Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Over

It was good while it lasted, but the lovely and exciting 2008 is over. I've had some good times, I've had some bad times and I've had some downright mediocre times. But either way, I'm glad ya'll were with me as I've documented my ride on this thing called life.

Like I've done in past year-end posts, I'm going to lists a few things that have made me happy this year. In no particular order, here they are:

MOVIES: "Slumdog Millionaire" is the best movie I saw all year. Actually, I can't remember the last time I've been on such an emotional roller coaster in a movie theater. I laughed, I cried and sometimes I just said "awwww". EXCELLENT flick. I'm sure there are other movies that I really enjoyed, but I can't think of 'em right now.

TV SHOWS: There are so many I can mention here that it ain't even funny. Ya'll know I'm obsessed. In the past, I've neglected to mention how great the show 'Dexter' is. In short, it's about a serial killer who only murders people who deserve it. I've also become a fan of .... *cough, cough* ... 'Gossip Girl. I like how they use this unnamed narrator to tell the life stories of these rich kids. I also like that they play around a bit with the Madonna/Whore stereotype. There's Blair Waldorf, who can be so evil and conniving that she reduces her freshman followers to tears. She's also a virgin. There's her former best friend Serena, who sunny, bubbly and innocent. But Serena's past shows that she had quite the reputation. The series starts off with the two hating each other and pitting other students against each other. This is only a BRIEF summary of season one. I haven't started watching season 2 yet, so nobody ruin it for me! Last but not least, I need to mention 'True Blood', which is all about a telepath female (Sookie Stackhouse) and her relationship with a vampire. The show is based on a series of books revolving around Sookie. (Yes, I'm also reading the books. Yes, I love the books as well!) I've also discovered 'Mad Men' (Don Draper is hawt) and 'Weeds', to add more dysfunction to my life. I'm also watching some old tv shows on DVD -- shows like "Gilmore Girls" and "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer." (Yes, I see a vampire theme here)

BOOKS: Between going to school and reading for pleasure, I've consumed ALOT of books this past year. Aside from the Sookie books (I'm only on book 2), there are a few standouts like The Brief & Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Sula, Not Without Laughter, Acacia, and Perks of Being A Wallflower, to name a few. This was also the year I gave in to suggestions from my coworkers and started reading graphic novels, but I'll expand on that in later posts. The series I enjoyed most was Y: The Last Man (soon to be a movie starring Shia LaBeouf) and Ex Machina, which isn't finished publishing yet. The best stand alone comic book/graphic novel (I'm still struggling with the terminology) I read this year was 'Blankets'. Yes, I'm a geek. No, I don't care.

MUSIC: Hate it if you want to, but I love Kanye West's '808s & Heartbreak.' Yes, he's pseudo singing and that's what some folks consider blasphemy for a rapper, but whatever, I enjoy it. It's clear through the songs that he is tore up and depressed over a lost relationship. I mean, the chorus of his song with Lil Wayne ('See You in my Nightmares') is literally "I'm telling everyone I know/that I don't love you no more." Dang. But as I've said before, pain makes the best music. Kanye, I remain a fan.

HOBBIES: I'm still taking guitar lessons and they're going pretty well. I'm a much better swimmer than I was before, thanks to those swim classes I took before. However, I'm thinking about taking some more swim lessons sometime soon. Practice makes perfect, right? But I also want to learn belly dancing and I've seen a few classes that are right up my alley. Hmmm. We'll see.

RANDOM MENTIONS: In a few days, I'll be finished draft 6 of my novel. That means it'll be time to start doing an agent hunt and finding out how people really feel about my writing. It'll be an eye-opening experience, but I'm up for the challenge. I got an A in my literature class this semester. I'm finally done my academic coursework, but I still need to write my thesis (still revising it for approval) and take a test before they hand me my degree. I can't wait!! And in case you haven't heard, BARACK OBAMA IS PRESIDENT!!!! I'm giddy all over again! *CHEESE*

Well, that's all I can think of for the time being folks. I hope everyone has a safe, healthy and prosperous 2009!

Photo from

Monday, December 29, 2008

This Crept Up On Me....

but now I can't let it go. I've started watching VH1 videos in the morning and they tend to play the same videos every day. The first time I saw this video, I thought it was weird and utterly depressing. I still feel the same way, but I have greater appreaciation for it now. Maybe it's because I've learned more of what the song is about. But I didn't know that some interpretations of the term 'chasing pavements' caused it to be banned in several countries! Dang, is Urban Dictionary that powerful?

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this song by Adele. It can be found here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back In The Day ...

Ok, I can't help it. My last Soul Train video has me obsessed. Man, I used to love Soul Train! Well, love it probably isn't the right word. As a little girl, I'd stand there and watch the television in awe, surprised that someone's mama would let them out the house in such outrageous outfits. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say my favorite part was the Soul Train line, which was reenacted at practically every wedding I've ever gone to. Of course, the Electric Slide eventually replaced that.

There were always a few common dancers on Soul Train. The most recognizable was probably Cheryl Wong, commonly referred to as "that Chinese girl on Soul Train." Those were the days. Anywho, check out this back in the day vid, particularly the Jheri Curl wearing dude in the blue sweatsuit, and the alleged Obama lookalike at 3:25. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"She said her name was Donnie but her shirt said Marie'

Sometimes, a random song lyric will pop into my head and get stuck there. Well, for about a week I had this old song in my head. Whenever I started the lyric, no one could help me out as to where it came from. I eventually remembered that it was an obscure track on an old Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince album. (For the youngsters: Fresh Prince and Will Smith are the same person)

Anyway, this is a song that was never released on the radio, just on the album. It's a pretty ridiculous song, but it makes me laugh, which was its goal. And of course, I know all the words.

So here is your Obscure Old School Moment of the day:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Let It Whip

There's nothing wrong with an old school moment every now and again. So I'm going to hit you with some OOOOOOOOOOOOLD old school! There's a reason as to why this song has been in my head lately. Perhaps I'll get to that in another post. But for now, check out this video:

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and safe holiday. Mine is off to a good start. I can't wait for a yummy dinner. And I also got two gifts that I'm excited about -- a Garmin and some Archie memorabilia.

Strangely enough, I'm having more fun with the latter gift. I've mentioned before how Archie has a special place in my heart. Again, Merry Christmas!

Photo from

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Close. But Not Close Enough.

So, I know I said before that I was going to post everyday for the month of December. I was doing well, churning out blog posts left and right. In many cases, I stated posts and returned to them days later, which saved me dozens of time in the past.

But recently, I made a fatal error. I forgot to track back on one day, friggin Dec. 30th. ARGH! So that means, I'll have 30 posts for the month of December, instead of 31, which was my goal. Crap! Ah well. I'll finish these last few posts with meaningless dribble. I'll try this Post A Day challenge again in February, which is the shortest month of the year. HOORAY!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Free Falling

In case you haven't noticed, I'm trying to do a new blog post a day for the month of December .... I saw a website that was rewarding people for doing this ... I should have picked a shorter month like February... It is really easier said than done to come up with 31 things to write about ... It's especially harder when you're like me and you track back ... Basically, I start posts and then return to them in the future ... For example, in the real world, it is Dec. 30, but this post says Dec. 23... At least I think that's what the date is ... So I'm torn between writing about current stuff or writing about 'future' stuff .. * Shrug * .... I'd made plans to go to a New Year's Eve party, but I'm not sure I feel like going ... In fact, I KNOW I don't feel like going ... The bash is in a place where parking is SCARCE ... And I really don't want ot fight the hordes .... I need to go to the movies.... I just saw 'Seven Pounds', which is a quick and easy way to fall into a depression ... I didn't enjoy the flick, but I'm sure there are plenty who did ... Have I ever mentioned how much I love 'Family Guy'? ... It's hilarious... 'Adult Swim' is the main reason why I can never get to bed early ... At 11 and 11:30, they play 'Family Guy' .. Then at midnight, they play 'Moral Orel', which is another crazy show ... But I like it ... Ok, time to go ... Off to watch 'Family Guy'

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Not Christmas Dinner

For several years, a relative of mine has held what I refer to as the ‘Not Christmas Dinner’. It started out as a family brunch, which was always held the Saturday before Christmas day. Relative coordinated the brunch because she felt she couldn’t handle preparing a dinner. I can totally understand that.

But as the years passed, the time for the brunch got later and later, until it became dinner. Yet Relative refuses to call it dinner, despite the yummy offerings of sweet potatoes, stuffing, string beans and desserts. A dinner is something that is held at one big table. And because Relative doesn’t have a table large enough to accommodate everyone, we tend to scatter about the house with our plates. Foolishly, I once suggested that Relative should simply make this the Christmas Dinner, but I was shut down with just a look. Well, excuuuuuse me.

No matter how odd this family tradition is, I tend to enjoy it. Where else can I go to see my cousin Chanelle show off her new breast implants? Or watch the old ladies try to teach my rhythmless relative‘The Bump’, cause you know, it is the latest dance craze. The party ain’t over until Cousin Sputnik’s eyes are red, Aunt M curses someone out and Uncle R sneaks away from his wife to call his girlfriend. Good times.

Things were weird this year because one of my aunts recently announced she’s in the process of leaving her husband. This isn’t surprising, since marriages tend to be over in the blink of an eye in my family. In fact, a family gathering isn’t complete until someone starts complaining about one of their exes. But this aunt is someone who is above the drama. She never has a bad thing about anyone, even at times when she should. She and hubby have been together as long as I’ve been alive, so I’m truly surprised. It was also surprising to watch her join in on the ‘worthless ex’ conversations. So sad.

Anyway, the food was good and so was the conversation. I have a ton of leftovers that will last me until … well, Christmas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Appreciation: Musiq ('So Beautiful')

Have I ever mentioned that I heart Musiq? Well I do. I love Musiq's music (hahahaha! i couldn't resist saying that!) and his overall vibe. If I could summarize my type of guy into one person, it would be him. He's got that quirk factor that is oh so special to me. Anywho, check out one of my favorite songs by him on his new album.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Insomnia Diaries #2 (aka First & Second Grade)

(Blogger's note: Whenever I can't sleep, I try to identify all of my teachers from kindergarten on up. This has led to a series of memories, like the one listed here):

I spent the first three days of my life in private school. My first teacher's name was not Ms. Mack, so that's what I'll call her. I had her for both first and second grade, which were taught in the same room. Unlike Ms. S. , there were no leg massages in this class and she didn't flirt with my father. She wasn't as hard as me as my kindergarten teacher, but Ms. Mack took me aside on several occasions to say, "Principal H. and I think the world of you. You're our favorite student." I'm sure that was the same level of bull they were feeding to all the other kids, but I believe it. And now, I also believe she and Principal H. were having an affair, but that's another story.

Ms. Mack taught me at a time when anything, I mean ANYTHING, came out of my mouth. Madonna's song "Like A Virgin" came out while she was my teacher. I once asked a relative what a virgin was and I was told that a virgin was someone who didn't have any kids. So I sat around and thought of all the people who didn't have children and put them in the virgin category. Ms. Mack did not have any kids, so I asked her if she was a virgin. She turned bright red, then quickly changed the subject. Ms. Mack also liked to share her personal life with us kids, constantly mentioning her boyfriend, Fred. I asked her if she loved Fred and again, she turned bright red.

I credit Ms. Mack for being the teacher that gave me real insight on that peculiar species that is the male. My best friend at the time was a boy named Danny. But once, I got mad at him because he decided to sit next to another girl during while we watched 'Sesame Street' or some other kid show. I got so mad at them that Ms. Mack had to take me out in the hallway. When I told her what was wrong, she said "So what?" She proceeded to tell me that if Danny didn't want to sit next to me, then it was he who was losing in the end. Somehow, this made me feel better.

Ms. Mack moved to her hometown of Nebraska the following year, and we were all upset. She took all of our addresses and she was my first pen pal for awhile. She took the writing thing very seriously, because whenever I missed sending her a letter, she'd call my house and ask why I hadn't been in touch. I moved several times since then and I lost several things, including her address and old letters. Looking back, she was probably one of my favorite teachers, if not the favorite.

(Photo from

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Talk To Myself

New Year's Eve is coming up, but I started planning for 2009 a few months ago. Maybe planning isn't the right word, but I wrote a list of things I wanted to accomplish by the end of 2008. I typed this list up, then emailed it to myself and put it in a folder called "notes to myself." The plan was not to open this message until the end of the year.

I remember a few of the things I wrote on the note, but not everything. It was basically a guide to accomplishing a few things in my personal and professional life. On the personal end, I listed all the reasons why I needed to eliminate a certain someone from my life. Mission accomplished. On the professional end, I wrote that I needed to put some fire under my arse to find a new job and to send those resumes out. Well, I've been slacking in that area. I also wanted to make some more moves toward homeownership. Another shaky area. I wanted to finish the latest draft of my novel, which was another mission accomplished.

So, by the time 2009 rolls around, I'll have to pick up on the list I left off. It is definitely time to find a new job. I've sent out resumes here and there, but I need to be more aggressive on this. Financially, my company is suffering and we're all fearing layoffs. But that isn't the only reason why I need to make a move. I enjoy my job, but I feel like I should be doing something I love. There are people in this world who can't wait to get to work every morning and I envy them. In a perfect world, I'd be able to support myself through my fiction writing. However, I should be careful what I wish for, since that seems like a very solitary and lonely life.

I am looking forward to 2009, though. It's not that 2008 was bad, I would just like to put some things behind me and start fresh. On to the new year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


A few months ago, I made what I thought was a good decision at the time. I started going to church with my parents.

I'd been looking for a church home off and on for a few months, but Mom and stepdad were happy with the church they'd been attending. I visited once or twice and I wasn't thoroughly impressed. The overall message of the sermon was good, but I was annoyed that the church bulletin also featured a little fill-in-the-blanks section so everyone could follow the sermon. Perhaps I'm a bit anal, but that made me feel like I was a kid in Sunday School again. I take good notes, so I don't need anyone telling me which parts I should write down. But I digress.

One Sunday, I surprised the parentals by joining them for the 8 a.m. service. We went to breakfast afterward and a good time was had by all. I even got used to the sermon cheat sheets and waking up early in the morning.

But it wasn't long before I fell into my old pattern of sleeping in on Sundays. Of course, I'd get a phone call asking me why I hadn't been in church and if they'd see me the following week. I made no promises, since I was going for the gold medal in the Sleep Olympics. Soon, they'd stop asking me about church specifically and mention how they never see me. I'd make plans to visit, and they'd opt to trade that in for church instead. I joined them for church service on Thanksgiving, so that should pacify them for awhile.

Anyway, I'm back on the hunt to finding my own church. The parental church police is NOT cool.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Becoming Aunt Pam

Back in the day when I learned to read, I never had a shortage of books. My Mom made the mistake of telling Aunt Pam (who is not my 'real' aunt, but a close friend of the family) that I loved to read. So, Aunt Pam made it a point to fill my bookshelves with classic books whenever there was a special occasion. From second grade on, I was getting classic, hardback editions of books like "Little Women," "Pride & Prejudice," "Jane Eyre", "Black Beauty", "Gulliver's Travels" and many more. Each book was special because they all had a personal inscription from Aunt Pam. "Jane Eyre" was dated Christmas '89 with the note: "Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year with more adventures in reading. Enjoy! Love, Aunt Pam."

I was overwhelmed initially, since each book was at least 200 pages long. I'd usually flip through the pictures first and then decide if I was going to read the book. "Black Beauty" and "Little Women" being the first books I read from that collection and I loved them both. In fact, those are probably the only ones I read beginning to end. I struggled to get through "Gulliver's Travels" many times and I think that is probably the first book I disliked. And I don't care what anyone says about Jane Austen, I just can't get into her. (I can watch the movies, just can't read the books)

As I did my Christmas shopping this year, I realized a bit of Aunt Pam had crept into me. There are two little boys in my life -- my younger cousins -- who we all dote on during the holidays and birthdays. They're getting older (ages 15 and 12), so they mostly get money and gift cards as presents. But I always make it a point to give them a book with whatever else I may give them. I will say that it is extremely difficult trying to find contemporary books targeted to a young male audience, particularly young black males. Last year, I got one of them a Walter Dean Myers book and this year, I got them both books by Carl Deuker. Each of Deuker's books deals with a sports theme, so I think I'll stick with him for awhile. The boys don't really like to read, so I hope this will break them out of that.

I've lost touch with Aunt Pam over the years. But one day, I hope to catch up with her and thank her for all the books she bought into my life. I only hope I can have the same influence on those boys. I have to take an exam in a few months that'll determine whether or not I can get my master's degree. I got a reading list of novels we should review for the exam. Guess what's on there? "Jane Eyre." I've reached page 130 in my copy and I have 400+ pages to go. It's actually pretty good. Maybe once I'm done, I'll get through all those other classic books in my collection.

Photo from

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Cat Factor

I have a cat. I have one cat, Simba. I feed him, entertain him and look out for him. Yes, I talk to him when no one is around. Heck, I even love this little animal. That does not mean I'll take in your neighbors' stray cat when s/he moves. It does not mean I collect various kitty paraphernalia to display around my place. And it certainly does not mean I have no social life.

Sometimes I feel like I need to make this clear, especially to people in my family. See, I don't come from a bunch of animal-loving people. In fact, most of my relatives despise animals, for various reasons. I was never allowed to have a dog growing up and the closest thing I had to owning a furry friend was parakeets and fish. My mother rarely visits me, largely because of the cat who lives in my house. Sometimes, when I'm leaving a family function, some smart aleck will say, "are you going home to your cat?" Cute.

So, it annoyed me a bit when my aunt called me awhile back, asking me if I would take in her coworkers' three kittens, since she had to move. She heard about the lady's situation and immediately thought I'd be able to help. Errr, no. Sorry, I'm not the one. This same relative sent me a Christmas card with the picture of a cat on the front. A coworker also sent me a card where it said something like "I hope you and Simba enjoy the holidays." Real cute.

I guess my annoyance is at people who try to put me into Crazy Cat Lady territory. Unlike the stereotype, I do not let my place get overrun by a multitude of cats. I do not shun visitors in favor of feline company. I do not avoid social events, just so I can keep my cat company.

There. I feel like I just needed to get that off my chest. I'll have to pass this post around to a few offenders.

(Photo from

Monday, December 15, 2008

And while we're on that subject ....

I think I'll link to the video of Maxwell's performance on BET. I am distressed that my man cut his hair, but whatever, I still love him. Check out the video here and see if you notice the other thing that pissed me off.

Did you figure it out? Well, I'll just divulge. !!!!!IS THAT A WEDDING BAND I SEE ON YOUR FINGER, MAX???!!!! What about us, huh? I thought we had something? And who is this heffa who seems to think she has the right to be your wife? I'm not above eliminating her from the equation. Hmph!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Return of Mighty Max

A few weeks ago, a friend came to me with the best proposition I could imagine. Would I like to go to the upcoming Maxwell concert? The answer was YES YES 1,000 times YES!! Ya'll know I love him, right? A few other friends had asked me to go to the concert in various cities. But by the time I was able to give a response, tickets were sold out. * Groan *

I was surprised at the invitation, given the fact that this is a friend (I’ve mentioned her before) who has caused me a great deal of stress in the past. In fact, she even caused me to form my own guerrilla squad. But whatever, let’s let bygones be bygones. This is Maxwell we’re talking about!

But Denise gives me the catch: She wants to buy the $150 tickets. Now, I love Maxwell, but I love groceries more. In fact, I love not being homeless more than I love Mighty Max. Clearly, friend and I have different economic goals. It would be different if these $150 tix came with a chance to see Maxwell backstage, an opportunity to touch his hand or even a small sliver of time where I could fit myself in the trunk of his limo. No, none of that.

I mentioned to Denise that this was a little on the pricey side and could she please consider the cheaper seats. After all, she is the divorced one with the two kids. Wouldn’t the money be better served elsewhere? She wouldn’t listen to reason. So I was forced to decline her invitation and she took one of her raggedy friends. (Yes, I was quite bitter)

I strolled into work the day after the concert, only to get a frantic call from Denise. Apparently, Mighty Max gave a lukewarm performance, certainly not $150 worth. I heard a similar report from another friend. I’m sad my man isn’t meeting folks’ expectations. Perhaps he’s saving all of his energy for a show that I can attend.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Insomnia Diaries #1 (a.k.a. Kindergarten)

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I go through phases where I can’t sleep. I’ll toss and I’ll turn, but I can’t take myself to dreamland. My mind will be clouded with things I need to do the next day, things that happened the previous day or I’m just bundled up with all kinds of stress.

Over the years, I’ve found ways to cure my insomnia. It used to be that I’d close my eyes and think of a movie that I know by heart (usually favorites like ‘The Last Dragon,’ or ‘The Color Purple’). I’d replay it in my mind until I fell asleep. Most of the time, it worked. Now I decided to try something new, like a memory game. So I’ve been closing my eyes and seeing if I can rename each one of my teachers, all the way back to kindergarten. Each time I do it, it leads me to a memory I thought I’d forgotten.

In kindergarten, my teacher was Ms. S. She was probably in her thirties and had dark hair, pale white skin, and chubby rosy cheeks. She was fairly tall, or at least that’s what I thought since I was a miniature person back then. She wore a dress every day. We’d sit in a circle while she’d read us stories, and she’d allow the kids sitting in the front row to massage her legs through the panty hose she wore. It seemed perfectly normal then, but it’s actually kind of weird to look back on it.

Anyway, even my five year old self could pick up on the fact that Ms. S. had a crush on my dad. Whenever he would come pick me up, she always had to touch him or move her body really close to his. You’d think her having the hots for my dad would make me her favorite student. Not so! I’d venture to say Ms. S. was harder than me than on anyone else. She even told my mom some lies about my behavior that wound up getting me in trouble at home. I don’t recall the details, but I do know I didn’t do it. Ms. S. must’ve gotten me confused with another black girl in class, something I’d have to deal with the rest of my life.

I believe that was the year I decided that I hated milk, because Ms. S. would never let me leave the lunch table until I finished drinking that entire yucky glass of it. (I still despise milk, unless it’s in my cereal) In fact, my last conversation with her at my kindergarten graduation revolved around me needing to drink my milk. * Shrug *

It’s crazy all of the stuff you can remember in your dreams. I wonder what Ms. S is doing now. If she’s still teaching, I imagine they don’t allow all the lil kiddies sit around and touch her legs. Times have changed!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Partay Time!

My job isn’t giving us a real holiday party this year, other than the Potluck Bash, which is basically a eat-while-you-work-cause-we-don’t-want-to-spend-any-real-money-on you event. Folks in my department are holding a renegade happy hour sometime soon, so that should be a lot of fun.

But I’ve been hearing about some interesting holiday parties as of late. It seems as though this is the time to see your coworkers wind up and act a fool. I should know. Back in the day when my job did throw a holiday party – I’m talking about free alcohol and everything – some of the supervisors made quite a drunken scene at the restaurant. They requested so much alcohol that the bartender had to come out and say he was concerned about them driving home. Scandalous!

My parents went to my stepfather’s annual holiday party recently. They always have a good time, since his company shells out the big bucks. I mean they go to this EXPENSIVE restaurant, open bar and give gifts to employees who win raffles or are either loved by the big bosses. Mom told me how she went last year and my stepfather won an Xbox and they became friends with a married couple (Mr. & Mrs. Officer) who lived in their area. Dude was a retired cop who was now working with my stepfather and wifey was still a police officer. They had a couple of kids, in addition to caring for her nephew, whom they adopted.

Fast forward to this year. My parents go to the party and Mom is all eager to see Mrs. Officer. Instead, she sees Mr. Officer there, with another woman on his arm. He and wifey are still together, but I guess he started having a thing on the side with a younger woman he works with. It was quite interesting, since everyone knows and loves Mrs. Officer and had no clue why he would do something so public when everyone knows his marital status. And it is well known that he and Mrs. Officer have heated arguments, one where they both pull their guns out. Yikes! Everyone needs to leave the job once Mrs. Officer learns about this Other Woman.

And in a tradition my family could only start, my stepfather won an Xbox 360 for the second year in arow. But they are not game-playing people (But I am!). So they promptly took the gift back to the store and exchanged it for a gift card, which they used to buy Christmas gifts. Sigh. They’re so tacky. I can’t even be mad at that hussle though. There's nothing wrong with breaking the system.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gives You Hell

Check out my new favorite song:

I'll need to add this to the iPod.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Strength in the kitchen

Let me say first that I don't really cook. I mean, I can get by here and there, but I'm not one to make a big time meal and invite everyone I know over. My idea of cooking is every once in awhile whipping up something small, then giving in to my ongoing desire for hot dogs and cereal. Separately, of course.

But lately, I've been trying to cook more. I realized I have this huge collection of cookbooks that I haven't opened. So I decided to jump in and roll up my sleeves. I've had some good experiences on the regular cooking front. However, the baking has been stressing me out.

I tried on two separate occasions to make these banana nut muffins. Both times, they were kinda yucky. The first time, they were just horribly yucky. But I forgot to add the baking power that time. The second time, they weren't as yucky as the first, but not anything I'd want to eat, let alone share with my friends. Not friends I wanted to keep anyway.

So I consulted with the bakers in my life as to how to make this better. I learned that the banana I use must not be green or yellow, but on the brown side for this to be a success. This is hard for me because I love bananas. To say it was hard for me to sacrifice one banana for my recipe is an understatement, but I did what I had to do.

Anyway, I got all my ingredients together ....

Along with the sacrificial browning banana .... *Sniff, Sniff* ....

Then I spooned them out into the muffin pan ....

About 15 minutes later, I opened the oven and this was the result ....

They tasted fine, but not something I want to smack my mama for. Perhaps I should try again with a tad bit more sugar. Or maybe I should just consider the fact that I just don't like banana nut muffins. *Shrug* If anyone has any baking advice, I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Someone is banging a hammer inside my brain, so this post will be a bit of a freestyle ... By freestyle, I don't mean rhyming, but I mean saying whatever has been on my mind at the given moment ... Right now, I'm 99.9 percent done my Christmas shopping, but I stll have to wrap gifts ... I wrapped presents for two people the other day, but ran out of wrapping paper ... I actually had a dream last night about the kind of wrapping paper I wanted to buy ... And I only have memorable dreams when I'm not getting enough sleep ... My sleep meter is off the chain as of late ... I've been getting entirely too much sleep ... Yet I can't wake up in the morning ... Weird! ... This year, my job's idea of a holiday party is a potluck meal that we all enjoy during the workday ... That does not sound like fun to me ... Of course, we had this same situation last year when I got horribly sick ... I'll have to stay away from the hygenically challenged coworker's food this year ... I love getting Christmas cards, it's nice to know that my friends and family worldwide are thinking about me this holiday season ... However, if I've previously told you to stay out of my life, does that mean I want you to send me a Christmas card? ... I would think not, but apparently, folks don't get that memo .... So now I'm torn between using this card for a bonfire or dart practice .... We shall see .... Oh, I just finished draft 5 of my book!!! ... I guess that means I should .... I don't know, maybe try and get someone to publish it? ... Or go over it again, to make sure things hold together... *Shrug* ... Why are things so hard when they don't have to be? ... I'm reading 'Midnight: A Gangster Love Story' and I'm actually liking it, despite my previous reservations ... I have two free movie passes in my wallet that I'm desperate to use ... There are so many movies I want to see ... Slumdog Millionare ... Bolt ... 4 Christmases ... Changeling, but that's probably left the theaters by now ... Sigh ... Oh well, I'm off to go rest on my couch and read ... Or perhaps I'll start watching season 2 of Gossip Girl ... Yes, I watch that show ... And I am not ashamed .... At least, not yet ... Have a good day everyone!

(Photo from

Monday, December 08, 2008

!!! DONE !!!!

Well, I did what I said I was going to do. I called out of work so I could spend today finishing my paper, as well as doing my take home exam for my class. And you know what? It took the ENTIRE day. But ... I'm done!

I literally sat at this computer all day trying to make this 12 page paper meet the 15-20 pages my professor required. I was able to stretch it to 14 pages, but really, that's all I can get. The professor had mentioned before she wouldn't take off for length if the papers were strong enough to keep from going further. Well, I hope my paper falls into that category.

The take home exam I had to do was just as mentally exhausting as the paper. I ate nothing but bananas and granola bars all day, because making anything substantive would have taken me away from the test. But slowly but surely, I finished.

After I was done, I took the gazillion articles I had to read over the semester and tossed them in the trash. Then I treated myself to a real meal and a little bit of fingerpainting, which was a fun mess. It is such a joy to put all this behind me. Now I have to begin the long journey of regaining my sanity.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Sleep Deprived Post

There comes a time of night where it's so late that you completely lose your mind, all sense of focus. You know you should shower and get ready for bed, because you have a long workday ahead of you tomorrow. You avoid looking at the clock because that would only make it painfully clear that you have five hours, no four hours, hell maybe even three hours, before you need to get up and go to work. Your cat stares at you like your crazy before going off to bed and leaving you alone. That's when it hits you: You're well on your way to staying up all night.

Well, that's my situation this evening/morning. It is currently 3:40 a.m. and I am wide awake. The obvious question is why, so let me tell you. I am writing a paper that is due by 5 p.m. tomorrow. It needs to be 15-20 pages long and contain all the glowing research and analysis I've compiled on 'Sula' and 'The Street'. The problem? The paper is currently only 12 pages long, and that includes the bibliography.

Before you ask, the answer is NO! I did not procrastinate on this assignment. I've been working on it for quite a while give or take a few ... okay, several ... distractions. The problem with this paper is that I have absolutely NOTHING LEFT TO SAY, so I'm a bit on the stressed side. This stress part is very amusing, cuz ordinarily I'm not a stress filled type person. I mean, I can be sooooo cavalier with my "I don't give an eff" attitude that it scares people. But that's the daytime Strength. Apparently, this 3 a.m. version of me will do whatever she can to squeeze another three pages out of this paper.

Am I tired? Not at all, but that's probably because my eyes are numb from staring at this screen. I will say that I am hungry. And thirsty. And I'd like nothing more than a long, hot shower right now so that I can lather up in my new favorite body scrub. I'd list the name here, but I can't remember and if I go into the bathroom to grab it, I may just take that shower and never return.

Have I mentioned that in addition to this research paper I also have a final exam to do? That's probably because I'm still in denial. See, my highly organized professor promised to email us the final during our regular class time, which is between 4:30 and 7, so we could turn it in the next day. So I leave work early, all ready to abuse my brain cells. I check my email and she hasn't sent a final. I check it 54875485488 times and there's no test, despite several other students asking where it is. Finally, the professor sends the test at what time?? Go ahead, ask what time! She sent it ... at 10 pm!!!!!!! Luckily, she gave us an additional day to do the test, but still.... I'm annoyed!

I say all this to say that I'm calling out sick tomorrow. I'd certainly be a sight to see if I hauled my sleepy carcass into the office in the next four hours. I'd literally have to douse myself with coffee.

Oh, what's that I feel? I think my eyes are getting heavy. Maybe I'll finally go to sleep now. It's a good time cuz my cat looks like he's about to attack me and I don't have the energy to defend myself. My biggest struggle is going to be waking up early enough in the morning to tell the bosses I won't be in. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Music Makes My World Go Round

I had computer problems a few months ago, that caused me to reformat my hard drive. That was a big pain, but an even larger problem was that I lost most of the music on my iPod and I had to add it again. I'm still missing some tracks that I've burned from folks, but I'm slowly managing to get it back.

In the few years that I've had the iPod, it's become quite important to me. I use my Workout Mix to help me get motivated for my workout sessions, or even the drive to work. I have my Slow Jamz playlist for days when I want to feel melancholy. Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of these track listings, just in case anyone was looking for some selections in either category.

Real People -- Common
30 Something -- Jay-Z
Anything -- Jay-Z & Usher (CONSTANT REPEAT)
A Milli -- Lil Wayne
Mrs. Officer -- Lil Wayne
Hope it felt Good -- Nikka Costa (CR)
Duffle Bag Boy -- Lil Wayne (CR)
Don't Cha -- Pussycat Dolls
Buttons -- Pussycat Dolls
Feels Good -- Tony, Toni, Tone'
Just Fine -- Mary J. Blige (CR)
Work That -- Mary J. Blige (CR)

This Year's Love -- David Gray
Love Lockdown -- Kanye West (CR)
Poetry Man -- Phoebe Snow (CR)
Is It A Crime -- Sade
You're Not the Man -- Sade (CR)
Dreaming with a Broken Heart -- John Mayer (not for the weak)
Violet Hill -- Coldplay
When I See U -- Fantasia
Whatever You Want -- Tony Toni Tone'
Hurt Again -- Mary J. Blige (CR)
Save The Best for Last -- Vanessa Williams (CR)

Lately, Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak release has taken the place of the Slow Jamz list. Good stuff, but you have to be in the mood for it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Beginnings, Endings

I'm trying to figure out which part is more difficult, the beginning, or the end.

I'm slowly approaching the completion in writing the novel I've been writing for quite sometime. In fact, once I finish going over these last 20 pages, I'll have completed draft #5 of this project. Whew! That even feels like an accomplishment.

But it is also scary. I think I've done a good job overall, but I can't help but think about some areas that I may want to review, tweak and refine, meaning going into draft #6. I fear that I'll feel the same way after that draft is finished, taking me on into drafts 7, 8, 9, 10, etc. etc. etc.

The main thing that makes this project so hard to complete is that it's also part of my thesis. So, it's one thing to take all of my creative, left brained energy and tuck it into a neat 90,000 word package. It's quite another thing to think over those 90,000 words and draw on research that applies to some of the themes I'm trying to get across in said book. Aye!!! I'm banging my head against the wall!

When I finish this draft, I think I'll do the same thing I did when I finished draft #4, except I'll do it quicker. I'll write myself a letter about my likes/dislikes (very few dislikes, i may add!) and areas I need to make clearer. Then I'll go through the pages for one final, quick edit. After that, it's time to start printing and going on the hunt for an agent.

And that's the really scary part. But even more frightening is the prospect of taking a blank page and turning it into another 90,000-word novel. Whew! It's hard work, but I gotta do it.

Photo from

Thursday, December 04, 2008


So, I mentioned before that I’ve turned to art therapy to cure the occasional blahs. I even bought this book, since I was getting the itch to expand my mind beyond collage and finger painting. I know that makes me sound like an expert, but in all honesty, I’ve done exactly one collage and one finger painting project, which I wrote about here.

I flipped through the book the other day and I’m torn on a new project. Some of them just weren’t for me and some were a bit too involved. I mean, my interest wanes quite easily. That means I’m not entirely psyched about taking a bunch of silverware and creating a lamp. Creating 3-dimensional images of my pictures freaks me out, though not as much as the idea of making paper doll cutouts of my pictures does.

Anyway, I’m going to start light for the next project. The author, Mark Montano, has a bunch of suggestions for making crafty coasters, so I’m going to give that a try. I don’t have any coasters in my apartment; I just let guests set their drinks on a magazine and call it a day. But soon, that will change. Hopefully, I don’t ruin this!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

(Book) Pimpin' Ain't Easy

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to read. There is nothing I love more than a good book and a room filled with silence. I get my reading gene from my mother, who feels the same way. There were times we would bond just by sitting across from each other and reading our own books without a care in the world.

However, there is a huge difference in the way I read and the way my Mom reads. I'm always open to suggestions when she approaches me with a new book or a new author. But whenever I suggest the same to her, she brushes me off. When I was in college and had to read 'Things Fall Apart' for a class, I raved about it to her. She found out what the book was about and figured it would be 'too deep' for her, so she decided not to read it. Fast forward a few years and she was in the A section of a book store and another customer started raving to her about the works of Chinua Achebe, particularly 'Things Fall Apart.' So at this stranger's suggestion, she bought the book and offered it as a selection for her book club. They loved it, and I was annoyed. That wasn't the first time she has turned down one of my suggestions only to go with a stranger's.

When I finally decided to delve into some Toni Morrison books, I asked Mom to do the same, but she had no interest in doing so. Even though practically all of Toni's books are in her library, she hasn't read a single one. She just has them there for show. Once I got through 'Song of Solomon', then 'Tar Baby' and finally 'Sula', I encouraged Mom to do the same. She had no interest, because Toni was 'too deep' for her. Again, I was frustrated.

Recently, I told Mom how much I thought she would like 'Tar Baby' if she'd just give it a try. I also told her about those countless times where she'd reject one of my book suggestions only to jump on it when a stranger offered. And most of the times she loved these books anyway, so I argued it would be easier for her to jump on my suggestions first. She saw my point and agreed to spend the month of December reading 'Tar Baby.' I agreed to read along and offer help where ever I could.

On December 1, I called her:
Me: How are Son and Jadine?
Her: Who?
Me: I guess that means you haven't started Tar Baby yet.
Her: Well ... errr ..... uhh ...

I called again the next day:
Me: What's up with Valerian?
Her: Who?
Me: Another Tar Baby reference.
Her: Oh. Well ....

I called another day and she didn't answer the phone. She thinks she's slick. I'm not above stalking.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Appreciation: Phoebe Snow (Or, Great Finds by the Coffee)

One good thing I can say about my job is that it comes with perks. The best perks are back by the coffeepot. That is where people display their yummy leftovers, the top dawg leaves bottles of wine and occasionally, you can find a good coupon here or there. Things that are placed near the coffeepot go very quickly, so I learned any food item that has sat there for more than a half hour must be pretty nasty and to stay far away from it.

But the best perks are the music and the dvds. In recent months, I’ve been able to walk away with free dvds of several Bravo reality programs, including Paula Abdul’s show and the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I didn’t have a pressing desire to watch any of them, but I had to grab it because of the free factor. There has never been something by the coffeepot that I just HAD TO HAVE. Until now.

The other day, I went to the coffeepot to fix some more tea, when I saw a cd. It was !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!PHOEBE SNOW LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I grabbed it with my hot little hands and tucked it into my bag. No one would be able to understand my excitement, so I grabbed an astonished coworker and told her the story that I’m about to write about now. *Ahem*

Years ago, I read this great book called ‘Butterscotch Blues’. It was a love story, but not your typical boy-meets-girl kind of tale. Let’s just say I laughed, cried and had a whole lot of other reactions that would give away the plot, so I’ll keep ‘em to myself. Anywho, the story revolves around Sandy, a dark-skinned Black woman, who falls in love with Adrian, a light-skinned man from the Caribbean. As their relationship progresses, he introduces her to new foods and new music. ‘Harpo’s Blues’ by Phoebe Snow was their favorite song.

After I finished the book, I wondered if Phoebe Snow was a real person and what this song sounded like. I learned that she was this awesome singer in the ‘70s who pretty much gave up her career to focus on her daughter, who was born severely brain damaged. (Her daughter, Valerie, died last year) Over the years, I grabbed what music of hers that I could – ‘Poetry Man’ (song is the truth!), ‘Two Fisted Love’ and ‘Harpo’s Blues.’

“So I was REALLY happy when I found this,’ I explained as I waved the cd in my astonished coworker’s face. She smiled at me politely but I know she was probably thinking that I was a nut. Ahh well.

Anyway, I’ve played the cd several times since then and I have some new Phoebe favorites: ‘Something Real,’ ‘The Other Girlfriend’ and ‘Rockin Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.' Good stuff!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Shopping While Selfish

A few months ago, I was at an event where I saw an item that would make the perfect gift for a relative of mine. So, I bought it. I was eager to give this gift to the relative, but then it occurred to me: Why not save it and make it a Christmas gift? So that's what I did.

In the months that followed, I went on an intense hunt for Christmas presents. This was the first year that I actual thought about what I'd buy in advance, then went to the stores long before they started offering their holiday sales. But there is a method to my madness. For each gift I buy, I buy a little somethin' somethin' for myself.

For example, I was at the bookstore the other day a few weeks ago and I saw the perfect gift for Mom. That meant that I was justified to go to H&M and buy that shirt that I'd been eyeing. I saw the perfect gift for my stepfather on Amazon. But, in order to get that super saver shipping, I just had to buy something for moi. So I took a look at my Wish List and bought Self Editing for Fiction Writers. Then I went on and got a few gifts for more relatives and friends. I was on a roll.

I have a few odds and ends to fill in with the gifts, but I have a majority of it done. I have a ton of shopping plastic bags sitting in my bedroom, just waiting to be wrapped. Of course, I also have another pile that is filled with stuff for me. But what can I say? This is the time of giving. And I can't think of a better person to gift than myself. After all, I was a good girl this year!

Photo from:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Letters from the Darker Populace (#2 Address Our Needs)

Dear Mr. President,

I drink water all day long at work. Every once in awhile, I'll grab some juice, but my main drink of choice is water, since it's good for me and quenches my thirst. But there are some days that want nothng more than my favorite soft drink. Sprite.

This is where the problem comes in, Mr. President. There are four vending machines in our building. They contain Coke, Diet Coke, Mountain Dew, Sunkist, Ginger Ale, and A&W Root Beer. I didn't mention Sprite, because the vending machines don't have it. That means that I have to get into my car and drive to the local convenience store just to fulfill a need that my employer won't.

Clearly, this is blatant racism. Several surveys (ok, just me talking to a few friends) have shown that the Darker Populace opts for the clear, white-colored drinks, while the Paler Populace prefers sodas that are dark in color. By keeping nothing but dark sodas in the vending machine, my employer is telling me that it does not care about the needs of my people.

I tried to take matters into my own hands. I told my supervisor about my desires and he looked at me like I was crazy, until I gave him a power point presentation on how the Darker Populace was being wronged. Clearly, the Sprite executives know their target audience has a darker hue. That's why we get commercials like this, this, this, and my personal favorite, this. He agreed that I had a point, but made no effort to address my needs. My four Darker Populace coworkers gave up after that.

You'll be proud to know that I didn't stop there, Mr. President. Oh, no. I could hear the ancestors calling out to me -- the same ancestors who did bus boycotts, sit ins and historic marches to address injustices. It was then that I decided to stage my own acts of civil disobedience. When my supervisor asked me why I was late to work, I said it was because I couldn't get going in the morning without my Sprite. When I was asked to help a coworker with an assignment, I refused to do so because this was a person who liked to antagonize me by drinking Coke all day long. And when the workers came to refill the vending machine, I plastered myself against it and sang a loud rendition of 'We Shall Overcome.'

Things got a little ugly after that. Let's just say I was sent home and my future with my company is dependent on weekly visits with a psychiatrist. Whatever, they can keep that job. But here's where I need your help. Do you think you can hook a sista up with one of those cabinet positions you've been filling on the regular? Surely I can get a Sprite at the White House! Can't I?

Peace and love,


Photo from

Monday, November 10, 2008

On Godmotherhood

A few years ago, I walked in on a coworker who was in the midst of a very heated telephone conversation. She was obviously annoyed and ended the conversation with, "Congratulations on the new baby. But I will NOT be a godmother to any of your kids again." Then she slammed down the phone.

I was going to pretend I hadn't heard a thing, but "Denise" started to complain to me about how all of her friends kept having babies, then making her the godmother, presumably, because she had a good job and was making good money. She mentioned how she only heard from certain friends until the kids' birthday, Christmas, Easter, or other holidays. Then, the friend never called to chat, they only wanted to know what gifts Denise would be buying for the kid. Some friends didn't even officially ask Denise to be the godmother. They'd wait until something big came up -- like the kid got the honor roll -- then ask Denise why she hadn't sent the kid any money. "I tell all my friends, 'please do NOT make me a godmother ever again,'" Denise had said. "It's too stressful."

But I couldn't relate to any of the things Denise was saying. Very few of my friends had children at the time and the ones who did didn't approach me about being a godmother. Unlike Denise, I wanted that title. I thought it would be kind of cool to be the hip person in the kids' life, the one that would let s/he eat candy, take the kid shopping or get its ears pierced. I could have a ton of fun with said kid and then send it right on back to its parents. Good stuff.

One of my friends had a baby a few months ago. I went to the baby shower, sent a gift and even saw her new daughter when she came home from the hospital. Cute baby. Mom seemed happy and I thought my work was done. But shortly after that the Mom surprised me a bit by asking me to be the godmother. I was taken aback, because even though the Mom and I have known each other for years, we've had our moments and we even struggle to keep in touch these days. All the drama is in the past now, but I wasn't sure if we had moved forward enough for me to be the godmother. But I guess we had.

So, I told her I'd be honored to take the title. Now I'm waiting for information about the christening and I have added the baby to my Christmas shopping list. I can't wait until the kid is old enough that I can take her out with me, and I can use her as an excuse to do kid stuff (i.e. see "High School Musical 3", "Wall-E", etc). So far, so good.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Appreciation: Toni Morrison

All my life, I’ve been a big time reader. But there were two writers who always scared me – Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. Perhaps it was the subject matter in Walker’s “Possessing the Secret of Joy”, the creepy cover of “Beloved” or the graphic nature of “The Bluest Eye”, but for a long time, I did whatever I could to avoid their books. They were heavy.

But then, things changed. I’m not sure how or why, maybe it was my ongoing obsession with The Color Purple (I have every line memorized), that made me want to give ol’ Alice a try. I still haven’t read the book version of The Color Purple in its entirety, but I know how it differs from the movie. I think the first book of hers that I read was ‘Temple of My Familiar’. I thought it was engrossing at times, weird at others and had one part that I struggled to wrap my mind around. Still, I became a fan and started reading every Walker thing in sight. (I still haven't read 'Possessing the Secret of Joy' though)

So then I took the big step with Toni Morrison. I started with ‘Song of Solomon’ and read eagerly about Milkman Dead. Then I moved on to ‘Tar Baby’, the love story of Son and Jadine. I remember it having a very ‘heavy’ opening, but I got through the rest fairly easily. The book literally had some lines I had to read aloud, just to make sure they were as good as they sounded in my head. They were. I finished ‘Tar Baby’ only a few years ago and it was easily my favorite book. Yet when I flip through ‘Song of Solomon’ again, I’m torn between the two.

I say all of this to mention I am now reading my third Toni Morrison book, ‘Sula.’ I’m ahead of the reading schedule for my class this semester. So, while everyone is fretting over finishing Ann Petry’s ‘The Street’ (I already read it), I’m getting a head start on next week’s reading.

There are about 70 pages or so left before I finish ‘Sula,’ but it is having the same effect on me that ‘Tar Baby’ did. The cast of characters are truly memorable – I’m partial to Sula’s one legged grandmother, Eva – and her one liners are amazing. There’s one part where Eva is criticizing Sula for not having children. Sula says: “I don’t want to make somebody else. I only want to make myself.” Don’t even get me started on the part where she describes black men as “the envy of the world” because “white men spend so much time worrying about (black men’s) privates that they forget their own” and “white women think rape as soon as they see you.”
I have a feeling that this book will be on my list of favorites. When I reach the last page, I may embrace my inner Clay Davis and simply say ‘SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT.’ (That’s from The Wire, for those that didn't know)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

"Keep In Mind I'm an Artist, and I'm Sensitive About My Shit"

A few months ago a friend introduced me to art therapy. It wasn't really therapy, it was just a bunch of us sitting around making a bunch of collages. She mentioned that art projects help her feel sane and I couldn't help but feel the same way as I put my collage together.

Anyway, I finally did my own art project. I mentioned before that I had a raging desire to revert
into my childhood and finger paint. Well, I finally did it.

I got some fingerpaint paper from my new favorite store, A.C. Moore, as well as some paints. It took me several weeks to get the motivation for my painting project, but I finally got the courage to do it after going here.

So, I grabbed my old newspapers and spread them out on my living room table. I wet the paper and dipped my fingers deep into the green, fuschia, brown and blue paints. I swirled my fingers all over the paper and came up with a colorful, convoluted mess.

But at second glance, the picture is really saying something, at least I think so. To me, it looks like a big flower emerging out of a cloud of confusion and chaos. Of course, that's my interpretation. Anyway, here's another glimpse of my workstation:

Basically, I made a bit of a mess. But that was my intention. It was kinda fun, actually. It didn't take very long and I was sad when it was over. Now, my picture is sitting on top of my television so it can dry. You'll notice that I haven't included any pictures of my work. That was intentional. Maybe I'll share next time. Because there will be a next time.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Another month has come and gone, that means it's time for another list in my kitchen.

I've tried to become a more organized person over these last few months and it's been a struggle. But the one thing that has kept me somewhat sane is The List. Each month, I break out the dry erase board and list my priorities for that month. I have them arranged in different categories, like writing, school and housework. I enjoy checking off the things I've accomplished, but I haven't gotten to the point where I've fulfilled every task on the list. It's all about the baby steps, ya'll!

This evening, I scratched off everything that was important to me in October, including the books I was reading, the writing projects I planned to revise or begin and the various cleaning chores I gave myself. In the month of November, I'm pledging to clean out my refrigerator (that was on the list last month, but I didn't get around to it), give my cat a bath (same situation) and finish the latest draft of my novel (ditto).

This month, the biggest task is getting my Christmas shopping finished. I know that sounds impossible, considering how I've managed The List so far, but I'm making progress. There are 10 people that I need to shop for and I've already gotten two people out of the way. I got part one of the two gifts that I'm getting my young cousins and I have an idea of what I'm going to get my new goddaughter. I'm drawing a blank on some folks, like the parentals, but I'll think of something. Yet in classic Strength fashion, there will still be some gifts I need to get by Christmas Eve. Sigh.

Also in November, I need to revise a portion of my thesis abstract (my prof said my opening sentence was 'fraught with danger'. that made me think of that mystical song and i cracked up!), finish 'sula' and get my finances in order. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Letters from the Darker Populace (#1: Diversify)

Dear Mr. President –

Technically, you’re president elect at this point, but because I’d like to pretend the last eight years didn’t happen, I’m going to call you Mr. President. In past entries, I’ve referred to you as The Rock, but now that you’re actually making your way into the office, I’ll refer to you as Mr. President or President Obama. Who am I kidding? I’ll probably still call you The Rock, but only behind your back!

You’ve got a lot on your mind right now, but I wanted to bring you further greetings from my world, as a member of the Darker Populace (DP). I work at a place where the staffing of Blacks makes up less than 1 percent and Asians is even lower than that. Latinos? Middle Easterners? Non existent. Those of us in the DP stick out like tiny dots on a big white page.

The situation has made for several interesting situations. Just the other day, I was at the Xerox machine, making copies of some materials I needed on Richard Wright. A coworker – of the Paler Populace (PP) – saw my documents (complete with a photo of Wright on the cover) and said, “who’s Richard Wright?” I looked at her like she was Boo Boo the Fool and clutched my heart, so I wouldn’t keel over. I quickly rattled off Wright’s accomplishments, ‘Black Boy’, ‘Native Son’ and his influence on the Harlem Renaissance.

She seemed impressed, then mentioned that although she wasn’t familiar with Wright, she did know Ralph Ellison. Interesting. So I asked her about Ellison’s most famous work, ‘Invisible Man’ and she was unfamiliar with it. She’d only read part of ‘Juneteenth’ (a book that was condensed and completed after his death), but thought he was a great writer.

I returned to my desk, still giddy from the announcement of your presidency just the night before. It made me think about all the times the Paler Populace wants to discuss Shakespeare, Joyce and Austen, but then are limited on their knowledge of writers from the Darker Populace. Now that we have you – a man of African descent, with connections to many other nationalities – in the White House, shouldn’t things change?

All I’m asking for is for folks in the PP to diversify a bit. It’s 2008, time to stop pretending that there’s only one crayon in the Crayola box. Do you think you could spread that message around a bit, Mr. Prez?

Peace and love,


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

He Did It, We Did It

Well, the moment I’ve been waiting for is here. Barack Obama is the first black president of the United States of America. The significance of that continues to get to me. The new first lady is the descendant of slaves. The first daughters get their hair cornrowed. The president elect has a mean jump shot and used his basketball prowress to win over his future wife.

I’ll tell my grandchildren about how I didn’t think much of the Obama name at first. I was even more turned off once I read his snoozer of a book. When folks started the buzz about him being the next president, I thought they were putting too much pressure on him. But I became fascinated with his life, his family, particularly his wife Michelle, who is a baaaad chick. I believed all the campaign promises he made, but in the end, a politician is a politician. In the beginning, I was a Hillary supporter. That didn’t last long.

I’ll tell the kiddies about how I collected each and every article that mentioned the Obamas. I’ll tell them their love story, cause I know it verbatim. I hope to take them to Chicago and tell them about the places where Barack wined and dined Michelle, until he ultimately proposed. They’ll often hear me mention the beauty of Malia and Sasha, and my enthusiasm for terrorist fist jabs.

They’ll know that I pulled myself out of bed early election day morning, only to stand in a long line that snaked outside the building. Hungry, tired and late for work, I would not leave that line until my vote was in. Once I hit ‘cast my ballot’ on the election screen, I felt my ancestors looking down on me and got a little weepy.

My election night story won’t be as exciting as that of those who were in the trenches, at various Obama offices or election parties. I was at home, watching CNN and carefully preparing for a Richard Wright presentation that I needed to do for class the very next day. But when they announced that he won – and one of my homegirls called me to confirm it – it all felt so surreal. I watched the live broadcasts from Grant Park and I saw thousands upon thousands of people laughing, crying, hugging, kissing. I saw Oprah and Steadman all in the mix, like they were regular people. Then I saw Jesse Jackson cry, and I cried too.

I’ll try to explain the significance of the 2008 election, even though there (hopefully) will be about a dozen presidents of color by the time they’re born. I’ll tell them all about the significant events that impacted our community in my lifetime. Rodney King. O.J. Simpson. Barack Obama.

But for now, I’m savoring the day. I’m at work, watching a beautiful black man become the leader of the free world. With his wife – educated and elegant, both making her the type of sistah that Ebony, Essence and CNN predict would never marry – at his side.

It is truly a new day. I am ready for the new America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

First Comes Voting, Then Comes Waiting

Well, I did my part. I set my alarm clock for its usual 5:15 a.m., but I didn't roll out of bed until about an hour later. And I didn't get to the polls until around 7:30. Hey, I'm not a morning person and I'm slow as pond water, what can I say?

But I got to the elementary school that served as my polling place, I was amazed by the line of cars that filled the parking lot. People were calling the radio stations bragging about how they went to their stations at 4 a.m., just to be the first ones in line. I got even closer and I saw a line that extended outside. I immediately balked. I turned my car around and opted to vote after work.

I turned my car around and began to drive away. It was then that I started to think about all the people who came before me, who would've loved to see this day. I thought about our ancestors and how they waited in long lines, marched in the excessive heat and were sprayed with hoses just so they'd have the rights we take for granted. I thought about how I needed to represent the deceased -- Grandma, Dad, cousin Damon, friend Keya -- and do my part. So I turned around. Luckily, I found a parking space and I got in line.

Everyone braced for their turn in their own way. Some read books, papers, blasted iPods, smiled or just stared straight ahead. I left my book in my car, so I had plenty of time for observation. Folks in line ranged from old to young, pale faces to dark faces. One woman managed to get through the ordeal on crutches. An older black man proudly wore his Obama hat, easily putting an end to all those email warnings I'd been receiving. I wanted to take pictures, but I was too scared. I had this fear that that would be the one excuse to toss me out of line and keep me from voting. So I promised myself I'd snap a few pix once my vote was cast.

When it was my turn, my hands were shaking. I had to go over the ballot a few times to make sure I picked the right candidates, the right issues. Then I thought about Grandma again and how active she'd been in elections and I got a little teary. Nevertheless, I submitted my ballot, then got an 'I Voted' sticker. I was late for work, but I didn't care.

One of the election volunteers thanked us for our patience. She said they had 198 voters by 8 a.m., which was more than they had during the entire primary election day. Crazy! The line had dissipated by the time I was done, but I did snap a few pictures of the jam packed parking lot and the voting signs.
Now I'll be up all night, doing homework (presentation on Richard Wright is tomorrow!) and watching CNN. Hopefully, I'll be able to hear the acceptance speech of the first black president of the United States of America. Whew! I get chills just thinking about it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Get Your Voting Game Right

It’s all about the strategy.

I’m at work, stooped in my chair, fingers a’typing in the keyboard. It’s all the appearance of hard work, but actually, I’m PLOTTING. See, I’ve got to get my plan together for tomorrow. I’m going to vote, but it’s all about the WHEN, as lines are supposed to be stretched to epic proportions.

Now, since my workday starts at 8, I plan to start my day by voting. I will wake at 6 a.m., then go to my polling station, where I’ll promptly stand in line. I’ll bundle up in my coat, chomp on my granola bar, blast my iPod (Kanye’s ‘Love Lockdown’ is on constant repeat!) and patiently wait my turn. I’ll make small talk with the people in line. I’ll chat with them about the constantly changing weather, how long the line is, how I can’t wait to get my turn, etc.

Someone will mention who they’re voting for and I’ll smile politely. I’ll keep my politics (BARACK, BABY!) personal, cause I know how ugly those conversations can turn. I’ll simply make eye contact with a few brothas and sistas in line and nod knowingly. Then I’ll spot the hordes of older black people in line and wax poetic about the days when Grandma would take me with her when she voted. I learned later that she was a fierce Republican, but that doesn’t matter. I know she would’ve loved to see history taking place.

I’ll take pictures and I’ll post them here. And when they make the announcement – that Barack Obama is indeed the first black president – I’ll run to the tv to see his speech. Then I’ll cry. Then I’ll call my grandpop to make sure he’s watching history. If I’m really feeling up, I’ll call my estranged grandmother and make sure she’s watching as well. (Who am I kidding? I’ll never be that up.)

But you know what they say about best laid plans. There’s also another scenario:

I could oversleep, leaving me only enough time to get to work and get through the day. Then I’ll race home, grab my camera and head to my voting station. This line will also be filled with grumpy voters, who will frown as I try to take pictures of history in the making. Then they’ll snicker when my cameraH doesn’t cooperate (which has happened many times before). I’ll keep my eyes glued to the news reports all evening, waiting for any news about who the next president will be. Then, when the announcement comes that Americans have chosen John McCain as the next president, I’ll take it in stride. I’ll put on my frozen smile, tune in for Barack’s speech, then call Grandpa and say that 2012 is definitely our year. Then I’ll get on my computer and check this site again.

Happy voting day, ya’ll!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby, I Need Your Lovin

Most kids got bedtime stories, but I was treated to Four Tops songs. Actually, it was one song in particular.

Whenever it was bedtime and Mom gave me my story, she’d talk about how much she loved me and break into her rendition of “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by the Four Tops. It became our song and we used to sing it together most nights. We only knew the chorus and to this day, neither one of us knows any of the verses. But, no matter where I am, when this song comes on, I think of my Mama. And she thinks of me.

So we were both upset to learn about Levi Stubbs’ death. So here’s a blast from the past.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: Life Lessons from The Sims

I’m not afraid to admit that I never got over my love of video games.

Even now, as a grown 31-year-old woman, I still have a few PC games that I break out when times get rough. What sets me apart from the general public is that I’m very particular about mine. No Madden or Grand Theft Auto for moi. It’s all about Pharaoh, Genghis Khan, Sim City and *sigh* The Sims. I’ve been told that the first three games show my desire for world domination. The last one … Well, that just means I’m learning how to control people.

I justify my love of the Sims by saying it’s just like playing with Barbie Dolls…via the computer. You’re given all these simulated people and you’re responsible for keeping them happy. As long as you make sure they’re eating, sleeping and having a fair amount of fun, you’ll get bonus points as they advance in their professional lives. Ignore these factors and your Sims will wind up peeing themselves, having temper tantrums and punching random people in the face (true story, see photo).

Anyway, I’m trying to relate my past with the Sims to my own life. Years ago, when I played it on a frequent, obsessive level, I had this one Sim named Michael. I did everything I could to keep Michael in the green, the game's indication of a Sim whose needs are met. He was getting promotions at his job, enjoying his fancy apartment and swimming in his backyard pool whenever he could. Yet every day, Michael would come home and cry. The problem? Michael was lonely.

These days, I’m feeling a bit like Michael. I’m lonely. Not the kind of lonely where I need a man. Eff all that nonsense. Just the kind of lonely where I think I’ve gradually pushed folks out of my life, and it has got to change.

I’ve worked at the same place for the last three and a half years. From day one, I’ve put up this wall around myself that separates me from my colleagues. Sure, I participate in friendly banter and occasionally go to group lunches with them, but for the most part, I keep them all at arm’s length. I’ve limited most of my friends to an email or two here and there, but few phone calls. And when they do try to get together, if it falls out of my regular world of work, school, the gym, writing – I find a way to decline.

So I’m going to get rid of my internal Michael. I’m taking a hammer and slowly knocking down the brick wall that I’ve been building. I’m not saying that I’m going to run out and be buddy buddy to everyone. But I am going to stop letting ‘no’ be my first response to invitations. It’s time to let my inner Sim go.