Back of Book Scripts #11

A List of Scripts, of the Inspiring Sort.

Song of Harlem, happy Friday!

We greet the coming new moon today with our Aquarius friends & fam, we love you!! And Happy Lunar New Year, to all celebrating!

We're going to jump right in to today's letter - wishing each of you well this new month of February. Join us on the 25th of this month if you can. The link to register is here.


The apartment has become track central!!

issa the hazeltons ♡

I remember coming home one day, this to our home on Saint Nicholas Ave in Central Harlem and finding a woman, Ms. Gail, sitting crosslegged like on the daybed that had been in my family for a good minute. (who dat?) At least I think she was sitting on that daybed and not the orange sofa we had for a minute as well.

Most folks found that daybed incredibly comfortable. Mommy slept on it, that is, that was her bed for years. (I always loved the nights we decided to make pallets of blankets and quilts and sleep in the living room of our apartment. We were the kind of kids you might have seen of the cover of the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Knitted caps, thick plaits, sweaters, scarfs and all - life was a big bundle up against the elements.)

I think what struck me after noticing Ms. Gail was the feeling and stark reality of our ordered apartment. Our house was clean, or cleaner for sure, which was a bit of a rare occurrence in a family of seven, eight, when counting my niece, nine or ten when counting any relatives or family friends staying with us. Later, when speaking with my mother, she gushed with joy at having found Ms. Gail. Now don't get me wrong, we all had tasks to do in the house - if it was washing dishes, vacuuming the rugs, cleaning our rooms, but our attempts were always bested by Ms. Gail's talent for ordering chaos.

Today, on the train, listening to Brandy's 1998 album Never Say Never - these memories come back to me. Why? Well, for either a birthday or some reason or whim Ms. Gail gave a cassette of this record to my twin sister and I. It was probably the first gift of music I had ever received (leave it to a black woman). I might have had a walkman or found one, and I listened to the cassette over and over.

In '98 I would have been heading to high school, leaving Manhattan East, full of crushes on curly haired tap dancers and boys with long braids (seen). I think Brandy's voice, the songs she sang, gave me the reason to belt out desire in a way I would never really do in person. We were definitely a musical household, btw. Between my older sister's love of Tracy Chapman (Fast Car, yo), my oldest brother playing Leaders of the New School (What's the Scenario, tho), and we, of course, could not get away from Bone Thugs in Harmony (If I Could Teach the World, we in the building). But I guess, Never Say Never became something of my own anthem.

It was not until later in life that I realized (or, was adamantly told) that Brandy's version was many times a cover for the work of other singers and musicians. However, I am so happily used to Brandy's version and I still like it much better.

I believe my mom met Ms. Gail through one of her patients. She had a family of five or six children, one of which went on to attend our Montessori.

I do not think that Ms. Gail was smoking that day when we first met but she could have been. She was a smoker. You could hear it in her slightly gravely voice and you could smell a little smoke on her at all times. I've come to like the smell of smoke more than I thought I would. It's a memory keeper, smoke, reminding me of also of my Aunt Pat. To be honest, many of my mom's generation were smokers. Mom, too, for a time. And I guess I will leave that right there.

cue: Put That on Everything

Be with you soon,


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Jamie Larson