Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's a hair thing you wouldn't understand

It ‘s a hair thing you wouldn’t understand….

I did the mama happy dance on Sunday when my son came through the door—he had a sleek short hair style like many NBA basketball stars—short fade that needs no maintenance. Just the day before he had left as a boy channeling buckwheat. Now I love my son’s curls but they had become a wild boy thing. He wanted braids—with his half Ethiopian Hair cornrows and his constant patting resulting in braids that had only lasted 2 weeks. 2 weeks for a 2 hour process of pain and tears—too expensive for a 10 year old head. So the compromise for a while was to let it grow for it to “hang down” as little man put it. Only problem is that it would get combed at best once a week. Non deliberate semi dreads… a virtual birds nest in the back of his head.

Now I love dreads, have many friends with dreads…. But dreads are not a simple thing. They require TLC and daily care that the short human wouldn’t cotton too. Per him, stuffing his head daily in his bike helmet was the prime reason he didn’t need to comb it. I thought a visit from Grandma would stimulate a little change. Surprise…. She liked it… other people liked it…
I thought we were doomed to a life of every which way hair that be a daily battle. Then something special happened. Cousin Dex said let’s have the short human come up for the weekend in Sacto. Now you must understand. We live in Petaluma—a gorgeous place but not exactly a nexus of African Americans. So few that I have let my hair grow out since I cannot find someone who can properly cut it. Short human’s favorite place in Sacto—The Kings and Queens Barbershop. A Shrine of great hair styles, wonderful conversation and…..many black folks. On his own without prompting the short human said, I want a hair cut momma. I just smiled.. no need to overreact. He might change his mind.
So Mr. Man came through the door a different boy. Gone were the wild curls, replaced with a more mature and cool look. Dex had treated him to a Sacramento Kings game and new threads. He was decked out.
Sometimes the best way to change your son’s hair is to let him make a choice….
Just a snapdiva happy to be nappy with her every which way hair pulled back in a short pony tail….more on my hair later…

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's been a long, long, time...

Back staying in my own lane doing my personal blog. I have been distracted for several months blogging on a private on line physician community called Sermo. Sermo has about 30,000 MD's and DO's posting on just about everything from clinical cases, the future of medicine, politics even a few jokes. It has been helpful to me to stay current in medicine and break some of the isolation I feel practicing medicine only part time.

I continue to be called to my personal muses, the yayayarndiva and snapdiva. Ms Yaya is convinced that my life must be centered on yarn, knitting, crocheting. Balls of yarn appear from virtually nowhere, calling me with their seductive fibers. I had to do a major stash reduction to find some quick cash, but I see my stash returning. I have discovered yarn in resale shops and second hand shops. All sorts of gems that other yarndivas have given away. A few dear friends also gifting me with yarn. So now I a wonderful stash to make creative scarves, felted purses, baby hats and my new passion sachets. Just in time for the end of the year holiday season...

Ms Snap, now she is another story. Girlfriend wakes me up in the middle of the night. She is not speaking to me in dulcet tones. Rather the screech of WRITE, RIGHT now. I've have been ignoring her until lately. The anxiety, headaches and tummy pain have returned as a result. So I am back to giving in. Opening my laptop and pulling out my notebooks. I have found a Peet's Coffee nearby where I can write in relative peace. So I have been able to complete several lectures for my pediatric teaching. A chapter for a science fiction story came out of a stream of consciousness. I am in a Women's Buddhist monthly study group called Sophia. Now some of my writing is inspired from a commentary on the Lotus Sutra, "The Wisdom fo the Lotus Sutra, A discussion, Volume 1 by Daisaku Ikeda, Katsui Saito, Takanori Endo and Haruo Suda. This has stimulated a an endeavor to study Burton Watson's translation of the Lotus Sutra.

All timely stuff. I am due February 1st to give a grand rounds talk on Buddhism and Medicine at the residency program where I teach. However my memoir cookbook continues to percolate more in my brain than on paper. My "bibliotherapist", Art, a used bookstore manager, continues to cajole me to at least write for a half an hour every couple of days. The last several weeks have been crazy with work and my son's activities. The universe has created an out for me-- very little work in December.

So now I have no excuses but procrastination.

Time to boogie,

Dr. Mimi

Friday, June 1, 2007

Time to think purple

I am a refugee from 12 years of living in the Central Valley of California (Modesto and Bakersfield). I moved a year ago with my son to the burg of Petaluma, California. I think of Petaluma as Mayberry with an edge. The interesting thing is that the movie "American Grafitti" by George Lucas was set in Modesto but filmed in Petaluma.

The biggest contrast between the two is the political landscape and the air quality. Modesto is a Republican, very Christian conservative place. Petaluma is far more quirky will all sorts of progressives a diversity of religions. The air in Modesto is smoggy, some of the worst in the country. Petaluma has wonderful air quality. Modesto has experienced a major population growth with the advent of the dreaded, "BATS" aka Bay Area Transplants. Petaluma has seen growth but the biggest change has been a demographic shift with more black and brown people living in the community.

Both cities share something. The red vs blue challenge. Gangs and violence have been ever present in Modesto. With the concentration of methamphetamine and one of the highest per capita car theft rates, it can be a dicey place to live. Petaluma is experiencing similar growing pains with increasing gang activity. Several recent attacks of people wearing red shirts by alleged gang members. All sorts of community outcry about rising violence.

After living in a community where I had to have a "house that talked" (an elaborate home alarm system), I have had a bit of difficulty seeing the sudden upturn. Petaluma is a considerably safer place than Modesto but there is definitely an undercurrent of resentment and polarization.
Keeping "Petaluma eggscentric" (as in small cute shops instead of big box stores), the outcry about public drinking in the tiny toney downtown at night have been a rallying cry of many.
The other big deal is the "east vs west". The west side is the tonier and older side of town. The east side is newer. The west side has the cute little shops. The east side has the bigger chain stores. The west side is not very diverse. The east side had people from all over the world, with more diversity in ethnicity and language.

As a relatively new Petaluman, I feel the polarization. As an African American, I have felt some of the "eggscentric" attitude. Some people with a veneer of a smile and underlying hostility. Fortunately I have met more people who are embracing, inclusive and friendly.

I feel the need for my burg to come together. To think purple. Purple is a combination of red and blue. We have the need to stop the red vs blue, eggscentric vs big boxer, east side vs west side polarization. Get past the "fiction" of explosive growth rather a dramatic demographic shift.

Purple is the color of recovery, royalty and enlightenment. We need to remember that we are "all on the same team/ somos un grupo unido." More consensus building. More hope, peace and reconciliation.

Time to "think purple."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Quick Check in

I haven't disappeared. Just many things happening in my real life:) Job transitions, child challenges, meeting new friends.

I am still knitting and crocheting daily. Getting my act together to take photos of my work to share. I have to reload the batteries in my digital camera and have my wonderteen help me uploading photos.

Life is just a moment...

So enjoy it!


Dr. Mimi

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On Nappy Heads and who are you anyway?

It has been over a week, since the latest high profile loud last angry White male made a particular pronouncement about a group of Black women. "Nappy headed hos" with tattoos.

Oh Lawdy Miss Claudy. Now Imus is a fool, but a very wealthy one with many defenders from the "real journalistic profession." Hummph, he just said what a whole lot of people think on a regular basis.

There are many times I walk down the street in my burg getting interesting glances from others who don't look like me. At times I am in stores where folks decide their time is much more precious than mine (besides short Black women are invisible anyway) and decide they need to be served first. Sometimes the workers take the same tack. This happens more times than I really want to recall. I know despite degrees, a pack of credit cards and my Versace Bifocals, I am just another "nappy headed" fill in the blank. I don't have tattos, my clothes don't portray me as a hoochie mama. But I am one of those single mamas with a babydaddy who not doing the TCB.

Truth be told,I actually am nappy headed. This is in direct contrast to those lovely powerful young women who comprise that great basketball team (if only Imus had said, "they got game.") I finally got a gander of the sisters, beautiful braids with extensions, hair permed and pulled back, not a single wild nappy headed sister.

It's a touchy subject for me. Back in the fourth grade, I begged my parents for an Afro. This was the late 60's when people actually believed, "Black is Beautiful." Poets, singers and musicians created many ballads proclaiming the beauty of our people. Bushes grew on heads, fists hung from necklaces, folks changed their names and all sorts of "neo- African" traditions arose.

My parents made me wait a year before I cut cut off those pigtails. They knew there would be consequences. Mississippi grandparents that could barely speak in a civil tone because their "foolish granddaughter" cut off her "good=long" hair. Male barbers calling me little boy despite earrings in my ears. The ultimate test having my White classmates at my private school having to mash my hair daily to "see what it was like."

I had moments of backsliding to lyed, fried and to the side. Fleeting moments when I was finishing my pediatric residency in San Francisco. The nurses commented gleefully that my straight hair was more "friendly" than my short Afro. I relented a few years before with braids but couldn't handle losing hair on the sides of my heads. So for most of my 49 years my hair has been in its natural state, multi-textured and unbowed. I have grown to love my halo of gray. I earned every gray hair on my head and have no shame in showing them to all.

A year ago I moved to Petaluma, California. Beautiful vistas, lots of farms... and very few Black people. So few in fact that us sisters stop each other on the street to find out, "where do you get your hair done?" No decent place in my county that can be trusted with shears on this Black woman's head. The Bay Area is near but not convenient. So my wonderful nappy hair has grown into a woolly bun.

I love the texture and the wildness. Some days I think I am ready for braids. Other days I just oil, scrunch, wrap a ribbon, pick and go. No worries about it going back, no worries about whether it is friendly or not.

I know my younger and same age sisters have a really big issue with nappy. Looking at Essence and Oprah magazines, it is rare that a model has the real deal on her head. Usually some impossibly long (without the assistance of extensions), perfectly curly or hair in a color you know girlfriend wasn't born with. And then there are the impossible wighats. Having lived in crazy summer heat for the last 14 years, I have no desire to don one of these. Yes it is our prerogative to do what we want with our hair. But I think less is more. Let it be.

Snappin' to the left and right on this one!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Trimming down the clutter...

Ah the beginning of spring break. Hearing the dulcet tones of my short human saying, "I'm bored" many times an hour. Bored 10 year old in the midst of lots of stuff (books, balls, games, friends, scooters, basketball hoop, bike, even I-pod, you get the drift).

It is a spring cleaning /reorganization weekend for me. I live in a townhouse subdivision that is having the siding replaced (crappy paper like stuff with concrete composite). Nothing can be drilled through the new siding or it will crack. Of course the townhouse I bought 9 months ago has all sorts of wiring drilled through the siding including the Satellite Dish. Dish going down Monday, not being put on a portable pole until Thursday. I can already hear the short human gasping, telling me "he will not have anything to do." I attempted to organize the house so that the contractors don't have to wade through mounds of papers/boxes (I've had two moves in one year, downsized from a 1400 sq foot office and a 1800 sq foot house into a 1300 sq foot two story townhouse thankfully with large bedrooms and a large 2 car garage).

I've been getting rid of stuff for the last year and a half. Amazing what one can accumulate in 10 years in Modesto. I spent a lot of time bringing civilization to my house in the form of books, projects and unusual toys for my son. Every time I think I have gotten rid of the bulk, stuff magically reappears and reforms. So know I am on a clutter diet. If something comes in the house, something similar and of like size must go out. I have to decide if I really need the stuff I have in the first place.

The biggest challenges are the papers from my office (still in disarray) and the yarn. Yarn that seems to take on a life of its own. Popping up in all sorts of places. I downsized a bags worth (gave it to a really sweet 10 year old who recently moved out of town). I am also on a yarn diet- finish a project before any new yarn can cross the threshold.

Every time I watch "Clean House" on Style , I have the incentive to clean. Now I shudder watching "House Hunters" on HGTV. Why does one human (or two or three) really need 1800 square feet? Why all the specialized rooms. Now that I have a boy, an au pair (I think of him as an adopted son with a really big allowance), a poodle and soon a chiuhahua (my au pair's) residing in 1300 sq feet, things feel cozy. My garden is less than a 10th of my former garden in Modesto. Now I can actually manage to keep it and enjoy it. I no longer have to fuss with a lawn in front- the HOA takes care of that.

I guess there is something to Feng shui. Clearing the clutter is helping my brain have the space to create, to be able to play and relax.

Back to clearing out my room...

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Camping out on too many other people's blogs...

Blogging is one of my favorite past times. I started in the Nichiren Buddhism realm 14 years ago. Then I branched out to political blogs and pediatric related blogs. My latest passion has been fiber/yarn/knitting/crocheting related blogs.

I've spent so much time on other peoples sites that I have forgotten my own. A dear friend who I call my "menopause coach" sat me down a couple of weeks ago. We had gotten to know each other in a local "jump start" writing workshop that we participated in for several months in 2007. She knew I had gotten all wound up in office politics at one of my contract positions. She admonished me that much of my frustration stemmed from my not writing. She reminded me of my determination to seriously write in 2007.

Yup, I have a habit of getting distracted. My rescue fairy occasionally pops out and I find myself trying to "solve other people's problems." I left that contract position three weeks ago, when I realized that contrary to what it seemed, I was working with adults. Adults who had the capacity to make choices albeit from my perspective some really bad ones:). I had spent so much time being a compassionate listener that I was taking on their stuff. Having learned to not cosign other peoples' Bullshit has been a part of my spiritual journey. I reassessed my situation, determined that I had done my work to the best of my ability, provided consultation (I work as a consultant). The powers that be had no investment in following those suggestions or making changes. So I realized that it was time to go and grow.

Within 24 hours, the stress melted off my body. The wheezing stopped temporarily. Even my 10 year old short human seemed easier to live with. I finally found the breathing space to be me.

So the last two weeks have been a time of healing, catching a really bad cold and finding more work. As I edge towards 50, I have noticed that the work world has changed dramatically. Employers favoring independent contractors and consultants, not so thrilled about hiring ahem older workers with benefits. So I am creating my own benefit package. I had my own private solo pediatric practice in Modesto for 6 years before I moved to Petaluma a year ago. I had the luxury of flexible time as a single mom, but the nightmare of not enough money coming in to pay for my staff, supplies or myself. So now I seek out work that lets me focus on my strengths (clinical work, public health consulting) and lets others deal with the yucky details.

Once my wonderteen Au Pair returns from his Spring Break, I plan to add more links and pictures. Amazing how 19 year olds (even my 10 year old) can traverse the Internet and do all sorts of cool stuff.

Just remembering that if I don't know how to do something, just ask:)


Dr. Mimi the Snap Diva
also a yayayarndiva