Tag Archives: neighbors

Election Reflection in 24 hours

November 4, 2008 7:20 AM

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 Lining up to vote: Rockridge United Methodist Church, corner of Hudson and Manila near College Avenue

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Early morning sun and the news truck antenna

8 PM

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270 Electoral Votes achieved, fire in the street on Avon, marshmallow roasting

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The handsome President, giving it to us from Grant Park 12′ high on the side of a Rockridge home

November 5, 2008 7:25AM

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The dawn of a new day in Rockridge, Oakland, California, United States, America.

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Hallelujah Baby!

Those are the words I heard from my mother when I spoke to her at approximately 8:45PM tonight.

All those fits of anxiety spread into total relief.  Thank you to all of you who did so much to make this election what it turned out to be.

It all started at close to 8PM when I was on the phone with Mary and she started screaming-everyone started screaming-I couldn’t understand anything else.  Obama hit 270 electoral votes.  

I., Rimpletide and I ran out onto the streets of Rockridge, over to Avon a few blocks down.  The neighbors had blocked of the street, there were fires going, food, drinks, and a 12′ high projection with live coverage.  The mood was high.

We watched the concession speech.  Rimple and I called Mom and Dad, then we all waited for the acceptance.  It seemed like forever.

Once President Obama got out there I just started sobbing, and I sobbed through his whole speech.  Sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  Until then I was just shocked, awed, and overwhelmed.  Then I sobbed.  It never felt so good.   I. held me and I sobbed.  I sobbed for the Black and brown people, I sobbed for newfound hope, I sobbed for the history of injustice, and I sobbed for the work we all have to do.  I sobbed for the idea of America, for finally being able to be proud of being American, for the promise of what America can be, and for being alive and being an adult right now, in this big moment. I sobbed because American is what I am.  I thought I would never stop crying, and I didn’t want to.

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Solid Rock Baptist Church Turns 65 Years Old

I got up early, ironed my suit, picked up Mrs. B’s wrist corsage I ordered for her from Bloomies, picked up some sheer “buff” hose at Walgreens, and set my hair.

I attended the Solid Rock Baptist Church 65th Anniversary brunch at a banquet hall near the Oakland Airport with Mrs. B.  It was an unprecedented experience for me, in every way.  I am pretty sure it is the first time that I have been the racial minority in a room of people.  Out of approximately 80 attendees, I was one of 3 whites.  In addition to the pastor of Solid Rock, there were at least five other Baptist preachers in attendance who were visiting to express their support for Solid Rock.  Many of Mrs. B’s amazing family were in attendance including her two surviving children, and several grandchildren.  None of her great-grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren were able to come, perhaps a combination of the high price of tickets and distance.  I know Mrs. B’s children fairly well, since they are often at her house, but I’d never met her grandchildren.  They were all so kind to me, as was every single person there.  Mrs. B’s grandchildren, who are all significantly my senior, all greeted me with open arms–literally–thanking me for looking out for their grandmother.  They insisted on hugging me at first sight.  The members of the congregation were equally as welcoming and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable.  

The program was amazing and included a lot of preaching.  The pastors were all phenomenal.  I absolutely loved it.  As much as it was something I’d never experienced before, I felt oddly at home, and as if these people’s faith were as much theirs as mine.  We gave thanks, we prayed, and we said Amen, a lot.  They did something I loved called “Words of Encouragement.”  These presentations were made by two different visiting pastors who gave encouragement to the church as a whole, and Solid Rock’s pastor, respectively.  What they each said was different, but I just loved the concept of Encouragement.  One of the pastors told us: “we ALL need encouragement.”  Nothing could be more true.

The praise team sang, and there was even a band.  The keynote speaker was Pastor John Waiters from Mount Olive Baptist Church in Palo Alto.  His words were powerful, but what was even deeper was just looking into his burning eyes as he spoke to all of us, each and every one of us, and demanded that we recognize Jesus as our Savior.

Mrs. B was honored by the church.  She has served Solid Rock for sixty-four of its sixty-five years.  She was the choir director for fifty of those years.  And she looks just as good as she did almost the whole time.  Two other nonagenarians were honored for their service along with her.  According to the pastor, each had their individual quirks that distinguished them: one of the sisters was known for saying not to cross her, lest she…well you know, the other sister was the fashion queen, best dressed at church, and Mrs. B has always been known to be the first in church every Sunday all these sixty-four years, and strutting up the steps quick with a switch in her hips.  When Mrs. B heard the pastor say so she stood up and shook it.  It was beautiful.

By the end of the marathon four hour event I felt like I was friends with everyone in the room.  Solid Rock’s pastor, Michael Wright, told me I was welcome anytime at his church.  All the Sisters on the anniversary committee hugged me and told me to come back soon.

I told them all it was a privilege and honor to be there, and that I appreciated their invitation.

The afternoon ended with a hundred hugs, lots of pictures, and lots of happiness.  

I took Mrs. B to get the Colonel on the way home so she wouldn’t have to cook for herself, as she does most nights, in spite of her ninety-three years.   It was a beautiful day.

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T.G.I.F. Part II

After the wardrobe issue was cleared up, Mrs. B and I went for a drive through Oakland.  She was a licensed driver up until a few months ago, and losing her freedom of transportation has been rough.  Given that she had been cooped up in her house stressing all week I convinced her to let me take her out for a drive.  

Our first stop was Fenton’s on Piedmont Avenue.

Mrs. B and I decided that since her problem was losing weight and mine was gaining weight that she would get a vanilla ice cream cone and I would get a diet coke.  Deal.

Then we drove down Pleasant Valley Road, over the hill to Lakeshore Drive, and all the way around Grand Lake.  Mrs. B told me stories of what Oakland was like when she moved here in the 40s and how much it had changed.  She noted each church we passed, and of the Baptist ones which ones she and her church, which is in East Oakland, associate with.

We drove across town on MacArther and up Telegraph.  We were on our way to the Colonel’s, (as both my father and Mrs. B refer to Kentucky Fried Chicken, the old fashioned way).  Mrs. B likes to indulge in dinner from the Colonel when she’s not feeling too well.  She only likes the chicken at the location on Telegraph in the 60s, they make the best chicken there, and she only likes thighs.  No coleslaw, her teeth can’t handle it.  Mashed potatoes, yes.

We were passing Bakesale Betty’s on the corner of 51st when Mrs. B remarked that she had always wanted to try their chicken. Mrs. B and her daughter had noticed the line out the door at midday and loved the concept of the ironing board tables (they thought, “hey, we can open a business with ironing boards for tables!” and rightly so).

The line out the door

The ironing board “tables”

We stopped and got Mrs. B a sandwich.  I had reservations about doing so.  Bakesale Betty isn’t authentic when talking fried chicken with a ninety-three year old African American lady who moved to Oakland in the 40s from New Orleans.  But Mrs. B said, “hey! I like trying new things at my age too!” So I got her the sandwich and we drove home.

I told Mrs. B to call me later and let me know her thoughts on the sandwich.  I got a call around 6:30PM:

“Hi Darlin!” Hi Mrs. B! How do you like your sandwich? “Well you know, I don’t like breasts. I only like thighs. I know Mrs. B, I’m sorry, they only make breasts there. Well I only like thighs but I’m eating it and enjoying it! I’m sorry Mrs. B! “Don’t worry about it Darlin! I appreciate you! Call me when you wake up in the morning. OK, talk to you in the morning Mrs. B.

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T.G.I.F. Part I

Last week was a long, hard one for me, so when I was done teaching on Friday I felt less exuberant than worn down, worn out, and worn left and right.  I thought I had to do something for me.  

I got home and remembered I had to go next door to Mrs. B’s to pick up my ticket for her big church event on Saturday: the church’s 65th anniversary celebration.  Mrs. B is my ninety-three year old next door neighbor.  

When I got over to Mrs. B’s I found her in quite a state.  She is highly functional, both physically and mentally, for her age but she was in a state.  She has been REALLY worried about the event on Saturday.  There had been some confusion regarding the tickets and the seating arrangement at her table, and though it’s illogical, Mrs. B was so stressed out she hadn’t barely slept all week.  

I had promised Mrs. B that I would bring over the dress I planned to wear so that she could approve it.  She wanted someone to talk to about clothing since her daughter who would usually come up from Stockton and spend the night before an event like this had to stay home for an event in Stockton on Friday.  I was planning on wearing a vintage Carolina Herrera dress: black with a white upper bodice and big collar.  Very Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s kind of a vibe.  A nice column design, with the collar for flare and a hem that hits below the knee–how could I go wrong?  I had originally bought the dress to become a godmother, and I thought it was perfect.  

When I brought it to Mrs. B she said “do you have anything with longer sleeves?  It’s semi-formal, but you don’t have to dress that fancy.”  I told her no problem and ran home to get something else.  Thank goodness I had the sense seek her approval.

I brought over a cream colored long-sleeved silk blouse and a black skirt.  She said, “do you have anything…[long pause] with more color?”  Mrs. B was planning to wear a red suit.  Now, being the faux-New Yorker that I am, my wardrobe is mostly made up of black, with a splash of gray, navy blue, and cream thrown in for good measure.  I own a pair of hot pink Fendi flats but that’s about it.  So I said, “maybe I could wear a suit?”  This seemed to meet with approval.  I told Mrs. B that the only skirt suit (knowing that pants were NOT OK) I owned was cotton, and therefore less formal.  She said that was OK and told me to go get the suit.

The navy blue cotton suit it was.  Mrs. B approved, and reminded me to wear hose.  (I hate hose, don’t own “hose” and only ever occasionally wear opaque black tights).  

Wardrobe: check.

Note to self: channelling a high-class hooker character when making wardrobe choices may fly in the Episcopal church but has no place, however iconic, in a Southern Baptist church’s 65th anniversary celebration.  As Mrs. B’s granddaughter (who is a good decade older than me) would tell me the following day, “it’s a cultural thing.” 

This was more the look of the day:

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