“Let’s Do Brunch” from The Misadventures of Sister Girl

Really?

Joker, don’t act like you don’t know what you’re working with.

 

What time are you having me over for lunch/brunch?

Excuse me?

 

I’ll be over around 1:30 unless you have any objections.

Sure I had objections.  Your Honor, I have objections.  Hell, I had a variety of objections.  But I was unable to express any of them.  For reasons unbeknownst to me I didn’t curtail what I knew in my gut to be disastrous.  I was flirting with the devil and it excited me, ignited me, and invigorated me.  Hell, it turned me on.  That, and the little (mad bad, wrong choice of words) stunt he pulled with the picture. Why couldn’t I be honest enough to stop him from coming over?  Why wasn’t my rational mind resisting what it knew to be danger (danger Will Robinson)? 

Address please

14382 Cypress View Lane

Apartment 107

 

Hit me up if there is something you need me to pick up. 

K

 

I put down my phone and ran around my apartment like a mad woman.  My apartment looked like the aftermath of a tsunami disaster area.  A ridiculously busy week at work had left me with little time to tidy up my place.  I couldn’t let Davis see my spot looking like this.  I had three hours to cook, clean, and appear presentable.  Hold up!  Why am I worried about impressing a man that I’ve known for years?  Why am I getting bent out of shape when I know him—well, know/knew of him?  At any rate, I spent the next two hours cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, dusting furniture, mopping, and picking up a week’s worth of clothes from nearly every square inch of my apartment.  With only an hour to go I rushed to the store for fresh fruit, a couple bottles of wine (my stash was low), a bottle of champagne, and orange juice.  I needed something to calm my nerves and a date with one of my battery-operated toys wasn’t going to fit into my already tight schedule.   Nevertheless, I somehow managed to get things together just before Davis arrived—late (thank goodness). 

A strong rap on the door pulled me from the nearby kitchen.  I stood on my tippy-toes to catch a glimpse of him through the peephole.  If he was looking raggedy I could pretend not to be home and hopefully dodge a bullet.  Fat chance.  Did he look that good in high school? 

“Hello sir,” I said as I pulled the door toward me.  No, he definitely didn’t look that good in high school.  He stepped into the small foyer and enveloped me in a hug—no, an embrace.  The warmth of his body ignited a small fire down below.  He stepped back and sized me up and down.

“The years have been kind to you.  You look good.”

“Thank you.  You seem to be aging like a fine wine,” I said with the back end of my statement drawing a smile on my face.  With that, he turned around taking in the atmosphere.  Was his butt that tight back in the day?  “Please have a seat on the sofa.  Help yourself to the fruit.  Would you like a mimosa?” 

“Yes, please.  Let me guess–your goal is to get me tipsy so that you can take advantage of me.  Right?”  He asked with a laugh. 

“You got jokes.  I’m not sure how to take advantage of the willing,” I counted as I walked back into the kitchen. 

“Let’s get this straight right now,” he began. 

I looked at him sitting there.  As he opened his mouth to deposit a strawberry I noticed that the goatee on his dark-chocolate face was newly trimmed.  Time had been on his side.  He had assuredly aged, but it was a mature look that fit him well.  And the muscles I detected (from our recent embrace) under his shirt were certainly saying my name as he then lifted his wine glass from the coffee table.  Yep, he’s going to get it.  

The Power of Prayer

“Their minds had been infected with the evil [propaganda] that had spread across the country [Rwanda], but their [Hutu extremists] souls weren’t evil.  Despite the atrocities, they were children of God, and I could forgive a child, although it would not be easy . . . especially when that child was trying to kill me . . . That night I [Immaculee Ilibagiza] prayed with a clear conscience and a clean heart.  For the first time since I entered the bathroom [genocide “sanctuary”], I slept in peace.”

–from Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiz (with Steve Erwin)

I read the words and felt immediate conviction.  Perhaps my inability to sleep soundly (without waking at the slightest sound or movement) is directly related to my efforts (or lack thereof) in praying for others.  Sure enough I have a prayer life.  At times I have been more fervent than others with my prayers.  But I’m talking about praying from a deep place within.  I’m talking about praying for more than myself, the safety and well being of my friends and family; I’m talking about praying for those who have brought anguish and pain to my doorstep.

When I was younger I was often confused by the language found in my bible (King James Version), I sought to know The Word, but found myself struggling to make sense of the unfamiliar string of phrases.  As I grew older I found solace in the myriad of translations that were made available.  I still read from the King James Version, but now I find clarity in reading from the Amplified Bible as well as The Message translation.

Luke 6:27-28 (KJV) calls us to “. . . Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

The Amplified Bible translation of the same verses reads, “But I say to you who are listening now to Me: [in order to heed, make it a practice to] love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred, Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you].”

The Message translation of Luke 6:27-30 notes, “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies.  Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.  When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.  If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it.  If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.  If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life.  No more tit-for-tat stuff.  Live generously.”

That call to action can seem like a pretty tall order when you are carrying the load of hurt, pain, anguish, hatred, and/or malice in your heart.  Just recently I began reading the book Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza.  Ilibagiza tells the harrowing truth of how she survived the genocide that ripped through her homeland of Rwanda in 1994.  The text is not typically one I pick off the shelf; decidedly so, I have been on a science fiction high as of late.  Nevertheless, I just began a unit of study with my 8th grade students on the challenge of social justice.  While the unit of study initially called for the students to form literature circles and read about the Holocaust of European Jews, my school’s media specialist and I made the executive decision to expand the readings to explore stories of global genocide (fiction and non-fiction).  We found half-dozen-or-so titles that cover acts of genocide from across the globe and spanning the past eighty years.  Ilibagiza’s Left to Tell is one of the books on my student’s list.

By now you may be wondering where I’m going with all this.  It’s actually rather simple.  When I reached part two of the text, “In Hiding”, I was confronted with a harsh reality similar to that of Immaculee Ilibagiza—a heart that contained hurt, hatred, and unforgiveness.  At this point in the text Immaculee is hiding in a small bathroom in the house of a sympathizing Hutu pastor in her village.  One of six women in the cramped space, Immaculee comes face to face with the reality that she must forgive, and pray for the souls of the Hutu extremists hell-bent to rid Rwanda of the Tutsi tribal minority they believe are out to gain control over the government.

The conviction hit me square in my chest.  How could I continue to harbor feelings of unforgiveness (hatred and malice) and not pray for those who have despitefully used me, when this woman who suffered a far worse experience, was able to do so in the midst of her turmoil?  Right then and there I put down the book and began to pray for those individuals who I felt had wronged me over the course of my life.  I prayed for God to forgive me for the things I had said and done to hurt others.  I prayed, not because I so desperately want a night full of peaceful sleep (earnestly I do), but because I want a life of peace.  We have been given life in an effort to make the world we live in better.  Each one of us has something to say and/or do that will leave this world better off, not worse off.

Despite the fact that Immaculee Ilibagiza went through a living hell in Rwanda, she has been able to use her experience to heal a country–a world that is fractured.  I have been moved by her experience.  Though I have not yet finished the book, I am looking forward to the additional lessons–morals that it holds for me.

Every book that I read leaves me different.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a work of fiction or non-fiction; I am never the same person after the book is finished.  The same is true about the individuals who bless us with their presence.  Every friendship changes me.  Every experience of love (breath taking and heart wrenching) has changed me. I firmly believe that we should take away something positive from every person, every experience we encounter—good and bad.

I’ve been challenged to live differently, to pray differently.

What “take aways” have you gleaned from acquaintances, books, enemies, experiences, friends, family, movies, songs, etc?

The Art of Revision: Life’s Metaphor

This school year I have tried very hard to help enlighten my 8th grade students to the fact that understand revision is an integral part of the writing as a process in their writing.  For a number of them revision has meant means to rewritinge  what was alreadypreviously written.  Yet and still And still yet, for other students revision is about erasing what they considered to be “mistakes”.  For the remaining faction, they acknowledge that revision is about neither of the previous ideas—it is an organic transformation on the page.  Over the years I have personally and professionally connoted revision with: adding, removing (as in strikethrough), rearranging, rewording, and/or replacing words on the page.  However, getting the bulk of my students to this place of writing enlightenment has been nothing short of a chore—a challenging chore. 

Today, February 25th my students must complete a state-mandated writing assessment—FCAT Writes.  They will have sixty minutes to write a drafted response to an arbitrary persuasive or expository writing prompt (situation).  For instance, the following is an example of the “tasteless” writing scenarios to which an 8th grader might be subjected.

  • Eating healthy foods is important.
  • Think about why it is important to eat healthy foods.
  • Now explain why you should eat healthy foods.  

With prompts like this it’s a wonder that students haven’t already revolted and formed a coup to overtake the state and federal government demanding educational reform.  But that’s a different post and you don’t want me to get started on education reform.   

 

In preparation for the assessment I had an epiphany: give every student a brain eraser as a symbol of their power prowess as writers.  Here is what the brain eraser symbolizes.  First, it is a literal symbol of the student’s greatest tool on this assessment.  Their brains house everything the students need to be articulate written communicators.  Second, the eraser is symbolic because I literally don’t want my students to erase anything off the page.  Because students have no resources from which to source how they will support their writing, their one and only resource during this assessment is their brain.  Thus, my rationale for So I purchasinged brain erasers for my students. 

Yesterday, I gave each student a “gift” to encourage them to do their best.  It was a simple token: a note with a reminder about revision and an inspirational quote from one of my favorite researchers—Carol Dweck.  

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I gave my students a “pep” talk after passing out the note and brain eraser, their gift.  I told them that if they erase (instead of strikethrough) they might take away something the reader would benefit from.  I also mentioned to them that everything they need to be successful is inside their brains—no, not the little erasers, but the brains housed in their heads.  Finally, I encouraged them to bring back both their brains for the assessment.  I want them to place the eraser on their desk throughout the test to remind them that they don’t have to erase, just add, remove, rearrange, reword, and/or replace.  Honestly, I really want them to be reminded of the fact that they should revise: anything they write on their allotted two pagesbefore time is called.  I’m not sure if my “kind gesture” and “words of encouragement” will be enough to spur them to higher heights, but I figured it was worth a try. 

—hence why the eraser is glued to the note.I don’t want them to erase anything.  To erase something from the page is to permanently remove its existence.  And here is where the art of revising becomes a metaphor for life. 

If I erase the fact that I filed for bankruptcy at age thirty-two, and a few months later went through a home foreclosure, I haveam eraseding (from the pages of life) the lessons I’ve learned about money management and my “needs versus my “wants.  Furthermore, if I erase the two abortions I have had, I will have also erased the lessons learned about humanity and the value of human life from my life’s pages.  If I erase from my memory my parents divorce, I erase a personal struggle that has strengthened my resolve in life.  I erase the pain and deny myself the opportunity to get grittier.  I could literally go on and on about the myriad of personal experiences that I would eagerly love to permanently remove from the pages of my life, but if I do thato,  so I do so as a detriment to my personal evolution.  To permanently erase people, things, places, experiences—both good and bad—from the pages of our lives, would alter who’ve become as a result of those same very people, things, places, and experiences.

Life is meant to be revised—added to, rearranged, reworded, and replaced.  We should constantly add love and good people to our lives.  We must sometimes rearrange our plans to make way for better opportunities.  We sometimes reword who we are after we’ve evolved.  And there are also times when we replace the painful memories of the past with the present blissful moments.  Revision is an art that we develop over the course of a lifetime.  The best writers know how to craft a masterpiece because they know how to revise.