Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cornrows



“Girl, get on in here before your hair gets wet.”

A few brief drops from the bus stop to the house were impossible to avoid and were always forgiven as a matter of course. I was doing the unthinkable: Standing in the mist on purpose. It was a gray, muggy, rainy day – I stopped for a second- enjoying the slight spray on my face. My head mostly sheltered by the porch, I removed my plastic rain scarf and arched my face outward. The mist inched near my hairline before I was brought up short by Chick’s question.

I went straight to Chick so she could check my head. She brushed away the scant drops and pronounced, “It’s all right. But don’t even ask me to go outside today, hear? We’ll hurry up and make lunch and even make some crispies before Bob Barker comes on.” Chick wasn’t one to let the grass grow under her feet. The Price Is Right wasn’t even on yet and we had already been Uptown to the fruit market and back again on the bus. I wasn’t sad about not being able to play outside though. It was raining and only bad little girls who didn’t mind their Mama or Chick or Lydia would play outside and get their hair wet. I was a good little girl most of the time, who knew how to read some already and count to 100. I skipped into the kitchen behind Chick with my mind on bologna sandwiches and Rice Krispie Treats.

When Mama went to work, I went to Chick’s house. She dropped me off in the early morning, when it was almost light but still mostly dark. I was a big girl of four going on five who should have been above such a thing, but I’d want to cry when Mama left. I probably did cry when I was younger, even though I loved Chick and Chick loved me. It just took me a while to get used to being at Chick’s all over again every day. Chick never seemed to mind though. She was always patient enough to wait until the love settled in, patting and stroking my hair or leaving me to myself for a while.

Because Chick loved me. Chick loved me more than sunshine and butter cookies and watching Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons with me snuggled next to her on the couch in her house with only one lamp on, spreading it’s yellow light while it got dark outside; more than the snuff she dipped and the Lysol she doused the house with liberally twice a day and three times on Saturday. On the Seventh day, she rested. I’d have to do a lot more than get my hair wet than make Chick mad at me. Chick with her warm brown skin and big hugs when she handed them out. Chick with her hair kept mostly in a scarf and who wore a wig like my own grandmother but who had nice hair of her own, unlike my grandmother, who cut her’s off when granddaddy made her mad.

Most of the time, Chick was standing right at the door when I got there. Mama would do my hair before we left the house, but we were always in a hurry and I was either too sleepy or too excited to sit still. Mama didn’t bother too much about my hair in the mornings but she couldn’t just leave the house without doing something to it. Anyhow, she knew Chick would put on the finishing touches if not just plain do it over after I finished my oatmeal and toast or bacon and grits. But sometimes when we got there, Chick would still be making beds or praying upstairs and I’d have to deal with Lydia giving me my breakfast instead.

Lydia liked me but it took me a long time to like Lydia even though I admired her because she was almost grown up and her hair was always pretty like Thelma on Good Times. I was scared of Lydia for a long time because Chick bossed Lydia but Lydia bossed me. Sometimes Lydia would play or sing but she had a way of spraying spit through her teeth in an arc and she could aim. I’d run away shrieking and I hated it when she did that, even though I practiced doing it on my own. I could do it by accident sometimes but never on purpose.

Lydia also did grown up things like cleaning or cooking and leaving early in the morning like Mama did. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without coming out and somebody saying, “Child, look at your hair. Come here,” and then there’d be fifteen minutes of somebody tugging at my naps with a comb and hairbrush. I nearly learned how to tell time before I could read, looking at a clock figuring out how much longer somebody would be doing my hair. No matter what Lydia did, her hair always looked exactly like what Thelma’s did last week. I didn’t really like Lydia until I found out that where she went every day wasn’t Work but someplace called High School. I reasoned that still made her kind of a kid because I’d be going to School when it was Next Year and I was kid and only kids went to School.

I don’t know when it happened but one day, being at Chick’s house was almost as good as being at home with Mama. On really lucky days, Chick would tuck me into the spare twin bed and I’d drowsily, partly wake up to hear Chick telling Mama, “Go on home, May. She sleep anyhow but you ain’t putting that child in that car. Go on now and sleeps it off. I’ll do her hair tomorrow anyhow, and then you won’t have to worry about it. Go on now.”

I could snuggle back down then and sleep until the train whistle blew. Then it would be daylight and we would clean house and I’d get to play awhile before Chick did my hair. After she did my hair, I’d have to sit quiet somewhere and watch TV or read a book. But the bright red tricycle she kept just for me would have to stay locked in the little shed where I loved to go get it with the tiny key. The housework would be done so I couldn’t even play-dust but I knew no one would be stupid enough to dust or work up a sweat after they just go their hair done. Not just a morning brushing but a whole hair-do done right and tight.

I was still learning the days of the week but any lucky day that I woke up at Chick’s house after the train whistle blew, and cartoons were on instead of Bob Barker, was sure to be Saturday. One Saturday, long after the train whistle and bacon and grits and cartoons and play-dusting and two doses of Lysol and riding the tricycle and locking it back up again with the tiny key and Mama still hadn’t come yet, Lydia asked Chick, “Mama, can I try putting Deborah’s hair in cornrows?”

In the time it took me to add Doing Hair to my mental list of Grown Up Things Lydia Does Even though She’s Still Kind of a Kid, Chick came to the door of the kitchen and considered my hair. She had stopped for the usual fifteen minutes and brushed it to shining neatness only that morning between the train whistle and bacon and grits but, sometime between play-dusting and locking up the tricycle, my hair was again all over my head.

“Child, go ahead. Maybe her hair will stay done for awhile.” Chick walked back into the kitchen, shaking her head as if to say she didn’t believe there was any power on earth that could keep my hair done. I didn’t think so either but Lydia was going to try. We trekked to the kitchen sink and I waited while she got out a few towels and the shampoo. By the time she finished washing it, my hair was in a tangled ball like a scouring sponge. So she got out the comb and the brush and the hair grease and we sat down in front of Soul Train. Lydia tugged and pulled while I flinched and squirmed. A few times she’d rap me with the comb hissing, “Sit still,” and I’d whine but after a while Chick would come to the door and I’d shut up until she left, then the battle started all over again.

Lydia won the war. By the time it was over, my hair was in a neat pattern of pretty braids with smooth shiny scalp in between. My hair was braided so tight it hurt if I moved my head too fast but I liked it anyway. I was admiring my head in the mirror and I knew Chick was going to say something about the Bible and vanity in a minute but just then Mama knocked on the door and came right in. I ran to her and hugged her so hard I thought my arms would fall off. I looked up at her, not letting go.

“Do you like my hair Mama, huh? Lydia did it. I never had cornrows before. Why do they call it cornrows if it’s braids, Mama, huh?”

I loved Chick and even Lydia now, but Mama was here. I was happiest when my two worlds collided, and I would miss being at Chick’s; but it was almost time for the last Saturday dose of Lysol and I wanted to go home.

“It’s really pretty, Lydia, thank you. Maybe it will stay done for a while.” And then to me, “They call that style cornrows because it looks like rows of corn with spaces in between. I’ll show you on the way home.” But I was already remembering the fields we always passed on the ride home that I never paid much attention to for looking at the horses and cows.

By the time we got home after passing the horses and cows and Mama had pointed out the real corn rows with the spaces in between, the sky was darkening and an afternoon shower was rolling in. Before it was even time to get out of the car, Mama was looking for a rain scarf, umbrella, something but she only found one rain scarf under the seat of the car.

Mama flicked a look at my hair and then put the scarf over her own pretty curls. “Oh,” she said relieved, “you’ll be just fine.” And she got out of the car, which was my cue to get out of the car too.

I hesitated for only a second but in the next instant I knew the truth. Cornrows were some kind of magic. My hair would not only stay done for a while but I could get my hair wet and Mama wouldn’t care!

I was so happy! All the tugging and pulling had been worth it. Oh, I’d put up the same fight the next time, but I knew on the next lucky day, I’d beg Lydia for the privilege of battle. The feeling of rain on my scalp was incredible. The drops soaking into my hair soothed my little soul and my mother looking on in open approval was rapturously satisfying.

“I’m glad Lydia did your hair,” Mama said, for once taking her time getting into the house, not hustling me inside and trying to shelter me from the rain with her purse only to mostly smack me upside my head with it in her hurry. “We’ll go to the pool tomorrow.” I stared at her in awe. In our apartment complex there was an enormous blue shimmering rectangle with a small fenced in kiddie pool. I’d long ago resigned myself to only looking at the pool longingly, sighing my tiny sigh as we passed. There was no use begging Mama to go, knowing she’d only ask, “And get your hair wet?” I could not believe that Lydia, of all people, had been the key to unlocking that fence for me. I smiled broadly, not believing my luck and Mama returned my smile, running a hand over my smooth braids fondly, but lightly, not willing to muss them, even by her slight touch.

“I’m a Pisces and you’re a Cancer,” I had no idea what she meant but she went on to explain, “We were both born under star signs for water. I’m going to teach you how to swim.”



*****
With many thanks to "The Skeptik One" who sparked the idea for this tale about my life.
Also thank you to Sherri at Every Day Miracle for allowing me to use the beautiful picture.
Score for English Comp: 49/50

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writing about Writing

LOL. : )

And so I've gone back to school. Yep, that's right. It's been three weeks now and so far, I've done pretty well.

I'm taking English Compostion and I tell you, three years of blogging were good practice for getting homework done in that class. If nothing else, I've learned to come up with an idea and write a fairly lengthy essay in a day or so.

So, since I have to write for English Comp One, I decided, why not post my essays here? Heck I'll even tell you what I get on them and what the professor's comments were. So far so good, but hey, who's to say it will keep going that way.

All that being said, please don't forget about donating to the Re-Education of Deborah fund (email me now, ask me how) and here's my first essay about, of all things, how to go about writing an essay.

The Steps in the Writing Process

Much like the famed five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – there are also five steps to the writing process; getting started, organizing, drafting, revising and editing. The process for both grieving and writing appear to have much in common, namely that although one may not experience all of the stages or even go through the steps in the order presented, the final steps of acceptance and editing are assured.

When setting out on the task of writing there is a feeling of eager challenge and a wealth of ideas may race through your mind. Unfortunately when you sit down with pen in hand or hands poised over the keyboard, that wealth and eagerness may suddenly dry up into what is termed “writers block”. The theme you thought solid only moments ago seems pointless. Suddenly no idea seems good enough and denial kicks in.

“I’ll just wait and see if I really want to even do this. I’m sure that I can come up with an excuse that would cause any professor to burst into tears.” The fact remains: Anyone who has the time and imagination to render their professor to tears with excuses has the time and wherewithal to write an essay.

When a writer is at a loss for what to write there are several means of creating ideas. Brainstorming is giving yourself a time limit to write a list of ideas without stopping “no matter how silly or dull or irrelevant they seem.” Freewriting also uses a time limit but instead of just writing down ideas, you are free to follow your thoughts “wherever they lead, paying no attention to completeness or correctness or even sense.” For exploring your own ideas use your journal or start one for future writing.

“I can do this. I will do this. I’ll show that professor!”

Anger sets in as you set about organizing your first draft but anger can be positive if it spurs one to positive action. An idea comes to mind and it seems, if not well developed, good enough to build on. It is important to stop and ask: “What is the overall message you want to convey?”

Once you have established a strong central theme, decide on the best way to tell your story. An essay can be developed in many ways; through narration, by example, using forms of analysis, comparison and contrast, cause and effect or argument and persuasion to get ideas across. No matter which method of development you decide to use, the important thing is to keep writing without regard to the finer details just yet. Revising and editing will come later. “Awkwardness, repetition, wrong words, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes – these and other more superficial concerns can be attended to in a later draft.”

In the stages of grief, bargaining and promising is usually done with a higher power. In writing, drafting is promise made to yourself. If kept, it means focusing more on what you want to say rather than how you want to say it. “You pressure yourself needlessly if you try to produce a well-developed, coherent, interesting and grammatically correct paper all at once.”

The meat of an essay is developed during the drafting phase. Ideas that may have only been one or two words are expounded into sentences and then paragraphs. Your main theme is developed further and details fall into place. Now that there’s a “middle” to your essay, you can now decide how best to introduce your theme and how you would like to conclude your essay.

“…Revision occurs beneath the lines, in the deeper meaning and structure of the essay.” At this point, having done the bulk of your work through getting started, organizing and drafting, you may find that your work still doesn’t read the way you wanted. A paragraph at the end of your draft may work better as your introduction. Possibly, you drifted away from your theme and wound up writing about something else altogether. It may be discouraging to go back and virtually begin again on what may be an entirely new theme.

The challenge may lie in establishing a new tone. “Tone can range from casual to urgent, humorous to serious, sad to elated, pleased to angry, personal to distant.” “Your readers will be interested more in the substance of your writing…indeed an approach that is too familiar or unserious or hostile could put them off.” “A warm and light hearted tone may be just right…and a touch of anger may help to grab the reader’s attention…”

“Editing occurs more between the lines, on the surface of the essay.” Using checklists for revision and editing will draw a fine line between the two and ensure that you don’t forget a crucial step or miss errors. Use a dictionary to make sure you’re using the right word. “The denotation of a word is its dictionary meaning. For instance “reward is different from award and sites is different from cites. Substituting one for the other will confuse readers momentarily, and several such confusions can undermine readers’ patience.”

Ask other writers to read your draft and allow them to point out errors or problems. Read your draft out loud or into a tape recorder. If you are working on a computer, work from a printout rather than on the computer screen. Be critical of your own work and keep a list of changes you still need to make or advice you got from others. Go over your checklists and notes and proof your final draft even if you’ve run it through a spell checker.

I once read the quote, “The secret of becoming a writer is that you have to write.” Writing, it seems, is easy; writing well, however, takes effort to master. Accept that with time, work and following the stages of the writing process you can produce a good written work.


Works Cited
Aaron, Jane E. The Compact Reader. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003
Chaos Manor Musings. Pournell, Jerry. How to Get My Job. February 2007
Kuhbler Ross, Elisabeth and Kessler, David. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Scribner, 2005
*****
This one got me an 18 out of 20.
Comments from the professor:
You open with a great attention-grabbing device. MLA format doesn't use footnotes. You can read about MLA documentation in section 46a of the handbook.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
Read more about the declaration of Independence here.

****************
Amen.

And then they list their grievances against the King of England and they sign it and send it to him which was terribly, terribly brave.

Some people will inevitably claim that the framers of the Declaration of Independence did not have me in mind when they wrote it; that they only meant the ruling rich white guys of the day not the black people they viewed as slaves or women or...well, anyone who wasn't a already a ruling rich white guy.

However, sometimes, people stumble across a truth so definitive that people, even folks who may or may not have been viewed by them as human, let alone sentient people with destinies of their own, can't help but l take you at your word.

The Declaration of Independence is a challenge - to anyone who would dare to dream of freedom; and a caution that to accept that the road of securing liberty, not only for ourselves, but also others may end in bloodshed and that the blood shed may be your own.

However the idea that all men should be able to choose the road for themselves, that it should not be dictated by king, nor country - was a radical idea in it's day and it still is now - for conservatism still dictates that many must be left out of freedom's bounty for the needs of a few.

Whether they envisioned someone like me down the line or not (and being foolishly wise men who realized the world would change beyond their wildest imaginations, I think they did) The Declaration of Indpendence is the stuff that dreams are made of.

For the lovers, the dreamers and me.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

The D List - My Three Birthday Wishes

De-Lurk - leave a comment. Tell me about you and what brings you to Deb Lite

Donate - to the Re-Education of Deborah fund through this link. Email Now, Ask Me How (You'll need my student ID to donate.)

Delivery - to my family and friends who may be so inclined, I have had my Amazon wish list for simply ages that has been easily google searchable. Most years I quietly and politely say, "Ah, don't worry, don't get me anything," but hey, get me something already!


*****
Like anyone else who has a website or blog, I was curious about who reads Deb Lite and what people are looking for when they land here. So, I got a stat counter but not because I'm all that chuffed about how many people read the site. I just wanted to know where people come from and what types of searches bring folks here.

As it turns out, I have people reading from a wide variety of places. To my faithful, returning reader from Ireland, I salute you. Also a shout out to my blog pals and readers from New Zealand, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, South AFrica, Brazil, France, Canada, and the UK.

These are the top 10 searches that have brought people here this week.

12.93% ethan kilmer
6.80% white on white crime
4.08% what does crank dat mean
2.04% fired from powernet global
2.04% mitch painter
1.36% ufe recovery
1.36% time goes by jenny joseph
1.36% a nigger in the white house
1.36% racism and terrorism

Ethan Kilmer may not have played last season but yes, he's still on the Bengal's roster and he has not been forgotten, as I predicted in the one post I did on him. The hit he made, the touchdowns he scored and the fans he garnered continue to come here wondering when Kilmer will be back on the field. From the Bengals website:
Sidelined early in training camp with reaggravation of knee injury that had been surgically repaired during offseason ... Did not play in preseason ... Carried onto season-opening roster and was on inactive list for Games 1-5 ... Placed Oct. 16 on Reserve/Injured list.
I get a lot of hits about racial issues because, as a black woman, it's impossible not to comment on racial issues from time to time (I know, constantly). However that "nigger in the white house" and other popular searches terms that didn't make the top 10 list are a sobering reminder that the few articles I have done are not on the wrong track at all.

A new search that never appeared until this week was "fired from powernet global". Whoever you are, I hope you found solace here. I feel your pain. Just know that the company sucks and it will as long as Bernie Stevens is at the helm and still listening to that god awful sorry excuse for a phony motivational speaker Ron Archer.

A picture is a worth a thousand words but the picture properties speak volumes. The picture on Archer's page of him with Marvin Lewis also includes Bernies Stevens but Stevens (who considers Archer a personal pal) doesn't get a mention in the name of the picture. LOL! That's what friends are for. At any rate, PNG sucks. I cannot say that enough and probably now, neither can you.

Far too many people want to know what Crank Dat and Superman dat ho mean. Trust me, you really don't want to know. I'm definitely sorry that my 16 year old daughter knows but such is life.

Still, no matter why you came or how you got here, thank each and every one of you for reading Deb Lite!


These are the top 10 blog posts read here (not what I expected at all):

2006/11/who-dey-heck-is-ethan-kilmer.html
2007/03/but-i-had-on-red-dress-and-no-hat.html
2007/12/white-on-white-crime-is-out-of-control.html
2008/06/speechless.html
2008/02/blog-post.html
2006/11/michael-richards-and-n-word_21.html
2006/01/denied.html
2008/03/white-people-wake-fuck-up.html
(This post has been removed but is available upon request by email or through the google cache)
2006/02/why-i-do-not-trust-cincinnati-police.html
2007/05/terrorism-and-racism-hand-in-hand.html