Archive | January, 2009

Nobody has any common sense it seems

31 Jan

I generally like to relax on the weekends but as more details emerged about this story, I just have to say something. Look if you want to have kids and you physically need some assistance to make that happen, I think its great that we live in a time and place where the medical technology exist where the once barren can have a child.

The issue I have is when folks who already have a few kids decide to play the life lotto and fuck around and end up with a damn football team worth of kids. In this most recent instance a woman with 6….read 6 kids, which by today’s standards is a pretty big family decides to get some medical assistance to have another child. Um….to quote my late great Mom, are you on dope or dog food? Seriously who in their right mind does that shit. Even Kate and Jon Gosselin only had 2 when they took the leap and now they have 8.

No, in this latest case Nadya Suleman ends up having 8 babies. Eight babies!!! Look I think babies are cute, shit I had 2 but and I am a Christian, if I fucked up and got pregnant with 8 babies at one time, God would have to send me a really clear sign to make me proceed otherwise, we would have to lose a few embryos. Yeah, I am cold like that but God knows my heart and he knows that me and 8 babies at one time would not be good for my sanity.

Let’s get back to this woman, so she gets pregnant after getting some assistance and is carrying 8 babies, but lets not forget the 6 she already has…let’s count, 6+8= 14. 14 kids!!! I don’t know but at some point some common sense should have prevailed starting with why the fuck would a doctor aid a woman in getting pregnant when she already has 6 kids.  So in this instance we not only have a woman who while she may loves babies isn’t quite thinking clearly, we have doctors who you think would try to discourage this sort of thing. I mean shit in some states  a pharmacist can’t be made to give a woman the morning after pill, if they morally object, certainly a doctor should be able to go, look this is a bad idea and I am not doing it.

Nope, its just further proof of the lack of common sense that has taken hold of us as a nation, folks spend money they don’t have and can’t figure out why their finances are jacked. Mine are fucked too but at least I am owning it. You have ex-governors running around caught on tape doing dumb shit, then claiming the world is out to get them. No, you simple Simon mothafucker, you are just stupid. Maybe shaking folks down on the phone where you could be taped is just a bad idea.

Anyway I wish Nadya Suleman luck with her babies and why do I think a tv show could be around the corner ala  the Duggars and Kate and Jon.

Got extra milk, sell it

30 Jan

In recent years, breast-feeding has become quite stylish which really is a good thing. All reputable health practitioners will tell you that the ideal way to feed a baby is by supplying what a woman’s body makes naturally and that is breast milk.

Now with elder child, back in the early 90’s, there were no national campaigns to get more women breast-feeding, in fact he was probably 3 when I actually saw a real live woman nursing a baby. Needless to say elder boy was fed formula, I don’t feel bad at all about that choice. Why? I had him when I was 19 and did the best I could.

That said, in 2004 when I got pregnant with my daughter I was older and wiser and figured I would at least try breast-feeding. I will be honest and say initially I only thought it would be for a few weeks but it went on much longer, I won’t disclose specifics but will say that the modern day lactivists and La Leche League would be impressed. Especially since rates of breast-feeding are lower for Black women.

However in the 3.5 years since mini-me arrived earth-side, I have been stunned to learn the lengths that some women will go to provide breast milk rather than formula. Truthfully aside from a few uncomfortable weeks, I was fortunate that breast-feeding was relatively easy and that I produced enough milk to nourish and sustain my girl. Yet for some women, breast-feeding is an ordeal. Now many women when faced with the knowledge that their bodies are unable to produce enough milk will generally shift to formula but for a smaller number who believe in the magic of breast-milk (and it is magical in its own way). They will go to any length to keep formula from their kids and honestly at times its scary at least to me.

In recent years we have seen the rise of milk banks, if you think I am crazy just google breast milk for sale. Seems the going rates for breast milk range from $1.75 an ounce to $3 an ounce. Um, babies drink a lot of milk, so as you can imagine buying someone else’s milk can get costly rather quickly especially if you can’t get your insurance company to pay for it.

Now at milk banks, all donated milk is tested and deemed safe before it travels to the buyer, ok…that’s cool. Yet for an even smaller group of women, who cannot afford these rates, they will post on discussion boards or chat-rooms that relate to breastfeeding seeking donations of milk from other mothers.

I am going to probably sound a tad insensitive but truthfully that is just crazy to me. Seriously, the idea of asking some internet stranger to give me their breast-milk to feed to my child just ranks up there with shit I would not do. I don’t know you and chances are if I can’t afford to get the safe shit from the bank, I am guessing that when you get some milk off a stranger, that milk is not tested. From what I hear women in this boat will just ask the woman doing the offering whether or not she is safe and has been tested for diseases/STD’s and if she says yes, its a go. Now some women will ask for documentation, but honestly that shit just seems riskier than feeding the baby some Similac or whatever is out there for formula.

Look, we all want what is best for our kids and while breast-milk is the best, I am sorry but getting milk off some stranger is not cool.

That said, in these tough economic times, maybe women with an abundance of breast milk should undercut the milk bank and charge $1-2 an ounce, there are crazier ways to make a buck.

Its not that serious

28 Jan

This morning as I do most mornings, I fired up the laptop to read the local newspaper online and check my favorite blogs while sipping my morning joe. While sipping a lovely cup of Sumatra, I ran across this story and this one, in the first story it seems a fellow was so distraught over losing his job that he decided life had no meaning, yet rather than just end his own life, he apparently decided he didn’t want to be alone in death and decided to make it a family affair. Generally they call that murder-suicide in polite society.

 

In the second story which is Maine based, a woman who at one point had been an upstanding member of society engaged in good works as director of a group home, decided to take a walk on the dark side. It seems that since leaving her a job a couple years ago, she decided that prostitution seemed like a great way to earn some cash. Turns out she was wrong.

 

Now as I was sipping the coffee and processing both these stories, I started thinking that the common link between both these folks was cash or rather a lack of cash. On the surface neither shared much in common but in these increasing hard times, I suspect we will see more folks who were average joes resorting to doing some dark shit to cope with the changing economic tides.

 

The past decade has seen such a rapid level of growth and greed and so many have bought into the lie that they must have XY and Z to be successful, folks no longer feel okay just having a functional car, it must be a nice car. Simple shelter and simple meals are also no longer acceptable, one must have a 3000 sq ft house decorated with the latest Pottery Barn or whatever is hot in home fashions. A simple meal of beans and rice shared with loved ones is not enough, instead we must be able to eat out.

 

Yet the reality is even in these tough economic times, even the brokest American is still living larger than someone in a third world country…most of what we consider necessities are in fact luxuries. If you are reading this, it means you either own and have access to a computer, most of us have heating and cooling systems, some form of food….do you get my point? Even at the food pantry I went to on behalf of my job, I was struck with how nice the food was, granted I know pantries can vary greatly. But the pantry was giving out organic fruits and veggies!!!! Organic and none of what I brought to the kids was expired or inedible, I would eat it myself or feed it to my own family.

 

The point is that maybe for some of we can use this as a time to get back to basics and as Suze Orman the financial guru says people first….lets focus on what we have and not on what we lost.

As my Pops used to preach when he was active in the minstry, when was the last time you saw a U-haul truck behind a hearst? Seriously, we enter this joint naked and we leave it naked, all that shit we kill ourselves trying to obtain is meaningless in a larger picture. Killing ourselves and whoring ourselves because we lack……really its not that serious.

No money, no cry…

27 Jan

So yesterday, a whole lotta folks went to work in the US only to learn that they were about to join the ranks of all those other folks who in the past year have lost their jobs. Yep,  the good ole American economy shed what, 70,000 gigs in one day and we know more cuts are coming. If you still have a piece of job with a 401K plan, your plan is worth less than it used to be and if you are unlucky, you might work at one of the many companies that is cutting the employer match. On the bright side, you still have a job.

With news like this becoming the norm, why is it any wonder that the consumer confidence level keeps dropping….really? One does not need a Ph.D in economics to know the economy is hitting everyone and now is the time to hold onto whatever piece of change you have. I suspect this summer folks will be opting to take stay-cations rather than vacations…swap homes with friends, camping at the local state park or my personal favorite, no vacation. Seriously, the spousal unit and I have not taken a vacation in years and barring a miracle we won’t be taking one this year.  

Last week, I had to do the food pick-up for my job, since we are small non-profit the local food pantry gives us food for our program. Anyway it was my first time at the food pantry, and I gotta tell you, some of the folks there surprised the shit out of me. Nice middle class looking folks shopping for eats at the pantry, that’s when I knew this shit was getting real, when I saw Volvos parked out front and saw folks with bags getting in them.

No ya’ll we are in a financial crisis so thick that I really don’t know how we are going to save ourselves. Next month, I have to deal with having less money myself as one of the hubby’s clients has reduced their work with him. It seems I won’t need any willpower to forgo that drink from Starbucks since right now having done the budget, I simply won’t be able to afford one more than once a week if I am lucky.

No man, we are all crying the blues but I just want to know where is my bailout?

Because I said so

26 Jan

Parenting these days is a trip, when I was coming up, folks spanked their kids and no one thought twice about it. Now I admit considering I grew up with a Dad who brought out tree limbs and extension cords to keep me in line, I am no fan of spanking. Regular readers who have been here a while know that I don’t spank my kids. Rather I did briefly with the eldest but considering he is almost 17 and a foot taller than me, no…I don’t spank.

I don’t spank my preschooler and that was a conscious choice that at times is hard for me. The girl was born as I  like to say being highly spirited and now at 3, she is still spirited. She was a trickster in the womb (hiding from the ultra sound, multiple takes to hear her heartbeat) and is still a trickster.

Now just because I don’t use corporal punishment does not mean she gets to run foot loose and fancy free. No, I am a old school believer in cultivating the LOOK….you know the LOOK, the one you got as a kid that let you know that you better quit what you were doing or else there would be repercussions.  In this house, the repercussions generally take the form of loss of tv time or sweets, my girl has a wicked sweet tooth and hates not having her daily treat.

Sometimes the LOOK though is supplemented by my booming voice, see I am a former theatre student so I am all about voice control. My son recently told me, I am loud even though I don’t yell. I’m one of those folks with the loud voice.

However I try to always be respectful of my youngest and answer her questions and allow her freedom to make decisions but sometimes well….sometimes, I just have to pull out the ole “Because I said so card”. See, sometimes teeth must be brushed now not in 10 mins, hair must be combed, you get the point. Normally when the law of Black Girl is laid down, mini-me understands its a don’t fuck with Mama moment.

That said, as parents seem to lose their collective minds and want to be buddies rather than parents, we are seeing the rise in the parents who cannot figure out simple shit with their kids.  In a parenting discussion group, I am part of someone asked how they could convince their 3 yo child to let them comb their hair. It seems the child has a birds nest complete with tangles because the kid hates having her hair combed.

You want my reaction? Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously, you are the parent and yeah sometimes kids hate getting their hair combed or they hate taking baths but some shit happens no matter what. I know because we have been there. Mini-me for a second hated having her hair combed, well once I started braiding her hair at night, the tangles went bye bye and she no longer complains. See, that’s the type of creative solutions I work towards but not combing hair….um, that was never an option.

Look, when you bring a child into this world you are responsible for them for the first 18 years and while its nice to be seen as the nice Mom or Dad, that is not your job description. The job is to take care of that little person and sometimes you may have to lay down the law, doesn’t mean you have to dismiss their feelings but sometimes a well placed “Because I said so” really does work.

Really it’s fun

24 Jan

So last night I was at home chilling with some friends celebrating getting another year older and the conversation turned to the economy. Long story short, everyone at the table is feeling the pinch these days. Gone are the days of spending money without a second thought, instead its all about pinching pennies and getting the most of what few shekels we still have left.

So when I brought up the fact that I planned to go check out my favorite consignment shop which is having its annual blowout sale, I didn’t think anything of it until my girl gave me a crazy look and said “You mean the clothes are used”. Um….yeah, the clothes are used. Granted this particular shop carries a mix of new, used and vintage stuff and is without a doubt my favorite place to shop.

Well it turns out my girl who is getting a fast and dirty lesson in being broke due to a nasty divorce and a soon to be ex-husband who has decided he doesn’t want to do the right thing, has never been to a thrift or consignment shop. In fact she was stunned to realize I rarely buy anything other than undies, socks, shoes, and accessories new. Well since it was my birthday, I was rocking my favorite skirt, a wool mini skirt picked up at Goodwill a few months ago for a mere $6. When I pointed out that my outfit was second-hand she was amazed…amazed enough that after I explained the difference between a thrift and consignment store that she said she would like to go with me soon when I go make the rounds.

Now, I am still a amatuer when it comes to thrifting compared to my Mom and others I know, but since 2007 when my cushy teaching gig went south, I have become a proficient thrifter. Things I have learned, are that the best times to thrift for me personally are when I don’t have any specific thing in mind. After months of searching high and low for a bread machine, I landed one at the local Goodwill for $4 when I wasn’t trying to find one and yes it works.

In my opinion, thrifting is officially in style these days and gone are the days when you need to feel bad about it, shit I can hit the Goodwill and spend $50 and everyone in the house gets something plus a trinket for the house. Now I take that same $50 to the mall and even with the deals that are being had due to the economy, I don’t make out so well.

Truth is thrifting has spoiled me, I rarely want to buy new anymore as evidenced by the fact that during the holidays I got a gift card and went to the mall thinking I would get a new outfit and honestly I didn’t like anything I saw. I am not paying $40 for a sweater that I can get for $5 or $10, sorry but that is crazy and even more crazy now that times are tough.

Look, I know when you grow up poor and you were forced to wear second hand stuff as a kid that you grow up and want nothing to do with used shit, but really unless you are making a lot of money, have some money saved and are doing well…buying new for the sake of buying new is silly. Plus the upside of buying used is that its good for the environment…really, I am not kidding you. I don’t know about you, but I hate the way new shit smells, nice and chemical like and sometimes even gives you a headache. Well that’s because that new sweater is off-gassing and that shit ain’t cool.

Check it out, maybe you wanna help the environment but money is tight, after all organic food costs 2 arms and a legs but you can buy used and buy local and help in your own way. So if you have never ventured down to the thrift store check it out, really its fun.

Personal Responsibility revisted

22 Jan

Warning, this is a rant. I am going to try to write this in a manner not to break confidentiality because of my work, but I gotta get this out.

I am the director of a neighborhood community center and after school program that primarily serves low income families, its a good place with a solid reputation. Our primary program provides FREE after-school care, complete with snacks, access to clothes for kids and families that need them and other services. We do this on a serious shoe string budget, oh did I mention the services are free. Now anyone who reads this who is a parent knows that child care costs are no joke.

Now due to some issues we are having, I had to institute my first policy change as director that the kids and parents are aware of, wanna guess what it is? Well several years ago, a staffer realized the kids were walking home in the dark and this center is not in the best part of town and some of these kids are like 5-6 years old, so the staffer decided to walk the kids home. Its been nice but we have reached the point  that we really never should have been doing it and right now we simply don’t have the manpower to do it.

Its been a rough call because I am a mother and the idea of little kids walking alone after dark scares the shit out of me but at the time we close, I gotta pick my own kid up and switch into Mama mode and honestly I don’t want or need the responsibility of walking other folks kids home.

So I asked the parents if they could pick their kids up, mind you the kids get dropped off by the school bus at the center and in my mind asking folks to pick up their kids from a free after-school program doesn’t seem unreasonable. Guess what? Folks is pissed and  bitching, some of the kids may not be able to come and honestly I don’t get it.

Truthfully I am having a real hard time digesting how folks cannot do one simple thing to ensure their kids have access to a fun, safe place to go after-school. This incident has reminded me of how as a society we are abdicating our own responsibilities and we can all see where that has gotten us. It seems that personal responsibility has gone out the window and it reaches across all sectors of society. Now for the most part I consider myself a Black blogger and in the Black blogosphere there are many who talk about the lack of personal responsibility among us as Black folks but remember I live in Maine. These are white folks I am talking about, all the kids in my program who are regulars are White, their parents are White and the town they live in is pretty damn White. Lack of folks taking responsibility for themselves knows no color.

Ok, rant over….hopefully we won’t lose any kids but I am only one person.

Coming down from my high

21 Jan

Just a drive-by, yesterday as much as I wanted to post while watching the inauguration, I just couldn’t….it really was emotional for me. Today, I am starting to come down from the high and the glow. For a moment I was reminded of my stoner days when I used to get as high as a kite. (no, as a grown-up, I no longer do such things) However the dust is settling and I am reminded that we have a lot of work to do, Obama may be in the White House and while I am glad to see someone who looks like me living in the big house for a change. The truth is real change starts with each and everyone of us.

I believe that Obama is the catalyst to inspire many of us to get off our collective asses, as someone who works in social services believe me we each have the power to help make a difference. Some folks think Obama is the savior and while I think he is one bad ass mothafucker, truth is he is a human who shits on the toilet just like me, so perfection is not expected.

That said, lets come on down off that Obama high and get ready to work to change this country. Yet lets also enjoy this moment…

More in the next day or two on reaction to Obama from up here in Maine, I have some tales to share but work is kicking a sistas’s ass at the moment.

Lean on me

19 Jan

Last night I suffered another bout of insomnia which is happening more and more often this past year. Truthfully since the birth of the little one three years ago, I can count on one hand the number of nights I slept longer than six hours. Parenthood coupled with getting older seem to be working against me sleeping a full night….

However last night’s bout of insomnia was brought on by a conversation  I had with a dear friend who I was catching up with, part of me hesitates to write this because I’m not trying to put my girl’s business out there but I feel there is a larger piece here that needs to be shared.

My girl and I go back, way back, I’m talking we have known each other since we were like 10, this sista has always been the light and life of the party. When we was young hot things, I was always the wing-man, a role that suits me well in many way. Yet my girl was always on, shit I wanted her energy.

Anyway in the first hour of what was probably a three hour conversation, we were just catching up, doing our thing though I sensed there was something beneath the surface. True enough there was, midway through the conversation she confessed that the reason she had dropped off my radar was because she was going through some shit. Turns out she had been feeling a tad down, which then got us to talking about Black folks and mental health.

My girl’s issues are not the point here but this conversation reminded me that as Black folks, we have a tendency to not address mental health issues to the same extent our white counterparts do and truthfully that shit is killing us. I know because I have been there.

It was about nine years ago that the pressures of life had me on edge, I felt pulled in all directions, my primary care doctor put me on Wellbutrin, it helped but I sensed I need more, so I took the plunge. I went to see a therapist. This was a huge step for me, mind you at the time I was working with the homeless, many who suffered mental health issues, shit I often got them into therapy but at the time I felt shame about needing to see someone myself. In fact when I was in therapy I only told 2 people, the spousal unit and one close friends, I felt shame that I needed to see someone but at the same time, therapy gave me the tools to deal with stress.

However despite the sucess of therapy at that time, the reality is I still grapple with anxiety. I have a phobia, I cannot drive, driving gets me so riled up that while technically I can drive, truth is I avoid it at all costs. I have not driven in a long time, though this year I am actively seeking to work through this phobia because honestly its become problematic. I almost thought about not sharing this tidbit about myself, but I am at the point that rather than make excuses, I feel like I need to come out of the closet about it as I actively work through my anxiety.

That said, I find that in many Black families we all have relatives with issues but rather than call them what they are; which is mental health issues, we dance around the issues which I believe is killing us.

Instead as we stand on the cusp of history being made tomorrow, I think we need to take the time to do some self exploration and work to change ourselves. Are you eating too much? Drinking? Shopping? Maybe you engage in these behaviors because its easier that dealing with yourself….I know when I was young, I went through a year where I engaged in self destructive behaviors but didn’t know why….I know now that I was depressed.

There is no crime or shame in being depressed, in fact rather than hiding it, I feel we need to be open about it, tell someone, don’t be afraid to lean on family and friends. If they are real, they will be there for you. True change starts when we look at ourselves and then work outward.

Internet addiction has its upside

16 Jan

Months ago I wrote about my growing addiction to being online, its a tough monkey to kick since my work keeps me online to some degree when I am actively doing research. Also since I still spend part of my week working from home, being online at times serves the same purpose as the office water cooler. That said, I still spend too much time online and have promised the spousal unit that I will lessen my time.

Anyway, looks like Facebook actually served a useful purpose other than killing time. I reconnected this week with several old childhood friends, one being my oldest and best-est buddy. A woman who knows me better than almost anyone else aside from the spousal unit, only thing is our life goes in weird ebbs and flows where sometimes we are thick as thieves and other times we lose contact yet we always reconnect. Last time I saw my girl was almost 5 years ago when  Mama Blackgirl passed away and my girl was there to hold me up.

So its been interesting connecting with folks I knew when I was a young-in and seeing where we are in life, seems the old crew from Chicago is all married with kids which at our ages makes sense.

Anyway happy Friday, as for me I am trying to stay warm since it was a balmy 15 below when I woke up this morning and apparently my furnace despite being only 3.5 years old is working rather hard to warm this house up. Yeah, right now the father in law’s offer to move near him in Arizona almost sounds good until I remember its hot as hell there in the summer and that I hate heat. See Monday!