The Laundromat

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I chose not to have a washer and dryer at Brookside Apartments on Metropolitan Avenue in Atlanta, because I love the laundromat. The laundromat is a slow, soothing, peaceful, city space of mine to unwind. Even though the long row of pin-ball machines I played as a child were absent, I knew I could still have fun by meeting and becoming familiar with more women and children at the local Bustin’ Suds Laundromat across the street.

The task at hand was rather difficult. For one, I know I should not carry anything heavier than a couple small books in my backpack. The load of heavy clothe baskets are not good on my small frame, and somehow, hand held objects distract my walking balance and coordination. While working as a nurse in the hospital setting, I flagged patient charts with bright orange stickers, “HIGH FALLS RISK,” if my initial nursing assessment warranted a disaster. I have stamped one of those orange stickers on my forehead, one suspended around my neck, and one on my toe tag I stuck between my teeth for good measure:

Patient Name: Stacy Renee Sweeney
Time of Death: undetermined
Organ Donor: why not?
Cause of Death: she fell from grace, into a tumbler, and dried

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Another shirt hanger for me is heat. When the mercury rises, so do my exhaustion and frustration levels. The laundromat is a hot place. Disaster first struck with my cash loaded laundromat card. The friction between me and the laundry lady all started with my goose down sleeping bag, because I could not properly insert my card into the washing machine. I never wanted her help, but instead, I tried to insert the card different ways in other machines like an obstacle course, slapping the impossible ones, saying, “good grief,” under my breath. The laundry lady rolled her eyes at me, and swiped my laundry card right out of my hand, never explaining her directions or what she was going to do with my card. She looked at me wide eyed and asked, “You don’t trust me?” I tilted my head, exposed my palms face up and said, “Okay, I trust you,” and I bit my lip. All the laundromat ladies laughed. “I know your problem. Your Bustin’ Suds Card no longer work. You buy new, Easy Card,” she motioned. “I’m not buying another card from you. You should give me the new card in exchange for my old card.” I stated. “No, no.” her stubborn, straight face said. “You buy new, Easy Card,” was her final answer.

“That’s the stupidest answer I have ever heard. Where did you come from? Who let you in my country?” I threw my invalid, Bustin’ Suds Card at her. She threatened, “I call police.” I emptied my pockets full of coins, and slid them across the floor in my best windmill, fast pitch ever and said, “Call them, you freak!” I was hot that day. When things don’t go my way, I quit.

Laughing in astonishment, my excitable Caiden asked, “Why did you throw our card at that lady? You could have given me all those coins.” My level headed Keller piped in, “You should have paid 0.99¢ for the easier card. You’ll have to go back and apologize.” I yelled at God, “Yes, but not today.”

Sometimes, I, the customer, am wrong.

Dear Feisty Korean Lady,
I am really, really sorry for attacking you. You are a good woman. I attacked who you are as a person. I yelled at you in your place of business. I disrespected you in front of your loyal customers. Will you please forgive me? Will you please give me a second chance to be your customer? Please check one box:
[yes] or [maybe]
Sincerely,
Stacy

She checked the “Yes” box and said, “My name is, Corine.” She handed me the new,  Easy Laundry Card. “Have you ever washed a super hero’s outfit?” I asked her. I thought this would be a great conversation piece. “I want to own your laundromat,” I told her. I asked if she would sell me her business. Her expression was priceless. “Its hard work. You not want this,” she warned. There was laughter again coming from the female peanut gallery. “Do you know how much one of these costs?” Her short stature caught me at my nose. “Two thousand,” I said. “Huh! Try $12,000 for one commercial, speed queen washer,” she counter offered. “Okay. I counted fourteen front load washers, six top load washers, and 54 dryers. I want it. How much money will you accept for all of it?” I asked. “Its not for sale.” We hear laughter again, coming from a row of ladies seated in orange chairs along the wall, washing clothes and watching their favorite afternoon soap opera.

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Corine assured me that it was hard work. She worked for a laundromat on Cleveland Avenue one block southbound for nine years. “I sorted dirty clothes, washed and dried them, folded clean clothes and placed them in a laundry bag. You also need to clean the dryer vents twice a day. Then there’s equipment breakdowns, crazy people like you disrupting peace on private property, and being robbed.” she finally ended. I asked “Well, why do you do what you do?” She said, “To support my family. We’ve never been on government support. Never. If you want money, you have to earn it.” Son Lee, her uncle, had lived here alone for 60 yrs before she moved to the states to live with him.

“People don’t like to share,” a lady sorting her grand children’s clothes said, “and nobody gives nobody nothing, not even an Easy Card.” She looked lonely and seemed discouraged. I can read body language, you know. She had 3L of oxygen flowing up her nose. She had Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) where fluids back up in the cardio-pulmonary system like a washing machine fills with water.

“Why do you think your heart’s failing?” I asked her. “Because I took care of everybody but me.” she said for certain, pushing a rolling basket full of dirty clothes to the washing machine. She asked what I did. I told her I was a registered nurse.

Tonisha, a 25yr old woman, pulled her shirt up above her 6 month pregnant mass, and asked me to feel for her fourth baby.”Feel for your baby? Oh, I feel for you, baby!” I giggle. “You’re going to be spinning around and around crazy when this baby comes.” I continue out loud with my Leopold maneuvers, “Smooth, long back. Rounded head. Bumpy feet and arms. He has happy feet, and he’s making his way to the special wash cycle, head first.” She smiles very pleased, and puts her ear buds back in her ears, jazzing to the silent beats only she can hear. She lingers over a folding table to rest her body near the warm dryers, as I clean, maintain, protect, and iron out the fabric of our colored garments, which only make up the outer, visible pieces of our wardrobe.

Bull Fighters

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John Singer Sargent

I watched Chris DiDomizio and ten other artists paint this Sargent in the studio on Tuesday. The demo was a lot harder than it looks, but I believe I can paint this one in. I am a little scared, because I was chased by a bull once while moving a herd of cattle to another field. Luckily, I threw my red bandanna off, and threw an empty watering trough over myself. That was my passage into woman hood. Cattle are my favorite animals to play with!

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower

€£F Driver

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Children’s Art Class, DiDomizio Art Center

I took a crash course in WordPress not too long ago, just to write one story, “A New Christmas Story.” Because I count, I recognized that I was writing more and more, so I made a goal to average 1 blog a week for 52 weeks with another artistic goal of painting 5 landscapes this year. Writing has taken me to blog entry # 46 this week, and it looks like I’ll be right on time with blog entry # 47, and landscape # 5 for next week. Either way, with only six weeks left of 2015, I am happily surprised, and as the end of the year rolls around, I have this artist page to look back and laugh at myself. With all that hard work said, Santa says, “It’s time to make toys for next year!” He’s an elf driver.

Memphis

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It’s hard to take it all in on one pass. The racial tension in Memphis is heavy. Downtown security cameras and police boxes are strapped on almost every block. Dozens of Memphian police officers are also trying out stun guns for the first time on disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Back in April of this year, three Virginia police officers repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly used stun guns on a slightly different man brought to the hospital for a mental health evaluation, who later died in their custody. Now I know why Memphis is the birthplace of the blues, where our sad stories are front and center at B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street, Memphis. Could it be that our cultural narrative scenarios are one of our loudest foes? When will we stop breaking our spirit with harmful thoughts?

This morning, I went down to the hotel lobby to get a luggage, loading cart. I pushed it up to the fourth floor, but I couldn’t remember my room number or what floor I came from. I started pounding on doors. Doors on each side of the hallway. Doors leading in both directions. Doors on the ceiling. Doors on every floor. With each unanswered knock, I could feel the tension explode in my core. Sometimes, my unconscious tapes of being lost, being left behind, and being locked out play on my emotional, surround sound system over, and over, and over, and my situation doesn’t click until my feelings pass.

I was breathless. I was having an axiety attack. I needed a mental health evaluation and a back to back, stun gun sedative for acting irrationally. “We’re looking at your situation logically,” the polices officers say, “you’re not human.” Zap }}} zap }}} zap }}}.

“Are you lost?” my two, good Samaritan, housekeeping ladies asked me, who just witnessed my over reaction display in the hallway. “Yes! I’m having a bad day. Just ignore me.” The ladies both answered, “We just met a competent, white girl freak out over a lost room.” They freaked out with me. They laughed with me. They cried with me. They accompanied me through the halls. They helped me see my blind spot, and they unlocked doors for me I couldn’t do alone.

The Art Guild

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How gladly surprised I was to see my first hanging, “Abide with Me,” at Avalon today. The Alpha Arts Guild exhibit will be showing through January 15, 2016, at Avalon. It’s not cheap stuff; it’s selling for $250! Twenty percent of the sell is reserved for and benefited towards “Art with a Mission,” and soon, orphanages will fill the reservation with education.

Mixed feelings about my secured, climate controlled painting and the marginalized have not slipped my mind. This is what I learned about Avalon today. Avalon is an 86 acre, mixed use development in Alpharetta, GA. The owner of Avalon promises “resort-level hospitality,” and “an experience in the timeless art of living well.” Avalon is projected to generate approximately $21 million annually in sales tax revenue, and $4.5 million annually in new property taxes.

Avalon is also Georgia’s first Gigabit community, a futureproof fiberhood with internet connection speeds 100x faster than what’s currently available. And finally, during the holiday season, the Plaza at Avalon turns into an ice-skating rink the size of Rockefeller Center.

Ice skating was considered proper for all classes of people, as sometimes shown skating during the night by torchlights in many paintings by the Old Masters. The earliest ice skating happened in southern Finland more than 3,000 years ago. My hope is that my nice framed painting, “Abide with Me,” will move on the ice like a first century sleigh ride.
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• SH€’s the QU€€N of SH€BA •

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WELCOME and happy Sabbath. Today, we will hear a story from the Bible. Take a moment to clear your mind, to listen imaginatively, and to let yourself enter into and experience the story. I must admit, the more stories I tell, the luckier I get. Sometimes, stories work when I don’t work it. That’s called grace. I’ve needed more grace in my life than the bad stories I’ve turned around.

CAFE QUESTIONS: When did you need to see someone or something to believe? What single issue would you want to gain the greatest wisdom? You have been assigned to write a message in a bottle to a sea pirate. What would your message say? How far would you go to deliver your message? Where do you spend your money? How many people do you invite into your home in one month? What is driving you to do anything that you do?

HYMNS & WORSHIP: Those hymns, “Be Thou My Vision,” “What Wondrous Love,” & “Morning Trumpet.” That song, “like an avalanche.”

PSALMS: “Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem for the king, for my pen is like the pen of a skillful poet. You are the most handsome of all. Gracious words stream from your lips. God himself has blessed you forever. Put on your sword, O mighty warrior! You are so glorious, so majestic. In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds! Your arrows are sharp. piercing your enemies’ hearts. The nations fall beneath your feet. Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than anyone else. Myrrh, aloes, and cassia perfume your robes. In ivory palaces the music of strings entertains you. Kings’ daughters are among your noble women. At your right side stands the queen, wearing jewelry of finest gold from Ophir! (Psalms 45:1-9, NLT.)

PAINTING: Project above image on the wall, “€L JAL€0”, by John Singer Sargent, 1882.

SCRIPTURE: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life. (Revelation 22:16, 17, NLT.)

BACKGROUND:
King Solomon had dominion over all the region on this side of the river. Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea, and they dwelt safely, having peace on all sides around them. Solomon had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots and 12,000 horsemen. God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. He was wiser than all men, and his fame was in all nations round about. He had authority to welcome or deny visitors.

Solomon built the house of Yahweh and Solomon’s palace. And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard while it was in building. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord into its’ place, into the oracle of the house to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubim. And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord and spoke, “The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness, that thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward this place of which thou has said, ‘My name shall be there.'” At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed for strangers to come out of far countries and that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is none else (I Kings 1-9, NLT.)

This is where today’s story begins. NARRATE, I Kings 10:1-13, NLT, twice.

Let us spend some time to WONDER and DIALOGUE about this story, and bring any questions or observations we have to the table, including any historical elements, cultural customs, symbolic objects, or key word references, by using the Bible to interpret the Bible. Questions may not necessarily be answered, but will be voiced and will raise interest. For example: Exactly how did the queen hear about King Solomon? Did the queen feel she needed to pay for the gospel? Did she spend her money on things that were satisfying? Did the king bow before the queen? Did the king love the queen? Note: True prosperity is a gift of God. The dominant word that seems to encompass the broadest meaning of the term is shalom, or flourishing well-being in all dimensions. NOTE: presented here is a brief dimensional bible study of the sanctuary and how it is read flat (build me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them); how it relates to us (we are a living temple); how it relates to the church (we are living stones); how it relates to Jesus (the chief cornerstone); and how it relates to heaven (there is a heavenly sanctuary). There is also a sanctuary service and the burnt offering that may be helpful for this story

Let us get into the CHARACTERS of the story. What do we know about the Queen of Sheba? The queen traveled over a 1,000 miles for a visit with the king! What was she thinking? What heart questions might she have asked? How would it feel to eat at the king’s table and stay at the king’s palace? How would it feel to have a one on one visit with the king? What was her heart response to the sanctuary and it’s service? What do we know about King Solomon? Just about everything.

What did we learn about GOD in this story? God meets us where we are. God equips us and gives us all we need. Courts maintain the law, but God maintains justice. God is a free gift. God awakens us every morning. God endures forever and ever.

What aspects of this story or character, foreshadow the GOOD NEWS, especially in relation to what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross and through his resurrection. Look for negative things being lifted and positive things being given. Then merge the two ideas into one thought when possible.
• A greater than Solomon is here (Luke 11:31), casting new visions like The Sermon on the Mount.
• The King commanded, and they brought great stones, costly stones, hewed stones to lay the foundation of the house. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
• The queen’s visit with Solomon is compared to a metaphorical marriage of the church to Christ where Solomon is the anointed one and Sheba represents a Gentile population submitting to the messiah.

Our goal is to seriously apply this story to our life. Our challenge is to write a prayer, a poem, a song, a short story, or create something that EXPRESSes our response and share.

DRAWING:
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“El Jaleo” after John Singer Sargent; graphite on 18 x 12, Strathmore, 400 series drawing paper, 2013.

SHORT STORY: in progress