July 21, 2014

  • Nostalgic Journey

    I didn't wake this morning with a burning need to write. I woke still exhausted from too little, too shallow sleep. I spoke briefly with a good friend. It was then that, layer upon layer, very literal road upon road, I journeyed to a not so distant place and time. A time that parts of me miss and other parts are simply grateful for the memories and experiences that paved the way to the person and place I am now.

    It was the casual mention of a friend's late night shift.

    Once upon a time, I too worked the overnight shift. What does one eat when they come home from working those hours? It's an instant smile and question that all those who have worked a graveyard know well. Is it time for breakfast or dinner?

    I often stopped, on my short walk home from work, at a certain hole in the wall diner in Boston. It was the kind of place where regulars didn't have to order. I was intimidated at first, but they made the best breakfast in the world. It was amazing stuff. Horribly unhealthy. 100% worth it. I would sit at the bar by myself and never feel lonely. It was my safe haven, my home cooked meal when I lived alone for the first time...

    So this morning I googled the place. I had, in the decade since, forgotten what it was called.

    Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe

    I saw the familiar pictures. All the memories came back so strongly. Followed by utter devastation at the news that it has since closed down. It closed for good June 28th, 2014.

    I swallowed a cry.

    And then I set out to learn everything I could about this place that had been so quietly special to me. I was not that surprised to learn that it had been a special place to many.

    From Wikipedia

    "Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe is a restaurant located in Boston's South End that is known for serving African-American jazz musicians during the era of segregated hotels. The walls of the diner are adorned with pictures of customers ranging from Sammy Davis, Jr. to Vice President Al Gore, former Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine to Governor Deval Patrick. As a child, Sammy Davis, Jr used to tap dance in front of the restaurant for change.

    Charlie's has been described as "equal parts old-school diner and neighborhood coffee shop" but among the locals, it is known for its breakfasts. It has been open since 1927 and has no bathrooms. There are only 32 seats, 13 of which lie along a counter across from wooden refrigerators purchased in 1927, used. Charlie's was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 32 straight years. When Charlie's finally decided to close on Sundays, nobody had a key, and one needed to be made.

    Charlies's Sandwich Shoppe has won numerous awards over the years, culminating in the reception of a James Beard Award in 2005 in the category of Southern Wine & Spirits of NY America's Classics.

    There is now a web-project history of the restaurant entitled Where Hash Rules. The story was written by George Aaron Cuddy; original photographs were taken by Brooke T. Wolin.

    On May 12, 2014 Charlie's Sandwich shop announced that it was closing at the end of June 2014, ending its 87-year run."

    I googled "Where Hash Rules." It's an eBook now. I ordered it immediately, though disappointed that it wasn't an ink and paper book (which I could more easily share with my children).

    So here I am, eating a late breakfast with a cup of coffee and my diner. I look through the hundreds of photos. I feel it. I almost smell it. And though I know it won't be as important to others as it is to me, I share. And I recall those morning walks, the people, the air, the sidewalks, and my little Back Bay studio apartment… it's still there. Above a corner UPS store. A brownstone. Mine.


March 4, 2014

  • When Music Hurts

    Today, "Say Something" is hitting hard. Driving to one of my favorite places on earth, the library, I almost had to pull over because I was crying so hard.

    But I had to shake it off.



    I can't shake it out of my heart, though.

    You know who you are. You live in this song for me, and I don't want you to. Heartbreak.

February 28, 2014

  • Teaching Kids the Game of Life

    As a homeschooler in the state of North Carolina, my kids are required to take annual standardized testing in order to maintain our legal school status. This will be our first experience with it. I ordered our test, as I can administer it, and it will arrive early in April. I am not a fan (at all) of teaching kids to a test, and I think many schools do that, even as entire systems now. I don't. However, tests like these, whether I value them personally or not, will be a part of my daughter's life for better or worse. It's not a hill I'm ready to die on, so it's not worth fighting for. So, in preparation, I bought a test prep book, and every Friday until April we will practice.

    I think this a benefit. Learn the rules of how to play the game. I remember doing this with the PSAT and then the SAT. They are worthless tests which don't measure accurately anything but your ability to take that particular test, but since they are a reality of the way many Universities try to separate wheat and chaff, learn to play. Ignoring it on principle only hurts yourself.

    So, today was the first time we used our test prep book. And as my daughter's teacher, I actually found it valuable because it is confirming what I believed about her learning style and she's a literal miss. I mean, she takes everything literally. Facts are facts. She is concrete. She is not interested in too many flowery words to get to the point. She is, as it turns out, her mother's daughter. Exactly.

    You see, when I was in 1st and 2nd grade myself (before we began homeschooling), I remember taking these tests, too. And I remember doing spectacularly, like testing at 10th grade and beyond levels (when I was 7), in certain subjects. But when it came to what they defined as "listening skills," I got below my age group. Why? Because I simply did not value the questions. I specifically remember being completely annoyed with the test administrator who, after reading this paragraph about a little girl playing outside, asked the question, "What color were her shoes?" I said out loud, "That wasn't the point." And I argued with her on how dumb I thought that question was, and I got crappy scores because of it. I'm pretty sure I remember replying, "I don't know. Red." I made it up. Because I didn't care, it wasn't the point.

    So when I began this test prep with my own daughter, she gave me the same look I gave the administrator. She read the paragraphs (4 of them), and accurately answered every question except, "Why did the author write this?" She said out loud, while looking incredulously at me, "How am I supposed to know? I'm not her."

    And you know what? She makes a lot of sense. There is no literal way of knowing why the author wrote their pieces. I do not think she is wrong in her assessment. However, she has to learn to play by the rules because, whether we value it or not, the test in April counts.

    So, I will, for the next couple of months, teach her that it's just the game rules. Tests are games. Because they are. And Ava is absolutely her mother's daughter.

February 6, 2014

  • Race Love is Race Hate

    Is that title confusing? Maybe by the end of this it won't be.

    I have had this topic burning in me for a very long time but it's just so caustic and no matter which "side" you are on, you may have feelings about it. Maybe hard feelings. That's ok. I'm compelled to write anyway, posessed. It's like the words are pouring out of my hands and I'm not editing them out for once.

    I can't stand race pride. I don't care which race you are. I wonder if my perspective on this is because I'm white and I'm married to a black man and my children are a beautiful mix of the both of us. So because I see my children, I see clearly in an instant what I wish the world would see:

    We are all mixed.

    There is no such thing as black pride.
    There is no such thing as white supremacy.

    I recognize that there are other colors, other histories and blends out there. But I'm sticking with what I know, the examples that are before me and surround me everywhere.

    When I see black men and women arguing with each other, trying to empower each other about their strong black histories, it sounds like racism to me. Not because they are degrading another race, but because they are defining humankind by the color of their skin. I read today on a facebook share (oh facebook, you creator of all things argumentative) the words of an impassioned woman which said that all education and knowledge, all philosophies, all wisdom came from her strong black heritage.

    Why does it come from her black heritage? I assume she meant that the origination of humankind was in Africa. And that's the problem with these color pride (racist) enchantments. The people before us and the people who will come after us will be one thing - human. Just as they were and always will be. Did humankind originate in Africa? That's what we're taught, yes. Does that make everyone African? If so, then I'm as African as they are - as white and European as my more recent ancestry is.

    To elevate oneself in this way is to denigrate the other. To say you are superior because of your color is to say another is inferior because of theirs. That is the definition of racism.

    Whether it's white supremacy or black pride.

    Neither of which have a place in my childrens' lives, nor do they have a place in mine. Because hate doesn't belong here.

    We all come from one family, our ancestry is the brotherhood of humanity. Our bond is not our color, it's our blood.

February 1, 2014

November 23, 2013

  • Pulse

    Road trip to Pennsylvania. FYI, I think Virginia's roads suck. (In the Quantico area now...)

November 13, 2013

October 29, 2013

  • Morning Mess

    Here's my day.

    I stayed up most of last night stressed the f out. That's because this morning, at 8:30, Isaiah had an appointment for "some" immunizations. I don't know if you know how I feel about this issue but let me back up and explain so you can understand my deep struggle.

    I believe in most vaccines. I don't believe in the schedule (or amount, generally) that we routinely give our kids, as protocol per the CDC and AAP - who are bedfellows in $$ and research with the immunization companies like Merck. It is too much, too soon, for immature immune systems, and sometimes, the dose given to an infant is the same given to an adult and that just seems so obviously stupid I don't know why people don't question it. So I delayed some of Isaiah's immunizations. He did not begin his immunizations at all until he was 2 months old. Why do we vaccinate newborns, before they are out of the hospital, for a sexually transmitted disease (Hepatitis B)??

    It's just a question. I ask these questions as a parent who has a vested interest in her children. And as a woman who has spent her adult professional life working in healthcare.

    Another issue for me is where 3 (at least) of these vaccines come from and what is in them, MRC-5. I don't know if you know what that is, but you can look at the ingredient list posted anywhere of these vaccines and you can find that it's real. MRC-5 (and there's another strain that is similarly used, and gotten the same way, but this is the most common) is human fetal lung cells from a baby boy electively aborted at 14wks.

    Rubella, Hepatitis (I can't recall which one off the top of my head), and Varicella vaccines are all derived from these cells. We are injecting aborted cells into our childrens' bodies.

    Morally, this is heavy.

    Ethically, we have to ask when these cells will run out? When will they no longer be able to replicate properly? And what next? Another "donor" will be harvested?

    I can only answer this problem simply, after immeasurable struggle. I thank the nameless baby boy for his sacrifice, as though he were an organ donor, and accept his gift of protection against deadly diseases.

    But what if the disease isn't deadly? Varicella. Chicken pox is only deadly for immuno-compromised and elderly patients. All of us in our generation had chicken pox. I had a sucky, itchy week. The end. I now have lifelong immunity, with a small chance of developing shingles later on. That normally occurs when, for some reason, the virus reactivates. That means the immunity weakened.

    The Varicella Vaccine. Since it has been pushed on the public in the '90s, they've noticed something interesting. The shingles cases are going up. Way up. Even in demographics never seen before. Some children develop it (rare).

    How? Immunity is known to work like boosters. Our grandparents had chicken pox as children. Immunity. Then, when they grew up, they had children who got chicken pox. They were re-exposed to it - immunity booster. Now our children come along, no chicken pox. No more exposure. No more immunity boost.


    But don't worry, Merck made a vaccine for that, too. They getcha in the beginning, cause another problem, and get you in the end, too. When the disease was not a fatal one to begin with. But shingles? Much more fatal.

    So I have a problem with vaccines that are for diseases that are not life-threatening. Flu. Pneumonia (past a certain age). Varicella. I'm sure soon I'll have to deal with the HPV issue.

    These vaccines which are made from human fetal cells.

    I delayed Isaiah's immunizations, some of them. He got behind, I knew it would happen, but I also knew that at a certain age, around 6 or 7, he'd naturally catch up. Of course I got crap about it from our old pediatrician, but I'm informed and it surprised them.

    We moved here, got a new pediatrician. They had their first appointment last week. I was sick. Josh took them instead. They tried to "catch" Isaiah up all at once. They wanted to give him 5 vaccines. Josh knew I'd have a hissy fit from hell if he said ok to that, so he consented to "just two" and made an appointment for "the rest" today.

    He consented to varicella/MMR and hepatitis vaccines. Isaiah came home with two bandaids.

    I've struggled, and I mean I have sweat in my stress over it, with what to do when today came. As I mentioned, I didn't sleep last night. But the time came. He still "needed" his DTaP, polio, and pneumococcal vaccines. I'd decided to try and compromise. I was going to refuse the pneumoccal. It's his 4th dose, it's for bacterial pneumonia, and once he's 5 (in 7 months), he's too old to get it anyway. I got there and was informed, oh no, the polio and pneumoccal vaccines are combined.

    Which is what had happened with the varicella vaccine. Josh said yes to it because it was combined with the MMR. What they do is combine it with a vaccine that Is irrefutably good. Then what? How do you decline? Maybe you can get a dr office to special order separate vaccines. Good luck with that.

    There is no such thing as informed consent, because there is no such thing as acceptable refusal. And so he got the vaccines I did not want him to have.

    And it is done. I felt like my rights were taken away from me. I felt like I had no choice. I felt forced to "consent" for medical treatment I did not think the benefit outweighed the risk for. And THAT is supposed to be the mark of good medical treatment - where the benefit outweighs the risk.

    I took him to get ice cream after, as I promised him I would. He wanted a soft serve ice cream cone from McDonalds. We went. They told me it would be "30 minutes" before the machine was ready. They wanted to play on the playground anyway, so I ordered a coffee and said I'd wait to order the ice cream. 5 minutes later they informed me they "decided" not to serve ice cream on their "breakfast menu" and would not allow me to order it until lunchtime.

    F you McDonalds.

    The kids played while I waited for my already ordered and paid for coffee, dammit. Then we left for Chic-fil-A. Yes, they serve ice cream "for breakfast." Joy of joys. They ate their ice cream and went to play in the playground there, since we'd been cut short at McDonalds. There were 3 other kids in there with mine, no adults. One of the kids was harassing Isaiah over his professed Halloween costume "black Power Ranger" which the other kid insisted was stupid because there was no such thing.

    I schooled the brat's ass on that with a nice, smiling picture on my phone.

    An employee came in, "M'aam, you have to leave the play area because you have a coffee. The sign says no food or beverages." I said, "It's closed with a lid, I'm away from the action, an adult who doesn't spill anymore, and the sign also says not to leave children unattended."

    She gave me a speech and a half whilst blocking the door. Thanks Chic-fil-A.

    I chugged the rest of the coffee, threw the cup in the trash, and went back in. Like a spiteful witch. By now, I'd had it. I freaking DARE someone to say something else to me.

    After a while, we left. The gas light turned on. Great. We're low this month too. What is it about October? It's ok, we have $70 in the bank, I'll just get $20 which should do me until Thursday - payday. I swiped my card at the pump. Denied. WTF!!!!!

    I went inside. Told the attendant I want $20 on pump 5. Swiped. Accepted. Yeah. I pumped my cursed gas...

    Got home. Oops. Isaiah had an accident in his bed last night. Bunk beds are especially fun for that.

    Over it.


October 15, 2013

  • Whatever Happened To...

    When I was little, I had this stuffed penguin. I loved this thing, seriously. I vividly remember it. I even remember a gray dirt mark on his white stomach from where I used to take him outside with me to play. In this picture, I am holding my penguin. I was 6. It was winter in Jacksonville, FL.


    This was taken shortly before we moved to Alabama. You know, the move where I waved goodbye to my boyfriend through the back window of our moving van as he sat on his bike in the middle of our street. 6 year old soul mates... I wonder what happened to him. What he became.

    I also wonder what happened to my penguin. Because I don't remember it after Jacksonville. Perhaps I had it in Alabama? I have no memory of it. It's funny, I associate my long-lost, precious penguin with my long-lost 6 year old love.

    Memories have a funny way of romancing us.

    But in this picture, I still have my penguin, and I haven't waved goodbye yet.

October 9, 2013

  • Psychotic to Parent?

    I have decided that parenting is totally bipolar. The emotions and moments you have with kids are often extreme and swing total 180s in seconds. Example: I was totally proud and enamoured with Ava's intelligence when she, out of the blue, asked me why we call things that are see through "transparent" when "parent" means mom or dad. I mean, that's genius shit for a second grader. Less than 5 minutes later, I had to send her to her room because of my extreme frustration with her lack of concentration with her schoolwork, she simply was not trying. At all. Stuff she's done for 2 years she suddenly couldn't figure out in math. It's like, you've got to be kidding me, I know you know this. I know for a fact you know this. Who does she think she is fooling? It isn't me.

    So I went from being extremely proud to extremely frustrated in just moments. She was genius one second and ignorant the next. WTF?

    It's really damn bipolar being a parent. That's what is so exhausting as they get older. When they're babies it's exhausting because of the lack of sleep. But as they age, it's because they spin you around in emotional circles and it's mentally challenging to try and right yourself and them at the same time. Sometimes, kids get time out because mom and dad need the break. That's the real parenting truth.