right before we started therapy.

I was always extremely careful about where I was in my menstrual cycle because I wasn't on permanent birth control. I had told him repeatedly he was responsible for buying condoms, and that he better use them because if I ever got pregnant, I was having a baby. I had a job, an apartment, a family, good friends. I knew that if I had to, I could take care of a baby on my own. And yes, I'm pro-choice, but in my mind your reasons to terminate a pregnancy better be pretty good.

When he wasn't around, I would forget about sex as well as my period, so when he came back I wasn't paying attention. When I realized that I had cut it AWFULLY close I was concerned... but not overly so because I had never, ever been pregnant. I almost thought it couldn't happen to me. I had an annual doctor's appointment anyhow, and right at the last minute, mainly out of curiosity, I asked for a pregnancy test. I hadn't even skipped a period yet.

Within minutes, the nurse came in holding a small white wand. "Congratulations!" she said excitedly. "You're pregnant!" I felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. The doctor looked at me and asked "Is this a good thing?" "I don't know yet" I said. "I have to think about it." Because I hadn't skipped a period, they gave me a blood test to confirm, and told me to call in two weeks, particularly if my period didn't come.

I didn't tell TF right away. I knew he was going to flip his lid, and I didn't want to tell him until I was sure that I was pregnant, and I needed to decide how I felt about it.

Well... my period didn't come. I sat TF down and told him. He looked like someone punched him in the stomach. "Maybe you're just late" he said hopefully. "No" I said, "I took a test." For years he would be pissed off that I didn't tell him when I took the test. We talked about what to do. I told him that I was 33, and that I really wanted to keep the baby. He was not happy AT ALL. He refused to continue therapy, because he said it was pointless... we would HAVE to get along.

I told my family I was pregnant... Poppy in particular was overjoyed. Somehow, they all had this idea that I was some career-minded Buppy chick who would never have children. I knew always, that I wanted kids... but the man thing has always been a problem for me, so I had sort of stopped thinking about babies.

TF was NOT happy, however, and proceeded to be about the nastiest he has ever been. He didn't understand why I didn't "just terminate." He said he'd be there for the baby only because he was obligated. I told him I didn't need his obligation, that I would never ask him for a dime if he walked away. But finally, I broke down. I sat in my therapists office one day, sobbing uncontrollably. "I can't do this. He doesn't want the baby, and I can't take it, and I'm going to terminate." As I said it, I meant it, but I was heartbroken. But I couldn't see dealing with TF for the rest of my life. The therapist suggested I start coming in twice a week, that she would help me deal... but after listening to me and my troubles for the previous six months, I got the feeling she was relieved for me. In my head, I started constructing what would happen... I would terminate, I would tell my family I lost the baby, I would break up with TF, and life would go on. I knew that if I didn't have the baby there would be absolutely no reason to deal with him, and I also knew that I would never forgive him.

It was almost the end of summer, and it was Friday. The therapist's office was near Union Square and the Farmer's Market was open. As I walked into the market to get on the subway to go back to work, the little voice inside said "no". And by the time I reached the subway, I knew I was going to have this baby. It wasn't because I thought abortion was wrong. Adoption wasn't even a thought... if I went through all that to have a baby, I was having a baby for me. But I wanted THIS baby. And once I made the final decision, I never wavered, even though TF gave me hell. It changed, once the Sun came. I often wonder now how TF feels about the fact that he was so adamant that I terminate.

How different my life would have been, if I had chosen another way. There would be no five-year court battle. I would never care whether TF was coming in from California, or not. I would never have to deal with him, wouldn't be tied to him for the rest of my life. But regrets? No. My kid is the single greatest thing I've ever done. He changed me in ways I couldn't even begin to tell you... and the change started right way.

But I CHOSE HIM. And because I chose him, I could endure the hell that followed. And I was able to fight to get out of that hell, because I chose to have the Sun. I wasn't forced into a situation I couldn't handle.

That's a long story. It may seem like it's a pro-life story, but it's not because I could choose my path.

It's not the government's place to tell me what to do, when I was faced with the decision of whether to have a baby or not. It's certainly not a man's place to tell me what to do with my body. Yes, I respected TF's input... I knew he wasn't happy and I knew he had the right not to be, but if I was willing to accept sole responsibility, he had to accept it.

Yes, I believe that abortion is a HUGE decision, and one that should not be taken lightly. But of the women I have ever met who have chosen to terminate, none of them have made that decision lightly.

I get extremely annoyed by people who camp outside of abortion clinics waving placards. I get REALLY annoyed by men who proclaim that abortion is murder. There's one guy who stands out on 42nd street near Fifth Avenue, with some of the most awful signs and pictures of aborted fetuses I've ever seen.

But where are those people when the baby is born? When things get hard? When a woman, who wasn't fit or stable enough to begin with has a baby because she thinks it's murder not to, and then proceeds to beat the living tar out of her kid? Where are those people when you're trying to navigate welfare, or food stamps?

How can anyone tell a woman that she MUST carry a deeply disabled child to term? You may agree or not agree with her decision. But how can you tell her that she MUST? Or what about if she's raped and becomes pregnant as a result? How could you even make her wonder about having a baby? And I'm always amazed that most often men are the most vehement and violent "pro-life" advocates. Bitch, if it was you forcing a football through a keyhole in your body, and then MUST take care of that even though you hurt, or are sleepless, or alone or afraid, I bet you'd think about it three or four or five times. I bet you wouldn't be quite so vehement if YOU were forced to stick by that woman, the mother of your child. Suppose you were forced to marry her? And I love those guys who bitch about paying child support. You BETTER not tell me you think abortion is wrong.

Yes, I take issue with people who have multiple abortions... in my mind if you make that kind of "mistake" once, you really ought to know not to do it again. Yes, I take issue with people who have late-term abortions for no real reason except maybe they decide they don't like the father enough or don't want a baby bad enough to deal with him. But it is not my place to judge... it's not my place to reason why. I can only say that if it were me, I might make different decisions... but I can't be sure until it IS me. If a woman decides to terminate, it's between herself and her God, her conscience and the father of her kid. It's not between her and me, or you, and it's certainly not any of the government's business.

Especially since the government is doing a really lousy job of supporting women and families who DO decide to have babies. This country has no nationwide policy on paid maternity leave. Many women are forced back to work in 6 or 8 weeks after giving birth because they can't afford not to. There is no nationwide policy to help women who are nursing and want to pump milk for their babies while they are at work. Many women (myself included) are forced to pump milk in bathroom stalls.

Women who must rely on Food Stamps or Welfare are made to feel worthless, forced back to work so that they are not "welfare-dependent". But suppose she WANTS to stay home and raise her child??? Where is the government then? Where are the pro-lifer's then? All of a sudden, people start bitching about their tax dollars being used on welfare recipients.

So you can't have it both ways. You can't talk about abortion being murder if we as a society aren't fully prepared to support those women who DO have babies.

I chose my Sun. I'll never regret it. If I had to do it over, I probably would have chosen the same thing... but I appreciate the fact that it was a choice, and not something that I was forced to do because somebody told me I couldn't terminate.

Monday, January 21, 2008

In Harlem, 2 Record Stores Go the Way of the Vinyl

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS (New York Times)

On Saturday morning, Bobby’s Happy House, a music store in Harlem that opened in 1946, was in a state of chaos.

The store’s owner, 91-year-old Bobby Robinson, who was wearing a dark blue suit and his trademark black fedora, seemed bewildered as he surveyed his store. Albums were stacked on the floor, photographs of him with Fats Domino, James Brown and others had been pulled from the walls and the store’s glass display cases contained only a few scattered CDs and cassette tapes.

A few hundred yards northwest, at the Harlem Record Shack on 125th Street, an employee with a handmade sign was urging passers-by to sign a petition to keep that store from being evicted.

Inside, the voice of the store’s owner, Sikhulu Shange, 66, rang through the Record Shack as he vowed not to go easily, even though he was under a court order to leave within a few weeks, after 36 years in business there.

To read the full article in today's NY Times, click here.

I don't even feel like saying anything... except I believe that Nene's older (and only) sister was killed in the fire at Mr. Shange's store. She was 16.

(Thanks, Professor, for forwarding the article. See, she actually reads a lot more than I do...)

It's MLK Day...

and I'm not a big "political" or "social-commentary" type blogger. More a blogger with "narcissistic tendencies" whose tendencies allow me to expose my inner workings and ruminations. But I gotta tell you... it's cheaper than therapy. And it helps keep me sane.

But it's MLK day, and people read me, and I'm someone who believes you should stand for something, and I personally stand for justice and freedom. Injustice pisses me off. Feeling confined by ideas or people or circumstance pisses me off. And MLK stood for justice and freedom, and ultimately he died for it.

I have to admit, as far as leaders that have become personal heroes, I'm most definitely a Malcolm X chick, for several reasons. Both men were flawed, as all men are, but one reason I prefer Malcolm as a hero was because toward the end of his life, Malcolm was unafraid to show his growth... he wasn't so tied to his ideas that he couldn't change. That takes enormous strength and guts, and ultimately it's probably why he lost his life. His being able to grow scared the shit out of some people.

But Martin Luther King was a great speaker, and his speeches were incredibly inspiring and it's a testament to him that to this day, they still are. Not many men can claim that. I admire that he stood for something, that he believed in non-violence and stayed true to that ideal.

One of his most famous speeches:

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.

I would add that 150 years or so later, we're not still a whole lot better off. We must face the tragic fact that 150 years later, we haven't elected an African American to anything higher than governors. And of those, there have only ever been two nationally elected since Reconstruction. That pisses me off, especially since African Americans themselves are the quickest to "tear down" the ones who are brave enough to run.

In the spirit of MLK and non-violence, if non-violence truly works (which I don't think it does) as brownskinned people I feel we really owe it to MLK to stand behind Obama. I think MLK would have been enormously proud of Obama. Yeah yeah, I know... he's inexperienced. But experience has brought us what, exactly??? Besides, Dick Cheney and his cronies, the oil and pharmaceutical companies and the Hedge Fund investors run this joint anyhow, so really, it makes no difference who's actually president. In the end, those people will dictate the economy and policies of the country, and because they have BILLIONS of dollars at their daily disposal, whoever is president will ultimately have to report to them.

But we can hope, right? And "hope" was what MLK was about, and to me, Obama represents a little bit of hope. That maybe, just maybe, there actually could be a first Black President in the history of this country. So what if he gets in there and fucks up? Seriously, can he fuck up worse for us than GW?

For white people, there is the luxury of comparing policies and political stances, and that's cool. Its the way it should be, the way this country was designed to run. But I don't think brownskinned people have that luxury. Not right this second. Stop frontin' and support the only viable candidate this country has ever allowed. And when the primaries roll around in your state, get off your ass and vote. MLK would have been pleased.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled narcissistic ramblings...

All Over But The Shoutin'...

...I'll guess maybe we'll save that for the next time.

Everyone had a decent 48 hours; I took my free night down to the upper west side and met up with two families from my Mom's list. We all "met" online when we were nursing moms who pumped... most of us were working moms. Our older kids are all about the same age. It's kind of freaky to think we've "known" each other almost 9 years... through the years we keep in touch and try to meet up with each other from time to time. And we all thoroughly enjoy each other's company when we do meet up, though we are all vastly different from all kinds of different backgrounds (though I think I'm maybe one of two "Others" of any sort on the list, which I find interesting).

One of the families I met up with had moved to the Midwest a few years ago, which is pretty funny since they're originally from 'round the way... da Bronx and north. That particular family I'm glad I met once I became a (semi) responsible parent, because they are the type of folk I hung out with back in the day, and those days involved massive quantities of vodka and tequila, with occasional shots of Wild Turkey or Jack. Or Goldschlager and Jagermeister (eeeechs... I shudder at the thought of that stuff, but I did it anyway). *

We met up at Planet Sushi on 78th and Amsterdam. I can't wait to take the Sun there--it was really good. I ate A LOT. We joked that our children love the stuff, and it's expensive-ass stuff to love. We stuck to beer (in their case) and sake and this fantabulous martini-esque drink made from Vodka, Sake, lemon juice and sugar (me--who else? though I only had ONE).

Afterwards, I went up to the Professor's new apartment... the Last-Freshly-Moved-Into-Rent-Controlled-Inhabited-By-A-Black-Person apartment in Harlem (no, I'm not bitter, am I?) to watch the Trinidad fight on Pay-Per-View. Well, he lost. Too bad cuz the other guy was annoying.

The Sun meantime, got to stay in a hotel in the City, went pretty high up in the Empire State Building (he said it was too windy and he didn't want to go up to the 100th floor) at night and went to a Ranger game today. He also ate sushi, and said his dad won't eat sushi... he ate something else. Ha ha! I wonder what TF thinks of his long-hair-wearin', anime-watching, sushi-eating, karate-doing no-leavening-eating-during-passover-in-January kid. He's GOT to think he's cool. Hell, I think he's cool. But I'm biased.

The Sun called me on Saturday to check if he could eat noodles ("do they have leavening, mom?") and said that he had to keep reminding his dah what he could and couldn't eat. Just as an aside, my kid was phenomenal this week. I'm really pretty proud of him to be able to go the whole week by himself (in school and with his dah), not eating the things he loves the most... in particular he told me this morning's free Continental breakfast contained chocolate-covered donuts and bagels--his favorite. He had a banana and yogurt instead. I told him Tuesday morning, baby, you get a chocolate-covered chocolate donut from Dunkin' D!

I'm really really really happy he had a good time... and he was too.

The Professor drove me downtown to the hotel which turned out to be smack-dab in what has become KoreaTown. And it was jam-packed on a Sunday night with trendy young Korean people hanging out in trendy Korean bars and restaurants. I completely forgot it was Sunday, being there. The rest of the city was dead with very little traffic, but not that tiny section.

We arrived promptly at 10, but the Sun wasn't in the lobby so I had to ring the room. The Sun picked up. Ha ha... TF knew it was me. They came down pretty quickly, and TF came up and snarled something like "I'm going to give you $200, go out and buy him some clothes!" Uh, um, OK. And what the hell is wrong with his clothes? His jacket is clean and warm and was pretty expensive, even on sale at Lands End. Oh, but I guess it's three years old, but that's because I buy really expensive coats REALLY big and um, we take care of them so they last a couple of years. Whatever. I shouldn't wonder at these things. Plus, I could use $200 cuz the Sun needs new shoes. He actually bought him a coat... a really nice one, too. The Sun insists it only cost $8. It's the first item of useful clothing TF has bought his kid in seriously, God-knows-when. I guess he figures the child support he gives me is enough. And generally, it is... though I do spend it on karate and violin and FOOD!

But I won this round, this small battle, and he knew it, and I knew he had to snarl something at me. I'm just glad he didn't keep me waiting too long. He kissed the Sun and walked away to the elevator bank and I called after him. He pretended to ignore me until I called his name the third time and he realized I had followed him to the elevator. He turned around. I looked at him and said sincerely "Thank you". He blinked, and stepped into the elevator, but I think it fucked with him cuz he didn't expect that. I meant it, though. I thank him for turning over the Sun without fanfare, for the coat, for his kid getting to see him.

I was going to send him an email later on... but I'm going to wait and see what the fallout is first.

The Sun was chatty once we got home, and once again insisted in sleeping in my bed... and all this shit is over till the next time... Thanks everyone, for your thoughts and for checking in on me...

*Manohman did I have a lot of fun back in the day. Out every night. Singing. Live music. Hanging out with crazy-ass musicians (Freebird! Bruce!) and their equally crazy girlfriends. Made good money and had absolutely nothing to do with it but drink it! Save!? For WHAT? The future!? The future is NOW dammit! The night with the Wild Turkey I woke up the next morning and had to check for my underwear. Long Story. Dammit, maybe this should have been a separate post.... Boy, how things change....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

In The End, It's The Result That Matters

I stopped posting all the emails that were going back and forth between TF and myself because I didn't want to "yeast it up," as they say in the 'hood. What he was writing in response to my simple emails was so rude and stupid, and pissed me off so badly, that I knew that if posted them to share in the outrage, the comments I would most likely receive would piss me off even more. And then at some point I might stop seeing clearly.

In times of severe conflict, it's helpful to remember the Ultimate Objective. For me, it was to have the Sun returned to me on Sunday, not Monday the 21st, cuz whether the rest of the world thinks it's weird or "pseudo" or whatever, it's the end of my Passover celebration, and I didn't want to deal with TF on that day. Equally as important was to let TF know that I wasn't going to be bullied by him anymore. For the Sun, it was to see his dad. For TF... who the fuck knows. He's crazy and oppositional.

In December, TF emailed me to say he was coming this weekend. As part of the visitation agreement (that still isn't signed so technically there IS no visitation agreement), TF is entitled to drop the Sun off at school on Monday morning, or keep him through the Monday if it's a holiday. I'd emailed TF to let him know I was OK with him coming this weekend, but that I needed the Sun back on Sunday night because Monday is MLK day/no school, and it's the end of Passover. I had also been careful to make sure that the Passover dates were listed in the agreement as "no go" days, since they're not the normal/accepted Jewish Holidays. I offered to let TF come in on Friday and pick the Sun up from school on that day, which normally I don't because I like to keep Sun for at least the start of Sabbath. We're not as strict-Sabbath keepers as we used to be, but I still want to keep the tradition. If Friday wasn't possible for him, I offered time on another visit. But TF was refusing and unaccepting and uncompromising, and as time went on got more and more belligerent in his tone. He also wasn't confirming where he was staying. I had to "Google" it to figure it out. Two weeks ago, I sent TF an email saying that if he didn't confirm the return time and the hotel, I wasn't going to produce The Sun for the visit. And I wasn't playing.

Earlier this week he finally confirmed the hotel address where he'd be staying, which may seem like nothing but it was actually a First. Ever. I considered that a win. But when he emailed me "You will drop the Sun off at the hotel..." I bristled. First of all, anytime anybody tells me "You WILL..." I get an attitude, especially when it's illogical. For me to drop the Sun off at 9A in the city on a Saturday morning, when I don't drive and it takes 2 hours to get there, and he's fucking driving right from the airport, is completely illogical. The funny thing is my lawyer read the email before I did, and she a.) already knows me and b.) has a little bit of a temper herself, and she emailed me even before I read the email saying "Don't respond anymore." She tried to reach out to both the Law Guardian and TF's lawyer on my behalf, to encourage them to call him and help him see reason. She said she wasn't hopeful that they'd help. I found it a little encouraging though, that the LG wasn't calling me, but at the same time was highly annoyed that it seems like everyone is "washing their hands" of my situation. And I was increasingly pissed off that after 5 years of authoritative meddling on the part of Bronx Family Court, with everyone talking about what's in the "best interest of the child" that no one was understanding that it's not in any body's best interest for TF to feel he can bully his way in and out of our lives.

I admit I have a temper. I admit that I keep ThatFucker as far away from me as I possibly can, because I don't like him/don't trust him and he makes me jumpy. Because he makes me jumpy and because I have a temper, I don't trust myself not to jump to extremes with him, especially when I'm on my own territory and backed into a corner. My instinct is to fight. To the death. So I prefer to keep him on neutral territory, and I need for there to be strict rules so that there is no misunderstandings... on his part, and on my part. I don't trust my reactions around him.

But I stopped responding, and TF didn't email me either, and time was passing. Lawyer had a hard time getting ahold of TF's lawyer, and then it seems nothing satisfactory came of the conversation when she finally did. By Friday morning, when I hadn't gotten any agreement from TF, I was really stressing. I didn't want to deny the Sun his dad. But I couldn't back down. I was feeling really guilty about "holding the line" over a very small detail, but as I told Lawyer I strongly felt that if I let TF cross the line, my life for the next 10 years would be hell. "Why?" she asked. "Because, he'll push for the next thing". TF is the kind of person where literally, you give him something, and he insists on more. You give him more, he wants it all, he deserves it all, and you're an asshole/bitch/etc because you won't give it. You give until you bleed and it's never enough. So you have to draw the line and make him fight for the small shit so that you never get to the big shit. But it's fucking draining. And then you ask yourself "Is it really that important???" And it isn't... but the next thing might be and if you've lost ground in the smaller fight, you're screwed. I HAD to hold the line.

But my kid was starting to suffer. I explained to him several times the gist of what was going on. I told him about rules, and that sometimes you had to follow rules and that TF isn't very good at that. I had asked him in December that if I was backed into a corner and had to deny his visit, would he be OK. He said he would. He hasn't seen TF since August, so at first he was OK with it, but as the time got nearer, he began to ask me "Did he agree yet?"

I also knew that if didn't show up with the Sun today, all hell was going to break loose. The last time I had to deny him a visit, when I first filed for the OP in Family Court, TF came to my door with the police. I had anticipated that, and was someplace else, and I was prepared to do that today.

Here's "spaghetti" part #1: A while back, TAN posted on his blog about his relationship with his mother, and I had backtracked to find a post he wrote about how he had been made to feel afraid of his dad, and that his mother would run from his dad, until he was 5 and she put him in a cab and sent him to his father's. And how confusing that was. So while initially I was prepared to "disappear" with the Sun for the weekend, my gut knew that that wasn't going to be good for the Sun in the long run. I never want him to feel he has to hide from his dad. So that meant we'd stay here, in our own apartment, but I would have to carefully plan my day so as not to be anywhere near where TF could find us, all the while appearing relaxed and normal. And as complicated as that was going to be, I was prepared to do that. Of course, Bigbear (who lately has more and more of a penchant for the hysterical and worst-case-scenario) was all bent out of shape that she too, would have to hide since TF would probably come knocking on her door. "So don't answer it!" I said. "You know we call anyhow before we show up. If there's a knock at the door and you know it's not us, who says you have to answer?" I was annoyed. The whole thing was getting annoying. And the Sun was getting more and more quiet and big-eyed, which is what he does when he's stressed.

Silly Detour: I've had two days of living like a rockstar. I often say in order to be completely free, you either have to be profoundly rich, or profoundly poor. Obviously, I'm the latter. On Thursday, I had the pleasure of being handed a crispy $100 bill for participating in a 45-minute focus group. I took that $100 and dropped $50 of it in Victoria's Secret on undies I sorely needed. The best part was that technically, the undies were free to me. Then, I met Shoefly downstairs from her job, and we went to Banana Republic where they were having a 70% off sale. I had $15 in coupons from Old Navy Rewards, and so for a grand total of $23 (charged to my ON card) I got a $78 shirt and a gold link belt. Yesterday, I spent a lovely time with the FatLady and Lilac Blue doing absolutely nothing. We went to New York Adorned where the FatLady and I got new nosepins; she a ring and me a tiny piece of bling. (I charged that.) Then we went to Brooklyn and had lunch at Junior's. The buffalo wings were "eh" (I'm like on a mission for good buffalo wings) but we had a great time, even though I couldn't eat any of the goodies that Junior's is known for. Wasn't sure if there'd be leavening in the crust. The whole time though, I kept checking my Treo to see if there was any word from TF or Lawyer. There wasn't.

The Professor needed to dump the Diva and TinyOne back with me. They'd managed to worm themselves back into her house for the past few days. While it was peaceful for me, it's not sticking to agenda of the Diva's BootCamp, so I told Professor she needed to pack them up and dump them back over here. She drove us all home. TF called on the Sun's phone and I could see that the Sun was starting to get excited. He came over and asked me quietly "Did he agree yet?"

The Professor was sitting at the table, and I'm not sure what prompted her comment but she said something to the effect that sometimes, the end result is what counts the most. And something clicked.

I called the Sun into the front room, and again I explained to him about his dad not following rules and that I really needed for him to agree to something and stick to it. But I asked him "You really want to see your dad, don't you?" And he said yes. I asked him what he wanted me to do. He said "What you want to do, make him stick to the rules." And I saw in his eyes blind faith. In me. The kind of blind faith and love that would make Abraham take his only son Isaac up into a mountain, prepared to sacrifice him to God. The kind of blind faith that Isaac--a 13 year old boy--would have in his father, so that he would follow his father up the mountain for a sacrifice, knowing damn well they weren't taking a lamb up there with them. I knew that I couldn't let my agenda and my need for rules sacrifice my kid in the process. I asked him "Are you big enough to call your dad and tell him we'll meet him in [the appointed place]?" He said he was. I asked him "Are you big enough to tell your dad that you will be picked up at [the appointed place and time]"? Again, he said yes. But he wavered, and so I said to him "Say it; say what you would tell him." And he looked at me and "I can't. I can't do it mommy, I'm not big enough. You do it."

So I picked up the phone and dialed TF. He thought it was the Sun, but I said, no, it's me. And I told him I didn't want to argue, but that the Sun really wanted to see him and I needed him to agree. We went back and forth a little bit, especially about the pick up time. He said he hadn't seen the Sun in six months. Which is true... but really, it's not my problem since he canceled the last visit. But I didn't say that... I said I understood, but just this once, I needed the Sun home on Sunday night, but that I'd come get him at 10 instead of 9P. He wasn't completely agreeing, but I said "Please... he really wants to see you." I guess maybe he figured then that I was really going to not show up, because he knows I don't call him unless it's important. He knows now, unequivocally, that I don't like him. At least I hope so. Regardless, it was done.

This morning he was there, pacing back and forth in front of Dunkin' Donuts, and he was overjoyed to see his kid. That Fucker. But his kid was glad to see him, too. I packed as much of the stuff that TF had requested as I could... a football, a golf club and unfortunately only one hockey glove cuz TinyOne runs rampant up in this joint and I've no idea where the other one is. I hope they got to karate OK... I'm sure that they they did (I'll check later) and I'm sure TF will be proud as hell to his kid in his orange belt practice Heian Nidan. It's really quite impressive.

What am I doing with the time I have now? No clue... I have a few options though as always the most attractive one is sit in my own home alone, and peacefully. But I haven't decided yet...

Silly Quiz

Haven't found a good one of these in a while, but this was a good one...

Wow!

Not sure what this means, but I got "reviewed" on Blogged.com.

They rated me a 7.1 (seemingly on a scale of 1-10 and the low end of the "very good" spectrum), and "very good" (the top comment I saw was "Excellent". How cool! Thanks, whoever made that happen!

The only thing I found interesting was the category... they put me in a "culture/Native American/society" category. In the same category as Debbie Reese who seems to think the only Indian is a "claimed" Indian. Hope I don't piss anybody off... I clearly don't claim to be any one thing but hey... humans seem compelled to categorize.

They also said I wrote from a "Christian" point of view, which entertained me mightily...

but still. I got reviewed! Not bad considering this blog isn't a year old yet...

gotta sleep...

A Win-Win-Win

I got what I wanted... my Sun back on Sunday night, not Monday morning though I had to extend it to 10P from 9P (and the usual return time is 8P), the Sun gets what he wanted... to see his dad, and TF got to talk to me. (Ha ha!)

What the big deal was and how it got resolved I have to tell you later on today, because I'm exhausted and sorely need sleep. Plus, it's definitely going to be one of those "spaghetti" posts... things all wrapped around each other. A little preview (mainly to remind myself of the things I want to say): a.)I "get" the story of Abraham and Isaac now, in a way I never "got it" before, because today I had a glimpse of unconditional faith, and it's sort of funny that I was reminded of this story cuz the Fat Lady and I were talking about it just the other day and b.) something my sister said right before it all got resolved, which was "sometimes it doesn't matter how it gets there as long as the end result is achieved". Or words to that effect.

But it's been a really long week with very little sleep.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Waiting, Praying...

for a peaceful resolution to my dispute with TF but it's almost 1AM Friday morning and I don't think there's going to be one. I haven't posted details mainly cuz the back-and-forth is very stressful, and of course mommyguilt kicks in and I secondguess myself...

but I'll update tomorrow. Or Saturday, when it's all said and done.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Every So Often...

...I hit that perfect blend of being asked to create something for someone, and I can see it in my head. And I get it out of my head easily--and the person for whom it's created is completely happy with it.

BigBrotherSensei asked me on Saturday to type out a quote for him to put up in the dojo, and within a few hours I got this:
It's not a big deal, really, but there was something about the simplicity of the poem that made it easy for me. Sometimes the seemingly simplest things will cause me great agony, though I confess to a few hours or so of me obsessing over the exact size and placement of the kanjii symbols.

But when I took it to the dojo today, the poster was greatly appreciated. BigBrotherSensei said it was more than he hoped for... and then he didn't want to put it up till he framed it.

It made me feel really good.

Made up for the fact that TF is just beyond unreasonable...

Monday, January 14, 2008

In My World, It's Passover...

Once upon a long ago, when we lived near the equator in a big house with a big yard and a big tree, the Poppy of the family decided to read the Bible from beginning to end. He had been looking for some sort of spiritual guidance for quite some time. The older daughter remembered a brief stint of worshiping African gods and saying a prayer for the ancestors.

Around 4, the older daughter an her LittleSister were told the family would no longer eat pork. This was a great disappointment, since her favorite meal in the whole world was bacon and eggs. "What do you want for breakfast" the mama would ask? "Bacon-and-eggs" said LittleGirl. Later on, Mama would ask "What do you want for supper?" "Bacon-and-eggs" LittleGirl would say. So when when the Poppy explained how they would no longer be eating bacon, since bacon came from pigs, she was not happy at all. But, she got used to it. They also started to keep the Sabbath Day.

Around the time LittleGirl was 6, the Poppy discovered that Sabbath was the seventh day, and the seventh day was Saturday. LittleGirl really wasn't happy about this AT ALL, since they lived in Jamaica and NOBODY came out to play on Sunday. So LittleGirl felt screwed out of two play days. But she had a LittleSister, so they played more together. In the end, they were probably closer because of it.

When LittleGirl was seven, the Poppy read about the first Passover in Exodus 12. He was very excited about it, and wanted to do it. The problem was that they didn't know any body with a Jewish Calendar. And also, it was already passed the 14th day of the first month--January. So the Poppy decided to hold a passover on the last day of the Passover--the 21st day of the first month. So they did. They got dressed and wore belts and shoes on their feet, ate lamb in haste and unleavened bread. This being Jamaica, the unleavened bread was called Johnny Cake.

Not very long after the family kept this first passover, the LittleGirl and her LittleSister woke up one Saturday morning to find their big house and their big yard swarming with marshalls, and their belongings being packed up into boxes, and the boxes being stacked on the sidewalk. Outside the big yard. They were being evicted from their big house with the big yard.

Like the Children of Israel, the little family traveled around, homeless, for about a year. Their faith in God grew, their strength as a family grew. Eventually they came to settle in a little house in the middle of a sandy stretch of land, right next to the ocean. They kept all the Holy Days, starting from the Passover, but since they had started on a regular Roman calendar, it ended up that they stuck to that Calendar. To "switch" in the middle seemed uncomfortable. And some 35 years later, they're still doing it the same way. It gets a little weird from time to time, trying to explain how it all came to be. But to switch now, after 35 years, just seems strange.

Tell Me AGAIN

It happened again. In less than 24 hours, it has happened again. This time, the Diva's boyfriend.

They were on the subway. At the beginning of last year, they passed a stupid law not to walk between the cars of the subway. Mind you... EVERYBODY does it. I do it--not with the Sun, but when I'm by myself. Sometimes, there's no air in the car. Or a supersmelly homeless person. Or the car is crowded but the next one isn't.

Regardless, it's against the law. It happened to the boyfriend about a month ago... he got arrested--ARRESTED, mind you--NOT ticketed. Arrested. For walking between the cars.

And tonight, they ARRESTED him again.

It's bullshit.

You Tell Me...

Yesterday morning (Saturday) "Uncly" was driving around Harlem. He has a silver sedan, pretty ordinary, smallish. Nothing too flashy. He's gotten pulled over and ticketed on occasion because his window tint was too dark--he fixed that--or because he's got these little lights on the hood he shouldn't have. No sure what he got pulled over for this time, but the police pulled him over. Uncly is super-polite and respectful, especially to police. They ran his info.

They arrested him--he called the family, and told Poppy the cops told him he had two outstanding warrants. He couldn't imagine what for. WAY way back in the day, Uncly spent a considerable amount of time in "The Reformatory". It has made him into a strange person, given to strange habits like obsessive neatness and personal cleanliness, and way back in the day, he's done some other stuff that while against the law, was never of the violent sort. But he's been straight (relatively speaking) as an arrow for probably 15 years... and we've known him at least 20 or so.

The Professor went down and got his keys and moved and parked the car. The policeman all thought he was a gentleman, and that he should be out in a few hours. But he ended up in Central Booking. He wasn't released until late last night.

He had two outstanding warrants.

One was for his muffler. The other was for walking a dog in Marcus Garvey Park without a leash. Murphy was a large Rottweiler, who used to crouch in the corner of the gated brownstone he lived in, and jump out at people and bark when they least expected it. It was as if he did it on purpose, just for his own amusement. We used to sit and watch him do it, and laugh when people screamed and ran, because there was no way Murphy could get out. And when Murphy was out, he was extremely gentle and pleasant. Murphy was Uncly's brother's dog, but Uncly cared for the dog.

Murphy has been dead for at least four years.

For these two outstanding warrants, the police arrested a 62 year old black man, and kept him overnight. He had to go before a judge and everything.

So you tell me... does this make any sense???

Sunday, January 13, 2008

So Much To Say, Still...

and I'm not a whole lot clearer. I did re-arrange my bedroom. One half looks like this:

the other side looks like this:
so clearly I still have work to do. ELFA shelves are on sale at the Container Store, so I want a few just to put all my Storm dolls (I have quite a few... Storm rocks. Mainly because how many Black female superheroes can YOU name?), my collection of boxes and some photos. I realized I have a huge 5'x2' Matisse poster sitting rolled up in my living room, and if I got it framed, it would fit right in. It's called "Beasts of the Sea":
and would totally fit in to the "underwater" theme of the room. (My friend from Pratt found it rolled up in a tube. He needed the tube to carry his paintings around, and had no interest in the several posters that were rolled up inside. I took them. Matisse is my favorite artist--the first artist I was ever aware of other than my mother. I was two. I would spend hours looking at the book "Jazz". I knew jazz because we listened to jazz all the time in Paris; jazz artists were always in and out of the apartment. In my head, Matisse's pictures became permanently linked to the sound of jazz, even to this day.)

Of course I've no money for shelves or framing supplies... but that's never stopped me before. And once I turned the bed around I didn't hate the bed quite as much and might be able to make do... but I definitely need a new mattress. I've had that one for as long as I've lived on the Rock. And that's a minute.

So far, I've stuck to my word on the two other missives I set for myself; one is flat out breaking my heart in a way even I didn't expect, and the other is basically I need a job. No way around it. But I spoke to a friend today who helps with financial and insurance planning. I went to the Prom with him. (Had I been nicer and less full of myself back then, my life could have been very different. In High School he was extra-geeky, or so I thought. But now, at 40-something he looks a little like Malcolm X who, militant ideas and all, was sexy as hell. But the friend's married with a WHOLE lot of kids and I wouldn't touch that with a 10-foot pole. But it was fun to look at.)

I should have gone out Saturday; I was invited to the 30th birthday party of a friend I know from an old job, and I enjoy the hell out of her but the more I thought about it the more I realized the only person I'd know other than her was me... and I can be bold but I just wasn't feeling that bold. Plus I'm broke as hell. The Sun had a sleepover with the Moon and my house was so blessedly silent (the Diva and TinyOne were with the Professor) that I sat up all night and processed photos. I never even turned on the TV, the radio or music, which is a HUGE thing for me. (I always have the TV on because it keeps me company. Or I'm listening to music. Usually both.)

It made me rethink the whole relationship thing. I crave companionship, but I worry that I've been solo for so long, could I really handle that kind of closeness? Dunno. But I'm looking. I'm keeping myself open. I even found someone interesting to "talk" to but again... dunno. I don't know anything anymore. The older I get the less I know, the less I understand.

TF is still an ass. That wasn't going to change in a week. I finally forwarded a whole train of "conversations" to Lawyer, and asked if maybe she could do something. The Sun wants to see his dad. I want him to see his dad. But I don't want him to come to my door, and I want the Sun home on Sunday night. And just because I want those things, TF will fight me on it. And I'm tired of placating, of going along. I've dug my heels in. It could backfire... it probably will. Women--even though they USUALLY come out on top in Family Court--can't afford not to play by the rules because they always get called on every little thing. It's as if judges know that you'll win in the end, but you better cross all your "t"'s and dot all your "i"s. Whereas even though men may lose in the end, all throughout the battle it's amazing what they get away with.

I still haven't cleaned up my desk. In fact, it's worse than ever. I know it's because I'm hiding from the stuff on it... bills, work, 1977. It's frightening. I look at it all in anger and frustration, and rebelliousness. It wouldn't be hard to clean it up. Other than the fact that I always seem to run out of time, my piles are pretty organized.

But I think that I resent my life. Which is odd for me to say, because I love my life. I love my child. But I should have been a stay-at-home mom. One thing TF keeps throwing at me is how hurt he is that "MY SON" won't have a mother and father who live in the same house. He seems to think that I had always had a plan to be a single mother. I didn't. I DID say to God once, that if I ever had the choice between a man and a child, I'd take the child (you really should be careful about what you say to God...). I DID say to TF that he better be responsible for the birth control because I wasn't on any, and that at 34 if I got pregnant I was going to have a baby. But nowhere in there did that imply--at least not to my thinking--that it meant I WANTED to be a single mother. I've joked that I heard the phrase "when-you-grow-up-and-get-married" so frequently as a kid, that it didn't dawn on me until I was about 12 that you could actually have babies and not be married. And when the Sun was barely peeking over the horizon of life I tried so hard to stick it out. I really did. Friends can attest to the crap I put up with. But I knew it wasn't normal to feel like I had to constantly grit my teeth to keep from screaming. It wasn't normal to feel trapped, bound in. Sat on. I've no regrets about the Sun; he makes me smile. I love being home with him, picking him up from school, taking him to violin and karate, or school trips. I've no desire to be anywhere but here. I'm pissed off that it's not logical for me to be here, when I have no real means of supporting him.

And I can't keep myself motivated to do the things that would help me stay home. And I'm not sure why.

Today, on the Science channel, they were exploring the solar system; all the different planets, how they were formed. How uninhabitable they are, with the exception of Earth. Again I wondered, like I did last week. I bring this all back to last week's starting point (believe it or not), because as I took the trip to Mars and did all that wondering about who could make that trip, who would want to, who could survive it, the overall thought that has stuck with me through the week is:

What is the measure of a man? Or in this case, woman.

"We are star-stuff" said Carl Sagan. The atoms that make us up are the same the universe over. But somehow we came to be as we are now. We are here, we are what we are. We think, we reason, we create and destroy. Millions and millions of us. I personally don't buy into the randomness of evolution. I think we were created on purpose. That there is a purpose for our existence. And we were given the ability to think, to reason, to make choices. And so, how do we choose to live? What do we stand for? Why do we choose the things we do?

Starting from the vastness of the universe, to our known galaxy, our solar system, our one planet, the millions and billions of people on it, down to me. Tiny little me. Who was created for a purpose, but what is that purpose? What do I stand for? What am I trying to accomplish? What is it that I really want?

Why is it so hard for me to figure that out? It's getting late in the game, time is passing. Next month I'll be 43. Shouldn't I know by now? Shouldn't I be grown up by now?