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Happy Mother’s Day y’all.

My momma was gossip queen first and foremost and I was her favorite Chatty Cathy so she knew I would spill if I had any tea. Unfortunately I didn’t, but now y’all know where I get that from. My momma.

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After my mom died, I usually got a call from my sister on Mother’s Day just to chit chat and check in to see how I was doing.  Since this is my first Mother’s Day without either of them, I wanted to jot down a little memory of the three of us…(and then hibernate for the rest of the weekend because I’m not ready for pictures from everybody’s Mothers’ Day brunches).

Brief History for the new folks and those who don’t know me.  My sister’s mom died when she was three so my dad raised her as a single father for the most part.  He was dating my mom off and on for the better part of a decade when I came along unexpectedly.  After I was born, the two of them still waited to marry each other until I was in first grade, but by then my sister was in college.  I never actually lived under the same roof with my mom, dad, and sister at the same time, and because of that, most of my Family Memories with my sister were with both of my parents, not just one or the other, since she was either home for summer break or a quick visit, or we had planned a whole vacation to visit her in Florida where she lived.

History over.

My sister was home visiting one summer and she had a boyfriend back in Florida that she’d met in school.  I was the quintessential nosey little brother and I used to snoop like crazy.  I read her diary, made copies of her CDs, tried on her shoes, etc.  My snooping is the reason my first “chapter book” was A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines and not something like My Teacher Flunked the Planet or Goosebumps because I was going through her shit and saw a book that looked interesting.

Note to parents:  Don’t let your young kids go through your older kids’ stuff.  No seven year old really needs to be reading about race relations in 1940s Louisiana.  And I’m sure that little tidbit about myself is another piece of the puzzle for you guys.

Anyway, I was a night owl (still am) and I would regularly get up in the middle of the night, make a snack, and sneak into the family room to watch cable (mostly Skinemax, I can admit that now).  One night, I heard my sister talking to someone in her room, and since I knew there wasn’t an extra person in there, I figured she was on the phone.  I went to the family room with my snack – Ritz crackers, JIF peanut butter, and sweet tea, which is still my go-to midnight nosh – and picked up the extension so I could eavesdrop.

Now, lemme tell you something about my mother.  She is literally the lightest sleeper I have ever met in my life.  A cat could fart next door and she would be wide awake from a dead sleep.  I got really good at sneaking around and making no noise, but sometimes my mom would catch me in the middle of the night watching TV.  However, she was never able to catch me watching Skinemax because one of the floorboards in the hallway squeaks, and since I watched the TV on mute (obviously) I could hear her long before she was close to the room.  Then I would just flip to Headline News or something and put the subtitles on.  

I was not listening for my mom on this night because I was listening to my sister’s conversation instead.  I didn’t hear her sneak right up on me and LOUDLY ask “Boy what are you doing?”  I dropped the phone and mentally prepared myself for this inevitable spanking all at the same time, while my sister was barreling down the hallway because of course she heard all of that on her end.

I was already crying before they could start yelling tbh.  I was not trynna get beat at midnight by TWO angry Black women and I’m sure I saw my life flash before my eyes.  The lecture that followed was a mixture of privacy, being nosey, being bad, sneaking, and lying, but I didn’t catch a beatdown, praise God.

Fast forward to the next morning.  I don’t remember where my dad and sister were, but I remember I was sitting at the bar while my mom made breakfast.  She was talking about something I don’t remember and then just casually slid into the conversation, “So what was your sister talking about on the phone last night?”

C’MON KWEEN!  YES MAMA!

My momma was gossip queen first and foremost and I was her favorite Chatty Cathy so she knew I would spill if I had any tea.  Unfortunately I didn’t, but now y’all know where I get that from.  My momma.

I just wanted to throw this out there, another little anecdote for my future kids who won’t get to meet my mom or my sister but wonder where I got All Of This from.  I like to picture them kiki’ing about how messy my life is but also lo-key stanning for me because I’m the fiercest person they knew.  

I’ll be hibernating tomorrow, but I’ll go ahead and throw my Happy Mother’s Day out there, to my mom & sister, and all y’all’s too.  Drink an extra mimosa for me.  I’ll be watching Spike Lee’s filmography and trying to pinpoint where he went wrong.

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Thank a librarian.

Libraries are community centers and librarians keep them going!

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I spent a lot of time at the library as a child because I didn’t have any friends.

Just kidding! I had lots of friends and was totes popular, but I was basically an only child since my older sister was off to college before I was even forming memories. She taught me how to read, my parents encouraged it, and since they both worked, books were an easy way for me to entertain myself.

Parenting Life Hack: If your kids have a quiet hobby, you spend less money on Excedrin for migraines.

My hometown had about 400 people and only 17 of them could read, so we didn’t have a library, but just across the river in the bustling metropolis next door where 9,000 people lived, there was a library staffed with nice ladies and one old gay man who basically raised me while my mom did errands. A librarian is not a babysitter and they don’t get paid to watch your kids, so please don’t just drop your kids off in front of the bookdrop and hightail it outta there. However, my parents were really relaxed about leaving me places, because they were very old and the Scary News Stories didn’t phase them. There was a higher chance of your child being abducted in the 1940s than the 1990s, yet our parents and grandparents were out all day by themselves from sunup to sundown while we were expected to be tied to our parents at all times. My folks pretty much functioned under the premise that nobody was going to take me out of a library — I would have to actually follow them, and I wasn’t stupid (and I didn’t/don’t like people).

So I spent many a Sunday afternoon in the library while my mom was running errands and my favorite librarian, Ms. Greer, would actually entertain me….by putting me to work. Had I known I was doing her job for her, I would’ve asked for a cut of her paycheck, but 3rd Grade Me was very excited to ink the inside back cover of all the new books with the fancy library stamp. I felt super important being trusted with the task of taking the returns and putting them in their proper spot on the shelf (thanks, Dewey Decimal training!). She had me take Lemon Pledge and wipe down the study corrals and I did it with gusto.

When my mom asked me to pick my socks up off the floor, it felt like the end of my life, so I guess she wasn’t asking me nicely the way Ms. Greer did.

I spent more time in the library growing up than any other building that wasn’t home or school, so when I saw this story about some Australian librarians checking on their senior citizens during COVID, I wanted to tell y’all about it because librarians are truly underappreciated.

When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, shut the doors and left the remaining unborrowed books on their shelves, staff were sent home with a phone.

“One of the hardest things about lockdown was people being separated from their community,” said Lisa Dempster, Yarra Plenty’s executive manager of public participation.

“The library is often a hub for the community, and we identified the most vulnerable cohort of our community would be the elderly.”

So the library staff pulled from their database the phone number of every library member over the age of 70 – a total of 8,000 records.

Then the librarians started calling those members. All of them.

(cont. The Guardian)

I lived next door to a little old lady 6 or 7 years ago and I would do errands for her and do her grocery shopping and sit with her a couple of times a week.  After I moved, I used to take her to church once a month up until last year. Her daughter moved in with her and thought it was “weird” that a former neighbor would still check up on her, but I like her. She’s like a Bonus Grandma and her kids weren’t checking on her. She spent most of her days alone in her apartment, and since she was right next door, I could go over there and sit on her couch and do what I would normally do on my own couch — watch TV and play on the internet or crochet. Her daughter is/was convinced I was just spending time with her because I wanted to get into her will. It just didn’t occur to her that I would want to look after my neighbor or look after a lonely old lady.

Not to generalize, but Western cultures don’t care for our elders the way other cultures do and we don’t look out for our neighbors the way other cultures do. We don’t build community the way other cultures do. Librarians do that! Libraries are community centers and librarians keep them going! Librarians get to know the people in their community, like the nerdy little kid who sits and reads quietly on Sundays while mom is at the beauty supply store. Librarians care about that community, like these senior citizens getting calls from their local library to make sure their faring well during a pandemic. Think about adding libraries to the list of causes you look for when choosing a politician to champion. They’re always under attack and they need our help to keep serving communities quietly and constantly without any gratitude.

I did thank Ms. Greer though. Before I went off to boarding school I bought her a nice card and sent it to the library.

 

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What would Dianne do?

Tomorrow, I’ll try to press Reset (for the millionth time this summer!) but today we finna eat good and pretend I don’t have any problems. If y’all got some good gossip, feel free to drop it in my inbox. Dianne would.

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Seven years ago today I was in my hometown for my mom’s funeral. It’s not really “a thing” for me anymore and I usually just commemorate the day by reading funny things I’ve written about her.

Everything just feels worse when you’re already down though. Like, I lost my phone Sunday. It felt like the end of the world. I’ve lost my phone in the past, and it just felt like an annoying inconvenience. Last year around this time, I breezed through just fine. This year, I wish she could help me laugh at some of my misfortunes and then cook for me.

My mom didn’t cook as often as some moms did because she worked and she ran a business and I had so many extra-curriculars to be shuttled to and from. Plus, my parents were both really social and cooking dinner wasn’t super high on the list of priorities. When she *did* cook though, we had a ball in the kitchen. Sometimes my dad would be sitting at the bar working on something of his or helping to shuck corn or shell peas. I would generally be in the way between picking the music. And my mom would be in charge of directing the topics of gossip, because both of them were messy and lived for drama.

So. Given my current emotional state, what would Dianne do for me?

First, she’d tell me to pray, and I’d let that go in one ear and right out the other. Then she’d ask me what I wanted to eat. I can’t fry chicken like she could and my salmon croquettes never come out right, but there’s a crock pot in the kitchen, so I just made some BBQ sauce and threw some chicken in it. Also, the grocery store by me has Lipton, so I bought some bags and some sugar, and we finna have sweet tea. I haven’t made cornbread from scratch in years, but I went over the recipe in my head and I think I still got it. I bought me some early peas and some sweet potatoes, and I’m bout to cook like my mama.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to press Reset (for the millionth time this summer!) but today we finna eat good and pretend I don’t have any problems. If y’all got some good gossip, feel free to drop it in my inbox. Dianne would.

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Working for Anti-Vaxxers: Week One

How did I get here?

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How did I get here?

Short re-cap in case you missed my summer blog…

The publishing company I worked for laid off a whole bunch of people in May because print media is dying and y’all hoes don’t read shit. I didn’t qualify for unemployment because I got a crappy lil retail job last fall for the holidays and kept it to work a couple of days a month because of the discount and the extra drinking money. NY State said since I have a job, I’m not unemployed.

Add that to moving expenses and the cost of just existing in New York City, and I was so excited about the prospect of a paycheck after living on fumes all summer, I didn’t really do any research about the non-profit foundation that hired me.

I’d signed on to work for an autism foundation run by anti-vaxxers.

The goal was to keep applying for jobs and to keep interviewing until I found a better position and hopeful I’d get another job offer before my start date, which was last Monday. But alas. That’s not how my life works, and I reported to work last week full of shame and angst and apprehension, but with the very real need to buy groceries and pay my phone bill looming overhead.

Whatever you’re thinking about a foundation full of anti-vaxxers is probably correct. There is a lot of nervous white woman energy all over the office. I only saw two non-white people all last week, and one was mixed. It’s like working with a parody of Jenny McCarthy, and luckily for y’all, Emma Stone did that for me so I don’t have to explain any further.

They’d just had a huge fundraiser, and since I was hired by the fundraising and events team, most of my time was spent crunching numbers and learning how to allocate money. The rest of my time was a lot of training about the company…and signing a lot of NDAs. Apparently they’ve had problems with people being hired under false pretenses, “spies” from other organizations infiltrating their barn of crazy to then go back to the real world with dirt. So there is a lot of paperwork about what you can and cannot say about your job.

One day last week, I’d just finished up some training exercises with two other new people, and I saw my trainer browsing through Instagram.

Emma: Oh it’s okay. Using your phone and stuff during down time is no big deal. There are ebbs and flows throughout the day, especially on this team.

Me: Oh that’s cool.

Emma: As long as your work is done or whatever, nobody really cares what you do. What’s your Instagram? I’ll follow you.

Me: I don’t have IG.

Emma: Really? Why not?

Me: **shrug** I just don’t use social media. I’m more of a private person I guess.

CLEARLY that is a lie, but my Instagram is “rafidangelo.” If you Google “rafidangelo” you can find anything I’ve ever written. I’ve always used the same handle on every social media platform because I used to make a lot of money doing this and you want to be easily searchable when your income depends on traffic to your site or sites. It’s impossible to erase a social media history like mine, so my employment strategy is to make sure I’m not searchable. The name I use on my resume is a name that does not appear anywhere on the Internet. So, on my application, the spots designated for social media are blank.

Anyway, it’s hard working for an organization that is directly and unquestionably making the world worse, but I have to set it aside in a corner of my mind because the most immediate pressing issue is keeping a roof over my head and food in my stomach. I can’t save the world if I’m hungry in a gutter somewhere, so I figured I could just keep my head down, keep booking interviews, and sooner rather than later, something will break and I’ll land a job elsewhere.

Friday I went to work for a halfday because the office empties out around 1 for Summer Fridays, and on the way out, the HR lady called me into her office.

Y’all. She had two blogs I’d written about vaccines.

When you’re the kind of organization worried about “spies” making their way in, having no social media imprint of any kind is a red flag. When I told Emma I don’t use it, they went back to my file and decided to start digging, which they should have done in the first place. When Susan from HR put my words in my face, I came clean and told her I wasn’t a spy, I just needed a job. I didn’t do my research on them the same way they didn’t do their research on me because we were both excited about the way the interviews went and what I could bring to fundraising and events planning. They needed new energy, I needed a paycheck, and we were both sloppy about doing our homework.

I couldn’t convince her I wasn’t a spy, but she said even if I wasn’t covertly working for another organization, my feelings about the topic were obviously at odds with the beliefs of the foundation, so I couldn’t work there.

So that’s how I got fired from a job I didn’t want a week after I started.

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