Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why I'm not mad at Beyonce.

While I know that some people can't stand them, I love a good awards show. From the red carpet criticisms to the funny comments on Twitter to the live performances--I just can't get enough of them. My friend Nikki and I even have a standing date for all awards show watching. Without fail, I get her much anticipated text message from Brooklyn, New York with the same invitation:

"Grammys at 8PM?"

"You know it, bay-beee!"

"Red carpet or just the show?"

"Kid duties. Show only."


"And the gang."

So, like clockwork, we literally text each other all night. On everything from LL Cool J licking his lips too much to whether or not Ozzy Osbourne has fallen off of the wagon again. Nothing is off limits. 

Grammy night 2014

We also talk junk about the artists for no apparent reason. Which really isn't nice but mostly serves to amuse us. But we do compliment some people, too. You know, just to keep things balanced. The whole thing drives Harry completely crazy. He always walks by, shakes his head and demands to know why, why, why we won't just pick up the phone and talk to one another. But he doesn't understand that our actual voices would ruin it.

MTV VMAs 2013

And you know? The even funnier part is that Nikki and I rarely talk any other time. But this? This is our thing. Crazy right?


Oh! All of that actually has nothing to do with what I meant to talk about in this post. Well. I take that back. It's sort of quasi-related since watching the Grammys last Sunday is what got me thinking about this.

Okay, so check it. The 2014 Grammys opened with a very much PG-25 rated performance of "Drunk in Love" by Beyonce featuring her husband/rap artist Jay Z.  And man oh man did the media go to town. Where was "Survivor" Beyonce? What happened to the girl that shook it like she didn't know what she was doing? Well. That girl wasn't Mrs. Carter.

No, she was not.

So this song--"Drunk in Love"-- is just one of many edgy and rather . . errr. . .sensual songs on her latest LP. She's knocked down that fourth wall with this one. And Beyonce is no longer one of Destiny's Children. No ma'am, no sir. Mrs. Carter is now officially a G.A.W. (grown ass woman.)


Let's talk about not only her performance but this entire album. She's like a different woman. Out of her shell and just. . .I don't know. . . kind of fearless. But in her own way, you know? Because, for her, a lot of it is stepping beyond just embracing her feminine side. She's introducing the world to what it's like to be a grown ass woman in love. 

Yeah she is!

And this? This I can relate to. 100% and completely, I can. 

When I watched Beyonce dancing on that stage with Jay Z, I saw something very familiar. And whenever I catch snapshots of them in magazines or even when I saw them side by side in their formal attire with the audience at those same Grammys--I noted the glint in her eyes and the look of exhilaration on her face. And I recognize it well.

Beyonce is crushing on her husband. And I know this might sound like a super silly thing for someone to say, but it is a very real thing. I know it because it constantly happens to me. 

Let me explain.

On a daily basis? I think the world of my husband. I think he's an amazing person, I find him incredibly attractive and best of all, I like him. I like him so much that I feel certain that were we not a couple, we'd be very good friends. That is, if his wife allowed it. 


But the day to day of marriage is routine. And that love just sort of simmers like a slow cooker. And you know? Slow cookers are good. They make the whole house smell good and, if you season things just right, they don't take much work. So you snuggle a little in the bed and kiss one another on the way in or out of the house and you live your lives as the team you are. And that? That's really good. It is. You dig your spouse and feel glad that they are on your team. 

If you're lucky.

But if you're really, really lucky? Your everyday love sometimes bubbles over into those feelings that you thought were gone for good after you said "I do." Butterflies in your stomach. Giggly and blushy for no reason. Daydreaming about him while folding the laundry. And feeling your pulse quicken when you hear the garage open because he's home. I call it "crushing" on your husband. Or your wife. Or whoever that long time love of yours is. 

This happens to me constantly with the BHE. I swear it does. It's like. . .I don't know. . . some weeks I just look at him and cannot believe that he's my husband. I feel giddy around him and I can't stop touching him. I find myself hanging on his every word and eying him as he leans over to tie his shoes. And when I get like that, he knows it. 

"I'm crushing on you this week," I said to him earlier today. "Bad." 

"Ha ha," he chuckled. "That's a good thing, babe." 

"Is it normal to be like this over your husband of ten years?"

"I hope so, baby." 

That was our conversation before he left for work today. And nothing about it was unusual because I go through this often enough where he's used to it. But something about crushing on someone who loves me back is the part that's different. It just is.

So back to Beyonce. That album? Every note of it sounds like a woman who is deeply secure in a love. But more than that. She feels like a woman and sees herself as beautiful. It is clear that someone that she loves is looking at her like she's his ideal. And fortunately it's the person that she wants to have looking at her that way.
She feels fierce.
Now that? That kind of thing gives you wings, man. It makes you want to skyrocket in flight like an afternoon delight. Your voice is bolder and your movements stronger. Your laugh is full and fluffy and you don't second guess yourself as much. And no, I'm not saying that you must be married to the love of your life to feel this way, but I'm just saying that I get the change I see in Beyonce. I do. 

See Beyonce was talented before she ever met Sean Carter aka Jay Z. She was fierce in her own right and had legions of fans already. And you know? He was a big star, too. Long before they were a team. But then they fell in love. These two people who were strong independently. They joined their forces and . . .just. . .wow. Skyrockets in flight, man.

So me? I wasn't offended at all by Beyonce's performance. What I saw on that stage was a grown woman--married with a child--giving the world a glimpse of how okay it is to still be the girl he first asked out. The one he saw standing on the concrete outside of the party hoping and praying he'd get a chance to meet.

And sure. Maybe at 8PM seeing Beyonce's Flashdance-y moves and grown woman curves that left virtually nada to the imagination were both a bit risque. But hey--since she's a mom now, she knows as well as anyone that any kid that was young enough to be ruined by that performance likely should have had their little bad behind in bed by then. 

Yeah, I said it. (It was a school night, y'all. I'm just sayin'.) 

Yeah, Mrs. Beyonce. I ain't EVEN mad at you. Shake what your mama gave you and tell the whole damn world that you're drunk in love. Because you're thirty-something years old now which makes you old enough to drink and old enough to sing about your G.A.W. love. In your kitchen. Or your tub. Or whatever it is you pay for with your G.A.W. mortgage. 

Mmm hmmm.

Oh and if you detest Beyonce and can't stand rap music? Or have been under a rock and never even heard of her? Go ahead and just insert the woman and couple of your choice. Say. . .Kyra Sedgwick who always looks fierce on the red carpet because she's crushing on Kevin Bacon and he's crushing on her. Clearly there's less than six degrees of separation between those two. Whew-wee.

Or even better--if you want to kick it old school and go back to Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. You tell me these two weren't crushing on each other and giving one another wings? Good Lord. May we all be so lucky to have someone looking at us as lovingly as this man looked at her. I bet Joanne would've had a few moves, too, if the times had been different.

Mmmm hmmm.

And no, Beyonce and Jay Z aren't Paul and Joanne, but still. At some point they could be. And my point is . . . when you have that kind of love backing you, dammit, you just might win a damn Grammy or an Oscar, too. 

Or at least feel like shaking your groove thang in front of millions of cheering (and jeering) fans.

I'm just sayin', y'all.
So yeah. I'm just rambling. I am. Partly because I'm stir crazy from being snowed in at my house for two days. But even more because I know how it feels to have a crush on your husband. And trust me--a real good crush might make you do some things you otherwise wouldn't. 

So on that note, I say this--with three snaps in a Z formation:

You go, Mrs. Carter.

*struts off with snapping finger still in the air*

Happy Thursday. Here's my top ten post about why I have a crush on my husband. At least why I did that week. Ha.

Now playing. . . only for the G.A.W.s and the G.A.M.s.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Random Thoughts on a Snow Day in Atlanta.

Unless you've been under a rock or avoiding the news, you already know that we are now in a bit of a snowpacalypse here in Atlanta. For those who come from northern or Canada or even those who've lived in those parts like I once did, the thought of three inches of snow shutting down an entire city sounds like some kind of joke, doesn't it?

Well. Trust me on this--it isn't. 

Cities like Atlanta get totally overwhelmed by this kind of weather. The kind of resources and preparation that it takes to ready a metropolitan area of this size requires a few things that we don't really have. The first, I'd say, is frequency. When I lived in Cleveland, Ohio during my residency, this sort of thing would have been but a blink on the radar. The salt would be down and the stores would be open. And there would be nothing to even discuss. Why? Because big piles of snow followed by tons of cold is common there. So nobody gives the mayor or the governor the hairy eyeball when he or she decides to earmark a bunch of money for salt trucks and city workers to operate them.

In Atlanta? That's a different thing. Some years we get snow like this. Some years we don't. But we always have schools and roads and things that cost the state money. So it's really, really hard to be fully prepared for something like this.

And before anyone jumps on me for saying that, I'm not saying that it's impossible to be better prepared or that we can't learn lessons. But I am saying that we will never be like Shaker Heights, Ohio when it comes to salting roads and clearing out highways.

That is, unless you have the other necessary thing. Oh, what's that, you ask? The money, honey. All of that stuff costs money. Salt truck fleets? And people working them? That costs money. Equipment and materials cost money and storing it all costs a bunch of extra money on top of that money. Oh, and maintaining it all so that it works after sitting through the years where you don't need them costs money, too. And last time I checked, no major metropolitan city had an endless supply of it.


I've watched the news all day. I feel so awful about all of the people who've been stranded on roadways and left without basic needs. It was an epic fail when the alarm was sounded for everyone to hit the highways at the same time. It was. And, yes, we missed the boat when it wasn't communicated to close the schools in advance. But the more I watched this, the more I wondered. What exactly could anyone do to fully prepare for this and have it go off without a hitch? I'm just not sure.

Sure. It's easy for me to say all this from my warm cozy house. Maybe if I'd been the lady who had a baby on I-285 yesterday I'd be singing a different tune. But I guess I just get tired of hearing people fussing at each other and pointing fingers. I'm annoyed with the rants. I am. Why? Because I feel pretty sure that no one person is to blame for black ice covering the roads throughout the southeast and cars being unable to drive on it. Of that I am certain. And OKAY maybe somebody should have told us all to stay home but I have a sneaking suspicion that folks would have looked at the way that Tuesday started and taken their chances. Just like they would have likely ignored someone saying "don't leave yet" when it was time to get home. Or get their kids when those schools closed.

Mmm hmmm.

I am super happy to see how kind strangers and civic workers have been to one another. That's been the best part of watching the news today. Otherwise? The rest has been downright depressing.

me at the med school yesterday

We've been mostly okay. I had a close call when I left the med school on Tuesday and found myself in a winter wonderland. But beyond a little slow traffic by the hospital it was okay. The BHE had already picked up the boys from their respective schools so we were all safe and sound. Thank goodness.

Early in the evening yesterday, Harry decided he'd head down to his restaurant. Not only are there lots of college students in walking distance, he felt like a lot of stranded people would be hungry and praying that someone on the street would still be open. So do you know what he did? He went down there yesterday evening fully prepared to spend the night. Which is exactly what he did.


That man worked the grill, the register, and washed dishes, too. And he was spot on about his prediction. NOTHING else was open. And the word got out very fast that Mardi Gras Cafe was. 

And is. 

So while we've been playing in the powdery snow and drinking hot cocoa, Harry has been working. Serving that community and providing a warm square for a whole lot of people who desperately want one. And you know what? That makes me feel sort of proud.


Damn. I just love how non-lazy that man is. He is literally the opposite of lazy--he really is. Which reminds me a lot of my father. And only makes me love him more.

So. I guess I'll end this ramble with a few random photos from our snow day today. I hope everyone is staying warm and I truly hope those who were stranded have made it to safe places.


The one who started the snowball fight.

And if you're hungry on the west side of Atlanta? Go on and holler at the BHE over at Mardi Gras. He's keeping the light on for you. :)

Happy Snowy Hump Day. Again.

Oh! I almost forgot to share this part. My mentorific-mentor Neil W. was leaving Grady today and felt bad when I told him that my kids were about to OD on breakfast food. He was kind enough to pick us up some basics from Kroger since he knew the BHE was holding down the restaurant. He's from Long Island so when I asked him about being afraid to drive he said:

"C'mon son!"

Don't believe me? This is EPIC video was taken by Neil driving on the way to Grady during our last Snowpacalypse in 2011. (Which, now that I think of it, PROVES that we were more prepared for this time than we were back then.) This video TOTALLY embodies his New Yorker-ness and carefree personality.  Who else would be driving, narrating and filming during that kind of weather? Ha!

My favorite line in this: "This has literally been untouched by YOUMAN PLOWS!"

Thanks, Neil--we had tacos for dinner thanks to you!

More than arthritis.

"It's the little things. And the joy they bring."

~ India.Arie

"I can't wear my shoes." She patted the corners of her eyes and sighed when she said that. Her eyes glistened and her lips trembled as I sat across from her on a stool. "To someone else it may not seem like a big deal. But to me?" She shook her head and looked down at her feet. Now those tears had coalesced into pools in her eyes and had begun spilling down like tiny waterfalls.

This time she didn't even try to stop it.

She wasn't there for anything exotic. I mean, how much more "bread and butter" does it get than arthritis? And, no, not one of those inflammatory or autoimmune types, either. This was the regular, every day kind of degenerative joint disease that comes after people who have that not-so-rare combination of growing older and years of weight bearing.

Her knees and ankles were swollen. When I examined her legs, I could hear and feel the crepitus--which is really just a medical term describing that sensation in the joints that could be mistaken for a boot stepping into a bank of well-packed snow. Crunchy. Crackly. And, in her case, accompanied by fluid and pain.

But especially? All of it had robbed her of one of the most important parts of her quality of life: Her ability to wear her favorite shoes. So for her, this was about more than arthritis.

Much, much more.

"I'm sorry." That's all I could really think to say. I knew that there would be things we could do for the pain. And maybe even the swelling at some point. But she was caught between that tricky rock and that impassable hard place where her joint disease was bad enough to limit her every day activities but not quite to the point of needing joint replacements. Moreover, she had a few other health problems (as well as financial limitations) that would make a big surgery like knee arthroplasty a hell of a lot more than a notion and a scheduling issue.


So really? This just kind of sucked.

She lifted one of her feet and stared at the sneaker on it. "I've worn these for the last few months. Even when I have on a dress I have to wear something flat and cushioned like this." She shook her head and started to cry again. "I hate it. I hate that I can't wear my shoes."

I watched as her shoulders slumped and the corners of her mouth turned downward. Instinctively I reached for her hand and she allowed it. While holding her hand and passing her tissues, I sifted through my brain for something to say. But I didn't have any really good solutions so I just stayed quiet.

She slid her hand back and sighed. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be."

"I just. . . " She squeezed her eyes and fought back tears again.

"You know what? I understand." She looked up when I said that. "I mean. . . .I haven't had arthritis like you have had. But your feelings about the things that make you feel good, I do understand that."

My patient glanced at my feet and, for the first time, I saw a tiny smirk. "I see you're a heels girl."

I smiled. "I tell my residents and medical students that I was born feet first--and that the first thing the doctor saw was my three-inch heel." This made her chuckle.

"Do you wear heels like that even in the hospital?"

"I sure do. I mean, some really rare days I wear flats. But in heels I feel like myself. I'm a 5'6 girl who sees the world from 5'9" or higher." We both giggled at that.

"So you get it."

"I think I kind of do."

"My shoes are like . . . my thing, you know? I don't feel like me without them."

I twisted my mouth and nodded. I did get it. I thought about the day I broke down crying to Harry because I needed a haircut and couldn't work my schedule out to get it. For me, perhaps, my short hair is probably the equivalent of her shoes. Though I'll admit that being able to wear a nice heel is a close second.

"How can we be of support?"

She shrugged. "It sounds like we have a plan so far. And I guess I am going to work on losing a few more pounds so that, like you all said, I don't have so much pressure on my joints."

"The anti-inflammatory medicines can cut down some of the swelling, too. And if you change your mind about the steroid injections, that's another option."

"I'll think on it."


"Thanks for understanding."

"Thanks for being so honest. Besides. . .girlfriend, shoes are serious business!"

"What you sayin', girlfriend?"

She reached out and gave me a high five when she said that. Although I noticed her eyes glistening again when she did.


Today, I am reflecting on the little things. Though what they are and how they rank in importance varies for us all, there are so many seemingly small things that, if removed from our lives, might suddenly feel big. Like having legs that work and feet that can walk or even run. Like being able to step out in a sassy pair of high heels and feeling fierce when you do. Or being able to perfectly apply lipstick including lip pencil without even looking in a mirror. Maybe it's how I feel when my stylist Sakinah dusts my neck off after finishing her handiwork on my pixie haircut--which is very, very good and like I can do anything. Or even something as simple as having both of my hands able to type on this computer and share these thoughts. I'm thinking about all of it and allowing myself to feel grateful.

So today, with my patient and her collection of shoes on my mind, I am taking a mental inventory of those little things which really -- when I think of them -- aren't so little at all. Feeling grateful for all of these things.

And the joy they bring.



"Give me my guitar, give me a bright star
Give me some good news, give me some cute shoes
Give me Atlanta, give me Savannah
give me my peace of mind

Give me some Stevie, give me some Donny
Give me my daddy, give me my mommy
Pour me some sweet tea, spoonful of honey
I don't need no Hollywood . . ."

~ India.Arie

Happy Snowy Hump Day.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . . I can't get enough of Ms. India.Arie singing this song.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Instead of Kool-Aid.

Here are a few pieces from a few of the conversations I had at Grady today:

Me:  "You're looking good."

Her:  "That's because I lost two hundred pounds."

Me:  "Huh?"

Her:  "Divorce, baby." (starts "raising the roof" with her hands)



Him:  "I brought my food diary like you said. I'm not doing so bad."  (Hands me food diary.)

I study the diary in silence. I'm not even sure where to start.

Me:  "Uhhh, okay. So instead of this Kool-Aid, how about water instead?"

Him: "No Kool-Aid? Awww man. I love Kool-Aid."

Me:  "But sir? Kool-Aid doesn't love you. Kool-Aid don't love nobody."

*shared laughter*


Grady elder:  "Hey there, Miss Manning!"

Me:  "Hey there! It's good to see you, sir!"

Grady elder: "And you know what, sugar? It's good to be seen--and not viewed."

*shared laughter*


Grady elder:  "Whatcho name is again?"

Me:  "Dr. Manning."

Grady elder:  "That's right. How you been doing, Miss Manning?"


Me:  "I don't think we've met."

Grady elder:  "Yeah we have."

Me:  "Really? I'm sorry. Usually I remember people."

Grady elder:  "It's okay. I'm wearing my young wig today so it probably threw you off."

Not to be confused with her old wig.


Me:  "Hi! Long time no see!"

Grady elder:  "Woooo. That dress make you look stout about the waist."

Me:  "You think?"

Grady elder:  "Mmmm hmmm. You 'specting or something?"

Me:  "No ma'am."

Grady elder:  "Okay. You probably just got that winter weight on ya."



Him:  "How was your weekend, Doctor?"

Me:  "It was good. I ran a 15K race. Which is like 9 miles and some change."

Him: "You did what?"

Me:  "Ran a race this weekend."

Him:  "Nine miles?"

Me:  "And some change."

Him: "Why in the hell would somebody run 9 miles if they ain't being chased? Sheeee-yit. No way."

*shakes his head extra hard*


Me:  "Hey there, sir."

Him:  (fanning his hands hard) "Uh oh. Hey there, Miss Manning."

Me:  "You alright?"

Him:  "Yeah. I jest let one go 'fore you came in. One a them silent-but-deadly types."

Me:  "Beg pardon? Uuuhhh. . . .*cough* never mind."

Him: "Tried to warn you that it was the silent-but-deadly type. But y'all the ones said 'eat more fiber.'"



Me: "Did you see the Grammys last night?"

Grady elder:  "The who?"

Me:  "The. . .uhhh. . .nevermind."

Grady elder:  "Oh! Yeah. . . I seen the part with Bee-yon-say. After that I fell on asleep."


Pretty much, me too.


Him:  "So instead of Kool-Aid drink what now?"

Me:  "Water."

Him: "Water?"

Me: "Water."

Him:  "Have you had water? It don't taste like nothing."

Me: "Yeah. I guess it kind of doesn't, does it?"

*shared laughter*

Love. This. Place.

Happy Monday-pretty much-Tuesday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . My patient's ringtone on her phone today. She was a Grady elder which made this even more awesome. (She was happy, by the way.)

The extra mile.

My best friend is a woman named Lisa D. We met on a warm summer day in July of 1992 during our medical school orientation week. Me, a new alumnus of Tuskegee University, and her, proudly sharing that she was a  product of Hampton University. Beyond both schools being historically black colleges, this should have been some foreshadowing of our futures. Tuskegee and Hampton are "sister and brother" schools because a unique connection--Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee, was a Hamptonian -- just like Lisa.


We became fast friends. And since that time, our friendship has weathered the test of time. We have laughed harder than any two people can together and have cried the most soul-stirring, gut-wrenching cries imaginable. We have celebrated each other, disappointed one another, agreed on just about everything and completely couldn't see eye-to-eye on anything. But still. Like the pillar that it is, the friendship always remains.

Yesterday we ran a 15K race together. In the early morning chill, we laughed and chatted and talked about everything and nothing. We reminisced on things and talked about the future. And for nine miles and some change we did what we have done since 1992--create lasting memories out of everyday occurrences. It was easy and awesome.

Our time together NOT that hellaciously hilly course we ran.


But, then again, I guess that's a good metaphor because really, really good and true friendships that transcend into sisterhoods can be hellaciously hilly at times, too. Life changes like marriage and kids and break-ups and make-ups and, for us, medical school and residencies and jobs and so much more redefines things as you know them from time to time. That can feel uphill sometimes. But there comes a point with each of those swells when you know you've come over the mountain. And once you've done that enough you know that you always will.

No matter what.

After the race we had breakfast at a cute little neighborhood bistro. Our forks crossed over from plate to plate as usual and our conversation crossed over from topic to topic, too. And over a sun dried tomato omelet and a most interesting interpretation of Eggs Benedict we agreed that we were thankful for moments like these. And a friendship like this.

I've said it before and I will say it again: Women need women to survive. To be our best and to be whole, we do. Our husbands are not enough. And to those who find women to be somehow less palatable as friends? Or who "don't really have too many women" as friends? Hmmm, If the person who says that is herself a woman, I say beware. That's what I say.

Women need women friends. Really good and true ones. Ones that will run hard up the most hellaciously hilly courses with you and go the extra mile.

I have that. And I'm glad.

Happy Monday.