Monday, March 25, 2013

More random pieces of this American life.

Since my new glasses make me happy, I thought I'd post them again.

My life isn't perfect. But you know what? I focus on the good parts. No, I don't ignore the less palatable parts of my life. But I do put less energy into honoring them. And if you give me enough time to think about it, I'll find the good in those parts, too.

I sure will.

Here's a few recent pieces of this American life that I've chosen to honor today.

Z and Fi.

Few things make me happier than seeing Zachary and his sister, Fiona, together. And yes, I said sister and not "sister" because quotation marks suggest that something is alleged or pretend. As far as these two are concerned, nothing about their designation as siblings is fake. 

So there. 

If you've never read about the siblinghood of Zach and Fi, you can here

It makes me happy to see that my children already have "old" friends. Knowing how to be a friend is so important. I love the loyalty that Zachary and Fiona have to one another. It seems to be instinctive for them which made me say to Fiona's dad that we must be doing a little something right.

Zachary made sure to teach Fiona the mushy-mustache man face which she's still working on. 

Those last three pictures just make me smile. Y'all know how I feel about kids having what I now refer to as "retro" fun. Yes, Zachary was on a swing tied to a tree branch. And you're darn skippy--Fiona was playing school and that was her chalkboard.

Mmmm hmmm.

What else? Oh! This:

Game night with Team McD.

It's no secret--I love me some medical students. Well, this image includes me folded in with the family of medical student Catharine M. who is just finishing up her third year. (That's her right next to me with the pretty scarf around her neck.)

Okay, so here's the story on Cathy:  No, she isn't in my small group. And no, I've never worked with her clinically, either. Essentially, she reached out to me last year and asked if I could find some time to meet with and, perhaps, help mentor her. Her timing was good and I liked her assertiveness. We had a "blind" Starbucks date and the rest is history.

Wait. I take that back. It wasn't completely "blind." I actually Googled her before our meeting because I pretty much Google everybody I meet with. Ha ha ha. That search helped me to find her blog which I commenced to read from start to finish before our pow wow. And, yeah, she was partly mortified by that but seeing as she's an excellent writer and photographer, I have no idea why. 

Then again, the whole "yeah, I read your life story after a Google search" thing is a little weird, I guess. 

So, yeah. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her over the past year. That process made me feel like I knew her entire family--which isn't an exactly small one. I relate to people who love like they mean it and this family does. They absolutely do.

So anyways. I was super honored when Cathy's family was passing through town and she wanted me to meet them. Her parents, two sisters, and one brother were there along with some extended family (her roommates and med school pals)--none of whom I'd met before that day. What a delight!

These three below are from Cathy's small group.

Two of her roommates are in her SG. How cool is that? I get so wrapped up in my own small groups that I forget that there are fifteen more small groups per class! Ha ha ha. This one appears to be a very special one. I'll have to give Andrew F. (their SG advisor) props for that when I see him this week.

Next up? Game night!


Confession: Okay. I'll come clean. I'm not so game night-y. In fact, I inwardly cringed when Cathy mentioned that part of the plan and had already let it be known that I would be the ghost of game nights past by the time that started.

But that was before I met her family. OMG. Loved every drop of their energy. Every drop. So much love wrapped into the way they talk to people and each other. I mean that. So it blew even my mind when everyone moved from the kitchen over to the living room to play some game that was part Taboo, part charades, part . . . I don't even know what to call it.

Izzy, the dog, was also in the game night mix. She doesn't strike me as very game night-y either, but she is a people person and is a fan of Cathy's family. I'm thinking Izzy and I were on the same page.

Little sister, Olivia (above), kept score and cracked jokes. I am also thinking that this is a good role to have in game night, too. (Especially the joke cracking part.)

So yes. I was all up in the mix for game night. And Team McD? I want y'all to know that had it been anyone else, I would have been burning rubber in the drive way as soon as the hummus ran out. Skrrrrrrrrt! Or better yet, I would have even had that cartoon gust of smoke behind me like Road Runner used to do with Wile E. Coyote.

Juuuuuust kidding.

What could be better than watching Cathy's mom demonstrating the Harlem Shake without using any words? If she was willing to be that amazing of a sport, then Lord knows I could, too.

We had a great time. I'm so glad I stayed. And let me tell you--Team McD is SERIOUS about their game nights. Hmmmm.  I may even have to rethink my feelings about game nights. No, this won't make me game night-y, but I will think about it before running out the front door screaming next time someone offers. For reals.

So thanks for that, Cathy. Hence forward, I will always be down for a game night with Team McD.

Random hospital moments.

Here's a few snaps from inside the hospital. One with another of my favorite students, Maureen M., who is on her surgery clerkship and the other of Eric S. and Jay L. listening to heart sounds with me one day on rounds.

Both of those photos make me happy.

Hmmm. . . .what next?

Oh. Yes. This: 

Hustle Man.

The BHE is working on a new building. I've told you already that Harry is always keeping it moving when it comes to entrepreneurship. What can I say? I'm married to "Hustle Man." Just . . . not in that shady way like Tracy Morgan's character on Martin. Ha ha haha. . .

Whaaaaat? You don't know about Hustle Man from Martin? You don't know about HUSTLE MAN??!! *shakes head* Let me right that wrong right here and right now! 

Bwaaah ha ha ha. That was looooong before 30 Rock, man. See, y'all youngsters didn't even know nothin' about Hustle Man, did you? 

You're welcome.

Wait? What was I even talking about? Oh! Harry and business. Yes! That. Seriously--I've said it many times that (unlike Hustle Man) The BHE is strictly business. That is no exaggeration. Mardi Gras Cafe continues to thrive and now, next door to it, he is working on another spot. This one he's building from the ground up.

Sure is.

So, check it. Harry's restaurant (Mardi Gras Cafe) is in a part of town called the Historic MLK corridor or Historic Westside Village. Way back in the day, many civil rights leaders met right on that block breaking bread and breaking down walls. Like a lot of neighborhoods in Atlanta, this one went through some hard times. But now, thanks to people like Harry, the entire corridor is going through a metamorphosis. There's a WalMart that just opened in January and lots of new businesses are arriving. The established proprietors are upgrading the things they have and are welcoming new faces and traffic into their doors. And for all of the students who are right up the street at schools like Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta University, they are--hallelujah--able to walk to well lit, well-tended, and chic establishments for fun and for a hot meal. 

Best of all? The many, many families who live in the area are no longer in a food desert AND they finally get to see someone putting money into their neighborhood. In other words, businesses like Harry's make the surroundings more inspiring. That's huge on so many levels.

So me? I take our sons to see what their daddy is doing. I want them to put their eyes on his hard work and to stand right in the midst of his vision before, during and after it crystallizes. I say right in their earshot that I am proud of that man and what he is doing because they need to hear that. 

But mostly because I am proud.

These are life lessons, man.

The BHE is doing some great things, man. He really is. So when you guys come down on MLK to support his Mardi Gras Cafe know that it is way bigger than me and my family. It's about showing a community that they are worth the time and effort. 

And before I forget--let me say this. Once there was a restaurant that I liked in town and it closed. And not just closed as in for-the-day but closed as in out-of-business. I recall saying to Harry, "I really loved that spot! I hate that it closed!"  And he just looked at me and replied, "When was the last time you went there?" 

Honestly? I couldn't remember. And I couldn't because it had been a while. 

"So you can't be mad they closed, babe." And that was that.

So this is what we do--when a business is one that we like and one that we wish to keep in our community or city, we make a concerted effort to go there. Seriously. And not just Mom and Pop shops either. Things like the WalMart on MLK and the CVS up the street. Because in this economy, no business is safe. 

We also go to eat at the places that we like near our home. Intentionally. This way, if they don't stay open, we know it isn't because we weren't supporting them. 

"If everyone thought that way about the places they enjoy in their cities, a lot more places could stay open," Harry says. 

So thanks to all the folks coming into Mardi Gras. Keep on coming if you enjoyed it because it makes a difference.

And lastly, this:

Isaiah reading a book to Zachary this evening. Without me asking him to and just because.

This little life of mine? I'm gonna let it shine.

Because it's a good life. It is.

Happy Monday.

Now on my mental iPod. . . .one of Zachary's favorite songs that he rocks out to CONSTANTLY (when he isn't listening to the Party Rock Anthem.) It's impossible to shake it from my head now especially since he sings it on a reciprocating loop nonstop.


  1. It was SO FUN to meet you, Dr. Manning!! Thanks so much for joining us. Game Nights are our favorites and we LOVED having you there :)

    1. It was a blast to meet you, too, Ellen! Thanks for helping our team to WIN!! Yayuuuhhh!!!

  2. Isaiah and Zachary are growing like weeds! They are so cute! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I feel like I need a list. LOL

    Game night: I go back and forth with this. We play games a lot here but with a group of people? Freaks me right on out, LOL.

    So awesome that they are such a loving family and I love the small group thing.

    BHE and his businesses? Stellar!!! The boys going there and you talking up their Daddy in their earshot? Perfect.

    Supporting businesses you like, I try to do that too as our budget allows. Our favorite and only good Greek style restaurant here closed a few months ago and it makes me sad. The owner used to walk through and visit the tables and I loved him. It was a tiny place and had such a homey atmosphere. He went back to Syria to help his family through the crisis there. I think of him often and pray he is safe!!


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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