The Risk and Reward

I am up late on Sunday evening not at all happy to have only two days off to write, create, knit, do laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  I can’t sleep, basically and when I cannot sleep I think of odd things.  In this case, I remembered an article I wrote years ago about a girl I used to know.  The title of the article, “The Risk and Reward of Reaching Out” was published in the San Francisco Chronicle paper.

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It is not very hard for me to believe that I made my way through middle and high school without getting caught up in the drug culture of San Francisco during the 1970s and 1980s.  Everyone I knew did them, but  I simply was not interested.  And I was not into “cliques” in school.  Just because my friends did drugs did not mean I wanted to.  I believed not doing drugs had to do with my mom, she never imbibed, nor did she drink while raising us.   Unfortunately for many people including my old babysitters when I was a child and friends I grew up with, there was no escaping the drug fate.

In 2006 when I worked for the City and County of SF Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services as a clerk and I volunteered with homeless organizations, I was invited to write an article about the impact drugs had on me.  The only thing I could think of was a cute little girl whom I grew up with in grade school, I called her “Cori” in the article.  “Cori” was a cute caramel-complexioned chubby little girl, I was skinny as a rail.  Seriously, my legs in knee high boots looked like pencils in cups, that’s how skinny I was.  Kids teased us and called us “Cori and Lorrie, fat and skinny!” which we hated.

When I wrote the article I could not help but feel bad not just for “Cori”, but for the fact that I wrote about how tragic she turned out.  I did not mean any malice, but it bothered me that she fell so hard.  Of course, I later realized not everyone walks the same path, although the end result is and will always be the same.  I am fine with what I wrote about “Cori.” And, although I no longer see her around anywhere I will always hope she left San Francisco for a better life somewhere.  Hopefully that sentiment is true.  If so, good luck to “Cori.”

 “The Risk and Reward of Reaching Out” – by L.D. Sargent.   Click HERE for article.

Yours very truly, Doris Banbury

Mom in the 80sDoris Banbury, 1980’s

I moved to Los Angeles when I was in my early 20’s, I felt I needed to break away from my mothers’ apron strings.  I originally wanted to go to NYC, but I was scared away by my native New Yorker mother Doris who often told me horror stories about the people, the weather, the “harsh living conditions.”

I lied to my mother so that I could move to Los Angeles.  I told her I had an audition for the touring production of Dreamgirls.  I had studied at American Conservatory Theater, fancied being a sitcom actress. I left San Francisco two years after Dreamgirls opened on Broadway in 1983.  I had no idea how hard it was to break into “show business.”

mom's letetrsDoris often phoned and we wrote letters to each other, well she typed and I saved them all.  Doris tried in her way to encourage me and she often sent me money when I was struggling.  Sometimes Doris, who was pretty much Velcroed to me and my younger brother David, but mainly to me, she would phone me after she saw something disturbing on the news.  She’d say, “You know I heard a woman was killed in…”  “mom, if I’m talking to you on the phone I’m not dead, right?”  “Well, of course you’re not dead, I was just calling to see how you’re doing!”

What was funny about Doris was that she often “signed off” on  her letters in quirky ways.  Sometimes she’d sign, “Love, Mom Terrific.”  Or, she’d sign, “Love Doris, mom.”  Once, and I can’t find that letter, she signed, “yours very truly, Doris Banbury.”  I teased her about it, “mom, you’re a Mcgillicuddy.”  “A what?”  “Remember Lucy Ricardo’s mother Mrs. Mcgillicuddy?  Remember how quirky she was?  I think that’s you.  I mean, why would you sign your name?  I’m your daughter, I know your name.”  “Well, I was a secretary for many years, wasn’t I?  I was a 1426 Sr. Clerk Typist, you see, and I had to sign my name, so I got used to doing it, that’s all.  No big deal!”

I stayed in Los Angeles for about 7 years and eventually came back home feeling defeated, sad, depressed and alone.  Lost my job, got evicted, etc.  Doris was kind at first, she even waited for me at the bus stop by our house when I came home.  But as soon as I set my things in my room and lay on the couch in the embryo position in the living room wondering what the hell happened to my life Doris chimed in with her motherly words of wisdom, her no-nonsense New York mentality and that “smart-ass” sense of humor I inherited from her.

Me:  “Mother, I just…I don’t know what happened.  I tried to make it as an actress, I failed.  I tried writing plays and I had a couple of shows, but nothing much came of it.” 

Doris:  “You lost your job, got evicted and your idiot fiancé hit you when you broke off the engagement.  Yet, you’re still standing, that has to mean something.”

Me:  “I just don’t understand what happened to me.  I just want to lay here and have a nervous breakdown, I don’t know what to do.”

Doris:  “Oh, I know, you had it hard, I know!  (mom said clutching her eye glass chain)  Meanwhile, by 1963 I was a single mother of two children by two different men, both who did not want to have anything to do with me or my kids.  That was at a time when having children without a husband was not cool.  What did I do?  I managed to take care of all of us with one paycheck.”

Me:   “Mom, I’m serious, I’m in real pain here!”

Doris:  “Oh, I know you are, my dear, I’ve got a pot on for some tea.  Did I tell you your brother was supposed to be a tumor?”

Me:  ~heavy sigh~ “Mom, c’mon.”

Doris:  “You see I did not know I was pregnant, well I didn’t know with you either, although I think with you the condom broke.  Anyway, with your brother, well I was six months pregnant and I developed a horrible pain in my stomach.  Anyway, I went to the doctor and was on the examining table when the doctor said, ‘you might have a tumor.’  Then when he left the room David started to crown butt first I believe.  Before you know it, I had a premature 3-pound baby boy that I went on welfare for the first three years of his life to support.  Well, I also had the help of the March of Dimes, God bless them.”

Me:  (defeated).  “I can’t…I can’t go on, ma, I’m serious.  I feel like such a failure.”

Doris:  “I didn’t raise you to fail, first of all.  Second, you can’t fail if you’re still living, Lorrie.  But, I can imagine how hard you had it in Los Angeles, poor baby.  Did I tell you when you were three years old I almost went to jail for writing a bad check at the grocery store?  David hadn’t been born yet, but I was humiliated, let me tell you! Thankfully and with the grace of God, the manager felt sorry for me and bought my bag of groceries.  I still tear up when I think about that.  Wonder whatever happened to that woman?”

Me:  “MOTHER I’M TALKING ABOUT MEEEEEE!!!”

Doris:  “I will kindly ask you to stop yelling at your mother, God you’re such a drama queen.  Look, it’s simple, you have two choices, work or school.  Or both!  That’s what you WILL do because you are in a country that gives black folks opportunities, unlike our ancestors before us, remember them?  Wow, what THEY went through!  (shook her head)  Big deal you didn’t make it as an actress, who cares?  You still have to live, you’re young, you’ll get a good job, you’ll find a good man, one who won’t hit you.  But, in the meantime while you’re under your mother’s roof, work…school…or both.  Those are your choices right now.  Oh, the tea’s ready!”

And with that stated Doris jumped up from the couch and scurried to the kitchen to turn off the screaming pot of water on the stove.  My mini break down was over.

There is so much to relay about Doris Banbury, a child of a British Canadian mother and Jamaican father who divorced when Doris was four years old.  But, I cannot possibly put it all into a blog.   What I will always remember about my mother Doris, however, is her funny sense of humor, her loving protective attention to her children whom she singlehandedly raised to a positive fruition, and her love for photography; she studied the works of Immogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams and Gordon Parks.

2 year old mom PIX 3

Glam Doris PIX 17

Diva mom PIX20????????????????????????????????????What will never leave me, including watching my mother pass away and be buried, is her telling me about herself, what little she offered.  What stuck with me; the stories she often told me about visiting the Bronx Zoo and telling her troubles to an aging Lion named King, she was about 8 years old at the time.  Years later when Dementia and Parkinson’s diseases set in, Doris told me she had been brutalized by her “godfather” for nearly a decade.  Never knew mom was a rape survivor.  Although, when we were kids and begged mom to give us a daddy she, and I swear this is true, she would flail her arms and scream, “NO, YOU’ll BE RAPED!”  

I understood why Doris made me promise that when she died I was to bury her with her mother Gladys who resides in a cemetery near White Plains NY.  Mom made all the arrangements for her mother and kept the receipts.  Doris’ beloved mother Gladys Peryl, my grandmother whom I never met, seemed a strong, determined and sweet and attentive mother to her sensitive child.  Gladys actually took Doris in the 1940s to abort the violators child, Doris was a young teen at that time, maybe 13 years old.  And a couple of years later when the violator was in the hospital on his death bed Gladys took Doris to get a verbal apology from him which he generously offered.  I understood why Doris adored Gladys, she often spoke highly of her.

I adored Doris, but in my own way.  While I was not overly affectionate I liked that she saw strength in me and perhaps determination when I did not see it in myself.  What I will remember of Doris is her kindness, her deeply-rooted vulnerability, her insecurities, of course her humor and her strength and love as a mother; she SHOWED my brother and me love, we rarely said “I love you.”  But, Doris attended every single freaking school recital, she was ALWAYS down in front with her camera to take a flash shot…always a FLASH shot!!!  Blinded the hell out of me, but that was Doris.  She kept all our school pictures and our report cards.

Doris showed encouragement and love rather than talk about it.  For that I am grateful. I am also grateful that I caught her last breath as I watched her pass away.  It was a most odd experience, but one I truly believe was meant to happen between mother and daughter.  And when they lowered her coffin into the ground a couple of weeks later, of course humor set in, the guy removed the strap too soon and mom tilted down head first into the earth.  At least the flowers that my brother bought for me to place onto the coffin remained. I am grateful for that as well.

As I write this I am listening to one of mom’s many CDs, mostly of “world” music, Cesaria Evora.  Mom loved good music and reading, she was a voracious reader.  At last count my brother who stored mom’s books, found about 390…so far.

Doris’ major true love besides music and books and of course her mother Gladys, was photography.  Doris loved to photograph animals, architecture, people.  When she was in her 20s Doris took celebrity photos in NYC, some of which I exhibited a few years ago.  In 2010 a select few of Doris’ celebrity photos were featured in a SF MOMA exhibit and were purchased by SF MOMA for their permanent photography collection.  Here is the museum link. 

(https://www.sfmoma.org/artist/Doris_Banbury

DSC02132Doris Banbury in front of a display showcasing three of her celebrity photos from 1950s that were featured in the exhibit: Exposed, by Sandra Phillips, SF MOMA.  Photo: Opening Night, 10-27-2010

moms exhibit 4 by Pudn her later years Doris enjoyed photographing lions and tigers, she loved going to the San Francisco Zoo.  And she loved photographing landscapes, San Francisco murals and her two grandchildren, Belinda May (L) and Denise Elizabeth (R).  Denise is my brother’s first born whom he named after me, Lorrie Denise.  moms birds moms ships, landscape, grandkids moms tigersMom and camera 1990s PIX 32

“Rest now, my dear.”

moms dressmom in coffinSunrise: 12-7-1930     Sunset:  12-27-2015     

coffin Earth:  1-8-2016

“Life moves forward, so shall we.”  Lorrie Denise Sargent, 2016

“Viewing” photo courtesy of David Banbury (SFMTA), Doris’ son;  SF MOMA photo of Doris courtesy of Denise Banbury, Doris’ granddaughter

Thank you for reading my most personal blog. LDS

Exposed Brick

I have a couple of plans in the making.  I plan to move to NYC because it is only about five hours from Paris.  Actually, I would LOVE to live the rest of my life in Paris, but I refuse to give up my American citizenship. So yea, I’m moving to NYC to be close to Paris, France basically. And, I want to live within exposed brick, I absolutely love the aesthetic of exposed brick!  If that means I will be an elderly woman walking up 15 flights of stairs in a 1910 Edwardian because the elevator never works, so be it.  Let me explain. brick bedroomNo one ever gets exactly what they want, I get that.  But, I WILL have what I want especially at this time in my life because I finally understand that if you don’t believe you deserve something you won’t get that something. I have finally learned to believe in what I want because I spent my entire life giving everyone and everything what they want.  I want what I call, Universal Reciprocity. 

I am a good, loving, dutiful and conscientious daughter; I am a good, loving and conscientious pet owner; I am a good employer; timely and honest taxpayer; I am a productive American citizen who volunteers at soup kitchens and I give some of my possessions away from time to time.  Why shouldn’t my universe give me reciprocity?

brick room 3What in hell does “exposed brick” have to do with U.R. you ask?  Well, in MY world, exposed brick  embraces earth to stone, earth tt or are buried beneath.  Brick is our flesh and soil and we respect it for what it is and from where it comes. I respect the earth not just as the interior of my domain or the exterior of an old building, but as a piece of the universe that I live amongst. I want Universal Reciprocity so that I may live where I choose to live and love whom I feel needs my love and I want to travel where I feel most comfortable. Well, I want that and money and a decent way to make a living that doesn’t suck up my entire being. But, that’s another blog. I want one other thing. I want acknowledgement from my so-called peers. Let me explain. brick bathroomIf I praise the works of established artists, I expect those artists to “follow” me and “tweet” me or whatever it is, Facebook, Twitter, Flashagram, stripagram, flipagram, whatever, and praise me the way I praise them. They don’t have to “in box” me or DM me, or whatever the hell the terminologies are. Just no more one-sided praise to people whom I don’t know or have anything invested in other than purchasing their works.  If I tell the world your CD or TeeVee show or movie is great, you should be telling the world my self-published book is great or that keychain I knitted is fabulous or my website is “cute” or something. Of course, I am not needing acknowledgement from people I already know, or bloggers who have connected with me, we all are in the same boat, giving away free publicity to artists who don’t even have the decency to call you by the sex that you are. I am female, yet I can’t state how many times I am referred to as “sir” because I acronym my name, LD. No one looks at my website where I placed pictures of me naked from the top up!? Really?

brick room 2So there it is, folks.  I want my universe to respect me the way I respect it and all that is around me, people, animals, the earth. Respect and acknowledge me as I respect and acknowledge the beauty of exposed brick and offer me reciprocity in many aspects of my life. I want give-and-take, ying-yang, re-ci-pro-ci-ty! Plain and simple! Course, this current rambling post is partially brought on by the remnants of a raging cold,  I am not even sure what I am writing here.   I think my point is that if I scream loudly enough to my universe I am sure I will have what I want, or at least something close it it.  But, the exposed brick, nope won’t back down on that.  I LOVE the aesthetic!

Until I write again, not sure when, have a great week ahead, all! LDS

GROWTH

growth

I know why there are birds in the sky,

I know why grass grows.

I know why animals exist.

I know why the earth rotates.

I know why the sun shines bright.

I know why rivers flow

and flowers and herbs grow.

I know why people are born,

and flourish and grow.

I know why leaves sing with the wind

and soil comforts the roots that

firmly plant trees.

I don’t know, however, what I desperately need to know

That answer will be what I need in my life

That answer will allow me to feel happy and secure.

Until then,

I’ll keep my feet planted on soft cool soil,

beneath a lavander field

and my heart will remain hopeful that,

MY life,

whatever it offers me,

will be my reason to flourish and grow.

lavender growth

Life, Animals, Humans, Love, Loss. Life Still

All of us come with “baggage” both animals and humans. We all come with genetic coding that either does us in or stays with us longer than we care for it to, Cancer; MS; CP; Mental Illness; Depression; Schizophrenia; Bipolarism; blindness; etc.

Najee boy cat Najee – 2013

I adopted my boy tabby, Najee Zaire, 13 years ago when mom received her Dementia diagnosis. Had no man, no kids in my life, I needed someone or something to offer my heart to. I adopted a girl cat, Pemba Zimbabwe, a year later.

Pemba ZPemba – 2013

And now, 13 years later recent six hundred f**king dollar blood tests prove my girl at 12 yrs old is of exemplary health.  The boy on the other hand developed a type of Stage 2 Diabetes which means additional expensive-ass vet food plus expensive-ass insulin shots that I must learn to administer this week, I’ll do it myself because he hates going to the motherf**king vet; have to put him on sedatives just to get him into the carrier on the way to the vet.  And, the vet tells me he’s to be given  human insulin.  HUMAN insulin for animals, really? And there’s no way for my insurance to cover the cost.  Seriously?  Really?  What-the-who?

Ah, life.

I believe it is time for me to move forward, just as life does, it moves forward.  No more hanging onto the “dutiful” coattails of being good daughter, nursemaid and “mommy.” My mother, whom I cannot bring myself to visit any longer and my boy cat, who is frail, will have to rest safe and sound inside my heart and soul. They have to because I have to move on so that I may allow someone “special” to move in. Whomever that someone is, I must allow him…

…Into my heart…

…Into my soul…

Soon.

Soon.

Soon.

And when (they) pass,

I will cry hard and long on strong, masculine shoulders.

But, not just ears of sadness,

Tears of hopefulness that they will be free

And I will be free and I will move forward

Just as life moves forward.

I will rest and let my tears dry,

And when the moment of grief has passed,

However long it takes to pass

I will know as I have always known,

LIFE moves forward. Still. 

And so will I.

L.D. Sargent

Life is GROWTH

Life is nothing if it is not about growth.  Life makes us all put things into perspective whether we are prepared to do or not.  Our human brains are never quite prepared for beyond life, but we can’t lose perspective of what life is all about; living, loving, laughing, change and growth.  Growth is about moving forward and moving forward is ultimately about death.

In mid-November 2014 my biological father, a man who did not raise me, passed on.  I will eventually lose my beloved mother who is at hospice care and has lived with Dementia and Parkinsons for 13 years so far.  Doris, my mom, single-handily raised me and my younger half-brother (different dads) to the best of her ability. I was devoted to her and dutiful to her every need.  My father Clyde was inconsistent in our “relationship” at best.

me and clyde(L.D. and Clyde in the 1960s and 2005 at my half-sister’s wedding.)

One thing I like about life’s growth, life’s transition, is that at some point you get a bit of clarity.  For instance, all my life my father never told me why he chose not to participate in my upbringing, yet before he passed on, he became attentive to me and talkative, as if he wanted to really speak to me.  I knew something wasn’t right, he was never effusive with me.  I told my father I had finally gone back to work in a job with the Government and he suddenly beamed, he had retired with the Government.

“Oh, I put out contracts for the twin Tower building in Oakland, California!  I retired wearing $200 suits!”  My father loved his money.

“But, dad you know I am kind of artsy, do you think I will be able to keep up with this type of job?”  I asked.  He answered with his typical no-nonsense gruff Southern flare.

“Well, you got a brain, dont’cha?  You went to college, didn’cha?  They wouldn’t of hired you if they didn’t want you!  They don’t hire dumb people, not the Government!”  That was Clyde’s way of paying me a compliment, I believe. :c)  I remember he and my mother came to my graduation, I had returned to college in the 1990s.  That picture is the ONLY one of them together that I have.

parents at my graduation edit(Doris Banbury and Clyde Sargent, 1996 SF State University)

Clyde even gave me money recently to be finger-printed for my job and money to eat, I was completely strapped before I got that job.  He had never before been so readily attentive to me.  But, it is when he  asked me to live with him, came out of the blue a few weeks before he died, I realized something was wrong.  Perhaps I had a biological “connection” to Clyde, but I knew something was not right.  Three weeks later he was gone. 

I am happy to have learned that my Southerner father Clyde Lee was a smart college educated man with a plethora of accolades on his den wall, I remember seeing them.  Clyde survived Typhoid fever as a child growing up on a cotton field, a tiny parish called Sicily Island in Catahoula, Louisiana; (I went there as a girl and saw his house and the cotton field).  Clyde fought in the Korean war (1954-56); graduated with a B.S. in Vocational Agriculture from Southern University and in 1984 Clyde became the first black Director of Procurement and Contracts for the Federal Government. 

dad

The coolest part, Clyde gave me my younger sister Vickie, we grew up in separate houses with different moms, but we got to know each other over the years which is a good thing.  At Clyde’s memorial, he and my sister’s mother are cremated and will reside at their old house to be close to Vickie, I spoke although, I did not want to.  But, I was poised and funny and irreverent and I mentioned that if Clyde did nothing else for me as I learned he had done for so many others, he gave me pretty good genes to work with.  And that is the best type of “growth” to have, good genes, especially as an adult. 

I am of exemplary health and I am prepared to move forward in life knowing that my mom, Doris, and my father Clyde gave birth to a woman of courage, faith and strength with good skin, good teeth, those that are MINE, and a wicked sense of humor!  I believe life moves forward and we all must move with it, no looking back, but move forward  and accept growth as a blessing not a challenge.  GROW is what I am prepared to do.

Have a great holiday and New Years Eve and a fulfilling and prosperous New Year in 2015, everyone!   Lorrie

Death, Mama’s Bunions and the Family 4Head

What I refuse to blog about at Mid-Life

Does anyone care about a mid-life person who blogs? Do you? Really? Anyone? Or, do young people believe folks in their forties, fifties and beyond only blog about taxes; bills and ailments? Do you think older folks blog about mortgages; high-ass rent; fallen Kegels; sagging penises; menopause; back pain; bunions; needing a nap by late afternoon and shutting down for the night by nine pm; and taking daily vitamins so your body does not congeal? Do you think we only blog about the fact that our foreheads recede an inch every hour? Do ya think we blog about those “issues,” hmm? Huh? What? Or worse, do you young people believe older people blog about death like my mother always did when she got old? Well, she didn’t blog, but she read the obituaries. Or do you even care?

Everyday mom, a native South Bronx New Yorker who moved to SF and raised my younger brother and me, read the obituaries like she was reading great fiction; mom was a voracious reader. Knowing that my mom read the obits seriously made me sick to my stomach, I hated it. Then she would yell out to me. “Oh, I didn’t know so-and-so died!” Or, Pat or Jack, or whomever died. Then she would crank her head and yell to me wherever I was in the apartment, “Did you know Jack died?” Or George, or Matilda.

“Mom, why in hell do you keep announcing when old people die? Do you even know these folks? Why read the obits, it’s only going to make you sad.”

“Well, death is a part of life, isn’t it?”

“But, we’re not dead yet!”

“Well, we will be!”

“Fine, crazy lady, but who’ll read the obits we WE die, hmm? Huh? Can you answer that?”

To which mom made an evil “stink eye” roll or she gave me a sharp punch across my arm which hurt like hell as mom was heavy-handed. If I coughed or choked on a piece of candy when I was a little girl mom slapped me so hard across my back I swear my kidneys dislodged!

I think it is safe to state that I am guilty of blogging about getting older, but I can’t help it. It is such a shock to my tiny brain that I could even be old! I don’t feel old! I don’t usually act old! But, every day of every minute of every hour my body changes and does weird things and when that happens I find myself blogging out of frustration! I got so mad about menopause that I cursed out Jesus on one of my blogs!

But, you know what I think, I think it’s time for me to stop caring about getting older. Let’s face it, a teenager doesn’t normally blog about zits and teen angst, it would be too embarrassing! Nope, I think from here on I will end my blog-rants against biology and put as much effort into blogging about topical things and about things that matter to the masses and about being creative rather than blog about being older. No one cares. And besides I don’t feel so very old, well the physiological aspect of aging is inevitable, but I feel fine, I swear! Sure, I’ve inherited the massive family forehead that recedes at least an inch every few days or so. And sure I also inherited my mother’s bunions that sometimes ache when it rains, but from now on I won’t pontificate about them. And I will no longer blog about and videotape my two cats to the point of nauseam, I’ve done that so many times that what few friends I have lower their heads in shame every time they see me. Well, from this point on I refuse to be deemed the crazy old lady who keeps blogging about her swollen cranium, aching bunions, two elderly pussies and an expired bus pass. From now on I will no longer blog about what life has done to my body, but about what life has to offer.

Speaking of my fifty pounds of top-heavy, sagging brown mid-life boobies that every time I remove my bra I fracture one of my toes, I won’t continue to blog about that anymore either! Rest assured you young readers out there, L.D. will find it in her heart, soul and mind to only blog about life and happiness and positivity and being creative and being motivational and moving forward! And that’s that! Now, if you youngsters reading this blog will excuse me, I have to stretch my legs so that my flat ass doesn’t lock up and give me a cramp. Oops! Sorry.