Monday, July 30, 2007

Finished ... Finally

I hadn't planned to write another Harry Potter post, but I feel the need to let everyone know how grateful I am now that I have finished that massive book. I'm generally a fast reader, except when it comes to the HP series. During those times, I read at a snail's pace while my friends can digest it in one sitting. There was always this increasing pressure for me to finish the books within a reasonable time frame, just to keep up with my rep as a speedreader.

The pressure was even worse for this last book, since it is (allegedly) the final one in the series. It was nearly impossible to read without stumbling onto spoilers, like here, here and here , not to mention the Wikipedia summary of the book and those blasted interviews JK Rowling had been doing on the Today show. Top that off with all the people who wanted to bug me constantly and say, 'are u fininshed yet? what's taking so long? u of all people should be done by now!'

The last straw came when a coworker of mine, who was trailing behind me in the number of pages left to read (she had 500+, while I had about 100) came to work the next day and told me she was done. I politely told that heffa to go make love to herself and take her stinkin' book with her. Grrr. But then, I spent my lunch break reading. I read and I read until finally ... I FINISHED.

It took me a whole week to finish the book, but I'm done. Thank goodness. I loved the book, even though Prisoner of Azkaban was my favorite. There were constant deaths and some caused me to shed a tear. I still have my undying love for Fred and George and I don't care what anybody says, I hate Hagrid. And now it's all over. Sniff, sniff. Can't wait for the last two movies!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Happy Birthday To Ya....

(For D.E.J. 7/29/57 to 6/26/99)

You are looking at a limited edition photo of a young Strength with Papa Strength, circa 1983. If he had lived, today would've been my dad's 50th birthday. I imagine he'd have a big party to celebrate the day and he'd get his turquoise corvette all washed and shined for the occasion. He'd call everyone -- family, friends, girlfriends -- and remind us all when and where we needed to be. And we'd get there, no matter what.
He'd arrange it so he made some kind of grand entrance where the dj played a special song just to celebrate his arrival. Dad would detest most of the stuff on the radio today, so the playlist would include his old favorites -- Phyllis Hyman, Three Times Dope, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Salt 'N Pepa, etc. It would definitely be an old school jam. The one exception would e Beyonce', I'm sure he'd like her.
We'd stroll out onto the dance floor in full view of his insecure ex girlfriend, Susan. Dad always had a way with the ladies and the poor thing always got all a'flutter when she saw Dad around them. She once called over his place and got mad when I answered the phone, thinking I was someone he was cheating with. (Pobrecita -- I hope she got the help she needed.) His other exes would be there as well, including Debbie, who, along with her daughter, remind me of the main characters from 'The Parkers' ; and Joyce, who drove me crazy with all her pets but was with me at the hospital when he died in 1999.
The party would be packed with folks who knew Dad in one way or the other. Some smart aleck would find a way to put 50 candles on a birthday cake and he'd try his hardest to blow them all out. Mom probably wouldn't attend, but he'd ask me about her, like always. He'd tell me that I'm looking more and more like her everyday and then he'd clown me once he noticed that I'm getting the same gray hairs that I once teased him about. Then he'd ask me how long I'm planning to let my locks grow before I come to my senses and cut them off. He'd roll his eyes when I tell him that I'm letting them grow as long as possible, then I'd give him a big hug. Somebody would snap a picture and soon, the party would be over.
Anyway, that's how I wished things could've happened. Rest in peace, old man.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

To My Footsies ....

Dear Feet,

First off, Mama loves you. Seriously. No part of my body has had my back the way you have. You get me through the longest days by adding a spring in my step and there is no greater joy than rubbing you after a long day's work. I know I've put you through some rough patches, like my karate phase where I slammed you into wooden boards, and let's not even talk about the blood clot. As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate you two much more. I've even come to appreciate the sluefootedness.

I know the summer months are hard on you, but I want to remind you that that's no excuse to just fall apart on a sister. Remember that both sides of my family are cursed with horrible feet (actually, some folks' look more like monkey paws), but we haven't had to deal with that. I can't even wear sandals around my family anymore because they get so jealous of your beauty!

I have been concerned about your behavior lately. I bought a new pair of sandals, which you seemed to like at the store. But once I wore them for a full day, you wanted to scream out in pain. And you kept me up half the night holding ice to the bumps that had developed near each heel. It wasn't later until I noticed some of your other issues, like the peeling on the right foot. Really, there's no reason for this! I lotion you two up daily and in the summer months, I douse you in vaseline and sleep wearing socks. You are the most lubricated pair of feet on the planet. There is no need for this behavior!

Ok, I'm done criticizing you. This is just a reminder that the summer is almost over and you are going on a cruise in September. No matter what issues you have now, you better be over them by the time I step onto that boat. If my feet look jacked up while I'm in the Carribbean, I'm liable to get rid of ya'll and find a new pair.



(Photo from

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pinochle & Gin Rummy

When I was 9, I learned that the only way to play a good hand of cards was to have a cigarrette in one hand and a beer close by.

I learned this all from my aunt BG, whom I spent a few summers with as a little girl. She's my Mom's oldest sister and she even has some kids that are older than my Mom. She's the first party animal I ever met. I used to think it was funny to watch her turn on the music loud and shout in the streets that she wanted to party. I thought it was fine that she didn't start her day until after 2 o'clock or that she sent me down the street often to buy her packs of Salem cigarettes.

The best part of my day was when she had a deck of cards in her hand. It was then that she taught me to play all the different forms of gin rummy and eventually pinochle. When she got tired of me always asking her for a game, she taught me solitare. She had a large book and movie collection that spanned the ages. After spending a few weeks with her, I read Hamlet and watched "The Graduate" "Jason and the Argonauts" and "Fatal Attraction" (they covered my eyes on the sex scenes, but I was able to see enough.)

It was years before I realized Aunt BG had a problem. She was always a tiny woman, but she got skinnier and skinnier. Mom wouldn't let me spend time with her anymore and my aunt distanced herself from family get togethers, stumbling into a heavy drug addiction. She was on the streets for several years and the last time I saw her was when I was 17.

We got word recently that Aunt BG had surfaced and she was in the hospital for kidney failure, among other ailments. So myself and a bunch of my relatives drove to my hometown to visit her in the hospital yesterday. I am not exaggerating when I say she looked horrible. She weighed 85 pounds and I could see the bones jutting out from her hospital gown. The whole top row of her teeth were gone and she was bald -- apparently, her hair had gotten so matted that she decided to shave it all off. There was a white film over her lips and her left jaw was swollen. It was frightening.

I already hate hospitals, so this was not an ideal situation for me to be in. It got worse when one of my relatives pointed me out to her and she wanted to hug me. I was too upset and disgusted to go anywhere near her, but I hugged her anyway. I stood wedged in between her hospital bed in the wall while everyone surrounded her and try to talk about old times. Aunt BG was still her same feisty self -- she didn't shed a single tear. She even swore a few times and jumped out of the bed often. At one point, I was trying to help her get situated in the bed when she half jokingly asked for a beer.

I'd say the worst part of the evening was when I realized that I was standing in the worst possible position in that hospital room. I was fine for some small talk and trying to persuade her to eat, but other than that I tried to make myself invisible. And I succeeded, up until the time Aunt BG asked me to hand her the bedpan, which was apparently to my right. I did as I was told and I had a clear view of her trying to wedge her miniature behind into the bedpan.

The doctors aren't really giving us any straight answers on her prognosis and auntie has made it clear that she doesn't want to be hospitalized much longer. I hope there is a solution somewhere out there for her. I hate for what I saw this weekend to be my last image of my aunt.

(Image from

Monday, July 16, 2007

"You've got to admit, that Dumbledore's got style."

This will be a mini-post, just to announce that I will be on a blogging vacation for a bit. The thing is, the last Harry Potter book is coming out on Friday and not only will I get my hands on that bad boy at midnight, I won't stop reading until I learn the boy wizard's fate. Yes, I'm a 30-year-old Harry Potter head. Anybody got a problem with that? Good, I didn't think so.

I saw the movie this weekend (which is where the above quote came from) an it only made me even more excited for the upcoming release of the book. I liked the movie, but it's so hard to watch Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe grow up right before my eyes. I nearly cried in the scene when he had his first kiss with Cho and in another scene where they panned his current teenage face against the boyish one he had when the movies began years ago. Sniff, sniff. Then I have to remind myself that he's barely legal as I see photo after photo of him looking kinda good, with just the right mixture of facial hair and muscle. Surely anyone who looks like that can defeat Lord Voldemort!

Anywho, if you don't hear from me for a bit, blame it on Harry Potter. I'm a relatively fast reader, so my hiatus won't be too long. And I promise not to post any spoilers ... I don't want J.K. Rowling coming after me.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Every once in a while, I'll stumble across a website that sparks my interest and I'll mean to write a post about it. Then I'll forget all about it and move on with my life. But this time, Juicy sent me a link that is truly unforgettable. Basically, it's a blog about interracial marriages/relationships, specifically between black women and white men.

The best part is the list of celebrity names on the sides with links to pictures of them and their partners. In the few times I visited this site, I learned quite a bit. I didn't know Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Noth were once an item (not sure if that's still the case), nor did I know that Clint Eastwood was married to a sistah. I shared one tidbit with my Mom, which got some surprising results:

"Hey, Mom? Did you know Stone Phillips is married to a black woman?"

"WHAAAAAT??!!" She sits upright in bed, eyes wild. "He's with us??!!! That's my man!! I always knew there was a reason I liked him!"

Anyway, check it out if you're like me and enjoy filling your brain with useless knowledge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This Is Why I'm Hot

It’s been a scorching summer. Couple that with the fact that the a/c in my car isn’t working and you’ve got one grumpy blogger.

I took my car, Mimi, in for some maintenance about a month ago and came out with a clean bill of health. It wasn’t until a couple of days later did I notice that when I switched on the switch for air conditioning, I felt hot air blow out. At first, I thought I was crazy. I just knew that I had the air on, so why was I sweating like crazy? Then, everytime I’d have someone in the car, I’d switch on the a/c and ask them if they felt hot air. They would immediately scream, “yes,” then roll down the window to gasp for air.

This week, I decided to get the problem straightened out, so I took it to the shop. They poked and they prodded and then they fixed all of Mimi’s troubles. I got into the car, flicked the switch and felt cool air blowing through my locs. Ahh…. What a feeling.

That lasted for a day. During my lunch break, I noticed the dreaded hot air again. Literally, I felt like I was stuffed inside a volcano. Once again, I took my car to the shop and told them that I don’t have hot flashes, so there must be still something wrong with the air conditioning. We’re so sorry, ma’am, the manager said to me, we’ll get to the bottom of this. I dropped the car off and went back to work.

I returned 3.5 hours later only to find my car still in one of the bays as two mechanics looked at it and scratched their heads. They didn’t know why the air wasn’t working. The manager said it must be some kind of wiring problem, because the doodad and the whatchacallit seemed to work fine, but when they put the thingie on the whatzit, the air wouldn’t work. They didn’t have the technology to fix it there, so they suggested I take it to the dealer.

So I’m going to spend my lovely Saturday at the dealer, hoping this problem won’t cost me an arm and a leg. Until then, I’ll be the one driving around with my windows down, even in the rain. I’ll be that person parking under a tree, risking an assault from bird poop missles and an extra hike to my destination. But for a couple of days, I’ll have to endure this discomfort. Hopefully, the heat, as well as the problem with my a/c, won’t be too excessive. Ugh.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I Walk The Line

One of the many special aspects of my job is the location of my seating area. My desk separates another department filled with older graying women from the young bucks in my department, whom are mostly in their early 20s. (The other 30 year old quit recently, making me the oldest person in my job). The geography of my seat means that I hear a variety of conversations from the older women on my left -- there's the flurry about hot flashes, new grandchildren and widowdom. And on my right side, there's talk about concerts, bridal showers and Britney Spears.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both groups -- the Baby Boomers and the Gen Y'ers. The lead Boomer, D, has her good qualities, but she's generally the most annoying woman on the face of this earth. If ever I'm talking to one of the Gen Y'ers about something that doesn't concern her, she'll but in with one of her tales of how things were when she was growing up in 19whatever. Everyone else will ignore her -- but because of where I sit and because I respect my elders -- I nod and give her my pity laugh. (My pity laugh is what I use as a repsonse to a story that's not as funny as the storyteller believes it is). But I'm not so polite that I'm unable to get a laugh or two at D's expense. One day, she turned to another Boomer and said, "LOL, Sandy! That's what all the kids are saying these days. LOL!" I couldn't resist turning to a Gen Yer and cracking up. D and I occasionaly do the same with the Gen Yers. "Did you hear that, D?" I once said to her. "Sally said her boyfriend is old. He's 26." And we both rolled our eyes.

The biggest problem with my position in the office is the gas. For all of you who have been exposed to the elderly, you know that there is nothing like those silent deadly farts that they release without abandon. Sometimes I'll be sitting at my desk and I'll be hit with an awful stench that smells like rotten eggs mixed with cow dung. It's so bad that my eyes water and my eyebrows practically jump off of my face. I'm the first one to smell it and often I'm the only one to smell it. The farts are so bad that I have to leave the room, just to get some air. And once I return, all the Boomers are diligently typing away on their computers, as if they've done nothing wrong. The jerks. If only there was something I could slip in their coffee to make that stench lest rank. Hmmmm. I'll have to work on that.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Today Is A Good Day

I'm so glad for a day off today, even if it is smack dab in the middle of the week. I'm like a kid when I know I have a day off the next day. I stay awake late, watch a bunch of junk on TV and wake up whenever I darn well please. I did stay up fairly late last night, but it's such a struggle to get a good picture on my TV that eventually I just tossed the remote and climbed into bed. (I'm working on that cable thing, ya'll!)

I went and did an hour long walk around my apartment complex this morning, this afternoon if you want to get technical about it. It was overcast most of the time and the sun stayed out just enough for me to get both a nice tan and drenched in sweat. I didn't see any of the usual characters that I usually do on my trek, which was a shame. I would've liked to have seen the Singing Lady. This is the older woman who trudges around the sidewalks at top speeds loudly singing songs by Kool & The Gang and Earth, Wind & Fire. People often stare at her, but she keeps on going with her walk, not even caring. She's so focused that I've been unable to catch her eye on those times I've tried to speak to her. Ah well. Press on, Singing Woman.

Now I'm showered and fresh, trying to ignore the television. Some of my old friends -- All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital -- are trying to ease their ways back into my life. GH is especially trying hard by introducing me to a new black couple, one that actually has lines other than "yo, baby." Hmmm .... But I'm done with soap operas!! Must ... try .. harder to .... resist.

I don't know of anyone having a cookout or anything today, so things will be quiet on my end. I don't feel like fighting the crowds to see the fireworks and I don't want to use my gas to go over to Mom's to watch her tape of the BET Awards. I think the rest of the day I'll stay here, just as content as I can be. I'd like to do some housework, but who am I kidding? I'll probably do some writing, reading and maybe I'll have that big ol' bowl of Cap'n'Crunch that I've been craving. I'm going to do whatever I want because isn't that what Independence Day is about?

Happy Fourth of July everybody!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mourning The Morning

Yes, I've been gone for far too long and I apologize. The truth is, I've been ex.haust.ed! Too tired to think, let alone do blog posts. But thanks to a reminder and gentle push from Tha L, I am putting my slacker ways behind me.

I've been so tired that I'm going to spend this post writing about the odd morning I had today. I'm the type of person who often has a dreamless sleep. The only time I do dream is when I'm severely tired. And on those nights when the dreams occur, they're pretty crazy. For example, I once dreamt that I saw a male coworker cough up a bunch of tampons. True story and dreams like that are some of the main reasons that I like to get my rest.

Last night, I went to bed much later than I wanted to. I had a busy, but fun weekend and I didn't have much time to rest. I planned to go to bed early, but that never happens. I jumped into bed around 11 o'clock, my normal time. But even though I was severely tired, I could not sleep. I tossed and turned, tossed and turned. Occasionally, I'd sit up in bed and see my cat on floor, staring at me like he was concerned.

After what seemed like several hours of this, my alarm clock went off. I shook myself awake and realized I'd been asleep the whole time. I was dreaming that I couldn't sleep! Weird, huh? I wonder if I was having one of those out of body experiences that people talk about. Hmmm ....

Anyway, I pushed the snooze button and went right back to sleep. This time, I dreamt that a colleagues mother (whom I've never met) called me up and gave me some money. Just when I was about to cash the check, the alarm clock went off again. This time I listened and started getting ready for work. I'm still tired this evening, so I wonder what dreamland holds in store for me tonight!