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!