Believe It

I was fantastically moved by today’s baptisms at Emmanuel Baptist Church, my home base in Brooklyn. Members, guests, and families applauded, snapped pictures, shed tears as several young people were dipped into water with a prayer for this profound new chapter in their lives. I found myself covered in goosebumps.

I felt a sense of deja vu: I was instantly reminded of taking my own walk with my other mom, Deacon Ruth Corbett, in August 2001. I knew I liked the vibe of EBC on my occasional visits–the straightforward messages, preached to people who looked like me, who struggled like me. I didn’t hesitate, compelled to squeeze past my pew neighbors to join the fellowship. I was welcomed warmly and blessed for my epiphany.

I was baptized on September 19, a week after brutal terrorist onslaughts in the US, attacks that found me in SoHo, on a patio watching firsthand a second plane crash into the towers. What followed was a blur of a colleague’s apartment crammed with trembling co-workers, ash-covered and blank-eyed survivors, frantic check-ins with classmates, friends, sorors, and family (my aunt was in an adjacent tower; we waited an agonizing 10 hours to hear from her). Fourteen years later, no country appears safe from violent, pointless attacks, as witnessed just in the past two weeks. I hope that our new members find community, camaraderie, and a sense of security through renewed faith, as I did. In the meantime, I’ll live day by day, with mercy and grace. I wish the same for us all. Cheers.

NH

Happy Mother’s Day (and so help me, you better be mothers)

So I’m coasting on some great spring weather and good visit-with-my-mom vibes, and decide to pop into a bodega before I head home. It’s not my usual spot: it stinks of cat, the lighting is sketchy and there’s always some young neighborhood person who vaguely guards the door. But it’s closest to my house and so for that, I have only myself to blame. The following took place at about 5 pm. It’s approximately 5:20 now.

I’m buying two rolls of toilet paper. The storekeeper wishes me a cheerful “Happy Mother’s Day,” to which I genially reply, “I’m not a mom but thanks!”

The below conversation was transcribed verbatim.

SO: (astonished–kiddingly, I think) “Why no kids?”
Me, chuckling: “I’m an auntie to many, many children.”
SO: “What are you, 35?”
Me: flinging hair and pulling off glasses in dramatic reveal. “Thank you, I’m 41.”
SO: His sudden pounding of the counter deadens my sails. Pounding does not mean kidding. “WHAT? And no kids? Can you have them?”
Me: “Theoretically? Me-Medically? I think… I mean…” (not prepared for this level of interrogation when picking up tp) “Yes, I’m pretty sure I could…” (trying to count out change simultaneously)
SO: Pounding again. My posture keeps tightening. “Listen, you go home & tell your boyfriend, you tell your husband to give you babies NOW. You must have babies. Babies are life.”
Me: “Uhhh–” (contemplate telling him I’m single, decide I’m way over my head already)
SO: “Without babies you become these women with the dogs and cats. They walk them and they have 5 and 6. It’s NO. GOOD. Don’t wait till 50. No babies after 50.”
Me: “Fifty,” I repeat dumbly.
SO: “Tell your husband TODAY. Babies are the answer!” He pats my black plastic bag and with that, I’m dismissed into the bright sunlight, slightly dazed but knowing I need to share this ASAP.

This entire ‘chat’ was over so fast it would take me a full day to process. But if I’m honest with myself, is it really Mother’s Day unless a stranger remarks on my fertility? I feel oddly at peace now.

(Note to self: never be nice to anyone AGAIN.)

eta: Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and women who have been moms to me. I hope my chronicles make you smile, or just shake your head in disbelief, as I think that’s funny too.

choc lab

Yellow cabs or, trying to avoid felony charges

My friend Leslie hates cabs. She’s athletic, enjoys exercise and if she had her way, she would walk everywhere. She shows up at restaurants and lounges without a hair out of place, despite having walked four miles from her house to whatever bar we’ve schlepped to.

I’m the exact opposite. I will take a livery cab five blocks if it’s cold enough,  if my feet hurt enough, or if the neighborhood is sketchy enough. I can quote cab rates from my house to Park Slope, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Canarsie…most areas in Brooklyn. Things get vaguer in the city, but I know most cabs charge at least $20 just to go over the bridge, and it’s about a $25 flat rate from my place to JFK or LaGuardia airports.  

I do pretty well when I can call a livery cab. My favorite is a Dominican-run company with drivers who show up on time in clean, new cars. They’re reliable and charge fair prices (and a call to the dispatcher squashes the hopes of those who try to be cute; he knows me by voice and by address if not by name). I even do OK hailing gypsy cabs; if the car looks like a hoopty or is missing any inspection stickers or TLC license plates, I wave it past. (I hate to admit it but in my 20s, on particularly bad-weather days, I’d sometimes take a questionable sedan operating as a taxi).

Then there are yellow cabs. I know. By now everyone’s had their experiences with them.  I’m cautious to even talk about them: the drivers might put up some sort of taxi signal in the sky and leave me out trembling in the rain the next time I really need them. But nearly being hit by an off-duty cab the other morning reminded me of my worst two yellow cab incidents. I’ll recount them for your enjoyment, because I like to make people happy.

Continue reading “Yellow cabs or, trying to avoid felony charges”