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Monday, October 27, 2008

In the Splendor of the Night...there are secrets and bees!

At 7 p.m., I dress, apply my make-up, and style my Sisterlocks. Within the hour, I am stepping into a star-draped night, on my way to my first Moxie Cabaret starring the beautiful, burlesque diva, Atlanta's own, Vagina Jenkins, and other local burlesque talent. I am ready, directions on paper. The gala is 21 minutes from my Clarkston home, precisely 10.38 miles away.

I access Highway 78W and begin diligently looking for Parkway Drive, in the dark. In no time 78W fades into Scott Boulevard, and, somehow, Parkway is just a smear of ink on a page in my journal. So I keep riding, dressed with no where to go and bent on making good use of getting out of the house on a Sunday evening. To put it bluntly, I'm breaking out of a staid routine---reading or writing or exercising the weekend away. By the time my black Jag races down Ponce de Leon, I am silently bribing God or my angels for clues to my destination, as I have no friends, who reside near the downtown area, to barge in on at such an ungodly hour.

Beyond my windshield, the night is friendly. Enticing me onward.

Am I heading to Belissima and their Sunday night salsa party? So what. I'm not wearing a swing-hem skirt and stilettos; I yet intend to salsa and tango even if the evening doesn't end on Amsterdam Avenue. Ummm. Piedmont Park will be too dark and eerie to adequately people watch. I don't know if Kat's Cafe, my favorite haunt, is open on a Sunday, although I'm fond of Thursday nights, when the musicians jam and scat my heartbeat.

So imagine my SURPRISE when the Jag pulls into the Midtown Art Cinema's parking lot. Even though I have all faith in the Divine, I glance out my window at passers-by and leave my purse in the car, under the brakes. Parked in a muted spot near the building's entrance, I glide, still puzzled, and a bit reluctantly, to the box office.

I have no problem admitting it---I haven't been to the movies since before the dinosaurs. Which is why I've missed quite a few films, one being Sex and the City or Sex in the City (see what I mean?).

Nonetheless, I get to the window and am shocked to see movies are $10.00, my ten dollars. Inwardly, I smile at a gentleman who gladly whips $7.00 out of his bruised wallet for his senior ticket. The cashier does not ask to see proof of his discount, his face, I gather, being validation enough. Huh uh! I'm 10 years off. Count that out for tonight. Okay! What to do? The glassed girl stares at me and smiles. A line forms on my right. That's when I remember my purse is in the car. Brilliant. And all this despite Shirley saying she'd heard the movie was a must-see.

Fine! I retrace my steps to the car. God is speaking to my attention-deficit pocketbook. Tickled, thinking how I'll laugh about the night's adventure with Miss Know-It-All and Shirley, I grab my big green bag and return to the cashier, to inform Miss Girlie I'm seeing a movie alone, for the first time.

"Great! Nothing like a first, honey. Enjoy!" she spouts.

I match her smile and take my ticket receipt. Say, "Thank you!"

Inside, "Bees" is nestled on the right, near the theatre's entrance. I stroll towards a set of tucked-away double doors. The room is empty outside of a cute couple, snuggled into one another, seated towards the front and an older gentleman in a wheelchair in the rear. I slip into a cushioned seat behind the snuggling girls and snuggle darkness.

The movie begins. It's South Carolina, 1964. Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) is adjusting the antenna on the television. A history-making, civil-rights decision is being televised, and Rosaleen and 14-year-old Lily (Dakota Fanning) sit galvanized by the news: Blacks have the right to vote. Thus begins a string of events that leave me wrenched with emotion. I cry a little, laugh a little, and even yearn to fight a little.

Scriptwriter Gina Prince-Bythewood has breathed life into Sue Monk Kidd's 2002 yawning bestseller (which sits on my shelf yet unread, although after seeing the movie, I shall make time to read it soon).

I am wholly enchanted, following a take-charge, fast-talking Lily and spunky Rosaleen as they make their way to Tiburon, S.C., where, unbeknownst to Lily, her dead mother, Debra, made her way to the same farm years before, fleeing Lily's abusive father, Owen. Debra's keepsakes point to the Boatwright Farm and beekeeper August Boatwright (Queen Latifah), locally renown honey entrepreneur...literally and figuratively.

Before August, Lily lies about how she and Rosaleen come to be there, but August Boatwright, who can hold water, as my Grandma Moss used to say, welcomes them into her loving, well-organized, family stronghold, a secret, no doubt, to whites who haven't yet figured out how to take the Boatwrights' 20-plus acres and bee empire.

In the shadows, I marvel at Sue Monk Kidd's audacity to write about a family of beautiful, cultured Black women, who not only survive (unmolested) but also flourish in a time of hate and lynchings. And I love them! There is the matriarch, August, who teaches Lily about beekeeping, family, faith and love. The fiercely independent June (Alicia Keys) is a social activist and cello-playing sister, who masters love lessons, i.e., family is about more than biological kin. Then there is May (Sophie Okonedo), the beloved sister of the exquisite facial expressions that own my heart! Kudos to Prince-Bythewood for trusting her knowing to cast Okonedo in the role of a character younger than her lovely 39 years. May, an easily excitable beauty, shoulders the sadness of the times by writing what hurts her on slips of paper and sticking them between the stones of a symbolic Wailing Wall in the sisters' yard.

It is safe to say, in the event you don't know, I am famous in the Moss Clan for retelling a story or movie you may wish to read or see to the nth degree, although I shall not be guilty of it here. So snap up $10, your ten or somebody else's, the latter is preferred, and treat yourself to a memorable movie. But I forewarn you. Tears may trickle, if you're like me. Laughter will bubble up from your soul. And you will praise the cast royally, with that little Dakota rendering a captivating performance with those saucer-size eyes and womanish ways. Tis true, Lily "brings the outside world in," as she rather aptly puts it in the movie.

"Love is all around you!" August tells Lily, who longs for someone to love her. It is another part I adore. The words serve to remind me that no matter what happens, I am always loved. For I am love, as we all are. Therefore, yes, I will continue to serenade myself and go to the theatre alone, if need be. After all, are we ever really alone, and aren't we worthy of loving ourselves so that we can better love others?

But that is a horse of a different color. Right now, we return to our regularly scheduled movie review.

Rosaleen and May become fast friends and play girlishly, while Lily works alongside August. Yet I love it when the two women delight in playing, something from which we could all benefit from time to time. One afternoon, screaming their pleasure, the women draw stern-eyed June into their good time. She allows herself to laugh, and, eventually, to cry, though not without a battle.

Before I lie in these lines, I'll stop and rest my laptop keys at 3:47 a.m. In parting, I wish you close listening to the Voice Within. It will allow you to live richly, lovingly. And as much as possible, say YES to life, considering on the other side of a YES is usually the adventure your soul seeks! Don't ask me just bees like that!

Trust yourself and the splendor of your life will unfold like secrets in the night.

Te amo,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Days Are Winding Down....

Election Day isn't just another election day of yesteryear! It's historic, it's monumental! It is your opportunity to get up, get out and vote for REAL change.

Let your voice be heard and felt! For countless reasons...

Get to those polls EARLY and let America know that a plastic, well-dressed Barbie is UNacceptable for the Vice Presidency.

If Senator John McCain is blinded by the glam and cannot recognize what Republican ship-jumpers are discovering the closer we get to the history-changing day, don't you stand in the shadows thinking the Palin/McCain, oops, the McCain/Palin ticket is the change this country needs. That wouldn't be change; it's the present remaining the same, except getting worse, with possibly other investigations of political missteps and wars and rumors of wars and gas prices lining already gold-gilded pockets and purses and home-ownership sink holes and tax fiascoes and a number of other unmentionable dramas waiting back stage behind the Political Curtain. Now is your time to ACT. Get to the polls if you have to hop a Marta bus, call a cab, ride a scooter, or hitchhike.

Go test those voting machines. They may be suffering from a glitch-itch to cast a straight Republican ticket. Sticky little devils.

Help rid Washington of political corruption by voting for a team, genuine and presidential, intelligent and inclusive, substantial and grounded; vote Obama/Biden and steer this country to the mountaintop Dr. King glimpsed in a dream!

Obama's tax cuts will help working people, and not just put them on welfare-feeling rolls. The Obama/Biden Administration will tighten the straps on wasteful government spending and corset political waistlines, showing GOP movers and shakers how thoughtless the decision to drop big bucks on Palin's pantsuits, and use the excuse that when the Governor is finished styling and profiling, they will be handed down to charities. Somebody should poll the women waiting outside Goodwill to determine if they'd rather eat or shelter themselves or wear Palin's hand-me-downs. Maybe then we can talk about the necessity of having good decision-making skills before we via for a position as powerful as the Presidency and Vice Presidency.

Say thank you to those Republicans slashing their television advertising at Colorado's three biggest television stations. With your vote, let them know how sensible that move was!

Quit focusing on the Bradley Blunder Blooper! We know folks will say they're voting a particular way in certain audiences and slip behind the curtain and vote the opposite. You go do you---vote Obama/Biden and sing it loud proud all the way to the polls and back home! It'll get your lungs in party form. A celebration is forthcoming.

Vote for your great-grandparents and their parents who never imagined men of character could ever stand at the helm of a political party and reflect their interests.

Be charitable! Take somebody with you when you head to the polls. Each one, bring one. Remember: the more the merrier!

It's A Golden Life, for real, baby, and we're living in a time in which this country is called to live up to the true meaning of its creed, and be a nation where all men are created equal with the right to the pursuit of happiness---and that freedom and happiness must be safeguarded with an Obama/Biden ballot!

Golden Blessings,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On Casting Ballots...

I am proud to be an American. Proud that I live in a country in which I can cast a ballot for the presidential candidate of my choice. Elated that I could cast that ballot early, as I couldn't wait for Election Day to support Illinois Democrat Barack Obama and running partner Delaware Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

God bless the arenas of debates and election commentary and the Internet. These avenues permit you, my fellow Americans, and me to hear and read and discuss the deciding issues for ourselves. I stand staunchly with Barack Obama on the issues of Abortion, Health Care, Iraq, Economy, Taxes, Education, Housing and Immigration.

The 47-year-old loving husband and father, whose mantra of hope and change, changed the face of American politics forever. He stepped out of the Chicago, Illinois, masses, with his poised, graceful, beautiful, intelligent, charming, blockbuster of a First Lady, Michelle, to surpass the Clintons in taking a major party nomination, the first Black man to command such a prestigious position. Obama is the change this country requires to reposition itself on the home stage as well as the international one.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was accurate in saying, "...the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower." The Obama Administration will help widen the gap for all Americans to sit at the Welcoming Table for a share in the American Dream, for all children to receive a quality education and much-needed health care, for mothers to have the right to decide whether to abort or not, for American soldiers to return from an ambiguous war, for families to celebrate housewarmings instead of foreclosures, for immigrants and others seeking asylum to find inclusive legislature in place of bans and vetoes and go-home lobbying.

This country boasts a long history of immigrant blood, sweat and tears. How soon we forget. Why continue to legislate against those who are darker, speak Spanish or other languages, worship differently and cannot transfer their funds from Swiss bank accounts? If we all had to go back to wherever it was our ancestors came or were brought, stolen and in chains, there would be no one to legislate except Native Americans, who might be significantly challenged in doing so, considering the poverty, alcoholism, tuberculosis, and other major health issues they face on reservations today.

I commend Obama's choice for the vice presidency. Mr. Biden is said to possess a noted expertise in foreign policy and is experienced in matters of government and politics. He, too, is a loving husband and strong father, who has seen tough times in his personal life, yet he hurdled seemingly insurmountable odds to be the charismatic, 66-year-old leader that he is today. I admire Biden's humor, intelligence, experience and million-dollar smile.

Yes, I say the history-making team of Obama/Biden makes for a true example of "transformational figures," as Powell said of Obama. At this time, in this election, they are the rational, bankable choice. A ballot cast for them is the winning ticket; it is a vote for an America minus the bungled, ambushed, bushwhacked order of business of the present administration.

MERCY! Am I ever honored to be an American, to be able to say, as Kem sings, "what is on my mind." I agree Arizona Senator John McCain's campaign isn't the best for the country. At 72, he might have polished his glasses and looked around Washington, Phoenix, or somewhere and made a better decision for a running partner than a governor of a smidgen over 7,000 citizens. Or did he think he could control a smiling dynamo, whose gumption and ballistic charm and near-Jackie O hairstyle and take-no-prisoners, I mean pipelines, smile and marathon legs could steal an election? Shouldn't she be articulating sensibly on policy instead of announcing her soccer-mom status and pit bull ferocity and reaffirming her view that Obama had been "palling around with terrorists" because of his association with Bill Ayers, a 1960s-era radical. Excuse me, but did she not get the memo that some of her party playmates have a history of moonlighting and partying and palling and dining and spending with the likes of Bin Laden and his crew before the planes hit the bricks? And is she palling around with racists? Which is the lesser of the two evils?

It is written that Sarah says she believes traditional marriage is the foundation for strong families. And she supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Well, la dee dumb. Might someone articulate what sort of strength went into her government-defined and sanctioned marriage that showed her unmarried, teenage daughter the direct path to motherhood?

Republican Party leaders, do something. Lead! Strongly suggest that GOP backers spend campaign dollars on something more feasible than clothes. If reports are accurate, the cost of the Governor's designer wardrobe is stretching up towards $150,000, quite like, oops, that annoying pipeline that persists on tumbling out of a chilly deficit closet. Wouldn't those funds have been better spent on tutors to debrief the Good Glamorous Governor on national and foreign issues? And the media's new $100,000 question for the evening is, "Quite where do hockey moms shop?"

Voters, wake up! Wise up!

A ballot cast for McCain could conceivably be a ballot cast for a Palin Presidency. Those maverick eyes may be cocked for a more ambitious goal than the VP suite. Mister, beware, be leery, be anything but sleep, if a maverick wants your seat. But then, one's running partner knows her supporting role or job description, I think, though not according to a recent news report noting Palin's quote to third graders, whom she told her job would entail controlling the senate. Huh?

Voters, don't roll out of bed one morning and be looking like the surprised Alaskans somebody forgot to poll, wondering how she won those landslide elections on charm and big talk. Those marathon legs will be in expensive heels carrying out more far fetched policies and in stylish boots hunting more than bears and reindeer. Don't be fooled by the hype! For one reason, there isn't any hype. Just the fact that Condoleeza Rice, perhaps, could have been asked to bring the Governor up to snuff before the race began.

My Fellow Americans, see beyond the Color Line; you might see a rainbow. And hooray, a woman can barrel out of the masses and garner the national stage, (we know, 'cause Hillary sailed out and did just that, memorably so) but if a female candidate, same as a male contender, isn't saying ANYthing, she's a FIGURE head (oh no! Spirit, please let the next Lady Leader boldly step forward with charm, wit, intelligence, elocution, and a PLATFORM the people can understand and rally behind).

I cast my ballot not only for Obama, but also for Obama Girl! What a cute idea from a darling lovely who wears those eye-catching voter undies like only few can! Talk about braving the campaign stoop for a candidate---that little Missy will be singing and shaking and bringing in more than a few ballots for her Super Hero. Do what you do, Obama Girl!

Aaaaah! Thank God we Americans, who have eyes to see and ears to hear and minds to discern, can high jump couched media slants to race to the polls to vote for an America poised to embark on Liberation Trail and away from Tainted Legacy Row.

Now tell me, darlin', aren't you glad you're an American?

Te amo!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Savoring the Gift of Life....

Ooh the Euphoria of the Gift of Life!

Make no mistake, despite your belief or disbelief, life is a gift. You've heard it before, you'll hear it again..and might feel it, hopefully, before you reach the end of this entry (if you make it that far, and you should, considering I am making a conscientious effort to honor brevity).

Tonight I was reminded of this sweetly simple truth as I trekked around Stone Mountain, my celly clutched in my right hand, warming my earlobe with a queue of conversations. But one in particular slowed my pace, and marshaled my thoughts. Sharon and I chatted over the background music of her inquisitive children. So much so, I could barely hear her. I had to pause periodically to ascertain if she was speaking to me or to one of her little darlings. The four-year-old was vigorously suggesting she take him to McDonald's, while her daughter might have been singing. She was explaining why Mickey wasn't an option, and, listening, I mastered my inkling to bow off the line...until she casually mentioned the unmentionable.

The pretty, brown-skinned sistah sitting next to me at the feast, at the synagogue, did I remember her?

How could I not? She'd been a charming conversationalist, soft spoken and sisterly. We spoke of her hometown, the feast, my Sisterlocks, and her son, who appeared to be the hub of attention in a bevy of teenagers across the loquacious dining room. Her only son. Reminded me of my chap, when he was fifteen, hanging with his friends, Raphael and Rodney. Now my son is 22 and excitedly expecting his own papoose next April.

An original, her boy favored a typical teen, outside of a shock of curly blond hair under an unusual yet rakishly stylish hat that set him apart from other, hovering teens. He poked and prodded her when I first saw him. I was standing at the back of a serpentine, feast line outside the temple. He caught my eye. I admired the way he played with his mother so respectfully, so lovingly, incurring her playful wrath and dodging her poorly aimed pops and laughing into her eyes.

"That must be his mother," I commented, and Sharon nodded.

Upon closer observation, to my naked eye, they shared nothing in common, feature wise, except height, as both were virtual midgets, much like me.

Sharon smiled, shifting her weight while nursing an empty tummy. "That's her. They, too, come a long way to attend services."

We'd been speaking of several members who came as far away as Athens and other cities. One young lady, Christina, had discovered the temple online and come, alone, to celebrate Yom Kippur from a town beyond Athens.

I remembered everything as I walked, moving through the fast falling night. "Yes, I recall the sistah," I whispered, waiting.

Silence. "Her son died Wednesday."

I stopped moving then. Could be I missed something. Could be she meant to say something else, what with the children vying for her attention. I don't think the sidewalk vanished, but moving forward felt sacrilegious so I stopped to rewind time. "Wait. Did you just say----"

"Yes, he died. In a dirt bike accident." She couldn't provide more details.

In that instant, a thought, a reminder, to savor the beauty of life overwhelmed me. I breathed it in on the fresh Stone Mountain air, feeling Time intensify throughout my body. Around me, mysteriously, for the first time, as conversation had previously consumed me, the night began to scintillate with insect concerts, fallen leaves rustled, the breeze fingered my locs, and my eyes skirted the street towards the jet woods in hopes of catching another deer family frolicking on the edges of the lawn before a sentry of sleeping trees.

One day we're here, the next we've moved on.

But I'd just seen the sistah's boy last Thursday, and now this Thursday he was gone, leaving his mother to find her way in a coming maze of days, to seek the path towards normalcy, carrying with her the memory of the breaking of the waters that announced his birth. My heart went out to her. Then the sidewalk reappeared, and I walked forward on the thought that the sistah's son's life was a blessing to me, although I couldn't recall his name.

Seeing his jolly face once more, I savored, all over again, something I already knew---how precious life is. I understood how blessed the time we share with others. And I remembered that if others dishonored us with words and/or deeds far from up-lifting, then we should send them loving thoughts and move on, not allowing anyone to put us down.

Our lives are sacred, and sharing ourselves with others is one of the most beautiful gifts we can ever offer anyone. In short, I vow to use my gift to savor love and life instead of using it to weld the sword in the tongue.

Besitos y abracitos,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Visiting A Synagogue...

I joyously manage two e-mail accounts, which, at times, whip me worse than my dad, who used to line my siblings and me up, whenever we broke a household rule. Most days he nurtured ruthlessness, ears closed to everything outside of Mama's articulation of our day's sins. When she did so, Daddy's right arm went to work exercising a wide swing of correction! He's refined these days and doesn't whip at all now, being filled with grace, he is. And as for me...I reside in the state over from his. A woman, with other corrective joys, like my own judgment when I fail to write, I wrankle when neglected responsibilities prop me against the wall and spank me today. There are those times I overlook the e-reading and those Black-Eyed, e-mail Susans in my e-mails mushroom profusely across my e-garden, and I am sufficient spanked, my pointer finger practically disjointed.

So imagine my delight when I opened my infrequently used Yahoo account to discover an invitation to a Yom Kippur celebration from a beautiful friend from my hometown of Tuskegee Institute, AL. Yes! That was last Wednesday, October 8, and the gala was the following day. Talk about divine timing! Thank God I am a writer blessed to woman her own days, no longer having to suffer the loss of an arm, two legs and a specious sick-leave day just to attend. And no, in case you're wondering, no, I knew nothing of Yom Kippur before that day. All I knew for sure---as Oprah might say---was it sounded Jewish, although I didn't know my friendgirl to be Jewish. Anybody who was somebody from my Tuskegee childhood was either Baptist or Catholic, thereby forcing any other faith, in my mind, to practice unseen, underground or underwraps.

Forever ready to embrace something new, I leaped from my swivel chair, danced a quick gig, informed my daughter, who was lounging on the office sofa, reading, of my plans, and darted in my bedroom's walk-in closet to ferret a white cotton outfit, of which I have many...although all cannot themselves appear in a synagogue. Smart me, I'd questioned Sharon on what I should wear when I called in my confirmation. And from that moment to my hopping in Sharon's truck when she arrived the next morning with her two precious bundles in tow, I was filled with awe and excitement and a reverential respect, as I always am, for the Power that brings all blessings into our lives!

To my surprise the synagogue was practically around the corner from my house, at 4141 Bancroft Street, tucked away in a neat little green elbow, on the outskirts of a serene neighborhood.

Climbing the temple's concrete stairs, I was greeted by worshipers dressed in white, their mouths filled with the ready greeting, "Shalom." In the lobby, other worshipers waited to welcome me as I strolled along, amazed, enjoying the warm line of hugs before I entered the sanctuary.

Another unforgettable religious experience was about to begin. I entered the Beth Adonai congregation, led by Senior Rabbi Scott Sekulow, a powerful, quiet, welcoming presence on a stage of a pulpit and everywhere else at once, smiling and nodding and speaking softly to his varied flock of every racial group you cared to suggest. There was even literature in Spanish.

Now, if you're like me and Yom Kippur echoes something out of a wind you'd not felt on your face before, you'll appreciate background.

"Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year--the day on which we are closest to God and the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement." This I learn from the bright, well-done Kol Nidre: 10th of Tishrei, 5769 program inside my Beth Adonai Visitor's Folder. To be honest, Sharon vouchsafed as much when I called her the day before. "It's a place," she said, "where Jew and Gentile can worship together."

Huh uh! I think, vibrating with bliss. "I am sooo excited!"

"You'll love it. We're having a feast later. Messianic followers recognize the various celebrations in the Bible, in the Torah, like worshipers did in Biblical days!" Her voice rang, like mine, with the joy of us seeing one another again, after our six-year hiatus.

Our friendship had fallen off before the arrival of her latest angels. Therefore, the day was to be double blessed.

"Anything else you need to tell me before tomorrow?" I wanted to know.

"Yes, we fast in recognition of the celebration. "Ooooh! I'd have to think about that one. Yes, I'd fasted before, even going as far as to fast for one week and then one month, drinking only water and vegetable juices I juiced myself. But I had gotten cozy with fasting recently. I did, until a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch appeared before me---I forgot---the next morning, and was about half way through, before I dropped the spoon and ran for my white Indian headwrap to match my garment.

According to the Kol Nidre (all vows) program, "Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God, not for sins against another person." I found that to be most interesting and had to wonder if atoning for sins against other people existed in another celebration, or if that was to be done daily. Anyway, as for the fasting, I learned "Yom Kippur is the only fast day in the Bible. Abstaining from the pleasure of food is meant to improve one's ability to focus on repentance," as I somehow knew that abstaining from the pleasure of speaking brought me closer to the Divine, to Stillness Within. (Sharon's fast was to last for 25 hours, having begun at sundown the previous day.)

Now, you might be wondering, before I share more of my visit, what "all vows" might have to do with---the cost of rising, invisible gasoline, if you live in a few Southern states that shall go unnamed. And back to the program I remember that "All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce." Why relinquish and abandon one's personal vows? Mmmmm. Possibly to free us, I'm thinking, so that we can be OPEN to God's understanding of what is best, what is right for our lives, so that we will be receptive to blessings, and our eyes won't be closed, and judgmental, thwarting blessings that don't come packaged as we think they should. But that is only my estimation.

Wooooow! I sat amazed from beginning, from start to finish. We won't mention my experience ended at 8 P.M., as I opted to remain all day and through the feasting, of course!

The inside of the synagogue reminded me of a hall, maybe an old-time church meeting sort of set-up, with rows of chairs set up on both sides of the sanctuary. The center aisle led to the pulpit, far different from the ones to which I'm accustomed. There was a traditional podium; however, behind it, off to one side, was a large closet with a Tree of Life carved on its front. I wondered what was kept inside momentarily, but the two chairs on each side of the stage and a set of bongos and an erect mic and a drum set, an electric organ, behind a glass enclosure, commanded my attention. An eye-catching horn rested on a stand on the floor. It curled, no, waved, and looked peculiar. My eyes were bright with awe, scanning the side walls of blue and white wall hangings of the Lion of Juda, a Star of David, a dove, and an olive branch.

When the service started, the Rabbi blew the shofar, a horn used in Jewish religious ceremonies and the only Hebrew cultural instrument to have survived until now, and a blonde with an astoundingly beautiful voice, singing and speaking, began a chant and call, a liturgical dialogue between the congregation and the Cantor. Made me think of the Baptist church, where such a chanting sometimes takes place between the pastor or reverend and the congregation. Yet, in the synagogue, the liturgy was scripted, the worshipers following along from a wall screen on the stage showing the words in English and and Hebrew. For some of the songs and script, we referred to a Messianic Shabbat Siddur Prayer Book for use in Shabbat Services. Imagine my revelry upon discovering the book opened from right to left, same as the script read in Hebrew from right to left. I flipped the little book three or four times, wondering if I had the trick copy, before I figured it out!

The Cantor sang and read and the congregation responded so long, I stopped myself from leaning over to ask Sharon if this was going to be the extent of the service. If so, I din't want to be an added weight on her lap. Her little daughter was already flipping and turning and stretching and sleeping and periodically popping up to recite a bit of Hebrew she remembered from the last service.

It was a good thing the service eventually segued into the Rabbi coming up to relieve the Assistant Rabbi's wife, Louise Whittlemore, I believe, so that he could deliver his message, or I'd have been lulled under the sweet sounds of Hebrew into a peaceful slumber.

Then a most curious thing happened---think a Sisterlocked Alice in Wonderland. I stared up from the rabbit hole of my experience and watched a male worshiper open the doors of the mysterious cabinet. Once he did so, light shrouded the interior. To my utter amazement, a huge something, I was to soon learn was a Torah, which was first revealed at Mount Sinai and which now serves as a guide to Yeshua, the perfect atonement for sin.

Let's say you haven't seen a Torah. It's akin to looking at a giant scroll arrayed in a robe, for this ceremony, its garb is white. On its head is a silver crown, symbolizing that Yeshua is King. On its chest is a silverplate of brilliant colors representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Since the Torah is an actual scroll, with two thick wooden legs, that can be pulled apart when the parchment is read in a ceremony, it is the physical representation of God's sovereignty. The Assistant Rabbi walked the Torah around the congregation. As he did so, worshipers kissed the Torah and brought their fingers to their lips in reverence, like the woman who kissed the hem of the Savior's robe.

At the end of the service, Sharon went to get her gorgeous baby boy from the nursery, and we took the little ones to her eldest son, so that we could return to the temple. Within the hour, we were back. This time we joined other Jews and Gentiles viewing films, documentaries, on the Jewish tradition. From the beauty of the films, I gathered there are Black, Spanish, Indian and other Jews. Hmmmm. Can we say, Sammy Davis, Jr.

After another service, with my cell phone singing, rattling me, and Shirley needing to talk, I tipped to the back of the synagogue, where I listened, lending her my ear in a sun-splashed lobby. I listened so long the service ended, and congregationists spilled out of the main sanctuary and down the stairs into the dining room, where we enjoyed a Yom Kippur feast.

Throughout the merriment, I met others, spoke Spanish with several people, and discovered a simple joy sitting on the front steps of the synagogue, in my white Indian sari, smiling "Shalom" and "Bienvenidos" to everyone. Blessed, I climbed into Sharon's truck at 7:46 P.M., and I chalked up another day in Paradise.

Today, as I write this blog it is 6:52 P.M., I realize it has been writing me for several days. Have even taken a trip into Charlotte, N.C., and returned to finish writing it for most of the afternoon and evening. Am writing through a friend, Colettte's, conversation. And I realize I am Eve in her Garden of Eden. And as Eve, I will stroll out of this oasis to visit a mosque to embrace the Islamic faith, for I am a vessel shining with the Divine's light.

I blow the shofar, calling myself to Love at the start of each new day!

Besos y abrazos,


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

HUNGRY for all things Zedde...

I love reading!
Me encanta leer!
As a small girl in Waterbury, Connecticut, growing up on Wood Street in a three-story rambling home with a spacious backyard in which I felt confined during most of my early adolescence, I could be found in any cozy corner reading. Mystery novels. Nancy Drew mysteries, primarily. Though I was known to devour almost anything I could sneak and read. Which was inclusive of "Unca" Junior's girlie magazines. He called himself hiding them between his mattress, but, without too much effort or brain cells, I'd find them and hope like hell everyone would instantly disappear so I could savor them in solitude. Like I imagined he savored them!
So, yes, I've been hungry for the printed page and the printed magazine page (especially those with enticing layouts) for as long as I could decode words, sentences, paragraphs and stories.
And as such, I arrive at the reason why I'm ever and always ravenous for Fiona Zedde's hotly crafted, memorably rendered tales. You see...
Fiona Zedde is my favorite goddess with a laptop, weaving erotic yarns that wed me to characters who steal my heart, head, and hours. Since her initial elegant appearance on the ballroom floor of publishing, on which she struck a memorable pose with BLISS (which I re-read periodically, I love it so) and floated about the floor with intriguing style in A TASTE OF SIN and stayed our breath in the sexy footwork she showcased in the haunting EVERY DARK DESIRE, Fiona Zedde continues to electrify her growing audiences in the arousing performance that is HUNGRY FOR IT.
I remember it as though it were yesterday! The day I fell in love with Remi after diving into the opening chapters of SIN. That Remi had a sistah by the waist! And across her knees. Doing those unmentionable things I wanted her to repeat whenever I shut my eyes. So, yes, half way through the read, I was inextricably in love. And wanted more of such a jaw-dropping, enigmatic, alluring, dominant, intelligent, sexy, dirty, sensual, fun-loving woman.
And the very capable Zedde delivered.
In Zedde's latest page-turner, the stakes are high for my darling Remi, who has to juggle quite a few balls and remain up-right as her world crashes down around her expensive shoes. Mercy! Yvette, precious baby sister, appears on her doorstep out of the shadowy, turbulent past of her childhood. That tasty, loaded-gun of a cousin Wynne, shows up like I like my woman---right on time, when you need her the most. Kelia, and the whirlwind of backstory that flutters around her like so much snow in a paperweight, is intriguing. It's just enough to leave you perched on the edge of your seat, wondering how the next twist of events will unravel itself. And goodness! How Kelia ties in with the bruiser of a presence, the rival club owner, will bow your head in appreciation for plot development and pace!
And as always, Zedde dishes the spiciest eroticism. Beautiful women abound, splayed fabulously across her pages, open, wet and ripe! Let us say all night, precisely as I like to see them. That scene with the teeth-grinding, fine Nakamura sisters melting themselves across every part of Remi's delicious body. The smell of sex oozing from Monique's leather corset and miniskirt, a fitting uniform for any Gillespie waitress.
But Zedde tops herself in the enchanting development of character, when she culls Remi's Claudia, a woman who must "choose" to love, facing odds and fighting not to bow to stinging criticism. Will she bow to the love of a much younger, breathtaking lover, one some might rightfully dub as near incestuous? Will Claudia and Remi risk Dez's love? Better yet, will the delicate, intelligent Claudia, a classic beauty, permit herself to love the unimaginable, Claudia's decision compounded by the pelting stings of her ex-husband's ridicule and most importantly, a future minus passion.
You'll have to read this beautifully crafted novel to discover for yourself the power of Zedde's pen and imagination and the touch of her sensual scenes. To see Remi inhale Claudia, whenever they meet, is a tour of force, a sheer work of art. My flesh sings remembering how passionately Remi and Claudia love. Under Zedde's hypnotism, one reads and longs for love, passionate love, not the specious fling for which some settle.
No matter what your sexual orientation, no matter if you like it soft or hard, take a chance, if you haven't already, and invite Fiona Zedde to the ballroom floor. I assure you, the interlude will last and last, until the floodlights fade...and even then, your mind will exhale your imminent satisfaction.
As always, when I arrive at the culmination of a Zedde novel, my soul screams, "GIVE ME MORE!" Then I pray, O Goddess, let there be more in the next release. At HUNGRY's end, I wanted more of the healed hurt between Dez and Remi. More of the bonding between Remi and Claudia and Dez and Tori. More of Sage and Remi's other sexy friends. More of that fine-ass Wynne. Just MORE.
But pages are pages, and the contemporary novel hovers somewhere under 340 pages. Se la vie......
Thus, I encourage reluctant, never-read-her-before readers to step out of musty shells. Don different colors. Read Zedde and be blessed. For at the end of your journey, I wish you no regrets.
Besitos y abrazos,

Friday, October 3, 2008

O! The Joys of Embracing Another Language

My first blog (applause, applause) and I am incredibly proud of myself. Finally I have made good of my intention to woman a blog. Last night was the Big Night, but after the deed was done, a sistah was too tired to even write the lovely thing! So I took my happy self to bed, decidedly elated!
O the joy of embracing another language!
Just as I am typing these words, the thought fills my head to be adventurous and begin a blog in Spanish. Talk about practicing what one loves. That would be a true challenge, not to mention reading a novel in Spanish. That's what I'll do to exercise my mental muscles next!
Ever since I was a girl in Waterbury, Connecticut, which is presently a ghost town of what it once was, I loved learning and embracing the Spanish culture that I encountered in the beloved company of my mostly Puerto Rican girlfriends, although I did think Otto Arroyo, whom I was told has since made his transition, was adorable, my Puerto Rican girls took my breath away. Ada Duvallon, "Edita," to her Cuban family, who moved to Waterbury when I was attending Kennedy High School, was my only Cuban friend. I'm sure falling in love with them helped my tongue pronounce and cuddle and cradle the different music that Spanish is in my mouth.
Talking about Spanish in my mouth makes me think of what an American Spanish teacher once shared with me. She said, "Spanish is spoken at the front of the mouth, thus one hears the beauty of the rapid, machine-gun sounds; English is spoken from within the mouth." An apt description indeed! I pictured English sounds coming out fleshed and full and rolling like white-capped waves moving leisurely towards an expectant shore, as opposed to Spanish waves hitting the beach in rippling, impulsive, pounding and lapping musical crescendos!
My love affair with Spanish began early. When I spoke it with my middle-school girlfriends, perplexed expressions would pucker my teachers' faces, and inevitably, at the beginning of the school year, several would ask, "What are you---a Black Puerto Rican?" They were amazed at how easily I communicated with my Spanish peers. It seemed I never had to wrestle my tongue in all-night marathons to master the double r's or l's (as in "perro" or dog and "llevar" or to carry). The feat came naturally. And as passionately as Selena belting out the love ballad "No Me Queda Mas."
In high school, the love affair continued. Only the stakes were heightened. For not only did I learn to sit perfectly still and listen to and appreciate the melodious chatter of my girlfriends, Norma Gonzalez, Margarita, Edith, and of course mi amada amiga Ada, the ones who glide easily to the forefront of my memory, but also I met true femininity up close and personal gazing at Margarita, who, had she been a drink, I'd yet be intoxicated! She was the manifestation of all things female. When she moved, to execute the smallest of chores, the lifting of a pencil, the smoothing of her skirt, she charmed me, left me wholly enamored. Those petal pink fingernails on the tips of long, delicate fingers stilled my speech. It's a wonder and a blessing I passed the tenth grade, enraptured as I was in the mesmerizing way she ran those fingers through that long black Latina hair. Watching it ripple down her back was a hormone-raging turn-on. And when those lips got ready to pout and utter ANYTHING, the world ceased rotating, same as my blood suspended circulating...oh but to hear a waterfall of Spanish tumble from those lips again.
Mi Dios, mi Dios!
My middle and high school days, as fascinating and filled with the joy of all things Spanish---standing in Norma's kitchen watching her papi play with his "nietos" until his grown children came to get them and eating in Ada's kitchen, listening to her mami, with the smell of frijoles and carnes and smells I didn't know to recognize and sitting on Margarita's stoop admiring her big strappling dark-haired primo newly arrived from las montanas of Puerto Rico and whispering in Spanish to Norma about who Otto was taking to the school dance and looking into Edith's butch eyes while she inhaled me as if I were aromatic coffee plumes---when these delights went the way of all good things, straight into yesterday, I eventually left Waterbury. Never to see mis amigas again. I returned 25 years later, for the funeral of my beloved Uncle or "Unca" Junior, the first of my father's siblings to fall like a magnificent oak in the night.
The nose of my familia's monstrous yellow U-haul and caravan of cars was headed to Tuskegee, Alabama, my parents' homeland. Once there, I attended the historic Tuskegee Institute University, carrying on my love affair with Spanish by minoring in the language. Again, I plunged into the music of the cherished sounds. I practised daily. I wrote, breathed, ate, moaned, cried, sighed and cheered in Spanish. No, it didn't matter that I had no one outside of a few of my enthusiastic classmates with whom to practice. At first. So, I surfed through the years and garnered "Most Fluent" and other honors during Awards Night programs. Maravillosa! But I was always missing someone with whom to practice.
When college years became a sweet memory, I felt the horror of my Lady Love slipping away from me. Somehow I'd convinced myself my Spanish love affair had slid all the way down the Hill of Passion. And it had, until one day, when I was orchestrating College Board workshops in the Southern Region, I came across a Latina, who was working in the hotel in which I was staying. She served me water and bread. I served her a smile and second helpings of conversation, in Spanish. She corrected my Spanish; I proofread her English. We were thrilled with one another.
"You want to learn Spanish?" Her button brown eyes twinkled. "You get you a Spanish boyfriend."
Never had the notion crossed my mind. And I couldn't help but translate for myself.
"Hmmm. Get a Spanish girlfriend and get it done."
But I had not climbed down from the slowly crumbling stage on which I was standing. Mi ex-esposo had not run away. I hadn't yet accepted the truth I could make it without him, that he wasn't Jesus. That my world wouldn't implode if I stepped off the buckling front steps for the last time.
Gradually, everything changed.
After I packed my bags and drove across Panola Road to set up house in a new luxury apartment, I flapped and opened my wings. And found my wingspan was incredible. Strengthened by the love and support of my family, and my faith in self, I flew off into the rest of mi vida.
On the plateau of my today, I embrace the joy of speaking another language with whomever comes within inches of my face. And that means everyone. The Blockbuster cutie who asked if my son and I were Dominican. He'd not known the common everyday garden variety Black people, like himself, to speak Spanish. I only smiled, said I loved the taste of Spanish on my tongue and led him in a quick lesson, remembering to praise him for trying.
Now, since I gave myself permission to make everyone my special someone with whom to share my love of the language, I have become more fluent, more confident. Native Spanish speakers compliment me. Strangers engage me by calling on their long-gone days of sleeping in high-school Spanish classes. But there are those who make their positions known in different ways. My precious sister/friend of 30-plus years, my longest-standing friend girl, Anita Lynn, who bears a Spanish surname, is quick to check me. "I AM TOO TIRED TO TRANSLATE. My brain is fried! I don't want to hear it!" At those times, I chuckle and revert quickly into English. Then there's my beloved Gina, who chides me about speaking Spanish to her as if she understands. "I don't understand that stuff!" Yet, she is a darling, forever presenting me with the opportunity to practice with Spanish speakers, even down to promising she will travel to Spain or Costa Rica with me so that I can dance my tongue around the language all day long!
The Universe opens---for whatever we want.
Before I could complete the thought of immersing myself in Spanish, the answer was already there. I began to see opportunity everywhere. Instead of scrolling through the site admiring the enchanting ladies that I hoped were tucked away behind the beautiful pictures there, I sent out an SOS to my Latina sisters for someone with whom to converse, and my clarion call delivered the gorgeous Angelita Regia in Monterrey, Mexico, and the stunning Azucena in Sarasota, Florida. Between them, a sistah chats to her corazon's content! "Estoy muy contenta!"
And my testimony continues...
When I fire up my IM now, my new attractive, bubbly, blonde, Melaleuca business partner, Mary Ann, is desirous of speaking Spanish with me, answering my "Como estas?" quickly, willingly. She's hilarious, recapping stories about not paying attention in Spanish class years ago. Now she's planning a vacation back to Honduras and wants to be verbally vacation competent before next summer. Charming Colette, says she dreamed a nasty little dream that EVERYONE had to know Spanish to keep their jobs. Yikes! Rika, an adorable baby butch I recently met, has invited me to call, phone, IM or tex her in Spanish. Fabulous Angelique, or "Big Red," called one day last week to tell me that she dreamed she was speaking Spanish with me, and although she does understand a great deal beyond a general salutation, said, in the dream, she was as fluent as I was.
My darling college sister friend Mrs. Major and I often speak of the love her Latino students have for her because she, like me when I was in the classroom, embraced their culture, the language, their food, and the holiday Cinco de Mayo. Likewise, like me, Mrs. Major is a drum major for diversity and tolerance.
Cynt, my new friend of the magnificent guns every time she flexes, has asked that I teach her Spanish. So, I speak to her in Spanish, and she answers in English. I love our exchange! It reminds me of my dialogue with my son, who prefers it the same way.
And just today, to land this jumbo jet of a post, when I ventured into Miss Julie's award-winning Jamaican restaurant for lunch, Miss Julie's hubby asked me to come again and teach him Spanish, because today, Friday, was not a Spanish-speaking day in their place. I fell out laughing. "Only English today, my friend," he teased me. Miss Julie, the beautiful wife, watched me, a huge smile plastered on her sun-brown features. "You are a fire cracker!" she praised, passing us, me and my son and my new daughter, Styrofoams of curry goat and cabbage and plantains and jerk chicken and beans and rice and beef patties and banana pudding and bread pudding. "Caramba! Una mujer estuvo muy lleno y fui muy contenta. Si, era un delicioso dia de veras!" And what did I do? "Te prometo!" I promised, taking note of the restaurant's location. The promise shouldn't be very difficult to keep. I'll simply bring my next date or my sister or my twin brother.
In closing, I advise everyone to stretch, to venture into building bridges across the divide of neighborhoods and cultures and tradition, and to broaden their horizons.
Don't add to the negative like the students on CNN last month. A group of students, it seemed, wanted the school system to make it a cardinal sin for Hispanic students to speak Spanish in school. If they are minding their own business, I say, they can speak whatever they like, just like the students calling for their heads. And if they are mastering their lessons, in whatever classes, then they can speak whatever brings them joy. The same students calling for the termination of Latino rights to communicate in their first language, talking about these students could be ridiculing them in Spanish, should check themselves. They might find they ought to have studied enough Spanish already to embrace friendship instead of war. Too many of our young people, and older folks, would rather separate themselves and ferret a reason to construct walls than master, "Hola! Como esta?"
Bienvenidos todo el mundo!