Read it. Look through the pictures. But, mostly, share it.
It was suddenly too quiet. The loud clank of my dryer, reminding me that there would be clothes to fold, had stopped. I only knew because I wasn’t even aware of that whir and clank anymore. It was like a friend who hummed and clicked a song throughout the day. So, when it stopped, it sounded like an alarm clock of silence.
I walked to the dryer and pushed the button. Nothing.
I turned the dial. Nothing.
I began to panic as I looked at all the laundry left to do, knowing the guy who fixes my dryer would say he couldn’t be here until later, maybe even next week.
The panic arose from the sick feeling that I might have to enter and remain in a Laundromat. The TVs, the screaming kids, the inevitable heat, the creepy guy who doesn’t seem to have any laundry, and the memories of it all laughed at me. But, WordPress got in the way.
An Even Bigger Challenge
Caught between the daily post and this BraveSmartBold blog, I was faced with an even bigger challenge.
Do I panic for real? Or, can I be brave, smart, and bold by fixing my problem with a grace and wisdom that eludes us when faced with difficult dilemmas.
I chose the latter, which didn’t seem that difficult as I was throwing all the dirty clothes into garbage bags. I grabbed my computer and triumphantly found a simple solution to what could’ve been a freak-out session, complete with yelling at my husband for buying a cheap dryer and handling it like the Hulk’s victims.
Inside the Coin Laundry, however, my triumph fizzled. The familiar sound of my whirring, clackety dryer sounded instead like an old train with a loud, Spanish conductor. The Spanish show blaring overhead screamed a game show complete with dancers. And, there was the guy except he had a load of laundry, I think.
I felt like a mouse in a maze with the enormous silver and blue washers stacked in blocked patterns with no room to walk except in scattered rows, signposts explaining which was what. A bright-blue counter with chipped red paint grinned at me. A heavy-set woman handed me a tattered business card that said Herbal Club on it and she pointed to a back room with a sheet for a curtain.
I had already begun to sweat.
“You knew this would happen,” my BraveSmartBold voice told me.
“Just load the laundry and write a post,” the WordPress voice told me.
And, I enjoyed every minute of it.
Her notes struck the incessant thoughts from my brain. Each punch on the keys left me thinking only of the beauty the world had to offer, the drops of rain hitting the pool, the light touch of a butterfly.
I know when I’ve lost our fights because my daughter looks away from me, sits, and plays her piano.
I look at her in a state of reverence when she ignores me, her mother, her teacher, her prodder, her leader, her tormentor.
The sounds bleed from a part of her that no piano teacher could ever touch. She knows the notes from ages ago and I know I have no right to interfere in their delivery to this small space she’s found in a limitless dimension, so I stand distant, yet affected.
Her sounds leave me inferior and that’s when I know I can mother her from a place of love, bowing to the majesty of understanding music with only her ears.
A book, a lesson, exists somewhere but never meets this moment when she sits and creates from her soul. She plays by ear.
My daughter blocks my noise, my pressure to do, to checklist, to become and achieve. She seals my lips shut with a sound, the universal sound of song without words: music.
Times when I need her to listen, I have been cut short by the piano.
With her long, tangled hair draping her shoulders, she defies me. And, I’ve learn my lesson.
I stop my rant and listen.
That music plunges into every empty pocket of the house. No one speaks when she plays. She knows this and so do I.
The humility of knowing that my child may know more than me smacks me in the face.
A few sounds later, she leaves the song behind and we’re smiling again.
My Great Grandma stood, hands on hips, staring out the sliding-glass door as the rain pelted the concrete. “What we need is a hurricane,” she said, her gray, cropped, curly hair making her look wise and crazy, which is exactly what I thought when I first heard her words.
But that wasn’t even the crazy part. The insane part materialized a week or two later when a hurricane, or the beginnings of one, showed up on our doorstep.
So, not to sound crazy myself, when I stood at the sliding-glass door a few weeks ago, the heat melting my brain, the humidity making it hotter, and said, “We need a hurricane,” I wasn’t that surprised when Isaac came rattling over our doorstep.
Shuttered in my house in Miami, feeling restless in my cave, I watched the wind and rain scatter tree limbs and fill the pool with water and debris. I thanked the Great Spirit for letting us keep our electricity this time, remembering Wilma’s punishment and hoping everyone in Isaac’s path would stay safe. Then I returned to my childhood when tropical storms and hurricanes meant huddling in our house with our cousins and watching Martial Arts on TV until the electricity went out.
We had never experienced anything too horrible or at least I didn’t remember much about it.
I did, however, remember the one that had devastated Miami. After my Great Grandma died, Hurricane Andrew left me in an apartment with no way out, fallen trees trapped me for days, a visiting New Yorker cried over a crushed car. I stood in long lines for water and volunteered to help people in shelters.
Then my mind returned home to Isaac and I thought, “Why the hell did she say that we needed a hurricane? That is crazy.”
I pulled down some containers with old photographs and cried when I saw her. She had been my best friend when I was little. I’d sit on the floor and play with her canister of buttons while she watched General Hospital. She told the best stories on our walks to Winn Dixie down the street from her house. She even took the time to tell me to try one of her cigarettes, which I’d been eyeing for quite a while. When I choked on the smoke, she said, “Won’t do that again will you?” Then she made me a sandwich, and we read a book together.
Now, listening to Isaac’s rain as I sat in my house, in the dark, with man-made light keeping me up, I sifted through pictures, hoping something would trigger my memory, asking why she had said we needed a hurricane. I really didn’t want her to be crazy.
Please, don’t be crazy.
But, I finally got tired and gave up, sliding all the pictures together and putting them away. I kept some out and found some frames but decided to save them for another rainy day project.
Listening to the rain hit the shutters, I dosed off then my body jolted awake.
I took a different perspective. My mind’s eye panned away from Great Grandma looking even more silly and loveable in her terry-cloth jumper. As she kept staring out the sliding-glass door, she glanced back at us: me, my mom, her mother, and my sister. We were busy fighting. We were also sweating. I couldn’t remember what the fight was even about, but my Great Grandmother’s glances were angry. She was sick of the heat, and she was even more sick of our fighting.
Then I heard her explanation. “We need that hurricane to cool everyone off. You hear me? You all need a good storm to show you what really matters,” she grumbled, stomping off to her bedroom and lighting a cigarette.
When the storm hit, we not only stopped fighting, we hugged each other. Huddled together in a bathroom, we worried about each other. We wondered who we could help, how could we help.
My Great Grandmother was wise and crazy, just crazy enough to know how a hurricane could stop fights.
Political parties always have strange agendas that don’t make sense to us, the voters. This particular comment, remark, announcement, opinion, call it what you want, severs the idea of debate and open dialogue.
This isn’t just ignorance at its worst. This is injustice for all.
Leonard Pitts JR. always cuts through the crap and hands you an honest insight into the babbling idiots surrounding us.
Read it for yourself.
Back to school bullies conjure up all sorts of images. I still remember my first beating, girl-style. I still cringe when near a school cafeteria–that loud clatter of trays, sharp voices stinging my ears, and the mean girls.
The Art of Punching with Words
You remember don’t you? She walks up to you in the lunchroom, her pretty teeth flashing from beneath a sweet smile, a bow in her hair. You think, “Wow, I’m so lucky. She’s trying to make friends with me.” You smile back.
But, there’s nothing nice about her smile. She’s only practicing her punch. She plans to use you to make herself more powerful.
Girls punch each other with words.
“Hi,” she pauses, ”Look, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but your food smells. Please stay away. Why don’t you move to the other table. Thanks.”
Her question is a command.
She says it all in an even tone with a slight whine on the “Thanks.”
She’s clearly mastered the art of punching with words. Her victim usually bows her head and moves away, sitting alone at another table for the remainder of the school year.
Girl power packs a deeper punch.
With all the girl power in the forefront of the news and media, no one seems to get to the core of a very real divide among women and girls. Mean girls still rule the roost.
My daughter learned this first-hand last year.
My daughter had grown taller than the rest of the fourth graders. She preferred boy shorts instead of skirts and tiaras. Oh yeah, and she liked to eat.
All this of course made her an easy target for mean girls.
They started surreptitiously.
In the mornings, they pointed out a flaw, which wasn’t really a flaw. “I like your ponytail.” Then POW, “Oh my god, look. You have a bump in your hair. Let me fix it for you.”
Then they fumbled with her hair until she marched off to the bathroom and ripped her ponytail out of her hair. She then let her hair hang walking with her head down becoming the monster they wanted her to be.
Bullies love lunchrooms.
Her worst nightmare lived in the lunchroom. When she unpacked her lunch, a chicken sandwich, they held their noses and slid away from her. “Your lunch smells. I can’t stand it. Go to the other table,” they whined.
Those few sharp words effectively damaged her self-esteem and isolated her at the same time. She didn’t want to be around them, and she definitely didn’t want to eat.
I felt so frustrated when we’d get home and she’d be starving, gorging down any morsel in sight.
But, later, in that quiet space right before bed, she told me why she did that. She said she was afraid they’d make fun of her again.
I then became her shoulder to cry on with bits of advice along the way.
So, this year, she plans to fight back with her anti-bullying campaign. She created a poster depicting a bully-busting superhero resembling wonder woman.
Most likely, she’ll become an even bigger target because she’s fighting back in a loud and clear way.
They will talk. And, they will do it with those same spiteful yet artful words.
You know what I’m talking about. Look around you, the gossip of mean girls still streams over the Internet, the television, the news. Everybody listens and often enough everybody follows. Why do you think so many girls and women attempt the daunting task of wearing skinny jeans?
But, this time, my daughter will be better prepared to deal with the backlash of a bully backed into a corner. She’ll know what it feels like to take a punch and she’ll be practicing how to bounce back.
And, me, I’ll be there to catch her when she falls or at least pick her up, brush her off, and give her a shoulder to cry on.