Monday, June 30, 2014

Very random post for the last day of June.

This post will have absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. If you are looking for something deep, please refer to the archives which are occasionally peppered with deepness.

So. Where to begin?

Let's start with my Newton running shoes. They make me happy inside when I put them on. And make me want to run. I sort of feel like I'm cheating on my Brooks but oh well. They were feeling super clunky and I made the mistake of going into the Highland Runners shop where they are Newton crazy. I tried them on and immediately got sucked in. Yup. How could I resist those bizarre lug thingies on the bottom? And, I mean, how could I not fall prey to fun little hashtags like #lugitout and #hellobetter? I'm just sayin'.

I'll periodically return to these guys, though. They've been good to me, albeit clunky.

Dude. I need to discuss The Democratic National Committee for a minute. Or rather the SPAMOcratic National Committee. Maaaaaan, look. I love me some DNC, some Barack, some wild Joe, and, of course, some Big Bill. But LAWD HAVE MERCY! Am I the only one receiving seven hundred and fifty trillion emails from them each hour?


Then they come all inconspicuous like it's from one of the homies. Like "Hey Kimberly. What's up, girl?" So I'm halfway through the email before I realize it's another $3 appeal. And I'm saying. I think the whole thing is genius and I do click the $3 give button every time. But I think whenever you do it alerts the DNC to send you an exponential increase in emails. And I'm saying, Mr. President. You know I love you. But y'all need to pump the brakes just a wee bit.

And yes. I know there was drama in the Supreme Court with Obamacare. But I still would be cool with like only four emails per hour instead of four hundred. Has this been happening to y'all? Let me know if it's just me.

Speaking of healthcare. . .

A man told me he wanted to "just cut out sugar" for three months instead of taking insulin for his rip-roaring and not-EVEN borderline diabetes. He also refused pills. And I explained that "sugar" is about more than sugar. But he wasn't having it.

So then I told him he wouldn't be able to get erections.


Insulin: One month supply. Refills: 6.

Mmm hmmm.

I've been eating like a crazy person lately. Lots of social events and lots of excuses on my end. I keep allowing a bunch of carbs because I've been running. But not like ULTRA marathons or anything. So really, I've been tripping. Stepped on the scale and it told me that I needed to scale it on back. And so I shall. Why? Because every good internist knows that you can't out run a big behind while eating a crappy diet. Real talk.

Speaking of real talk:

Me:  Babe, do I look like I may have gained a couple?

BHE: (smiling) A couple of what?

Me: Dude. Pounds.

BHE: Uhhh. Yes.

Me: Wait, huh? Did you say 'YES.'

BHE:  Yes.

Me: Yes you said 'yes?' 

BHE: Yes. And Yes.

Me: Damn.

BHE: You asked. 

This is my pedicure I got while in Los Angeles. Every time I'm out there, I get one of these--for the story more than anything else. I mean. . . . who can resist the option to get "the busy toe?" Not me, man. This woman that JoLai goes to religiously (though not always for a "busy toe") literally knocked it out by hand in like ten minutes. And I swear it cost only $22. But here's what's awesome about it. It's the universal conversation piece across all races, ages, cultures and socioeconomic levels. I ain't even exaggerating. 

Case in point:


Fortysomething soccer mom in Publix:  "Oh my goodness! Your toes are so FUN!"

Me: *fake smile*  (Have I told you about how I think "fun" is NEVER a compliment?)


Eclectic older hippie white grandmama at Trader Joes:  "Wow! What a cool pedicure! So artistic."

Me:  "Oh. Yeah! Thanks! I got it in Los Angeles".

Hippie Lady: (head almost on my foot) "Such a remarkable use of color. Beautiful. Now that is cool!"

Me: "Hey thanks!"

She was pretty damn cool, too.


Youngish guy in a Midtown restaurant wearing lipstick and skinny jeans: "YAAAAAAAASSSSSS, baby! Them toes is giving me LIFE, chile. LIIIIIIFE! (*snaps fingers in a circle*) YAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS, honey! Yes LAWD!!"

(That was the whole conversation.)

By the way--I am not a big fan of Nene from the Housewives. But I do love a good Nene gif, man. Ha.


Resident's wife at intern welcome dinner:  "What an amazing pedicure! I love it!"

Me: "Thank you!"

Res wife: "How did they do that?"

Me: "By hand. And super quick, too."

Resident's wife: "So, so awesome. Wow. Just amazing."


Two year old at the car wash: "I like you toes."

Me; "Awww. Thanks, sweetie."


Teenaged sista in the beauty supply shop:  "Girrrrrl! You DID that! Them toes is HOT TO DEATH! Where you got that did at?"

Me:  "In L.A."

Teenaged sista: (lips all curled): "MMMMM hmmmmm. That's hot. I knew that wadn't here. That's that new-new. That fly Cali shit. And what it cost. Like ten dollars, right?"

Me: "Well. Close. Like twenty two." 

Teenaged sista:  "WHETT? (that's supposed to be "what") Twenty two dollars? Mmmmm. My homegirl? She stay off a Crenshaw and she get hers for only like ten, sometime fifteen an'nat's it. AND she get some lashes. "

Me: "Oh yeah? Lashes, too?"

Teenaged sista: "Yup. Sho do."

Me:  "Hmmmm. Hey. . .miss? Do you think my toes look . . uh. .  fun?"

Teenaged sista:  "Whett?" 

Me: "Oh nothing."

She said that like I didn't grow up right off of Crenshaw. C'mon, boo-boo. Ain't NO pedis jumping off for $10 unless they are being done on my front porch by Isaiah and Zachary. I don't care WHET you say.

How random is this? Ran a 5K a couple of weeks ago and when I got my number, I saw that my brother's veterinary practice was one of the big baller platinum sponsors. I was so excited that couldn't stop telling people at the race. Most of whom I didn't know since I went alone. 

Woo hoo!

My brother has like totally arrived. 

What else?

Oh, this.

I asked this patient to do something just because. She said no.


What's up with Robin Thicke begging his wife back on national television through song? I am kind of over it. I mean, they were high school sweethearts so I'm sort of rooting for them to reconcile. But can he like get a room please? And by a room I mean like one with just her in it and not me?


Hey. More excitement! I'd been stalking this Morehouse resident because her car had both a TUSKEGEE and MEHARRY alumni sticker on it. And she's a Delta, too, I think. But I didn't recognize the car so would leave notes on it all the time. With no reply. 

Maaaaan. What's that about? Well. I finally meet her and she's super sweet. So I let her off the hook. Plus she's a busy resident who was surely wondering what crazy lady kept leaving ripped scraps of paper on her windshield.

Family dinner with Small Group Delta! They've finished year one. They're legit second years now. Imagine that.

I'm getting over a summer cold. Summer colds suck. Wait. What even IS a summer cold? Remind me to ask a doctor.

Hey! Isaiah lost a tooth at Grandpa's. Zack told me on the phone and let me know that his Grandpa would leave a dollar under the pillow while his brother was sleeping. You know. "Just like you guys do." Well so much for that.


Me: Babe. Does my hair look a little funny today?

BHE:  When do you get it done?

Me: That's not the question.

BHE: Okay. Yes.

Me: Damn, bro!

What else? Oh. Yes. The BET Music Awards was yesterday. I so cannot wait to go to the hair salon just to hear them talk about it. It's going to be awesome. I have all of my talk points ready. Seriously. I do. Which includes my BOO HISS Chris Brown soap box and how I want to throw a very, very ripe tomato at him. (Even if I find his music entertaining.)

Guess what? My niece Gabby is in New York dancing with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Seriously? Seriously. I'm insanely proud. Yup.

I had some pivotal encounters in clinic today. One in particular I'm still letting marinate in my head. Tears were involved. For both patient and provider. 

Lady at restaurant: "I love your hair."

Me: "Thanks."

Lady: "So fun!"


That's all I got. What's on your mind these days? Anything fun?

Happy Monday. #hellobetter

Sunday, June 29, 2014

She's good.

Me:  Mom! Hope you aren't getting too bored down in Siesta Key.You cool down there? Is it super slow?

Mom: (replies with a multimedia text message)

Me:  Well, alrighty then.

Mom: TTYL!

TTYL? Seriously? Seriously.

Happy Sunday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . .  this, which has played on my mental iPod from the minute I saw this clip of her until now. I imagine it playing in the background. Try this: Ignore the video and just isten to it while watching my mom dance. (And forgive me for the crazy images in the video--blame Li'l John and DJ Snake.) 

Get it, Mom. .  . . turn down for what?!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Near misses.

image credit

It was more than just a snow storm. It was this yucky mixture of snowy-slushy-sleety yuck significant enough to make it too dangerous to fly a 747.

"We are so sorry to inform you that your flight has been cancelled."

Not postponed. Not "hold up, let us check on a few things like de-icing concoctions and such." No. Just cancelled. It all sounded so final.

I sat on that hardish-softish chair in the Northwest Airlines terminal like a kid who'd lost her parents. Not really knowing what to do next or where to go next so just remaining still until some authority figure came along. Problem was, I wasn't a child--I was mostly grown. Twenty-five years old, to be exact. And wondering what in the hell I was supposed to do about being stranded at 9pm on a weeknight in Cleveland, Ohio.

That day had gone fairly well until that point. In fact, it was more than okay. I was in my fourth year of medical school and had just completed two days of residency interviews at two different programs in Cleveland. At the time I was doing an elective rotation at a hospital in Michigan that month. Though most people advised against it, how could I not schedule a couple of my other Midwest interviews while I was there? Lucky for me, my supervisors were super nice that month. They encouraged me to take those interviews in Ohio and didn't even flinch when I took them up on that offer.

The distance between this particular set of Ohio interviews and the temporary housing I had near that Michigan hospital that month was actually drivable. A little over three hours in good weather and maybe longer in this wintry mess, but nonetheless drivable. Unfortunately, that wasn't really an option. For starters, I didn't have a car with me that month since the hospital was in walking distance from the housing. Additionally, I needed this to be as quick a trip as possible. I felt obligated to hurry back since I'd already be missing two days of clinical duties in a row. That's what made this sudden flight cancellation even more uncool. That and the fact that I was too broke to even fathom a plan B.


But then--thank the heavens--something happened. A voice comes over the crackly loud speaker announcing that a bus would be arriving in the next hour to drive us back to Michigan. Our bags would be coming out on the baggage claim at which point we would have them loaded on to a Greyhound-esque bus. At no additional cost.


And so. One hour was really like two hours. And in that snowy-slushy-sleety mess, the drive ended up being more like 4 and a half hours. It was so nasty out there that I couldn't allow myself to sleep. I guess I just couldn't totally relax with such treacherous conditions.

Anyways. The bus was full to capacity. Shortly after I sat down, a very pleasant gentleman sat beside me. He was holding a little wrapped box and sat it on his lap. After about forty five minutes, I guess he could tell that I wasn't planning to sleep. And so the chatting began.

Of course, it always starts teeny-tiny. That's what I call the smallest of small talk. Universally vanilla observations about how sucky it is to have a flight cancelled but how quasi-good it is to at least have an outdated Greyhound as an option to get you to your destination. Next came questions about who's from where and so on and so forth. And that was all fine and well. But that part lasts for only about an hour tops. After a while, the talk gets a little deeper.

He learned that I was a medical student. I learned that he was a single father. And the more we sat, the more questions he asked. He was so very nice about it, too. Like super, syrupy Mister Rogers friendly with a laugh that sounded like a laugh track. And you know? Something about it all felt contrived. And kind of weirded me out.

I pretty much stopped at "I'm a medical student doing a rotation at Michigan." I kept my answers very nonspecific beyond that. But Mr. Pleasant just kept on chitting and chatting about any and everything you can imagine. Especially his intricate plans for his daughter that got foiled by all of this mess. And, again, he was mostly friendly so on a scale of one to ten he was only getting on my nerves about a three. But his questions kept vacillating into wanting to know more about me and my plan for getting back to the hospital. "It's going to be 3:30 AM," he said with a look of concern, "and the roads will be awful."

I quietly suggested that I'd sleep in the airport if need be. Although I was still very worried about what this would mean to my supervising attending. I guess it was obvious.

"Well. I'd be more than happy to drive you there," he offered. "I was supposed to be home early to give this gift to my daughter. I was going to drive to her mother's house first but now it's too late. I am actually in that direction so I'm happy to take you so you won't have to sleep in the airport terminal."

He smiled at me after he said that. A nearby light from a passing truck rolled over his face like a spotlight. I could see his large yellowish teeth and the gleaming shine on top of his pale balding head. All of it still pleasant, but somehow just overly so. I couldn't put my finger on it.

"That's okay. I am sure I'll manage."

And for the next two hours, he would make more over-pleasant small talk followed by yet another offer to drive me back to my destination.

"No cabs will be running, you do realize."

"It's okay."

And then he asked the magic question. "Aren't they expecting you at the hospital?"

And when he said that, for the first time, I considered his offer. Because, yes, they were expecting me. They'd been kind enough to let me dip out for two days and returning after lunch the following day would not be holding up my end of the deal.

"Um." That was all I could say. Because I was still thinking.

"Let me swing you by there. I'll feel like I'm investing in the future of medicine." He smiled again and I noticed how the bottom row of his teeth showed, too. My eyes then darted down to the little gift wrapped box he had on his lap. I imagined his daughter staring through the window all night only to be devastated when her mother told her that he wouldn't make it there after all. This guy was a good guy. I mean, he had to be.

"You know what? Okay."

He looked a little surprised and giddy at the same time. "Okay, you'll let me drive you?"

"I need to get back. So I'd really appreciate it and would be glad to pay you for gas."

"Oh, it would be my pleasure. That isn't necessary."

Then I guess he felt like some door had been opened. He became super familiar telling me all about everything from his dog to his daughter to his divorce to his hobbies. He went on and on all while smiling with those big yellow chiclet teeth and large forehead with its stray wisps of hair sprouting out. All of it periodically giving me this urge to change seats, yet simultaneously forcing me to try convincing myself that he was simply a good, albeit awkward, samaritan.

The bus arrived finally. Mr. Pleasant let me out onto the aisle first and asked if I needed help. And, again, it was weird. Not really fresh or anything. Just this strangely unnatural way that was slippery and hard to put a finger on.

He kept saying my name, too. Kimberly this. Kimberly that. Let me help you, Kimberly. Is your bag over there, Kimberly? Kimberly, Kimberly, Kimberly. And instinctively, I kept my things with me and kept mumbling "that's okay" each time he offered to assist. Because for some reason, I didn't want him to touch any of my belongings.

"I'm right over in this lot. We can walk right over or, if you'd like, I can take our bags and pick you up from here." That big smile again with top and bottom rows showing. I glanced toward those barren lots scattered with their snow covered cars. Dark. Personless. Lonely. And kind of scary.


"It's no problem." He began to reach for my bag. "I'll swing right back for you. I know my daughter is so disappointed that I wasn't able to see her. You'd like her. She's a great kid. Here, it's not to heavy. Let me just pop it in the back of my car."

But once he touched by bag handle, I kept holding it. "Uhh. . .I need to, um, go to a pay phone and call my dad to let him know I made it to Michigan safe."

"Okey dokey, Kimberly. I'll take the bag and get the car and you make your call. Okay, Kimberly?"

Kimberly, Kimberly, Kimberly. 

"Um. . . . I'll just hold my bags with me, I'm fine. Thanks." I turned and began to head into the terminal toward the bank of phones. I paused for a moment when I noted each one of them was occupied by other passengers from my original flight.

"It's so late. I'm happy to stop you by another pay phone since those might be tied up for a while. I wish I had one of those cell phones! When my daughter gets older, I'm going to pay whatever it costs for her to have one of those things." I noticed his smile once more.

And right then and there, some kind of alarm sounded. Something deep inside of me told me that spending even another second with this man was not in my best interest.

Run. . run! My little voice screamed this time. And it refused to be ignored. Run! Get away! This is a bad idea. A very, very bad idea. Leave. Run. Get away. You'll get where you need to be. Trust me.

And that was all I needed to make up my mind to get the hell away.

"You know what? It's okay. I'm good on the ride, okay? Thanks again." And I turned and left without saying another word. Or allowing him to say Kimberly, Kimberly, Kimberly anything.

He didn't follow me. At least not that I know of. And I didn't even look back to see if he was even thinking about it.

That happened nearly twenty years ago. But you know? I replay that day in my head often. I wonder what would have happened to me if I had headed out with that stranger and if I'd ignored that little voice inside of me. I wonder if that walk toward that lot or that ride in his car would have been my last. Or at least the last time anyone heard from me. And every time I think back through it, I feel this deep, deep sense of relief. Yes. Relief. Like a person who jumped out of a car right before it blew up or ran out of a burning building seconds before it collapsed to the ground. Something about it has always felt like a near miss. From something really, really awful. What? I do not know.

And yes. He could have very well been a kind and balding man with big yellow teeth and a laugh-track laugh. One who intended to drive me straight to where I needed to go without stopping once. Except to let me use the pay phone to call my dad. But something deep down inside of me has always told me otherwise. I'm not sure why. Nor am I sure why it took me so long to follow my gut. But desperation can do that to us, I guess. Yeah, I guess.

I felt a little twinge that something was awry at first. But I ignored it. Then it felt like a brush on my arm. Finally it rose to a nudge on my shoulder. Subtle, but still there. And I am so, so glad I responded to that feeling.

I've said before that I believe that this innate sense of "fight or flight" is something that shouldn't be ignored. I will always believe that it saved my life that night. Honestly, I will.

I did call my dad. I didn't tell him about the man with the chiclet teeth and shiny forehead. I just told him I was okay. Then I told him that I had one of my sorority pledge sisters there in town and that I had just found her number in the phone book. And Dad said for me to call her but then call him back collect. To let him know I was okay, yes, but also to let him know that it worked out.

And I did call her. My line sister Chelsea. Cold-called her, no less. And she was home. And, even though she hadn't heard from me in a long, long time, she got out of her bed and came to get me. At O-dark thirty, she did. And she was pleasant about it, too. But normal pleasant. Not laugh-track, chiclet smiling pleasant. Which felt right.

Some part of me also believes that Chelsea being where she was at that time and even being listed in the phone book wasn't on accident. And that our connection through Delta Sigma Theta and Tuskegee University could have possibly all been just for that moment. That life-saving moment. Yes. Some part of me will always believe that, too.

I called my Dad collect, just as promised. And then, when I was safe in my dorm, I called him once more to--yet again-- alert him that I was well. Which, thank God, I was.

Hmmm. I'm not really sure why I felt the need to tell that story. Maybe someone needed to read it as much as I needed to tell it. Or maybe. . . . just maybe. . .  I just needed to be reminded to pay attention.


Happy Saturday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite movies of all time. It gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears every single time. . . .just like the goosebumps and tears that come when I imagine what could have happened that night had I not listened to my spirit.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


My husband was lying so still that he looked like a statue. I reached across the pillow and brushed his cheek with the tip of my finger. His eyes fluttered and then I saw his head shake just enough to let me know he was alive. Something about that made me love him even more.

"Good morning. I love you," I said in my head. Then I snuggled him super tight in the most obnoxious way ever. He let me for a few moments but it was early. His body language after that gave me that sleepy person's signal to move.

I walked into the kitchen and sat at the big wooden table. The house next door, with its windows that face ours, was quiet and dark. Not because of the oppressively early time that the clock was reading, but because no one was there. That day that I saw them loading up a truck, it surprised me. I didn't know this family as well as those before them. And obviously not well enough to know that they were about to move.

I made coffee and listened to the radio. Talk radio at first on NPR, but then I switched over to Pandora on my iPad for something uptempo. At which time I decided to shake my hips and bust a move.

I quickly dressed and headed out of the door. I talked on the phone while driving that day. One of my friends has been struggling with a love issue. Trying to decide if it is time to move. On, that is.

I wasn't sure. Or, at least, I just listened because what I think isn't so important. And not my move to make.

Another friend is coping with the aftermath of a stroke. A significant one that snatched away the ability of a previously dominant side of the body to move. I visited my friend in the hospital and on this day my friend would be discharged to a rehab center. And my friend was a good sport about it all but I could tell that this was not originally a part of the summer plans.

"They're going to move me over there in a few hours," my friend said.

"Okay," I replied. "You okay?"

"I think so."

And when my friend said that, I was surprised at how well those facial muscles could move. Already.

"Wow." I said that word somewhere in between other words of encouragement. "Your face. The right side. I can see it move."

"You can?"

"I can. And your voice and speech sound good, too. Really, really good."

"It does?"

"It does."

And so I recorded my friend's voice with my iPhone and played it back. And that voice did sound good. So good that it moved my friend to tears. Which did the same to me.

Yes, it did.

The nurse walked in and started doing the things that she needed to do to get my friend ready to move to the next place. "Do you need me to move out of your way?" I asked. She shook her head no. So I just stayed where I was on a chair smiling at my friend. And didn't move.

I headed on to Grady a little bit later. The R&B radio station was on and the personalities were talking and talking and talking. This time they were discussing Justin Timberlake.

"That white boy can move!" the guy said.

"He suuuuuure can," the woman personality said back to him. "Chile, he suuuuuure can. Woo Lawd!"

And I laughed a little because I agreed with what she said. Intonation and all.

When I was walking into Grady I saw somebody getting a parking ticket. "I was just about to move!" the flustered lady exclaimed to the ParkAtlanta person. She was fumbling with her keys to hurry up and get into her car. "Oh come on!"

And for once the ParkAtlanta person stopped. Stopped with that little electronic ticket thingie and didn't move. "Hurry up and move that car."

Which that very relieved lady promptly did.

Just before I walked into the hospital I saw this man sitting in a wheelchair out front. He was youngish and appeared to have been in a trauma of some sort. He looked perplexed because he had a cast on his leg and also his arm and was trying to move the foot rest down on the chair.

"You need some help, sir?"

"Yes! Would you mind pushing down this foot rest?"

And so I reached down and pushed it flat with my hand. It required more elbow grease than I expected but eventually I got it to move.

"Thanks," he replied.

"No problem." I started to walk off but he asked one more favor.

"Would you be willing to give me a light? I can't work this lighter with my arm in this cast. My finger don't move right."

"You're asking me to light your cigarette?"

"If you don't mind."

I cocked my head sideways and furrowed my brow playfully. "Dude."

"No?" he said with a chuckle.


And we both laughed as he used one arm to move his chair closer to the "designated smoking area." Where I was sure he'd get a light for his cigarette.

In the clinic there were lots of patients waiting. I picked up my pace because with all those people we were going to have to get a move on.

"Ready to make your big move to New York?" I asked a graduating resident. She was heading up there to do a fellowship.

"Yes and no," she said. Which I understood completely. It's hard to move.

That afternoon I straightened up my office. Which really means I organized one stack of paper in one area. Only to move it to another area. On the same desk.

My computer keeps freezing up. When I open too many applications, the little arrow thingie just decides it doesn't want to move. It happened two times that day, so I took that  as a sign close up shop. And move and groove on out of there.

When I got home, Harry was watching television on the living room couch. He was watching his shows that aren't my shows but I plopped down next to him. "Do you want me to move?" I asked.

"No," he replied.

And I just smiled.

A text came through to both of us at the same time. It was Poopdeck showing us what the kids are doing. This time they were running on a track. "I'm making sure they move!" Dad said. And from that little video clip, that was definitely true.

Later that evening I climbed under the covers in bed. I reviewed the extraordinary parts of this seemingly ordinary day and let them move me. Harry twitching his cheek. The fact that I'd likely get new neighbors soon. Dancing in my kitchen. My friend at a pivotal fork in the relationship road. Another friend learning to walk and write again. Justin Timberlake and his unusual amount of rhythm and soul. Somebody, for once, being let off of the hook from a parking ticket. A young man who had experienced a bad accident yet who still felt well enough to ask a doctor to light a square for him. A busy clinic and a resident transitioning to another part of the country. An unruly Mac computer in a cluttered office and a husband who watches too much reality television but whom I love anyway. And lastly a father who is now a grandfather that knows how to not only text, but also text video, of the magical times he is having with his grandsons.

I rolled on my back and stared at the ceiling. My body and mind became still. I didn't move.

That is until the sun burst through the window the following morning. A new day. With new extraordinary ordinary. I smiled big and wide. And began to move my body because I could.

And I was glad.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

You are here.

Picture from a very busy but very happy day at work yesterday. New interns. Fresh faces. Nervous dispositions. And a world of wonder guaranteed to exceed any expectations they think they have right now. Or any that we think we have right now of who they will become.

Welcome to Atlanta, doctors. We've been waiting for you. You are here.

Best. Job. Ever.

Happy Wednesday.

This plays on my mental iPod every single time we get new students or interns. Ha ha ha. I'm pretty sure the elder with the thug life tattoo across her belly was in front of me at the Grady curb market last week. Welcome to Atlanta, shawtie!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Top Ten: Netflix Lingo.

Laura Prepon as Alex in Orange Is the New Black season two character poster

I've always taken great pride in the fact that I don't watch much television. People would ask me how I ever find time to blog and write and I'd feel the corners of my mouth turning upward in a smug-ish smile. "I don't watch much television," I'd say. "I write when most people are watching TV." Yes. That's what I used to be able to say.

It wasn't because I wasn't interested. I can say that I've always been interested enough to watch a lot of things, but never found myself so connected to anything that I just had to see it. And so. I decided that I'd just nix most of it altogether. Unless, of course, it was something excellent. 

"Excellent" was usually those shows that I'd honor through my DVR menu. After a while, they'd all back up in my queue so badly that I'd get that message telling me that the memory was nearly full. Catching up would takes days, so I'd scrap it. Even if it was excellent. Who had time to be held captive on the couch for that many hours? Not me.

Yes. That was before. Before I could take my excellent shows with me into the hair salon or a doctor's appointment. Before I could huddle under my down comforter with an iPad mini when I should-should-should totally-totally-totally be fast asleep. Yes. That was before freakin' Netflix. 

I was late to the Netflix game. I'd made up my mind that I didn't want to see anything bad enough to pay for a web-based subscription along with my already oppressively expensive cable. But then, one day, my brother gave me my first hit. 

"You've got to watch this show," he told me. "It's so well done--I know you'll love it." 

He was talking about Downton Abbey. This show about these hoity-toity English folks set around early 1900's. He told me it was on Netflix and HULU+ which, I guess, I was supposed to immediately clap my hands and celebrate. "Dude. I don't have Netflix. And I don't even know what the hell HULU+ is."

He gasped and then fainted. 

After he woke up, he let me watch my first ever episode of Downton Abbey using his subscription. Which was probably illegal, but seeing as I now have my own, I feel like I can say it. And so. I watched Downton Abbey and got hooked. So hooked that I would scour the net looking for episodes aired in Europe already that hadn't made it to the US yet (which I may or may not have found.) But that was mostly it.

But then something else happened. The people at Netflix had this bright idea to start making their own programming. Shows--excellent shows--that could only be viewed on Netflix. And since I had my own subscription, I decided to give a couple of the critically acclaimed shows a try. And, since I'd be using it, check out a few older series that everyone seemed to be flipping out about or that I'd lost in the DVR abyss.


I've been taken down by the Netflix beast. Wrangled by these addictive dramas and put under the spell of that little sideways triangle that beckons me at 1am to watch "just one more" episode. Or worse, not fight it when it just comes on without me asking for it. 

And so. Since I just finished up Season Two of Orange is the New Black--or as the Netflix savvy say it "OITNB"--I've been thinking a lot about the tablet-crack that the world affectionately refers to as Netflix. Matter of fact, I even wrote a little top ten about it!

Today I bring you:


Like to hear it? Here it go.


NETFOLX: (n.)  People that watch your favorite shows on Netflix and who can have reasonable conversations about the characters, the storylines, and when the next season might be coming out.

Case in point:

What a HUGE rush it was to call Will last night to hash out all of the details of the OMG finale of OITNB! So much better than Twitter. He is totally my Netfolx.


NETFLAK: (n.)  The junk that your significant other or family members talk when they catch you bingeing in the bed, the bathroom, and in the car on a show with five seasons. You know, the show that you vowed to catch up on in time to watch the series finale with all of your friends.


(n.)  The roller coaster emotions that you feel about each show you're watching. One minute you can't stop watching it, the next, you could care less. 

(v.) The act of dumping a series for another or forgetting about it altogether because something you like better is on--but then returning to it and not knowing what's going on so being forced to go back to the start of the season.


NETCLIX:  (n.) When Netfolx get together and talk about shows that other people haven't heard of or ever watched. Especially when they talk about characters from shows like they know them personally.

Me:  I didn't know Poussey spoke German. That was a surprise.

Netfolx #1:  Yeah, that was a trip. Man, I have not idea what Daya is going to do about that baby.

Me:  I'm saying!

Netfolx #2:  It's so lose-lose, man. Daya and Stumpy are screwed, man.

Outsider:  What in the HELL are you guys talking about?

Us: *eyeroll*


NETFOG: (n.)  The hangover you have at work the day after you stayed up waaaaay too late watching two more episodes of that show. . . . instead of going to sleep.


NETFUX: (n.)  
1. What you DON'T give when someone gives you Netflak about watching too much Netflix. Even when it means resorting to your iPhone plus your reading glasses once your iPad battery dies. Or the dirty stares you get when watching television with your headphones in a coffee shop or restaurant.
2.  When you realize that the CURRENT season of whatever show you are watching isn't on Netflix yet. Which forces you to either buy it on freakin' Amazon Prime or HULU+. Or even worse--watch it on your regular television. Noooooooo!
3. What you say when you start a series and discover that it has 6 seasons with 18 episodes per season. And you have a deadline at work. But you have already taken a net-hit so you can't stop watching. Best when said quickly in a succession of three. (This is what happened to me when I started watching "Parenthood.")


NETFAKES: (n.) The stuff you have to watch on the airplane because the crappy "gogo" wifi won't allow for streaming of Netflix! Maaaaaan, please. Also see #5, which is what you say when you figure this out.


NETFINX: (n.)  People who get on social media and spoil the ending of whatever series you're on because they watched the whole season already. Or who can never admit to any show being all that good. "House of Cards? It's aiight."

Also known as NETSNITCH.


NETFUNK: (n.)  The emotion you feel after finishing the finale of your latest favorite series. Which comes right before starting your next favorite series recommended to you by your netfolx in your netclix.


NETFIX: (n.)  The great, great, great euphoria you feel after breaking into the wifi whose signal you picked up from the place next-to-the-place where you happen to be. . . .and FINALLY getting to watch just one more episode. Okay, two. (Especially if it happens right after getting off of a plane with the crappy "gogo" wifi.)

Bonus term:

NETBINGE:  (n.) or (v.) The act of not giving a netfux about anything you have to do and just watching as much Netflix as you can. Must involve neglecting housework and not shaving legs. Oh, and for severe cases it may or may not involve going from device to device. If a smart phone is involved, it is considered a medical emergency and grounds for an intervention.

That's all I got today. What ridiculousness are you guys up to?

Happy Saturday. And remember--all it takes is one hit.

Just finished my net-binge on this season. And OMG was it worth every bit of netflak I got for it. Even if it has left me in a horrible netfunk. :(

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Instead of running.

"What if, instead of running, everyone stayed and fought the bad guys with Superman?"

~ Zachary Manning 

That's the question he posed to his Auntie JoLai while watching a Superman movie at her house last week. And you know what? I've been thinking about his question ever since.

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Camp Papa Postcard Classics: We've got it made.

Dear Mom, 

When you wake up at Grandpa's house, he wants you to make up your bed before you do anything else. Even before you go to use the potty or even brush your teeth! Grandpa also has a lot of rules about how he wants the bed to look. And we know that's true because he didn't like the way we did it. 

Mom? Don't tell Grandpa this but me and Isaiah figured out that if we ask Grandpa to SHOW us how to do it, next thing you know it's done. So every day we ask him to teach us. Then all that's left for us is to put the pillows back on top.

When Grandpa was showing us how to fix the bed, he said that the problem with how people make the beds these days is that they do a half-ass job. I asked him what half-ass meant and he said to ask you. But don't worry 'cause my brother said he knew what it meant.


Zachary, Age 7 3/4

P.S. You and Dad said you were going to write us pen-pal letters but so far it seems like you're doing a half-ass job.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Line crossings.

My small group advisee who just graduated sent me a text saying he'd just left something on my porch. He was heading out to go to New York to start his new life as a surgery resident and wanted to leave a token. And yes, he knew exactly where I lived because he'd been in my home along with the rest of that small group more times than he could count.

"Oh man! I was home! I wish you would have rung the doorbell so that I could hug your neck!"

This was my response. And his response?

"I am not far. I will turn around."

And he did. In fact, I met him in between where he was and my home. I hugged his neck just like I said and wished him well. Then we both said the thing he said to me when I hooded him on commencement day:

"It's been a dream."

And that was that. On a very rainy day, that was that.

While I was in L.A. I sent a text to another former advisee who just finished up his internship at UCLA.

"Just saying hello while I'm out here visiting the family! I hope you are well!"

And his response?

"Dr. M!!!!! Where are you?!? I wanna see you!!!!!!"

And so. On a post call day, we met up in a cafe. Him in scrubs. And me in my sister's Clipper's sweatshirt.

And it was great. And that was that.

"I got engaged!!! She said YES!!!!!"

This was another text I received a few months ago from another student. With this photo attached.

And that was that.

And this was the advisor meeting I had over whole wheat pancakes in the Virginia Highlands this weekend.

A colleague once told me that I should be careful to keep the line between my students and myself hard and never blurry. "You are their advisor, not their friend," he told me.  "But can't I be a little bit of both?" I asked. The response? "No. Not really. Too much caring can be dangerous."

I always remembered that. And you know? I'm sort of glad that I continue to fail miserably at it year after year. Because it's been a dream. It has.


Happy Monday.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A father's love.

Venice Beach, 2014

June 1990

It was a time I'll never forget. I was home in Los Angeles for the summer from college. Right after the close of my second year, which meant that I had that sophomore je ne sais quoi and a habit of (mostly) coming and going as I pleased. It was awesome, that summer. Miles and miles away from that humid Alabama town. Tuskegee--the picturesque family tradition and wonderland with its historic, hand-built brick buildings and its bustling co-ed energy that now had the lion's share of my time. But, no, I wasn't there. I was here. I was home.

Back on the West Coast where concrete was king and freeways had six lanes. The few trees that existed paradoxically sprouted up out of the asphalt abyss on the sides of buildings or houses, lonely, thin and young appearing. Or they were those tall, resilient palm trees near the beach towns. Otherwise they were mostly desert shrubs; the antithesis of the mighty, mature pines and oaks with their outstretched arms that owned the shady paths I took to my classes each day. But what L.A. lacked in greenery? She always made up for in activity.

Yes, she did.

Twenty minutes was all it took to hit a legitimate beach. That is, one with real waves created by a real ocean and not some wannabe lake front or man-made stand-in. An hour and a half could get you to the sho' nuff desert, oven hot with sparkling pools and people with their equally sparkling teeth. How about snow-capped mountains? That, too, was a jaunt away as well, although not one I took often. The highways unfolded the city into this sprawling world of eateries, malls, vintage stores, clubs and swanky people. And I was from all of that. A girl born and raised in this place that was universally accepted as cool. I wore it as a badge of honor across my chest, especially once I left, and savored every drop of those weeks I'd get to return to it all.

In college you get used to leaving the house at strange hours like midnight-thirty and, oh, "just crashing" at a friend's house. Plans change on a whim and, when you're nineteen and that's your world, it doesn't really seem like a big deal. Or even a deal at all. So that's where my mind was that summer. And likely where the minds of many home-for-the-summer collegiate kids reside.

In high school, my parents invested in a vacation condo in Palm Springs. A two hour drive did the thing that California does better than any other place--took us from one world to another in just moments. Yes, L.A. was warm and wonderful, but the desert was decidedly different. A heat that felt equatorial but a world of wet and wonderful places that countered every degree of Fahrenheit on that thermometer. Luckily, mom and dad still had the condo for several years after I finished high school. And now that I was a pseudo-grown up with a summer income and a car and a new normal that including "doing my thing"-- this Palm Springs option was a great one to have. Especially since I was officially at a point where my parents would allow me to go without them.

Oh yeah, baby.

Admittedly, I was mostly a good egg. I wasn't really into extreme anything back then and had a fairly decent sense of right and wrong. That said, I feel 100% certain that I rode in far too many cars where every single inhabitant was legally intoxicated and far too impaired to be driving even to the corner. I wasn't big on things that weren't legal, but I also wasn't the one who rained on doobie parades either. So this, combined with my parents' decision to loosen the reins a bit, was a recipe for potential disaster. And since my parents had both been college students before, I think they inherently sort of knew that. I do. Thank goodness God takes care of babies and fools.

So. My point. Yes. That. Okay, so one weekend my high school BFF and I decided to jump into a car and head to the desert. Poolside splashing and Bartyles and James wine coolers along with Tex-mex delicacies  and rap music? Count us in. I said that I was a "good egg" but my good girl status was always upped a few notches by my BFF, Kimivette. In addition to being a straight A student in high school, she was also knocking it out of the park at Spelman College. What could possibly be more innocent than going to the family condo with her?

Honestly? Not too many things. She was no Eddie Haskell. Kimivette was (and is) a really good person and the kind I sure hope my kids befriend in their adolescence. But, like me, we both had just enough mischief to be typical nineteen year-olds and also just enough ignorance to not even know what we were doing wrong sometimes.

You know what I'm talking about.

Anyways. Kimivette and I headed to Palm Springs. We hung out, had a blast and did exactly what we'd planned. It was pretty innocent, actually, unless you count the wine coolers we picked up with those laughable ID cards we presented. Outside of that, it was swimming and laughing and listening to music. This was the pre-cell phone and internet era, so landlines were the rule. Like good eggs we'd called the folks to let them know of our safe arrival. And that Sunday morning, rang once more to report our "in one or two hours" departure.

Good enough, right?

But then the phone rang in the condo. Which is super random considering nobody was usually there, nor did anyone even have the phone number. Assuming it was one of the parental units reminding us to do something like buckle seat belts or avoid some big construction work near 29 Palms, I picked up.


The voice I heard on the other end was squealing with delight. Voices were laughing in the background and music was playing, too. I laughed out loud when I heard the voice because I immediately recognized it to be another of my close friends that I hadn't seen since returning home from college.



And when she said that we both started screaming and jumping up and down. We did.

Jocelyn was a buddy who'd grown up with me in Jack and Jill as a kid. We didn't attend the same high school but, like a lot of families in that organization, we grew very close over those years. She was now miles away in Nashville at Fisk University, so hearing her jovial energy through that landline was a welcomed surprise.

"I'm here with my homegirl Kimivette. You remember her, right?"

"Of course! She's at Spelman, right? Tell her I said hello!"

I covered the receiver and turned to Kimivette. Jocelyn says hi! I mouthed. Kimivette's eyes were already lighting up. We were totally on the same page.

"What's up? Where are you guys?"

"At our condo just kicking it! It's like me and Albert and Alfred and Marlo and Sherman and . . . oh my gosh. . . a bunch of us! Come over here!"

And since Jocelyn and I were old friends, I knew exactly where her family's property was.  And I knew all of the kids she named since most of them were also in Jack and Jill with us. Oh, and before anyone rolls their eyes at both of our families having condos in the desert, let me just say that the even bigger coincidence about her calling is that she was my only other friend that had a vacation home there. This wasn't like "The O.C." or "Laguna Beach" where every family had retreat properties. And the fact that the one person who actually did have one was my good friend? It was awesome.

"We were just about to head back! What are y'all doing?"

"Kicking it!" she laughed back.

And that was that. A decision was made to lock up our condo and head to hers. After we'd just reported to our parents that we'd be heading back to Los Angeles very soon. And you know? Not for even two seconds did we see the fault in this plan. Nor how, just maybe, it might worry the people who loved us the most.

Yup. So off we went to condo #2. There were boys there and even more Bartyles and James wine coolers. Her pool was private so the music was up louder and the hips were shaking with more abandon. Boys pushed girls into pools and chicken fights on shoulders ensued. It was like MTV Spring Break, except the college kids involved were mostly brown. Yet equally free-spirited. And all of it was wonderfully magical and memorable and fun.

And so. As the dusk began to fall, we finally decided that it was time to make our final descent toward home. The same place we'd reported we'd be heading to nearly eight hours before. Would you believe that it STILL had not occurred to us that this whole thing was fraught with selfishness? Nope. Because that occurring to us would have been unselfish.


We laughed and giggled the whole way back. We discussed which boys looked cuter than they looked in high school and which ones didn't. We talked about things like pledging sorority when we got back to school and whether or not we thought we'd make it when that time came. We lamented about how "if only we didn't have to be at work on Monday" how "rad it would have been to stay the night at Jocelyn's." Yes. And let's be clear: Our summer internship jobs were the ONLY rate-limiting step to that plan not being executed.

Um, yeah.

So as the story goes, we pulled up at Kimivette's house. It was nearly midnight and her mother came erupting out of the front door like a bat out of hell. Her fair skin was beet red and drenched with what I now recognize as relief. She pulled her daughter into her chest first, and then reached through the window to touch my hand. I remember thinking it was weird how she did that, squeezing my hand so tightly it hurt and saying over and over again how glad she was to see us.

"You need to go straight home, Kimberly," Mrs. Woodson said. "It's been a long day for us parents."

And that's all she said. I saw her cupping Kimivette's face in her hands and pushing her forehead into it as I pulled away. I drove down the entire block and glanced back one time before turning. Mrs. Woodson was still frozen in that same position, rhythmically patting her daughters cheeks and shaking her head while still pressing it into Kimivette's.


And that? That was the first thump I received on the side of the head that day. And the first time that I realized that, just maybe, we'd made a poor choice.

Now. I was still nineteen, so my next set of thoughts were commensurate with that. I worried about getting in trouble. For that two minute drive through our neighborhood from the Woodson's home to ours, I dreaded the tongue lashing that I'd surely get plus or minus some awkward form of punishment. Ugggh. I pulled up, put my Volkswagen Beetle in first gear, and parked next to the curb outside of our house. Dad's car was in the driveway and, even though it was past midnight, several lights were still on. My eyes rolled skyward as I sucked in a big drag of air and pressed my head against the back of the headrest.

Even though it was bright inside, the house was eerily quiet when I unlocked the door and walked in. Right after I closed the door, I heard my father's voice. It wasn't a yell. Instead it was this soft beckoning, an intonation I'd never heard from him before. Dropping my head, I trudged toward his office where I knew he was.

As soon as I entered the threshold, he slowly turned around from the computer screen. "Here we go," I muttered in my head. I froze in my tracks, unsure of just how bad this was about to get. Particularly since the expression on Poopdeck's face was impossible to read.

"Come here, Kimberly." That's all he said. No hollering. No f-bombs. No nothing. Just that. He didn't even get up out of the chair. He just waved his hand toward himself and pointed to the floor right in front of where he was sitting. I did as I was told.

What happened next is something I will never forget for as long as I live. My father--my strong, stoic, stern patriarch--grabbed me by the waist and pulled me hard into his face. He clung to me with such tenacity that it immediately frightened me. After about thirty seconds I felt his body vibrating against my torso. He wasn't speaking, either, which was extremely uncharacteristic--especially if you knew anything about my father when he was upset. A few moments later I could hear something though. Almost like he was trying to talk but it was muffled. Almost like a sob. Wait. A sob?

"Daddy?" I finally spoke. All of this was just too weird. What the hell was going on?

The moment I saw his face, it all crystallized. His eyes were red and puffy. Tears covered his cheeks, confluent with a moist nasal drip. I had never seen anything like this out of my father--or any adult for that matter--in my entire young life.

"I am so, so glad you're home," he whispered. And when he did, he started crying again. Hard. Hard like grown-ups aren't supposed to or that they just try not to in front of their children. He'd periodically look at me and then let out this audible sigh. Then he'd cry some more. And that? Seeing my father like that? Seeing him that worried, that sickened with angst? It broke me into a million pieces.

"I'm so sorry, Dad. I just. . .I just didn't think. I'm . . .I'm sorry."

And he just kept on hugging me and touching my hands, my hair, my cheeks and even occasionally pulling in big inhalations of my body scent. Then he said, "Being a dad is so wonderful. But sometimes, it's so hard."

And you know? I didn't really get what that moment truly meant until I became a parent. What it means to smell my children--yes, smell them--and feel the essence of what it means to love on that level. To worry about their well-being and hope they're okay and to try to loosen my grasp a little but still keep my hand on the small of their backs. Now? I know.

The only other time in my life since then that I have ever seen anything even close to the look I saw on my Daddy's face that night didn't occur until many years later. It was at Deanna's memorial service and one of our sorority sisters was singing this stunning rendition of a song by Whitney Houston called "You Were Loved." Her voice rang into the rafters of that church and shook us all to the core. I glanced down the pew only to find my father broken and haggard with grief. But the first thing I saw in his eyes was the very expression I saw that day.

This time, it was just worse. Way, way worse.

I knew my father loved me before that day--I did. I felt safe and protected and cherished as a child. But it was to until that summer night in my father's home office that I understood what it truly means to have someone loving you on that level. With every fiber of their being and in ways that are so intense that it confuses even them. Where every piece of who they are is intertwined with you and how, no matter how much time passes, that doesn't go away. This need to protect you and keep you from harms way. And this hope that they've equipped you with enough once you're out of their reach. Yes. In that moment I caught my first glimpse of what I'd eventually know for myself.

And now I know from paying attention that it just grows exponentially. It envelopes more people with it like your own children--their grandchildren--and even your spouse and closest friends. Yes, it does.

And I get it now. I get it. And I am so, so glad that I do.

Today is Father's Day. And I was dealt a mighty fine hand when it came to the man God entrusted with my upbringing. I know it isn't always like that. I know that. I know that there are blessings in the father who fathered him and how it all helped me to know how to be cherished. And to not push it away or become devoured by it either. I know that were it not for my father, I couldn't be Harry's wife. At least, not like this I couldn't.

And, of course, I think of the BHE on this day and honor all that he is to our family. But I guess I'm just reflecting on that pivotal experience and the continuum that came after it. I'm thinking of what it meant to worry my parents that way and how badly I wish I could present Deanna to them through an office door in the wee hours of the morning. . . . but how I can't. And with children of my own, I get that now. I get it.

Those are morose sounding thoughts, but they aren't meant to be. You see, life with my father has and always will be a celebration. Always, always, always. And we don't shy away from saying he is a father of four amazing people and how much we all miss his "big girl." We don't and we won't. We also focus on the blessings and enjoy each and every one--present or past.

And you know what? Somewhere along the way, he stopped hiding his tears from me. But he also welcomed me into the heartiest parts of his laughter and in on the very best of his adult jokes, too.

It's Father's Day. And I'm a daughter who knew then, knows now and always will know exactly what it feels like to have her father's love. Not even death can take that from me.


Happy Father's Day. To mine and to thine. So happy one of mine is with his grandsons on this day.

(From this morning's FaceTime with Poopdeck.)

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . 

First this. . . . I cried myself sick when I first saw this. And again just now when I watched it again. Because I knew it then, know it now, and am fortunate enough to live it with the love of my life every single day. And I know every piece of that is a blessing and not promised. I'm grateful.

And then, this. . . . . that perfect song sang that couldn't be truer of Poopdeck's "big girl." 

Poopdeck? Thanks for being a hand on the small of my back--then and now.