Saturday, February 20, 2010

Librarians are the best!!

I learned early in life that Librarians are good people. A librarian saved me from my mean and evil second-grade teacher who happened to be her sister. Then she opened up the vault, what seemed like access to unlimited books.

When I started promoting my book, I found suggestions from all kinds of sources. One smart blogger said to follow the advice of Willie Sutton the bank robber. When asked why he robbed banks, he said, "because that's where the money is." So I should sell my books to libraries, because that's where the books are. That might seem counter-intuitive as a way of making money since people read library books for free. But libraries buy more than one copy and when those are worn out, they buy more.

Getting my foot in the door with the library was another matter. But at the same time I was hunting down local book clubs. When I found two local black book clubs at branches of the public library, I struck gold, in the person of the librarian. It was her practice to select books for the book club, and purchase them for the library. She liked my book and went to her board with the request to purchase six books. She told me later what she was always up against. There were board members who mumbled, "They don't return those books." Which was contrary to the other one who said, "They don't read."

That wonderful librarian stood her ground and got those books. I won't name names, for fear of getting her in trouble. You never know what might come up in a Google search.

After her book club finished reading my book, the six books were distributed across the system. I check periodically to see if they are getting checked out. Yes they are, and they are being returned...sometimes late, but returned nonetheless. And those two librarians also make sure local black authors are invited to the annual Black History Month event, and given the space to sign books.

I also managed to get my hometown librarian to purchase a couple of books. When I grew up in Petersburg, the public library was segregated. Today the head of the Petersburg Library system is a black man.

So next time you see a librarian, give her/him a big hug for all they do.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Worst Typo Ever?

I subscribe to a number of blogs, and a few that suggest blog topics on a weekly basis. This is the first one to catch my attention in a long time, not because of the typo, but because it sent me off down memory lane.

When I moved back to the south in 1975, my first job was with the power company. I interviewed with about 10 other companies before the power company, and encountered the kind of racism I would have expected in the 1950's. The power company was trying to improve their numbers around that time, and a manager even told me they could count me in two EEO categories, black and female. "Too bad you're not a disabled Viet Nam vet, too." (No lie.)

I had five years of programmer/analyst experience before that, and I was assigned to a team that maintained an old mainframe system. When I finally went to discuss my dead-end with the section manager, he already had me lined up for a development team using a "new technology." And so began my relationship with Watts Fearrington. We all thought it was funny that a boss in the power company would have the name Watts. Watts was a classic old southern gentleman, with a way of expressing himself that reminded me of Yogi Berra. When he told me about my new assignment, he said I needed to "Jump in head first with both feet."

Several years later, Watts had been promoted, but was still my boss at a higher level. When I needed a manager's recommendation for my application to graduate school, I made my request of Watts. Watts was flattered that I asked him, and sent me a draft of the letter he would send out. He wrote a full-page glowing recommendation, and mentioned the several "new technology" projects I had worked on over the years. And then in describing me he said I was "contentious." I knew he meant "conscientious," but how in the world was I going to get him to correct that without offending him? Fortunately, I had a good rapport with his secretary. And since the letter would be going out on company letterhead, he would have to give it to her to print. I gave her a very discrete call and she took care of it.

Watts retired before I left the power company. The last time I saw his name was in his obituary a few years ago.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

For My President

I bet Michelle knows the words:

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing
by James Weldon Johnson

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list'ning skies;
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us;
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun
Of our new day begun,
Let us march on! Till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet, with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered;
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by thy might
Led us into the light:
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee;
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee;
Shadowed beneath thy hand
May we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.

Monday, February 8, 2010


The doctor showed them the big yellow sign, meant to stop the staff in their tracks. This one said "Do Not Resuscitate." She asked my sister and brother-in-law if that was their desire. I thought they already had a "Living Will" but it turns out the attorney back home said to wait until they get to North Carolina, since the legalese would be different. But they responded, "Yes, that's what we want."

The thought of it cut me like knife. I needed clarification, just to be sure. "You mean, if they find you with your heart stopped, you don't want them to use those paddles to get you going again?" "That's right."

I told the doctor, we needed to discuss this further. I discussed it with their daughter who is snow-bound up north. She said to ask him separately what he would want for her Mom. She would abide by their decision.

I told someone yesterday that I would go ski-diving on my 80th birthday. While I don't want to be kept alive by extraordinary means (I'm saying this today at age 64), as long as there is some joy left, I want to hang in there. Maybe I'll see things differently if and when I reach 80 years. I hope not.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Labadee - Do or Don't

Is it insensitive to go on vacation when other people in the world are suffering? Is Hawaii OK when people in Port-au-Prince are living among the rubble of an earthquake. What about a day at the beach just 60 miles away from Port-au-Prince.

My husband and I travel a lot. We cruise two or more times every year. We book next year's cruise while aboard this year's cruise, earning discounts and on-board credit. When we first started cruising the Caribbean it was common for cruise lines to have a beach party day at a "Private Island" somewhere in the Bahamas. For Royal Caribbean and Celebrity the "Private Island" is not an Island, but a private beach known as Labadee on the northern peninsula of Haiti.

We booked a Caribbean cruise for April, 2010 last year, long before the earthquake in Haiti. The seven-day cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice includes a day in Labadee.

The internet buzz about Labadee started immediately after the earthquake, because Royal Caribbean and Celebrity both stop at Labadee. Between the USA Today travel site and the Cruise Critic forums, the comments have become heated on both sides of the argument. Click here for article.

We have been to Labadee several times before. It is usually a good day at the beach. Will we get off the ship in April? We'll think about it.