Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Trunk and Grey's Anatomy

I had a trunk as many college students had in the 60's that I used to ship the bulk of my clothes and personal effects to college, and most importantly to Germany in 1966 for my Junior Year Abroad. The trunk went with me to New York after college, and was a major piece of furniture in my studio apartment in Brooklyn Heights while I attended NYU.

After I quit graduate school and got married, I was ready to give up the apartment. I had a two year lease with an escape clause so I could leave before the two years if I wanted to. My brother Michael convinced me to sub-let the apartment to his friend Morgan the summer of 1968, so I left all my "furniture" in the apartment. The furniture consisted of a studio couch, a card table and four chairs, and the trunk.

The trunk contained assorted personal effects including a shoe-box full of letters from friends including ones from Jimmy. At the end of the summer, Morgan went back to Petersburg and Michael asked what to do with the furniture. I wanted to move it to New Jersey where I lived with my husband, but he didn't want anything to do with my pre-marriage baggage. He insisted we had no place to put it, although the apartment building provided a storage space in the basement for each apartment.

Michael agreed to move the stuff since he lived just around the corner in Brooklyn Heights. So he took the studio couch, card table and chairs, and the trunk. In 1975 my husband and I moved to Raleigh. Michael and his wife moved to Bloomington Indiana, taking all my old stuff. I remembered the letters, the two pieces of artwork from Jimmy, as well as my old collection of 45 RPM records in the trunk. By then I knew it was pointless to talk about retrieving the trunk.

After Michael had been in Bloomington for a few years, they had a house fire. Michael had been at home alone with his two little daughters. He built a fire in the fireplace in the family room and did something that firemen always warn against. He tried using charcoal lighter to get the fire burning. The flames traveled up the stream to the can of lighter and quickly ignited the room. Michael grabbed the girls, got them out unharmed and closed the fire-door to the family room. The fire was contained in that one room. Michael told me later that his piano was destroyed, along with my trunk and its contents. He said the 45 RPM's melted into one solid piece.

So I let go of the memory. But then Michael resurfaced with those 2 pieces of artwork to give to my daughter after we found each other. Among all the other old stuff he has been carrying with him from place to place, he recently found the box of letters, which he brought back with him from Ghana.

I wrote my book "as well as I could remember it" without the benefit of those 42-year-old letters. Michael thought there might be some surprises of things I had mis-remembered. There were a few. The biggest surprise was the letters from my Daddy. I had forgotten that he had written at all. The letters from Jimmy were more in number than I remembered, but the content was mostly as I remembered. The other big surprise was a series of letters from Sheltering Arms. I had forgotten the name of the adoption agency altogether until my son found them in 1998.

After seeing the last scene of the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, where Meredith opens a box of her late mother’s journals, I’m glad that I burned my old journals years ago, but I wonder what I should do with those old letters.

If you haven’t read my book, you may not be able to understand this blog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The North Carolina Election for Senator

Elizabeth Dole has been our carpetbagger Senator for six years, and is fighting a contentious campaign against Democrat Kay Hagan. Hagan has been leading in the polls with ads reminding people that Dole votes with George Bush 93% of the time, and spends less than 30 days per year in North Carolina. She has not really lived here since 1959, but she claims residence in Salisbury since she inherited her mother's house there.

Her ads have been vicious, and have gotten worse since the polls show Hagan leading. Here is her latest ad. Hagan is planning legal action if Dole doesn't withdraw it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My First Booksigning

First-time self-published authors have a tough row to hoe. The Big-Box bookstores don't want to waste their shelf space if you're not a sure thing. And even some of the independent book stores will risk only one-at-a-time on consignment, under the desk, available on request. Thank God for the few remaining black independent bookstores.

I wrote about The Know Bookstore before when they first allowed me some of their real estate. The Know is a Durham institution, but even institutions need to stay afloat financially. The Know does it with the restaurant and the Friday night jam sessions. The owner, Bruce Bridges invited me to set up my table for a book-signing last night. I arrived before eight, and some of the regulars were staking out their places in the cozy restaurant already. They were very polite about listening to my pitch as I went from table to table. And a few even bought the book!

Then the crowd started coming, the regular musicians, and a few new faces, a teenager who plays a mean bass, and singer from South America. A few people came looking to see if Bruce had Crystal Mangum's memoir that was supposed to drop on Friday. She's the woman who accused the Duke Lacrosse players of rape. People were sure that if anybody had the book, Bruce would have it. He doesn't have it yet.

In between sets, Bruce pitched for me, and even let me take the mike for a minute. It sure is good to know some home folks at The Know.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Robo-call Season

It's that season again. The politicians and their assorted supporting organizations are calling all day. It's especially annoying since I have voted already. I have done my share of calling for candidates over the years, and I think the human touch helps sometimes. But you know how these robo-calls go.

First sign of the robo-call: Caller-ID says "out of area."

That doesn't stop me from picking up because I have relatives and friends who call from out of the country or from cellular areas that don't send the number.

Second sign of the robo-call: Long silence after I say hello.

I usually hang up at that point, but then comes the recorded message. This year there is a new twist. The message says, "Thank you for your patience. We're still trying to connect you" Translation: "Hang up you idiot!"

Now really! If you're making calls by machine, get a service that starts the message right away.

Obama has said that he doesn't like Robo-calls, but he did one series during the primary. The message was so important that I forget what it was. You see, that was during the Rock Star phase. When I heard his voice on the other end, I was like...(gasp) A call from Barack! Be still my heart! He hasn't called me since. (But I do get text messages on the regular.)

Tinkerbell has nothing to do with this. But have you noticed that sister-gurl has quite a bit of junk in the trunk?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

This is a Chick flick, but I think the guys should enjoy it too. I read the book a few years back when it was a GMA Book Club selection, and my book club read it too. I didn't remember all the details of the book, but as the movie unfolded, I found it to be very true to the book.

I remembered that there were a lot of heated discussions among book clubs that I knew about. You know some of us get a little annoyed when white people write stories about black people, particularly when they fit the "Magic Negro" model. You know the ones where the black hero seems to have no purpose in life other than solving all the problems of white people. Remember "The Green Mile."

But it was a good book that turns out to be an excellent vehicle for black movie talent...and they didn't even have to sing. Will and Jada Smith produced it. The stars were Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, the amazing Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), Nate Parker (The Great Debaters). Dakota Fanning always delivers.

The timing of the release was perfect. When you see what Jennifer Hudson's character goes through to register to vote, you will be inspired.

I give it 3 stars.

My favorite Youtube of the day

The kids are saying that Obama sonned McCain on this one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Early Voting

Today was the first day of early voting in Raleigh, and we headed to the mall near us, Tinker, my brother and me. We parked in the curbside voting section because the line was long, and my brother can't stand that long and Tinker has his new titanium hip replacement. They had only four workers handling the curbside voting and there were two vans of seniors from retirement communities who were ahead of us. I decided to go wait in the regular line which I estimated as being 200 people.

When my brother called me to tell me that they were next in line, I joined them for this moment in history. This is one to tell our grandchildren about.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Belated Happy Birthday to me

We had a wonderful trip. I didn't know how stressed out I was until I started to unwind. We had four days at sea going, five days cruising around the Hawaiian islands, and four days at sea coming back. The at-sea days were the ultimate rest therapy. There's nothing like being rocked to sleep at all times of day.

We have lots of photos that we need to organize, but here is a preview:

We saw Julie and Naquam in San Diego. They drove from two hours away to take us out to dinner. Julie is as sweet in person as she is online. We met Naquam when we were in Cali last year. He's always entertaining. (Did I take pictures of the food?)

hawaii08 010 by tojo1104.

Our ship was the Radiance of the Seas. We have sailed on 2 other Radiance-class ships, the Jewel and the Brilliance, so it was like being at home. This time I climbed the ROCK WALL!!! (a few feet anyway)

Hawaii 2008 230 by tojo1104.

I celebrated my birthday aboard ship, complete with singing waiters.

And I returned to find out that I missed my turn at tutu, so I had to post it again for all. Cynthia Marie gets more creative every day. I love it!!