Welcome to the last half of the first month of the first month of January! I probably should have written this post a few weeks ago but I didn’t so the streets will get the post I give them.
I just wanted to tell you that I have a lot going on this month, and want to invite you to play along, in person and online. Without further ado, we proudly present…Your Dinner!
(No, that’s not it.)
“Listen, World” chat with Allison Gilbert, January 19, 7-9 PM Greedy Reads, 1744 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore. Join me to talk about the work and life of veteran journalist Elsie Robinson with co-author Gilbert.
“Fine Beats and Cheeses,” Tuesdays at 6 a.m: My sister Lynne Streeter Childress and I host a weekly podcast about the sublime cheesy things that our guests love and feel not a bit guilty about. Available wherever you find podcasts. Come find us!
I WROTE ANOTHER BOOK!: I finished my first novel this week. It’s so far from being sold and ready for you to see, but I want you to look out for it. It’s fiction, and about grief, regret, journalism and fancy hotels. You’re gonna like it.
“SAVED: Objects of the Dead”: I have an essay in this moving collection from Jody Servon and Lorene Delany-Ullman, featuring things that grieving people have saved of their loved ones, and why. Mine is about pacifiers. It’s a gorgeous book and a beautiful testament to how memory informs the meaning of simple objects.
If you’re not busy at 7 EST on Sunday, Dec. 11, why not check out a gun virtual book club event! The dynamic Latrina Graves McCarty will be hosting the event on Facebook Live! Join us at her page as we talk about “Black Widow” and the journey (you know how I feel about that word) that got me here!
I am paraphrasing “New York Mining Disaster,” the most bizarre BeeGees song ever written, to tell you that I am probably not quitting Twitter, my most frequent mode of communication here on the social media whatevers. But a lot of you have, and who knows what’s gonna happen, so it seemed like a good time to re-up my other sites, including this one and my Substack newsletter, both of which I have abandoned like a 90s shopping mall. Very sad.
The good news is that this is a good time to write more, if just silly musings that don’t fit into my Baltimore Banner column. Also I’d miss you guys!!
Just wanted to let you guys know what I’ve been up to in the months since I’ve been in this space.
I was really faithful for a while at updating both this and my Substack but stopped about two months ago when I was hired to be a lifestyle columnist at the Baltimore Banner, a groovy new publication that launches soon, to be an independent non-profit voice of local journalism. Since then, my focus has been on that, as well as momming, speaking, traveling, writing a novel and trying not to get Type-2 Diabetes (doctor’s visits are such fun in your 50s.)
While I’m working on all that, I just wanted to drop a few nugget of…wisdom? Musings? Weird stuff in my head to fill this space?
Systemic racism is real, no matter how you try to ban it.
Covid is real and we’re still in a pandemic.
You liking a performer and their art doesn’t mean they can’t have done bad things.
There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure. It gives you pleasure or it doesn’t. Shout it out.
Things suck lately. Hug a dog. Or your kid. Or your cat, if you’re brave and wearing long sleeves.
Online dating sucks over a certain age and if you know someone nice that you could introduce your friends to, you should do that and stop hoarding the nice people.
Diet culture is bad.
It’s not the responsibility of marginalized people to make the majority feel better about their marginalization.
And that’s all off the top of my head. I will have more news and appearances and stuff here, soon. Just wanted to say hey. So hey!
As things continue to open back up (remember WE ARE STILL IN A PANDEMIC) I’m making more appearances and such! Here are a few of the upcoming ones that I know about at the moment…more to come! And please come!
Programming note: I am moving this tribute to our chaotic fictional Black brethren and sisteren to the blog rather than the newsletter, so that I’m not Spamming y’all and you stop loving me.
I doubled up today, as I didn’t get to write yesterday, but I’m no quitter. Ask my kid at bedtime. He wishes I was and he’s always disappointed.
So today, I introduce to you the Chaotic Chorus. The Pandemonium Players. Behold: Cephus and Reesie Mayweather (David Alan Grier and Kim Wayans), “In Living Color”‘s gloriously terrible singing duo. Their names seem to be a parody of Bebe and CeCe Winans, the famous and infinitely more talented sibling gospel duo, but they’re closer to if Ashford and Simpson were in a Donnie and Marie tribute band with no budget and a musical director who hated them. They sing off key, their banter is maddening and the best part of that they’re gleefully unaware of how terrible they are.
Behold their appearance as the last wish granted for a man on death row, where they say “Somebody’s not smiling!” at a man literally sitting in the electric chair. Or my favorite, “Get Off The Lord’s If You Ain’t Got Correct Change,” featuring the stirring “Don’t Talk To The Driver.” (If you know my sister, ask her to tell you about the bus etiquette video she did as a young actor, where she is, indeed, the person who talks to the driver, and was actually recognized by someone who had ridden a bus where the video was shown.)
The bit works because it, and the performers, embrace the silliness and go for it – the cheap sets. The bad costumes. The flammable wigs, and the idea that we know this isn’t that much of an exaggeration from stuff that’s out on the road. It’s hilarious, because it’s terrible and it knows it. Embrace that terrible.
And it was with that explanation of what her first kiss with a man who was not the late love of her life that I made peace with the affinity I have always felt for “Sex and The City”‘s Carrie Bradshaw. Even though the fictional relationship writer has been, canonically, a bad friend, weirdly bi-phobic, super selfish and shockingly bad with money, I’ve often referred to myself as sort of a Black Carrie Bradshaw, as I, too have made a living writing about the ups and downs of dating, friendship and that hot bar you must see and be seen in.
And with the recent HBO Max reboot “And Just Like That…” which finished its shaky but promising first season, we are also widows. Which sucks. Didn’t see that connection coming. But the show, as much as it’s gotten wrong about some character arcs – I STILL hate the wimpy way it’s dealt with Miranda’s relationship with Che, and if the person I was in love with announced their cross-country move with a terrible live version of “California Girls,” I’d take this as a sign and bounce – it’s gotten so much of the experience right, at least from my experience.
It’s been everything from when to take off your ring, when to date and, in this episode, the final resting place of someone you thought would still be resting next to you on the other side of the bed. Since his death, Mr. Big’s remains have been in a box in Carrie’s closet with her shoes, but after a lunch with her brother-in-law Richard (SPOILER ALERT!), the Widow Bradshaw Preston must consider what to do with the ashes.
There was a moment when Richard sketches out the family plot in which John/Big might have a spot, and then mentions that one seems to be freeing up for Carrie, so “the two of you could be together forever,” that reminds me so much of my real-life widowhood. The day after my husband Scott died, I was standing in a graveyard with a funeral home salesman trying to sell me a crypt where Scott would be interred first, and then me in several decades, so our “heads and hearts would be touching forever.”
Not surprisingly, that option doesn’t work for either me or Carrie, and she winds up in Paris, the site of their reunion at the end of the original series, to cast his ashes off a bridge in a gorgeous gown (I am not rich so I just buried Scott in a nice cemetery in Lake Worth, Fl, in a nice dress from an Ann Taylor Loft outlet.) The scene moved me greatly – saying goodbye is never an easy thing, as Taylor Dayne once sang – and it’s both sweet and heartbreaking. (Apparently Chris Noth, who played Big, was supposed to have been seen in a dream sequence before he was cut out after sexual assault accusations. It wasn’t a great edit but I kinda liked just hearing his ghostly voice. Ghosts and dreams are weird.)
I didn’t enjoy “And Just Like That…” as much as I’d imagined, because I thought it tried too hard to right some of the wrongs of the original series like its lack of representation of anyone who wasn’t a straight, White woman, and because, again, they completely rewrote Miranda and Steve’s love story into some arrangement she was talked into. NO. We saw how hot they were together, and them getting back together on the Brooklyn Bridge at the end of the first movie. Be better, writers.
But I gotta tell you that I enjoyed much of the widowhood story because Carrie was exactly like you’d think she’d be. Heartbroken. Self-focused, like using “My husband died!” as a way to win any argument. Sad/funny. It’s not exactly like how I did it, or how you’d do it. But it seemed like her. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
OK…I’m definitely coming to Jupiter Beach and Delray Beach in early 2022, virus and schedule permitting. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been back to my old home state of Florida – almost two years, since we moved back to Baltimore and the world continued doing this weird whatever it is it’s doing. (NOTE: We are still in a pandemic, as Omicron has come to remind us, and I’d really like you to get vaccinated, boosted, masked and plan your outings accordingly. We need you.)
Still, we’re hopeful that my two appearances – and more – are going to happen! I’d love to see you. Stay safe, please.
February 10, 6:30 PM: Arts Garage, Delray Beach. I’ll be talking about grief, mental health and healing in the Black community, in association with the Delray Beach CRA and the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum.
And not just any cookies – dreamy, colorful macarons, the Sophia Loren of sandwich cookies, that I met yesterday in a shiny glass case in a neighborhood bakery so fancy they call it a pastry studio. I went in to buy a special treat for my mother’s birthday but wound up buying a six pack of macarons for the family, two for each of us. And when I checked the price, which came out to about $2.30 a cookie, I didn’t blink.
Because that’s what the cookie costs.
Sure, they seem expensive when compared to, say, the familiar and budget-friend Oreo, which you can get 39 of for about $4, which gets you about a macaron and a half. But the fancy treat’s worth is supported by several factors – the price of the ingredients; the reputation of the type of cookie as compared to an Oreo; the taste and quality of the cookie, and the confidence that the bakers have that you’ll pay that much for them. I like Oreos. They’re classic. Amazing. But these macarons are better. And they cost more.
So $2.30 is what those macarons cost. That’s what they’re worth. And their worth does not change whether or not I can afford them. If I had walked into that shop -sorry….studio – and decided that I didn’t want to pay $2.30 for cookie, I would have been a jerk to yell “How dare you charge this much! I really wanted one – I’ve been dreaming of one – and it’s not fair that you won’t give me 40 of them for the same amount I’d pay for a pack of Oreos! You’re not that cute anyway!” No. I’d just respectfully give the pretty cookies one last look and then head down the street to the Royal Farms store and get me some Oreos. And some milk. Because that’s my budget, and it’s not the macarons’ fault that they weren’t in mine.
So…imagine that you and your business are that macaron. You have priced yourself and the services at a certain point, based on their worth, on your experience and reputation. You know that other people on your level – even some who aren’t – have similar prices. You are in the big leagues and you deserve to be paid for it. So if a potential customer says “I want your services, but I can’t afford them, so you should charge me less and also feel bad about ever charging more,” that person is not your customer. They are also possibly a jerk, and you don’t have to deal with jerks. They’re welcome to politely say “No thanks” and either go somewhere else, or save up until they can afford you.
Your worth doesn’t change because some people can’t afford you. If enough people can, and are willing to pay what you’re charging, then you’re on the right track. And you don’t have to apologize for it.
Because I guarantee you that those beautiful cookies wouldn’t.
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It’s Small Business Saturday, which is interesting to me as I’ve committed to buying all of my holiday presents from local businesses here in Maryland this year. What’s more intriguing is something I saw on Twitter by awesome writer Sara Benincasa who reminded her followers that as an artist, she is a small business, and directed people to her Patreon newsletter and ways to support her.
We are getting towards the end of my first year as an independent writer, which is exciting and scary but coming together. I have some exciting projects coming up in the next few months, including writing and speeches and such, but I wanted to point you towards some ways you can support me and my stuff!
Are you an indie music artist, business person or someone else wanting to tell your story? I’ll write your bio for your website!
Are you looking for a speaker for Black History Month, Women’s History Month, or just because you like a dope lady talking about 90s girl groups? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and get my rates!
Looking for writing coaching? Email me!
Need a freelance story, from essays to lists to reported articles, about parenting, grief, pop culture, race, woman stuff, dating, food and more? Contact me!
It’s such a weird time and money is tight. I’m even that more excited to be able to produce good, creative, quality work. To paraphrase Sir Elton, my gift are my words, and these ones could be for you!