Category Archives: Things

Netflix release explores a modern-day heretic’s journey to spiritual liberation in “Come Sunday”

NOT HEAVEN—OR HELL–So. What happens when the faith you’ve had for years slams into the realization that “it ain’t necessarily so?”

What happens when the faith you’ve cultivated or the spoon-feedings you’ve accepted since youth crashes head-on with a musing-turned hard-core question: “what if we’re getting it all kinds of wrong?”

And what happens if you share your changing views with folks who aren’t ready or willing to give another perspective mental due process?

Come Sunday, a recent Netflix release produced by This American Life  (yes, the WBEZ originated show and podcast) is about all of that. Bishop Carlton Pearson was an evangelical rock star…until he shared questions with his mega-church congregation about what he saw as a biblical contradiction…. Namely the subject of God’s love vs. what his church taught about the existence of an eternally burning hell… and the idea that all who don’t believe and accept Jesus as savior are doomed to roast in the afterlife. He couldn’t reconcile a loving God with teachings about an eternal rotisserie. Pearson says he heard God’s voice say Jesus is enough for all the world’s salvation, even those who don’t ever hear his name… which led him to figuratively say, dammit to hell. Pearson tossed the hellfire doctrine from his trove of beliefs and embraced a new theological worldview—the Gospel of Inclusion. This American Life told his story in a 2005 episode that was entirely dedicated to sharing his story.

And his chu’ch* folks weren’t having it. I don’t want to tell all the ups and downs of the story, but let’s just say he was an outcast’s outcast. Pearson is convincingly played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and his minister of music at that time, Reggie, is played by Lakeith Stanfield (Selma).

It’s a convincing story, to me, because I can relate to the journey and realization that yes—you may still believe…but you know you can no longer abide by all of the ways in which you were taught to believe…when your views of right and wrong are being encased in a chrysalis, surrounding you with mid-life metamorphosis… but you aren’t quite ready to tell all…Definitely not to anyone who might dissuade your self-inquisition.

Pearson didn’t have that luxury. He, convinced it was God’s voice, was compelled to tell his congregation. After all, as a purveyor of “Good News,” how could he stay silent and smother what was so liberating to his spirit? He lost his church and more before it was all over. His journey is depicted as rough and tear-stained, but the consequence seems to be a peaceful conscience.


*bet you didn’t know chu’ch was a contraction for church. Not really–but it exists now. Say it.  Chu’ch.

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On My Block: A peek into the neighborhood with humor and gravitas

(LA -LA STATE OF MIND)—Hometown is a big place for me. Heck, I’m from Los Angeles. Ain’t nothin’ small about it. I live in the DC area now, but whenever I get homesick and am stuck between plane tickets, count on me looking for movies with those damn trees in the air.

But the Netflix series called On My Block dropped into my lap instead. And I let it stay awhile. The opening track by Daye Jack had me at hello.

On My Block immediately gave me the Friday feels—with a lado de la vida en South Central Los Angeles. And the first two minutes hooked me.

However, and this doesn’t happen often, nine minutes in, my thoughts degraded quick-fast. “This show is corny AF. What’s up with this dialogue. Ain’t no way these characters come up out the hood,” I scrunched my face.

Continue reading On My Block: A peek into the neighborhood with humor and gravitas

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EPISODE 6 – This Virgin ain’t plain, homely or boring | Interview with Skarlet Beverage Company founders

Life is filled with so much beauty and artistry.
From word play…
To picture play, painter’s creations—whether they be a portrait, landscape, still life.. or walls.
To tapestries hung on a rod or fine linens clothing the insides of a room.
Food—also art.
So is drink.
That’s where my next guests come in–founders of the Skarlet Beverage Company.
They’re bringing some spice to the world of upscale virgin drinks.
I learned about their business on my Facebook page. Full disclosure—I went to school with them… lost track after graduation—and reconnected via Facebook.
If you haven’t heard of Skarlet Beverages… Now you have.

Coming soon. Are you on the list?

A post shared by Skarlet Beverage Company (@skarletbeverageco) on

So how did they get started along this path? Well let’s join a conversation with the couple who’s making it happen–Skarlet Beverage Company founders Dean and Alecia Dennis:

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Erotic poetry to keep your Valentine steamy all year long–a chat with Rare Epiphany

There’s nothing like good talks with longtime friends.

Those conversations between decades-old pals can sometimes get pretty personal and… adult.

Especially if your friend has written a book of erotic poetry.

If you don’t know, you’re about to find out…about Atlanta-based poet Rare Epiphany.

Order her already-published books here.

Rare/Pam keeps a constant stream of writing activities on her docket.

“I have a cookbook coming, too, as soon as I learn how to measure,” she tells Planet Noun.  “I’m a classic Southern cook. I don’t measure anything. I just sprinkle ’till the spirit of my ancestors say ‘Enough my child.’”

She’s also working on a poetic autobiography and a second book of erotic poetry. Her projects include a collection titled “Think.”

“It’s funny, because the main script for think was done before Soul Kisses was done. I just never released [it]. And I figured there’s a reason for that, so I gotta go back through and try to look through it and figure out what’s going on [with] “Think.”

That project, Rare says, is built on a series of writing challenges.

“I specifically ask people, when I don’t feel like I’m writing enough, I’ll ask for challenges. So it can be a word challenge. Give me 10 words, and I’ll take those 10 words and…build a piece around these 10 words. Or I’ll say give me a song. And I’ll write a poem based on how the song makes me feel, or the story of the song, where it takes me. It can [also] be a quote–something to kind of push a poem out, and that is how a lot of Soul Kisses was written,” Rare adds.

I”m always working on some project or another.  And then I’ll get pulled into another project, and then I’ll get pulled into another project. And sometimes I just need a breather from something like the autobiography,” Rare says, which is psychologically taxing project because it delves into her entire history, which includes being sexually abused as a young girl.

When her pen needs break, she opts for happier writing projects.

“Let me write about rainbows and unicorns and stuff.  Feel good about life,” she muses.

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One man-play about late Supreme Court Justice is Thorough(ly)good

A one person play. Haven’t been to very many of these, and was a tad skeptical after accepting an opening night invitation to a production about the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

How in the world would a one-man play keep my attention for 90 minutes? I doubted it was possible. But I was open to the idea, else I wouldn’t have left home for Olney Theatre Center as the rain fell that evening.

Curiosity is what drove me through that rainfall.  I wanted to see if I’d learn a little something-something new about the first black United States Supreme Court Justice. I had never seen a play about Thurgood Marshall. Never read a book about him either. Never have really done much study about him aside from Brown v. Board of education section in history books, and an occasional browsing of the Internet. Outside of that, my knowledge about this legal icon of the civil rights movement was paltry.

Didn’t know his first name was Thoroughgood before he shortened it to Thurgood.

Didn’t know he was married two times. Didn’t know his first wife died of cancer at age 44. Didn’t know they dealt with a few miscarriages.

I did know he went to Howard University because the University of Maryland law school didn’t admit tax-paying black folks because of their blackness. In place, ostensibly, was a separate but (not) equal facility for training black lawyers. Some tried to pass it off as good enough.

But it wasn’t. And Thurgood Marshall became a force of intention to change that by using the law as a weapon to achieve actual equal justice under the law instead of some oppressive, inequitable, pseudo-facsimile. After all, those words “Equal Justice Under Law” were (and still are) engraved into the front of the Supreme Court building.

The theater was cozy and intimate, and the actor who portrayed Marshall, Brian Anthony Wilson, managed to pull in this one-man-play doubter and convince her that even her (my) attention could be held for 90 minutes with one man talking the whole time.

And Justice Marshall’s theatrical mouthpiece reeled me in from start to finish. First he’s as an older gentleman, slightly lumbering and leaning on a cane, then memories spring forth along with a more animated, agile gait in tandem with lively words, Wilson-as-Marshall leads a trip back in time to his younger years.

Childhood in Baltimore.
College days.
Rejection by the University of Maryland School of Law.
Howard University Law days.
The footwork required to build what would become Brown v. Board of Education case.
Marriage and sacrifices.
His first wife’s death.
His second marriage and children.
Supreme Court appointment.

That’s a sketch of what the play covers in 90 minutes. However, there are so many events, solemn and defining moments, and slathers of good humor in between those lines. And a reminder, in my mind, that while the law can intentionally be used as a weapon to bring about justice for all, it can also be wielded, depending on the benched interpreter, as a weapon to roll back the march toward justice for all.

I hate to end on that depressing note, so I’ll end with a surprise:

As I left a post-play reception, I opened the doors on my way out of the main theater building.  Two people were also opening the doors in the opposite direction.
Well, whaddya know? One of them was “Thurgood!” Or Brian Anthony Wilson. And he consented to a selfie! 🙂

Lookie who I ran into on my way out of the building? Theatrical Thurgood!

Check it out Thurgood at Only Theatre Center!
By: George Stevens, Jr.
Directed by:  Walter Dallas
July 19-August 20
Tickets: $55-$70. (Prices depend on selected day/time.)

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Persistent papers pepper patience as Life Changing Tidying Up works its Magic

(FROM WHERE I SIT)—Good Lord, the papers have sprouted feet and are taking over because they want to be recycled. This latest rebellion is underway because I’ve been holding things up for way too long.  But I persist, because the end results will be worth it.

Gratefully ditching clothes that didn’t bring me joy wasn’t nearly as hard as getting rid of these clingy papers. It’s been a trudge. Kinda-sorta. Deciding what to keep and what to toss wasn’t that difficult. Now, there’s so much stuff to shred. If only the pile could rip itself to pieces. Yesterday. But as it’s taken me years to accumulate all this shite, it’ll take at least a smidgen of time to get this foolishness back under control.

Such a slow roll. But shredder wheels keep on turning, proud Lizzy keep on burning. I’m encouraged to don’t stop, get-it get-it because there’ll be time enough for resting when the shredding’s done.

Part of my KonMarie possessions laxative includes purging through all papers and only keeping the ones that bring joy. Of course, as The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up says there are always very necessary papers that must stay, no matter how much they dull the senses. Necessary is necessary.

Some paper goods I’ve considered for the rubbish pile: Treats from students during my teaching days. Every now and then, parents and students blessed me with holiday gifts: Things like a journal, a tile decorated with a little boy’s artwork, a Christmas card made from construction paper, a sporty skirt and top that I wore for a long while before I gave them away. Of all those kind treasures, I still have the journal and use it to jot down recipes. I also have the decorated tile, homemade card, and a different skirt that I still wear during the fall and winter months.

These things still bring me joy. Even the oversized construction-paper card with first-grader penmanship wishing me a Merry Christmas.  I’ll keep them until I can’t keep ’em anymore. Some bring back such wonderful memories. And I’ll treasure them… …. …… …….. .. . always.

there are always very necessary papers that must stay, no matter how much they dull the senses. Click To Tweet

Now, back to the other papers. Part of me wants to find a beach bonfire and introduce them to the flames. Another part of me wants to bake them to a crisp inside the stove, crumble them and use them to fertilize some plant. All of me wants them gone.

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. That’s what keeps me from tossing everything out the window. That, and not wanting to catch a littering charge.

 

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The Life Changing Magic of paper wrangling

Papers are an itch-bay. They’re all up in everything like sand after a sandstorm.  Not like I’ve been in a sandstorm… But I’ve been stormed by paper for many evers.  That has to change.

Even though I’ve tidied through other possession categories, which you’ll read about as I stumble through this process, I’m still struggling to ditch the papers because my shredder is broke-down and sorry. No, not broken down… broke down. I rode that thing too hard, and it’s trying to quit on me. Another one I have is too dang loud. I swear if I ran that one too long, it would wake the dead.  I’ve been looking for local shredding events, but it seems I missed them earlier this spring. Oh well.

The shred-struggle is real… and slow. Real slow. But consistent. #konmarimethod Click To Tweet

So, according to Marie Kondo, papers should be the first thing to go. I see why. But in my tidying, they’re going to be the first AND last things to go.  That has me scared, because according to the KonMarie method, if you don’t follow her ways perfectly, you’re doomed to failure. [NOTE: Kinda felt like being at some churches.]  I hope that’s not the case.  I know that’s not the case, because this one here (points to self) ain’t going back down that road of clenching and holding on to stuff that doesn’t make her happy or isn’t totally necessary).  No, sir.  No-sireee-Bob (who’s Bob?) Nawsuh. Nunnnt-uhhh.

A high school teacher gave me a Tuit button years ago. Why? Because I told him my procrastination was based on my not having one of these. A round tuit. Now that I have one, there’s nothing I can’t do! 🙂

According to KonMarie, paper includes books. At first, I thought it only meant the bags and boxes of foolishness I’d been keeping for YEARS with plans to file, but just never got around to it.

Now I have one.

Corny, I know. But no more excuses.

So here’s something else that’s helping me get my paper -ish together.  I refused to purchase any more stuff to organize my life. What purpose would it serve to buy more organizers?  This one here (points to self) already had all she needed and hadn’t yet put to use.

Trays to organize papers before filing? Yup.

A personal, physical “in” box that took everything in but never put out? Got it.

Adorable Ikea organizers? Got-em!  These Skubb organizers are inexpensive, well-loved (by me) and well-used.  Not the most fancy-schmancy, but they get the job done.  If ever get more organizers it would be these exact ones or something like them. So versatile. And foldable. If I don’t need them, there’s a zipper on the bottom which makes them easy to break down and store without taking up goo-gobs of space.

Since I’m ditching stuff, it doesn’t make one iota of sense to go collecting more organizers before I’m through getting rid what I don’t need. Instead, I’m choosing to release stuff that doesn’t bring joy and will to use organizers I already have to tidy what I still want to keep.  And if I have leftover organizers, those may have to say hello to Salvation Army or any good friend who could use them.

Book ‘em Liz-o

Can I tell you how many books I hauled outta here?

Nope, because I didn’t count them.  But it was several boxes and plastic containers full.  Some were hauled to a local used bookstore where I could exchange for cash or credit.  I’m sure some bibliophile somewhere already knows this, but opting for store credit gets you more value than cash.  Since I was looking to get rid of stuff, it didn’t make sense to take store credit and welcome more books into my life while choosing to keep ones that I still wanted to read, but hadn’t since I didn’t have a precious Tuit.

THIS! This is why I haven’t read those books! Because I didn’t have my hands on one of these! Tuits are the stuff, yo!

For me, it was wiser to take the value cut and keep the cash.

Now, I have a tall bookcase full and one plastic container of books that I haven’t yet put back on my other smaller bookcases.  I’m thinking about giving these things another go-through.  Some may not make the next cut. My gut tells me the volumes I really need and will use can fit on the one tall case.  All others can visit via electronic means, and if I crave the more intimate feel of pages on fingers…there’s always the local library.

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Extra Tape: Sometimes it be’s that way

Some stories are just plain fun. Others are plain solemn.

Still others are a strange hybrid. That happens when the event itself is fun… but the reason the story emerged in the first place is shameful and serious as hell.

From a hate symbol to chalky walks

Friends, neighbors and supporters of a middle school in Anne Arundel County, Md. showed up with buckets of the sidewalk chalk and their creativity the late afternoon of Mothers Day. They wanted to send a positive message of diversity and inclusion after a noose was discovered hanging from a light fixture on campus a few days earlier. Two suspects were arrested and are facing charges.

Sending a different message

The founder of Crofton Is Kind, an organization dedicated to fostering kindness in children in the Crofton community and beyond, spread the word about Sunday’s event.   A mom whose daughter attends the school came to Kristen Caminiti with the idea to chalk the sidewalks in front of the school with positive messages for students to see when they returned to classes.

“And I thought that was amazing.  So then I just ran with it and started advertising and getting the word out to say ‘let’s get out there and send a message to all the students at Crofton Middle and to the Crofton community as a whole that hate has no place here and that we are a community of kindness and tolerance and acceptance and that kindness will always be louder than hate,” said  Kristen Caminiti.

The goal was to cover the school’s front sidewalk from end to end.

Mission accomplished, and then some.  Chalkwork ranged from colorfully written words of affirmation to drawings celebrating diversity and love, and the labor of love stretched around to the walks on one side of the school.

Sometimes stories just “be’s” that way.  Fun but serious.  And sometimes in that kind, positive fun, it’s a reminder that I really love the volume of kindness… ’Tis music to my ears.

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Buttery ways to heal the skin you’re in

Screenshot of  http://biggsandfeather.com homepage

Big-ups to Biggs and Featherbelle!

They saved my skin!  Literally… Okay, their products helped restore a patch of skin to its former glory.  As much glory as palm-of-hand skin can achieve.
Something went awry when I was visiting my folks a few years ago.  I was glancing at my hands one spring afternoon, and noticed my skin birthing a flake inside my left hand between my thumb and index finger.

What the what? I thought, picking at it.  Ehhhh, nothing much there, ’twas only dry skin.  I left it alone.  After I got back to the East Coast, that spot on my hand started flaking more.

Whatever, I thought.  Lotion to the rescue!  I massaged and rubbed that stuff several times a day.

Only it didn’t help.  Not only did it not help, my skin got worse. It started looking slightly inflamed and purple-ish.
What the WHAT?
I told my mom.
I told my sister.
I asked the Internet.
I asked friends.

“Go to a dermatologist,” some recommended.  Sure, that makes since, because… skin.  And something was obviously wrong with my left hand’s epidermis.

So I went, was handed an eczema diagnosis for that patch of skin, was gifted steroid samples which whipped that hand back into shape real quick.  Relief!

However, when I stopped using it, the irritation revved up again, with a vengeance— wheelies and all.

This is a bunch of foolishness, I thought.  Nothing is working.  So I  returned to searching the only bastion of earth’s certainties: The Internet.
“Natural remedies for eczema,” I Googled, Binged, maybe even Netscaped.
Then this brilliant idea popped into my head:  Shea Butter!
But where would I buy it?  Didn’t know, so I asked the Internet for help.

THAT’S how I met Biggs and Featherbelle products.

They’re based in Baltimore, Md., and are sold in a slew of stores locally and elsewhere; according to their website it’s 33 states and the District of Columbia.

I also started using Shea Moisture soaps, and soaps from Trader Joe’s, stopped using my hand soap and traded it for one of these natural bar soaps.  When I showered or washed my hands throughout the day, I massaged a bit of Biggs and Featherbelle’s scented seasonal Shea butters or cocoa/shea butter combos into the irritated patch on my hand.

These products, especially the Shea and cocoa butter products,  were the things that gave my skin much relief.  That patch healed itself when nothing else worked, thanks to nature’s enabling emollients.

This is my Day 10 post for the 30 Day Writing Challenge in the Speak Write Now Community

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Free fun, exploration to bookend National Park Week 2017

Prehistoric granaries along the Colorado River above Nankoweap in Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park. NPS photo by Mark Lellouch.

Mark this event on your calendar, because it spans “from sea to shining sea.” National Park Week is your chance to partake in some of the United States’ national treasure sites, from beautiful natural locales, to spaces where a nation grappled over its past and its future, and pathways tread by those who sought liberty.

National Park Week runs April 15-23, 2017.

Visitors can enjoy free entry at every national park during the weekends that bookend National Park Week: April 15-16 and 21-23.

If you live in or are planning to visit Washington D.C., a newly restored National Historic Site will be open to peruse during the final weekend of National Park Week: The home of Carter G. Woodson, the man known as “The Father of Black History.” In 1915, Woodson established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History which is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Woodson purchased and lived in his home on 9th Street, Northwest near Q Street from 1922 until his death in 1950. Negro History Week, the precursor of Black History Month, was also established in 1926 while he lived and worked in this home.

The first of a three-phase revitalization project was being completed as Black History Month 2017 drew to a close.

“I know there was a significant amount of work done,” says Carter G. Woodson Home superintendent Tara Morrison.

Morrison says all of the bricks on the home’s facade were taken out, identified by location and catalogued. They were then repaired and placed in their original locations. Historic moldings, frames and decorative pieces were also removed, repaired an replaced. During the first phase of the restoration, fixing structural damage from natural happenings, such as the 2011 earthquake, were a first phase priority. Exhibit development and interpretation will happen during the next two phases.

Not only was the process of structural restoration a painstaking one, but Dr. Woodson painstakingly worked to increase popular consciousness about African American history, work which happened in this home on 9th Street, NW.

Woodson historian and author Pero Dagbovie describes it as a clearing house of historical information about black people.

“He would ship things to people throughout the country who would write him asking for materials on black history. Of course, it wasn’t like things are today where you can just go on the Internet and download anything you want. He singlehandedly launched this movement from this space…”

Dr. Woodson dedicated his life to this mission.

“I mean on average, they say he worked about 18 hour days and didn’t sleep a whole lot, and committed his entire life to popularizing and legitimizing the study of black history at a time when African American history in the broader American society and academy was not seen with great respect, and he used to refer to this movement, this black history movement as a life and death struggle, literally,” Dagbovie says.

Dr. Woodson’s home will be open on April 21-23, the final days of National Park Week. Space is limited. Call (202) 690-5152 to make a reservation, or visit the Carter G. Woodson Home site for more information.

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