The Word cancer

•December 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

cancer in lower case in my attempt to take its Power.

The word cancer was foreign to my family until one hot summer day 4 years ago. That word has crippled me since . My dad called to tell me my cousin Ozzie was rushed from the golf course to the ER and they weren’t sure what was wrong. He was seeing double and was dizzy and they thought it was from 3 hours in the blistering sun.  Dehydration maybe? After hours of testing and the discovery of a tiny spec of cancer on his cornea was found, his journey through life with that awful thing began.

We watched Oz make strides and after a year I suppose of treatments, he was in remission. Weeks after finding out this great news he was back on the course at a tournament, hit a hole-in-one at said tournament, and won some thousands of dollars and it seemed all was right with the world once again. That’s until that awful word, and thing in his body returned and returned with no mercy.  The return of this unwelcome visitor coincided with my dads dual hip replacement, so I was on a plane from DC to MA almost weekly to play nurse to dad, and with this, came many visits to my cousin Oz. It seemed we’d spent more time together last summer than ever before. That made me just as sad as it did happy. At first he was able to maneuver, we meet for lunch once, but then he was confined to home. I’d drop in and we’d watch ESPN. Each visit became more difficult as my once strong and handsome cousin became more frail, and more unrecognizable.  In my mind, the blueberries, wheat grass, raspberries, green tea, and chemo would bring him back to his old self. He’d come hang out in DC when he was better and try and holler at my girlfriends, but his time on earth expired before that happened. I got The Call, at 5am on a Sunday morning in late summer. I remember shedding a tear, and going back to sleep.  In the end, it was almost too much to watch and knowing he wasn’t suffering was a relief, and we made peace with that, kind of. After properly sending him home to heaven, I’d hoped this was the end, but it was not.

On Christmas Eve, I sat on the floor at Borders in the ‘Health & Wellness’ section. I had a copy of ‘Crazy Sexy Cancer’ (a book I’d wanted to give Oz) in my lap while I scanned many other titles mostly focusing on alternative cancer treatments. That word, and that awful thing had found my family again. This time my cousin Steve.  With not a stitch of hair on his head, I vowed to try and get over hearing/reading this awful word, because we were on another journey, one that requires us all to be strong, for him. I was on a mission to find him some good books and afro wigs. They say laughter is the best medicine and  he’d always admired my dads hair back in the day, why not show up at chemo with a faux fro?  Dad and I are packing up a goodie kit, books and wigs for him, herbal tea, and bubble bath for his wife/nurse/mother of his great kids who is holding it all together.

Its not easier the second time around but I’ve learned a lot since the first go around with this asshole named Cancer. Read about it, talk about it, laugh at it. Somber moods don’t make it go away. Still, hearing that word or even seeing it hasn’t gotten easier, typing this opened the floodgates to my ojos. One thing I do know is if you can’t make it go away, at least make  it tolerable. Prayer, medicinal mary jane maybe, clown wigs, afro wigs, cool hats. They make the journey that much easier. Here’s to my cousin Steve whose kind of awesome. Be looking out for a big box-o-fun, primo. We’ve all got our hiking shoes on, we’re along for the bumpy journey.

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Racism at its Finest – Thank You Centerville

•November 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

Somehow for nearly 30 years I’ve  managed to dodge the personal racism bullet until just a few weeks ago.

Thanks to my $18 purchase on Groupon I was off to Spa World,  to spend the night in the traditional Korean spa oasis in Centerville, VA (note, its not home to the same progressive types in, say, Arlington & Alexandria) . For $18 I was about to to have an overnight steam, spa, heat therapy treatment.  I’d told a friend about it years ago when I’d read about it in an in-flight magazine. When I mentioned I was going recently, he said he wanted to come along. I initially wanted to go by myself because nudity is required in the single sex wet spa so not exactly a bring all your girl friends retreat, for me anyway. So I didn’t mind if he came along since we’d part ways upon entering anyway.  Our bags were packed for an overnight get away (they have mens and women’s sleeping rooms where you can spend the night for free), he drove, I read Marie Claire en route per usual, and away we went.

We’ve now reached Centerville which is literally in the middle-of-no-where Virginia and GPS has sent us in a circle a few times, so finally, with nearly zero cars on the pitch black road, we make an illegal U Turn for the sake of getting back on track.  Not 6 seconds after doing this, the siren and lights come on and we’re being pulled over.  We look at each other like, awesome, two black people in a Lexus at 10:30 at night in Centerville, fucking awesome. My friend who is ever cautious with the law to protect his business and TS Clearance w/ the government, isn’t yet flustered but says, I’ll just admit I was wrong in making the U turn, get a few laughs out of the officer (which almost always works for him), maybe, and it’ll be cool. Well, it wasn’t cool, at all.

The officer comes to the window and aggressively asks if we know what we did wrong, and of course the answer is yes, we explain the GPS issue and made the U turn out of lost frustration. He’s not trying to hear it, and asks where we’re trying to get to. I pipe up and tell him we’re heading to Spa World for some downtime away from the city. He looks at us, pauses and parts his lips to say the most hurtful thing I think I’ve ever heard ‘I’ll tell you now, you two won’t fit in there’.  Those words rang painfully in my ears. As my stomach turned and I was at a loss for words but managed to squeeze out ‘Exuse Me’? He said, ‘well its a Korean spa’. To which I responded ‘I know I’ve researched it and they have a diverse client base, mostly young professionals in the city, trying to get away’. He was adamant that we’re not cut out for for this place, and offers up ‘a nice hotel nearby’ if we’re looking for an overnight getaway. At which point my blood is boiling and my palms are sweating. I turn my head and roll my eyes and quip ‘I think we’ll be fine, thank you’.  Officer Asshole lets us off with no ticket, just a warning, gee how kind of him, and tells us to be safe. BUT before he walk back to his vehicle, still seething I say ‘Officer, I just want you to know what you said was offensive and not okay’. Instead of JUST apologizing which I really didn’t need, he apologize but ended with ‘but I’m just saying, you might not feel comfortable there’.  As soon as his patrol car door closed and our windows were up I burst into tears and saw scenes from Crash flashing in my mind and was thankful that the interaction was mild in comparison to other shit that happens like that everyday.

I couldn’t help but wonder if that was his MO, does he say things that are low key laced with racism all the time? was he just trying to fill his end of month quota and I was sensitive that day? who knows, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t let go of what he said, how many times he said it, and HOW he said it. Finally, me the girl that is hard to upset, couldn’t let it go and finally drafted an email to the Fairfax County Police.  Where all this will go, who knows, but I feel better that my voice was heard and they’re taking me seriously.

My advice, don’t be DWB in anyplace ending in ‘ville in Virginia after the street lights come on.

Because I was a weird kid – flying doggie doo

•September 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I feel like my childhood stories are usually the most random, and ridiculous. Every once in a while, someone’s stories trump mine, but usually not. I’ll chalk it up to a rampant imagination and free reign to do what I wanted. I thought I could fit them all into this one post, but I’ll do a series…

So when I was still living in Colorado (where my parents met in college, and I lived until I was 11) I had a babysitter, well she was much more than that, she was certainly the mother figure in my life, and I adore her endlessly.  She was my best friend’s grandmother, so I too affectionately called her Gram, well still do actually.  Every day after school and every day all summer I spent at her house until we moved to MA. So her granddaughter and I were the same age and inseparable, and we were also troublemakers.

Because I was a little brown girl, and she was not, we called ourselves the ‘swirl sisters’ I made the word ‘swirl’ popular  long before Bossip did. We’d stack our fists one of top of the other as we chanted;  chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla, SWIRL SISTERS! Until I had a growth spurt at age 9, we were the same size, and used to wear matching outfits to school, and people asked if we were twins. That still cracks me up.  Gram was a seamstress and would let us pick out our own fabric and patterns and make us matching anything and everything we wanted.

We were cute swirling trouble is what we were. I thought I’d ease into our shenanigans, but I’ll start with gusto instead, now that you have some backstory. Soooo we weren’t big fans of playing with the other kids on our block, we didn’t want them to swim in ‘our’ pool, or play in ‘our’ sandbox, and certainly not ride ‘our’ scooters, so we became mean girls at one point. Our favorite summer ‘game’ was ‘war’.

We had two teams, one teams hideout was in the treehouse, the other was the ‘jungle’ which really was just the side of the house behind the pool that became overgrown with weeds every summer. We’d chose our hideout, usually the treehouse and war would begin…war against the other kids. The boys across the street were the worst, one told me to ‘suck an egg’  once, and I’ve hated him since. He said it with such malice : (. So he became our worst enemy and fell under enemy attack, of dog poop that is.

It was Easter time and we had copious amounts of those plastic eggs that pop open to put candy in. Well they’re meant for candy but after I was told to ‘suck an egg’ we decided we’d bomb them with colorful poop filled plastic eggs. We found a sizable stick to somehow scoop doggy doo into the eggs and then we skipped across the yard up to our treehouse hideout with devlish grins from ear to ear.

“ENNEEEMMYYY ATTTACK”  We yelled, and an easter basket full of dog shit filled eggs went over the fence at rapid fire…

The End.

Yes I’m ashamed I did that, kind of.

Yoga in Dupont & A.D.D.

•August 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

Every Wednesday during the summer there’s a free yoga class right in the grass in Dupont Circle from 6:30-7:30. Last night I figured I’d save $20 and skip the Bikram class and just try this free one considering it was still 99 degrees outside so it’d be like fake Bikram minus 30 minutes. The problem is, I have A.D.D so yoga outside in one of the busiest neighborhoods in DC proved to be problematic. There’s too much surrounding stimulus to focus on a yoga pose, so for 60 minutes, I sloppily fudged my way through class trying not to bother Lucy, who was in fact able to pay attention.  I was more focused on the following:

*After a shirtless black man ran past our class he yelled ‘hey nigga’ at his homey across the way and I could only wonder what the 50 white women around me were thinking as they tree posed.

*As I slid into downward dog, and peered through my knees behind me, I wondered what the old man parked comfortably and perfectly centered behind me was thinking each time my ass went in the air…but then

*I remembered I was in Dupont and became more curious what the ‘woman’ to his right wearing the Nike Boots and Army shirt was thinking every time ass went in the air

*Then I wondered if someone I knew would see me in my tiny spandex shorts and tank, snap a photo unbeknown to me in some compromising position and  quickly post and tag it on facebook knowing it’d be at least an hour before I could get home and  frantically detag myself.

*Then I stopped caring and was fixated on the trees above my head and wondered if they really do eat people in the park at sundown to grow taller

* watched the birds fly above and wondered, how many times a bird flaps its wings per minute, AND how long can they soar before they have to start flapping again

*as I listened to the guitarist strumming tunes above the Dupont North metro stop, I wondered if subway stop musicians make more in NY or more in DC, because I kinda figured half of all NYers are poor struggling musicians themselves

*Stole Lucy’s bberry and took pictures

*Anytime we stretched downward, I was distracted by and picked at, the dead skin on my left babytoe, and didn’t bother with the stetch/pose at all. I was also fixated on the color contrast of my ‘slave’ feet as CL affectionately calls them, against my mint toe nail polish against my purple mat, against the green grass. For that moment, some dead summer skin on my tiniest toe and overexposedtothesunblackened feet proved more fascinating than free yoga in Dupont Circle.

Really though the deal breaker from the jump was:

Yoga Instructor: (saying something faint and we can’t hear much she says)

Lucy: whispering – ‘what did she say’?

Me:  yelling-  ‘SHE SAID SHES HARD OF HEARING SO WAVE INSTEAD OF YELL IF YOU NEED HELP’

(as I retold this part to GDGJ on the porch last night, he said ‘you made her sound retarded not deaf, as I did my impersonation)

3rd base and a Flying Purple People Eater

•July 26, 2010 • 4 Comments

Once upon a time I meet this guy. I was young and uber naive. If I remember correctly, it was fall of junior year.  I was in line at Subway getting a sandwhich to go after the Howard vs. Hampton game. I overheard this older gent talking something about script writing. I interjected and asked what he did, and said I was heading home to work on a script for class. He offered me his card and said if I have any questions about the industry, feel free to touch base as he’d been doing script writing but mainly for sports broadcasts.  He was a Hampton alumni in town for the game, but living in NYC, doing sports / sports media work.  I tucked his card away and kept in touch, throwing random questions his way re: internships, etc over the next yearish.

First, I’ll say, he was a great resource and mentor/ guide, as I navigated the school to work transition. But he fell all kinds of in love with me. Yeah I said it, fell in all kindsa cradle robbin love. I mean, that’s not hard to do but, boo, you had a crooked receding hairline and a belly that matched Papa Cabral’s,  no bueno. The career advice stopped coming, and in replace of advice, I got mushy cards, flowers, and a stuffed flying purple people eater. Yes, pause and go back. A Flying Purple People Eater that may be somewhere in my bedroom  at my dads house in Mass and if you squeeze it, the song plays.  After a few months of admiring me from afar, he called and said ‘Heather, most women throw themselves at me, I mean, anyone else and I would have at least gone to third base by now, but you’re impossible’.  (I died inside because the thought of even hugging that dude, turned my stomach) My friends warned me and said I had to put an end to this shenanigans before I showed up missing…so I did… end of the love talk nonsense, because even though he wasn’t THAT far out of age dating range, he certainly looked it,  and well, I simply wasn’t attracted to his Steve Urkel-esqueness. The nonsense  ceased for a while and our roles as mentor / mentee were now tainted but utilized from time to time until one day it all came crashing down.

I had an interview at Bloomberg TV in NY and Nu meet me there so we could hang out after.  Said mentor had a contact at Bloomberg so I called for some insight ahead of time. He had some good info and said he’s sorry he wouldn’t be in town to catch up while I’d be in NYC as he was  going out of the country with his girlfriend (yep girlfriend / kinda sorta baby mama but not really mess), but said we could stay at his place and he’d have his doorman let us in. To two poor jobless souls looking for a place to crash in NY, this was perfect. After tromping around the city all day, sleep was all we wanted and we hopped in a cab to Battery Park . Get in, settle down, watch TV and discover an abundance of porn nestled, well no not nestled, neatly stacked, on the entertainment center shelves as if left that way for company to scoff at. WTF!  Not that porn is bad, but finding an abundance of VHS tapes w/ big booties and comically bad titles like Banana Cream Dream plastered across the front is a bit jostling. We managed to laugh ourselves to sleep, and quickly ran away in the morning, barely thanking the doorman on our way out and leaving nothing but a thank you note on the frig. That was 7 years ago. I had PTSD from the situation and erased him from my memory, until I got a text from a 646 # last weekend saying  something along the lines of ‘hey beautiful…’ I had no idea who it was, and partially flattered, I scratched my head and replied ‘I”m sorry, I’m on my 3rd phone since April (the truth), who is this’?  Upon learning, I wanted to barf but instead I penned, errr uhh, typed this blog while my gut gurgled thinking about his monkey ass.

Oral, Jamaica, America’s Most Wanted…

•July 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

Yes, they are all apart of the same story, and 10 minutes in my life which I’ll never forget.

The year was maybe 1994, our family was on vacation in Jamaica for spring break. The Cabral’s stayed at Sunquest per usual, but the Iacobos were at Charella Inn down the beach. Nuala, Leana and I were walking to meet Toni and Nick half way to play at the beach.  We meet somewhere in the middle and this Jamaican man stops us…

‘Hey Gahls, I won take ya tuh duh dance hall ta’night, My name is Oral’…he extended his skeevy hand and we all looked at each other, moderately creeped out  and said ‘We’re 13! we can’t go to a dancehall with you” and tried to make a run for it. As we quickly walked away he shouted ‘If ya change ya mind, ask someone to fine me, remembuh, my name is Oral’.

Okay, now, we giggled and said what does he mean oral, like oral sex? We didn’t tell our parents about this run in, as we thought we’d have to be watched under too careful of an eye the rest of vacation and lose all our freedom so we were mum, and managed to be safe until we landed back on US soil.

Well fast forward a few months when I’m babysitting my cousins Evan and Nia who were also on the trip but not there for the Oral meeting.  Its late, its dark, and Evan, maybe 8 at the time wanted to watch America’s Most Wanted, such a boy.  We’re all on the floor playing legos when John Walsh’s all too familiar voice said  ‘and we’re looking for a man from Negril Jamaica that goes by the nickname Oral’. I froze, I was stuck between scared and excited because I … 1) thought I was about to be a hero  2) thought I was going to get reward money for sharing what I knew about this guy. I quickly dial the 800 number and tell the operator everything I knew about ‘Oral’ which wasn’t much, she says ‘Thank you ma’am we’ll pass this info on to investigators’ and HUNG UP! What, I’m not the hero? No prize money!

It was the most anticlimactic ending to what I thought would be an exciting night after I made the call. But alas, many trips back to Negril, and years later…I still keep my eye out for Oral, and so should you.

Real World: Martha’s Vineyard

•July 8, 2010 • 1 Comment

Cue Amahd’s Back In The Day

I smell the tide going out, pizza at Giordano’s, fudge wafting out of Murdock’s, and Ice Cream at Mad Martha’s. It was summer 1996 ish and we were young, silly, and had Vineyard Boos. It was simple, uncomplicated, stress free love.  All one needed in life was a Basketball Boy & Beach. We also had a video camera, and a food pantry that doubled as our ‘confessional’ and the desire to make our own version of Real World (which I share with NO ONE).

So this particular innocent love started with looking for my cousin Leana on the corner of Circuit Ave near the Game Room (when the game room was still next to the movie theater where there’s some god aweful something else now).  All our friends were standing on the stoop in front of Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium as we did most nights…VB we’ll call him (Vineyard Boo) said ‘I’ll walk down there with you’ and the rest is kinda history. VB walked me to find her and said ‘you should come visit me in NY, I’ll show you around’ I was giddy, and smiled. We were both leaving the island  the next day for the rest of summer, so this crush curiosity would have to continue a year later…and it did…

A year later, I found myself sitting on the Inkwell at sunset with VB, he was a charmer, he smoothed talked me for a bit and then the kiss I waited a year for happened! That was our first night on island, so these kisses continued a few more weeks.  It was young innocent puppy love really. Our days were routine,  meet up after basketball/beach, but before dinner (which is strictly family time), then again after dinner. We snuck kisses all up and down Circuit Ave, all up and through the playground after dark, on our front porch when the ‘rents were sleeping!

What I’d give to go back to these innocent days when young love meant walking up and down Circuit Ave with your friends, getting ice cream with VB at Mad Martha’s, sneaking kisses on the lifeguard chair (that’s sadly no longer there), riding bikes around the island and sitting on our porch with our loves because it was after curfue but we technically were home.

Years later I still pull out the VHS family version of Real World: Martha’s Vineyard, die of laughter and embarrassment, I re-read the love letters VB sent me between summer time fun in Oak Bluffs, and reflect on good times as a kid…Ahh to be 15 again…