Friday, April 29, 2005

yes, women are commitment-phobes, too...

if this fiasco doesn't prove that women are just as afraid of commitment as men are, then i don't know what possibly could.

over $100,000 gathered from friends and family in reward money. over 100 police and law enforcement officials looking for her. national media coverage. the whole country is freaking out! and her parents, out of their minds with the fear that something horrible had happened to her. and her fiance. they thought he killed her! how many lie detector tests did he have to go through while everyone looked at him sideways? and why, why did she put everyone through this? because she had cold feet and she didn't have the guts to face her fiance and cancel her wedding, or at least postpone it (a big wedding, too--something like 600 guests with 12 bridesmaids and 12 groomsmen).

what could she possibly have been thinking? i know! i'm having a morning jog, soooo...why don't i just keep going right into the horizon, like some newfangled energizer bunny -- with no cash, no id, no nothing -- and this whole marriage thing will magically go away...or make itself right...or something... she basically called home when she got hungry and thirsty enough to stop the charade.

what an unbelievably selfish and self-centered thing to do. i can't believe she's not going to jail.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


when i got home last friday in the wee small hours of the morning after a night of sensible debauchery and threw myself onto my bed fully dressed, i heard my cell phone beep from somewhere in the deep recesses of my gigantic purse, like a buried canary. it was my mother, telling me to call her and sounding more than a little ominous. something had happened and it wasn't good. it was almost 3am. i figured whatever it was could wait until the next day, so i sacked out with some discomfort and stared at the ceiling and waited for sleep.

i knew that someone had died and i knew that it wasn't my grandmother or my father because if it were, i would have known it before the phone rang. some things you just know.

as i dozed off, i thought about my friends who were my family that i loved just as much as my relatives and i thought about my relatives that i loved so deeply, it sickened me to seriously consider losing them. if i didn't have to think about things like work and money, i would go home and be with my grandmother. we would talk all the time and listen to old-timey gospel radio at night. i would finally learn how to make rice in the oven. and during the day, when i wasn't eating her cooking, i would see all my aunts and uncles, and i would play with my cousins' children. i would disappear into the low country and i would write all about it...

the next day, my mother told me that my cousin eddie died. they found him at home, sitting in a chair. that was all she knew. eddie was the brother of damon, the cousin that i went to the hospital to visit a week or so ago, after he'd had a heart attack at work. everyone guessed that eddie had a heart attack as well. their mother, my aunt cb, died of a heart attack about two years ago. i'm not sure but i think that my cousin sharon, their sister, is a nurse.

i liked eddie a lot. he had his fun when he was younger and now that he was well past 50, he was paying for it, in spades. he was overweight. he had diabetes. he had high blood pressure. such diseases are a part of our family history but i never believed that i had to inherit it. my father had a heart attack when i was quite young and from then on, our eating regiment changed radically. a part of the reason why i have such a healthy lifestyle is because of this moment of crisis in our immediate family and how my mother responded to it. i learned how to eat healthfully by example. we ate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of lentils and stews, different kinds of fish. there was no junk food. there was no candy. all of that frying and smothering -- and especially all of that salt -- had to go. here's the upshot: my father celebrated his 88th birthday in march. if you met him, you'd swear he was 20 years younger than he actually is. enough said.

every once in a great while, i eat what everyone likes to describe as "soul food" -- and God knows i can cook it better than almost anyone i know -- but i can't even begin to imagine eating like that at every meal, every day of the week. when it's time to have dinner, i usually saute something green, broil some kind of fish and skip dessert. only when i go home do i occasionally have things that i simply can't resist, like boiled peanuts -- so salty, they make my lips go numb. but i digress.

when i was little, eddie was much older and i was one of a horde of little children that he was related to, that was constantly underfoot. i vaguely remember visits to nyc as a child and seeing him come and go with that larger than life world weary air that teenagers usually have when they have their own lives and are coming into their own as individuals. but we never really connected. then i grew up and moved to nyc and my extended family slowly began to come into my life. as our relatives started to pass away, each funeral became a kind of wierdly morbid family reunion where we would all catch up with each other and take pictures and promise to stay in touch. and we did. eddie had wonderful memories of aunts and uncles long gone that the younger cousins had never met. he was a warm, decent, good-natured level headed person who seemed genuinely surprised on some level that his body had turned on him.

eddie worked at a resort upstate. i was going to go up there with some friends this spring for his infamous "cousin discount" so i could vegetate in style. too late.

eddie sat next to me at my aunt analee's funeral. the next aunt's funeral was his mother's, so there was all this pomp and circumstance that separated us because of seating arrangements. and now this funeral is his.

would you like some ham with that?

this is me sitting in with ron sunshine (and behaving like a complete ham) on 4/15 at one of those swing gigs that only everyone that's on the scene with their ear to the ground at all times can attend. and it was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

my cousin damon's wake up call

i went to see my cousin damon f. yesterday. he had a heart attack a few days ago. he said he ate a powdered donut and then all of a sudden it felt like a car was sitting on his chest. reaching for a phone and calling 911 was unthinkable. it was very difficult to breathe and he was more than a little disoriented. luckily, he was at work -- he's a mechanic that fixes fire trucks -- so everyone around him knew what to do. if he were asleep while this happened, someone would have found his body, much in the same way that he found his mother some time ago. in a matter of minutes, he was sequestered in a hospital in elmhurst, queens. he's in his early 40's. two kids, one baby-mama, no marriages. unlike a lot of people i know, i consider that to be quite young.

by the time i found out about all this via my mother in atlanta, he had already had an angioplasty. i called him to see how he was doing, to sort of soften the blow of having to enter his hospital room and see him incapacitated or something just as strange. i didn't know what to expect. and i couldn't remember what happened with my father's heart attack. i was so little then. i remember my aunts coming to visit all at once. at the time, we used to call them "the aunts" -- like they were one big entity. and at the time, they were: aunt mattimae, aunt rosalie, aunt annalee (also called aunt suzie), aunt cb, aunt ulalee and aunt eloise. now i know that they were there because they thought my father was going to die. but God had other plans. i distinctly remember that they were so freaked out that our house was surrounded by trees, they'd put bedsheets up to the windows at night, so no one could look in. they were afraid that a bear would come out of the woods and eat us. they went back to brooklyn and told everyone that we lived in the middle of a park. that's the only way that they could accurately describe our house and the grass and trees and sky that surrounded us. (yeesh.) i remember thinking that brooklyn must've been a really horrible place in comparison, if that's the best description they could come up with.

would my cousin be able to talk? would he look the same? would he be able to sit up straight? would i spend the afternoon spoon-feeding him strained peas or something as equally unappetizing? whaddya know -- he answered the phone like he was at home and everything was peachy. the next thing i knew, he was explaining it all -- from the way they wheeled him in to the details of exactly how the surgery worked as an alternative to cutting him wide open like they used to -- in this really breezy laconic way that was a little unnerving for someone who'd come that close to seeing Jesus face-to-face. then again, maybe that's the only way you can talk about something that serious.

i didn't know where i was going, so i left really early to give myself plenty of time to get lost. cousin damon gave me excellent directions, so i got there in short order. once i bobbed and weaved my way through security and made it past the front desk of the cardiac unit, i found him propped up in bed, watching bad daytime tv and looking more than a little grateful. he was really upbeat for someone who's heart rate clocked in at 141 over 110 (he's 5'8" and 210 lbs. oh, boy...) how did this happen?

easy. he's been eating nothing but mcdonald's and kfc and wendy's and anything else he could drive through, for years and years and years. when i asked him if he'd ever heard of the documentary supersize me, his face went blank. i don't know if i have the heart to give him a copy. he's got to see it, just to fully understand what he's been doing to his body.

we had a nice long talk. i gave him a book on good nutrition and stayed long enough to watch him try to eat That Food they brought in. as i rode the subway back to west harlem, i gave myself a flash assessment: i don't drink, i don't smoke cigarettes or pot and i don't do drugs recreationally. actually, i never got into alcohol or cigarettes or pot in college like everyone else did. i was way too broke to pay for that stuff. trying to feed myself every day was pricey enough. (yes, i'm that much of a tightwad.) i'm in the gym almost every day, lifting weights and running. i eat a lot of fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. i avoid things that are fatty and things that are fried. i don't eat fast food. my heart rate is 120 over 8o. i see my ob/gyn 4x a year and she says i'm as healthy as an ox. i moisturize myself into oblivion whenever i bathe.

here's the kicker: according to, i'm 26.

i don't know how to help my cousin if he won't help himself. at the end of the day, people do what they want to do, no matter what anyone tells them. all the talk in the world won't keep him away from burger king.