Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag!

Last fall, I was in need of a new handbag and finding the right bag for everyday use is always stressful for me. I mean I need something to accommodate:

• keys
• cell phone
• ipod
• palm pilot
• digital camera
• flip (video camera)
• wallet
• multiple pens
• make-up bag
• Excedrin
• book-of-the-moment

And, of course, everything the kids try to handoff including water bottles, action figures, Leapsters, tissues,---- I’m sure you get the idea. I also don’t like having to shuffle two bags if at all possible, so if I can stash my lunch or at least an apple, I’m peachy.

I’ve never understood women who seem to get away with using those little clutches or compact bags with the short straps that fit snuggly right below the armpit. These have never worked for me.

So, back to last fall… I was bemoaning my handbag search to my girl, Lori, and she suggested I get a Timbuk2 messenger bag. I checked out their website and fell head-over-heals in love with the bags, while spending a lot of time trying to determine exact color combination that would work for me.

Once my bag came in the mail, I loaded it with all my crap and assumed my urban warrior stride, with the bag happily bumping along my hip. Things were going along smoothly for months until a few weeks ago when I noticed my shoulder was a bit sore and the bag was overflowing with more than my usual unnecessary “stuff.” My mom urged me to de-clutter and give the messenger bag a rest. I protested, but after a few days, I had to admit things had gotten out of hand.

With a total lack of enthusiasm I began to look for a new bag. Nothing seemed right, one was too small, the other too big, or just plain ugly. Finally, right before Mother’s Day, Olivia and I found what I thought would be a suitable replacement and fortunately, it was also within my price range. But, after just after three days, I was sick of having to dig deep through multiple compartments just to find my keys or a ringing cell phone.

About this time, I was heading out to a party and decided to use a cute, handmade bag given to me last summer by my cousin, Allyson. She always gives me the great gifts. I was pleasantly surprised because everything, sans the book-of-the-moment and my lunch, fit just fine and on top of this it seems to work with everything in my wardrobe.

Sure, the appearance of space can be deceiving, but this also proves I really don’t need to haul all that junk I thought I just couldn’t live without in that messenger bag.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Fix for a News Junkie

I am a functional news junkie. I use the word “functional” because I’ve learned to employ little tricks to curb my habit. One of these tricks includes not watching the 24-hour news channels, i.e. CNN, on primary nights, because if I do I end up sleeping with one eye open watching the returns, which in turn makes me crazy and unbearable to deal with the following day.

I recently posted a rant detailing my intense dislike of Campbell Brown on CNN, when in fact, other than Mr. Straight-No-Chaser, Jack Cafferty, I’m getting fed up with more than a few of CNN’s anchors. In lieu of suffering through Campbell’s broadcasts, I’ve found a new guilty pleasure, Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. I’m obviously new to the Olbermann phenomenon, because Loverman’s hipped me to the fact that Olbermann’s been spinning his unique mojo since his days at ESPN, but new to the game or not, I’m digging this fine, smooth talker, who’s exhibiting a special brand of passion seldom seen on mainstream television news.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is a prime example of what Mr. Bill Cosby is talking about--- where are the teachers, school administrators, security or even the janitorial staff? I mean DAMN, isn’t there at least one adult in this school that has the sense to shut down this sort of display? It’s downright disgraceful. I wonder what the parents of these students had to say once they caught their kids on YouTube acting a complete fool?

It’s so sad that as we’re about to see the first African American win the Democratic nomination for this year’s presidential campaign, our young people are degrading themselves in such an abhorrent fashion. Pitiful!

Stuck In My Craw

While watching both the national and local news over the last two days I caught two sound bytes which just about sent me over the edge. Sure, I’m aware crazy, stupid things are said daily, but these two really got stuck in my craw.

The first had to do with a story out of Philly that’s gotten plenty of exposure on the national level because it includes the senseless beating of shooting suspects by officers from Philadelphia’s police department. This beating was caught on tape by the local Fox affiliate and to their credit, the city’s mayor and police commissioner swiftly stepped in and condemned the officers’ actions and launched an internal review. There’s been a public outcry on both sides, those who support and are empathetic to daily charge of the police to protect and serve in communities which are often hostile towards their presence; and those who see this incident through the prism of an endless stream of unchecked police brutality in communities of color. Fortunately, the race card was more of a non-issue in this instance because some of the participating officers were Black, but I assert that when it comes to the police misconduct, black vs. white is often trumped by those living by the code of the fraternity in blue. So, last night it was announced that four of the participating officers have been fired, and four received suspensions and one officer was demoted. The union representing these officers immediately cried foul and said the punishment of these officers is a rush to judgment and the officers weren’t allowed due process. Hmmm… isn’t that exactly what these officers did when they wantonly grabbed these guys from their car beating and kicking them without an ounce of mercy or restraint? It’s no fun when steel toe shoe’s on the other foot, is it?

The second kernel caught in my craw came this morning when watching an interview with Cokie Roberts on Good Morning America. Diane Sawyer was discussing with Cokie and Matthew Dowd Hillary Clinton and some of her female supporters recent rant that sexism has raged throughout this primary season. Towards the end of the interview, Cokie commented that if some of the things written in the blogosphere and the caricatures seen on the op-ed pages at newspapers all over the country, had been as mean-spirited towards Obama, the way, in her opinion, they have been towards Clinton, the country’s African American communities would have been up in arms. Well, Miz Cokie, obviously you’ve missed the news about the ignorant pub owner in Marietta, Georgia, who’s now peddling t-shirts featuring Curious George peeling a phallic-shaped banana, with the words, “Obama 08,” emblazoned below; and a piece in last week’s Washington Post detailing the overt racism projected at many of Obama’s field teams throughout the country. Let’s face it honey, with this year’s historic Democratic primary race, there’s been loads of doo-doo thrown haphazardly and with ferocity at both candidates and as Hillary Clinton has said several times on the campaign trail, “If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen!”

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Wear Bifocals

I got my first pair of bifocals when Olivia was about 18 months old. I realized something wasn't right with my vision when one morning I couldn’t read the crawling text at the bottom of the morning newscast. After about 10 minutes of straining to focus, I had to admit something was up and I high-tailed it right to the eye doctor that very day.

Vanity aside, I just wasn’t ready to hear I needed bifocals. I was just beginning to see myself as somebody’s mother, now according to this optometrist-- I had old-ass eyes that needed the assistance of bifocals. After picking out some new frames, and being assured that no one would be able to detect I was wearing bifocals, I headed home to sulk in my bed under my covers like a little old Southern lady. Bifocals are just not sexy.

So, now I’ve had bifocals for almost eight years and I’m completely dependent on them. I can’t read a damn thing without them and so last night when I noticed I didn’t have them on when I went to give Yannick a dose of Bennedryl before he went to bed, I should have taken a moment to grab my glasses.

Yannick’s been suffering from a runny nose; sneezing and watery eyes and we can’t decide whether he’s dealing with allergies or a spring cold. I got the Bennedryl from the medicine cabinet, poured what I thought was the correct dosage and handed him the dosage cup. Just as the boy swallowed the last drop, I got the sinking suspicion I mindlessly measured one tablespoon, not one teaspoon. After a few moments of absolute panic, I got my glasses from the nightstand and studied the dosage cup, looking for some indication confirming I hadn’t made such a dreadful mistake. Hell, I couldn’t tell. I tried to quiet my brain and said silent prayers as I put the kids to bed. I then went to my bedroom, read the entire Bennedryl label and found a poison control hotline number in case of overdose. I was too scared to call, but I did go find Loverman downstairs to let him know what I might have done. In his usual laid back fashion he assured me that more than likely I didn’t make a mistake, but my gut told me otherwise.

I went back upstairs to check on Yannick and in less than 10 minutes, the boy was snoring like a sailor. He never falls asleep that fast so my suspicions were confirmed. I felt terrible and didn’t know what to do. I picked the boy up and put him in my bed to keep an eye on him and that’s where he stayed for the remainder of the night, enjoying what seemed like an extremely restful night of sleep, and me, his neglectful mama didn’t get a wink of sleep because I kept a watchful eye(s) on him--- all night.

Thankfully, the boy got up this morning good as new. I am so grateful. I should have called the poison control hotline, followed their directions and today, instead of feeling both exhausted and crappy about the mistake I made, I would have spent today simply feeling crappy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

10 Years Ago This Week

I met Loverman ten years ago this week. We met at the Cannes Film Festival. I was working in the American Pavilion at the festival and Loverman was working for the now-defunct October Films. Up until this trip to the festival, I was convinced I would probably end up marrying someone I already knew, but during the weeks leading up to my trip, I started to get the sense that something life-changing was awaiting me in France. This feeling was so strong that when my then boyfriend, asked if he could come and visit at some point during my six week trip to France, I declined and made some lame excuse as to why I didn’t think this was a good idea.

I felt more like the self I believed I was destined to be the moment I set foot in Nice. Strolling around the French Rivera, lunching and shopping along La Croisette, watching an endless roster of films, all of this suited me to a T.

Other than those appearing in movies screening at Cannes, there aren’t many African Americans at the festival and it didn’t take long for the few of us to find each other. After just a few days folks kept asking me if I’d met the brother from October Films. In fact, it became a running joke because it seemed Loverman had always just left the room/party/restaurant five or ten minutes before I’d arrive. Finally, we were introduced as I was sitting with a group of friends at the American Pavilion. It was Loverman’s last day at the festival and he was passing through, touching base with a few associates before his departure. We hit it off immediately, spent the rest of the afternoon talking, had dinner together and before day’s end I knew I’d be with this man for the rest of my life.

Loverman postponed his flight and asked me if I’d travel with him to Corsica for a few days. I agreed without hesitation, and at some point during that evening I made my way to the internet to find out where in the hell was Corsica. I made a call home to my family to let them know that I was extending my trip, assuring them I was traveling with college friends, because even at 33, I was still my parents’ only child and didn’t flaunt my grown-ass woman-ness in my daddy’s face.

After three days in Corsica, another two in Nice, I returned home completely in love. Although I was euphoric, I was also at peace because I knew all along this trip would be life changing.

Since our meeting ten years ago, we’ve married, had two children and built a really great life. We did travel to Cannes again when Olivia was a year old, but I have to admit that every year when Hollywood and the European film scene turns its sights on Cannes, I become a bit wistful and wonder how can it go on without us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Downside Of Being An Only

I am an only child. I didn’t grow up wishing to be surrounded by siblings, nor do I remember feeling particularly lonely. It wasn’t until my maternal grandmother, Nina, died when I was 25 yrs. old and I watched how my mother and her older sister supported each other that I realized how this “only” status would prove to be a handicap, as I grew older. It was then that I decided I needed to get serious about having my own family because when the rubber meets the road, you need to have family and good friends to help you travel the peaks and valleys of life.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve had the honor of witnessing my girl, Alexis, as she, her two brothers and mother, assisted her father, Alec, as he succumbed to cancer. Without putting all of their business out on Front St., let’s just say the family’s been blindsided by their father’s sudden diagnosis and subsequent death in just three weeks, but through it all Alexis and her brothers have been absolutely amazing. I’ve often heard folks say that weddings and funerals sometimes bring out the worse in families, but not Alexis’. Nope, this family has always been tight and through this incredibly difficult time they’ve been supportive of each other and their mother, and handled themselves with such grace.

On the ride home from Mr. Alec’s inspiring home-going services, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude because unlike 18 years ago, I am no longer a single, only child, but now I have Loverman, the kids, an extended family and wonderful friends that hopefully will be by my side as I meet the inevitable challenges we all face as we get older.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Brazile Holds It Down

Now for a word about the recent political punditry and media coverage… On Tuesday evening I turned on CNN just as Democratic political consultant (and super delegate) Donna Brazile PUT IT DOWN and expressed what I’ve been feeling for months. Brazile made it clear how sick and tired she is of “some white Democrats” referring to the party as “my” or “mine,” and not “ours.” She called folks on their use of “coded language,” and the lack of inclusiveness when detailing the diverse demographics of the party and finally, she stepped to Campbell Brown when Brown foolishly pressed Brazile on being undecided in regards to her preference between Obama and Clinton. Brazile clarified that she’s never claimed to be undecided, but as a super delegate, she’s “undeclared.” Campbell paused, and then went on to try to bait Brazile and force her to step forward with her declaration. Brazile refused to take the bait and did as she’s done throughout the entire primary season--- stood her ground and made her case for a fair and unbiased process.

It was during this exchange that it became perfectly clear why I’ve grown to dislike Campbell Brown since her move from NBC to CNN. Brown's been awarded with the prime 8pm slot, immediately following Lou Dobbs, and prior to Larry King. In an attempt to shake her “girl next door” persona, she’s assumed the role of a “baiter.” Instead of engaging her guests in a conversation/dialogue, she seems to assume what she wants them to say and tries her best to “bait” or “goad” them to provide her presumed appropriate response. If her guests don’t agree with her or if she feels she hasn’t been successful in getting what she wants, she’ll rephrase the question three or four times in a doggish manner to get the goods, sometimes meeting with success, but most often, not. It’s really annoying.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Handling Her (Our) Business!

North Carolina showed out today! I am impressed (and relieved), and I’m also proud to report that my girl, Tam, was the first to vote at the Forest Club House in Durham, N.C. That’s right, #1! Numero uno. She was up and out, doing her part and taking care of her (our) business at 6:00am this morning. With dedication and intent like that---Brother Obama cannot lose.

Yes We Can!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Goldilocks vs. The Three Bears

Today in Philadelphia’s City Hall, Goldilocks was acquitted on a technicality. That’s right, after Goldilocks' readily admitted to breaking into a stranger’s house, eating their porridge, taking a load off in their rocking chairs and finally catching a few zzz’s in one of their beds, a jury comprised of 23 kindergarten students found her not guilty because they didn’t see it as a break-in--- the door was open and she simply walked in to the bears’ home.

Let me back up and give you the details of this great program my son, Yannick, participated in this morning at City Hall. It’s hosted by the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. Volunteer attorneys use the facts of this well known fairy-tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, as a basis for a criminal trial to introduce young students to trial process. After presenting their cases, it’s up to the kids to act as the jury and determine the fate of Goldilocks, and Yannick’s class found her NOT GUILTY!

A Dose of Self-Reflection Required

This week has been a bitch and thankfully tomorrow’s Friday. It started on Monday when I had to terminate (fire!) the jerk we’d hired as marketing director almost three months ago. It seems as if from day one we rubbed each other the wrong way and as much as I tried to deal with him in a professional manner, the situation devolved to the point where we were hardly speaking to each other and instead of trying to do the best job possible to quell my misgivings, he simply directed his hostilities my way on a daily basis and lacked any enthusiasm or interest in doing a good job. It became unbearable and although he probably he wouldn’t believe it, it wasn’t easy to give him the big heave-ho, because I don’t like to think of anyone unemployed in this economy and his inability to do his job only added more to my plate. I should also mention that I wasn’t the only person on our staff that found him difficult to work with, but I was his supervisor and felt the brunt of displeasure. I wonder, if I'd been a man, would this guy had felt so comfortable with being so disrespectful?

A few months ago, I posted about the challenged relationship between my dad and me and since that post in December, the only time I’ve spoken to him is when he calls to talk to the kids. As difficult as this has been, it’s better for me, and my emotional well-being. Unfortunately, on Tuesday while chatting with my aunt (his sister), she mentioned a recent conversation she had with my dad and in their exchange, my dad told my aunt a complete lie about me. I didn’t flip out or anything, but I did correct this bit of misinformation and in doing so, my aunt was hurt to learn of her brother’s lying. This simply affirms that my current strategy of not dealing with him is best for me, but it doesn’t trump the fact that in spite of my dad constantly disappointing me, I still expect more of him and I wish we had a functional, healthful relationship.

Finally, yesterday I learned of a family friend’s serious drug problem. His addiction is clearly at a point where he needs professional help and despite his family’s concern and support, and losing his job because of this addiction/sickness, he’s not yet admitting that he has a problem. I can’t begin to detail the myriad of emotions I’m feeling since learning of his problem. I love him and his entire family and while growing up his family welcomed this only child into their fold and made me one of their own. I know these people and their love of their son and brother and I know his heart and I pray for his full recovery.

So, I guess it seems like I’m just whining, nothing really catastrophic has occurred this week, but it has been emotionally draining and as I give some thought as to a thru-line between these three situations, it occurs to me that these men need to do some serious self-reflection. That’s right, all three need to own their own shit. What responsibility do they have for where they find themselves today? The ex-marketing director should have just done his job well, or maybe admitted that this job just wasn’t a good fit for his skill set, instead of creating a hostile work environment. My dad has never taken responsibility for his own actions and instead of being honest; he’s resorting to making up crap to justify his lack of a relationship with his grandkids and me. My friend is seriously self-medicating and instead of seeking professional help to deal with personal demons he’s putting his life at risk while creating stress for all who love and want to help him.

It’s funny because I believe women are usually too self-reflective and always looking within for how we impact a situation and men usually look externally to identify the source of their problems. Venus and Mars all over again.