Thursday, November 24, 2005

Diary Of A Sick Toddlers Mom

Day 1-Tuesday, the beginning
I'm glad this is a short week. I've been home with my four-year-old since yesterday. He has a running nose, a cough, and as of yesterday a fever that comes and goes. He told me yesterday that his neck hurts. I have figured that this is kid speak for, "my throat hurts." I haven't been home with a sick kid in a long time. I've gotten really spoiled. Everyday I see everyone off in the morning, arming them with breakfast, vitamins, backpacks that include lunch and my husband's count to five. The count to five is this count of the five objects he can't leave home without. Keys, wallet, work i.d., phone and ipod. I help the little one on with his jacket, his hat, his favorite object of the week, and an empty metrocard. He needs a metrocard to swipe into the turnstile. If you have a kid under five in New York, you know what this is all about. Even though kids five and under don't pay to ride the subway, every single one of them wants to swipe a metrocard. By now my kid knows the difference between the beeps on the turnstile that says "go" or "insufficient fare", but it makes no difference. He swipes and then bends over to go under the turnstile.

I'm lucky his sister still loves school. Well, she loves school, but not as much as she loves not missing school to see her friends. She's thirteen. Enough said.

He woke up at 7 o'clock. He had these moments in which he did lay down on his own, but he never took the two hour nap that saves one's sanity the day he moved from one activity to the next. He painted pictures with a watercolor set of paints he was given on his last birthday and had forgotten about. He would have had a nice picture, but he decided to take the water used for wetting the brush and pour it on top of the palette containing the paints. He took a bath for an hour and enjoyed a variety of water toys including fish that fill up with water and then squirt water when you squeeze their sides. I watched him create an entire water adventure complete with good fish and bad fish fighting over sandwiches in the water. He made up this storyline himself.

We read four books including the favorite book that reads like an encyclopedia of trains. "The Best Book Of Trains" promises on it's back cover:
* "Stunning full-page scenes capture the sheer power and speed of trains"
* "Detailed artwork show different train types"
* "Cutaway pictures reveal the intricate workings of trains and railroads"

This isn't one of those "Golden Readers" my mom used to read. Every page of this book has at least 2 or three cut away scenes with little paragraphs. There are 30 pages in total, the glossary is on page 31 and the index on page 32! I needed a nap by the time we got to the last page. Actually I asked him if I could stop reading by the time we reached page 19.

No slowing down this kid's appetite. I was preparing food every two hours. He has a thing for toast. I don't have a toaster, so this is actually more engaging than it sounds. I have to use the broiler on my oven, so I have to keep squatting and pulling out the broiler drawer to check on the bread and make sure it isn't burning. I always burn two slices no matter how careful I try to be. He also ate oatmeal, Kix cereal, and drank lots of juice and tea. I cleaned urine off the seat many times today. Did I mention he's four? When he remembered to lift the seat, he announced this proudly as he walked out of the bathroom hitching up his underwear. Yes, I said hitching. These are not tight underwear, it's just that the dexterity of a 4-year-old isn't so smooth. Couple this with the fact that he is in a hurry to continue watching Clifford or any number of those shows for toddlers on PBS, and you get the picture.

He was even very entertaining. While helping me wash the dishes (he mostly plays with the soap suds) he started laughing. I asked him what was so funny and he proceeded to say, "Remember when she was doing this?" I watch him do this jerky kind of dance his shoulders doing a shimmy and his arms swinging this way and that. I ask him what he's talking about and realize he is laughing about his sisters reaction when she accidental let a napkin catch fire. She placed it near the boiling kettle of water, (Don't ask why. She's is thirteen). I was amazed that he remembered that. That happened about two or three weeks ago. I explain to him that she was frightened by the flames. " I know,but she looked funny. You had to help her."

He didn't slept until bedtime, which was about 8:30 or 9 o'clock. About twenty minutes into his sleep, we heard him start coughing, and the next thing we know he was vomiting. He has his occasional sessions with asthma bought on more when he doesn't have his regular daily Singulair chewable tablets. They've run out. Our health coverage at my husband's new job doesn't start until next week. We are luckier than most folks. We bought a nebulizer when he was first diagnosed a couple of summers ago. We've got lot's of that medicine, because we don't use it that often. I get him to the bathroom (almost) and he finishes in the toilet. We cleaned him up and my husband sat with him while he sat breathing in the medicine from the nebulizer. I go back to his room to clean up the floor. He fell asleep in dad's arms and slept quietly the rest of the night.

I didn't sleep very long. I was awake working on this blog. I was excited because I was finally able to crack the code to posting a few favorite links. My husband kept saying," You should go to bed. He'll be up early and you'll be home with him again tomorrow by yourself. You need to get your rest too." I went to sleep at 2 o'clock in the morning.

Day 2- I should have gone to bed earlier!
My son was awake at 5:15. It was still dark. It was only Tuesday. He was very excited talking about going to school and asking for water because he was thirsty. I had to break it to him that he wasn't going to school again today. I asked him to talk softer since his sister and dad were still sleeping.

He wanted to watch television. More PBS. At 5:30, I had him on the nebulizer as a precaution while we watched "Learn To Read." We had a light breakfast by 7:30 and were continuing the subway project from the day before. We had begun making subway cars from the empty Kix cereal boxes. Then he pulled out his set of wooden train tracks and we began to make a strange oval formation but by the time we added a couple of tracks that switched we had a heart with a bridge. After pretending Thomas the Tank Engine goes to nowhere, I was ready for a nap. It was only 10 o'clock. He rested on his bed with the converted Kix subway cars next to him while watching Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers visited the music shop where an African band was rehearsing. We played our own instruments to their music. We have a few wooden pan flutes, gourds filled with seeds and a cowbell just to name a few. It was really funny watching Mr. Rogers showing off his African dance moves.

After Mr. Rodgers was over we watched the rain. My son enjoyed watching the city buses stop to load and unload passengers down below us on Amsterdam Avenue. He asked if we could go to the playground and I said " It's not a playground kind of day." His nose was running so much I was wiping it every 15 minutes.

I had some pasta with olive oil for lunch. Usually this is his favorite, but he hadn't asked for any food since breakfast. He had some crackers and requested an "I love Lucy" episode.

My husband bought the complete set on DVD a couple of months ago when I was beginning to panic about having made the choice to leave my job. These DVDs are pure magic. I've always loved that show and could count on it for laughing the blues away. The kids have made watching these episodes a nightly ritual. We have barred TV for the school year for his older sister (another story) and DVD's are usually a weekend treat. A bedtime story for the little one and an "I Love Lucy" every other night has become a ritual. We watch "Lucy's Schedule." That the one in which Ricky creates a schedule for Lucy when she makes them late for dinner with the boss. My son laughed himself silly watching Lucy get her teeth stuck in the wax apple. By the second viewing he decided he was tired and went to sleep on his own.

While he slept I made a split pea soup, a pan of cornbread and phone calls for the interviews for tomorrow nights radio show. The fever he had, came back again. I managed to give him a little fever reducer while he slept. The trick is to put the liquid in a drinking straw and put it in the kid's cheek side, stroking gently to get them to suck on the straw. It works. The fever went down.

When his sister came home, I was happy . She was the second shift. Dad wasn't coming home until 9 o'clock. He had parent teacher conferences with all the parents of all eight art classes he teaches. So it was left to me to me administer more medicine, including another visit with the nebulizer and more bathtub adventures while I listened to "The Majority Report."

We ended our day with a word game on the computer that makes his sister's brain work, a sticker book of new words and another subway story, "My Subway Ride." I actually love this book because it is a poem. We've read it so many times even he has some of the pages memorized.

I'm writing this at the end of day three. After three days of a fever off and on, cooking and reading and teaching my daughter how to create a blog and giving my son all of my attention, I look forward to leaving the house. It's after midnight Thanksgiving Day. I'm off to co-host the radio show. There are no smells of cooking in this apartment. We're going to my mom's. I plan to come make some salmon cakes and a sweet potato pie to take with us. Hope I can stay awake long enough for such grand ambitions in cooking.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

What's It Gonna Take America?

Tonight on C-Span:

House resolution 571

"Is it the sense of the House that deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

I'm sitting here watching C-span and listening to Rep- John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) talk about how the men and women in Congress are not speaking out for the soldiers and that is why he is speaking out. He has read a number of letters from vets or family members of vets sharing their heartache and grief of sons and daughters who lost arms and legs. Who can argue with those letters?

I don't understand the need to bring up a guy like Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) to talk about the morale of the troops and how he understands what it is like to not have their Congress support them. He's all chipper as he says something to the effect of lets provide them with "the best weapons they can fire, the best armed trucks" blah blah blah. When he was introduced the announcer made big flourishing remarks of his service to the country. Since he has experience being a big fighting man and all, he doesn't need to be debating in Congress. He ought to be on the next plane to go help out. Somebody make sure he has the proper gear!

Here is my rant list:

Stuff said tonight during the resolution debate I just couldn't believe:
"They (our troops) need to know Washington won't abandon them"
"Leaving weakens our resolve"
"We're making progress in Iraq"
"These people (the Iraqi's?) are thristing for something more"
"Our work is paying off"
"At least 46 of ( something something) regime members of 50 are incarcerated or dead"
"What would Iraq be like if the United States pulls out"
"Al-queda has no respect for innocent life"
"They are taking kids hostage"
"Al-queda is a world wide threat"
"Our troops are fighting for our freedom and protection"
"We must fight the bad guys over here and over there"
"Peaceniks started saying bad things about Vietnam"
"I pray that our troops and families can block this out"(in reference to the last comment)
"All of America salutes our troops"
"Iraqis are defying death just to vote!"
"This is a breakthrough for democracy" (about voting and the constition in Iraq)

Stuff I'm sick of hearing Bush supporters say:
"I'm sick of people talking bad about our President"
"There's hypocrisy on both sides"
"It's political"
"The democrat's should stop saying the President lied"
"We need to bring democracy to the middle east"
"This is the United States!"
"Lets bring democracy to the rest of the world, would that be so bad?" (This one from a caller voting on that call in line on c-span)
"I support the troops"
"We cannot leave before the job is done"

And with all that said, troops won't be coming home. The House goes back to business as usual. Why isn't someone setting a chair on fire in protest? Throwing a shoe? Screaming? Setting the Speakers chair on fire?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

LEAVE YOUR FIST AT THE DOOR-Revolutionary assaulted on Morehouse Campus

Mukasa (Willie Ricks) community activist and SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committe) member who coined the phrase “Black Power”, was assaulted on Morehouse College campus last Thursday by campus police.

Mukasa is a living legacy of the Black Power Movement and is often on the Morehouse campus invited by the instructors to lecture about his experience in the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement.

He was meeting with a group of students when he was approached by campus police. He was asked to go with them. The officers involved in the incident are police Chief Worthy and Officer Major C. Cox. The officers escorted Mukasa to their office where a struggle ensued. As a result he suffered injuries to his right bicep muscle. He was formally arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Mukasa spent 28 hours in jail.

He is presently being treated by a muscle and bone specialist. In receiving medical treatment he has not been able to make public the incident.

Imhotep Gary Byrd is a poet, musician and host of a radio show in New York on WLIB and WBAI. He has invited Mukasa to use his show as a forum for speaking out about the incident. Mukasa has been a former guest on Gary Byrd’s program on WLIB.

Mukasa has asked for support in maintaining his ability to teach young people about the struggle. He advocates that those who know the history, not be hindered in telling the whole story of Black Consciousness.

Dr. Leonard Jeffries was also included in the conversation with Mukasa and Gary Byrd. Dr. Leonard Jeffries is a Professor of Africana studies at City College of New York.

Dr. Jeffries can attest to the fact that although Morehouse is a historically black college, that those with the “fighting spirit” that Mukasa exemplifies are seen as a threat by those who do not respect higher levels of struggle.

He went on to say that Mukasa has not used the struggle to profit. He goes on campus as a living witness to the history of Black Consciousness. Dr Leonard Jeffries has experienced firsthand experience with this type of treatment on the campus

“We have many scholars in Afro-centric thought and study that have been banned from black campuses. A Molefi Ansanti and the like aren't welcome. "They (campus administration) don’t want the whole story of black struggle being told" he said. “Whoever controls the history controls the vision."

I talked with Mukasa by phone today. "I'm well respected by the teachers and students at Morehouse. I've been helpful in the writing of papers because of my knowledge and documentation of the Black Power Movement. Teachers invite me into the classroom and whether it's a formal invitation to speak for 5 minutes or 3 hours I always ablige." He said he often meets with students for lunch. He said they often crowd around him chanting "Black Power" "Revolution" and "Brother Africa". He said he thinks this makes the campus security angry.

Mukasa told me of his history with one of the arresting officers. He has known Officer Worthy since he was with the police force in Atlanta when the Civil Rights Movement and SNNC were becoming established. Mukasa said he that Officer Worthy was against the movement then and saw it as a threat. The police community also saw Mukasa as a threat. He told me the police had a shoot to kill order for him that still exists today. Mukasa said that Officer Worthy has the same attitude today when he sees him on campus as he did back then.

I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Jeffries later this evening about the incident at Morehouse involving Mukasa. "They don't like his free wielding spirit. As a result they have disrespected him as a human being."

He talked candidly about the academic and political stuggles on campus. He said, "Morehouse produces competent gentlemen. Not men one who will shake things up." Dr. Jeffries sited many occasions that suggested when one's social, political and world views are not consistent with the schools, one can be viewed as "rocking the boat."

He sited that, a few years after the death of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, his wife Dr. Rosalind Jeffries a historian, scholar and an aritist was invited to exhibit her collection entitled "The Black Stuggle." The works included portriats of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Dr. Rosalind was asked to take her work down because the Board of Trustees meeting was going to take place. " Morehouse didn't want to offend the funders," he said.

He has had his own awkward moment in which students raised their fist or Black Power salute during the pledge of allegiance and he himself only raised his fist midway because he didn't want to be at odds with his friend, the President of the college.

He said years ago a student was banned from the campus for organizing the women of Spellmen, the sister shcool to Morehouse. This same student accompanied Dr. Jeffries on a visit to the campus. Dr. Jeffries signed himself and the student in with the campus security. He was surprised to find that although the incident had occuried years before, the students name was still on a list of those banned from the campus.

The identity and words of the Morehouse man continues to be an issue on the campus. Dr. Jeffries also told me that about four years ago a valedictorian was not selected because the last valedictorian provided an African analysis. He said the student was literary rushed off the stage by the choir that was bought on and began to sing. Community protests caused the school to reinstate the valedictorian selection for the graduation. However, speeches are now reviewed before the graduation.

This was the first conversation I have ever had with Professor Jeffries and Mukasa. What I took away from our conversations was that the atmosphere on the campus is one in which the struggle between a maintaining the status quo mentality and a revolutionary one.

I called the President's office for comments about the situation between Mukasa and the campus police. The receptionist Sandra Bradley was very pleasant. I told her I was a freelance writer and a radio host. She took down the call letters of the station and said someone would get back to me. As of this posting no one has gotten back to me. I don't imagine that anyone will be calling.

Mukasa has asked that the public contact the President Walter E. Massey at Morehouse College at 404-215-2645. He is demanding that the two officers be fired.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I'M ON THE RADIO! Fighting for Social Justice and other stuff!

If you have been one of the faithful ( and I know there are at least five of you out there) who have visited this site wondering why I haven't posted since late October here's the story. During the week of my very last post I was presented with an excellent offer to co-host a radio show with my new friend and co-host Khamau Khalfani. Folks you never know what can happen when you find yourself volunteering. I was volunteering with all the other new generation activist, old hippies, and those commited to the cause down at Pacifica's WBAI here in New York during one of the never ending, but so necessary fund drives. WBAI is a community run radio station in the middle of the dial at 99.5 FM run on listener contributions only. Some of you may know that station if you listen to Democracy Now.

So anyway in walks this guy saying thank you to the volunteers for answering the phones to take those needed contributions.
I recognize his voice as the guy I've listened to at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. I walk out to get some of the free coffee before it's all gone and to introduce myself. I tell him the music he plays is like revisiting my parents home circa 1973. I'm transported to a time when the sounds of the Stylistics, Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack's "strumming my face with his fingers," played in our house like it was holy music. Khamau thanks me for my support. I go back into the phone room to debate with my like-minded-out-raged-at-the-government-friends. Ranting and debating is what we do when the phone calls get slow.

The next day I'm back for another round of free coffee, taking pledges and discussion. I see Kamau again. He invites me to have a chat. The conversation leads to me doing one of those promo spots for the station. The next thing I know I'm invited to intern on the show for a year. The rest I hope is history. My big break. Perhaps I too will be on the air begging the listeners in my best Amy Goodman imitation, " Please call, please show your support for the station of peace and justice"

The show is broadcast live on Wednesday into Thursday mornings from 2 am to 4 am. For those of you who can't stay up late or are listening to Gary Byrd's The Global Black Experience on WLIB on 1190 AM, you can download the show from the WBAI archives. You can hear me being completely nervous on the air in the first show.

I'm excited about this new venture. I will be learning to produce, write and co-host a radio show.

I'll be continuing to blog. Next blogs will cover the International Socialist Organization conference and the Bolivian Solidarity Event at Town Hall.