Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This is the first post in the new portion of this blog.  Obviously it's been a long time since I've posted as WriteWoman.  Most of my blogging has been through my Black Books Blog since 2005.

I'm posting again here because I wanted to write about some non-book topics, specifically travel and wine. But, as usual, I have been wringing my hands in worry and procrastination about launching a wine and travel blog perfectly.  On my own domain, with the right look, etc.

And I've let weeks and months pass me by.

It would be better to do this that way.  And if I wait, I might never do it at all.

Fortunately, I've been doing what I envisioned and visiting vineyards.  But not posting.

Here's where all of this comes from - the seed of this new blog.  I've been a little blue about my suburban life.  I go to work, I parent, I get excited when I can go to a mainstream movie and have dinner at a chain restaurant with my husband.  Boring and typical.  Fine most of the time.  Except when I'm sad about not making a second trip to France or never having been to West Africa.  Or on the nights when I wonder if I'll ever have the time, money and opportunity to visit a country long enough to learn something and make friends.

Focusing on what I couldn't do was draining and pointless.  So I decided to do what I can for now.  Even if it meant only a little day trip.

So in August, when my husband and son were on a weekend trip to Chicago (hey, that's somewhere I could have gone!), my daughter and I had our first No Boys Allowed (NBA) weekend.  We invited two friends and went on a trip to a winery.  It was one of our best ever days.  (And I'll post pics from that trip very soon).

I decided that what would be fun and uplifting and enough would be to make day trips and side trips that would be my right now adventures.  Yes, I still want to plan big trips and travel out of the country again. But I had fallen into a habit of waiting for the perfect time to do everything.  And everything was passing me by - and I am tired of regrets.

So this blog is my little project to record the adventures.  I'm starting with trips in Florida to our region's wineries.  And I'm reading about wine and learning something new.

Of course, this has great benefits, as I have lovely glasses of wine at home.  My little suburban life is already improved.

If you are a wine lover and have a favorite wine blogger or winery site to recommend, please leave it in the comments.  Maybe you'll give me an idea for another adventure.

Blacklitchat: Substitute Me, Lori Tharps

For this month's #blacklitchat on Twitter, we'll discuss Substitute Me, by Lori Tharps. The novel is the story of two women in New York, one an African American woman from an upper middle class background, the other of a white professional woman who is a new mother.

The black woman becomes the white woman's nanny. It's a contemporary story.

So you can imagine, with all the history and cultural issues attached to black women as servants and domestic help in America, that this book gives us a lot to think about and discuss.

Join us at 9 p.m., Nov. 21 for the discussion. This is our pajama party chat - from the comfort of your home. And if you haven't read the novel or are just starting, still jump in. We will also likely discuss the overall cultural issues and Lori Tharps has agreed to join us. She is also the author of Kinky Gazpacho, a memoir of travel and race and co-author of Hair Story.

Read what other people have said about Substitute Me:

Carleen Brice on White Readers Meet Black Authors
Mother Issues blog
Notorious Spinks' take on it.
Raging Bibliomania

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Getting ready for For Colored Girls

There has been so much hype and angst around Tyler Perry's adaptation of Ntozake Shange's play, for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf.

Shange's play is an amazing collection of choreopoems that was a feminist triumph and had a powerful impact on a generation of women, particularly Black women.

Tyler Perry makes films that are polarizing.

I have seen several of TPs films and remain conflicted. I do love seeing images of Black people on screen and he is the director/writer who is giving us that over and over. With all of the issues.

I've been reading a lot about For Colored Girls and will probably read more before seeing it tomorrow. Here are some links to share.

10 Things to know about Ntozake Shange and For Colored Girls - Ms Magazine blog
For Colored Girls who need motivation when the Oprah endorsement ain't enough - Bassey Ikpi, huffpost
New York Times review
Entertainment Weekly review

I'll post some thoughts here after I see the movie on Sunday. Quirky Black Girls is having a blog carnival around the movie - gathering links from bloggers who write about it - check it out if you are posting about it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Are you a future life saver?

About 15 years ago a columnist at the newspaper where I worked wrote about a woman in need of a bone marrow transplant.

I didn't know the woman, but I did know the columnist and I attended an event where people were signing up for the National Marrow Donor Registry.

They were particularly looking for people of African descent to sign up. We were, you guessed it, under-represented in the registry. And the matching of donors to clients/patients is more complex because of the multiple tissue types people of African descent have. (I imagine that's tied to all of the intermixing over hundreds of years in North America - but I'm not an expert, so I can't confirm that).

I signed up. It was easy and felt like the right thing to do. I didn't get the call to help the women my friend wrote about. I met the poet Glenis Redmond at the event and went on my merry way. I rarely thought about it except for every few years when I'd receive a request from the registry to update my contact information and provide the name and address of someone who would always be able to find me (which is always my mother).

This summer my mother got a call and a letter (and so did I).

The team from the registry was trying to contact me; I was a potential match for someone who needed a transplant.

As I said above, I didn't really think about the registry that much. Now I had to think about it and it was a clear decision. Of course I would do more tests. That was the whole point of signing up in the first place.

So I had blood drawn for testing. I learned shortly after that while I was a partial match, I wasn't as close as the doctors wanted for this client/patient.

I won't ever know if they found a match for the person. I hope that they did. I hope that more people are signing up every day so the chances of finding a match improve for all of us.

Today I was reminded again about the registry when I read this story. Shannon Tavarez died this week. She was 11. She had already had a role on Broadway in The Lion King as Nala.

And they did not find a bone marrow donor in time to save her. 11 years old. Beautiful, as we humans are. One more reason to #DoSomethingBig.

From the New York Times story:

Minorities are vastly underrepresented in the bone marrow donor registry, which makes suitable donors for minority patients difficult to locate.

So I am thinking about the program again. And how over the last 15 years I haven't been spreading the word.

Please read about the marrow donor registry and register as a donor. It is simple and one of the easiest ways to be a hero we have.

You may not ever get the call. But if you're the "one" you can't save a life if you haven't joined the registry.

@BetheMatch on Twitter; #DoSomethingBig

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A few links to share

Only enough time/energy to post a few links.

Are you for Fannie Lou? Read Dr. Goddess' post about Fannie Lou Hamer and the effort to build a memorial.

It's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and Tayari Jones reminds us that speed isn't/shouldn't be our main goal. Becoming writers is the goal.
[I think about dong NaNoWriMo every month; then I let fear and the illusion that I can't do it keep me from the exercise. I need to change my life to become a writer - and take my time doing it. Yet, I know that making the effort just to write every day, even under NaNoWriMo goals, would be the very best thing. And I sit doing neither.]

Lori Tharps, author of Substitute Me, will be at the Miami Book Fair Nov. 21. See her news on her site.

I missed the ESPN 30 x 30 film by John Singleton on Marion Jones. But I do see this WSJ blog item on whether she should be forgiven and the role race and gender played in her case. I'm not a sports fan at all, but some of the most interesting stories come out of sports. That makes me pay attention.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The voting habit

I'm kicking myself for not voting early in this midterm election. It's so much easier than trying to vote before my morning commute.

I'm still going to vote tomorrow morning, though. It's a habit.

There is a lot of worry, particularly among the Democrats, about turnout for this election. In 2008 a lot of occasional and first-time voters turned out for then candidate Barack Obama. I hope some of them will make it a habit and that anyone who has only recently started voting will take it seriously and start participating in every election. Yes, I mean conservatives and Republicans as well. Everyone who is eligible and able to should vote. And if people choose not to vote, I really hope it's an intentional decision - something they spent time thinking about, rather than just a matter of convenience.

The 2008 election was historic and I spent a lot of time thinking about the multiple firsts in that election as well as my own history with our process.

As I told my roller skating coach during a discussion after the election (yes, I had a roller skating coach), I've been a low-level political junkie since grade school. I watched the party conventions every four years with my parents, walked into the voting booth at my elementary school with my mother, and had a father who worked the polls many years. He also taught civics, so we talked a lot about politics. Sometimes I was just listening, but I was paying attention.

By the 1980 presidential election (Carter, Reagan) I was as engaged as I could be as a kid - I remember being really angry that kids couldn't vote. Was this our country or not?

It's always strange for me when I read about people well into adulthood who are voting (or registering to vote) for the very first time. I'm working on being less judgmental and they are adults, so I can let that go. I just can't quite comprehend it.

I've voted in most of the elections for which I've been eligible (I won't say all, because no one is perfect and I'm sure someone could pull a record and find a voting opportunity I missed). But I really feel it's important; the weight of history is a powerful reminder.

It helps that early in my adult life paying attention to elections was part of my job as a newspaper reporter. Really there's no excuse if you're covering an election. You have the information and constant reminders of where to vote and what it means.

And during that period, when I voted at the same precinct - located in a senior apartment complex - the women working the poll would always greet voters with a big smile and, I later learned, really remembered the people who came through each election. On one election day I voted in the afternoon, much later than usual. They made a big to-do about it, saying they'd wondered where I was, "because you always vote."

I hope that more people will register and vote for the first time. And make it a habit.

Some links for Election Day:

10 Tips from the ACLU for voting
Federal Election Commission