Posted in C-Haze, Children, Memories, Nostalgia, Religion

Tribute to My Dad

I originally wrote this in honor of my dad, back in 2008. Today, I’m reposting. Enjoy!

It’s Father’s Day, so of course I have to talk about my daddy.

How the heck can I describe him and where in the world should I start?

My father is one of my only true heroes. He is amazing, and I’m not just saying that cuz he’s my dad.

He’s a great man for putting up with all my crap over the years… and he’s a great man for never giving up on me, for always believing in my greatness- even when that was the last thing I could see in myself.

My dad is the guy when I’m at my worst, suffering the consequences of all the riduculous decisions I’ve made, who can still look me in the eye and tell me he’s proud of me.

He means it too.

Growing up, my father pushed me to excel no matter what… he was tough. If I got a B on a test in school, a typical reaction from him would be, “That’s not bad… but why wasn’t it an A?” He taught me that regardless of the situation, no matter the circumstances, if I did not give it my all, it simply wasn’t good enough.

If I wanted to watch TV, it was my father that would restrict various shows, saying, “There is no socially redeeming value in that…”

I would get so mad… but it’s a phrase I use to this day, when restricting my own kids’ access to the television.

He led by example, and I watched my father work hard at everything he’s ever done- be it as the VP of Finance for a healthcare company, or as a student in Seminary, or as the passionate leader of a congregation of hundreds, and most importantly, as my father.

He’s the one who took me horseback riding every Saturday morning growing up. He’s the one, when I was terrified to try my first jump on that stupid horse Rascal, who hopped on an even crazier horse, and took an even bigger jump- just to show me it was ok.

My father is the one who taught me to love thunderstorms… when a big one would come at night, he’d open the blinds in my room, and say, “Look! It’s a light-light-light show!”… another trick I have used with my own daughters.

He’s the one who read me bedtime stories every night, and still to this day buys me a book every year for Christmas. He taught me to love reading and learning, and all these years later, I still do.

When I couldn’t sleep at night, my dad was the one who would come in my room and make up silly songs to sing to me. I had a stuffed pink poodle that when wound up would play Brahms Lullabye… I think I was almost 20 years old before I realized that the lyrics to that song are NOT, “Lullabye, eat a pie, so your dreams will come true…”

When I was in piano competitions, and the judges would say something to the effect of, “What a beautiful job she did playing that Mozart… but her left pinky looked a little weak”, my dad was the one who nearly strangled them for saying such a thing about his baby girl.

When I got older, and it was time to start looking at colleges, my dad was the one who went through the entire process with me. He spent countless weekends on the road with me, visiting schools all over the place, taking tours of campuses both large and small, pouring over countless pamphlets and welcome packets.

When I had narrowed down the list, and decided which music schools I was going to audition for admittance to, he was the one who went with me. He was the one who- often literally- wiped the sweat from my brow when it was time to face the music board at Oberlin, and Heidelberg… he was the one who celebrated with me when I was accepted at various schools… and he was the one who wanted to have the entire music departments fired at the ones I didn’t get into.

He was the one holding my hand when the verdict- “guilty”- came in during my rape trial.

He took me to see “Hello Dolly” with the original Carol Channing as Dolly… and he took me to see “Phantom of the Opera”… I am, to this day, a musical nut.

I inherited my love of steak from my dad… and I inherited my strong sense of justice, and fighting for those less fortunate from him. My dad is the strongest man I know, but he is a man of quiet strength. He gets his points across lovingly and compassionately… often with a touch of humor, but I have never known him to strongarm or bully a single human being.

My Dad has the voice of God… a deep, booming voice… he commands attention, and makes people want to hear what he has to say.

To me, Daddy, you are the greatest and I love you dearly.

 

Posted in C-Haze, Children, Memories, Music, Nostalgia, Single Mom

Childhood Memories, Nostalgia and The Last Unicorn

I love a good reminder of my childhood.

Last night, while in Wal-Mart with my black-women-In-training, I happened across the $9 movie rack.

Now you know as well as I do that this rack typically consists of nothing that anyone really wants to watch… thus the reason the movies only cost $9.

Last night was different.

I saw 2 movies that I simply had to buy.

Not for their amazing cinematography, but because they were favorites of mine as a kid.

The first being “Labyrinth” and the second, my favorite of all favorites… “The Last Unicorn”.

We watched “Labyrinth” as soon as we got home… and let me just say… it’s horrible.

Seriously- is that David Bowie??

I never made that connection for some reason…

My kids loved it… but for me, even accounting for all the warm-fuzzy feelings of nostalgia it produced, I could barely sit through it.

Horrible.

I waited until today to watch “The Last Unicorn”… mostly because I was scared it would be as awful as “Labyrinth” was, and for the sake of my childhood memories, I just wasn’t sure I could take it if that happened.

It’s animated, but Mia Farrow, Jeff Bridges and Angela Lansbury are the voices of the characters.

It’s about a lone unicorn who learns that she is the last one left… or is she?

She goes about trying to find all the other unicorns… and has a lot of adventures along the way.

This movie captivated me as a child.

I’d watch it over and over again… the backdrops, the music, the voices of the characters… I truly could not get enough of it.

I happily learned, after finally seeing it again, it has lost none of its magic.

Not a single drop.

Anything I enjoy watching at 30 as much as I enjoyed watching at 6 has to be a classic!.

I found a short clip of it on youtube.

I hope it takes you on a walk down memory lane as well.

Posted in C-Haze, Memories, Nostalgia

Waterskis, Catfish, The Lake and… Butter

Yesterday after work, my sidekick brother The Hippie Andino (aka Don Pablo) and I high-tailed it out of town…

We headed west forever, and then went north for a while, ultimately landing in my personal little slice of heaven.

Most folks have never heard of this little spot, and that’s how I prefer to keep it. I grew up comin here… this is the town where my grandparents, my aunt, uncle, cousins, sister, nieces and nephew are from.

It’s a tiny place, and doesn’t make it onto most maps.

I learned to waterski on the lake in my grandparents’ backyard, and will never forget zippin’ past their house on those skis, waving at my grandmother, who was watching us from the kitchen window.

I thought she must love the water, the way she always came to that window anytime we were on or near the lake. It wasn’t until years later that I learned she couldn’t swim, and was afraid of the water. She was always full of terror when we went out there… for our sake, she kept a smile on her face but she was ever-vigilant. She didn’t know what she’d be able to do for us, should we find ourselves in any trouble out there, but couldn’t bear to tear her eyes away, even for a second.

I learned to fish on that lake, I swam there in the summers and ice-skated in the winter. We stuffed ourselves on the most amazing country cooking… everything… fried catfish and croppy (catch of the day, no less), fried turkey, roasts, homemade breads, cakes… you name it… all dripping with pounds of real butter.

No place has ever been more relaxing… and nothing says tranquility like taking my uncle’s old boat out on the water and laying down in it in the center of the lake with a good book in hand… drifting off to sleep.

In the evenings my parents and the other adults would gather ’round the kitchen table and play Pinochle. As the night went on, they’d get louder and louder, laughing harder and harder. At some point each evening my mom would get into a tiff with Grandpa… never anything serious… but about that time my dad would come and find us kids, and send us off to bed.

I spent countless Christmases here along with other members of our family. The place would be packed with aunts, uncles, cousins… everybody. Someone made and decorated huge pillowcases to be used each year, and all our presents would be dumped in them. We’d take turns reaching inside our pillowcase, pulling out the next goody- it could be anything- our family is a diverse one. We come from every walk of life, every background, financial status… you name it, seems someone from our clan represented it in some way.

Times have changed…

The cousins have grown up and moved away. Grandma has passed on. Divorce happens, people move away, get married, start their own lives.

The essence is still here though… the personality of my little slice of heaven lives on. The lake hasn’t changed much, though no one from my family has waterski’d on it in years. I still see my grandmother watching me from the kitchen window, though now it is her spirit and not her physical self who looks after me.

To this day, this is still the only place on earth where I will slather everything- or anything, for that matter- with real butter.

Maybe this evening I’ll set some catfish lines… and listen to my grandfather’s stories from back in the day.

Regardless, I know when it’s time to return to my regular life, I’ll be renewed in the way only this place can make me.

Posted in C-Haze, Memories, Music, Nostalgia

Az Yet, Peter Cetera and a Hot and Bothered Me

I was being nosy yesterday morning- procrastinating, really. I should have been getting ready for work, but was instead sitting at the computer, clicking around on myspace. I happened upon an ex-friend of mine’s page (oh stop- I was NOT cyber stalking anyone!), and was absolutely astounded to hear a specific song on his playlist.

MySpace

“Last Night” by Az Yet. Man, that song does things to me. Always has, and as I learned yesterday- it definitely still does.

Actually, as I’m writing, I’m breaking into a sweat (!!).

After sitting on this guy’s page, listening to that song play over and over again, the nostalgia kicked into high gear, and I was reminded of another song by Az Yet from back in the day. The one where they remade Peter Cetera’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”.

az yet white

Whew- that’s another good one!

Whatever happened to those guys, anyway? I remember as a freshman in college I had their CD… they were great and everyone loved them for about 15 minutes. Then they disappeared.

Back to yesterday morning- One thing led to another, and before I know it, I’m burning CDs like a mad woman. Visions of Peter Cetera and Az Yet dancing in my head…

By the time I was finished, I was still in my jammies, hadn’t even begun to get ready for work- but should have left the house about 20 minutes ago.

I didn’t care. It was worth it. Nothing gets me all hot and bothered like listening to some of those older honies like Az Yet and Peter Cetera. Well- that is nothing other than a real man, of course. However, it has unfortunately been my experience that men who miraculously appear in my living room at that perfectly magical moment, when Az Yet has finished singing “Last Night” to me are in desperately short supply. So what I’m saying is, barring that particular scenario, there’s not a lot that can turn me on more than these guys’ songs can.

Peter Cetera

I’ve always been kind of dorky where songs- music in general- are concerned. Music is probably the single thing- again, other than a real person- that can provoke such strong emotional reactions in me. Reactions that slide up and down the spectrum. Some songs, like the ones I’ve already mentioned kick the sex drive into high gear. Others make me happy or sad; occassionally they can make me laugh, cry, or even get angry. A lot of times the reactions are a result of the way the songs actually sound- they just move me. More commonly, some songs remind me of specific events or times from my past. Depending on the memory, my reactions are quite varied.

I’d bet it’s the same with most people.

Here’s to all those sexy songs, and all the sexy memories they invoke- the people who can put those words every woman wants her man to say to her on paper (for me it’s Az Yet, Boyz II Men, Peter Cetera, Babyface, Jodeci (later, K-Ci and JoJo), and Phil Collins- just to name a small few), mix it up with some amazing instrumentals (oooh- or betta yet, sing it accapella), and sound like they mean it, dammit!

Music Game  Boyz II Men    Kenny quotBabyfacequot Edmonds  But seriously

Yum!

Posted in C-Haze, Funny, Humor, Memories, Nostalgia

My First Felony… And The L Word

I was 12 years old, in junior high school. I was in 7th grade, and back then junior high was 7th through 9th grade.

I was the shit because my boyfriend was an older man- a 9th grader (can I just say, as a mother, 12 year olds should never have boyfriends! It ought to be outlawed!).My boyfriend got this great idea- let’s skip school!! I knew my parents would kill me, but so what? I’d been killed before.
At this point, I had been grounded so many times that my sentences were running both concurrently and consecutively. My mother had started to run out of things to ground me from, and recently, out of desperation, had grounded me from my own privacy.
How’d she do that? Well, she removed my bedroom door- took it right off its hinges.
So I’m thinking, what do I have to lose? Let’s do it!

The plan was this- my boyfriend, his best friend (also a 9th grader), his girlfriend and I would skip the last 2 periods of class on Friday. My boyfriend said his house was only a 10 minute walk from the school, so that’s where we decided we’d be going (I’d never been to his house- I said I was the shit for having an older boyfriend- never claimed that I wasn’t a total prude though).

I made it perfectly clear- I HAVE to be back at school in time for the final bell of the day to ring. Little hellion that I was, my mother was picking me up for ballet class that evening. May sound lame to some of you, but I just COULDN’T miss ballet… I’d scored an awesome part in the Nutcracker that year and didn’t want to miss my rehearsal!
So the plan was laid out, and all was set.
Friday finally arrived, and little wimp that she is, the girlfriend of my boyfriend’s best friend (got that?!?!) chickened out on us. Apparently she hadn’t been killed by her parents nearly as often as I had, and she was scared. The 3 of us were not to be deterred, told her to suit herself, and off we went…
We started walking, spirits high… we were walking down a nice residential street, the weather was nice, the trees, plants and flowers in people’s yards were gorgeous… Life was good.
So again, we’re walking. And walking. And walking. And then we walked some more.
Finally, I comment about how as nice as this walk has been, it sure does feel like we’ve been at it for a while! I was assured that we were almost there, and in fact still had plenty of time. I guess my signature Swatch watch was broken because I believed them- no questions asked.

Eventually, after what seems like 10 days, not the promised 10 minutes, we arrive. I’m exhausted, and that air that had seemed so nice a short time before had begun to stifle me. I was sweaty, I was out of breath, and I’m sure I was generally unattractive… but I was too tired to care.

We walked into my boyfriend’s kitchen, I dropped my bookbag on the floor, and I help myself to a glass of water. I’m greedily guzzling my second glass when I happen to glance at the clock on the wall… and drop my glass on the floor in shock.

We had been walking almost 2 hours! I had 10 minutes to get back to the school…

Pure panic set in. I was running around the house yelling at the top of my lungs, “OH MY GOD!! I’M DEAD!! THEY’RE GOING TO KILL ME (THEY, meaning my parents of course- I know you didn’t believe that earlier shit about not being afraid of them killing me- that was just talk. I was only unafraid of them when I felt confident I wouldn’t get caught- clearly, this situation was CODE RED)!!”

My boyfriend, with his lame, unhelpful ass, shrugs his shoulders and says, “I’m really sorry… I thought the walk was a lot shorter. I guess you’re going to have to call them to come get you”.

WHAT?!?! Unacceptable!!

I quickly started trying to come up with a plan… I was running through the house, looking for something- ANYTHING that would help me get out of this situation.

At one point, I seriously considered stabbing myself in the eye. How can my parents be angry with me if I have blood gushing out of my beautiful eyes?

No, that wouldn’t work… my parents are ruthless, man. Blood, schmood. They wouldn’t care, and I’d still be killed by them. I wasn’t even certain they’d wait for me to stop bleeding first, and then where would I be? Dead, with no eyes. They are seriously hardcore.

Finally, I saw it. My saving grace. As soon as I laid eyes on it I knew I was going to get away with this (thank God I didn’t stab myself after all- I wouldn’t have been able to see the thing that was going to save my precious life).

A single key. A beautiful, shiny, silver, single key.

I smiled sweetly, and turned to my boyfriend.

“What’s that key for?”

“Oh that? It’s nothing that will help us today… it’s my mom’s spare key to the Mercedes. It’s in the garage because she’s on a business trip”

Oh sweet Jesus- sweet heavenly Jesus, I am saved.

I grabbed the key and ran out the side door to the garage.

I hop into the car, and stick the key in the ignition. I impatiently wait on my boyfriend and his friend to join me. The big chickens were still in the kitchen, terrified of what I was about to do.

I explained as nicely as possible to my boyfriend that he better get his ass in the car- NOW. I had to get back to the school, and I only had a few short minutes left to get there. He could either get in the care willingly, or I’d have no choice but to drag his butt in there.

You see, he HAD to accompany me. How the heck was the mercedes going to get back to his garage after I got to school?

As he was nervously getting into the car, buckling his seatbelt (at my insistance- no need to be unsafe, right? Riding in a car with no seatbelt is just crazy!), another thought came to me. I couldn’t possibly drive to the school, on account of I was only 12!! That would raise a few eyebrows if I happened to be seen.

I decided to drive myself to the convenient store right up the street from the school, and walk from there to the school itself. With any luck at all, my mom would be a couple minutes late picking me up (like she usually was), and by the time she got there, I’d be sitting there on the front steps waiting for her like the sweet angel I am.

PERFECT!!

I congratulated myself on my brilliant plan, my awesome quick-thinking skills the whole way there. Miraculously, I arrived without crashing the vehicle, thought I gotta tell ya it was kind of close- what with that damn school bus getting my way- it almost got hit.

Finally, I arrived at the convenience store and dropped myself off- only about 15 minutes late. As my boyfriend took over the driver’s side of the Mercedes and pulled off, I started running back towards the school.

I was soooo close… almost there… and shit. I see my mom’s minivan pulling out of the parking lot. Of all days to be on time, she had to pick this one?!?! I pick up my speed, and start waving at the van- “Wait!! I’m here!!”

She sees me and stops, waiting for me to get in.

I know what you’re thinking- I’m caught, right? If you think so, you don’t know me very well…
My mom was definitely annoyed, as she’d been circling around the parking lot looking for me. Seeing me run up the street from the direction of the convenience store, she had a couple of questions. Mainly, “Where the hell were you?” followed by, “Where are your books?”

Shit. I’d left my bookbag at my boyfriend’s house!

I climbed into the minivan, mumbling something about how my locker had jammed, and that’s why I didn’t have my books- doesn’t matter, no homework anyway (or so I claimed). I then made some lame ass excuse up about how my friend wanted me to walk her home from school because walking by herself was too scary (you know, in the big bad suburbs of Charlotte and all). I calmly explained to my mother- “That’s why you saw me running back to school- I had left for a minute to walk my friend home”.

Genius.

My mom didn’t believe me- I could tell by the look on her face that she knew I was full of shit. But hey, she couldn’t prove it, so she didn’t really have cause to kill me. You know, probable cause- it’s my constitutional right.

Off we go to ballet class, where I performed brilliantly, of course. I even had the presence of mind to call my boyfriend during our break and threaten to kill him if he didn’t remember to bring my bookbag to school on Monday.

He was so impressed with my earlier driving demonstration that he even said (GASP) the “L” word- as in, “I love you” for the first time before hanging up. See, that’s how cold I was! I had just threatened the boy’s LIFE and he still felt the need to profess his undying love for me.

Alright, so you wanna know how I got caught?

Remember my boyfriend’s best friend’s girlfriend (got that?!?!)? Well, she apparently got an attack of conscience. While we were skipping class, she was in the school guidance counselor’s office ratting us out.

Her excuse? “I just had to tell someone… she PROMISED she’d keep it confidential!!”
Well, promise or not, I got my ass hauled to the office first thing Monday morning. The principle told me she was calling my dad at work.

Yep, my parents killed me that day. Apparently, what I had considered Pure Genius was actually called Grand Theft Auto. Additionally, I learned it’s a felony.

Who knew?!?!