Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

FRED ROGERS 

He comes into the house singing and full of joy, changes his shoes, unzips his jacket and opens the closet door. He puts on a forrest green sweater, settles into his chair and smiles gently towards the camera. He makes me feel good about him, me and my life. My childhood was full of great memories and cool TV shows like Schoolhouse Rock and Sesame Street, but Mr. Rogers stood out from the rest. 

A few months ago I saw a huge poster board of Mr. Rogers. My heart started beating faster and I looked around to see if anyone else saw it. I didn’t see any reaction from the rest of the moviegoers. I said aloud to myself. ” Mr. Freaking Rogers.”

I kinda hid the fact that I was super geeked to see this movie. I never saw one preview or trailer and didn’t need to. On Thursday I saw the movie times available online and turns out it was playing everywhere all damn day. I texted my group of friends a list of movie times and waited for a reply. My friend Mina hit me back quick and we set a time to meet.

We met up at the movie theatre and she seemed happy to see the film, but I was real life excited, no BS. The movie quiz game seemed to go on forever and then the 50-11 trailers that don’t come out until fall.

Finally the film started, and I was instantly confused. Uhhhh I thought I was about to watch a movie about Fred Rogers. I was prepared to scrutinize the actor playing him and ready to see who would play his wife and sons. To my surprise, this was actually a documentary. I have seen most of the Netflix docs, along with the on demand 30 for 30’s, and Friday night’s 20/20 series. I had to change my mindset and was shocked when Mr. Freaking Rogers came on the screen talking directly to me.

Now remember, I am a Mr. Rogers fan and have been since age 6 but I didn’t know shit about this man.  This documentary was not about Mr. Rogers; it was about Fred. It was time for me to learn about who he was and how he lived.

Fred Rogers was a man born to an upper middle class family. He had great parents and was raised with conservative morals and values. He went to college right out of high school and then went to school to be a minister. #1. Mr. Rogers was a pastor. He loved to spread the love of Christ and was set on preaching the gospel until he began watching TV shows.  He noticed that the quality of TV was lacking and there was nothing positive geared toward children.  He hated to see the slapstick shows where characters threw pies in each other’s faces. He sat in front of the tube and watched cartoons where bullies beat up on the little guy. He was horrified and vowed to create something better and more meaningful.

He always had a love for children and he merged his passion with television. His first idea was to use a tiger hand puppet to teach social skills like manners and compassion. That was going well but he wanted to go deeper, and boy did he. He created characters that had value and traits that could be taught to children. He found a great cast to help round out the six  characters he played himself. #2 Mr. Freaking Rogers played all of those characters and did all of those voices. WTF

The show was becoming successful as the season progressed. He could have been happy with the way the show was going, but he wasn’t. While Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was growing and being viewed by millions worldwide; the world was in turmoil. Racism was still very prevalent in the late 1960’s. A group of black children were swimming in a city pool when a group of vile white adults poured bleach in the water. That sent him into an anger that could only be quelled by immediate action. He taped an episode where on a very hot day, he and a black mail carrier put their feet in a small tub to cool off. This was his way of saying that anyone who wants to swim should be able to without prejudice. #3. Fred Rogers was not silent when it was convenient, he took action in the face of discrimination.

When the country was at odds over The war in Iraq, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood reflected the feeling of confusion. He used the puppets and actors and actresses to address the fears and anxiety that children were feeling. This issue was being discussed among America’s adults but who was helping the children? Fred made that his job to educate and do so in a loving way.

Mr. Rogers became a TV personality who loved and advocated for children. He went before congress to plead his case regarding children’s programming at PBS. He didn’t use the normal political rhetoric; he simply sang a song about children being themselves and loving themselves. Doing so awarded him a grant for millions of dollars.

He had his critics, those who said he was strange, weird and even gay. But the rumors never seemed to bother him. Fred kept busy visiting schools and showing children love.  Those who felt he was some pedophile would have to speak their madness while Rogers spoke self-love and love for others.

At the end of the documentary they showed numerous clips of the lives he touched. It showed children of all races, ethnicities and nationalities enjoying life; singing and dancing. As the final scene flashed across the screen all I could hear was sniffling, blowing noses, and a man took out his handkerchief. I tried to hold my tears back because I had not cried in a theatre since Will Smith’s Seven Pounds. I felt the tears fall as Mr. Fred Rogers said, “all I want to do is to have you think of all of the people who made you who you are. Think of all of the people who love you unconditionally. Think of those who have been there for you every moment of your life and share your love with them.” 

His sons, his coworkers, his wife, and many who admired him entered the frame all naming the people who made them who they are, loved them unconditionally, andwere there for them each moment of their lives. I thought of my family members and ugly cried. I  implore you after reading this blog to do the same. Think of those who made you who you are, loved you unconditionally, and were there for you each moment of your life… and share your love with them

R. Hoosier

 

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Suga Momma Goes to Syracuse 

Now in order to understand this blog you need to either watch a show called The Proud Family or have your own Suga Momma. The show was popular on Disney in the early 2000’s. It starred Kyla Pratt as the voice of the main character Penny Proud. Suga Momma was played by Jo Marie Payton who also played the Mom on a show called Family Matters. If you haven’t seen that show watch that too.

Anywho Suga Momma is the feisty grandma of the Proud’s and she doesn’t hold her tongue -EVER. She also……….. Let’s just break it down, she doesn’t give a damn and isn’t scared of anyone. Now this is the part where I talk about Nana.

Nana is feisty. This weekend while attending a graduation at Syracuse University ; I tried to hold her 89 year old hand and help her up three sets of stairs. She shooed my hand away. Her response was and I quote, “ I know how to and I can walk.”

Nana doesn’t hold her tongue, EVER! She was getting restless so I told her we could walk around for a while. I’m sorry I can’t tell her nothin’. I asked her if she wanted to walk around. Outside of the stadium there are no seats anywhere. So we were trying to find place to rest after taking a stroll to the concession stand. Nana flagged down three police officers and explained to them that they needed to find some seats for the elderly. When they provided their explanation, she walked away before they could finish thus leaving me to look like a fool.

You know what’s next? Nana doesn’t give a DAMN. We were at the graduation party and she said she needed something. I said oh what do you need, to use the restroom? She shook her head. I said do you need to go to sleep?. She shook her head. I asked if she needed food. She said I again quote, “ I need a glass of red wine.” And of course me being the dutiful granddaughter I found her a nice merlot.

If I told you anymore stories this blog would go on for two days. I adore my Nana.I mean she is my favorite person in the entire world. She can be a feisty, fussy, hot mess but she helped me to become the woman I am. This blog is part of her always debating me and showing me how to speak my truth and challenge others. I may have been called a feisty firecracker a few times. I am working on my filter and I keep folks around me who will hold me accountable. My children, my friends & family are good at it.

Although Nana is a trip, she fiercely loves her family. She has helped me with my children and helped raise my youngest daughter from a newborn. Now my daughter at age 21 is able to take care of her. She has helped us financially even as she was retiring. Once she placed $300 in my hand and walked away. Nana is 89 years old and has all of her mind; her faculties are in check. She is in good health and she would slap me if she knew I wrote this blog so please don’t tell anyone. Shhhhhhhh

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Graduation Season 

Last weekend had to be one of the best times of my life. My lil cousin who is more like my niece, graduated from Syracuse University. She is the second of her cousins who have graduated college. My daughter graduated from Ball State in 2016 and is now teaching fourth grade. But this ain’t about her.

My little cousin Tyler was always quiet and you never knew what she was thinking. Even as a child, she had multiple talents. I first noticed her acting skills and she played roles in pretend stories. Tyler also sings and has been covering songs since she was a middle schooler. She comes from a family of singers on both sides. More importantly she is smart and works hard so hearing that she got into a great school was no surprise.

She left Atlanta, GA to go to the cold and snow in upstate New York. And when Miss Tyler arrived she turned that place out. She began working and getting involved on campus. She worked at an art gallery and would come home to work at Baskin- Robbins. Then this kid decided that she would go to summer school and graduate in 3 years. And she did!!!

When her name was called in that arena we all celebrated. Our girl made it! When your family, you’re proud and happy when someone you love succeeds. Tyler is a black woman who defeated all odds and anything that stood in her way. So in two months the next chapter of her life begins as she starts graduate school.

My little cousin has the world at her feet, and I know it’s cliché but it’s facts. The sky is not the limit. She can advance high above what she ever hoped or dreamed. We could see her in movies or shows or she could be writing for a publication. Tyler could write screenplays or interview politicians and celebrities. That focus and determination keeps her on track, and of course it does, she comes from good stock.😉😉

MY DAUGHTERS

I am so happy and proud of the relationship that I have with my daughters; Brittany and Ana. Brittany and I instantly bonded when she was small but Ana was always with my Uncle and Aunt all of the time. Nana had her when she wasn’t at Auntie and Uncle Sonny’s. We later came together and she learned to trust me at around age 2.

            As the girls grew up and into their teen years, my favorite thing about our time together was laying across their bed and just talking to them about their day, Ana’s sports and Brit’s band stuff. When Brit left  for college Ana and I grew closer and really bonded. She was very popular in high school so she would put together cute outfits and I enjoyed doing her hair in cute styles as she talked to me about the thirsty boys who liked her.
              Now that my girls are adults…well Grown-ish, it’s so much fun to talk to them and go back and forth about politics music and pop culture. I so love our connection of love and honesty and they are both blatantly honest. Over the years I have learned to be honest with them because parents lie a LOT.  When we talk on our conference calls we spent so much time laughing and debating that it became a Sunday ritual for a while, but then they got busy. We still stay in contact through text and when I am annoying they ignore me. They agree that I do too much. For instance Ana told me to write a paragraph and I am on my third or fourth one.
              To sum up the relationship I have with my girls I would say I have homies for life. I have someone I can vent to and  they can vent to me. I also love the closeness that the girls share and I hope I had something to do with that. Ana is understanding to my needs and that is why anything I have or can do for her it’s done. Brittany is my boss and helps me make decisions that are hard, she keeps me in check. So I always encourage her and build her self- esteem.
            I love my girlies with all of my heart. I kind of feel like we are pieces of a beautiful mosaic set of tiles wound together through unconditional love.

 

SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT

shes

 

I was finally able to carve out some time to watch Spike Lee’s Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It. I am old enough to remember hearing about the movie when it came out back in the late 80’s. I was only 9 years old and didn’t see the movie for myself until I was in my twenties.

It started out as many of Spike’s movies have in the past with wonderful camera angles and cinematography. The setting is New York City; Brooklyn to be exact. Nola Darling is the main character just as she was in the film.  She is dating three men; Mars Blackmon who is young and keeps her laughing and sexing like crazy. However he is immature and lives with his sister in the projects. She  has Greer Childs a narcissist model who thinks he is God’s gift to women and to Nola. He makes love to her with patience and passion. And lastly Jamie Overstreet; the married businessman who is loaded and showers Nola with gifts and lives to eat her for dessert. She needs these men in her life for various reasons. They equal one man; each fulfilling her wants and desires. She has no intention to commit and of course the men don’t like that at all.

Instead of giving a review of the series I just want to give my opinion on  the overall theme.  I don’t want to give away the entire series for those who haven’t had to chance to binge. She’s Gotta Have It is about women being able to be sexually free and not being labeled as a whore or thot.  Are we not able to have sex and enjoy it just as much as men? What about us having side dudes as men have side chicks? Is it unimaginable to think that women want to have a full life and be able to choose what kind of cake we like, eat the hell out of it and have ice cream along with the cake?

The thought of having many husbands has crossed my mind many times. I have been married most of my life and the idea of marriage has always been important to me. My husband is cool and laid back for the most part.  He is a great guy but he doesn’t share my passion for life or music. What if I had another man who loved going dancing the way I enjoy it? Or what if I could have a boyfriend who would listen to music all night long and break it down to its purest forms? At some point that guy might get on my nerves and be too deep and I might want a hunk who picks me up and takes me from place to place in his arms. He opens doors and takes his shirt off at my request. He would be my Greer there for his looks and brawn not so much his mind. The passionate guy could be a poet and love spontaneous vacations, picnics, and naked games of tag.

Then I would have my #1 the one who is my opposite; balanced and controlled. In a perfect world that would be accepted and my husband would be on board. I mentioned this to him and his response, ” HELL NO RHASHA.” I am a realist in terms of relationships. People change, their wants and needs change,  what we want at 20 is different at 30 and even 50. I guess I can continue to live my life through Nola. Something about her is freeing and exciting. She is not perfect and has her flaws and insecurities. She is irresponsible as hell and makes excuses instead of owning her shit.

Season two of SGTHI threatens to be just as bold as season 1. What happened after the Thanksgiving dinner where all of the men became acquainted with each other?  Are they merely pieces of meat to Nola and there to fill her sexual appetite? Will they ever stop singing Prince’s Greatest Hits? For me I am here for every minute of the series. I gotta have more!

 

Five Embarassing Facts About Me

I wanted to do something fun this time. No heavy blog about mental health or family and relationships. This will make you laugh and I promise these incidents are 100% true. Let’s goooooooo.
1. I don’t know how to make a traditional cup of coffee. Whenever I encounter a coffee pot I either google the brand and model, read the directions before breaking the machine or making the grittiest pot of coffee ever.* I do know how to operate the new Keurig versions.

2. I have broken 3 copiers…yeah I don’t know how to work those either. See #1 if you want to know how I deal with them. It starts real casual, ” Rhasha can you copy those demographic forms and throw them in a file folder.” I walk over to the copier. I look at it; it looks at me. I put the papers in face down. Now this is when the BS starts. The machine blinks, out of paper, out of ink or just plain out of it. One time I hit the wrong button and 97 pages attempted to print out. I ended up unplugging the whole damn thing, looking both ways and walking away.

3. I fall…a lot. Once after a first date, I was walking away from the guy’s car and fell right on my ass. He tried to be nice and asked if I was alright. I quickly ran inside and almost died from embarrassment.Another time I fell on the way into church. My church shoes flew from up under me and splat I hit the ground. So I try to walk slowly, take time when wearing heels and allow my hand to be held if possible.

4. People think I’m cool, but I’m super awkward. When I become nervous in any situation I pick up my phone and pretend to talk on it. If I’m around a group of people I do know and there is a silent moment I become nervous and start to act weird. I will bring up a random conversation about absolutely nothing.

5. I can’t bake for crap. When I was younger my stepmother and grandmother tried to teach me. In my teens I tried to bake a cake from scratch and it tasted like dry stale bread. When I got married I tried to make homemade cornbread which tasted worse than the cake. So now I stick with rolls of ready to bake cookies and boxed cake mix. Now in my 40s I’m gonna take another stab at baking…anyone want to be my test rat? After that I will make you a nice cup of coffee and run off some copies of my favorite recipes.