A Cherished Compliment—Weird, But Wonderful!

Living the Dream at Busboys and Poets 10.20.13   The other day, I was doing my thing—Prison Ministry. I’m in jail two Fridays a month, conducting Bible study, which means for me, a myriad of things. So I made it through the pat-down, the Sally Port, and the steel door to the classroom, bolted, with me inside. I sat there preparing in prayer, and awaiting those, whom I affectionately call my girls.  On this particular day, I could see that the ages of the ladies ranged from early twenties to at least mid-sixties. It’s also important to note that I had spied some new faces. The ladies rushed in with a buoyant buzz about them—like they had been conversing amongst themselves and the subject had been left suspended in the air. Mind you, I ascertained this observation in delighted hindsight. As they scurried in, passed out Bibles and claimed their seats, one young woman announced to the others, “Yeah, I told you. She’s just like us!” Her statement caused her to stand and swish her arms in a swag move.  Shocked, my gaze fixed on her like a statue’s. My mouth reflexed an opened smile. My innards mused joyful. Some in the room nodded their affirmation.  In real-time, I began to realize that her statement was a continuation of a prior conversation to which I had not been privy. That’s also when the hindsight began to wash clear. Okay, lemme go deep.

You see, they had all read my novella, The Prison Plumb Line. My novella and my novels are included in the detention center’s library. Some major reading had been going on, and a behind-the-bars debate had ensued. Folklore—if I may be so humbly bold as to use such a word in reference to something that I composed—a bit of folklore was crowning. Okay, I’ll take it down a notch—a rumor had arisen. Rumor had it that the author of The Prison Plumb Line (me), had indeed served prison time, had pulled herself together, and post-incarceration, she had penned and published her story!

Usually, whether or not I’m conducting a Bible study or a writing workshop behind bars, for men or women, as they parade in, it’s customary for me to say, “We’re on holy ground.” It sets the tone before we proceed (even if what we discuss is edgy) and it sets things straight because God is holy, and the written word can serve up blessings and empowerment—if you learn to work it right. That’s my thought, anyway. But on this day, I held back my declaration. I decided, instead, to take in the debate that was being lobbed back-and-forth across the table. Some said that in the novella, I was the main character, Evie. She journeys her way through her jail sentence, her struggle to survive, and through the internal enlightenment that eventually guides her to miracles. Others in the room declared that I was the Church Lady character—one of the vessels, God uses to push the process.

Well, after a while (and before a fight broke out), I clarified, but also, I affirmed. “Wait,” I said, throwing up both hands, using them to cosign, “I am just like you! Because though I have not lived through your particular experience of incarceration, many times, such fate has lingered near.” I went on to explain how at times, I have been unlovable, misunderstood, mistreated/abused, weak and uncertain in my flesh, and in turmoil. I have been both, unfairly and fairly accused and criticized. I have been mean, mad, frustrated, and way too often, I have been powerless. Also, sadly, my mind and heart have been imprisoned. I have been on the ground floor needing to push the button pointing to the not-giving-up mode. However, through it all, whether or not I realized it, I have always been loved. “It’s the same truth for you,” I said. “Today, I am grateful.” I continued my assertion to them, “I’m here, and my love for you inspired me to write this book.” Their looks on me fell nourishing.  I continued, “I know you love me because you read the pages of my heart, and saw me as being a part of you.” I think that’s the biggest compliment a writer can receive.

As a mere volunteer trying hard to live God’s Word in John 13:34-35 (it talks about loving one another), I pray to become purposeful at it. For two or three hours, we pass back-and-forth, the Word of God, enlighten, impact, and uplift as best we know how. In the midst, I might also shoot the Holy Ghost breeze, up-in-there, or share pivotals of my personal testimony—accrued back-in-the-day. I might share a mainstream film, a documentary or colorful prose—all thought-provoking—to hone in on a God-inspired point. Next week, I’m bringing them Get On Up, the James Brown story. You figure out why.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day, Lovers!

But remember—lasting love can shine through in many ways!!!!!!!

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Ode to Icon Sting, My Daughter, and NO Shame in the Game

 

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Sting in the Midst!

   Okay, so because of the wonderful high school that my daughter, Rachel, attends –the Duke Ellington School of the Arts—she gets this once-in-a-lifetime experience (which evidently is the norm at Duke Ellington) to grace the same stage, feet away from Sting!!!! Well, it’s not the norm for me, so I’ve been ecstatic for a minute.

     But, I was not too ecstatic to fail to let a certain notion drop into my head. Immediately, I began badgering my daughter about slipping one of my bookmarks into Sting’s hand, in his shoe, on his person. Stuff it in his shirt pocket—why don’t you–pleazzzzze!

     I mean, look, Mick Jagger’s doing a movie on James Brown, whose music I loved so much, my kids once said, “Hey Mom, why don’t you put a James Brown tattoo on your butt or somethin’.” Disgusted, I deleted that notion. Right now, I’m kinda sorry for sharing. 

     But why can’t Sting, and Paul Simon, who was a part of last Wednesday night’s concert at the Strathmore, take a liking to one of my literary offerings? I reasoned and propositioned with the last of my litter-loins, who failed to even feign interest in what I proposed. “It’s about me, Mom, remember?”  If she says that to me—one more time…*#@()&^#!!!!!! 

     I mean, doesn’t she know how old I am, that my stomach’s literary clock is wound tight with tension? Doesn’t she realize that I let her, and her siblings, satisfy my baby clock, years ago. And even though, I’m now rethinking the sacrifice of motherhood (because shouldn’t I have picked a best-seller-hood clock, instead?), can’t she repay me by risking expulsion, and sticking a measly bookmark (or book discussion invite) in Sting’s pocket? Can’t she do that little thing for me???? 

     How Selfish!!!!

     I mean if Sting became aware, my writing would do the rest. It’s not like Fifty Shades of Grey, blessed by the marketing and promotions, and horny gods, with an author who admits that she can’t write [cited in a Los Angeles Times story, dated April, 2012]. (Okay, I sauced the sentiment, but she said it, first. I didn’t.) 

     I just know that if Sting knew it, he’d wanna read and produce on stage/film God in Wingtip Shoes, or Jubi Stone: Saved by the Vine (dedicated to domestic violence awareness), or better yet, The Prison Plumb Line—because—It is Easier to go to Jail than You Think! He could play the Prison Chaplain!!! Shoot, he just needs to know that that’s what he really wants to do. I can back up my writing!!!!

     The Seventh Annual Performance Series of Legends, a benefit concert for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts; well, it was magical! The packed crowd partied—up on its feet long before he sang Every Breathe You Take! Sting gyrated on two occasions, and the gleeful crowd lost it both times. When he left the stage for the last time, a woman leaned over to my husband and asked, “Is this intermission?” Nobody wanted it to end. 

     My daughter: I lost it when I spotted Rachel on stage. I forgot all about Sting (momentarily) and crouched over stranger-knees and toes to a restricted area, desperate to snag a picture.

     The trouble with me is; I never know when I’m going to do something embarrassing. In the midst of motherhood glee, I suddenly realized that I was in view of EVERYBODY in the concert, except Sting and Paul Simon because they were busy performing. My knees buckled. Thank God, I got outta there before two ushers mysteriously materialized to haul my behind out of the area.    

     Sting shared a heartfelt story about how in his twenties, he and his bandmates came to America, rented a station wagon, crowed it with themselves and their equipment, and drove here-and-there performing at half-filled dives. The relatable story stilled my heart. Then my eyeball welled up when I thought of how I’m well-beyond my twenties. (If only I could catch some more gyrating to make me feel better.)

     Alas, at home, Rachel got so giddy; she could not get to sleep. I became giddy because I’m her mother and she’s my Baby-girl. And I don’t have to hope in the Will Call line or hock my soul for a ticket to hug her, tell her I’m proud, and kiss her cheek. 

     Oh, and for the record, I still felt giddy, even when after she had gone to bed, and I walked by her open purse (in slow motion), and accidentally spied my bookmark bent and twisted, adorning a pile of her pocketbook crap. Motherhood. Passion. — Ain’t NO Shame in Either Game!   

     Check out the story that landed in the newspaper: 

 http://www.somdnews.com/article/20140314/NEWS/140319650&template=southernMaryland 

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