Archive for November, 2009

Marital Mondays: Our Bark is Worse Than Our Bite

Hannibal and I have developed a routine. It’s not a dance routine, but it is a belly routine. Since I started showing, which feels like a gazillion months ago, people feel like they have the right to just come up and touch my stomach. Would they invade my personal space and touch my stomach if there weren’t a baby in there? Sadly, in America, probably so. You see when my hair was locked, people would just come up and put their grimy fingers right in my hair. I don’t care if it’s accompanied by a compliment! Keep your paws off of my pelo (that’s hair in Spanish — I couldn’t make the alliteration work in English. Sorry.)! Americans feel entitled to just about everything — even touching people.

So. This routine. When a person, that hasn’t asked permission, comes up and tries to touch my stomach, I hiss at them like a cat and stick my arm out abruptly. If they persist (and they have), Hannibal puts his hands on his knees and lifts his lip growling. He then proceeds to bark canine-style at the person until they either think we’re both wierd and leave me alone, or run screaming (if it’s a child). Yes, we do it to kids, too. People need to learn early. That’s what’s wrong with America.

Sunday, we were at the Westfield Shopping center buying some last minute things for our homebirth. A strange lady decided to try to accost my belly while Hannibal was doing a price check on some desk chair that I wanted. What was I going to do? My guard dog was at least five aisles down running a barcode under a probably defective scanner! I grabbed onto the cart, hissed at her and pushed the cart running like a mad woman. She got the point fairly early on. Luckily, the place where I stopped the cart, two aisles down (because I got tired), had the listed price of the desk chair and like six other chairs in different colors. It was $29.99. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the aqua blue color that matches our office, so I got a crock pot instead.

The moral of the story is: Stop molesting me! It’s almost over. We have approximately 12 days until Ella Simone arrives, and sorry, you won’t be allowed to touch her either.

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Thematic Thursdays: No Thanks

Your turkey is probably in the oven, or perhaps you’re heading to grandma’s. Maybe you’re even bringing a side dish to compete with your sister-in-law’s famous macaroni and cheese. Even if you are mustering up the patience to deal with the cousin you never could stand, you are preparing to spend Thanksgiving Day with your family.

I don’t have that option at the moment — spending time with family. I’m sure one day it will return. Until then, I kind of have beef with “Turkey Day.” Aside from the convoluted foundation of the holiday, my family has never really been the same since my Great Great Great Aunt died during the holidays in 1998. She had a stroke while preparing the desserts several days before Christmas. She only lasted a few days after that, but we actually ate the last meal she’d prepared that Christmas.

She was the rock of the family, churning out dish after dish each holiday and smiling all the while.

These days, all of my extended family pretty much stays home or adopts another family for the day. It didn’t help that my mom died of breast cancer last June.

Even though the gatherings had been sparse, she at least prepared a delicious meal each year and I had somewhere familiar to go. Truthfully, those feasts began to lose their fervor towards the end. Monotonous conversations, dim faces, and long pauses always reminded us that the grim reaper was sitting at the table with us. She had been battling the cancer for eleven years and as beautiful as she was, its physical effects eventually manifested.

I tried visiting other people’s houses for a couple of years. It’s awkward. If I can’t be loud, crazy Myshell, because someone’s relative may flip out, then I have to be shy, courteous Myshell. That’s just no fun. I prefer environments where everybody knows my name like “Cheers.” I’m not really into meeting new people. Pilot conversations are so boring. “How many siblings do you have?” “What do you do?” “What’s your sign?” “Where are you from?”

Bah! I want to be around people, who already know that I’m a dance teacher with a mild case of Tourette Syndrome, a five-year-old daughter, and a retarded sister. I want a location, where they know I can’t stand perfume or incense, because they’ll give me a headache for a week-and-a-half.

The year my mom died, a bunch of friends and I threw a “Thanks But No Thanks” dinner. It was fun. There was wine, laughter, games, and a heap of food. It was a lot of work, though. At nine months pregnant, I’m just looking to chill. Shoot, I’m happy to have a day off. I still cooked, though. The truth is I like my own candied yams the most. I don’t need to compete for the macaroni and cheese championship belt, because it’s already hanging in my closet. Hannibal will probably go off briefly to visit a family that he’s adopted. One of our favorite couples may also be coming over to hang out with us, or they may not. Either way, there’s a full spread here for my immediate family to enjoy. I’m thankful for them. I’m the mommy now — making memories for Mooch.

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Workin’ Wednesdays: The One About Year End Appeals

With several non-profits as clients, I do more than holiday cards at the end of the year. Most non-profit organizations do a year end appeal soliciting funds during the holiday season. Some include a 3 or 4 page “Year End Review,” where they highlight some of the awesome things that have happened that year. Some save paper and ink and simply send a letter. Others do a glossy colorful one page document with a tear-off at the bottom and several photos. The latter is what I was working on last night. Check it out:



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Tuesdays With Mooch: Updates

This month, Mooch is gearing up for several performances. She’s performing at the Leimert Park Tree Lighting, a couple of shows for the Councilman, and Lula’s Kwanzaa show. She is learning a modern piece to “True Devotion” choreographed by Tamica Washington-Miller, a West African dance called “Kakilambe,” and an excerpt from “Taratibu” (a foot stomping, hand clapping dance that incorporates chants of self-determination and collective work).

Mooch is excited about becoming a big sister. She says, “I can’t wait to see the little sucker. She’s taking long enough to develop!” She’s not thrilled about eventually sharing her room, but she’s strangely enthused about changing diapers. *shrug*

Home School Corner:

Along with Mooch’s regular activities, we’ll be reading Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and doing a unit of activities surrounding it for half of December. For science we’ll do lots of weather related assignments, including predicting, documenting and discussing the weather. She will learn the different types of clouds, why it rains (not meatballs … hopefully), and the distance of the earth from the sun.

In math we’ll be doing Meatball Multiplication. I’ve designed plates of spaghetti, and Mooch will pretend to serve her “friends” (read: stuffed animals) plates of spaghetti. She’ll have to multiply/divide the number of meatballs each time to make sure everyone gets a fair amount.

During social studies, we will go out to a restaurant and allow Mooch to order her own food (speaking to the wait staff on her own without assistance). She’ll pay, tip, and conduct all of the business herself. For history, we’ll revisit the concept of landfills, covering how they developed, where our trash goes, and what the consequences are.

Lastly, we couldn’t read this book with out talking about current events. There’s a reporter in the story! She’s already done one 5W news report (who, what, when, where, why), but she’ll be doing one every week this month. That’s about it. We’ll keep you updated in this corner.

Spelling Words This Week:

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Marital Mondays: The Mets

Exactly three years ago there was a knock at my front door. It was a knock I’d anticipated since I was seven years old. Those three quick knuckle pounds sent me hustling to put away the vacuum and shove several tons of freshly cleaned laundry into my closet. A pair of lime green Pumas fell from the top shelf and hit me in the shoulder. I tossed them back up. Small beads of sweat gathered on my forehead. I almost never sweat. I tucked my dreadlocks behind my ears and glanced at the mirror. I wasn’t happy with what I saw. Two rapid knocks at the door reminded me to hurry. Quickly applying lip gloss, I cleared the bath products from the lengthy marble counter that framed my sink.

When I checked on Mooch, who was fast asleep in her room, I had a brief moment of fear. I was about to let a complete stranger into my home with me and my two-year-old daughter. What was I thinking? Visions of Amber Frey, the single mother who got tied up in an affair with the lying murderer, Scott Peterson, began to swarm in my head. There were three more knocks at the door. I talked myself down off of the ledge. My boss knew this guy, and I was familiar with at least three of his friends. Sure, we had met on MySpace, but we had spoken on the phone, I knew where he lived and worked, and I had warned at least five people (including my mom) that he was coming over. I went to open the door.

“Hello.” I said, as I opened the door. “You’re tall.” I could have kicked myself for stating the obvious. Plus, he wasn’t even that tall. He had to be roughly 6’2″. I just didn’t know what else to say. I’m a bit socially awkward.

“You really are breathtaking.” he replied, with a smile that stretched from ear to ear. I thought he was clearly just being nice, because I was wearing huge light blue house cleaning sweats and a red and white vintage t-shirt that clung to my frame.

“Thank you. Come in. You can put your shoes under here.” I gestured toward the long wooden bench near the front door.

“I have similar shoe rules at my place.” he responded. I smiled and headed toward my room.

“We’re going to come back here, because my daughter is sleeping and with the living room being right off her bedroom, I don’t want to disturb her.”

“Okee-dokee.” he said, following me. I sat on my bed.

“So how was your Thanksgiving? I mean was the food good?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah. Aunt Elzater throws down for Thanksgiving. I’m stuffed. I’m just surprised that the kitchen at my karaoke gig caught on fire tonight. Sully’s is one of my favorite shows to do.”

“Yeah, that sucks.” I said. “Hopefully, everything turns out alright.” What I was really thinking was: If that fire hadn’t happened tonight, I would have had to wait all the way until Saturday to finally meet you in person. “Can I get you anything to drink?”

“Naw, I’m good.” he nodded the way people nod when there’s awkward silence. That made my brain hurry up to find something we could do. Since he was a writer, I suggested playing Scrabble. His whole face lit up, so I went to find the Scrabble set that had been in my family for two generations.

Once the game was rolling, we both loosened up a little. Well, he did. I was still full of butterflies, fear, and scattered brains. Our game eventually had a theme. We put down words like “like,” “cuddle,” “love,” and “lube” (Don’t ask — and yes, we know abbreviations aren’t allowed.). We bent the rules slightly. He put down the word “kiss.” Then his bold ass asked for one, and laid back on the bed like I was supposed to climb on top of him to give it to him. I wasn’t really ready to kiss him. He had only been there for an hour. This made me very nervous. I was certain he was going to rape me at this point. I started conjuring up ways to secretly call for help. I sucked in a breath and smiled sheepishly.

“No, I’m not coming over there to kiss you.” I said. He sat up. I sighed relief. He was very friendly and gentle. I assumed he was halfway joking but would have taken the kiss if I gave it to him.

“It’s your turn.” He said. I was saving my letters to put down the word “embrace,” because it was going to score me a lot of points. I asked him if I could use onomatopoeia. He approved, but I put down “hope” instead. Then I suggested we make a story out of all of the words on the board. “Stop saying things that are totally hot.” he said.

The evening was beginning to seem like the perfect romantic comedy. I didn’t want it to end. He smelled really good. I think he was wearing Axe body spray. He smiled at me a lot and his eyes were warm. We did end up kissing in exchange for my putting down the word “embrace.” It was slow, gentle and passionate, and he knew exactly where to put his hands. We kept it at first base, I think. I’m not really sure what first base is actually. Anyway, he was going to leave, but I asked him to stay for ten more minutes. We sat on the futon in my living room and quietly discussed the Smurfs, politics, and stem cell research. He never left, and we were engaged in nine months.

Today is the three year anniversary of the day we met. Three years ago, today, three knocks at the door changed my life completely.

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