Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Many Happy Returns!

It has been a month or so since my last dispatch, and because today is a special day, I just thought that I would offer up a list of 39 things for which I am eternally grateful:
  1. To be alive, reasonably healthy and generally sane.
  2. That I have a crazy husband whom I would not trade for anything, not even the Powerball.
  3. When my mother has a good day, because one good day can make up for several bad days.
  4. Caring and attentive neighbors and friends.
  5. My parents' 40th Wedding Anniversary Celebration (and that it exceeded our expectations).
  6. My brother's engagement (finally).
  7. That my Baby Niece is really a lot like me, so watch out world!
  8. Dancing out of my comfort zone.
  9. Good friends who accept me for me.
  10. Found treasures that once belonged to my grandmother.
  11. New relationships and opportunities.
  12. The ability to start all over again, and resolve to do much better this time.
  13. Old friends and the blessing of reconnection through Facebook.
  14. Grace.
  15. The necessity of letting go of the hurts from the past.
  16. Blessings that are being bestowed on others.
  17. True sisterhood and the work that sustains it.
  18. Online shopping.
  19. Yoga (yes, it has been bringing me peace).
  20. That this old house is not yet falling apart, despite our negligence and DIY disasters.
  21. That we can bless others with the little bit we have and no longer need.
  22. This blog and the growth I am claiming for it in 2013 and beyond.
  23. That *free* makeover I underwent a few weeks ago.
  24. That scripted television has made a comeback.
  25. Humor.
  26. Wisdom, growth and maturity.
  27. A new church family at Shiloh, and extended church families at St. Theresa of Avila, Tabernacle and Canaan Christian Fellowship.
  28. Butterflies, ladybugs and dragonflies.
  29. The 90s.
  30. That I went to Europe this year unexpectedly.
  31. Sometimes obsessiveness is a good thing.
  32. That I am the proud Big Sister/Auntie/Titi to several wonderful young people.
  33. These gray hairs on my head that insist on asserting themselves no matter what.
  34. That God saw fit to surround me with great men.
  35. Health insurance.
  36. The 2012 election. In America, we can agree to disagree without bloodshed and chaos.
  37. Christmas as seen through the eyes of children.
  38. Inspiration and dreams.
  39. Animal print accessories.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fried Chicken Wednesday: The Election Edition

America, how could we do this???  How did we manage to re-elect Barack Obama without  conclusive election results from Florida, an obnoxious Twitter rant by a loud-mouth attention whore, a riot at a University that just celebrated 50 years of integration, or a massive drop in the stock market?

It is the Barack-mageddon!!!

Be honest, you are so going to miss the 2012 Election!  Because if this had been a meal, it was the crispiest, butteriest, juiciest, fried up-diest platter of slap-my-grandma-this-was-so-good Southern fried chicken wings ever!  And now as we stare at the pile of bones, loosen our belts, and snooze off the -itis, what in the heck are we going to do with ourselves for the next two years until the next Presidential challengers announce their intentions and fake like they really want to live in Iowa or New Hampshire?

What now America?  Especially since RuPaul's All-Stars can't last forever...

(Disclaimer: I acknowledge the inherent concerns about using fried chicken metaphors to describe the election results. So that joke about wings and mumbo sauce that I was about to include will be recast as a joke about shrimp fried rice and soy sauce.  On second thought, nevermind.)

Because now I need to be serious...the Busy Black Woman is really looking forward to the day when disappointment or discouragement about the accomplishments of this President are not cause for inappropriate chicken, watermelon, monkey, witch-doctor, or other racially insensitive references on social media. 

See, and I really mean this, I am optimistic that when the next black man gets elected (and yes, it will happen again--this was not a fluke), or when the first woman, Latino, or openly-gay Republican gets elected, we will be that much closer to becoming the America we purport to be.  If this is truly the land of opportunity, then we all need to believe it. 

So let's evolve. Let's exhale. Woosah. There will be another election in four years. And if Obama leaves behind a mess, the next President can spend the next four years cleaning it up. That is what we do as Americans. We start over.  We rebuild. We endure.  Surely, as people of faith in our own exceptionalism we cannot accept that the end of civilization as we know will be brought about in one election.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Men at Work

As the East Coast continues with the arduous task of clean-up after Hurricane Sandy, I had an interesting revelation.  The President, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg of New York, Governor Christie and Mayor Booker of New Jersey, and generally all of the other elected officials (most of them men), did rather well under the pressure of extreme crisis management.

Thus, in recognition of the fact that each man stared down one helluva storm and did not blink, I hereby bestow upon them the title of Honorary Busy Black Woman.  For one week.  And today is Thursday (so only until Saturday). 

Crisis management is literally two-thirds of what the average Busy Black Woman does. She has to negotiate how to make it across town to run several errands, chair a meeting or two, get dinner, handle the chores around the house, and make it all look easy.  Let's face it, men are not feted for their crisis management skills.  Men are celebrated for bravery, which does not require much planning or thinking.  Bravery requires the split second decision to kill or be killed.  And as a wise woman once said, any fool can be brave on a battlefield. 

By the way, I am not suggesting that men are fools. But I am suggesting that the extraordinary events of this week required characteristics that most of us are unable to summon in even the most ordinary circumstances. 

As you know, this Busy Black Woman tries very hard to remain non-partisan, but I am human and have very strong opinions about this never-ending presidential election.  The fact that my mind has been made up since 2007 notwithstanding, I have to say that the events of the past few days have given me a newfound respect for the job of being an elected official.  And so if I can add my own spin to the words of Margaret Mitchell, any fool can look presidential (or gubernatorial or mayoral or just official) on television...

For those of us who got spared by this storm, we need to count our blessings and pay it forward.  Say a prayer and then give to the American Red Cross, the United Way, Salvation Army, or whatever other reputable relief organization you choose.  Don't just feel bad about what happened; do something that might ease the suffering of others.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fried Chicken Wednesday: Halloween for Dummies

My favorite holiday is Halloween and because it falls on a Wednesday this year, I am inclined to compare that love to a platter of buttermilk-battered deep fried chicken!  I'm not sure how long I've felt this way, but maybe it is because I have lots of great Halloween memories: like the year that the future husband and I spent an entire afternoon in my parents' basement with a bunch of kids carving pumpkins.  (Of course, the same is true of every other major holiday with themes that encourage creativity with construction paper, scissors and glue sticks.  Which is probably why I have yet to find the excitement in Thanksgiving.)

However, as an admitted Craft Project Junkie, Halloween takes me there without pushing me totally overboard like Christmas.  Let's face it--there comes a moment when no amount of tinsel, glitter, glue guns, beads, baubles, pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, felt, and artificial snow will make up for the fact that no one really cares that you made all those crappy ornaments and decorations yourself.  Yet, people are actually impressed when you make your own Halloween costume, even if all you did was dress in all black, accent with a few leopard print items already in your wardrobe, staple some cat ears made from construction paper onto a headband, and draw some whiskers on your face.  Voila, you were a cute kitten and you can wear that belt again! 

Of course, Halloween has its downside.  There are those weird people (like my grandmother) who give away toothbrushes, fruit and rolls of pennies instead of candy.  Or the people (like my Dad) who pass out candy that no one wants like candy corn, butterscotch or Almond Joy.  Sometimes there are overly protective parents who politely chastise you for not offering alternatives for kids with nut allergies, or mannerless children who neglect to say thank-you after demanding extra pieces of gluten-free candy.  Among those in the the too-old-for-trick-or-treating-set, there are teenaged girls and grown women dressed like slutty naughty maids, cocktail waitresses, nurses, police officers, animals, angels/devils, cheerleaders, or anything else that encourages fishnets paired with micro miniskirts.  This is especially problematic when the male compliment is a pimp costume...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just Another Busy Saturday

On Friday night a friend was IM'ing me and attempting to understand what had possessed me to book an entire Saturday from morning to night with activities.  I tried my best to explain that it was just another Busy Black day in the neighborhood, but she was not buying that and almost as if she was hexing me, she accurately predicted that I would get sick--and wouldn't ya know I'm sick RIGHT NOW as I am writing this piece?!

But let me set the record straight.  I am not sick from overdoing it.  I am sick because I spent 2 hours in a germ factory masquerading as a Halloween party for kids.  I am sick because in addition to being in an enclosed space full of coughing and oozing children, I was too close to farm hay and as a person who is allergic to everything, I apparently neglected to take my antihistamine yesterday morning.  And just maybe I am sick because instead of going straight home to bed after returning the Baby Niece to her father, I sat watching in amazement as she shot back and forth around the room like a firecracker, all the while ignoring the congestion taking hold of my chest. 

I assure you, I did not overdo it yesterday.  It was a typical Saturday for me.  I started the day at the Alzheimer Walk, attended a college fair, visited my parents, went to dance rehearsal, and then took the niece to the aforementioned Halloween party.  Sure, I missed church this morning because I woke up in the middle of the night terrified that I might have pneumonia and then overslept well past the time for me to have been respectably late for church.  But this is not an illness that will keep me down for too long.  My body will heal itself and I will be back to running around hither and yon just in time to prepare for Frankenstorm.

Because I've got too much to do to be sick.  I've got a two parties to plan, tulip bulbs to plant, recital pieces to rehearse, a conference to attend, tee shirts to sell, articles to write, an election to monitor, prospective students to recruit, a committee meeting to lead, and all of that is before I even think about Thanksgiving!   

So, no my dear friend, I appreciate your concern, but this is not running myself into the ground.  This is what Busy Black Women do.  Saturdays are supposed to be tiring, which is why I don't feel all that bad about missing church this morning despite the fact that I haven't missed in a month of Sundays...

OK, maybe a little guilty.  But as you aptly pointed out, I cannot be all things to all people nor can I be everywhere all the time.  God understands and will forgive me. 

But if it turns out that you were right and I do have pneumonia, it is all YOUR fault for hexing me!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grown Folk Problems

One of the downsides to adulthood is the preponderance of real-life problems.  Remember how easy it was to solve problems at age 25?  Broke?  Move back in with your parents.  Lonely?  Adopt a pet.  Overweight?  Eat cabbage for a few weeks.  Overworked and underpaid? Get used to it.

Lately, I have been suffering through a series of oh-my-goodness, I'm really a grown woman panic attacks.  Daily.

If life was a romantic comedy, this would be the scene in When Harry Met Sally when Sally (Meg Ryan), cries to Harry (Billy Crystal) that she is going to be 40...eventually.  If this was a horror flick, it would be that moment right before someone got stabbed.  If life is really just an 80s melodrama, then apparently I am Sally Field.

In Norma Rae, she portrays a reluctant union organizer.  In Places in the Heart, she is a Depression-era widow.  In Steel Magnolias, she loses her daughter.  Currently, in The Busy Black Woman Chronicles (of which I am the star), I am a reluctant cat herder Recessionista who is losing her mind.

I am making light, but this is no joke.  I am just not ready for this very adult role of being the de facto family matriarch. I am not Claire Huxtable--most days I feel very much like Denise. 

(Of course, Lisa Bonet is all grown up and crazy, so maybe I should pick a better role one of the Olsen twins.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Working, Working, Working Day and Night

A couple months ago I was in Atlanta and observed an all-too familiar phenomenon--Busy Black Woman cell-phone coaching. Or put another way, a woman was on the phone with some poor clueless person (significant other, child or supervisor) who was obviously dependent on her to keep the world upright on its axis.  In the scenario that I witnessed, a woman was giving directions to someone from 600+ miles away.

Now the humor in this is not the other person's failure to use a GPS, but it is the fact that this sister excused herself from a social event several times to speak to the same person!  And even funnier was the fact that at least three other women had to the same thing...

I've done it too.  During that same weekend, I had to excuse myself to take a phone call to give instructions to family members.  Except in my case, the scenario was not at all funny as this was an emergency regarding my mother.  Of course, I doubt that it ever occurred to anyone back home that there was very little I could do from 600+ miles away.

I suspect that many of my fellow Busy Black sisters find it exhausting having to think for the collective, kind of like the Borg Queen.  Fans of Star Trek will remember that she was the only individual among the drones in the borg cube. 

Come to think of it, quite a few of the most formidable leaders in the Star Trek pantheon were women--the Dominion, Kai Winn of Bajor, the Romulan Commander Sela, T'Pau of Vulcan, and of course, Captain Janeway (yes, I am a Trekkie). But I digress...

The point being, the person who takes the lead, takes the fall when train goes off the tracks.  I cannot begin to tell you how often I hear 11 million versions of the same excuse: you didn't tell me what to do so (a) I did nothing; (b) I did it wrong; or (c) the blank stare.


Can a sister get a break? Can I trust you to use the common sense you've gained from several years of living on this planet, or to use that expensive education that you are so proud of to make just one decision that does not require my approval?  Or better yet, can I trust you to think outside of the box and do what I would do in the same situation?  Do I sound like one of the adults from a Charlie Brown cartoon?!?

Woosah! Namaste! When is Happy Hour?