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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

A good trip taken

“Break open the cherry tree: Where are the blossoms? Just wait for Spring time to see how they bloom.”
-- Ikkyu

March 21st -- The very first day of spring falling on a Thursday. I will be in Nova Scotia then leaving on March 16th and coming back on the 23rd. Hopefully it will really be spring; my husband and I met on March 21 -- 30 odd years ago, and that’s the date we celebrate our togetherness plus we will be in a land of Celtic celebration for St. Patrick’s Day and since my husband is an O’Neil and a McCormack we know where his ancestry is coming from.

I still remember the night we met at an old bar on Erie Blvd. now long ago and far away. The Grinch it was called and it had live music mostly of the folk band variety. And it was a cheerful place, big, yet cozy and chock a block full of people. Plus it was actually a soft warm evening and I needed only a sweater to keep warm. We met and we parted and yet met again another night, same place. He had seen me before dropping some one off at a place where he worked -- the old “Con-Dec” and vowed that he would meet me.

And he did, if ever two people were fated to meet, we were. Even though I am 16 years older than he, at that time he had long hair and an even longer beard and looked much older than his age, which he lied about, and I didn’t know his real age for many years. Not until we were married actually. Married by a female Native American Indian Shaman, who was also a justice of the peace. Married on the hill of Furman Street on the top floor of a two-story house. And our witnesses were a first nation man and his wife, who happened to live downstairs.

It’s been a long journey together but mostly a good trip that I would most definitely take again. He has been my eagle and my rock for low these many years and I love him still.

“The moon of mind comprehends all the universe in its light.”
-- Ban-Zan

And he is my universe and my light.

Please save April 5th (that’s a Friday) for our post lunch celebration and remembrance meal for Sha’hiim and others we know who have left us too soon and too early.

We hope to resurrect the Bitch and Moan Club and share memories and a meal. Bring some food to share (or not). We will open at 12:00 that day for those who want to help set up and do a little cooking. Officially we open at 4 and Orchids Restaurant has offered us some down home Jamaican cooking. Yum! The kindness of our small community holds my breath hostage every day.

But still there are things that can be better and more sensible. Will was hit by an 18-wheeler last week; it saddened us. We knew Will at QUEST as a continuous prankster and a good time, “love you all” kid. May I suggest that instead of buying those gruesome $70 sweatshirts with his picture on it that you contribute the money to his family. Not his funeral. Sha’hiim taught us all, even with his funeral, that simple is beautiful and that decorations made by children and posted and hung are far more elegant than thousands of dollars of flowers.

Remember the gift, not the giver. Parading around in a sweatshirt or T-shirt is simply not as respectful as putting on a nice shirt or a lovely dress and bringing with you your memories and love. Funerals were never meant to be a competition. Show your love to each other when you are still alive. If you are left behind show your love to the family standing next to you. I get so saddened seeing all these kids come showing off their so called remembrance clothes. If you need a picture on a shirt to remind you of someone then you never really knew them at all. Plus someone else is getting rich off these abominations, and it’s not anyone in the deceased’s family.

Please come by. Park in the parking lot on the side or over in the SICM lot on the other side of the gate. Enter at the red door off the parking lot and follow the noise and food smells down the stairs. We are at 826 State St. And you all know my number 518-527-1784 if you have questions or need help with transportation. Let’s hope for a day of warmth both inside and out. Please no alcohol, this means no beer, or those silly brown paper bags, you all use. We know what’s in those bags. C’mon now.

Show some love show some respect for yourself and all the others present or gone to a better place. Ty Quan has changed his hoodie. Remember the Real Talk sweatshirt he won in that Smarts contest? After an extremely long period of wearing it daily, he changed it yesterday. I guess personal hygiene has to come in here somewhere. I remind you that some of our youth organizations still don’t allow hoodies in their buildings. Talk about living in the past.

The sheriff has been living in an alternate universe when it comes to QUEST. He is presently looking for a spot on State Street in the Vale neighborhood for his next gun buy-back. We have offered twice and he is not even returning emails. Considering the last one was not terribly successful, you would think he would try something new. He needs to stop listening to the gossip spread by fools and give us a simple chance. What does he have to loose on this?

Courts in 3 cities send us kids and adults for community service and trust us to do the right thing. We just finished a sweetheart of a girl’s community service out of Glenville. We had been recommended to the judge and he thought we were an outstanding option. Sometimes the inner workings of this city are just puzzling. And insulting. Tell me, do people still think I run my own gang and deal drugs on the side? This is so ludicrous it’s really slanderous. All the street people know it’s not true, just some silly white collar workers who will use those stories to their own advantage. It’s all about the money. The money, not the kids.

Or maybe it’s just because I am a female. This is Woman’s History Month but it doesn’t seem to get much mention in this city. I am a woman who founded and ran her own agency for 21 years, who taught at multiple colleges and universities, who traveled and performed all over the world and received multiple awards and grants. The worst thing I have ever been charged with is not wearing my seat belt. I have never been drunk or high in my life and the first and last cigarette I smoked was in the girl’s bathroom at Linton High School. I was 16 at the time.

“I am not free while any woman is un-free, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
-- Audre Lorde

I have, however, marched in the South for civil rights, marched in Washington D.C. for woman’s rights –- reproductive and otherwise. Traveled to speak out against wars and torture. And written countless pieces of music and performance art that explored inequality and social injustice. So what does that make me guilty of?

Having a mouth and using it for the betterment of folk everywhere regardless of color, sex or religion. How does that make me a bad person? I do my best to stand tall for what I believe in and that is certainly not drugs and gangs and street culture and violence. I look at my $19,000 a year salary, I look at my bank account which is full of withdrawals to support QUEST and other causes, most of all I look at my sad and tired heart. I try people, but I get so tired of standing alone.

I look at the awards ceremony for agencies and individuals who have helped the inner cities and simply know I will receive no recognition. Just the same old, same old people. Surprise us folks, notice someone new.

I met with a young woman called Rain this past week; she runs her own non-profit called, “Something of My Very Own.” She is smart, dedicated and poor. Overworked and underappreciated. I would love to see her recognized with an award. She works with the poorest of the poor. She is a sweetheart and a powerhouse. We talked and exchanged stories and secrets about this town, this city that is such a good old boys network. Rain I salute you. Keep moving forward, we need you right here, right now. Strong women, let’s applaud and cheer. And lest we forget Malala Yousatzai -- who at 15 years old became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize nominee in history by risking her life for the cause of universal girls education. Shot in the head and neck by the Taliban and yet she never wavered in her beliefs.

Her coverage has been an inspiration to women everywhere.

And why aren’t we teaching about Malala in our schools? I spoke to two of our children today and they have never heard about her. “What color is her skin?” Kay Shawn asked. Which was a pretty interesting question. Right now they are studying Ann Frank and the Holocaust and Amelia Earhart. “But we study the same people every year,” he said. This seemed really strange to me. I could give them a list, especially during Woman’s History Month. Lives of people are not times tables like a math problem to be repeated over and over again. Worlds need to expand and open for children not close up and ring them in a tight circle. This is for D.O.H. and I hope they see and read this.

In 1981 President Ronald Reagan approved nutrition guidelines that qualified ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches, saving the U.S. government millions of dollars. “Susan Levine- School Lunch Politics p.147”

And isn’t that a hoot and a half -- I am assuming the law has been changed and someone has commented that technically a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. So think on that and laugh. Laugh one for me while you’re at it. I really need a chuckle.

“The wise boldly pick up a truth as soon as they hear it. Don’t wait for a moment, or you’ll lose your head.”
-- Hsueh-Doy

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