Partners in Crime

IMG_1005 (2)Have you ever had a friend who is always getting you into. . . (ahem) “things”? Well, I do.  I’m looking at you, Hype 1. I wouldn’t say she gets me into trouble, but we do have adventures. She has a unique ability to get me to try new things, sometimes dragging me along kicking and screaming because I am essentially a “stick-in-the-mud” kinda girl. Hype has gotten me hooked on various podcasts and persuaded me to get a Kindle years ago. She also introduced me to Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest. Part of me thinks that she gets me to try new things just so she’ll have a “partner in crime.”

A few years ago Hype asked me casually, “Are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year?” I asked, “NaNoWri Who?” Seriously though, I’m pretty sure I asked, “What is that?” National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) happens every November. It is a national challenge to write a novel in a month, spending time each day in November writing, in an effort to reach the goal of a draft of a 50,000 (an average of 1,666 words per day) word novel by month’s end.

Hype is a literary scholar; she also writes fiction– short stories and novels. So, it’s not surprising that that NaNoWriMo appeals to her. Even though I am a historian, she seems to think I can write a novel because of the funny/crazy true stories about my life and my family.

Although it wasn’t quite kicking and screaming, I have agreed to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo with Hype. I thought it would be good opportunity to write down some of my stories and get back into blogging. We’re a little tardy to the party, so I’m suggesting that we write from November 3 to December 3.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, let us know. If you think you’d like to try but need more information, check out the National Novel Writing Month website. Happy writing! 🙂

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What Have You Done for Yourself Lately?

mybikeAbout a week ago I was really stressed out. I was not sleeping well at night because I was besieged with crazy dreams. As usual, I shared this with Da Hype 1. (We talk and text almost every day.)

She asked if there was something, “other than the usual” that was “weighing heavily” on my mind. Nah, just job searching, paying bills, trying to lose weight, global warming. . . Same old, same old. Worrying can be a full-time job.

Then, she asked something that literally stopped me in my tracks: “What types of things are you taking time out to do that make you happy?” In other words, she was asking, “What have you done for yourself lately?” (Cue the Janet Jackson music!) It took me a while to return that text, but I finally answered: “Pretty much, nothing.”

Had I turned into one of those self-sacrificing women who takes care of everyone else but herself? Nah, that’s not my style. However, my financial situation had led me to give up a lot of things to save money. My gym membership, regular pedicures and facials, and bi-weekly trips to the hairdresser had all fallen by the wayside.

What could I do for myself that wouldn’t cost too much? I was inspired by one of Hype’s friends. She rode her bike over to Hype’s house one Saturday morning when I was there. Hmm. . . I had a bicycle in my garage that was essentially gathering dust. I was very careful not to hit it when I parked my car, but I had not ridden it since last summer. So, last week, I went out to the garage, put some air in my tires, and took a ride. I was pretty tired when I came back home, and my legs felt like spaghetti. But it was a good kind of tired. That night I even slept more peacefully.

I hit the gate and I hops on my Schwinn

And I tell the homies, “aight then”~”This D.J.,” Warren G

I’m pretty sure I won’t become like the Lance Armstrong clones I see around my neighborhood. I’m not into racing; I don’t even have that kind of bike. For now, I’m just enjoying evening rides on my Schwinn. I’m doing it for me, and that’s what matters.

So, 2 Dope Readers, what have you done for yourself lately?

In Memoriam, Jesse (1970-2013)

Image courtesy of phanlop88/FreeDigital Photos.net.

Image courtesy of phanlop88/FreeDigital Photos.net.

Today we light a candle for our dear friend, Jesse J. Scott, Ph.D., who passed away one year ago today. He never got a chance to read our 2 Dope Sistahs blog. We know he would have encouraged us though. Over the last year, we’ve written about him several times (I Had Such a Friend, For Jesse, Foto Friday: Someone You Love, and The Worst Moments of 2013).

Jesse,

I can’t tell you how many times we have talked about you over this past year, remembering the times we had together–laughing sometimes but mostly trying to hold back the tears. I’ve often thought to myself, Let me call, Dr. Scott. And then, I remembered. . . I hope you’re not too salty with us for being sad instead of “jolly.” We can’t help it. We love you and miss you too much.

Rest in peace.

 

In Memoriam, Miss Maxie (1998-2014)

On May 2, 2014, my beloved dog, Miss Maxie, passed away. Although she was an elderly dog, her ultimate decline was quick–less than a week. She was my companion, my friend, my road dog, and my dog baby.

One of my favorite pictures. It was cute, but I made her get out of my bed.

One of my favorite pictures. It was cute, but I made her get out of my bed.

She was a thoughtful, quiet dog, but she loved taking long walks, chasing squirrels and rabbits, and being chased. She loved sleeping under the covers and sneaking into bed with our overnight guests.

I was lucky to find a dog that fit my personality so perfectly. I adopted her from the animal shelter in January 1999. And since that time, she was never away from me for more than a few days at a time. She was one of kind–a lover of all people but picky about her canine associations. My husband and I will miss her companionship. Whenever one of us stayed up late working, studying, or “dissertating,” she would keep us company.

Miss Maxie and my mother, also known as "the dog whisperer."

Miss Maxie and my mother, also known as “the dog whisperer.”

I am still extremely sad that she had to go. But, again, I was fortunate to have had a dog like her.

 

One of My Best Friends Is a Dog

MaxiesWalk

Out for a morning walk during the summer.

One of my best friends is a dog. People who know me will not be surprised by that statement because my dog Miss Maxie has been my constant companion for almost fifteen years. I have always loved dogs. Growing up in the rural South, almost everyone had (and still has) dogs. My family was no different. We had big dogs, medium dogs, and small dogs; mixed breeds and pure breeds; and inside dogs and outside dogs.

When I was in college, I was unable to have a pet. But when I went to graduate school, I changed that. I was living in a new city and didn’t know very many people. One of the graduate students in my department was always talking about her dogs. So, I decided to stop by the local animal shelter on my way home from class one day. I’d had a rescue dog while I was in high school.

I saw a brown-and-white terrier in a cage. Most other dogs were barking; she wasn’t making a peep. I reached out for her and she came up and licked my fingers, and I stroked her head. The sign on her cage said she’d recently been spayed, and I saw the stiches when she rolled over, legs straight in the air, in the submissive position. (I later learned that if she really likes you, she rolls over so you can rub her belly.) I was unsure about whether I should REALLY get a dog, so I decided to go home and sleep on it. I decided that if the little brown-and-white dog was still there the next day, then she would be my dog.

I returned to the shelter following day and adopted Maxie. She would have been Maximilian if she had been a male dog. Either way, it’s Max for short. (Miss Maxie, if you’re nasty! 🙂 ) I’ve never really been sure what kind of dog she is. One veterinarian told me that she is probably a Jack Russell Terrier mix. Other people have commented that her markings look like a Corgi. And last year, someone told me she looked like a Red Heeler. I’m not sure that matters because Maxie doesn’t think she’s a dog anyway.

I don’t think I could have picked a dog with a better temperament if I’d tried. She was a ball of energy, but at the same time, she rarely barked. She loves people, especially men–other dogs, not so much. She loves to ride in the car, which is good because we’ve traveled all over the South and Midwest together. Having Maxie has been helpful to this introvert because inevitably people want to “play with the puppy,” and that forces me to interact with people when we’re out walking. In fact, I met my husband while I was at the park with Maxie.

My dog's bed starts off next to the wall, but she moves it under the Xmas tree.

Maxie’s bed starts off next to the wall, but she moves it under the Xmas tree.

Friends who I haven’t seen me in a while may be surprised that Maxie is still hanging in there, but she’s a strong old girl. Up until earlier this year, she could still jump up on the bed. (She refused to use the doggy steps I bought.) She doesn’t see or hear as well as she used to, although sometimes I suspect she just likes to ignore me. So, she has some health problems, but none of that seems to matter when someone is cooking her favorite food–(any kind of) meat. Then it’s as if she’s drunk from the Fountain of Youth.

She’s a great dog. And I don’t know if I rescued her, or she rescued me. But I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

The Worst Moments of 2013

Da Hype 1

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

There were a number of really rough moments for me in 2013, but the absolute worst moment has to be the announcement of the Trayvon Martin verdict. (See 2DS posts on “Keep Calm” and “From Don Imus to George Zimmerman”) It was really difficult for me to grapple with the reality that George Zimmerman had not been convicted of murdering this young boy, who was guilty of “walking while black.” It felt as if a heap of new injustices had fallen on black people. I felt suffocated and was depressed. It didn’t help that the verdict was followed by a number of deaths of young black women and men who were shot and killed while knocking on white people’s doors, seeking help (e.g. Renisha McBride and Jonathan Ferrell).

The Martin verdict was announced while I was celebrating 100 years of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Angie Stone, India Irie, and Patti Labelle each took the stage, and all three felt compelled to recognize his life. As news of the verdict spread throughout the crowd, the crowd shuttered in utter surprise. We were hurt.

That night, I was delighted to see my favorite singers, ecstatic to celebrate with my sorority sisters, but in pain for the Martin family in particular, and for black people in general. So, I cried in the middle of a concert.

Da Realist 1

The Trayvon Martin case–the lead-up to the trial, the trial itself, and the reaction to it–was difficult for me as well. I wrote about it at least three times last year. No matter how many times I hear awful stories like his–and it happens far too often–I am always deeply affected by how much black life is devalued.

Da Realist1, Jesse, and me in front of W.E.B. DuBois statue on Fisk University's campus

Da Hype 1, Jesse, and Da Realist 1 in front of the W.E.B. DuBois statue at Fisk University

However, my worst moment was when I found out that Jesse, one of my best friends, had died. Both Da Hype 1 and I wrote about our friendship with Jesse last year. (See 2DS posts I Had Such a Friend, For Jesse, & Foto Friday: Someone You Love).

On May 20, 2013, Da Hype 1 called me crying and screaming  unintelligibly. I had to get her to calm down so that I could understand her. She was so upset because she had just received a message that Jesse had passed away. For some reason I thought she had misunderstood the message. Jesse was in the hospital awaiting a liver transplant. He’d had a surgery (for some other issue), but he was not dead. He was getting better, stronger, right? I don’t remember whether she read me her message or if I looked on my phone and saw the same message, but I felt like someone had knocked the air out of me. After that, we continued to talk. I attempted to console Hype the best I could. She was in her car, and she still had to drive home.

Somehow we managed to pull ourselves together. Hype drove home safely, and I just sat on the couch staring into space for a long time thinking about my friend. I will never forget Hype’s heart-piercing scream that day. It broke my heart.

One of My Best Friends Is a Dog

MaxiesWalk

Out for a morning walk during the summer.

One of my best friends is a dog. People who know me will not be surprised by that statement because my dog Miss Maxie has been my constant companion for almost fifteen years. I have always loved dogs. Growing up in the rural South, almost everyone had (and still has) dogs. My family was no different. We had big dogs, medium dogs, and small dogs; mixed breeds and pure breeds; and inside dogs and outside dogs.

When I was in college, I was unable to have a pet. But when I went to graduate school, I changed that. I was living in a new city and didn’t know very many people. One of the graduate students in my department was always talking about her dogs. So, I decided to stop by the local animal shelter on my way home from class one day. I’d had a rescue dog while I was in high school.

I saw a brown-and-white terrier in a cage. Most other dogs were barking; she wasn’t making a peep. I reached out for her and she came up and licked my fingers, and I stroked her head. The sign on her cage said she’d recently been spayed, and I saw the stiches when she rolled over, legs straight in the air, in the submissive position. (I later learned that if she really likes you, she rolls over so you can rub her belly.) I was unsure about whether I should REALLY get a dog, so I decided to go home and sleep on it. I decided that if the little brown-and-white dog was still there the next day, then she would be my dog.

I returned to the shelter following day and adopted Maxie. She would have been Maximilian if she had been a male dog. Either way, it’s Max for short. (Miss Maxie, if you’re nasty! 🙂 ) I’ve never really been sure what kind of dog she is. One veterinarian told me that she is probably a Jack Russell Terrier mix. Other people have commented that her markings look like a Corgi. And last year, someone told me she looked like a Red Heeler. I’m not sure that matters because Maxie doesn’t think she’s a dog anyway.

I don’t think I could have picked a dog with a better temperament if I’d tried. She was a ball of energy, but at the same time, she rarely barked. She loves people, especially men–other dogs, not so much. She loves to ride in the car, which is good because we’ve traveled all over the South and Midwest together. Having Maxie has been helpful to this introvert because inevitably people want to “play with the puppy,” and that forces me to interact with people when we’re out walking. In fact, I met my husband while I was at the park with Maxie.

My dog's bed starts off next to the wall, but she moves it under the Xmas tree.

Maxie’s bed starts off next to the wall, but she moves it under the Xmas tree.

Friends who I haven’t seen me in a while may be surprised that Maxie is still hanging in there, but she’s a strong old girl. Up until earlier this year, she could still jump up on the bed. (She refused to use the doggy steps I bought.) She doesn’t see or hear as well as she used to, although sometimes I suspect she just likes to ignore me. So, she has some health problems, but none of that seems to matter when someone is cooking her favorite food–(any kind of) meat. Then it’s as if she’s drunk from the Fountain of Youth.

She’s a great dog. And I don’t know if I rescued her, or she rescued me. But I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

Wacky Wednesday: What Is Your Favorite Way to Spend the Day?

Da Hype 1

Solomon Northrup's 12 Years a Slave

Solomon Northrup’s 12 Years a Slave

Rarely do I have the opportunity to spend the day reading anymore. My weekdays are spent at work and doing homework and making yet another outfit for my 6 year old who must participate in 50s Dress Up Day, Scarecrow Day or some other made up holiday to give kids an opportunity to wear fun clothes. On weekends, I spend a lot of time doing community service. I am exhausted come Monday morning! It takes me forever to finish reading a book nowadays.

What makes me happy and has always made me happy, is when I am able to read a book. I cannot remember the last time I crawled in my big chair, pulled up the covers and got lost in a book for an entire day.

You know that moment when you are shopping around for the best outfit for an upcoming trip? Or, after you lined up those chosen outfits on the bed and you are folding them and carefully placing them in your suitcase. While most are packing, I am lining up my books to read on the Beach. I get so excited about reading on vacation because it is uninterrupted time for me to read by myself. I get to lay on the beach and allow the ocean to be my background.

As I am writing this, I am dreaming of my next opportunity for uninterrupted reading.

Right now, I’m reading Solomon Northrup’s 12 Years A Slave. I’ll tell you about it and the movie when I’m done.

Da Realist 1

Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, KY

Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville, KY

One of my favorite ways to spend the day is to hang out with my friends. My good friends are like family to me. These folks know me well, and I know them. They accept that I’m a little. . . ahem. . . eccentric. Most of them have seen me when sick as well as healthy; sad as well as happy; fat as well as slightly less chunky.

My best friends are scattered across the country, so we don’t get to see each other very often. When we do, it’s time to cut up! When we get together, it feels like we were never apart. It doesn’t really matter what we do because we always have a good time.

One mile above sea level, Denver, CO

One mile above sea level, Denver, CO

Some of our best times have been: blasting DeBarge’s “I Like It” and singing at the top of our lungs at the mall; going to see “For Colored Girls” and later staying up half the night talking about it; hanging out at the Kentuckiana Pride Festival (where we were “outed” for being straight); snorkeling in the Atlantic Ocean; seeing the sights in Denver; attending conferences in Toronto, Rutgers, St. Louis, or elsewhere. Here’s to good friends!

Foto Friday: Someone You Love

Each “Foto Friday” 2dopesistahs pay homage to our love of Pinterest by remixing one of the posts we saw there, the “30 Day Photo Challenge,” originally posted on the Little Bennet blog. This week’s topic is “Someone You Love,” but we were unable to persuade those we love the most to participate. Instead, we decided to make one last dedication to Jesse, our dearly departed friend, and our friendship with him.

Day 9: Someone You Love

Da Realist 1: Friends

The Hermitage, The plantation home of President Andrew Jackson

The Hermitage, The plantation home of President Andrew Jackson

In my experience, there is something interesting that happens when black people visit an historical plantation site. We become objects of curiosity. This is what happened in November 2010 when Da Hype 1, Jesse, and I went to visit “The Hermitage,” the plantation and home of Pres. Andrew Jackson. You may ask, why would I want to visit such a place? I’m a historian, and I find these kinds of things interesting. I’m not quite sure how I convinced my friends to go, but they indulged me.

As I predicted, the Hermitage employees and the other visitors appeared to find our presence curious and disruptive. We were the only black people there. And the looks that we kept getting seemed to ask, “What are you doing here?”

Nerdy Treacherous 3 at the Hermitage
Nerdy “Treacherous 3” at the Hermitage

As we were waiting for the horse-drawn wagon tour of the plantation grounds to start, a man approached us and asked if we were the ones driving the wagon. What the. . . ? Now all of the employees/volunteers were wearing either period costumes or matching shirts and aprons. We, of course, looked at him real crazy and told him no. Did he think we were playing the part of slaves? Or, maybe he could only rationalize our presence there as employees, not as actual visitors to a plantation. It was more comedic than offensive. How many times have you wanted to tell someone off when he offended you? Well, Jesse followed that man into one of the cabins on the grounds and told him, “You’re stupid” right to his face. Classic. What awesome friends I have! Love ya, Jesse! Love ya, Hype 1!

For Jesse

“‘Was it hard? I hope she didn’t die hard.’ Sethe shook her head. ‘Soft as cream. Being alive was the hard part.'”–Beloved

Jesse looking scholarly in the office we shared

Jesse looking scholarly in the office we shared

There is something final about committing words to the screen to talk about you, my friend. Writing this makes it concrete that you can no longer make me giggle at your antics. The irony in writing a letter is that, through the process of putting together the pieces of our friendship, I began to value that our words are immortal, but our flesh is not.

Speaking of flesh, I remember when you reminded me to love myself as Baby Suggs told a community of ex-slaves in Beloved. She said that “In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it.” Through this passage, you taught me to genuinely fall in love with myself, accepting all the scars left behind by life’s experiences. I pray that you were generous enough to yourself to do the same.

I had a difficult time with your illness, believing and praying that it would go away. You wanted to talk to me because you knew I would not talk about it with you if you did not want me to. You knew that I would talk about funny things, like the time we were acting silly and I fell down a flight of stairs. We both ended up on the floor laughing at my clumsiness. Or, there was that one act of selfishness with me, when you wouldn’t share that grape soda. To be fair, you offered me my own, but you made that Fanta grape look good.

You were always so generous with your friendship, but I was selfish while you were ill. I couldn’t bear talking to you, knowing that you were hurting on the other end of the phone. So, we texted and talked occasionally about all the funny things we experienced together. I should have called more and reminded you of the time you went clogging down the hallway of our department. That story always made us laugh.

Your generosity extended to the days before you passed away. On May 14, only a few days before you left me, you sent a text: “Remember me clogging and drinking grape soda. . . . And laughing at the bottom of stairwells.”

Da Realist1, Jesse, and me in front of W.E.B. DuBois statue on Fisk University's campus

Me, Jesse, and Da Realist 1 in front of W.E.B. DuBois statue on Fisk University’s campus

Since you left me, I have had a number of well-meaning people tell me “what Jesse would want” and “how Jesse would want me to remember him.” I know you Jesse, and believe that you would want me to feel however it is that I need to feel. Sometimes, I feel like getting in the bed and pulling the covers up over my head. And, sometimes, I feel like reading a Toni Morrison novel to be close to you.

On the days that I can muster up the energy to do so, I rejoice in our friendship and I rejoice in your love. I am thankful to have known you, and I consider the pain of you leaving me the small price I have to pay for all the funny times we shared. Your love for your friends was thick, Jesse, because that was the only way you knew how to love. And, as Sethe said to Paul D. in Beloved when he told her that she, too, loves thick, “Love is or love ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”