A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY?
Early Wednesday morning, a headline on the Washington Post website caught my eye: "Kelly Ripa's pitch-perfect 'Live!' monologue: How the co-host pulled off a tough moment."
What?! Kelly Ripa "pitch-perfect"? In case you don't know, Ripa had been absent from ""Live!" since the middle of last week, after ABC announced that her co-host, Michael Strahan would be heading to "Good Morning America" this fall. Ripa was reportedly "blindsided" by the news and furious with Disney-ABC executives that she found out about the decision only last Tuesday, shortly before a news release went out to the rest of the world.
Curious, I watched a YouTube video of Ripa's monologue. Then I watched it again. And again. Why did I find her remarks so riveting? Moments later, I realized that she was speaking for me. Yesterday, I drafted and sent the following Letter to the Editor to the Orlando Sentinel:
I have never watched, “Live! With Kelly and Michael,” but reading about Kelly Ripa’s reappearance on the show this past Tuesday reminded me of the importance of communication and respect in the workplace. A 26-year veteran of her company, Kelly said, “I don’t consider this just a workplace; this is my second home . . . we are family.” She was therefore stunned to be “blindsided” by the news that Michael Strahan was departing for “Good Morning America.”
For 28 years, I was an independent creative consultant with CNL Financial Group, Inc. in Orlando, writing marketing materials, speeches, even its core values. I was told on countless occasions how important I was to the company’s business, and how I would always be, “a member of the CNL family.” Then with new leadership, my status began to erode. No one ever directly told me that my skills were no longer needed or that I was no longer a good fit or most importantly, that I was no longer a member of the CNL family. CNL honored its last contract, and then . . . silence.
I recognize that I was never a full-time CNL associate (even though I had been called an “honorary CNL associate”). I also recognize that business is business and corporate America can be a mean and cruel place. However, I expected more from a company with leadership that prides itself on Judeo-Christian principles. At a minimum, I expected that the truth would have been spoken to me in love.
I don't know if the letter will be published, but as I told a couple of beloveds yesterday, I feel "lighter" now that I've written it. CNL will probably never speak the truth in love to me, but I'm grateful to still have beloveds who do.
TODAY'S TRUTH . . .
CAPTION: "I'd like your honest, unbiased and possibly
career-ending opinion on something."
ON THIS DAY . . .
LET ME BE CLEAR . . .
Folks, I'm not a political wonk, but I have a hot-button issue that must be addressed: the OVERUSE of the verb, pivot. Let me be transparent.
Every day, I hear that it's only a matter of time before t(rump) pivots to become more presidential or that Sanders will pivot to supporting Hillary or Hillary will pivot to the general election. Or Obama will pivot to Israel or Iran or China or [insert country]. Or that nations will pivot to the emerging world order.
What ever happened to good old-fashioned flip flopping? To be clear, pivoting to pivot is a TOTAL DISASTER! In our land of opportunity, where angry white men and hockey moms, Joe Sixpacks and NASCAR dads are losing jobs, I say, let's get rid of PIVOT! Make America great again and go back to platform flip flopping! I will build a YUGE wall to prevent pivoting. Believe me, I will build a wall like nobody can build a wall. At the end of the day, you will be begging me to go back to pivoting. And, yes, with all due respect, I am playing the woman's card.
ON THIS DAY . . .
"IT IS RIGHT TO EXPAND OUR CONCEPTION OF MARRIAGE . . . ."
This past Sunday in a New York Times opinion piece, Harris Wofford, 90, and a former Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, went public about his impending marriage to a 40-year-old man, Matthew Charlton.
In his essay, Finding Love Again, This Time With a Man, Wofford poignantly shares what it was like to lose his wife of 48 years, Clare, to acute leukemia, in 1996, when they were both about to turn 70. But then he goes on to share what it's been like for "the same force of love" to bring him together with a much younger man. They met 15 years ago on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In a Washington Post interview Wofford shared that, "Most of my life has been with a great woman, a great love and a great family. Now I'm with a great love late in my life."
According to the Post, "Wofford is well aware that it is the age difference, more than his fiance’s gender, that has caused jaws to plop and unleashed a fusillade of social media blasts. 'Everyone has a certain kind of amusement when there’s a big age difference,' he says, seated in a rattan chair in the apartment that the couple, who have been together for 15 years, have shared for the past six. 'But that’s a part of the magic of love. It really can bring people across a bridge, or build a bridge that you can cross.'"
The age difference,“is sort of funny sounding,” he says, “funny with a emphasis on fun.”
When he was younger, Wofford worked and walked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., writing that he had seen firsthand, "that when the time was right, major change for civil rights came to pass in a single creative decade. It is right to expand our conception of marriage to include all Americans who love each other."
The Sassistas agree . . . but don't you think the age difference is a challenge? Perhaps it doesn't matter once you're older. What do you think?
TODAY'S TRUTH . . .
CAPTION: "Back when we were in college, and occasionally sleeping together,
I never thought I'd be here, toasting you at your wedding to a woman."
ON THIS DAY . . .
BLACK AND WHITE . . .
Last week, I interviewed playwright Christina Anderson about her play "pen/man/ship" -- one of the plays at this summer's Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Described as "a maritime quest for truth," the play "creates a telling parable about violence, betrayal, faith, and freedom." It features an all-black cast and unabashedly exposes racial issues. At one point in the interview I asked Christina the following:
In an Atlantic article entitled, “There Is No Post-Racial America,” Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, “We should seek not a world where the black race and white race live in harmony, but a world in which the terms black and white have no real political meaning.”
What do you think of that?
How in the hell are we going to do that? I could say that it would be awesome. A couple of years ago, I wrote a solo show called Hollow Roots. It’s about a woman who looks to be black to us and over the course of the play, we find out that she’s lost her blackness and now represents the start of post-racism. It was when Obama was taking office and white people were saying, “Wait! Wait! This means this society is post-racial!” Only white people were talking about it. They weren’t talking about the repercussions of this for people of color. I wanted to write this play from this black women’s point of view and her losing her identity.
Because race has a huge history of oppression in it, it’s going to be tough to get to that place. I don’t know if that place is as much of a utopia as we say it is. That was what I was wrestling with in that solo piece. I’m working on a companion piece right now because here we are eight years later and we have Black Lives Matter. There’s a huge investment in the upcoming generation of black people to hold on to blackness for their dear life.
What do you think of Christina's response?
ON THIS DAY . . .
THE TOP ONE PERCENT . . .
According to an article in yesterday's New York Times, " . . . the top 1 percent of American households now controls 42 percent of the nation's wealth, up from less than 30 percent two decades ago. The top 0.1 percent accounts for 22 percent, nearly double the 1995 proportion."
NOT IN THE ONE PERCENT . . .
In an opinion piece also in yesterday's New York Times, Ahmed Mujahid, whose home in Syria has been bombed several times, revealed, "I have not seen or eaten a tomato in a year."
REMEMBER THIS . . .
In his new book, Old Age: A Beginner's Guide, writer Michael Kinsley reveals: "Of the 79 million boomers, 28 million are expected to develop Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia . . . that adds up to about 35 percent, or one out of three."
STEPPING UP AND OUT . . .
About five years ago, I was hooted out of the sassosphere when I purchased New Balance 801s (see top photo). Over the weekend, I finally pitched the 801s for some stylish slip-on Vans. Matissta believes the Vans are a great improvement. "Instead of looking like a senior citizen walking along Miami Beach, you now look like Mary Tyler Moore."
TODAY'S TRUTH . . .
ON THIS DAY . . .
SECRET MUSIC . . .
Pictured above is a sea shell that was in one of the boxes my mother returned to me a couple of months ago. I have previously written about the contents of these boxes: my mother's love of art, her love of flowers, her love of hummingbirds, and her poetry. Of all things in the natural world, my mother seemed to love the ocean and most of the sea shells she collected are in my home. Note the top of the bookshelf:
Following is a short excerpt from a story in my memoir about the trips our family made to the ocean. I typed the first draft on April 22, 1993, 23 years ago tomorrow:
After eating lunch, my mother would take my hand as well as her bucket, trowel and tweezers, and lead me through the wind-sculpted dunes to a perch where we sat side by side in silence facing the water. Sometimes she would turn her head slightly toward me, as though she had something to say. But instead of speaking, she would begin to hum, and I knew she was listening, listening to the wind, to the waves, to the music only she could hear.
We always began our search for shells at the line of flotsam and jetsam marking the place where the churning tide had retreated. There my mother would fall to her knees and gently pull apart snaky tangles of seaweed to find tiny mollusks concealed in the folds and among the roots.
"Look, babies, baby conches," she would say as she plucked them from their moorings with tweezers. "Cream and tan, not cream and brown, and the spiral ridges are still pointed. Pointed, not lost. See the outer lip? Smooth, not jagged and sharp. These are babies, abandoned babies from deep, deep waters."
She would place one in my open palm, and I would trace the whorls with my thumbnail beginning at the apex. I looked, watched, and waited. Where was the abandoned baby? How did my mother know it was in this shell? What could she see that I couldn't?
I looked up and watched my mother turning over stones, planks, and driftwood. Sometimes small creatures would dart out, their refuge discovered until the next tide. She would look, probe with her tweezers, roll back the stone or driftwood, and then continue walking. What she wanted most of all were the live ones, ones that lived on the rocky shore, clinging under rocks while the tide was out. Or ones that lived on sandy flats, where they burrowed into the sand during the ebb tide. She would look for small holes; holes that had been created as the live ones, detecting her presence, quickly drew in their siphons, often ejecting a squirt of water. With one swift movement, she could scoop up the bivalve beneath the hole with her trowel and place it in her bucket.
"They are just babies. The ocean will wash them away," she would say. "They need a mother."
CELEBRATING NATIONAL POETRY MONTH . . .
This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. To celebrate, the Sassistas are highlighting two books of poetry, each distinguished by experimental tributes to human history, primarily the depiction of black women and the civil rights movement.
A MEDITATION ON THE BLACK FEMALE FIGURE THROUGHOUT TIME . . .
In her debut poetry collection --- The Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems -- which won the 2015 National Book Award for poetry, Robin Coste Lewis offers a triptych that begins and ends with poems that consider the roles desire and race play in the construction of self. The central panel is the title poem, "Voyage of the Sable Venus" -- and, get this -- it's 79 pages long. But it's worth the read because it consists almost entirely of the titles of Western artworks, spread over some 40,000 years, which comment on the black female figure. In the prologue Lewis lists the seven rules she set for herself in creating this poem. Here is the first rule:
No title could be broken or changed in any way. While the grammar is completely modified -- I erased all periods, commas, semicolons -- each title was left as published [in museum catalogs], and was not syntactically annotated, edited, or fragmented.
The title is derived from a notorious 18th-century engraving by Thomas Stothard, "The Voyage of the Sable Venus from Angola to the West Indies":
Here is a snippet of this poem:
Standing Female Reliquary Figure
with Crested Coiffure and Hands
Clasped in Front of Torso, Holding
a staff Surmounted by a Human Head
Figure Has Prominent
Knees and Oversized Head
with Half-Open Eyes
and Semicircle Mouth
That Juts Out
from the Face Some
I read this poem in one sitting and agree with a reviewer who said, "its incremental force begins to make you feel you have an elephant lowering itself onto your chest." These lists feel like a catalogue of atrocities and is nearly unbearable to take them in, but they challenged me to rethink depictions of the black feminine and forcefully reminded me that Black Lives Matter.
THE VOICES OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT . . .
Equal parts poetry and journalism, One With Others: [a little book of her days] is the late C.D. Wright's book-length poem (a finalist for the National Book Award in 2010) that tells the story of one, small-town white woman who crossed the color line to support black activists making a now forgotten march "March Against Fear" from West Memphis to Little Rock in August 1969. The woman's name was Margaret Kaelin McHugh, and she was Wright's friend and mentor. In the book McHugh is known only as "V" (a nickname given her by Wright and other students at Memphis College).
The students rescued V from abject poverty in a Memphis slum where she was living after being ostracized by her family and community for her singular act of opposition to the fiercely held Jim Crow laws in Arkansas. Becoming "one with others," she ended up a pariah -- one with others. The students brought V onto their campus to live and later helped her relocate to the North. Thus began a lifelong friendship between V and Wright that ended with V’s death in 2004 in Hell’s Kitchen.
One With Others draws from oral histories, photographs, newspaper accounts and interviews with witnesses, neighbors, police, activists and students. This is a history of many voices, by one voice -- "V's" -- keeps leaping off the page:
To feel in conjunction with the changes
of my time. The most alive I've ever been.
My body lifted itself from the chair
it walked to where I saw a silent crowd.
To act, just to act. That is the glorious thing.
ON THIS DAY . . .
The Oklahoma City Memorial
THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE ANDERSON HEADLINES . . .
Some people collect recipes. Some collect baseball cards. Others collect coins, stamps, rocks, dolls, fishing lures, marbles, statues, antiques . . . and then there's me. As most of you know, I collect art, books, music, and movies. I bet no one knows that for years, I've collected headlines that feature either my first or last name. Some of these headlines are pictured at the top. Here are some others:
It will probably not surprise you that these two photos represent about half of the headlines that I've collected. Okay, now that you know . . . what should I do with these headlines? Is there a story here? It's a serious question.
TODAY'S TRUTH . . .