Something About Mary


I first saw her during the summer. I had just moved here. She was a mound in the middle of an abandoned parking lot beside the car wash. It was the stroller that got my attention. After studying her bobbing head as she napped in the blazing sun, I realized she was alone. I went on.

Another time I saw her was over six miles from there. There was a stroller packed with stuff. She was seated in the same sprawling position on a thin blanket that separated flesh from jagged gravel. The sun beamed down on her as she sat scratching her feet. Just a few feet behind her, was about three feet of shade.

This is what got my attention. I ate my fried cheese sticks in my car at the establishment next door. I watched her for more than twenty minutes as I was timing my munching so I could be just in time for carpool. As I paid the waitress I asked, “Tell me something about that girl there?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “She is there a lot.”

This puzzled me. I watched cars come and go, look at her hard and then continue on, not to mention the four lanes of traffic stopped for the red light. I watched her again, scratching her feet. As I pulled out I rounded behind the abandoned building and pulled beside her. She jumped. She had been sleeping in the nearly 97 degree heat.

“Hey!” I said. “What ya doing here?” Afterwards thinking to myself, “Really? Is that what you want to ask her?” I added, “Are you ok?”

She looked up at me, her black face covered in sweat. “I’m fine,” she answered.

“My husband and I pulled in here the other day in that little grey car, you know? He asked if you were ok and you said the same thing,” I added.

“Yeah, I remember you,” she said as she looked down and shaded her face with her hand.

“Well, you don’t look ok to me,” I told her. “Do you need anything?” I prodded.

“If you got some bug spray I might need that,” she said, scratching her legs again beneath the long socks I had watched her put on in the sweltering heat. “They’s eaten me up.”

I dug around in my car. There is always something in the bottom of my purse for every occasion. I pulled out lotion and antibacterial gel. “I’ll go get you some,” I told her. I explained I had to get my child from school, but that I would be back.

“You going anywhere?” I heard myself mumble before I could stop myself from the obvious.

“Nope,” she said.

It was then I had to dig deeper. “So if you could go home, where would that be?”

“South Florida, Gainsville.” She answered. “I got children there.”

I thought about it all the way to carpool. I called my husband. “But she didn’t ask me for money. She just sat there.All she asked for was bug spray for her legs. They were itching.  I want to get her a bus ticket,” I told him. He was on the golf course.

I called the police to see if she had a record. I couldn’t imagine much harm she could do. She was so big she could barely move. They were not obliged to give me such information.

I picked up my daughter and I wheeled her in for a shake while I explained the big mound in the rearview mirror to an eight year old.

“Oh, Lord,” is all she could say, laughing at her mother who did not surprise her in the least bit.

I helped her gather her things, convincing her to ditch the bent up baby stroller and put them into the back of my husband’s pickup truck.

“We gotta get her to gymnastics,” I said as I introduced the two.

Her told me her name was Mary.

She, my eight year old daughter and I strolled into the Dollar Store for a few things for her. She picked out some feminine items and we convinced her she had to have a gift for each of her children. She picked out small inexpensive things.

My husband had cooked a roast, potatoes and corn bread. She wouldn’t eat any of it, blaming it on the burger and shake she had inhaled on the way to our house but said she would love a to go for the bus.

I had put her in our guest house to shower and get dressed with an outfit my daughter and she had picked out, stretch pants and a long top. A few minutes later I heard a knock on my door.

“No hot water,” she said, holding the towel I had taken out to her as I gathered her clothes to wash them.

“Crap, I forgot,” I said. The pilot light had started giving us trouble the week before.

“Let her take one in our bathroom,” I heard coming from the kitchen. “Really?” I said.

I went up to get it ready, tuck some things away, “just in case” and called her up there. She was there at least an hour, basking in my tub. I had lit the battery candles even.

We smelled her before we saw her. She was coming down the stairs wreaking of each of my perfumes. My husband chuckled as he was finishing up doing spelling words with our daughter.

Mary asked to sit up high on a straw stool behind us instead of the sofa with us as we proceeded to watch an old rerun of Pretty Woman (my husband’s selection)  while we waited for the ten o’clock bus time to roll around on this school night.

“I don’t have no ID,” she said quietly.
After a few calls and speaking to the bus stop personnel, we were assured she could “get on the bus”. She seemed nervous as we got closer to the gas station/bus stop, which I had no idea existed.

We helped her with her bags, including a lime green monogrammed one that happened to have the same last initial as her first name. “You can’t be going home to see your babies with those bags you are carrying,” I told her.

She sat in the corner eyeing my husband as he talked to the girls there. They laughed and I could see Mary out of the corner of my eye, her finger swaying and her head bobbing as she told that girl, “Don’t you be talking to my peoples.”

It was then I realized, Mary had been here before, had taken trips, had been helped before.
But on the way home, after we made sure she got on that bus and didn’t sell her ticket, I thought about her sitting there watching my husband with my daughter doing homework. Something had to sink into that heart of hers that night.

In the next few weeks that heat that baked that bumpy gravel parking lot turned cold. I was glad each time I passed it that Mary wasn’t there. A week later, I turned to see her perched there again.

I yelled out the window. “What the heck are you doing Mary!” and kept on going. It hurt me. I found that the toys we had bought, she left at the gas station. Every time I passed I wanted to tell her how disappointed I was.

A week later after the first freeze I got a call. It was Mary being released from the hospital from pneumonia. I had shared my story with many of my friends, perhaps for consolation for myself.

“I can’t get released without someone getting me,” she said. You told me you could help me, she said. I told her I’d have to call her back.

This time I called my husband to say, “We have to do something.”

I called the shelters. They don’t house women. I called some churches, it was the day before Thanksgiving and they were full. I called the police again, they told me, “do NOT put her in the car with your child. We have had some complaints of violent outbursts.”

I thought about my tantrums that might somehow be deemed by my family over the last coke being missing as violent outbursts and felt helpless.

How might I react to people if it was me on the street, for any reason, or any length of time. When might our carnal instincts over ride our self-control?

When I called back to the number she called from I was assured, “There ARE no women here in the waiting room. None.”

I thought about what she said when I told her on the phone, “Mary, you lied to me!”
“I didn’t. They weren’t there. It was all gone, the family, the trailer. I went to Florida!”
She went on to tell me how dangerous it was there and in Atlanta on the streets. She wanted to come “home”.

We didn’t see Mary again until Christmas morning. We were taking our yearly “breakfast at Waffle House” tradition. She was standing at the turn lane waiting to cross.

We rolled down the window. “Merry Christmas Mary!” She jumped. We introduced her to our teenagers who could not believe she really did exist.

I looked at my husband, “NO.” We handed her some money, she covered her face again,which later I came to find was because she has no teeth and said “Merry Christmas” as she began pushing her cart back towards the same gravel parking lot.

On the way home we passed a huge velour sofa on the side of the road.

“Come on now! Lets take it up there and plop it in the parking lot where she sits!” I said.
I imagined Mary’s surprise but thought also about the surprise and dismay of the owner of that empty building she had taken up residence in front of, leaving her trash strewn all in the gutters. Maybe one day, I thought, I will cruise by there and see Mary with her legs propped up on the sofa, eating roast and potatoes. But not today.

If you have comments, suggestions, about this story, contact your local shelters to see how we can help people like Mary make it each day. There is nothing, according to the authorities, we can do to make them seek help. She was released from the hospital after a week of observation and is mentally as stable as the other person walking around. The closest shelter is in Birmingham for women. They have agreed to take her, that is if she will ever go.

I don’t have the answer. I was even feeling better at least everyone would know she has a name if I wrote about her. Come to find out there is MORE to the story.

I soon discovered that a local photographer had also taken to Mary, had gotten an apartment donated for her, clothes, food. She had lived there for a month or so as he worked out sponsors to help. They taught her to make wire crosses that she could sell on the roadside or in a few local businesses. I was confused when I heard a friend talking about it. They referred to her as Cheryl or Chastity but I knew it was Mary. I recently heard she had relocated to a spot under the bridge. She said it was scary in that apartment. It made me realize, no matter WHAT you do to help someone, if they aren’t willing, you are wasting your time. A hard lesson for someone who likes to fix situations. We are all under God’s grace but sometimes life blinds us. We are all just one bad decision away from being on the streets, each and every one of us, no matter how much we acquire. We just have to learn to live life the best we can and share a smile with the Mary’s of the world. One day, maybe God will give them the direction they need to make a change. Until then, all we can do is share ours.

 

SOUTHERN SCRIBBLINGS ~ Adult Coloring = Southern Style


SouthernScribblingsCOVER

 

It’s here! The SOUTHERN version of that relaxing thing you keep reading about and seeing on the news. ADULT COLORING BOOKS! Tested by a business professional in a high stress, computer oriented business who said, “I am actually coloring at night before I go to bed and I haven’t slept like this in years!”

But coloring isn’t just for relaxation. It also connects us with the thing we did most when we were children. We played without thought of time or limitation.

It opens the rusty valves of creativity that still live within us. Check out the book and see if you don’t find yourself looking for more to color!

These are HAND drawn, loose, so there is no intimidation to get it wrong! DIG IN with pencils or markers.

The pages are blank on the back (with ideas for other creative adventures) so you can tear them out when you find the one you want to share or frame.

So what are you waiting for? There is a FREE coloring page for you just in time for

THE KENTUCKY DERBY

and

MOTHER’S DAY

Downloadable to your printer at the website for SOUTHERN SCRIBBLINGS (www.southernscribblings.com)

PRINT ONE for you and your daughter, grand-daughter. And share in the love of coloring.

They will be asking you what took you so long to learn to “chill”. Just sayin’!

Have a BLESSED Weekend!

 

Allison Adams

And this is the first copy of a series so if you have requests or ideas on how to improve the process, I’m in creative mode! Send it to me!

Books2PRISONS Event : Northport


This morning I woke up on a mission to keep the momentum going on a book I have been writing for a long time. It is not finished, but definitely a part of my bucket list!

I didn’t have to go far to get inspired. In Northport at the Civic Center the first ever Book ‘Em Event was getting started. Marlin Barton

The opening speaker, Marlin Barton, from Montgomery Alabama (actually grew up in Forkland, Alabama) was my creative writing teacher at Huntington College. He reminded me today that he started in the program working with kids who are incarcerated at Mt. Meigs in 1997. I think that was about when I was taking his class, aspiring to figure out all there is to know about poetry and creative writing.

Today, almost twenty years later, I am still in awe of the things writers are doing to make a difference in our world.

One of those places is in our prisons. Jeannie Thompson, Director of the Alabama Writers Forum   ( Alabama Writers Forumhttp://books2prisons.wordpress.com/), is the founder of this project after a visit during Christmas to some youth who would spend the holidays behind bars.

The group is on their Seventeenth issue, with Marlin as Director. Open the Door 16 is available at his events for free, a candid look into the hearts and minds of these students who crave books in the libraries as escape and perhaps peace among the clanging solitude they are experiencing behind bars.

He also shared some information on a project they did with the University of Illinois where students there of photography sent photos for Mt. Meigs students to write about. They in turn shared poems that the Illinois students created photography for. The story is HERE.

Marlin read some of the poems written by his students. Mt. Meigs now has nearly 150 boys in their high security prison. His classes allow 30-40 “kids” between the ages of 12-18 to unravel the hurt and remorse they each hold inside and produce something beautiful from a life that for most of them is quite ugly.

Marlin also read from his book, The Cross Garden, fiction based on his seventeen years of experience with these kids. 

 

Rene Denfeld

The event includes authors from across the state as well as Rene Denfeld, author of The Enchanted. Mrs. Denfeld works for clients in Oregon who receive the death penalty in an effort to interview and understand those who affected this person as well as record witnesses to the crimes they have committed. 

“I am blessed by the people telling their stories, although often horrific. It is not my place to judge, but to get a deeper set of truths,” she told the audience, mostly writers.

She talked about publishing, as she has been writing during all of the peaks and valleys of the publishing industry. She began writing in newspaper and for anything she could find before finding an agent. Her work is being used in schools today to teach high school students about writing. Her stories began with interview of kids on the streets, and these days are fiction, based on her work in prisons, as she is bound by confidentiality in her daily life.

The Enchanted is a collaboration of all of the witnesses she has grown to know over the years, as seen through a female character. 

A visitor in the room called this book, “A life changer!”

I look forward to reading my signed copy. 

University of Alabama professor, Joanne J. Terrell MSW, LCSW was there to talk to the audience with Mrs. Denfeld about her work as a death penalty investigator (she is one of the few in this line of work in the Southeast and the only in Alabama to be able to testify). A fascinating look into the world of the mind of a death row inmate, this discussion no doubtably ran over into the lunch break. 

Anyone who has interest in writing in this region should put this event on your calendar if it is held again next year. The talent in the room was inspiring and approachable.

After break T. Michael Hankins shared illustrations and Michelle Lowry Combs, author of Heir to the Lamp was on hand to talk about her book.

A skype interview with author Kirby Howell of Autumn in the City of Angels and Autumn in the City of Lights.

Poets: Irene Latham, Doris Davenport, Georgia Ann Banks-Martin, Jerri Beck

Bill Fitts : Author of The Needed Killing Series

Needed to Be Killed Series

Authors attending:

Rene Denfeld, Marlin Barton, Georgia Ann Banks-Martin, Dean Bonner, Carolyn Breckenridge, John David Briley, Tanya Eavenson, Bill Fitts, Carolyn Haines, Trudier Harris (Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South) , Nancy Dorman-Hickson, Wynora Freeman, Irene Latham, Carroll Dale Short, Earl Tilford (author Turning the Tide- The University of Alabama in the 60’s), Taylor Watson, Veronica Wynn-Pruitt, Kirby Howell, Debbie Herbert and James L. Noles, Jr.

INSIDE THE VAULTTaylor Watson brought Inside the Vault, a collaboration with the
University of Alabama featuring items and information from The Museum at the University where he works.

 

Jeremy Satcher

Jeremy Satcher brought his graphic novel series.

Doris Davenport is hosting an event called 100 Thousand Poets for Change on September 27, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, noon -4pm. If you would like to get involved, (poets, musicians, activists) contact her at ddavenport@stillman.edu 

 

 

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If you live in Tuscaloosa and want to meet other writers while honing your talent and getting inspired:

The Guild of Professional Writers for Children meets on the Second Saturday of each month from 10-12 noon at the Rotary Room at the Tuscaloosa Library.

The Tuscaloosa Christian Writers- Meet on the Last Tuesday of the Month in The Rotary Room at the Library at 6:30 PM.

Creative Life Planning


Creative Life Planning

I have always been a seminar junkie. Even in high school I would read every Zig or Robbins book I could get my hands on. In college I went to classes I wasn’t enrolled in. At Mississippi State where my husband was enrolled, I attended forestry tours, control burns.

I am now addicted to the world of cyber seminars. Every week in my email box, a new adventure somewhere that is going to help me “burst into my creative being” or “make those seventy figures”.

Last week for two weeks straight (I missed two of the ten live sessions) the Right Brain Business Plan created by Jennifer Lee and conducted from her home office took place in “my office”.

I was coached (ok me and about three hundred from Canada to Australia) by nearly a dozen experts who have found their niche in the “webinar world”.  My head was spinning each day as I attempted to apply their logic and creative “quirks”. Each had molded their thumbprints into something they could identify and sell to the world.

I am a creative, but I am also an ENTJ.

A planner, a long range thinker.

I can brainstorm an event like there is no tomorrow down to the color of the napkins, but the step by step? I need a few friends for that. Luckily (as I found as part of the committee for Bark in the Park) There is a way to make right brain thinking work! I threw out ideas…we formed a committee for that! Twelve to fifteen minds each week dreaming and planning then people stepping up to implement! Wow….right brain HEAVEN.

(May 17 is that event in Tuscaloosa, Alabama).

www.facebook.com/tuscaloosabarkinthepark

I even designed a website for the event~ A skill that came about when someone wanted to charge me $3000 to “build me a website”. Ok, mine is not perfect, but it has stretched me and brought me to another level of skills that are NOT worth $3000 in my opinion. At some point, you have to know how to input your writing anyway.

http://allisonadams3.wix.com/barkinthepark

After the two weeks of sessions. If you have any interest in going to the next level with your blogging, writing, artistic licensing, Jennifer Lee can show you the way. Her guest speakers shared great tips and personal stories~

Michael Port with Book Yourself Solid says in energy and zest “Be YOU!”

Nichole Piar of Ghost Kitten Fame inspired with illustrations from paper and home goods, making us all want to go back to stationery.

 Megan Auman, who is a master of Pinterest for artists,

Alicia Forest who offers business entrepreneur coaching says to make our “own million in art”…… “just get it out there”.

Cory Huff with the Abundant Artist talked about Tumblr for serious artists (as if we don’t have enough to figure out how to use- but he knows ART and I can bet if he says “the serious galleries are there”…THEY ARE).

Susan Miller, a southerner, shared her intuitive painting creativity coaching insight.  And those were only a few of the nuggets gathered.

(click their names to get to some of their infinite wisdom~ my head is still swimming as each week I get an email blast).

Kelly Rae Roberts, who has nothing to do with this particular event, I have followed for some time. She was one of the first to license her work. I even saw her printed canvases of her painted girls with side cocked heads and her abstracted birds in my hometown (then) of Birmingham a few years ago. On her blog I found that once she got big and licensed, she freaked. She stepped back from the loss of control of her work. The company owned rights to her work and pushed it out there. She is pushing back, on a smaller scale, doing exactly what it is she started out doing when she was “small” and “herself”.

Some are destined to make millions with their ideas, some are just plugging away at being creative in their own way.

Yesterday I watched a woman on the front of the library steps.  Her long brown hair was almost mushroomed on top of her head in a criss cross of pins. Beside her was a small black girl. As I brisked past them I heard her say, “113…is that even or odd?” The child looked down at the ground. “What about 115?”  Then I heard her say, lets just sing…..”11, 12, 13, 14″ and the little girl smiled, never answering the tough questions. Her creativity will probably have that girl doing calculus. I took a picture of them in my rear view mirror. That is how much the woman’s creative spirit affected me.

allisonpadams.com

I know people who are brilliant, who don’t use that gift. I know people who are not so bright and just whip through the world owning it.

I think at the end of the day, no matter what we know, it is all about how we use it.

So like Kelly Rae Roberts, I am just gonna back up and start with the small stuff, like scheduling my day, week, month and penciling in what I want my happYmess creative life to look like for the next….uh I guess thirty years?  (I turn 48 next weekend).

Sorta puts some pressure on the “planning part” as I always thought I was younger than I am. (mom calls it immature~ I call it denial).

So I share with you a great site I found called Productive Flourishing. Each month they create FREE planners to get you organized for ANY task.

For now…lets just start with the basics.

CLICK THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE TO UNCOVER YOUR ORGANIZING CHECKLISTS~ NUGGETS OF GOLD.

Off to my seventh Real Estate CEU this term. Gotta love a Real Estate Group (Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors) who offers so many quality seminars that we all get about 20 hours for FUN when we only require 12 hours every two years!

Blessings~ BE YOU!

Allison

 

 

Lake Living


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I am an Alabama nomad. I have made it full circle from the edges of Mississippi in West Alabama until college here in Tuscaloosa with Crimson running through my veins, to Montgomery while my children were babies, the Gulf Coast on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico for four years, to the mountains of the “Tiny Kingdom” for ten years and now, have landed back near my roots on the shores of Lake Tuscaloosa.

I never imagined this is where I would be, but when I look back in notes from journals I see that it was probably in the plan all along, at least the lake part. We had a house on Lake Martin, but being from the “peaceful woodlands of Livingston”, that seemed like the other side of the world when I had to make the tromp back home to see about things going on here.

To my surprise and amazement, I discovered the lake we had gone in search of so many times in college to find “the Cliffs” (by car, which I still have not defined as of yet). I never had a clue how vast and beautiful Lake Tuscaloosa really is.

After moving here as a writer, I followed my love to discover also, a great little startup paper guided by two incredible talents who agreed to give me a chance to submit some writing. After meeting the Publisher, it was clear, I was gonna be a part of this organization however I could.

That was a little over a month ago and after some photo shoots, articles, ad sales and ride alongs with the sales people just to watch these creative entrepreneurs work, I have been pulling for the little paper that could and although behind the curve on their publish dates, is taking Tuscaloosa by storm, one mailbox at a time.

“What is your title?” one of them asked me after I wrote one across the pages of my goals for the year.

“Head Cheerleader!” is what I am wanting to shout.

I can’t WAIT to see what Druid City Living (the paper) and Druid City Media (internet media, website development, branding) do NEXT week.

EVERY week I am amazed at the additions to the mix. I am soaking in new platforms we are using to stay on top of ads being created (currently using a fun app called Trello ) and before that I learned Highrise for the sales people to monitor contacts and appointments and admin could follow along with notations at every turn.

My daughter walked by last night and said, “Mom, get off the computer.”

“I’m working,” I told her as I was updating a post on the company Facebook page. 

“THAT is your work?”

She had witnessed my addiction to my own Facebook page. “They could not have picked something better made for you in the whole world,” she said.

Ah, the wisdom of the eight year old.

And I have to agree. I love computers, I love reaching out to other people, sifting for gold on the internet of ideas, paintings, books, inspiration.  My home office is no different, with great hard bound books that date back to college years, bulletin boards with inspiring ideas and quotes.

I can’t wait to see what 2014 has to bring to my creativity, the little community newspaper that I have come to love (despite the hick-ups getting rolling), the Social Media platform of Facebook, Twitter, Google and the revamping of my webpage.

Watch for my column on Lake Living in Druid City Living. And feel free to send me a pic of your past memories there and the ones you are creating now. I’d love to share them.

Blessings!

Allison