Build a Family

Our children are post childhood now although they are still stuck at home.

And being parents of adult children it presents us with many options: we’ve joined a gym, we vacation as a couple, we go on day excursions, we got a dog. Our possibilites are open wide,our funds, however, are near shut.

I’ve been missing how little ones around, though. I don’t miss the teenagers since I work with them daily, but I like younger children, under ten who are okay with being kids and not ready to jump into the world of teens.

Yeah, I miss that.

So  So the signs were all there that it’s time to bring a little one back into our lives. An d by signs I mean billboards, all around us.

Then there were the sermons at church. And a friend keeps posting on Facebook about Foster Care/Adoption Fairs. And then there is my new favorite tv show, “The Fosters” on ABC Family.

Just from working with teens at the library I know that the need for Foster Parents in the world is great. But I just don’t know if I am capable of being one.

I love kids, I love to hugs kids and be around them. Most of the teens that come into my department are the most awesome young people anyone could meet and then there are the teenagers that makes one question why the human race needs to continue.

On thinking about the children that need a family you have to think about what your abilities are and the amount of time you have. I didn’t think this hard about parenting when I was pregnant, I mean I skimmed a what to expect type book or two beforehand but mostly I expected to wing it.

Foster parenting you can’t wing.

They give you a list of what type of issues you are willing/capable of handling with a child. Stealing, lying, sexual abuse, enuresis, and more on that laundry list. They can have one of the issues, or a combination of them. Plus, one has to facilitate a relationship between the child and the estranged parent(s), carrying the child to the arranged meeting place.

The child can be with you for a few week, months or a few years with things in limbo as to whether things can be resolved between the parent(s). During that time the child may be dealing with conflicting feelings about the absent parent that meanwhile the fosters parents –generally the mother but we can say its the regularly present caregiver– has to deal with.

While all this is occurring you are developing a relationship with the child, taking care of the child and in the end the child –even after two to five years– may not be your forever family member.

Then there is the age thing –do you want a young child? Most children are older but even with babies you have to pay for daycare, you have to find a good daycare.

Foster care children generally come with siblings, can you take them also?

I have been consulting with a few friends who have gone through the system and they have different feelings about fostering. One friend loves it but she has no plans to adopt, only foster. Another friend wants to adopt. She has fostered three times and the previous two times she hoped to adopt the children who took a place in her heart and each time they went home. The latest child may be hers; she’s hoping the third time’s the charm.

So J and I are going to continue with the classes while we decide whether fostering is for us. Meanwhile I am researching adoption options. But those are thoughts for next time.


So the question is asked if a teenager who raises his hand against his mother beyond repair?

I was asking myself this question because I was staring at a teen that had. I was only privileged to this information because I had to go to court for the young man. Not because I was a witness to his attacking his mother but for something else.

Over a year ago the young man, let’s call him Raynard, was skipping school at the library. We don’t say too much about the people skipping because we don’t know if they are actually truant or if they attend a school for problem children that has varied start times.

Because, really, if you have a teenager who has various issues don’t you want to give him/her endless, unstructured free time to spend with their friends?

Apparently we as a society don’t think there is anything is wrong with that. Or we are oblivious to the fact that it’s happening which is basically the same thing.

Raynard was skipping though. A patron had come up to me to tell me that Raynard was on our public computer and masturbating –all the while only a few steps away from me. Raynard was less than six steps away from me, from my position I couldn’t what he was viewing on the computer and after I was informed of what he was doing I didn’t want to look at him straight on. So I walked away from the desk and behind him and there he was, sitting bare-assed on our hard plastic chairs, his jeans around his thighs (which is actually the fashion for many young men) and his underwear slipped down just as far. His hand was beneath the table and I couldn’t see it but I could tell his arm was working furiously.

“What the heck are you doing?” I exclaimed. I have “no-chill” in situations such as this. What I should have done was secretly walk past him and then call security so they could try to catch him in the act (although too many of our guards are slow-moving middle-aged men) but instead I confronted the boy.

First Raynard got up and left in a huff but he came back a minute later asking what he had done wrong. I was spraying down the chair and computer with Lysol as he looked on indignant.

“What did I do wrong?” he asked incredulously. “It wasn’t all that. Why you acting like that?”

“Dude! You were masturbating at the computer!”


“No one wants to touch the computer after you’ve been touching yourself,” I said pointedly. “No one wants to sit in a chair that just had your bare behind on it.”
I turned to the girls who had been obliviously sitting beside the boy on their own computer. “Would you girls want to sit next to a guy masturbating?”

“Say what?” one of the girls asked, her eyes growing wide with wonder.

“No!” said the other definitely.

By then the security guard and deputy sheriff who was on duty came in. My co-worker had called them

“Still…” said Raynard growing more indignant. “You didn’t have to do all that.”

“Yes I did,” I said. “It’s nasty.”

The deputy took Raynard away and charged him with indecent exposure. Later I told the responding guard that the crazy thing about it is he could have walked away and come back another day to do whatever if he had just stayed gone when he first left.

Three months later I got a summons to appear in court on the matter. Initially I didn’t remember –we have so many nutty teens who come in to entertain us—but my coworker jarred my memory.

“Ohhhh, him!” I said. “Ugh, that child!”

The first time I went to court he didn’t show up so the case got continued. The second time I went to court the case was continued again because his mother didn’t show and the prosecutor wanted to put all the issues together. It was then I discovered that the boy only recently turned 15 and the other case involved his mother, whom he allegedly attacked one day. He had a few more issues that I can’t recall but it was at that moment I realized that he was troubled. No, he should not have skipped school to come to the library to get heated up watching gay porn in a teen area but he didn’t get to that point by himself.

The third time the case was continued there was a discussion about who had custody of him, his mother or the state. I didn’t even show up to court that time because the arresting deputy said he would contact me if the case actually began.

So by the fall Raynard returned as if it was all over. And for all he knew it was. When I saw him I called security to have him escorted out because I thought he had been kicked out for at least three years. But we soon discovered for that indiscretion he only received six months.

Security wanted to know if I still wanted him removed but I remembered the other charges against him and instead of being afraid I just felt sad. How could he be so young and so fucked up? So I pulled him aside and talked to him.

But before I could even say a word he spoke first.

“I am so sorry,” he said. “What I did was wrong and I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“I don’t think you are that person anymore. I think you want to change and if you want to be here I want you to stay. I don’t hold anything against you.”

“I’m just so sorry,” he said again tears filling his eyes.

“I know,” I said. And we hugged.

I don’t know what makes a teen to act out this way. Sometimes its parenting. Sometimes it’s hormones. I’d even hazard to place the blame on peers and society. Maybe it’s all of these things working together or a chemical imbalance or something else entirely different. I don’t know. But what I do know, what I hope, is that we don’t always hold a child’s missteps against him, even something as egregious as an attack on a mother.

The Talk

Every parent dreads having to have “The Talk”.

Every child cringes when their parents have “The Talk” with them.  It’s traumatizing.

Coming from the child’s side, the first inclination is to say, “I know, I know, I know everything, you don’t have to tell me” to stop words like vagina, penis, clitoris, orgasm paired with love from coming from your parents’ mouth.  Your parents are not supposed to know those words.  It’s just wrong. You are supposed to talk about it with your friends not your parent. What’s wrong with them?

From the parents side, when your kid says, “I know” you just want to say, “Oh, you do.  Cool, well, if you got any questions I’ll be in the den on the computer.”

Unfortunately I don’t know when to stop talking. I like to talk so on good occasions I can talking jag.  In awkward situations I keep talking because I’ve already started and it just needs to come out.

My daughter was 12 when we had “The Talk” and she told me, “I know, I know, I know” and instead of taking my cue to run hide I said, “Let me say this…” and went on to explain more than she probably wanted to know from me.

I thought I did a good job until one day my ex said, “Yeah, Mimi said you had the talk with her the other day. She thought it was funny.”

She and I had “The Talk Two: Different World Edition” right before she went off to college. This time she was 18 and we were in a car. You can’t run away from your mom when you are in a moving car.

Still, even with my propensity to talk Mimi still comes to me for advice… sometimes.

Luckily with the boy I got out of having The Talk with him. Instead I had “The Talk” with J over everything he needed to say to J2.

With the hypersexuality of American culture one would think that “The Talk” would be unnecessary for children. Sex is in our music, sex is all on our PG TV shows heck a while back someone was trying to sell thongs to five year old children.  SEX IS EVERYWHERE.

But then so is disease. In Hamilton County, OH (the county I live in) STDs are rising among teens of color.  So although many kids know about safe sex  at a young age not many practice it.

I was thinking about all of this when a kid that comes into the library –lets call him Ronan –came out as gay.

I have not had “The Talk” with any kid that has come into the library before. Well, maybe I have but it was nicer, gentler, variants of it. More admonitions than full blown talks.

Like we had one trans kid named Dee Dee who was skipping school and wearing short shorts in the dead of winter. She was tiny with glasses and was always querying why men seemed to always be hitting on her. I had to pull her aside and talk to her about being careful of the men that she was titillating and how dangerous getting into cars with strangers can be.

Then there was another girl who was obvious in a bad relationship with her partner and we talked about how she did not have to accept that type of behavior and that sometimes it’s best to walk away.

But “The Talk”? Nope.

So when Ronan came in I said, “We need to talk.”

“What did I do?” he asked.


Gluten free food is freaking everywhere.


You can’t go into an aisle of a store without seeing a label that cries, “Gluten free”. Then there is a barrage of postings on my Facebook timeline about paleo diets and gluten free recipes. Who are all these people with gluten allergies? Are they self diagnosed celiacs? Will gluten filled bread kill me?

I have only met one person who has had a doctor prescribe a gluten-free diet for health but the food manufacturers have responded as if this sudden up tic is a real epidemic. Who are all these bread allergic people walking among us?

The real disease that is running rampant right now is diabetes. I see a lot of commercials for diabetes. I know a lot of diabetics, mostly type 2. I am sure if you think about it you can quickly name 5 people that you know that has diabetes, maybe some of them are related to you. But if you go to the store you aren’t going to see food labels touting their products to be diabetic friendly. Maybe it’s because we look at diabetes as people who brought the disease upon themselves. They can eat what we eat, they just shouldn’t eat too much of it. Or maybe they shouldn’t be eating it at all, because they are fat. Think about it, they are fat, why are they eating.

I can say this because I am a diabetic. At first I was diagnosed as type 2 and then type 1.

How can I go from type 2 to type 1? Well, it’s kind of a funny story…

Four years ago I went to a fertility specialist to find out what was blocking me from getting pregnant, discovered several things (which I will talk about in another post) but the main one is that I had glucose in my urine. Go back to my doctor and she sees that I am a middle age black woman who is nearly 200lbs so she tests me and I discover that I am diabetic. Not pre-diabetic, just diabetic. I don’t have any symptoms– at least I didn’t think I did. She sends me to a place for diabetics that is affiliated with a hospital that was completely humiliating. I sat in a room with 10 other people who were also fat and condescended to from a skinny white chick who stood at the front of the room. She told us we had to turn our lives over to her: keep a diary, come in once a week for weigh-ins, forced exercise on their machines and purchase these nasty shakes that were to be used as meal replacements for two meals a day. Everyone around me seemed enthralled with the information and I know I wore the expression that said, “Bitch, please, I am not that fat”. As we all filed out at the end of the presentation people stood around the desk making appointments and signing out checks for $500 bucks to get the meal replacement plan (the other things were partially paid for by insurance). The presenter stops me and wants to know if I want to sign up.

“Noooope”, I say. She got me stuck.

She hands me a complimentary shake and asks me to think about, telling me I can take off the rest of the year –many people might not make the change until the new year (it was October at the time).

“Yeah, ok,” I say. I leave rolling my eyes, thinking bitch you ain’t gonna never see me again.

Instead of giving 1000 dollars to her I take the money and join a local Sports Club that has a lot of fitness classes, opens at 5am, closes at midnight and has a nice steam room and indoor track. I begin losing weight, slowly at first. When I go to the doctor in December I lost 5lbs but when I go back to the doctor in late January because of a cold I lost 15lbs.

“Oh, you are using weight,” my doctor’s office say.

“Yeah, I am,” I said although I am still mad at them because they sent me to that horrible place that tried to gauge me for money and run my life.

When May rolls around that year I lost 30lbs. As I lost the weight suddenly the diabetic symptoms appear. My hands go numb from time to time. I wake up in the middle of the night with pain in my hands I can’t explain. I begin to urinate more frequently and it smells sweet. Why this? Why now? I go see my doctor and she gives me strong pain killers. I try to test my blood sugars but I have no idea what any of it means. I’m losing weight but nothing is making any sense.

A new December rolls around and I go see my doctor. She says this is the new normal. The nurse says you are new to being a diabetic, aren’t you?

I go to a friend at work that has been living with type 2 diabetes for over 10 years now and ask her how she is living and she gives me terms I had never heard before: what was your last A1C? What are your daily blood sugars? I don’t know, I told her. She suggested I see a new doctor.

So one night, after staying up for an hour I go to the bathroom and tried to bring the feeling back with hot water I decided something had to change. I had been seeing a place near my home that touted itself as a diabetes center, so I made up my mind to call them that morning.

“I don’t want you to take over my health, I want you to show me how I can control it,” I told the receptionist on the phone, a bit defiantly. “I don’t want to purchase food supplements, I want to learn what I can eat. I want to be in control.”

They said they wanted that for me, too. So I made an appointment.

Initially I met with a nurse who asked me to keep a food diary and set a blood sugar daily goal. Next I took several classes with a nutritionist where I learned that carbohydrates were the key to dealing with diabetes. If you can control carbs (no more than 45 per regular meal; 15 to 22 for snacks) then I’d be fine. I started losing the last 30lbs. Then I kept losing weight. I was slipping down to 145, then 135, then 130.

J held up his baby finger to his eyes, turned sideways and squinted. “I can’t see you,” he teased.

I was down to 128lbs. I hadn’t been that thin since I was in high school and depressed. But I didn’t know what to do because I needed to lose the weight to kick diabetes. People can reverse type 2, right?

My regular doctor said no. I was definitely a diabetic now. My Endocrinologist said I was holding tight at below a 6 for A1C (at least that is what I remember).

And then everything changed in 2013.

In May of 13 I ran a half marathon (finishing at a time that I didn’t even expect 2.5 hours). One morning in July I woke up with pain in my left shoulder. I couldn’t move it. If I reached it hurt. I ran through my mind trying to figure out what I did to it. Did I hold a plank too long? Were the weights I lifting too heavy? I tried to ignore it the pain but it steadily got worse.

Then suddenly my blood sugars were rising and I could feel it rising. I was trying to keep the number before 140 but it was rising to 150 and 160. I was told in the nutrition classes that if you eat and your blood sugars are high that I brisk walk can help. I ate a low carb meal and went for a brisk walk with the dog. Two hours later I checked my blood sugar and it was 168.

Ok, something wasn’t right.

So I made an appointment and went to see the Endocrinologist. At first she thought it was just a blip but when I told her about the marathon and the semi-rigorous carb counting and the fact that I had lost nearly 80lbs she said she wanted to do a deeper blood work instead of just a regular A1C.

I didn’t think about it, we just did it.

A few weeks later they call me at work and gave me the news that I wasn’t a type 2 but a type 1 diabetic. I cried because I did everything right and there is nothing you can do about type one. I had to go in immediately to talk to a nurse again to learn the ropes: exercising after eating would not help if I over ate carbs– it could actually raise my blood sugar. I needed to be more vigilant not just for highs but for lows. I had to throw away the metformin, which wasn’t doing anything for me anyway, and begin taking long acting insulin that night.

Ok, so it’s not that funny. Seriously in those four years I could have easily have had an insulin crash and died.

There is a difference between type 2 and type 1. They are very different. If you have type 2 it won’t morph into type 1 and vice versa. Type 2 can be controlled with pills and insulin. Type 1 can only be controlled with insulin. Type 1 your body has decided to stop making insulin. Type 2 your body makes insulin, sometimes a lot of insulin, but it’s not getting into the cells.

Type 2 used to be called late onset diabetes. Years ago mostly people in their 60s developed it but now many people regardless of age may develop type 2 diabetes because of weight or a sedentary lifestyle.

Type 1 used to be called juvenile diabetes because so many children and young people were diagnosed with it.

I am far from a youth. So why did my pancreas slow down on making insulin? They don’t know.

Type 2 you can control with weight loss; type 1 your body type doesn’t matter too much. The more carbs you eat the more insulin you will have to take to cover those carbs but that is about it.

I became depressed. I stopped running. It didn’t mean anything anymore. This whole time of meticulous carb counting and exercising it didn’t mean anything. I didn’t have to lose the weight in the end.

I didn’t gain the weight back. Well, I gained some weight back because my fitting into a size 00 didn’t look right on me. I am now a size 4/6 and feel it’s where I should be.

But after a year of consciously living with Type 1 (and just now getting back the use of my shoulder –it’s now at 80 to 90% use) I discovered that many people around me were living with the disease. I got a new co-worker who has Type 1 and has lived with it since she was a child. Two more co-workers discovered they have Type 2. An old friend stopped in while working on her brothers obit and told me he went into a diabetic coma in the parking lot of the grocery store where he went to purchase orange juice (low blood sugar can make you act loopy).

Diabetics are everywhere. It’s a controllable disease; both are genetic in nature. It’s not anyone’s fault who develops it, even if you are overweight. It’s not a judgement or a punishment.

And food is not the enemy. Something doesn’t have to be covered in grease or high in carbs to taste good. Okay, sometimes those things do taste good, but once you make a lifestyle change you barely miss it.

November is National Diabetes Month. For more information about the disease for yourself or a loved one check out the information on the American Diabetes Association.

Boys Go to Jupiter

I have heard a few black mother’s say that raising boys is far easier than raising girls.

Yeah, I never believed it either.

Even just looking at the maxim on the surface you could see the fallacy just by the state of many of our all black communities.

Heck, sometimes you can discount that saying just by the speaker who just said it.

“Ok, sooooooooo…. Lemme get this right: you feel it’s best to keep a tight rein on your daughter to suppress her sexuality and freedom of thought so she won’t bring any babies home but it’s ok to let your son “do him” because he’s just a boy being a boy? Ok. I see. So what time are visiting hours for Ray-Ray? You go on out and get the car cuz I got Ray Ray Jr’s diaper bag and baby mama number one is gonna meet us up there with Rayeshia and Ray’kelle.”

In our society, if you have dreams that go beyond just making sure your children graduate sans having babies of their own, raising a child is hard regardless of the gender.  A good parents goes beyond just making sure they don’t become grandparents before their time.  A good parent makes sure that by the time their child is in high school they are sidelined to coaching because everything that needed to be said about character, morality, values and tenacity has been instilled  before the age of 13.

Technically I am not even raising a son anymore because now J2 is officially an adult. He’s over 18.

Well, chronologically because mentally—maybe 12. Ok, 14, 16 on a good day.

J2 is not a bad young man. He’s not violent. I don’t think I have ever seen him angry, although he can be moody and pouty.

He never skipped school.

But, over the years he has done some stupid things.

Some really, really stupid things.

Example: when he was in junior high he got in trouble at school for being involved in a food fight. And then there was that time an older kid tricked him and a friend into stealing bikes (the friend said the bikes belonged to him and asked them to help him walk the bikes home and when the police came the older kid ran off). Then there was the beginning of his senior year when he played a prank on his wrestling coach by taking a shit in his shoes.

Yep, you heard me right. He defecated in the man’s shoes.

He did it on a dare, as if that is an excuse or a reason.  Why hasn’t one of his friends ever dared this boy to read a book?  Build a robot?  Take a higher level math class?  Why do boys only dare one another to do stupid, reckless shit?  Is this a way of herd thinning?

scene:  8000 BC.  Brrrguh and Smishay are standing on a cliff overlooking prehistoric antelope.  They are 500 feet above the ground.

Brrrrugh is the first one to speak in prehistoric language of course which is more than likely simplistic but translated here into English for us in the 21st to understand.

Brrrrugh: I dare you to leap from this cliff and land on the back of that big antelope.

Brrrrugh is actually pointing at the smallest antelope in the herd off to the side. 

Smishay: Yeah, ok.

Smishay takes a running leap and lands face first onto the field below.  Stiffly he begins to show a few signs of life but the antelope that didn’t run stay to kick him to death for scaring them.

Annnnnnnnd scene.

Prehistoric antelope are gangsta.

J2 wants to be the cool kid,  in high school he was a kid that slipped easily between social groups.  I would say that he is a follower, but not really.  He doesn’t follow any one person but he is completely invested in this image that he has of being the cool, crazy, Black kid.  And to be that kid you have to do some cray-cray stuff.

Which brings us to college life.

This boy.

This boy got drunk one winter night and then decided to go down to the computer room and sprayed everything with a fire extinguisher.

(Ugh, I am so ashamed.  For me and for him.)

Why J2?  Why did you do this?  WTF dude?  For real.

I was drunk and bored and feeling existentially disconnected from my projected image by attending a college that’s over a hundred miles from home and needing to re-establish myself among a new community of people which made me feel insecure and sometimes constipated.

Ok.  The third thing I made up especially the constipated part.  But not really.

“What are we going to do?” I ask J every day since it happened.  I estimate 65 times.  “What are we going to do to get through to this boy, no man.  He’s a freaking man now.  What can we do to get him to grow up?”

“Nothing,” my husband answers me back 65 times the same way.  “He’s grown.  We’ve done what we needed to do.  He’s going to have to learn the hard way.”

I look skeptical.  The hard way might be really hard for J2.  Like calculus hard.

We all make mistakes, especially when we are young.  Hopefully we learn from them and become a stronger smarter person who lives to tell the tale of what a fool we were when we were younger.

One day J2 will be a professional and his own man.  He will be far above trying to get the approval of peers or coworkers or acquaintances.  He will think before he does things although he will retain a bit of the sweet boy he used to be.

I look forward to the day J2 has a son of his own.  This son will undoubtedly do dumb things, following in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather.  And when this child does, I will laugh at J2, say something like chickens roosting and nuts falling from trees and twisted metaphors.

A few weeks ago a teen girl came into the library chanting, “Girls go to college to get more knowledge; boys go the Jupiter to get more stupider.”

Daily I am surrounded by stupid boys.  Mid-teen boys who think by skipping school they are outsmarting everyone around them, but they are just making it harder for their future selves.  Boys in their early twenties who are trying to figure out the way to go; should they follow the straight line or hook up with their boys to make easy money.  Middle-age boys I have to tell that their chess game is not that serious or they will be asked to leave the library.

Encountering “men” during the day is very few.

We are a culture that worships the “boyness “of men.  It’s in all the popular movies and music.  It’s in our saying, boys will be boys when actually no boys will be men.

And so is my young man.

Raising a boy, especially a boy of color, is not an easy thing.  I don’t think it’s completely the XY chromosome that makes them several beats behind their female counterparts.  As a parent, you do your best and wait for the man to appear.

Although, if he does mess up again a trip to far reaches of outer space may sooner be in his future than grandchildren.

Choices, Challenges, Chances

We are the sum of the choices that we make. We are a result of the challenges that we face. We are creatures of chance; chances that get bestowed on us by others or by fate.

J and I got up at 5am to make the 2.5 hour drive to J2’s school.  We pick him up by 8:30 and then retrace our trail 10 miles back down the highway to make it to court by 9am.

We don’t say anything as we are all a bit nervous.  Even though I had a few hours of sleep and decaf coffee , I was wide awake.

J suspected we will be in-and-out in no time.  It’s a small county court.  I am not so sure.  Yeah, it is a small county court but I think we could end up listening to all manners of crimes which could mean J2’s case isn’t heard until 10 or 11, hopefully before noon.

We go inside the building, up to the 3rd floor.  In a small hallway stands a police guard next to a metal detector.  He’s moving slow, heck he’s gonna be there all day but after a 20 oz and a 3 hour drive I needed to use the restroom.

I come back and the Js have entered into court.  I take my phone and keys out of my purse and then hand all three to the officer before I walk through the detector.  He hands me back my purse, tells me to turn my phone off and that I need to check my phone in with him?

Whaaaaaaa?  Fa realz.

He gives me a ticket for the phone and I head into the first room where  a lady is behind a big desk.

“Are you here for court today?  What is your name?”

I tell her I’m there for my son and give her his name.  She points to another door to enter into court.  I go inside to find the place filled.  There were four rows of ten chairs facing the front.  The only row of seats that were empty were behind a row of convicts in khaki jumpsuits and shackles.  I guessed no one could sit there, but I didn’t want to anyway.

J is standing in the back of the small room and I move to stand beside him.  J2 is sitting in the front row.  He’s starting to look nervous.  I think, “Good.”

Everyone is staring at the television in front of the room where a video of a judge was going over the rules of court and their rights.  We came all this way and we get a video?  I reach into my purse to tweet the absurdity of it and realize they have my phone.  This must be the reason why.

Next to me is a black guy wearing jeans, a tank top and an open button down shirt.  I thought that J2 was going to be the only one inappropriately dressed with his khaki shorts but he seems to have hit a sartorial high note whereas I was overdressed in a skirt, cardigan and pearls.  I guess if there is a meet and greet with canapes after court then I would be good to go.

The court (stenographer?  secretary?) comes in and the guy beside me starts to pant and salivate.  I don’t know why she didn’t quit her job and run away with him right there, this alpha male seemed like a catch.  How many dudes would catcall a woman working in court?  Not many I’m sure.

In walks the judge and we get straight to business.  The guy standing next to me was the first one up.  He was charged with fishing without a license.  The judge gives him 90 days in jail and restitution but suspends it for completion of 500 hundred hours of community service.

The guy was happy and took the plea.  I look at J and mouth, “90 days in jail?”  J looks back at me wide-eyed.  Was J2 about to get stroked?

Next is a white guy.  He was partners-in-crime with the white guy and agreed to the same deal that his friend got.  But less than seven minutes later, after leaving to go sign the paperwork,  the guy was back in the courtroom, this time in handcuffs.  The guy had a change of heart and decided he didn’t want to do community service although he didn’t have full money for the fine right then.

The next few cases were domestic violence and DUI then it was J2’s turn before the judge.  He pled guilty and the judge looked over his file because it seemed there should have been more to it.  The judge asked J2 to sit down.  A few more cases on domestic violence are resolved before J2 is called to the bench again.

The judge ordered J2 he just had to pay restitution and, it’s understood, that if he can get it paid off in a few months it won’t appear on this record.

We retrieve our phones and check that time.  What seemed like hours only took 39 minutes.  If they were anything, they were efficient.

“So were you scared?”  J asked J2.


“I thought we were going to have to leave without you.”  J said.

We all began to laugh with relief.  We talked about the guy who decided he didn’t wanted to renegotiate  community service and how he ended up in jail and his girlfriend exploded into a tantrum of expletives at the court workers.

“Did you notice what they had in common?” J inquired of J2.

J2 ran down a list of things: height, class, crime, demeanor?  J said no to each of them.

“A lot of them knew each other,” J revealed.  “Didn’t you notice that.  Even if they didn’t come in together, most of the people in the courtroom were friends.  It just goes to show that who you are friends with matters.”

“Which brings us,” I begin.  “To choices, J2.  Life is a series of choices and chances.  You make choices, for good or bad, about what you want.  You are an adult now.  We aren’t going to be a buffer for you anymore.  You have made some bad choices in your life, but there have been people who have believed in you and they have given you more than enough second chances.  One day, you won’t have these chances.  One day, the choices that you make will be your character.  You just won’t be that kid that does stupid stuff, you will be who you have chosen.  It’s up to you.”

I feel like I have given this speech to J2 a million times over the years in a myriad of variations.  Each time I feel like he hears me and I believe he does until the next time it comes around.

As we pull up to J2’s dorm there is an hour until his next class.  We remind hm that everyone makes mistakes but he needs to learn from his.  We give him suggestions where to apply for summer employment and encourage him to do it now before the onslaught of procrastinating summer college students put their applications in.  We find out when his last exam in and that he basically wants to be picked up immediately when it was done.

As he gets out of the car he says there won’t be a next time.  I say ok to him which translated means we will see.


Check out my next post to discover what J2 did and to read my daughter’s opinion of life as an adult and parental guidance click here.

Blasian Read: Water Baby

blasian water babyIt’s hard to find books for kids or teens with Blasian characters. I am not sure how Water Baby by Ross Campbell escaped my notice.

The main character Brody is a young adult who is a bit of a tomboy. She likes karate, she likes to run and she likes to surf. While out surfing she is attacked by a shark and loses her leg.

Blasian connection: AfAm mom/AsAm dad which you see only briefly in the story.  shark

Some girls will connect with Brody, she’s not for everyone.  She has a punker attitude and isn’t girly in the least.  Her ex-boyfriend muses that she likes to pick her nose.

But even though she is a rough girl she is soft inside.  Brody, although constantly talking about how hot she is, feels very self-conscious about the loss of her leg and battles with nightmares about the shark.

Writer/illustrator Ross Campbell is a great storyteller.  A few years ago I read his graphic novel The Abandoned and was captured into the story.  This story also features another punker black chick but this time instead of sharks she’s fighting Zombies.

For Water Baby and The Abandoned I can only recommend the book for older teens. There are some graphic images in the books and although the book doesn’t depict sex, both of the main characters are sexually active and sexual liaisons are discussed.

So read this book.  And if you know of any books about Blasian kids or families hit me up in the comment section so I can check it out, too.

Adventures Beginning With the Letter J: Inner Strength

Lil JamesJ has a short praise given to him from a teacher that he loves to retell. I am not sure how true it is, but from time to time he tells the story, mostly to illustrate how soft our children are.

Back in high school a teacher used J as an example saying, “If I was stuck on a desert island because J is a survivor.”

Why did the teacher bring this up? What made him point out J’s tenacity to the class and how did the other students react? I don’t know because whenever J talks about it he immediately goes on to say how our kids are spoiled and couldn’t endure much discomfort, let alone come out victorious like himself.

J’s early life story is noteworthy; too bad he doesn’t remember it.

J was adopted by a white family from Northeastern Ohio, approximate age four. When he arrived in this country maybe he knew his age and his real name but at the time he didn’t know English and the immediate people around him didn’t know Korean so there was no one to make note it.  The doctor guesstimated from J’s age, size, bone structure and teeth that he was probably four years old.

Asking J about his life pre-Ohio he told me that he was found wandering a rice paddy.

“Is that what you remember?” I asked him.

“Yesssss,” said J, a bit too enthusiastic. Whenever he does that it means it’s not the whole story.

“What else do you remember? Do you remember your trip to the US? Do you remember your time in the orphanage?” he shakes his head at all my questions. He doesn’t remember anything before junior high.

“Not even Little House on the Prairie?” I was incredulous.  “Not even Good Times?”

Nope.  Not even.

Subconsciously, I realize that he remembers something.  When we first got together, anytime he would be upset with me he would talk in his sleep– in Korean.  I wasn’t learning Korean at the time so I had no idea what he was saying.

And once, while Mimi and I were working on a school project while sitting on the living room floor, J fell asleep beside us and  began to sing a song in Korean.

Of course, I asked him about the incidences the following day and every time J had no clue that he even said anything.

Which is why I love to visit J’s family; they fill in the gaps that J can’t or conveniently leaves out.  Like the time he was seven and, convinced he was a superhero, he jumped off the garage roof, dislocating his shoulder.  J has a high threshold for pain so it wasn’t noticed until he was carrying the a large flad in the 4th of July parade that his parents realized something was wrong with his arm.

Then there was the time J and his friend Kenny Black got a hold of some illegal fireworks.  They hid under a trailer, near the gas tank, and was having a hard time lighting up the wicks.  Fortunately someone caught them before they blew themselves up.

“You were a crazy kid,” I said to J on the drive home.  “Man, you are lucky to be alive.”

“I didn’t do those things,” J said.

“So they are making it up?”


His parents tell the stories with love.  They laugh about it now, although there was a moment when too many emergency room visits nearly got a call to child protective services.  Luckily the nurse in the ER that day was a neighbor who could vouch that J was not abused, he was just a very inquisitive.

When J’s mother realized we were serious about one another she wanted me to know his Korean name.  She said she didn’t think it was his birthname, but one given to him at the orphanage.  All the children had the same last name, she said.  So though not from biological parents, the name still  connects him to who he once was.

My mother-in-law had already had two daughters when she had read the stories in the papers about children from Korea needing a home.  She decided immediately that she would adopt a child from there.

“I didn’t care what state he was in,” she told me.  “As long as he wasn’t dying it didn’t matter to me because I knew we would get him medical care.  And we wanted a boy.”

They were told that J was found wandering the streets of Seoul, living on what he could.  When he came to them he couldn’t speak a word of English and he immediately needed medical care, which included surgeries.  There were times when J would get very upset, seeming to cry for someone although they were unsure of who.

Weeks, maybe months, later a local Korean family they knew came over to help talk to J.  That is when his story came out.  He had been living on the street with his younger brother, taking care of him.  In the orphanage J was in better health to come over so he was adopted first.  But over here, with this new family J didn’t forget his little brother.  He was crying for him.

First things first though:  J had to undergo surgeries.  He spent his first two to three years in and out of hospitals, correcting his legs and extracting chiggers.  He had lived here for two years when his parents felt they could take on another child.  She was excited to bring another child into their home and reunite J with his brother.

And that is when she discovered there had been a fire.  Several children died; all files destroyed.  It was assumed that J’s little brother had died in the fire.

My mother-in-law’s eyes glisten as she told me the story, expressing regret that they waited to go back to find the sibling.  And another brick came into place about why J would want to block out his childhood.

J and I approach life differently.  Whereas I hold everyone with suspicion until proven truthful, J takes everyone at their word.  He is more patient than I am and he’s also very loyal.  Before knowing about his story I attributed it to his growing up in a solid middle class family, but the person he is … it’s intrinsic to who he is.

I complain about him a lot and want to smack him a good part of the day, but J is an admirable person.  I am glad to have married him and raise kids with him.

Which is to say, like the teacher, if I was stuck on an island I’d want J to have my back.  I know that we would survive.

How Ugly Is He?

I want to tell you a story from my weekend but I don’t want you to think I am a mean person.

Why should I care, we are virtually anonymous.  You don’t know me except what you read here.  I do want to project a certain character; I want to appear witty and erudite, not vacuous and judgemental.

Yet I am.

Soooo…. yeah.

Here’s what I will do.  I will start with a prologue which will make this a long (but kinda funny) story so I can get this off my chest and you won’t think any less of me because people are less apt to read long blog posts.

How does that sound?

The story that took place this past weekend begins with a dog.

Animals are aways a good way to soften a tale right?

Well, a few months ago to celebrate J2’s graduation (and to counteract missing him when he went away to college) I relented and we bought a dog.  A Staffordshire Terrier if you want to know the breed but her street name is Pit but we call her Malaya.

I know, I know what you are thinking.  I thought that, too. When we first encountered her she was laying on her side in the cage in a submissive pose.  She is a really sweet dog.  She isn’t aggressive in the least, although I would never leave a small child unchecked around her because she is still a puppy and has the propensity to play too rough.  I take her to the dog park and she runs to people not to bite but to lick (kiss).  She has stolen many a lick kisses from lots of people at the dog park.  You could just be standing there, looking at the sky,  wondering if it’s going to rain and she will be beside you.  Then suddenly Malaya will jump up and lick you  as if to say, “I like you and you have not told me how beautiful I am yet.”

She is a beautiful dog.  Everyone comments on it.  I think she understands so she is vain and expects everyone to tell her how gorgeous she is.  If she was human she’d be a budding porn star; she needs too much validation from other dogs and people.

Once J2 had company and I made Malaya stay in the kitchen with me.  She knew there were people in the dining room who would want to love her, worship her so first she tries to walk past me but I stopped her and made her sit down.  I turn my back on her to finish washing dishes and she crouches low to the ground and crawls out toward the door.  I don’t realize this until she makes it past me and to the door.  By that time Malaya realizes the jig is up so she runs to the dining room and begins to lick and jump up on J2’s guests.

“Oh, pet me, pet me.  Do you like me?  I like you.  I do.  I really like you.”

I have called her a slut and attention ho many a time when leaving the dog park.  My daughter admonishes me for it, but has also noted out Malaya’s need for attention.

But this brings us to the real crux of the story: Mimi.  My daughter is equally beautiful but also very awkward.  And nerdy.  And capricious.  If she was skinny and white she’d be a Hwood star but because she is buxom and dark it makes her an outlier.  I wouldn’t change her; I love her the way she is –well, except when she makes too many snarky comments in a half hour then I want to slap her but you get my point.

So, being a natural, big busomed, self-conscious black girl she doesn’t get many dates.  I have tried to shape her, to give her pointers with dress and hairstyling but she is headstrong with the, “A guy should like me for me.”

“Of course they should,” I reply.  “But men are also stupid.  Okay, visual creatures but stupid just the same.  You have to kind of give them the illusion first.  Beauty covers many a flaw.”

So, since she doesn’t want to listen to me I told her to just wait.  She’s in college and busy with school and work.  I said, just work on you right now and when the time is right, God will bring someone to you.

She said, I am not looking for anyone so that is fine.  That is a lie.  I was her age once.  We were all her age once unless you are her age now.  When you are young and single you are almost always looking –unless you are a nun.  For women, looking and actively pursuing are two totally different things.  You can be looking by just going down the street looking your best or you can be actively pursuing by putting yourself out there by going to clubs, events –whatever.

So she said she wasn’t looking, but actually she was actively pursing a boyfriend. I told her the above on a Wednesday and on a Thursday she told me she had a date.

Now if you are reading this sit down because this is where it gets bumpy.

Me: I thought you said you weren’t looking.

Mimi: Yeah… well… I met him online where we talk about comic books.  He was one of the few guys I talked to that didn’t misspell words and seemed intelligent.

Me: Where does he live?

Mimi: Dent.

Ok.  Did you notice the two things I mentioned up above that sent up red flags?  First, she met him while talking about comic books.  Now, I like comic books and the boyfriend before my husband liked comic books so she has an interest but to hangout online talking about them sends up flags because — yeah, it signals basement dwelling buster.

Not all the time.  Not all the time.  But when you couple that with living on the Westside of Cincinnati… well… it didn’t bode well.

Anyway.  So, I text my daughter: since you met him online I need some info on him if you are going out.  J1 needs to meet him and I will need to get his license plate number when he pulls up.

Mimi: Do you want to see his picture?

Me: Yes.

So she texts a picture.  And I will be nice and not post his real picture on here –yeah, I still got it. I never delete texts or emails. Not that I am saving them for anything; I’m just lazy.

So, I’m thinking this guy is going to be a nebbish, Jewish looking guy.  That is her type.  She loves, loves, loves goyish guys.  The curly dark hair, big noses and shy smiles that we stereotypically see of Jewish men on television is her idea of a perfect looking guy.   I am hoping for a young Ira Glass.

Instead I get this:

Okay, he wasn’t wearing a top hat, but he was wearing a kilt.

I said What the bleeeeep.

But I didn’t say it to her because she is a contrary person; I didn’t want to come out the box hating on him for her then to declare he was the best person who ever walked the earth.  And I thought maybe it’s a bad picture.  I have bad pictures.  I don’t show those pictures because, like most normals, I’m vain.

That night he shows up at the house and, unfortunately for Mimi, everyone is there.  Mimi comes upstairs to get us.  J doesn’t want to come downstairs because he’s watching television.  He likes for the men that Mimi dates to come inside, he just wants me to do the vetting.

He also doesn’t like the fact the guy is white.  If the guy was black he’d go downstairs and say hi.  If the guy was Asian he’d be pulling up a chair.  But the fact the guy is white he’s nonplussed.

“Why isn’t he Asian?” my husband asked as we went downstairs.

Now.  I saw the picture but that did not prepare me for what awaited.  When I get there I’m like WTF again.  Did he not realize he was going on a date?  His hair was long and looked unwashed and greasy.  He was wearing a ratty white button down and some odd apparatus around his waist held there by a chain.  His stomach was large and his skin pallid.  The photograph was his best.

Well, at least he didn’t smell like patchouli.

J2 sat on the couch playing videogames and Malaya sat on the rug.   Yes, that was how ugly this guy was.  My needy ass dog who assaults everyone with attention took one look at this guy and said, “You know what?  I’m good.”

The only one who was not taken aback was J.  Then my husband has no common social skills, social expectations, besides we were on home turf.  J is good with greetings and small talks but if the conversations doesn’t veer soon into his common interests (sports, poverty, racial disenfranchisement) he quickly loses interests in the person before him.

Mimi said she and her date needed to leave and the guy reaches out to shake J2’s hand.  The whole time J2 kept his eyes trained on the television but turns around to take his hand.  J2 has a smile on his face, which is normal but then presses his lips together, squints his eyes.  His shoulders are shaking and he lets out a slight giggle.

Malaya doesn’t even want to leave the rug to say goodbye to Mimi.  She just cocks her head to the side and raises one ear.

When they leave J turns to me and says, “Wow, that guy was nervous.”

“Well he should be nervous,” I said.  “That guy was ugly.”

“Be nice,” J said.

“How come I have to be nice and he’s the one that came out the house looking like that?  He didn’t wash his hair, he didn’t put on clothes that fit, dude ain’t even try.  He’s busted.”

Right here I will impute that I am not as mean as I sound.  I know how black women are when we come to swirling, if the dude isn’t cute then what’s the point?  Most black women say they won’t “step out the race” unless the guy is Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp.  I am not that shallow.  I wouldn’t want my daughter to be that superficial either.

But!  There are levels.  Someone with a certain level of attraction should be aimed for.  Not saying that one should go for beautiful, but one definitely shouldn’t go for busted.  Unless you are busted.  Scratch that.  Water reaches it’s own level.  How is that?

I am not gorgeous, but I’m kinda cute.  My husband is kinda cute too.  So we match.

I couldn’t even make concessions for the guy’s job.  He works at a convenience store.  He doesnt’ have a college degree.  With the etiquette classes, the college prep schools, the dance classes and the extra education classes I have invested into this child she better come up with something better than a buster.  A doctor.  An engineer.  An IT guy.  A community activist who wants to make sure that homeless people are well cared for so he doesn’t mind paying back the exhorbitant loans he’s accumulated because it’s truly what he believes in.  Ok, that last one I might have to worry about because two folks with crazy college loans would be hard but I’d support both of them because he has a dream and she believed in him.

But a low-level, uneducated, retail working, dude?  And he’s ugly, too?

Oh hellllllll no.

I am one of those women who jump ahead in my thoughts.  When I first start dating someone I jump ahead to dating.  And marriage.  There were a lot of my name coupled with other guy’s last names when I was a teen, until I hit 17 and thought, “Why should I have to change my name when he isn’t changing his?”  So now I was jumping ahead to a future with my daughter and this guy.  They had only been gone for one hour.  What would it be like spending holidays with this guy?  Or worse a wedding!  Future children?  Oh, to have to tell my future grandkids their dad looked like a hairy swamp monster.

“Why would she go out with this guy?” I asked J.  “This date better go badly.”

“It’s just a first date,” J said.  “You worry too much.”

“And you don’t worry enough!  What happens if they get along.  Think about it. Can you see sitting across from that at Thanksgiving?”

J laughed.  “It’s not funny,” I tell him.

“You are being mean,” he said for the second time that night.  I want to punch him. “She knew what he looked like.”

“You wouldn’t be as nice if J2 brought home a female version of that.”

“J2 would never bring home someone who looked like that.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Talk to Mimi.  Ask her why she would go out on a date with someone who looked like that.”

Ok  I thought.  Imma calm down.  Let it go.  Not worry until the end of the date.  Talk to Mimi.  Hope the date tanked.

Later I get a text from Mimi saying they were going to go to a movie.  I panic and begin texting my friend Beau.

Me: Mimi went out on a date with a guy that looks like a troll.  Is it mean to tell her that?

Beau:  no, my mother once told me i had a funny lookin boyfriend

Me: How did you react?

Me: Did you keep dating him?

Beau: i just laughed.  we broke up after a few mos.  does he really look like a troll?  does she think he’s cute?

Me: he came over with long greasy hair and he’s 27 years old.  And he’s white.

Beau: make sure he’s got good credit or makes a lot of money.

Not making a lot of money, maybe has good credit.  But is that worth it?

I think back to when I was her age.  I “talked to” a guy who looked like predator except he didn’t have the long hair.  Actually, he didn’t have any hair.  “Talked to” is in quotation marks because I wasn’t really talking to him.  I was just around him because my friend Grace was dating his best friend.  She always tried to get me to date her guy’s ugly friends.  The guy she set me up with –let’s call him Marquel– worked as a parking garage attendant.  He had a high school diploma, dimples and talked like Mushmouth from the Fat Albert and the Cosby kids.

Whenever I saw him I couldn’t understand a word he said.  How the hell you live in Cincinnati all your life but have an Alabama accent plus sound ghetto.

He tried to buy my attention and I let him.  He bought me clothes and shoes, whatever I wanted.  I wouldn’t even let him hold my hand let alone kiss him.  My mother and brother Swerve (not his real name but the one he goes by) sat me down and told me I wasn’t being right.  I nodded in agreement, tried to argue the guy wanted to do this for me and I wasn’t giving up anything in return. I don’t think my mother fully believed me, but my brother Swerve told me he was disappointed in me.

I said ok, and walked away in my new shoes. 

I ended things with the guy when one night he insisted on getting a kiss.  Grace’s boyfriend was tired of me playing Marquel and thought his homeboy should at least get some lip action.  I looked at Marquel and thought, I can pimp my time for some clothes but my body?  Oh hell no.  I said good-bye to Grace,  walked out the door and didn’t look back.

Now, 20+ years later I’m wondering if this is karma.  What would be worse?  If she did like him and I had to deal with ugly love (truly, ugly love) or if she didn’t like him and she was just playing him?

Both are kind of equal to me.

Finally, my daughter gets home.  If she came home a minute I would have had the police out looking for her because along with being ugly he was also a stranger.  I was so surprised I had forgotten to get his license plate number.  But the good thing about him being so ugly and having his picture would be that I could call the police and they could flash his picture on TV.  I am sure he’d be recognized instantly.

I come into her room, behave cooly like I wasn’t worried and she calls me out on it and said she knew I was.

“Well, you weren’t supposed to go to a movie with this guy,” I said.  “Only out to eat.”  Then I asked outright.”How did it go?”

She tells me she told him she wasn’t going to see him again.  She didn’t like the stringy greasiness of his hair and during dinner he told her he was married but separated.  He wanted her to know that.

He also told her women usually fell in love him first thing.  He confided in her that women have often asked him to marry them after the first date.

I never want to lay eyes on these women in life.  Never.  Ever.

This is when I could lay into her about “The Rules” without fear of her dating this guy to get back at me.  I asked her why she would accept a date at the last-minute.  She said she had arranged a group date for the weekend with her best friend and her fiance but Penguin guy called back that morning and wanted to change.

We had a Cosby show moment where I told her to never do that again.  Never date a guy you don’t know who won’t concede to a group date.  Never accept a date at the last moment.  Never forget what you are worth.

She concedes that she should have known something was wrong with a guy that even Malaya didn’t want to greet.

Which brings us to this weekend.

I go to see my big sis from another Miss.  She is my sister-in-law’s older sister but after Wannie married my brother D our families became close.  So, L is like the big sister I never had.  She’s funny and gregarious.  She can bring a dying man back to life with her off kilter insight.  Her daughter Tiff has been battling leukemia nearly all her life; she also has the same sunny, funny disposition as her mom.

So, we haven’t seen one another in about a year so we had some catching up to do.  We shared stories, shared news (J2 graduated, her son and wife are expecting a baby!) and we shared pictures.  J2 at college, Mimi looking fierce.  My new dog, Malaya.

So, I remember about Malaya and then Mimi’s date so I have to tell her the story.  I prefaced it how I shared the story here with the dog and how she jumped up on everyone  And then I remembered I had the picture saved in my cellphone.

I bring up the picture on my phone.

“Isssssz heee whi-ite?” she asked.

“Yes, but that is secondary,” I say.

I hand the phone to Tiff.  She screams and laughs at the same time.  Because of the cancer, she speaks in a halting voice that slurs a bit.  You have to really know her to be able to decipher her speech.

“Oh my God!” she exclaims.  “He isssssz sssssso uh-u-uhg-leeey.”

“What!  Let me see,” L says.  I take the phone from Tiff  and hand it to L.  Tiff  still laughing hard and we all kick it up a notch when L looks at the picture and begins to laugh and shake her head.

“What was your daughter thinking?”  L asks gasping for air.  I continue telling them how the guy was so ugly even Malaya wouldn’t touch the guy and we are all laughing.  L tosses the phone into my lap and then falls to the floor, on her hands and knees and Tiff and I laugh even harder.  L sits herself upright against the bookshelf and a strange stare comes across her face.

Tiff and I are still laughing when L begins to shake a bit.  “L?” I said.  I get up and say her name again.  “L?”  she slumps backward, banging her head on the floor.

What the fuck? I thought?  I killed my sister?  Whatthefuckwhatthefuckwhatthefuck?!

I was already dialing 911 when I look over to Tiff who tells me to call 911.

I’m talking to the operator who asks me what is wrong and I tell her my sister passed out and I’m worried.  I didn’t even touch her because I was that afraid.  But I didn’t cry.  They ask me for the address. I didn’t know.  I suck with addresses.  Really, really suck with directions.  So I get Tiff’s attention who is still calling, “Mom”.

“I don’t know,” she said.

I run outside.  The apartment is yards away from the main street but there are some little girls standing beside the door on bicycles.  They look to be about 9 or 10.

“What is the address here?” I ask the girls.


“What is the address, where are we located?  Do you live here?  What street is this?”

“It’s Baymiller.”

Ok, it’s Baymiller and I’m about to tell that to the operator when I realize, “This ain’t Baymiller.” I know where Baymiller is and it’s waaaaay on the other side of where we are.

The operator tells me the ambulance is on the way but they need an address.  I run back into the bedroom.  L is sitting upright again.  Tiff is fussing with her from the bed telling her she passed out.  L is saying no, she didn’t pass out.  I’m asking, “What is the address here?” and I go fumbling through the mail ont he bookcase.

Luckily I find a piece of mail with Tiff’s name and address so I tell it to the operator.  I get off the phone and tell L that the ambulance is coming.  She asks why.

“Because you passed out and hit your head.”

“I did?” she asks.

“Yes, you did!” Tiff and I yell in unison.

I call her son, G-Bear but wouldn’t explain why he needed to come quickly.  L’s husband didn’t have his phone on him so I couldn’t call him.  I didn’t know what I was going to do if they needed to take L to the hospital, ride with her there or stay with a bedridden Tiff but whichever it was I needed someone there with me.

The paramedics come and check her vital signs.  Everything was fine but when she stood up they noted her blood pressure did drop too quickly.  They wanted her to get that checked out.

“What do you remember before you passed out?” one paramedic asked.

“I was looking of a picture of a very ugly guy that her daughter went out on a date with,” L said.

“This ugly?” the paramedic points to his coworker.

“No, he’s a movie star compared to this guy.”

The paramedics leave her behind and she promises to call her doctor on Monday.  As L is trying to piece together what happened her son and daughter-in-law arrive.

G-Bear asks what we were doing right before the episode and we tell him we were laughing at Mimi’s ugly date and we begin to laugh again.

“How ugly is he?” G-Bear asked.

I whip out my cellphone and show him the picture.  G-Bear looks startled, then shakes his head.  His wife, Mandy, looks at the pic and begins to laugh.

I pull up the Tiff’s wheelchair and get her to have a seat.  She was pregnant and the last thing I wanted was for her to pass out, too.

“Why would she go out on a date with that?” G-Bear wondered aloud.

Sometimes you just have to learn to wait, I said.  G-Bear waited a long time for the right one and Mandy came along.  “I’m still waiting,” Tiff said.  I’ve been waiting 32 years.

“He’s on his way,” L assured.

I had waited for J, I said.  And the next day we’d be celebrating our wedding anniversary.

We began to talk about relationships and G-Bear made his way into the living room to watch college football.  We talked about rushing into relationships, is the ugliness of loneliness better than being with someone who isn’t right for you?  Does God plan for us to be with someone or not?  What did it all mean? Deciding it better to be whole by yourself than a half waiting for someone else; God might be moving someone your way but the point is to be ready when he got there.

Speaking of getting there it was time for me to go.  I had an event to go to that Saturday night.  I hugged and kissed my family good-bye hoping to one day be married 35 years like L and her husband G.  L told me to give Mimi a hug for her and if needed bring her down to talk to her so she won’t have any more dates like that.

“Tell her that one gave me a seizure, who knows the next one might kill me.”

Dreams of Motherhood

How does one decide when to become a mother?  What are benchmarks that you have to meet before you decide these things?

I have wondered that myself because when I first became a mother I didn’t do any “real” planning.  I wanted to, I had planned to plan.  It was sorta-kinda planned because my boyfriend at the time (rest his soul) gave me an engagement ring and then prodded me to run down to the Justice of the Peace so we could sign the papers, take the vows and I could move with him to the Naval base in Chicago and there would be no more bi-weekend trips for him to visit me here in Cincinnati.  I said okay, I can marry you.  Then two months later I urinated on a stick that turned blue.  Or was it pink?  It was hazy, I cant’ remember I just remember running out of the apartment as if running around the block and coming back inside could change my fate like Superman changed the fate of the world by flying around the globe to save Lois Lane’s life.

It didn’t.

To tell the truth, I had a dreams of my daughter before she was born.  Three years before,  when I was seventeen, I had a dream of being in a park and holding a brown baby girl with almond eyes just like mine looking back at me.  I woke up from that dream with a quick pulse and twisted stomach.  Being a junior in high school and pregnant was a nightmare for me.

Fast forward to the summer of 89 a month before I got pregnant I had another dream that I was going to get pregnant.  I was engaged at that time and in love so I didn’t think anything of it, it was just a dream.  Lapaz was insistent that we start a family right away but I was talking about going on birth control.  A month after I found out I was pregnant I again had the same dream I had when I was 17 of a baby girl but this time I was left with a feeling of tranquility, which is odd since at that time I knew I could never marry Lapaz.  After becoming pregnant it became suddenly clear that we were not right for each other.  He wanted me to become a SAHM with a gaggle of children before I hit my 30s.  I wanted a career and was feeling like he was becoming one of the children I would have to care for.  We parted not on friendly terms.  My friends wanted me to hate him but I couldn’t.  I wouldn’t.  He left me but he gifted me the greatest thing: Cricket.

I loved her the moment I pushed her out.  No, I take it back.  I loved her the minute she began communicating with me from the womb. She was my alarm clock when it was time to get up for work.  When I put my hand on my stomach she would sometimes reach back or kick back depending on whether she wanted to be bothered or not.  When she was born I was besotted;  I could not see myself loving any other child as much as I loved her.  She is literally my dream daughter.  If I could have keyed in personality, character, attributes into a machine for a child she is the person I would have created.  Now that she is a woman making her own way into the world I love the person she has become.

This time I did begin to plan for a child.  Well, J and I planned for a child.  More succinctly, J said, not now let’s wait and I said you are right.  Now isn’t the time.  I was the calendar watcher, the one with the tracking my time when it was right by the ticking of my body clock.  But the time never did seem right: Cricket was entering her junior year and preparing for a European trip, then J started graduate school and J2 –well, he’s really always been just J2 with random spurts of “Damn, really?  You did that?  What the (bleep) wrong with you?”

So I was just as guilty of ignoring the signs –even more so– than J because mine were internal.  But I wanted to believe that I was still youthful.

And I was waiting for the dream.

But the dream never came.

Or dreams did come, but I ignored them because they weren’t the signs I was looking for.  Like there was the dream that scared me of having a toddler daughter and Cricket and both died on me.  There were the dreams of being around friends who were pregnant but my arms were empty.  Then I had a dream of my close friend Grace holding a baby girl and I realized it was my daughter although the child didn’t resemble either me or J.

I puzzled, trying to find different meanings into the images my body was obviously trying to send me at night.  The dream that was the clincher came the night before my appointment with the fertility specialist.  I dreamt I was looking into a pitch dark, long tunnel, that was winding and deep.  The next day in the doctor’s office I sat with a long telescopic wand in my womb in search for eggs.  I looked over at the screen, wondering what eggs would look like inside the Fallopian.  The assistant marked little x’s on the screen but finally I began to recognize the black area she seemed to be exploring –my fallopian tubes looked like the dark tunnel in my dream from the night before.  And just like the tunnel of my dreams the tubes were dark and empty.  That is what was going through my head as I barely heard the doctor tell his assistant to end it, there was nothing to count or harvest.

I leave the doctor’s office thinking about dreams, babies and how things turn out.  I wonder when we can evolve to the point where women can begin their fertility journey later in life and extend it later –without too much medical intervention.  I think about how dreams are not harbingers of things to come and how much can I really put on them?  Or even science for that matter?

Although statistically science has a better track record than my dreams.

But with both results in it leaves me with very few options on becoming a mother for the second time.  Well, third time since the 2nd was a marital acquisition.  And now I have to figure out which ones are the best for me or not good for me at all.  :-/