I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tonnika Haynes, second-generation owner of Brown’s Automotive, and Elisabeth Lewis Corley, poet and owner of Harland’s Creek Productions, for Chatham Magazine’s sixth annual Women’s Issue. These women are innovative, intelligent, and paving the way for women in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Grab a copy if you see it.
Pi Day on the Fives
This is a big year for my family. Between February 4 and March 29, four of us advance on a five: my mom turned 75, I turned 50, my son turns 25 today, and my mother-in-law will be 80 at the end of the month. And then later in the year, my husband joins the fray with his palindrome of our son (he’ll be 52). My greatest joy and my fondest adventures include this kid, and oh, how very fortunate I am. Happy Birthday to my Sweet Pea. Happy Pi Day to you all.
Celebration of Lights
If you’re looking for a good place to make a donation as the year comes to a close, I encourage you to find the free pharmacy in your county. I’m the Vice President of the Board of Directors for Chatham Cares Community Pharmacy, and we’re doing great, important work in central North Carolina. We were awarded the Humanitarian Award from our local NAACP chapter last week, which is super exciting. On December 3, our big annual fundraiser, the Celebration of Lights, will be held. It’s free, but if you’d like to purchase luminaries in honor or in memory of a friend or loved one, 100% of the donations go to free prescriptions for our clients. Spread the word, and do good stuff in your community!
Examining “Otherness” now live
I was super excited to interview Michele Tracy Berger for the North Carolina Literary Review’s fall 2022 issue on Writers Who Teach, Teachers Who Write. She’s an interesting, forward-thinking Afrofuturist who writes about the Black Fantastic, and shares in my love for genre fiction and great storytelling. Check out the article when you’ve got a chance — I won the Randall Kenan Prize for this essay, which was unexpected and delightful.
Read the essay here: Examining Otherness on the Page and in the Classroom with Michele Tracy Berger
Michele’s going to be a guest author at my book club this month. My peeps are excited to read Reenu-Yu and talk to the author. Be sure to grab a copy of her book if you’re looking for something spooky. Don’t forget to leave a great review over at Goodreads.
Introduction to Grantwriting is Back!
Happy Hump Day, y’all! I’m excited to bring my one-day Continuing Education workshop, Introduction to Grantwriting, back to Central Carolina Community College. It’s been a long, three-year COVID break, and I’m psyched to get back to the basics. Does your non-profit organization need funding? Do you work in the public school, healthcare, or arts industries? Bet you can get this approved as an off-site workday that’ll be more productive and fun than looking at your office walls all day. 🙂 Sign up today! And spread the word if you’ve got time.
Congratulations, Peyton Sickles!
My son is a freelance photojournalist, and he’s been killing it lately. Last week at the 2022 North Carolina Press Association Awards, he took home two awards personally, and his community newspaper raked in a whopping 31.
Last month I had to cancel my daily subscriptions to the News & Observer, NYTimes, and USAToday because our newspaper distribution guy, Ben, was so inconsistent. We missed nearly forty percent of our papers, and it broke my heart. But Peyton, like me, is a journalist and in this industry. My dissatisfaction with the distribution asshole is no reflection on my support and interest in hardworking journalists. Truthful, vetted news from truthful, vetted news sources is crucial to correct information being disseminated in the community. Peyton’s accomplishments bolster my opinion of the importance of real news, and make me a prouder mom than usual because he has embarked on a career of truth telling that is often difficult. The way he sees and captures the world is a game changer
So, Bravo Peyton!
- First Place – Siler City Controlled Burn
- Second Place – Cyclist Chuck Gillis
Support your local news outlets, y’all. Support the truth.
*Thanks to publisher Bill Horner III for this spectacular photo of Peyton.
Boosting the Signal – Chatham Magazine: Musician Alex Meredith
I had an interesting conversation with musician Alex Meredith, mandolin player and recent graduate from UNC who, at 15, woke up one day and couldn’t hear anything in his right ear. Fortunately, the hearing loss didn’t impact his ability to play the bluegrass music he loves.
Farewell, print newspapers
I had to laugh at this full-page ad in the July 19, 2021 edition of the N&O because, in my experience, big tech isn’t the most harmful threat to local papers, it’s the distribution company and delivery driver. I’ve been taking some combination of local and national newspapers for the last 25 years. Always in the mix is the N&O; most of the time I get USA Today, and on Friday and Sunday I get the NYT. It’s expensive, but I like to hold the paper in my hand and read the news. I also have online subscriptions for Washington Post and NYT, but nothing beats a physical newspaper. But I’m done – my newspaper distributor has broken my spirit and love for the print newspaper.
Between Jan 2 – Jul 21, 2022, my newspapers were late or not delivered 32 times. [Important note: May 22 – Jul 18, we had interim drivers who were ALWAYS on time and here, and corresponded by text if there were any issues.] And by late I mean, I had to text the distributor multiple times over the morning because the delivery driver never showed up. Never texted. Some days it’s because the driver was doing who knows what for who knows why (I don’t care). It’s not my job to remind the newspaper distributor to deliver my paper. My delivery driver is so unreliable that USA Today has us permanently on mail delivery only. It’s just not worth it any longer. I’m canceling it all.
And as I prepare this post, both the News & Observer and USA Today sent emails about cheap subscriptions. These rates are a honey trap for a newshound like me, but my good mental health can’t take another week of text-arguing with B.M., or leaving countless voicemails and still being ignored by B.A. My rural address is 42 miles from N&O headquarters on Fayetteville Street, where the paper is printed. It is a literal straight shot down one of the major highways that bisects the state. The distributor is just that shitty.
Here’s my takeaway: if you live in rural communities in North Carolina, you cannot rely on print newspaper delivery. So suck it up, because you can’t rely on high speed internet either. Good luck!
Boosting the Signal – Chatham Magazine: Blazing A Trail
It was fun talking with the six female firefighters of Moncure’s Fire Department who are blazing a trail for the rest of the country from their tiny hamlet in the rural south. Who would’ve thought such a community would be so forward-thinking with gender equality. This was particularly interesting because at Moncure Fire Station 8 has several sets of generational firefighters, some mother-daughter combos, and some spouses. Very cool.
Plan your parenthood
I am overwhelmed with grief and rage and sadness. My heart is broken for legions of women in the near (and far) future who will have to make difficult decisions about their bodies and their lives, at the risk of their mental and physical health. I am enraged at the woman on the supreme court who, as my mother says, “climbed over the backs of women who gave her all her opportunities.” I am angry at the conservative women I’ve known for years, who migrated from high school and college friends to Facebook acquaintances — who had unplanned pregnancies and abortions as young women and are now cheering with the decision to end the constitutional right to abortion. To those women in particular, I say fuck you. Because if you don’t want to have an abortion, then don’t have an abortion. Abortion is healthcare.
The supreme court is on a tear this year, and the future is bleak. Be gentle with yourself.
I feel adrift in this shameful nation, so I will rely on the comfort of what I do best: write. I spent years of my life and career as an educator of reproductive and women’s rights. Women of child-bearing years, listen up: YOU are responsible for managing your parenthood. Of planning your pregnancy. Whether you’re in middle school or your mid-forties, YOU are on the hook for your own body. And unless you’re ready to begin a family, be smart. Educate yourself on the variety of birth control methods available. Talk to your physician. Get a prescription for birth control pills TODAY. Talk to your partner. Prevent unplanned pregnancies and STDs. Use a condom. Abstinence-only education endorses reproductive ignorance. Woman up!
- male condoms
- female condoms
- cervical cap
- contraceptive sponge
Short-acting hormonal methods:
- Birth control pills
- Vaginal ring
- Skin patch
- Contraceptive injection
Long-acting hormonal methods:
- Contraceptive implant
- Tubal ligation
– – > Here’s a list of U.S. companies offering abortion travel benefits. Check the list and buy the shit out of their products because consumer-buying power speaks volumes.
– – > Here’s a list of U.S. companies offering abortion-related benefits.
– – > Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace® must cover contraceptive methods and counseling for all women, as prescribed by a health care provider.
Find help if you need it:
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
- American Psychological Association: the facts about abortion and mental health
- American Psychological Association: How do I find a good therapist
- Healthline: 9 Tips for Finding the Right Therapist
- WebMD: How to find a therapist
If you don’t have anybody to ask about birth control methods, HMU.