Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles …backtrack blues

For your consideration, I present a tale of a young reporter.
The reporter is question has to cover a Hispanic parade of sorts (no candy in this one) that walks from one end of town to the other.
Now the reporter has walked this path plenty of times during her lunch break and knows it is not a short distance.
Does she remember that? No!
She parks at the parade’s starting point and walks slowly along with the parade processional taking pictures.
“This will be quick,” she stupidly thinks to herself.
She walks, and walks and continues walking some more.
“Are we there yet,” she thinks about 30 minutes into the walk (times have been exaggerated).
Finally she realizes just how long a walk it is. Soon she will have to make that long trek back, in the cold, alone.
Yes, I am the reporter in question.
I was covering the Virgin of Guadalupe parade the Hispanic community in Hartwell hosted Dec. 14. This is a big celebration in Mexico every year from Dec. 9-12.
People sang and danced in honor of the Virgin Mary. Children and some adults were dressed as the indigenous people of old.
It was cold, very cold mind you, but one doesn’t notice that when you’re having fun.
OK I’m lying. I did notice it very much, but I still enjoyed the parade.
Then it was over, and I was left out in the cold, literally.
I seriously did not plan my arrival and departure. I should have just went to the mass and rode back with someone.
Sure I don’t speak Spanish. God wouldn’t have cared. I could have just prayed and praised in English.
I was holding on to the thought I would be done in time enough to get to my own church service (not Bedside Baptist for once).
I thought I could catch a ride back with the police escorts. They were long gone by the time I finished getting quotes (the police are never around when I need them).
So I proceeded to walk back on this cold and dreary day.
Honestly the walk isn’t that bad, it was just the cold that got to me.
I started singing Christmas carols to keep me going. Several people even honked and waved at me on the walk back.
“Don’t honk,” I mumbled. “Stop and give me a ride.”
But no one did … until I was less than two minutes from my car.
This one man asked if I needed a ride, but I politely declined.
One, he was going in the opposite direction I was walking. Was he really going to turn around for a stranger?
Two, I didn’t know him from the man on the moon. He could have tried to turn me into a house coat.
A few seconds later a man from the parade asked if I needed a ride.
“I tried to catch you before you left,” he said.
I declined his offer also.
They say God watches out for fools and babies. Next parade, I’m going to do some pre-planning.

Chronicles of Life … weigh up there

Oprah confessed in the January 2009 O Magazine that she now weighs 200 pounds after making such great strides in losing it. Being the kind soul that I am, I wrote her a support letter. No, I’m not really mailing this, but it does serve as motivation for my quest to lose weight and feel great.

Dear Oprah,
You are not the only one with weight problems. I always seem to have had issues with mine.
Genetically speaking, I come from a pretty big family. No scratch that, we’re just fat.
The fat back in the greens, Kool Aid that tasted like pure sugar and sweets galore were a main stay at every family event. Diabetes runs rampant on both sides of the family.
Yet, they love to point out when you gain a few pounds. Sounds like a case of the pot calling the kettle black to me.
How are you, oh large one, going to say someone else is getting big, especially if you weigh no less than five tons yourself? Lose some weight then come talk to me about mine.
But I digress.
My weight did get substantially better in college. No car meant foot patrol.
All that walking will do wonders for a body.
I even went to the gym semi-regularly on campus and later in my apartment complex. I wasn’t super skinny or anything like that, but I was within range of my height and weight requirements.
The belly was flat, there wasn’t that much flab and I wasn’t one French fry away from being morbidly obese. I was super thick!
Then I moved to a place where food is king. I mean really, do Chamber of Commerce board meetings need refreshments?
Now I, gasp, have a belly! And my parents won’t get me lipo for Christmas.
On a side note Oprah, have you heard about the lap band? Maybe you should give that a whirl with your fear of working out.
Nonetheless, I can’t simply blame it on a new location. There is some personal responsibility there too.
No one ever puts a gun to my head and tells me to eat. I gladly do that on my own.
I tend to be an emotional eater, which is a major problem. My emotions are always on code red.
I don’t reach for carrots when I’m ready to burst in tears but a cookie or three.
It’s all about choices. I guess neither one of us have been making good ones in a while.
However, Oprah, I am seriously working on my weight now. Yes, it’s the dawn of a new era for my health and fitness.
The biggest step was cutting out all sodas and most drinks. Now I drink no less than two liters of water a day (which has me peeing every five seconds).
I used to need the Crystal Light packets, because water had no taste and appeal for me. Now I can down a bottle with no problem.
I am working on cutting out fast foods completely. That means I have to actually start cooking more than once a month.
I only eat chicken and turkey (fish are friends, not food). More salads and whole grains are decorating my plate also.
The best thing helping right now is my very own exercise bike. I do 30 minutes a day faithfully.
I think you and I know a body can gain weight ever so easy. Eat enough McDonalds and the pounds just pack right on.
It seems to take forever to come off.
Oh well, I’m seriously on Kanye’s work out plan. I’m trying to get right for the summer.
Give me a few months and I will have won the battle of the bulge.
What about you Oprah?



The Hartwell Chronicles... opportunity lost

Well it’s finally happened.
I was wondering how long this would last. You know, not being asked about some ignorant stereotype associated with black people.
Alas and alack, all good things must come to an end.
I was minding my own business when I heard snippets of some people taking about African Americans. I didn’t think too much about it and kept about my mission.
Later, I heard more of the conversation.
One lady was talking about neck rolling and how “black people act.”
“My daughter likes to do that,” she said.
I wasn’t trying to jump into the conversation, but then it happened.
“Do you do that?” she asked me.
I am happy to say I didn’t throw a fit.
Sure, I could have had a Sheneneh Jenkins moment and said “Oh no you didn’t.”
But what would that have accomplished? That would have perpetuated the stereotype even worse.
So I merely did what I do best, unintentionally of course. That’s right; she got a taste of the Antonia J. Robinson condescending attitude.
“No,” I said with all the disdain, distaste and disgust I could muster up.
I can be very condescending at times, according to some people. I know it’s a bad habit, but this was one occasion it was called for.
In my simple “no” she was told just how beneath me such an action was.
She tried to play it off and said “don’t worry, my daughter does it enough for the both of you.”
Well if looks could kill, she would have been dust.
To myself I said, “She doesn’t have to do anything for me. I wouldn’t be caught dead expressing such behavior.”
I should have used that as an opportunity to school her on black people. I should have said “Have you even ever seen me do that? So why ask now.”
I should have pointed out why such a statement was ignorant in the first place.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda but I didn’t.
There is a great disparity between what I actually do and what I want to do when I hear ignorant comments.
Like when the lady called me a colored girl.
OK in all fairness she didn’t say that to my face. So there was no need to even mention it.
Besides she was 100 and could have called me a lot worse.
But there was that time at an anti-abortion rally the organizer only quoted statistics about African Americans.
I should have asked him was he only mentioning African American numbers for my benefit. Clearly it does not just affect one race.
Instead, I ignored him.
And how can I forget the infamous black women marriage ratio one man brought up? He made it seem as if pimping my ride would solve the dilemma.
I should have called him out about his statements. I simply ended the conversation and left.
Yes, I am a non-confrontational person.
I say it’s because I don’t want to burn bridges by admonishing people for ignorant comments.
Then again, I’ve always been that way. I’m not that good at speaking my thoughts aloud; however, that’s no excuse.
All those missed opportunities, and nothing to show for it.
Will they ever learn?
Not unless someone teaches them. That someone might as well be me.

Chronicles of Life...Two of a Kind

There’s no escaping it. I am my mother’s child.
Not only do we look alike, but our personalities are similar... too similar.
People have always pointed out how we seem like carbon copies of each other. But we both used to brush it off.
“We are nothing alike,” I would say.
“She’s just copying me,” would be her response.
Now we’ve both realized the truth of the matter. We’re twins in more ways that one.
My cousin sent us both the “getting to know you Christmas edition” survey.
It had the usual questions such as wrapping paper or gift bags (gift bags), favorite Christmas movie (A Christmas Story) and song (This Christmas by Donny Hathaway) and most annoying thing of the year (bad children).
I filled out my answers and sent it to others, including my mom. I saw her answers later that day.
“You heffa!” I e-mailed her. “You copied my answers.”
(Yes, we affectionately call each other heffa and other variations.)
“No, you copied mine,” she sent back.
Actually, we both sent our answers independently of each other.
I know they say great minds think alike, but our responses were just too close for words. That’s when it truly hit me we are cut from the same cloth.
The signs have always been there. We both like to write, enjoy photography and are crazy in a funny way.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m looking at a mirror when I see my mother. And of course her issues usually are the same ones I have.
I seek guidance from my mother for a lot of things. Who better to know your than someone exactly like you?
Of course there are differences.
I’m more of an extrovert and she’s the introvert. I’m happy to be nappy and she religiously goes to get that fresh relaxer.
Growing up, I used to think we were like oil and water: we don’t mix. The truth is we were too much alike.
Two Alpha Females cannot live together. But once I went to college we were just fine.
We still have our oil and water moments, but not as much. I think we’ve come to an understanding about one another.
She does things her way. I do things mine, and often we do them just alike.
Maya Angelou best sums us up in her poem “Human Family.”
“In minor ways we differ, in major we’re the same. ... but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unlike.”
Besides I kind of enjoy being like my mommy.

The Hartwell Chronicles...Death By Parade

Parades are dangerous, particularly Christmas ones.
For that very reason, I am boycotting parades for the rest of my life. Or at least until I have to take pictures at the next one.
A friend and I went to the annual Hart County Christmas parade Dec. 5. The theme was Heavenly Hartwell.
Well, I almost saw Heaven that night.
Last year was my first foray in parade picture taking. I quickly learned the ins and outs of such an assignment.
So this should have been a piece of cake. I was not an amateur photographer.
There was no way you were going to catch me making the news for being in a parade fatality. I knew how to stand in the middle of the road and take pictures without getting hit by a float.
Floats were the least of my worries. It was the blasted candy!
The official parade rules specifically stated candy should be thrown on the ground.
Did anyone listen? Apparently not because it all kept hitting me.
The people standing around me stocked up on candy that night.
All they had to do was wait until a float passed by. Soon a hail storm of candy would head toward me.
A box of dots hit me on the head at one point. It was all I could do from going into the light.
My friend also got grazed by a Laffy Taffy and no less than 100 peppermints. Were they trying to make snide comments about her breath?
On a side note, adults will beat you down for some candy. My friend was about to regulate on one man who was grabbing for candy like his life depended on it.
Really sir, was it that serious? I think not.
Do better!
But I digress.
I should go file a police report for assault with a deadly weapon. Candy really hurts when you’re getting hit with it.
Thank God it didn’t break the camera. Yes, they threw directly at me while I was holding it.
I really want to go file workman’s comp for mental anguish. I am suffering from parade anxiety now.
Forever more I will approach all parades with a deep fear of getting hit by a blow pop or 10.
I blame children.
They seemed to think it was hilarious to hit me. And I know they did it on purpose.
“Ha, ha, ha sorry,” they would say.
That’s OK because next year they better watch out. They better not cry. They better not pout. I’m telling you why.
No Santa Claus is not coming to the Christmas parade.
I will be there front and center prepared to hit someone back. That’s right little kids, laugh all you want.
Prepare for my secret arsenal of rock candy. Yeah the hard stuff.
But on second thought, t’is the season to be jolly.
So I’ll just wear a helmet to protect my head, bring a bat to deflect the candy and a catcher’s mitt. After all, I do want to take some candy home too.

Chronicles of Life... The music in me

I wish my life was one big musical, or at least had a kicking sound track.
Think of how cool it would be to break out in song a dance mid-sentence and not have people look at you crazy.
Or how about having the mood of the moment expressed in surround sound with a song or two?
Unfortunately, that does not happen in real life. So I sing, much to the chagrin of my family and friends.
I would blame it on High School Musical, but my roots in singing extend back to early childhood.
There has always been a song in my heart.
My grandmother used to let me sing at church programs, when I was about five or so.
I use to be in the youth choir during elementary school too. I even had my own special solo.
It was never anything too serious. But oh how I rocked the crowds, or at least like to imagine I did.
It’s not too hard to imagine anyway.
Church folks (except for my parents) will egg on anyone, especially a child, if they’re singing for the Lord. And they won’t dare tell you your singing is bad.
“Sing baby,” they cry out one bad note after the other.
However, I was smart enough to realize I can’t really sing.
But I do have the annoying habit of bursting into song while conversing with others.
I can’t help it. OK maybe I can, but there is music in me.
If you say it, I may sing it.
It’s all I can do at work sometimes to not burst into song. That’s what I get for listening to the radio.
Sometimes I just want to jam out with Mary Mary on “Get up,” especially if I need that extra energy boost. Or I want to sing Bill Withers “Ain’t no sunshine,” just because its raining outside.
Better yet I want to just randomly blurt out a line or two from John Legend’s “Green Light.”
I doubt if I’ll ever get rid of the music in me. And why should I?
I fully believe in Mark Twain’s quote, “Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”
But I guess I do sing at times when everyone is listening.
Oh well, I have the heart of a singer. Just not the talent.

Here in no particular order is my life sound track for this moment:

1. Get Up, Mary Mary
2. Green Light, John Legend
3. Cinderella, Cheetah Girls
4. I have a dream, Common ft. Will.I.Am.
5. Live your life, T.I. ft Rhianna
6. Good Life, Kanye West ft. T-Pain
7. Bandy Bandy, Zap Mama ft. Erykah Badu
8. Love you like I do, Deitrick Haddon ft. Ruben Studdard and Mary Mary
9. The Declaration, Kirk Franklin
10. Rock Witchoo, Black Kids

Welcome back

I took a brief hiatus from my blog, but not blogging.
Sometimes I forget to post on here after it runs on Facebook.
Starting Jan. 1 I will do better!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles ... Unacceptable Behavior

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I didn't know this was going to turn into a three part chronicle. I take forever to post things, so it all played out by the time I wrote the second one. Here is Unacceptable Behavior in its entirety.

The Hartwell Chronicles … Unacceptable Behavior pt. 1
The truth is I am a drama queen.
Most of the drama in my life is self imposed because I make mountains out of mole hills.
There is a certain degree of drama I needed for me to function on a daily basis. But I have been trying to cut back.
However, there has been way too much unsolicited drama trying to unfold in my life lately.
Case in point: The leak guard on my car started dragging on the ground a few weeks ago.
The man who lives with my neighbor (we’re going to assume she’s his girlfriend) heard the noise and came to check out the problem.
This was the first time we had ever spoken to each other, mind you.
Oh sure, we would politely acknowledge each other’s presence in our comings and goings with a quick wave or nod of hello. But there has never been an actual conversation between us.
He offered to take a look at my car, and he removed the leak guard so it wouldn’t drag anymore.
I was very grateful –I couldn’t figure out how to remove it myself – and thanked him profusely.
That night, I heard some heated exchanges between him and my neighbor.
This was nothing new. They have these “discussion” occasionally.
My only complaint is they are never loud enough for me to actually get the whole scoop.
Yes, I am too nosy for my own good. But people should not argue loudly outside their homes, or inside for that matter, especially if they live next door to a reporter.
The very next day on my car’s windshield was a little white note.
I thought it was a message from a neighboring city’s clerk of court at first. They’re after me!
I have an unpaid speeding ticket from June, and Georgia puts out a warrant on you if you miss your court date and don’t pay. I was a no-show for two hearings, so this fear is justifiable.
It wasn’t a note from the law but a handwritten message from the neighbor’s boyfriend instead.
“Hi, This is (his name),” it read. “I use to be your neighbor. My # (his number). I would like to hear from you. If not, I understand.”
What kind of bootleg operation is this?
Why on Earth did he think this was acceptable?
This note was wrong on so many levels.
First and foremost, who leaves a note on a car? And on ripped paper nonetheless?
Can I at least get something written on decent stationary? I mean really, are we in middle school?
And do I look like someone that accepts sloppy seconds? No!
Clearly, I’ve seen you living with you GF. Just because she kicked you out does not mean I now want you.
I responded to the whole situation the way any sane female would. I cracked up, told some friends and disregarded the note.
I thought that was end of story. Did I think wrong?

The Hartwell Chronicles … Unacceptable Behavior Pt. 2
Evil never dies and the drama never ends.
A day or two later, I hear the GF on the phone saying she’s locked out of her apartment because he gave her the wrong key. He still had the key to the house.
Then while she’s gone that afternoon, I see him coming out the house and walking away on foot.
Is he breaking and entering now? Do I call the police? This was one of those situations you observe from afar. And I did.
By day three in the drama that is my life I see him driving back up to the house.
We exchanged quick hellos, but I did not even mention the note.
Soon I see my neighbor pull up too, while he’s there.
I thought, “Something is about to go down,” but nothing happened to my disappointment.
Apparently they were back together.
End of story?
A few days later I see another note.
“Can I at least get a text 2 say am wrong for leaving numbor,” it read ever so illiterately. “If am out of line am sorry!!!”
He put his name and number down again just in case I didn’t know who it was from.
This has gotten out of hand and was not on the approved list of drama for the month.
One note was bad enough. Two is extremely unacceptable because:
• He needs to stop leaving me messages before I catch a case. We all know how women can get over their men. Instead of cussing out the one they should – him – they go to battle with the other woman, thus leading into too much unnecessary drama.
• Let’s say she’s a relative. Then he needs to stop sending me messages like some hormonal preteen and just come knock on my door. I’m a nice enough person. I’m not that mean, at first.
• The very essence of that note almost gave me a heart attack from illiteracy overload. I am a reporter, and he knows this. Bad spelling and grammar is completely out of line.
Obviously, I must address this situation now, because I can’t take much in life.
This unacceptable behavior must end.

The Hartwell Chronicles … Unacceptable Behavior Pt. 3
Welcome to another episode of the Daily Drama.
What I hope is a conclusion to the unacceptable behavior happened rather quickly today.
I was cleaning out my car and getting my sunflower seeds when the neighbor guy struck up a conversation. He was passing by in his car but switched to reverse.
Guess he wanted a response too.
We kicked the actual factual for a few minutes, and I toyed with the idea of bringing up the whole note issue. But I decided to let things just flow.
And flow they did.
“So you know those notes on your windshield,” he asked.
“What about them?” I responded.
“Was I out of line?” he said.
That was the wrong thing to say to me.
I literally lit into this man for a good five minutes and lectured him on the concept of doing better.
I asked was the woman he lived with his girlfriend, and he tried to give me a yes and no response for a yes or no question.
Finally, I got him to admit she indeed was the GF.
“But I’m in a transition,” he said.
What in blue blazes is a transition?
What are we doing here, growing out a relaxer? Either you are in a relationship or you aren’t.
Besides, transitions don’t live with each other and drive each other’s car.
“Sir, clearly this is unacceptable,” I said. “You do not leave notes on a person’s car when you are in a relationship.”
“I’m sorry if I was disrespectful,” he said. “That’s why I asked.”
“Don’t be sorry, be right,” I said. “Do better.’
He wasn’t disrespecting me, per say. But he did disrespect big time his girlfriend and their relationship, transition or whatever.
I mean I still can’t get over this whole transition thing.
The man is 30-years-old (yes I did ask) and thought it was OK to leave me a note while “transitioning.”
Someone please tell me if I have Foo Foo the Fool written across my forehead.
“What grade are you in Sir?” I said. “I mean really, we are adults here. We do not need to write notes back in forth and hide them from the teacher.
“Furthermore, Sir, you are 30,” I said. “I’m 23-years-old, and even I know this was unacceptable. Clearly if you have to question the situation, then there is a problem. Do better.”
I let him know upfront I am not trying to catch a case, and he wanted to play all dumb.
“What do you mean?” he said.
“Look Sir, I write the news, not end up on the news,” I said. “I plan to keep it like that.”
I didn’t have the heart to mention he was illiterate. That might have opened a whole new can of worms.
The whole ordeal took something out of me. After my tirade I had to just walk away.
“I can’t take much in life,” I said. “I must go because I can’t even believe I just dignified this whole situation with a response. Do not leave me anymore notes.”
I must admit home skillet took it all in strides. Then again what else could he do?
I wasn’t really mean. It’s actually kind of funny looking back.
I’m in the help a brother out program. Maybe I did help him.
“Well, you learn something new every day,” he said.
“That’s why I’m a reporter, to bring the truth,” I said.
And the truth is his behavior was unacceptable. Let’s hope he will do better regardless of if he transitions back with his GF or to someone else.
We all know who he won’t be transitioning with.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Chronicles of Life ... voyage to indie

Amid a sea of Black Kids’ fans at Athens’ 40 Watts Club Wednesday night were me and friend.
Usually, I’m an R&B type of girl, but every now and then I dig different sounds.
The group was named one of Rolling Stones’ 10 bands to watch (yes, I have a subscription). My interest was soon piqued in these fellow Jacksonville natives.
I went on Youtube to hear their catchy song “I’m not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance,” to get a feel for the band.
It was love at first sound.
Research soon revealed they were going to perform in Athens, and I knew I had to go.
My friend, CB is also a Black Kids fan and wanted to experience them live too. Yay! I wouldn’t be alone in a sea of indie.
I agonized over my concert attire for weeks. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked at the last minute when I couldn’t get a certain pair of shoes (a sad tale for another day).
But it all worked out in the end.
My fellow concertgoer played the part of indie queen to perfection. She was cool, calm and collect in white tank, jeans and Chucks.
Yours truly tried to blend in too. I sported a screen tee that declared my love for rock, and some pumps, a particularly bad choice because they were off real soon into the night.
My shoes would have never come off if I’d gotten the original ones I wanted, but I won’t linger on it anymore.
We arrived at the concert on time, 9 p.m., but they set us up for the OK Doke. We probably didn’t go in until 9:30ish and the start was about 10:15.
People, it was a Wednesday night and we have school and work the next day! Do better!
As I people watched, I squealed like a school girl when I saw Alan Youngblood, lead singer for the Black Kids. Then I saw his sister Ali.
If only I could have made it backstage.
I also notice I, and a few others, were the only idiots in heels. My original shoe choice was a sneaker, but a certain store didn’t have them and left me prostrate with grief.
But I digress.
Eventually things got a move on.
The opening act, Magic Wand, was OK. I could have done without them. CB and I sat down for most of their set.
We headed toward the stage for the Virgins. I have no idea what the lead singer was saying in all of his songs, but the music was pretty good.
The singer kept doing this hilarious little shimmy. I should have videotaped it.
Now some of the chicks in the crowd were a little wild with their dancing. I thought CB was going to have to shut it down.
My pumps and a pencil were all ready for an attack. But we had victory over violence.
Finally, 10 hours later, the group we had been waiting for came out.
Lights glowing, the group came out to party.
I was momentarily shocked by a t-shirt Reggie Youngblood, the lead singer, wore. Just know it involved the male genitalia.
Overall, they rocked my socks off, even though I only knew five songs. Yeah I’m a newbie fan.
I sang out loud to the five I did know and danced around to the rest. My interest was thoroughly justified.
Will I be a regular fixture at indie/rock concerts? Probably not.
But I successfully survived my first voyage to indie. And another trip could be in the future.

Chronicles of Life ... Hair wars

I went to the mall with a friend on Labor Day, and we had an interesting exchange with a store clerk.
The clerk complimented my hair and asked me how long I had been natural (three and a half years and counting). She used to be natural herself and asked to touch my hair.
Soon the three of us struck up a conversation about hair.
My friend mentioned she was getting a relaxer the following week. And the clerk called my friend ever so softly, but loud enough where we could still hear, “a weak black woman.”
Did we hear correctly? Homegirl was trying to call my friend out on her personal hair decision.
Now if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black!
She was no longer natural. So what does that say about her?
The whole situation had me thinking of the battle between “good” and “bad” hair.
There seems to be a constant source of contention with some in the happy nappy and silky straight crews. Representatives from each group tend to demean one another’s hair preference.
It sort of reminds me of the song and dance routine from “School Daze” when the Jiggaboos and Wannabees poke at each other.
The song brought up several sentiments.
The Wannabes (i.e rexlaxed hair) want to be white and think they’re better, seem more attractive, have hard hair, have good and long hair and are evil.
Whereas, the Jiggaboos (i.e. natural hair) are not ashamed of their blackness, can’t get a man, have stronger hair, have bad and short hair and are jealous,
Spike Lee seemed to have hit it on the nail!
And the problem is too many people buy into these myths and perpetuate these feelings each day.
I say it’s time for a cease fire order.
All hair types are beautiful, whether it be relaxed and short, long and natural or somewhere in between.
Relaxed and natural sisters need to seat down and agree to disagree.
Not everyone with straight hair wants to be white. And all natural hair wearers are not revolutionaries.
Furthermore, there are plenty of women with cute short natural ‘dos, and even more with natural hair down their back.
We have enough to weary about without scrutinizing over someone else’s hair.
Relaxed hair isn’t right for me, but who am I to say it’s wrong for you?
Yours truly plans to live nappily ever after, but I won’t put down anyone else who chooses otherwise.
Any hair is good as long as you take care of it.

The Hartwell Chronicles ... Small town single

Reality bites, especially for small town dating and relating.
Every time I start thinking to myself, “Hmmm it would be nice to meet a charming gentleman or even go on a date while I’m here,” I snap back to reality.
Usually some male – in Hart or surrounding counties – irks me to the point of rather ending up a bag lady with 10 cats than entertaining them for another second.
Extreme, I know. But I have proof.
Case in point 1: Let’s call him Chester the Molester. I hung out with Chester only once because immediately he was on me like a hawk on a Junebug.
Apparently, he did not hear Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown sing “It’s hard to breathe with no air.” Home skillet was about to suffocate me with his preying hands.
Then he had the nerve to say I had some psychological problem, such as stranger anxiety.
No, I don’t like being touched by random strangers. He might not wash his hands.
I barely escaped Chester’s “friendly” hands. His number was deleted two seconds later.
Case in point 2: Bubba Buford Brown was cool, some days. On other days, not so much.
Sure we talked a lot, at first, and then it slowly started becoming more and more sporadic.
I can’t get mad and say it was entirely fault. It does take two to tango.
I just was not that interested in Bubba. There was no chemistry, and I couldn’t even force it.
I soon tired of his presence, so he was dismissed.
Case in point 3: Willie Wanna Start Some has a tendency to poke fun at my little quirks and idiosyncrasies. At first it was OK, never acceptable mind you, but I took it all in strides.
Now he’s just getting down right annoying.
I can only take getting put down, however jokingly, so many times before the attitude comes out.
He has been warned.
Is it too much to ask for an interesting, sane and accepting individual such as myself?
I guess so.
There are slim pickings in a small town, especially one that’s a step below a retirement village.
All the eligible men are dead, waiting to be born or married.
I have had my fair share of “inquiries” from very old men and too young boys. Can we say, “EWWW!”
Everyone else has been subpar at best.
I, for one, will not settle for anything less than someone on my level who meets all 150 prerequisites.
(Yeah, I might be alone forever.)
Maybe I’ll just get a pet to keep me company. There is nothing wrong with being a cat lady.
I’m sure the whole dating and relating scene will get better when I finally move one.
For now, I do believe small town singlehood is the best fit.

The Hartwell Chronicles … Take me to the water

“I held my breath when they dipped my head, then I came up shiny and new. …”
Actually, I came up sputtering and spitting out water.
No, I was not getting baptized in “the river.” I was getting dropped, repeatedly, into a dunking booth.
You know I love the kids. When I was asked to participate in the dunking booth at a community fun day, I thought, “Sure, it’s for a good cause.”
Mistake number one.
I volunteered to take the first shift. It was all worked out in my mind that the first few people wouldn’t be able to hit the target.
Mistake number two.
A crowd of young children, all at least under 10 years of age, came rushing with tickets in hand and balls prepared to throw.
“Surely, they can’t hit that good so young,” I thought.
Mistake number three.
Water was all I saw for a good solid hour. I was dunked no less than a 100 times.
Each participant got three balls for $1.
Sure some would miss on the first try and even the second. But just a sure as Jesus rose on the third day, I got dunked with the last ball.
Better yet, some children got me on all three tries. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh is all people saw.
To top it off, the water was so dark and murky. Our local fire department got it from one of the hydrants, but they didn’t let it flush out first and lose its dirty look.
Yes, I was dunked in a nice big pit of dark brown water. Is it too much to ask for clear?
I can’t swim, and seeing how to float back up was impossible. I hit my head on the seat a few times.
The children all gathered around and laugh diabolically as they dunked me each time. I failed to see the humor in it.
One boy spent at least $10 dunking me by himself. Soon the whole family was joining in.
Then a crowd of older men thought it would be fun to take a few turns.
I started to talk some smack about them – it’s no fun without a little egging on – but I stopped after that first dunk.
They all said it was so much fun at the dunking booth.
Fun for who? Not me!
“Dunk the newspaper lady,” they screamed.
All these dunkers or their parents better have a subscription to “The Hartwell Sun.”
I was cold, wet and tired by the time my shift was over. Water was dripping all over the place.
The only thing that looked decent was my hair (water does wonders for the natural).
At least they gave me a shout out during quarter bingo.
I am too through with the dunking booth. From now on I’m sticking to easy community service events like celebrity waiter/waitress night.
My infectious smile and sugary sweet personality will definitely get me the most tips of the night.
Maybe my dunkers will tip the newspaper lady with money instead of into water.

Chronicles of Life … being the educated me

There is a serious problem in our society when characteristics are pinpointed as belonging to a particular race.
Yesterday, the Michael Baisden Show mentioned the latest Obama remark from country singer Toby Keith. Keith said black people think Obama “don’t talk, act, or care (to) railway himself as a black person,” during a Glen Beck interview. Beck himself had to ask “What does that even mean?”
Keith responded “I don't know what that means; I'm saying that's what I think that they would say. Even though the black society would pull for him, I still think that they think in the back of their mind that the only reason that he is in is because he talks, acts and carries himself as a Caucasian, but I think he's got a, I think him and McCain are the two best choices, in my opinion, that we've had in years.” To view the full interview, visit:
So, if you don’t know what you mean by a statement, why even say it? Can we say stupid?
Here’s a little news for you Toby Keith, Obama is not acting white. He’s just being himself: an educated man. He was raised to speak correct grammar, dress appropriately and behave in a professional manner.
Why does intelligence and education have to signify one is acting white? Does the opposite mean one is acting black?
I would be a very rich woman if I had a penny for every time I’ve been told I “act white.”
It started in elementary school. I went to an all black school near my grandparents.
I was an anomaly among my peers. My parents, and even my grand parents, were married to each other, not on drugs or in jail or unconcerned about their child.
To top it off, my grandmother and mother required nothing less than perfect behavior. That meant good grades, correct grammar and carrying myself with some pride.
“Why do you act like a white girl?” the other children would ask.
“I’m not acting white,” I would respond. “But why do you act like you have no sense?”
Yes, I speak, for the most part, the King’s English. I take pride in my appearance, and I act respectful. So shoot me!
When I got a little older, a friend of mine and later my mom’s co-worker said the black people at my high school talked and acted funny, sort of like we were better than everyone else.
Funny and better in what way? White of course.
I did go to Stanton Preparatory School. So because we made good grades, wanted to attend the best schools and chose to speak English over Ebonics, we thought we were white? I think not.
The “acting white” comments even followed me into adult hood.
An aunt and cousin told me just this past June I sound like a white girl. No, I sound like me.
Out of respect I laughed off my aunt’s comments, but my cousin was not so lucky.
“Unlike you, I don’t talk like I have a plate of hot grits in my mouth,” I told her. “It would behoove you to learn how to speak properly if you want to be a lawyer.”
Later, I made her read this article about why it shows ignorance when you claim someone is “acting white.” Maybe I need to share the same article with Toby Keith.
Must my “black card” get revoked because I choose to be educated?
I’m probably more in touch with my blackness than those who feel the need to call me out on “acting white.” Who’s rocking the natural hair, knows black history is more than just Malcolm and Martin and will proudly soak up the sun to get a shade darker?
Being educated is not limited to one race, culture or religion. It’s a universal concept.
Go to the University of Florida, or any school, and you will find several others like Obama, be they white, black, red, blue or green.
Like Obama, I am not “acting white,” I am just being me: an educated black woman. Keith and others who say someone is “acting white” are just being themselves too: ignorant.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Chronicles of Life ... a humbling experience

Alas and alack, I fear my number of MySpace friends will never equally or exceed the number I have on Facebook.
Yes, I too joined the ranks of MySpacers. There's a whole world out there and I want to know it.
Unfortunately, MySpace is nowhere near as cool and sophisticated as Facebook use to be.
But I digress.
When I first joined Facebook, I was all about hunting folks down and adding them to my friends list. Such is not the case on MySpace.
Very few people even know I have an account there. And I am not motivated to add all those same people as MySpace friends.
I have in some shape or form met every one of my 898 Facebook friends (if only I can break 1,000).
Only random rappers and the like send me friend requests on MySpace. I keep thinking there is a connection somewhere.
“Do I know you?” I write to them
“Yo Ma' I'm bout to drop my second album, add me so you can fly high with a real playa,” they respond.
Hey, I can't be mad for someone trying to hustle. After all, I'm on MySpace for readers.
So yes, I add them and send a link to my blog. There's no harm in a little shameless self promotion.
I have found some family and friends on MySpace and added them too. It pays to actually know someone.
I probably have about a good 20 friends on MySpace now. It should have been 22, and therein is the start of my fear.
For whatever reason, some people just don't want to be my MySpace friend anymore. So they deleted me.
Who in their right mind would delete me? Clearly whatever is wrong with them is no small matter.
In both cases we were once MySpace friends for several days. We also knew each other pretty well in real life.
But things happen, friendships end, family members are disowned and voila, the communication stops.
Does it have to extend to MySpace too? Is it too much to ask for a cool 1,000 friends?
Obviously, some people just don't want to be a team player.
And to think I was going to include them in the acknowledgments for my forthcoming novel. OK that is definitely a lie, so let me retract that statement.
To think, I was going to, oh never mind, I was probably going to delete them first.
Now the truth comes to light.
My ego is so big it amazes me sometimes. I merely play if off by saying, “I'm not conceited, I'm confident.”
No one can believe in you more than you. I am my own biggest fan.
Every now and then I need an ego boost.
It's kind of like the Echinacea pills I take when I feel sickly. They're my immune system booster.
Having as many MySpace friends as possible is definitely a boost, especially since it's dedicated to my blogging (Facebook is the social network).
Granted, I do a little spring cleaning to my phone and Facebook each year. Sometimes you have to evaluate who do you really know and talk to, and who is just of no use.
Well, they deleted me before I got to that point. Talk about a blow to the ego.
Maybe that's the real problem.
Pride is probably my biggest issue. It is my “tragic flaw”
Instead of being upset that a friendship (that was once beyond MySpace) was irrevocably ended, I am annoyed I was deleted first.
She/he who deletes first wins. I came out a loser this time.
Oh well, with an ego as big as mine, one needs to be humbled occasionally.
Besides MySpace friends come a dime a dozen. Real friends last a lifetime.

The Hartwell Chronicles … learning to balance

Instead of simply reporting, I’m also learning.
I started attending budget meetings for two of the governmental agencies I cover around the end of April.
All those big numbers can be confusing. I haven’t understood math since I stopped piano lessons.
Looking at all the money they bring in made me realize a harsh reality: I am po’ and penniless.
I don’t have a penny or pinto bean to my name. Here’s a little mathematical equation for you; journalism degree + entry level reporting job = po’.
Why I’m so po’ I can’t even afford the o and r. OK maybe I’m not really THAT poor, but it does feel like it at times.
I did not go into journalism for the money, a point my mother loves to bring up. I did it for the love of writing (and by reason of insanity). But I never thought I would be in such dire straits.
I had a nice little salary to live on when I first started working. I thought I was Ms. Baller Supreme. Trips to the mall, out to eat and across state lines were a common occurrence.
Then reality kicked in.
Yes, the check was “big” until health insurance started coming out. Suddenly things were looking mighty slim.
Not to mention, my lack of budgeting skills eventually started catching up with me. Maybe I should have taken note at the first budget meeting I attended last year.
I usually know how much money I have, but after about the third purchase I stop paying attention. That definitely leads into trouble.
My biggest budgeting problem has been rent. I pay on the first and they don’t cash it until the 21 at the earliest.
That drives me crazy. I mean it looks like I have money when I don’t.
And what do I do? Spend it.
Then I have to call home asking for a loan. Well actually I only did that twice, and once was for rent.
I never really had to develop a budget before. My momma paid all my bills. But now I pay the majority.
And after nearly a year of no budgeting, I’m realizing its importance.
It’s time for me to keep better financial records. Every purchase I make, even if it’s a pack of gum, is written down now. And I’ve evaluated what are necessities compared to luxuries.
Case in point is television. The only time I really watched TV was when the Boondocks were on.
The season’s over, and it’s available online. The same goes for Everybody Hates Chris and House of Payne.
So long TV. They disconnected my cable last week (but at least I still have Internet service).
I am also guilty of semi-reckless spending.
Now I don’t go out and by the latest pairs of Jimmy Choos, but I have my share of frivolous expenses: namely food.
Hey, a working girl’s got to eat, right? Fair enough, but those $10 lunches start adding up over time.
I’ve taken up cooking more to combat that problem. Leftovers are just fine with me.
I think frugality is going to be the name of the game for the next few months. If it ain’t free, it ain’t for me.
And considering my current locale, it shouldn’t be too hard. There isn’t that much to do in Hartwell that is too expensive.
A college degree is supposed to help bring in the green. But it also depends on your own financial responsibilities.
I wouldn’t be in my current po’ state if I had properly handled my finances. Poor, not po’, would have been my title.
But sometimes you have to learn the hard way. I think I’m done learning now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chronicles of Life ... My new philosophy

Some things are better left unsaid.
I would have never subscribed to this theory in my younger days.
I am by nature a compulsive talker. Granny use to call me motor mouth or mouth all mighty, tongue everlasting.
My talkative personality is a gift and a curse. It took until adulthood for me to realize that.
Getting the last word is like a silent victory for me. And I always have to get MY point across, be it wrong or right.
My mother called it talking back when we had arguments. I saw it as stating my case.
Perhaps realizing silence is golden at an earlier age would have saved me from some spankings. But speech was silver, and I preferred that anyway.
Senior says I love to hear the sound of my own voice. He’s one to talk. Where does he think I get it from?
Every Lawson seems to love to chat it up. A simple five minute conversation can last for hours.
Naturally I inherited that trait since I take after my dad’s side.
But lately I’ve been trying not to talk as much.
Maybe it was because of my friends tuning me out on phone conversations.
More than once I have finished my latest rambling to find them not listening to a word I said.
“Are you even listening?” I asked.
“No, I started tuning you out,” they respond.
I would get mad, but I do know I can go on way too long.
Or it could be because my boss has told me on several occasions I am too chatty.
She doesn’t say it in a mean way. It’s just I tend to talk a lot at the wrong time: namely deadline.
Asking me one question can lead into a lengthy dialogue. Even my co-worker has pulled out the quiet game on me.
Furthermore, how can I forget the many times I’ve come down with the dreaded foot-n-mouth disease?
I often respond first and think later. That usually doesn’t have a good ending.
But I think the real reason I’m deciding to keep mum it because I wish some people just wouldn’t say anything.
As one of my friends would say, “Well if that ain’t the pot calling the kettle black.”
My thoughts on communication are funny like that. I know what irks me, and yet I do the exact same thing.
In recent weeks, I’ve had two instances where people gave me some long, unnecessary explanation filled with useless information.
“This and this caused that and the other, yada yada yada,” they said.
I feel like Sally from the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” On more than one instant I’ve wanted to respond with her classic, “Why are you telling me?”
It wasn’t like I initiated it.
For what it was worth, they could have kept the comments to themselves. At least wait for the question and answer session.
I guess they just wanted to “state their case,” too.
Ask me if I care. Heck, no!
Can we say hypocrite?
I am already guilty of many faults: pride, wrath and even occasionally sloth. I for one don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore.
What goes around comes around. So if I don’t like something, maybe I should stop doing it too.
When it’s all said and done, maybe I should just be silent.
And that’s MY new philosophy.

The Hartwell Chronicles ... Staying afloat

It’s amazing how time flies.
Each addition of my company’s newsletter contains a section with birthdays and work anniversaries. Guess who’s name was in there for an upcoming one year anniversary?
I can hardly believe it. I will complete a year in Hartwell Aug. 3.
Things have been pretty interesting since day one.
I remember well my journey here. How can I forget?
First, I was crying to a certain person about how I didn’t want to go.
“Ask me to stay, and I will,” I said.
But we both knew that wasn’t the case.
Then my parents were five hours late picking me up from Gainesville.
We were suppose to leave at noon, but knowing Senior I expected him around 3 p.m.
It was after 6 p.m. when we started on that long drive. And I do mean long!
A six and a half hour drive turned into over 10 hours because we kept getting loss.
“If we get lost again, I’m turning around and going back to Jacksonville,” I proclaimed.
My mother responded with words I can’t repeat here.
Later she was pulled over by a state trooper for following too close.
Senior was in the u-haul. I was on his bumper in the Green Machine, but my mom was like 100 feet away in the rental car. How she got stopped, we will never know.
I took all of this as a sign and was ready to turn right around.
But I didn’t.
There was no job waiting for me in Jacksonville. It was time to sink or swim.
We finally made it to the hotel after 1 a.m., and I was delirious with sleep.
My main focus for the next day was finding a place to live and moving in. But I was blessed to get that situated very quickly.
And the family made quick work of bringing in everything.
I started working the next morning at 8 a.m. That afternoon my family left.
I remember feeling very alone when I came home that evening. Somehow I kept from crying.
Slowly I became acclimated with the area. It only took about a week for me to stop getting loss coming home from work.
Too bad that still isn't the case for the rest of the city and county (but at least I can read a map).
Faces became more and more familiar for those on my beats. I didn’t have to coyly ask, “Let me make sure I spell your name correctly,” to find out what it was in the first place.
I’m also feeling a little less loss and a little more sure of myself every day.
Granted the road hasn’t been easy. The Green Machine definitely has some major battle scars.
Between work stress, losing loved ones and just good old life drama, I thought I was sinking a few times.
Things would probably be easier if I had my circle for friends and SISTUHS here. But I am learning to stand alone and on my own. And I know everyone is only one call away.
I’ve learned to following the rhythm of the ocean.
Looking back, I don’t think I’m quite swimming yet. But I’m definitely not sinking.
For now, I’m still floating on down the river of life. But each day I’m getting closer and closer to taking that first real stroke.
(If only I could swim in real life.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chronicles of Life... a teenage love affair

My baby’s growing up!
Actually, he’s not a baby anymore.
The boy (aka my brother) has fancied himself on my level since I can remember. The fact that he’s newly 16 only further proves his theory that he is “grown.”
I will admit AQ (another nickname) is very mature for his age. He had to be.
All my cousins and I were already eight plus years older than him when he was born.
We didn’t care he was the last grandchild. He had to get on our level pronto.
So we all treated him as an equal. Not to mention my parents didn’t do the whole baby talk thing.
Most of his friends are a few years older. His love interests range no less than one year older.
Let AJ (yet another nickname) tell it, he’s playa, playa from the Himalayas.
He claims he has more game than me, been in more relationships than me and can pull more girls in one day quicker than I can boys in a month.
I won’t deny that. I’m not into the whole dating thing anyway.
But dear brother has always been crazy for the ladies. Recently it seems he’s crazy for only one lady.
Awww!!! A “teenage love affair.”
I’m really digging Alicia Keys’ song “Teenage Love Affair.”
Granted, I think it’s weird she’s singing about high school emotions as an adult with a video set in college. But you’ve got to admit, the song is still catchy:
“Can’t wait to get home
Baby dial your number
Can you pick up the phone
Cause I wanna holla
Daydreaming about you all day
In school can’t concentrate
Want have your voice in my ear
‘Till mama comes and says it’s too late
Cause the lights are on outside
Wish there was somewhere to hide
Cause I just don’t want to say goodbye
Cause you are my baby, baby
Nothing really matters
I don’t really care
What nobody tell me
I’m gunna be here
It’s a matter of extreme importance
My first teenage love affair.”
Makes me reminisce about my first teenage love affair. OK it was at 22, but the feelings still apply.
I learned of the boy’s boo – although he vehemently denies there is a relationship – late this spring.
During one trip home, he kept me awake texting back and forth with her all night long (yes we share a bed because I no longer have a room). I was fit to be tied.
“Go to sleep,” I demanded.
“Get out my bed,” he retorted.
The floor was hard, but at least quiet that night.
I was only home for 2.5 days, but the whole time he was cakin’ on the phone. His inbox and outbox had no less than 500 messages.
Soon enough my deeply ingrained nosiness took over. I learned her name, age, location, you know all the vital big sis questions.
I think we bonded over talks of his “friend that is a girl.”
From what I understand, she’s a nice person.
My parents got to officially meet her Sunday. She was at church and of course Senior (my daddy) had to put the boy on blast.
“Deacon Norwood wants to see you after church, and I want to see the one sitting next to you,” Senior announced.
That’s exactly why I never brought anyone home. Well that and the fact I don’t really date.
My mother, who doesn’t like anybody, even liked her. Now I just have to meet her and give my seal of approval.
I’m excited to officially learn of someone my brother has an interest in. In a way it show’s me he’s growing up and not the little baby I use to dress up in doll clothes.
That will be an interesting topic of discussion or his wifey one day.
But I doubt wedding bells will be ringing anytime soon.
He is only a teenager. And there is a certain friend of mine he would drop all others for in a heartbeat if she would merely bat her eye lashes at him.
Ah teenage love: so fresh, so fickle.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chronicles of Life... Family Affair

The Lawson’s shut it down again!
I had the pleasure of attending my second annual family reunion this past weekend in Jacksonville.
Yeah we started late.
There had been some talk for years of having one, but we all procrastinated on the idea.
The family finally realized how desperately we needed to have a reunion after my great-grandma died in 2006.
I think we brushed off the idea for so long because my family is pretty close knit in one way.
Church service every week was a mini family reunion for me. Pearl – my grandmother – and all her progeny went to the same little white church by the side of the railroad.
We all lived no less than 15 minutes apart from each other.
Everyone, grandchildren and great grandchildren included, have stayed extensively with Pearl.
Before day care, there is Pearl care. Those who are in day care all go to the same one.
And holidays, oh the holidays, are jam packed with people.
Who needed a family reunion? We were thick as thieves with each other.
But that was mainly with those of Robinson (RIP Henry) descent.
Here’s a quick family tree for you.
My grandmother is the oldest of 11 children. She and two other siblings live in Jacksonville. Three are dead. One is MIA and four live in Belle Glade.
The Jacksonville crew is pretty close with each other, but Pearl’s children are a clan all in themselves.
We didn’t really know the Belle Glade crew that well. We only made that painstakingly long and boring trip a few times.
My third time would have been the funeral.
The Glades group is probably a clan to themselves down there.
Something needed to be done to unite us all.
So we made a pilgrimage to Belle Glade in 2007 to celebrate two hearts - Hambrick and Emma - that helped produce the Lawson family.
All the remaining siblings, except for the MIA uncle, and most of their children gather together at the reunions.
Some people are just not going to come, no matter what. But hopefully one day we all can reunite.
I mean, who would want to miss out on all the fun?
We have the kiddie crew, the young and fabulous crowd and the old timers.
The children act like a pack of wild animals. The fab adults play games and socialize and the old folks talk about the good old days.
There was talk of switching the reunion to every other year after this one.
Luckily one of the young and fabulous spoke out against it.
“Our parents and grandparents aren’t getting any younger,” he said. “A lot could happen in a year, and we don’t want the next time we get together to be a funeral.”
So next year we will journey to Atlanta and shut it down too. Yours truly is on the planning committee as the self-appointed activities director (I was the self-appointed consultant this year. I need to work on getting a real title).
A town might stay down, but now when the Lawsons are around.
Don’t you just love a family affair?

The Hartwell Chronicles ... Just the two of us

I have a mini me for the summer.
OK not quite a mini me, because she is definitely her own person.
My little cousin is staying with me in the lovely city of Hartwell.
The idea came about when me and her mom, my older cousin, talked about the need to remediate my brother’s behavior. His parents didn’t deem it necessary to send him to me.
But my cousin thought it would be a wonderful idea to send her daughter here.
She would get to experience a new cultural environment and actually go somewhere cool for the summer.
Err, cool might not be the word, but hey hanging with her older cousin should be fun right?
I’m young, hip and in the know.
Actually, there are those who say I am lame. Namely my brother and one of my friends.
I will admit, I am not the picture of perfection when it comes to being trendy and whatnot.
This isn’t Sex and the City here. It’s small town single (a forthcoming novel by yours truly. The title has been copy written by me.)
But what I lack in trendsetting, I make up for in my quirky yet entertaining personality.
Hopefully my cousin sees that.
She started crying right before we left from the family reunion saying she didn’t want to go. Then the yelling started from everyone.
“My daughter doesn’t need to deal with her drama,” my daddy shouted.
“Get your stuff out the car if you’re going to act a fool,” my grandma chimed in.
“You need to experience new things, so get in the car” her mom said.
It was driving me crazy. I know she was headed there too.
So she said she would go.
My family did a lot of teasing to my cousin right before she left, and I think that’s what got to her. They said I would be running a boot camp.
I am not.
Yes, I do make her read, write and practice diction. But that’s because she needs improvement in those areas, especially if she aspires to be a lawyer.
When she’s a supreme court justice, she’ll thank me.
And we’ve been counting calories and exercising. Her mom said she needs to lose weight.
She’s slightly shorter than me, but weighs almost the same amount. We both need to drop some major pounds.
You do not want to start high school overweight, believe me.
I guess what everyone failed to realize is she is only 14. She’s never been away from home in another state.
That can be challenging when you’re young.
No friends, no family except a lame-o cousin and a summer filled with unfun activities (wait they’re not that bad). I think I would have started crying too.
By the time we got down the highway and made it to Hartwell she seemed fine. We sung along to the radio, laughed at my bad driving and talked about how I live in a retirement community.
I have to remember to be her cousin and not her parent.
I’m sure I’ll have my share of day’s wondering, “What did I get myself into?”
She mumbles, doesn’t want to listen to me and keeps telling me to turn the lights off (in my own house nonetheless. Her point is we’re in a recession.)
But I’m sure she’s thinking the same thing.
She probably resents me for my lack of culinary skills, my school like structure and my many idiosyncrasies.
Oh well, nobody’s perfect. The two of us are stuck together this summer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chronicles of Life... For whom the bell tolls

Mark your calendars for June 30, 2012 and June 30, 2018.
I am getting married on one or both of those days.
That’s right, the “wedding bug” has bit me.
I went to a friend’s wedding Father’s Day Weekend and was “caught up in the rapture of love,” a la Anita Baker.
It was absolutely beautiful.
The wedding party gracefully came down the aisle, the bride looked like a dream and the ceremony was wonderfully done (and I’m not just saying this because my daddy officiated).
Then we ate, we laughed, we danced at the reception.
And there was cake. Cake, glorious cake. Oh for the love of cake!
I want a wedding!
Bells, wedding ones that is, have been ringing in my head since last Saturday.
I started working out the details of my special day on the ride back to Hartwell Sunday night.
I have a color scheme, ceremony, location and most of the bridal party planned. The only thing missing is one small detail: the groom.
OK, maybe that’s a major part of it. But can’t I just find one in the Penny Saver?
If Juno can find adoptive parents for her unborn baby, I should be able to find a husband.
I’m not asking for much. He just needs to fit my 50 qualifications which include being taller than 5’9, clean and straight teeth, good credit, gainfully employed, intelligence, a relationship not religion with God, you know all the normal stuff.
A few references, background check, drug and mental test wouldn’t hurt.
This is a full time job, after all. I can’t just let any and everybody apply for the position of husband.
All he has to do is show up for the wedding after he gets the job.
This should be fairly simple, right?
I’m just kidding about all the above (err at least most of it).
But someone else might not be.
A lot of people really do catch the “wedding bug” and rush into a faulty relationship and even quicker out a bad marriage. They get caught in the romanticism of marriage and are ready to jump the broom quicker than lighting.
But after the honey moon is when the troubles come.
People don’t realize a relationship takes a lot of work and even more if its a marriage. This isn’t some fly by night operation.
I’m not going to lie. I was caught up in the glitz and glamor of the wedding for a moment.
I almost was ready to start on my five year plan.
“Got to get married while I’m still young,” I thought.
Then I went back to reality.
I didn’t get a boyfriend until 22. I’m definitely not about to rush marriage.
If I’m married by 30, great. If it takes until 40 even better.
Right now my twenties are all about me. There are so many things I want to accomplish before marriage. Why rush it?
I think I’ll get the wedding bug out my system by planning a few parties on those dates.
So ask not for whom the bell tolls. I guarantee it won’t be me for at least another 10 years.
Then again. ...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles… It's TP'ing Time

The first wrap around was hard. My roll broke off, and I didn’t know what I was doing.
But then it became easier, and easier and easier. Finally, I had completed the porch’s railing.
Soon, flashes of white were headed for the sky and landing in tree limbs.
I was alive, I was free, I was finally doing it.
Doing what, you ask?
At long last, I have engaged in the age old tradition of TP’ing.
Yes, in my nearly 24 years of existence, I had never before thrown a beautiful toilet paper roll into the air and watched it land in the trees.
I’ve done my share of decorating dorm and bedroom doors or party locations, but it just doesn’t compare to TP’ing.
TP’ing is a popular tradition in the U.S. And no wonder.
You get a rush from doing it. Sneaking in the night, aided only by the light of the moon as you complete your task is exhilarating.
Alas and alack, it seemed like another rite of passage from my youth would disappear with the sands of times.
I can’t swim. I don’t know how to ride a bike. Skating is a definite no-no.
At least I learned how to hula hoop and can semi-bowl.
Opportunity finally presented its self for me to join the ranks of TP’ers
The crew – Sarah Lee, H.J.L. and San Antonia – whose true identities shall remain nameless to protect the not so innocent, carefully picked our target.
He is someone we’ve all come into contact with several times.
One lives near him. One works with him. And the other has interacted with him on the football field.
Marky Mark was, well, the mark.
Tomorrow is his birthday. And what better way to commemorate such a momentous occasion then with a few decorations here or there? A few TP decorations at that.
So we crept into the night, dressed in mostly black and went to work. Toilet paper would soon be everywhere.
The first rule of TP’ing is to work while the cost is clear.
We thought we were in the clear. Marky Mark’s car had been M.I.A. for several days.
He wouldn’t know who or what hit him.
Rule number two: blend in with your surroundings. The black attire would help camouflage us amid the darkness.
Number tres: Don’t get caught!
Funny I should mention that.
There were several cars that drove past us. We hid for safe measures among the trees.
The first one was a false alarm. Too bad the next one wasn’t.
The jig was up.
Marky Mark’s little red car started pulling up, and we took off running.
Very carefully we calculated our next move. We would wait and resume.
Err actually we just turned ourselves in. After all, he took the rest of the toilet paper rolls.
I think Marky Mark was pleasantly surprised and even touched. Not every sports editor is lucky enough to get his house TP’ed.
He may have caught us this time, but soon, and very soon, the crew shall return.
TP'ing time will strike again!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Chronicles of Life… Never say bye

Sometimes I still can’t believe they’re gone.
It’s been four months since I lost my granny. And Father’s Day this year officially marks 11 years since my granddaddy passed away.
The pain doesn’t sting as deep when they first died, but it still hurts … a lot.
I have my days when I can think about them without getting sad. But there are a lot more times when I cry, especially when thinking about my granny.
I see a lot of people in Hartwell with grandchildren. They usually are beaming with pride over the grands.
My grandparents were the same way. I was their angel.
I didn’t visit my grandparents, I practically lived with them. Their house was my domain.
It was the first place I was going to run away to when my mom told me she was pregnant with my brother (yeah , I didn’t take that news too well ).
Naturally you develop a closeness with your grandparents when you’re around them 24/7.
I guess that’s why losing them was so rough.
I’m definitely glad they’re not suffering anymore. But the selfish side of me wishes I still had them.
My granddaddy had no less that 20 other grandchildren. Most are old enough to be my parents.
He got to live through so much of their life. But that wasn’t the case for me.
He only got to see me finish sixth grade.
And although Granny made it to my high school graduation, she was a shadow of her former self.
Her complete essence was gone by the time I made it through college and to my first job.
Talk about a sharp pain.
I take to heart the words in Mariah Carey’s song “Bye Bye.”
“And you never got the chance to see how good I've done
And you never got to see me back at number one
I wish that you were here to celebrate together
I wish that we could spend the holidays together
I remember when you used to tuck me in at night
With the Teddy Bear you gave to me that I held so tight
I thought you were so strong
That you can make it through whatever.
It's so hard to accept the fact you're gone forever.”
No wonder I bawl for a good minute ever time I hear the song.
The sadness I’ve felt over other little trivial things in my life is nothing compared to that of losing a loved ones.
There are days I would give anything to have my grandparents back.
But each trip to Edgewood cemetery in Jacksonville reminds me that won’t be happening. And I have no desire to deal with ghosts.
Nothing will bring them back, and that’s just something I have to deal with.
But even though they’re gone, this isn’t goodbye forever. I know I’ll see them again someday soon.
Just like the Jackson Five I never can say goodbye. So I won’t say goodbye to my grandparents. I’ll just say “See you later.”

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles ... tales of the old

Hartwell is a town filled with a lot of retirees. Their numbers probably rival some cities in Florida (after all the entire state is filled with nothing but senior citizens).
There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes senior citizens can be irksome.
Like when they’re driving. I am a speeder, so anything less than 60 is too slow.
Nothing like a little old lady creeping at 25 in a one lane road when the speed limit is 45. Sometimes I just want to shout a few choice words – like I do to other drivers – but I can’t.
I just say “Bless them Lord.”
I even said it to that 100 year old lady who was about to broadside my car. Had she been about 35, she would have gotten the beat down. But I digress.
Silver haired grandmothers. No haired grandfathers. Great-grand aunts and uncles playing bingo at the senior center. Older neighbors going to their lake houses at night. Hartwell is full of them
However, aside from the bad driving skills of some, most of them are incredible storytellers.
Have you ever just listened to their stories?
I’ve heard tales of international travelers, talked to war survivors and even met a few with stories so astounding you can hardly believe they’re real.
But real they are.
Life has a funny way of doing that.
One of my first profiles was about this phenomenal piano teacher. She tried other things, but her first love was music. Her student stories are as diverse as she is.
My new hairdresser, who at the very least is 60, shared her career tales with me. She was a nurse before becoming a hairdresser. There weren’t too many black nurses in her day, especially in Mississippi.
Just today, I interviewed a man who is swiftly approaching 91. He grew up in the days of the depression and moonshine. He’s been through a war, a job and even two marriages.
That’s barely even scraping the surface of what they told me. It would take me a packed lunch and then some.
My grandmother always used to tell me “Just keep on living.”
Now I understand why.
One of my favorite quotes, an AJR original, is “I chronicle life because it is my muse.”
I’m adding a new one in honor of seniors, “Your life is my muse.”
It’s tre-cooler to write about older people. I could just eat their stories up.
One of the objectives in SISTUHS is seek guidance from elder African-American women.
Well, I’m seeking stories from any and everyone. Plenty of their stories provide guidance.
I think a lot of the single senior citizens in Hartwell get lonely.
Spouses have passed away. Children are too busy with their own lives. Grandchildren live out of state.
Sometimes they just want someone to talk to. I can relate to that.
If they need an ear, I am more than glad to listen.
I love talking, but I don’t mind hearing an interesting tale or 10.
It just doesn’t get any better than the tales of the old.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles... Straight from the sidelines

“It smells like boy.”
That was the first thing I told the sports editor at the Soap and Towel Bowl.
I was at the high school’s spring football game for a little Friday night sports action and learning
I’ve never really been a football fan, but I enjoyed this game a lot better than the last one I went to.
I went to one other Hart County High School football game in the fall.
This was before I really knew anyone. So I sat in the bleachers all alone trying to look like I knew what was going on.
Well, I didn’t, for the most part.
Most of the football fundamentals escape me.
I know the basics like who the quarterback is or what TD means. But I don’t watch it enough to really care.
That’s going to change for next season.
I was the sport editor’s assistant at the spring game.
That’s right, ole San Antonia got to report from the sidelines.
It all started as a way to get into the game for free. A press pass is only good for actual work use.
So I worked.
We had a pretty good system going. He took the pictures and I wrote down all the plays, with his help of course.
There was a lovely article in this week’s paper written by him with the use of my notes.
I even know some football jargon now. But don’t ask me what it means. I’m not that good yet.
Now I think I’ve really caught the football bug.
If you’re standing on the sidelines, you can’t help but get caught up in all the football excitement.
Maybe that’s just the boost I needed to really get me into the game.
I should have caught football fever earlier. My dad is, after all, a football fanatic.
Sunday and Monday nights the TV is turned to the pros. Friday nights he’s at a high school game. Saturday is college game time.
He even use to coach a football team when my little brother played back in the day.
My house was on a football overload.
Come to think of it, my grandmother was a big fan, and my mom shares that trait too.
And of course you’re not a true Gator unless you watch some football.
I did semi become interested in football last season.
The sports editor and I did the pigskin picks in the paper.
Each week, he compiled a list of local high school, college and professional football match ups, and we picked what team would win and told why.
I finished with an honorable 79 wins to his 80. Not too shabby for someone that knows nothing.
With a little knowledge, I’ll be unstoppable.
People are going to see my face at more high school and rec league football games next year. Every little bit will help in improving my football knowledge.
TV commercials will soon be asking, “Are you ready for some football?”
I know I am.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chronicles of life... Political pondering

Every now and then I talk politics with a few friends.
I am far from being Miss Political Pro herself, but I usually am not too far off in left base.
With local, state and national elections back in November 2007, coming up July 15 and again in Nov. 4, my thoughts have yet to stray from politics. After all, I want to be an informed voter.
All these political happenings have made me ponder a few things.

On the national level
1. Will Hilary and Obama ever be friends? This has got to be one of the ugliest battles for a party nomination I’ve ever seen. I’m talking about uglier than store bought sin on a hot summer’s day. And since it’s store bought, you know it’s ugly, because that’s the cheap kind. Can’t we all just get along? Apparently, not when a party nomination is at stake.
2. Who would have thought a man of African descent would run for president so soon? Or a woman for that matter? I remember watching “Head of State” when it came out and thinking “ha that’s won’t be anytime soon.” Definitely was wrong.
3. Speaking of race and gender, I hate how in the early stages, and even now, of their campaigns some people were like, “Vote for Obama, because he’s black” or “Vote for Hilary because she’s a woman.” What happened to voting for a candidate because you support their issues? Politics are not just black and white, male and female. Then there was backlash if you wanted to vote for Hilary and were black and Obama if you were white. Not only is there freedom of speech, but freedom of voting choice.
4. I got to hand it to Hil, she’s not backing down, even as the race for the party nomination comes to a close. That’s what I call some persistence. I definitely can respect that as a reporter.
5.Is it just me, or has campaigning been going on for at least four years? This is ridiculous. Democrats need to get it together. I think there should be some type of time limit in place for how far in advance you can campaign for the party’s nomination and how long thereafter before you are declared the winner. They should be thinking about vice presidents right now. But
6. Florida, Florida, Florida. Why is it every election we have some issue? We had to have a recount. Our Dems did their primary out of sync. What next? Has all the sun in the sunshine state fried the citizens’ brains? It seems so.
7. Now I didn’t hear the whole speech, but from what I understand, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright has always been outspoken. So I’m kind of mad Obama started to diss him when the pressure got hot. It’s not like he just started saying this. It’s interesting how some folks are fair weather friends.
8. But I am also mad about how the media (and yes I am one of them) played up Wright and conveniently forgot to mention how the Clinton’s former pastor is going to jail for touching children. Let’s see, would we prefer someone to be outspoken or someone who touches children.
9. I have a few discrepancies with both candidates. Hil, and Bill, tend to have the dreaded foot-in-mouth disease when it comes to race relations. And I think Obama has it to an extent himself. It would be great if he had more experience beyond being a junior senator. And he need not be so flaky. But that’s just me and my opinion.

On the state level
1. Not much to say here but candidates have been coming out the wood wack to lil ole Hartwell. I even got to ride on a campaign bus with one and do an interview. That’s going in the scrapbook. But the candidate definitely sounded like a press release. I finally just stopped listening to him. He was impressed by my uncanny ability to write and take notes without looking at the paper once. That’s a little trick I picked up in high school. People talk more when you make eye contact (except sometimes they also get nervous and look away).

On the local level
1. Why do people who are uninformed and never come to the meetings run for office? I didn’t understand it during city elections last year, and I’m still baffled with the school board elections for this one.
There was this one man running for city election who was not only 100 but couldn’t read. Funny thing, I’ve never seen him at one city meeting.
The same thing is happening with the school board.
Seat A has two candidates running against an incumbent. One has not been to a meeting as far as I know (and I’m always there). The other, when he does come, he rants and raves about topics he is grossly misinformed about. The incumbent is a really cool man, and he does a good job. My vote goes for him.
Seat B has no incumbent. But the choices aren’t that great. One lady is misinformed, whenever she comes to a meeting (I recall two). The other has never been to a meeting since I’ve been here.
Seat C puts a retiring assistant principal, who is always at the meetings, against someone I’ve never seen before. No incumbent here either.
I do have to admit, they broadcast meetings on TV. Maybe these people who are running watch them at home.
Yeah right!
Maybe I should run for office. Naw, reporting about it is way more fun.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Hartwell Chronicles ... Good or bad hair

Who would have thought finding a hairdresser could be so hard?
I went to the same person for as long as I can remember back in Florida.
Whatever I did with my hair, Ms. Stacy was there to see it through. She has cut it, dyed it and weaved it up for me when it was long and short; relaxed and natural; or soft and rough.
It's been a while since I've been to a hairdresser.
I love doing my hair now that it's natural. It's all about trying new things.
But there are some things I can't do, such as cut it.
Finding a stylist was the first thing on the list when I moved to Hartwell.
Trips to Wal Mart weren't just about shopping. They were about stalking that sista to the left with the tight 'do.
A nicely done hairstyle is the best business card for any stylist. The only problem was none of them did natural hair.
What is with the discrimination against the 'fro and frizz?
I finally learned of one lady way back in September.
It was not a happy ending.
I called to set up an appointment and told her I wanted my ends trimmed and a deep conditioning.
She has had natural hair herself. I thought I had found a kindred spirit.
Strike one: Home girl did not accept appointments on Saturdays, only walk ins.
Strike two: That wasn't too bad until I entered the shop at 10 a.m. and waited until almost 1 p.m. before she started on my hair.
Strike three: She did not cut my hair!
“Natural hair is too hard to cut,” she said. “Unless you want a particular style, I think you should just let it grow free.”
Did I mention I didn't get the deep condition either?
And you're out!
I haven't been back since then.
I can't be bothered waiting countless hours to not get what I want. I'm trying to keep my hair good.
No, I don't mean good as in naturally silky straight hair: the kind some people tend to have.
Good hair is healthy hair. You can get so much weave until its unbeweaveable, a relaxed mane retouched every six weeks or, my personal favorite, the naturally you 'do and have healthy hair.
Having good hair is not just about genetics. It's about keeping it healthy.
Lately, my state of health has fallen into disarray.
It's bad y'all, real bad.
I thought I was avoiding it, but somehow it caught up with my. Now I have the ... dum, dum, dum ... dreaded split ends.
Clearly, the first stylist I went to didn't know what she was talking about. It might be hard to, but natural hair does need to be trimmed every now and then.
Ms. Stacy definitely cut my hair after I went natural.
I started back on my quest for a local stylist, a few weeks ago. I know I'm not the only person in these parts rockin' the natural look.
Then again, I haven't seen anyone other women wearing twists, 'fros or natural curls. Guess I am one of a kind.
I was determined not to have to travel to Atlanta (two hours away), Athens (45 minutes away) or even Greenville (one hour away) just to get my hair “did.”
And I did finally hear of one lady who will deal with the fierce 'fro.
Saturday afternoon I have an appointment for a press and cut.
It's been a while since I've seen my hair straight. But with the weather the way it is, the curls will be back in a day.
Right now I don't care if my hair is straight, curly or frizzy. I just want my good hair back.

Monday, April 28, 2008

New beginnings

I have realized there will come a day when I will feel too old for Facebook, yet not have that column writing job on the side.
Gasp! What will happen to the chronicles?
Well I for one don't plan to stop writing them.
I'm not leaving Facebook any time soon, but I figured I would get a jumpstart of the blogging.
Who knows? Maybe one day I will be a renowned bloggerista.
But until that day, you can find me right here.
So how mad am I that some loser already has And they aren't even writing anything!
It's OK. The Antonia Chronicles is so much cooler.
But don't take my word for it.
Check back each week for the latest Chronicle, whether it be about life or Hartwell. And tell a friend or two.
For now they will appear simultaneously with the ones on Facebook.
Can't shake that monkey just yet!