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Welcome To My Online Journal!

A.D. Odom
This weblog is my online journal. You'll find my opinions and general thoughts on a variety of topics as well as links to articles of interest on the web.  When the spirit moves me, I will also include longer essays which will be posted in the Essay section of this Weblog.
Be sure to check out some of my writings, poetry, and photographs as I'll change those as the mood moves me to do so.   Drop me a line if mood moves you at .

Monday, August 11, 2003

Six Months, Two Weeks, Seven Days, Three Hours And Fourteen Seconds
I remember an old comic that used to appear in the Chicago Sun-Times entitled Love Is.  I believe the first saying I remember seeing from that little comic came from the movie Love Story, which was Love is never having to say you're sorry.  If that's true, ain't a whole lot of love going on these days.  For those mature enough to say I'm sorry, there are many more who say Oh Well.
I heard about another break-up over the weekend.  I decided to check it out, first hand, from the source.  I don't like believing anything I hear from someone else so I check it out and if it's not true, I can tell the person who told me that I heard, from her lips to my ears, it ain't true.  Unfortunately, it was true.  Six months, 2 weeks, 7 days, 3 hours and 14 seconds is what they had together -- and yes, I made that up, but that's how I view many relationships these days, as some sort of ticking clock ticking off the hours from romance to separation.   Til death do us part is often viewed as a fantasy when you see many of your friends end their relationships in just under 6 months, 2 weeks, 7 days, 3 hours and 14 seconds.
One of the first jokes I heard about lesbian relationships was the one about lesbian first dates -- it involves a U-haul -- shortly after the first date they shack up, quick, fast and in a hurry.  How much time did it take for either to get to know the other?  Try about 6 months, 2 weeks, 7 days, 3 hours and 14 seconds. 
There are so few social gatherings for women in our community.  At clubs, we often have to scream over music with words that insult our sensibilities in order to converse with a woman we find interesting.  Some sisters will cut the small talk to hit the three questions up front: do you have your own place, job and car?  If she answers in the affirmative, she's on the list of potential candidates for dating.  Others, finding the evening has quickly approached final call will go into freak out mode.  Well, she seems nice enough, she has her own this or that, she is doing this or that, why not?  Hell, I may never see her again and this may be my only chance.  Some women, after finding someone representing what they think they want, set up house and go about the business of changing that person from what they thought they wanted into what they need.  Six months, 2 weeks, 7 days, 3 hours and 14 seconds later, they hate each other.  Why?  Like the words of an old song, she didn't take time to know her. 
One of the biggest complaints I get is that it takes "too long" for me to enter into a relationship and even longer before I even begin to consider living with someone.  I have plenty good reason for taking so long, I'm moody, I have quite an explosive temper, and I am often perceived as a predator.  On the surface, my little personality traits may not appear so bad, but for a woman with deep-seated issues, she may take my moodiness or temper personally, which could lead to the beginning of the end of our relationship.  The worse I can experience from a woman is when I am looking at her longingly, which is my turn on or enjoyment, which may or may not lead to anything more than my enjoyment, being met with giggles, discomfort or the words "what?"  "Why are you looking at me like that?"  Aaarrrrggh!  No, I need someone who will not take me personally, particularly when my temper or moodiness has nothing to do with them and I'm looking for a little responsiveness to being enjoyed.  I am not going to jump into the first relationship that presents itself just to be unhappy weeks or months later.
Then there is the lack of communication.  The "I know why she said what she said tonight, because two days ago she saw this and thought that and that's why she said what she said tonight and I don't like it."  When asked, did you talk to her about it?  "No, I know why she said what she said because I saw how she looked two days ago and I could tell because of . . ." Gee whiz, can't we just talk about things without making assumptions.  And then, can we just talk without you inviting your friends into the mix before communicating with me first? 
Yeah, trying to fit someone into your idea of a perfect woman, going for what she represents and not who she is, and no communication will go from what you think is love to 6 months, 2 weeks, 7 days, 3 hours and 14 seconds and it's over. 
A woman's gotta have it.  Do the things that keep a smile on her face.  Say the things that make her feel better everyday.  Don't take for granted the smile on her face.  Check a little bit closer, you might find a tear trace.  Maybe the girl might never say a mumbling word, but you gotta make sure that her voice is heard.  A woman't gotta have it, you gotta give it to her, everyday.  She's got to know that she's needed around.  When you kiss her, you gotta make her feel it -- every time.  She wants to know that she's not walking on shaky ground. 
Enjoy the woman in your life.  Don't take her for granted.  Enjoy every moment, every curve, and every smile.  Otherwise, down the line you too will face six months, 2 weeks, 7 days, 3 hours and 14 seconds. 
Mon, August 11, 2003 | link

Sunday, August 10, 2003

Gay Day At Work -- Lesbian Day? Never.
I had big plans for today.  I knew I had to work this morning and I had plans to go to Cabrini's Spot after work.  Needless to say, it didn't happen.  After work, I decided to come home, feed the dogs and since the festivities would start at 8:00 p.m., I thought I'd take a nap and go a little later in the evening.  Nope, didn't happen.  Just as I was awakened at Midnight on May 26, 2002, I awoke at 11:45 p.m. (not quite midnight).  I am beginning to think of this little phenomenom as the Christine Tripp wakeup call.  Since this has been going on for little over a year now, since her passing, I decided to get up and make a productive night of it because I probably won't be able to go back to sleep until about 8:45 a.m.
Since I had to go in early this morning, I decided to burn a CD of MP3s I wanted to hear to get me through the day.  I chose everything I have of James Taylor ("JT"), Tracy Chapman, Hootie, Train, the Eagles, Journey, and Earth Wind & Fire.  I found my MP3 player and plugged it in the car and set out.  As I drove in, I contemplated who I'd work with today and realized I would be working with two gay guys.  Great, I thought, too much straight energy can be a little overbearing, particularly on days you sign up to work OT. 
It was an uneventful day, sans the usual, and JT was more soothing to me than anyone else I had on the CD.  He took me back to the good old days of cowboy boots and dungarees.  As I got near the end of my tour of duty, the guys and I started talking about what happened in Silverlake during the late sixties and the police brutality that went on at clubs and establishments on Sunset.  I heard a lot about Stonewall in New York, but nothing about what happened in Los Angeles in 1967.  The gentleman who was out here at the time stated the brutality almost made him go back into the closet.  We ended up engaged in conversation about prejudice against gays and lesbians here in Los Angeles and our own experiences in our respective home towns in the Midwest.  We then moved on to racial prejudice and stereotypes.  I left work vowing to research and learn more about what happened in Silverlake during the 60's. 
The heat and the traffic got the better of me as I made my way home.  The trip home, however, seemed relatively short as I thought about our conversation.  Not being fond of air conditioning, I opened the sunroof and rolled down the windows and enjoyed the breeze and fresh air.  As I started into Pasadena, I came across a woman driving a Jeep with a rainbow sticker on her bumber and an assortment of poltiical stickers.  One of the stickers I remember seeing was "Free Mumia."   As I passed her, I thought about my politics.  I really don't display my politics, sans the license plate holder that is a subtle acknowledgement about AIDS (though some seem to think it's an acknowledgement of breast cancer) -- that's it.  I used to have a rainbow steering wheel cover and then it faded horribly and so I removed it. 
I have mostly been involved with the rights of African Americans and equality and the rights of women for same.  However, in terms of gay rights, I've been pretty silent on that issue because I felt gay rights was a personal issue and not the bridge I wanted to die on.  As an African American woman, I was and I am still interested in equal rights and equal pay.  As a lesbian, I really never cared because I felt it was my business and my business only.  However, to hear men were killed by the police in a city where I now live did something to me.  The news of this became very personal for me because I now knew someone who witnessed it first hand.
Just before waking at 11:45 p.m., I had a dream where I saw myself in a man's suit and tie.  I was with a very attractive woman (I almost wished I had stayed asleep, she was gorgeous) and we were going to an event.  I remember waking feeling good about myself in this beautifully tailored suit and tie, in fact, the first person I thought about after waking was Alex Yemedijian, the CEO of MGM, a man who knows how to dress -- a very European style.  I love the way the man dresses and I love his shirts (they're tailor made).  At that point, I remembered the conversation I had earlier in the day regarding prejudice.  I then posed a question to my friend Christine who took me away from sleep and my good dream with a beautiful woman.  I asked do I still have issues with butch women?  I also asked if this is really who I am?  My honest answer for the first question is yes.  My honest answer for the second was also yes. 
With regard to the first question, I do still have issues with butch women.  I think my issues stem more from experiences in the past with male identified women and their choice of clothing.  Many of the women I've met who identified as butch disliked men.  For me, this view appeared to be a form of self-hatred.  How can you identify as male or butch, wear men's clothing and display a strong dislike for men?   That puzzled me.  Second, and I'll concede this is more fear based, I had a problem with dating a woman who identified as butch because what would the neighbors say if she came to my door?  Then there was, by dating a butch woman, do I fear I would invite danger to my door?  Finally, the question that lead to my own personal curve ball -- do I identify more as masculine than feminine and is that the real reason why I've never been the least bit interested in dating butch women?  The answer to that question is yes. 
With regard to the last question, over the years, I have made several attempts to tone down my more masculine side in order to not be identified as too too lesbian -- or butch.  I ratchet it up when I feel the need to do so, or when in a competitive situation.  In essence, I tend to lean more toward being passive than display, fully, my more aggressive and/or masculine personality. 
A case in point, some years ago I talked with a male attorney who took me aside to talk about "my girls" and the "women in your department."   He wanted them to cater to his needs and whims and they did not and would not.  What he wanted was for them to make coffee and bring him a cup when asked.  They would not do it and I don't blame them.  As he continued to talk about what "my girls" should do, while standing in front of him I spread my legs, put both hands in my pocket and looked him square in the eyes.  He saw a woman, but picked up he was being challenged by a man.  He subsequently backed down and stated, times have changed and he would get over it.  I didn't have to say a word, my body language was convincing enough.  I presented a battle he was not strong enough to win because I became the more dominant male. 
I can pull that person, out of my person, without forethought and when I do, I am very happy about it.  Society, unfortunately, does not view well women who display as masculine women and I do not mean aggressive.  I mean masculine -- a masculine posture, stance, personality, etc.  I do not mean aggressive as I know a number of aggressive women who do not display as masculine.  If I am not concious of how I am displaying, I will easily and very comfortably display as masculine. 
I took time this morning to look back over my life and I can identify every time I've covered over my masculine self to the point of appearing like a drag queen -- the mannerisms, the outfits, everything.  It explains why I enjoyed the dream tonight; dressed in a suit and tie with a beautiful woman by my side.  I needed to truthfully and honestly acknowledge who I am and as Margaret Bourke-White said "face my fears."   This is probably why I had to be awakened at that precise moment to remember the dream and what I felt. 
Gays and lesbians fought, and in some cases, died for the right and freedom to associate, gather, and display who they are.  Because of them, if I choose to walk out tomorrow dressed in a tux or suit and tie, I can.  Gay bashing still exists as does racism, sexism, and many other forms of prejudice.  I have seen and experienced violent outbursts regarding racism and sexism.  I have never, however, seen or experienced violent outbursts with regard to my sexuality.
I can speak of incidents in my lifetime of being approached by men while out with a woman and being asked "which one of you is the man?"   I can recall going to a motel with a woman who used her license to acquire the room and later being harassed by the clerk who wanted the license of the "fella driving the Cutlass."  The supposed "fella driving the Cutlass" was me and they somehow discovered a "fella" was not driving that car.  We hurried up an got out of there fearing something could happen and watched with amusement at the two women inside, pressing their faces against the glass to see us.  But I've never experienced violence towards me for being a lesbian.  My political antenna has risen because the dominant society was successful in preventing me from displaying, properly, who I am.  I can't hide being a woman and I cannot hide the fact that I am Black, but I can hide who I am and have done so successfully.  My political antenna has risen because it has taken me many years to find and validate what I have hiden for so long. 
The two men I worked with today can openly talk about their relationships, publicly, with anyone.  The women I have known and worked with over the years, who are lesbian, never talked openly and publicly about their relationships.  Even when we were alone at work, they talked low so no one would hear.  These were my mentors and this is what I learned.  They taught me to hide and how to hide.  People can laugh and talk with the out men I work with about their partners and their lives.  They often go to company events and picnics with their partners.  The women, on the other hand, are silent and alone.  We are invisible and this is what we teach.  I am angry and now, like Ghandi, I believe as he did -- you may kill my body, but you will never have my obedience.  I am through living as someone other than myself.  There is much too much at stake.
Sun, August 10, 2003 | link

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Clothes Don't Make The Woman
After spending the day shopping, I realized why I don't shop much in the Greater Los Angeles area.  Everythng is so trendy and stores seem to cater to young people or those who are more interested in keeping up with fashion styles, which would mean for for me, changing my closet every year. 
In the past, I would fly to Chicago or San Franciso to shop instead.  Stores like Carson's, Stevens' or Marshall Field's catered more towards women who chose to wear stylish clothing which was a tad understated.  What that means is, you are stylish, yes, but you sell yourself.  Clothing should only compliment who you are, not the other way around.  I do not wish to walk into a room making a broadcast message about who I am and I certainly don't want to advertise any portion of my anatomy.  If there's something you want to see, you need to get to know me.  The allure of a woman is powerful.  I can't tell you how many sisters I've seen on the street that I have wished to stop them to say "oh no sister, not for you.  Understate it and let your personality shine through."  If the fashion police actually existed, I'd be on the phone 24-7 calling them.  But, this is afterall, tinsel town and the 30-second ad is what works.
At one Macy's, I happened upon a sister who tickled my funny bone to no end.  She was not happy.  A tall and very stylish Black woman, I first noticed she did the very same thing I did -- flip through the racks at a high rate of speed while simultaneously stepping away to take in the whole rack to see if something jumped out -- what I used to call looking for something that "spoke to me."  Finally, and I can only assume she noticed me noticing her, she spoke out: "These folks out here don't know how to dress."  I laughed aloud and asked her about the clothes she was wearing and where she purchased them.  She said Chicago.  I should have known. 
She continued talking about wishing she could shop in the city and find clothes without having to take trips back and forth from L.A. to Chicago.  That's when I started in.  I told her this is exactly what I used to do and oh my God, didn't she and I start the "itty bitty Chicago dress committee" right there in Macy's.  When I told her I was from Chicago, "it was on."   She and I started talking for far longer than we needed in that store.  But, it was a good conversation and she confirmed for me what I already knew, there is a big difference between the cities. 
I went on to tell her about the Macy's in San Francisco.  "Oh" she said, "they know how to dress in San Francisco and they ain't all caught up keeping up with the Jones there."   We talked about everything from fashion and personal style to the race for governor here in California.  "If no one knew how shallow the folks out here are, they know it now" she said.  She and I finally exchanged numbers vowing to call one another.  As we exchanged cards and discussed doing business together, I realized something very interesting and noted how  I missed this type of exchange between people and women in particular.  She didn't care how I was dressed, she cared more about our conversation.  In essence, getting to know me had little to do with appearance or presentation and more to do with character -- the content of my character.  What a pleasant change of pace.  As we parted ways, she said "Clothes don't make the woman, the woman makes the clothes."  Touche.
I left that Macy's and headed around the corner to the Macy's on Lake and I noticed the differences between the clientele on Colorado at the Paseo and the clientele on Lake and the Macy's shops.  Here, I found the older and more upscale women of San Marino and Pasadena.  I thought, I might get lucky here and I was lucky indeed.  I told my new friend at the Paseo Macy's that I thought the Macy's on Lake would be more to her liking, what I didn't realize then was there is a Coldwater Creek there as well. 
For those who don't know, Coldwater Creek is a store for women of all sizes.  They think in terms of women, not their size.  If there is an item you like in one size, that item is also available in larger sizes as well.  I've received many of their catalogs and have visited their online store but never purchased anything because I've always been a little leary of catalog shopping.  Well, I won't be anymore.
Did I spend some money up in there?  Oh yeah.  I walked in and saw clothing I liked immediately.  I went to a rack of linen blouses (I love linen) and on the rack of linen blouses were sizes in petite, average and the so-called "Women's" (which means larger women) -- ALL ON THE SAME RACK.  This is a psychological turn on for me because it leads me to believe you thought about me in the design process; I was not an afterthought.  Too often I've gone into stores where the "Women's" department was either on another floor or in a particular section and some of the clothes were designed for the larger size and not a woman's personal style.    In essence, they're awful. 
After Coldwater, I went to the Macy's there and found some beautiful dresses.  I have always loved dresses cut on the bias because they skim the curves, shape the figure and move elegantly with the body.  I found two such dresses, tried them on, loved and purchased them.  Ooo la la.
I ended my shopping experience by stopping first at Pier 1 Imports and then off to Peet's for coffee.  I sat out on the patio at Peet's to take in a little people watching before heading home.  I then played eye games with another woman sitting on the patio.  Flirting can be a wonderful way to pass the time.  I tend to be a little obvious though.  I will either wear a rainbow bracelet or necklace which is a giveaway for those in the know.  I get a lot of attention that way.   Sometimes, I find women recognize me from the website, in which case I'll get a very warm welcome or smile.  I don't know which this was.  I was wearing a rainbow bracelet today and that could have been the reason for the eye game.  Either way, it warmed my blood. 
Getting out was the medicine I needed.  As my mother and I realized earlier in the day, a person can die staying in the house.  She and I have shared these past seven years of hell and we were both so caught up in our depression and sadness we had forgotten who we were.  She's getting out every day to do something for herself.  I likewise had to do the same. 
Albert Einstein had something when he said energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.  We need to get our mass out and into the light -- the light of others and into the light that illumines the world.  I had more energy today than I've had in months.  Staying in the dark shelter of my home or, using the light of others to get out every now and then made me very tired.  I lacked energy and I needed to find the light for and with myself.  Those who are accustomed to reveling in the light take it for granted.  For those of us who have danced with the devil under the pale blue moon, we only know a dark existence.  Today, I came out from the darkness and into the light.  What a beautiful day.
One Dress I bought At ColdwaterColdwater Creek -- 
Colwater Creek specializes in "apparel that carries the wide-open flavor of this area, yet suits decidedly urban landscapes as well. Naturally inspired jewelry, some with echoes of Native America. Nature-related gifts that delight as well as inform. Beautiful items for your home that express your own individuality. All offered through three direct-mail catalogs, our e-commerce Web site at, and through select retail stores in highly visible locations."
Sat, August 9, 2003 | link

Friday, August 8, 2003

A Time To Laugh and a Time to Cry
The past couple of weeks have been a struggle with regard to work and business.  Tonight, I sit here facing one day off and six days on and I have another equipment installation to do and another database to work on next week.  Not my idea of a fun time in the old town.  Last Sunday's romp through the mall was exciting and I found myself looking through catalogs and gathering up the gift cards I've received over the past year, year and a half, and drooling over what I could buy.  As I contemplated the potential of self indulgence, I decided to open the bottle of cabernet I purchased months ago.  Oh joy, oh rapture.  I then decided to do something so ghetto fab I laughed aloud when I did it.  Since I did not have the proper cheese to accompany my glass of cabernet, I opened instead a box of Jack Cheese Cheese-Its -- not quite the taste I was after, but it suited the purpose just fine.
Since I only have one day off, I will spend it first taking care of the yard and then, off to Nordstrom's, Saks and Macy's to buy myself a pretty and spend well the gift cards I've not used.  The thought of self indulgence is sinfully exciting because it's all about me and all about me is what I need right now.  I need pampering, I need self care, I need self help and I need self love.  I need to really get into loving me and giving me everything I need to give me. 
I used to do that for me years ago.  Somehow I have forgotten how to give good things to me.  I used to reserve a day called bed, bath and book day.  I'd pick a day and change the bedding to satin sheets.  I would stay in bed and sleep til noon.  In the evening, I would take nice long hot baths and, throughout the day and especially while in the bath, I would settle into a good book.  Lately, my sleeping and reading have been catch as catch can.  The indulging baths however, have been few and far between.  The thought of self indulgence is sinfully exciting.  I can't wait. 
I hope to find a sexy pair of shoes or boots, a nice dress or suit, something silk, and makeup that really works for me.  I want wonderful scents to layer and on Sunday, I hope to finally visit a friend's jewelry shop and begin work on the design of a bracelet, earrings and a ring.  Oh, the thought of self indulgence is exquisitely sinful and exciting and this truly is what I need for me.  If it had not been for getting off of an elevator last Sunday and seeing (and subsequently purchasing) a sexy pair of boots that made me gasp, I never would have noticed how little I had been giving to me -- which was nothing.  Now I know, and I cannot wait to partake of such simple pleasures.
I have no one in my life to indulge myself with amorous pleasures.  I am not wealthy by any measure to take time and fly away to some hedonistic resort.  All I have is one day to indulge myself in the simple pleasures of giving something fabulously wonderful to myself and this will suffice for now. 
The Joy Of Music 
For some time, I've listened to music I knew would soothe my sullen soul.  Just now, while indulging in my cabernet, I settled on a directory of Anita Baker songs.  I used to listen to Anita often because she sings with the passion and emotion I've always felt.  Anita is a woman's woman.  Women who show, sing, act or display their passions are few and far between.  I would love to meet just one -- I just want one private joy.  Oh well, perhaps one day I'll finally meet a woman with uninhibited passions.  Until then, I'll hold fast to vivid fantasies and Anita.  Sometimes fantasy can be better than reality, or at least it has been for me, which is quite another story.
I accidentally stumbled across this song while thinking I'd chosen another.  I paused a good long pause to listen and decided this song will be my theme song for my ascent from the valley -- It's Only For A While.  At first I did not remember the song or the lyrics and then it all came back to me -- I remembered.  What I initially loved about this song was two women singing in unison.  I believe the second voice is actually Anita, remixed to sing backup to herself.  Beyond two women singing together, it held no real significance to me.  Today, it has become my theme song for my walk from this valley experience -- it's only for a while. 
For a little while,
We know what heartache is
and we feel the pain the world can sometimes bring.
For a little while,
We cry in the night
Without a single song to sing

But one day all will change
There'll be no stormy rain
And at last
We will rest for ever more.

So if you're in the valley
  (if you're in the valley now)
And life is so unkind.
  (life is so unkind)
And if your tears keep falling
  (if your tears keep falling)
From your tired eyes.
  (from your eyes)
If burdens seem so heavy,
  (your burdens seem so heavy now)
And it's hard to smile
  (so hard to smile)
Then just remember
  (you've got to remember)
It's only for a while.
  (it's only for a while)

For a little while,
You lose someone you love,
  (oh yeah)
And you miss the time together that you shared.
For a little while,
You feel all alone and scared.
With no one there to hold
Oh, the nights get long and cold, yeah
But it won't last,
It will pass, in time.

So, if you're in the valley,
  (if you're in the valley now)
And life is so unkind,
  (life is so unkind)
And if your tears keep falling
  (if your tears keep falling)
From your tired eyes.
  (from your eyes)
Your burdens seems so heavy
  (your burdens seem so heavy now)
And it's hard to smile,
  (so hard to smile)
Oh, you've got to remember
  (you got to remember)
It's only for a while.
  (it's only for a while)

You'd better remember
  (you better remember)
It's only for a while.
  (it's only for a while)

Oh yes, remember
It's only for a while.
  (it's only for a while)
                   (emphasis added) Welcome back Angela . . .
Fri, August 8, 2003 | link

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Negative Energy
I was recently dragged into a conversation -- well, more a debate -- about what someone else should have done but did not do.  The person obviously did not know what to do and probably did not have a point of reference on how to do what the majority thought he should have done.  Interestingly enough, I walked into another very similar conversation just days prior. 
As I was passing, one person solicited my thoughts on the matter.  A brother and sister had met each other for the first time in years.  He had been raised by his father (whom the sister, sadly, never met).  They finally found each other and set up a date to meet for dinner.  Two of the people in this debate were present at their first meeting.  I was then asked "what would you do if."  At first, I was confused by the question because there were so many possibilities and then, realizing what was going on, I got angry.  One gentleman thought he would clear up the question for me and stated "would it have been better to shake hands or offer a hug to your sister?"  I then realized the poor brother was not given the script on how to act using their criteria.  I asked, "how long have you known this guy?"  I knew the answer, none of them knew him and the answer was confirmed by each -- they never saw the guy prior to meeting him and the others only knew what they heard from the two who were present.   Since they knew nothing about the guy or his upbringing, they felt very self righteous in their assumption that he was some kind of horrible person because he failed to act according to their beliefs.  He extended his hand upon meeting his sister. 
I'm a strange bird, particularly now, and I'm very sensitive about how others are perceived and judged especially when the folks doing the judging have very little information to go on about the person.  It bugs me.  I often find myself in the unpopular position of playing devil's advocate by laying out a series of scenarios to show any number of things are possible about folks which may or may not be what they believe.  Interesting, many don't want to hear anything contrary to what they believe.  They don't want to be educated on having a different viewpoint, seeing things another way, or the possibility of learning something new that is contrary to what they grew up believing or what they've learned through peers.  In essence, they chose to continue judging someone to show how righteous they are and this appears to be the point of their complaining.  "I would never have done that," which equates to "I'm better than they are -- look at me, look at me, look, look, look."  I stay away from folks like that, particularly when they attack a different point of view with venomous words that imply "you're taking away my goodness," or "you're stealing my fury."  I shake the dirt from my feet at the door and out I go. 
I do not walk away out of fear or judgment, I walk away because I realize, through the words they chose to use, they may not be very mature or for them it is better to be negative than positive.  At the same time, I realize I may have a snowball's chance in hell of getting a word in that may not suit their purpose.  If that's not what they want to see, they won't see it.  At this point in my life, I welcome learning about people and their unique experiences.  I do not wish to live in a world "according to my views" only.  
I have been on the receiving end of judgment by others who feel they know me well enough to make statements about me.  Often, these people have only had about 20 minutes of conversation with me over a course of 7, 8, 10, or 15 years.  Those 20 minutes include the hi's and bye's we've ever spoken to one another.  When their words get back to me, and often they do, folks are surprised I am not the person described to them.  I am not surprised or angry about the comments made, but I do seek to clear any misconceptions or false perceptions with the truth and I let the person I'm talking to know the person who provided them with the information has only had a few minutes of conversation with me -- they don't know me.  I don't do this to discredit the person who made the statement, I do it to inform the person who heard or overhead the statement that folks will often talk about things they know nothing about -- that's human nature.  Additionally, every statement made is not necessarily a statement of fact.  It has to end somewhere.  If you know nothing about a person, don't waste the energy making assumptions and don't waste any energy on what you felt they should or should not have done.   
With the aforementioned group, I posed a different scenario.  "What if" I asked, "the brother grew up in an environment where he was slapped around daily and the notion of hugging, or any show of affection, was absent in his house?"  Most were on the slippery slope of judgment and had difficulty ascending the hill.  Those who tried to ascend, shut up.  Those who were more interested in continuing the slide downward continued with their judgment.  I continued and said, "would it not have been better for the sister in question to reach out to her brother and hug him, thus letting him know she welcomes his hugs?"  Those who were trying to keep their footing in ascending the hill kept quiet, some even said "yeah, that is a possibility."  Those who were insistent on sliding down into the muddy trench below continued with "why should she have to . . ."  I was through.  
Thu, August 7, 2003 | link

Sunday, August 3, 2003

A Peaceful Easy Feeling
The Eagles had a song some time ago entitled Peaceful, Easy Feeling.  I used to play that song to death.  I remember thinking while listening to that song how I wished I had a life where I could honestly say I had a peaceful, easy feeling.  Funny, I never thought I would see the day when I would say I've settled down and yeah, I've got that peaceful, easy feeling.  I lack the interest I once had in partying, though I was never much of a party person to begin with.  In fact, the last time I went to a club was approximately two years ago.  I've probably been to two, maybe three private parties in the last year.  It just doesn't float my boat anymore, not like it did when I was about 20 to 30 years of age.  I've settled down.
I got up early yesterday to cut grass and cutting grass for me is no walk in the park.  Well, maybe it is because I feel like I'm cutting enough grass to have cut a park.  Afterwards, I found myself standing in the yard walking and watering the grass.  I had plans of going over to the meeting at Coley's yesterday, but after cutting grass and watering the grass, I just didn't feel like driving across town for a one-hour meeting.  Not that the discussion of gay and lesbian issues in the Black community is not important, it is important -- it's very important.  I just didn't feel it and that's where I am today, if I don't feel it, I don't do it. 
Seven or eight years ago, I lived in the heart of a happening area of town at Broadcast Center.  My balcony faced the back lot of CBS where I often watched people come and go and saw some of the large banquets held on that lot.  I remember once Christine and I screamed from my balcony to David Letterman as he pulled onto the lot driving a red Mustang and he actually waved back at us.  I loved that apartment, the sauna, the gym, the spa and pools in the complex.  I loved the beautiful plants that filled the halls and the open ceilings that allowed the rains to pour through.  I loved walking everywhere, particularly to the Farmer's Market and Dupars for breakfast.  Then there was my favorite health food store at the corner of the building, Erewhon.  I had access to everything there and met some wonderful and interesting people. 
Now, I sit nestled against the mountains surrounded by coyotes, racoons, skunks, possum, a whole assortment of birds and wildlife and it is very quiet out here.  I can sit on my back steps and not have to worry about helicopters flying overhead, the screeching of tires as the police chase someone close by, or the bumping of rap coming from a car just sitting in the street.  No, here, at night, it's very quiet.  When I look out of my doors or windows now, I see people walking, people bicyling, and people on horseback.  The scenery has changed for me and I once thought I would grow tired of this tranquil environment.  Quite the contrary has happened, I now love it here. 
A friend who lives not far from me once said she tries hard not to go into "the city" if she can avoid it.  I now find myself doing the same thing; I hate driving into Los Angeles.  I hate the bars on windows, I hate the bars around shopping centers, I hate the congestion, I hate there are very few trees and I hate the smell of jet fuel and the sound of helicopters.  No!  I sat on my back steps yesterday and took in the sights and sounds of the birds, the squirrels eating oranges from my tree and the crows picking over what the squirrels dropped, and I stared off toward the mountains.  My view was not disturbed by cinder block walls.  The city girl I thought I was turned out to be a country girl after all. 
I came in, took a shower and laid across the couch and went to sleep.  Later, I got up and met a friend for coffee at Starbucks.  As we sat there in the quiet stillness of the evening, I told her what I felt about the new settled feeling I now have.  She told me how she came to California and our community after visiting a friend out here after her partner died.  She said she felt a calling when she saw the mountains and the trees.  She said just sitting in her friend's backyard made her realize how little living she had been doing.  She was so used to the bright lights and constant motion that just sitting there was like one big vacation every day.  There was a moment of silence between the two of us and then we both said "peaceful." 
Nope, didn't go into the city yesterday.  Didn't go to any parties last night.  Didn't feel it, didn't do it and that's the way I'm gonna keep it.  When the spirit moves me, I will.  But, until then, I will continue to enjoy this peaceful easy feeling, 'cause I like standing on the ground.
Well, maybe I'll head into "the city" to my old neighborhood and see if that little red barn is still over there on Beverly and see if I can get myself a pair of Justin's.  We'll see.
Sun, August 3, 2003 | link

Saturday, August 2, 2003

Sisters Don't Talk

Friday was a day for me.  It required both physical and emotional brawn.  I have a friend who asks me to do things in a roundabout way.  In fact, it’s rather passive aggressive.  She started out some weeks ago asking me about DSL.  Then she asked me about wireless networks for the home, which I responded with a big fat NO!  I don’t believe in wireless networks for individuals and/or families who may not pay much attention to firewalls and/or security encryption software.  I prefer to make the thief work for the information and that’s why I shred bills and personal information before throwing it out and I run Cat 5 wire throughout the house.  Why let someone drive down your street and pick off your personal information so easily.  I knew my response would set me up for “can you . . .” and so I did, today.

Today I set up her DSL, a router and ran the Cat 5 or patch wire to network the other computers in her house.  I gave her 13-year old grandson a lecture on “do not have your grandmother answering to the Recording Industry of America by downloading from some music downloading entity.”  He promised he would not.  No sooner had I gotten back downstairs when I saw my friend with this box.  Inside the box was this brand new

.  “Can you . . .” and so I did.  After sitting down to open the box, a friend of hers came by and I noticed it was the same woman I had seen many times at her house.  Every time I've seen this woman she looks like she’s one cloud away from a breakdown.  My friend went back upstairs to see about the grandkids who were now probably huddled around the computer having their hair blown back.  Her friend joined me in my friend’s office.

As I unplugged the computer and was about to hoist it onto the desk, she asked me if I liked doing what I did?  I told her yes and began unscrewing the tiny screws at the back of the computer.  She continued on talking about one day getting a computer but she feared she would only play games or end up in some chat room.  I told her about my mother and what she is doing on her computer at 67.  I told her I gave my mother an old computer and yes, she started out playing games but now she’s surfing the net, doing research, writing letters and sending emails and faxes to family and friends.  She was amazed at my mother’s accomplishments and I was amazed I would have to remove the power supply in order to access the empty drive bay.   As I worked, she talked and eventually, out came the pain.

Normally, the true Taurean that I am, I tend to get a little peeved when I’m trying to figure something out with someone talking incessantly around me.  I noticed this day was different for me; I was very calm as she talked on about any and everything.  When she got to the part about the anti-depressants and anti-stress medications, my friend walked in with the laptop I had just set up upstairs and a bag.  At this point, I would have normally blown a gasket with my friend for pulling yet another trick with the new offer of food, but because her friend was talking about such deep personal matters at that time, I found a different route around the words I really wanted to use.  My friend, however, true to form, went off on her friend about “chatting me up” about her problems.  I stopped my friend and told her the problem with people today is we don’t talk and we don’t listen.  Before the boob tube, radio, computers and the internet, we used to sit on the porches, the banisters, the steps, the kitchen, the living room, wherever, and we would talk and listen to one another, we used to help each other.  Now, we don’t do that because we say we don’t have time or we have our own problems.  Well, my friend spun around in her nice little summer dress and said “y’all talk, that don’t mean I gotta listen” and out she went.  I looked over at her friend and noticed she was wiping her eyes so I tried to joke with her by saying the two of us had to be sadists for having a friend like her.  She laughed, but I knew the hurt had now bubbled to the surface.

I sat down and began installing the drive and let the silence between us clear as she composed herself to talk more and she did.  As I installed the drive and put the computer back together, she went on about her life, her childhood, her husband and her boys.  She talked about losing her mother at an early age and how the men in her life don’t understand her.  She thinks her husband is cheating and she doesn’t like her job.  All of her complaints could be termed "normal," in some sense, until she got into some things I would not even get into here.  She continued talking because talk was what she needed to do.  As I loaded and tested the software, shut down the computer, restarted the computer and made sure everything worked, she continued talking.  My friend kept cooking and watching something on the boob tube and we continued talking.

We stopped talking when I looked over at the laptop and bag, opened the bag and saw a RAM chip contained within.  My God, the woman brought me her laptop without bringing me the book.  Unlike the horse whisperer, the laptop was not going to tell me how to get from Point A to Point B, so I needed to interrupt our lovely conversation to find Mrs. “can you . . .” and so I did.  She found the book and returned to the kitchen and her friend and I continued talking.  When everything was literally said and done, I looked over at my friend’s friend and realized she no longer looked one cloud away from a breakdown – maybe four or five, but not one. 

After eating and a little light conversation, my friend’s friend asked if she could have my number just in case she decides to do what my mother is doing.  I gave her my card and said “yeah, you can call me anytime because I listen, I don’t judge” and I threw one of those looks over toward my friend who I knew had a mouthful to say and she did.  After her friend left, she wanted to know what she talked about.  I would not tell her.  Instead, I told her she should have been in the room listening to her friend.  My friend and I have that kind of a relationship, we’ve known each other for about eight or nine years and she’s the same as she has always been.  At times, I slap the side of my face and ask her if she has anything positive to say about anyone and often, she does not.  She judges everybody and everything.  Her life has been great, she’s had no great losses, her life has been a picture perfect fairy tale and that’s a good thing.  Hopefully, and this is a personal prayer of mine, if the crap should hit the fan in her life, I hope someone is there to listen and talk to her because this sister does not talk to anyone and she does not listen to anyone unless it correlates with the world according to her.  Sister don’t talk.

That’s the problem for me.  We used to talk and help each other out.  Now, to each his or her own, every woman or man for him/herself or leave me alone, I’ve got my own problems.  But sisters, we do need each other and we don’t talk to one another.  This particular sister lost her mother when she was very young and had no mother or female figure in her life to guide or talk to her.  I think now about June Jordan’s words: “What turns my head in the opposite of fear is someone who talks to me.”  I don’t think I’ll ever forget those words, particularly after tonight.  My talking and listening to her turned her head from the fear of judgment, the fear of criticism, the fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of getting older, the fear of menopause, the fear of illness, the fear of her own body, I could go on and on.  Sisters don’t talk and we need to talk to each other.  We are doing more harm to one another than good.

Later tonight, apparently as I was talking to my mother, the sister did call me to thank me for listening to her.  In her message she said she didn't know talking could feel so good.  Sisters need to talk.  Sisters need to listen.

Sat, August 2, 2003 | link