Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Long Walk Home

Did you ever watch the movie "The Long Walk Home," filmed here in Montgomery, Alabama in 1990. I was 8 years old when my dad took me to Cloverdale school for try outs and casting. My parents were shocked and pleasantly surprised when we received a call asking if I would be a "stand in" for Lexi Randall who played the character of Mary Katherine Thompson. Every day that summer, my mom, sister, and I would go to the set of the movie and I would get dressed in similar costumes to what she would be dressed in for her upcoming scene. While she practiced her lines I would "stand in" during rehearsal and play her part so that producers could test lighting and other technical responsibilities that goes with filming a movie. I remember wandering, alone, around the set one morning and feeling "caught" when a black lady, dressed as a maid, met me in the doorway of one of the rooms. I looked up at her, she held her hand out for me to shake, she asked, "what's your name?" I told her "Laura" and she said, "I'm Whoopie, it is nice to meet you." I ran back to Mama and was giddy with excitement but had to wait until she got off the telephone to tell her that I had just met a movie star! While I waited, I remember smelling my hand and noticing how my hand smelled like soap and cocoa butter lotion. In between takes I can also remember playing the game of "Operation" with Lexi and some of the other children on the set. I was paid $50 a day to be a part of this incredible movie production and, ultimately,once in a life time experience. My parents would have probably paid them to let me be a part of it! What a neat experience?

Today, my mother called me to tell me that the movie was showing on BET. I watched the whole movie start to finish. I have seen it before but today it was different watching. I am grown now with children of my own. I have 6 years experience working in the Montgomery Public Schools in neighborhoods of town now considered "bad parts of town" where I am the minority. The board of education and special education office is just down the street from the church where Dr. Martin Luther King preached about civil rights and equality. The big houses on Court Street and Oak Park all featured in the film are all real life places that I grew up around and until today took for granted. Today I watched this movie and I got choked up at certain moments and full out cried during other moments. I realized, though will never understand or feel, the awfulness of what blacks went through - and in some ways are going through today. I also realized that being from Montgomery and living here today is a huge privilege, in my opinion, because it is the birthplace of such a profound movement in American and World History. When I visit my in-laws in Selma, I don't drive over the Edmond Pettus bridge without remembering the individuals who marched and their cause and personal sacrifices.

As I watched "The Long Walk Home" I thought about how far the civil rights movement has come and how far it has to go, not just for black Americans but for anyone denied their civil rights. One of my close friends Adriana, a black woman, was visiting me, Harper, and Lily, one day last week and like during most of our visits, we got on the topic of things that annoy whites and blacks and how she and I play a role in our daily inter-racial interactions. I cherish her friendship on many levels. One, first and foremost, I love her for who she is and the friend connection we have. Harper also seems especially fond of her. She always climbs up in Adrianna's lap and while Harper play with Adriana's earrings, Adrianna plays with Harper's hair! But Harper really likes when "Adri-nana" shares her McDonald's french fries! Second, I cherish her friendship because she and I can be totally uncensored and REAL in discussing what is still dividing our two races - in both spoken and unspoken ways.

Dr. Lena Williams is the author of a book called "It's the Little Things" which I am currently reading. She writes about "community groups" of mixed races that meet in individuals' households to talk about "little things that annoy and divide the races." Adrianna and I kind of have a little community group of our own and I sometimes wonder if we should invite others to come along and join in discussions like the ones we have. Who would come? What could happen?

So I am thinking about civil rights today. The faces of those denied. The color of those faces, the faith of those faces, the sexual preferences of those faces, the sex or gender of those faces, the list goes on and on. The spectrum is so broad... forgive the pun.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It has been a long while since the last time I posted and the reason for that is mainly because I have been busy as a little bee.

Summer vacation has ended for both children and teachers which means I am back at work. I started therapy at a new location this year. I am based at an elementary school five days per week with no traveling! I love and mean really love my school. The administration, teachers, staff, and students are all spectacular. I worked really hard in my classroom to make it both fun and conducive to learning for the kids. Every morning that I go in and sit at my desk or kidney-shaped table I feel comfort. Just like when you were a kid and might have loved organizing new pencils and trapper-keepers, I love coming into my room and sorting through new clean data sheets and colorful post-it notes. Right now, I have 35 active students on my roll with 3-5 referrals pending. This is by far the largest caseload I have ever worked with at a single school but, needless to say, I will be busy and challenged which is exactly what I was praying for this year.

My own children have been sick with colds this week. Runny noses and 24 hour fevers. Last night we had a bought with vomiting due to restricted breathing and excess mucous that upset Lily's tummy. At bath time, we soaked them in Johnson & Johnson's "soothing vapor bath" which if you haven't tried, I highly recommend. I have even used it myself to relief allergic congestion and sinus pressure.

This morning my Love, quietly slipped out of bed, switched off the baby monitor, and got the girls up and through breakfast without waking me up. I slept until 9:45a.m. and was greeted by sweet babies, hot coffee, and French Toast. What a wonderful love.

Not too much on the list of things to do today. I am on my second load of laundry and third episode of Dragon Tales. The sky is slightly overcast which means that there might be a stroll in our future. Nick is checking out Blockbuster's Red-box flicks at the moment which will probably mean we will have a date, sipping red wine, cooking something fabulous, and watching a movie.

Happy Saturday to all!