Revelations

Every Valentine’s weekend, the magnificent dancers of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater command center stage at the fabulous Fox. I’ve gone perhaps once every five years or so since I was a little girl. I don’t remember much about my first show other than I was there with my mom and one of her friends, and I was quietly awed about what I’d seen.

Since then, each time I’ve returned, the beauty, power and magic of Revelations is what I most long to see. Years I don’t go, I pacify myself with YouTube.

When I’m lucky, I find older videos, sometimes 20 years old, and watch them alongside the newer ones. The dancers’ athleticism and grace, and the pictures they create on stage are awe-inspiring.

Last year I hadn’t moved back to Atlanta by the time AAADT came and went. Still, I was disappointed I didn’t go to a show. I missed them. It’s been too long, I told Blue. I’m turning 40 next February. I have to go see Ailey next year. An early birthday gift.

Fox AileyThis year, just in time for the second great thaw of 2014, we went! I have rotating list of favorite things, and Revelations has a permanent place in the top five. I’m not alone:

More people have seen Revelations than any other modern dance work, and it has been enjoyed by over 23 million people in 71 countries across six continents.

If you have the opportunity to experience Ailey in general and Revelations in particular, don’t miss it.

No School, No Lunch

From NPR: When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day’s nutritious meal as well.

Blue and I talked about this when the metro area shut down two weeks ago. Some folks were home when horrendous traffic and inclement weather collided in Atlanta, but thousands of others ended up stuck in the worst jam they’ve ever experienced.

People slept in their cars or abandoned them and hoofed it to nearby friends, restaurants and stores. But there were hundreds of students who had no such options – instead, they ended up at school over night when their buses were unable to maneuver the slick hills home.

For many parents, this may have been a nightmare. Many, but perhaps not all. For a few, knowing their child is at school with access to heat, running water and food, might be a comfort.

Over half of Georgia’s students live in poverty. I was a classroom teacher in what was then a middle class section of metro Atlanta. Even so, there were students who couldn’t always bathe at home and used makeshift facilities at the school, students who would’ve been cold without the socks, blankets and coats donated, or who were hungry but for free breakfast and lunch. We were never quite sure about their dinner. This was in the early 2000s and the poverty rate has increased since then.

So here we are, a mere two weeks away from the last winter storm, and kids are once again out for several days in a row. Parents with the resources to stockpile groceries did so, as evidenced by the numerous pictures tweeted from throughout the metro area earlier in the week. But still we wondered: What about parents who can’t afford take off work and are still expected to go? What about those who can’t stock up on food?

Summer Lunch
Hunger isn’t relegated to winter. When school is out for the summer, many students go hungry without community support. Growing up, I spent a good portion of my summer break in Savannah. In the afternoons, a truck would pull up to the park across from my grandmother’s house, and a throng of kids would crowd around. What are they doing? I remember asking once. Getting lunch, she explained. Grandma didn’t elaborate aside from explaining it was a special program and we already had lunch here. But given what I now know about some of the demographics of the area, I wonder if it was a free lunch program.

As The Washington Post has reported, one program in Tennessee retrofitted a bus carrying sack lunches and delivered free meals to kids in impoverished areas.

With Georgia’s slick, hilly roads, and kids who simply don’t have the wardrobe to brave the elements, we understand why schools and businesses close. But those in other quarters do wonder if keeping schools open isn’t the better response:

When schools close because of extreme cold, especially in areas where many families struggle to pay for heat as well, Alexander wonders whether closing schools is the best way to go.

“It seems to me the best place to be is in school,” she says. “At least we can get the kids a hot meal.”

Read the NPR article here.

Texas free write

I’m in Texas where they say everything is bigger.
I’m not sure about bigger, but certainly different is accurate.

I entered my hotel and spotted a poster screaming dire warnings about firearms and imprisonment and fines not to exceed $10,000.
I’ve stayed in lots of hotels. Never seen such a sign.
The last time I hoteled in Texas was in the 80s. Maybe they didn’t have those loud posters then.

I got punked by four interchanges in the first 15 minutes of my drive this evening. I’m working in the cut, the boondocks, bumble—-, etc. Apparently you have to really be quick at the wheel to make it to the middle of nowhere.

Driving an hour to the middle of nowhere, I noticed a recurring sign: Crossover 1/4 mile.
In Georgia, if you’re driving long stretches in semi-rural areas, good luck if you need to make a U-turn. The median is often blocked with silver railings. Sometimes there are ditches or otherwise treacherous patches land in the middle. Occasional signs announce that this turn around is for official use only. And if you’re desperate to go in the other direction, you might try and sneak a turn, but then you see the blue lights in your rearview.

So I’ve heard.

But in Texas, maybe they know that sometimes you go the wrong way. Or you miss your turn. Or you leave something behind that you need to go get. And in a mere quarter of a mile, you can crossover and try again.

When more is better

Distance running didn’t come naturally to me. I’m a sprinter, and have been ever since I outran the neighborhood boys back in grade school. In my 20s, I tried distance running a few times, but it never really stuck. I rarely felt as if I could breathe very well, and my legs always itched. I figured out the solution to both of those things years later – a histamine blocker and pacing.

Yesterday’s run was a good one. This route had manageable hills and after 3 miles, I had energy left, but no time.

It takes me anywhere from a half mile to a mile to get warmed up. During those first 5-10 minutes, I’m looking for a comfortable stride length and finding a good cadence for my breathing. Around mile two I get in a groove. I relax and settle into the run, especially if it’s a familiar route.

The third mile varies. Depending on my level of fitness, I experience fatigue during the first half. I slow down a bit, especially if I was pushing things earlier. Sometimes I start wondering how much longer I have before I arrive at home base.

Unless I’m short on sleep or fuel, I shake it off by the second half of the mile. By then, I’ve gotten my breath back, my legs back, and I’m rocking out. Yet for years, that was the end of the run. Eventually I discovered the magic of mile four.

That fourth mile? That’s the sweet spot. I’m warm. Breaths come and go in energizing rhythms. My stride opens. I’m pushing it until I cross the finish line. The endorphins are in full effect. Life is great.

These days I’m back at 3 because I’m finding new routes and running hilly terrain for the first time. It’s a tough slog, really. Training on hills is more than a notion.  I’m looking forward to developing my fitness, and eventually finding 4 sweet again. After that? We’ll see.

Arrived.

NaBloPoMo April 2013
I have arrived. Yesterday was a long day of last-minute packing, goodbye lunching and driving. We made it in the wee hours of the morning.

The movers unloaded my goods this afternoon. I sent the men away with a few items as I began purging more remnants of lives past. I grew up in this house, but I haven’t inhabited it in six years. I’ve not been here, but my stuff sure has been. Old closets filled with old stuff. I won’t feel at home in my old house, until I do some serious clearing.

And so it begins.

Where to?

So I’m moving, that much is clear, but it seems the where to is a great deal muddier. The short answer is, back home. It’s second nature to call Atlanta home, since that’s where I was born and raised, but honestly, I feel funny about it. In the technical sense, it is or was home, but as I wrote in November:

What is home, exactly? A place or a moment that resonates. It’s gathering of old friends around a good game of Taboo. A visit to the tried and true corner barbershop one Saturday morning.  Sometimes home is less fleeting. It’s a city where sunshine runs rampant. A house you’ve built with your partner. Whenever, wherever your heart feels welcomed and your spirit feels at ease, is home.

Moments and people in Atlanta resonated that way, but as a city, Atlanta never felt like home. At the time I penned that post, I felt pulled to leave this place, despite the fact I am definitely home here. It seems I was in Tampa for a reason and a season, but not a lifetime; and here at the dawn of Spring, it’s time to make a new start in an old haunt.

4 days. #countdown

NaBloPoMo March 2013

 

Looking forward.

A funny thing happened on the way to work. No, not really. But I needed a way to start today’s blog post, and, why not? Nothing to make you chuckle, but I did find today worthy of note…

As I drove through the more rural areas of Tampa Bay, I was greeted by canopy trees! If you’ve never spent time in Tallahassee, Florida, you may not be familiar with the canopy roads. These are long streets lined on either side by huge oaks dripping with Spanish moss. They hang over the roads like umbrellas, providing shade for the passing motorists. Canopies! And although the sight in Tampa Bay did not approach that glory, it was lovely to see the familiar splendor.

It reminded me of Tallahassee, yes, but also of St. Pete which has its own share of mossy oaks, and of my first love away from home – Savannah. Memories of Savannah summers are incomplete if they don’t include the endless sightings of Spanish moss. And just like that, I had fond memories of Georgia, and found myself looking forward (finally) to the move.

7 days left. #countdown