Sunday, June 21, 2009

Neglect

I'm working on a writing project that has taken up all of my blogging time.

I'm hopeful that it goes somewhere but it's been a fun process none the less.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Beauty Parlor & A Baby Raid Vest

Over six years ago I decided to cease using chemical relaxers to straighten my hair. My once mandatory hair salon appointments (peer-pressured in middle school to stop using the term "beauty parlor", I still refer to it as such in my head) became superfluous.

I've been fortunate to have found a couple of great natural hair stylists but I don't cozy up in their chairs every six weeks, like I did when I was addicted to creamy crack.

To satisfy my longing for the shop and all its adjacent drama, I've taken to watching Tears, Shears and Beauty. Because it's a BETJ show the production values contribute to the excitement. You never know when the sound will dip or go out entirely, giving way to a silent montage that was obviously supposed to contain a voiceover.

While I've never had a stylist who had her own matinee idol poster, or been tended to by a man in an oversized belt cinched to approximate a corset, much of what goes on in this show feels awfully familiar.

By swimming in the shallow end of the TV viewing pond I've become aware of Jason Griggers. A blonde, diminutive white man who is the self described Rosa Parks of black hair care. I'm always antsy when people start comparing their struggles to slavery and the civil rights movement. But I can tell you that prior to my exposure to Mr. Griggers, there is no scenario I could envision in which I would allow a white man full reign over my hair. So I don't doubt that he earned his professional respect the hard way. I'm sure his appearance in Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair will be one of the highlights.

All of the stylists employ model/dancers, choreographers, and clothing designers when they participate in hair shows. Google led me to one designers website, where on the home page a toddler sported a camouflage vest. Which I eventually discovered was a baby nylon raid vest.

The site assures that it is only a fashion statement.

In the off chance that a person affiliated with Antonio Ansaldi finds their way here, is this a best seller? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pool Pass

I complain quite a bit about my current location and am eagerly awaiting a move. Some of it is deserving, while sprawl is considered a dirty word in certain quarters, we have a Sultan of Sprawl. But my county is also home to a wonderful parks and recreation department. There are a variety of pool and water park like centers that are not very far from our home and are inexpensive, relative to other kid centric attractions.

We are incredibly fortunate that my children have always had easy access to the water which has fostered their love of swimming. Something I also grew up with, but don't take for granted. (What is inexpensive to us is not feasible for lots of parents.)

Aside from lessons at the YMCA, we've primarily spent our time in private pools. This is the first summer that it has made logistical sense to purchase a pass and visit the various locations in our parks system.

Reading an amusing anecdote at Motherhooduncensored made me think about the various dynamics that come into play when you are visiting a public or semi public pool. Blogger Kristin Chase details an outing in which she was forced (by virtue of other parent's negligence) to police her subdivision's baby pool from rambunctious "big" kids.

An absolute aversion to crowds and a flexible agenda means that we are able to attend lots of events with the bare minimum of interactions with other people and their bad ass kids. Even given my knack for scheduling that's not happening at any kind of watering hole during a southern summer.

My general policy is never, ever to confront other people's children. After removing my offspring from any potential danger, I normally ask who is accompanying the future juvenile offender and go from there. Growing up in ungentrified Brooklyn where don't start nothing, won't be nothing was often heard, I'm not at all averse to necessary confrontations.

But I'm often the only black parent in attendance and have no desire to become one of two stereotypes, the angry black bitch or the mammy. Spending any sizable portion of time altering your behavior to avoid other people's racist baggage is foolish, but excluding my in laws, I rarely eat either fried chicken or watermelon in "mixed" company. And I don't reprimand, scold or otherwise mix it up with small kids of any color.

I'm sure this policy will be pushed to the limit while pool side this summer.

Traditional Catholics and My Grandparents

discussed as two separate topics.

I always find something of interest at Daisy's blog but I wanted to comment on two recent posts in particular.

The first was a look at Sedevacantists, a splinter group of traditional catholicism, most famously associated with both Mel Gibson and his father.

For a person raised with the most fleeting nod toward Christianity and currently practicing no religion at all, I know a surprising amount about traditional Catholicism. Some of that is due to an academic background in art history with a special interest in Baroque and Mannerism. Most of it stems from my romantic entanglements with not one but two conservative Catholics. (Who should not be entirely conflated with Sedevacantists, who are a special breed of extremist.)

Their religious outlook did not prevent either man from engaging in pre marital relations. One is currently involved in politics (tangentially as far as my internet sleuthing can tell, but not for lack of ambition) espousing the same pro family, pro business, pro law and order mantra that he began perfecting over 20 years ago. I was underaged, so the five year age difference between us combined with his love of illegal gambling meant that he most definitely did not practice what he preached.

My second trad-Catholic boyfriend was Irish born and vehemently opposed to abortion. And birth control, which wasn't going to fly with me. But not surprisingly had resulted in unwanted pregnancies with previous partners. Both of those women choose to terminate and he was very adamant that any child we conceived could be taken to Ireland and raised by his adoring mother. That was not a plan even remotely under consideration but I'm sheepish to admit that I easily dismissed a multitude of flaws for torrid sexual encounters. Hindsight is 20/20 so it's easy to speculate now on his weeping, wailing, dark moods and erratic behavior, but fortunately for me he ended the relationship and I went on my merry bachelorette way. The internet is absolutely of no help "catching up" with him. His very Irish name is shared by about a billion men and a million bars. So I'll just picture him happy, with a half dozen children in Maspeth.

I have no way of knowing what choices these men are currently making in their private lives. But my dealings with them made the seeming hypocrisy of Mel Gibson's life all too familiar.

Ageism, primarily as it relates to blogs was the other topic Daisy discussed that I found fascinating.

I have four healthy, active, emotionally and intellectually engaged grandparents who have formed the cornerstone of who I am as a person. My soon to be 75 year old maternal grandmother is my best friend. My mother's religious conversion over a decade ago fundamentally (pun intended) changed how we relate to one another. An unexpected development wrought with difficulties that has ultimately landed us in a decent space but one that is very different than the one I had expected while growing up. My bond with her mother is the one constant link that I can chart wholly unaltered from the day I entered the universe.

I can't imagine how narrow my world would be without the relationships I have developed with people of all ages both on line and in real life.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sports Talk

I think of myself as a dedicated tennis fan, especially given the state of the sports popularity here in the US. But then I will peruse my tennis boards and encounter people who are literally going through the 5 stages of grief due to Rafa Nadal's elimination from Roland Garros and realize everything is relative.

I hope Federer wins but I won't be losing sleep or my appetite if he doesn't.

And I feel ahead of the curve since Deadspin wasn't aware of Jim Goldstein until very recently.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Abortion Clinic

I've never had an abortion. I've never had an unwanted pregnancy or even a pregnancy scare. A fanatical adherence to birth control with a generous helping of good luck means that my three pregnancy test experiences have been like advertisements, filled with smiles, warm hugs and the good kind of tears.

The women I've known who have terminated pregnancies cross all party lines. A teen aged family member, a twenty something college friend, a mentor at the end of a troubled 20 year marriage. For a number of reasons, most of them logistic, I had never accompanied someone to a clinic for what is the most common surgery in America.

After learning I was pregnant with my first child, I planned a midwife attended home birth. Things were going smoothly until some light spotting began. To make a long story short, the quickest, cheapest option for an ultrasound and blood work was a clinic that also provided abortion care.

In a different sort of America, a wide array of reproductive and gynecological services would be provided under one roof. But that's not always the current reality.

Upon arriving at the facility I was met by a handful of protesters, quietly standing with their placards as close as the law allowed. No baby faced cherubs sporting graphic pictures were present, just a handful of graying older men.

I was an anomaly for reasons only I and the staff knew but also because I was the only patient in the waiting room who was alone. An object of kind but persistent curiosity, I was relieved when the tests came back indicating all was going fine with my pregnancy.

Elated that my planned parenthood was right on track, I left the clinic and was met by a rousing chorus of "SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!"

My husband is not pleased that I'm thinking of volunteering with a reproductive rights organization. This is a conversation that we've visited in passing through out the years. But my son's enrollment in a half day preschool will free up some of my time, so it's become a more urgent discussion. It's not ideologically based (long before he met me he donated money to a number of pro-choice causes) but a practical concern for my safety that is the cause for his concern.

We are fortunate not to have a lot of "wedge" issues in our marriage. Jim's desire to please and at times appease me is legendary. So for him to have reservations about something I feel strongly about is uncommon. Rare enough that when it happens, I'm usually content to see his side of things and let it go.

Ever optimistic, I'm confident that his fears will be placated.

Because I can't let the rhythmic chants that serenaded me and my unborn child go.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

With both of my children in school come August, I will have have some spare time to devote to a charitable cause. If all goes as planned, we'll be moving and I'll be pregnant sometime this fall so seeking even a part time salaried position is not really feasible.

I've worked and volunteered with some really amazing organizations through out the years. Most of the advocacy work that I've done was while I lived in New York. I've donated some money to a few non profits since I moved south of the Mason-Dixon but unfortunately have not developed any relationships with the people doing the vital and hard work.

With so many worthwhile causes I feel passionately about, it's been difficult to find the right one for right now. But the atrocious murder of Dr. George Tiller has me leaning towards a reproductive rights organization. John Colle's Balloon Juice has a testimony in the comments section from the partner of one of Dr. Tiller's patients that may be illuminating for those unaware of doctor's work.


May Dr. Tiller rest in peace.