Monday, October 20, 2014

Best. Husband. Ever.



You love me especially different every time
You keep me on my feet happily excited
By your cologne, your hands
Your smile, your intelligence




You woo me, you court me
You tease me, you please me
You school me, give me some things to think about




Ignite me, you invite me
You co-write me, you love me
You like me, you incite me to chorus




Ooh
Ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh

~ Jill Scott

_______________________________________



"I'd do anything for you," he told me recently.

"I know this." This was my reply.

"I love you so much," his simple texts often read.

"You more" is my usual response. But it should be "I know."



Because, I do. I know. I know that he loves me. Through the look in his eyes. But especially his actions. His kind gestures that say, "I know this matters to you so I will do it." Those things that shift him away from his comfort zone and into mine. The teeny-tiny things like turning on the seat warmers in my car or picking me up some mediterranean food because he knows I love it and not caring so much that he doesn't.



I walk into the room and he says, "You okay, baby?" And he asks it like he means it. Like, if for some reason I am not okay, he will do whatever it is I ask of him to help me get okay. Which is awesome.



There are some things he's not. Like, he's not schmoozy. At all. He can be a bit of an introvert when faced with many-many people and generally won't be the one yucking it up with the boss or jumping onto the stage to belt out Marvin Gaye at the annual holiday party. His flowers are handed to me quietly on days like Tuesday and his surprise gifts on times that don't usually coincide with milestones. He is honest. The jeans that smash my butt like a pancake will be reported to me as such if I ask and fortunately not so much when I don't.



He believes in me. In this understated way, he looks at me like whatever it is I am trying to do is attainable. Or maybe even more than attainable. Like. . .I don't know. . .it's already done. He's not the guy throwing the confetti at me at the end of the half marathon. But if I asked him to do that, he would. That is, if he could tell that it was important to me. Which makes me think of another tender thing about the man I married: I often measure whether or not to tell him what I want against how seriously I want it. Why? Because he will do whatever he has to do to get it for me. Or do it for me. To help me get "okay."



His love makes me feel beautiful. I mean it. Beautiful. 


He loves me. Especially different. Even on an ordinary Monday, he does. And for that, I am thankful.



Yeah.

***
Happy Monday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .Jill Scott providing a perfect soundtrack to how I feel every single day that I get to be with this man. Listen and you'll feel me. He incites me to chorus. . .loudly. . . because he loves me. And you know what? I love him, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Looking for the love getaway.

Here's a few little pieces of this little life of mine. 
Little stones skipping on the not-so-placid lake of my life.


On rounds yesterday:

Someone said, "Grady Hospital saved my life."

I replied, "It saved mine, too."


Taking Zachary's picture at football last weekend.

"What is this expression on your face, son?" I laughed out loud.

"This is my 'game face,' Mom. Everybody needs a game face you know."

Boom.


Two of my favorite nice Jewish gentlemen that happen to have a connection as present and former Grady doctors. Yes. Doctors. (Sorry, ladies--they're taken.)


Julie and I were practicing the ending to the lecture we gave last week at the Hospital Medicine conference. "Let's just chuck a deuce at the end!" I said.

"How about double deuces?" she replied.

Boom.


I met Esele when she first came out of nursing school and started working at Grady several years back. She was proudly wearing a Delta Sigma Theta lanyard while drawing up meds.

"You're a Delta girl?" I asked.

"You know it!" she responded.

"Where were you made?" I went on.

Her chest poked out and she said, "At the Gamma Tau chapter. Tuskegee University."

Boom. And yes she said THE Gamma Tau chapter which I loved. And yes, of all the Deltas I meet, this thrilled me to no end to meet one who pledged into the same chapter I did.
Albeit over a decade later.

Two Tuskegee Deltas stamping out disease at Grady. She's now the nurse manager on that same floor where we met and we've been connected ever since.

Cool, right?


Sent this selfie to my good friend who is fighting a new diagnosis of breast cancer.

"You got this," I wrote in a text. Then I added this hashtag:

#teamyou


I love this picture of Grady taken on my way out last week. I really do.



I wear red whenever I give a lecture somewhere. It used to be mostly because it's my "power color."

It's still that. But also it reminds me of Deanna and makes me imagine her on the front row. That gives me wings every single time.


My dear Grady BFF Lesley had just given the big-big Grand Rounds in front of all of the big-big people. It was absolutely spectacular.

"Be honest. How was it?" she asked.

"It was the best Grand Rounds I've ever seen," I replied.

Which was true.


On a day when I was thinking about how right it feels for me to be at Grady. I was in the zone when I took this picture and wanted to capture it.

So I did.


Team selfie on a random work day. Why? Why not?



Is it normal to be in love with your children? Because I am. 

I mean, most days. Yeah. Most days I am. This day I was.


With my awesome high school senior nephew, Dave. They say I'm the one who spit him out which makes us all laugh. He looks more like me than my kids or his own parents. Even in specs. 



He's a great kid.


"I'm headed down the Atlanta highway. . . .
looking for the love getaway. . ."

~ The B-52s

The other day, the kids and I were rocking out in the car on I-285 to "Love Shack" by the B-52s.  Not when this picture was taken, of course. It just reminds me of us jamming out that day.

And no, I don't take selfies on interstate 285. 

So that. Us and music together. Especially that particular song on that particular day. It was so, so awesome. That song will forever make me happy no matter what and I love that it made them happy, too.


Work ages my hands. But it also reminds me that I do important things with them. So I love them anyway.


Cold weather running season is here. I'm so happy. And feeling rather bad ass.

Can't you tell?


This is my close friend and line sister Ebony. She's a breast cancer survivor--and one of the reasons I am so thankful for breast cancer treatment and detection. Love her so. 

She is so full of light, right?



Life is good. Reflecting on it is like the love getaway for me. 

Yeah. 

That's all I have. That, and this--the B-52s singing "Love Shack." 

I dare you to try to listen to this without getting up and rocking out. I dare you.


*You're welcome.* 

Who wants to yell out: "TIN ROOF! RUSTY!"

***
Happy HUMP DAAAAAAY! Got my game face on for the last day of wards. Le sigh.

Monday, October 13, 2014

From the mouths of babes.



Right before heading over to Will and Fran's on Saturday evening:

Isaiah: Mom, I've been thinking about what reasons God would have had to let Auntie pass away.

Me: You have?

Isaiah: Yeah. Well. . . I think I know at least one of the reasons.

Me: You do?

Isaiah: Mom? I kind of think God might have wanted our family to be closer. Ever since Auntie's funeral I feel like we are even closer to each other and good at showing our love more. Like I see my cousins more and everybody just seems like they talk more and are closer.

Me: Hmmm. Do you think that pleases God?

Isaiah: I think so, Mom. Because I know it pleases me.

Me: Me, too, son. Me, too.

***

That exchange made me think of this night and how glad I am that Deanna was here to witness it. It still amazes me that she had the foresight to snap that video of that moment between my brother and me. It's almost like she knew something or that the whole universe knew to give us that magical evening with a piece caught on film.

Fall makes me miss her. Especially fall.

***
Happy Monday. Measure your life in love, okay?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Papa was not a rolling stone.



I am confident and I know my worth. I believe that my voice is worth sharing and that my eyes are strong enough to stare straight into yours. The man I married gives me love that I know how to receive without running from it, questioning it as a fluke, or ruining it through insecurity.

Why? Because I was raised by a father who loved me with all of his might, who had high expectations of me as a child, and who loved my mother right in front of me. He looked at me lovingly and let his face light up when I entered his presence. 



And he still does. Not just for me. But for my siblings and his grandchildren, too.

Look. I'm not saying that people who aren't raised by their dads aren't amazing--I know many who are. But I am saying that having a dad that you can count on is like taking a test with an answer key. Or better yet, like getting a big ass boost over the giant fence of adulthood. You have a huge advantage and you get to go into more stuff thinking that you'll win.

This morning at the track


Yeah, man.

Dad? If you were not my father? Damn. I'd wish you were. Praise God for entrusting me to to this man who had the courage and selflessness to walk in his purpose as a father--and who still does. I realize how fortunate I am, having a dad who is present, not broken, but who is also willing to love. I am so, so grateful. It's a big deal.

Damn, it is.


 
Happy birthday, Poopdeck. You freaking rule.

***
Happy Poopdeck Day.

This is photographic evidence of the 7.1 miles he trucked today to commemorate his 71st birthday. :)


(And also an "ussie" of him and the seniors he walks with each morning.) Poopdeck--You are supposed to SMILE on the selfie, dude. This is also proof that he is 71 years old. LOL!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Check. And check.



Goals today:

1. Take excellent care of patients.
2. Create an awesome learning climate.

I think we did pretty well at achieving those goals. Such a fun day on rounds today. . . . .if I wasn't on this team, I'd wish I were.

Third day on wards. More amazement awaits.

***
Happy Weekend.

Friday, October 3, 2014

What I signed up for.



"I'm glad you came back."

"You are?"

"Yeah, I am. 'Cause when you was here earlier, I felt kind of like you was rushing me. Like you needed to hurry on up."

"You did? Oh shoot. I'm so sorry. Ugggh. I'm sorry, ma'am."

"It's okay, Dr. Manning." 

"No, it's not." 

"You know what? You right. It's not really okay. It's not. 'Cause, for me, I'm the only patient you got. I mean, when it's my turn."

I looked into my patient's eyes when she said that to let her know I was hearing her. Then she smiled and spoke again.

"But I do accept your apology, Dr. Manning. And I'm glad you came back, okay?"

You know what? I'm glad I did, too.

***
Happy Friday.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The fellowship of suffering.




When I'm sad, she comes to me
with a thousand smiles she gives to me free

~ Jimi Hendix


It was an uneventful visit. Hypertension that needed tweaking, cholesterol medications that needed refilling, and a prostate that was enlarged but responding well to the therapy of choice for it. He nodded hard and said he understood our plans. One or two questions came when I pressed him but even those queries were straightforward, too. With a soft smile he dipped his head and quietly said, "Thank you, doctor."

And that was that.

The resident physician who'd just seen him that morning stood next to the sink. His spine was straight and his eyes laser focused on the patient. When we'd first walked in, he introduced me to his patient, a Grady elder, and pointed out that "nothing was wrong" and "this is my boss and she just comes in to check behind me." And I chuckled while shaking that man's hand adding, "A better way to put it is that we always figure two brains and two hearts caring for you is better than one." And this patient seemed to like that. I mean, mostly he did.

There was a sadness about him. Nothing overt or overwhelmingly so. Just this twinge in his eyes that niggled at me when I first sat down in that chair across from him. I reviewed things as always, and nothing really came out to suggest some clear explanation for it. And he was well-groomed and pleasant and cooperative which were good signs that he was getting along okay. I mean, I guess.

And so. This encounter remained vanilla which, honestly, isn't really a bad thing. I was okay with that even though I knew my mind would return to the something that I saw pooling in his brown eyes. But, as my husband tells me, sometimes it's okay to just leave it where you found it. I mean, sometimes it just has to be that way. That's what I decided I'd do.

I reached for his leathery hand and encircled it once more. "It was good to meet you, sir," I said. Which was true because it was.

"Okay. You have a blessed day, Miss Manning," he replied.

I glanced over at the resident, gave him a playful salute, and prepared to stand up. And all was well and everything was everything.

Yep.

Then, in my typical small-talky, notice-everythingy way, I pointed at the weathered cap sitting on the patient's head. "Special Forces," I read. "Wow. Was that you?"

It was an innocent question. I really wasn't prying or trying to lead him anywhere. Mostly I was just curious because it wasn't something I saw every day. And honestly, I'm not even exactly certain what happens on "Special Forces." That said, I do know enough to know that having the word "special" put before the kind of "forces" you bring just has to be a big deal.

He cast his eyes downward. "No. It belonged to my brother, Larry. He was in Special Forces. I just put this on today. I ain't even sure why."

And just like that, I knew. I knew what I was seeing and feeling from him earlier. At least, I think I knew.

The past tense of "belonged." The part about not being sure why he was even wearing that hat that day. And the name--Larry.  I could have just left it where I found it--this piece of him--but I could not.

"Larry was in Special Forces?"

My patient nodded. His eyes began to well up with tears and he tried his best to look down so that I wouldn't notice. But I did.

"Who is the older brother and who is the younger brother?"  And I'm not sure why that was my next question. I guess it just seemed benign enough to go with next.

"Larry was two years older. And he was . . . aaahh heeemmm," he cleared his throat to rid it of as much emotion as he could, "he was. . . .Larry was. . . um. . . .the one that just everyone loved. Everyone." And right after he said that a fat tear rolled down his cheek and disappeared under his chin.

I reached for his hand and didn't say a word. I just squeezed down on it and slid him the box of hospital grade Kleenex that thankfully was in front of me at the moment.

"My brother died in '90. But I miss him and love him like it happened just yesterday. And some days, they just worse than the other ones is all."

"I understand."  And I said that because I do. I mean, I really and truly do.



And so I sat there while he wept. And the resident stepped a bit closer to let him know that we were there in solidarity with our patient.

"It don't go away," he said with a moist sigh. "It just don't. No matter how old you get, it just don't. You go on, you know? You live, you know? But some piece of you always changed forever. Especially when you was close like we was." He pulled the tissue to his eyes and cried a bit more. This time with some chest heaves, which broke my heart.

Because, no I am not a Grady elder like this man was. But this was something that I had lived long enough to know about for myself.

"Larry sounds special," I finally said.

"He was the best person I ever knew. And when I was a younger man, I did some things that wasn't really good. I got mixed up in things that I didn't have no business getting mixed up in. And Larry, he ain't never judged me one day. He always saw the best in everybody."

"What an amazing quality."

"Yeah. That's why he the one everybody could agree on loving. Ever just know somebody that make people better? Just how they look in your eyes or smile at you that just make you better?"

And when he asked me that, I swear to you it took every fiber in my being not to break down crying the ugliest of cries. I wanted to jump up on that desk and exclaim, "Yes! Yes, I do know! I know how you feel!" But I didn't. Instead, I just nodded.

"I just don't go away. Today just a rough one for me." He let out a weak chuckle. "I thought putting on his ball cap would make me feel better. I'm sorry for all this. I really am." He glanced over at the resident doctor, too, who softened his expression and shook his head to let him know it was fine. Because it was.

"You honor Larry through your words and your love," I said.

And for the first time, I saw our patient crack a smile. He lifted his eyes and laid them on mine. His next words caught me by surprise. "You have a wisdom about you," he said. He clamped down on my hand when he said that.

"I don't know about that," I countered, "but I know what it feels like to miss a sibling." The patient cocked his head sideways, beckoning me to go on. I paused for a second, trying to decide how much to say. Then I decided not to over think it. "I lost my sister suddenly in 2012. She was a little under two years older than me. And she was wonderful."



"What's her name?" he asked. And I loved it that he did.

"Deanna. Her name was Deanna. And she was like the sun. She was like. . . .the sun." I didn't even want to cry when I told him that. Weirdly, I didn't. I just stared straight into his eyes and kept holding his hand while he did the same.

"It don't go away, do it?" He now spoke to me as a kindred spirit. I returned the gesture.

"No, sir. It don't go away. But some part of me doesn't want it to."

And here is the strange thing: That moment, that little slice of time after this realization that I indeed knew how he felt was a pivotal moment. Instead of us both hugging and crying or feeling the cloak of confluent misery and grief, I think we both felt paradoxically lighter.

That made me think of something I heard recently. Something called "the fellowship of suffering." My pastor spoke of this idea and said this:

"Those who have suffered are uniquely qualified and equipped to support others who are going through what they've been through or are going through."

He also added: "Comfort is life-giving to the comforter as well."

And that really resonated with me, particularly on this day it did.

You don't have to be a church-goer or even a follower of any organized religion to get with that piece of the gospel. A good word is a good word, isn't it? And this--this idea of pain equipping us to provide solace to someone--is a good word, man. I mean. . .just think. . .this capacity to comfort that comes from our own pain could, perhaps, be the silver lining of something awful, right?

I love thinking of that. And I love knowing that being a soft place for someone else to land in their pain will provide me the same. At the same time. How awesome is that?

See, I got to tell this man that my sister was like the sun. And, I promise you, before that moment, I never uttered those words. But it felt so good when I did. And I loved hearing about Larry and about how he, too, was like a ball of light.

About twenty minutes after that exchange I saw the patient standing at the front desk making a follow up appointment. He was talking to Phoebe, one of our clerks, and paused just a moment to put his eyes on me again. "I so appreciate you, Miss Manning," he said while taking my hand.

"I appreciate you, too, sir. And thank you for telling me about Larry."

"And thank you for listening. And for telling me about Deanna."

Phoebe just looked up and kept darting her eyes between us. Then she rested her gaze on me. I offered her a half smile, then reached out for her hand with my other one. As if on cue, she took it. I turned my head to my patient and said, "Phoebe knows, too."

He knew exactly what I meant.

And then, I am not kidding you, he took Phoebe's other hand and we were right there over that counter in a circle of clasped hands. "My brother," Phoebe told him. "Just a few months ago."

We all just squeezed hands and acknowledged what we knew. And it was sacred, that moment. It was.

"You know what I know, sir?" He widened his eyes to see what I'd say next. "I know it don't go away, the missing them part. But my sister? She was like the sun. And even on the gloomiest, darkest days, I know the sun never goes out. It's always there."

"It is," he said with a big smile. "It is." He looked over at Phoebe and she smiled, too.

"It is," she concurred with a nod of affirmation.

I repeated once more, "It is." 



After that, I said goodbye to them, walked down the hall, stepped into the nearest bathroom and allowed myself a good, hard cry.

And you know what? It was all good. It was. And it is.

It is.

***
Happy Wednesday. First day on wards. . . . amazement awaits.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . . both versions of this song--the original. . . .



. . .and this sublime version from Sting that is my favorite. . . 



*story shared with permission, minor details changed to protect anonymity.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This boy of mine.




I could look at his face all day.

***
Happy Tuesday. Again.

The music that defines the story of us becoming who we are.



Just keep your faith in me
don't act impatiently
you'll get where you need to be in due time

Even when things are slow
hold on and don't let go
I give you what I owe
in due time

~ Outkast


My friend Mary M. loves The Rolling Stones. She also has a deep adoration for Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and many other artists and musical genres. Music has always been a centerpiece in her home just like it is for many of us. One of her daughters plays the mandolin and her eldest grandson (who is only five, by the way) knows the Stones well enough to blow the dust off of an album and drop a nickel on top of it. Okay. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but the kid does have a true appreciation for sixties rock and roll.

Yup.



I love the way music evokes such powerful memories. For Mary's grandson, Owen, the cry of Keith Richards' guitar or the throaty crooning of Mick Jagger will likely pull him into the warmest, safest time of his life. Each note will cause his heart to swell with the strongest of reflections of his grandmother sweeping the porch or his grandfather laughing in a nearby chair in his overalls. So that--the sound of The Rolling Stones--will be as intense as the smell of sage at Thanksgiving or the thick aroma of a Southern summer after a hard rain for him.

Always, alway, always.



But for his grandmother? Those Rolling Stones notes take her to different places. It likely brings her back to defining moments and coming of age experiences. Some good, some worth forgetting and others decidedly unforgettable. But the music does that. It punctuates these pivotal times--particularly when the artists' evolution happens in concert with our own.

Yes.



When I was seventeen years old, my father drove me from Los Angeles all the way to Alabama to start college at Tuskegee University. Within days, my favorite shoes were covered in red clay from walking through shortcuts to the cafeteria and my west coast "summer jackets" had been tossed into a heap for they would be of no use in the humidity of an Alabama August. In addition to that, I also remember the sounds that played in my dorm room off of Walmart special boom boxes. A quirky girl on my hall had two tapes that she played non-stop. One was Bob Marley and the Wailer's greatest hits and the other was Sting's Nothing Like the Sun. To this very day, those songs transport me back to Douglass Hall in 1988.



That said, there was some other music that was very, very unique to where I was. Southern hip hop music was in its infancy then. With its heavy bass undertones and catchy chants, it filled up our ears at every party. Additionally, half way through most parties, there would be a break out point with Chicago-style "house music"--something my California ears had never heard before. New friends taught me the dances and eventually I owned my own set of Miami bass and Chi-town house mix tapes. And all of that--whenever I hear it at any party--teleports me to crowded jam sessions with sweaty co-eds moving their bodies after a week of hard work.



So all of this--the music that defines different times in my life--has always been meaningful. Even when I don't hear the songs each day, when I do, it just does something to me. Puts me in a happy place. The words pop out of my lips like legs pedaling on a bike. The dances return to my limbs and I am there again. Whether it is Rapper's Delight with us pop locking and double dutching on the corner, Run DMC with us break dancing on cardboard boxes, Salt 'n' Pepa and us gyrating our narrow hips way too suggestively to be sophomores in high school, or LL Cool J signaling that the newest set of pledges from a fraternity or sorority at Tuskegee had just completed their much anticipated initiation--music is the universal tie that binds it all together.

Medical school, 1996


From Tuskegee, I went up to Nashville for medical school. Still in the southern United States and still in the environment of a historically black college. By this time, I'd embraced the "dirty South" as a part of who I was--the music, the slang, the all of it. That foreign humidity felt normal to me and words like "y'all" were now a regular part of my everyday vernacular. But the music? That, too became something I took ownership of as well.



Let me explain: In 1994, I was sitting in the living room of my friend Jada's apartment. Her boyfriend, Felix, was visiting from Arkansas where he'd just graduated from grad school and was playing this new tape he'd recently gotten. It was like nothing I'd ever heard. That said, there was a familiarity about it. The voices were unapologetically "down South" sounding. Not in that country and western way but more the urban tongues I often overheard from the Atlanta kids I'd come to know well in college. The two people rapping over this beat did what I'd heard only East Coast and West Coast emcees do -- but never anyone else from the less "on the map" places. These artists specifically called out places in Atlanta. Streets. The MARTA train. Bus routes. In the 'hood, no less. They shouted out all of those things that weren't really shiny or pretty but were still a part of them. And they talked about those things that, during that time for hip hop music, wasn't considered sexy at all.

Atlanta? As in Georgia? What?

Yep. Not even cryptic about it. They were like "This is who we are. Love it or leave it." And us? Then twenty somethings in the south? We LOVED it. Loved the uniqueness of it, the twang of it, the everything of it. And we played it and played it and played it until the strips almost rolled off of the reels.




The name of that group was so fitting, too. "Outkast." The real word is defined as one who has been rejected by society or a social group. And a lot of us kids embraced that because, at times, we felt like outcasts, too.



By 1996, they'd had another album drop which, by then, we referred to as a "CD." Ha. This one was even more "out there." It was aptly called "ATLiens" and chronicled the process of just trying to make it with very little. I knew all of the words to that CD, too. Somehow while studying to be somebody's doctor, I figured that part out at the same time. Ha.

And with this one? The Atlanta references were even stronger and in your face. Which everyone who was from anywhere felt proud about. Not just Atlanta. Any hood anywhere. It made the Houston rappers shout out Houston and even the Cleveland rappers talk about Cleveland.

Yes. Even Cleveland. 

Here's an excerpt from one of my favorite songs from back then:

"One for the money, yes suhh, two for the show
A couple of years ago on Headland and Delowe
Was the start of somethin' good
Where me and my -- rode the MARTA, through the hood
Just tryin' ta find that hookup
Now, everyday we look up at the ceilin'
Watchin' ceilin' fans go 'round tryin ta catch that feelin'
Off instrumental, had my pencil, and plus my paper
We caught the 86 Lithonia headed to Decatur . . . . "

And these--the words to a song called "Elevators"-- spoke to us all. At least the "all of us" who were with them during that time figuratively and, by our shared down South residence, literally. Because we were the ones who were shaking our hips and bopping our heads to it while trying to move on up in our own ways. . . . just like them.


1996

Up those Elevators to a deeee-luxe apartment in the sky. (Don't even get me started on television.)

To our parents and maybe even a lot of other people from other places it was just noise and nonsense. Maybe. But maybe not.

But to us? It was magical. 



This unusual duo--Outkast--went on to become very, very big Grammy-winning stars. They crossed over into other genres and gained tons of fans who weren't even born when we were "letting our tapes rock 'til our tapes popped" back in '94. Other albums became beloved by kids everywhere and of every hue. And still, we were all proud of them. Proud of all of it because their story was a part of ours. And we were right there with them as they came of age while we came of age, too.

What's also super cool is that a lot of those younger kids who became fans later have defining moments with this group as well. Just at different points with different meanings, you know?



Yep.

So after many, many years, Outkast went on a tour that both ended and culminated with a big three-day weekend in Atlanta--wittily referred to as #ATLast and destined to be epic. Partly because this group almost never tours. And second because it was ATLANTA. So originally, there was just one show slated for September 27, 2014. It was scheduled to be in the middle of Centennial Olympic Park in the literal heart of Atlanta. Of course, it sold out immediately.

They opened up two more shows for Friday and Sunday--those sold out in minutes, too. I was at work when they went on sale so admittedly wasn't in the number.



Nope.

But then as the date drew closer, I began to realize what part of my story their music told. I listened and could feel versions of what I feel when Nat King Cole sings "The Christmas Song" or The Temptations sing "Silent Night." I recognized that this would all be happening in Atlanta and reflected on all that happened in music out of Atlanta, Georgia after they emerged on the scene. I imagined me, coming of age, and even my young Grady patients who much more like Andre and Big Boi from Outkast than anyone I know.



I knew I had to figure out how to be there.

from the last rare chance I had to see them, Cleveland, OH during residency--got autographs to boot!


On a Hail Mary throw, I put it out there on Facebook (yes, I've broken down and entered Facebook--another post for another time.) And through the magic of social media, what started as me pouting about wishing I had committed to getting tickets, ended in two tickets in my hot little hand. Or rather on my hot little lap top.



JoLai was a part of that thread and she is a firm believer in the YOLO approach--that is, "you only live once." She knew what a fan I was and also understands exactly what I mean about the music that defines eras in our lives. She put straight into a comment: "If you can get the VIP ticket at that price, I will get for you. I want you to go that bad. #yolo!" 




How could I refuse that? Answer: I could not.

But what made it even better? The person who joined me was my friend Jada--the same one whose couch I sat criss cross applesauce on when I first heard that first tape. And guess who dropped us off at the concert? Her now husband of nearly 20 years, Felix. And guess how we got home? You guessed it. The MARTA.



Yep.

It was Jada's birthday the day we went to the concert. And we walked lockstep just like it was the old days at Meharry Medical College when we were first year students partnering on a cadaver in the gross anatomy lab. And that music? All of it? It was perfect. Nostalgic and the soundtrack to a rich story that is still being told.



We stood outdoors under the Atlanta skyline and amongst the energy of many, many ATLiens young and old on the final day of what will likely be their final tour. It felt epic because . . . well. . .it was. But mostly, because I let myself feel it. Feel the music, feel the time and place, feel the meaning of that friendship of twenty-plus years and remember what it felt like to sit with that same girl watching ceiling fans go 'round and trying to catch that feeling. . . .



Yeah, man.

I don't know what will be Mary's grandson Owen's Outkast. I can't begin to even guess what will be Isaiah and Zachary's Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan either. But what I do know is that there will be one. Or two. Or better yet, many more just like we have. And that music will play in the backgrounds on their mental iPods. . . .building a foundation of memories for them to safety retreat to through the magic of headphones and standing room only concerts in the park.


Yeah.


"Peace up"

"A-town down"

Thanks for an EPIC adventure, Jada. Then and now.

***
Happy Tuesday. You can find me in the A.

Oh, had to include this. But in the kindest way possible.

Two older kids of another hue who love Outkast but who love their eardrums more. LOL
Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .one of my favorites featuring Outkast's homeboy (prominently featured all over that '94 debut) an unknown highschooler named Cee-Lo Green. Talent is everywhere. . .so many diamonds gleaming all around us, right? Don't sleep on ANYONE from ANYWHERE.



What is some of the music that defines the story of who you are? Which artists take you to sacred places?


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