Category Archives: Real Housewives of Atlanta

Uncommon Grace in an Unlikely Place

sweep-1Let’s start here: my 18-year-old daughter was arrested for shoplifting.

When you learn that your daughter has been arrested for a stupid crime — a crime made even stupider for the fact that she turned 18 just three days prior — you either cry or scream, right? I nearly always choose tears.

But somehow I didn’t cry. I heard the lady robot voice say the word “inmate” through the phone — it sounds exactly like the intro to Serial, by the way — and I didn’t cry. I drove without tears to the Atlanta City Detention Center in the freezing cold to pick her up. When the bored lady behind the counter turned her computer monitor so that I could see my daughter’s mugshot, she offered the commentary, “She need a whoopin’”, and I didn’t cry. I left her there overnight. I came back to the empty house, numb. I didn’t cry.

A friend who works as a prosecutor for the city advised me that showing up in court the next morning would go a long way toward leniency. I didn’t cry when I watched my baby, the child who made me a mother, come into the courtroom in handcuffs and red scrubs. Standing before the judge, I played the role of the distraught but remorseful single mom flawlessly, without a single tear. As the hours between the court appearance and her release from jail dragged on, I started to wonder if maybe this was the tipping point, the Thing That Happened That Finally Dried Up All the Tears. I wondered if maybe there just weren’t any left.

After passing through the metal detector at the Atlanta City Detention Center, I’d had to place two quarters in a pitiful little locker and lock up my phone to enter the waiting area. I’d forgotten to bring something to read, so I sat in the ugly plastic chair with only Steve Harvey on mute to distract me. I gave up hope of any good people watching because it turns out that the overwhelming majority of people released from the city jail walk right out the door alone. For most inmates, no one is waiting to take them home for a shower and a hot meal and a “what the hell were you thinking?” So there was only a handful of people like me, waiting for someone on the other side of the locked doors.

The afternoon wore on and I lost any remaining interest in looking at Steve Harvey’s face. I looked outside at the shadows growing longer over Peachtree Street. My mind wandered. Was it that I had been so stubborn about not giving her a bottle that she’d starved while she learned to breastfeed? Had I deprived her tiny brain of nutrients? Was it that I hadn’t fought hard enough for the special services she needed? Was it that we didn’t have religion? Was it that we’d gotten divorced? Was it that my genetic You’re Not the Boss of Me Syndrome had been passed on to my oldest child? Was it that she did, in fact, need a whoopin’? Lots and lots of whoopin’s?

As my mind wandered, I started to crack. The tears that wouldn’t come suddenly began welling up inside. Welling so fast and so hard that it was like the ocean roaring in my ears. I briefly imagined my tears swallowing up every plastic chair in the room, the salty water rising and rising ‘til people and furniture and iPhones — freed from their lockers — bobbed on the surface. I got up and hurried to the ladies room, trying to look cool and not like a woman seconds from losing her mind.

In the safety and quiet, the tears became more insistent to be released. The ladies room at the Atlanta City Detention Center is exactly like you picture it, exactly as dark and cold and depressing as you think. I looked at myself in the dirty mirror and thought the word “haggard” seemed about right. I said out loud, “Stop. STOP. Get yourself together,” as I blotted my eyes with a rough brown paper towel. I turned to leave just as a girl I’d seen earlier pushed through the door. She was every Fox News trope come to life: a pregnant teenager in a black hoodie and pajama pants, whiling away the hours in a jailhouse waiting room.

Softly, sweetly, she tilted her head and asked, “You ok?”

I sort of chuckled and said that it had just been a really long day.

With an openness I can’t even comprehend, she asked, “You need a hug?”

Wearily chuckling again, I cast down my eyes and said, “No. Thanks,” and reached for the door. But before I could stop myself from saying it, I turned back to her and said, “You know what? I do. I do need a hug.”

And then she wrapped me in her arms. She wrapped me up and held me while the tidal wave gathered strength and broke through everything I’d used to hold it back. I sobbed freely. Sobbed for all of it: sitting alone on New Year’s Eve waiting for my baby to get out of jail, sobbed for all the times I couldn’t get through to her, sobbed for all the times people judged the way I parented her, sobbed for the fact that inside every mother is a scared kid who needs to be hugged and told it’s going to be okay.

I backed off a bit as I realized the hug had gone on awkwardly too long, and said, “I’m getting snot on your shirt!”

She never wavered, never released her hold, and just kept hugging me, softly saying, “This is a rough place to be, huh?”

I thanked her and we went back to our spots in the waiting room, she sitting beside her two friends and me sitting by myself near the counter, growing quietly impatient as the hours dragged on. (Jail isn’t really a place where you complain about poor customer service.) Eventually, the boy my friend had been waiting for was released. She hugged him and they made their way toward the door. The girl’s eyes scanned the room until they met mine. She waved and smiled, her eyes telling me it was all going to be okay.

A few minutes later, my daughter was released. There were no hugs; I had a point to prove. But we came home and we ate and we talked. She was appropriately remorseful and we cried and we eventually laughed that this would be the way we’d always recall the last night of the undeniably shitty year 2014.

Lying in bed that night, I thought back to the girl in the bathroom. And I realized that I had received grace. I’m not a Christian, but I’ve read enough Flannery O’Connor stories to be captivated by the concept of grace: the free and unmerited bestowal of blessing. “Unmerited” is the part that pushes on the tenderest part of my heart. I didn’t do anything to deserve that hug. And for that moment it didn’t matter. The girl in the bathroom gave her blessing freely and for a moment, it was enough just to be human.

She’ll be a great mom.

10 Things That Happen In Your 40s

I don’t generally enjoy reading things about getting older. They usually fall into one of two categories: relentlessly upbeat, as if it’s all one huge menopause party, or a complete horror show (I was nearly on suicide watch after reading Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck).

Based upon my comprehensive and exhaustive research (i.e., drinking wine with my friends), I’ve drawn some conclusions about what really happens to us in our 40s.

1. All young women look pretty to you.

I’ve really noticed this over the last few years. When I see a woman in her 20s or even early 30s, I automatically see her beauty. I look without envy because God knows I wouldn’t want to be back where she is just to have that young pretty face. But when I hear one of them complaining about their looks, I want to say, “Shut your mouth. Every last one of you is f***ing beautiful. Go read a book.”Jersey-Shores-Sammi-Waves-You-Away-In-a-Club-Reaction-Gif

 

2. Your dancing looks really stupid but you have absolutely no f***s left to give. 

There are times – even vodka-free times – when I feel like I’m a legit really good dancer. I have rhythm; I feel the beat. Sometimes I feel like I’m such a good dancer that I bust out my professional grade moves in front of a mirror just to confirm. SUCH A BAD, TERRIBLE, BAD IDEA. elaine-s-dance-o

But here’s the thing: I would actually pass out if I cared any less. I will seriously Dougie my way through cleaning the kitchen, wop while I fold laundry, and Tootsee Roll while I vacuum. My children are horrified. And I do not care in the slightest. How did that happen?

3. Your body makes weird noises.

When I was a kid, I heard people like Johnny Carson make jokes about their joints creaking and their bodies making noises when they got out of bed in the morning. That shit seemed so stupid and corny. I also never thought it would happen to me. Wrong! When I come down stairs in the morning, I hear clicks and squeaks that don’t sound entirely human. All my parts are OEM so it’s not like I have a store-bought knee or something. It takes some getting used to, you guys. tumblr_lzjmucFcTz1r6394xo2_250

Continue reading

Slut Shaming Kandi and Phaedra? Have A Seat, Chuck Smith

Heeeeeyy! Happy 2014, dolls.

It’s been awhile since I felt inspired to write something reality TV-related. I suppose there are lots of reasons for that. At least one reason is because – just like an actual housewife – the whole “housewives” concept is getting tired. The staged fights, the endless “let’s get all the girls together with no drama!” road trips, and the general fakery makes for boring and predictable TV. But last night’s episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta really got under my skin.

Let’s get into it.

The episode opened with Kenya Less (™ Awesomely Luvvie) meeting Ms. Lawrence for lunch to spill the tea on the “Sa-VAHN-nah” trip. Ok, really, Kenya? The talk in ATL is that Kenya doesn’t even live here. Given the fact that she has a new place every couple of episodes and can’t even pronounce Savannah, I’m thinking she does, in fact, just come here to pick up a check. (Also, why does she never have any furniture? At least Sheree had a blow up mattress for her kids.) Funky Dineva‘s theory is that Kenya and Ms. Lawrence are both just working together to cling to relevancy and that no one at Bravo cares about either one of their uninteresting asses. Seconded!

Me describing Kenya.

Me describing Kenya.

So. Chuck Smith – husband of boring Monique with a ‘y’ and retired NFL person – wants to meet Nene and Phaedra. N and P naturally assume this is some kind of fallout from the dustup in Savannah. Remember? When Monique with a ‘y’ learned that her hubs not only dated both Phaedra and Kandi, but also paid Kandi’s bills when her credit was busted and bought a Louis bag for Mama Joyce? But it turns out Chuck just wants his old Athens buddies to accompany him to speak at the Boys and Girls Club over in Clarke County. Ok, cool. (See this fakery I’m talking about? These supposedly “crazy busy” people meet for lunch and then take off for a spontaneous 5 to 6 hour day trip. Gettin’ sloppy, Bravo.) Continue reading

To Me, From Me :: 46 Things I Loved About Turning 46

First of all, apologies for the second post in a row that’s basically a listicle.

But the form is just right for what I want to do today, which is to share with all of you the best things about this day.

I decided a few months ago I wasn’t gonna celebrate this birthday the way I celebrate most of them. Forty six was the last birthday my dad ever had. My heart just kept talking to me about that whenever I thought about this birthday. I’ll celebrate 47 in the usual way – including my helpful emails to friends reminding them IT’S COMING! – but this one has been special in a totally different, much more quiet way. Having low expectations often works in our favor and today just proves that. So, I’ll tell you about my day in a form best exemplified by the inimitable John Waters in one of my favorite essays of all time, “Puff Piece (101 Things I Love)”. I don’t know if I could link to it even if I wanted to, but I don’t want to because I want you instead to buy his book Crackpot.

My gift to myself: the back porch sign of my dreams.

My gift to myself: the back porch sign of my dreams.

I slept late (1) – really late – and woke up to find a table already set with a breakfast that included strawberries (2) and sausage (3) and a hot cup of coffee (4). My sweet little girl (5) prepared this unexpected feast for me because she knows I love a good breakfast (6).

Alongside my treats were a couple of beautifully wrapped presents (7). The only thing better than a good breakfast is a good breakfast WITH PRESENTS so I opened them right up! Lucy gave me a little packet of blueberry face wipes – they’re called “Age Refresh” and I don’t even care – along with eucalyptus scented votive candles (8), sparkly votive holders (9) and some lovely chocolate spoons from Alon’s (10). Great start to the day.

Once Hannah (11) got up, she presented me with her gift, which was handcrafted, fancy-schmancy dark chocolate sticks. These chocolate gifts sort of crack me up. Because I don’t even really care that much about chocolate. But I guess in pop culture (12), moms go bananas for chocolate and this is where my kids got the idea to get me expensive candy. No complaints.

For weeks I’ve been wanting to pressure wash my front porch (13) and when the girls asked me what I wanted to do today, I told them I wanted their help with pressure washing. Their confused faces (14) told me this wasn’t what they expected but they couldn’t say no (15)! We pressure washed the damn thing so thoroughly that I even took off some paint, but I don’t care because it’s all fresh and clean (16) and pretty now. Lucy rode her bike to pick up lunch from the coffee shop and we experienced the singular joy of eating outdoors (added after, too lazy to reorder all the numbers).

We finished our chore around 2 o’clock and I decided to take a mid-day shower (17). Just like day drinking, a daytime shower is basically a declaration that you are a BOSS (18) and can do what you want (19) when you want to (20). I took my time lotioning up at a leisurely pace (21) and used my favorite hair product (22), Moroccan Oil Curl Control. That scent (23)!

My fingernails were looking a little ragged after the hours spent on the front porch so I decided to treat myself to a cheap mani (24). I went to a local (25) chop shop and got one of my all-time favorite colors, Essie’s “Ballet Slippers” (26). I left the salon too early, so of course one nail is already jacked but who cares? I came home to find that my Lucy had DVRed “I Love Lucy” (27) so together we watched the episode titled “The New Neighbors” in which Lucy thinks the new tenants are murderers. Naturally, hijinks (28) ensue. By the way, Nicki Minaj, you owe the estate of Lucille Ball Arnaz a check because every face you make was on “I Love Lucy” way before you were born.  Continue reading

12 Things Sexier Than Paris Hilton’s New Music Video

I’ve been under a sort of rock the past few weeks. I generally spend an embarrassing amount of time poring over news from the Celebrity Industrial Complex but there’s just been a lot going on, been busy, haven’t felt inspired, blah blah blah. So I want to extend my thanks to Paris Hilton and Lil Wayne for inspiring me to write words on this blog again.

If you haven’t seen it (and that will presumably be most of you), Paris Hilton released a “teaser” video for her “song” “Good Times.” It appears to be a song about partying with a 32-year-old hotel heiress. Sample lyrics: 

“I might be a bit tipsy … 
but that’s OK ’cause you’re with me.
Are you having a good time?
cause I’m having a good time.”

Based on the preview, the video contains a seemingly random collection of what I guess are supposed to be sexy images? There’s lots of skin, lots of swimwear, and lots of attractive young people having “good times.”  There are hot tubs, wet t-shirts, vodka bottles, dancing, hair flipping, and sexxxy sexxxiness. Check it out.

WARNING: NSFW words come out of Lil Wayne’s mouth. (Lil Wayne who, by the by, should be ashamed of himself. Not just for the stupid lazy rap but for signing Paris Flippin’ Hilton to his Young Money Cash Money record label.)

Ok. Yeah. Sure.

One wee tiny problem: it is thoroughly and completely UNSEXY. In fact, here are 12 things that are sexier than the video you just watched. Continue reading

What I’m Too Polite to Say to Customer Service People

tumblr_inline_mqeany5TFX1rlb7z7Gah! In the last 10 hours I have been on the telephone for extended periods of time with both Comcast and Aetna.

Both of the people I spoke to made me want to be rude as hell; made me want behave like I had no home training. (“Well, I can certainly understand your frustration, Elisabeth. I will be more than happy to assist you today.”) I remained cordial. But my interior monologue sounded just like Antoine Dodson.

Here’s How to Be George Clooney’s Next Ex-Girlfriend

"Sometimes I wanna kiss ma'self."

“Sometimes I wanna kiss ma’self.”

You may have heard that George Clooney broke up with his most recent ladypiece, Stacy Keibler. Cloons and Keibs were together for about 2 years – which is pretty standard for him. Anyone who’s been paying attention knew she was about to get her walking papers based on a few key mistakes she made.

With George being A.) indisputably foxy and B.) on the market, here are my handy steps to becoming his next ex-girlfriend. You may be asking yourself why, if I know how to do it, I’m not going after G. Cloons myself. Well, maybe some people think a villa on Lake Como, meals in the world’s best restaurants, fabulous designer clothing and getting it on with one of the world’s sexiest men sounds good. Meh. To me, a quiet night with Bravo and leftover Thai in my “yoga” pants on the couch is the height of glamor. So let my years of research benefit you!

1. Be a conventionally sexxxy woman.

"Sorry uggos and fatties. NO GEORGE FOR YOU!"

“Sorry, uggos and fatties. NO GEORGE FOR YOU!”

I bet George is a very cool guy. I think he is probably smart and interesting, and hearing about his pranks on the set makes me think he brings the LOLZ from time to time. But let’s be really real here for a second. George probably doesn’t even see your face unless you breathe the rarified air of the fantastically gorgeous. I’m not saying G-Money doesn’t care about your personality – he totally thinks you’re awesome, girl! – but I’m pretty sure that if your personality doesn’t come wrapped in a smokin’ hot package, you’re invisible to him. So. Eat your salad, no dessert / Get that man you deserve.

2. Do not have a career you care about.

Clooney dates waitresses, students, and other waitresses. Although this Stacy Keibler character was some sort of WWE personality, and he’s dated a few chicks who were C-listers in Europe, George keeps it simple. George Clooney is not coming home from the set of Oceans 47 to ask you how your conference call went. He doesn’t want you to “lean in”. Pretty sure he just wants you to “lay back.” HI-YOOO! Continue reading

Hey, Paula! Louis CK and Chris Rock Need to Talk to You

Oh, Paula.

There’s a lot I want to say about Paula Deen and her bizarre, out-of-touch old person apology from earlier today. In fact, there’s a lot I want to say about some pretty major apologies this week – Exodus International, Kickstarter and yes, America’s twinkly-eyed racist grandma.

Before I get that all squared away, though, I feel like maybe besties Chris Rock and Louis CK can start the conversation. Here’s Chris on if it’s okay for white people to say that word.

And here’s Louis CK on why if you’re white and you don’t admit that it’s great, you’re an asshole.

At the moment, there are so many somehow related thoughts swirling around my head regarding this week’s apologies, Kanye’s insanely misogynistic but incredibly brilliant “Yeezus”, Jesse Jackson being as out of touch in a “bless his heart” way as Paula, Patton Oswalt’s blog post about rape jokes and – of course – the Kimye baby’s name.

I will get it all into a coherent train of thought, but right now it’s Friday night and I’ve got a life to live (Damn! What do you people want from me?!) so it’s gonna have to wait.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy talking about racism in the easiest way possible: the ha-has.

Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion Part 1 TONIGHT!

We’re just hours away from part one of the super-sized Real Housewives of Atlanta season 5 reunion show and for me, it can’t be 8 pm soon enough! This season was a little ho-hum but the reunion looks goooood, doesn’t it?

Since it’s very clear that Andy Cohen reads my blog – how else to explain Fashion Queens? – the other ladies probably do, too. So I’ll address each of them individually and let them know what I think of their performances this season.

Phaedra Parks ::  Donkologist, Ph D

Phaedra, you are a delightful mystery to me. You live contentedly in Phaedra World, a place where every idea is turned into a business and where a charmingly cracked Southern charm is the coin of the realm. But it’s a nice place and I love you for making a home there with Apollo and Ayden. I’m pleased to see that the marital discord Bravo hinted at in the trailer for this season turned out to be a bunch of bunk and I know you must be so happy to be bringing another little chicken nugget into the world. Anytime you want to go for a day drink at the Clermont Lounge, I’m down.tumblr_mg8g040Ws81ql5yr7o1_400

Kandi Burruss :: The Hungry, Happy Housewife

Kandi, you may want to have a chat with the producers about the editing this season. Girl, they made you look like you would do anything for a plate of food! Maybe you’re ok with it but I think I’d be a little miffed if I had put on a noticeable amount of weight and then every episode showed me yammering about food! I’m guessing you probably don’t care though. And, really, why should you? You seem genuinely happy with Todd, Riley seems to like him, you took a few steps back from Mama Joyce, and you own a bad ass mansion. Good for you and may your empire – whoaOHOH! – keep growing.tumblr_mjas0t874x1ql5yr7o1_400

Continue reading

Calm Down. You Will Not See Puffy Genitals at the Grammy Awards

Woah.

CBS, which is apparently the network that airs the Grammys, has a LOT to say about how the stars (and “stars”) dress for the telecast. The specificity of the language is, well, you’ll see.

[Note: To make it more fun, I suggest reading this in the voice of Smithers, Mr. Burns’ sycophantic assistant on The Simpsons.]

“Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could possibly expose female breast nipples.”

Hold on, professor. Let’s take this apart. I have a couple quick questions.

1. Is it really just “female breasts” that need to be covered? I would actually much rather see some J. Lo underboob than Steven Tyler’s saggy boobies.

Sorry. This is kinda mean.

Sorry. This is kinda mean.

2. I LOVE the use of the word “problematic.” I imagine a huddle of academics – preferably Women’s Studies majors – deciding how they feel about “thong type costumes.”

#problematic

#problematic

3. Were you aware that “buttock crack” was a technical term? I was not. As a general rule I avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack – uh, at work maybe! Come on! We can’t expose fleshy under curves anymore? F*CKING FASCISTS.

Cute!

Cute!

4. Also? “Female breast nipples.” See item 1.

Just like Vanessa Williams, CBS saved the best for last.

“Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible ‘puffy’ bare skin exposure.”

AARGH! What does this mean??! I immediately thought of Sean P. Diddy/Puff Daddy Combs in some tight Todd Rundgren pants. That can’t be what they mean, right?

Then, I thought camel toe. But they specify “bare skin” exposure? So confused. I mean, I don’t really watch these award shows, but I do read the internet the next day.

And I cannot remember a time in ever when I saw “puffy bare skin exposure” in the genital region. Can you? They’re just making this stuff up.

Butt crack dress
Nicki pic: worldfamousmedia.com
Steven Tyler pic: PerezHilton.com