Home Again

I don’t get to come home very often.  I live 6 hours away from where I grew up, so when I come home, it’s for a holiday or some other family event.  Today,  I’m home for a funeral. My grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Hassie died.  She was 95 years old.

I don’t have many stories about Aunt Hassie, but I felt the need to honor her memory with a few words.

Aunt Hassie had gravely smoker’s voice for all of my life, but I can’t remember if she actually smoked cigarettes.  She wore a Jheri Curl in her yellowing salt and pepper hair and she had big round glasses that magnified her already large eyes.  She never gave birth to children, so I feel a special connection to her because I too, will never birth children.

I spent a lot of time with Aunt Hassie when I was a kid.  She and my grandmother worked at the local YWCA as cleaning women.  I used to follow them up and down the steps all day long and at lunch, we would sit in the kitchen to eat and if I was lucky, I’d get a soda out of the “coke-cola” machine.

In her later years, I would pick her up and bring her to our Thanksgiving dinner.  She was always fun to have around.

 

Pixar Movies Ranked

I’m so excited that Toy Story 4, Pixar’s 21st movie, comes out today.  I can’t wait to go see it with my nephew.

In preparation for a recent trip to Disney, I sat down with him to watch the very first movie.  While some of the animation looks a little dated, the movie holds up very well.  Our visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios got me thinking about my favorite Pixar movies.  In honor of their 21st movie being released today, I thought I would rank the 20 that I have seen from best to worse

1. Up – Nothing can top the first couple of minutes of that movie, period.

2. Coco – the animation was fantastic, but it is the story that ranks this one so high on my list.  A tearjerker with intrigue and a surprise twist, that’s hard to beat..

3. Incredible 2 – I loved both movies in this franchise, but this one makes the top 5 because Mrs. Incredible takes center stage #girlpower

4. A Bug’s Life – This movie is often overlooked as one of the greats and deserves more kudos.

5. Finding Nemo – Who doesn’t love this move?

6. Cars – My nephew’s first Pixar movie, so it’s rather special to me.  Mater has to be one of the best Pixar characters.

7. Toy Story 3 – I loved the unexpected villain in this movie.  And when they were in the fiery furnace…..*sniff* *sniff*…That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

8. Cars 3 – More #girlpower and this is a very nice conclusion for the franchise.

9. The Incredibles – This movie felt like a James Bond movie.  The script was phenomenal and it’s no wonder that it’s a fan favorite.

10. Toy Story 2 – Kelsey Grammar completely made this movie for me and I loved the “Star Wars” reference.

11. WALL-E – the concept for this movie was so intriguing to me.  For a long time it was one of my absolute favorites.  I think I need to rewatch it and maybe it’ll move up on the list.

12. Toy Story – This falls to number 12 simply because I couldn’t put all three movies in the top ten.

13. Brave – The mother/daughter focus of this movie is something we don’t see very often in Disney movies, so thank you, Pixar, for highlighting this complicated relationship.

14. Monsters, Inc. – This movie has grown on me over the years.  Ask me in another five years and it might make it to the top 10.

15. Inside Out – I had a negative emotional response to this one, which is why it ranks so low.  I can’t really explain why I didn’t’ connect with this movie, but I doubt I’ll ever watch it again.  When her imaginary friend died…..nope, can’t do it.

16. Finding Dory – This felt like a rehash of Finding Nemo, but it was nice to get Dory’s backstory.

17, Monsters University – Meh.

18. Cars 2 – This Story didn’t do much for me at all.

19. Ratatouille – I know a lot of people like this one, but I’m still grossed out by a rat cooking food.

20. The Good Dinosaur – Still haven’t watched this movie through until the end.

What is your favorite Pixar movie?

Toy Story 4 is in theaters now!

Sunday Dinner

I’m making Sunday Dinner. I understand that any dinner you have on Sunday is technically Sunday dinner, but this is the southern, capitalized “Sunday Dinner”. If there was such a thing as a Southern dictionary, Sunday Dinner would have to be defined as a meal eaten in the late afternoon or early evening that takes all day to prepare. It would have to have either turkey, ham, pot roast, or a roasted chicken. You also need mac & cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes, gravy made from scratch, some homemade biscuits or rolls, and of course some sort of dessert that’s also made from scratch.

I’m going to roast a turkey breast. For me, the best part of turkey is the gravy, but I don’t consistently get enough drippings when I roast a turkey breast to make gravy. I found a recipe online for “make ahead gravy” that you make by roasting a couple turkey wings and then making stock with it. I’m giving that a try today.

I’m also making some collards. I don’t want a lot of starch today, so instead of the mashed potatoes and mac & cheese, I’m just going to have some wild rice.

The Grandma’s Sweet Potato Pies are already in the oven.

My house smells wonderful. I can’t wait for dinner.

The Answer is No

No matter what you ask of me right now, the answer will be, “no”.  I don’t care how you ask.  Syrupy sweet or angry and demanding.  Doesn’t matter.  “No.”  Compound question or multiple choice.  Still “no.”  All yes or no questions will be answered in the negative, even if it’s the wrong answer.

“How are you feeling?”  No.  “What time is it?”  No.  “What did you have for dinner?” No.  “Is the Earth round?” No

Sometimes the only strength that I possess is in my words.  Sometimes I don’t have the energy or strength to string my words together.  Sometimes all I’ve got is “no”.

So, no.

Natural Hair Gone Awry 

Sunday was wash day at my house.  I ran the dishwasher, did a few loads of laundry, and washed my hair.   The process of washing my hair can take all day. Literally.  

After I wash it, then I put conditioner in it and let that sit for 20 minutes to a few hours depending on how dry my hair is feeling.  I never really mean to leave it on for multiple hours, but I get into doing other things and then realize hours later that I need to rinse my hair or it will never dry before I go to sleep.

After I rinse out the conditioner, I put in a leave-in conditioner and detangle my hair.  That can take about 20 minutes if I’m being gentle with myself.  Then it’s time to style.

I recently returned to finger coiling my hair because it gives my curls more definition.  I hate the process because it takes so long, but I usually like the results.  Usually.

The next morning, I sat on the couch and uncoiled my hair while I watched the Today Show.  When I went to the bathroom to finish getting ready, I looked in the mirror and was completely shocked. I looked like I had snakes coming out of my head.  I was straight up Medusa, y’all!  My hair was going every which way and no matter what I did, I couldn’t tame it. I. Was. Stressed.  Then I said to myself, “Fuck it.  Ain’t nothing I can do about it.  Ima put on this suit and throw on some African jewelry, go to work, and act like I meant for my hair to look this crazy.”  And that’s just what I did.  When I went back into the bathroom to take a final look, I spotted the steamer I had just used to knock the wrinkles out of my suit and thought, “Hmmm…. why not?”  

Yep,  I hit my hair with that steamer, y’all and laughed the whole time I was doing it.  Magically, it calmed the whole snake pit down.  Couldn’t believe it.

I’m still not happy with the way my hair turned out, but at least I can live with it until next wash day.

Stuck in a Groove: “Get Me Bodied” by Beyoncé

I am prone to having songs get stuck in my head. If it’s musical, it gets trapped in my brain and I could usually recall it at will. When a whole song or particular portion of the song starts playing on a continuous loop in my head, I call it getting stuck in a groove. If you didn’t grow up with records, you won’t get the double entendres there.

Yesterday, as I was pulling out of my driveway, Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied” came on the radio. I hadn’t heard the song in awhile and it got my juices flowing first thing on a Monday morning.

Normally, when I get stuck in the groove, it happens immediately and can last for a few minutes or a few days. This time, I thought I had escaped the infectious beat that Beyoncé laid down, but this morning, out of nowhere, it caught me.

I slept through the night, but woke up feeling as if I hadn’t slept. As I dragged myself into the shower, I was praying that the warm water would give me the jolt I needed to get through the day.  It was at that moment that Bey’s song popped back into my head; not the whole song, just this loop: “All I need/is to let it be/ Ain’t no worries, no/ boy, dance with me.” The lyrics struck a nerve. It kept repeating and wouldn’t stop until I burst into song. As I sang the lyrics over and over, I found myself throwing my hands to the sky and lowering my head as if I were in church.  I let the the water run down my face and continued to belt out those four bars.  And then it was reduced to “All I need is to let it be.  Ain’t no worries, naw…” and then I’d let the music play in my head for the remaining four counts.  Apparently there is something that I need to let be and I’m guessing that I’ll be stuck in this groove until I figure it out.

Do the Scissor Legs and enjoy Bey while I figure out my personal issues.

What’s the last song you had stuck in your head?

I am a Part of the Rhythm Nation

Janet

I was in high school when “Rhythm Nation” dropped.  I was already a huge fan, but this album took me to a-whole-nother level.  I was already an avid concert-goer for both Mike and Janet, but this album made me a bit fanatic.  I had the hat, the 1814 pin, the t-shirt, you name it, I had it.  I would have rocked it ’til my tape popped, but I’m pretty sure I had this album on cd.  The album was everything; socially conscious, great melodies, grooves that made you wanna dance, choreography that you had to know in order to be cool, and the videos!  Mike invented the long form video and Janet put her spin on it.  The long video that goes with this album was the bomb.  I’m sure I still have it on a vhs tape somewhere.  I remember thinking that it was so cool to have one video for three songs (“Rhythm Nation”, “I Miss You Much”, and “The Knowledge”).  Mike never did that and to my knowledge, no one has done it since her until Beyonce’s “Lemonade”.

A group of us decided to perform “Black Cat” for a high school pep rally.  We had our own choreography and everything.  You couldn’t tell us that we weren’t good enough to go on tour with Ms Jackson.  We. Were. Fierce. (Thankfully, this was before the age of smartphones and YouTube, so there is nothing out there to prove otherwise.)

Today is Janet Jackson’s birthday.  To celebrate her day, please take a trip with me down memory lane and enjoy her most meaningful and iconic work, “Rhythm Nation”.

And if you’re looking for tickets for her “The State of the World” tour, you better act fast!