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Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Known World

He was a handsome man, she said of Augustus. "I've never leaned toward exaggeration," she said to Anderson. "So when I say he was a handsome man, he was indeed. Henry was, too, but he never got old enough to lose that boyish facade colored men have before they settle into being handsome and unafraid, before they learn that death is as near as a shadow and go about living their lives accordingly. When they learn that, they become more beautiful than even God could imagine, Mr. Frazier."


The Known World, Edward P. Jones


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I swear... no matter how out of sorts I'm feeling... one thing has the power to pull me together and make me believe my mojo is working right... PAYDAY! Don't get me wrong. I know where the credit really goes and make sure the glory goes where it's due, but I also thank Jesus all day long for the strength to get my ass up to go to work errday so that I can collect those coins at the end of the pay period.

Going to work is an adventure for me because it requires a two-hour commute in each direction. For someone who couldn't stand to take the A from 110th to midtown, this is the ultimate punishment. I guess I should explain my penance. In February I accepted a position that required we move to southern Maryland. After 2-months, the institution decided that our relationship wasn't working out and told me to vacate... punk bitches! Because I'm so cool with God, my job search was very short. I sent out one resume and had a new, improved position within three weeks. How's that for the power? (insert praise break here).

I love the new job, which is located in the Columbia Heights section of Washington DC, but getting there is the granddaddy of all pains in the ass. I have to leave the house by 5:40 a.m. to make it to the commuter bus (yes... you read right... BUS) that takes me to downtown DC. From there I have to jump on the Metro, which takes me to Columbia Road.

I could actually take the 6:30 bus and get to work on time, but Wes, who drives the 6 a.m. bus is worth that extra half hour. Not only is he the most pleasant operator of public transportation that I have ever encountered, THIS BROTHER DRIVES HIS ASS OFF! I dreamed he took a short cut through someone's backyard in S.E. D.C. one morning. I know it was a dream because there were some beautiful collard greens growing and it's too early in the year for greens. He drove down one street and folks were looking as if to say, "What the hell is that bus doing here?" But Wes is always on time. And his passengers absolutely LOVE him. There is a group of about 6 black women and one white woman that sit behind him and they trade banter for most of the trip. It's hilarious. Imagine Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and Red Foxx all rolled up into one bus driver.

This morning Wes decided he wanted to serenade the passengers with Minnie Riperton's "Lovin' You," a song that I absolutely adore until she starts screaming "Maya, Maya" at the end. One of the black ladies told him to do something from church. "I'm sure you know something," she said. Wes looked at her in the mirror and said, "Jesus Wept." Well the entire front of the bus just about lost it and they lapsed into a discussion of how that's about the only piece of scripture most men know. One of the ladies said that for years she didn't believe it was in the bible because she couldn't understand why Jesus would weep. That discussion ended with Wes asking if she'd been baptized on the internet. I howled. So you see why the 6 a.m. bus is my only option to make an evil trip more bearable. Another thing the bus has done is renew my interest in reading. Well I can't say that I ever lost the interest, but reading a book was a luxury that time wasn't affording me. Now time is just not a problem.

Last year I bought Edward P. Jones' The Known World because he came to read at my school. After his reading, it was my task to drive him back to his home in DC at which time he signed my book. I still hadn't cracked it to read a sentence. On Monday I decided to bring it with me on the bus and that was it. I was hooked. It is an absolutely amazing piece of literature with beautiful statements like the one with which I chose to open this post. It was not the easiest read because it moves around a lot. Flashbacks... flash forwards... crazy dreams... this book took me through the paces and I loved every minute of it. Toni Morrison has prepared me to read and comprehend just about anything. I highly recommend it. Next I'm going to tackle Dr. Joy Leary's book about Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, which is highly appropriate since The Known World has given me some historic context. When I'm done I'm going to try to write a short story that takes place during that period.

With my renewed interest in reading comes my renewed interest in forming Brothas Well Read - DC, which will be the DC area chapter of a book club founded by my good friend, Roderick Tate in Atlanta. Rod and I started chatting years ago because I used to shout out whatever book I was reading on my BlackPlanet page. We began an intellectual exchange that has sustained, which proves that the internet is good for something more than trickin' and hookin'... no shade to the tricks and hookers. I'm so honored that Rod has even entertained the idea of a franchise. Trust that it will be done, maintaining the integrity of its mother. Look for a fall launch. And to all those DC readers out there... we're looking for you!

Posted by Rodney :: 7:45 AM :: 10 Comments:

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