Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Last Words

I really need to get off this topic but in reading some of your comments, I feel that somewhere along the line my purpose and focus has been misunderstood!  I'll try and make this my final comment.  Please read all of my posts on race if you want to understand my thoughts on this topic.  I've never taken the position that individuals of any race need to run around offering apologies for societal misdeeds such as slavery or the holocaust or the trail of tears etc.  However, I am of the belief that healing cannot happen until there is an airing of truth, an honest acknowledgement of not only the past but the present. 

South Africa did an amazing thing when it ended apartheid. There was a national focus on truth and reconciliation.  People shared their stories, oppressed and oppressor, victim and victimizer, not to perpetuate revenge but to perpetuate healing.  The people that I know, myself included, have never asked that individuals apologize for past acts, but that this government fully acknowledge the immoral atrocity that was slavery.  A governmental apology and acknowledgement for creating and maintaining a system of degenerating people based on skin color not only in slavery but in subsequent Jim Crow laws and government sanctioned discrimination.  Why?  Because as a whole, this country benefited greatly from more than 250 years of a free labor source.  Because this nation systematically denied people the rights promised in the constitution of this country well into the 20th century.  And no, not just black people, but Chinese, Koreans, Latinos, Jews, Native Americans, and many others.  Is a governmental apology unheard of?   No, the US offered an apology and reparations to the surviving Japanese Americans whose property was confiscated and lives disrupted by being forced into internment camps in the United States during World War II simply because they were of Japanese ancestry. 

If you are consumed with whether or not I want an apology from you, I don't.  Do I want a personal apology from the government? No, I don't.  Do I believe that the US Congress should officially go on record as condemning the system of slavery that built this country?  Absolutely and unequivocally, yes.  While they're at it, they should also acknowledge the destruction done to the Native American cultures indigenous to this land.  Will I lead a miserable existence if it doesn't happen?  No, I sleep well and will continue to do so. 

It is for each of us to deal with our own beliefs about emotional issues such as race and ethnicity.  I am of the school of thought that talk is a healing process but I may be wrong.  I didn't post the ugly and rather stupid comments that I found on a message board to make anyone feel bad.  I just believe that hatred and ignorance grow best in the dark.  To eradicate them, we have to drag them into the light.  In other words, I don't believe that there is any benefit in pretending that all is well and that there are no ugly and hateful beliefs out there based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, body shape etc.  Obviously, I am not the conscience of the world and I don't profess to be.  As always, this journal is one woman's thoughts as I try to make sense of the world around me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My AIM Page

Inspired by Bea and Caroline, I've set up my own AIM page.  Please visit and let me know what you think.  Warning, it's very colorful; you may need sunglasses!

Some People Have Very Scary Minds

Yesterday, I read a news story about comments made by a state legislator in Virginia.  I sent the story to some friends. (Link to story)  I also sent them the following email containing comments from folks on the AOL message board in response to the story.  I warn you that there are things that you may find offensive in the material below.  I decided to make this post not because I believe that the comments represent all or even the majority of people's opinions.  But I do think that the comments are indicative of the sickness that infects our country, an illness that cannot be cured by simply pretending that it doesn't exist.  I think that bigotry, prejudice, and racism are like viruses; they spread and infect unless we take steps to prevent them from doing so.  Good, thoughtful people must be the ones who step forward and give direction to the misguided. Following is the email that I sent yesterday:


I couldn't just stop with reading the news article about the legislator’s remarks.  I checked out the AOL informal poll accompanying the story.  The results are below.  In further need of self-flagellation, I also went to the AOL message board where people may comment on the story.  I've included a few sample comments that range from flat out ignorance to a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.  I didn't edit the comments; spelling,use of capitalization, and punctuation are those of the author. Screen names are at the end of each comment.  So far there are 5081 comments on this story and no, I did not read them all.  I did read enough to ascertain that the following represent the general tone of people's responses.  Sigh...I'm glad that I'm going to my new job next week; I need to stop reading this crap.


How Would You Describe the Comment?

No so big a deal 68%

A big deal 32%

Total responding to poll: 70,385

give em 10 bucks and theyll forget all  about slavery.....they can be bought and sold just like theyre ancestors--mariuch83

...affirmative action! Now you need an apology too? I'm sorry we didn't decide to pick our own damned cotton! We'd be so much better off and you'd be running through the jungle with a bone through your nose!--SHen83


no they'ed find someone to blame for that too.maybe they can get an apology from the caveman--Stocker1543

Someone else besides me finally said it. How many are actually paying attention to this? There are African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, Native Americans, etc. And then there are just Americans. You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction. You call me "Whiteboy," "Cracker," "Honkey," "Whitey," or "Caveman" and that's OK. But when I call you, Nigger, Towelhead, Sand-nigger, Camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink, you call me a racist.  You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you, so why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live? You have the United Negro College Fund.
You have Martin Luther King Day.
You have Black History Month.
You have Cesar Chavez Day.
You have Ma'uled Al-Nabi You have the NAACP.
You have BET. If we had WET(White Entertainment Television), we'd be racists.If we had a White Pride Day, you would call us racists.
If we had White History Month, we'd be racists.
If we had any organization for "only whites" to advance our lives, we'd be racists.We have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Black Chamber of Commerce, and then we just have the plain Chamber of Commerce. Wonder who pays for that?
If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships, you know we'd be racists. There are over 60 openly proclaimed Black Colleges in the US , yet, if there were "White Colleges," that would be a racist college.
In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching for your race and rights. If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us racists.
You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you're not
afraid to announce it. But when we announce our white pride, you call us racists.
You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. But, when a white police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug-dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society, you call him a racist. I am proud. But, you call me a racist.
Why is it that only whites can be racists?--shrillestliberal



Like I mentioned in a different thread. Bottom line, if it wasn't for slavery the black people who are complaining about slavery would not be here to complain about it. Think about Genetics and DNA, It took a certain combination to create you. For exampley if your Mother didn't meet your father and met someone else and fertilized the same egg which is actually you. Guess what? You wouldn't be here. So therefore to complain and cry about slavery is like saying, I wish I wasn't born.--Shimanchuone




OJ Should Apologize First for what he did. Then white America might be willing to look at the long list of demands from blacks.  Funny that Hispanics are not as belligerent or high maintenance.--PrinceAffy


I'm making myself sick.  I'm going to end with a comment that I found that is thoughtful and compassionate.--Sheria


Where is this mans SOUL, does he not understand, NO ONE gets over Rape,Torture, Salvery. Does he not understand that Raping a girl effects everyone including their children, and sometimes their children too. The emotional scars on children continue through to their children sometimes for generations. Never tell anyone GET OVER IT.

Emotional pain is not something anyone FORGETS, in fact we must continue to understand the pain people feel when we mistreat them.  Hate is so strong it hurts long after the sting of the whip has stopped.--C33704



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

That Race Thing

Sorry, but race and ethnicity are not the same thing.  In my initial post on this topic, I suggest that there is no satisfactory answer as to what consitutes race in any objective or scientific sense.  That is the point of modern research on the development of race science.  Race is a social and political construct that has a powerful impact on modern society.  We all buy into the concept of race.  When I'm filling out some form and it asks me to identify my race, I check black or African-American.  But genetic science doesn't support the notion of race which in essence would divide human beings into subspecies.  The prevailing genetic belief holds that human beings are a single species and given our relative youth on the evolutionary calendar, we haven't been around long enough to evolve into distinct subspecies. Homo sapiens is defined as, "The modern species of humans, the only extant species of the primate family Hominidae." That one group considers itself to be a race is relevant in a social and cultural context, but it doesn't make it a fact supported by scientific evidence.  Often when people speak of race they are really talking about ethnicity.  Ethnicity is defined via a set of shared characteristics--linguistic, cultural, ancestral, national or regional ties.  Ethnic groups commonly have shared behavioral and religious traditions.  Ethnic identity is not based on scientific principles but on cultural and societal norms.  The People's Republic of China has officially designated 56 ethnic groups in China!

Certainly ancient cultures recognized that people looked different as far as skin color, hair texture, etc.  However acknowledging and commenting on difference is a far cry from using it as a basis to determine who is superior and who is inferior. 

I did not mean to suggest that slavery as practiced by the ancient Romans or Greeks was a simply benign institution.  Ownership of another human being is not justifiable under any circumstances. 

The significant change in the 17th century was that race was given a biological basis and began to be regarded as a scientific fact.  Human nature being what it is, of course there have always been efforts to categorize and classify people based on various criteria. 

Ironically, the first Africans brought to Jamestown in 1619 were not slaves but indentured servants.   It wasn't until 1641 that Massachussetts became the first British colony to legalize slavery.   Other colonies followed suit but it was the Slave Codes of 1705 that fully sealed the fates of Africans as slaves.  The Slave Codes of 1705 specified that all persons of color be considered as real estate, i.e. property.  There was no punishment in law for causing harm or even death to a slave. It was a distinct set of economic, moral, and social conditions that fostered racial slavery in the US and the subsequent continued discrimination long after slavery was abolished.  What evolved into the system of slavery in America was a peculiar institution with lasting impact on the development of this country.

When I was  a child, I cut my knee rather badly.  In the 1960's, everything came in glass bottles, not plastic and I dropped a bottle of rubbing alcohol on the floor.  It was 1963; I was eight-years-old and not too bright, so I knelt down to pick it up.  My mother noticed the blood gushing from my knee, grabbed me, wrapped a towel around my knee, and herded my younger brother and sister out the door and into the car.  When she got to the clinic, she picked me and the now bloody towel up and raced to the entrance.  In her panic, she went to the wrong entrance, the white only entrance.  As she attempted to enter the door with her bleeding and loudly wailing child in her arms, she was told that she needed to go around to the colored entrance.  My mother did what she was told, recognizing that protest would have done no good and wasted valuable time. 

My knee was repaired but for the rest of the summer I had to return for periodic visits to the clinic.  The repair job consisted of using clamps to close the outer skin together, necessitating my keeping the leg fully extended at all times.  For some reason, although there was a separate colored entrance for the emergency facilities, there was one main entrance that allowed one to reach the waiting room.  Each doctor's visit, my mother and I would traverse the expansive waiting room reserved for whites only, a waiting room that was brightly lit, had green plants, and comfortable seating, including recliners.  We walked through this waiting room to get to the colored only waiting room.  A small, narrow room with no windows and two benches on opposite walls.  As I could not bend my knee, the only way I could sit on the bench was sideways, with my leg up on the bench.  However, the waiting room was always crowded so rather than take up extra seating space with my extended leg, my mother would help me sit on the floor.  This was the summer that I finally understood what being colored meant.

My experience is not special or unique; it was the status quo of the time.  My point is that slavery as practiced in America, by white America, was a monolithic institution that fed off of a determined belief that the superior people were entitled to own the inferior people.  This belief in the natural superiority of whites made it impossible for a blending of blacks into mainstream society after emancipation.  White America was faced with a serious conundrum after the Civil War--what to do with the millions of suddenly free blacks?  To simply accept them as equals was impossible.  The entire southern culture (and to a somewhat lesser extent, the north, east and west; even northern abolitionists weren't convinced of the equality of blacks but of their right to freedom ) was firmly based on a legal and social belief that blacks were genetically inferior to whites.   Many whites were fond of their slaves and treated them like family members, much in the way that a family pet is adored.  They did not consider them their equals and were uncomfortable with any new order that attempted to put them on the same level.  The period of Reconstruction saw the rise of Jim Crow laws that were specifically designed to continue to assert white superiority and affirm black inferiority. 

The aftermath of slavery, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow has had a lasting impact on race relations in this country.  Some white people have expressed a belief that blacks are obsessed with slavery and bitterness and that we need to let it go. For our own health as a people, I agree.  But letting go of bitterness is not the same as forgetting, as turning a blind eye to the past.  Slavery was not a finite institution that ended with emancipation.  The impact of slavery continued long after its legal end because the basic beliefs of white America that linked skin color to intelligence, work ethic, moral character and personal worth persisted long after slavery.  I grew up in Wilson, North Carolina, a small southern town of about 30,000.  I attended segregated schools.  If my mother wanted to take a break from cooking, she could go to the back door of a local restaurant, the colored entrance, purchase the food and leave.  When we went shopping downtown, some stores were reserved for whites only.  We could shop in other stores but were often not allowed to try on the clothes before purchasing them or had to commit to purchase if we tried them on.  It was important that no white person inadvertently try on clothes that had been on a black person's body.  I recall watching my mother try on hats with a scarf on her head that was provided by the hat shop to all of its colored customers.

I recall my mother accepting a part time job at a local bakery.  The new owner was from New York and Jewish.  He fired the white woman who worked there because he was dissatisfied with her work.  My mother happened to come in to make a purchase on the day he put the help wanted sign in the window and he hired her.  She worked there for less than a week.  One morning she went to work and we walked to school.  My mother had enrolled us in a small Catholic school that was three blocks from our house.  One reason she wanted a job was to pay the tuition.  My father wasn't clear as to why we couldn't just attend the free public school.  My mother says that the black school in our neighborhood was so overcrowded that grades K-2 went to school in half day shifts.

On our way to school, a car pulled over and offered us candy and a ride.  My little brother, sister and I hopped in and accepted the candy.  The driver was white and had on a collar like our priest wore.  He told us that he was visiting our priest.  He dropped us off at school and drove away.

Later that evening, I heard my parents talking in hushed voices and did what all children do with their parents are whispering, I eavesdropped. 

My father had just been hired as a local police officer.  He was one of the first four black officers hired on the Wilson police force.  He was not allowed to drive a patrol car, none of the black officers were, but he walked a beat.

My parents were discussing a phone call that my mother had taken.  A man had described the clothing that we wore to school that day.  He knew our names.  He warned my mother that unless she quit the job that she had stolen from a white woman that the next time we were picked up, we wouldn't make it to school.  My mother was crying and my dad wasn't saying much of anything.  I think back on it and realize how powerless he must have felt.  Even with his new position as an officer of the law, he couldn't protect his family.  My mother quit the job immediately and drove us to school for the next few weeks.  My dad never bothered to report the matter to his superiors.  It was common knowledge that members of the local police force were Klan members.  This took place in 1964.

I don't know any other way to speak of race history in this country without stating that white America created and perpetrated the system of racial exclusion that still affects the United States.  It doesn't matter that they learned it elsewhere; they practiced it here.  It doesn't absolve them of collective responsibility that the seeds for race discrimination arose out of publications by pseudo-scientists from Sweden or Germany or wherever. 

If the end of slavery in 1865 had truly ended all race conscious practices, laws, and policies in the US, I doubt that we would continue to struggle with matters of race and equality in this country.  Slavery would be a regrettable but distant memory.  However, when the intrinsic value and dignity of a human being is unequivocally tied to their skin color, then something horrific happens to both the oppressor and the oppressed.  Both lose a measure of their humanity, that once lost is difficult to regain.

When I began this journal, I never planned to write about matters of race here.  I planned to write about far less weighty issues for my own amusement and the amusement of my readers.  However, rightly or wrongly, I feel an obligation to try and communicate the complexities of race relations in the US.  I don't pretend to have all the answers nor do I speak for all black people, but I have devoted a great deal of my life to trying to understand why my country is still trapped in the quicksand of race.  I don't have an answer yet, but I'm working on it.  I think that's all that any of us can do.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sorry, but I disagree

In reading the comments to my previous post, I was struck by comments from Paul.  I'm afraid that I have to strongly disagree with some of the assertions that he makes.

The concept of race as a classification for the basis of discrimination is a product of 19th century America.  Certainly prejudice has always been with us but it was based on other factors such as religious belief,  social class, and or wealth/economic power.  The ancient Greeks classified people based on culture and language, but not physical appearance.  Any person adopting the Greek language and culture could become Greek.  Slavery as practiced by ancient peoples was based on conquest, war, or debt, not skin color or any other physical characteristic.  In addition, the slave status of the parents did not result in automatic slave status of their offspring.  Slaves could buy their freedom and become respected members of the society--own business, intermarry, own property, etc.  The peculiar institution of slavery as practiced in the United States is uniquely American.

My statements about white America's creation of a system of subjugation based on the artificial construct of race aren't biased, just historically accurate.  Don't take my word for it, follow some of the links in my previous post or do your own research.  The Swedes and the Germans as well as many other European groups were among the people that settled in America.  At the time of Linnaeus' and Blumenbach's work on racial classification, America was in its infancy but it was America that latched on to the theories of race espoused in their respective works.  Even if one concedes that the Europeans that settled America brought their biases with them, I do not see that it negates that white America perpetrated the use of racial classification into a system of racism based specifically on skin color that far exceeded anything in place in Europe.  In the late 17th century, America introduced the concept of heritability into the mix.  Once a slave, not only were you a slave but all of your descendants inherited that status.  This particular form of slavery was uniquely American.  Slavery was no longer a status conferred on individuals because of factors such as war, conquest, or debt.  It was a station in life, passed from generation to generation and based on skin color.  So determined was American society to maintain the status quo, it developed an elaborate classification system to determine who was classified as black regardless of the individual's external appearance, thus the proliferation of the "one drop" rule. (see my previous post for more info)

Certainly, African-Americans are not the only victims of racism.  I never said that we were and I don't see the relevance of the observation.  It doesn't lessen the impact of the systemic legal, social, and cultural discrimination against African-Americans to state that others have suffered too.  It's like stating to an abused child, "You're not the only child to have been abused." 

The use of skin color to subjugate an entire people with a shared ancestry is a uniquely American concept.  The form of racial discrimination experienced by African-Americans is also unique.  The first blacks brought to this country were indentured servants as were many whites.  It is only over time that blacks became slaves and slavery became a heritable station in life.  The origins of black slavery lay in a belief in the racial theories that race is biological and that inequalities are natural.  In culture after culture, slaves often became part of the mainstream, were able to remove themselves from slave status.  In the United States, even the few slaves able to purchase their freedom or freed by benevolent masters, were still assigned inferior status in America.  One of the most beautifully written documents in our history, the Declaration of Independence, declared "that all men are created equal."  However, it was understood by the drafters and signers of that document that this did not mean those of African ancestry living in America.

I don't mean to annoy or attack anyone, but I think that the only hope of some type of peace in matters of race is a full recognition of historical facts about the nature of race and slavery in this country.  I suspect that at the heart of the lack of racial harmony in this country is a sort of blindness to fully examining the attitudes toward race that were as much the cornerstones of the founding of this country as principles of equality and personal liberty.

I also have to disagree with tracing racial prejudice back to the bible.  Race was not a concept for the ancient peoples of biblical times.  Certainly there was prejudice based on nationality and religious beliefs but not race.  Race is a fairly modern concept.  Prior to the 17th century, there is no evidence that people commonly classified themselves based on race. 

I also reject the flat out assertion that the ancient Jews invented God as an excuse to make war against their neighbors.  That's a very broad statement that undermines Christianity as well as Judaism, but I'll save that discussion for another post.


The Obsessiveness of Race

My year has gotten off to a busy start and I haven’t had nearly enough time to write here or to read other’s journals.  I’m beginning a new job as of January 22; I’ll be working as a legislative analyst, which means that I will perform legal analysis of bills, amendments, committee substitutes, and conference reports during this session of the North Carolina General Assembly.  At the end of every day, I’ll write a summary of the bills and any changes for publication in the Daily Bulletin, a publication put out by the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill.  I’ve worked in the legislative arena as a lobbyist on public education issues that directly impact students and their parents for the past five years, but this will be a new experience for me.  I’m excited but a little stressed already!  I decided to de-stress by checking out my alerts today. 


I just read an interesting entry in TKS’ journal, Ramblings from the Edge.  He writes of the vagaries of identifying people by race and the inconsistencies that arise from doing so. As always, it is a thoughtful and thought provoking post. TKS references a 2004 article written by Gregory Kane, a black writer who was a bit perplexed that Teresa Heinz-Kerry identified herself as African-American in promotional material for her husband’s presidential campaign.  Heinz-Kerry was born and raised in the African nation of Mozambique and she now lives in the United States.  In that sense she is African-American.  However, I think Mr. Kane intentionally befuddles the real question with rhetorical nonsense. The real question is how do you define race?  Does living in or being born in a particular country determine your race?  That's not the typical application of race. 


An individual of African ancestry doesn't become European because she is born in Europe; nor does an individual of European ancestry become African because she is born in Africa.  Based on the societal norms that have been used to define race, it is not transmutable dependent on geography.  Neither is race based on a shared language.  Africa is a continent, not a country and many languages are spoken there.  For example, the majority of inhabitants of Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Ethiopia are all Africans although there are multiple tribal languages spoken in those countries as well as European languages.   I would not agree that Heinz-Kerry is African-American by any common usage of the term. 


Identifying people based on a concept of race is a relatively new idea.  Race was introduced in 1735 by a taxonomist, Carolus Linnaeus, in System of Nature.  He identified four races: Americanus (American), Europaeus (European), Afer (African), and Asiaticus (Asian).  Linnaeus also introduced the belief that inferiority/ superiority was defined by race.  In 1776, naturalist Johann Blumenbach, building on the work of Linnaeus, published On the Natural Varieties of Mankind.  Blumenbach expanded racial classification: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American, and Malaysian.  Blumenbach identified as Caucasian the people who originated on the southern slopes of Mount Caucasus in the Georgian area of Russian.  He concluded that based on their skulls and facial structure they were the most beautiful and therefore the most ideal race.  In 1962, Carleton Coon’s Origins of the Races was released in which he tied behavior characteristics to the concept of race.  Caucasoids (whites) were hard working and intelligent, Mongoloids (Asians), Negroids (Africans), and Australoids (Aborigines) were lazy and unintelligent. 


The scientific notion of race was embraced in the late 18th century because it served as a justified basis for perpetrating systemic inequality.  In other words, it was the natural state of some races to be inferior and the superior race was doing the inferior races a favor by looking after their interests, as they were incapable of looking after their own interests.  It wrapped the justification of maintaining slavery, the owning of another human being, in a quasi-scientific blanket of respectability that was not inconsistent with Christian values.  It gave legitimacy to continuing racial segregation after emancipation, and for the creation of laws to guarantee that people of African descent would not be treated as full citizens, entitled to all of the rights guaranteed in the US constitution.  It is important to understand that racism in America was not merely social custom; it was supported by law.  By the early 20th century, the United States government began a policy of identifying any person with even the so-called “one-drop" of black blood as African.  The result is that individuals don’t have to look black to be black; having a single African ancestor is sufficient for classification as African-American.  The same holds true for other minority groups that the US government had an interested in segregating and keeping in their place.  So unless Heinz-Kerry can trace her ancestry back to some black ancestor, she doesn’t get to be African in any racial sense.  She is an African in the same sense that I’m an American.  It’s a matter of geography.  She’s a person of European ancestry born in Africa.  


In spite of there being no genetic basis for race and the current general consensus in the scientific community that race is an artificial, social construct, the United States has by custom, practice, and law made every attempt to elevate it to a science and the impact of race on societal norms, social interactions,  and economic development is very real.  I don't disagree with TKS’ fundamental principle about the sort of nonsensical results that arise from attempting to identify people by race.  I just find it ironic that it was white America that attempted to define race in the first place and the confusion about who's who is a result of that need to identify people by race.  Ethnic minorities did not initiate identifying themselves as being members of a minority racial group if great-great-great grandpa had a distant relative who was a member of that  minority group.  White America initiated the system of classification by race and insisted that any "contamination" of the bloodline made the individual non-white. 


There is a website that I have previously recommended that I think you may find of interest if you want to really understand why an artificial construct has such hypnotic control over so many of our interactions with one another.  It's a PBS site based on programming that was on TV in 2003.  The title of the site is Race-The Power of an Illusion.  There are a lot of interactive activities of the site.  It's an excellent site for children as well as adults.


Sunday, January 7, 2007

How Do They Know?

As if I don't have enough concerns, I now need to worry about my ear lobes sagging.  I've been worried about other parts of my anatomy giving in to gravity since I turned 40 but I had never given my ear lobes a second thought until I read my e-mail last night.

"Ear lobes saggy, no problem try ear lifts."

I called my sister.  "Are my ear lobes saggy?"

"Why do you ask?"

Actually she said, "Why in the hell are you calling me to ask about your ear lobes?"

Clearly, she had not heard of this phenomenon, so I read the ad to her or at least tried to do so but, she was busy.  "I need to clean something.  Got to go."

I decided to save enlightening her about the saggy ear lobe matter for when she had more time and wasn't busy cleaning something. 

I went back to reading my email.  Hmmm, Have a Healthy Baby.  I decided to delete the item without reading it.  I'm pretty certain that I'm not pregnant.  I have a vague memory of the activities that one engages in that result in pregnancy and let's just say that I haven't been active in a long time.  My memory is sometimes faulty but I think I would remember.

I read on and was touched by the number of people that want to help me with my love life.  I had three emails from Mate1, addressing me by name.  "Sheria, tired of being single?"  I felt so special. 

Real Mature Single got right to the point, "Are you single and over 50?"  I was a bit put off by the over 50 part as my mother taught me that it's never polite to discuss a woman's age, however the lovely photo in the ad made it clear that RMS considered the over 50 set to still be a lot of fun.  Of course, I've never really wanted to ride in a wheelbarrow.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As I continued to read my email, I was overcome with all the readily available assistance in my mailbox.  Mature Singles Only clearly was to be taken seriously.  It connects you with real people ( as opposed to non-real people).  When I visited the website, a young woman in a stylish black pant suit spoke of the many benefits of joining MSO.  She sounded vaguely British, sort of like Madonna's adopted accent.  I think it was meant to convey her sincerity.

I was a bit depressed at the number of people concerned about my weight but I decided that they were only reminding me that I'm fat for my own good.  Of course, I already have my mother to remind me of many things for my own good, but I suppose one can never have too much reminding. 

I barely made the cut for Hoodia.  The ad invites women between 23-51 only to sign up to receive Hoodia, the new weight loss pill that works by making you not feel hunger.  On the website, another earnest young woman dressed in black warns that the supply of Hoodia is rapidly dwindling and that only people with more than 15 pounds to lose may receive an order.  It's free except for the $6.95 shipping charge.  I think that wearing black makes one appear to be truthful.

I was excited to see the offer for a free membership at Curves.  I've decided that this is the year that I get serious about exercise, and I followed the link!  Alas, I get a free membership only if I fill out 123 offers and if my name is drawn.  Maybe Denzel Washington will ask me out if I wait long enough or maybe I'll win a free membership to Curves first.

I almost didn't open the Detox Footpatch email but curiosity got the best of me.  According to the ad, Verseo Detox Footpatch is an all natural patch that removes heavy metals and other toxins from your system while you sleep.  As if saggy ear lobes aren't a big enough worry, now I've got a body riddled with toxins and heavy metals.  How am I supposed to sleep?

I called my sister back to share all that I had learned from my emails. 

"Are you done with your cleaning, because I've got to tell you about this foot patch thing!"

"Yeah, I'm done cleaning but I need to go floss.  Call you later."

Maybe she'll call today.

A little music from Corinne Bailey Rae, Put Your Records On

Monday, January 1, 2007


When I was a child, the 21st century existed only in science fiction.  Cars that flew, space travel as commonplace as shopping, no shortage of food or water anywhere in the world.  I was a Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov fan, a science fiction world not of gadgets but of human beings that had progressed beyond the petty desires that fueled the worst of human behavior.

The reality of the 21st century has been a bit of a let down.  However, I spoke with my friend J yesterday and opined that I was feeling optimistic because I had hope.  One of my favorite myths is that of curious Pandora, who opened the box and released the ills of humankind into the world.  Chagrined and heart broken, Pandora weeps, until she hears a tiny fluttering of wings and a small but brightly lit creature flies out of the bottom of the box and announces that her name is Hope. 

J isn't as certain as I am that hope is a good thing.  He is a student of Buddhism.  He tells me that according to Buddhist philosophy, that hope is just as painful as fear.  He says that both detract us from living in the moment and learning from our experiences. 

He certainly gave me pause but I'm not completely persuaded.  I think that it is possible to learn from life's pain and mistakes and still maintain a hopeful optimism that there is a rainbow on the other side of the storm cloud.  I always enjoy my conversations with J because he challenges me, makes me think about what I believe and why I believe it.

I spent Christmas Day with family.  My sister and her husband fixed a delicious Christmas dinner--pepper and garlic steaks, baked chicken breasts, sauteed collards with garlic, mashed cauliflower (tastes like mashed potatoes without the calories!) and corn on the cob.  I supplied the sweet potato pie and we all supplied the good conversation.

My annual Holiday party was Saturday.  I apologize for not posting pictures, but I don't have a digital camera and I forgot to borrow one.  Alas, there was no camera in my Christmas stocking this year! 

I found some flickering tea lights (battery powered) that gave off a lovely glow.  I have a firm policy of using low light at my parties.  My friend P commented that it was a bit dark.  This is intentional; if there is a missed dust bunny in the corner, it's not noticed and besides, everyone looks better in candlelight.

I wore my new burgundy outfit (the one on sale) and received many compliments.  I felt like the belle of the ball.  I had about 20 guests and a good time was had by all. 

I made five pounds of spicy meatballs served with a hot red curry and peanut sauce that were a big hit.  Not a single meatball left over!  My good friend P brought a ham from Heavenly Ham that I served with crostinis and cranberry honey mustard.  I also served sweet potato pie, an assortment of cheeses (Brie, Shropshire Blue, English Cheddar, Blue Saga, and English Stilton) with crackers, chips and dip, pita toasts and hummus, and a champagne punch (peach champagne, mango nectar, and ginger ale).

It was wonderful to spend time with friends and family, talking, laughing and enjoying each others company.  The festivities began at 5:00 pm and the last guests left at 12:30 am.

My sister R and her husband B hosted a New Year's Eve party last night.  R and I live four blocks from each other.  She and B purchased a home in the neighborhood first.  I was sort of reluctant to take on the responsibilities of home ownership but not only was she able to persuade me to purchase my first home but I couldn't think of anything better than living so close to my sister and B.  They are both delightful people.  They've been married 22 years and everyone who knows them. loves them.  They both attended my party and of course I reciprocated and attended theirs.

By the way, as I am no longer in my twenties, and two nights of partying is rather exhausting, I was incapable of doing anything of much note today.  My sister and I talked on the phone and decided that we needed naps this afternoon.

When I haven't been napping, I've been wishing friends and family happy new year via phone calls and emails.  I've spent the rest of today reflecting on the year just passed and looking forward to the one just begun.  I've got hope sitting on my shoulder.

I purchased two new CDs for myself during the holidays.  Both are by relatively new artists, Alice Smith and Corinne Bailey Rae.  I plan to share some of the songs in my posts here.  Today it's a tune by Alice Smith called New Religion