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.