Monday, May 30, 2005

Travelin'

Guys and gals, I'm signing off. I'll be on the road for the next week, from Austin to Tampa, from Tampa to Des Moines and back. No bloggin, unless of course, I can figure out how to blog from Mz. Gig's place, using what a brotha has vowed never, ever to use: a PC.

Later!

Devas T.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Barbershops


















When I moved from Des Moines, Iowa to Austin, Texas, I brought with me a head full of back-length dreadlocks. It had taken me about seven years to grow them out to such a length, so I hadn't visited a barbershop in some time. Before my locked days, I spent many an afternoon sitting in the company of other guys awaiting an overdue bald fade. The ambience was always deficient in terms of order or neatness, but that was typical, pretty much expected at any barber shop that I had ever visited. I've only lived in two cities, so excuse my over generalization here, but I've found the black barbershop experience to be awkwardly overcrowded, raucously loud, and about as serene as the grandstands at any sports venue. I realize, a barbershop is not a day spa. You're not there for the hot-stone body massage or a seaweed facial wrap, but I'd be satisfied if sombody'd just occasionally sweep the floor. At least, as of late, thanks to the unacceptable attitudes about smoking, a brotha can get a haircut without courting cancer with the guy sitting next to him.

After moving to Austin, and eventually cutting my locks, I figured I'd be pleasantly surprised by the professional atmosphere of a big-city barbershop. I was disappointed. What I found in Austin was the same as what I had left back home in Des Moines.

This morning, my son and I returned to a barbershop I had promised myself I would never go back to. I had grown tired of their rudeness, their crudeness, the presence of filth on the floor and the walls of this shack-like joint. So why'd I return? I tried other places and found them the same, so I figured, if I have to sit in a dingy shop, I might as well sit in one closest to my home, 'cause gas is two bucks a gallon.

On the floor lay a jumbled salad of sorts, consisting of "good-hair" hair balls, nappy-hair hair balls, dusty-hair hair balls, and greying-hair hair balls. They lay in wait, scattered about, threatening me like a pack of afro-rats, waiting to creepy-crawl across the floor, under my chair, at my feet, their wanderlust brought alive each time the door opens and the wind catches their gaze.

So I sit there and ponder these words:

-Disconcerting:Why do five barbers and nine customers need two boom boxes playing two different tunes and one TV playing ESPN all at the same time?

-Fritter [away]: Why does every person who enters the shop need to stop each barber, already behind schedule, to handshake some "dap"? (Dap, at least that's what we called it back home in Des Moines)

-Social standing: Why is visiting a black barbershop more like watching a fashion show of basketball shoes?

-Style: When did basketball shorts evolve from upper thigh-high boxers to ankle-length dresses.

-Adornments: Are the fingerprints all over the mirrors just a part of the decor?

-Insult: Does the barber really think his Oatis Redding falsetto is worth the price of a haircut?

-Prosperity: How does a barber make any money when it takes them 45 minutes to an hour to cut one head and they charge $8.00?

-Pretension: Do I really want another man - or woman, for that matter (I think barber #5 is really a woman) - clipping my nose hairs?

-Malodorous: If he forgot to brush his teeth this morning, why can't he just shut up?

-Primitive: Why can't he wait to eat his fried chicken until after he's done cutting my hair?

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Unrelated thought for the day: The wife had her locks dyed today. She now has honey-bronzed colored locks, like a brotha likes. The son, however, tells her, "I don't like your hair like that." Time to teach the boy about love-bank points, and how not to get and keep a wife.
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Word of the day: wanderlust

Tagged

A brotha normally doesn't participate in these bloggy-blog type of thingys, but Tiff and ShellyP hit me up and since I have a proclivity for honey-bronzed curly locks and hats a la mode, I gave it a go:

How many books do you own?
Not enough, yet too many. I mean, our house is filled with books. Overly-filled bookshelves make up the quintessential ingredients of our home decor. But can one ever have enough good books?

What was the last book you bought?
Reallionaire: Nine Steps to Becoming Rich from the Inside Out by Farrah Gray. I heard this guy being interviewed on the Neil Bortz radio show, and he was so inspirational, I rushed out and bought his book. This brotha came out of the ghettos of Los Angeles and by the age of 15, he became a millionaire. I love a good rags-to-riches story.

What was the last book you read?
My Father's Summers(read my review) I've been sort of studying teen (young adult) literature as homework for writing my own teen memoir, and possibly a novel. I'm currently reading Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas another teen novel. As far as adult books, the last, I should say, that I completed was The Color Purple. Gosh, that's awful considering that was six months ago. I'm such a slow reader. (heres my review).

Mention five books that have meant a lot to you and that you've read more than three times

Lightnin' don't strike the same place twice, and that's my mantra for book reading as well. I may refer back to a book for whatever reason, but who has time for trippling up on a read?

A) Black Boy, Native Son, and The Long Dream, all by Richard Wright. Ok, thats three but, but I love anything by Richard Wright. My reasons are written in this post.

B) Point Man: How A Man Can Lead His Family by Steve Farrar. One of those books that changed, or could have changed my life had I applied some of the principals. God's not done with me, yet.

C)Think and Grow Rich: A black choice by Dennis Kimbro. I was inspired. I quit my job. I started my own illustration business. I trippled my salary. My taxes became deliquent. I got a job. I work at the damn newspaper. *sigh*

D)Finding Fish: A Memoir by Antwone Q. Fisher. I don't know that this book had any great meaning for me, but I so related to the young Antwone Fisher. I had much in common with this character. Disregard the Denzel Washington movie which didn't do the book justice. In fact, forget the movie.

F) Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America by Nathan McCall. Again, I love stories about African American men who have triuphphed ,<----(ooh, I messed that word up) over great odds.

Can I add another category? Books I didn't like. I didn't like that Michael J. Foxx book. I don't know why I thought I was going to like this book, but once I reached the second trimester, I realized that although he's a cool guy and a good actor, why am I reading about Michael J. Foxx?

Who am I tagging? Mz. Gig. Ok, I know the Gig don't do too much reading, so I'll change the direction a bit. Movies. And no, The Young and the Restless ain't no movie.

In other news: The Texas Book Festival has released its authors list for 2005, and a brotha wasn't invited, yet again, this year. *cuts his eyes at whom ever*

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Unrelated thought for the day: A study finds a link between chemicals and damage to infants' genitals. I guess that explains why the judge barred the Michael Jackson wee-wee photos.
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Word of the day: a la mode

Friday, May 27, 2005

Deja vu

Author Anastasia Suen had the exact same experience I did yesterday when, through clicking around, she discovered Horn Books redesigned site. She had the better news sense to blog about it, and I hadn't planned to until I discovered one of my books was included on the recently announced awards page. Two problems though. Although Sure As Sunrise: Stories of Bruh Rabbit was named a winner of the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Awards, to my consternation they left my name off the credits, mentioning the author only, and included the wrong description of the book on the awards page. That's the story of my career. God has his way of keeping a brotha humble.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Why am I paying $40.00 a month extra for broadband (Road Runner) only to have dial-up speed?
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Word of the day: consternation

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Defining a childs future





















This is one of the images I've created for a slide presentation I'm giving next week at Michael Sampson's Pathways to Literacy conference (site not updated). While looking at this photo of myself at about age four or five, I considered some of the labels given to me by the adults who loved me. According to Gary Smalley and John Trent, authors of The Gift of the Blessing, when it comes to predictions about your child's future, they are literalists — particularly when they hear predictions from their parents...the most important people in their lives. Positive affirmations light a child's path, giving them hope, purpose and a future to look forward to. While reading a chapter in this book, I considered some of the labels of my childhood.

What if instead of, "that boy is shy" or "he's too bashful," I was described as "he's an intelligent thinker?" What if instead of, "he's a sissy," I was described as "a leader, not follower," or maybe, "he's an individualist, he does his own thing, he's creative." What if my noninterest in sports was acceptable to my dad. What if he confirmed my interest in art, what if he approved of my interest in using my hands to create, what if those things were admirable to him? How might my view of the world be different today?

After making a list, I realized that almost all of the affirmations I received as a child shaped who I am today. I'm not famous, but that depends upon who you talk to. I'm not "nappy-headed," but that's because I've learned to love and accept myself as I am. I am painfully, almost cripplingly shy. I'm not a sissy, but the same things that excite many men; baseball, football, basketball and so on, just don't excite me. And I'm sometimes self conscience about it especially in the company of other men who what to discuss last nights game. My mind goes back to those days when that attitude meant that there was something wrong with me.

And as my mother affirmed on a daily basis, I was talented, I was gifted, I was and artist, and I am those things to this day.

What kind of future are you defining for your child today?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Promoting literacy






























Figured I should move on to a more palatable post. Here's a look at an illustration I painted which recently published in Read and Rise Magazine. Read and Rise is a magazine founded in partnership between Scholastic Inc. and the National Urban League. African American children are encouraged to share the joy of reading through stories and activities. Nearly 800,000 Read and Rise guides have been distributed, along with the magazine (free of charge, I believe) to parents, caregivers and educators coast to coast. The magazine itself (pictured above) is of very high quality art, glossy paper and fine printing. It's not a cheap giveaway. They've chosen to work with such name brand writers and illustrators as Floyd Cooper, Frank Morrison, Colin Bootman, Anna Rich, Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, just to name a few. It's an honor to be included alongside these folks.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Trophy son

















It was a 95-degree day on Saturday when T-ball ended its season in the same way that soccer ended its season, with the passing out of team pictures and an awards ceremony that included a picnic and trophies for the kids. The son was so proud of himself, as I was of him. I figured, in both cases, the best place to display his trophies would be in the family room, prominently above the fireplace or on the bookshelves where I could brag of his achievements to our guest when the conversational gambit turned to the kids and my boy-wonder. But my son had other ideas about where his trophies should be displayed. He moved them upstairs, displaying them in dad's studio, alongside dad's bodybuilding trophies, alongside dad's design awards, alongside dad's best of category silver illustration award. I love this guy.

Miz Gig, I think I may end up a blubbering crybaby like you and grandpa when it comes to this emotional stuff (only in private). Geez, I hope not, but I think so.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Does anybody besides the media really care about the anonymous source thing? When was the last time you came across a news story — unless the story was about you — and lost sleep over the fact that the sources remained anonymous?

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Word of the day: gambit

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Unraveled...














...describes a brotha's dispirited reflection concerning deadlines, family, relationships, spirituality and the future of my blog beyond this post.
*sigh*

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Unrelated thought for the day: Seems as though the same things a man enjoys most are the same things women hate most. *double-sigh*

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Word of the day: With the exception of an occasional "damn," there ain't no cursin' on this blog. But since "damn" doesn't describe a brothas vibe, there's no word for the day, today. Ok, poop, maybe.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Back to the drawing board — to paint

Since I've spent the last few months working on everything except the book I should be illustrating, I'm now way behind. So back to the drawing board, literally. The final paintings, all twenty of them, are due at the end of the summer, so the blogger and memoirist in me is going to have to slow down in order that I can finish these 20 paintings by August. And considering my summer is jammed packed with non-painting activities, it's going to be a challenge. My #2 daughter will graduate high school in two weeks, so we are taking a trip back to Des Moines. My #1 daughter will have her baby around the first of June, so I'll be heading to Arizona. I will be speaking at the Pathways to Literacy conference in Tampa Florida the day before my daughter's graduation, and two weeks following that I'll be speaking at the Texas Writer's League Agent and Editors conference. Details to come 'cause I don't know what I'm going to talk about, yet.

In other news:

The wife doesn't like this newest addition to the decor of my studio, says I'm supporting pornography and the exploitation of young teenaged girls. "It's just not Christian," she says. But as far as I'm concerned, the Playboy bunny is nostalgic like Coca Cola or Harley Davidson. They're symbols from the past, like an old-school song reminding one of past adventures with the fellas or a crush on a girl. The bunny brings back memories of my high school days, my sophomore year at Des Moines Technical High. This symbol was proudly emblazoned across a guy's t-shirt or ball cap or from his left pierced ear, dangling, advertising a guys player status, although I was never the player type. A wanna be-but-too-chicken player.

I said nothing when she decorated our kitchen with red and green strawberrie plates, strawberry cups, strawberry teapots, cookie jars, refrigerator magnets, paper towels, rugs and anything else that could accommodate a strawberry graphic. And she decorates her studio with the red and white symbol of her college cronies, Delta Sigma Theta sorority. Cool. Her studio, her symbols. But my symbol recognizes an even larger fraternal order: Guys who like girls wearing swimming suits and bunny ears.

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Unrelated thought for the day: To the media:
We don't care to hear anything more about the gay marriage issue, thank you. We don't want none. But what I don't understand is why a woman who marries another woman, marries a woman, who looks like, talks like, walks like, dresses like, and probably smells like a man.

Another thought: I know a brotha is in trouble now, even thinking of putting DST in the same category as PB.

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Word of the day: cronyism

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Book reviews, social phobias and a cigarette blessing

Check out my first book review in Devas T. Reads Kiddie Books. There, I give my observations on Kathi Appelt’s My Father's Summers: a daughter’s memoir.
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How cigarettes and social phobias turned me into a reader.

I'm not going to get all Holy-Ghost up in here, but let me just say that God works in mysterious ways.

As a child I was not much of a reader. I loved pictures, but words didn't register well in my brain. When I read, it had to be something of high interest to me. I loved reading the medical encyclopedia, you've seen those illustrated with oozing stomach ulcers and bloody anal fissures. It's a wonder I didn't become a medical illustrator. I loved these books, and would read with great diligence. I loved art books, how-to-draw books, and the children's encyclopedia. Not for the information, but for the pictures. I wasn't reading any Greek and Roman Mythology. No Steinbeck or Poe. No Twain, no Thoreau. Biology was out, science I failed, and math -- just forget math. I was an excellent reader, in terms of using phonics to sound out my words. I attended grade school at a time when schools actually taught kids how to read and not remember word list. I just didn't retain the words in my head, and my mind wandered, my focus diverted.

In retrospect, I think I was dyslexic although there's never been a formal diagnosis. But to this day my brain still flops words and numbers causing me dial wrong numbers and drive my accountant out of his mind. Reading was frustrating for me, so for that reason, I didn't do well academically. Art was my thing and it rescued my self esteem at a time when I just barely graduated high school.

I chose a community college where I could excel using my art skills. Reading was a requirement, of course, but my professors were more interested in my drawing ability than my reading retention ability and I continued living my life with no regard to reading books of any kind.

I was a heavy smoker. I smoked two, occasionally three packs of cigarettes a day when I started working as a publication designer at an educational publishing company back home in Des Moines, Iowa. I was about 23 years old. Smokers were allowed to indulge their habit in the building, but upstairs in an unfinished area where books were stored. I probably spent a good twenty-five-percent of my day up there smoking cigarettes. And since I wasn't much a socialite, I finally picked up a book to avoid getting into discussions about politics, music or anything with the other smokers.

The first book I picked up was Native Son by Richard Wright. I buzzed through the first three pages not remembering a thing I had read, my mind wandering to everything else that was not going right in my life at the time. I decided to start over, reading each paragraph by paragraph, having discussions in my head about what I had just read. That didn't work either. So I ended up reading sentence by sentence, word by word, again having discussions in my head about what I had just read. That worked! Took me almost six months to get through that book, and many discussions with myself, but I loved it. And I haven't been a TV watcher since. I followed that book with Richard Wright's Black Boy, Gordon Parks The Learning Tree, and Alex Haley's best-selling novel, Roots. I've been an avid reader every since, having retaught myself to read and comprehend. I'm still a relatively slow reader, only getting in about six books per year, but had I not ended up smoking in the cellar of The Perfection Learning Corporation, I might be on a completely different track today.

I don't mean to infer that smoking is good, that should your teen have problems with reading, you might sit them down with a pack of Kool cigarettes. I don't really have a conclusion to this story except to hark back to where I began: I'm not going to get all Holy-Ghost up in here, but let me say that God works in mysterious ways.

And no, I don't smoke any more. Not in 15 years.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Like a brotha doesn't have enough to do, the wife wants me to read The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. I already know my love language. English. Now, shut up and get me a beer.

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Word of the day: hark back

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Like I don't already have enough to do

18 full-color spreads, plus 1 book cover, plus 12 young adult novels, plus one full-time job, plus one part-time job equals one estranged wife, an out of control kid and a whacked out of his mind children's book artist. But that's my life. What's an artist to do? Start a second blog! Every so often, I will review a recent children's book read. I'll be looking mainly at picture books but, as of late, I've expanded my horizon to include young adult novels. I'll give my feedback on those as well. Sometimes. Nothing official here, just my opinions, how outrageous they may be, about one of my favorite things to do, checkin' out art and words in children's books. Check me out soon (in about a month) when I take a look a recent retelling of Helen Bannerman's The Story of Little Black Sambo (Handprint Books, 2003).

"But Devas T., why not review your books here on Rants and Raves?" you're begging an answer. Because I've discovered that this blog, although originally targeted to the children's literary community, has drawn a more diverse readership. I'm not even sure if the lit community is checkin' a brotha out, So why bore everyone else with my thoughts on, say, The Little Engine That Could? I'm still gonna be me up in here, this isn't a blog about current events, pop culture, or the latest music. It just Devas T., all the time, rantin' and ravin' about the highs and lows in the life of children's book illustrator Don Tate. Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Letters

Received a package with about 20 thank-you letters from the kids at Townsell Elementary School, Irving, Texas. They wrote thank-you notes, drew pictures and sent well wishes after a visit I recently made to their school. I especially liked the drawing below from a kid who drew a picture of me as I presented to an auditorium of about 250 students. Their sentiments undergird my passion of creating quality children's literature.















































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Unrelated thought for the day: Macaulay Culkin was Home Alone afterall.

Another thought :This combination of Blogger and Road Runner is gonna cause a brotha to go postal.

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Word of the day: undergird

Monday, May 09, 2005

It happened this morning

The room was small, dim, barley large enough for our two bodies to fit. There was a slender, but padded surface to lie down on, a soft pillow, a soothing glow of light. My approach was cautious, feeling a bit nervous about the impending circumstance. The graphics on the walls suggested a starry night, a constellation of little white dots of varying size. I surmised to put one at ease. It stirred my imagination.
    She followed me in closing the door behind us. I removed my shirt laying it in a little pile along with my glasses, cell phone and car keys. She suggested that I slip out of my jeans. Her suggestion didn't sit well with me. I looked back at her taking note of her long blonde hair, blue eyes, white skin. I wasn't ready to completely expose myself, so I simply unzipped my jeans, letting them fall around my hips.
    Normally, I'd find myself confident in a situation as this, excited, enamored. But today, I was not at ease. This wasn't my wife sharing this space with me as I stand there practically naked. I haven't been with another woman in quite this situation since I got married some 12 years ago. She motions for me to lie down and I do. The air inside is cold as it breathes down through the vent covering my skin with a fresh patch of rough goose bumps. Anticipation. I lay there on my back almost bare. Our eyes met.     She's ready to begin. The pillow is soft against the back of my head so I turn slightly toward her then allow myself to fall into a deeper state of relaxation. She reaches down unzipping my jeans a bit more and carefully slipping my briefs down another two inches before I resiled into my previous position.
    I then felt the warmth of the clear scentless lubricant she oozed liberally down the center of my stomach. As she begins her service of me, I took a deep breath, a slow steady inhale. Then exhaled forcefully. Her fingers splashed through the gel and she ran them in little circles against my skin just beneath my navel. The tool she used was foreign to me, a new toy, smooth to the touch, round on one end. Curious I was. Will it vibrate? Will it buzz? I hope it won't pinch? It did none of the aforementioned. My heart raced, pounding faster and faster; louder and louder as this new toy works it's way up to my heart. She reaches up, turns off the volume.

"This is your kidney, Mr. Devas. And is your bladder," she says pointing to the computer monitor.

Do you see any stones? I asked, still a bit worried about the outcome of this test?

"You're fine," she says and turns off the machine. She hands me a towel. I clean myself up, get dressed and exit this place.

Satisfied.

Geez people, get your head out the gutter. I just had a sonogram test searching for kidney stones. None were found.

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Unrelated thought for the day: I don't care what anybody says, quickly ripping a band-aid off your hairy arm doesn't work. It still hurts.

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Word of the day: resile

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Dada; Pape; Saba or Gamba — Just don't call me grandpa

I recently entered a corner convenience store and purchased myself a beer. The not-too-far-beyond-puberty clerk gave me a quizzical look. "I need to see your ID, please," she asks. I'm old enough to be this girls dad, so I accept her request as a compliment and whip out my driver license. I'm comfortable with the title, "dad." I've been one for over 22 years now. But in a month, or so, I'll have a new title. Grandfather.

I despise the word. At least as it relates to describing myself. I have an incredible grandfather. He's been an excellent provider; he's our family's spiritual leader; he's stepped in as our surrogate father. I have big shoes to fill, and I hope to be the same grandfather to my grandson that was modeled to me. I just don't want nobody calling me grandpa. To me, grand-anything signifies old man. I ain't old, I'm 41. If you're 25 or younger, you're just a kid, and probably consider me to be over-the-hill. And if you're a 25-year-old female, please consider me — period. Kidding, I'm a married man, but you get my point.

I just haven't yet accepted the "I'm having a baby" thing. "Why didn't you use protection" is still the question on forefront of my mind. Especially given my daughter's circumstances which I won't divulge here. Does that make me a hypocrite? I mean, afterall I was even younger, being an unmarried father at 17. I hope that attitude isn't hypocritical. I think it makes me a teacher. I want to be more supportive when she calls, excited about having heard her baby's heart beat for the first time. I want to share in her joy when she tells me that the baby is kicking her ribs.

I know I'm gonna have to get it together sometime soon, time is running out. "How about Paw-paw or Pa," my daughter suggests. That's too Andy Griffith-ish for me. "How about Popi," she asks me. Maybe. I've considered Dada and Gamba; Saba (hebrew) and Dubba (don't ask me why). But they all sound too, well — goofy. Mz. Gig finds this naming convention humorous. Maybe because I was responsible for tagging her with the label of "grandma" before she turned 40. I'm having trouble laughing. Maybe later.

I'd prefer an oracular answer to this quandary, but I think I'll just have to come to terms and accept that I can't disguise it. Bottom line: I will be a grandpa. Very soon. So maybe I'll settle on something straight forward and less silly like, maybe, Grandpa D. "D" for DevasTatingly Grandpa.

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Unrelated thought for the day:My thoughts today are still on Trashmans attitudes on male female relationships. I tried thinking of something else, but find myself laughing once again at #14 when I consider my ex. (once again, Trashman's post is R-rated)

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Word of the day: oracular

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mother's day sidebars

My mom is very much alive and kickin' and nicely convalescing from a bout with pinkeye back home in Des Moines, Iowa. She WAS the best mom four boy's could have, and still IS. I won't be getting all touchy-feely up in here today. I'll share my personal feelings with mom in the form of a phone call. But I will say here that I love — love — loves me some Mz. Gig. And no, Shelly, that ain't bad grammar. Just so happens Devas T. has his own personal lexicon of linguistic colloquialisms. Mz. Gig is pictured here(50-ish) with my two daughters some fifteen years ago. Not looking a day over 25. Yes, she could have smiled.

On pocketing my emotions
I'm even more confused. Many suggestions were offered, among them:
open up; act human; verbalize your thoughts; share your emotions; take baby steps and show your sensitive side. I do many of the things mentioned. I don't cry at movies, and that ain't going to happen. Women are complex creatures. I love 'em but, none the less, they're complex. I think the Trashman offers a better perspective about men, women, romance and stuff. He does it simply and from a mans point of view. Read the whole thing 'cause the last point, #21 is the most important. Somebody give this guy a book deal! (R-rated, that means Mz. Gig can't read it) Tell me what you think. NOT WHAT YOU FEEL!

On commenting
I'd like to thank those who stop by here and post comments. When I started blogging, comments were the furthest thing on my mind. In fact, I kindly asked Mz. Gig, "please don't comment on my blog." She didn't for awhile. I got my first comment after blogging for about a month, then very few came for awhile. 17 people commented on one post last week. I think I like this comment thing! Sorta makes a brotha feel (there's that damn word again) heard. Some people comment with great depth and thought. Others simply let you know they've visited. Makes me no difference either way, I just like to know someones been here. And when you comment, I'll reciprocate and visit your spot as well. Anyway, thanks!

On lying to the kid
Snerdly has died. *sniff* His carcass is floating at the bottom of the fish bowl, covered in a postmortem coat of slimy white goo. I slipped him out the house and into the back of my garage 'cause I don't have time to deal with a dead fish and Mother's day, too. If the son takes note of Snerdly's absence, I'll tell him that Snerdly is sick, in the hospital. Then we'll make a trip to Petco(the hospital) and bring Snerdly home. "Snerdly's better now, so we can pick him up and bring him home," I'll lie to him. And don't be mad at me for lying to the kid, you did it, too. Last Christmas when you told the kids that Santa Clause came down that chimney to deliver Easter Eggs when they lost their molars to the Tooth Fairy.

Kudos to Bruh Rabbit
Sure as Sunrise: Stories of Bruh Rabbit, my most recently illustrated book has been selected for the Children's Literature Choice List 2005

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Unrelated thought for the day: Times are changing. I remember when blaring, profane rap music came from the loud speakers of a pimped out hoopty driven by a teenaged black kid wearing a hooded sweat shirt, bandana and bling. Yesterday it was a balding middle-aged white guy named Roger, wearing a tie and driving a Camry.

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Word of the day: chautauqua

I didn't use this word today, just so happens that I grew up in the Chautauqua Park Historic District back home in Des Moines.

Pocketing my emotions

As I posted before, I simply don't do emotions. I pocket my feelings, tucking them away out of sight, out of mind. I don't know why, but it suits me just fine. Comfortable. Natural for me. About as natural as standing up in the John when taking a leak. That's how guys do it, right? I won't try feigning some kind of super-macho persona. Anyone who's spent any time around me can attest to the fact that macho does not describe this brotha at all. So, without giving away too much of the intimate details between the wife and I, what does it mean when a woman says, "I need for you to trust me with your feelings?" Does she want me to cry? Should I have just broken down at the movies when Sponge Bob was laid out flat under that drying lamp all shrivelled up and dying a slow death? My son showed his emotions – tears welled up in his eyes, he curled up in my lap and turned his head away as the last drop of water evaporated out of Sponge Bob's lifeless body. Does he at three possess more moxie than I? What is this trust issue with women as it relates to feelings? I share a story with my mom, she wants to know is how I feel. Have a conversation with one of the daughters, I will quickly learn how they feel.
If I'm amused, I will laugh. If I'm happy, I will smile. If I'm angry, I may hide it, that's just Devas T. But should I blow up; should I yell; should I cry, does that turn women on? Or have I shared my feelings all wrong. I'm confused. That's why I keep them pocketed away. Safe.

Ladies, a brotha needs a clue.

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Unrelated thought for the day: Snerdly is starting to get on my nerves. If he's not gonna die, he could at least start swimming upside-right. Or the the son will think he's dead and he'll cry, outflexing my moxie once again.

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Word of the day: moxie

Thursday, May 05, 2005

My 3-year old son's response...

...to the photo of myself posted on Tuesday, "A big-time celebrity nobody"

"Dad, you've got big boobs."
He knows how to humble a not-so-celebrity brotha's ego.

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Word of the day: boob
(Ha! Not what you're expecting)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A big-time celebrity nobody

I pull my car into the parking garage. The driveway spirals up, up like spiraled pasta macaroni. I drive all the way to the top because that's where I am today, on top of the world. I'm a celebrity. I'll be signing books for Lee & Low Books at the IRA convention. I park my own car thinking, why? Where is my limo? Aren't celebrities of my status chauffeured? I head down the spiraled pasta ramp, walking against the oncoming traffic and I'm forced to jump out the way of a speeding car. "What's his problem? He should know that he almost ran over a celebrity. I'm Devas T., and the world would miss my presence.

I call my publicist. Ok, she's not exactly MY publicist. And, well, OK, she's not a publicist at all. But she's my contact for the day and I need to let her know that I've arrived, that Devas T's in the house. "Won't she be overwhelmed to hear from me?" Her celebrity has arrived! I can just imagine her anticipation, her excitement at hearing my voice. Devas T's voice. "Hello Jennifer, prepare yourself. This is Devas. I'm in the building," I let my message out slowly, annunciating each and every syllable. Not wanting to completely knock her off her feet. A celebrity brotha's soft sexy voice can be a bit too much for the typical run-of-the-mill publicist. "Oh ok," she says," hanging up before I can continue preparing her for my celebrity presence. "Hmm, must be a bad connection, maybe this parking garage, maybe my battery is low," I claim to myself.

Wading through the halls of the convention center, every eye is on me. There's a celebrity in their presence, and although they haven't acknowledged me, yet, I know they are shivering in their shoes as I stroll up and take my place in the exhibitors line.

Then, her eyes met mine. I look away. I don't want to make her feel nervous. As she approaches me, I turn toward her. I want her to feel immediately accepted, at ease in my presence. I give her my biggest celebrity-bright smile, "yes it's me, that's right, Devas T," and I put my hand out for her to shake. She glowers at me. "Could you get out of the way so the maintenance crew can get through, she says. I look around. Surly, she's not talking to me, Devas T, the celebrity illustrator in line. The janitors will be glad to carefully walk around me. Won't they? Maybe not. I move.

After working my way through the line, careful not to make eye contact with any of the ordinary people, I notice the young registrar. She's a good-looking African American woman. She wants me, I know. "That's Devas T. and he's up next," she prays to herself." I stick out my chest, having worked-out my pecs to a ripe fullness, I know she must be salivating as I stand there. I re-adjust my stance, turning slightly to the side, giving my glutes a slight squeeze. She glances my way and I can imagine what she is thinking now. "This Devas T., he's got back."

Swaggering into her presence, I drop my name loudly so that everyone around can hear. "Who are you and who are you exhibiting with?" she asks me, not bothering to look up. I give her my name and she tosses my badge on the counter. "Next!" she yells. My celebrity status has made her too nervous, I tell myself. I look at my badge, it reads EXHIBITOR. They got it wrong. Shouldn't mine read CELEBRITY ARTIST?

The exhibition hall is full, shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers, librarians, publishers, agents, authors and illustrator from all over the world. I look at some of the other celebrities that are sitting behind their signing tables. I notice the long lines of people anxious to get their books signed. Humpt! I think to myself. Just wait until my line begins. It will wrap itself down the isle and back to the entrance of the exhibition hall.

After getting myself lost a few times, I find my booth. I meet my publicist. I meet my publisher. I see my seat. I see my books in a pile, awaiting my autograph. So, I take my seat behind the table.

But here's where my story goes awry. I had planned to write a completely different ending to this story. I had planned to write about how no one might come out to buy my books. I had figured no one would really want to get my autograph, that no one would have heard of my name. That's why I dreamed up the above story. To prepare myself. To make myself feel big when in fact no one would really care that I was at the convention to sign my books. But now I gotta finish this story a bit different.

Because people showed up. The first person in my line tells me, "when I heard you were on the roster, I changed my schedule so I could meet you." And the remainder of that signing went just the same. My books sold out in less than 20 minutes and I was scheduled to be there an hour.

If someone could just promise me that my literary career could continue just the same everyday as it has over the last few days, I'd enter that newspaper tomorrow, resignation in hand.

One last observation: After approaching a publisher with my art samples, I was told "We only work with Europeans." (North-South Books) Hmmm.

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Unrelated thought for the day: I learned something new. I read this on a t-shirt in downtown San Antonio:

I am MEXICAN,
I am NOT Latino,
Latinos are Anglo Europeans from Italy.

I am NOT Hispanic,
Hispanics are Anglo Europeans from Spain.

In the United States each of us has the right to have our ethnicity clearly acknowledged.

I don't know how true this is, after all it was on a t-shirt. But damn, it sure sounded good.

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Word of the day: glower

Monday, May 02, 2005

Cheers for Black!

Just received official word from my publishers at Lee & Low Books that Black All Around! my fourth book (second with Lee & Low) has been named to the 2005-2006 Children's Crown Gallery master list. The mission of the Children's Crown Gallery is to encourage elementary students to read wholesome and uplifting books. Students will vote on their favorite book in the spring, so the top selection from a group of ten will be announced then.

I will be signing Black All Around! this week at IRA's (International Reading Association) annual conference in San Antonio, Tuesday May 3, booth #444 at 10: a.m.
Click for more info.

And for Mz. Giget who has been recently experiencing writers block, here's an article from the Lee & Low site on breaking the storytelling mold.

And since I'm way too busy and shouldn't be blogging, I'd better vamoose while I'm ahead.

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Word of the day: vamoose