Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Sound of Music at the Laundramat

The 24-hour Laundromat on Ralph and Fulton was alive tonight with sound of music, literally. As it played on two television screens, people began humming little bits and pieces. First two men began humming and then singing "Favorite Things." as the film opened with that wonderful overture. I tried not to pay attention but began laughing when one of the singing men admitted to the other, "I can't help it, and we did this play when I was in high school. It sticks in your brain." They wished each other happy holiday and parted. I threw my clothes in a washer and tried to mind my business. The remaining singer continued folding and singing "Favorite Things." As I turned to put clothes in a second machine our eyes met and my sheepish grin was so obvious, that he said, " Are you laughing at me too? I see you," He said smiling. "Who can help it, " I said looking at Julie Andrews spinning on the mountain side as she sang, "The Hills Are Alive.” “It’s on every year." I said.

The singing spread faster than a spilled bottle of detergent. A little girl glued to the scene of Liesl and Rolf singing, "You are sixteen going on seventeen," went one better by imitating all the dance steps. She was pretty good. Another customer sat folding clothes singing with abandon, not caring if anyone heard her singing, "So Long Farewell." I swear I heard someone hit that high note at the end.

By the time the cast was singing "Do-Re-Mi", I couldn't help myself from joining the woman folding clothes beside me, for "Re, a drop of golden sun."

I know that no one's thought of it yet, but if this was planned right, "The Sound Of Music" Laundromat sing-a-long could really take off. The notice could read " Celebrate Edelweiss in Bed-Sty!" What d'ya think? It could happen. We could take the "Sound of Music" sing-a-long thing to a whole new level. It could become an annual event. Who's game?

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Earth Tilts 23.5

My son’s school celebrated the Winter Solstice last night. It was a welcome shaking of my spirit from the doldrums. Perhaps doldrums is too tame. I was feeling quit evil. Perhaps it’s teaching in a classroom for 6 and 1/2 hours a day with no windows. I was feeling so out of balance that I was tempted to kick the dangling shoe off the foot of a pain in the ass subway rider who annoyed me out of my seat. I stood waiting for my stop and contemplated how to snatch the shoe and toss it out the subway door when I reached my stop.

Forget your “Silent Night” and “Here comes Santa Claus.” That’s for amateurs. This is New York. I’m not talking a bunch of props and kids moving and singing like clones. This was original music and lyrics created by the music teacher DeVeor Rainey. Songs like “I’m Not Afraid” and “The Winter Blues” told of the distinct darkness of the winter, and the feelings that come along with it. These songs didn’t leave you mournful; they filled all of you with great possibilities.

Kids between the ages of 5 to 17 performed in an orchestra of violins, a percussion orchestra wearing t-shirts that read “Sparkling Rhythms” singing and dancing with such abandon that it was like a modern day Free to Be You and Me.

Some of the most cleaver moments of the show were the great transitions between performances. We chanted “The earth tilts 23.5!” Even my fourteen-year-old daughter was impressed that such a fact had been incorporated into a chant and that 5 and 6 year-olds knew it. “Look, their using real instruments” she said, as the kids played an assortment of xylophones to Djembe drums to bells and rain sticks.

The finale included another song created by the music director, (who had the best dance moves and conducting gestures I’d seen). It was a mix of drum and bugle corps, carnival calypso and New Orleans Funeral Parade.

About twenty kids danced carnival style to a call: "Me hands start a clapping” and the response: "Must be the music.” Before we knew it the audience was up and dancing. Parents and teachers were invited up to repeat the dance steps of the children and lead a conga line around the auditorium.

This is what a holiday is about. It’s someone singing a song and playing a drum, and the rest of us joining in.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Oceanhill Art Sanctuary is Open!

So the gallery is finally open. Thanks everybody for putting Ocean Hill on the map!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Paper Ballot

So I went to vote. I had a last minute panic when I reached for my wallet. Did I change my address on my New York State I.D.? Whew! I was safe. My new address was on the card. Were there any questions to respond to? Why hadn’t I gotten any voter information in the mail? In my old neighborhood you would have seen lots of Election Day activity. There would be volunteers passing out leaflets right up to the point where signs say no campaigning beyond this point. Was I going to be disappointed again?

The voting site was in the Senior Citizens Center on Halsey Street. It’s around the corner from where we live. My husband and I walked over. I strolled in feeling proud and smart wearing my “HATE stole her CHOICE” t-shirt. We are directed to the table for our district. Two women, each with a role book, greet us. We present our identification. I am so proud I remembered to change my address. One woman thinks my name is too long, and that it won’t be in the book. I trust it will. She reminds me of my great-grandmother’s best friend. Her hair is styled in a 1940’s pageboy, finger waves and all. She has a gold crown on one tooth. She can’t find my name.

The woman beside her looks for it. They find my husband’s name. He makes a joke about woman’s suffrage. I nudge his shoulder, wishing he would be quiet. All the poll workers are women. The second woman can’t find my name. I’m thinking, perhaps I’ll have to get in the car and drive to Harlem. My husband goes into the booth to vote. As soon as he comes out we’re going uptown. The woman at the table with the hair like Veronica Lake asks me if I want a paper ballot. I haven’t considered that. I take it. The women point out a table on the other side of the room. They tell me to use the standing cardboard to cover my ballot with it. “So no one will see,” they tell me.

I’ve never used a paper ballot. I am suspicious. I am given a ballot and an envelope. The envelope in which I am to place the ballot has directions all printed in red. I read everything carefully. A warning at the top says to check only one. I mark the box that identifies me as someone who has, recently moved. I begin to check the ballot. I check all the items and review them a few times. I seal the envelope.

I take it back to the table and expect to place it in a box. One of the women at the table says I can give the ballot to her. I hesitate. I don’t trust her. I don’t even see a ballot box. I give her my ballot. I stand there. I watch her write something on the envelope. I’m silently watching her. She’s gonna throw it away. I know it.

I am upset. Frustrated with myself that I haven’t obviously remembered to check the box when I changed my address on my State I.D. You know the box that asks if you are a registered voter. I guess if you move, you are no longer a “registered” voter.

As soon as I got home I filled out a change of address card for the board of elections. My husband found the form. He is redeemed. He even went with me to the mailbox with me at 8:30 PM after putting out the garbage.

I went to sleep listening to the returns on the radio. I am so glad that through the course of the day, the Democrats took the House, Donald Rumsfeld resigned, and the Democrats also took the Senate. I imagine that if the Democrats had only needed one vote to take the House, I would have been arrested. The headlines would have read:


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cure For Election Blues

This is the first time I have gotten up on an election day and felt discouraged. I am losing my faith in politics just like I have lost my faith in religion. I was having flash backs to the last two general elections. I am haunted by the memory of waking up on the floor of my living room, around 2 AM, to find that somehow things had changed drastically. Didn’t I go to sleep hearing ABC News announce Al Gore as the winner? I felt the pain of watching John Edwards’s concession speech. I was so sick over that crap; I didn’t go to work that day. I didn’t even call in. Worse, I recently complained to my councilmen about noise in my neighborhood and didn’t even get a response. This morning I was fed up with politics in this country, in this city, in my borough. Just frigg’in mad.

As with any illness, you’ve got to take something or do something to make yourself feel better. So I did several things. Here’s what I did.

1. I thought about Saddam Hussein. I'm glad he wasn’t hung on nation wide television last night as some last minute push for more folks to think the Republicans are tough on Terror. The fact that this didn’t happen gave me enough strength to go get a cup of tea. Well, I would have done that anyway. I exaggerate.

2. I read my emails. One misinformed Forward reminded Black voters that Affirmative Action was on the November Ballot. I sent a response telling the sender that Affirmative Action in on the ballot in Michigan, not New Jersey. I think I’m going to start deleting a lot of forwards. There is always some missing piece of information.

3. I signed CODEPINK’s Voter’s for Peace Pledge.

4. I’m reconsidering my vote for my Senator. Even though I’m all for the “take back the House” mantra I’ve been hearing on liberal radio all afternoon, the two party system is so limiting. Voting for her would take back the house. But take it back to what? She’s just like every one else who promises the moon during the campaign. Once folks are in office they begin to make compromises with those across the aisle to keep their place. Check out her website Make sure you click on that map of Iraq and watch her video on YouTube.

5. I read an interesting article in the NY Times “Weighing Other Hives Challengers”. Those are my choices? Where is our third party in this country and the folks who back it?

6. Read Greg Palast’s article “How They Stole the Mid-Term Election” which my faithful minister of information, Rich Flanders sent in an email. Don’t get discouraged read the article. It appears in the November 6th edition of The Guardian, UK.

7. I looked through The Civil Rights Movement, A Photographic History, 1954-68. If I couldn’t be inspired by that nothing would do it.

8. I decided to look up my political districts. I knew all my folks when I lived in Harlem, but in Brooklyn I’ve been clueless. I now know who’s who for my local and federal officials. I learned all their positions on various issues, and the committees on which they serve. I’ve placed all their names, office hours and contacts on my bulletin board in my office. This was actually a good exercise. I don’t want to be passive. I’m sick of not knowing. I want to check up on these folks on a regular basis. So expect to hear from me, Edolphus Towns (10th Congressional District of Brooklyn, U.S. House of Representatives) Velmmanette Montgomery (State Legislator), Darlene Mealy (City Council). Searching for the judges who are appointed
in this area is a task for another day.

9. I took a big dose of music. I listened to folk singer Hollis Watkins. I taped his lecture last summer while on the Freedom Summer 2006 tour with ACRES (American Civil Rights Education Services). Hollis Watkins teaches students freedom songs that he led during the freedom rides and jail time to inspire members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

10. Finally, I pulled out the t-shirt I'm going to wear to vote. It’s mustard yellow and has a picture of Denise McNair. Denise McNair was one of the little girls who died in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The shirt says, “Hate stole her choice, You still have yours.”

I think that last one was really the cure.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Tide is High

Lately I feel like I am drowning. I get caught up in the tide doing what I have to do, as opposed to what I want to do. The ability to keep my mind on the work of teaching is constantly competing with the amount of writing I actually do these days. The lives of the students are more interesting and often I have to remind myself that I am there to give instruction.

Now don’t get me wrong. Like anyone who has worked in a particular profession for a long time, there have been great moments and the not so great. Once a parent pulled a knife out of his pocket and threatened me for “laying a hand on his little girl”. That was definitely a low period. I was teaching in an after-school program that catered to children of homeless residents in a hotel in Brooklyn in the mid-eighties. I was thrown into a situation with very little instruction. My co-workers were mostly women who worked as teacher’s aides during the day and the after school later in the day. The woman I was paired with was the meanest witch I had ever encountered at 21 year-of-age. She was often seen yelling at 6-year-olds and shoving children she did not like. Well, she didn’t like any of them. The worst was the way she and other co-workers stood around gossiping about what they knew about the families. They would often point out the kids who had AIDS. I went home upset or crying on a regular basis. I was glad when they lost their grant (Is it any wonder?) and the program was closed.

There have been lighter moments. When I introduced the work of writer, J. California Cooper, to my current classes it was like listening to the sounds of satisfaction around a Thanksgiving dinner table. Or when the student who told me they hated math, especially Algebra, said, “It’s because of you that I finally get this.” The other day we were looking at a world map after reading about the elections in the Congo and a student realized that Madagascar is a real place and not just a movie. Even Timbuktu was a revelation.

While helping students discover and fulfill their capabilities, I can’t ignore my own. So I am pushing myself to remember to work on my own writing and the last few months of my internship on the radio show. If I don’t focus on the stuff that means a lot to me, I may as well let the tide take me under and drown.

Friday, November 03, 2006

At first I was devastated by the introductory weeks of my new job. I felt as if I had landed in Oz again and this time there was no tin man, scarecrow or lion to help me. There were however, these amazing students who were not in the business of saving anyone. Someone should have been in business of saving them. As with all travelers of long and winding roads, if I may borrow from the Beatles, some of us make may have a bumpy ride but we find our way. Others get caught on the roundabout.

I usually teach adults who come to class of their own free will. However, I now work in a program that sponsors public assistance participants. If the atmosphere of the office is one of disdain for these folks, that’s putting it mildly. There is an unseen, unknown hierarchy that only the veterans know about and understand. I’m still unclear. Depending on one’s position, you refer to the public assistance participant workers as “clients”. I have even heard some folks refer to them as “rug rats”. I am a teacher. Everyone who walks into the classroom with an attitude of I are ready to learn is always referred to as a student.

The students have the option to use two of their workdays for a variety of training options. They vary from computer classes in, nursing assistant, food service, a driver’s license or GED classes. Participants have 6 months to complete the program, which includes resume writing, job search, and by the grace of those with hiring power, a full-time job.

A majority of my students are women of color. With the exception of one or two they all have children and some women have grandchildren. A number of women have relationships with husbands or boyfriends who are imprisoned. I have spent three months getting to know them.

As in any classes that I have ever conducted, I always manage to find the students who are really there to learn. They are the one’s who stand out like stars over New York City. Only the best, the brightest and most determined twinkle. I have a total of about 6 stars out of the 17 who started with me in August. Another 6 of a previous instructors class that got passed on to me, completed the exam in September. It was wonderful to share in their success. Some people in the office acted so surprised. It was as if they had never seen people fulfill a dream.

* * * *

I know that many people believe what is said about people living on public assistance. The old myths and misconceptions of people living on welfare and driving Cadillac’s are still with us. Only expensive sneakers have replaced the Cadillac’s. I am a witness that really poor folks are just working folks. They are working for welfare checks.

Imagine working for $8.00 dollars an hour with two children, one school age and the other in daycare. Every day you drop them off and go to your job picking up garbage New Yorkers cast off. Imagine your school age child suddenly having behavioral issues in school, because his teacher, with whom he was so connected, went on maternity leave in October. The school calls you at work, and request you come pick up your child. You cannot leave. You need to fulfill your hours or lose pay. Your boss threatens to fire you. He reminds you that this is the third week in a row you had to leave early. He or she says this to you in a way that borders harassment. Imagine that 3 absences from work means not only dismissal from the program, but cancellation of your rent subsidy and food stamps. How would you cope? What would you do?

It has been difficult to teach in this capacity. The goal of the organization is job placement. Yet I hear lots of students complaining about job choices. I hear that job searches are sometimes limited to places like White Castles. I suppose White Castles is an okay place to work if you are fifteen and living at home with able bodied folks to take care of your basic needs. It is not a job for a single mom with three kids. A job like that can’t possibly qualify one as employed. A job like that can’t possibly mean you have made it.

I feel complicit in a system that doesn’t work. In my opinion the program sets the participants up for failure.
I wonder about the past success levels of such a program. I wonder which is more likely to lead one out of poverty. If many of us had a choice between work and education, which would we choose? If you have choices you are already fortunate. I am convinced that it is the lack of choices that separates us.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I've Been Here Before

Today I got an email from a friend.

A paragraph read: “How is your work going? Why haven't you written a new blog since August 9th? Don't let that shit hole stop your momentum, woman.”

I feel I owe her, and myself, some kind of explanation.

I went back to work full-time. I started a week before my last published blog. I say "published" because a number of items sit in the draft box. But, back to our story. I’m a GED instructor for the city. I won’t care to mention the agency. I’ll just say it’s one that was in the headlines about a month ago for a lawsuit by the employees. Do your homework, folks.

The first couple of weeks were not bad. I was told to spend the first couple of weeks preparing lesson plans. Anyone who has taught adult education knows that it is foolish to start creating lesson plans until you meet and assess the needs of the students. I planned anyway, figuring I could stick to icebreaker activities, journal writing exercises, and looking through the limited materials. It was comfortable. I came in, sat at a desk, wrote plans, and looked at some student folders.

I have two supervisors. I have more contact with one than the other. I soon found that neither one of these supervisors has a background in either secondary, or primary education. The ironic thing is that the immediate supervisors title is "Education Analyst." There are three Education Analysts on staff. I would later find out that none of them have ever taught in a classroom, much less a GED class. I also realize that the goal of this city agency is to get clients off public assistance and into employment. The Education Analysts work with job developers and make contacts with possible employers for job placement. Apparently none of the Education Analysts or Job Developers know that the best shot of getting a job in this day and age is by obtaining a high school diploma. But what do I know? I’m just the teacher. These folks push work assignments and job placement so they can demonstrate a high rate of dropping folks off the welfare rolls and into jobs.

My only source of support was the previous instructor who would be teaching at another site. Eventually a third instructor would be hired. Each would prove to be extremely valuable in their preparation of materials, curricula, lesson plans and experience.

Things started to go downhill at about the third week or so. In the first month I had my schedule changed from teaching two sections to teaching three. The first group was a GED class. I was assigned to instruct 15-17 students in, not a classroom, but a conference room that seats 10 comfortably. There was no curriculum. I would create that. No math assessment had been done, so I had people in a GED class who should have been able to multiply but could not, and students in a pre-GED class who should have been able to subtract but had trouble.

I had my lunch cut to a half an hour, even though on my timecard I am told to write an hour. I was chewed out for taking a 15 minute break when my students took a break. I was told: "The students are on break, you are not on break." I was reprimanded for wearing jeans on a Friday. Then reprimanded for going to the cleaners during lunch to retrieve a pair of slacks to put on as show of good faith that I could follow the dress code. All of the chewing out happened on the same day.

I am not discouraged by any of this. I have a plan.

You’ll have to read the next entry to find out what it is.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When Bombs Blast Through Our Doors, and Rockets Rain Down

My husband purchased a new DVD release today. Half way through it I had to leave the room. There were hostages. There were police. There were bank robbers. The moment the hostages were released, they were fired upon. It was a movie I could not continue to watch. I'm sick of guns. I'm sick of violence. I'm sick of movies, music, games and stories filled with guns and blood. There is so much of it in the real world. Who needs blood letting for relaxation?

One day last week I was leaving for work. I was walking towards the train station with my son. The station is two blocks away. When we approached the street where the elevated J train runs down Broadway, I heard a popping sound. The woman walking a few feet before me stopped walking. From where I stood holding the hand of my five-year-old, two men went running down Broadway in front of us in the direction of the subway. The woman in the front of us continued in that direction. I guess she thought it was safe to continue. I turned and headed home. I found it hard to explain to my son what I was thinking. I told him it wasn’t safe. I asked my husband for a ride to work that morning.

I can't bear the pop of a gun. I wonder who is on the receiving end. I wonder about those on the receiving end of guns in Bedford Stuyvesant-Brooklyn, Manhattan, New Jersey, and the so-called nice places like Long Island and Connecticut. I wonder about those who do the shooting. I worry about bombs and rockets landing in Lebanon, Beirut and Palestine. I wonder about those who pay for the bombs, rockets and guns. I wonder why some of us can keep going on about our business. I suppose some of us would only begin to pay attention to the suffering that goes on when groups of armed folks show up at our door or bombs blast through our windows and rockets rain down on our roofs.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Can't Sleep-Beirut is Burning

I am not able to sleep. It is the first time in a long time that I have awakened and not able to fall back into dreams, nightmares or nothingness. Perhaps it is my writing spirit rising. This is my first blog in a long time. I have been writing, just not on this blog.

I went on a ten-day tour of the south in the United States. It was a Freedom Ride- a study tour of the Civil Rights Movement. I came home last Sunday evening. I have slept off and on everyday since then. The fact that I am awake at 3:59 in the morning must mean that I have finally gotten my rhythm back.

My mind is so busy that my body won't permit sleep. Beirut is burning. Should I be ashamed to say I am rooting for Hezbollah? They originally were a militia group set up in South Lebanon to protect the community of Shiites on the boarder of Lebanon and Israel. They have since provided educational and medical services. They have seats in Lebanon’s Parliament. It is also important to note that the national army of Lebanon is fighting alongside Hezbollah. It has been helpful to have conversations about Hezbollah with the host of Live From Palestine on the radio show. It is unsettling to say the least each week to put those phone calls through to Palestine and wonder if you can’t reach your guest because they are dead. I have respect for what they have been to the people of Lebanon. They are no different from the Black Panther Party. Did you know the Black Panther Party started the free lunch program?

I am thinking about the people in Congo who are voting in democratic elections, the first in forty years. I am thinking about how while I sit here writing people are already lining up at the poles to vote. I am thinking about how some of the voters will have walked many miles to get to their the polls. I am more worried about these things than the bills waiting on the radiator in my living room. Should I be?

I am concerned about the fate of my neighbor who is renting his apartment in the building next to me. A For Sale sign went up in front of their building on Friday morning. By late afternoon someone had taken the sign down and put it across the street in front of an unoccupied building. I don’t remember seeing the sign at all since then. This is Bedford Stuyvesant. A For Sale sign in front of a building folks have called home for thirty years is a threat. One has to take drastic measures.

For ten days I have been learning at the feet of the people who helped change the world I came into. I walked the paths of their blood, sweat, tears and blood. Yes, there was lots of blood. Their fight created the push for desegregation, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They made change using the strategy of non-violence.

When the tour began Israel crossed into Lebanon claiming retaliation for two kidnapped soldiers, I was making a commitment to nonviolence. I was rediscovering Dr. King’s thoughts put into action. I stood on the ground where he lost his fight, where Medgar Evers was gunned down as he carried sweatshirts that read “Jim Crow Must Go”, met the man who integrated “Ole Miss” and 95 year-old Amelia Boynton Robinson. She has been fighting to remind America, and us that we are not citizens too, we are citizens. Today she is assisting a group of citizens in the fight to reclaim their 1800 acres of land in Harris Neck, Georgia. I returned to a hotel room every night thinking about the conversations, freedom songs, lectures I had had during the day and watched Americans being evacuated from Lebanon on CNN. I worried about our radio show contacts and their friends and families. I worried about the people who can’t get out. I worry about those who have nowhere to go.

The trip was timely. I know these lessons I’ve learned will be put to use, probably sooner than I think. I’ll write more about the trip in upcoming post.

If you are still awake and need to read more, I suggest a visit to

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Starting A Garden

I’m starting a garden. For two weeks I’ve been cleaning up the backyard of our new house. There were fallen leaves and some trash left from when the house was being renovated. I found a couple of glass marbels, broken ceramic pieces, and rusted tools. I have to admit I hated being in the yard with my dad as a kid. His commands often disturbed my sister and I from our cocoons of disco music, television and me from my writing. I hated doing the task of edging up the lawn with some tool I still can’t even name. My garden will be different. Less sterile. I envision a rock garden.

The last occupants put up a plastic green fence over a metal fence that separated the neighbors yard to the left. Perhaps it gave them a sense of privacy. I took it down. The ugly green plastic was hiding a lovely vine of ivy. It makes for a natural fence and almost completely covers the metal fence. Honeysuckle is also growing above the ivy. A month ago trees from the neighboring yard on the right, were budding purple flowers that I thought were a type of lilac without the scent. A friend told me it was wisteria.

A rock garden makes sense to me. The rocks will be slate and stacked; they can be wonderful places to sit. They will never rust. A rock garden would also be beautiful in the winter. A place that can be enjoyed all year long.

I also image growing hostas, those beautiful leaf plants that grow in varieties of blue, green, white and gold leaves. The wonderful thing about these plants is that they can grow in pots that can be placed in the front of the house as well. They will beautify the steps leading to the main entrance and inside the gated area that leads to the basement.

Growing vegetables is another part of the vision. My great grandmother used to grow collard greens and tomatoes. Growing them means I can begin the process of becoming sustainable.

This is just the beginning of my green thumb. I haven't always had luck with growing and maintaining plants. I have one now to transfer outdoors. I have been saving seeds. An avocado seed, some apple seeds, and red bell pepper seeds. I wonder if they will actually produce anything.

A compost pile is brewing in my kitchen. I found a website that suggested using cartons to start a simple compost. I discovered this morning that I should get a better container. A friend of mine sent me an email last night about a container I can buy at the Brooklyn Botaninical Gardens for just 20 dollars. His suggestion arrived just in time. I don’t like fruit flies with my morning tea!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Response to a question.

This morning I couldn't help digging through boxes of unpacked books so I could respond to a question on a bulletin board discussion. This was the question:

Webster's New World Pocket Dictionary Second Edition 1991
defines FEMINISM as: Movement to win equal rights for women

From your understanding please give me your definition of the word "Feminism"

Is it wrong to be a "feminist?"

By definition, since the word is for human (women's) rights, is it possible for a man to be a "feminist?"

Why do some men/women make the word sound so negative as if being a "feminist" is like being against MEN?

What do you think guys?

Here is my response, thanks to bell hooks.

People don't read.

Please get a copy of bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody : passionate politics. Her introduction begins:

Everywhere I go I proudly tell folks who want to know who I am and what I do that I am a writer, feminist theorist, a cultural critic. I tell them I write about movies and popular culture, analyzing the message in the medium. Most people find this exciting and want to know more. Everyone goes to the movies, watches television, glances through magazines and everyone has thoughts about the messages they receive, about the images they look at. It is easy for the diverse public I encounter to understand what I do as a cultural critic, to understand my passion for writing (lots of folks want to write, and do). But
feminist theory- that's the place where the questions stop. Instead I tend to hear all about the evil of feminism and the bad feminist: how "they" hate men; how "they" want to go against nature- and god; how "they" are all lesbians; how they are taking all the jobs and making the world hard for white men, who do not stand a chance.

When I ask these same folks about the feminist books or magazines they have read, when I ask them about the feminist talks they have heard, about the feminist activities they know, they respond by letting me know that everything they know about feminism has come into their lives thirdhand, that they really have not come close to enough feminist movement to know what really happens, what it's really about. Mostly they think feminism is a bunch of angry women who want to be like men. They do not even think about feminism as being about rights- about women gaining equal rights. When I talk about the feminism I know- up close and personal-they willingly listen, although when our conversations end . . ."

And I'll stop there. Get the book. Get many books, go to lectures, go to meetings- there are lots of groups around.

How can feminism be wrong? How can feminism not be for everybody? When women have equal rights, equal pay for equal work, housing and equal opportunities to purchase property, equal opportunities for health care and education everybody benefits. It is the woman who cares for the family and the earth. We have to continue to fight to take care of ourselves, and our communities. Our communities include everyone.

Suggested readiing:

Women, Race and Class- Angela Y. Davis
When and Where I Enter-Paula Giddings
Ain't I a woman-bell hooks
We Real Cool: Black Man and Masculinity-bell hooks
Feminism and the Women's Movement-Barbara Ryan
Women and the Politics of Empowerment-edited by Ann Bookman and Sandra Morgen
In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens-Alice Walker

Happy Reading, Happy growing!

I end my response there. If you think I have lots of time on my hands, I don't. I'm reading tonight at Poets House. I should be practicing. I should be cleaning my house so that during the reading I'm not thinking about my sitter looking at my son's underwear on the floor in our bathroom. I am just very passionate about feminism.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Can You Say Busy?

Five Reasons I Have Not Posted:

We moved from Harlem to the People's Republic of Brooklyn. We didn't just move, we bought property. It’s a three family brick in Bedford-Stuyvesant. I can sing all the songs from Rent and no one will hear me. I am a homeowner.

I have been writing poetry. I have been learning poetic forms. I know what a villanelle is. I have written a sonnet. I have read and met Quincy Troupe. I belong to a community of writers. We will be reading at Poets House this Wednesday. I am a Poet.

I have a new job. I will start in July. I will work for the city. I am a poet who owns a home and must meet mortgage.

We'll I actually don't have five reasons; it just sounded good as a working title. I have to get back to the poetry.

Life is good. I have other reasons life is good that are just too personal for this blog.

Friday, March 17, 2006

This Writer's Life

I've been reading a lot these past two months. I've read Stephen King’s book "On Writing", revisited bell hooks "Remembered Rapture - the Writer at Work", "Out of the Dust" by Karen Hesse and "On Our Backs- Volume II". It has been helpful to read these books together. At first glance you may wonder what does "On Our Backs- Volume II" erotic fiction have to do with "Out of the Dust", a book about the dust bowl of the 1930's. They span a variety of approaches, from essay to memoir to prose verse and the art of erotica. Eating requires a balanced diet and so does reading.

In Stephen King's work, I enjoyed the first section of the book in which he chats about growing up with an imagination against a working class background. He includes the time he worked at a mill while finishing high school and saving money for college. I enjoyed getting a look into this writer’s head. Though I don't consider myself a big fan of his work, I think he has a great imagination. I took a few things from his work. One is the idea that he takes one small incident, a situation or a conversation one hears in a crowd and spins it. He advises the reader to pay attention to how real people behave. He says that one must tell the truth if the dialogue is to express how people act and speak in very ordinary situations. I loved reading the On Our Backs stories and picking up on what people really say when they are engaging in sex. It was the best example of what King says about telling the truth.

By the time I reviewed bell hooks chapters on writing "Class and the Politics of Writing" I was able to understand an issue I've been struggling with for quite sometime. The idea of "fear of disclosure" has been a big factor as to why I have not put out the stories that I want to write. In my family, and I'm talking my side of the family, my mother has not always been my biggest fan. I've battled with this one for a long time. I guess this is why I've stuck to articles in this blog that are pretty much commentary on social injustice which is a big interest of mine. I have not always made the personal political, as my feminist teachings have argued. If the personal is political the fact that topics I've dealt with in the past have been met with my mom’s only two responses “how dare you” or (silence) has been a big reason for not writing lots of stuff that are so revealing. But more and more I'm drawn to the subjects that have made life for me very interesting these days. Bell hooks talks about getting intimate with one’s thoughts.

Another thing that King talks about is having an office and when one writes to close the door. While at the moment I don't have a door to close, in a few weeks I will. As a mom, I find this one somewhat hard to imagine. While I have dreamed of having a room of my own, if I may borrow from Wolfe, I can't imagine quite closing the door. Now while Stephen King’s children are grown and moved out, I have a 13 year old and a 4 year old who will turn 5 next month. The youngster still manages to creep into our bed every night. Almost every evening one of us is forced out of the bed for lack of space. What usually does it is his arm swinging over onto my throat or his laying on top of the covers causing me or my spouse to be pinned under a section of sheets like a mummy or having to roll the intruder off of the blankets so one of our asses isn't sticking out in the chill.

I imagine this room full of quiet sunlight. My desk will face the window overlooking my new backyard. Well actually it’s a neighbor’s backyard but there are quite a few trees to gaze upon. I will write at a simple desk bought from a local guy selling used goods. I will purchase a typewriter, like the one I first started writing on years ago. It will be the backup for my laptop. There will be an altar with photos of Zora Neale Hurston and Audre Lorde to honor and seek advice. A foot of mudcloth will hang on the wall, purchased at the African Mart on 116th and Malcolm X Boulevard and think of my beloved Harlem in my new home in Brooklyn.

I know my children will be knocking on that door. They can't help it. My children bother me. They don't always bother their dad with stuff like, " I can't find my truck!" or "Did you wash my sweater?"

I've had the luxury of writing for 6 months. Every morning, I send family off to school and work. If I start writing as soon as everyone leaves, I can give myself 4 to 5 hours of writing. Writing this way means leaving everything else until later. I’ve gotten pretty good at this. This time is my time; to develop ideas, write and rewrite, think, research, write some more. Sometimes the writing gets good as soon as I should be stopping. Stephen King talks about interrupting the writing and using that interruption as a means to have something to go back to. Approaching the work this way helps. I know I will go back to it at the end of the day.

In order to write, I have to be organized. I prepare a couple of meals at one time. This gives me a few days with no cooking at all. I try to keep the laundry at a minimum of two loads and give this task to my daughter. I teach two evenings a week, so I use one day to plan lessons for two weeks of classes. I also have a radio show I participate in once a week and the poetry class to read and write for. I can do all this because I’ve learned to plan.

Wednesday is tricky. I have learned to reverse this day. I don’t do any household chores. I write less. I sleep for 4 hours during the day. I heat up a meal previously prepared for dinner. I leave at 5:30 in the evening for the poetry class and the radio show at 2 am Thursday morning and I'm home and in bed by 7 o’clock. Later that afternoon I have lunch with a friend for encouragement and I'm teaching class by the evening.

My husband is my anchor in all this. We have adjusted the work schedule in order to allow me time to write. A few years ago I worked full-time in order that he may complete his undergraduate degree. Now he does the full-time. I’ve got this window to make something happen with my writing. I know I’ll be going back to a full time schedule of working in a few months. But I’ve got a rhythm now. I think I can keep this beat going no matter what happens next.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Cave Canem Called

Hard work has paid off. I was selected to participate in the Cave Canem Spring 2006 Workshop at Poets House. It is the first congratulations letter I've received in a long time. I've been sending out submissions of all kinds. Articles, poems, proposals of what I thought were great ideas. I get many rejections or no response at all.

So getting that email was sweet.

I thank all the poets and writers who have heard me. Here are a few.

Thank you Audre Lorde. The only reason I went to Hunter College is because you were on staff. I wrote a note to you and slipped it under your office door. It was a pitiful note begging to get into one of your classes. I went by the office for a week looking for you. You were on sabbatical. You were also beginning your battle with cancer. When you came to Hunter to be honored by the Poder Collective, I missed the event. I was always one step away. The closest I ever got was when I met your daughter who blessed me with kind words after a reading. I was always one step away. Thank you for leaving your words and instructions. Your words have made a path for me.

Thank you Zora Neale Hurston. You made me believe I was not crazy for wanting to remember my Geechie folk, their language and their stories. Your picture is on the altar beside a great company of writers. Your picture is beside my great-grandfather's cigarette case and my great-grandmother's Conch Shells. Because of you I've learned to love myself best, when I'm laughing.

Thank you Ann Petry. Your novel, The Street spoke to me through the wind on 116th street as I tried to make sense of a difficult time. Your words jumped right off of the page and surrounded me like a quilt. I struggled between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd because your words gave me the courage to do it.

Thank you James Baldwin. Your work is a reminder that there is no limit of what I can do with words. You remind me to look at the world and tell it what I really think about it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Written In Blood

Octavia Butler's death was sudden. When I heard the announcement, I began to cry.

I am overwhelmed. Francis Newton, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King and Octavia E. Butler. I have a sense of foreboding. I have a feeling of despair. It is a feeling that I am struggling to call by name. I am not sure what it is. Perhaps I don’t know enough about transition from life to death. I know that our body is the house the where the spirit dwells for an unknown time. And who cares about my sadness or confusion? Instead of ringing my hands (covering mirrors and stopping clocks) I should honor the life of these women who know struggle first hand. They know loneliness, jail, fighting to get your words heard and printed and distributed in a world where people are still surprised by your presence. Yesterday I walked into a staff meeting at my new job (I am not known by many of the teachers) and a woman sitting beside me said, “Excuse me who are you?” I was the only person black and female around the table. Lord God from Zion! Had I been cleaning the floor, I would have been ignored all together!

We’re losing so many women, some of whom we can name, and many more we can’t. Many women are being stolen from us daily. Francis Newton was taken away from us by lethal injection. When we are not being stolen by bullets, we are taken by cancer, diabetes, heart failure, starvation, eating disorders, AIDS, domestic violence and war.

We are barely breathing.

Some of us are being thrown away. Where are all of the displaced women of the Gulf Region? Some are in New York, others are in Houston and I even hear that others are in Oregon and Utah. Those of us who don't speak English live just below the radar of the Minute Men and anyone else who thinks they are saving the country from terrorism or keeping “those people” from taking our jobs.

How many women are locked away in prisons or waiting on death row? Waiting in Guantanmo? Does anyone known if there are women detained in Guantanamo Bay? How many are picking through rubble in Pakistan, hiding in their homes between raids and bombs in Iraq or sitting in a boat offshore in Africa to avoid being raped?

The history of Women has been written in blood, but fret not! I'm willing and able to continue the struggle.

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish.
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Thomas Moore

Monday, February 27, 2006

All That You Touch, You Change-Octavia E. Butler

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
Is Change.

These are the opening words to Octavia E. Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower. They were the words that pulled me into the fantastic tale of fear, hopelessness and where one girl’s ability to empathize, could lead to her own demise.

Parable of the Sower was the first book I had ever read by the writer. I found it along with all of the extra copies of books on Publishers Group West/ Seven Stories Press shelves. I loved reading and it was easy to snatch up any of the two-dozen or so extra copies of novels published and distributed in the office where I worked as a Sales Assistant.

This book is not for the weak. It is also not a book to read before turning in. In the first few chapters we meet the narrator who is a teenager in the year 2024 in a world where the price of water cost more than gasoline, people ride shotgun on bicycles in groups for safety and a drug called pyro makes gangs of growing addicts crazy enough to set everything and everyone on fire. It is a dystopia about the day when the walled community of struggling Californians is broken into by a world gone mad. The world on the outside is one that so close to the real world that I’ve taken notes from it on survival skills.

This morning I awoke to hear the news that Octava E. Butler died this weekend. The details of the cause of her death were not abundant on Democracy Now. I was shattered upon hearing that another sister, someone I admired and who’s work I enjoyed has gone on. She was a pioneer in the field of speculative fiction being one of the only Black and female writers to journey into far away places where race, gender, class and politics were the vines running through her stories. She led me to read other stories like The Handmaiden’s Tale and The Gilda Stories.

I met her once. I had taken a week off from work to attend the Yari *Yari Pamberi International Conference on Black Women Writers in 2004. She was talking with Jewelle Gomez near the stack of books I was grazing over. I stood a little ways from them not wanting to intrude and not waiting to ask for an autograph, but just giving all the body language that I wanted to talk with them. They were disguising the lack of control over the cover or their books. I heard Octavia say “It’s so hard to find a good illustrator these days.” I said hello and gave each of the ladies a booklet. “If you are looking for an illustrator the contact information is on the back.” I told them the poetry was mine, but that the illustrator was my husband. They flipped through the book. They were interested in the work. They complimented his work. I was just pleased to be invited into their warm air. We exchanged other pleasantries. Jewelle Gomez complimented me on my glasses. We exchanged other pleasantries and went our separate ways. I told myself to hang on to that air.

I called my husband later to say thanks again. I had asked him to make up some cards. Instead he made mini samples of the book we were working on. The book contained 6 illustrated poems.

I imagine our small booklet among her things. I remember the sound of her voice. Her name is well chosen. For it is the deep octave of her voice that I will hear in my ear. It encourages me to continue to do what I love.

I got a call from Cave Canem today. Cave Canem offers workshops to black poets. It is the chance to study with accomplished African American poets and teachers. The person calling wanted to know which workshop I was applying for. I was impressed that someone called to ask me a question. Maybe my work was worthy of a phone call.

I don’t want to add another photo to my alter of writers and poets and fighters, but if I have to, Octavia you're in good company.

*Yari Yari means “the future” in Kuranko language of Sierra Leone. Pamberi is “forward” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe

Friday, February 03, 2006

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?

I couldn't watch the President's address the other night. I couldn't even vent my anger and frustration about the situation. I was on the subway passing 42nd and Times Square with no energy to go join the World Can't Wait/Drive Out the Bush Regime event. I'd spent 3 hours working with adult students some of whom were really struggling with a reading and comprehension exercise. I was asking myself, Who were their teachers before? What was destroyed in ________________ who sits at the back of the room with the blank stare. Why does he not seem to be connecting to what we're talking about. Not even when were talking about a topic he bought up. Why is it that he seems not to have the words to express himself?

So, while Bush rattled on about freedoms on the march/move or whatever, I watched two homeless black men on the subway each in his own world talking to both the imaginary and the real. They were probably about my father's age. My father, the last of the union men, the last of the factory men has managed by some strange twist of fate and a (lawsuit or two) to have worked at the same company for about 38 years. He will retire in about a year or so. I worry about the two men all the way home. When I arrive at my stop, I wave to the one man remaining in the car. He doesn't notice me. He is busy grooming his hair and rubbing his hands over his face. His bare ashen ankles like sugar cane stalks, stretch from a pair of over sized sneakers. His sneakers are the last things I see as the doors close.

These men are not figments of my imagination. They look like men I've seen before. As a child they were the men who hung out at the news stand in my small town of Freehold, New Jersey. But these men have lost something. Family, dignity, and the ability to connect with a world that has continued to ignore and leave them behind.

With Detroit in trouble, the spotlight on poor regulations in the mining industry (and no journalist to tell the story) and the people who have fought the good fight exiting daily I can only see times getting even tougher for the "mythical little man."

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I was listening to the radio when I heard the news that Coretta Scott King had passed away. I found it ironic that the two most recent selections for the Supreme Court would become official on the same day of her transition. The President's address was also scheduled for later that evening. I couldn’t help but wonder what is happening in the universe and why?

What could I do to stem the tide of what might be coming? I made a phone call. I called the organization ACRES. ACRES is for American Civil Rights Education Services. It is a leadership program located in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn. The organization teaches the civil rights era history by using those who were there as master teachers. The goal of the organization is to eventually have a Civil Rights curricula everywhere. The program services students, teachers and parents. My daughter was excited about the program having heard the student alumni give testimony about their experience at a Martin Luther King Service. As of this writing she is scheduled to participate in the next term. The first meeting with the other participants will be this Saturday.

Another photo of a veteran of struggle is added to my alter.

They are leaving the earth so quickly these days. I don’t know my part in all of this. I do know it is absolutely necessary to get the next generation ready and those after. My four-year-old had a homework assignment tonight. He was to practice saying the name “Coretta Scott King”.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dairy of a Last Chance Effort-Part 2

I had to leave the house this afternoon to go attend to an errand. I took my cellphone with me. If I have to listen to other people talk about stupid stuff on their cell phones, I can certainly continue calling Senators. The number is toll free.

2:30 p.m.
Byron L. Dogan ( D-ND)

When I ask the question, a representative from his office tells me he will oppose. I ask for clarification and she lets me know he will oppose the filibuster. "Why? I mean how will he vote on Alito?" "I don't know how he will vote." She says. I don't know what else to say. I'm standing near at the corner of Lafayette Street waiting for the light to change. I keep asking myself what is the use.

2:33 p.m.

I dial the toll free number and it just rings. Perhaps the Capital has grown weary of me and the phone calling "we-still-believe-bunch."

2:35 p.m.
My battery is getting real low. I wish I had bought the spare battery with me.

I’m walking down Broadway resisting the temptation to scream. When I get to the corner of Reade and Broadway, a store clerk is on a megaphone trying to get customers to come in. "$7.99, $5.99 come in and check it out!" Right after this nauseating plea, a man starts " Power ball! Get you Power ball tickets!" How do you wake people from the *^%$#@&* sleep they are in and get them to stop shopping from one stinking minute!

I cross the street to avoid some guy who saw me when I walked past him before. "Hey gorgeous" I say hello with my mind on my business and the phone calls I will make. "Hey, you ain't got time to build?" "What does that mean?" I'm usually very dismissive of this kind of approach. "Build, talk" "No I don't have time." In my head I'm really angry. "Build what? What the *#%#@! Do I look like? Did you call your Senator today? Did you help some old lady with her bag of groceries up the steps of her five-story-walk-up? Did you clean up the trash someone left in front of your building? Did you help some homeless, hungry person by passing up on something you wanted for yourself and get them a cup coffee or piece of bread? Did you give them the dollar they asked for without questioning what they wanted it for? Don't get me started!

When I get home I check my email. An email from Rich says, "Give it your all!!!"

At the laundry mat (yes again!) I'm still making calls. I skip down the list a bit.

6:02 p.m.
Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT)

I still have images of him as running mate to Al Gore all those years ago. The switchboard connects me to his office. I get the voicemail. After the pleasantries of the "If you have an important message or comment, “ I’m told that the voicemail is full.

6:04 p.m.
Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI)

I take some time preparing exactly what I'm going to say. I write a little script on the side. The operator picks up. I ask for the senator. The operator corrects my pronunciation of his name, but the correction isn't as hares or demeaning as it was from the woman in Senator Landrieu's office. The voicemail come on. He is gone for the day. I leave another frustrated message. "A "No" for Alit is not enough! Filibuster!"

Is anyone really listening?

6:09 p.m.
Barrack Bema (D-IL)

I'm thinking about how Barrack Bema supported Condoleezza Rice's nomination for Secretary of State. I try to ignore my disappointment over that. I try to reassure myself that the only black Senator to date, only the third since Reconstruction has to listen. I start talking real fast when I get to that voicemail. " We love you here in Harlem. Please vote no for Alit and consider the filibuster. Think about out best interest." I continue with this diatribe on "Our founding father's creation of a system with checks and balances. Our system is like no other in the world. We need our Congress and Judicial system to keep this president in check." I think I got a bit nervous thinking I would run out of time. I think I said something about my kids and keeping the world with a three-branch system for their sake. I think I said something about our President going "Amuck." I was on a cell phone. I'm sure those who listen got it all on tape.

My daughter is saying something to me. " Can I make a call?" I'm delighted. It seems louder in the laundry mat. All the calls I've made have the sound of Dominican Bachata is playing over the sound system as I plead my case. "Who do you want to call?" I'm looking over the list of senator’s names and numbers. "No mom I don't want to call them, I want to call ____________” This is a boy she has a crush on. Or likes. Or is talking to. This has been going on for two weeks. I tell her not unless Thomas calls his Senator. I tell her, later. "This is important. Go Check the washing machines," Tomorrow I will call the ACRES program, that invited her to join them in a course on Civil Rights taught by those who were there.

Last Call;
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

I'm compelled to call him. His voicemail isn't full. I start explaining that I live in New York, but grew up in New Jersey. My parents still live there. I ask him to go for the filibuster.

Later this evening:

I don't know what to do. Do I go to the protest in Times Square tomorrow? At least I will be among the angry. I want to make some noise in the street, just to blow off steam. In the meantime, I listen to Mike Malloy.

I check my email: There must be lots of people organizing on the Sojournors website. They are organizing State of the Union watch parties in states all over the United States as a way to build community and promote discussion.

I don't know what I will do. I will not be a spectator. This is no time to feel bad, bitch or complain. It's time to continue working on the grassroots level. My daughter says I should run for mayor. I laugh at this. But right now, I feel like why not me?

If you can't sit and do nothing: A website that gives the dates for all the Primary and General Election days for 2006.

Stuff to Read: Questions That No One Bothered to Ask Americans About Sam Alito roberts01292006- "Blind Ignorance" by Paul Craig Roberts

Monday, January 30, 2006

888-355-3588/888-818-6641-SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY!

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

An excert from Al Gore's speech "US Constitution In Grave Danger" Monday January 16, 2006, Constitution Hall, Washington

I still believe in the hope of this country. It is hard at times, but I can't stop because things look bleak.

I received an email last night sent to me by a good friend who keeps me in touch with all kinds of issues about the state of our American government. It began,

The list below is invaluable for efficiently sending out faxed letters or making phone calls to senators' LOCAL offices where the fax machines are not yet jammed. I have only found two, thus far, which are not answering. While most of you can send faxes directly from your PCs, I am sending mine manually. Although this process is a bit time-consuming, it's the least I can do. I expect to have "touched" every senator in some form [some more than once] by Monday morning. I hope you will join me. We only have a few hours left....

It continues with a message from my good friend. He says,

"We need to stop George Bush from getting 60 Senators to end the filibuster on Monday at 4:30 p.m. That means we must convince 41 Senators to either support a filibuster or stay away from the Senate on Monday, preferably by visiting maimed soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital."

Have you been keeping up with the decision on Alito? Do you even know what is going on with Alito, or who he is? I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't know what I'm talking about. Our media has been busy telling you about absolutely nothing that maters. So here is the basic deal. Alito is the latest Supreme Court nominee selected by the President. Judge Alito believes in the Unitarian executive doctrine which basically says the president has the power to say who can be in office, control them in office and remove executive officers and interpret the law as it applies to his office.

As of this writing Senators will be voting this afternoon on his nomination. Judge Alito on the Supreme Court would give powers to the President that would over ride much of the purpose of the congress and the Supreme Court. If Alito were voted in the two branches of government that serve and protect our country from being a dictatorship would slowly be chipped away. If you think extradition of suspected terrorists is bad, if you think the situation in Guantanmo is a horror just wait. Tourture is a human right violation.

Do you need more evidence that our government has ceased working for us? What of our soliders returning from Iraq? Where are they? How are they? Who is caring for the families of those who have lost loved one in a fight that just seems to have no end in sight? What of Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath? Why haven't we heard anything about the money that was collected for those families, for reconstruction and for the right of return? Why haven't all those children separated from family members been accounted for? And why did those mines in Virgina have so many violations? Where is our government when it comes to protecting our safety in these instances? We have more of a chance of being destroyed by our own government than the bombs that they keep telling us our coming from people who " hate our freedoms." Tiranny is fast approaching. Our president is "signing statments" when he doesn't want to veto a bill, but doesn't really want to pass it. John McCain's Tourture Ban is an example. These statements mean that he is above the law. He want's the courts to interpret the law according to what wants and the people he represents. He is over running the courts and the congress. He will do what he wants and he is using fear to do it. He is over reaching his powers! Stop him. Call your Senator and let them know you want a Filibustor!

Below is a list of 44 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 3 Republicans whose support is possible - the "Alito 48."

We will keep a tally, relying on you to report back on your calls. (Dems.Com has taken the lead on organizing a scorecard on where we stand...please visit the site and send this link to your friends this weekend:

* Names in PURPLE support the filibuster - don't call them [unless you are calling to say thank you]

* Bold names will probably vote against Alito, but oppose the filibuster - call them first! (Our info sources are numbered and linked)

* Regular names will probably vote against Alito, but have not declared their position on a filibuster - call them second!

This is the latest tally:

Total: 48
Goal or We Lose: 41
Filibuster supporter: 13
Plan to be Absent: 0

Here are the "Filibuster 48" with their direct phone numbers. You can also use these toll-free numbers (and ask for the Senators by name): 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

Ask the question clearly: will Senator X support John Kerry's filibuster of Judge Alito, or will (s)he oppose Kerry's filibuster? We need a firm yes or no - be polite but persistent.

Filibuster Supporters [only call to thank]:

Barbara Boxer (D- CA) , 202-224-3553
Dianne Feinstein (D- CA) , 202-224-3841 (1,)
Christopher J. Dodd (D- CT), 202-224-2823 (1,)
Richard J. Durbin (D- IL) , 202-224-2152
John F. Kerry (D- MA) , 202-224-2742
Edward M. Kennedy (D- MA) , 202-224-4543
Paul S. Sarbanes (D- MD), 202-224-4524
Debbie A. Stabenow (D- MI) , 202-224-4822
Harry Reid (D- NV) , 202-224-3542
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- NY) , 202-224-4451
Charles Schumer (D- NY) , 202-224-6542
Ron Wyden (D- OR) , 202-224-5244
Russell D. Feingold (D- WI) , 202-224-5323

[Filibuster Opponents - more details at AlitoTraitorWatch)

Filibuster Opponents - silent & scared:

* Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D- DE) , 202-224-5042

Wilmington Phone 302-573-6345 FAX 302-573-6351
Milford Phone (302) 424-8090 FAX (302) 424-8098

* Bill Nelson (D- FL), 202-224-5274

Tallahassee, 850-942-8415 (phone), 850-942-8450 (fax)
West Palm Beach, 561-514-0189 (phone), 561-514-4078 (fax)
Tampa, 813-225-7040 (phone), 813-225-7050 (fax)
Jacksonville, 904-346-4500 (phone), 904-346-4506 (fax)
Coral Gables, 305-536-5999 (phone), 305-536-5991 (fax)
Ft. Myers, 239-334-7760 (phone), 239-334-7710 (fax)
Davie, 954-693-4851 (phone), 954-693-4862 (fax)
Orlando, 888-671-4091 (phone), 407-872-7165 (fax)

* Daniel K. Akaka (D- HI) (1,), 202-224-6361

Honolulu Phone (808) 522-8970 FAX (808) 545-4683
Hilo Phone (808) 935-1114 FAX (808) 935-9064

* Mary Landrieu (D- LA) (1,), 202-224-5824

New Orleans Phone (504) 589-2427 FAX (504) 589-4023
Baton Rouge Phone (225) 389-0395 FAX (225) 389-0660
Shreveport Phone (318) 676-3085 FAX (318) 676-3100
Lake Charles Phone (337) 436-6650 FAX (337) 439-3762

* Byron L. Dorgan (D- ND) (1,), 202-224-2551

Bismarck Phone 701-250-4618 FAX 701-250-4484
Grand Forks Phone 701-746-8972 FAX 701-746-9122
Fargo Phone 701-239-5389 FAX 701-239-5112
Minot Phone 701-852-0703 FAX 701-838-8196

* Olympia Snowe (R- ME) (1,), 202-224-5344

Filibuster Opponents - loud & proud

* Mark Pryor (D- AR), 202-224-2353

Little Rock Phone (501) 324-6336 FAX (501) 324-5320

* Ken Salazar (D- CO) , 202-224-5852

Denver Phone (303) 455-7600 FAX (303) 455-8851
Colorado Springs Phone (719) 328-1100 FAX (719) 328-1129
Fort Collins Phone (970) 224-2200 FAX (970) 224-2205
Fort Morgan Phone (970) 542-9446 FAX (970) 542-3088
Pueblo Phone (719) 542-7550 FAX (719) 542-7555
Durango Phone (970) 259-1710 FAX (970) 259-9789
Grand Junction Phone (970) 241-6631 FAX (970) 241-8313
Alamosa Phone (719) 587-0096 FAX (719) 587-0098

* Kent Conrad (D- ND) (1,), 202-224-2043

Bismarck Phone (701) 258-4648 FAX (701) 258-1254
Fargo Phone (701) 232-8030 FAX (701) 232-6449
Grand Forks Phone (701) 775-9601 FAX (701) 746-1990
Minot Phone (701) 852-0703 FAX (701) 232-6449
Alito Supporters

* Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551

Omaha Phone (402) 391-3411 FAX (402) 391-4725
Lincoln Phone (402) 441-4600 FAX (402) 476-8753
Chadron Phone (308) 430-0587
Scottsbluff Phone (308) 631-7614

* Tim Johnson (D- SD) , 202-224-5842

Aberdeen Phone (605) 226-3440 FAX (605) 226-2439
Rapid City Phone (605) 341-3990 FAX (605) 341-2207
Sioux Falls Phone (605) 332-8896 FAX (605) 332-2824

* Robert C. Byrd (D- WV) , 202-224-3954

Charleston Phone 304-342-5855 FAX 304-343-7144

* Ted Stevens (R- AK) , 202-224-3004

The Clueless Caucus: For Details visit AlitoWaffleWatch

* Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D- AR), 202-224-4843, fax: (202) 228-1371

Dumas, 870-382-1023 (phone), 870-382-1026 (fax)
Texarkana, 870-774-3106 (phone), 870-774-7627 (fax)
Little Rock, 501-375-2993 (phone), 501-375-7064 (fax)
Fayetteville, 479-251-1224 (phone), 479-251-1410 (fax)
Jonesboro, 870-910-6896 (phone), 870-910-6898 (fax)

* Joseph I. Lieberman (D- CT), 202-224-4041, fax: (202) 224-9750

Hartford Phone (860) 549-8463 FAX (860) 549-8478

* Thomas R. Carper (D- DE), 202-224-2441, fax: (202) 228-2190

Georgetown, 302-856-7690 (phone)
Dover, 302-674-3308 (phone)
Wilmington, 302-573-6291 (phone)

* Daniel K. Inouye (D- HI), 202-224-3934, fax: (202) 224-6747

Wailuku Maui, 808-242-9702 (phone), 808-242-7233 (fax)
Lihue Kauai, 808-245-4611 (phone), 808-246-9515 (fax)
Kaunakakai, 808-642-0203 (phone), 808-560-3385 (fax)
Honolulu, 808-541-2542 (phone), 808-541-2549 (fax)
Hilo, 808-935-0844 (phone), 808-961-5163 (fax)
Kealakekua, 808-935-0844 (phone), 808-961-5163 (fax)

* Tom Harkin (D- IA), 202-224-3254, fax: (202) 224-9369

Des Moines, 515-284-4574 (phone), 515-284-4937 (fax)
Cedar Rapids, 319-365-4504 (phone), 319-365-4683 (fax)
Davenport, 563-322-1338 (phone), 563-322-0417 (fax)
Dubuque, 563-582-2130 (phone), 563-582-2342 (fax)
Sioux City, 712-252-1550 (phone), 712-252-1638 (fax)

* Barack Obama (D- IL), 202-224-2854, fax: (202) 228-4260

Chicago Phone (312) 886-3506 FAX (312) 886-3514
Springfield Phone (217) 492-5089 FAX (217) 492-5099
Marion Phone (618) 997-2402 FAX (618) 997-2850

* Evan Bayh (D- IN), 202-224-5623

Indianapolis (317) 554-0750 Evansville (812) 465-6500 Fort Wayne (260) 426-3151 Hammond (219) 852-2763 Jeffersonville (812) 218-2317 South Bend (574) 236-8302

* Barbara A. Mikulski (D- MD), 202-224-4654, fax: (202) 224-8858

Salisbury Phone (410) 546-7711 FAX (410) 546-9324 Greenbelt Phone (301) 345-5517 FAX (301) 345-7573 (fax) Annapolis Phone (410) 263-1805 FAX (410) 263-5949 Hagerstown Phone (301) 797-2826 FAX (301) 797-2241 Baltimore Phone (410) 962-4510 FAX (410) 962-4760

* Olympia Snowe (R- ME), 202-224-5344, fax: (202) 224-1946

Auburn Phone (207) 786-2451 FAX (207) 782-1438
Augusta Phone (207) 622-8292 FAX (207) 622-7295
Bangor Phone (207) 945-0432 FAX (207) 941-9525
Biddeford Phone (207) 282-4144 FAX (207) 284-2358
Portland Phone (207) 874-0883 FAX (207) 874-7631
Presque Isle Phone (207) 764-5124 FAX (207) 764-6420

* Carl Levin (D- MI), 202-224-6221, fax: (202) 224-1388 - see notpoetry's ominous comment below

Grand Rapids, 616-456-2531 (phone), 616-456-5147 (fax)
Saginaw, 989-754-2494 (phone), 989-754-2920 (fax)
Escanaba, 906-789-0052 (phone), 906-789-0015 (fax)
Traverse City, 231-947-9569 (phone), 231-947-9518 (fax)
Lansing, 517-377-1508 (phone), 517-377-1506 (fax)
Warren, 586-573-9145 (phone), 586-573-8260 (fax)
Detroit, 313-226-6020 (phone), 313-226-6948 (fax)

* Mark Dayton (D- MN), 202-224-3244, fax: (202) 228-2186

Fort Snelling, 888-224-9043 (phone), 612-727-5223 (fax)
Biwabik, 218-865-4480 (phone), 218-865-4667 (fax)
Renville, 320-905 (phone)
East Grand Forks, 218-773-1110 (phone), 218-773-1993 (fax)

* Max Baucus (D- MT), 202-224-2651, fax: (202) 224-0515

Billings, 406-657-6790 (phone)
Helena, 406-449-5480 (phone)
Great Falls, 406-761-1574 (phone)
Missoula, 406-329-3123 (phone)
Butte, 406-782-8700 (phone)
Kalispell, 406-756-1150 (phone)
Bozeman, 406-586-6104 (phone)

* Frank Lautenberg (D- NJ), 202-224-3224, fax: (202) 224-9707

Camden, 856-338-8922 (phone), 856-338-8936 (fax)
Newark, 973-639-8700 (phone), 973-639-8723 (fax)

* Robert Menendez (D- NJ), 202-224-4744

Newark, 973-645-3030 (phone)

* Jeff Bingaman (D- NM), 202-224-5521, fax: (202) 224-2852

Santa Fe, 505-988-6647 (phone)
Las Vegas, 505-454-8824 (phone)
Albuquerque, 505-346-6601 (phone)
Las Cruces, 505-523-6561 (phone)
Roswell, 505-622-7113 (phone)

* Jack Reed (D- RI), 202-224-4642, fax: (202) 224-4680

Cranston, 800-284-4200 (phone), 401-464-6837 (fax)
Providence, 401-528-5200 (phone), 401-528-5242 (fax)

* Lincoln D. Chafee (R- RI), 202-224-2921, fax: (202) 228-2853

Providence Phone (401) 453-5294 Newport Phone (401) 845-0700

* Patrick J. Leahy (D- VT), 202-224-4242

Burlington, 800-642-3193 (phone)
Montpelier, 802-229-0569 (phone)

* Maria Cantwell (D- WA), 202-224-3441

Seattle Phone (206) 220-6400 FAX (206) 220-6404
Spokane Phone (509) 353-2507 FAX (509) 353-2547
Vancouver Phone (360) 696-7838 FAX (360) 696-7844
Richland Phone (509) 946-8106 FAX (509) 946-6937
Tacoma Phone (253) 572-2281 FAX (253) 572-5879
Everett Phone (425) 303-0114 FAX (425) 303-8351

* Patty Murray (D- WA), 202-224-2621

Everett, 425-259-6515 (phone), 425-259-7152 (fax)
Seattle, 206-553-5545 (phone), 206-553-0891 (fax)
Spokane, 509-624-9515 (phone), 509-624-9561 (fax)
Vancouver, 360-696-7797 (phone), 360-696-7798 (fax)
Yakima, 509-453-7462 (phone), 509-453-7731 (fax)

* Herb Kohl (D- WI), 202-224-5653

Appleton, 920-738-1640 (phone)
Eau Claire, 715-832-8424 (phone)
LaCrosse, 608-796-0045 (phone)
Madison, 608-264-5338 (phone)
Milwaukee, 800-247-5645 (phone)

* John D. Rockefeller, IV (D- WV), 202-224-6472

Fairmont, 304-367-0122 (phone), 304-367-0822 (fax)
Martinsburg, 304-262-9285 (phone), 304-262-9288 (fax)
Charleston, 304-347-5372 (phone), 304-347-5371 (fax)
Beckley, 304-253-9704 (phone), 304-253-2578 (fax)

* James M. Jeffords (I- VT), 202-224-5141

Let's Make History!

Diary of a Last Chance Effort

I've been calling to stop the Alito nomination this morning. Here's my log:

8:53 a.m.
I start with Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE). I was on hold for a while listening to some classical music. I then got a live person on the line. I asked my question: Will Senator Biden support John Kerry's filibuster? We need a firm yes or no. I’m polite like the email says I should be. The woman who has answered the phone says, “ Senator Biden has not made a statement. Just watch the news.” I’m taken back by this comment.
“I’ve been watching the news, there’s nothing on about it.” “Just keep watching the news. It’s all I can tell you.” Is she kidding? Well this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. No time to ponder such nonsense. Next call.

8:55 a.m.
I call Senator Schumer’s (D-NY) New York Office. No answer after 15 or 20 rings. I call his number at the capital this time. No hello this time. I get the voicemail. I get a message telling me to call the New York office if my call was of an urgent nature. Where are you Senator Schumer? Surely someone should be setting up the coffee maker?

8:57 a.m.
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
I get the capital switchboard. “Yes?” “Senator Bill Nelson’s office please.”
The phone rings and I get an automated voicemail. Bill Nelson voicemail box is full.
It’s weird to hear the “Good-bye” at the end. I haven’t spoken to anyone.

9:01 a.m.
Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI)
I call the switchboard again. “Yes?” “Senator Daniel K. Akaka’s office please?” Voicemail again. “Aloha” That’s pleasant. The voicemail continues to tell me that the office is closed. I’m told to leave a message. They say something at the end that is perhaps a way to say good-bye. I’m tempted to call that one back just to hear the message again and make out the word. Keep going. No time.

9:04 a.m.
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
I get the switchboard again. Maybe someone recognizes that I’ve called a few times. I ask for Mary Landrieu. I say it Landroo. I’ve mispronounced her name. I was promptly corrected, clearly by someone who was annoyed. Don’t let that change the issue. Don’t get flustered, I tell myself. “I’m sorry, Senator Landrieu.” On her voicemail there is a lot of information for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. It instructs callers to call FEMA and the Red Cross. I feel bad calling. Am I taking up space someone might need on this voicemail? This is important too. I spill out my message in a hurry “ I’m sorry about what has happened in your state and I know that your people need help, but I’m calling about Judge Alito . . .” I end in a real nervous manner, with “Amen.” Now don’t ask me why I said that. It was something about the southern sounding accent on the voicemail. I was thrown off. I start thinking about my Baptist upbringing. By the time I left this message maybe I was now leaving prayers. I got my message across and left my phone number as I had done on much of the voicemail that asked to leave a message.

9:07 a.m.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) capital office again. Busy. This is a good thing.

I continue to let my finger do the walking, in hopes that these senators will get to squawking!

Call 1-888-818-6641/ 888-355-3588 before the vote at 4:30 p.m. today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"I'm ready for my close up Mr. Demille"

So last week, Tuesday morning I'm reviewing papers from a new class I'm teaching and the phone rings.

It is the producer for Under The Learning Tree. He tells me he is still in Nevada. He tells me I will host the show that evening. To me that is the equivalent of "This is it kid, you’re on!" and my response, "I'm ready for my close up Mr. Demille." I was expecting him to tell me that “so and so” would be hosting or that he had given the learning tree hour to someone else until next week, but not this time.

He gave instructions. I quickly wrote everything down. “Call this one, find out if "so and so" do an interview, see what Cerine has lined up for this week, etc.” It was hard to focus. I had to contain my excitement.

Later that evening I am too nervous about Wednesday's show to sleep. I need a theme. I read articles on line. I'm searching for quotes. I need a playlist. What kind of music can I play for a show about people detained in various situations? I can't screw this up. As far as I'm concerned the whole world will be listening. At 3 am I finally go to sleep. I have dreams of me being late to the studio.

The day begins early, but I need all the hours I can get. I wake up at 6:30 in the morning to get everyone off to school and work. I sit reviewing my new students work for a few hours. There won’t be time later. I hate to disappoint students who've written something that I haven't made any comments on. By mid-afternoon, I'm doing last minute preparations for the show while cooking dinner.

At 6:30 that evening with the assistance of both children, I go to the laundrymat. Even four-year-olds can put clothes in a washer and dryer, and take them out. If this were the old days they would both be working right beside me anyway. At 7 o’clock I leave the older kid to monitor clothes in the dryer, while I take the tot home to have dinner and prepare for bed. My husband arrives home from grocery shopping. He goes to the laundrymat to bring the laundress home. I go to sleep.

I’m up two hours later. I have to finish the creating the playlist. It includes the following: Marvin Gaye's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner", U2's "Pride (In The Name of Love)", Lenny Kravitz "Are You Gonna Go My Way", Celia Cruz's "Guantamera" and Angelic Kidjo's "Worth Fighting For.”

I'd left from home later than I wished. I was on the phone with Kamau. I headed to the A train two blocks from my home instead of the going to the train that would have put me closer to the station. I can’t get the vending machine to give me a metrocard fast enough. It won’t accept my crinkled bills. I miss the downtown train. This puts me in an unnecessary panic. I pace and begin to doubt my abilities. I pace in the station for twenty minutes before the next train arrives. When I get off the train I hurry to the station. I don’t feel any of the cold air blowing in from the river at the end of Wall Street.

I arrive at the station well after 1 o’clock. After 15 minutes I find the engineer. He hadn't been contacted to do the engineering for the show. I stand there silently. “Engineering for someone you haven’t done it with before is like painting a picture for the artist. You don’t know what they want, when they want it.” We get over the awkward moment slowly. “Okay.” He says. “We don’t have much time,” He begins looking for blank disc. He asks me what my topic is. He runs through a checklist: Guest? Phone numbers? “Have you called them?” I pull out my computer to check the CD and he says "Please tell me your music is not on that computer?" “No, it's on disk.” I am proud of my preparation until I realize that I created this disk on the computer at home and not my laptop. The disk is reading "track 1, track 2 etc., I start to listen to each song and write the list for the engineer, trying to decide what song I want in what order. It's 1:50 am. We need to go on the air in 10 minutes. I give the disk to the engineer. “Any particular order you want?” “I don’t want to stress you out Sydney, just play it straight through. It doesn’t really matter what comes when. It is all appropriate.”

I go in and the previous host and I greet each other. I’m so frazzled, I almost don’t want to speak to him. I just want to sit in the chair and get this over with. Suddenly the opportunity of broadcasting live and being in charge doesn’t seem like such a hot idea. The audience for this show is very discerning. Are they going to want to listen to me? Do I really know what I’m talking about? I wonder if I’ve studied the issues enough, prepared appropriate questions, I don’t even really like the sound of my voice, who do I think I am? Wahhhhhhhhhhh! Oh my Gooooooooood!
Who am I kidding?

Sydney starts giving me directions, asking questions: “Do you have your introduction, do you want to come in at the end of this?”

As the opening music plays I realize that it was the theme used by Dr. Carlos E. Russell’s show “Thinking It Through.” I remember the morning I discovered him a year ago. On that night he presented this question, “If radical reconstruction of America is desired, if it could be achieved, is it possible to bring to fruition. . .etc.” We had a 15 to 20 minute conversation. I remember him asking me if I was a “Pollyanna.” It was a term he used when referring to himself and anyone who was an idealist. That conversation made me think seriously about what I was already doing to be a part of the solution. It was that conversation that made me search deeply for what would give meaning and purpose to my life.

Now I’m on the radio. I’m helping to facilitate the conversation of dissent, to listen, to learn, to share and encourage. In this climate of detentions, disappearances, human rights violations, eminent domain and gentrification, the breaking of unions, what I am doing is important. In this time of our government and president “gone wild”, this is important. This is not a time to freak out. This is my time to do my part in the realm of independent media.

The engineer gives the signal. “Good morning. Thank you for tuning in once again to Under The Learning Tree. I am Anna Limontas-Salisbury also known as warrior pen and I’m sitting in for Kamau Khalfani.” And so it went.

Monday, January 02, 2006


10 things to look forward to this year in no particular order, as they are all great in their own special way.

1. Moving. Yes moving as much as I am not looking forward to the task of packing away 3 bookshelves of my husband's comic books, 2 shelves of stuff he uses for reference (he’s a graphic artist), and stuff my children refuse to throw away. I know moving is in our plans this year, perhaps at the end of the month if the deal we are seeking goes smoothly. Don't want to say too much about it, you know what they say about counting your chickens before they hatch. . .

2. Moving to a home that will have an actual bedroom with a door and a lock. For five years my husband and I have been in a one bedroom apartment with our two children. Sound impossible? No darling, everything is possible with Ikea. Really! I've actually enjoyed hiding in the loft bed in the children's room for privacy and quiet. I can blog lots up there. And our new place will have a basement. I’ll stop talking about it, don’t want to ruin our shot at something as precious as more space and privacy.

3. Choosing work ventures carefully. A work situation that will provide some cash and still allow me to have a life not hindered by a job.

4. The television show. Yes I'm going to actually get to stop people on the streets of New York and ask them all sorts of intriguing questions for public access television. I 'll have guests few have ever heard of and we'll talk about real issues and nonsense too! I have no idea what the producer of this show wants me to do, but hey who cares. This is a fantasy many of us want to be called for and few are chosen. And I thought co-hosting a radio show and being a mama was enough!

5. I look forward to getting published. Other wise at the end of the year, I could just as well publish the growing stack of rejection notes, emails, thanks but no thanks etc. One publication actually sent me a letter that had a series of check list in which one of the choices were the following: “We liked this, but it does not met our editorial needs” or some other such nonsense!

6. Spring. I can always look forward to spring. It is the one thing that I know for sure about this year.

7. Writing about a variety of topics. There will always be misery and something to complain about, but I'd like to blog about more.

8. Walking around naked at least once a day. This is a must. For those of you who haven't tried it, you just have forgotten how to live. Walk naked in all the places your mom told you that nudity wasn't polite or decent. Go for the kitchen.

9. Bathing. I've grown up with bathing as a ritual so I look forward to enjoying this passion. I love the sound of the water as it runs into the tub. I love the echo sound of water in my bathroom. We have high ceilings. When I lay in the tub as the water pours in, it's like I'm in a cave. I love the feel of water, the taste, and all the tools of bathing from the type of sponges to the sea salt, and oils or soaps. My favorite soap comes from a factory in Brooklyn right on Atlantic Ave. I can’t remember the name of the brand right now, but they sell this African Black soap that is to die for. I think it’s Nubian Heritage. I love their stuff so much. I could work there. I suppose I could mix soaps to bring in cash. I wonder if it’s done by hand or a machine?

10. Breathing like I mean it.