Marian Schembari through a YouTube interview done with her by Joanna Penn. After watching Marian's videos and reading a few of her blog posts, I got to thinking about how my Twitter account looks to people. I’m interested in a lot of things and sometimes I wonder if I turn folks off by tweeting about so many different subjects. Can any of you, or maybe Marian herself, let me know if I’m harming my potential readership by being all over the place with my tweets? In addition, my blog posts fall along the same lines. One day I’m writing about a relationship and the next day I’m writing about my decision to embrace the natural texture of my hair.
Let me provide a little more information about my subject matters.
I am a mother first and foremost. I’ve held this title for nearly four years and I’m still learning how to be a good mother. By no means am I perfect, but I’m doing the best I know how and I hope my son appreciates it when he gets older. I talk about some of the outings we go on and some of the funny things he says in the course of a day. At times I even ask for advice concerning my child’s education or why he may be behaving in a certain way.
Writing was a part of my life long before I became a mother. I write poetry, short stories, unfinished novels and of course blog posts. My desire to be a professional writer is the number one reason why I joined Twitter in the first place. I have met writers at various levels. From professionals to aspiring, from traditional published to self-published, from fiction to non-fiction and everything else in between. No matter what level the writer is on, I learn something from all of them on a regular basis through their blogs, YouTube videos and conversations with them on Twitter.
Before I was a writer, I was a reader. Reading was my first love (Some of the stuff I read as a youngster led to my first love with a boy but that’s another story.) Many times I tweet links to blog posts that I find interesting or about a book or ebook that I’m reading or have read and enjoyed.
Things are always popping into my head, even in the middle of the night. Sometimes it’s a story idea or a lyric from a song that I can’t get out of my head. Sometimes I tweet these lyrics and sometimes I post a link to the video on YouTube. When something ways heavy on my mind, I write a blog post about it and link to it. (Which is what I’m going to do with this post).
I didn’t even know there was a such thing as a natural hair community until I got on Twitter. I had been toying with the notion of growing my relaxer out but I really didn’t think much of it until I ran across a couple of tweets with the hashtag #naturalhair. When I clicked on it I saw a legion of nappy headed, curly haired, kinky haired African American women that had cut all of their hair off or were in the process of growing the chemically treated hair out and trimming it a little at a time. From joining and participating in this community, I have learned so much about my own hair. Sometimes, when the mood hits me, I even create and then link to my own YouTube videos.
Most of the poems and stories I’ve written over the years have dealt with relationships. Some of the relationships were really good and some were so bad that a person was on the verge of going to jail before they took anymore abuse from the other person. (Been there, almost did that.) Sometimes I pose questions to tweeps requesting their opinion on something I had been thinking about and that I plan to write about.
Even though my son is the only family that actually lives in my household, I see my dad almost daily and my baby sister once a week. I encounter other members of my family a couple times a year. Sometimes it’s pleasant sometimes I vow not to see them for maybe two to three years the next go around. A lot of times I respond to family related tweets because I have been through or personally know of examples of similar situations.
Last but definitely not least, I am addicted to social media. From Twitter to Facebook to YouTube and all of the blogs I can stand to read. Social media feeds my all of the previously mentioned items. If there is something going on in my life that I can’t explain, I Google it and get all kinds of answers as to why it happened and how it can be prevented from happening in the future. My dad thinks the internet is the devil but maybe if I told him I learned how to deal with his crazy antics from some of the things I read on the internet, he would sing a different tune.
Well this is my spiel for today. Let me know if you think that I should narrow my range of subjects, if I should only tweet or blog about one thing or if you love my flighty-ness and think I’m the best thing since sliced bread was invented. Please don’t lie to me.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
The company nurse came to get Brian. Some managers helped him into the wheelchair she had brought. As the nurse pushed Brian to her station, anyone who hadn’t witnessed the fight could clearly see the deep fingernail scratches covering his neck and face. They snickered and pointed at the patches missing from his already thinning gray hair.
After being released from the hospital, Brian was told to stay home from work for at least a month. Brian had never been off of work for such a length of time but knew he needed to be. Crazy woman. If I were twenty years younger, I would’ve shown that little bitch a thing or two.
His second morning home, Brian lay in his bed trying to ignore the pain in his right leg. Then the phone rang.
“Hey, should I make the funeral arrangements now or are you going to stick around and wreak havoc for a few more years?” the woman on the other end asked.
“Sarah?” Brian asked, “I can’t believe you called me. How long has it been now…twelve years?”
“Thirteen. So how did you manage to get your ass kicked by a twenty-five year old?”
“Who told you?”
“You know my cousin, Laura, still works there. She saw the nurse pushing you to her off office.”
“Nosey wench,” Brian said.
“I’m going to ignore that because I know you don’t know any better. I took off of work for a while, told them that my deadbeat husband needed me. I’ll be there in half an hour. I have to pick up my rental.”
“How did you know I wanted you to come?”
“I doesn’t matter what you want. If I don’t help you, it will be on my conscious for eternity. And I try to think about you as least as possible. See ya in a few,” Sarah said, hanging up not bothering to wait for a response.
Brian and his wife had been separated longer than they had been together. When he had returned home after the army kicked him out, his wife followed suit. Sarah was pregnant at the time, which should have been impossible due to the fact that Brian had been gone for a year. In a way, he had been ecstatic to be rid of her, but every now and then he wished he could have made things better between them.
Brian hadn’t been in a serious relationship since Sarah. He had dated a few women here and there but soon grew tired of them. It was never the same as being with sweet Sarah, so he resolved to stop trying to replace her. He got lonely for a woman at times, but it was nothing a bottle of Jack Daniels and a little Vaseline or baby oil couldn’t cure.
When he built his strength up, Brian crept downstairs to unlock the door so it would be open when Sarah got there. He was sitting in his recliner, in front of the living room television, when his estranged wife arrived, looking even more beautiful than Brian had remembered. Florida had been good to her. Brian tried to suppress his excitement at her being there, but when she began to speak, there was nothing to mask anymore.
“Brian, when are you going to learn that you are the minority at Internal Revenue Service? That place is ninety percent women, seventy percent black women, what were you thinking? Don’t answer that, I forgot that thinking was never your forte.”
“They need to do what the government pays them to do, and that does not include taking up money to give to some snobbish woman who’s not worth the cream she puts in her coffee.”
“You need to do what you are paid to do and that is to do your work and keep your nose and your big mouth out of other people’s business.”
“You sound just like those people. If I’m gonna have to justify my actions throughout this little pity visit of yours, you might as well go home now.”
“Brian, I’m just trying to help you understand that you can’t keep doing people the way you do. What if that young woman had her boyfriend or brother kick your behind instead of doing it herself? You could have been killed instead of just knocked around a little bit.”
“Knocked around? She did try to kill me with those witch boots of hers. You can see the imprints of them up and down my leg and thigh,” Brian whined, pulling up his pant leg.
Sarah just shook her head and walked into the small kitchen. Brian could hear her running water in the sink preparing to clean the dishes he had left on the table since breakfast. Thanks, babe, he thought, smiling to himself.
For the rest of Sarah’s stay, she and Brian got along quite well. He even began to entertain thoughts of reconciling with Sarah. He revealed his thoughts to her the day she was suppose to return to Florida.
“Sarah, how about giving your loving husband another chance.”
“Damn, you’re not even going to think about it?”
“Come on, babe, be reasonable.”
“Brian, remember when I begged you to let me move on base with you instead of staying with my parents?”
“Sarah, I thought that you would be lonely when I wasn’t there with you.”
“That was a crock of shit then and it still is now. I wanted to be with my husband and you left me.”
“Well, that didn’t mean you had to go gallivanting around and getting pregnant by some other guy. A black one at that.”
“I admit my guilt in the way things turned out, but Shelly has been one of the best things that have ever happened to me. Too bad I can’t say the same for you.”
Brian suppressed the urge to say something spiteful. “But I can do better, Sarah, just give me another shot.”
“We’ll see. I’ll call you when I have a chance to think about it. Bye, Brian.”
Brian returned to work the Monday after Sarah left. He hadn’t liked many of the things she said to him but he knew that she had been right. He also knew that he had been mostly to blame for their problems and subsequent separation. That meant he had a lot of changes to make, as far as his attitude, if he really wanted to win Sarah back. Brian also came to the realization that there would always be things he would dislike about the way things were done at his job. He wouldn’t be forced to just sit back and deal with it but he would have to go through the proper channels to get things resolved instead of being rude to his co-workers…in his new unit.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I liked this Twitter trending topic so much that I decided to make it a blog post. If you care to learn a little about me, here goes.
1. I like the way makeup looks but I don't want to wear it every day.
2. Sometimes, I care more about what people think of me than I probably should.
3. There are times when I don't give a damn about what other people think when it's something I'm really passionate about.
4. I love my #naturalhair but I have a drawer full of weaves that I will wear whenever the mood hits me.
5. I want to be able to push out at least one book a year.
6. I want to quit my good government job and be a full-time writer, but I'm scared.
7. I love socializing with people at work and on the internet but I don't like having a lot of company at the house.
8. I think I have the cheapest and slowest internet service ever invented. SMH
9. When I was young, I used to sit in the kitchen and watch the clock. I used to will it to hurry up and make it to 7:30 so I could go to school.
10. When I was a kid, I had Strawberry Shortcake everything: underwear, bike, lunch box.
11. I snuck and drank one of my stepdad’s cans of beer when I was 10. It was horrible and I haven’t drunk beer since.
12. Mom used to make me light her cigarettes on the stove. I had to puff them to make sure they were lit before I took them back to her. I don’t smoke jack now.
13. It's sad that the only time I drink water is when there's nothing else to drink in the house.
14. I love teaching people things but if they don’t catch on after three times, I get annoyed.
15. When females talk about what their man bought for them I often wonder if they bought the stuff themselves.
16. Chik-fil-A is my favorite fast food restaurant and Applebee’s is my favorite “sit down and eat” restaurant.
17. I’m better at long distance relationships than when the guy is with me every day.
18. I’ve got four brothers and five sisters.
19. I want to have at least one more child but if it doesn’t happen before I turn forty, I’m hanging my tubes up. LOL
20. I’m a recovering Facebook game addict. No more Farmville or Cityville.
21. I was named after my paternal grandmother.
22. I used to hate my name but it has grown on me over the years.
23. Other than reading and doing my hair, my hobbies include, crochet and cross-stitch. Fun huh. I think I was an old woman in a former life.
24. I’m really not into sports but sometimes I pretend I am just to start conversations with folks. “How bout them Cowboys?”
25. I also make greeting cards for my coworkers, mostly sports related. How ironic.
26. If I could take all of the fat out of my belly and put it in my butt I would be so happy.
27. My favorite color has been red for the last ten years. It used to be blue.
28. I wouldn’t mind having a reality show for one season. It might help me to make something happen in my life.
29. I often tell people I’m broke even when I have at least fifty bucks in the bank.
30. My dad is my best friend.
31. I want at least one tattoo but I’m afraid it may keloid.
32. My youngest brother was born when I was twelve and all of my friends thought he was my son.
33. My youngest sister was born when I was 24 and everyone thought she was my daughter.
34. I used to collect bears. Teddy bears and figurines.
35. When I get the money, I’m getting a parrot and I’m going to name it Tipsy.
36. I was going to name my son Donnell Jones McCray but I named him Donovan JaMelle McCray instead.
37. The song “Go DJ” by Lil Wayne gave me the initials I wanted to use for his name.
38. I love making YouTube videos. If the kid wasn’t always bugging me I would make two or more every week.
39. I want to learn to play the piano.
40. I’m 5’3” but I wish I was taller.
41. I weigh 300+ and I definitely wish I was smaller.
42. I’ve gained more than 100 pounds since high school. My fat was in all the right places back then.
43. I wear size 11 shoes. I truly believe that if it weren’t for the drag queens, I wouldn’t have such a great selection of shoes at my disposal.
44. I hate housework but I hate funky smells even more.
45. I would like a breast reduction.
46. I wish I had hair down to my butt.
47. I rather do my own hair than go to the salon.
48. I ain’t no killer, but don’t push me. LOL
49. I wish I could be 25 again. I would make better choices than I did the first time around.
50. I used to have a re-occurring dream where I drove my car off of a cliff.
51. I stopped having that dream when I drove from Memphis to Philadelphia and crossed all kinds of scary roads without crashing.
52. I like BIG earrings.
53. I like cake but I don’t like icing—anymore.
54. I love to hug people that I really like.
55. I like kissing as long as there isn’t a lot of drool involved.
56. I was studying to be a Jehovah’s Witness, but the fornication thing kept getting in the way.
57. I was an usher for a year at a Baptist church until, again, the fornication thing got in the way.
58. Now that I don’t go to church at all, there’s not much fornication going on. *Shrug* Go figure.
59. I have shoes or boots in almost every color.
60. I used to have a twitter husband until he left me for some real-life chick.
61. I want contact lenses but I’m afraid to stick them in my eye.
62. I once sat in Lenscrafters for an hour trying to put contacts in my eyes. Kids were putting them in with no problem and I was jealous.
63. I wear sunglasses on top of my glasses. I will not be outdone.
64. I wish I could speak better Spanish. I need some Spanish-speaking friends; these audio cds ain’t cutting it.
65. I graduated number 7 in my high school class. College was a little harder but I pretty much had a B average when I graduated.
66. I only keep half of the secrets that people tell me. Of course I only tell my dad. He don’t know them folks.
67. Sometimes I’m very impatient and other times I have the patience of Job.
68. I’m going to buy a Mercedes before I die. Even if I can only afford to make the first payment.
69. I hate driving but I hate waiting for a ride even more.
70. I think I have the ugliest big toe nails on the planet.
71. I wish I had a bumper car.
72. I wish I had a twin.
73. If my dad dies before me, I’m leaving Memphis.
74. If my son dies before me, I’m quitting my job.
75. I’m a Pisces. I get along very well with Pisceans that are born in February. I bump heads with the ones born in March.
76. I try not to keep liquor in the house too often because I don’t want to turn into an alcoholic.
77. When I’m supposed to go to bed early, I stay up late.
78. When I don’t have anything to do but stay up late, I go to bed early.
79. I take pictures with my cell phone more than I talk on it.
80. I used to be addicted to NoDoz. I had a lot of days where I didn’t sleep for 24 hours, but slept for 12 when I finally got a chance to lay down.
81. I used to have two full time jobs, but now I barely have the energy to go to one every day.
82. I get sad when I lose Twitter followers as if I had already formed a bond with them.
83. I want to get married once, and that’s it. Being a serial bride does not sound like fun to me.
84. I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I kinda am since I have to train my coworkers.
85. I wanted to be a nurse too, but I didn’t want to deal with the bedpan issue.
86. I often think of stuff in the middle of the night and wake up to write it down before I forget.
87. I wrote my first short story at 11 years old.
88. I wrote my first poem at 14 years old.
89. Sometimes I wake up an hour earlier than I really have to, but I still end up being 15 minutes late.
90. I hardly ever leave work on time because it seems like people think of crap to ask me once I’ve logged off my computer and put my bag on my shoulder.
91. I wish I could work part time and still make the same amount of money.
92. I would like to work from home but not for “The Man”, for myself. Or I could be like this guy in a movie trailer I saw where he ran his law office out of car and people just drove up to his window to talk to him.
93. I hate working overtime but I love getting the extra money.
94. I used to want a gold tooth.
95. I used to be extremely shy but I got over that when I got in my late 20s.
96. If I stopped coloring my hair, I bet half of it would be gray.
97. I sit in front of the computer more than I watch TV.
98. My cell phone is also my home phone.
99. I hate taking pills.
100. I’m the best friend anyone could ever have.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
“I’m busy, can’t this wait?” Brian groaned, as he breathed into the receiver. He knew why the head broad in charge had summoned him and was not looking forward to talking to her.
“No, this cannot wait, Mr. Sims. It is imperative that we discuss some things that have come to my attention.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.” Cocky bitch.
Brian took his time walking to his supervisor’s office. Passing his co-workers, Cherie Rice and Kandy Glass, who were busy discussing how Kandy had straightened out some woman who’d come on to her boyfriend the night before; Brian noticed Kandy’s raised middle finger pointed unmistakably in his direction. He rubbed the spot where his blond hair no longer grew and bald his hands into fists until his knuckles turned white.
“Brian, it is my understanding that you seem to be having difficulty getting along with some of your co-workers. Can you enlighten me on the specifics of your conflict?” Mrs. Dandridge asked when Brian sat in the chair in front of her desk.
“What seems to be the problem, Brian?”
“The problem is those silly little girls who sit across from me. I can hardly concentrate on my work with them giggling and carrying on all the time.”
“Well, my sources tell me that you are missing from your cubicle for most of the day, deeming it impossible for anyone to disturb you.”
“I have to leave to clear my head. I can’t stand to hear their annoying voices more than thirty minutes at a time.”
“Why haven’t you come to me about this?”
“You’re always in some meeting when they get started. One of them made an obscene gesture to me on my way here.”
“You’re kidding; I want you to write up a statement so that I can give it to Mr. Bentley.”
“You’re not going to do anything about it.”
“Brian, it is my job to see to it that my department is productive and that there is no disruptive behavior among my employees. Now, get that statement back to me as soon as you can and I’ll let you know what comes of it.”
They’re trying to force me into retirement, but I’ll leave when I’m good and damn ready, Brian thought, glaring in Kandy and Cherie’s direction. When he reached his cubicle, Brian could feel the cackling hens staring at the back of his head. He heard them suppress a few giggles then return to their never ending babble. “It must be break time,” he said to himself, but loud enough for the young women to hear.
“Who he talking to?” Kandy asked.
“I don’t know. I know his crazy ass ain’t talking to me,” Cherie answered.
“Go to the break room if it’s your break time. If I was the boss, I would show y’all how to run this place,” Brian said.
“Girl, I think brain damaged Brian is talking to us. He ain’t nobody’s boss,” Kandy said, putting her hand on her hip.
“You hear that nut case? You ain’t the boss of nobody ‘round here,” Cherie said.
Brian didn’t respond. He sat in his chair and put on his headphones, turning up his music as high as he could stand in an attempt to tune out the insolent floozies.
Brian seldom ate lunch; instead he combined that time with his two fifteen-minute breaks and takes a vigorous walk around the parking lot. He had been a boxer in the military (before being dishonorably discharged) so sometimes he was seen walking backwards down a hill, jabbing his fists into the air. Brian had heard the remarks about him being a terrorist getting ready to attack, but instead of being offended, he found it rather amusing. It made him feel good that most of his co-workers seemed to fear him.
After Brian finished his workouts, he never saw a need to neither change clothes nor take a shower. He would just walk around for the rest of the day in his smelly, sweat-stained clothes, daring someone to complain about the stench. There were comments made about Brian’s hygiene, but were mostly said behind his back. No one knew that he had heard the remarks when he would walk down the aisle outside of work area and stand by the wall of a few of his co-workers cubicles. This was how he found out that his unit, along with the department manager, Mr. Bentley, was trying to oust him from the area. Brian had been insulted at first, but then realized that it was a blessing in disguise. Instead of being pushed into leaving my job I’ll just be relocated to another unit, away from the dingbats. Good!
Brian came to the realization that he could speed up the process of his move if he took his anti-social antics up a notch. So he began documenting the break and lunch times of his nemeses, Kandy and Cherie, noting the fact that they usually turned thirty-minute lunches into two hour outings. He would then go to Mrs. Dandridge and inform her of the young women’s transgressions. But that stunt had only forced them into using personal leave to make up for the extra-long breaks instead of getting them written up. It had also gotten Brian a tongue-lashing from Mrs. Damnbitch, telling him that he was to mind his own business and that what others did, and for how long they did it, was none of his concern. Of course Brian didn’t heed the warning, and went a step further in his shenanigans.
Intimidation had always been his strong suit, so whenever Kandy and Cherie and some of their associates stood outside one of their cubicles talking, Brian would pull his chair out into the aisle and stare at them. He laughed whenever they laughed. Sometimes he would pretend to read his newspaper and loudly clear his throat every few minutes. The young women would only look at him and roll their eyes.
On one occasion, when they were standing in his path to his cubicle, instead of saying excuse me he just walked up to the back of Kandy and began breathing down her neck.
“Girl, I think Brian wants to touch your ass,” Cherie laughed.
“Honey, he don’t make enough money to look at all this,” Kandy said, striking a bottom- glorifying pose that made Cherie and a few onlookers laugh.
That had not been the response he had expected. That impulsive act could have gotten him written up for sexual harassment. Then, because he had created so much trouble already, he would have gotten himself sent home indefinitely instead of just suspended. So Brian had lain low, expecting the worse, but no grievance was filed. After some deliberation, Brian decided to stick to verbal attacks following that incident; which led to his very memorable confrontation with the unit secretary, Precious Williams.
“Hello, Mr. Sims,” Precious said.
“What do you want?” Brian snapped, not looking up from his paper littered desk.
“Well, you know Boss’s Day is coming up and we, the unit I mean, thought that it would be a good idea to take up some money to buy a gift for Mrs. Dandridge.”
“I wouldn’t give my hard earned money to that woman for all the rice in China. What’s she ever done for me? I haven’t gotten a decent appraisal since I’ve been working under her. I guess if I were black I would get treated better. She seems to cater to you people,” Brian said, turning in his chair and facing Precious. Brian knew that what he had said was rotten. Precious had never done anything to him. She was one of the few young blacks who had amounted to something. She did hang with Kandy and Cherie on occasion, but she mostly struck to herself.
“You people?” Precious said, attempting to control her anger but failing miserably. “Mr. Sims, I don’t know what your problem is, but you are talking to the wrong one. I’m not one of these other people you take such joy in terrorizing.”
“Get out of my face, Precious, I don’t have time for this nonsense,” Brian said, rising from his chair. He pushed Precious to the side as he left his cubicle heading down the aisle. Brian could see her regain her balance out of the corner of his eye. He figured that she would probably get together with her little cronies and badmouth him. What happened instead had never crossed his mind.
Brian hit the floor when Precious charged him. She started hitting him on the back of his head, neck and back. Then she got up and started kicking him in the shin and hip with the pointed toe of her boots. All the exercise Brian had done had never prepared him for that day.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
A generational curse is negative behavior that is thought to have a hold on a family that is passed from generation to generation. If you try hard enough, you can break this vicious cycle of events and live a healthy, productive life.
There are all kinds of generational curses that people have to overcome, but here are some of the ones that plague my family.
• Some people are alcoholics because one or both of their parents were alcoholics.
• Some people abuse their children because they were abused as children.
• Some people may have grown up in a household where only one or two out of 10 kids actually made it past 9th grade, let alone graduated.
• Some people have to have their family reunions in jail in order for them to see their uncles, cousins and maybe even their daddy.
If you are 18, no I’ll give you a few more years. If you are 21 years old, you should NOT be blaming your crack-head mom, your absentee dad, or your touchy feely auntie for the way you act. Once you are grown and hopefully out of the house, you should be able to make your own choices in life. You should choose to be a better person, even if your family is full of … road apples.
I had a crazy life growing up but I used what I saw as a measuring stick, if I didn’t do all of the dumb things my folks did, I would live a decent life.
• Whatever dad did to get locked up, I wasn’t doing that.
• Whatever my mom went through that made her turn to drugs, I wasn’t dealing with that.
• Whatever my auntie drank to make her start fights with folks, I didn’t want any of that.
• Whatever my cousin did to have folks shooting at him, I was running from that.
I could easily just sit around and wallow in self-pity and whine about all of the things I didn’t have, all of the verbal abuse I suffered, all of the hoopla I witnessed or was forced to participate in. I could let all of the negativity consume me and keep me from rising above it all, but I choose not to.
• I chose not to drink my life away.
• I chose not to have a puff of smoke coming out of my mouth unless my hot breath is meeting the cold air.
• I chose not to beat the heck out of my son even if he needs it.
• I chose to finish high school and three years of college with plans to go back.
• I chose not to ever have to see the jail house unless I’m trying to pay a traffic ticket or to visit folks when I get the urge.
Yes, I know this is a cliché but it’s true—Prayer changes things. I don’t go to church like I should, but I have a relationship with my creator. If I didn’t have that relationship, I would probably be in the crazy house right now. There may be other ways to break free of a generational curse, but prayer was and continues to be my stronghold. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be like your mom or dad when you grow up, but you might have to sift through all of the mess and pick out the good parts of them and run with that.
Do you think there is a generational curse on your family? How do you plan to fight it?
Saturday, March 12, 2011
When I arrived home from work the first thing I did was check the mail box. I didn’t really look through the bundle until I got into the house. Scanning through the bills and magazines I noticed that I had received a letter from my older sister, Regina. But according to the salutation it was supposed to go to my brother, Thomas. I had never gotten a letter from Regina. Even after she left Memphis and moved to Somerville, Tennessee. She and I got together every weekend so there was no need for us to be pen pals. Thomas lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, so I guess I could see her writing a letter to him.
Since it had my address on it, nosey me opened it. When I read the contents, I got hot all over. She was telling Thomas the secret that I had revealed to her the last time we talked.
I had just found out I was pregnant and was considering having an abortion. I wanted to be married when I had a child. I had just graduated from University of Memphis and was starting my career in management at a local mortgage company downtown. There were so many reasons why that was not a good time for me to be a mom.
I wanted Regina to give me some much needed advice not tell all my business to Big Mouth Thomas. Being six years older than I, my sister was naturally someone I looked up to. But after reading the entire letter laced with every detail of our discussion, I was ready to write her out of my will.
“Let me get this chick on the phone and give her a piece of my mind,” I said aloud. Sometimes I talked to myself when I was stressed. Ring. Ring. Darn voice mail. I knew she was at home screening her calls. “Look, Ms. Lady, you need to call me. Trying to put my business all out in the street.” I mean I wanted kids someday just not right then. Leon was the one who was always talking about having kids with me. Talk about pressure.
An abortion was really not something I wanted to do but what else could I do. I mean, adoption was out of the question. Who wanted to go through all of that discomfort and then give your baby away? Made no sense to me. Who would I get to watch my baby when I was at work? Some of these daycare owners are too careless for me. Leaving babies in the van. If they left my baby in a dog gone van some heads would roll. Maybe Run-Her-Mouth-Regina can watch him, she ain’t got no job. Talking about, “Sheila, women have babies every day and still pursue their careers.” I had already made my appointment at the clinic and went through the counseling sessions. I just wanted to get her opinion.
All the next day, I tossed my sisters suggestions back and forth in my mind. Since Regina did medical billing from home, she could stay at my house with the baby, keep him with her during the week and bring him home on weekends, or she could rent her country home out and move back to Memphis.
I could barely pay attention in the training class at work. Faces of little babies spun around in my head. If I had a boy he would inherit my gap-tooth smile and Big Body Benz physique, if it was a girl she would have Leon’s height and nice wavy hair. I had to decide if I really wanted to take on the responsibility of being a mother. Being a realist, I felt that no matter how much Leon proclaimed to want to be a dad and even if he is there in the beginning who’s to say that he wouldn’t walk away some time in the future.
By the time I got home, I still hadn’t heard anything from Regina. I didn’t really feel like talking to her anyway.
Just as I had finally decided what I wanted to eat for dinner, Leon called.
“Hello. What are you up to?” I asked.
“Thinking about you. Hey, you wanna go get something to eat?”
“Sounds good to me.”
When Leon picked me up he was really quiet in the car which was unusual for him. “What’s wrong with you?”
He didn’t answer right away, I could tell he had something on his mind but wasn’t ready to talk about it yet.
“Aw nothing, just hungry. I didn’t eat lunch today.”
“You not eating lunch is not a good thing. You are the only person that eats six full meals a day and doesn’t gain any weight.”
“That’s ‘cause I work it off,” he said, with a wink.
When we arrived at El Porton’s, it did look rather crowded but fortunately we didn’t have to wait long to be seated. Before we had placed our order, Leon grabbed my hand and kissed it. “I was going to wait until after dinner but this thing is burning a hole in my pocket.”
Before I could ask him what he was talking about he pulled out a small box. Once again, me being a realist or maybe a cynic sometimes I don’t know the difference, did not jump up and down or burst out crying. I had seen too many movies where the woman just knew she was getting an engagement ring but got a charm for a necklace or some big ugly earrings. When I saw what was in the box, I had the type of reaction that almost required me to have on some Depends. But then, of course, tears really did come to my eyes. I nearly knocked the waiter down trying to jump on the other side of that booth.
“Leon, this is so great. I’m not going to be a single mother and …”
“We can get a nicer house than both of ours put together and…”
“Baby, what do you mean? Are you pregnant?”
“Yes, almost twelve weeks. I was afraid to tell you. Do you think this is a good thing? I mean you know, I could…” He put his finger over my lips.
“Don’t you dare kill any child of mine?”
“I won’t,” I said, burying my face in his chest. “You know you can’t leave me right?” I said, looking up into his face and pointing my finger. We had the whole restaurant’s attention by then but I didn’t care. The most perplexed look I had ever seen crossed Leon’s face.
“Why would you say something like that? I’ve been putting up with your crazy butt for six years, why would I leave now?”
“I’m just saying, if you get sick of me, you can’t move out, mister. You can sleep in another room but I ain’t with that divorcing mess.” He just smiled and pulled me closer to him.
“How ‘bout we get bunk beds. You might try to sneak some dude through the window. I gotta watch you.”
I pulled away from him and looked at him over the rim of my glasses. See that was my serious look. “Boy, you crazy.”
I called Regina when I got home to tell her the good news. The first thing she said was, “Have you come to your senses yet?”
“Yes, but do you know that you sent me a letter addressed to Thomas. Telling him all my business. What’s up with that?”
Regina burst out laughing, which kinda ticked me off all over again.
“That’s not funny. You know he used to get us in trouble all the time. Always snitching. I think he was a nosey old lady in a former life.” My big sister was coughing, trying to catch her breath.
“Whew! Girl, how dumb do you think I am? I sent that letter on purpose to give your spoiled butt something to think about.”
“Spoiled? Who spoiled?”
“You. You spoiled. I raised Joshua by myself and he turned out all right.”
She was right. Joshua was an Honor Roll student as well as a great athlete with football and track trophies all over Regina’s house.
“There’s another thing I was calling to tell you. Leon and I are getting married.”
“That’s great. Are you going to get married soon or wait until the baby comes?”
“We haven’t decided yet. You need to be looking for an apartment down here, babysitter.”
“That’s cool, I already bought the lil’ booger some onesies and bibs.”
“So you just knew I would change my mind?”
“You wouldn’t have asked me if you didn’t trust the advice I would give you. And you know that I would not have agreed to you getting rid of your child.”
“Thanks, sis, I love you.”
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
No matter how hard it is being a single parent, I don’t think I could ever turn the responsibility of raising my son over to someone else. Despite my feelings, I do understand how a mother can feel overwhelmed, but I do not understand a mother that does not provide for her child emotionally or financially. Even if she cannot care for the child full time, the child should have no doubt in their minds that the mother loves them.
Don’t get it twisted, deadbeat moms do exist. I’ve read the stories about the mothers wanting to go back to school or travel the world and decided to turn the kids over to their fathers. Sometimes the arrangement is until the mother gets herself together and sometimes it’s a permanent adjustment. The situations that I am more familiar with are the ones where the mothers let drinking and drugs cloud their judgment, or those that find the new man in their life more important than their children. Whatever the reason, the child loses. There’s so much talk about deadbeat dads but from my life and what I’ve witnessed, the number of deadbeat moms are rising every day.
If the mother is not the custodial parent, I think she should be paying child support just like the father would if the situation was reversed. Most custodial fathers never get support and because of pride, they usually don’t complain about it. They just do what they have to do for their kids. Some custodial mothers are at the courthouse every time she thinks the dad has gotten a raise at his job, but that’s another story for another day.
I know women that get public assistance or child support for kids that don’t even live with them. They drop the kids off at their grandma’s or auntie’s house, days sometimes weeks at a time. When the grandma or auntie asks for some money to feed the kid or buy some diapers, the supposed to be custodial mother goes off like it’s not her responsibility to make sure her kids have what they need. Chicks like this make me want to see if there’s a such thing as shaking adult syndrome but I’m sure it wouldn’t do any good.
There were a couple of scenarios that I wanted to share with you but my family and friends do read my blog. Because I don’t want to get to fighting this weekend, I’ll keep the details to myself. I will say that I totally feel for people that didn’t have their fathers growing up but in my opinion, not having your mother there is so much worse. The kids I know in these situations, mostly girls, are constantly vying for their mother’s attention, sometimes they get it sometimes they don’t. They even go so far as to act up at school or talk back to grandma just so their mom can curse them out. To them, negative attention is better than none. I feel sorry for these girls. I also fear that they will treat their future children just as bad as or worse than their mothers treated them. It could also result in the opposite; they could spoil their kids so much that the kids are so rotten no one else wants to be bothered with them.
I’ve said all of that to say this, ladies, you are supposed to nurture your children. If you come to the conclusion that you are not the nurturing type, don’t you ever, ever, ever let your child/children think that you do not love them. Whatever you are going through is your problem, not theirs. They should not be punished and neglected. We hear too much about deadbeat dads, do everything in your power NOT to be a deadbeat mom.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
This is the fifth and final installment of this series. Click "To Serve and Protect" in the right column to read parts one through four.
"No you're not, all you need to do…"
"I'm serious. It's...it's colon cancer. I wanted a baby to carry on my name even if it wasn't really mine," Calvin said, looking at Jeremy.
"But you said…"
"I know what I said, Shanell. Just forget it. Why are you here anyway?"
"I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Yeah, well, I'm not. When y'all getting married? I want to come to the wedding?"
I would have laughed if the whole situation wasn't so sad. I realized at that moment that his sickness was the reason why he had been so mean. I forgave him instantly, and wished that things had not turned out the way they had. It was too bad. Calvin had been so sweet in the beginning. "How long do you have?" I had to know.
"Couple of months. They say I need an operation. Didn't want no operation. Don't have you, what would be the point?"
I looked at Jeremy. He didn't say anything, just stood there, and looked out the murky front window. I loved Jeremy and he loved me. I wasn't going to let Calvin get back into my heart no matter what. He could have been lying just to make me feel sorry for him. He could have been getting me back for tricking him. But deep down I knew it wasn't an act.
Jeremy and I left when Calvin started nodding off. He looked so old, so sickly. Jeremy hadn't said a thing since we had walked through the door. I had to know what he was thinking.
"What's on your mind?"
"You're not going back are you?"
"Of course not. I couldn't go through that again. I won't put you through that. He's sick, and I feel bad for him but I can't put my life and happiness on hold for him."
"Thank you. That would have been a nightmare. I don't think I can live without you. I guess he and I have something in common."
I just looked at Jeremy for a moment then I reached over to hold his hand. I hoped that he and I would never have to endure the things I had gone through with Calvin. Jeremy was different from Calvin in many ways. Calvin was always a little rough around the edges but Jeremy was always sweet. Most importantly, Jeremy and I had never had any altercations. He had always understood and respected how I felt, even when he didn't agree with it. There wasn't any other man, that I knew of, that would go with his girlfriend to visit her sick husband. And even though I had no way of knowing what the future held, I knew at that moment I wanted to be with Jeremy forever.
"So, when are you going to give me my ring?" I asked.
Jeremy looked at me perplexed, "What ring?" Then comprehension showed on his face. "You mean…"
"Let's get married, baby," I said. Then I kissed him.
Jeremy and I got married a month after Calvin died. I think I cried a few tears for my former husband along with the happy ones that I shed. A few of Calvin's brothers and sisters came to the wedding. I thought they would have been angry with me for leaving him, but they understood. His sister, Janet spoke to me during the reception.
"Shanell, I know you were surprised to see us but we came to show you that there were no hard feelings," she said, handing me an envelope.
"I'm glad, thank you."
"Calvin was the baby of the family, which meant that he was very spoiled. He'd often thrown temper tantrums as a child when he didn't get his way. I knew that he had carried that selfishness into adulthood. I loved my brother and I miss him terribly, but I'm glad you got away from him before he stole all of your joy."
I began to cry all over again. Tears had filled my eyes in those two years more than they had my whole life. I hugged Janet and we held each other for a long time. I had loved Calvin so much for so long, but I didn't think he loved me half as much until I opened the envelope his sister had given me.
Calvin had left me a very hefty life insurance policy. I knew he had good benefits at his job but, oh boy. He had also set up a trust fund for any children that I would have or adopt. I was speechless. Calvin really had loved me in his own way. He made it possible that Jeremy and I would make more money sitting at home making babies than we would working.
I had my first child a year after the wedding. I was so thankful for my little Jamie and was glad that I had the means to give my little princess whatever she wanted. And I thanked God we had a big, strong, sweet police officer that would always love and protect us.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
“Never stay in a relationship with someone who doesn’t bring anything to the table and just eats off of you.”
I saw this tweet the other day and it got me to thinking. My goal has always been to find a hard-working man to settle down with. Since I am a career minded woman, I was never the type of chick that wanted a man to take care of me. As luck would have it, I have run across a handful of guys that wanted me to take care of them. I mean they would seem really promising in the beginning and me being the kind-hearted (dumb) person I can be sometimes, I helped a brother out. Of course eventually I got sick of it and told son he had to roll.
My nearly four years as a mother has put me in the mindset that I don’t want to take care of a male unless it’s my son. (Okay, I may drop my dad a few bucks every once in a while but that’s it.) As I mentioned before, I’m a career minded woman, but I do get the fleeting desire to want to be a stay at home mom. Then I remember that I am a single mom and I don’t think I would be satisfied with public assistance. I have tried to come up with a number of business ideas that I could possibly make a decent some of money from but not only am I an impatient person (I want my money and I need it now.); I also have a short attention span. Therefore, unless I change my mindset, I would never make any money working from home.
Then a thought occurred to me, if I had the money to hire a nanny that would be cool. Here’s the problem with that. First of all, I don’t have that kind of money. Second of all, I would feel funny having some chick living in my house, watching my son, and doing my housework. (I mean I would love the housework and kid watching part but the first one, not so much.) Third of all, if I hired a dude to be my nanny, I would be trying to make him my boo because he would be doing all of these great things for me and my son.
Of course this brought on another thought. What about a stay at home dad? Not my dad, but a dad for Don. I mean I would do background checks, credit checks and whatever other kind of checks I can think of. But what if I met a guy that I really liked, who was great with kids and cooking and housework (and bedroom work), but sucked in the business world. I don’t mean sucked, let me rephrase that. A guy that would be better suited as a house husband aka stay at home dad. Then it occurred to me, I would hate that.
That all goes back to my first point, I don’t want to take care of a man. Despite the fact that he would be contributing his TIME to the household, I need something monetary. Even if he works part time or if he has the discipline to work from home (unlike me) that would be a good deal. But just sitting around the house, waiting for me to come home, I just wouldn’t feel right about that. My upbringing was by no means traditional but my folks still taught me that the man should be the head of the household. And to me that also implies that he is the main provider.
Now, I wouldn’t be able to let a guy that didn’t work tell me how to spend my money. I mean, why would he have a say so? If I was the one at home, I would let him make the final decision on things and I would support him whether I completely agreed or not. That may sound dumb to some women, but if I know that he is the kind of guy that won’t be quick to make a crazy decision that would have a negative impact on our family, I wouldn’t be afraid to…submit (shudder).
I couldn’t be with a guy that didn’t contribute financially to the household, but if you have a big pot of gold and wouldn’t mind your man/husband staying home, I say, “Do you”.