Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Putting It In Context

Rosa sat... so Martin could walk.
Martin walked... so Obama could run.
Obama ran... so our children can fly.--- Anonymous

Monday, October 27, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

Last week I experienced examples of both the best and the worst of this country’s efficiency and can-do spirit.

Last Thursday, Loverman and I joined about 300 volunteers to build a playground for our kids’ school. It was amazing---- it’s like extreme makeover for playgrounds. We actually built a brand new playground from the ground-up in less than 7 hours. You can check out the slideshow of photos from the day’s activities on the right side of this blog.

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that the school was awarded a grant to build a playground from Kaboom. This is a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. and their mission is to ensure that all kids have a great place to play within walking distance of their home. They partner with local corporations to subsidize the creation of these playgrounds. For our playground, IBM and SAP stepped to the plate to make our playground dream a reality and in addition to funding the project, they elicit the support of their workforce to volunteer their time and sweat equity to actually build the playground.

So, after six weeks of mobilization and preparation by various committees, including logistics, public relations, and construction, we all came together and with a lot of muscle and elbow grease, transformed a dilapidated and neglected space into a playground. In addition to the swings, monkey bars, monorail, sliding board, and rock wall, we also painted a mural and transportable chess and checker boards, built 6 planters, and planted flowers and trees.

I cannot remember the last time I was so physically tired. My feet and legs hurt like hell by the end of the day, but I also cannot remember the last time I felt so sated and full of goodwill for my fellow man. I didn’t know half the folks I was working along side, but that made no difference. We were all there for one common purpose and we worked together like a well-oiled machine.

Then after my productive Thursday, came Friday when I had to deal with a issue that had presented itself a week earlier at my annual OB/GYN appointment. Usually, I breeze in, hop up into those stirrups, relax my legs, let the midwife check things out, grab my prescription for my annual mammogram and then I’m outta there. Well… not this year. The midwife found an enlarged thyroid and a dense lump in my right breast. She ordered a diagnostic mammogram ASAP.

You’d think I’d be freaked out, and maybe I was, but didn’t know it. I just moved forward, had my blood drawn to check out the thyroid, and made an appointment for the mammogram. Once I slowed down long enough to process the possibilities, I was more concerned about getting drawn into this country's screwed up medical system, than the possibility of having breast cancer.

When I went in for the mammogram, I was immediately sucked into the inefficient vortex known as a managed health care. The well-versed receptionist explained that the industry standard for a digital diagnostic mammogram includes an ultrasound, but I would need a referral from my primary provider for this ultrasound. She offered to call my primary to get a referral faxed over, but I knew this would be easier said than done. First of all, my primary didn’t even know I was having this mammogram and secondly, it was late Friday afternoon and I knew the folks in my primary’s office get their hat and hit the road extra early on Fridays and the office was more than likely closed. I also wondered that if an ultrasound is “industry standard,” then why didn’t the prescription include the ultrasound or why hadn’t this been mentioned prior to my visit, so I could have gotten the referral for the ultrasound before heading into the office to get the mammogram.

Once I gave the receptionist approval to bill my insurance for the ultrasound, I moved onto the technician who would do the mammogram. This lovely young lady reviewed my file and noticed that my last mammogram was in November 2007 and despite the fact that I was prescribed this diagnostic mammogram ASAP, she was only allowed to look at the breast in question--- the right breast, and I would have to secure another prescription from my OB/GYN for a mammogram of the left breast for next month.

What the hell? Can you believe this? What kind of convoluted sense does this make? By this point, I didn’t even care and didn’t have the energy to make a stink about this (remember I had just built a playground the day before), I just wanted to get this boob checked out and go on with my day.

Fortunately, all’s good, I just have lumpy, dense boobies, but the whole experience was very draining. I’m consistently stunned by the inefficiency of our medical system. I know most of us are looking forward to some of the health care changes Barack has proposed, but I bet if we simply chucked all the bean counters who have created this dark hole and reviewed and refined the system to work in a more intuitive and effectual manner we’d be worlds better.

See, just the day before I learned firsthand what can be accomplished if folks are committed and of the same mind and not simply a bunch of boobs sitting around trying to devise a complicated scheme to bilk folks for all their worth.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It Could Get Hot

Is it me, but are some White folks starting to look at me a little differently in anticipation of a win by Barack Obama over John McCain? Sure, I live in Southeast Delaware County here in Pennsylvania, and it’s an area known to be a Republican stronghold, but Barack is up in the PA polls by a significant lead. And up until recently, I felt perfectly comfortable sporting my Obama t-shirt, but yesterday when I made a quick run into Kohl’s not far from our house, I do believe I got a lot of funky looks from my brethren of the lighter hue. It may have been just my imagination, but I don’t think so.

I think that in addition to getting folks out to the polls on November 4th, we also should prepare ourselves for a backlash from certain sectors of our community, due to the change of the racial dynamics of the residents of the White House.

Be prepared because while most of us are basking in the glow of an Obama victory, some will view his election as a call for all “good ‘ole boys and girls” to get buck wild and act on their racist and divisive views. In other words, it could get hot in here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


She's Got Mail

For the past two weeks Olivia has been coming home from school, not as her usual bubbly self, but in a foul mood. When I pressed her about this, she’d say nothing’s wrong, but finally admitted she didn’t think her 4th grade teacher, Maestra Amaya, liked her. “Why,” I asked? Olivia went on to explain that when she raises her hand to answer a question or participate in a discussion, she’s rarely called on. O.k. I thought, not such a big deal, I suggested maybe Olivia could ask to speak with Amaya privately to address her concerns. Stubbornly, Olivia huffed that she had no intention of speaking to this teacher about anything.

Let me provide a little back-story. For the most part, Olivia has been treated like a little star since her early days in preschool and it’s only continued once she hit elementary school. I’m sure it has a lot to do simply with how she looks; she stands out with her bright smile and head full of dreadlocks. To top it off, she’s a great kid. She’s friendly, can engage anyone in conversation and acts her age. So, I’m sure Amaya’s seeming lack of overt enthusiasm over my girl may have taken Olivia aback. This is Amaya’s first year at the school, she’s still finding her way around, learning who’s who and what’s what and probably hasn’t been peeped to Olivia’s status.

I continued to urge Olivia to speak with her teacher, explaining she may be reading Maestra Amaya all wrong, but unless she talks to her about it, she’ll never know. I’m pretty big on communication, trying to talk things out, owning your feelings and where you stand in a situation, and as Olivia gets older and starts to navigate pre-teen social dynamics, I know these will be useful skills if she starts exercising them early.

Well, as Olivia continued to mope and dismiss my calls to talk to her teacher, I offered another option. I suggested Olivia write down her thoughts and feelings and send them to her teacher in the form of an email. She’s been asking for an email address for the past few weeks and although Loverman and I have been pretty restrictive when it comes to video and computer games, we felt ok with her getting her own email address.

Olivia fell for the bait and agreed to send her teacher an email once we got set her set-up with an email address. She spent about a half hour getting her thoughts together and writing the email. Once she was satisfied and feeling accomplished with what she’d written she released it to the universe and pushed “send.” Olivia went on and sent additional emails to Loverman, me and a few of her friends at school. Later that evening, she asked if she could use the computer to see if anyone had responded to her emails. “Sure,” I said and to Olivia’s surprise, her teacher had responded with a detailed email addressing Olivia’s concerns. She also asked Olivia if they could meet during snack time the next day to continue their discussion.

When I picked up the kids the next day, Olivia was her usual upbeat self and when I inquired about her meeting with Amaya, Olivia said they had spoken and she now has a better understanding of her teacher’s position. Amaya told Olivia that she does, indeed notice Olivia’s continued interest in participating in class, but not all of Olivia’s classmates participate at the same level and she feels like if she has a choice between selecting Olivia or another student who may not participate as often, she selects the other student. Amaya also told Olivia how much she appreciated Olivia’s email.

I am so proud of Olivia and I’m happy this particular incident has been resolved to Olivia’s satisfaction. She learned a lesson and so did I. I learned that in spite of my efforts of denial, my girl is really growing up and for the most part, she really listens to what Loverman and me are saying to her. I know that my years of total control of what she does, whom she interacts with and my handling of all her affairs are fleeting, but I can see that she’s going to be just fine.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

She Touched Him!

Barack Obama was in Philadelphia today. He made four stops throughout the city. As astonishingly as it must sound, the Mango tribe was not able to check him out. Nope, we were too busy with soccer games and work commitments.

But not to fret… our friends and family did follow him to various locations (some may call it stalking), and below is a gloating email from my girl Lori. She actually, physically touched him. She also took this accompanying photo. Lucky girl!


I touched Barack Obama today and it was everything I thought it would be. Please excuse me while I pause to take a drag from cigarette.

I have attached one photo to this email. I apologize for not having more to show, but these were taken under adverse and hostile circumstances, for I had quite aggressively muscled my way past several people in the crowd to get closer to Barack. With shouts of "Where the hell does she think she's going?! We're all here to see the same damn thing." at my back, I valiantly held on to both my balance and my life. Were these people insane? Alas, I was not there to merely see – but also to touch, feel, and even taste had the opportunity presented itself. The gods be damned! I was going to emerge victorious from this crusade even if it meant leaving children, the elderly, and the handicapped in my wake. So it was done.

The details:
We touched with our left hands.
His – large with long fingers, soft, warm. He has a strong, deliberate, and genuine shake. He holds on for a moment, squeezes, then gently and slowly lets go.
Mine – frantic, desperate, obsessed, and vice-like. We all know I'm unstable.

Wish you all could have been there and touched him also. Enjoy the photo.


Friday, October 10, 2008


Do you kids Cherrydale? I mean does the PTA at your kids’ school participate in the Cherrydale fundraisers? Our school does and I hate it. Sure, I understand it’s a necessary evil to bring additional resources to the school, but having to schlep those catalogs and order forms around, asking family, friends and associates to order this crap, and finally, collecting and distributing the stuff when it arrives is an absolute pain in the booty. I’d rather just give the school an additional 50 bucks and call it a day.

Up until now, I’ve deftly avoided our participation in the process, but this year I was double-teamed by Olivia and Yannick and succumbed to their insistent begging to join the race to garner the most sales among their classmates. It didn’t help that the school staged a slick marketing campaign showcasing some of the stuff possible top sellers can win, including a limo ride to a restaurant for a family dinner, a MP4 player, and tickets for four to a 76ers game.

I firmly explained that sure, they can participate, but I wanted no parts of it and if they wanted to do it then they’d have to handle it themselves. These terms are fine with them, and for the last few evenings, they’ve been hitting our neighbors up as soon as they get home from work. They’ve practiced their sales pitch on both Loverman and me and if early sales are any indication, it looks like they’re going to be quite successful.

Fortunately, most of our neighbors are very friendly (and tolerant), but the first day Olivia attempted to make a sale, one neighbor, Gayle, sent Olivia home with her daughter’s Cherrydale catalog with the pitch that she’d make a purchase, if we made a purchase from her daughter, so Miss Olivia got her sale, but I’m out of $18 for some useless kitchen utensil. It’s simply a vicious cycle.

Thankfully, all orders are due by the end of next week and I’m sure that in addition to helping to raise funds for their school, there are additional redeemable lessons their learning as pitchmen/women, but for a busy mom and dad, it’s just one more thing added to an already full plate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Coming Out

I am COMING OUT. For most of my adult life I have been running from my deepest, heartfelt desires, making compromises to accommodate how I think others see me, expect of me.

Tonight I took a major step forward in actualizing my true self. It began as I was trolling the aisles of DSW. After I spied and grabbed the Aerosoles boots I’d been looking for, I mindlessly continued to walk through this shoe emporium. Just when I was about to move towards the cashier to purchase my boots, I spotted them… a black leather, Dansko-like clog, seductively calling me to take a moment and simply try on a conveniently supplied 7.5. Once I put them on my feet, I was done. Decades of denying my attraction to this style of shoe just melted away and I experienced complete comfort. No breaking these babies in… it’s as if my feet were born in these shoes.

I’ll admit, I’ve never been a sexy, stiletto type of gal, but for years I’ve worked diligently to keep up appearances and purchased shoes where fashion often trumped comfort. I feared being labeled a granola-crunching, tree-hugging hippie, always in search of a sartorial statement reflecting my true self. Well, no more… at 43 years old I know that being comfortable in one’s own skin is extremely sexy and with this evening’s purchase, I’m embracing this awareness and taking a bold step forward in my funky new kicks.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Heading the Call

Early Friday afternoon I was hit with a huge wake-up call after taking a dose of Sudafed to battle a headache I’d been suffering with for almost three days. I took the Sudafed, rested on the couch in a back room of our offices for about a half hour when I decided I should put something on my stomach. On the way back from grabbing some soup, my heart started to race, my head continued to pound, my hands and feet began to tingle and the world started to spin around me. The next thing I knew, I was stretched out on the ground with my boss demanding that I stay awake.

When the EMT guys arrived they took my blood pressure and it was through the roof. Despite my protests, I was soon in an ambulance and on my way to the hospital. By the time we arrived at the hospital, my blood pressure started to come down and the EMT guys suspected the Ephedrine in the Sudafed might be the culprit of all this drama, but when probed a bit deeper, it became glaringly apparent that the last few weeks have been much more hectic than usual and maybe the Ephedrine acted as a catalyst for a good old-fashioned anxiety attack.

What?!?!?! Me, Mango Mama, not able to handle (with grace and ease) all being thrown my way? Say it ain’t so. Sure, trying to juggle Loverman’s new work and travel schedule, three nights of soccer practice for the brown babies, with two games on Saturdays, weekends of work-related performances or workshops may seem like a lot for mere mortals, but not me--- no way! Not true. In fact, I sensed things getting a bit out of control when Loverman announced he had to head out to L.A. about two weeks ago. He would only be gone for the weekend, but it was the same weekend when I would be tied up working with an artist with press appearances and performances. My mind raced as I tried to figure out how I could meet both my work and familial responsibilities. I finally decided to reach out and get some help. I was able to hire a young lady who works as a babysitter for a good family friend to come in to stay with us for the entire weekend and work as a mother’s helper.

In spite of my careful planning and logistics management, Friday afternoon I still found myself flat on my back in the emergency room. I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t slow my brain down enough to understand how serious this situation could get if I don’t make some changes. As I watched the meditative drip of the I.V., I fretted over who was going to pick the kids up from school, especially since Loverman was in the air on his way to Los Angeles, and never for a minute did I consider rescheduling the press appearances for the artist I was working with, but what took me over the edge while I lay there was hearing the emergency room nurses commenting on how Sarah Palin touched them the night before during the vice presidential debate. I couldn’t believe it! These broads went on and on about she was speaking “their” language and seemed really down to earth. One went on to say, “She couldn’t do much worse than what we currently have, and what do we really know about Barack Obama?” By this point my heart was about to jump out of my chest and I knew I had to get out of there if I was going to get my anxiety under control. I called for a nurse and explained that I was feeling loads better and needed to be on my way because I had to get my kids by 3:30pm. A few minutes later, after the attending physician looked me over, I was out the door, right on time to meet the rest of my responsibilities for the evening and the weekend.

Now that this weekend is finally behind me and other than the little side-trip to the emergency room, all went off without a hitch, but that’s not the moral of this story. The moral is that I have more going on than I can handle by my lonesome and in addition to asking for help, I need to make time to take care of myself. I haven’t had a bit of exercise since the pool closed on Labor Day. I haven’t had a day off since Sunday, September 21 and I won’t until this coming Sunday, October 12. I’ve gotten up every morning for the last three weeks at 6:30am and sometimes I don’t get to bed until 11:00pm. My mind is constantly racing and instead of being present in the moment, I’m thinking about what needs to get done next. This can’t be healthy.

But, I’m overwhelmed simply thinking about how to make some obviously needed changes. I don’t think I can get up any earlier to take a much-needed walk. I’m hoping things will slow down once soccer season is over, but I can’t seem to get my head around some me-time. So, if I’m going to be completely honest with myself, at this point I’ve only heard the wake-up call, but how I’m going to address this call is still a complete mystery to me.