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Showing posts from 2014
*looks up, around and over both shoulders at the prematurely published blog design*

So THAT's what that button does....

For Rent

I'm gonna start selling rental slots in my hammock. At fifty cents a minute, guests can suspend themselves above the ground and their worries. By design, a hammock orients your attitude, forehead and toes toward the sky. Facing the curve of the world, my guests might wonder if the membrane between our world and "space" is hard like a robin's egg or viscous like the snotty plasma of a cell. Or maybe they will search the stratosphere for contrails, imagining the itineraries and distances of the soaring passengers. Or maybe their thoughts will tumble like clouds over meeting confirmations or back-to-school sales or speaker wire or taboo flesh or roasted zucchini or blood.

In 10-minute blocks, my hammock guests can lull the jabbering narrative of their day to a dull hum. The hard angles of power lines and rooftops etch into a view sometimes mottled with the cotton candy dissolve of clouds and, sometimes, scattered with the white embers of stars. Always, always the hammoc…

Stupid is...

“I’m stupid,” she said, a question mark wilting at the end of her sentence.
She looked down to her hands. She had long, elegant fingers. I looked down to the baby in my lap. He was 30 pounds of dimples and cooing and intent on surrendering my fingertips into his little gobbler mouth. Still looking down at her hands, she was surrendering to the first slide of tears.
She showed up at 9am on Wednesday, just as she said she would. The same invitation had been extended a year ago, at her request, but she hadn't come. We’d had, let’s say, a “defining moment” when she pressed beyond my polite silence to ask what I really thought of her boyfriend. Now, she stood in my living room countering a son and a car seat with one hip. I walked over to her, lifted the diaper bag from her shoulder, and led her to the basement.
“You tried to tell me,” she said on the stairs. “You tried to tell me.”
I learned that everyone she knew shared my opinion of him, including his mother and immediate family, and we…

Riding Shotgun

Of the hundreds of teens my arts program has reached in the past 12 years, fewer than 20 have sat shotgun in my car.  Many were bashfully grateful for the ride, murmuring turn-by-turn directions to their front door.  Some were intimidated by my banter; others were uncomfortable with any silence.  All of them left behind bits of their story, perhaps as fare, and I would wait for them to wave back at my car before disappearing into an open screen door. I would drive away, counting the coins of their hard and glimmering truths.
Nakila made me rich.  She filled every minute of our rides with her observations, dilemmas, musings and questions. So many questions, with that one.  In the early years, she asked about poems and slam and her team and how our program started and how I started and where was I from and why did I write and what did I believe in and how would she know that she’d found her voice too.
In a recent interview, artist Dario Robleto said, “I didn’t know what an epiphany was…

Kissing Jimi's Sky

I was born in 1969. Around the time I was finally sleeping through the night, Jimi Hendrix was resigning to a darkness of his own. He died the following fall at the age of 27, when I was one month shy of turning one. Had I been an older girl, wide-eyed with the turbulence and fireworks of the times, I might have easily joined the pilgrimage of women yearning to stretch themselves and their lives naked beneath his musician’s trance.
By the universe’s exquisite design, I was not yet capable of rolling onto my back.
I’ve held barely a thumbprint of Jimi Hendrix’s story until recently (another reason why we should vote for Netflix in 2016). I was enthralled by his lifelong romance with music, to learn he was never ever without his guitar, by the enormous chunks of obsessed practice hours and simmering stock of chitlin circuit years that brewed the ingredients of his genius, by the divine precision of daring to reach up and seize his star just as one was whizzing above his head.
Even with…

Home Alone

I spend a lot of time in my bathroom mirror these days It’s enormous I painted and mounted it myself Hired a handyman to install the vanity lights I am willing to engage experts Somehow, this does not feel the same as asking for help
Black Woman is my mother wielding grace, guerilla tactics and fairy godmother good will all in the same afternoon Black Woman is my grandmother exacting her own resurrections and revenge in the form of success and Black Woman is stubborn love extending, again and again, their well-bitten hands
I hear the cadence of their steps when I’m out in the world Patent leather, peep-toe wedges, galoshes, sneakers and fuzzy slippers I don’t move within the soundtrack of “legacy” but the arc and lilt of their melody play on a loop Like them, my skin is imbued with pride, satisfaction, fulfillment and exhaustion Is that what Black Woman means? Being exhausted? I might be willing to be half as Black if I could be half as weary
“You come from a long line of women w…

When You Call Yourself Names

At 19, I was gone
I ran
Left my country
and a mother who was mostly silent
Escaped a father who was a brute
I got the best of his worst, being the oldest son

Expected to enter law or real estate
Placed in boarding school at the age of nine
I despised it
It was the most expensive school in my country
Though the public school had creative, imaginative teachers
Those kids received a better education
We had pretentiousness, networking and "proper" old school marms
all the way from England
My aunt -who shouldn't have- paid for it all
My father -who shouldn't have- wanted my profound gratitude

I haven't attended any reunions
I did make friends for life
Our bonds are more akin to having survived prison together
When I took my son to visit the school
you could still smell oppression in the wood
I showed him where they made us kneel
Sam Neill, the actor, graduated two years ahead of me
Once a celebrated alumnus, they asked him to return
He refused to come back, ever, unl…

They Will Come

I'm finally reading my magazines. Maybe I should book a flight every month, just for the captured sit-still time that flying affords. I only subscribe to three magazines, four if you count Newsweek, which used to be my favorite until they defected to a digital-only format. Mental Floss is my new favorite.  It's witty, whimsical, well-written and wickedly nerd-tastic. While soaring the skies, my eyes scan the lines of text left to right, left to right, left, left, left ... I keep my face pointed toward the magazine pages, but my eyes pull to the left and over the rim of my eyeglasses to steal a look at the woman seated beside me.

She's reading my new book.

When our flight was still grounded, I had to unseat her and her husband in order to wedge myself into my window assignment. She offered to hold my coffee after watching me try and stuff my computer bag beneath the seat in front of me. I fastened my seat belt and thanked her for keeping me from scalding myself before takeo…