Sunday, May 22, 2011

Her Hair Story, a recollection

Dear Diary,

My baby sistah came to visit over the week end. It was a quick trip for her, Thursday through Saturday . We didn't have much time to visit but I will take what I can get. Sistah Sarah Ann took her son to ASU orientation. She was impressed with all she saw and did that day and was recounting it for us Friday night at the kitchen table. It seems that one of the speakers spoke to them about a project he had going concerning "hair" He claims that everyone has a hair story. I begged to differ. I told Sarah Ann that I did not have a hair story, but then I recalled the 1970's.

I got my hair "done" at the Nu Look Beauty Parlor on Hwy 69. Usually just a trim. I had quite an active imagination and adventurous spirit but lost all when it came to my hair. I have often said that instead of my business degree from the University, I would be better off if I had gone to beauty school and interned with a carpenter but I digress... My best friend and I both had long straight hair and we both really wanted our hair to look like Farah Fawcett's. We got the cut but never could get it to "do" right. It just lay there limp. Worst hair cut I ever got if you don't count that horror of a cut I got in the eighth grade that was supposed to look darling on me.

I mentioned the Farah Fawcett cut to Sarah Ann. Then now all the wiser mentioned as a side note that it would probably have looked better if I had used the right "product". That is when sistah unloaded the ultimate family hair story. It was one that I had totally forgotten about.

"The right product! Remember when Momma brought the case of Afro Sheen Shampoo home bragging about what a great deal she got on it. That Afro Sheen lasted a whole year!"

In her defense, I said maybe she didn't know what it was. Sarah Ann said of course she knew what it was. Soul Train was one of her favorite shows. That is true, She did watch a lot of Soul Train.

Today I looked through some 70's era pictures and I noticed in some, my hair had a lot of body and bounce. In others it lay pretty flat. I think I'll see if Afro Sheen is still on the market and see what it does for this gray mess of hair I have now.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I pity the fool that rings my doorbell after 8 p.m.

Dear Diary,

Besides making monkeys, I have been working all spring on one art piece. It is a "No Soliciting" sign to hang by my front door. It's not that I don't want solicitors. I love it when the Girl Scouts come by and sell their cookies and we do support the neighborhood schools but sometimes "strangers" come by and ring our bell. It is usually around 8:00 o'clock at night and we are right in the middle of a movie or Law and Order reruns. When that doorbell rings it disrupts our evening routine. First, we look at each other with the "Are you expecting company?" gaze. Second, whom ever has the remote pauses the show. We pause too, and kind of wait out each other to see who will get up and answer the door. Sometimes I do but more often Frank does because he is the quickest at getting rid of solicitors. We always have the same discussion after the interruption. "Who was it?, What were they selling?, What in the hell are those mother fuckers doing out at this time of night in our neighborhood?" It takes us a while to settle down and get back to our previous zen.

I have an uncontrollable curiosity when it comes to the doorbell. I can't ignore it. I'm not sure who I am expecting, but am usually disappointed.

Since the weather has been so nice, I have already had two surprise afternoon visitors. One, a young man helping the past, present, and future drug addicts of America and the other a beggar for the homeless shelter. I only had $2.00 in my purse for the drug addicts but scrounged up $10.00 for the homeless after my dog jumped on him and nearly knocked him down. I was God blessed by both but not thanked.

During the summer we often get those solicitors that have the memorized canned speech and the "notebook". I would rather have a visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses than be visited by one of "them" because if I answer the door, they are guaranteed to get a donation and their water bottle refilled or a soft drink.

A few visits from these notebook holders come to mind:

A black man that looked to be older than me stopped by one hot summer day with his notebook. He gave me his little speech then we looked through his notebook together. I listened and nodded in all the right places. He had the special permits and articles about I don't remember what, a few pictures of himself with his sponsors, and other things in his notebook. When I offered him a seat on the porch and an icy cold 7 up he was delighted. While he sipped his drink he told me about his life. He went on about his past and how he had just messed up his life with drugs and alcohol. He had a promising future playing baseball but he foiled that future with sin. His relationship with his wife and four children went sour. I forget the details but somehow he pulled himself out of that hole he dug for himself and turned his life around. He would be attending Grand Canyon University this fall and trying out for the baseball team! I was so inspired by his story that I rushed in the house to get my wallet. I handed over $20.00 and watched him carefully write out a receipt. All the while I told him about my dream of becoming an elementary teacher. I poured my heart out to him, telling him that I had always wanted to be a teacher but that my Mother said no, she was paying for my education and I needed to major in business because teachers didn't make any money so I did but now I was following my dream! I was going to online college! I had a captive audience too, he hung on to my every word until he finished filling out that receipt. He thanked me again then he was gone.

We had a visit from a weathered white guy a few weeks ago. He too had a notebook. It was about 115 degrees out side so I thought he deserved the courtesy of an interested listener. He immediately started in on his prepared speech. He speed through it gracefully as he flipped the pages of the notebook. His tone was a little sing song as he showed me the legalities of his personal charity, a homeless shelter for veterans. I couldn't send him away empty handed so I invited him in for a cold glass of water while I wrote the check. The water and the air conditioning caused him to get right chatty. He had been homeless himself and used the services of this shelter. In his previous life he was a van driver for Mayflower Moving. A back injury landed him in the hospital for surgery and a lengthy stay. When he was finally released, his home had been foreclosed and his assets which included a houseful of antiques was auctioned to pay his debts! This shelter helped him get his life together. He even served on the board of directors. Recently he bought a travel trailer with cash money. He would never be homeless again. His plan is to buy some land in Arkansas and live on it in his travel trailer. After hearing his personal testimony I regretted just writing the check for $10.00.

I know these were legitimate charities because I got a receipt and saw the proper paper work in their notebooks, but one guy came by the house last summer with the most original gimmick! It was so clever that I didn't hesitate to give him some of my hard earned money. This guy had a notebook too. He started out his speech by telling me that he was one talented fellow. He could rap and was a comedian too. He opened his notebook and showed me testimonials written by friends who were in agreement about his talent and charisma. He also had pictures of his little bastard daughter and of his mother too. I was surely interested in his pitch because I had no idea what he was selling. Finally he got to the meat of the matter. He was selling tickets to a show in which he would be the star! He wasn't sure when this show would occur but he guaranteed it would happen. For $20.00, my husband and I could attend. Also included in that price was an autographed 81/2 x 11 xerox copy of his picture. After receiving the $20.00 Our names would be added to a list. We would be mailed personal invitations to the event when it occurred.

My neighbor put up some kind of opaque film on her door windows so that no one could see her when she is pretending not to be home. But at our house, solicitors can see me when I can see them. I don't think I'll hang that sign. I'll keep my options open.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

She Spoke to Me in a Dream

Dear Diary,

I have always been skeptical of supernatural phenomena, ESP, and so forth but I loved hearing about it. That said, when my Aunt told my sista Janice and me about a bizarre dream that our cousin (I'll call her Kim) had dreamed my interest was peaked. This all happened a long, long time ago. Back when I wore size 9 jeans and drove a powder blue pinto.

We were sitting in my Aunt's kitchen in Tarrant City, Alabama (probably sipping sugary sweet tea with lemon and eating a ho-made desert so delicious that it would make Paula Deen tear up and cry). Aunt Mary mentioned that she had talked to her brother, our Uncle, and he had told her that Kim had been visited in a dream by our dead Grandmother. I imagine sista Janice and my ears perked and we quit chewing at that point. According to Kim, Grandmother told her that she needed to go to Micheal's and buy all these art supplies and start painting. Kim was astounded by this idea, never having picked up a paint brush, canvas or had any interest what so ever in art. Anyway, she jumped in her Jaguar and headed down to the closest art supply warehouse to buy every item on her list. After she got home she set up her easel and began to paint. According to our Aunt, Kim's creative juices started flowing and what with her newly found talent, brush strokes and paint blending, she created a masterpiece so fine that our Uncle had hung it in his Insurance office before it even dried.

All kinds of emotions were running through my mind. I found my voice and asked Aunt Mary what Kim had painted. My Aunt started describing a Caribbean type theme or maybe it was Gulf Shores - Palm trees, sand, piers, sail boats, and a clear blue ocean with waves. I spoke out defensively, it just didn't add up, that couldn't have been Grandmother that came to Kim. Why would Grandmother choose to visit Kim? I thought I was her favorite! And the style of painting was all wrong. Grandmother painted landscapes! Kim had to have made this all up! Sista Janice, unemployed at the time stated matter of factually that she was just glad that she didn't receive the visit because she couldn't afford all those art supplies.

While hanging out in the lounge the other day, I picked up an Oprah magazine. On the cover was an article entitled "Finding your Inner Calling". By the time I flipped to it, (I had become distracted by the pretty pictures in the magazine) my break was over. I was alright with not getting to the article though, I figured it was probably one of those quizzes like those I have taken before where you picked out your likes and dislikes, interests, hopes and dreams. My results would be a ballerina, author, artist, or movie star. They always are. I have no exceptional talent for any of these things but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to be one of them.

Years ago one of my friends called me long distance from Atlanta, Georgia, and told me about this wonderful perk her new employer was giving to a few select employees. She had been chosen and was being groomed for management. Besides advising her on professional dress and not using adjectives like "big ole" she would be given a test to identify her strengths. Her mentor would then define her strengths and put her on the fast track to success. I didn't hear from her for a while so I called to find out about her new career. She told me it didn't work out like she planned. Her test results showed she would make a wonderful mime or puppeteer. AT&T didn't have any of those positions available.

About 8 years ago, I was visited in a dream by my Grandmother. I didn't tell anyone about my dream for a few years. I wanted to but always hesitated because of the scorn I felt toward Kim after Aunt Mary told us her story. In my dream, I was sitting in my Grandmother's lap with my face buried in the bosom of her dress. She had her arms around me while she rocked, and comforted me while I cried. I was frustrated and distressed because I wanted to be an artist. She soothed me by saying Art doesn't have to look real. Your art is art.

I think of that dream often and about what my grandmother said about art. I like to think that she was actually reassuring me from beyond, validating my art. Who knows. It could also have been my subconscious. This is all too heavy for me right now. I think I'll go eat some sugar.