Friday, March 13, 2009

Columbus Journal, Part Deux of Part Deux

Tonight's my last night in the state capitol. I'll be returning back to Toledo tomorrow to rest on the sabbath before returning back to work Monday. I don't normally work on Mondays, but I have a meeting first thing Monday morning and an engagement Monday night, so in between the two, I'm going to go to work. I've been working while I've been here: writing proposals, making phone calls, and investigating this home care business. There's another workshop on the 24th, so I'm coming back next week. James's group, Flow Theater, is performing at a conference sponsored by UT in Toledo on the 19th and I'm going out to see the show, then coming back to Columbus with the actors, which include my baby sister, D'Ebrar.

Speaking of baby sis, I think she's still celebrating her birthday! She started celebrating a week ago with her girlfriends at a Mexican restaurant (poor child had a margarita and realized she doesn't like tequila - I love it and I love margaritas, but I've been staying away from them while I've been here; they make me act naughty!) Then Saturday, I took her shopping at our favorite discount clothing store, Simply Fashions. She got two dresses, two tops, a denim jacket with a sexy, cutout back that I picked out for her, about six pair of shoes, and a bagful of jewelry. I found myself a skirt and a jacket and two tops that matched it plus a couple of pair of shoes.

On the way out of the store, we saw this red outfit that looked like something our Mother would love. I wanted to take my sister out to Zanzibar, a coffee house that our brother, James, enjoys, but she is taking a class for ministers and had a paper due. So, she went home to work on her paper and I went over to spend a couple of nights with her and Mom. We got to see KiKi and Joe and smothered them with kisses and hugs because KiKi got accepted in the gifted program and Joe's reading is improving. I slept with the lights on because I kept hearing mice. I recognized the sound because I've had my own problem with the little vermin this year after a couple of years of no mice (I am relentless with the D-Con!).

Sunday, I went to church with Mom and sang one of her favorite songs, "Even Me," after the sermon. James picked me up from church so he and Leslie (Joe's significant other and my "sis-in-law") could have lunch at Schmidts. Leslie brought a new contract for me to sign and an envelope full of cash because she and Joe bought out my share of the house due to the seemingly neverending costs of the rehab. I needed the money, so I didn't mind. Sunday afternoon, James and I went to see D'Ebrar's production, "Gates Ajar." It was an excellent choir program with different characters on their way to the pearly gates singing their praises and shouting as they entered.

Late Sunday afternoon, D'Ebrar had class, then went out to dinner with her gentelman friend to celebrate her birthday which was actually Sunday. She's 46; and so is Joe. He'll be 47 April 16. They were born eleven months apart. James will be 49 April 7, the same day as my sister-in-law, Lisa's birthday. Sunday morning, my brother, Greg, the pastor, called and talked to Mom and me. He told me all about the things I wrote in Part I of this journal to let me know he reads everything I send him. I'm going to have to go to Mississippi and visit him one day soon. Wonder how far Mississippi is from North Carolina?

James will know if Wimmin With Wings was accepted for a mainstage performance at the National Black Theatre Festival, which is in North Carolina, next month. I can't imagine it not being included. What a wonderful birthday present tjat would be for James! I'm still trying to decide which of my one acts to submit for the Readers' Theatre, so I'm going to send three of them to anyone interested so you can read them and tell me know which one you think I should submit. I'm still leaning toward Casting Stones, the dark comedy about the female serial killer because it's the kind of play that comes out of the festival, but I'm also considering Ruthless Bonds (that one got Lori's vote) and Picnics and Pits.

Monday, I came back to James' and got rested so I could go to the home health care workshop. I went to the workshop Tuesday morning and was befuddled by an overload of information on billing. However, I made some valuable contacts with some people who work for the Ohio Council of Home Care and joined the organization, trying to get a discount on the workshop taking place on the 24th. That one's called Home Health Care 101 and it lasts all day, so, hopefully, I won't be totally confused when I leave like I was Tuesday. I gave James his present early, some of the money Joe and Lesie gave me when they bought my share of the house, and it was just enough to close the deal for his new house. God is good.

James took me by PJ's to get fish and chicken wings and stopped by Family Dollar to get poison for the mice and skins, ginger snaps, and Lemon Berry Hawaiiaan Punch for me. I got fish and wings for Mom, too, and we went over there to put out the poison and eat. Mom's home health aide, Conia (the star of "Gates Ajar" and an original member of James theater group - she was in B.R.AIDS!) was there with her little ones, Reggie and Solomon. I love those boys! They are little monsters, always into everything. I also love Mom and D'Ebrar's dog, Bear, who thinks I'm another dog and always wants to bite me and wrestle with me. He really needs obedience training and I wish I had time to do it, but I'm never here long enough. I also saw my ex sister-in-law, Valerie, who looked fabulous in her business suit and stilletos.

Tuesday night I finally got to take my sister out for her birthday after she got off work. James and I met her at The Monk, the fabulous restaurant James took me to when I arrived a week ago. D'Ebrar's friend, Kim, who is a hoot, also came, and so did one of James' best friends, Arnie. We had a great meal and, of course, I had my Madras before dinner, wine with dinner, and Kaluah and coffee after dinner. One of James' actors, Amber, sings with a band and they were performing in the bar area. Amber really belted out "Respect" (I was singing along!), then later came over to the restaurant and talked to us between sets. Arnie invited everyone to come to James Piano Bar Thursday for open mic night. I said "yes," forgetting that Leslie, James, and I were supposed to go to a movie.

Wednesday was the day we celebrated Mom's birthday. While we were at her house Tuesday afternoon, she asked James to get her some glazed donuts to take to Bible study. He told her he would, exchanging a knowing look with me. He and D'Ebrar ordered ribs and chicken from Smokey Bones (believe me, the one in Columbus is MUCH better than the ones in Toledo!) while we were there. That's Mom's favorite restaurant and one of the few places she'll it out. D'Ebrar had already ordered a cake and after dinner Tuesday, James went to Krogers and got potato salad and fixings for baked beans, as well as utensils, plates, cups, napkins, and a red and white gingham tablecloth. In case you haven't guessed, we were going for a barbecue theme. Next time, I'm going to have to get my friend Melvin's poem about barbecue to read!

Everything went as planned Wednesday morning. James and I went over and set everything up while Bible study was going on and D'Ebrar picked up the cake and the ribs and chicken. After Bible study, everyone came back into the church's social area with Mom bringing up the rear! She was in total shock. There were butterfly shaped balloons over her cake and "Happy Birthday" balloon on the buffet table. James had made a nice punch in the church's punch bowl, but bought a two litter of Diet Coke for Mom (it doesn't help her memory, but she enjoys it - what can I say!). Everyone enjoyed the food and the fellowship. Mom and D'Ebrar's pastor showed me around the sanctuary so I could see the chandeliers they'd put in since Sunday. He's really a great young pastor.

Afterwards, my sister and I took our mother to Simply Fashions to look at that red outfit. I found some earrings and D'Ebrar found another pair of shoes - no flats this time, girfriend got some stilletos! She also kept asking me if I liked different tops (she had two waiting on my bed when I arrived Saturday). I should have known something was up - she bought the tops for me, but didn't want to buy the purse that matched her shoes, so I bought it for her along withe the red outfite for Mom and the earrings for myself. Mom's birthday isn't actually until next week, on St. Patrick's Day, but she enjoyed being queen for a day. She got some lovely gifts: a plant and a memory box full of stationery and keepsakes. I bought her a yellow suit to wear on Easter and it wasn't due until Monday, but it came yesterday. She loves it! I also ordered her an Obama album.

Thursday, I worked all day making phone calls and typing up proposal after proposal and checking in with my boss. On the way back from shopping Wednesday, we passed by my favorite theater, the Drexel, and Slumdog Millionaire was on the marquee, so I talked to Leslie and James via email about going. Leslie found out the show times because we were hoping for an early show so we could meet Arnie later at the piano bar. Leslie had work to do and couldn't attend the early show, so we went to the 7:45 one and James had to postpone a videotaping he was doing of Joe. Afterwards, we got some food in the coffee house that's attached to the theater and owned by the folks that own the Drexel. We got some lentil soup to take home, along with quesadillas, and the best little hamburgers.

That is the best movie I've seen in a while. If you haven't seen it, you must. It has great pathos, hilarious comedy, intense drama, and heartfelt romance all rolled up into one film. However, if your stomach tends to be a little queasy, I advise you not to eat before you go or during the first part of the movie. I was eating popcorn and peanut M&Ms and drinking root beer when Jamal ran through the crowd to get the autograph, but luckily I've worked in places that would turn one's stomach, often having to eat lunch while working. I already warned my sister not to eat before or during the movie because her stomach will do flip flops.

I hear her and her girlfriends downstairs. They have dinner at James' once a month and I forgot tonight was the night. I'm sitting in the dark at my computer wearing my flannel nightgown, so I guess I won't be going down. We didn't make it to the piano bar last night and flirted with the idea of going tonight. I was about to take a nap two hours ago, so I could go out later when Arnie called and said he'd planned to go out early tonight. When I told him I'll be back next week, he said we'll do it then. I love Arnie. He's classy, funny, and a good friend to my brother.

Another of James' friends, Lee, was here from Cleveland Wednesday and Thursday. He came right after I left the last time and rearranged the furniture in James' living and dining room, transforming them into perfection. That fool woke me up Wednesday afternoon when he came in and again this morning, except this morning he brought me breakfast and coffee from MacDonald's. I don't know how he knew I liked the bacon and egg biscuits and cream AND sugar in my coffee, but he knew. That's Lee. I threatened to take him back to Toledo with me and he retorted, "You better have a man waiting for me!" I told him there are plenty of gay men there, but most of them are on the down low. He came up and hugged me before he left this afternoon. He'll be back next week, too.

Leslie told me I might as well move back to Columbus. It's tempting, but I have roots in Toledo after 21 years. James says when I get the money to have the knee replacement surgery, I can come convalesce in Columbus because even after he buys another house once he's solvent again, he'll keep the little cottage he just bought for me. How sweet. Well, I'll be here a lot because if I ever have the money, I'm replacing knees, hips, teeth, and whatever else is not working! Dolly Parton says anything that's sagging, dragging, and bagging gets nipped, tucked, and sucked. Well, I won't be having cosmetic surgery, but hip replacement sounds real good right now!

Thanks to everyone who let me enjoy my time with my family this week and didn't call me. (I did have one call from Toledo today while I was trying to nap, but my phone was off, as usual). I did finally talk to my high school classmate today who told me that a total of six of my classmates have now died. The last one died in 2008. His name was W.C. Anderson and he was the sweetest, quietest boy. I always liked him. Another one, Evelyn (can't remember her last name right now) also died; she was a quiet, sweet girl in school. I still don't remember who Carolyn Johnson (the one who contacted me) is. I thought she was Carolyn Jones, but she said her name is Johnson. She's going to send me photos after the class reunion, so maybe I'll figure it out then.

Despite the social whirl I've been in while visiting Columbus, that will all end when I return to Toledo. I have a lot of work to do, including some massive spring cleaning, so I will not be going out to eat, going to the movies, or any of the other fun things I did while here. Maybe Columbus will become my place to relax and socialize since Toledo is where I work and get down to business. I am probably not going to be flitting around like a social butterfly when I come back next week - all that was because of my mother and sister's birthdays.

Although, I will go to the piano bar and I hope to go and hear Rev. Jeremiah Wright with my own ears when I come back, I probably will spend most of the time working like I did today and yesterday. D'Ebrar are going to the 8:00 service at James' church to hear Rev. Wright on the 22nd (she goes to hear him every time he's in Columbus and says he's nothing like he's depicted in the media). Then, I'll be going to church with my mother. So, I'll be staying with Mom and D'Ebrar Saturday and Sunday night again. But I'll be coming back to my home away from home at James' on Monday. I'm going to miss this house when he moves.

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