Can’t live with them, can’t kill them. Well, I suppose you could do either, but that’s another blog. This blog is about the crazy family members we love. As you get to know me, you will discover that I have a boatload of whack jobs in my family. Many of us do not speak, except to trade insults (which I’m always up for) but those of us who do have a great sense of humor and generous hearts. After I tell this one, I hope those involved still maintain that humorous bone.
My Aunt died. Yes, the same one that suggested to my father that he and my mother not have children. However, the irony of life is that she and my uncle were the closest of family to my mom and dad. They spent a lot of time together, taking care of me, my cousins and their kids. Even though I joke about calling my aunt The Church Lady (she could make that lemon puss face), I loved her very much and I’m pretty sure she loved me.
She died last November. She had been sick for a few weeks prior to her death, but I am happy to say that I had a nice conversation with her before she became too ill to speak. I feel good about that. So, my cousin calls me to tell me she’s passed. They will need to bring her from Maine to Saratoga for services and burial. My uncle is buried in the military cemetery there (so is my mother) and she will be laid to rest alongside him. So far, so good. Well, cousin doesn’t want to ruin anyone’s Thanksgiving plans, so it is decided that aunt will not be buried until first week of December. Okay, I can understand that. I make plans to fly to NY and meet them there. Now, you must first understand that when my most favorite cousins in the whole world descend upon you, they take no prisoners. There is my favorite first cousin, who I’ve known all my life, his wife, whom I adore and his 3 boys. These three boys are all approximately 9 feet tall, weighing 400lbs. Okay, maybe not that tall and big, but they might as well be. One is into that iron man crazy race stuff where they throw grenades at you while you run up a hill carrying a tree trunk. The middle is the quiet one who sits back and takes it all in and the baby is our first openly gay family member who believes he should be a supermodel. I admit, when they are all with me, I am happiest.
Okay, so they all roll in the evening before the service for aunt. Everyone unpacks and brings stuff in the house, grabbing food from the back of the minivan and SUV, phone chargers, beer, etc. It’s dark, so I can’t really see much of what’s happening in the driveway, but the commotion is what I have grown to expect. After they have settled in, I inquire as to where my dear departed aunt is resting the evening before her internment. In a casual tone, 1st cousin informs me that his mother, my aunt, is in the back of the minivan in the driveway. Insert Scooby Doo “huhhh?” Yes, that’s right. In my family spirit of cheap, my cousin and his sons took my aunt from the funeral home, loaded her in the back of the minivan and drove her across 4 states, which I’m pretty sure violates a few laws. Now, my sick sense of humor is beginning to rear its ugly head and I have to squash it back down as I look at my father’s face for a reaction. I’m not sure he was too happy about having his deceased sister in a minivan in the front yard. I ate a donut that was packed in there with her. Talk about a 3 second rule breach.
What if they had a flat tire en route? What if the back doors opened and the casket fell out on the highway? I’m pretty sure a hearse has some sort of refrigeration unit for extensive travel, which I’m guessing the old minivan was not equipped. What if they had been pulled over for speeding? The jokes were welling up inside me so badly that I had to go to sleep. So, the next morning, I look out my bedroom window and the minivan is gone. I assumed my cousin perhaps felt bad having my father’s sister in his driveway, so maybe he’d taken her to the cemetery. Silly me. He’d just driven her down to Stewart’s with him to get some coffee.
We arrive at Saratoga National Cemetery. I have our pastor in the car with me and my father. We are all lined up in the procession at the cemetery entrance. This is always hard for me because my mom is buried there. Today is different, because it’s kind of a circus. My baby cousin is cat walking back in forth alongside my car like we are front row at a Hugo Boss fashion show. Our pastor is confused. My other cousin is explaining to the staff why his mother has arrived in a minivan (they aren’t happy) and I’m beginning to giggle.
All’s well that ends well. My aunt was laid to rest, but not before I had our pastor throw in that I was the favorite niece. I think my aunt would concur, with her Church Lady puss face, of course.

You’re Black? No. Really? I thought you were Italian

I’m not turning on the news today because I don’t want to hear more information about the crazy man who murdered 12 people in DC. We, as a country, aren’t going to do anything about it anyway, so why all the fuss. Unfortunately, what I did read were some of the texts coming out of the crowning of Miss America. Miss 7-11, Miss Arab (pronounced A-Rab), Miss Muslim. This is Miss ‘Merica not Miss India. I hope she doesn’t read the paper for a week or so either. By then, I’m sure the short-attention-span bigots will have found someone else to attack. Meanwhile, I want to share with you my thoughts about race and how it has affected my life.
• When I was a little girl, I was riding with my mother in her Cadillac to the grocery store. We were approached in the parking lot by 2 police officers. They asked my mother for her identification. When she inquired what she had done, the reply was that she didn’t look like she should be driving a new Cadillac. She told me to be quiet. I was crying. They suggested she was part of a stolen car ring and we needed to get out of the vehicle and into the police car to be taken to the precinct for questioning. I remember the ride to the station. I was terrified. My mother was pissed. My mother called our lawyer, Leroy Vital (Google him). I remember the chief, feet up on his desk, asking my mother where a Negro lady got the cash to buy such a nice car. He said HE couldn’t afford a car like that. My mother replied that it wasn’t her fault that he was a failure. Our attorney arrived just in time to have us released just as two deputies were about to remove me from the room and away from my mother.
• My father’s sister told my father that she supposed it was okay that he married my mother, as long as they didn’t have children….
• In college, some kids were in my dorm room. I had a photo of me with my parents on my desk. I was asked why I had a picture of my dad and the moulinyan maid. I didn’t even know what that shit meant. Someone wrote “Half-breed” on our eraser board on our room door. I brought it to the attention of the RA, also warning him that when I found out who was responsible, I would be beating their ass.
• My husband and I entertained friends for dinner one evening. Our friend asked to bring along a relative who promptly told us he had to leave early before the niggers came out. Much to my dismay, our guests apologized to me, as if I was the only one who should have been insulted.
• My mother was shopping for groceries and I was standing apart from her at the meat counter. I overhear some men laughing about the nigger lady who was buying pork ribs. I was too small to respond to them, so I cried and never told my mother why.
• I was shopping in Nordstrom at Oak Brook with my mom and my Aunt Ruth Ewing. We were followed all over the store. We had a lot of bags, but so did everyone else. We were approached by security and asked to step in to a back office. My Aunt Ruth called her husband, famous investigative reporter Russ Ewing (who cracked the John Wayne Gacy case) who came down to the store with a camera crew. THAT was fun to sit back and watch.
• Walking with my girls when they were little, a lady asked if they were my daughters. My goodness. They are beautiful but look so different. Do they have the same father? My reply was Shrug: “I don’t know.”
• Not too long ago, I had a women grab her purse when I passed her grocery cart. I responded, “Bitch, please”.

For most of my life, I have floated virtually undetected through the mysterious world of white people. I have had the opportunity to observe, from an insider point of view, what makes people tick. First of all, when it comes to race relations, many white people I have encountered are passive aggressive, displaying their feelings through hostile jokes and negative commentary. I have listened to rants about Malcolm X, Al Sharpton, Muslims, Michael Vick, OJ, professional sports are too black, President Obama, The Butler, Django, Paula Deen, race mixing and the horrible effect it has on the children. It seems that all their fears manifest into these tall tales about how black people are taking over our country. Well, we only make up 13.1% of the population, and most of that is Detroit and Jackson, MS. Once it is determined that I am not in agreement with this silliness, I am quietly kicked out of the club as too risky a security breach. Consequently, my husband and I are not invited to as many parties.

My favorite of late was suggested to me that white people need civil right activists for all the wrongs done to their race. Yet, I have yet to meet someone who has actually been able to articulate any facts to substantiate this argument. Yes, it is an opinion to which everyone is entitled. Yet, we have to agree that it is pretty shitty when a young man can’t walk to the store for Skittles and iced tea and make it home alive. Shouldn’t you be able to knock on a door to ask for help after being injured in a car accident without fear of being shot 10 times? But I digress. My point is that we all should be able to admit that it is much easier to be white in the United States than any other race. As Chris Rock so eloquently put it “No white man would ever switch places with me, and I’m rich”. Quit your complaining.
Now, black folk will usually claim everybody of color. When we find out you have a trace of black in your family, you’re family. To name a few, we claim The President of The United States, Tiger Woods, The Rock, Halle Berry, Slash, Mariah Carey, Pete Wentz, Chris Humphries, Wentworth Miller, Maya Rudolph, even Carol Channing (yes, Carol Channing). White people share this same sentiment. You’re black. Here’s one that will make your head to pop off: Steve Jobs, half Syrian.
The racial objection many blacks have with white folks comes from a place of inequality and distrust. In my case, I will add low self-image. Growing up, some of the black girls thought I had better hair which, as a child, was a bone of contention. I recall seeing them make the imaginary scissor fingers at me and mouthing “after school”. Also, being “light skinned” wasn’t always my darker sisters’ invitation to befriend me. I imagine all this has something to do with being bombarded by images depicting the American beauty standard as fair skinned, stick skinny with long hair. I get it.
When someone tells you “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand”, they’re telling the truth. Unless you can contribute a story like the few of many I have highlighted above, you really have no idea what it’s like to be judged on a daily basis by the color of your skin. Ask ANY black man, rich or poor, when, not if, was the last time they were discriminated against or profiled. Okay, if you’re gay, you probably get this. If you’re black and gay, heaven help you. Oh wait. You’re not going to heaven. Hahahahaha. I can joke. Some of my best friends are gay. Seriously.
My parents were the ideal role models for seeing people for who they are. What I have learned from them is that no matter what your race, we are all stewards of the human race. It is your responsibility to act. Don’t let others get away with biased language or behavior- speak up and out.
Take a position against hate and take a Stand Against Racism.

Imagine what would happen if we found the strength not to tolerate intolerance. Your silence defines you.
Which will you choose?

Teenagers, You’re Kidding, Right?

If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times. I can’t control my teen’s behavior. I can’t be there all the time. The usual excuse given is that kids will sneak if they want to do something bad enough. I also know that, for the most part, they are really bad at devious behaviors, and can be thwarted by a parent paying half the attention. I laugh in the face of these pompous teenagers who believe they are too smart to get caught. Child, please. I’ve watched the idiot teens next door try to hide a cooler full of alcohol, a pink cooler mind you, in the bushes behind the house. Numbskulls. I’ve heard the whispering about whose house they are all saying they are going to. Dim-wits. How about the ole “the parents are going to be home” trick. Brainless. My favorite, “I didn’t know that was going to happen”. Knot heads.
Really, it doesn’t take much to foil a dense teenager plot. All you need is to activate the Required Responsibility Gene. The RRG, as I refer to it, is the primary genetic material that makes up parenting. It is the DNA and RNA that drives you to pay attention to what your kids are doing. It is that extra little push that gets you to make a phone call to the parents’ house to determine if an adult will be present. The courage to say “No, you cannot go”. It is the guts to walk down the hall and open their bedroom door. It’s the perseverance to hire a tutor, stay up to help with that project and meet with the teacher. Without it, your kid is doomed to make mistakes and take risks that you can otherwise help them to avoid.
The RRG will often cause debilitating headaches. Other side effects may include sleeplessness, nausea, uncontrollable urges to choke someone, exhaustion, feelings of helplessness, diarrhea and sometimes confusion. Also, you may experience moments of overwhelming joy.
Let’s face it. Teenagers are dumb. Your teen needs boundaries and rules. Your teen needs consequences for good and bad behavior. Stick to them, no matter how dreadful, tiring and frightening it may seem. Remember, you’re not their friend. What grown person would want to be friends with a teenager anyway? OMG. That would be like, so gross.

An Honest Letter to Moms with Daughters

I have read the letter from Mrs. Hall and I have read one of the many responses from a woman named Rebecca I have to say, Rebecca, you aren’t even in the ballpark.

Let me break this down for you. I have daughters and a son. I have very candid conversations with my girls about their responsibilities as a female. In a perfect world, these conversations would not be necessary, but let’s get real, ladies, it is most definitely a reality. When my son is old enough, he will understand this as well.

Ladies, whether you like it or not, our daughters ARE responsible for themselves, their behaviors and actions that may result in being sexualized by men. Blaming our “toxic culture” or the media can only go so far. If you are not willing to teach your daughter to have high self-esteem, good self-image and personal responsibility, then you are dealing with a time bomb. This is YOUR responsibility. If you believe that photos of your daughter in her underwear, back arched, standing in her bedroom with a pouty look on her face is a result of media pressure, you really need to wake the f*ck up. YOU are allowing her to contribute to this “toxic culture”. If you feel helpless, take away the phone, for God’s sake. Who is the parent and who is the child?

I believe we are dealing with a “toxic culture” of parents who are so careful not to upset or hurt the feelings of their precious children, many of Generation Y are turning into a bunch of spoiled brats that do not live with consequences for their actions, just parents who are most willing to point fingers at everyone and everything else they can blame.

The sexualization of women has been present since the dawn of time. The same rules apply. Cave boys didn’t bring home cave girls who wore their animal furs too short and tight. Today, boys are not going to bring home girls who twerk online. Whether we like it or not, we are the fairer of the sexes, which will always make us the target of the double standard. So, we teach our daughters not to parade her vagina around in public, kiss other girls for fun or dry hump a foam finger on National Television.

Here is a quote from Rebecca’s article:

Our boys MUST be taught these lessons. They must know that when a girl engages in sexually provocative behavior, her behavior does not give boys a “pass” to dwell exclusively on the girls’ sexuality.

The answer to this is YES it does give them a “pass” to dwell exclusively on the girls’ sexuality. If you put it out there, that’s what you get back.

The famous philosopher (okay, he’s a comedian), Dave Chapelle, once told a great story that I will paraphrase and share with you. He was in a club one evening and several girls walked by in skin tight skirts and tops exposing cleavage that pushed their boobs pretty much up to their chins. When the guys began to make comments about their figures, the men were met with the statement “Just because we’re dressed this way doesn’t mean we’re easy”. So, the next day, Mr. Chapelle went out dressed in a costume that resembled a policeman’s uniform. Soon enough, someone came along yelling “Officer, Officer, I need your help!” His response was “Just because I LOOK like a policeman doesn’t mean I AM a policeman”.

Do we understand each other?

Guide to an easy Pregnancy & Delivery

It’s early Saturday morning and I was just reading an article on Yahoo! entitled 10 Steps to an Easier Birth. I laughed out loud and woke up the family.

The first step, according to this article (which doesn’t name the poor misguided writer) is to massage yourself for 10 minutes every day. I suggest you go have a massage for 60 minutes! Throw in a mani/pedi for good measure. Your hands and feet, no matter how swollen, should still look cute. Which reminds me, go buy yourself a gigantic CZ diamond ring. Your normal rings won’t fit by month 6, so you might as well have a giant rock to stare at on your pudgy finger.

Other gems include Rehearse a Plan. Let me tell you about plans. God says “Ha!” My trip number two to the hospital was more like Formula One night racing. My husband suddenly decided that speed limits and road signs did not apply to him.

Here’s a good one. Follow a diet that makes the birth passages soft and slippery and an easy space for the baby to slip out through. 37 shots of olive oil ain’t gonna help push a watermelon out of your Who-Ha. Incidentally, don’t push too hard after the baby has been born. My doctor asked me to give one big push and he was hit with the equivalent of an exploding dye pack right in the face.

Last, but not least, Trust in Nature. Listen, I’m all for these Super Women who want to experience birth as natural as possible. Just kidding. If we’ve learned anything in life, it’s not to trust Mother Nature. She’s unpredictable and scary. By baby number three, I had this birth thing figured out. I scheduled an induction. First thing, I insisted we hook up the epidural. Next, I watched a little television, then, casually and painlessly pushed him out. My doctor actually sat on the bed next to me during delivery. Then, we just looked at the baby like, oh, he’s here. I was told that I hold the record for the most uneventful labor & delivery ever. Score!

My advice, eat what makes you happy. Keep your air conditioner on 50 degrees for the full 9 months. Tell people not to touch you. Buy handbags. Take naps. Play the tired pregnant lady card to get groceries carried, quicker seating at restaurants and to get out of going to functions you would rather skip anyway. You’ll have enough excitement after that little person arrives.

Who Turned on the Blast Furnace

It’s 9:30pm, it’s barely dark, I’m wearing long sleeved cotton pj’s, socks, carrying a hand towel, it’s 44 degrees and the fan is blowing on high facing the bed. I know it sounds like a weird remix from The Blues Brothers, but welcome to Peri menopause.

It’s 9:30 because I am exhausted and plan my whole evening around my face hitting the pillow. The pj’s, not sexy but utilitarian. Someone needs to invent a pair made of that wicking material. Socks, because my feet are freezing… for now. They will eventually come off and join the others in the sock holding facility that is under my sheets. Now, the hand towel is the most important accessory in the nighttime ensemble. It gets shoved between my boobs to keep them separate and absorb the night sweat. I know, I’ve taken “hot” to a whole new level.

As I settle in for a good night’s sleep, I yell goodnight and I love you to my husband who is way across the California King. I notice he is wearing a hoodie.  Meanwhile, someone has apparently turned on the blast furnace. Thank goodness I have the oscillating fan set on high three inches from my face.

I drift off to sleep, 17 pillows strategically placed between my knees, behind my back and under my neck, dreaming of the days when I just rolled into bed naked, needing only a few hours of shut eye to fully function, crawling all over my husband like a jungle gym. With this comes a peaceful smile of being thankful I don’t have to keep that up. I slide my foot over to that man who is snoring like a lumberjack and a few hairs coming out of his ears, who is equally as content.