Saturday, December 04, 2010

Standing on top of the mountain

I've been thinking about my grandmother alot lately. She died when I was in seventh grade, but my family often talks about her whenever we get together. I've spent the last month constantly visiting my aunt/hairdresser/therapist as I began my journey of getting my dreadlocks out. (Yeah, I did it, more on that in another post) We shared lots of stories about my grandmom. She was a sweet woman who didn't like to hug and kiss. If you tried to offer either one to her, she'd laugh and say "Go'on girl!"

Through my aforementioned AHT, I learned some stories about her that I didn't know. Grandmom was a woman who had simple needs, like listening to the Phillies' play on her very old decrepit radio. Around Christmas or birthday time, she'd tell you what she wanted. If you got her something not on the list -- say a nicer radio -- she would scream "Oh girl, What'd you get me this stupid thing for?? I don't need this!" But there were some gifts she treasured, like when she got her first nice winter coat from another aunt, or that time she cried (a rare occasion) when she was given her first rocking chair, one that I'll always picture her in. My AHT told me about a time when she was a teenager and learned that one of her friends had been murdered. She plopped her big ole self in Grandmom's lap and cried and cried as Grandmom just held her and rocked her in that chair.

So I was at TJ Maxx awhile ago searching for Christmas gifts. I reached for a book about being thrifty at the same time as an older black woman. I mentioned that this would be perfect for my stepdad, since he's the cheapest person I know. The woman perked up and told me that she was cheap too, and that she learned all of her money saving skills from her mother in law, who she is in the process of writing a book about.

We stood in that aisle, and she told me that everyone calls her Mama Bee. She is a cancer survivor, lost her job a few years ago and had to start all over. She's in her 70s now and is studying all kinds of things, including martial arts. I gave her my business card and she was in shock, because she realized my last name is very similar to her maiden name. She was filled with great one liners, I wish I had a pen and paper to write down everything she said during our conversation. She mentioned how her husband lives with his girlfriend now, and was having children with his girlfriend at the same time as she was giving birth to his kids. She said she's moved past it, and has a good relationship with her husband's other children. When I asked her if this scenario doesn't bother her, she gave me this ancient proverb: "Sit by a river long enough, and eventually you'll see your enemies floating by."

We were talking forever, and when I told her it was time to go, she told me I was an inspiration. that was weird, since she was the one who had been doing all of the talking. I told her I was 33 when she asked and she said that it was clear I lived a good life. "Whatever you're going through, you're handling it well. You don't have any frown lines, or any worry lines. You're standing on top of the mountain, and I want you to keep doing that." I almost cried, because that was exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks, Mama Bee. And thanks, grandmom.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Firsts: Twootles vs Uncle Charlie

(To break me out of my occasional writer’s block, I’m creating a series of posts called Firsts. This is where I’ll explore various Firsts in my life. In today’s Firsts, I’ll talk about my first death)

I learned about death through a parakeet and my uncle. I grieved the passing of one, and was morbidly fascinated with that of another. I’ll explain.

Up until I was 9, I lived in my grandmother’s house with her, my mother and my aunt. I never thought about the benefits of an all-girl household until Uncle Charlie moved in and changed everything. Uncle Charlie was grandmom’s brother and he was the oldest person I ever saw. He was everything I thought about old people – bald, wrinkled, gray – wrapped up in a pair of dingy white pajamas. His health was failing, so he came to live with us. He took over grandmom’s room and she slept elsewhere, if she even slept at all. All I remember is her spending every waking minute taking care of him.

Well, I couldn’t stand Uncle Charlie. Before he came, grandmom’s moth-scented bedroom was my personal haven. It was where I went to watch Three’s Company, while everyone else watched Sanford and Son. It was where I toyed with her dentures and, because I just started to read and barely had any books of my own, I’d read her collection of Our Daily Breads.

Uncle Charlie turned her room into a hospital, with his medicine bottles everywhere. He never smiled, never spoke. He was satisfied just to lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. A few times, I tickled his feet and he didn’t budge. Then I heard him whisper to grandmom what I’d been doing and that he’d smack me if I ever did that again. I was banished from the room, forced to listen to his hacking coughs and vomit from outside a closed door. That was just fine by me. But I missed Three’s Company.

Eventually, Uncle Charlie died, right there in grandmom’s bed. I don’t know who was more upset, my grandmom – this was one of the few times I remember her crying – or my aunt, who became a screaming fit after discovering his body. I didn’t know much about death then, but I was morbidly curious. My older cousin, aka My Tormentor, once told me that dead people had worms coming out of their noses. He also said that once you die, your arms and legs stretch out so long that you become a giant. I tried to sneak a peak of his body, but nobody would let that happen. And my aunt, scared to her core, never went inside grandmom’s bedroom again. (With the exception of the times my mom tried to push her in)

Fast forward a year or two and my dad bought me a parakeet, which I named Twootles. It was the typical Your Mom and I Are Finished And Getting You A Pet Will Really Piss Her Off So Here You Go gift, but I loved Twootles anyway. The pet store people told me he was a parakeet, but he was light yellow and everyone always asked if he were a canary. I was determined to teach him to talk, so I’d spend evenings next to the cage enunciating “hello.” He tried, but he just didn’t get it.

Twootles started getting sick. He’d ruffle his feathers and march back and forth on his bar like a crazy bird. Then one day, I lifted the towel off of his cage and found Twootles on the bottom. He was on his back, tiny clawed feet in the air, sprawled out on the funny papers that held his excrement.

Oh, I screamed and screamed. Hot tears fell from my face and I screamed at the injustice of it all. Mom comforted me as best she could, but that was a distant memory when I ran into my older cousin, aka The Tormentor. He pointed at me and screamed – “THAT’S WHY YOUR BIRD KICKED THE BUCKET!” – and my grieving process started all over again.

I became depressed. My schoolwork started to suffer. When my teacher asked me what was wrong, I told her about Twootles. She sent me to the priest, who told me that when animals and people die, there’s something beautiful inside them that starts to grow. Or something like that. I don’t remember what he said, but I do know they cheered me up. Later, my mom told me she contacted the pet store and learned that Twootles had a breathing problem. Because we had his cage by the window, that aggravated it, leading to his death.

Eventually, I got over it. But for years, whenever we drove past that pet shop, I’d scream that they were liars and thieves. I can hold a grudge, so I kept this up for years. Even now that the store is closed down and another business is in its place, I have to catch myself from raising my fist and shouting about my injustice.

Photo from

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Spin (**The Devil want me as is/But God/He want more)

1. This weekend was too busy to even recap

2. Let’s just say I got my hair done

3. Went to an 80s party, where I was ooohed and aahhhed in my one-shouldered, waist-tied New Edition tshirt, leggings and scrunchie on my wrist

4. Then I got my hair done again

5. I also went to a friend’s church for a singles ministry she started. That was actually a lot of fun

6. And then I got my hair done again

7. At this point, you might be wondering why I was getting my hair done three different times (and I’m still not done!!) in such a short period of time. More on that later.

Until then… have a good week everybody!

(**Lyrics from The Roots’ ‘Walk Alone’)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

For Colored Girls Who Considered Janet's Cough When The Credits Started To Roll

I mentioned previously that I saw For Colored Girls. And rather than join into the neverending debate about all things Tyler Perry, I thought I’d talk about one of the parts that stuck with me. Janet Jackson plays a woman with a … dare I say it??? ….. FOINE as all get out husband. Her character is a cold, wealthy careerwoman. Her husband also has a successful career, but it pales in comparison to the prestige and money of his wife’s. Oh, and by the way, her husband is on the Down Low, or gay, has sex with men, etc. This is later addressed by a cough, a low point in the movie.

The scenario had me thinking back to the past. There was a dude I was once involved in that I believe si gay. When our paths first crossed, we were volunteering for a similar organization. My immediate thoughts of him were -- “He’s cute. It’s a shame he’s gay.” I don’t know what it was … maybe the vibe he emitted or the slightly high tilt in his voice …. But something knocked at my conscience’s door. I didn’t listen.

Fast forward some time and that initial thought was erased. He asked me out, and I was on the moon. He held my hand and I had to tame my heartbeat. He kissed me and I danced a jig. (I did it later and privately, of course) Then he kissed me again. And again. And again. And again. And soon, I began to think: Well hell, is kissing all we’re gonna do?

I addressed all of this with him, and he said he was just waiting for the right time. He wanted things to happen naturally. I said I understood, but still I wondered. What’s more natural than the fact that I’ve slept beside you? But whatever, I put it out of my mind. For awhile, it was nice to be with someone who only wanted one thing. My nose was wide open. He could do no wrong.

We went out pretty regularly – dinners, plays, outdoor festivals, etc. There was a time I was at his parents’ house for a cookout and his childhood friend, D, showed up. I was eager to meet D, because I heard so much about him. But when dude introudced me to D, he did so rather reluctantly. I remember thinking – “awww, that’s sweet, he doesn’t want D to interrupt our time together.” Looking back, I think I may have been the interrupter.

Things ended and I was pretty broken up about it. But I moved on, cause ain’t nobody gonna walk away with all my stuff. (Again, a For Colored Girls reference) Once, after he became a distant memory, I had lunch with a friend who started a new job, the same place Dude worked. Without knowing much of our history, she told me she suspected he was gay. I changed the subject.

After I saw For Colored Girls, I wondered about Dude. I wondered if everything was alright in his world, and if he had gotten comfortable enough to live his life as a gay man. I found him online, and saw that he is still identifying himself as a heterosexual. Well, maybe he is. But the truth is for him to know, and for some other woman to find out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Spin (** “A (writer) is somebody who has got to be out of his or her mind”)

1. I’d apologize for not posting in awhile, but that would give the impression that it won’t happen again

2. And no matter how hard I try, I can’t promise that

3. The next few weeks will be pretty busy, including an 80s party, a writer’s workshop and turning in my thesis (guess which of these activities I’ll enjoy the least??)

4. I got to see a free screening of For Colored Girls, where I remain riveted by Janet Jackson’s cough (insider for anyone who’s seen it)

5. The movie had some powerful parts and inspired me to read the book

6. I’m continuing to make revisions to my novel in progress. There’s a character that I really love, that really cracks me up

7. Too bad I’m gonna have to kill her.

Have a good week everybody

**Quote from Sonia Sanchez. She actually said “A poet is somebody who has got to be out out of his or her mind”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pretty Girl Swag

I’m slowly but surely getting out of the funk that has plagued me for quite sometime. One of the things that has helped me get through it is just thinking about things that make me laugh or smile.

Whenever my mind turns to the dreaded subject of XXXX, I fight it with all might. I whip out my Happy Arsenal, which contains the lyrics to Willow Smith’s ‘Whip My Hair’, the screams of a relative who was prancing around her home naked when a maintenance man walked in, and images of my friend’s 2-year-old daughter placing a maxi pad in her diaper. ( True story, the child does everything her mama does. Thankfully there were no tampons around)

I’m always looking for new things to put in my Happy Arsenal. I think I found the perfect addition recently when I was flipping through the newspaper. This ran as a letter to the editor:

You’re pretty’
Recently I was assured that there are beautiful people in our world.
I was at Trader Joe’s, sitting near the exit door waiting for my daughter to complete her shopping. Many people passed by – some smiling, some deep in thought or talking to friends and family members.
A young woman with her three children approached the exit. One was a little girl about 8 or 9 years of age. I smiled at her and asked how she was. She smiled back and then commented, “You’re pretty.”
Those two words were so precious to this 90-year-old grandma. Not the fact that she gave me a lovely compliment, but that she had the love in her heart to make someone feel good. I will never forget that moment and that little girl. She has lovely parents. May God bless her and her family.

- H.S.

We all could use a Happy Arsenal from time to time. Feel free to take anything of mine, until you can create your own.

(Photo from )

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Productive, That's Me

I've been off the last two days and I actually got a lot accomplished. I mean, I did get some extra sleep in and did my fair share of TV watching, but I will say I was more productive than I have been on past days off.

It all started Monday. I woke up and made it to my 6 a.m. spin class. Yes, I did that, on my day off. Serious dedication over here! I came home, showered and slept a little. Then I did some revisions on the new novel in progress. (Draft 5 is really making me pull my hair out) I watched an episode of Friday Night Lights and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

And just when I was beginning to feel like a real couch potato, I got up and went to the mall. Can I just tell you there's no greater joy than going to the mall when it's empty?? And by empty, I mean no teenagers!!! No screaming kids!!! No disgruntled moms pushing in curlers pushing strollers! I tried on some new clothes and found that my spin class is really paying off. Thank goodness I was alone in the fitting room, because someone would've called mental services on me if they heard me back there jumping for joy. Because these clothes were fitting right, I just had to buy them. Then I went to a store with various collectibles and found the first part of my mother's Christmas gift. That's three people I've gotten Christmas gifts for so far. I'm on a roll!

Today, I was up early because maintenance needed to get inside to check my filter and change my smoke detector batteries. While I was awake, I did laundry, more revisions to the NIP (Novel In Progress) and a quick clean up of the kitchen. Then, of course, I fit in Friday Night Lights and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I did all of this before I had to go to campus to meet with my professor for our 2 p.m. appointment.

And it was there, at that university that I love to hate, that I learned some good news. Dr. L was pleased with my latest revisions to my thesis. In fact, she said I put too much research into the introductory section and some of that material can be used in the 'findings' sections. So all that's left for me to do is my findings and methodology portions of the paper, which, combined, shouldn't be more than 10 pages. After that, I'll put in the last chapter of my research, which is literally novel #1. Overall, I still have work to do, but not as much as I anticipated.

It was with great pride that I went to the bursar's office and applied for graduation. Sure, it cost me $75 (gulp) and a run around campus on a humid day. But inside, I keep thinking .... 'THE END IS NIGH!!!' Which will soon lead to thoughts of 'Hmmm....what's next?'

Photo of Zora Neale Hurston from

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Sunday Spin (**A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is, until she gets in hot water.")

1. The weather was so beautiful this weekend that I couldn't possibly stay inside

2. I was so glad that I didn't have to spend it working at my part time job

3. I decided to get a jump on my Christmas shopping, so I went to an art gallery that is selling vintage posters through Nov. 1

4. There were a few posters I fell madly in love with, but they cost $450 *shakes fist*

5. Then I went to a museum that was doing it's last day of free admission, so you know I couldn't turn that down

6. And it's a good thing I didn't, because I wound up getting two Christmas gifts there

7. Well, I actually got three gifts, but I haven't decided if the third is a gift for me or someone else yet. Shrug.

Have a good week everybody!

(**Quote from a curator at the museum, 10/23/10)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Second Time Around

I’ve never been one of those people who reads the same book twice. I go through it, I either enjoy it -- which means I’ll inflict it on my friends before going on my bookshelf -- or I hate it – which means I’m going to donate it to the library/give it away/sell to my local used bookstore. I rarely reread books. The most I’ll do is revisit an interesting chapter or scene, and that’s that. Sure, I have my favorite books, but they are usually books I’ve read ONCE.

My thesis researched has forced me to pick up an old favorite, Nathan McCall’s “Makes Me Wanna Holla.” It’s an autobiography where McCall talks about growing up in Portsmouth, Va, a prison stint, and eventually turning his life around to become a reporter at The Washingotn Post. I cited a chapter, “Native Son”, where he talks about how he read that novel when he was doing time. He related so much to Bigger Thomas that he cried when Bigger was sentenced to death.

It was such a good chapter that I started flipping through the book again. I remember being a teenager when I read it. Back then, I was so naïve that I thought one chapter – “Trains” – was going to be about his fascination for locomotives. (It’s soooo not) I couldn’t understand his trouble adjusting to the corporate world, and I was especially pleased with his confrontation with a coworker that caused the offending man to break down and cry.

Now that I read it again, I notice stuff like the book cover -- with its graffiti on the wall and the beat up chair he’s sitting on. I can easily relate to his workplace adjustment problems. He didn’t have the best taste in women, but sheesh, his life would’ve been easier if he treated them better.

Anyway, I’m not re-reading the whole book, just from the middle on. I like to revisit how he decided to change his life while in prison and how the outside world worked out for him. I learned from an old interview that there had been plans to turn this book into a movie. Nothing ever became of that, fortunately. I wouldn’t want to see a scaled-back/squeaky clean/hero gets the girl/Hollywood version of this story anyway. If you’ve never read this book, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chaka Khan & Cleaning Out My Closet

I mentioned before that when times geet tough, I get in my bed. Well, the Sleep Olympics have launched in my bedroom again and I’m well in the midst of getting a gold medal. Lately, when my mind is heavy, and I’m stressed out about something I can’t control, I just hop into bed and hope that things will be better in the morning. It had worked in the past. I was able to get up early, get some writing done and get to work early, or right on time, which is quite a feat for me.

But things aren’t that way anymore. Yeah, I’ve been stressed, yeah I’ve had some stuff on my mind, and yeah I’ve been escaping it with my bed. All this sleep I’m getting, is just making me want to sleep more, not less, and there is no refreshment in sight. It is always my goal twice a week to wake up just before 5 a.m., work on my novel for about an hour or so, then start getting ready for work. (I spend the rest of the week at my 6 am spin class) Last night, I went to bed at 10 and still struggled to wake up at 7:30. Mind you, I’m supposed to be at work at 8. Sigh.

So I’ve been finding other ways to channel my energy, or lack thereof. Cleaning is a good counterpart to sleep. For the first time in my life, I have a vacuum cleaner that is actually worth something. It gives me so much joy that I have given it a name – Chaka Khan. Whenever I’m stressed, or my mind goes into the dark place, I just chant “Chaka Khan! Chaka Khan!” and I start vacuuming my woes away. It’s not just vacuuming that’s been keeping me sane. I recently dusted and rearranged my bookshelves. (If you knew how many books I had, you’d understand that this was quite a feat) I’ve also made a list of other cleaning projects to take on. Look out bedroom closet! I’m coming your way, bathroom cabinet! Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, computer desk!

With all of these tasks, my place should be SPOTLESS by the end of the year. That should keep me out of the bed for awhile. That’s what I hope anyway. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know. And hey, I might even be willing to load up Chaka Khan and clean your house.

Photo from

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I mentioned here previously that I’m trying to sprinkle some love dust between my cousin and a girl in my spin class. This is an idea that came to me gradually. The girl – I’ll call her L, since I can’t pronounce her name – is someone I see every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings when we hop on bikes and pedal our woes away. We talk a bit -- we went to the same college as me, much later than I did -- and she’s genuinely cool people. She’s pretty too. She’s the type of girl that makes you say “Awwww, she’s sweet.” She told me previously that she’s 23, and I tried to think of other people that I know in her age range. My cousin V was the only person I could think of, even though he’s about three years older. Then it hit me. These two would look cute together!

I got to see Cousin V briefly a few weeks ago under sad circumstances. He is in the Peace Corps and has been in Africa for a couple of years. He’ll be done his time there this fall, but came home briefly because his father is seriously ill. Despite the sad circumstances, it was good to see him again. He picked up an accent and had started wearing the local garb. So me, being the adoring older cousin that I am, I called him Toby and asked him why he was wearing a dress. It was all in love though, and it was amazing to see that the little boy who once followed me EVERYWHERE (seriously, ya’ll … for many years, he thought I was his sister) is now a man. I kept my cool as he drank beer after beer. I didn’t say anything when he lit a cigarrette. I didn’t flip out when he cursed. After all, we’re both adults. I have to get used to seeing him as my contemporary. (insider)

It won’t be long before he comes home for good, and then I can set my plan into motion. In the meantime, I will continue to exercise with ol’ girl and learn all I can. I already know what I’ll say to him: “Cousin V, have I got the girl for you! She’s smart, beautiful, sweet and athletic – everything you’re looking for!” But what in the world would I say to her? “Umm, hey L. I was wondering if you had a thing for borderline alcoholics? How ‘bout crossdressers? ‘Cuz I have the man for you!” Sigh. I guess I’ll give him a while to get himself together before I start pulling my puppet strings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Turquoise Chain

I'm the type of person who gets obsessed with the obscure**. Years ago, I read a novel that had a slight reference to Little Jimmie Scott, so I went on a googling frenzy. And I mentioned here before that I read another novel that led me to do the same with singer Phoebe Snow.

Well, my new obsession is Betty Davis. I didn't get her from reading, I actually got her from peaking around in the infamous Bianca Laureano's Amazon wishlist. I saw a cd from the 1970s featuring a beautiful sista with the largest fro I had ever seen. Then I started to listen, and I was blown away by this woman who sang -- sometimes growled -- about infidelity, sex, men, sex, love, sex ... and, well, sex.

I quickly added some of her songs to my iPod. I play her as I'm driving to work, and I've gotten many a strange stare when I belt out "He Was A Big Freak":

But 'Git In There' always makes me want to jump out of my seat and dance:

And there is also the love ballad, "The Anti Love Song"

But I do believe the first song I heard by her was the mansharing song, "Your Man, My Man."

The woman formerly known as Betty Mabry was also Miles Davis second wife, and he wrote a song about her, like to hear it? Here it go:

I've tried to get others, like my mother, to discover the joy of Betty Davis. But not everyone is ready. You should've seen the look on my mom's face when I played "He Was A Big Freak." She thinks I've truly lost my mind. Ah well, I'm just enjoying the 70s these days. Alot of good things came out of that decade, namely me. =)

**these artists aren't necessarily obscure, but they were obscure to me**

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Spin (**”Ben Harper is getting divorced. I'm applying lipstick, booking flights & singing Robin Thicke's "When I get U Alone")

I haven’t done a Sunday Spin in so long I forgot what it felt like. Let’s see, what’s my goal here? Ah yes, to summarize the last week in seven happy sappy bulletpoints right? Well, let’s see what I can accomplish:

1. I had a great weekend where some friends came over for my Chilli & ChitChat 2010, where we gorged ourselves
2. I was amazed that I was able to finish my grocery shopping at the Dollar Store! And I was in a shopping center that featured a comic book store with dangerous words – “Clearance” – taped to the window
3. Once I got inside, I found several indulgences, like American Jesus. And I just love to see black cartoons, so I bought Elephantmen and Vixen, just because they had black folks on the cover. Plus, they only cost me $1
4. My goal lately has been to get my mother to discover the joy that is Betty Davis. I forced her to listen to one of my favorites – “He Was a Big Freak” – but she wasn’t down for it. Sigh.
5. I’ve been patiently waiting for feedback from my professor about the latest revisions to my thesis. She told me I’d hear from her last week, and there’s been no word yet. Part of me doesn’t want to discuss this monster of a project ever again. And part of me wants to talk to her so I can finally wash my hands of this beast.
6. My Chuck Woolery instincts have been at play, and I’ve found a girl in my spin class who would be perfect for my younger cousin. He’ll be back from Ghana (he’s in the Peace Corps) in a month. He’ll need time to lose the accent and cut down on the drinking and smoking before he’s ready for her. Lucky for him, he has me to put him together.

7. Now that the Nobel Prizes have been announced, I’m interested in reading some stuff by the winners – as if I don’t have enough to read already! Here’s what’s been recommended: Mario Vargas Llosa's “Letters to a Young Novelist” (it’s supposed to be short) and “Decolonizing the Mind” by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Have a great week everybody!

(**Tweet by me, 10/11/10)

Photo from

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Word Warrior (Down with IKTRay)

Please excuse the absence. I’ve been too lazy to blog. Then I got to happy to blog. Then I got too sad to blog. Then I got overwhelmed with all the things that I needed to blog that I just let it fall by the wayside. But the other day, I looked in the mirror and I said, “Hey Good Lookin – It’s time to get the blog cookin’!” Corny, I know, but it got me out of the doldrums.

Today, I wanted to talk about my battle with words. There are certain phrases that people say that really make me want to cut my own skin off. I was going to call this post Bad Black Cliches, but it’s not just the BBCs that bug me (“You Go Girl” – please, let it die). There are a variety of phrases that work my nerves for reasons that I will mention here. The #1 annoying phrase is the aforementioned ‘IKTRay’ … that’s right, it’s so frustrating that I can not even bear the thought of spelling it out. But keep reading I’ll mention it soon enough.

Here’s my top five list of Phrases that Must Die, in order of least annoying to most.

5. “I’m going to the movies, do you want to come with?” Now, this one makes me cringe and smile (sminge, if you will?). My freshman year roomie introduced me to this phrase, which left my little grammarian heart searching for the direct object. We then had this discussion about how the sentence wasn’t finished and she laughed it off and said people in her town always used this phrase. We became good friends, but I still gave her the side eye whenever she used this sentence. So now, this phrase still makes me cringe, but it’ll also make me smile as I think of my old friend.

4. “I felt some kind of way.” Seriously? What way do you feel? This is a sentence that says absolutely nothing. During a phone conversation, a friend was trying to describe an argument with her boyfriend. It went something like this: “I guess he felt some kind of way, so he said this. And then I was feeling some kind of way, so I said that.” Really? That tells me nothing. God created adjectives and adverbs for a reason. Use ‘em.

3. “Look at you!” This goes back to a day when I was at my part time job, describing my full time job to my manager. She was impressed, and her way of expressing this was with a little head nob and a squeaky, “Well, look at you!” Really? I could understand if I was in kindergarten and got through lunch with crayons up my nose. That deserves an L.A.Y. But I’m an adult. Why are you looking at me? Step off.

2. “That’s what’s up.” There was an E. Lynn Harris book I read where this woman was dating a young guy who always used that phrase. It didn’t bother me until I talked to someone in real life who said it, and then my ears started to BLEED. I mean, that’s no kind of response. Me: “I got my Christmas shopping done.” Him: “That’s what’s up.” Me: “I got a new job.” Him: “That’s what’s up.” That’s just wrong, on so many levels.

And now, for the top phrase that makes me want to hurt somebody:

1. IKTRay – “I know that’s right.” If you’ve ever said this to me, you should know now that I’ve put extreme thought into your assassination. It will be big, it will be bloody, and best believe, you will not survive unless you can justify that sentence to me. You can’t, can you? The person who says this is an obvious show off. They can’t be satisified with simply saying “I know” or “That’s right.” Oh no, they have to throw the two together, in some kind of horrible word kama sutra. I despise this term so much, that I refer to it in my own form of pig Latin. Yes IKTRayers, this is what you’ve driven me to do.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Shucking & Jiving ('**The Moral of the Story Is, You Never Know Who You Steppin to ...*)

We had a going away party for a colleague recently. It was a potluck, and, gourmet chef that I am, I volunteered to bring the drinks. And, astute planner that I am, I waited until the last minute to do so. So I moseyed on over to my local ____ Store, so I could get the proper items. And here is what happened to me:

(Note: The following interaction has been severely dramatized to reflect how I felt and names have been changed to reflect the innocent. You have been warned)

I fill my cart with some soda and fruit punch and go over to aisle #3, where a man in front of me has a cart filled with a big ole box of Draino. The man is white, the cashier is black.
Cashier: Why, Sir, what you got there?? Twelve bottles of Draino??
Him: Look Darky, I’m in a rush, so don’t give me no lip. Just ring up my stuff.
Cashier: I suuuuuuure will, Sir! Don’t you worry about a blessed thing. Let’s see, 12 bottles of Draino …
Him: Just ring it up! Can’t you see I got shit to tend to?
Cashier: Yes sir, I’m on it. Let’s see, one bottle of Draino * scan *, two bottles of Draino * scan * …
(She proceeds to ring each single bottle up, one at a time, as the man’s patience seems to dwindle, finally, she’s finished and he gives her the money)
Cashier: Thank you so much, Sir!!! You have a very pleasant day!! You have a very pleasant day! And after you have that pleasant day, I want you to go back and enjoy it extra hard for me, hear?
Him: Yeah yeah, they need to send all ya’ll back to Africa.
(He leaves. I put my items on the conveyer belt, expecting the same cheerful treatment. In case you haven’t noticed, I am black, and again, so is the Cashier)
Me: Hello!
Cashier: (rolling eyes) My register is closed.
Me: Really? Your light is on and I only have three things.
Cashier: Fine, whatever. I’ll ring you up. Is this all you have?
Me: Yep, that’s it. No Draino today!
(I laugh, she does not. She proceeds to avoid my eyes as she tosses all of my stuff in the bag and then she gives me my total)
Me: Thank you
Cashier: (she ignores me and goes on to the next customer, which is odd, since her register was supposedly closed just a minute ago)
Me: (louder this time) I said, ‘THANK YOU.’
Cashier: What, nigga?? You want a thank you? Fine, THANK YOU. DAMN!

I went back to work and told a couple of people about the incident. Several black people told me that they’ve been in similar situations, where a black worker goes out of their way for the white person and then treats the black person like dirt. Then someone else got me to thinking that maybe ole girl didn’t like my dreadlocks, and developed some bias against me based off of that.

Well, the more I thought about it, the more enraged I felt. So I whipped out my receipt, found out the cashier’s name was Kim (again, not her name), I accessed the ____ Store website and fired off a complaint. I told them what happened and summed it up like this:
This treatment was hurtful because I have no idea what made Kim treat me so poorly, especially since we are both African American women. I was on a break from work, so I was dressed professionally, and as I stated earlier, I was kind to her. I have shopped at this location several times in the past and I’ve never been disrespected before. This was a humiliating experience, especially considering the fact that Kim does not treat ALL customers this way, just the ones who look like her, or perhaps those in which she has developed preconceived notions.

The store sent me an apology today and told me that kind of behavior is not tolerated, and that a manager would take care of that matter. The whole thing still ticks me off, and makes me wonder how many Kims there are in this world.

(Photo from )

(*Reference to Arrested Development's 'Everyday People)

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Spin (**"And if I hear anybody whispering: 'She's put on a few, huh?" I will slap you into next week! LOL")

1. I had a pretty relaxing Labor Day weekend

2. I spent it reading and writing

3. And I'm STILL not finished reading 'The Girl Who Played With Fire'

4. And I'm still not finished this portion of my thesis, which is due Oct. 1

5. But I did finish writing draft 4 of my novel!!!

6. Of course that only means I'm moving onto draft 5, and, *gulp* more revisions

7. Thankfully, I'll have a four-day work week that will allow me to keep my sanity! (or at least I hope so!)

(**Tweet on 9/6/10 from Terry McMillan as she prepares to go on her book tour for her new book)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On being catty. With some Method Man mixed in

There is nothing worse than a catty woman. I try my darndest not to be catty, and not to be bitter, to just live and let live. But if I were to be catty, I might mention a few things like:

-How I ran into my ex at the store the other day, and got my first closeup view of him and his homely wife

-After all I've heard about her, I thought that she'd at least be beautiful on the outside. But hey, she is not.

-How he and I nodded a hello, but he was breaking his neck trying to look at me

-How I couldn't help but feel like I was living that infamous Old Spice commercial: "Look at your wife, now look at me. Look at your wife, now look at me. Now, she is NOT me."

-How I looked at myself in the mirror the next morning and shouted "She's ugly!!!" and then laughed and danced my way through the rest of the day

-How I got a text from him and I thought about all the ways I could blow up his spot, but instead I just blocked his number

-How I thought about his new found girth as I weighed myself at the gym, and realized that I am just four pounds away from my goal

I'd say all those things, if I were a catty broad. Thank goodness I'm not.

Now, about Method Man. He is on my LIST. He's that guy that could point to me in a crowd, shout "COME HERE!" and I would go running. Of course, if he yelled something ignant, like "YO BITCH COME HERE!", I would roll my eyes. Yeah, I'd still run to him, but not real fast. (jokes) I used to love this song back in the day and they played it on the radio recently, so I thought I'd share here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Spin (**I suppose this is called stress)

1. Yeah, I've been a little stressed out lately

2. So much so, that I've gone into work at my part time job on a day I wasn't scheduled to work

3. But I must say, it was fun being able to just go home, without anything to do, without anyone to answer to

4. Soon, I'll have to write about how my spin class is getting gangsta

5. And how much I've been digging Terry McMillan lately (as if you hadn't noticed)

6. I will post my vacation pictures soon, I promise

7. But for now, I'm going to continue with my sleep therapy, which means that when the going gets rough ... I'm getting in my bed.

Have a wonderful week everyone

(**Tweet from Terry McMillan at 1:45 a.m. Aug. 24)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Sunday Spin (**'I'm finding it difficult to find a good sleep position while nursing and trying not to mess up this mohawk .')

1. This has been an EXTREMELY stressful week

2. Between work driving me crazy, negotiations for a condo falling through and trying to keep my past in the past, I was pooped

3. All I could do was sleep and sleep and sleep, which sometimes helps things get better, or makes me feel more drained

4. This time it was all drain

5. But I'm better now and I know this week will be more bearable

6. I planted the seeds for another side hustle this week and if all goes well, I'll have three jobs .... *whew* .... and three incomes! *hooray*

7. I'm trying to increase my investment knowledge and most recently I signed up for a Roth IRA. I'm also finding some valuable advice here. We'll see how this goes.

Bonus: I miss hot yoga. I must go back next week. I need a detox!!!

Have a good week everybody!

(**Tweet from Erykah Badu at 12:10 a.m. Aug. 11)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Right Brain Vs Left

I’m spending the summer working on my thesis. My professor has me on a strict plan of handing this research project to her in sections over these warm months, so I can spend the year just revising, and hopefully taking advantage of some financial rewards that come with being a grad student novelist. (Fingers crossed)

Dr L has received about a third of my work and we’re going to chat soon about what I’ve written so far. That makes me nervous and excited. Nervous because Dr L is an intimidating presence. I mean, she’s got the kind of soft voice that can make you feel like you’ve done a really good job. But she also has this look in her eyes that let you know that she can immediately turn into Angry Black Mother at any given time. Thankfully, she hasn’t gone ABM on me.

The biggest struggle I’m facing with this whole process is my rebelling Left Brain, my creative side. Thankfully, my thesis is part research and part novel that I’ve previously written, so I mainly have to focus on the research portion. At the same time, I’m revising another fiction novel that takes up a bit of my time. So it’s hard to go from my analytical Right Brain to my rebellious Left Brain on a daily basis.

I managed to set a schedule for the NIP (Novel In Progress). The goal is to write at least 1,500 words a day, five days a week. I have index cards for each day of the week, noting how many words I should reach by any given day and I check each number off once I’m done. Sometimes I wake up at 5 a.m. to write. Other times I’m up till midnight. And there are some weekends where I’m in front of that computer trying to catch up on the writing that I didn’t get in during the week. But it gets done. By my calculations, this latest draft of NIP will be complete by September. Do you know what happens then?? More revisions. Sigh.

But I can’t say that I’ve established a regular schedule with the thesis. I read my books on black masculinity and recovery, and also offer analysis of other pieces of fiction that I'll be comparing to novel #1. Still, no matter how much I do, I feel like I'm not making any progress.

I'm gonna keep plugging away at both projects, just cause that's what I do. And if it doesn't work, it just doesn't work. I'd be more than happy to throw everything away and just go back to one of my childhood dreams -- to become a rapper. You may laugh, but a wise man once told me that metaphors will keep me out of the projects. We'll see.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Choosing A Road of Passion & Pain (with apologies to Lauryn Hill)

We talk about a lot of interesting things at my job, and most recently the topic turned to passion marks. If I recall correctly, we were talking about the Twilight craze and how there were kids being faux vampires who ran around biting each other to show their love. Kids these days don’t even know how to give a proper passion mark.

Back in the day, I was quite naïve, if you could believe that. I once thought a hickey was a bruise you got after hitting your head really hard. So that caused some confusion when a classmate tried to describe a ‘Who’s The Boss’ episode to me, the one where Samantha’s boyfriend gives her a hickey. I just couldn’t understand why Sam’s boyfriend wanted to beat her up. He seemed like such a nice guy. Duh.

Fast forward a few years and hickeys/passion marks were still a mystery. I’d gotten a few, but I still hadn’t gotten the logistics down of how to give them. I have fond memories of when I first met mother’s boyfriend, now husband, and he ratted on me for having a hickey. (Why does no one ever believe that it’s a bug bite??) Then there was my job at the bagel shop. I was talking to a coworker when a customer loudly referred to “that big ass hickey on her neck” in front of a line filled with customers. Fun times.

The first and only hickey I gave was to an old boyfriend. We were both teenagers, so it took a bit of strategic planning to get us to spend the weekend together, but it was accomplished. I was determined to leave my mark and I guess I did, in the tackiest way possible. That hickey was so huge, it was nasty. It looked like someone beat him in the neck repeatedly with a baseball bat. For weeks, folks were either teasing him about it, or asking if he’d been in a fight.

From then on, I decided to use my mouth for good and not evil.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Only Friend

I’ve known Kate for a few years, ever since I started graduate school. Our program is small, so everyone knows each other and tends to take classes together. Yet Kate and I became close when we struggled with a challenging research class (with challenging classmates), and I later discovered that she teaches in the community that I live in. As we continue to battle through the thesis process, we’d get together and chat about various things. She mentions her woes of being a teacher and not getting a raise this year, and I would politely tell her to STFU since she makes more money than me and I can’t even remember the last time I got a raise. Then we’d laugh and talk about other things.

The last time I saw her we had one of our hilarious dinners at Olive Garden. It was hilarious because we had the worst waiter in the world. The poor thing meant well, but he gave me spaghetti in meat sauce when I clearly wanted spaghetti and meatballs and her order for ravioli also got messed up. Everytime we go out to eat, something crazy happens. She told me she was going to have surgery for her knee and that she was pretty nervous about it. I told her to calm down, things would be fine.

And they were. She sent me an email after the surgery, saying that things went well and that she was recuperating at her brother’s home. I promised her I’d come see her once I returned from vacation. So I went off to the beach without a care in the world.

Then I get a phone call yesterday on Kate’s cell phone, but it was Kate’s mother talking. I’m kind of morbid, so as soon as I heard her mother’s voice I immediately panicked and thought that something horrible happened to Kate, that she was on the road dead somewhere. I was close. Her mother told me that she developed a horrible blood clot after the surgery. She woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble bleeding, then immediately called an ambulance. The doctors said that if she hadn’t called for help, she would have died in her sleep.

The whole story was jarring. But I was touched when her mother told me about how Kate thought of me as a good friend and how much our outings meant to her. Kate is from another state and it seems like I’m her only friend in this area. So today I’m going to round up a card and my game face before I head out to the hospital this evening to wish her well. I hope she can recover quickly from this.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Post-Vacay Spin (*"Have a great day everybody. Be the sunshine. Not a cloud.")

1. I just got back from a fabulous three-day trip to the beach

2. It was good lounging with friends and meeting new people

3. The food was also great, forcing me to cheat on my vow of No Sweets Until Aug. 16

4. But I only had one slice of apple pie, so if I can get through the rest of this month with no other desserts, I'll consider that an accomplishment!

5. I'll soon post pictures of the vacation, I promise

6. Yet now I'm busy getting out of vacation mode, which means I have to work on my thesis (UGH) and clean this messy apartment (UGH UGH!)

7. In the meantime, I made an offer on a condo a few days ago. Still waiting on an answer. Sigh.

Have a great week everyone!

(*Tweet from Terry McMillan, 11:51 a.m. July 27)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


It's late.

I just finished washing clothes.

My bed is covered with said clothes.

I haven't packed a thing.

All of that means one thing: I'M GOING OUT OF TOWN TOMORROW!!!!

I'm headed to the beach for a little while to get some much needed R&R. I took off today so I could get prepared for my trip, but as you can see, not much has happened on that front. What can I say? I'm the Last Minute Queen. I thrive on tight deadlines. It's an art form.

Soon, I'll start tossing things into my getaway bag. Then I'll make a list of the last minute things I need to do. My cat will roll his eyes and give me his "You better leave me enough food this time" look. It'll all come together smoothly ... it always does.

So, I guess at some point, I'll need to move away from this computer and start expediting the situation. But I'm watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on Netflix and I'm not sure I'll be able to move until I've finished.

Anyway, everyone enjoy your weekends! I hope to post some pix when I return.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Sunday (ok, Monday) Spin (**For all the focus on his racism & antisemitism, Mel Gibson doesn't get enough credit for his mysogyny ...)

1. If I don’t become a homeowner soon, I may kill somebody

2. And that ‘somebody’ might just be directed at the family with the glorious condo listed as a friggin nightmarish short sale, or the real estate folks that couldn’t remove the old people smell from one unit, or the homeowner who thought it would be wise to have wall to wall green carpet

3. Through Aug. 16, I will be going through a Sweet Fast. That means no unhealthy treats (and that includes my beloved french fries) during this time

4. But I’ll be going to the beach in a few weeks, so I’m not sure that I’ll know how to behave when I’m away from home

5. All I know is, come Aug. 17, I’m going to have my way with every sweet, sugary thing in sight. Just try to stop me

6. For now, I’m about to have my way with a lunch that consists of yogurt, some kind of frozen Lean Cuisine sandwich and a granola bar

7. I hope that will keep me away from my habit of going to McDonald’s later in the afternoon, desperately seeking fries and sweet tea

(**Tweet from writer Mat Johnson at 6:11 pm July 10)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Midweek Muse (**”Drench yourself in splendor whenever possible. Good for the soul”)

1. I didn’t do a Sunday Spin this week because I was just too exhausted, and I figured that all three of my readers would understand (Hi, Mom! * jokes *)

2. Trying to become a homeowner is really kicking my butt, but I can’t wait for the day when I can walk into my own front door, paint my office bright red and grow tomatoes in my backyard

3. But for now, I have to deal with Craig and dem and the mysterious case of who’s baby’s sock just got mixed up in my laundry

4. You know what else is exhausting? Being in a funk, so that ish is over

5. I mean, there’s only so many times I can listen to Mary J Blige’s ‘I’m Going Down’ cd, or decry the fact that my Waiting to Exhale soundtrack skips so badly that Whitney’s ‘Why Does It Hurt So Bad’ sounds like it’s being performed by Charlie Brown’s schoolteacher

6. I have moved onto a constant diet of things that make me happy, like laughter, french fries, loud, misogonystic music and old episodes of Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman (yes, I was a rabid fan back in the day)

7. And more importantly, the tv show, Bridezillas. Dem heffas are crazy.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

(**Tweet from Terry McMillan at 1 a.m. July 13, 2010)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Anti Yoga

I realized recently that I shouldn’t do yoga. I mean, yeah, I do it, but I’m not really the yoga type. I mean, I enjoy the workout and the feeling of cleansed toxins when I’m finished sweating in that 105 degree room. (I’m talking Bikram yoga, ya’ll) However, I’m not that cheery, nonviolent wholesome person that the exercise is geared toward. I mean, I will go into class with an attitude, especially after the check in lady tells me that I can no longer receive my student discount because they learned I’m older than 25. (seriously, I was 33 the last time I got my $2 discount, why are you being cute today?) Plus, I talk about people. It’s not in a mean way (not all the time anyhow), but sometimes my fellow exercisers just crack me up/annoy me/make me shake my head , so I need to vent, and that’s exactly what this post is going to be about.

My workout schedule consists of two types: spinning (bike riding) and occasional hot yoga. These are the types of people in my workout neighborhood:

-Water Boy: This guy always comes to spin class just a few minutes late, decked out in his finest spandex and carrying a small bag. He gets on his bike and manages to find a place to store at least three bottles of water. Yes, that’s right, three. Last time, I saw him put a bottle of water on the side holder of the bike, another on the center holder, and a third he carried and drank from throughout class. Instead of moving on to another bottle when he’s done with the one he’s carrying, he will leave class and go to the water fountain to refill his bottle, as if he doesn’t have backup water. You, my friend, get the Side Eye.

-Kinda Hyper/Kinda Drunk: My favorite person in spin class is Kay, because she’s always cheery and energetic, but not over the top (Mind you, it’s 6 a.m.) Well, now Kay has been upstaged by Mo, who is BEYOND hyper. The first day I met Mo, I had the distinct pleasure of having her bike placed beside mine. Our first introduction was when she tapped (yes, she put her hands on my body) to scream something like, “WE GOT THIS, STRENGTH!!! WE GOT THIS!!!” Another time, I had the pleasure of sitting between Kay and Mo as they performed some form of menopausal call and response (Think Tisha Campbell & A.J. Johnson from House Party, just the later years): Mo: WHERE YOU AT GIRL??? WHERE YOU AT???? Kay: I’M OVER HERE GIRL!! I’M OVER HERE! YOU CAN’T HANDLE THIIIIIIS!!” By the end of class, my eardrums had left the building. One day, a man in class was like “You know, Mo’s return to fitness is really wearing me out.” Ain’t that the truth. Then I found out that Mo goes to the same church as my parents and knows them very well. Sigh. I’m giving her two shots of ritalin and some decaf.

-Gross Man, Just Gross: My first trip to this hot yoga studio, I was running late and the teacher had to place my mat in the room while I put my stuff away. Perhaps the teacher decided to punish me, so she set up my mat behind a large, hairy barechested man wearing tiny shorts. I spent 90 minutes in 105-degree temperatures trying to focus on my own body, as opposed to the large tufts of curly back hair that greeted me, just a few feet away. The best part of class was when we had to do this pose, and I had the distinct pleasure of watching buckets of buckets of sweat pour from his furry body and land onto his mat. Yes, I was visually sodomized. Each time I think of it, I become a victim all over again. No means no, my friends.

--The Mother. I take spin class Monday, Wednesday and Friday and because I like routine, I tend to weigh myself before class. I mean, if I’m going to be in a 6 am class three days a week, I better be seeing some kind of results. Little did I know that Linda was watching me. “You know you look good, right?” she says to me one day after I get off the scale. “You shouldn’t be on the scale all the time like that. It’s unhealthy. There are so many people in here with eating disorders and I don’t want you to be one of them.” Clearly, she’d never seen me eat, nor did she know about my growing obsession with french fries and oatmeal raisin cookies. I told her she ahd nothing to worry about – that I was just anal – when I really wanted to tell her to mind her own business, since she’s on the scale as much as I am. I’m not a morning person, so it doesn’t take much to get me riled up.

--The Showoff. Now, if I’m in a free, beginner’s yoga class, I expect to be surrounded by beginners. Right? Right? Well now, a few experts came to this class I attended with my friend, and that’s fine. The thing that gets me is the chick in the front row, who couldn’t do a simple downward dog when the teacher asked. Oh no, she had to do her own routine, from the cobra to the locust poses, on down to the half tortoise and the camel. I wanted to tell her to teach the class, or LEAVE. But I kept it all inside. After all, yoga is supposed to channel your rage. Right? Psfh. Yeah right.

Well, that about sums up my exercise pet peeves. I imagine this is a list that will continue. I hope I haven’t scared Motown StepMom Girl away from yoga.

(Photo from )

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Sunday Spin (**"I've always liked my women book & street smart")

1. I went condo hunting today and fell in love with a spot that meets my requirements -- lots of space, good neighborhood

2. Let's just hope it doesn't get sold before I can dig my claws into it (since that's happened once already)

3. I'm slowly getting out of my funk, at least that's what I keep telling myself, but ...

4. I did buy a big ole thing of oatmeal raisin cookies and had my way with an insane number of them ...

5. And it is 9:30 and I just want to crawl into bed ...

6. But I didn't cry at all today, and that is progress!

7. Tomorrow I'll have to get my focus back, both on the thesis and draft #4 of my novel

Happy Fourth everybody!

(**'Fancy' by Drake)

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Sunday Spin (A Remix for a Moody Monday)

Today I am thankful for ...

1. Emergency weekend getaways

2. Good friends that allow me to cry on their shoulders

3. Holding a newborn! No matter how insomniatic (is that even a word?) she may be

4. My obsessive reading schedule which has been whittled down from four books (Jim the Boy, Plains of Passage, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Heart of the Matter) to two (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Heart of the Matter)

5. Good friends who allow my HBO-less self watch True Blood on their couch

6. The mamas of good friends who save me leftovers of fried chicken, corn on the cob and kale

7. A hearty greeting from my cat, who missed me desperately after two days. (Actually, he just wanted food, but I’ll take it where I can get it)

Have a good week everybody!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Craft Show Convos

At this weekend’s craft fair, I was on the hunt for a Father's Day gift and I was unsuccessful. But I got to look at several wonderful pieces of batik art. I even struck up a conversation with the Kenyan artist who created the pieces I'd been admiring. Actually, he did all the talking:

Artist: Dread! Hey Dread!
Me: (looking around, and seeing a dreadlocked man calling out to me) Umm, hey Dread to you too.
Artist: Why you get your hair like that?
Me: Because I felt like it.
Artist: You ain’t one of them rastafarians, are you?
Me: No.
Artist: Oh, good! I’m glad to hear that, my sister. Them rastafarians are crazy.
Me: (admiring a painting of a family) How much does this cost?
Artist: Hmph. Everywhere I go, people wanna ask me if I’m a rastafarian.
Me: I’m sorry to hear that. But how much does this cost?
Artist: I don’t know a thing about Haile Selaise!
Me: So you’re saying this is free, then? I can just walk off with it and you won’t mind?
Artist: Naw, it’s $40. Anyway, these rastas …
Me: Would I be able to get it framed?
Artist: Red, white and green is Africa’s colors, you hear me? They don’t have nothin to do with them rastas.
Me: Right. So $40 will get me the art and the frame?
Artist: Naw, that’ll cost you $60.
Me: I see. How much is this one over here?
Artist: I’m glad to hear you’re not rastafarian. People see you have dreadlocks, they think you one of them. Ain’t that crazy?
Me: This one is free too? Oh wow, thanks so much!
Artist: Naw sis, that one will be $30.
Me: Can I charge it?
Artist: I keep telling them I don’t worship no Haile Selaise. I only worship the Lord God above, sister.
Me: Right.
Artist: People take one look at you and think they know you. I hate that. Don’t you?
Me: Yeah.
Artist: Now, which one of these did you want? I do all my framing right here.
Me: Umm, that’s ok. I’m gonna look around some more. Maybe I’ll check your website.
Artist: Alright, sister. Just stay away from them rastafarians.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Sunday Spin (**"Not to sound like a gay hairdresser, but I love when your hair is braided")

1. I had dinner with friends this weekend, and got terribly ill

2. I went to a craft festival, where I managed to find a few good buys in the midst of paintings and jewelry that cost $800 and up

3. Got my mouth all fixed for Subway's lemonade, only to spill it all over my living room table, soaking my papers and library books

4. But I did get alot of work done as part of my ongoing effort to put some organization to this whirlwind of an apartment

5. I'm making progress in my thesis, and right now I'm reading 'We Real Cool' by bell hooks

6. As part of my thesis, I emailed an author to see if she'd be willing to let me interview her as part of my project

7. She hasn't responded yet, and I've been checking my email like a bandit and hoping for the best

Have a good week everybody!

(**A coworker's comment to me)

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Moment of Poetry

As much as I love Alice Walker, I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't learn about this poem until today, when someone quoted lines from it on Twitter. I thought it was beautiful, so I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

Never Offer Your Heart to Someone Who Eats Hearts

by Alice Walker

Never offer your heart
to someone who eats hearts
who finds heartmeat
but not rare
who sucks the juices
drop by drop
and bloody-chinned
like a God.

Never offer your heart
to a heart gravy lover.
Your stewed, overseasoned
heart consumed
he will sop up your grief
with bread
and send it shuttling
from side to side
in his mouth
like bubblegum.

If you find yourself
in love
with a person
who eats hearts
these things
you must do.

Freeze your heart
Let him—next time
he examines your chest—
find your heart cold
flinty and unappetizing.

Refrain from kissing
lest he in revenge
dampen the spark
in your soul.

sail away to Africa
where holy women
await you
on the shore—
long having practiced the art
of replacing hearts
with God and Song.

(Poem copied via )

Monday, June 07, 2010


I have to go to a ton of meetings for work, and at times, I get a little bored. In times when it's tough for me to avoid falling asleep, I tend to write my signature over and over again in my notebook, then give a pensive look to the speaker. This time, I just decided to do some freewriting in my notebook and it led to a bit of craziness that I'll share here.

This is all from a county budget hearing I had to attend about a month ago:

-Time to google new hairstyles -- A 'fro? twists? cornrows? Find some Dominicans to straighten it when need be?
-Hungry, tired and generally in a bad mood. Evil is more like it
-I am parked in level 3 of gotts parking garage
-Feeling like I should've bought a book
-But of course, I'd get caught and that wouldn't be a good look..
-not for me, not for anyone
-(Muscular government official) isn't here. Sad that I can't stare at the muscles in his back
-Does (female government official) look like Rachael Ray or am I nutso?
-Strength/Courage/Wisdom is cold and tired
-I wonder what her office looks like -- either pristine, or really dirty. Probably pristine
-Oh JOY TO THE WORLD!! His Hotness has arrived.

Certifiably insane rant #1
long and boring
nothing accomplished
endless talk
yet you blame me
for sleeping?
You'd be lucky to join in
Call the Sandman.
He's missed you.

Certifiably insane rant #2
Why must I endure this
You drone on and on
No one's riveted
Or even amused
Budget hearings
It had to be said.
I ain't the first
or the last
to want outta this damn place

Certifiably insane rant #3
End this meeting
I beg you.
Your words are dribble
My energy has fizzled
For the love of God
Shut up!
I shake my fist
At bureacracy
anti semitism
and now you
Because you won't shut up.

Certifiably insane rant #4
I'm dying
And no one cares
I'm cold
And they turned on the air
I'm suffering
Yet the meeting continues.
All I can do
is stay awake
And hope no one
looks at my notebook.

And my mission was accomplished. I did NOT fall asleep. Hooray!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The (Late, Late, Late) Sunday Spin

The last few weeks have been pretty rough and it's prevented me from blogging. I mean, I would've written about it, but I don't like to bring my laptop into my personal Cave of Despair. I'm doing much better now, and here are a few things that have been going on:

1. I've discovered Bikram yoga

2. Which means I've stood in a 105-degree room with sweaty, half-naked people and tried to bend like a pretzel

3. Despite the feelings of nausea

4. The odor

5. And being waaaaay too close to sweaty strangers

6. I actually kinda liked it

7. I went to my first Catholic funeral a few weeks ago (big boss's husband died suddenly)

8. Did you know that they all drink out of the same cup during communion?

9. And that they only want Catholics to participate in the communion?

10. Well, I didn't know that

11. So I ate the body

12. Skipped on the blood

13. And probably got 457485478 dirty looks for not doing the sign of the cross

14. My latest addiction has been my spinning class

15. That's 6 am torture every Monday Wednesday and Friday

16. Lots of good music and adrenalin to start the day

17. And I've lost eight pounds as a result

18. Fun times

Have a good week everybody!

Photo from!1231121575.gif

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Black & White Pictures

I’ve always been fascinated with my paternal grandfather. He died when my dad was a little boy and there was little mention of him in the household. Dad and his siblings always got tightlipped whenever I or my cousins had questions about him. How is Aunt D your sister when you guys have different mothers? My daddy’s her daddy. Where is your daddy? In heaven. What was your daddy like? You ask too many questions.

We grew up and they kind of relaxed with their daddy issues. I heard a few fond memories of my grandfather. He liked to smoke – he died of lung cancer. He also liked for his kids to run their fingers through his hair as they read to him. He died during an epic snowstorm that hit our town sometime in the 1960s or 1970s.

Despite all this knowledge, I was an adult the first time I saw a picture of him. I was 22 and I was visiting my Aunt D’s house shortly after my father’s death. There was a picture of these men standing in a circle and someone told me that the dude on the end, the one with the big smile was my grandfather. It was jarring to see a picture of this mystery man looming so large, especially since I’d had to tread so lightly on topics surrounding him before. I noticed that granddad resembled my father, but also looked EXACTLY like my uncle, one of my father’s two surviving ‘half’* siblings. (Another daughter, who was born the same year as my dad, died as a child) The best part of the picture was my grandfather’s feet. They naturally poked out sideways instead of in, the sign of a true slewfoot. Just like my dad, and just like me.

Recently, another one of my aunts posted some old pictures on Facebook, and I saw a second photo of my grandfather. This time he was standing in front of a school on graduation day in a dark suit looking very serious, along with a couple of other people that are relatives I don’t remember. He’s standing in front of a school named after a man who is semi famous in my hometown, a freed slave who helped others escape and move north. According to my aunt’s photo caption, this historical figure is also one of my great great grands. Hmmm…..

So now it’s time to ask some more questions. I wonder if I can unearth even more photos of my grandfather. I wonder how exactly we're related to this historical figure. And more importantly, I wonder if this new mystery man was also a slewfoot. The plot thickens. I love family history!

*'Half' is in quotes because my dad didn’t like to refer to his siblings this way. He always said he just had brothers and sisters, not half this and half that.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Sunday Spin (**"Turn your face to the sun, and let the shadows fall behind you.")

1. Today was No Bra, Just Sweats Day, and I celebrated accordingly

2. Didn't do my hair or put a stitch of makeup on my face

3. I was exhausted by my OUTSTANDING 24-hour trip to NYC, which allowed me to get on Weekend Today (Did you see me??) and catch actor Corbin Bleu ('High School Musical') in the play, 'In The Heights'

4. But we weren't able to see Today's Lester Holt, which was my friend's main reason for going, we'll have to try again

5. I learned recently that my ex is engaged, and that's made me more emotional than I care to admit

6. But I did wish him well, and I meant it

7. At least I think I did.

(**Twitter quote from LL Cool J from 9:19 pm 2/15/10)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yes, They've Finally Made Me Bonkers

To All of My Coworkers:

I sit near the printer
I do not fix jams
Nor do I replace toner
If your document didn’t print
Take it up with management.
Again, I only sit near the printer

How is your paper jam my problem?
You think I know the right way to hit it
The divine secret behind making it spit
Newsflash: I DON’T
So I’ll keep giving you a blank stare
Or my frown, my terrible thug mug
Until you get a clue
And go away.

I sit next to the printer
So when you print your credit report
Your elaborate expenses
Your fudged time sheets
Your receipts for your mistress
Guess who has the first peek?
That would be me.
Let’s work together, shall we?

Photo from

Monday, April 26, 2010

The (Late) Sunday Spin (**‘Church was Great. It’s like God told the pastor my secrets & then I got a good loving talking to straight from upstairs")

1. I had a one-day weekend, which is why this post is late

2. That one-day weekend was held on Sunday, which was spent househunting

3. It’s amazing the things that can turn you off of a neighborhood immediately

4. Like the sight of a woman with an unfortunate shade of burgundy hair

5. Or a bulletin board notice that gives notification of a sex offender living a few doors down

6. Or folks that look like they would kill you for parking too close to their car

7. But I survived, and the hunt continues!

(**Twitter quote from singer Chrisette Michelle**)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Sunday Spin (*"I see a white door, and I'm going to paint it red")

1. Today was Eat All Your Leftovers Or Throw Them Out Day

2. So a few minutes ago, I gorged on turkey burgers, beans and broccoli

3. And now I feel quite full

4. I recently committed to going to the gym regularly again, ideally four days a week

5. That led to the discovery of a 6 am spinning class offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at my gym

6. "My name is Mark, and I'm an animal", was how the instructor introduced himself to me

7. He wasn't lyin

(*Tweet from actress Rachel True at 6:18 am Jan 27, 2010*)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Reunions, Teen Rebellions & Absolutely NOT Driving Drunk

I’m truly convinced Heather hates me.

Heather and I go way back, we’re cool peeps. I knew her back when folks were just starting to realize how much she resembled Winona Ryder. She knew me when I started my first act of rebellion – shaving my legs against my mother’s wishes. (Deep scandal, I know) We roamed that hallowed hell of high school together and we’re all the better for it.

Every once in awhile, I’ll hear from her. We’ll catch up through email on what we’ve been up to and how our lives have turned out. I’m satisfied with knowing that we’re both doing well, but she always has to push the convo one step further and ask the dreaded question – will I be available for the high school reunion? There’s one big convo ender for me.

I have nothing against high school reunions. I went to my five year and had a pretty decent time. I found that as much as things changed, they remained the same. No matter how much all of us tried to stretch beyond the barriers of our usual cliques, a lot of us simply evolved into the adult era of cliquedom: The Marrieds, The Singles, The Parents, The Screw Ups Who Became Somebody, The Somebodies Who Became Screw Ups, etc. It was that single event that helped me realize that I didn’t need any more high school people in my life. I didn’t want to be surrounded around people who knew me When. I wanted to be surrounded by people who know me Now. No more high school reunions for me.

The closest I got to a reunion was a few years ago when a close friend, It’s Always the Quiet Ones, got married to a new boyfriend after calling off her first wedding. A bunch of us got caught up on our lives, high-school reunion style, when the convo turned to our friend Bubbly, who wasn’t there. I’d been living out of state and had been out of touch with all that had been happening in Bubbly’s life – new career, marriage, kids … and the fact that her younger sister had been killed by a drunk driver the year before.

It shocked me because I’ll always remember Bubbly’s Sister as the cute babyfaced girl who followed her sister everywhere. The two of them were very close and I’ll never forget how hurt Bubbly’s Sister was when Bubbly started dating the Absolute Wrong Guy. Thankfully, she didn’t marry him, and their relationship survived.

Bubbly and I were able to catch up through Facebook recently and I was able to send my condolences, albeit they came about six years after the fact. Each year, she and her family participate in the MADD walk to celebrate her sister’s memory and raise money to get drunken drivers off of the streets. The event is being held next month and I signed up. It’s Always The Quiet Ones may attend, along with some other folks from our teenage circle. I’m looking forward to raising money for a good cause and catching up with old friends, sans the judgment and the cattiness.

So it looks like a mini high school reunion is being formed after all, one on our own terms. Don’t tell Heather.

Photo from

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Sunday Spin ("I wish I liked anything as much as white people love The Wire"**)

1. The weather has been so beautiful, that it's hard to believe that this was my life just two months ago

2. And in just another two months, I imagine this will be my reality yet again, since the cost to repair my car's air conditioning is more than I'm willing to spend

3. I'm hearing mixed reviews about the newest Tyler Perry flick, 'Why Did I Get Married Too'

4. One friend called it an abortion of a movie, another said it showed how communication was key in relationships

5. I'm extremely excited about what's going to happen in the next half hour

6. And that'll be the series premiere of Treme, the latest HBO flick

7. I've also been enjoying an older HBO series -- Rome -- on dvd. Oh Netflix, how I love thee!

Have a great week everybody!

(**Writer Mat Johnson via Twitter at 6:12 p.m. 12/27/09)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Hard Dick vs Soft Bubblegum (Is There Really Any Choice?)

The oversharing award of the week goes to my baby cousin, who kept us all on the edge of our seats as to whether or not she would be staying with her children’s father. (They have three kids, ages 3,2, and 1) She announced that if he wasn’t trying to put a ring on it by the end of the week, she’d be gone. And lo and behold, I open facebook one day to learn that she is single. That was followed up with a status message that said something like “After eight years, I’m tired of a life of hard dick & bubblegum. I need a real man to take care of me and my kids.”

After reading this update, it was clear to me that I needed to provide some guidance to my relative. Clearly, the girl needed me. So I promptly sent her my comment: “Never underestimate the power of good bubblegum.”

Now, you may think it’s amusing, but there is power in those little sticks. I mean, at least they're long lasting. Whenever there was hardship in my life, I turned to gum. Maybe it’s for the simple fact that growing up, my mother was strict and refused to give me any candy. And maybe it’s for the fact that the Neighborhood Candy Lady knew my mother’s rules and did everything she could to corrupt me. Or maybe it’s for the simple fact that I have little self control over some things. Here are a few examples:

*Bubblicious: Yeah, this is an old school treat, but it hits the spot. I was going to a brutal personal trainer sometime in 2003-2004. He developed this great workout plan for me, one that required my meals to consist of nothing more than four smoked turkey slices for breakfast, fat free yogurt for a snack, salad of nothing more than letttuce and tomatoes for lunch, and dinner of chicken and green beans. Eventually, I learned that some people were given treats in their meals, like oatmeal! And apples! I became so angry that I would sit in a little corner and chew my sorrows away on Bubblicious. God help anyone who asked me for a piece.

*Orbitz, Trident: Ever worked at a job that wreaked of misery, but your coworkers were pretty darn cool? That was me a few years ago…. And who am I kidding? It’s me now. The most exciting part of my job was the constant moving around – from a quaint house that once was a children’s store to a small office that shared a wall with a tutoring center and finally to a massive corporate building that had a convenience store attached. We went to the convenience store several times a day, and our prized possessions were gum. Rumors of a hostile takeover? Orbitz! A supervisor quit? Trident! Your project is being dismantled? Dentyne! Someone else is sleeping with a boss and getting promoted? Dentyne on Ice!

These days, my go-to gum has been Stride. It comes with quite a zingy scent that fills up my purse whenever I open it. Here’s how the gum helps me these days:

*Trey Songz: Ever heard him sing ‘You Belong To Me’, ‘I Invented Sex’ or my personal life story ‘Neighbors Know My Name’? Ummm …. Yeah. Ever seen the videos? Schwooo. Do I even need to explain? Everytime he comes on, I turn the station and pop two pieces of orange flavored Stride.

*My Neighbors: Yes, Trey Songz wrote a song about me. I am the neighbor forced to listen to the people above me get down and dirty whenever the moment strikes them. Yes, I know his name. It's actually Mike. Not Ohhh!!! Or Ohhhhhh God!!!, which I thought it was before. Three slices of the red Stride, please. And hurry.

*The Tudors: Jonathan Rhys Meyers wearing next to nothing, speaking old English and screwing any female that moves? Time to cancel HBO and indulge in five packs of the peppermint flavor.

You see? Choosing a life of bubblegum is not that difficult. Unfortunately, Baby Cuz wasn’t interested in my lifestyle choices. She and ole boy are back together again. Next time I see her, she better not even think of asking me for any gum.

(Photo from

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Sunday Spin ("What's the qualification to get a job as a music critic? My drunk uncle Pooky can do that job."** )

1. I woke up this morning (well, afternoon if you want to get technical about it) and decided that 33 is going to be my year

2. That means I'll be having a Labor Day party at my own house or condo

3. That I'll complete a draft of my thesis this summer, and go into the fall semester just putting the finishing touches on it so I can complete my program by December

4. That I'll be putting some serious thought into self publishing these short stories I've written over the years. If anyone has any advice on self publishing, please let me know.

5. In the meantime, I had a fabulous belated birthday weekend where my parentals treated me to a dinner at the steakhouse of my choice, where I gorged on a meal of lambchops, spinach, sweet potato casserole with peacans and a smidgen of chocolate cake

6. My mommy treated me like a kid by presenting my gifts in an Easter basket, but I was happy to get it, especially those jelly beans!!!

7. Be sure to return in the upcoming week for future posts about the power of bubblegum, liner notes and whatever other deep thoughts come to me

Have a good week everyone!

**Quote from Erykah Badu, via Twitter, 10:51 p.m., April 3, 2010**

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Discovering Greatness ... A Little Too Late

I didn't know the Undercover Black Man, but I wish I did. I was only vaguely familiar with his blog, but I've been going there reading the archives quite frequently after learning that UBM, an alter ego for TV writer David Mills, died from a brain aneurysm this past week.

His name didn't ring any bells with me as I read the various obituaries and tributes that ran in different newspapers. It's surprising that I wasn't familiar with him, since he did go to my alma mater, worked with David Simon, another distinguished alumnus, and was a writer for both Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire, which was one of my favorite programs. He was also set to work with Simon on Treme, an HBO show that seems to deal with life in post-Katrina New Orleans. He wrote his last blog post about the show, along with several others.

I'm ashamed to say that I've only been perusing the blog after learning about his death. But I do have some favorite posts, like the one where he lists recording artists who were convicted of murder; 'Run, N-gger Run', where he lists the lyrics of a catchy old time tune; and one where he calls out folks for pretending to be Indian. He also provided little known historical data, like giving a bio on the country's first non white vice president.

I've been late in discovering greatness before. I was an adult before I read 'Go Tell it On the Mountain' and 'Giovanni's Room', the latter helping me realize how much I loved James Baldwin. And just last year, my guitar teacher has got me playing songs by the Beatles and their tracks are in constant rotation (John Lennon was THE TRUTH). I'm now learning 'Don't Let Me Down', which faces stiff competition from 'My Life' for being my favorite Beatles song. (I've become so enamored with them that a friend has nicknamed me The Ladybug)

I had already known I was going to watch Treme when it premieres in a few weeks. But now I'll do so with the UBM, or David Mills, in mind. Rest in peace, Mr. Mills.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today's Lesson: Work Hard, Nap Harder

I don't go back to work until Wednesday, and I've truly been enjoying my time away from the office. That doesn't mean I haven't been productive. In the past few days, I've managed to do my taxes, work on my thesis, plead to get reinstated into the grad program in the fall, pay bills and get my daily writing tasks in.

But there comes a time when you've just got to lay back on that bed and let the sandman take over. Most of my life, I didn't like naps. When I was a kid, I never wanted to go to bed. I mean, who did? As an adult, I thought naps were a waste of time. I was usually too wired up to nap anyway. And if I were to nap, I was the rare person who needed to fool myself into believing it was nighttime in order to go to sleep. That meant putting on some pajamas, closing the shades and getting under the covers. I'm so glad I got out of that foolishness.

Nowadays, the only thing I need to put me into a coma is my cat. There are times when I'll be watching television and The Animal just hops up beside me and closes his eyes. That makes me jealous and next thing I know, I'm out for the count. That happened at least twice today. I had a good night's sleep, mind you. Then I took a nap at 4 p.m., followed by another one at 5:15 p.m. All because of my lovely pet. And because his latest game is to follow me where ever I may go and cuddle up to me, naps may become an increasing part of my life. I can't say I'm complaining.

Photo from

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Sunday Spin (Or, "They sleep; I grind"**)

1. I had a FABULOUS birthday weekend

2. It started with seeing my homie in a play (she did a FANTASTIC job, I might add)

3. And it ended just a few minutes ago, with some delicious sushi

4. That was almost enough to make me forget the meeting I had with my professor

5. The one where she told me she wanted to nominate me for a significant monetary award, but couldn't, because I haven't been enrolled in the program

6. My response was to enroll in the fall, get back on my thesis grind and hope upon hopes that this money becomes available in the fall (apparently that is a possibility)

7. Now I'm sitting back, flipping between Celebrity Apprentice and How to Make It in America (Bryan Greenberg + Victor Rasuk = YUM) and am so glad that I don't have to work tomorrow.

Have a good week everybody!

**Quote from Erykah Badu, via Twitter, at 5:28 a.m. February 24, 2010**