Monday, June 30, 2014

My First Mammogram

Recently I went to have my first mammogram. Although I'm not yet 40, two of my maternal aunts were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past ten years. They are survivors, praise the Lord, but a little preventative check-up just made good sense.

When I arrived at the Women's Center, a lovely woman named Penny checked me in. She was warm and inviting, much like the waiting room, and I was instantly at ease. I filled out some basic information about why I was having the exam and was soon called to the back room to change. Though I'd been instructed to shower and not lotion, I forgot not to use deodorant and needed to wash it off.

Why is this relevant? Because I did something in that bathroom I've always feared I'd do.

Not take a selfie, though I did do that.

No, in true Denise fashion, I inadvertently set off the wall-mounted "patient needs assistance" alarm.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lifting or Leaning?

Each day I find reason to inventory my attitudes and actions. After a frustrating time-suck with a call center clerk or bedtime negotiations with my children, I wonder if I am part of the solution or the problem, if the other person left our interaction feeling better or worse.

In Winning with People, John Maxwell shares the following poem by American author Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Poignant and provocative, "Which Are You?" makes a fine tool for such self-assessment: 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tribute: Michael Jackson

Five years ago today, I was pregnant with Braylee, sitting in the children's waiting room of Temple Hospital's ER because Jonan was running a high fever and our pediatrician's office was closed. As I checked my phone, I heard whispers from the other parents that Michael Jackson had died. I ignored them, certain it was another internet hoax.

Then came a frantic text message from my cousin Nate.

And a nudge from Horace that he was seeing the same thing online.

I checked my Facebook page and watched the unspeakable truth fill my news feed. Incredulity quickly dissolved into despair, and I buried my face in Horace's shoulder, crying my eyes out. As I came back to myself, I noticed the other adults in the room doing the same thing, hiding tear-stained faces from their children who didn't understand the significance of what had happened. "Michael Jackson is dead! Michael Jackson is dead!" one clueless child chanted until his mother recovered enough to silence him. It was one of those devastating moments I'll never forget, one that should not have happened that way.

Gone Too Soon, indeed.

Tomorrow is Throwback Thursday. But if anyone warrants acknowledgement a day early, it's Michael Jackson. And as we Remember the Time he spent with us, I invite you to share any Michael Jackson song, clip, or video you choose, for any reason it moves you.

Given his massive body of work, selecting a favorite song is impossible. But to kick us off properly, I'll share my favorite video.

I love this video for many reasons, starting with memories of watching it over and over again with David and Nate at my Aunt Bernice's. Despite the harsh reality the lyrics describe, the video is as smooth as the brim of Jackson's white hat and matching skinny tie. Many celebrate a later video for its famous dance sequence, but I think this one is his most elaborate and fascinating to watch.

I hereby present "Smooth Criminal," as presented in Moonwalker.

Five years later, and it still hurts. We miss you, Michael. Thanks for the music and memories.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Vampire Diaries: Why Do We Love Damon?

Thanks to Netflix and YouTube videos, I'm obsessed with The Vampire Diaries, the CW’s uber-popular series based on the books by L.J. Smith. 

In case you’re unfamiliar, TVD chronicles events in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, a place populated by vampires, werewolves, hybrids, doppelgangers, and witches. Oh, and some humans. With Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec at the helm, TVD is a sprawling, intricately woven saga which captivates from Episode 1 until the last moment of Season 5.

I’m still recovering.

But this die-hard romantic watches TVD for one main reason: the dynamic romance between Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert, expertly portrayed by real-life sometimes-couple Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev. You can get the deets on Damon and Elena's history here, but know this: their epic love is one for the ages. It is wild, passionate, and all-consuming, everything you want in a relationship.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ainsley Bishop Blog Tour: Seven Random Questions with T.M. Franklin

Today is the final day of T.M. Franklin's Blog Tour for her latest novel, How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You. I am thrilled to share her answers to my Seven Random Questions!

Here we go!

1. As Ainsley Bishop begins, we get our first glance into Oliver’s List Notebook. What’s the first list he ever made? How old was he? What was on it?

Young Oliver
Oh, excellent question. Nobody’s asked me that yet!

TBT MUSIC: My Favorite Summer

As today is the last day of school for my older children, our attention now turns to what many consider their favorite time of year.


Summer is awesome beyond its warm weather and lack of academic restrictions. It is the season for friends and fun, of shorts and swimsuits. And for young people away from the invasive eyes of parents and teachers, it is the season for discovering who you are and what you're made of.

In honor of this wonderful time of year, today's TBT Music category is "Song that Reminds You of Your Favorite Summer." For me, there is only one choice.

The year was 1992, the summer before my freshman year of high school. For Ebony, Nita, and I, it was the summer of Fern Hill Park where we jumped double-dutch and walked to Stop n' Shop food market on Wissahickon Avenue to get snacks and soda for our basketballing male friends. It was the summer of riding bikes to Walnut Lane to see Karlynne, making up dances and singing acapella in her living room. It was the summer of sleepovers at Missy's house, playing hide and seek in the dark and laughing so much our sides ached. It was the summer of love, such as my teenage self understood, where every week brought happiness and heartache in equal, heady measure.

It was the best summer of my life, and this song played in the background of every moment. There were three of them and three of us, and never had a more perfect symmetry existed. We miss Ebony like they miss Left Eye, but every time I hear this song, all I feel is good.

The group is TLC. The song is "Baby, Baby, Baby."

What song reminds you of your best, most favorite summer? Let me know!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I'm a Naive Mom: Excerpt from "The Motherhood Diaries 2"

My blog posts often highlight moments where motherhood has thrown me for a considerable loop. In The Motherhood Diaries 2, twenty-four other mothers and I share our ups, downs, and all-arounds in the name of solidarity and preserving our sanity.

And in that same spirit, here's an excerpt from my essay, "Diary of The Naive Mom...(Or Everything I Didn't Know)."

Many words accurately describe me: Creative. Insightful. Passionate. Optimistic.
But the one I like least. . .  and which most thoroughly applies, I’m afraid. . . is na├»ve.
In high school, I heard a story about Toni Braxton being “discovered” while pumping gas. As I also harbored deep-seated dreams of singing stardom, I believed such a thing would happen to me. Only in my early 20’s did I discover — to my great shock and confusion — that this occurrence was not only highly improbable but also a poor substitute for a life plan.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review: "How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You" by T.M. Franklin

In high school, I had a terrible three-year crush on a guy we’ll call “John.” Though unrequited, my epic crush on John prompted me to do things like spell his name in syrup atop my pancakes, memorize his volleyball serving technique (ten ball bounces then two steps forward), and spend the first weeks of post-freshman year summer break dissecting his cryptic message in my yearbook.

Yeah, Usher. I had it baaaaad.

But for all the energy spent loving John from afar, I never thought to put my brain to good use and draft a list of things I could do to make him fall in love with me.

And that, dear friends, is the difference between me and Oliver Wendell Holmes, the endearing protagonist in best-selling author T.M. Franklin’s latest novel, How to Get Ainsley Bishop to Fall in Love with You.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

TBT Music: Don't Tell Mom!

In honor of Sir Mix-a-Lot's epic performance of "Baby Got Back," we dedicate today's category to the songs you were too young to be listening to, where the lyrics were over your head--or maybe they weren't, you "fresh" thing!--but that didn't stop you from nodding and singing along.

Unless your parents were around.

That's when you'd turn down the sound so low on your Walkman you could barely hear the beat through your foam headphones. Or if you were in the car and that song came on the radio, you suddenly engaged your parents in conversation, hoping to talk long and loudly enough to obscure all the explicit parts. Once the song ended, you fell silent, now fascinated by the passing scenery.

Can I get an Amen?

In my case, we weren't in the car. Mommy and I were at the Pizza Hut on Stenton Avenue near Washington Lane with David, my Aunt Bernice, and cousin Nate. I don't know what was up with the jukebox at this Pizza Hut, but every time we finished eating, this song would fill the silence with a rapid drum beat followed by a suggestive male moan. David and I would shoot panicked looks at each other, praying Mommy would be too busy laughing with Aunt B to notice the filth pouring from the speakers.

Or that her Christian children knew every word, grunt, and sigh.

I don't think she ever said anything about it, but every time I hear this song, I think of Pizza Hut with Nate and Aunt B, Mommy's potential wrath, and spine-tingling fear.

Good times.

The group is Bell Biv DeVoe. The song is "Do Me (Baby)."

What song did you hide from your parents back in the day? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Baby Got Back...with an Orchestra

I think it's safe to say I have officially seen everything.

Just in case you missed it, Rolling Stone featured a story yesterday about 90's rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot performing at Seattle's Benaroya Hall as part of Composer Gabriel Prokofiev's Sonic Evolution series.

Though Prokofiev also featured Mix-a-lot's other hit, "Posse's on Broadway," this video of "Baby Got Back" wins for several reasons:

1. Mix-a-Lot's introduction
The outspoken MC's prologue to the performance alone is worth watching. He is as charismatic and hilarious as ever, reminding us why he ruled the charts.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

TBT MUSIC: This Song, That Movie

Since the silent era of yesteryear, movies have changed with the times. The addition of color and sound were transformative, as was the musical era of the early 20th Century. But true music lovers would argue the inclusion of songs in key film scenes changed the cinematic game forever.

Why? Because you will never again hear this song without thinking of that movie.

Which brings us to today's category.

As an avid movie watcher, one song and film combo immediately came to mind when Horace gave me this category. But as a loyal sister, I cannot choose the song my brother undoubtedly will pick when he participates on Facebook later this morning. Thus I must go with my second--though no less significant--choice.

This movie reigns in my heart for several reasons. Not only did I see it with a dear friend during my freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania, but it is the defining black romance of my early adulthood. And though its soundtrack is one of the best CDs ever assembled, this particular song will eternally remind me of the stylishly simple photo montage of the opening credits.

The movie is love jones. The song is "Hopeless" by Dionne Farris.

What's your selection for this week's category? Join the party with #dlmtbtmusic