Friday, September 11, 2009

Do You Remember?

Today is September 11, 2009. It's amazing the things that you remember and the things that you forget. Sometimes I can't remember what I had for dinner last night, but there are some things that happen that I will never forget. I remember what I was doing when John Kennedy was assinated. I remember what I was doing when Martin Luther King was assinated. I remember what I was doing when Bobby Kennedy was assinated. And I remember what I was doing on September 11, 2001 when 2,993 people were killed as we were attacked on our own soil. I remember it like it was yesterday.

When I left my house for my morning run, it was dark. By the time I got back, the sky was several shades lighter than dark. As I walked around the cul de sac to cool off, I could see some of my neighbors TVs on in their kitchens. I opened the door, stepped into my kitchen and immediately into what seemed like a horror movie.

Ted was standing staring at the little TV that we kept on the kitchen counter. "What's wrong?", I asked as I moved past him to look at the tv. He didn't answer and I looked at the screen. There, right in front of me, was an image of the World Trade Center towers. One of them was on fire, somewhere midway up. "A plane flew into one of the World Trade Center towers", Ted told me. Numbly I watched as another plane entered the screen from the right and plowed right into the other tower. "What is this?", I moaned. "What's happening?" "What's going on?". As the morning unfolded, it became apparent that we were under the worst attack in history.
As details became known, I realized that the mayhem did not affect New York alone, but included attempts in Washington and Pennsylvannia.

On that day, 8 years ago, life changed forever. No matter how safe we felt before that day, we would never feel that safe again. Life changed for me, yes, but I can only imagine how much more life changed for the familes of those mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and friends that went to work one day and never came home.
I did not know anyone who perished that day but I think of them often and this morning I said a special prayer for their families who, I'm sure, are missing them even more on this day.

May God keep us all safe.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Watcha' Reading?

From the time I was a young girl I loved to read. I was not the most popular girl--neither was I the prettiest and I was overweight so books really became my friends.

I remember going to the local library after school. I spent so much time there the librarian took me under her wing. She started recommending books for me to read. I started out with Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys and others by Louisa Mae Alcott. Everytime I finished one book, the librarian (wish I could remember her name) would give me another. By the time I was in junior high school I realized that I loved big, thick books so eventually I made it to The Arms of Krup (650+ pages). After that I moved on to Les Miserables. In high school I was reading Ayn Rand's books like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

What I loved about books was that you could go places--places where a little, poor African American girl could not go and what reading these books did for me (besides building my vocabulary) was expose me to these places and to the itch to want to rise above my current circumstances.

My mother used to think that I spent too much solitary time so she'd force me to go out and play. I'd find a way to stuff a book under my shirt or sweater and would hide under the stairway of our 6-story walkup and read until I'd hear her call me to come in. At night I'd read with my head under the covers using a flashlight to give me enough light to see. I'd read anywhere I could.

What got me thinking about this? We're having a project done in the house to build bookshelves up and downstairs. I estimate that these book shelves will help me empty at least 10 boxes. We already have a large bookshelf full of my books but we're a book-loving family so a good deal of the boxes we moved are filled with, that's right--books. I mentioned my project to one of our neighbors. She said "We don't read books". I was surprised. My favorite way to spend time is in Barnes & Nobles or the library so I guess it always stuns me when I'm reminded that not everyone likes books. I haven't read all of my books but when I'm ready for another one, I just go shopping in my library. Sometimes when I hear the title of a good book I add it to my Wish List on

For me, a day without a book is a day without sunshine and you can tell a lot about a person from their books. Here's my Wish List:

The Last Lecture - by Randy Pausch

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary - by Merriam-Webster

Now, Discover Your Strengths - by Marcus Buckingham

The End of Overeating:Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite - by David Kessler

Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating - by Mark Bittman

The Essential Raps! - Ron Clark

Excellent 11, The Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children - Ron Clark

Fashionista: The Ultimate Guide to Looking Fabulous for Less - by Kathryn Finney

Yoga for Women at Midlife and Beyond - by Pat Shapiro

Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style

How to Have Style - Issac Mizrahi

The Best Day of Someone Else's Life - by Kerry Reichs

Listening Is An Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from StoryCorps Project - by Dave Isay

What is Tao: - by Alan W. Watts

Does It Matter?: Essays on Man's Relation to Materiality - by Alan W. Watts

It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff - by Peter Walsh

Keepin' It Real: The Rise of Bullshit in the Black Community - Sabrina Lamb

Homemade Biography: How to Collect, Record, and Tell the Life Story of Someone You Love - by Tom Zoellner

A Creative Writer's Kit: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life - by Judy Reeves

Five Wishes: How Answering One Simple Question Can Make Your Dreams Come True - by Gay Hendricks

Monday, September 7, 2009

Welcome Autumn

It's been a while since I've written, I know. I had to prepare for our out-of-town guests, then enjoy their company, then recover from all of the fun.

Well, now I'm back to life, back to reality. I am editing a book for my brother-in-law. That is work that I really enjoy. I've always loved reading, writing and editing and have been helping my brother-in-law with his books since the early 1960's.

I've been keeping up with the gym and my transformer water fitness class. Before this Labor Day weekend I had lost a couple of pounds but I'm sure I fixed that. I will not complain, though. It was a weekend of great food and fellowship.

As I sat on the back porch this morning sipping a delicious cup of Hazelnut Cinnamon coffee and listening to the birds, I took note that there was a chill in the air and the special purple-like tint to the sky that trumpets my favorite time of the year. Autumn is right around the corner and I'm happy. With it comes cooler temperatures, warm sweaters and socks, Starbuck's gingerbread loaf and gingerbread lattes and the return of Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters and, I hope, some word about whether we'll see any more episodes of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency on HBO.

I am blessed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Do I Really Need To Be Right?

I have this thing about being right. When I was younger I used to be able to disguise it as a need to do "research" so that I could know the truth. Now that I'm a "woman of a certain age" as Tina Turner would say, I no longer find it necessary to camoflague my purpose. I need to be right! It's not cute, it's not funny, and it's certainly not gracious. I used to say that I was from the "show me" state. You'd need to prove something to me before I'd believe it--Not everything, just anything I didn't agree with you about. I used to think this was a virtue--now I know better. How do I know that? By the way I feel when I'm proven right. It doesn't really make me feel good. I just feel weird. Like a petulant kid or something. It is definitely a moral failing. Whenever I disagree with someone I have to prove a point by researching on the computer. I don't know what I ever did without Google.

There's something sad about proving myself right--that makes someone else wrong. In an earlier post, I listed some things that Andy Rooney of 60 minutes has learned. One of them was: I've learned that it's better to be kind than to be right.

I need to work on that and yes, you guessed it: There's always tomorrow.