Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Subject: Christmas Party
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 1, 2009
RE: Gala Christmas Party
I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place
on December 23rd, starting at noon in the private function room at the
Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We'll have
a small band playing traditional carols... feel free to sing along. And
don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A
Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00 PM. Exchanges of gifts among
employees can be done at that time; however, no gift should be over
$10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone's pockets. This
gathering is only for employees!
Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!
Merry Christmas to you and your family,
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 2, 2009
RE: Gala Holiday Party
In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees.
We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday, which often
coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However,
from now on, we're calling it our "Holiday Party." The same policy
applies to any other employees who are not Christians and to those still
celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree and no
Christmas carols will be sung. We will have other types of music for
Happy Holidays to you and your family,
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 3, 2009
RE: Holiday Party
Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous
requesting a non-drinking table, you didn't sign your name. I'm happy
to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads,
"AA Only", you wouldn't be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to
And sorry, but forget about the gift exchange, no gifts are allowed
since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and the
executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.
REMEMBER: NO GIFTS EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED.
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All Employees
DATE: October 4, 2009
RE: Generic Holiday Party
What a diverse group we are! I had no idea that December 20th begins
the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking
during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can
appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our
Muslim employees' beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on
serving your meal until the end of the party or else package everything
for you to take it home in little foil doggy baggy. Will that work?
Meanwhile, I've arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest
from the dessert buffet, and pregnant women will get the table closest
to the restrooms.
Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit
with Gay men, each group will have their own table. Yes, there will be
flower arrangement for the Gay men's table.
To the person asking permission to cross dress, the Grill House asks
that no cross-dressing be allowed, apparently because of concerns about
confusion in the restrooms. Sorry.
We will have booster seats for short people.
Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet.
I am sorry to report that we cannot control the amount of salt used in
the food. The Grill House suggests that people with high blood pressure
taste a bite first.
There will be fresh "low sugar" fruits as dessert for diabetics, but the
restaurant cannot supply "no sugar" desserts. Sorry!
Did I miss anything?!?!?
FROM: Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director
TO: All F*%^ing Employees
DATE: October 5, 2009
RE: The F*%^ing Holiday Party
I've had it with you vegetarian pricks!!! We're going to keep this
party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit
quietly at the table furthest from the "grill of death," as you so
quaintly put it, and you'll get your f*%^ing salad bar, including
organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. They
scream when you slice them. I've heard them scream. I'm hearing them
scream right NOW!
The rest of you f*%^ing wierdos can kiss my *ss. I hope you all have a
Drive drunk and die,
The B*tch from H*ll!!!
FROM: Joan Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director
DATE: October 6, 2009
RE: Patty Lewis and Holiday Party
I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery
and I'll continue to forward your cards to her.
In the meantime, management has decided to cancel our Holiday Party and
give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Wordless Wednesday: Literary Love at Hurston Wright Legacy Awards-Eatonville Restaurant, Langston Hughes Way, D.C.
Me and Felicia Pride, author, speaker and founder of the wonderful BackList.
Friday, November 5, 2010
In the last few weeks I've written some interesting pieces - interesting to write - and now that I look back - interesting to read - for Inside Spelman, the college's monthly online publication, which I edit. If you get a chance to check them out, I'd love to know what you think. Here are some excerpts to whet your appetite:
Creative Writing Series Features Award-Winning Poets
For this piece I got a chance to connect with two amazing writers, Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey and Kyle Dargan, editor of cool literary journal, Post No Ills Magazine. Hearing them read from their work and engage with students as Spelman launched their first creative writing series was stimulating.
"Dargan and Trethewey let attendees into their personal spaces by reading from works that revealed how they used writing to work through painful events from their pasts. The Pulitzer Prize winning Tretheway, who holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry at Emory University, read searing and sensitive prose from her most recent book, “Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” Dargan’s selected readings of his works about his family and relationships were affecting and at times humorous." Check out the rest of the article.
The Video: Spelman Creative Writing Series: Natasha Trethewey & Kyle Dargan
The Will to Serve
"For some, the military is in their blood. For others, service is their calling. For all, balancing the demands of being a full-time Spelman student and a member of the armed services is an impressive challenge to undertake."
I learned a great deal interviewing Spelman students who are also in the ROTC programs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Marines. Yes, they have rigorous schedules, many up before 5 a.m. daily for training and studying for the eight extra classes they must complete as part of their requirements. And their ambition is impressive.
There is a dual-degree, physics and nuclear engineering major who wants to use her military experience working on nuclear reactors on ships to improve energy in U.S. power plants. When the Navy opened up submarine warfare to women in March, another was named one of the first 36 women in the country selected for submarine tour duty.
I was proud to get to know these women who have the will to serve.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Symone is also Disney’s first African-American character as the voice of Iridessa, lighting the way for other fairies with her intelligence in the Tinkerbell film series.
Win one of 10 copies of the DVD of her new film “Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue” by posting on Heart & Soul how you keep the little girl in you alive.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
My intention was to just read maybe 10 pages while I enjoyed my lunch. But 10 turned to 15 and I wasn't done yet. After lunch was consumed, I retired to the restaurant's outside seating on a glorious sunny, yet breezy day. Finding just enough shade, I settled in, feet propped up for what I told myself would only be five more pages-just to the end of the chapter.
I'm on page 106 of Ntozake Shange's Some Sing, Some Cry, a succulent and mammoth - 576 page - multigenerational novel about a recently emancipated family in Charleston, South Carolina. The writing has such depth and the characters are so rich that I'm intellectually full and emotionally drained after a chapter or two. If I read too much, I'm almost upset because I feel greedy about devouring the heart-wrenching and satisfying prose.
I mean there's a meeting in the church where Denmark Vesey planned his revolution and a book party for Ida B. Wells at the home of a "high-toned," upper crust black society hostess, where conversation is about the literacy poll tax and the loss of black senators at the end of Reconstruction. All this is set amid the horrifying brutality against my ancestors, the tracing of the roots of black music from spirituals to jazz, and at this point in the book, the touching story of a berry-skinned talented seamstress conflicted about her suitors from different classes and her desires for acceptance into the mulatto world. For a lit chick, who's drawn to many things activist, historical, musical and based in the richness of people of color, well, Shange's book is just irresistible.
And I only get to check in with these friends, these adopted family members, these well-written characters like once every 10 days or so. At this rate I probably won't finish the book until this time next year.
So 15 pages turned into 20 and it wasn't until I'd gone past 30 and realized an hour had slipped by that the guilts finally got me. It's Saturday. My daughter is with her father. And my To Do list is like a toilet paper roll long. The times of lingering in a park, a cafe, or the bed and reading for fun until my eyes were bleary is so long gone. I pray it returns in about 15 years when my baby enters college.
I did manage to press on, intent to check things off my list. I'd already accomplished one - made her soccer game this morning. Now off to a bookstore, where I'd work on some overdue magazine assignments, write pitches for more, and continue research for the infernal elementary school search I launched in the fall.
But any reader-writer-literary fiend knows that bookstores are more seductive than lovers. I have no idea what I was thinking. I tried to put blinders on and make my way directly to a comfy chair where I could get straight to work. I didn't even stop for my usual coffee with the raspberry flavoring.
I'd put myself in a trick bag. Of all the book displays to be sidetracked by, the one labeled "Required School Reading," diverted me from my path. As I perused the fare, authors like Edgar Allen Poe, Homer, Toni Morrison, Judy Blume, Zora Neale Hurston, and C.S. Lewis transported me back to a time when reading was required - and I SURE didn't mind.
I was almost giddy thinking of how I'd re-read all these favorites - the one's that spurred my imagination and creativity and laid the foundation for my chosen career - and the new classics when my daughter had to read them in school. I got so caught up that I whipped out my cell phone and started taking photos of the books I loved and those I'd heard about and thought I'd love.
I pray to God all the time that my child enjoys reading as much or more than - if that's even possible - I do. She can enjoy other stuff, too. That is totally fine, Lord. But please God, let her find the endless joy that is good story telling. Pardon me for that quick prayer, but I had to get it in. Because the To Do list is calling.
And I'm getting back on it. Right. Now.
In five more minutes....
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I'll admit there is a bit of the comical here, but I feel NY gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan on some of his ideas. And if you're from the Atlanta area, you have to admit that his cadence and forthrightness is similar to the late local activist Hosea Williams.
I think it's always good to have a layperson up in the political mix during election time. And if he's slightly entertaining, well..there's nothing wrong with getting a giggle and a different perspective at the same time. Enjoy and make sure you vote for your chosen candidates on Tuesday, November 2.
VIDEO: The Rent Is Too Damn High Party's Jimmy McMillan at the NY Governor Debate
VIDEO: NYS Gov. Candidate Jimmy McMillan Explains Why 'Rent Is 2 Damn High'
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
8:25 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19
After prayers were said - "Now I lay me down to sleep" - and I read half of "The Five Chinese Brothers," to my four-year-old, she requested that we say one of our "special" prayers.
Sharing a pillow, we faced each other and she started:
And we went on, with her leading the way:
"I will obey tomorrow. I will listen to my teachers tomorrow. I will pay attention tomorrow. I will go to ballet tomorrow. I will obey all my teachers tomorrow. Thank you God. I love you God. Amen."
I was too proud of my daughter, who'd gotten in a bit of trouble earlier in the day for disobeying at school. After I explained to her that it was extremely important to keep promises made to God, she surprised me again:
"Mommy," she said, laying on her back and looking up at the ceiling, "I wish I could give God a kiss."
"You can," I said. "Just close your eyes and blow God a kiss." I demonstrated by kissing my hand and raising it up toward the sky. She did the same, but was not quite satisfied.
"I wish I could give God a hug," she added.
Thank the Lord that my quick thinking and lifelong religious teachings didn't fail me.
"You can, baby," I said. "God is inside of everybody. So God is inside of you. If you give yourself a hug, then you're giving God a hug."
She loved this idea and squeezed her little self so hard, I thought I was going to have to rescue her.
I got the same squeeze before I bid her goodnight. But she stopped me. She had one more gift for the One above.
"Mommy, I wish I could give God a cookie."
Quick thinking didn't save me here.
"We'll have to think about that one," I said, trying to banish the image of leaving cookies for Santa from my head. She nodded and slipped under her covers, as she shared one more thought:
"I love you, Mommy."
"I love you, too, baby."
I know...I know...this is so sweet it's cavity producing.
Right now she's in there doing her nightly play-in-the-bed routine. The rule is that she doesn't have to go to sleep, but her feet cannot touch the floor. So there's singing, shrieking, play-acting, talking, rolling and often wall-beating.
She just transitioned from some Cuban song she's learning as part of her school's upcoming International Day to "We Had a Great Day," by Nick Jr.'s Fresh Beat Band.
Dear God, I love my creative child. Thank you God. I love you God. Amen.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
My mentor-turned-sister friend Yanick Rice Lamb is in the process of launching an amazing new space in the digital world. Please check out her video entry to win seed funding for Fully-Connected.com - you'll know immediately that you should cast your vote for this visionary journalist, author, editor and teacher.
**Voting Ends Sunday, October 17, at Midnight**
Please take a second to vote for Yanick Rice Lamb to help our team secure seed money to launch http://www.fully-connected.com, a new vision in digital media. Fully-Connected.com connects dots and connects people from Atlanta to Accra through engaging journalism and social networking. We will also provide training and opportunities for journalists, students and citizens who want to tell stories about their communities and global roots. Allow us to help you get fully connected! Start by casting your vote for Yanick Rice Lamb and passing the word, since voting is open to the public until Sunday, Oct. 17.
You can also watch her short video under the NABJ logo on the top right at http://www.unityjournalists.org/NewU/index.php, and check out the prototype for Fully-Connected.com. In the spirit of Unity, vote for one person at National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, and Native American Journalists Association, too. Thanks!
Qualifications for Success
Yanick Rice Lamb’s team includes some of the youngest, brightest and most experienced minds in journalism. Yanick loves to quote Howard University colleague Paula Matabane, who says, “We teach what we do and do what we teach.” She has the best of both worlds as an associate professor and coordinator of the Print/Online Journalism Sequence at Howard, where she earned an MBA in 2005. The former president of the New York Association of Black Journalists is also associate publisher and editorial director at Heart & Soul, the leading health and fitness magazine for African Americans.
She has worked everywhere from Essence to The New York Times, gaining invaluable experience in launching and repositioning new ventures and winning numerous awards along the way. As founding editor of BET Weekend, her editorial vision led to the popular magazine becoming the second-largest publication targeted to African Americans with a circulation increase of nearly 40 percent from 800,000 to 1.3 million in just three years.
In addition to being an entrepreneurial fellow through the New U program co-sponsored by Unity Journalists of Color and the Ford Foundation, Yanick is writing about delayed hospital discharges as one of four journalists in the Health Performance Fellowship sponsored by the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Commonwealth Fund. Vote for Yanick Rice Lamb. Allow her innovative team to help you get fully connected!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Yes it is! And not only that, it's School Picture Day! So even though the temperature will reach 90 degrees on this first day of fall in Atlanta, I had to dress my big girl in something representative of the season. The nearly 40-year-old crochet standout of this lovely ensemble is courtesy of my talented mother, who crafted this piece for me when I was a toddler. Amazing, huh? Hot for 90 degrees? Yes. But, I'm not cruel - I did leave a change of cooler clothes so she wouldn't pass out.
Of course, we had our own little photo shoot before school this morning because 1) she's just so darned cute; and 2) you know how you drop off your child on picture day and their hair and outfit are just right, but the photos you get back showcase a child who obviously rolled on the floor from the time you left until the photographer snapped the picture? I am not taking a chance. Just in case things go awry, I think we've got a winning shot right here!
Look at that enthusiasm! I love children that love school. Happy First Day of Fall, y'all! I hope you're enjoyceinglife, because we certainly are!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I don't know how the film is going to be, but these posters are HOT! If you don't know what movie I'm talking about, it's the Tyler Perry-produced adaptation of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by the incomparable Ntozake Shange.
I've been deep in Ntozake-land this weekend, transcribing an interview I did with her a few weeks back and writing an article about her that will appear in an upcoming issue of Heart & Soul magazine. Her life story is nothing but amazing. And her creativity is a marvel.
I'm not the biggest fan of Tyler Perry's Madea plays or movies, but I definitely respect his path and drive. And I did like the first Why Did I Get Married. I'll probably get around to seeing the second one. Where do you stand on Tyler Perry's offerings?
And I'm reading Ntozake's new book, Some Sing, Some Cry, that she wrote with her sister, Ifa Bayeza. If you want to get lost in a lush post-Emancipation, multi-generational read, this is the book for you. It's so moving and has so much depth that I can't endure too much, too often. Reading more than 20 pages at one time for me is like eating too much chocolate cake. It's so rich, it's sinful. Plus I want it to last a long time. I'm always like that with books that have characters I know I'm going to adore, or who will live with me for years - so long that sometimes I think they're real people with whom I've had encounters.
Well actually, it's either read a book like that over months or devour it in nearly one sitting, like I did with Sapphire's Push. I started reading Push on the train to work one day back in the 90s. Got to work, closed my office door, and kept reading. By lunchtime, I knew I was being held hostage by Push when I hadn't even turned on my computer. I gave up for the day, made some excuse, and was back on the train with my book. I finished it that night, brought it to work the nest day to share with my co-worker, who proceeded to do the exact same thing - ignore work to read it immediately.
I love books that can snatch you from you life. I haven't seen Precious, the film adaptation of Push. But the trailer made me tear up and I'm sure I'll get around to it when I'm brave enough. This week I've been hearing lots about the star of the film's Elle cover. What do you think?
Back to For Colored Girls...
I find myself wanting to do something with these posters. I'm not a teen, so I wouldn't plaster them on my wall. But I may add them to the piles of images that I want to scrap book. I used to do a lot of journaling and my journals were peppered with stimulating images. I won't even go into how much my life misses journaling. It certainly does help a person work some things out. I guess I still do journal - on this blog. But it's really not the same. I need that private release. After years of typing and as I let the Internet seep into a larger place in my life, two things - I really hate writing with my hand (oh the shame!) and I love the instant gratification of the Web (even more shame).
And I LOVE Anika Noni Rose. She's been fabulous in everything I've seen her in, from the Jill Scott vehicle, HBO's "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" to Dreamgirls and The Princess and the Frog - a favorite of my 4 year old.
Glad to hear the For Colored Girls is heading back to Broadway, starring India.Arie and being produced by Whoopi Goldberg. It's been nearly been nearly 35 years since it debuted and received a Tony Award nomination. Gotta make a trip to the big city to check it out.
I have to give a shout out to The Smithian, who turned me on to Kiss My Black Ads, and the blog's original post about the For Colored Girls posters. If you don't follow the Smithian, you're really missing out.
Couldn't leave you without an image of the woman that started it all. This is us this summer at the National Book Club Conference (thanks Curtis Bunn, Terri Williams and Angela Reid). Ain't Ntozake fab? You should have seen her full back tattoo of orchids and lilies - a gift she said she gave herself for her 50th birthday! She's bad, in the truest sense of the word. A creative visionary.
Haven't read For Colored Girls? It's never too late. Now, off to a Sunday walk and more writing - the kind that pays bills. Hope you're enjoyceinglife, because I certainly am.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I heard Terry McMillan on The Takeaway this morning talking about her new book, Getting to Happy, the sequel to her best-selling novel, Waiting to Exhale (which is nearly 20 years old!?!?!). While there's betrayal, divorce and tragedy in the new book, McMillan talked more about how the characters Bernadine, Savannah, Gloria and Robin were all looking to themselves for happiness instead of to a man.
I wonder how many women realize this is the way to go - or even agree that you can be happy without a man. I've lived on both sides of this coin. Let me know how you feel.
To find out how the drama queens of Waiting to Exhale fare, check out Heart & Soul Magazine, which is giving away a copy of Getting to Happy. And it's so simple to win.
Before you click away, don't forget to leave me a comment about why you think a woman can or can't be happy without a man. I really want to know what you think.
Monday, August 16, 2010
My girl Karen Good took me to see her perform at the Iridium Jazz Club near Lincoln Center back when I was living in Brooklyn and immersing myself in all the city had to offer. I was in my first job as young reporter at Fortune magazine, trying desperately to make the jump into entertainment journalism. Karen - my college classmate and still the best writer I know - beat me to the punch. I think she was working for Vibe at the time and, thankfully, she let me tag along with her to some of the best shows.
We were floored by Abbey Lincoln's performance. First of all, it was a dinner theater scene, which at 26 or 27, I hadn't seen a lot of. We had fabulous seats – literally at the feet of this amazing talent. The way she engaged the audience, chatted, sang – and really entertained – was just incredible. I don't think I'd seen anything like it, since my mother took me to see Lena Horne in “The Lady and her Music,” when I was 12.
Needless to say, I was all gushing and awkward when we got to go backstage to her dressing room after the show. I honestly don't remember the exact words she and I spoke to each other, but it must have gone something like this:
Me: "Oh Ms. Lincoln, I really loved your performance. You were so great."
Abbey: "Well, thank you, baby."
Me: "I've seen you before. Well, not in person, but in Mo' Betta Blues.”
Abbey: "Mo' Betta Blues! I've starred in movies. You hear, me?!?" she raised her voice, glowering at me. "You haven't seen For the Love of Ivy with me and Sidney Poitier?”
I must have been struck dumb and I’m sure I couldn’t do anything but shake my head.
Abbey: "What about Nothing But a Man?!?!"
Maybe I found my voice. If so, I’m sure I said something like, "Well, uh...uh...no...I don't think so..."
She turned from me. And with a wave of her hand, dismissed me as not worthy of being in her presence. I slunk out of her dressing room. I have no idea what Karen did.
Like I said, I don't remember our exact exchange, but I do remember leaving feeling embarrassed and disappointed. I think Karen and I went out and had some drinks and some laughs about Abbey's diva moment afterwards. But honestly, it stung.
I actually had to call my mother about my blessing out when I woke up and it was still on my mind the next day. My mother never felt the same about Abbey Lincoln again. As a matter of fact, we had the opportunity to see her perform at the National Black Arts Festival maybe five years ago. And while we enjoyed her performance, every time I looked over at my mother while Abbey was singing, she had her mouth twisted up. I could hear her mumbling, "She didn't have to treat my baby like that. I don't care who she is."
Abbey kicking me out of her dressing room taught me, the budding entertainment journalist, several good lessons. After that situation, I rarely found myself in the audience of a legendary artist without have a working knowledge of their seminal works – especially if I had at least an hour or so before I knew I was going to be interviewing them or just hanging out backstage with them. If I didn't have time for research, I developed a way to fake it, letting them talk about themselves, and using their attitudes as color for my articles if I saw they were the diva type. And that goes for male artists, too.
The other thing I did after my Abbey Lincoln bruising was to go out and immediately rent For the Love of Ivy and Nothing But a Man, which I adored. Even more, I loved the woman she portrayed in Nothing But a Man, which has been noted as "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. I've probably seen the movie 25 or 30 times.
Don't get me wrong. I love Abbey Lincoln. She was an unbelievably gifted and creative spirit. Over the years, I’ve gained more appreciation for her immense talent and how she used voice to speak out against injustice.
So, I'll miss her. But I'll never be able to separate her from our only meeting. And that's okay. It was special. I don't know how many others she may have dismissed over her life. Maybe I just caught her on a bad evening.
Regardless, my personal experience with Abbey Lincoln was dramatic and memorable – just like the timeless art she emoted.