Making the most of my day…

amr00813I must say…if I have to say so myself…that I am so proud of me today.  Oh…I mean this morning.  I do not know what time I got up but by the time I laid back down…it was only 7:57 AM.

I got up and had my Cream of  Wheat.   And yes…I am still enjoying it.  I had me a cup of tea…and read my Bible and then laid back down.  A few minutes later…perhaps an hour later…I got up again.  I pulled out my bucket…got the scrub brush…and pulled out the cleaners and scrubbed down the kitchen again…then I hit the doors and wall in the small hall leading towards the bathroom.  I sprayed down and lightly scrubbed down the bathroom…and left it bld06569413soaking.

Wow…yeah….  I think I should be proud of myself…and it is not even noon yet.

There is something about getting up early.  You will get so much more done for some reason or another…if you get up and get started early.  There is just something about getting up early…there really is.  I do not know what…but that makes you work a little bit quicker and harder…and you just achieve more.  And now I feel so good.  And so…so proud of myself for taking care of my parent’s house in their absence.  For me having gotten up early today..and gotten started the very first thing this morning.

I have been busy working on building my website for the past couple of weeks…and the pages are coming along well.  I am really impressed with the pages that I have created thus far.  A few years ago I decided to begin taking some graphic arts classes.

When I was in New York and started my own home based business, an advertising agency, Queen Bee Multi-Media Advertising Agency.  I used to hire students from the campus right around the corner from my apartment…Pratt Institute, to do artwork for me.  Pratt has a very high reputation as a good art school…which I never knew at the time…but the students on that campus turned out some fantastic work for me.  I never went to see a client without feeling proud of our presentations which they had prepared under, of course, my direction.

I represented schools, furniture stores, boutiques, concert promoters etc…  There is little about advertising that I do not know about…having also a history in radio sales, media buying, telemarketing, product placement…etc…etc…etc…  But I had always had an artistic bug.

When I was a child, I had begged and begged my mother to buy me a home study art school course.  After begging for some time my mother finally broke pr2665112down and ordered it for me.  That home study art school cost $300…and my mother ordered it for me.  As much as I begged for it…I only did one lesson of that course.

Eventually, I gave away one of the books…of which there had been 3.  They were very big and thick…in a large binder…bound in expensive red binding filled with my untouched drawing lessons…and I gave away one of the 3 large lesson books and never touched those books again.  Something that my mother had sacrificed to buy for me…and that I had begged and begged for it.   And I did nothing with it…short of giving it away…and back then $300 was an awful lot of money…that really had to have been a sacrifice.   But she did it for me.

I guess she always recognized that I had talent…that I was gifted.  Though she would have done no less for any of my other sisters or brothers…and did.  As we all had to take music lessons…and all had various interests.  She had bought us all our own instruments which she had purchased for us one Christmas.

I will never forget that Christmas…which was our musical Christmas.  My mother must have bought everything the music store had.  Whoever owned that music store must have loved her.  That Christmas morning when we awoke…we found a large electric keyboard, piano, drum set, guitar & amp and accordion all up under our Christmas tree.

Before the day was out I had mastered that keyboard and could play several songs on it.  The next day that keyboard was gone.  My mother replaced it was a real full size organ.  I think back on that now and believe that she did it…because it had posed no real challenge in order to learn.   Today both the piano and the organ are still here in the house with me…and nobody plays a note on them.  That is not to say that they cannot play them…they just do not bother to do so.

My father, who had a saxophone, a ukalie and a trumpet…which you could hear him practicing on sometimes late at night…he made me play the accordion.  When he would come home from work…I would have to pull it out  after he ate dinner that is when he forced me to practice…night after night.  None of my sisters or brothers had to practice anything before him…but me.  And he always would fall asleep on me.

The accordion which was under the Christmas tree was my 2nd accordion.  It was the bigger version of what they had already gotten for me before a year or so ago.  And I went out every week to accordion lessons for years.

I hated the accordion.  I loathe polkas.  I wanted to play the piano…and in the beginning I had both piano and accordion lessons.  But daddy wanted me to play the accordian…and we never argued against my mother or my father’s wishes.  So, then my piano lessons were stopped.

As I stated in an earlier blog…our piano teacher was also my mother’s voice instructor…a little white woman who used to pay a couple of visits per week to our home…Mrs. Marlow.   She was a very nice lady…and she knew her stuff.   We were fortunate to have her.   And that she didn’t mind coming to the home of black folks…though we lived well.  At that time my parents had bought their 2nd house.  This house had 15 rooms not including its full basement…and the house sat upon a hill overlooking the waterfront…with a long driveway leading in to our house.

I liked the house…but not as much as our other house.   But it was grand…and it was spacious…but it was far more for us to clean…and especially for me…being the oldest.

Oh, man…the living room had windows all the way around so you could look across at the water no matter whether you stood or sat.  And it had a very big fireplace…where we used to roast marshmellows…as though we were at camp.   It was fun.  And that house also had a raspberry tree growing in front of it, with a big lawn and all these beautiful trees with branches swirling within it that yielded beautiful blossoms in the spring and summer.

I liked it…but it was a lot of work that house…and none of my sisters or brothers had to do more of it than me.  I never held that against my parents though.  But I did against my sisters and brothers though.  They could never just drink from ‘one’ cup…or ‘one’ glass…I was washing dishes all day and night long.  I truly know how Cinderella felt.

My parents were hard working people…who always did things for as1063jemkl_1411other people…and were always doing  for us.    Their lives centered around us.  Which is why I regret never appreciating them as much as I should have.

I appreciated them…in that I never once caused them any problems…(well…except for the time I thought I could drive…I will tell you about that in some other blog, I am sure).  I can’t say I may not have been a heartache…because I am sure that my being gay was not something hard for them to deal with…though they never once spoke about it.  I am sure they would be surprised that I am no longer in gay life.   But perhaps they had already known that at some point God was going to change my mind and my heart.

But I never gave them as much as I should have.  Though they gave us the world…and everything else.  There was nothing new that came out that they didn’t buy…from dishwashers on.   As we became of age they bought us all cars.  And we were always going on trips.

We went to the World Fair

Do you remember that?

It was here in the states…in New York City that year.  Now, only the big globe of the world remains at that site as a reminder of that very huge event.  The location today is where they play the US Open.

But we were going to this place and that place…by train mostly when we were smaller…as we grew and learned to drive…mostly by car…and on by plane.  They took us everywhere…and everything was a family thing.

I guess they lived the life that people who work…live for.  To be able to buy whatever they wanted…when they wanted it…and to do as they wanted.  And then…to be able to educate and provide for their children…which they certainly did.   And they did it well…as well as, for their god children, neighborhood kids, church people…and those in need.

My parents had 8 of us…and spared nothing…including correcting us when it was called for.

Today, I think my mother would be proud to know that her $300 investment in me…really didn’t quite go wasted.   As I later taught art in high school…which is so funny that should have happened…but it did.  But I don’t think my mother saw any humor in my wasting her $300 the way I did…because I didn’t even try to pretend to do any of those lessons from that home art school once I got pass the 1st lesson.

One day…I think I was asking her for something else and she flared up at me suddenly saying-

“You are too talented and that is why you will never do nothing.”

Which was the tail end of whatever else she had said…I cannot remember the first part of it.  But she was mad when she said it.  And I was quite young…but somehow that always stuck with me.  I don’t know if I quite understood what she meant…but I had somewhat of a clue.  That statement has made me look at everything I have ever done…or thought to do…and it governs the things I am now doing.

Everything I have ever done is in media.  From that day…when my mother told me …‘that is why you will never do nothing’…I have sought to not  half learn anything…or half do anything…but to become proficient in everything I lay my hands to…no matter how long it takes me…or how many hours in a day or night.  But if I set out to do it…then to stick with it.

I had to learn how spend the time learning to perfect things.  To not get up from anything that I am doing…becoming readily interested in other things…other gifts…practicing something else.

I do not eat or drink when I am working on something.   Nor do I take lunch breaks…or go to the bathroom…nothing.  I am throughly engulfed.

Someone, an ex-,  told me that I have tunnel vision.  Meaning whatever it is, at that point or moment of my life, that I decide that I am going to do…I become so emerged and engrossed in it.  So much so…that I only see it…think about it…and in some cases dream about it.   I eat…sleep…and drink thinking about only what I am doing…when I am working on something.  When I had my advertising business…which I still do…there have been many nights when a client’s project concept came to me in my sleep.

A wise elderly woman…my friend who passed this pass August…whom I have wrote about in a couple of these blogs…she told me that my habit of not eating or going to bathroom from morning into the very late hours of the evening was not a good thing.   She told me that I would ruin my stomach…if I continued that practice.  So, I have since been working on adjusting myself…my schedule and my body.  I would hate to cause myself any medical conditions that I could have avoided.  I had always found her wise in her counsel to me.

Yes, I was too talented…like my mother said.  I could do a lot of things…and still can.  And there is a trap to being able to do so.  Most people are good at just one thing.  So, they focus on that one thing.   But to be multi-talented or gifted…you have to struggle with balancing your gifts.

I had to learn to direct all those gifts…or I would have become a ‘jack of all trades…and a master of none.’

My mother saw that…and that is what caused her to flare up at me telling me what she did that day…and how she told it to me.   From that moment I began to focus upon everything I do…like these blogs which to date I have written nearly if not more…than a 130 of them since starting in mid to late June of last year.   So, if you have just started reading them…you have a lot of catching up to do.  And you will have an exam in the morning…

I have always had to direct everything…just so I wouldn’t be all over the place.  Though I do not think I have quite been so successful at doing that…I have endeavored nonetheless.  But the most I can say…is that it has all been media related.  But thank God for my mother saying that to me…and at a time when I needed to hear it…or I would have never been aware of something that was so crucial for me to grasp…and to have grasped it early.

It did not prohibit me from being more or less talented.  But made me aware that I needed to channel those talents and not be flighty with them…but to engage them…focus them…and develop them to their highest levels.  So, through my years that is what I have been doing.  And from time to time…I find myself taking classes here or there…just like my mother.

That is so funny…when I think of.  That I continue to take classes just like my mother…which is also something that I wrote about….in a blog or 2 prior to this one.

So, a few years ago, I decided to take some graphic art classes.  The marketplace has changed so vastly with the influx of computers and software…everything is done totally differently today no matter what field you are in.  So, I began taking these classes…and when I take classes I invest many after hours outside of the class to master the thing.

I do nothing without mastering it…and I invest the time to do exactly that…and the effort.  Which when I decided to learn video production… it required me lugging around tons of heavy and very bulky equipment.   It was not uncommon to find me shouldering a 3/4″ video recorder deck, tripod, large light kit and large video camera trying to board a bus.  And people wonder why I have muscles now…(smile).   And I learned all that equipment…every piece of it…every cable connector…every cable…every kind of editing system, software etc…everything.

It was a joke then…people would see me coming and say-

“Here comes Spike Lee’s sister.”

They don’t laugh any more though.  No, not today…instead they ask about my film projects and what I’m getting ready to do next.  I am no longer a joke…but it did not come without struggle.  Hours upon hours of vested  time, training, exploring…learning what I was doing wrong and trying to trouble shoot on my own…and sitting there until I got it done.  Never looking for pay…but always looking to assist others so that I could learn more and sharpen my own skills.  But I did what it took…and I still do.

Sometimes even in writing these blogs…I work on them straight for more than 6 or 10 hours…if not more…and it is usually more depending upon what I am writing about…including searching for pictures…seeking out errors etc.

A professional is what I am…but a perfectionist is what I seek to be.

So, to date the classes I have taken in graphic arts are these…Photoshop, Quark and  Illustrator…and additional software I have learned is FinalCut, Adobe Primere, Director, Flash,  Dreamweaver, Avid,  Fireworks…not to mention being able to write and read html…and having learned also all the latest stuff in radio studios.  Though I played a bit  with Freehand and at some point will try my hand at InDesign.  I love playing with this stuff…exploring the capabilities.

So, I am proud of myself  for having gotten up early this morning and gotten off to an early start with my cleaning.  I am proud that the website is coming along too.  And here is a preview , at the bottom of this blog, of something which I did this past week using the skills I have learned in graphic arts.  Those Pratt students can eat their hearts out now.   But those kids taught me a lot though…when they used to come for our conferences to discuss what my clients wanted.

Thank God for my mother and father…which is why I cannot understand that girl in Florida who killed her daughter and posted drawings of skeletons and other things symbolizing her acts.  Clearly, she was troubled.  But a guilty conscience will trouble you every time.

There is something about mothers…real mothers…that when their child is missing nothing in this world can contain them.  They act in a certain way…they become obssessed…and there is no consoling itf02506711them.  They are overtaken by grief and concern…and they are not interested in anybody or anything other than finding their child.

Once my son got separated from me.  You will not know the sheer horror that ran all through me during that very brief span of time…but it seemed to me to be eternity.  I was terribly horrified.  I was overcome and on verge of perhaps loosing my mind.  I had lost my child in a large crowd of people at an outdoor affair which was quite crowded.  One second he was right there with me and the next he was gone.

I felt someone had stolen him.  And that was all I could think.  I did not know which way to turn.  People were all about me.  I thought to scream out…but suddenly I looked up and across the field.  It was as though a  path had opened up…and there was my son.  One of  our neighbors had found him somewhere in the midst of all those people…and was bringing him back to me.

I dropped to my knees and embraced my son so hard…I know I must have been crying.   I was so relieved…so happy…so overjoyed that someone had found him…and that it was one of our neighbors.  I never experienced another moment like that…as I learned like every good mother who loves her child or children…how to keep my eyes or hands on my child at all times.

So, I certainly know the state that a real mother can fall into just believing her child is gone.  She begins grieving immediately…because she will only think of the worst scenario.

That is what I thought about the Susan Smith case.  The mother down in South Carolina…or somewhere south…that said that some black man had leaped into her car while she was stopped at a stop light.  She said that he had stolen her car and drove off with her 2 small children in the back seat.  I do not think that many people had to think twice about that story…but it was her actions following the supposed incident which gave her away.  And likewise…were the actions of this young woman in Florida.  She was out partying and having a good time.

http://news.aol.com/article/caylee-anthony-documents/373178

When I thought of this young woman’s actions following the supposed disappearance of her 2-year-old daughter…it made me think of that teenager who was at the prom and gave birth to her baby in a bathroom stall.  And how she had walked off and left the baby there in that stall.  She had returned to prom dance floor…and continued to dance and enjoy herself as if nothing had happened.  For which she only got 2 years…or something…might have been counselling.

I understand denial.  I understand that mothership may be difficult for many.  But what I do not understand is when someone…a mother…or who be it…commits such acts as these young women against innocence.  I cannot understand it.   I just can’t…I just can’t…   There are so many other options.

Parenting is a process…but some people they are just not equipped or mature enough to handle the responsibilities that it brings.  This is the reason…that I know that young kids should never be bearing children.  Everybody deserves to enjoy their youth…and have a time to grow up before taking on the task of motherhood and fatherhood way beyond the grade school level…and many times even beyond college.  I was 48 years old before I realized that I had become a woman…and that I needed to grow up and start acting like one.  Truthfully.

Not  to say…that I did not mother my child.  Oh, no…  I was at doctor’s appointment, dentist appointment…sitting in the back of my son’s classes when I had to…at every open house almost…and when I wasn’t my mother was.  You have to stay on top of your children (just a frame of speech…not literally)…and certainly not in a bad way.  But you have to be conscious of them…what they are doing…who they are with…caring of them…and for them.   And you should never feel that they are an inconvenience to you…and k010882811certainly never give them to feel that.

Therein lays the problem for the 3 young women whom I mentioned above.  They felt that they could just rid themselves of their unwanted burdens by doing away with them.  How sad for their children.  How very very very sad……..  Sad.

I was checking through my blogs today…I watch to see what people are reading and who has linked up with me etc…  I came upon this link in which the blogger found fault with a person who was standing in a soup kitchen line…and that person having a cell phone.  The blogger felt outraged because the person was supposed to be down and out…yet he had a cell phone.

I found that to be as selfish…as a time I was waiting in the grocery checkout line.  I never pay attention to what other people are b1462611buying…but this person near me…I believe she was just ahead of me but after the person who was checking out.  I overheard her saying-

“Did you see that?  She’s buying shrimps with food stamps.  And do you see her pocketbook?  Honestly, buying shrimps on our money.”

Overhearing that, my curiosity was pricked…so I leaned a bit and saw that the woman had a Louis Vuitton handbag…a very nice and big one…and very nice expensive coat.  These are things I also never pay attention to.  What do I care about what people have on…as long as they have on clothes…or what type of pocketbook or handbag they have?

It doesn’t make a difference to me.

But I thought it a bit absurd of that the woman making the comment…that she was upset about the shrimps being purchased with the government supplied food stamps.

Now, how stupid is that?

Even if she had gotten upset over the woman’s handbag…that would have been stupid too.

But she got upset…as if  poor people can’t…or should not be allowed to eat shrimp.  And that is not to say that that woman was poor…as none of us standing in that line knew her circumstances.  But to question what people can or cannot eat depending upon what is or is not our perceived notion of them and as to their place or circumstances in life is absolutely foolish.

Why should that woman in that line…or anyone else in that line…or the whole store, for that matter…care whether or not that woman paid for those shrimps with her food stamps?

Or whether or not she should eat shrimps or not?

She can eat whatever she wants.  And she had legal tender by which to purchase it.

Perhaps, it is just me.   Maybe, I’m the one obsessing.   Could be…

But I think that some people concern themselves with so many things that really…that they have no right to be thinking about.  As it is simply not their concern…or any of their business…nor their place to assess who can eat or cannot eat whatever.

Just how dumb is that?

But that is how I felt about that blog about a supposed poor person standing in a soup kitchen line taking a picture with his cell phone.   And here is that picture…3333560608_160d52c0ab_o11

Yeah, he was standing in a line that Michelle Obama, First Lady Obama, was assisting in at a shelter kitchen feeding needy people in Washington, DC…which I believe she does every Friday.  I imagine a bunch of people were taking her picture including the camera crew that got these shots.  If I was there…I would have taken her picture.  And then asked her-

“Can we get one together?”6a00d83451b46269e201127937de1828a4-800wi12

And whoever wrote that blog probably would have done the same thing.

How many times do you come face to face with the President of the United States…or his wife?

“Better start snapping, baby.”

But why should anyone feel that other people…black… checkered….green…poor… or otherwise are not entitled to have certain things?

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/03/05/at_miriams_kitchen_michelle_ob.html

That really seems stupid and quite selfish to me…and certanly demeaning.

It is the way I feel when I hear someone say-

“Well, if they couldn’t afford the mortgage they shouldn’t have bought the house.”

And I have heard this more than a few times…particularly following the last bailout of the banks on Wall Street.

Did not your parents struggle?

Don\’t we all struggle to pay off stuff?

Most people do.  And they are not wrong to do it.

I believe that everyone wishes they had the money to buy and pay for everything that they want…when they want it…or need it.  But that is not how life is.

The unfortunate thing about it…is that no one knows what tomorrow will bring.  And we are all looking towards tomorrow.

When I looked upon house after house..and business after business boarded up in Detroit…I know that those people had been looking towards tomorrow.  But none of them realized that when tomorrow came it would mean that jobs would be cut back.  They did not see that the company they worked for…that their father and grand father had worked before them…that they would be downsizing or laying them off.  Or as they call it now…’re-organizing.’

Who thinks like that?

 The wrong does not lay with them…most of the people who find themselves in foreclosure…it lays with the mortgage companies which preyed upon people with over inflated interest rates…red lining, offering higher rates to certain people…higher closing costs…a bunch of double talk and small print…with high late payment penalties…and absorbent legal costs which they love attaching to their costs.

I don’t know if any of you have ever had anything repossessed.  But once they repossess your vehicle or house or whatever…the company then comes back at you to extract the money even though they repossessed and sold off whatever it was…and they leave it sitting on your credit reports for years upon years hindering you from getting anything else.   This clearly is double dipping…and these companies…none of them should be allowed to do that.

Once they have repossess the object…and they have sold it off that should settle the debt.  But no…they come back after you.  And not for the debt minus whatever they got for it…but the entire debt plus all other costs.

A friend of mine who worked for Greyhound bus lines once told me how she had been sold a faulty vehicle.  She said it was a real lemon from the day she pulled it off the dealer lot.  So, she returned the vehicle several times to the dealership who in turn never did anything fix the problem.

Finally, she became tired of trying to deal with the auto dealer…and just returned back to the car to the dealership where she had bought it.  She said that she drove right up on the lot in the middle of the day and left it there.   She stopped making payments on it…telling them as she left the lot that they could keep their car.

Years later, however, she noticed that her pay was being garnished…it was the dealership.  They had kept the car but now they were forcing her company to withdraw payments from her pay check in order to pay them for a car which she had given back to them.  And at this point…she just folded her hands and gave up.  She let the company take her money…because she felt that it was a hopeless situation.

There is something seriously wrong with the system that allows companies to use these kind of tricks to get over on and rob people.  Companies like that dealership abuse…exploit and use the system…to their benefit…a company that knowingly sold her automobile which was not in sound operating condition…and they knew it.

I had asked her if she hadn’t gotten the notice to go to court?   And she told me that she had not.  Without going into court to defend yourself…as I have stated in another blog…the other side wins automatically.  If summoned to go to court…go.  It is scary…yes, but go.

The most that can happen is that the judge won’t decide in your favor.

There is always a case that you may not receive the  summon…if they have it sent to another address.   These are games that people play.   It is the game that CitiMortgage played against my parent’s property.   But they had not counted on the fact that I knew…by the grace of God…to go into court and file my own complaint against them…to stop the auction…and have since gotten that mortgage nullified and made void.  And believe me when I said…by the shear grace and mercy of God.  That is how it was done.

In closing let me just say…

“Stay away from bad deals.”

If you are interested in something…or getting ready to sign a contract for the purchase of  something and that contract is not in your favor…do not sign it.  Do not go into a deal…or debt…in any type of an agreement in which you are not at least a partial winner.  Or at the very least…where the pain is not so great.

Sometime, we have all had to swallow a little pain…until we can fix things…like our credit.  But yet beware of the sharks…stay away from them.

In the claim I had to file against CitiMortgage…they claimed that my father had taken a loan against the house for some $27,000 at a 16.20%  interest rate.  This total agreement netted CitiMortgage over $60,000 in interest money…making the total contract for over $97,000 worth of debt against my parent’s house.

My father would have never made an agreement like that.  And the other part of it is…he wasn’t much of a borrower.  Didn’t have any charge cards or anything like that…because he earned money to pay for what he wanted.  And that is what he did.

Nobody in there right mind would have signed a deal like that.  The company was making 3 times as such as it was giving out…that is robbery no matter how bad your credit may or may not be.  And my father did not have bad credit.

I knew that document was a forgery even before I saw the signature upon.  So, I took the case to court…claiming that they had preyed upon my father, if indeed he had signed it.  At the time that contract was supposedly sign my father had been diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s which would have rendered him as being legally incompetent to enter any type of legal or binding agreement.  Plus my father had several bank accounts and definitely had at least one which had more money than that in it.   So, I sued…of which I wrote about in a prior blog also.

I continue to pray for you and whatever situation or condition you are facing.  Be encouraged.   And stay away from bad deals.

Well, my little siesta is over…it is time for me to go back to work.   Actually, it ended hours ago.

I have to finish scrubbing down the bathroom.  And I am getting a bit hungry now too.   But enjoy your weekend.

I just finished looking out and it looks like snow…again.  But it is bld04609212warm on the inside.  Though it might be that I am running a slight fever.  Been fighting off a dry cough for the past few days…but I am winning.  Well…some times…I think.

Maybe, I will just finish the bathroom…take a shower and crawl back into bed…and forget about mopping the floors tonight.  It’s late now.

Well…God bless…

Oh…yes, here is a taste of what the website will look like.  Now, you book-presentation-design-3a2-21tell me whether or not if  you think some of those classes that I have taken are starting to pay off?

Thank goodness for a mother who was not afraid to speak truth into the life of her child.

Thank you for reading this blog…and  my others.  Please be sure to continue to share this blog site with your family, co-workers and all your friends… “pass it on “  www.bsmith101.wordpress.com  ©2009

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