Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Daily BIC: Welcome Worn

"you better tell her, tell her, tell her..."--Teedra Moses

It's not going to happen, boo. Time to go.

It's been forever since I've done a political post since by and large I don't really care anymore, but this warrants it. Typically when a woman hangs in there, I champion her. But Michele Bachmann's BIC transgressions transcend simple persistence. The fact that she's even cast her lot amongst the Amityville Horrors that is the composite Republican Presidential candidate camp is the first in the line of lunacy she's drawing. The bigger issue is that, ideologically speaking, she's one of them.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love For On Sale

I'm in the process of killing a friend of mine. It's been a slow, brutal death of this dear, longtime companion. We've been together for decades; we've loved, lost, thrived, and survived. I'll miss my old buddy, but all good things come to an end, nothing lasts forever. My friend had a beautiful name, Wishful. Last name Thinking.

I'm definitely not a pessimist--in fact, I'm on the optimistic side of pragmatic. It's just that from a very young age, I was made intimately aware that things just don't always shake out the way we wish they would. And more recently, I've realized that life is sometimes about the hard decisions and sacrifices one has to make for the sake of the bigger picture. I'm too brilliant a woman to wait for something that's never coming, consequently giving up the chance to have everything else I want. I spent a great portion of my childhood and my adult life waiting for my breath to be taken away. But I haven't stopped breathing yet. So I've given up the ghost. I've given up on love.

It's not that I don't believe in "LOVE" the romantic concept; I do, deeply. I get emotional at select weddings, I love those black-and-white silhouette commercials for anniversary jewelry, I can't stop grinning at old people who adore each other after decades of being locked down, and I absolutely live for those freaking Google Superbowl commercials about moving to Paris and siblings and putting together a crib. I regretfully tear up at movies in the new American cinematic genre known as "Films Like The Notebook", and I wish I had two more hands to give four thumbs up to Love Jones'-esque Black Love. I love love, and I passionately believe in it. I just don't believe in it for me.

While I enjoyed the book years ago, I'm no blind devotee of what I now recognize as the insidiously sinister 48 Laws of Power; but there's one law that comes to mind when I think about my decision, and that's Law #36: "Disdain the things you cannot have". When I think of the things I want a man to bring into my life, a fairytale romance is decidedly low on the list. Years ago, I wrote a 64-point list detailing what I was hoping and waiting for, and while I stand by it as an amazing amalgamation of qualities in a really primo dude that I'm sure exists somewhere for someone, reading it again feels tired. I want a man to do the things men do--someone to protect, provide, and defend, to check out the things that go bump in the night, take care of my car and take out the trash, lay the pipe consistently, make babies, and be a great dad. Someone I can give my great qualities to who'll generally appreciate them. Maybe specifying that the sound of his name or his touch or really anything about him offers pleasure or even evokes a genuine smile is weighing my list down. Real talk: I've had mind-blowing sex with several people that I didn't love (a couple I didn't even particularly like very much), and honestly, I could and would do it again (not the several, just the whole loveless bit--in the interest of clarity). An orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm, and the only thing I ask is that it regularly come from something without a motor. I'm easy. My loveless sexual experiences have been some of the better ones of my life, actually. Add to this that the optimistic side of me feels that in the right circumstances with the right guy, a kind of love might evolve. Hey, it could totally happen.

Men have come along. It's not like I've been in desperate unrequited situations time after time. When I think of some of the ones I let slip through my fingers on principle, guys I couldn't bring myself to "fall for" for various reasons over the years. What was really wrong with them? Some concerns were valid, but some were just honestly me, waiting on the upgrade. Thinking that something was better somewhere. Waiting on the devastating love, waiting on the soulmate.

My point? I'm training myself to live without. I used to think I needed romance and passion, but that totally imagined need is exhausting. Taking inventory and deciding that's it unnecessary feels like a breath of fresh air and a weight off my shoulders.

The beauty is that I don't really have to live without. I'm a writer, a creative who can conjure worlds with a pen, with music, with my imagination. I draw worlds lyrically all the time, and I live in those worlds while I'm creating them. Perhaps a white bread real life will strengthen the muscle that fuels my brush across that proverbial easel. Perhaps when I really need a fix, I can make one up.

My friends who know me don't think I can do this, give up. But those who doubt me might underestimate the power of my desire for other things. I really want children. I really want a sense of safety in this earthly realm. I really want to truly focus on my career and not worry that I'm swimming against the current, wasting my best years. And while I'm addicted to change, adventure, and new experiences, sometimes I just want to sit still somewhere with someone and not feel like every change in season will bring a 180 degree change in my life. I imagine having the peace, the chill of having one constant, one thing that's true. I used to think that thing was love. But I realized that it doesn't have to be. It doesn't have to be.

Wish me luck.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

To my subscribers: Apologies in advance. This site is currently undergoing some change, and a result, over the next couple of days you might receive emails of old posts, much like the one you received a moment ago. If you notice, that was an old post written in August 2010 and it will not be featured on the current homepage, as all posts are chronological. Just wanted to assure you that I will try to avoid any communication that doesn't include new posts. Thanks again, as always, for actually subscribing.

That's all.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Process of Elimination

"you worried 'bout the wrong thing..."--Kanye West

Let me first say that I believe and fully support a woman's legal right to choose. God gives us the right to choose; the least the government can do is follow suit. And I, for one, could live without the litany of fetus legislation that's constantly being proposed. I also think it's the dumbest, red-herringest argument in the world to propose defunding Planned Parenthood, which happens to provide abortions in some of their nationwide clinics.

But. Having established legislative loyalties, I am also a person who does not believe in abortion personally, even while remaining dedicated to legally supporting it as an option for American women. The issue I take is simple, and it delivers a message to the larger culture: Stop trying to coax 'the sexy' out of abortion. It's not going to happen.

I am not one of those nutjobs who advocate endlessly counseling pregnant rape and incest victims about 'the right to life'--if you get pregnant by your father, counsel concerning the right to life is probably one of the last things on your mind. And, really, who among us but women who have gotten pregnant by rape or incest understand the level of trauma it results in, and who else but someone who had personally suffered that trauma could truly measure the weight of it on her shoulders? Every woman should make her own choices regarding what's right for her, her family, and her body. That's different for everyone, for a myriad of reasons. I want abortion to be, as Hillary Clinton once put it, "safe, legal, and rare". Incredibly rare.


Even being "pro-choice" (not, as right-to-lifers put it "pro-abortion"), I am also not one of those people who think it appalling for there to be some rules and prerequisites for an abortion or for an order to be observed once the choice is made. I don't think it's some shockingly intrusive imposition for a woman to be shown a video of what's going to happen once she's on the table, and I don't see any harm whatsoever in having the process described in detail by the administering doctor. In short, I don't think we need to be fighting so hard to protect the delicate sensibilities of those who have opted to end a pregnancy, because, hello: An attempt at deterring a woman from having an abortion is not a bad thing. I am, however, obviously in the minority of choicers with this position, evidenced nearly every time I log onto my favorite "girly" blogs, at least the ones with fairly liberal feminist sensibilities. Which is pretty much all of them.

It seems as though every time I enter the blogsphere I come upon an angry feminist rant about how disgusting the attack on the 'right to choose' is, and I get it--sometimes. I believe in a woman's right to choose, mainly because it's dangerous to take that right away. The legality of the choice of whether or not to eliminate a pregnancy is a slippery slope, legislatively speaking. There's a such thing as the concept of giving the government too much power--let them legislate restrictions on whether or not a birth happens, for instance, and next thing you know birth *options* are on the congressional chopping block and natural births are suddenly mandatory except where medically impossible. And then the next thing you know, not breastfeeding is against the law and the tax on Similac mirrors that of the tax on nicotine. It might sound crazy, but you know it's not. All I know is: No one better try to force me to deliver anything naturally or I'll be having an Epidural and/or caesarean section with each of my beautiful little Canadians.

There is most certainly a war on women's bodies across the globe, and if we're truly going to be the land of free and home of the brave, that freedom has to include a woman's right to govern what happens in her own body in the same manner that will always be true for men. That said, we don't have to champion abortion like it's the automatic reaction to pregnancy. It's almost as though a portion of the population wants women to consider abortion no matter what their circumstances. The advertising campaign would go something like this:

"Pregnant? Happily married and wanted to be a mom your whole life? Consider an abortion!"

"Pregnant, 35 and in a committed relationship with a man who wants more kids than the Duggars, but not yet married and don't want to bring shame on your family who doesn't really care because you're almost 40? Consider an abortion!"

"Being pregnant sucks. Have an abortion."

"Worked really hard on your six-pack this year? Consider. An. Abortion." It's as though babies have become some type of feminist burden, as though they're no longer viewed as a gift from our Creator.

Well, they are. And it really boils my blood to see people wasting precious time picketing about parental notification, waiting periods, procedural education, and all the other legal rigamarole surrounding abortion debates. Let's keep it legal, but let's not make it akin to getting a pedicure. Let's not get so coarse as a society that we lose sight of the weight of ending a life. Children are God's most precious miracle. Yes, I believe in a woman's right to choose because I believe choice is a gift. But life is an even better one. Treasure both.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Make It Stop.

"you go back to her/and i go back to black..."--Amy Winehouse

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, once famously
said, "Reality is almost always controlled by the people who are the most insane." And yet not even Adams could have possibly foreseen just how applicable that statement would be to greenlighting execs at the American Broadcasting Company, more famously known as ABC, who have broadcasted the decade's #1 most appropriate Talk Soup fodder in their unfortunate "reality" hit, The Bachelorette.

I've never even watched The Bachelorette, but I have followed the development of the show since its inception in the blogsphere. And honestly, in this dumbed-down culture, you don't have to bite the lemon to know it's bitter as hell.

This season's "bachelorette", who appears deeply insecure and self-loathing, is supposed to be looking for a husband--even as she invites previously-dismissed contestants back who have called her "ugly" and a "loser" on [inter-]national television and clearly have no interest in her outside of "playing her with head" (his words, not mine).

Then, some geniuses writing for the show thought it would be a good idea to have the contestants pose for wedding pictures with this chick to see how their wedding photo would look? I can't.

When I started this blog four years ago, I said that The Bachelor, with it's insipid "rose ceremonies" and track record of completely unsuccessful relationships (even to this very day), was the height of BIC. That assertion must now be amended as the seemingly matchless lunacy of Bachelor has now seeped into its relatively successful sub-franchise. Hopefully, ABC will soon stick a fork in both of these shows. Although, that might be a moot point since it's pretty clear that television will continue to find new and uniquely disgusting vehicles in which women can put the underbelly of finding "the one" on full display for the kicks of the viewing public. Heavy sigh.

That's all.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

High Maintenance: Naked and Unashamed

"if you stay ready/you ain't got to get ready..."--Suga Free

There are few less humiliating positions than naked from the waist down and spread eagle in front of someone's face with a mini desk fan blowing in between your legs, but earlier this week, Nadia, my 60-something Italian brazilian waxer (yeah, unpack that), managed to make it slightly more uncomfortable. Maybe she thought she was enlightening me; maybe she was just bored. Whatever her reasons for re-introducing one of her favorite topics as she ripped wax strips from my butt, she did it with gusto.

"When you have a man," she explained in her just barely comprehensible Northern Italian accent as though I was a new-school Corky, "you want to look nice." This from the woman who had declared on my last visit that it was clear, judging from how far I'd let things go, that I was currently unattached.

"Well," I explained less feebly than the last time I'd seen her (and much sooner than the last time I'd seen her as well), "I do this for myself. I like to look and feel nice for me."

"Right. I understand." She always sounds as though she doesn't believe me, as though I get myself waxed praying that someone will pick my name from their little black book that very night and change my life with some wild monkey sex. Which is clearly a joke. Not that I'm down on wild monkey sex. And not saying I'm above temptation...but I'm above temptation. At this point, it's kind of frivolous to, uh, throw away my confidence, so to speak. "But you will have a man again, and you will need to make sure you look good. Still look good," she added hastily, surely noting that my intention was never to not look good. Even in my workout clothes on my way to my exercise class, I was sporting mascara and concealer, a fact that the former beauty queen (not really, but maybe) wouldn't have missed.

But the fact is that nothing can convince Nadia--a woman who, even leathered by years of European sun, is still absolutely gorgeous, with huge, thick, ethnic waves of mildly graying blonde hair and a twinkle in her pencil-rimmed brown eyes that says she has always known how to have a good time--that a broad, specifically me, isn't just waiting on a man. Why else, her tone surmises, would we keep it all together?

I agree...and then I don't.

When I was younger, I never stepped out ungroomed under and over my clothes because I honestly didn't know whether or not I was going to be having sex with anyone when I left the house. But at this point in my life, there's one thing I know for sure about each day when I wake up in the morning: That under no circumstances am I going to be having consensual sex at any point before the Brookstone alarm clock next to my bed reads 12:01AM. One might expect with all the time and money and effort I've spent over the years keeping myself up that I have a surplus of those resources while I'm on somewhat of a pause, waiting for my life partner. But one would be frightfully wrong.

It's funny to me now to think that I spent a better part of my 20++/30- years defending myself from the "high maintenance chick" label. Even though I house a bit more than the average amount of female vanity (a gift from my lovely and amazing, self-conscious, critical mother), still I shunned that classification. It stung a bit to me, and when I was new to young adulthood, I desperately wanted to be known as a low-maintenance girl. I felt like I was easy; I wore sweats and t-shirts a great deal of the time (mostly a 6'6" ex's oversized XXL velour sweatpants that took three tight drawstring knots to keep up and tight souvenir/message tees),went makeup-free all of the time, and wore my natural hair out and curly most of time. I drank beer in lieu of cocktails. I fried chicken in my pajamas with my hair wrapped up for my boys from the basketball team when we kicked it. And despite these things, even those same guy friends would inevitably admit that they found me "high maintenance". No matter how little primping I appeared to do, for some reason I could never escape the characterization.

Fast forward some years. I've gotten increasingly comfortable in my own skin--and yet that's not to say that I do less to keep myself up. Getting comfortable in my own skin has been more of a coming to terms with who I really am and embracing it. Recently, my BFF/sister Kimberly began a revolution in her life that she calls "naked and unashamed". Like Eve in Genesis--before the fall--Kim aspires to feel totally comfortable in her own skin, oblivious to the things proverbial fig leaves and trees can cover up. I admire her resolve. She's a beautiful girl who doesn't need the trappings the female beautification industry stuffs down our throats and convinces us we need. And honestly, I feel the same way about myself. My ex used to tell me that I looked the same with and without makeup. He didn't understand why I bothered, and he always insisted I was sexiest just chilling at home in my sweats and glasses. I appreciated the sentiment, but there were certain things I just couldn't go out into public without and without doing back then.

The same is true for me now.

I can embrace "naked and unashamed"--to a point. My "naked" is a bit different than the "naked" one might expect. My "naked" is immaculately groomed. You're not going to catch me without my legs, armpits, and arms shaved (yes, arms) or my eyebrows shaped, because I shave every other day and I have my eyebrow lady on speedial. You're not going to catch me on bush-mode, because Nadia is written into my bi-monthly budget just under groceries. If I can at all help it, you're not going to catch me with major breakouts, because my skincare regimen is tight. Yes, I'll go without makeup on any given Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday--but the glowing, clear skin it takes to do that requires consistency and dedication from which I never waver. You're not going to catch me without my hair done too often; and you're not going to catch me without a fresh mani-pedi on too many occasions, either.

I know that everything I do, put together, is a bit too much for some people. The truly "low maintenance", especially. The women who can fall into bed unshowered at night and then hop up in the morning, brush their teeth and then go out into the streets for the entire day without so much as looking into a mirror--I'm not that girl. I have to shower before getting into my bed, even if I already showered and then went just stepped outside to run to the store or take garbage out. When I get up, there's a whole routine that has to be followed--and I have to allow myself enough time to do the entire thing, or I just can't make it through my day. I used to be embarrassed to admit it. But after years of getting familiar with my true self and accepting who I am, I no longer care about people's judgment regarding my choices. It's especially rich to know that I don't do it for anyone else; I do it for me, because ultimately, I have to live with and look at myself. And I need to like what I see. Because what's most significant to me is not that I'm "naked" in the sense of exactly how I came into this world, but that my insides are naked and my intentions naked, and that anything manufactured about my character and personality have fallen away. When others encounter me, what they see is what they get. I don't have to put on airs to please or comfort others, and I don't have to pretend to have interests and desires beyond what I'm doing with what I've been given. At this point in my life, it's refreshing to look at the big picture and truly be pleased with the stripped version of myself.

I think every woman goes through a period in her life in which she compares herself to others, looks at what other women do to themselves as a guidepost for the things she should be doing. But there also comes a time in most women's lives where concerns about others fall by the wayside and suddenly, like a lightbulb being turned on, the only opinion that really matters is your own. Sometimes when I look at my life and feel a twinge of regret that things didn't go differently in one area or another, I remind myself that this time and place in my psychological development is the perfect time for promotion. Because I'm no longer interested in being anyone I'm not, and only interested in celebrating what I'm working with, as opposed to hiding.

I identify with pre-judgment Eve, a woman who was clearly looking for meaning and identity without feeling like the keys to either were to be found in her physical circumstances. Though cautioned by the fallout of her choices, a large part of me identifies with Eve's quest for self-fulfillment and her willingness to strike out and try something different in her journey, unencumbered by pesky self-consciousness. Though it's far from completely insignificant, my physical self-image is an increasingly smaller part of my life as I embrace all life has to offer me and all I have to offer it. The way I look is important to me, but there are so many other things about myself that I put before it, things I would choose to hold onto over anything physical, were I given a choice. I wouldn't trade my talents for my looks; I wouldn't trade my natural kindness or my generosity for anything. My grandmother always said that it didn't matter how pretty you were on the outside if you were flat out ugly on the inside, and I agree. The natural fruits of the spirit I've been blessed with that grow with every passing year are far above anything I see in the mirror.

So yes, I keep it all 'fried, dyed, and laid to the side', and I probably always will. But I'm also not burdened by secrets or extensive self-criticism, and the comfort I feel in my own skin physically translates to confidence professionally and spiritually and emotionally.

I keep myself up, and no one can disgrace me by pointing that out. Because what's paramount to me is that literally and figuratively, when I stand naked, I truly feel no shame.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

BIC Redux: B.A.P.S.

"well i guess i'm tryna be nonchalant about it/and i'm going to extremes to prove i'm fine without you/but in reality i am slowly losing my mind..."-Mariah Carey

"Uh uh... you need to scoot over cuz I ain't got no problem sleepin' on this expensive white carpet, cuz I know its poodle hair."  Who said it? Click for the BIC, and enjoy this last day of BIC History Month. 'Til next year!

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

BIC Redux: Uncommon Thief

"diamonds are a girl's best friend..."-Marilyn Monroe

“I didn't have high goals and high ambitions, and that I was going to become the world's greatest jewel thief. It just got out of hand.”  Who said it? Click for the BIC, and Happy BIC History Month!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

BIC Redux: Nasty Girl

"if you ain't scared take it out/i'll do it like a real live nasty girl should..."-Vanity 6

"He used to come to my house when he wanted to play around; now he goes and finds his pleasures on the other side of town. Honey, your husband is cheatin on us. I know you thought you had a good man, a man that you could trust." Who said it...and why? Click on the trifling quote for the historical BIC background and Happy BIC History Month!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

BIC Redux: Going Postal

"i have no intention of paying for my crime don't fear...and i don't feel about it..."-Macy Gray

"I walked up to him and I said to him, you have been annoying me a long time trying to get this children. I have no objection of you getting them in the schools at all, but why torture me? Why torture me? I’m no help to him by killing me. Don’t mean after all Congress is signing anything. By torturing me, don’t mean Congress is going to sign. I can still get a blood clot from this aggravation today. After that day, Congress isn’t going to sign anything, and I’m just dead.”  Most BIC is harmless...but every now and then it's certifiable. Click on the quote to get the full scoop from one of the most under-discussed attempted murderers in BIC History, and Happy BIC History Month!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BIC Redux: Slippery When Wet

"that's why i'm easy...easy like sunday morning..."-Lionel Richie

"I said to one member of the press, 'Let me ask you a question: Would you have liked it the other way if it was said 'Lionel Richie Beat Up His Wife? Does that sound better?' The guy said 'no.' Then I said when a couple has an argument and it gets physical, wouldn't most guys just not throw a punch at all? I didn't do anything to Brenda. And that sounds better than I knocked her out." I suppose it's pretty obvious who said it, so just click through for the BIC backstory and see why Lionel might still watch his back in hotel rooms. And of course, Happy BIC History Month!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BIC Redux: The Honorable Cynthia McKinney

"i'm not ready to make nice/i'm not ready to back down..."-The Dixie Chicks

"It looks like the Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me."  Who said it? Click for the BIC. Happy BIC History Month!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

BIC Redux: Ooh Baby Take It I Don't Want To Tease You

"nothin to be shy about/nothin we got to lie about...."-Aretha Franklin

"..all you got to do is make sure he stop at the drugstore and handle some business...don't be comin 'round here with no big belly talkin' bout you didn't know what to do."  Who said it? Click on the red quote for your daily BIC History Month redux. By the way, I must say I love the way I wrote these posts ages ago and yet they're new to new folks and still entertaining to the old folks. Happy BIC History Month!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

BIC Redux: Dr. Feelgood...Again

"visiting hours are nine to five and if i show up at 10 past 6 well i/already know that you'll find someway to sneak me in that door..."-Alanis Morissette

"We must stop this love affair with the fetus." Who said it? Someone BIC, that's for sure! Click on the red quote to walk back down memory lane. And of course, Happy BIC History Month!

Oh, and by the way....the photo to the left is one I took myself of a massager at Brookstone. That's right, a massager. Now get your mind out of the gutter....;)

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stir, Reheat, Serve

"cuz i know that you're gonna tear up the place/punch me in my face and pull the hot grits out..."-Usher

I kind of just realized that Black History Month began today--sue me; I've been crazy busy and unless the US is giving out reparations for slavery as a gift for this huge commercial "holiday" *sarcasm*, it's not exactly at the top of my list of priorities. In any case; I digress. It's Black History Month, which means that it's also BIC History Month, the monthlong celebration-of-sorts of crazy Black women, which this blog has observed since 2008. As a third anniversary celebration (and because I have no time to research), I'll be serving leftovers until I have time to cook something up. That said, feast your eyes on the very first BIC History Month post, featuring the tragic fate of Mary Woodson, tortured side ho of R&B/Gospel legend Al Green.

Happy Holiday!

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Motherlovin' BIC

"i got a story to tell...."--Biggie Smalls

Today is the 18th anniversary of my mother's death and while I've done a BIC tribute to her before, I've never done it on this day.

It's odd: I miss my mother every single day, though the pain has no doubt lessened year by year. In laymen's terms, now only sad movies--or let's face it, commercials--tear me up.

My mother was a rare kind of woman they really don't make anymore--and I say that sincerely. She was born in December 1949 and graduated high school at the age of 16. She moved out of her parents' home at 18 to "the city" and took care of herself, working hard, until she met my father ten years later. All she wanted in life was to be married and have children. She was the kind of woman that women today look down on because they don't have any goals outside the home, but when I think of my mom I think of how awesome she was at her job of being a mother. She breathed, ate, and slept it and was phenomenal. She loved God. While she'd been raised Baptist, when I was small child she took an extra interest in the Bible and started taking a ministry class at church for greater understanding. She had great faith. We prayed together every night.

She took such ridiculously good care of my father and I--cooked every meal we ate (and was an amazing cook), meticulously washed and pressed all of our clothes (even the underwear), was the library volunteer parent at my school, my room parent who organized the holiday parties and birthday celebrations, my girl scout troop leader, and in the PTA. She and my father were faithful volunteers with the homeless ministry at church and my mother also with the Border Babies ministry she loved, where a group of women would go hold the abandoned babies at the local hospital while they were waiting for homes to be placed in. She kept our house spotless and beautiful at all times--it was a big joke in our extended family that Bonnie would be up until midnight cleaning her house every night and would start calling people at 11 to entertain her while she cleaned, not caring whether they were sleep or not. She cultivated my love of music by starting my piano lessons at the age of six and making sure I got a gorgeous upright piano. When I went to camp every Summer, my mom would start mailing letters before I left so that I would get letters every single day I was away, including my first day there ("My Dear Ashleigh, you're still here and I miss you already. Your dad is laying here sleep while I write this letter---and has the nerve to be snoring. Loud too!!"). She encouraged me in everything I did and put everything she had inside of me to make sure I had all the opportunities in the world and the confidence to back them up. My mom and I spent most of our waking moments together. We ran errands together, we read at night together, we made tacos together every Saturday night while watching the Golden Girls on the TV in the kitchen. We made Christmas desserts for people on the holidays while playing Nat King Cole. We even took baths together. We made each other laugh and I never, ever doubted that I was the absolute best thing in her life. She was the best thing in mine.

As a last resort in 1990, my mom had a then-highly experimental bone marrow transplant at Duke University about 18 months before she died. She and my father had to move away to North Carolina and leave me with relatives for four months because the surgery and the subsequent process would leave her without much memory, strength, or immunity. She would be in ICU for months afterwards. I begged her not to leave, but I remember my mother bursting into tears in the TCBY parking lot and telling me that she wanted to live to see me get married and to see my children and that's why she had to go. I went to visit them in North Carolina one time, over Christmas. My father was living in an apartment not far from the hospital. They'd let her out of ICU for the holidays on a trial basis. My mother looked like a totally different person--her gorgeous hair was gone again, she was about 10 shades darker from radiation, and she was painfully thin. She went with me to the lounge on her floor and I played the piano for her because that always made her happy at home. When I was done, I turned around and she looked surprised. "You play the piano?" she asked.

My mother died in 1993 after a very long illness that began when I was 18 months old with a mastectomy. The fact that she was able to be the woman, wife, and mother that she was while heavily battling cancer for 9 years is astounding to me. I have tried to put it into words, my feelings about her, many times--through song, poetry, and prose, and I can never quite express just how peerless she was to me. She wasn't perfect. I don't ever want to make her a saint because she *was* super BIC like every other woman in my family--she had a temper, she was dramatic, and she would curse you out on a dime over her family--or on a bad day, over a parking space (in the parking lot at the mall). She habitually lied to my father about her shopping habits and made me lie, too ("don't you tell your dad we were at the mall today"); sneaking out to her trunk to bring in bags after my dad was asleep. She doled out whoopins like candy to her only child who struggled with a major 'backtalk' jones. But, she was my best friend. No one has ever and I don’t think anyone ever will love me like she did.

My father and I were always close, but of course we got much closer after my mother's death. We were a new team with new starting players, and we had to get to know each other without my mother in the middle making everything perfect. But one of the most amazing things my mother ever did was choose my father. Everything from the time she married him to the day she died, she did for me. I consider it the highest blessing that the only things my mother ever wanted that she didn't get was to see me grow up. She had an incredible life filled with love, travel, joy, romance, family, and faith.

And still, I can't wait to properly honor the woman she was. Not just with the family I raise myself, but in the world. This is only a start.

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