Fifty Shades of Grey (Paint)

One of my Facebook friends thought I made a typo when I wrote that I was going through a kitchen takeover instead of a kitchen makeover.

I made no typographical error.

If you have ever renovated a kitchen, you know the drill.

TAKEOVER!!!!!

Let’s start from the very beginning.

I have always dreamed of having a white kitchen.

I know what you’re thinking. Get a life. People are starving. In places.

It’s lame. I get it. But that was my if-I-ever-had-the-pleasure-of-renovating-my-kitchen dream, so try not to judge me too harshly.

As it happened, when we were looking for houses in the mid 90’s, the house we now live in had a white kitchen, and I took it as a sign. Sold!

So 22 years ago, my kitchen was my favorite non color but admittedly long in the tooth. It had white Formica cabinets, counters, and back splash.

It was worn out, but it was white, and I was happy. Having spent my earlier years in a Bridgeport Connecticut tenement, I was living the dream.

Fast forward 22 years…

I finally convinced (okay more like coerced) my husband into renovating the original-to-the-house kitchen. And I knew from the get go, that it was going to be white.

My contractor, cabinet guy, plumber and some of my peeps tried to talk me out of it, telling me white was passé.  They all had their opinions about white being cold, hard to keep clean, and sooo past tense.

But for anyone who knows me, I tend to march to the beat of my own drum.

Tell me something is passé, not in, or past tense, I could give a you-know-what.

I have no interest in keeping up with the Joneses—or anybody else for that matter.

Passé? Past tense you say? Don’t care.

I was going for the whole white shebang. Passé shmasse.

White floor, white cabinets, white counter tops, white faucets. That’s what I wanted. And that’s what I was going to get.

Oh and I decided to throw in a white high gloss exterior door and matching white high gloss window trim, and white eggshell walls and ceilings.

Okay, if you’re rolling your eyes over the white on white on white, even I will admit that my obsession with white was a tad too much.

So along the way I made an executive decision to get off the all white kick—change it up.

…and go with a grey wall.

To be precise,  white on white on white with two and a half walls of grey.

The white part was easy peasy.

I ordered white high gloss cabinets, white quartz counter tops and matching back splash, white hardware, and a white porcelain floor.

The grey walls? Not so easy.

Once I decided on grey, I began my usual laser focused OCD-ish quest for the perfect grey.

This was easier said than done.

What I discovered was that the color grey is elusive, schizophrenic, unreliable, misleading, two-faced, three-faced.

Yet warm, inviting, calming and cool.

There are indeed fifty shades of grey. Or is it gray?

Thus began the process of priming and painting, and priming and painting and then priming some more. I could NOT find a grey that I liked.

The first time I walked into my local paint store I told the salesman I was looking for grey paint.

He looked at me in semi disgust. “Which one?” he asked me as he intently picked paint chips off the front counter.

“I don’t know, you tell me. I’m just looking for a regular old grey,” I responded.

“Good luck with that.” He said under his breath as I strained to hear what he was saying.

I had no idea how accurate this salesman’s words would end up being.

I showed him a photo on my phone of a grey kitchen wall I liked.

He squinted at the image and then muttered four words: Barren Plain and Wish.

I asked him if that was one color or two. He answered me so softly that I had to ask him twice.  Even after answering me again, I still couldn’t hear him.

So instead of asking him a third time, I filled up the space with nonsensical talk about my counters and back splash, blabbing about how I was told that quartz is the new granite, droning on about my peninsula, my hardware, blah blah and blah.

By the time I finished my verbal dissertation he was at the other end of the store whipping up my paint.

I took the sample size paints home and had my contractor put them on two pieces of wall board.

I then intensely inspected both of them. Intensely being the operative word.

Barren Plain (2111-60) didn’t look grey at all. At first, I thought it looked beige, but then when I looked at it for like the 30th time, it didn’t really seem like beige either.

I went online and looked up the color, and one blogger called it greige—a combo of grey and beige.

Get out the primer!

Then I moved on to Wish (AF-680).  I was hopeful about Wish because as a wordsmith, I tend to find signs and meanings behind words.

And for whatever reason, I felt a kinship with the name. Wishful thinking because it did not work out at all. I wish I never tried it. It was a weird taupey color. Something you might find in a diaper. Not what I was going for at all.

More primer!

I then trudged back into my paint store lugging the two pieces of Barren Plain and Wish painted wall boards, and shared my misery with the salesman who recommended the two shades of grey in the first place.

“Why do the colors look one way on the swatch and another way on the wall? Why does the paint stick not match the paint on the wall? And why do the greys look one color on one wall and another color on the other wall?”

The salesman shrugged and said, “That’s grey for you.”

I found his answer to be wholly unhelpful.

My response? “Anastasia of Fifty Shades, the novel, said it best. Oh, my.”

He looked at me blankly. He apparently had never read Fifty. And he was also apparently not feeling my paint pain.

We stared at each other awkwardly.

“I mean,” I finally said, breaking the silence. “Why is grey such a problem?”

He looked at me like “duh.”

“It’s all about the LRV,” Mr. non personality blurted out, rolling his eyes before he turned his back on me to help another customer.

“The wha?”

He was preoccupied ringing up customer B, so he didn’t respond.

So I asked again.

“The SUV?”

“The LRV. The light reflectance value,” he said with some annoyance as he rang up customer C.

“Can you write that down for me?” I asked him.

“Are you serious?” he asked me.

“Well yeah, I need to look up that thing you said.”

“LRV,” he repeated as he wrote it down.

“No, not the letters, the words of it,” I said leaning in to see what he was scribbling.

He looked up and gave me an awful look.

“Would this be a bad time to ask for a couple more grey suggestions?” I asked him tentatively.

He walked into an office behind the counter.

I wasn’t sure if I should take that as a yes or a no.

He came back with a piece of paper with two lines of words on it.

I read the words out loud to no one in particular: “Stonington Gray and Gray Owl?”

“And is it G-R-E-Y  or G-R-A-Y?”

When I looked up, he was gone.

“HELLO? HELLOOOO?”

The salesman popped his head out from a back room. He was visibly aggravated. “I’m on lunch.”

“Okay, could you just whip me up these gray-with-an-A paints real quick?”

He zhoozhed up two pint size cans of paint. As he took my twenty dollar bill, I asked him what his name was. He said it softly, and as I strained to hear, I had to ask him a second time.

“Okay thanks for your help Robert,” I chirped as I walked out with my “grays.”

I ran home and tried both paints on some wall scraps I found in my garage.

Then I googled “light reflectance value.”  The first article I found was titled: “LRV and why you should NEVER choose a paint color without it.”

NEVER?

The article read more like a science experiment, full of incomprehensible information like: A color’s Light Reflectance Value (LRV) measures the amount of visible and usable light that reflects from or absorbs into a painted surface.  LRV is measured on a scale that ranges from zero (absolute black, absorbing all light and heat) to 100 percent (pure white, reflecting all light).

What?

Oh, and there was an app I could buy called LRV Guru which assists with calculating color contrast ratios and would do the math for me.

Wait. Now there’s math involved?

This LRV thing was getting way too complicated, so I went back to painting wall scraps.

Stonington Gray (HC 170) was too blue. Urgh.

Gray Owl (2137-60) was a nice gray but slightly darker than I wanted. I moved around the sample scraps from wall to wall. Gray Owl on the wall with the three windows looked great, but on the wall with no light, it looked dullish. “That damn LRV,” I mumbled under my breath.

I was all but giving up, thinking maybe I should just go with Gray Owl and be done with it. I was running out of time. Plus I was running out of wall boards.

My husband nixed the Gray Owl, so I was back to the drawing board or should I say painting board.

I drove over to Home Depot and found a paint swatch there that I liked. I then headed directly over to my not-so-trusty paint store.

My not-so-favorite salesman was having lunch. Again.

“Hi, Robert!” I said overly loudly, feigning enthusiasm. “I’m baaaack!”

He looked up from his sandwich and said: “It’s Richard.”

“Oh okay, Richard. So when you’re done eating can I show you a swatch I found at Home Depot?”

“Home Depot don’t carry Benjamin Moore,” he said in between munches.

“Yes, I know, but can you try to match the swatch up with something nice for me?” I asked him gingerly.

I think I was getting on Robert’s nerves. I mean Richard.

“Pleeeeease?”

He put down his sandwich and concocted something called Graceful Gray (PPV18-12).

I thanked him profusely and ran home to paint it out. But Graceful Gray was a very dark taupey greigy color. I was all but losing hope.

On the way back to the paint store I picked up a Caramel Brulée Latte at Starbucks for Richard. I was hoping that maybe a bribe in the form of a coffee would help me to get the grey/gray I so desired.

I ran into the paint store, Starbucks gift in hand.

Richard was very excited about the coffee concoction, and in between sips he gave me the inside scoop about lightening or darkening gray with percentages of other colors.  Then he confided in me that most people call him Dick.

Did that mean I had to call him Dick? I so preferred Richard.

And the Latte was a huge success because Dick was impressively accommodating and very full of a lot of words. He also happened to have a beautiful smile.

He worked up two versions of the same color: Classic Gray and Classic Gray darkened by 25%. Maybe it was the caffeine, but Dick was a new sales man.

I quickly paid him and drove off to do my painting thing.

The Classic Gray (OC 23) was a warm gray but had a purple undertone. I really wanted this color to work. But the purple was literally bouncing off the walls.

The LRV was B-A-D.

I was hopeful that the Classic Gray darkened by 25% would result in a bit more contrast with a little less purple. Nope. Didn’t work.

The following morning I dejectedly drove back to see Dick. This time armed with a Starbuck’s Caramel Macchiato and a blueberry muffin with yogurt and honey.

When he saw me walk in his face lit up. “I knew you’d be back. And I think I found the grey for you. 1611. Gray Tint.”

As the machine shook up 1611, Dick sipped on his Macch and chattered away, telling me among other things that his mother calls him Dicky. Or is it Dickie?

As I paid for the paint pint I was thinking to myself. Really? Gray Tint?

Why didn’t Dick think of this in the first place?

Gray. Tint.

A tint of Gray.

Come on Dicky. You should have thought of this one right out of the grey gate.

I was hopeful as I watched my contractor paint the wall next to the window.  The gray lived up to its name and indeed had a tint—of lavender, which happens to be my favorite color, so I took it as a sign.

Each wall looked slightly different, but the hues were all warm and a lovely contrast to the white window trim and ceiling.

LRV and all, it was perfect!

(There is a part two to this story, which is that after the painting was completed, I discovered that the white porcelain floor was laid down incorrectly and had to be ripped up. As flooring experts marched in and out of my house, they all agreed on the same two things: My beautiful and expensive white floor had to be trashed, and the color should be changed up. To what else? Grey! I mean Gray!)

An Open Letter to America’s Youth: It’s up to You to Stop the Gun Violence


Peace and Voting Rights Demonstration in Westport, Connecticut 1970

Seventeen year old David Hogg, a shooting survivor and senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, had this to say on Thursday about America’s gun policies:

“We need to do something. We need to get out there and be politically active. Congress needs to get over their political bias with each other and work toward saving children’s lives. We’re children. You guys are the adults.”

His words brought me back to 1970 when I was his age.

Our plight wasn’t gun violence.

Our crisis was the Vietnam War.

At the time, the voting age was twenty-one. Tens of thousands of eighteen-year-old American boys were being drafted into the military for the Vietnam War while being denied the right to vote.

We looked to the adults to do something. But they didn’t.

We looked to Congress to do something. But they wouldn’t.

So we bravely took matters into our own hands.

We took to the streets and participated in often-violent demonstrations. The tragedies associated with young Americans protesting against government authority tore our nation apart at the time.

The most horrific incident involved the deaths of four students, and nine serious injuries on May 4, 1970, when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd at Ohio’s Kent State University.

What most adults thought was a chilling message to the youth to stop protesting, only emboldened us.

I was a proud but terrified participant in the explosive and tumultuous youth voting rights movement, which in the end changed the course of history for America’s young adults.

“Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” became our shared slogan, and we never gave up our fight.

Ratified in 1971, in a record 100 days, President Nixon formally certified the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on July 5, 1971, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.

Nixon had this to say at the certifying ceremony:

“The reason I believe that your generation, the 11 million new voters, will do so much for America at home is that you will infuse into this nation some idealism, some courage, some stamina, some high moral purpose, that this country always needs.”

And then the U.S. Military draft ended on 1/27/73. We did that.

The proportion of young voters heading to the polls today has steadily and alarmingly declined since that historical time in 1971, and they all but vanish in off-year and local elections.

Emma Gonzalez said she and fellow classmates are going to make sure people don’t stop talking about Wednesday’s shooting.

“The government needs to understand, people in the government need to understand that we are not to be bought by the (National Rifle Association). They are not supposed to be listening to the NRA about our protection. They are supposed to be listening to the people that are getting hurt about our protection. We’re the ones that deserve to be kept safe because we were literally shot at.”

Gonzalez said she’s been thinking “how do I stop this in the future from happening again?”

Here is what I have to say to David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez.

Don’t wait for the adults to do something.

Don’t wait for Congress to act.

The fate of your future is entirely up to you.

“For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons. I urge Congress to propose to the States a constitutional amendment permitting citizens to vote when they reach the age of 18.”  
President Dwight Eisenhower, State of the Union, January 7, 1954

The Teri Tome: Top 10 Blog Posts in 2017

I launched the Teri Tome on March 18, 2015, and for almost three years I have been laying it all out there.

Well, to be honest, I haven’t laid it ALL out there. I have been taking baby steps toward full disclosure.

Blogging for me has been incredibly cathartic, and I would highly recommend that everyone try their hand at it.

You don’t have to spill your life beans like me. You can post your photos, paintings, writings, recipes—whatever.

And the best part about blogging is that it’s all set in blog stone.

Blogging also opens your eyes in a way they may not have been open before.

In the choosing of events, I can conjure up the meaning behind pretty much anything. In the “this vs. that” process what I have also discovered is that what appears to be mundane nonsense often holds the most significance.

Now I know you are eagerly waiting (or not) for my Top 10 Posts for 2017, but I have a few more things to say, so bear with me.

Okay, maybe more than a few words…

I’ve heard it said that the tongue has no bones, but it can break bones with its words. And for some of you out there, your tongues did plenty of talking. And plenty of breaking. Now it’s my turn.

Here is what I want to say to those criticizers, haters, and judgers out there.  And you all know who you are:

Get over your familial issues. If someone wanted to leave you money, jewels, or property they would have. It’s called a will.

Don’t pretend to know me, just because we share some teensy piece of history. You don’t know me.

Yes, I’m wearing a top in my “Our Romantic Getaway” authors photo.

No, the novel is not about me.

And to answer your question “Are you still talking about that?”

I’ll never stop talking about “that.” 

The word “express” could very easily be changed to “confess,” so be thankful that the real stories don’t come out.

Your thinly veiled attempts to make me feel embarrassed, unloved, unattractive, or unbelievable have failed miserably.

The most significant gift about my soon-to-be-turning 65 is that I finally dare to say what I feel and to cut out of my life those people who don’t like it.

Those holier than thou critics disguised as well wishers, pseudo friends, and family, who have snarkily and repeatedly talked down about my family members, my blog posts, my not-all-that-racy-in-my-opinion novel, my poetry, my writing style, my author photo and even my last names. Mahigel, Gatti, Schure. I earned them all.

Bottom line? You’re either with me, or you’re not. There is no in between.

It’s my blog, my website, my novel, my poetry, my life, so I get to say my truth, not yours.

As far as my novel: Due to my day job, that itty bitty facetious novel I wrote took me more than half a decade to finally finish. And I’m proud of it so stop putting it down. And yes, I’ve had some success with it. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think I would become the next Hemingway. Not making the New York Times’s bestseller came as no surprise. But I was surprised at the criticisms of some.

In a nutshell: If you don’t like what I have to say, don’t read it, quit talking about me, don’t call, don’t email, and stop the stalking.

There. Whew. I feel much better.

By the end of 2017, I was surprised to see that I had only written 36 posts. It seemed like a whole lot more than that!

Those 36 posts generated almost 200,000 hits. The top ten posts produced 92,000, or 46% of the total page views, and have garnered anywhere from 19,470 hits for #1, down to 3,920 for #10.

Other bloggers would have to tell me if the number of hits my posts have generated is impressive or not, but I’m pleased with the bottom line.

At long last, it’s time to reveal the big kahunas, the top dogs—The 2017 Top Ten Teri Tome Besties:

#1

BEWARE OF TICK-INFESTED ACORNS: Okay, this was a shocker to me. All that pouring out of my heart and soul and tick-infested acorns is Numero Uno? So yes, the popularity of this blog post came as a disappointing surprise, although it does seem like those nasty buggers (the ticks, not the acorns) are taking over.

#2

#MeToo: This blog post wiped me out, and the popularity of it came as no surprise.  But I had hoped that #MeToo would have been my number one post for 2017. It would have eased the pain of writing it. But those damn ticks beat it out.  My consolation though is that I wrote it near the end of October, so I am sure if it had a few more months to settle in, it would have been number one.  Once I wrote it, I refused to reread it. Because I still feel shame. And I also feel like a coward. I wanted and should have said more, but I couldn’t. The timing was off.  One day I’ll explain why. But hundreds of women (and young girls) emailed me and shared their own heartbreaking stories. So if my blog post helped just one person, I’m glad I outed myself.

#3

Father-Daughter Dance: The term “Daddy Issues” is definitely a thing a lot of people have, including me. Researchers have found that fatherless daughters in particular often fear abandonment. (Check.) And they often have difficulty interacting with men. (Check, check.) And raising sons can be a challenge. (Triple check). On the positive side, fatherless daughters develop determined wills and survival tactics very early on. They are loyal friends and can love like no other. Ultimately, they just want to give love and be loved. Weddings, Father’s Day, and just plain old father hunger—it’s real and it’s painful, and it can sometimes bring out the worst in those of us who are part of this unfortunate club.  Every girl wants to be a daddy’s girl, but sadly, not every girl has the chance.

#4

Who Else Is Sick of Hearing About Politics on Facebook?: After #MeToo and Father-Daughter Dance, I was relieved to have a lighter post to talk up. On January 27, 2017, I put a self-imposed all-things-political blog ban on The Teri Tome and promised to try my best to muzzle my political opinions for thirty days. Instead of political banter, I would put up cooking photos and a few recipes. Following this post promise, I put up some Super Bowl recipes, wished Sidney Poitier a happy 90th birthday, and wrote a poem about surviving haters, judgers, and criticizers. And then came that damn repeal and replace fiasco in early March, so I couldn’t help jumping back into the political fray. But hey, I managed to last a little over two months without talking politics.

#5

Trading Places: A heard a haunting song on the radio titled “Human” by Rag’N’Bone Man, which gave me the courage to post this poem I wrote over fifteen years ago. The song cut through me on so many levels, but it mostly made me realize that I’m flawed, I’m not perfect, and I’ve made my share of foolish mistakes resulting from irresponsible life choices. I can’t undo any of it. And I can’t fix it either. Others made mistakes too, so why put all the blame on me? Rag’N’Bone Man seemed to speak directly to me as he sang through his sadness and guilt. He symphonically defended himself against the despairing burden crushing his being: “I’m only human after all; don’t put the blame on me. Don’t put the blame on me.”

#6

My Do-Over: I was thrilled that this post made the top ten because it gives me the opportunity to talk about how I felt when my firstborn entered the world. It was the miracle of life. A life that safe harbored itself inside of me for nine beauteous months. Moments after he arrived, my son squinted against the bright hospital lights. And then I spoke. It was more of an oohing, awing, cooing sound, and his dear little head, misshapen from repeatedly trying to escape the birth canal, quickly turned in the direction of my voice. His bright eyes gazed into mine. He had me at first gaze. It was not just the birth of my son that day. It was the birth of me as a mother, and one of the most significant physical and psychological stirrings I have ever experienced.

 #7

Gaslighting: I was not thrilled at all about the popularity of this post because as a result, I now need to address an unfortunate and hurtful breakup with a friend, which spurred the writing of this to begin with. Firstly, I am happy to say that we have since made up.  Secondly, I didn’t realize until after our blowup how much the friendship with my sidekick meant to me. I knew I loved her, but the pain of losing my female compadre was a lesson learned. And thirdly, the most important lesson learned was to put aside the nonsensical, troublesome and worthless noise created by a third party. Now I know first-hand the challenges of trios. Sometimes they work. And sometimes, you need to cut a bitch. Or cut her out, and keep the friend.

#8     

Irish or Not, Corned Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day: Every year, and as part of my St. Paddy’s Day tradition, I make my grandmother’s corned beef, cabbage and baked hash browns in honor and in memory of her. In the post, I discussed the fact that she was probably not Irish, although she did make a mean Corned Beef. The day I blogged this post my Ancestry kit came by mail. The result? Drum roll please…11% Irish! But to be clear, don’t try to kiss me on the big day.

 #9

Whatever Happened to Steak and Champagne in Coach?: As a Delta flight attendant way back when, in 1973, I was forced to engage in a whole lot of customer service, and it wasn’t only in the luxurious First Class. There was a ton of  back-of-the-plane service with a smile, served up with a slab of steak and way too much champagne. It was an exhausting job, continually struggling with that liquor and food cart while in a constant upward or downward angle, cleaning up vomit (oh yeah), dealing with dead people (sad but true), trolling the plane for doctors, and preparing travelers for the dreaded emergency landings. But nothing was worse than the pinching and grabbing from the men as I meandered past them. We’ve come a long way, baby.

#10    

Buh Bye 2016: I was so happy this post made it into the top 10 because it gives me the opportunity to replay the Teri Tome highlights from 2016. There were some oldies but goodies. On the lighter side, there was a post using my daughter to define marketing, my lame attempt to cut out the vino, and my cheese sculptures. A favorite of mine was a post about my childhood dog Raleigh, who was like a brother to me. The post about my dog came as a complete shock for many who know me well, because, to put it mildly, I am not a fan of animals. And then there was my post about the heartbreaking loss of my beloved Aunt Barb who was tragically killed by a hit and run driver. Maddeningly, the driver never turned him or herself in and was never found by the police. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.

And because I am obsessed with the number 18 (see why here), I had to know what blog post graced my favorite number.

#18

YOU’RE MISSING FROM ME MOM:  Eighteen in Hebrew means to life, so of course this blog about missing my mom reaffirms my belief that the number is truly a significant one for me.

 THE TERI TOME #1 POST OF ALL TIME? (All time being 2015-2017)

Bullies Are Cowards and Why I Refuse To Turn the Other Cheek: I wrote this blog post on 4/10/15, after a nasty bully experience. It has garnered over 100,000 hits to date and is always in the daily statistics.  When I receive letters asking how to handle bullies I tell them not to take the bait.  Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, bully. Only the best are bullied. And that your loved ones are your safety net. They will catch you when you fall prey to the ever present jerks that lurk.  But only if you let your loved ones in.  They can’t feel your pain if you don’t share it with them.

In closing up 2017, and in the editing and rereading of this blog post, it dawned on me that blogging has not only enhanced my life but has become a digital record of it. My words can never be lost, stolen, or destroyed in a fire or a flood. My words are now forever.

The Teri Tome has been my own little place to think and process all the stuff I’ve been keeping way down inside. I have finally found my voice, and in doing so, a safe place through my writing, and I am proud of my work.

Happy New Year!

Roy Moore vs. Goodness and Mercy

Last night I saw a clip on television that just about broke my heart.

An elderly man was holding up a sign that read:  “Judge Roy Moore called my daughter Patti Sue Mathis a pervert because she was gay.”

In the clip, Nathan Mathis, from Wicksburg, Alabama, clearly tormented and holding back tears said that he used to be anti-gay. “I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret, but I can’t take back what happened to my daughter,” he said. “Stuff like saying my daughter is a pervert, I’m sure that bothered her.”

This heart wrenching video says it all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BY_2doFSqI

I quickly went online to try to find out more about this repentant man and his deceased daughter.

I found the letter below that Nathan Mathis sent to the Dothan Eagle, a local newspaper in Dothan, Alabama, back on August 22, 2012.

With election time just around the corner, and watching and reading the news, “gay bashing” has begun again.

I once told gay jokes and bashed gays, but a real true life story might make people think just as that true life story makes me think.

On Oct. 11, 1972, Sue and I were blessed to have a baby girl, which we named Patti Sue Mathis. Patti was a wonderful child – happy, treated other children as she should, regardless of wealth or color, very athletic, tomboyish (I always had to pitch batting practice to her after Dixie Youth practice), very beautiful and smart. Patti may hold the scoring title at Wicksburg in basketball for girls. I’m not sure, but her points-per-game average was high. She was selected as the most valuable player at Enterprise State Junior College in softball.

When Patti was a senior at Wicksburg High, I found out she was gay from a young friend she had told. I confronted Patti and I said some things to her that still eat on me to this day. I told her I was sorry that I said those mean things to her.

Patti moved out, but came back home approximately four months later and sat down and cried and said, “Daddy, I don’t want to be gay. Will you please get me some help?” I told her that I sure would and I called UAB hospital and made an appointment.

Patti had been raised by going to church at Christian Home Church of Christ, and she was there almost every time the door was open. Patti knew the story of Sodom, for oftentimes gay bashing was preached from the pulpit. Looking back now, I wonder how Patti must have felt, or if she even knew she was gay then. I never asked her.

 We went with Patti to UAB and all types of blood work and tests were done on her that day. Finally, on over in the afternoon, the doctor called Patti, Sue and me into his office and he told Patti, “Young lady, you can’t help the way you are. There is nothing we can do for you.” I said to myself, “Man, this doctor is crazy.”

We visited other doctors and psychiatrists and Patti was told the same thing: “You can’t help the way you are.”

On March 22, 1995, Patti took her own life because she didn’t want to be gay anymore. She was tired of being ridiculed and made fun of. She was tired of seeing how a lot of people treat gay people. I found Patti that day.

Sometime after Patti died, I attended church and a visiting preacher was preaching. About 10 minutes into the sermon, he bashed gays the rest of the way. As soon as the invitation song was given, I went out the door with one of the worst headaches I had ever had. I was ashamed of myself for sitting there and not defending Patti. I have not been much since.

I have a hard time believing that God would allow Patti to be born as she was and if the doctors and psychiatrists were correct that “she could not help the way she was,” that Patti was going to bust hell wide open. I asked a local doctor recently if the medical profession had found a cure for being gay and he said, “No.” He changed the subject after that.

I have no quarrel with any letter writers or readers on this subject. Believe what you want to. I only know that if you ever have a child or grandchild who is gay, you’ll think differently.

Whatever happened to “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Does that exclude gays?

May God have mercy on us all. I only know I miss my daughter Patti very much and I am grateful for having her as my daughter.

Nathan Mathis

Wicksburg

Do what’s right Alabama.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23

Ask Billy Bush

On Monday, “Access Hollywood” host Natalie Morales had this to say about Trump’s recent delusional attempt to deny the authenticity of the now infamous tape: “Let us make this perfectly clear. The tape is very real. Remember his excuse at the time was ‘locker-room talk.’ He said every one of those words.”

On Tuesday, Republican Senator of Arizona Jeff Flake said it best when asked about Trump’s attempt to reinvent history: “You didn’t win the popular vote, there weren’t more people at your inauguration than ever, that was your voice on that tape.”

When the “Access Hollywood” tape, that had Donald Trump boasting about grabbing women’s genitals surfaced, I sadly assumed he would get away with saying it—as well as doing it.

Most powerful men do.

And I was right.

Trump quickly came out and blamed it on locker room talk.

He blamed it on a locker, and sadly, a ton of people fell for it.

Even his wife Melania backed him up.

She told Anderson Cooper at the time that her husband’s lewd comments about sexually assaulting women were just “boy talk.”

As I sat there listening to her tripe with my mouth hanging open, she continued saying how he was “egged on” to say “dirty and bad stuff” by Billy Bush, the “Access Hollywood” host at the time.

She blamed it on Billy, and sadly, a ton of people fell for it.

Melania actually referred to her husband and Billy Bush as “two teenage boys.”

Donald Trump was 59 at the time, not exactly a whippersnapper.

Then, more than a dozen women came out and accused Trump of all sorts of unseemly acts.

But I still knew it wasn’t going to make a damn bit of difference.

And it didn’t.

While Trump became President, Billy Bush became a pariah.

Billy didn’t assault women, he didn’t grab at their genitals, and he didn’t force himself on them.

He chuckled, acted foolishly by playing along, and sucked up to Trump.

And for that Billy’s world imploded.

He lost his job a week after the tape came out and his wife of almost two decades left him this past September.

On Monday, the poor guy landed in a hospital after being hit in the head with a golf ball.

This has been a tough few months for Billy.

I say the guy should get a break. I say after Billy recuperates from his golf ball injury he should be interviewed.

Ask Billy Bush.

If there’s anyone out there who wishes the tape was fake, it’s the guy who lost his job and probably his wife because of it.

And who knows, maybe if he takes to the air waves, all the people who fell for Donald and Melania’s lame excuses will finally forgive Billy…

…for the simple sin of not having the strength of character to change the subject.

Someone I Loved

Today was just another day,

until last year when it wasn’t.

The devastating news took the wind out of me,

like someone punched me in the stomach.

Someone I loved was dead.

Mowed down by a hit and run driver.

But this wasn’t just someone.

This was a Queen.

Even her three sisters called her that.

Before she was gone.

When they thought they had time.

We all thought we had time.

But we didn’t.

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

We all know the Thanksgiving drill: The turkey feast, dysfunctional family drama, and getting through the mundane recitations around the table about why we’re thankful. A day full of imperfections, complications, and fat pants.

Two weeks before Turkey Day the young, insecure “Terry” comes out, as I pour over recipes.

What can I cook up to make everybody happy? I design elaborate tablescapes, grocery shop, pre-plan, plan and re-plan the big shebang.

On the day of, I’m a one woman band, and I’m okay with that. I spend most of my holiday in the kitchen, which is fine with me. My way of saying I love you.

Dicing, slicing, mincing chopping, grinding, smashing, peeling, shredding.

All the while dancing, singing and sometimes crying to the songs on my iPod.

Sautéing, basting, and baking.  Always with precision, duty, perfection. And always result oriented—the need to please.

The need to love. The need to be loved.

As I prepare the turkey I fondly remember the time when I was about nine that my French grandmother Mammy whipped our turkey out of the sink and started singing and dancing with it in our shabby Huron Street kitchen. I bolted out of my chair and joined in, our hands entwined with the turkey legs, water dripping on both of us.

Alouette, gentille alouette. Alouette, je te plumerai. 

I didn’t know it then, I couldn’t know it then, that I was in the middle of a diamond moment—a moment in time that I would remember every Thanksgiving for the rest of my life.

This Thanksgiving, most of our family is unavailable, so my daughter Ariel suggested we do Sushgiving on Friday— a little sushi and a lot of thanks.

I agreed, but I was also determined to prepare a Thanksgiving feast—even if it was just for my husband and me.

More than any other recent Thanksgiving, I desperately needed a day of gratitude, with some turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes thrown in for good measure.

It’s been 31 years since my grandmother died and I have lived more than half my life without her. Mammy’s long gone, but her love of Thanksgiving will never die.

So I was determined to shop and cook for days, and then get up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving and prepare a humongous feast—even if it was just for two of us.

Because I am Mammy’s granddaughter.

Last night, with the television blaring to keep me company, I prepared Mammy’s fruit and Jell-O mold and sadly recalled my lost family.

And then I thought about all the families that would sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year having survived hurricanes, wildfires and mass shootings.

How many families would sit around a table, with their loved ones missing?

Empty chairs.

As I measured and stirred, I silently asked God how someone could find the inner strength and courage to give thanks after losing everything.

God answered me. Sort of.

At the exact moment I asked God how, a mother and sister of a woman killed in the Las Vegas shooting tearfully said this on television:  “Be together. Just stay close with your family. You have to find the light. You have to find the beauty. It’s out there. Darkness is so strong, but light is stronger.”

Last Thanksgiving one of my beautiful granddaughters dropped a ginormous blob of Mammy’s cherry Jell-O mold on my white linen dining chair.

I gazed down and cringed at the probable permanent stain it would leave.

My granddaughter attempted to scoop up the jiggly mess with her tiny fingers while unknowingly sealed it into the delicate linen fabric even more.

That chair was toast.

She looked up at me and with a beaming smile squished the goop into my hand.

I gazed into her bright eyes and caught a glimpse of her future: preparing her own Thanksgiving dinner—cooking, singing, dancing.

I saw in her angelic face, all the Thanksgivings coming her way.

Chairs full of family.

With my hand full of red goo, missing my grandmother on the inside, but smiling on the outside, I gave my granddaughter a crushing bear hug and a whole-hearted thanks.

#MeToo

I’ve been losing a ton of sleep over the Harvey Weinstein thing for a couple of weeks now.

Here’s the internal struggle.

Do I have the courage to take what’s in my tormented head and put it onto paper?

Or not.

Putting this blog post together has been the most heart wrenching and challenging thing I’ve ever done.

And I’m not exaggerating.

Back and forth and forth and back. What should I say? How far should I go?

There were “things” I furiously typed out, but then fear took hold, and a flurry of backspaces wiped it all out.

I put the post aside for a while, tried to work, make like I was okay.

Even though I wasn’t.

And then tried to write about it again.

Save, delete, save, delete. Backspace. Take a break.

I kept parking and rough-drafting my words. And then saving them under the title “Me Too.”

I figured, take it slow. Give myself some breathing room.

But this “Me Too” business was causing me some major panic and anxiety.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have been flooded with heart-rending and tragic messages from women using the hashtag #MeToo to acknowledge that they have been a victim.

It runs the gamut: Unwanted physical contact, lewd come-ons, cat calls, leers, nasty comments, inappropriate flirting, sexual harassment, molestation, abuse, assault, rape.

A plethora of unseemliness.

Reading through thousands of messages has shaken me to the core.

I’m terrified to admit it, but sadly, I’m a Me Too.

And people knew. “People” that were supposed to protect me.

There I said it.

Now many of you, who know me well, might not be surprised by the “Me Too.”

But probably surprised by how “it” happened.

Some of my family members will be taken by complete surprise.

And yet other family members have been calling me a liar for years.

And then there’s my inner circle. My peeps.

They know too well about my “life-changing stuff.”

But unless you’ve been “in it” you can’t know how it can scar and damage who you are.

For a lifetime.

To be honest, as hard as this post has been to write, I’ve been writing it for most of my life.

Reams of words in all forms and formats written over decades.

Tucked carefully away, waiting for the right time to reveal.

So, with all this “Me Too” sharing, I figured maybe now is my time to fess up.

On the one hand, I thought I could finally share.

But then, I doubt myself.

I just don’t know what to do.

I’m so torn.

If I don’t speak up now, then when will I?

If I do speak out what will people think of me?

But here it is.

A harrowing, heartbreaking, unforgivable and unforgettable series of childhood “events” ruined my chances at any sort of Ozzie & Harriett life.

My “Me Too’s” are deeply and profoundly humiliating and searingly painful.

And don’t worry, I’m not going to get into the gory details here.

But I will say that early on I was taught the hard way, that it is indeed a dangerous world.

A world in which I was always on the lookout for weirdos: On the street, at work, on trains, subways, buses, airplanes. Creepy construction guys, bar guys, CEO guys, and doctor guys.

Too close, too touchy feely, too familiar. Too everything.

Too damn much.

So many of us have learned the hard way that unsafe is everywhere.

Hollywood, publishing, modeling, banking, advertising, radio & television, real estate, government, beauty pageants…

Restaurants, movies, airplanes, boardrooms, schools, churches, day care centers, sports, and even home…

The lists of possibilities are endless because the abuse is everywhere.

“You know you want it.”

The careful mental calculations I drum up on a daily basis is exhausting.

Parking my car, or walking down an empty street, or down an empty hotel corridor, or getting into an elevator, or choosing a seat at the bar. And then the non-stop obsessive eyeballing of my drink.

Oh and then there’s taking a cab. Or an Uber.

Or letting workers into my home.

All of it has been an exhausting and heartbreakingly draining process.

And the paranoia and possible bad choices are endless.

A psychologist once told me that children who have been physically or sexually abused often end up sabotaging their lives.

They are their own worst enemy because as children their little brains were overloaded with fear and stress hormones. So they tend to live out their lives in fight or flight mode.

Fight it out or flight it out.

And I keep reading about men who need to stand up for what’s right.

And I agree.

Except “Me Too” is not just about women.

It includes a lot of men.

Too many men.

More men than we will ever know.

I wonder how many men out there are brave enough to use the hashtag #MenToo.

That’s all I can bear to say about “Me Too” for right now.

One day I hope to scream my “stuff” from the rooftops.

But not today.

Republicans Want to Lower Caps for 401(k)’s

The Republicans are back at it again. The ruthless party that keeps on screwing with everybody—except their uber-rich donors and cronies. Oh and of course, themselves.

This time they’re trying to slam the door on those of us who have been responsibly saving for our retirement through our 401(k)’s.

How? House Republicans are shamefully considering capping the annual amount hard working Americans can set aside for their future to as low as $2,400 for 401(k) accounts!

A paltry $2,400? What a bunch of crooks.

Now many of you Republicans out there will find some lame excuse for this greedy plan. You always do.

But there is no denying that the Republicans are actively and seriously discussing a proposal to sharply reduce the annual amount workers can set aside and save in tax-deferred retirement accounts.

Today, workers can put up to $18,000 a year in a 401(k) account without paying taxes upfront. If you’re over 50, the cap is increased to $24,000.

But if the Republicans get their way, our ability to save for our retirement will be taken away from us.

Now the Republicans are trying to control how much money we can save for our futures?

WHY?

DUH. Republicans need it to offset the revenue loss from having to reduce business tax rates.

You know, take whatever you can from us hardworking slobs so you can give it to your wealthy donors who are breathing down your slimy necks for you to SHOW THEM THE MONEY—or else.

Paul Ryan’s so-called path to prosperity for all looks more like Paul Ryan’s path to middle class poverty.

Reducing American’s contribution limits is a diabolically clever accounting maneuver, no?

By lowering the cap for 401(k)’s, Republicans can collect tax revenue on all that money that Americans could otherwise be saving tax-deferred, NOW, instead of later.

WOW. Is there no limit to the lengths that Republicans will go to line the pockets of their rich friends—and themselves?

Oh, and one more maddening tidbit of information: The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that tax exclusions for individual retirement contributions will cost the federal government $115 billion in 2018 alone!

Republicans are frothing at the mouth for that money.

Cha-Ching. Cha-Ching.

I don’t know how you feel, but 2018 elections can’t come quickly enough for me.

 

The Hurricane Club

I hope you never become a member of our quickly expanding club.

But as someone all too familiar with the hurricane/flooding/seepage drill, I have some tips for the newcomers to our unfortunate alliance.

We flooded out in Hurricane Irene and then got hit again, less than one year later, during Hurricane Sandy.

The first thing you’ll need to do is throw away your furniture, all your soggy remains of irreplaceable keepsake memories, your precious photo albums, rugs, clothing, shoes, computer monitors, appliances, pretty much everything.

Then, remove all affected drywall, which for us always meant “to the studs.” Look it up.

Carefully lug and pile the thousands of pounds of the putrid, sodden remnants of your belongings into a mountain shape to avoid your used-to-be valuables from spilling onto the street.

And most importantly, immediately eviscerate the quickly growing black mold that will undoubtedly pop up and spread out. It’s nasty and hard as hell to get rid of. If you can afford an expert to take on the removal task, I recommend that you do so. Any attempt to DIY can be dangerous. If the black mold doesn’t mess up your breathing, the bleach and other chemicals you will need to use to annihilate it will surely wreak havoc on your lungs.

Oh, and keep a close watch out for termites. I learned the hard way that they love wet wood, duh.

When Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012, it frighteningly and ferociously plummeted our house. As the water swiftly raged down my usually quiet street, it  carried metal generators, garbage cans,  huge pieces of wood and tree branches, and nearly covered the parked cars. My husband and I were alone and regretting our decision to remain in the house.

As the water lapped onto our lawn in waves, it inched closer and closer to our front door.

We were in a panic, and grabbed towels and sheets from our linen closet, and stuffed them against our front and garage doors. The linens didn’t work out so well.

The water seeped into our garage but mercifully stopped at our front door.

That was the nightmare happening in the front of the house.

In the back of the house, right off our kitchen, I was monitoring the movement of the 70 foot Oak tree in my neighbor’s back yard.  The wind was howling through the tree’s 100-foot canopy, causing it to whip back and forth in the wind, like a weed.  And there was no doubt that it was precariously thrashing and bending in the direction of our house.

Water was gushing onto our property in the front of the house, and a ginormous tree was readying itself to come crashing down on us in the back.  I was feeling panicky, but I wanted to appear in control of the situation.  It was my stupid idea to stay put.

Then our electricity went out so we could no longer see the torrent of water in the front of the house. I guess that was a good thing.

But it wasn’t dark enough in the back of the house to camouflage that damn solid Oak tree literally pulled from its roots, and looming in our direction.

I strongly suggested to my husband that we go up to our bedroom, which was the highest room in the house, to escape the treacherous storm surge.  He adamantly disagreed and suggested we go down into the basement. He was fairly confident that if the tree came down, it would in all probability crash into our bedroom.

I reluctantly agreed with his analysis.

But the basement?  The water was heaving itself onto our front lawn in wave after wave, and he wanted to move in the downward direction?

It was a surreal conversation.

Do we take our chances in the basement and hope that the water wouldn’t crash through the windows and drown us? Or do we move to higher ground and chance getting gored by Oak tree branches?

As we argued in the hallway about whether we should go up or down, there was a massive crash in the back of our house, which sent a shock wave through the entire structure.

After a long bear hug, my husband looked at me and weirdly casually said: “Well let’s see if the tree is in our house.”

As we crept up our stairs, we saw bright crackling and spits of flame through the kitchen window. That not so grand old Oak lay a mere three feet from our house, which was a miraculous thing.  The 70-foot behemoth with its 100-foot canopy had smashed onto our property, taking fences, trees, electrical lines, our deck, and everything else in its path with it.

It also took off a small piece of our jutting roof, but the rest of our house and our lives had thankfully been spared.

I recall grabbing my husband in terror as he calmly looked out at the crackling wires on the tree and then quietly announced: “We can go up to the bedroom now.”

The next few days were nightmarish. But as a member of the Hurricane Club, we had been down this devastating road before. So we began the arduous task of cleaning up.

Except one week later, we had an early season snowstorm which dumped more than a foot of snow on us.

Fortunately, the coastal flooding from the storm was minor, but it brought any hope of recovery to a screeching halt.

Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, gas stations were out of gasoline, there were slim pickings at the only walkable grocery store, whole boulevards had been washed away, and rebuilding seemed like an impossible task.

For close to three weeks we endured no heat, no electricity, and only ice cold water for showers. Thankfully our toilets were working.  But our cell phones were dead, so it was difficult to communicate with the outside world.

We were in survival mode. And it was freezing cold in our house. Our paltry supply of food and drinks were packed into coolers we found in our soggy garage, now strewn about on our destroyed deck.

And then of course there was that damned tree, a reminder of the work ahead of us.

 

But survive we did.

As we walked through our neighborhood, the devastation was heartbreaking. Amidst the snow drifts, downed trees cut off many of the streets, houses were demolished, rotting dead fish were oddly strewn about, and workers who had come from all over the country to assist in the recovery and rebuilding were assessing the damage.

Reminders of Hurricane Sandy are still everywhere. Five years later, many victims are still recovering and rebuilding.

With the arrival of Harvey and Irma, the Hurricane Club will sadly be expanding its membership.

Irma, who has already ripped through the Caribbean, now has her sights on Florida.

As someone who survived Sandy, I would strongly advise anyone in Irma’s path to get the hell out of dodge.

And then courageously prepare for the new normal.