Friday, February 25, 2005
Not since The Coldest Winter Ever has there been a story to provoke the emotions and realness of growing up in the hood. This book is a cross between literary and street fiction.
-- Shelia M Goss
I turned back around and stared at the floor. I could feel Scottie’s eyes on me but he didn’t say anything. I listened as another speaker was introduced. I toyed with my hands and thought about Grammy. I closed my eyes and tried to listen to her voice. I remembered when she would tell me to close my eyes and find peace. She used to say that women in today’s world needed to do that more often because women always trying to be everything to everybody else. I tried to find peace because I was pissed off and sad at the same time. And for some reason, what Grammy used to say wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t find peace at all. I only found anger and bitterness.
I opened my eyes and looked toward the front. I could finally see Grammy lying in her casket. Only her face was visible to me. She had a peaceful smile. I didn’t like that they had a lot of make up on her. Grammy never really wore any. She was beautiful without and always encouraged me not to wear too much. She would have me laughing, talking about women who wear too much make up. She especially hated to see young women with dark lipstick on.
She say “life is already hard enough so a woman shouldn’t be making herself look like a wolf cookie knocking on death’s door!”
Grammy was funny like that but I knew that her main thing was to always instill in me what it took to be a lady. Without Grammy, I’d have to find my own route toward womanhood.
Monday, February 21, 2005
This road got stories that never been told. They always say that once you take Marietta and travel beyond where the trees meet at the end, you ain't never coming back. You done decided that you ready to embark on a new life. I always scared to go to the edge but I been close to it. Sometimes I get on my bike and travel half way up Marietta Road. Then I just stand there, wait, watch and listen. Sometimes when I stand there, I feel like somebody watching me. It's like this little road got eyes and you can hear it whispering when the wind blows.
One day when I stood there, I heard this rumbling noise coming to the right of me. It sounded like a tractor. I hid in the bushes and waited. I was right when I said it was a tractor but I was surprised who was driving. It was my cousin Sammy. He was driving about as fast as that tractor able to go. I look at his face and his eyes look fixed on the direction he was going. Then as he almost get to the end, Sammy pull the tractor over. He just sit there for a while like he thinking. He have me worried because I dont know what's gonna happen. I've heard so many stories but never seen until this moment how Marietta Road affect people. Sammy sit there for a long time and then he pull out a cigarette. He light it and start smoking. I stepped out from behind the bushes and start to walk toward Sammy but I dont say a word. I walked carefully so as not to startle him. Sammy just staring at the opening formed by the trees touching each other. And because it get so dark that opening seem like a white light leading you to the promised land. Only trouble with thinking about the promised land is that it means you gotta make a choice to do something you ain't never tried before. I thinks about it all the time and that's what Sammy was doing while sitting in that tractor. He knew that if he go through that opening, he done commit himself to a whole new direction in life. If he come back right away, we all gonna talk about him. But if he stay gone then he just gonna fuel all the old stories that we constantly heard. Travel up Marietta and pass through that opening, you ain't never coming back.
Sammy tossed his cigarette to the ground and started the engine back up. He finally noticed me standing there watching. Sammy waved and told me to be good.
"See you on the other side!" Sammy said.
He disappeared into the light and that was it. Sammy was gone and I wanted to go too but I knew I had to wait for my time. I couldn't just do it because I'd seen someone else. I wasn't ready yet. I was too young and hadn't listened to enough stories to prepare myself for what's on the other side. My day would soon come...
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Mother Nature's been having fun with Southern Cali folks... Seems like she aint too keen on wearing sunglasses just yet so she decided to keep the flow of rainfall at a constant downpour. Life's been really wet in the city of angels. Driving skills been tested everyday and LA drivers usually fail that. I've done my best to avoid the same downfalls and to appreciate the glimmer of light when the sun pokes it's head out. It's sort of like being patient because you have no doubt that the best days are ahead. Or being patient because you know one smile can lead to another if you're doing things for the right reasons. That's the best kind of motivation. The kind that greets you during unexpected daydreams of candlelit dinners or a midnight hug somewhere because something deep inside told you to say "yo, It'll be Valentines Day tomorrow. Meet me at midnight under the stars..."
In my dream, she'll say yes but in a John Legend sort of reality, it aint happening but a brotha can dream...dream...imagine... For those that dont know J.L., he sings a song called "Take It Slow." Patience Mister Anthony, a friend tells me.
For the most part, patience is a beautiful thing because in between all the realities, I've got dreams for days... Those dreams keep me on track because as I said before, my purpose and each step that I pursue is mean't for all the right reasons...
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
I had a late 70's kind of day... For some reason I felt like filling up my CD changer with some old school sounds... I kicked it off with one of my favorite all time classics, Fresh by Sly & The Family Stone... You cant beat the natural funk of this joint. Sometimes I wish Prince would remake this entire album because I think he can sometimes be Sly reincarnated when he gets really funky and sings with that old Camille voice that he used to do.. Fresh is an incredible album... I remember driving to work last year on a Sunday and hearing this song called Thoughtful N' Thankful, which is one of my favorites off this collection. I kind of laughed that they used this song to represent some early Sunday morning gospel but at the same time I thought that was mad cool to do... And then my favorite track is a song called Frisky because it is just that, musically..
I achieved that feeling of funkiness so I decided to change the pace. I put in some old Rufus & Chaka Khan. Please Pardon Me sort of reminded me of my aunt Tamer back in the day. Actually, anytime I hear some old Chaka it reminds me of my aunt and her best friend, Annie. I used to laugh at Annie because I could read her mind as if I were able to peel the imaginary label off that she'd placed on my forehead. That label read a little something like "Oooh, I can't stand this chile!" Ha ha!! I have no clue why but I guess it was one of those things... Pack'd My Bags and Stop On By also highlight this collection that brings sweet memories of Cali days going to see family at my grandmother's apartment...
Once I hear Parliament, I'm immediately transported back in time to my Houston Texas days hanging with my father and going backstage at the concerts. He typically would be the promoter of the Parliament/Funkadelic shows in Houston along with his buddies that made up Family Productions. Big George, Steve, George Frazier and others... Those were some interesting characters that my father was surrounded by. I can definitely say that dad lived his life and saw a lot in the process... I'm living too though I aint so sure I'll see as much as he did. Mothership Connection was so funky live and in living color... Being a kid, I was amazed and scared at the same time about all those funny cigarettes and that smell that filled the auditorium like a thick dust cloud while folks partied non-stop to a beat you just couldn't resist...George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Eddie Hazel. I even seen them perform when they had that dude from the Spinners (Phillippe Wynne) in the group. That was some craziness back then and then I remember how this member of Parliament's management team was talking to my father so excitedly about a future project. I was excited too and all the while trying to be my dad's little bodyguard, keeping my eyes and ears constantly open... This guy was describing a future show to my father. He said, "dig this, Virg. Next time we come out, we gonna be performing inside of a big fish aquarium. They gonna flip out cause this aint never been done.." Dad laughed and I would later drive him crazy asking him how they gonna sing underwater without drowning.. Dad said "he just talkin, son."
I ended this chilly night in February listening to some Isley Brothers while driving underneath the stars.. I passed by some folks that had an accident in the canyon. They were standing around trying to figure out what happened while the police tried to make sense of it too. Out of respect, I turned down the music but once I'd gone up further and they were out of sight, I cranked the music back up, extra loud... For The Love Of You and Make Me Say It Again, Girl just plain sounded good!! I can definitely see myself playing the Isleys all the way through Valentines Day. I wish I had a memory of love to attach to the music but mostly what I see is afros and family, the Kool Jazz Festival in San Diego, the Summit Arena in Houston and when I poisoned some gold fish by pouring Brut Cologne in their water. I have no clue what I was thinking... Strangeness there...The music brought back memories of my uncle Richard always on the phone talking to some girl. My uncle Charles was the coolest and could knock anybody out. My aunt Tamer knew all the latest dance moves and me.... I was just me. I still am and all this good music had me feeling fabulous today... I might play a little more tomorrow...(smile)
Monday, February 07, 2005
Sunday, February 06, 2005
When you find yourself pining away at the realities of life, time never sits still long enough for you to say everything you wished to say. Most times, the best things don't hit you until it's way too late... You gotta find a way to relax even on impulse. Say what's on your heart, your mind, your soul. Be passionate in your delivery without being too agressive, which would only cause retreat in the person picking up on your over anxious vibe...
Truth is the almost poetic bounce shared between two people feeling each other out. The anticipation keeps you floating as if God gave you wings you aint deserved yet. Motivation and inspiration look and feel the same. Your eyes look different because they smile too. Your heart bleeds because it wants you to see something that aint real....yet... but you imagine it anyway because it feels nice; real nice...
Truth is for me something that was once said. It's something that I live by or come back to whenever anger gets the best of me and I lash out with unkind, deeply rooted wishes... My grandmother once said that what you remember about a woman will teach you a lot about yourself. It's like a mirror and a way to measure what kind of foolish pride you have depending upon how you speak in hindsight. There's only one person from my past that qualifies for the negative thoughts that I may possess in my heart about a woman but I try my best to limit those thoughts exclusively to her. I've been able to move on pretty good... And as a friend once told me, God has a way of removing those negative forces from a persons life if you are truly deserving... I believe I am and the proof is in my unforced actions... What I give I rarely have to think about. It's all about what I feel and I make sure my route is paved in sincerity with strong doses of caring, admiration, appreciation and if I'm blessed with the gift that I love the most in return? Whew... watchout because I give the best damn HUGS IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!!! Toot-toot-toot'n my own horn! (smile) And the hug is that gift which I speak of...
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Today was one of those days when I felt like I was tongue tied in heaven, bursting at the seams and wanting to scream out the reason why. I kept it to myself. I wanted to savor this flavor for a while and let it continue to make me smile from within.
A long time ago I started saying to myself, every moment means everything. I'm not even sure why those words came to me but it's something that I live by and with that said, I'm very thankful especially for those little moments that I document emotionally inside myself. To the reason today I say, thank you...
Tonight I picked up what will probably turn out to be one of my most favorite movies of all time; Ray. I love this movie and of course I'm looking forward to seeing Jamie Foxx win the Oscar for his incredible portrayal of Ray Charles. I mention this movie not so much because of the obvious, which is the genius of the man himself and the incredible acting genius of Jamie Foxx. I mention this because some of the great scenes portrayed in flashback when Ray was a child bring back memories of times I spent with my grandmother, Senora Rivers not too long ago at the end of her life.
After my father passed away, I had to be the one to make decisions on her behalf. It was tough because there were folks coming out of the woodwork trying to take what belonged to she and I. Fake friends, deceitful family... Greed was at an all time high trying to take everything and they almost succeeded. I can thank my mother for helping me get through that though I know it almost drove her crazy too.
One day, when I made a trip to Texas to visit with my grandmother, I sat on the edge of her bed and listened to her attempt to speak. At this time due to parkinsens disease she was unable to communicate very well. I prayed constantly that she could get better and return to the strong, always giving everybody a piece of her mind woman that she was before. She wouldn't stand for the way things went down after my father died. She could do nothing but lay there and watch me go through it.
I remember sitting in silence with her for a good thirty minutes. Well, it wasn't complete silence because of the television. At the time Oprah was on. Funny thing, in Mt. Pleasant Texas, Oprah's show is on two channels at the same time and at my grandmother's house with her old style antenna and no cable, all she could get was three stations. Oprah was the best choice at that time and grandma seemed to be enjoying it. Then she looked at me. Her hands were shaking and she could barely form the words she wanted to say. It frustrated her and I could see tears traveling down the side of her face. She turned her head and stared at a picture of my grandfather, which she always kept close by. For some reason, I felt like I should leave the room so I got up from the edge of her bed. I guess she felt me moving so she said something that sort of stopped me in my tracks.
Grandma said "you remember him, dont you?"
She slurred the words so much that it took her a few tries before she got the whole sentence out, but I didn't mind. I would've stood there for hours just to hear her say anything. Her mind was still very strong but she just wasn't able to communicate all of her thoughts.
I told grandma "I'm too much like him to forget..."
"That's right, baby, that's right..." she said.
Grandma's eyes filled up with tears and she couldn't say much more. I checked on her an hour later. When I peeked my head inside her room she smiled. She asked me if I was hungry. I told her I was. Then after she asked her next question, she erupted into silent laughter with more tears to follow but she smiled as if she were very pleased. She looked very proud...
She said "you got money, don't you?"
It was a good day then, and today.... I'm thankful....