Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Black Girls Really Do Rock!

So, a few weeks ago I read about an awards event sponsored by an organization called Black Girls Rock. Immediately, I was intrigued. After doing some basic internet research I found out that the organization is run by a phenomenal celeb DJ named Beverly Bond. I'd heard her name before in hip hop circles and apparently she's known for rocking some pretty swank parties. Well, BB became compelled to start an organization that would provide an alternative role for young black girls in the hip hop mosaic...an alternative to the booty shaking mainstay to which we've become accustomed. So, y'all know I was all for that.

To show my support, I decided to purchase a Black Girls Rock (BGR) t-shirt. The shirt wasn't cheap, but, I figured, if I could spend a grip on an Ed Hardy shirt or a Lacoste polo, this was nothing. Besides, I'm a sucker for any organization that tries to empower black girls while still engaging hip hop.

This is where it started to get sticky. The site that I had to purchase my shirt from was RopeADope (RAD). They are the spot to get most of the black 'message' shirts. They have a good range of stuff to choose from. I ordered my shirt on the 9th. By the 13th, it had not arrived, so I emailed RAD. By the 17th, I had not received a reply, so I emailed them again. This time I also sent an email to BGR to let them know the situation. Now, I'm starting to get pissed. What are they doing with my money if they aren't mailing my shirt?? Finally, yesterday, I looked on my credit card statement to find info on RAD. There I found an 877 number.

I called them to get the status of my order. I was informed that the shirt was on backorder and would not arrive for another 3 weeks. In addition, they said that their email system had been down for 4 days. RAD offered to give me a 20% discount on my next order if I decided to cancel this one. I politely declined and let them know that not only would I never order from them again, but, I would advise my friends to do the same.

I followed up that phone call with an email to RAD and BGR reiterating my desire to cancel the order and my disappointment with the customer service. The email was firm, but polite.

Long story short. BB - the founder of BGR responded to my email with a big apology. Apparently I was not the first to be unhappy with the RAD services. She'd missed my previous emails because she was participating in Fashion Week in Brooklyn. Now the story picks up.

She was soo pissed with the way I was treated she wanted me to call her and recount the details. Ok, did I mention that she's this totally famous celeb DJ? So, I called her, gave her the 411 and as an apology, she agreed to send me the shirt I ordered and a couple of others from her new line. What a nice gesture. I was already going to support her organization but, her hands on treatment and responsiveness have sealed the deal. Black girls really do rock!


P.S. I'll take a picture in each of my shirts and post them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Won't Love You to Death

Did anyone watch that MTV special about Mario's struggle with his mom's heroine addiction?

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I have had unsavory thoughts about young Mario. But, to watch him deal with his mom made him even more endearing. If you didn't catch it, it'll be on again on Wednesday, so Tivo or DVR it.


The Final Chapter

So, last week ended with a flurry of emails back and forth between my sister and I and our newly aquainted family members. It was all so overwhelming for me, so I fell back and let my sister get a head start. I'll jump in eventually, but, I'm still warming up...

I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes from here on out. Thanks for reading.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Funeral Frenzy

So, this whole thing with my father's death has been a scavenger hunt for information. I found out that he passed from one of my best friends. Her husband is friends with my father's oldest daughter's husband. Does that make sense? Long story short, if my friend hadn't married the man she chose, I would not have found out about my father's death. Then, the details were sketchy.

First he died on Wednesday, then his body had not been released from the hospital until almost a week later. Then, we didn't know where the funeral was going to be. My grandma called around to all of the funeral homes in Baltimore. We got a hit on March's East. Then, a few days later we found out that the arrangements had been moved somewhere else. So, cut to yesterday morning. I woke up and found a text from my best friend saying that the funeral was that day. We still didn't know when and where. I called her back, got her to call the other daughter's husband and finally got the info.

So, me, my mom, my sister and my grandma set out to the funeral home. We were the first one's there. The man in the casket looked alot like me. I've got this thing about funerals and was not comfortable getting closer than 2 feet. Eventually, 'the family' arrived in a limousine. For those of you that know my grandma, you already know how anxious my mom and I were to set Senior Penni loose. She was going up to people asking them if they were 'family' and let them know that my mom was the 'first wife'. LOL Ok, my father only had one wife, my mom. His eldest daughter and her brother were the product of a relationship before he met and married my mom. Most of the attendees had no idea that my sister and I even existed. We have an aunt (who did know about us) and first cousins that never knew about us.

While my sister and I didn't know the extent of our family ties, we knew that there was somebody out there related to us. We nurtured the void for all of our lives.

It was bittersweet to hear so many people stand up and say nice things about this man that I have few fond memories of. My mom said it best when she said, 'Maybe he turned his life around.' I believe in redemption, so, that notion suits me just fine.

As we were sitting there listening to all of these kind words, my sister was writing fast and furious on a piece of paper from her purse. I turned to her and whispered, 'You're not going up there to say something are you?' She replied, 'I don't know, I might.' I was worried, what was she going to say. Was this about to turn into a univision telenovella? You see, my sister has a gift of bluntness, she doesn't hold back, she's not phoney and she doesn't care about being polite or PC. With her thoughts jotted down, she proceeded to the front of the room, prepared to speak. Senior Penni said to her, 'Just don't break down up there.' That to my grandma is akin to humiliating our family. Well, my sister got up there and spoke the singular most profound, heartfelt and poignant words I've ever heard from her lips...

Lost I tried to find you.
Two years or was it all 33 that I searched for you
and all along you were here.
Right here at arms reach.
Now that you
have slipped into heaven, I finally get to know you.
I am blessed you have
been found...
and so have I.

Unconditional love is where you'll find
Meet you when I get there.
This chapter in my life has been
I am glad that the life you led was a good book
and that each
person in this room got to write a chapter in your book of life.
And most
importantly, that I got to know you today through all of those that shared your
No matter what I love you unconditionally.

I am your daughter.
I am Mini Penni.
I am 33.
To the family, the friends in this room...
I love you,
I need you,
You're my family.

There was not a dry eye in the house. Then everyone started whispering,
That's Penni and Mini Penni, they're his other daughters.
I didn't know he had other daughters.
Look that's them sitting right there.

Unbeknownst to us, we were sitting right next to our first cousins. Upon hearing my sisters words, one of them jumped up to speak. With tears in his eyes, he expressed sorrow about just finding out about us. He said, I'm your cousin. I love y'all.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How Am I Supposed to Feel?

"My father passed away on Wednesday and I don't know how to feel about it."
"Penni, what did you say?"
"My father passed away and I don't know how to feel about it Mom."
So went the conversation on Friday. I found out that my father died two days prior and I was feeling very confused.

Should I mourn? Well, I did feel sad. I remember my father from when I was a kid, like 5 years old. I was afraid of him because he wasn't around much and even then, it took me a while to warm up to new people. Or maybe now it takes me a long time to warm up to new people BECAUSE of his overused in and out pass. I also felt sad because now I'll never get to know him. I'm even conflicted about the desire to get to know him.

If being available, contributing money to our sustenance and being a role model are characteristics of being a father, then he was not. In fact, I lossed him over 20 years ago. I mourned his absence every time I needed a trusted male's advice. I felt the loss when my friends retold stories of their fathers.

I had been cultivating this fantasy for many many years. I always imagined growing up, becoming this big shot corporate exec and being the key note speaker at some charity event. Then, just like Diana Ross did in the movie Mahogony, I would hear this man speak out from standing room only crowd. This Billy Dee Williams version of my father would yell out that he's proud of me and that he's sorry for leaving me and that he's my 'old man'. Then, he'd walk toward me in slow motion, I'd start crying and while my family looked on, we'd embrace and then all the years of being strong would ooze out of me as I collapsed in his arms.

But, that'll never happen now...and I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about it.