Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cooking Goddesses: Help Please


Hey Culinary Artists,
So I created a pretty good dish tonight while watching all the DNC speechifyin, but I think it needs something and I'd love for you guys to try it and tell me what you think it needs. I think like some cous cous (which I have no idea how to prepare) or something...

Spinach, Shrimp & Sundried Tomatoes

5 oz package of spinach
half a pound of shrimp
sundried tomatoes - big handful
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons I Can't Believe Its Not Butter
garlic powder - more than a couple of shakes
adobo seasoning - couple shakes
salt-couple shakes
pepper - couple shakes
lemon juice - couple shakes

My shrimp and spinach were frozen so I thawed the spinach with the auto defrost in the microwave and just threw the shrimp in the pan frozen on medium high heat. When the shrimp was about 3/4ths cooked, I drained the liquid, added the salt, garlic, adobo, butter and olive oil. I sauteed the shrimp in all that for about 90 seconds, then I added the spinach (thawed but still a little cold). I sauteed that mixture for about 2 minutes, then added the sundried tomatoes and tossed it around for about 2 more minutes. Then when I tasted it, I felt it needed something else, so I added the pepper and the lemon juice, took it off the heat and tossed it around for like 10 seconds. It was fan-freaking-tastic then!!

I ate and totally enjoyed it, but I think it could use some kind of something, not rice, but something in that vein...

If you can, try it and let me know what you think...

Thanks for helping me out in my cooking adventures.

You know they are few and far between. Holla, jd

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I ain't got time...I ain't got time...


Since I'm writing, writing, writing my book, due in a bit more than a month, I hate that I don't have time to attend to this blog, which I love. So I thought I'd plug you into some writers that I am loving.

First up is Meera Bowman-Johnson, a former co-worker from a young black woman's mag from some years back. She's got great perspective on all things colored (pun intended). She writes for TheRoot.com. Check her out...and send me some writing good wishes...I'm 100 pages down with at least half that to go...holla, jd

Skin Deep
By Meera Bowman-Johnson | TheRoot.com
Yes, Beyoncé's skin looks lighter in the L'Oreal ad. Here's why you shouldn't take it personally.


Aug. 21, 2008--In a past life, I was the associate art director at an African-American women's magazine, responsible for hiring beauty photographers, and then using the images to illustrate the stories. From covering braid trends to microdermabrasion, it was a beautiful experience. (What other job would let me get a way with spending the day at a spa and still pay me for it?) One of the biggest perks was working with celebrities who trusted my judgment to help make them look good....more at Skin Deep.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Told Andre Benjamin That I Wanted To Have His Baby


Back in the day, I was a brave girl when it came to approaching men. All through my 20s (when I frequented the NY and DC club scenes) I had a surefire way of getting the attention of a man that I had eyes for. I'd buy him a drink. No one ever turned me down. And nine times out of 10 if I wanted to keep him around after our one-drink conversation, I'd have him all primed and ready to buy the next round or two or three (I said this was my 20s, remember?).

My confidence with men was really a spill over from how well I was doing in my professional career through the nineties and the fact that I had to beat the men off with a stick during all 4 years I attended Howard University.

But by age 30, people were coupling up, getting married, and I'd cooled off on the clubs. Being an entertainment journalist, I still had to check them out every now and then. When I moved back to Atlanta right after 9-11, I had to reacquaint myself with my hometown, which was a bit more sophisticated than I'd left it when I went to college in 1989. So big head (from cool new gig at a national mag) in tow, I frequented every listening party, backstage event, and invite-only thing in town.

And at every other event, I'd run into a man that left me speechless—a pretty hard feat. Now like many Atlantans, I went through a 10-year period when Outkast was the end-all, be-all of hip hop. And probably like lots of women, I had some pretty explicit fantasies about Andre Benjamin. This was Georgia-bred boy (yes ma'am, no sir), a writer, who was just nasty nice—on the mic, on the screen, and fa sho' in person.

They brought some sweet tea-peach cobbler home to my New York life when they blew up the charts in the late 90s and took the hip hop scene south. I'd see kids singing all the words to Ms. Jackson, but they knew nothing about Southernplayalistic. By the time I made it back to Atlanta in 2001, they were huge. Doing my job, I'd be at some event all mellowed out and in Andre would walk, or should I say glide, dip, stroll—all that. My whole demeanor would change. This was a brother I really had a hard time being in the same room with.

Several times I was introduced to him and all I could get out was something stupid like, "Hi." Well, and y'all know what’s coming, there was this one night at Visions, the most poppin club in ATL (besides Club 112) at the time. And a co-worker and I had had a couple of martinis, the DJ had spun about 4 or 5 Outkast songs in row, and I was "feelin it." You know, I had my eyes closed, dancing with no one in particular—in my own world.

I opened my eyes to find Andre standing right in front of me. And no, I was not dreaming. He was actually there, talking to one of his boys. I don't know what came over me, but before I knew it, I'd grabbed him by his arm and pulled him to me, whispering in his ear, "Now you know you should go on and let me have your baby."

What is so wild is that this joker did not miss a beat. He leaned over to me and, smooth as silk, said "Let me go and get a drink first." I'm sure I didn't move an inch, watching him walk to the bar. In my mind, he could have done with me whatevah evah evah evah he wanted right then—in the club.

I wish I could tell you that he came back and we danced the night away, got married, and had a slew of creative babies. But of course you know that's not the way it turned out. Maybe hitting the bar was his getaway line, but regardless, his people took him somewhere and I didn't see him anymore that night. When I came to (so to speak) I was so distraught and embarrassed that the impression I'd left with Andre was of a straight groupie, something that no self-respecting entertainment journalist can ever allow themselves to be.

Okay, so I was not raised to act like this. My momma always told me that sex should happen between two people who have a deep and abiding love for each other. And I really believe that. How could I just propose procreation to a man I didn't even know? But sometimes we all take leave of our senses, right? Well I'll speak for myself. At that moment in time, when I asked Andre to be my baby daddy, not a soul on this earth could make me believe that I wasn't as serious as collard greens and cornbread.

Thank GOD I don't feel that way about Andre anymore, mostly because I'm finally a grown up (I guess). And thank GOD even more that he didn't come back to me from the bar. This story might have been x-rated.

Practicing "Da Art of Storytellin," jd

Oh and check out a couple of interesting and kind of opposite viewpoints about Obama.

Places, Please! Arrogant is the new uppity.—The Black Snob
"And Massa said, "Who let you in here? Yes, you. With that inconveniently independent mind armed with facts. With your standing up straight and talking white, looking The Man directly in the eye. Just who do you think you are? Because you're not me. You're nothing like me who is better than you. So you are an insult to me. You refute my long-held beliefs about you so you must be proven wrong."

What Camp Obama Has in Common With the Bushes—TheRoot.com
The Cool One's campaign thinks anything off-message is aiding the enemy. Sound familiar?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Writing in the Heartbreak Hotel


Tuesday, August 11, 2:06 p.m.: Why is it that when your personal life goes all to hell, you either write the best shit you’ve ever written in your life, or you stare at the blank computer screen like its the MF you felt wronged you? I don’t know. But I’ve been alternately in both places for the past 4 hours. One moment, the ideas are flying so fast, my fingers can barely keep up. Then half an hour later, my emotional drama creeps in causing mind-numbing, creative-blocking interruptions along with bouts of tears that my sap-hating personality is sickened by. I’m a mess. But I’m gonna keep on writing. Something good has to come out of all this heartache. If you can, send some good vibes my way and pray I don’t take a sledgehammer to this damned laptop before I can get my emotions back in check.

Tuesday, August 11, 11:22 p.m.: What a difference nine hours can make. So I did not murder my laptop. As a matter of fact, I reeled myself back to reality by:
1. Being productive (very important for Capricorns) by writing 9 pages in my novel to add to the 9 I'd written the day before.
2. Treating myself to a delicious Rainbow Roll and the biggest $4.50 glass of plum wine I've ever had (@ the sushi bar at Camp Creek Marketplace for those of y'all in the ATL)
3. Listening to NPR's Farai Chideya interview Lalah Hathaway about her slamming new album
4. Soaking for hours in bubbles and baby oil, while forcing myself to read a self-help (aghast!!) article on finding happiness in Essence (July 08 issue for those in need). Those of you that know me know that all things self-help send me running in the opposite direction. But these days I'm finding them useful, and this particular story was GREAT.
5. Coming up with some wild ideas for this blog. Just wait. On tap are stories about me and Andre 3000, how I'm feeling about black love, and the bizarre things my child is doing.
6. Counting my blessings, especially the one where my daughter turned 2 at a birthday party on Saturday attended by 40 people who love her dearly.
7. And having several side-splitting and thoughtful conversations with close friends and family.

These may sound corny, but they worked for me. Hopefully I won't have to do them all again tomorrow. I don't think I have the energy.

Hey, did I mention that I wrote 9 pages today!?!?!?!

Take good care of yourselves, jd

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jumpin Into the Fray


So I have been hesitating about talking about the presidential campaign because, frankly, it's painful. I mean it literally hurts my heart to even imagine what the Obamas must be going through in their selfless and brave undertaking. I pray every day that they will have enough armor to withstand the crap that is being hurled at them incessantly. My mother tells me all the time that when she speaks to those prayer warriors (you know the ones that go in the closet to pray), she puts in a prayer request for the Obamas. 'Cause Lord knows they can't be covered enough in The Blood.

Now I'm not the "religious" type. I mean I don't normally end my conversations with "Have a blessed day," and I have nothing against those that do. I was raised in the church, went to Sunday School, bible study and vacation bible school; sung in the choir, was an acolyte and a member of the church youth group. My parents made sure I had a good foundation, so good that I ended up singing in a gospel choir for the first two years of my college career. And even though I did go astray for some years (basically my 20s), I never pushed the envelope too far because I wasn't a fool. I was taught right from wrong and I wanted to go to heaven. Still do.

These days I make it to church about twice a month, but I find myself praying all the time, anywhere, out loud, to myself and with my child (who says "Amen" like she's catching the spirit). Praying is comforting and necessary. And it's an integral part of who I am.

Hmmm...somehow I thought that this post was going to be about the Obamas and the presidential campaign. I guess it is because it's all interconnected. After I read this article in the Chicago Sun Times by Mary Mitchell, and then the racist and ignorant comments from one of the respondents, the first thing I did was say "Lord protect the Obamas." And now there's been some crazy racist in Florida arrested for threatening to assassinate Obama. We knew it was coming, didn't we?

But I'm staying hopeful. No matter what happens in the race, the Obamas will be a force to be reckoned with and they are empowering others by their example to STEP UP and be positive and progressive in our lives.

Check out this Chicago Sun Times article by Mary Mitchell, who puts it all out there. Now you know what black folks are saying in their homes around kitchen tables about why Barack is not further ahead in the polls. Mary Mitchell ain't afraid:

"Yet anyone who thought Obama would whip past McCain like an Olympic speed skater was being naive about the state of race relations in this country. I wouldn't label as racist every white Democrat who switched to McCain after Hillary Clinton was dispatched, but acting as though racial prejudice no longer exists in this country is also wrong.

Obama tries to avoid talking about race, as do his surrogates, staffers and supporters. But when a cable network interviewed Virginia voters during the Democratic primary, a white woman didn't stutter when she said she couldn't vote for a "Negra." Does this woman represent a large percentage of the white voting population? Probably not. But there are still enough people like her out here, and they are giving the Obama campaign the flux."

And make sure to check out the response from one poster who calls himself "euro american." Here's an excerpt:

"Just like those serial killers and pedophiles that deserve instant death, they [African Americans] have something inside their system that is evil and can't be repaired. Sadly, the black culture has a large portion (and growing) of the same. Sad enough they have no self accountability, but the good people of the community are being steamrolled by this spreading cancer. And I sure as heck am not guilty. I am embarrassed that a part of our society has every benefit and privelege at their doorstep and they don't have the GOD given sense or self accountability to take advantage of it. Gimme, gimme, gimme. Blame whitey. Blame the government. Blame racism. Sorry, that don't fly."

I mean this is just mean spirited and ignorant. Keep praying for the Obamas. 'Cause the crazies are just starting to get ramped up. JD

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Was Ready For The World In 1984


In the past two months my past has jumped up to slap me in my face more than a few times. A girl I hadn't communicated with since 7th grade hit me up on Facebook. A few weeks later I was, unbelievably, in a real club at 2:00 a.m. (in one of those, got childcare, haven't been out in forever, don't wanna go home scenes) and a girl walked past me in the dark, turned around, and recognized me from our second grade class, which was the last time we'd seen her. And then, a few days later, I was picking up my daughter and noticed a yard sign for another person I hadn't seen since elementary school who was running for office.

Needless to say, I've been a bit spooked about who else might pop up. And memories of the 80s have been peppering my thoughts, including one about my first "real" boyfriend, Veon. Now I wasn't allowed to date or have boyfriends in my early teens. At 13 all I could do was meet guys on the phone. Decatur, Ga. Strict parents. No transportation. Whatcha gone do? Rely on other people's 3-way, cause my momma and daddy sure weren't fooling around with call waiting or 3-way or anything that cost more to interrupt conversations already in progress.

Anyway, I was introduced to Veon over the phone by another boy, Monte, I was just cool with. They had a group where they played those electric keyboards that were all the rage back then. And believe it or not, Veon used to call me up and sing Ready For the World's "Digital Display" to me in his best imitation of the group's lead singer Melvin Riley. And when he would bust out with a line from their first hit "Tonight", "Oh, oh oh, oh oh..guuuuuurrrrlll tooooniiight," you talk about somebody swoonin!!! And Monte would be playing that electric keyboard in the background. I had my own little telephonic serenade going on! I'm surprised I didn't pass out.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Now of course by the time I met Veon, two years later, we had broken up (over the phone), Monte had introduced me to his friend-the incredibly intelligent 10th-grader Billy (over the phone), I'd found some way to meet up with Billy once, and we'd broken up. Veon and I ran into each other at a basketball game, and don't you know that boy looked JUST like Melvin Riley? I mean down to the jheri curl and everythang. But having cut mine off, I was over jheri curls by then, so it was a bit awkward.

I wonder what Veon is doing today. If you know a guy who looks like Melvin Riley, but is not Melvin Riley, tell him I'm down for another telephonic serenade anytime....

JD

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Black Mom Blogging


I'm new to blogging, well relatively new. I did have a blog a few years back called The Joyce Journal, which was mostly a way to disseminate information. This go 'round I'm writing about more personal stuff. It's hard, but good for me. And I know other black mothers who are doing the same. And no we don't write all the time about being a mom or even about being black. But I think we have a unique perspective because we are black and we are mothers.

In a recent Star Ledger article, Black Moms Who Blog, Michel Martin muses on why there aren't more parenting bloggers of color or black blogging networks for moms or dads. She says that black women already feel they're in a limiting group just by being labeled African American women and that black moms don't have enough leisure time to blog (I'm guessing maybe because many of us are single and doing it all). She also says that many of the black women who do have a lifestyle that allows them to blog are upper middle class and childless.

I guess I can see all of her points. And I prefer to look at them as opportunities. No I don't always have the time to blog, but for some unknown reason, it's become one of the main reasons I can't wait until 11 o'clock at night. I know that I'll be able to get out my feelings about something. And I know that even if no one else reads it, I got it out and by doing so, I am strengthening my voice as a writer. I gotta work on my craft.

I've also been reading lots of other blogs these days, some penned by black mothers. One I visit a lot is Wifey's House. Nothing profound from me tonight. Just happy that I got another chance to write in my online journal. In fact, my mother gave me my first diary when I was in elementary school. You writers know the kind I'm talking about - it was small, a funky shade of green, and had five days on a page, as well as a gold lock on it that had a key.

That diary turns up every few years when I'm digging in the archives (my wreck of a garage) for something. Sometimes I'm brave enough to I peek inside. Its weird to read your thoughts as a child - juvenile angst is real. The next time that diary appears and I have the courage to peruse a page or two, I'll know that I'm reading the beginnings of black mom who's now blogging. Not writing an objective article for her career, but putting herself out there in a revealing way. And I think that's just cool. jd

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Sex Talk-Do It


I can't believe that one day I'll have to talk to my little baby girl about sex. And it will probably be sooner than later, at least it should be. What got me thinking about this was this Newsweek article, Talking the "sex" Talk to Tween and Teens. There were some good suggestions in there about ways to talk to your child about sex. But of course, being the journalist I am, I had to go and look for some facts about black girls and sex. Google led me to this article on one of my favorite sites, TheRoot.com. An excerpt below of statistics was scary enough for me to be happy that my child is just about two, and hopefully at least 4 or 5 years from our initial discussion. Although I'm already telling her not to let anybody touch her in her private places. Ain't it sad that you have to tell a 2 year old that? From TheRoot.com's Black Girls and STDs:

"African American girls are at particular risk for a lifetime of maternal and infant mortality, unintended pregnancies leading to higher abortion rates, and the growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS. Black women are nearly four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Black women are 23 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS and 14 times more likely to die from the disease. The numbers of black girls receiving abstinence-only instruction instead of comprehensive sex education has significantly increased as compared to white girls. This means young black women are not being taught about contraceptive use for preventing pregnancy and protecting against sexually transmitted diseases."

This piece also had some great suggestions about how to help the plight of our black girls on a larger scale, like demanding that your congressional representative fight for better access to health care for women of color. Sorry to end on such a heavy note tonight, but better to be aware and proactive than ignorant and regretful.

Talk to your kids,
JD

Sunday, August 3, 2008

First Day Jitters for the Youngest Freedom Sister To Be


This is my baby. Next week she'll be two. Tomorrow is her first day of school—well, early learning center. She, of course, is not nervous. Me? I'm a bit on edge. I stayed home with her for 15 months and since then she's been in home environments with people who loved her. Now, she's going off to school with strangers, well-meaning as they may be. And its time. She ditched the sippy cup about a month ago, has been able to sing her ABCs and count to 10 for months, points out doggies, birdies, daddies and mommies in every book we read, and says her grace before eating and her prayers at bedtime.

She'll even tell you that she'll be right back when she leaves the room with one finger in the air. You know how the old folks do sometimes when they tip on out of church early. How about my mother just informed me that this behavior dates back to slavery when slaves had to raise a finger before walking out of church to let other white folks know that their master had given them permission to leave. Talk about the vestiges of slavery!

So back to my baby. Yep. Its time for learning for her. But to me, this is the official end of the baby stage. And I guess I'm just not ready for that. Not to mention the whole researching the types of schools, programs and extracurricular activities (dance, music, art, sports)to which I want her to expose her. The mind reels. But I'm exited, too, because my child is about to begin her life's journey of learning, something her mother loves so much that she became a journalist just to ensure she'd could do it forever—and get paid for it.

So I'm gonna look at her first day of school as a wonderful beginning to an exciting and informed life. I'll get to see her fall in love with learning and the world of opportunities that brings. Who knows? My child may turn out to be the next Ida B. Wells, Charlayne Hunter-Gault or any one of the 20 black women featured in the Smithsonian's Freedom Sisters traveling exhibit. Okay, I feel better now.

JD

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Detroit Lee & ATL's New Tuskegee Airmen Parkway


I'm so sleepy that while I was trying desperately to get some writing done on my novel, the back of my head hit the back of my couch like 10 times before I straight gave up. Heading to la la land, but before I go, I wanted to give a big up to the ATL for naming a stretch of Camp Creek Parkway (near the airport for those who ain't from 'round here) Tuskegee Airmen Parkway.

Both of my parents attended Tuskegee back when it was an institute (think I look like my mom?). I spent every summer in that town with my grandparents until I was about 15. And my grandfather, a righteous rabble rouser, spent years knocking down doors for all of us: suing for jobs they wouldn't let a black man have and bringing the lawsuit, Lee V. Macon, that led to the desegregation of all the schools in Alabama. He sure earned his bad ass name—Detroit Lee. This August he would have been 92, and the biggest Obama supporter this side of the Mississippi River. Here's to you granddaddy! Lord, I miss you. Love, jd

Friday, August 1, 2008

Laying Hands on Obama


At the end of a wild week of insane news coverage about who's playing the race card and ridiculously juvenile attack ads from the McCain camp, this photo and Obama continuing to stay on message are keeping me hopeful. Prayerfully, JD

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