Invisible Upsouth

For years I had been friends with Christopher Johnson on Facebook.  It wasn’t until this past fall I actually had a chance to get together and speak with him in person.  I had checked out some of his performances on youtube that he had posted and I really enjoyed his poetry and spoken word.  “I want to pick your brain one day,” was the email I sent him.  A month or so later we met for coffee to discuss writing and I checked out a couple of his shows over the months to come.  Right around the time I met him, he told me he may be writing a play based on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (not to be confused with The Invisible Man, totally different).  I never read the book Invisible Man, but According to this article and advertisement at Broadway.com it was “Inspired by Ralph Ellison’s masterpiece novel Invisible Man, Invisible UpSouth aims to challenge the way traditional theater-going audiences think about race and humanity and how they move through the world; how one can be well-educated and still blind to the world around them.”1.  I know it was written in the 50’s and addresses the issue of feeling invisible in society as a black man.  Christopher had taken this play and rewritten it into a present day black man in Providence RI, along with the assistance of Vatic Kuumba.
I knew I had to catch this show Sunday because it was closing day and I had promised I would show my support, plus, I really wanted to see this show!    Now, I’ve seen a few of Christopher’s shows before and I know that this man has a way with words, but I was in no way prepared for this experience.
Continue reading “Invisible Upsouth”

Bailamos!

Bailamos!  Or as we say in english, let’s dance (we dance)!   I don’t know about you but I love to dance!  Sure, sometimes I may be a wall flower or you can find me chair dancing, but put on the right song and forget it, you will have to drag me OFF the dance floor.

This week I have been obsessed with Bachata.  For those of you who don’t know, bachata is a latin dance style which originated in the Dominican Republic.  If you have never seen it you can check it out here.    There are several musical artists who are popular for their bachata music, especially Romeo Santos and Prince Royce.

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So, you may be wondering why I know about bachata.  Well, I first learned the basics of bachata a few years back in my (Puerto Rican) friend Dawn’s living room.  It was just another friday night of us gals hanging out bored and she decided to throw on the music and show us how it’s done.  I have since practiced here and there with various friends on different occassions, but it wasn’t until my son got into it that I really became interested in the music.

I was driving my son home from work one night when he said, “Hey!  You gotta listen to this”, and put on some music.  What blew me away was when he started singing along with these songs AND he knew all the lyrics!  So how is this?  Well, my son is in his 4th year of honors Spanish but, his girlfriend is Bolivian.  They have been dating for over 2 years now, so he is around her family a lot which means he can pretty much understand Spanish fluently and they listen to a lot of Spanish/Latin American music.  I love watching him sing and dance to the music and I love that he has learned so much about the Bolivian culture, .  In fact, I love learning all about other cultures and making friends around the globe.

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I love the sound of bachata and have several favorites that my son has introduced me to.  I have been trying to learn the lyrics to many of the songs but so far the only one I have down is Promise by Romeo Santos and Usher .  It’s half in Spanish and half in english and I can actually sing both parts (and know what I’m singing!).  Some of my other favorites are Odio by Romeo Santos featuring Drake,  Te Extrano (I Miss You) by Extreme,  Solo por un Beso by Aventura, Tengo Un Amor (I Have a Love) by Toby Love and one of my favorites Corazon Sin Cara (Heart without a Face) by Prince Royce.  Most of these songs have such sweet and romantic lyrics that sound even more beautiful in Spanish to me. But don’t be fooled, not all of these songs are about love! I should have known by the title Propuesta Indecente, or Indecent Proposal, this was not a love song, it just sounded so romantic until I read the lyrics.
Regardless of the scandelous lyrics, it’s still a favorite of mine.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I did take 4 years of it in high school and I remember enough.  When it comes to bachata I have the basic dance steps down and I will admit that if you ever snuck in my house on a Saturday morning you may find me dancing to it while I clean.

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So next week I may be back listening to India Arie or some R&B, but for this week I am on my bachata kick.  I wake up with songs in my head and can’t sing all the words but the music plays away.  One of these days I will learn all the lyrics to my favorites but for now I will just hum along and move my hips bachata style.

My Beautiful Surprise

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Happy Birthday Pooky

Whatever it is that you came to teach me
I am here to learn it ’cause I believe that we are written in the stars
I don’t know what the future holds but I’m living in the moment
And I’m thankful for the man that you are, you are, you are

When you think of Valentine’s day you think of love, chocolates, roses and teddy bears.  When I think of Valentine’s day, I think of love too.  The love of my life.  The one who makes me smile, gives me reason to be a better person and the greatest Valentine’s gift I have ever received.  18 years ago today I was in labor with this beautiful baby boy.  I was young and scared and in pain.  I had no idea he would change my life forever. 
I remember when his born the first words his father said to me, “he looks just like you… he’s crying!” Lol Hey, what can I say, pregnancy messes with a woman’s hormones!  I remember feeling relieved that the labor and the wait was over.  I remember the first time he was placed in my arms and being overwhelmed with the amazing gift of love like I had never known before. 
People tell you time and time again to enjoy the moments because life goes by so fast.  You say, “oh yeah!  I know!” But then one day you wake up and wonder where in the heck did all those years go??  They really do sneak by when you’re not looking. 
I still can’t believe my baby is 18 today.  As much as it scares me that he is officially an adult today, I’m proud of the man he is becoming.  I know this is just the beginning of the next phase of his life.  I know nothing will really change overnight. He will always be my baby boy, my pooky bear and my beautiful surprise.
My song for him since the first time I heard it has been Beautiful Surprise.  Plus a love of India Arie’s music is something we share.  So happy Valentine’s day to all and happy birthday to my little Romeo, my favorite Valentine, my Pooky bear and my beautiful surprise. 

Happy Birthday Isaiah slide show

Lyrics to Beautiful Surprise found on goggle play

It’s like yesterday I didn’t even know your name
Now today you’re always on my mind
I never could have predicted that I’d feel this way
You are a beautiful surprise

Intoxicated every time I hear your voice
You’ve got me on a natural high
It’s almost like I didn’t even have a choice
You are a beautiful surprise

Whatever it is that you came to teach me
I am here to learn it ’cause I believe that we are written in the stars
I don’t know what the future holds but I’m living in the moment
And I’m thankful for the man that you are, you are, you are

You are everything I ask for in my prayers
So I know my angels brought you to my life
Your energy is healing to my soul, you are a beautiful surprise
You are an inspiration to my life, you are the reason why I smile
You are a beautiful surprise

I’m Curious…

So I was trying to figure out what song I wanted to share today.  It was hard after listening to Stevie for the past 24 hours! I have a tendency to do that though.  You know, when you listen to some song or artist you haven’t been listening to lately and then you just can’t get enough of them?  Well,  I have a feeling the next 24 hours may include some Midnight Star.

I can’t say I grew up listening to them, not until I became a teenager and met my first “real” boyfriend (later to become the father of my son).  I remember riding in the car with his family after a day at the beach and this song came on.

 

I fell in love with it.  Aside from the chorus, I always loved this line:

“Love is a gamble I wanna take with you
I wanna win girl, so let me know what’s on your mind”

A few years back I bought the CD so I could pass these songs on to my son.  I mean, you have to teach these youngins good music!!  My son and I have spent many car rides singing along to hits like Wet My WhistleMidas TouchNo Parking On The Dance FloorFreakazoid and Operator.  But, I have to say it was Curious that I fell in love with first.  Let me know if I forgot one of your favorites, as I’m sure I left one out.

Happy Thursday…we’re almost there.

Curious – Lyrics
I really gotta have you,
Cos what my body feels I can’t take away.
And you are so exciting,
That you take my breath away.
So get ready and let me love you
I got the answer right here beside me girl
Love is a gamble I wanna take with you
I wanna win girl, so let me know what’s on your mind
I’m curious (about your loving)
I’m curious (I wanna know what’s on your mind)
I’m curious (about your loving girl)
I’m curious (I wanna know what’s on your mind)
We should get it together
Cos right now girl this feeling’s strong
And I’m anticipating
I wanna know (I wanna know)
What turns you on
Lovely lady here’s my intentions
I’ve got to have you right here beside me girl
Love is a gamble I wanna take with you
I wanna win girl, so let me know what’s on you mind
I’m curious (about your loving)
I’m curious (I wanna know what’s on your mind)
I’m curious (about your loving girl)
I’m curious (I wanna know what’s on your mind)
Lovely lady heres my intentions
I’ve got to have you right here beside me girl
Love is a gamble I wanna take with you
I wanna win girl, so let me know what’s on you mind
I’m curious (about your loving)
I’m curious (I wanna know what’s on your mind)
I’m curious (about your lovin’, girl)
I’m curious (I wanna know what’s on your mind)

Lyrics found here

I Don’t Want to Bore You With It…

“Oh but I love you, I love you….
I LOOOOVVVEE YOU!” 

So I’ve been posting the love quotes from songs by black artists the last 3 days but I started enjoying it so I thought why not continue a few more days?  Valentines day, which is also my son’s 18th birthday, is only 4 days away. Wait, what? Wow that is coming up fast! 
Well, anyways I wanted to pick some classic artists, so I decided on Stevie. (Wonder, in case you were Wondering and yes, pun intended!)  Oh but how do you pick one of Stevie’s songs?? I mean… you don’t!  He just has so many amazing songs!  Well, I had to remember I was picking a quote from the lyrics, which made it even harder!!   But I really do love this one:

We lay beneath the stars
Under a lovers tree that’s seen through the eyes of my mind
I reach out for the part
Of me that lives in you that only our two hearts can find

I mean I really love the whole song, along with most of Stevie’s music.  When I sing along I feel like you really have to belt it out! Which i usually do… alone… in my car…. as not to scare people.  Lol.  He really is Wonderful, isn’t he? Check out the video by clicking on the link or read the lyrics below.  Or let me know your favorite Stevie song!

Knocks Me Off My Feet

Lyrics
I see us in the park
Strolling the summer days of imaginings in my head
And words from our hearts
Told only to the wind felt even without being said
I don’t want to bore you with my trouble
But there’s somethin ’bout your love
That makes me weak and
Knocks me off my feet
There’s sumptin ’bout your love
That makes me weak and
Knocks me off my feet
Knocks me off my feet

I don’t want to bore you with it
Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you
I don’t want to bore you with it
Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you
More and more
We lay beneath the stars
Under a lovers tree that’s seen through the eyes of my mind
I reach out for the part
Of me that lives in you that only our two hearts can find
But I don’t want to bore you with my trouble
But there’s sumptin ’bout your love
That makes me weak and
Knocks me off my feet
But there’s sumptin ’bout your love
That makes me weak and
Knocks me off my feet

I don’t want to bore you with it
Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you
I don’t want to bore you with it
Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you
I don’t want to bore you with it
Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you
Darling I don’t want to bore you with it
Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you
I don’t’ want to bore you with it
Oh but I love you, I love you, I love you
Darling I don’t want to bore you with it

Oops Upside Your Head

 

So I heard this throwback this morning on my way to work.  I really love this song.  I was definitely born 10 years too late.  I love 70’s and 80’s R&B.  I always wished I had a big afro and some funky bell bottoms with funky platform shoes.  I love the funk and soul of that era.

I love the Gap Band.  They have countless good songs like Outstanding, Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me), You Dropped A Bomb On Me, and one of my favorites Yearning For Your Love.

This song makes me think of my son when he was acting up.  You know when you are driving along in the car and your kid says something smart?  I used to tell him I was going to give him and “Oops upside the head” and sing this to him.  An “Oops upside the head” is when he is in the passenger’s seat and you every so lovingly just reach over and give him a little smack in the back of the head.  Nothing too rough.  No, it’s not child abuse, it’s just a little reminder.  A good way to say, “Hey!  Who do you think you are?” or “Excuse me?  Who do you think you’re talking to?”  That’s what I like to call it, an “Oops upside your head.” LOL

Well, if nothing else, I gave him a good appreciation of the Gap Band!

 

Cooking and Grandma Vichy

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Francis Gafford aka Grandma Vichy

So today I got a text from a friend of mine saying, “Soooo…no blogs? Lol”  My response was, “No.  Sorry.  You were expecting one?  Do I usually blog every weekend?”  “I think so” she says.  I had to go back through my posts and see the last time I posted something which was Thursday morning I think.  I have been meaning to blog.  I’ve been wanting to, but I have a life too.  I actually left my house this weekend.  I also did some house cleaning and cooking.  I don’t seem to cook as much now that I started writing.  Which saves some money because of the fact that I don’t really know how to cook for two people, more like twenty two! 
The not cooking will surprise some that know me well.  I am always inventing new recipes or trying to copycat ones I have tried at a restaurant.  I’m usually baking up something from scratch or rolling wontons for soup.  Making dough for homemade pizzas or vats of rice and beans for my son and his friends.  I once had a friend of his ask why I always had rice and beans in the fridge when he came over.  “Because it’s cheap and feeds lots of teenage boys,” I told him.  In fact, I’m kind of known around town for making rice and beans.  Besides my son’s friends, many of my friends will request I make my rice and beans for get together’s and I’ve been known to make some of the best rice and beans late night, after the bar closes.  I’m good for having a couple of drinks and inviting the whole bar to my house for the after party.  I’m not sure if it’s the southern blood in my veins, but I just love to feed and cook for people. 
Cooking rice and beans makes me think of my Grandma Vichy (pronounced Veechie).  Francis was her name and she loved my rice and beans or as she sometimes called it “rice and peas”.
Back when my son was just a baby, she came to stay with us for a bit.  She was on oxygen then and had bad emphysema and I believe she had COPD, too.  She couldn’t get too far without taking a break.  I remember watching her go up a set of four stairs one time and she had to take a break after just two.  I know she had been a smoker in her younger days and she loved her whiskey, too.  My favorite was the story my mother told me about how as a little girl, her job was to hide the booze and cigarettes when the Mormons came to the house.  My grandmother was Mormon and would often tell me all about Joseph Smith, which my mother was never happy about because she was raising us Baptist.  I guess she was worried Grandma would successfully convert me but I always thought it was good to learn about all religions, then I could decide why I believed what I chose to believe. Many times when I think about Grandma Vichy, I think about how proud she would be with my cooking skills these days.  Mostly at the fact I have learned how to cook from scratch and waste less.  Grandma Vichy had lived through the Great Depression which explains why she had this need to save everything.  In fact most of it was rolled up in napkins, stuffed into plastic bags and pinned inside her bra!  If she wanted to give you some money she would reach into her bra and pull out treasures unknown!  Just thinking about it makes me laugh now, but it was just normal to me as a kid. 
The one time I will never forget, was the time I was cooking beef stew while Grandma was staying  with us.  It was my first time and I was probably about 20, my son was a baby and was sleeping upstairs.  I remember browning the meat in a cast iron pan and tossing it into a pot.  I was following the recipe directions as I had never made it before and wanted it to be just right.  I went upstairs to check on my son and when I came back down Grandma was in the kitchen.  She had added some water to the cast iron pan and was scraping all the flavor out to add to the soup.  I remember being so annoyed that she had messed with my cooking (I’m still that way in the kitchen) but I couldn’t say anything.  She was my Grandma, I could not disrespect her.  So I walked away, tried to stay calm and take a minute.  She said she was just trying to help and I of course continued to act like there was nothing wrong.  She was grandma, what could I say?  The stew cooked for a while and I checked on my son again.  I can still hear her voice and that strong southern accent when she apologized to me, “I’m sawry Lissa Beth.  I didn’t mean ta mess with yer stew.  I didn’t want it ta go ta waste.”  I remember feeling awful, I didn’t mean for her to feel bad.  She was just trying to help.  I didn’t want her to know I was upset.  It wasn’t until years later that I would wish she was still around to teach me some of her tricks and techniques on cooking.  It wasn’t until now that I really wish I had asked her more questions about the great depression, about all the history she had lived through. 
Growing up, Grandma lived between RI, FL and GA so we often wrote letters back and forth.  From time to time I will go back and read her old letters to me.  Like messages from heaven, I can hear her voice clearly saying, “I luuuuv you, Lissa!” In that southern twang, “and tell mama I luv n miss her too!”  I would be so excited to get that envelope in the mail and often times would open it up to find a single stick of Freedent gum enclosed.  It was one of those quirky things only Grandma did, kind of like the treasures in her bra.  So maybe I make rice and beans because it’s cheap and resourceful like my Grandma taught me.  Maybe I enjoy cooking and feeding people because it’s in my blood and it’s in my southern roots.  But maybe I just make them, because deep down, they make me think of Grandma and the times I used to cook for her.