I’m BAAAAAAAAAACK!

20 Jul

I mean…nobody really demanded anything. Or even asked, but still…

 

Hey!  Anybody out there?

It’s been a little over a year since I last posted, and my have things changed!  I’ve spent the past several hours trying to figure out what I set as my password to the blog, then what I set as my password to the blackberriezweb@live.com email address that the password link was sent to.

It was a harrowing adventure.

Nonetheless, I am back.  I am going to start blogging again.  However, there are going to be a lot of changes around her over the next few days.  I’m going to go back and restructure/reformat the blog.  I may even change the name.  There’s too much purple.  I’ve also gotta find some way to streamline this blog in terms of topics and stuff.  Clearly, the schedule did NOT work.  Plus, my blog posts were tooooooo loooooooong.  Some of the stuff I posted could be posted into parts, thus giving me more opportunities to post!

So anyway, stay tuned for more!

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Finals

20 Apr

My semester is FINALLY drawing to a close; three classes down, four more to go. I’ve made it, by the grace of God, through 21 hours of knowledge, rounding out my have senior year with an additional 39 hours. I’m doing all of this schooling for my future and all that jazz…or so I tell myself. I am convinced that I am experiencing an educational hangover this morning. It’s the first school year I’ve had since my Great Migration that I didn’t have a dead week before finals. Whether that’s good or bad has yet to be determined. All i know is that woke up at the crack of dawn, agitated because I couldn’t stop dreaming about my exams.

This is a lousy post. I know. I’ll make up for it this afternoon.
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The Letter Pt. 1&2

18 Apr

Okay.  This is part of a challenge from my good friends over at Steamy Trails.  Here are parts 1 and 2 of my 3 part short story, The Letter.

          The envelope was small, yellow, and remarkably unremarkable.  Had Greg not been looking in exactly the right spot, he wouldn’t have noticed it at all.  But as he rummaged through his mother’s attic, dirtying up his relatively new black slacks and blue dress shirt while looking for an old jewelry box that he was sure did not exist, he found a letter peeking out of what appeared to be an old hat box.

          Curious, he opened the faded blue lid of the box to examine the letter closer.  The box was filled with letters, but he was more concerned with the one in his hand.  It was obviously old, the yellowing of the paper a clear testament to its age.  Upon closer inspection, he saw that it was postmarked January 5, 1967 and had three stamps affixed to the upper right hand corner.  The letter was written in a loose and loopy cursive scrawl addressed to Emma Harold, his mother by her maiden name, with no return address.  It was unopened.

            “Greg!  Did you get lost up there?” a shrill voice said from down below him.

            “No ma’am,” he answered.  “I’m coming.”  He put the letter in the box with the others and descended down the attic ladder, hatbox tucked securely under his arm.

            Greg walked into his mother’s kitchen and found her standing at the counter icing the cake she had baked for him and his wife, Tasha.  She glanced up at him as he entered the kitchen.

            “That’s not the jewelry box,” she simply said as she spun the cake around to apply more icing.  “For starters, the jewelry box is wooden and is much smaller.  That is a hatbox.”

            “I know,” Greg said.  “But look.”  Greg watched his mother’s face transform from mild boredom to surprise as he lifted the lid of the box.  She sat her spatula down on the counter and walked to the table where Greg had placed the box.

            “Where did you find these?” she breathed, her wrinkled brown hands lightly touching the letters.

            “Uh…in the attic,” Greg laughed.  “What are they?”

            “They’re letters, since you know so much,” his mother said.  She blushed.  “Love letters.”  She picked one up and examined it.  “I haven’t seen these in years.”  Without a word, she sat at the table and began reading them.

            “Some of these are from Vietnam,” Greg said, studying the dates and stamps.  None of them had a return address.  “Are they from Dad?” Greg picked up the unopened letter that he had seen earlier.  His father was a Vietnam Vet and didn’t seem the type to write letters of and kind, let alone love letters.

            His mother looked up at him.  “What?  These?  No.”

            It was Greg’s turn to look surprised.  “No?”

            “No.”

            “Well who are they from?” Greg asked, staring hard at the letter in his hand as if a name would suddenly reveal itself.

            His mother sighed and closed her eyes.  “Gregory Smith.”

            Greg blinked several times.  “Did you name-”

            “Yes.  Don’t tell your father.  He thinks I named you after Gregory Peck.”

            “Okay,” Greg slowly said.  “So this guy…was an old boyfriend?”

            “My first husband,” his mother calmly said.

            “Mama!” Greg, scandalized, hissed.  He sat down beside her, suddenly struck by how very little he knew about his mother’s past.  “You were married?  I didn’t know!”

            He watched as his mother sighed and looked at her hands.  “I daresay nobody outside of your aunt Pam, her husband, and the 1966 Justice of the Peace at Coosa County does.  It doesn’t really matter now, though.  I was young and in love and that is very much the past.  And don’t tell your father!”

            “Tell me everything that happened and I’ll keep my lips shut,” Greg countered.  “I mean…since he’s my namesake and all.”

            His mother peered at him for a long moment before continuing.  “Okay, since you want to know.”  She settled back in her chair and closed her eyes.  “This was all, of course, before I met your father.  Gregory and I had known each other since we were kids.  I’m pretty sure we loved each other that long, too.  He was my first love…my first everything.”

            “Mama!”

            “Don’t tell your father!”

            “I won’t.”

            “Well, we were going to get married after I went to nursing school and Gregory had found a job.  That was the plan, anyway.  What happened was that Gregory got drafted, so we got married before he shipped out.  We were both lovesick.  We wrote to each other just about every day,” she said, gesturing to the box of letters.  “These aren’t nearly a third of the letters that he wrote.  He never put a return address on them; he said that he didn’t want a return-to-sender letter coming back to him if I ever wanted to leave him.  I read those letters to pieces.”

            “Where are the other letters?” Greg asked.

            “I don’t know.  Could be anywhere,” his mother answered, flippantly waving a hand around the air. 

            “What about this one?” he said, holding up the unopened envelope.  He handed it to his mother and watched her.

            “This is the last letter he sent me.  I got it two weeks after we buried him.  Never could bring myself to open it.” 

            “Wanna open it now?”

            “What?”

            “It’s been forty-four years,” Greg reasoned.  “Don’t you want to know what it says?”

            “No, not really.”

            “But Mama-”

            “Okay.  But you open it and read it,” she finally said.

            Greg turned the letter over and slid a finger down the edge of the flap that closed it.  It was a single page of unlined paper, as yellow as the envelope and with the same loopy handwriting as the front, only bunched together to make more room. 

            Greg took a breath and began to read aloud.

December 21, 1966

Emma-

           I know we don’t get much snow in Alabama, but this is gonna be the first winter where it’s been hot.  It rains near constantly.  The only good thing about the rain is that the bugs go away.  The bad thing is that you can’t see where you’re shooting.
         
I won’t bother you none with talk about shooting and all.  I’m surrounded by so much death and darkness…no need in sending any of it your way.  How are you?  I wish I could ask you that, see you in person.  At night, when I’m on watch, I sit and look at the stars and pretend that they’re diamonds I’m gonna give you.  I would tell you to look at the stars too, but seeing how they got different stars here and nighttime comes different that at home, it wouldn’t make no difference.  There I go again, being dreary.
         
There’s a chap here named Perkins – white guy, actually left school and volunteered for this mess – who has this poetry book.  He reads it at us every now and again and mostly it’s all boring stuff, but there’s this one poem that I really like.  It reminds me of us.  I won’t write all of it, but the end is what’s good –

…meanwhile my

self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et 

cetera
(dreaming
et
cetera, of
Your smile
eyes knees and of your Etcetera. 

          Isn’t that nice?  Perkins says that this was written by a man who fought in world war one.  He also says that that Etcetera about the end is about a woman’s you-know-what.  I don’t know if I believe that.  Perkins is a mighty strange cat.  I do know that I do dream of you and your smile. 
         
Emma, I love you so much and if I could leave here and walk on water to get to you, I would.  I close my eyes at night and see your face.  I see new flowers here (I know how you love flowers) and I think about you.  Every time I have to eat, I think about your cooking.  Every part of me wants to be away from here and back with you.  I reckon I’ll have to be okay with us being apart for now.  It won’t be for long.  It’s been seven months, almost halfway through.  We’re strong people.  We’ll make it.
         
I know you have things to do and it’s my turn for the watch.  Just know that I love you and all of your etceteras!  I’ll see you tonight in my dreams.

-Greg

          Greg looked at his mother, who was still sitting with her eyes closed.  He didn’t want to say anything until she spoke.  He was still in shock that his mother had a whole other life, even if it didn’t last.  He had never thought about his mother having a life outside of her life with her family.  He knew she was the youngest of five children and where she grew up and went to school.  He knew a few stories from her childhood, but aside from that…nothing.  He realized that he knew absolutely nothing about his own mother. 

          There was a man, laying in a trench somewhere in Vietnam, who wrote, loved, and married her. 

          Still, his mother didn’t speak.  Greg was anxious to break the silence.  “Okay, so what else happened?”

            His mother exhaled hard and stood up.  “Like I said, he was killed in combat.  We were married for seven months.  I didn’t even get my name changed or anything. ”  She walked back over to the cake and began icing it again as Gregory took in everything she said.

            “That’s it?”

            “That’s it.”

            “So this was in ’67.  You married Dad a year later and had me and Denise-”

            “Greg, listen,” his mother said, turning around and pointing her spatula at him.  “I love you, your sister, and your father.  You all aren’t a consolation prize and I don’t regret anything.  This is the life the good Lord wanted me to have and I have no complaints.  Aside from naming you after him, I haven’t thought about this stuff for forty years.”

            “So what do you want me to do with these?” Greg asked, gesturing to the hatbox and the letters.

            “It doesn’t matter,” his mother said.  “But them back in the attic.  And bring me that jewelry box!  I want my grandbaby to have it.”

            Greg took the hatbox back to the attic and began renewed the search for his mother’s jewelry box.  And hour later, he found it.  By then, his mother had finished icing his cake.  He took the jewelry box, intended for his ten-year-old daughter, the cake, and two letters and left.

TO BE CONTINUTED….on Thursday!  I think…I don’t remember my own schedule…

New and Improved!

18 Apr

Welcome to the new and improved¹ Black Berriez blog!  Now the slogan actually makes sense!

If you would be so kind, please direct your attention to the top right quadrant of your screen (alas, not on your mobile device – completely different format) to the *NEW* tab that says “Schedule.”  That’s right.  I am now operating on a schedule in order to preserve my sanity!  In order for this schedule to work, I need crowd participation – especially on MONDAYS.

Like today.

So…if you have a question or a topic that you would like for me to discuss, please send it in!  I will answer them (and I don’t expect more than probably three or four – since people don’t like to comment around here!) next Monday.

Send questions/topics to blackberriezweb@live.com or follow me on Twitter and ask blackberriezblg.

Huzzah!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

¹I really hate that saying.  If something is new, then it is, by definition, something that has been called into a state of existence from a state of unexistence.  If something is improved, then it is something in existence that is called into a state of betterment.  An oxymoron of the very worse kind!!!

It’s all good!

16 Apr

Okay, this is not a long post, but is an explanation, of sorts, for my whereabouts. I’ve been rather absent around here. No posts, no updates, few tweets…pretty much silent. Truth be told, I was very much in the doldrums. My grandfather and my uncle passed within days of each other and a extraordinarily challenging semester was taking its toll on me. I can usually put up a good front, but stressed doesn’t even begin to describe what I was dealing with as of late. A good three of four times I logged in to post, once with the express intent to tell the legend of this old cat that came to Poppy’s funeral that went by the name Alabama Sam. Everytime I tried, I’d get sad and wouldn’t write.

But last night, as I was sitting and listening to old voicemails from my granddad, I realized that I my Poppy would cold curse me to the blue blazes if he knew what I was doing! neither he nor my uncle would want me sitting around ina pathetic stupor life goes on. I felt like I got some sort of permission to be happy and I took it. My granddad and my Uncle Sydney are gone and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change that. But what I can do is live and love and laugh in their memories. I can laugh at the time I was in Detroit with Poppy and a hornet flew in my mouth and the four year old me didn’t have sense enough to let is fly out. Poppy had to smack my cheeks at the same time to get me to open my mouth. Or I can shake my head at the memory of Uncle Sydney installing a brand new swing set in his back yard and I jumped off of it and broke my arm and him telling me that, “you talk like a parrot, but you can’t fly like one.”

When we lose the ones we love, we can’t die with them. Who will be left to carry on their memory? I can’t dwell in pain; for starters, it’s not my nature. Will I ever
not miss them? No, but I dont have to be a Sally Sadpants about it.

So if you were wondering where I was and when I am coming back, just know that storms are only temporary and it’s all good.
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I Am Sad =(

1 Apr

I am sad.

=(

You wanna know why I’m sad? Hardly anybody comments on my blog. I have subscribers and steady traffic, but very few people comment. You know what happens when people don’t comment? My chronic insecurities, which are only kept in check by the affirmation I receive through comments and feedback, flare up and render me completely incapable of continuing in the current vein of apparent mediocrity that makes it possible for those to read my blog, but not comment.

I wax pretentious. Now for the melodrama free translation:

I thrive on comments and feedback. Its how I know that what I’m writing is relevant. Without feedback, I feel like I’m shouting in an empty room. I’m that tree in the forest that fell and nobody was around to hear it.

You smell what I’m stepping in?

So basically, I’m issuing an ultimatum: if I don’t get at least half as many comments as hits, I’m shutting the studio down I’m gonna chill with the blogging. I told y’all before; this is my third blog. I’m a quitter! Break the cycle!

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Musical Musings

31 Mar

So, I’m sitting here in the music department on campus waiting for my chapter sisters to show up so we can get these step/stroll routines together. While I’m waiting, I have been listening to my mp3 player and trying my best not to scare the white people around me. I tell ya, this music is making me feel some kinda way! Right now, Rachelle Farrell and Will Downing are SLAYING me. Donny Hathaway nearly had me in fits earlier. Most of what I’ve been listening to today can loosely be categorized as “soul”, but I went on a downloading binge last night and got a bunch of stuff from the early- to mid-90s. R&B really has nothing to offer me after about ’97 or ’98.

“Wings of Love” by Jeffrey Osborne just came on. Give me a second…

Ok. As I was saying…music just isn’t the same anymore. I used to get irritated when my parents would say that my generation was making garbage, but (with a few notable exceptions) we are. Think about it: will you wanna listen to any of this crap when you’re in your 50s and 60s? Are you gonna want to hear “Aston Martin Music” or “Roman’s Revenge” at your 40th anniversary or 75th birthday?

Shoot, are you gonna wanna hear that ish in five years? This time NEXT year? My guess is probably not.

Where has all the good music gone? I wish I could go deeper into this, but my peeps just arrived.

Leave a message after the tone.

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