Friday, December 20, 2013

I'm Trapped in the Internet and it Sucks

I remember when I got my first login name for AOL. I was 10, and I can recall the sheer joy of hearing the dial tone of the phone line we set up just for the internet like it was yesterday. I believe my name was BlueQTbaby, and I had the account with a parental block, which means no year 2000-era Worldstar searching for me. But I didn't care. I was now a member of the web world, albeit a small one with limited connectivity.

A few years later, I pestered my father to upgrade my account so that I could officially graduate from blocked pages and use AIM. AOL Instant Messenger was the zenith of my post-pubescent internet experience. I was ecstatic. Time spent there was always engaging, full of laughs with all of the people I knew, song lyric away messages (which was damn near the predecessor of the subtweet), and GroupMe's great-grandmother, the chatroom.

That block of time when you knew everyone would be logged on was a thrill, but it didn't consume us. At some point in the night, you'd notice more and more grammar-insulting screen names convert to grey italics, paired with all the shuttering, gaudy exit sounds (I specifically remember snippets from Dipset and Alicia Keys frequenting my speakers). Other than that, all I ever used the computer to do was homework. Seriously.

My, how things have changed over the course of 13 years.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sip, Seek: A Short Story From Nowhere

A roaming imagination becoming words on a page:

Sip, Seek.

I didn't want anymore of my drink. My tummy was mostly unlined and mildly unstable, but I took a long pull of whatever was left of my long island through a lightly nibbled straw. I winced and forced it down. I felt that. Truth be told, I'd felt it when the tops of the ice cubes were still kissing the rim of the cup. I can thank the first tequila sour for that.

But I felt it work the way I needed it to as I looked down across the bar at my reason for the $12 purchase. Past the flirtatious bartender whose breasts seemed to spill over the top of her crop top and onto the tray with the lemon wedges, orange peels, olives and cherries. Past the damp dollar bills lined up on the counter for her by smiling gentlemen whose eyes never quite made it up to hers. Past the slurring woman who was too weak to push her hair from hanging over her face and too drunk to verbalize that she just needed some water. To him. The one with neon lights glowing on his caramel skin that I could even make out in the dimness. Him with the sleek, black rimmed glasses and the tartan shirt, top button undone, exasperated from the dance we had about half an hour prior. I saw him when we first walked in and couldn't look away. He was quiet and scholarly-looking like a Hillman graduate, but he was here, so I knew he knew how to have a good time when out of his work clothes. That was early in the night, around 9 o'clock. As Friday night patrons packed in, the space between bodies grew smaller and smaller. Somehow, I ended up beside him, taking in how fine he was to myself, then using my eyes to pass the message to my homegirl. She looked over to him quickly, then back to me, nodding her approval. I turned to adjust the purse on my shoulder when my elbow bumped clumsily against his. "Oops! My bad," he said to me with a smile. I coyly mouthed back an "It's okay." Our eyes lingered in the remnants of our awkward laughter. I wanted to say more, but how? What? I began to part my lips, but nothing came out.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Black & Excellent in 2013: Ungraspable Phenomenon

Ah, to be black and excellent in 2013. It's been quite the conundrum for folks. No one truly knows what it means. Well, except black people, but what do we know? Our thoughts don't count for much anyway.

To be black and excellent is "surprising" as we've seen from a handful of mainstream outlets (eghem, USA TODAY). The Best Man Holiday -- which included a crapload of seasoned black actors and actresses (and a hint of vanilla swirl) -- was instantly deemed race-themed, and therefore a different, lower rung on the entertainment ladder. It was such a shocker to see a black person direct an excellent film (#2 to Thor) about people being excellent and funny and tear-jerking and everything that a functional human can be, but that all just happen to be black. The film didn't happen within the chambers of an NAACP meeting, nor a protest, nor a vigil for a slain teen. It was family, Christmas, sex, success, struggle and forgiveness. I wasn't aware those themes came paired with a melanin count requirement. My sincerest apologies.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Photo Therapy: A Day With Nia

This weekend was like therapy for me. By the end of it, even though the frigid outdoor temperatures had my thighs and the tips of my fingertips numb, I was warm and tingly inside because I got to reconnect with my real love for the weekend.

Photography, honey.

For an entire Saturday, I got off my behind and left my borough to put Roscoe Flash (my beloved Canon camera) to work.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Would I Do If I Wasn't Afraid?

"What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

Clearly, Spencer Johnson (or Sheryl Sandberg, whoever to you) knows the contents of my heart and managed to mold it like dough into quote form.

During the idle moments of my day -- which I now have a lot of since I started a new evening position -- I loop this question through my mind. It may not always be in question form; it's just become a normal thought process of life, a byproduct of an everyday action. When I catch up on news and blogs, I think it. When I play stylist in my wardrobe, modeling outfits I dream up and imagine on Wherever-In-The-World Fashion Week attendees donning, I think it. When I start writing the first few sentences of a new essay, I think it. When I nod off on the subway, I think it. All whilst conjuring up (semi-) empty promises to one day act on the thoughts I have.

It kinda sucks. I'm both a Pisces and a writer, so my creative mind tends to roam freely, but this inexplicable fear dwelling within me is bottle-necking so many things that could be. It's a problem. What the hell do I have to be so afraid of?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

How MK Asante Saved My Life with “Buck”

Okay, okay. My title is little dramatic. I like dramatic titles, sue me. But honestly, I read an advanced copy of “Buck” by M.K. Asante while at my job. I always rummage through the mock library for new literature. I never really look for anything in particular, just something that catches my eye. This particular book stood out to me: it had no cover artwork. It just said:


A Memoir

MK Asante

And other less important book sale date jargon.

There was no forward. No epilogue. No opening dedication. No author bio. At this time, I had NO idea who this Asante fellow was. Everything was just TK (which is “to come” in editor lingo). What in the absolute hell is this book about? All I know is that I have an affinity for memoirs and books about urban life. “MK Asante” sounded pretty ethnic to me, so the book seemed like a win/win. So I grabbed the book off the shelf, flipped to the first page of the first chapter and skimmed. I couldn't even make it past the first two sentences: “The fall in Killadelphia. Outside is the color of cornbread and blood.” Yup. Definitely ethnic. Corn bread?? I was in love immediately. I had to close the book, stuff it in my bag and jet to the train station. I had to be seated and comfortable before diving in, because I knew I would quickly be enveloped in its pages. My commute out of the city is almost two hours. Perfect.

I don’t remember what page I got up to by the time I got off at my stop, but it wasn't very far. I had to force myself to stop. Not because it was bad. Not because I was disinterested or distracted. I was far from it. I needed to wait until I got a highlighter. The language he used in just the first chapter had me creasing pages to remember every point I saw awesome verbiage. I had a lot of creases. And it’s funny. I used to shake my head at people who wrote in their books. For me, anything as permanent as a book should not be defaced. It lowers the value. The book should remain intact, as if it were never even touched. Or so I thought until “Buck.” Now I know how much value it gave my reading experience. I never expected to be getting more intimate with a book and a highlighter than with a man (the struggle is real).

Asante made it so that all my senses were engaged while reading. You realize just how observant he probably is. And just how much time he probably spends in his mind; quiet, watching and thinking. Here are a handful of things I highlighted:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Rain Has Never Been a Friend

I've never been a fan of the rain.

As is the story of many black girls, my initial disdain with precipitation came with the responsibility of maintaining a fresh perm. Hued women of all ages would turn into Usain Bolt to avoid having their slick tresses make contact with H20, and no one was above making a bonnet out of a corner store plastic bag. As my days of creamy crack fizzled away with age, so did most of my efforts to shield my curls, but my hate for storm clouds hasn't lessened in the slightest. Now, many of my young adult counterparts equate a passing storm with prime time for cuffing. For me, it's a bad luck omen. A vacuum for news of death, to be specific.

I still remember the first day I noticed the trend. I was walking from a tutoring session in Washington, D.C.'s Adams Morgan. The air was chilly and I had a strong craving for a hot chocolate from Starbucks to warm my stomach. As I waited for the light to change, my phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my friend Shadae. "Shamar Olivas died." Blank stare. "How?" I replied. "In his sleep." Although Shamar and I weren't the best of friends, I remember the sadness sweeping over me, memories of him sharing poetry in our middle school classes flooded my mind. And the rain continued to pelt on my head, as if it didn't give a damn about my feelings.

The second time was one I'll never forget. I was in the engineering building getting ready to take a communications law midterm. Although I did study, I was having pre exam jitters. This class was a hard one and I didn't have time for anything less than a B. My phone buzzed. It was Shadae. I woefully looked back towards the rain streaked windows in the lobby behind me and felt my stomach drop. "Yanique Bailey was killed." The message didn't didn't compute. Killed? Not died, but killed? "Her father shot her, her younger sister and her mother in the head while they were asleep," she continued. "Then he shot himself." I lost every fiber of my mind at that moment, including all of the study materials I had been reviewing hours before. Fighting back the hot tears that wanted to fall was a task. While I still had a few minutes before the teacher arrived and began handing out the test packets, I hurried out of the auditorium row and plopped down in the lobby. I needed to talk to my mother. "Mom. My friend is dead." She could hear the panic in my voice as I rehashed all the details Shadae provided. "You have to calm down," she insisted as comfortingly as possible. "Can you still take your test?" In my heart I knew my mind wasn't in the right place, but I didn't have another option. Upon hanging up with her five minutes later, I tip-toed back into the auditorium, grabbed an exam and took my seat. I'd eventually pass the test, but at the time I felt like I'd bombed it and didn't even care. All my mind could replay was Yanique's probable last moments. I shuddered inside at the thought of a father so viciously and selfishly taking his family's life. My bright-eyed friend's life.

I needed to let it all out, but my off campus room was too far to reach. I had to cry right then and there. My friend Crystal usually left her suite door open in the Annex, so I pushed through the raindrops and made my way down the hill, cursing every bead of water as it fell. I zipped right past the idle-minded front desk attendant up to her empty room, took off my wet jacket, plopped onto her bed, buried my face in my hands and bawled. Loudly. I couldn't control my rage. Before Crystal came home to a more subdued sob, her suite mate had to come check on me because she was so startled by the wailing through the walls. I wish I could remember the girl's name, but I was so lost in my depression. My stinging eyes crying with the same intensity of the skies.

Since then, the rain still has not been good to me. Dane Freeman from junior high. Shot at a barbecue. Heard the news in the rain. Ms. Alfa Choice, an awesome teacher from my high school. Jumped off the Tappanzee Bridge. Heard the news in the rain. Ifeanyi Mba. In the rain. Ms. Medlin. In the rain. And then this morning as I grudgingly opened my umbrella on the doorstep, prepping to trek to the bus stop in 90% precipitation: "Aunt Blossom died," my dad said to me, with a phone full of bad news pressed to his ear. I looked up at the sky in disappointment. The clouds cried for me. "I'm sorry, Dad."

They're right: when it rains, it pours.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Eff You ‘Merica, You Let Omar Down

Yesterday, millions of inhabitants donned their favorite red, white and blue attire. Star shirts and striped socks. White linen shorts and dresses hugging rolling hills. Red lips puckered to cameras: "Happy Fourth!" Eyes raised to the flag, fingertips to brows, in salute. "From sea to shining sea."

I took no parts in this. My celebration consisted of my allegiance to family and food. I stuffed my face with ribs, burgers, roti, curry, Mac and cheese. White plates, blue drank, red solo cups, my own patriotism. Why show respect to a country that doesn't have its stuff together? One that makes me mourn just a few hours after a day of celebration because our neighborhoods aren't safe enough for our bright young minds to exist in?

I didn't know Omar Sykes personally, but family is family, and I grieve all the same. He was a Bison and I could assume the following: He was a black man defying the odds against him. He gave a damn about his education. He liked to turn up and have fun. He had hopes, dreams and attainable goals. He had friends and family with love in their hearts, who now have tears in their eyes. He was building a legacy. He had places to go. Now the next place he has to go is to the Coroner’s office. And it's your damn fault America.

It's your fault that the fun we all had has to come to a screeching halt because making a city safe is the last thing on your to-do list. It's the one missing thing on your scroll of accomplishments. Roughly 17,186 people have died from guns in the United States since the Newtown shootings, yet gun control is not a big enough topic to get all hands on deck to fix it. Ah, I see. Because figuring how to get the tax figures just so is more important. Because policing how people love each other is more important. Because throwing nails in the President's path to improvement is more important. Because saving George Zimmerman is more important. Because the NRA is more important. The ownership of guns all willy-nilly can wait. Sandy Hook can wait. Chicago can wait. Washington, D.C.—my second home—can wait. Omar Sykes can wait.

And you sit there marveling at the gleam of your own reflection, shining stars and stripes. As idyllic an image as you can muster up. Trickery to the eyes, because only we can see the piles of dirt you swept under the rug in pursuit if trivial novelties. Mounds and mounds of unaccounted for dirt. A tainted name that still resounds across the world as this great nation. Please. You're reaching. And you're still sweeping. America the Great? I'll believe it when I see it.

RIP Omar. I hope things will change.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Writer’s Rant: Committed to the Pen Game

When I brainstorm, it’s as if I’m about to birth a child or something, and I get very particular about my creative tools. I need a clear area, five bright lights, a post it pad, about three notebooks (seriously) and two ballpoint pens. While this makes it harder and harder to shimmy away from my “bag lady” persona. I find that reverting to the pre-technology era leads to more organic (okay, just better) ideas.

I remember when I lost my planner in May of 2012, I was a wreck. For the two years preceding that, I’d been scribing my life to the minute – it was technically an appointment book – and scribbling ideas in the margins. Every time I started a new journalism class or internship, I was gifted a reporter’s notepad. I must have gone through at least seven of those. My life changed when I received a blank, line-less moleskin for graduation. Let me tell you, I was ecstatic. From then on, I decided that I would carry it everywhere, so that if I had a sporadic thought, a pitch, a life goal, a travel plan, some commentary or an affirmation, I would never forget it.

That started a love affair of sorts. There’s gold in that book. And it’s not so much a diary that’s a grand secret. I’m not hiding anything in that book. It’s just what is and what I want. But the family grew and somehow I got my hands on a brand new moleskin. This one, I decided, would be solely for pitches to magazines and online publications, so I could organize my thoughts and see the empty, lined pages, inspired to fill them with profitable prose. More thoughts spilled out the faster I wrote. Enter notebook number three for my musings and ramblings, like this one. Once my fingers cramp up to their peaks and all my inky thoughts have clothed naked pages, I can breathe out a breath of satisfaction and close the book, knowing I can open and revisit the moment anytime I want.

You can’t do that with an iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy or any mobile illuminated screen. People often suggest using the notepad feature on my iPhone for this kind of stuff. I can’t, I just can’t. More than likely I’d have to abbreviate every-damn-thing. My mind moves like a bullet and unfortunately I type (on a touch screen) much slower than I write. The message would end up either butchered or partially forgotten. Also, it would mean I’m unconcerned with what happens to my work and the goings-on of my mind. Putting my trust in a battery-powered device is like sloppily tossing my eggs in one basket. Sure, there’s the convenience factor, but then there are the what ifs. I am SUCH a what if person. What if the screen cracks, the touch screen disengages, the battery dies, the whole crap gets stolen? Then what? It’d be gone and I wouldn't remember what I wrote because I didn't actually write it. All my creative labor would've been for naught. Writing has the power to commit words to memory and turn dreams and desires into destiny. A tablet can’t promise me that. Digital characters get lost in the sea of text messages, emails and bombarding GroupMe debates, none of which help me create. Just blind responding.

Like some meme said, “If you ever wanna know what a creative person’s mind feels like, imagine a browser with 2,857 tabs open. All. The Time.” No truer words spoken. Tabs, spiral notebooks, post-its, napkins, receipts, moleskins and the back of my hands. All in use at the same damn time. And yes, I wrote all of this with my trusty ballpoint pen.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

39,000 Feet: A Short Story

Note: I was over 30,000 feet in the air when I wrote this. And I felt so much better after I did.

If she had a watch, she’d probably be counting the seconds. Her phone was off because it had to be, so watching prayerfully as each digit increased was impossible. An hour and forty-seven minutes of terror. “Either pray or worry, but don’t do both.” She could hear her grandmother’s voice now, pensive and heavy with wisdom. Usually grandma’s words rung true, but right now they were extremely difficult to believe. How could she? She felt every jolt, tremor and turn. Turbulence. She made a mental note to look that up when she got home; if she got home. She pressed her lids together hard, exhaled and shook her head, trying to free her mind from her dad’s trademark pessimism. Why did the “worst-case scenario” trait have to be hereditary? she thought to herself. Her stomach suddenly lurched in discomfort as the craft fought through the deceptively innocent fluffy clouds and made a dip. In frenzy, she grasped the armrest on one side of her trembling body and the bottom of her seat with the other hand. Her fingernails dug into the soft leather, eyes wide. She looked to her neighbor to read him, wondering if anyone else had felt that. Or even cared. He didn’t. His eyes didn’t break their cadence as they scanned Chapter 46 of a thick black book.

She was angry that she was the only one so aware; yet silly that she was the only one who seemed afraid. How long have we been up here? She slyly checked Focused Reader for a wristwatch out of the corner of her eye. Nothing. She cursed herself for investing in any and everything but a watch. “Excuse me,” she called to the passing flight attendant pushing her trolley of overpriced snacks. “What time is it?” She searched her own face for a smile. A mustered up wince would have to suffice. The attendant smiled back sweetly and checked her arm. “Ten forty-five, but my watch might be fast.” She thanked her and shrunk back into her seat, partially relieved. It had been an hour since take off.  Only forty-something minutes of misery left to endure wide awake, armed with nothing but her thought notebook and a leaky blue ballpoint pen. She scribbled some thoughts to ease her mind. She read old notes. She even tried reading over the shoulder of her seatmate, who was making headway in his literature. She glanced quickly. Chapter 48. Impressive. At least he’s at peace. Maybe next time I’ll bring a book instead of my laptop. She scolded herself for another 10 minutes. At least time was passing. It distracted her from the bumps.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the staticky intercom interrupted her train of thought. “We are preparing to make our descent to LaGuardia Airport. Please find your seats and fasten your seatbelts.” She exhaled and tilted her head over to the window. The bright lights of New York pierced through the vast night sky. They seamed to beam up at her. Stacy could finally smile back. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

We All Got Crabs, Man: The Drag Down Effect

Today, I had to shake my head a lot more than usual. Black people, we have to do better.

Somewhere in the world, a white person is sitting behind his or her computer marveling at the prospect of “Black Twitter,” trying to master the twerk performed by ebony honeys and bookmarking an epic community melee on WorldStar.  

Meanwhile, instead of trying to counter the ratchetry constantly on display (simultaneously for our entertainment and our exploitation), we’ll picking petty battles with EACH OTHER over the digisphere. Look, I’m all for playful boasting and a healthy competition never hurt anyone, but when our negative words overshadows the mission of us functioning with a sense of camaraderie IN FRONT of those who doubt us, that’s just a shame. I say I love my school (HU, You Know!). You throw shots about how we ain’t sh*t and how your educational upbringing makes you superior to us. Honey, you're reaching for low-hanging fruit in the form of ruffling feathers for page views. What you could have done was talk about what makes your university amazing and boast about the quality of black women who attend and/or have graduated from there. Why drag another school through the mud (well, at least try) to big yourself up? Cheap shots about how Morehouse men know how to pick a "real" woman, a Spelman woman? Tuh. As my friend Edwin (@kariukimachine) so eloquently tweeted, “Morehouse men don't even like Spelman girls. They like Morehouse men.” (Bahaha. It was a funny tweet. Sue me.) But when people see us bash each other like this over the ‘net, it's hard to tell if we’re dead serious, we’re trolling for attention or if it’s for play-play. All the dividing lines get murky. All they see is a bunch of tiny little black crustaceans at the bottom of a dusty barrel looking weak as a whole. Are we supposed to be proud of that?

I know some wonderful people who went to Spelman. And Hampton. And Morehouse. And of course Howard. I support them in all that they are doing and the black excellence that they’re representing to the rest of the world. Young professionals killing job interviews and climbing company ladders. Investing and advertising and creating. Entrepreneurs and artists and writers and financial counsels and tech gurus. Future industry behemoths. That’s what I choose to focus all my energy into. You may not agree with what they’re trying to say or even their approach, but you have to support their efforts to make it and put our people in a positive light. Fine, inject your constructive (and sometimes not) criticism publicly, but once you speak, your job is to help them be better. I love to brag about my peers when they do right and when they jump hurdles. Let’s lift each other up so we can stop being the other side of poorly recited joke.

Brothers and sisters: be not only the success story but the support system that you seek. (This will be the only time I get Kunta Kente on you, I promise.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Finally Lost My Miami Virginity

Sure I’ve explored the southern shores of Florida before, but it was just fooling around. I never really got my feet wet. It’s always been a transition spot for a cruise, an airport pit-stop or a family trip. It's never been an intimate experience; never hung out there for more than a few hours as a post-21 adult. Until Memorial Day weekend, that is; possibly the most daring weekend to get a little frisky with Miami.

Winnie said it best: our first night in Florida was one big knock-knock joke. After almost 48 hours of madness, confusion, the runaround, anti-sobriety agents and a couple standout memories, we sat piled in a hot Volkswagen after getting a jump from the bouncer at the first club we tried to get access into (and clearly failed). At almost 5 am. It was Memorial Day weekend in Miami (and Ft. Lauderdale) and it felt like the hangover in Vegas.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Am I Really an 'Onion,' Or Do You Just Not Know Me?

My mornings always wind up entertaining in some way or another, today especially. This morning -- at an ungodly time of 9:20am -- I was diverted from my usual dollar van Jamaican banter by a text from one of my most inquisitive comrades:

"Aren't I like an onion? You ever heard Shrek say that? 'Like an onion, I have layers.'"

Honestly, my initial response included a couple of blank blinks and a nonchalant, "No, Bink." No one looks for deep and mind rousing discussions before the heaviness of last night's sleep leaves their eyes. But being the Bink that she is who gives no damns about the time of day, she continued on with the mini fireside chat. And it made me wonder a little about myself. Am I an onion?

I feel like I've heard so many one-liners about my elusive nature that I should, in theory, feel that way. Not so much that "I'm an onion," because that verbiage is uber corny (sorry Bink). More so that I'm this person with these endless layers that people never see. After hanging with some, they'll say, "Wow Stacy, I had no idea you were this [insert adjective here]!" (Funny, silly, rude and ratchet are the usual choice words.) "I had no idea you could turn up like this." "I didn't know you drink." "Wait, you hang around X, Y and Z, are Jamaican AND natural, and you don't smoke?" The list goes on. Guys, it's really about judgment and perception before experience and my voluntary decision to feed myself to you little by little. I'm a person who lives and operates by vibes, and the vibe I feel out the quickest is that of one who judges. If you know anything about me at all, you know very well that that's my kryptonite. One of my greatest fears is to have someone make a judgment of me and not like me or treat me a certain (read: bad) way because of it. I know I know; it's a terrible fear. I'm working on it. For that reason, I hold off. If I can see your heart first and feel your carefree nature, I will gladly open up. I'll laugh and joke and be loud and expressive and honest, even, if the fear of cast judgment disappears the moment you flash a grin. It's just as simple as that.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

White America Makes Me Laugh Sometimes

You know, I have to laugh at history. I know it makes for some good reading and reflecting material, but for comedy? I never thought America’s history would give me such a giggle. For work today, I had to put together a slideshow of various Sambo images. Now, you know me. At first, I was instantly annoyed. It was the passive kind of annoyed that only merits an eye roll, but it’s annoyance all the same. My eyebrow spiked every time I embedded another image of a bug-eyed, tar skinned, ape-faced, cranberry & swollen-lipped “coon.” This one image that read “All Coons Look Alike to Me: A Darkey Misunderstanding” baffled me the most. Is this seriously what they saw? Like, seriously? I know the intent was to hurt us, but c’mon son, you’re reaching. My crowd is usually a positive thinking, semi-progress assembly of friends – my the-world-is-so-great bubble – so I have occasional lapses in judgment where I forget what a messed up place America was (and still is) and what assholes people can truly be.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

9 Ways Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu Give LIFE in the “Q.U.E.E.N.” Video

If you haven't seen Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu's new video for "Q.U.E.E.N.," please readjust your life. When I heard the song, I wasn't married to it. But I love me some Monae, so I looked forward to the video. I was not disappointed. At all. I mean, I'm still not fawning over the song, but if this video is their way of selling it, I have emptied my wallet. Oh, why you ask?"

Everyone is fly down to the “extras.” 

If you can even call them that. The whole video setup is brilliant. As all the members of her crew hold their places in statuesque form, they are all flawless and crisply styled.

It’s all in the details. 

From her elaborately decorated pinkie nail to the gold tooth on the skull record player to the tuxedo shoes perched on a pillar, little glimmers in the video set up stand out in a good way.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Coming in for the Kill

Okay, I'm about three weeks late (sue me), but here's week 3 of the #AprilWritingChallenge for ya...

Day 15: 

“I’m selfish when” is a hard phrase to get used to, because more often than not, I’m never selfish. And I need to me. Nothing’s wrong with a little me time. A little pampering and TLC. A little time where I turn off my phone and concern myself with my thoughts and my thoughts alone. I have to allow myself to say “I don’t care about you right now.” I’m such a giver and a carer and love to see when everyone else has a smile. It really does bring a flutter to my heart. BUT I often find myself wearing everyone’s burdens but my own, and don’t have time to sort through my own baggage. I check mine at the door and try to figure out how to make myself work for everyone, when I really need to figure out how to make sure life’s good for me. Maybe later on, I can actually continue to statement: I’m selfish when… 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Playing Catchup is the Hardest Thing (Sometimes)

Week two of the #AprilWritingChallenge. Legho!

Day 14:
Social media is the enabler of all things insane, obsessive, lazy and compulsive. It's got the same thrilling yet destructive effect as a line of cocaine. Sure it helps make things more instant and convenient, but it takes away the satisfaction that comes from patience, distance and working hard for something to make sure it's top quality. Think I'm exaggerating?

1. Think about how social media has screwed up how we enjoy our celebrities. I liked the 'from a distance' thing that existed a few years back; we had a good thing going. We had a chance to MISS celebrities so that when they made a comeback, it mattered.
2, Think about how we don't know how to entertain new acquaintances in a quiet space or a small function. Literally EVERYONE is staring at their phones, refreshing their Instagram every 12 seconds in search of the next likeable flick or in a GroupMe conversation with the person approximately two seats to the right of them.  Then you all look up and realize how dumb you all 20 of you look in that silent room, chucking to yourselves about irrelevant tweets rather than engaging in REAL time conversation.
3. Think about how the media (anyone that prefixes their new-found identity with "@") reports the news. People struggle to be first more than they strive to be right.
4. Think about how guys and gals ask for your Twitter and Instagram handles so they can compliment you there instead of taking you out on a real date.
5. Think about how nothing is a surprise or a secret anymore. There's literally NO mystery to anyone with an IP address. Person 1: Omg girl, guess what! I have some great news! Person 2: You just got approved for a study abroad program in France, your boyfriend proposed and you're having a baby girl. Person 1: Yeah... Wait..... how'd you know? Person 2: Facebook.
6. Think about how much you compare and second guess your own success/beauty/friends/insert-personal-accomplishment-here to others because you can see every humblebrag from here to Bethlehem.

Yeah, social media sure is awesome.

Day 13:
Kinky is actually a very strange word if you think about it. It either makes you want to scrunch up your face when you think of the X-rated deeds that affiliate with the word, or you suit up in all black, toss on your favorite tam tam over your 'fro and raise your fist in the air. Like, the way I'm expected to describe my hair is kinky, right? All of team au naturale uses that terminology to describe their mane of coils. But according to some Google-populated dictionary, kinky means "involving or given to unusual sexual behavior." Now, clearly hair type has nothing to do with intercourse, but the key word in that definition is unusual. Something out of the ordinary. Sometimes, something that is not right. That's hardly the way I want to describe my crowning glory. It's funny, because when black girls wear their hair, that's something they actually do, or strive to do. It's a hairstyle sought out and chosen. In reality, that's supposed to be the "normal" thing when you look at it technically. It's the way it grows out of our heads... so that seems pretty ordinary to me. When people's hair grows out of their head straight, it's normal, so for us to grow it out should be no reason to do a double take. You'd be surprised at how many people expect me to start a revolution or go on a mission trip to Africa (and I will establish my name one day and hopefully make a vacation to Morocco and Cape Town), but I'm just like, chill dog. I'm just walking to work. It's hilarious, really. One morning, a man  in a leather, ankle length trench coat walked onto the train car I was sitting in and pensively sat down across for me. I can tell he wanted to talk to somebody that day, so I made sure I did everything to avoid direct eye contact. But he took notice of me eventually dozing in and out of sleep, and proceeded to ask me if my iron was low and how many hours of sleep I got. I returned a couple of one word answers, and then silence ensued. After some moments, he asked, "What are your thoughts on black nationalism?" I know deep down I was ready to shoot him an incredulous look. Like, you spotted my high puff and decided to fire off these ethnically specific questions when I'm clearly only interested in the black shade of the inside of my eyelids. But showing a reaction would beckon for more conversation. I blankly said, "I have no thoughts on black nationalism." (Lawd, if he knew I was a Howard University grad and naturally equipped for these type of discussions, he would've had a fit. Thank goodness I didn't wear any nalia). He asked one more question, and I answered back with a similarly dead ended response. He got the point. I should really write a book of all my encounters like this. Man, "kinky" hair sure is an experience magnet.

Day 12:
My favorite part of childhood was spent in a dream. No, literally. Whoever did away of the idea of nap-time is a cruel, cruel person. After tiring myself with a long morning of recess, smashing a lunch served on a Styrofoam tray, and talking off my classmates' and teachers' ears (as an introvert, it's insane how much of a chatterbox I was as a youngin'), I could faithfully count on the forthcoming bliss of a mid-day nap. To a tired tot, those cots felt like the hands of Jesus after marinating in Jergen's lotion. I know I knocked out instantly, thumb in mouth. And then snack time was after that! Praise and worship! What I want to know is who authorized the cancellation of such a necessary daily recharge with the increase of age?? The school system had a pretty solid thing going with that. Sometimes being cranky will make a person act out. A couple of zZz's will knock out a crabby mood quick, fast and in a hurry. Do you know how many mass acts of violence (or your standard high school after school brawls) would cease to exist if stressed out people were allowed a little daytime shut-eye?? I'm pretty sure they still do that in Mexico. Isn't it called a siesta or something? I should just Google it, but that would kill my flow (I already took a second to look up the spelling of Jergen's). But anyway, I think America should reconsider that little nap thing. If they just added that to the work hours for employees too, that'd be amazeballs. Just think about it: an eight or nine hour day with an hour for lunch and an hour to nap. Sounds like perfection to me.

Day 11:
I was shocked [at how much I missed summer] when I wrote the last post. It came pouring out of me. Man, 2012 was so good to me. I feel like I grew so much and had the time of my life while doing it. I'm such a reminiscing young gal. I'm always taking a midday stroll down memory lane when I should be busying myself with real work. *Shrug* Let's hope this year's memories will be fun fodder for a Throwback Thursday on Instagram one day.

Day 10:
This summer CAN'T COME FAST ENOUGH. I rebuke the cold weather and switchy-swatchy weather forecasts in the name of the Lord. I may have been born in the arctic tundra of winter months, but I am a summer lover through and through. It's not just because of the abundance of UV rays (this sun baby needs a little bit of browning). It's the energy that comes with less clothes and less stress and more fellowship and more freedom. I'm amped for all the free concerts, the spontaneous and specifically themed Brooklyn cookouts. The "invite-only" rooftop soirees, kickbacks and day drinking extravaganzas. The Summer Fridays at work and First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum, where all of the city's blipsters, hipsters, artists and posers gallivant in all their bearded, dreadlocked and tattooed glory. Lazy beach trips and just because mini vacays to another state. Extended happy hours at Blockheads, or the spot directly across from it that accommodates crowd overflows (with the same exact drink specials), but no one quite knows its name... Cold coronas with lime, water with lemon, or whatever tickles your fancy. Short shorts and maxi dresses and more pairs of shades that we have eyes. Eternally crowded streets serving as an oasis for street style bloggers and "up-and-coming" rappers with their signatures etched on CD handouts. Warm nights and cold trains (oftentimes too cold). Staying out so late you forget you have work the next morning, but when you show up, everyone's on the same flow as you. Mr. Softee getting neglected for FroYo spots (Pinkberry!!!) and Mama Maria's Italian icee carts. Cold mangoes and chopped pineapples on the side of the road. JAMAICAN BARBECUES and Beres Hammond's greatest hits paired with a cool breeze and a Red Stripe. Biggie blasting in the streets by day, and Tupac by night. Music disrespectfully loud, yet it doesn't bother anyone. Pop up flea markets and thrift shops. Union Square skateboarders and break dancers that encourage crowd participation. Grits and Biscuits. Being idle every single day and loving every second of it. I can hear, see, smell, taste and feel it all already. This summer is calling my entire government name at the top of its lungs. I hear ya, baby. I hear ya. 

Day 9:
I get upset when I am trapped with only a narrow exit in sight. Or at least feel that way. Like right about now. I'm in a position where I know I'm being used, but can't actively do much about it. Nobody likes the whiny and ungrateful office co-inhabitant, but I've sugarcoated the level of toxicity for long enough. I've allowed myself to be disrespected, overlooked and/or taken advantage of soo many times (not sexually, thank ya Jesus), yet didn't speak up about it because I didn't want to be an inconvenience. I assumed I was supposed to stay in my lane. I figured this is the way its supposed to go until I've graduated from the bottom of the totem pole (*cue Drizzy's candid snow flurry, manic hands and "Started From the Bottom"*). But over the past couple months, I've really come to understand a mantra I never paid much attention to otherwise: Ignorance is bliss. That ain't nothing but the truth. I admit that, unfortunately, I lean a little-bit towards the gullible side. I won't realize something -- good or bad -- until you tell it to me. So I didn't realize the stagnant and potentially irritating situation I was in until my friend spelled it out for me. Then I compared that situation to another similar situation I'm in where I'm progressing exponentially and I'm being supported every day. I feel of use and like I am a valuable asset to the team versus someone's lackie. I understand that sometimes that's what comes with a certain position, but I already saw the light somewhere else and even earlier in that situation. By the time I had realized it, I was moving backwards and so was my positive momentum. And you know that feeling of once you realize one thing wrong, everything else seems to crumble after that on a downhill slope? Yeah. I'm currently falling like Alicia. I'm not learning and growing with this, I'm settling. I'm young and have moves to make, and knowing me, if I stand still too long, I'll lose the spark. I can't be content sitting in a dark room with a tiny lamp in the corner, with the rays NOT coming from me. My favorite Bible verse of all time (which comes from Matthew 5: 14-16) tells me otherwise:

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Boom, there it is.

Day 8:
Black is the sole ingredient of my existence that I have never questioned, combatted with second guessed or struggled with. At some point in my life, I've hated my short hair, my once towering height, my braces and teeth, my dancer's feet, my weight gain, my eczema-patched arms and neck, my huge boobs, my Dumbo ears, but NEVER, EVER my brown color. Being BLACK. One drop, two drops, 100 drops, all of which complete me and enhance everything that I am. From the confusion of adolescence to the confidence gained with age, this shade of dark has always been a stem of strength for me.  I proudly flaunt the chocolate ironically swapped with the description of tar, of dirt, of the foundation of the earth. Historically, my hues are supposed to be a magnet of negativity, yet in reality, it's the strongest cocky bone in my body. I am proud to share it with the people of my culture who fought hard to accomplish their goals and who barely fight at all to look like exotic bombshells. My skin is radiant and sun-kissed and smooth and full of God-given glory. Factually speaking, black is best, and I DARE anyone to challenge me on this.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Flowing Thoughts Like a Stream. But Not Really.

Oh, hello again writing challenge, #AprilWritingChallenge to be specific. Take part, because you have nothing else better to do than read my blog. Maybe you do usually, but 9 times out of 10, at this particular moment, you don't. Join the Young Writer Gang. It's better than the Beyhive, I promise.

Day 7:
The most annoying celebrity is one who does not keep his or her overly adorning fans in check. If all you're focused on is more and more promo and publicity and not curbing your followers' reckless acts of Standemonium, you're inching further and further towards my burn book. Using Beyonce as an example will be too easy; anyone who knows me knows I'm not scared to criticize her in the presence of her worshippers. But believe it or not, that's the only reason her very being irks me. Knowing she is the epicenter of the lives of a million too many blind-eyed admirers, and they fiercely defend her very name as if they passed through her mind EVER... it blows me to pieces. Smithereens. Chris Breezy too.  Bey's got the older drones while he has the young, dumb and horny at his will. But I shouldn't be surprised. How can I expect him to check his Stans when he can barely check himself (nor his constantly on vacay PR team)? I throw my hands up in the air...

Day 6:
At 40, I want no trace of this shy, overly cautious dreamer to exist. I want to be an expert wordsmith, a counsel of sorts. I don't want the word novice affiliated with my name. I want to be able to control my own fate, not wish upon it. Say "I want" and boom, so it shall be (with a bit of prayer of course). I want to be unafraid, move without inhibitions, speak without regret, write without premeditation, live without doubt. At 40, I will live.

Day 5: 
If I had a million dollars, that would suck because I'd either have to go into hiding or die. Come on, let's not act like we don't know what happens to folk who win the lottery. They end up sipping on cyanide smoothies or hit with child support claims or on the side of a milk box. Not quite my cup of tea. If course I'd want to use it to help better the lives of others. I'd want to pay off my college loans, pay for my sister's future college fees, pay off my parents' house and then donate a huge amount to charity, but once someone announces your name as the lucky ticket winner, no one cares about your philanthropic intentions. You're as good as gone. Now, it's crazy that I immediately jump to this theory instead of assuming that I'll one day earn it on me own. My friend's have previously checked me about my pessimistic mindset that as a writer, a million dollars sitting in my account at one time isn't feasible. There's no reason they should believe in that for me more that I believe in it for me. I'd probably aim a little higher if financial gain was truly my goal. But deep down, I know it just isn't. I'm a hippie in hiding who just wants to be loved and happy. And comfortable. Money usually assures that, but that trifecta is something I want to secure by my damn self using nothing but passion, perseverance and faith. Lawd, what a task....

Day 4:
In a perfect world, I would be able to keep my head on straight. Alas, today proved otherwise. Today, I learned that the water in the coffee machine at work is not that hot. And for that, I am thankful. Evidently, I’m not that amazing of a multitasker as I expected. My inability to wait silently on the phone for the participant on a conference call while simultaneously fixing myself a cup of tea is astounding. I placed my phone on the counter so I could watch it, in case the call got disconnected. Because then I’d be screwed. I was expecting a call from a singer in Cali. But I also wanted some tea to go with a piece of banana bread I brought for breakfast. And I spotted almond milk in the office fridge. I’m not sure who it belonged to, but I needed to hurry up and sneak some into my tea before someone joined me in the kitchen. So I hurriedly fixed my cup and tea bag under the nozzle, and used my other hand to press the “Hot Water” button. Mind you, my eyes kept darting back between that and my phone.  As the hot water streamed, I noticed the string of the tea bag loosely twirling, and in efforts to use my thumb to pin it down (I hate when the string and tea paper fall into the water. Nobody want to fish that out), I shifted the cup ever so slightly to the right. But of course, my lack of expertise in multi-tasking made me continue to hold down the “Hot Water” button as it flowed directly onto my hand, and into an obnoxious puddle under the machine. I yanked my hand out, and glanced frantically at my phone, and my right hand was STILL pressing the button. Idiot. I scolded myself and massaged my hand. With a sigh of both relief and embarrassment, I realized that there was no tingly sensation on my skin. No redness. No swelling. No damage. Just a river of a puddle I had to clean up. God felt my shame and thankfully kept everyone out of the kitchen during the ordeal. I cleaned up the mess, refilled the cup, and still snuck my drop of almond milk. It tasted great. 

Day 3:
Dear Future Husband:

Please don't judge me based on how corny this is. That fact that I'm writing to no one. To nothing really. This idea. Because quite frankly, that's all you are. An idea. A product of many nights' fantasy and many a classroom day dream. I've come across many who've piqued my interest. Prompted me to dabble in my sketch book so I could remember the crush. Take me back to the times I tried to guess how you'd look, imagine you standing next to me. None of them had faces. You're ungraspable. The very thought of being bound to someone and have someone bound to me (willingly) is thrilling. So many people start to plan the lives and weddings and future families (I've already named two and a half kids. You get to pick a middle name), but that's not real. That's just a woman planning a dream with herself. It's not real without tangible flesh, another source of warmth. I can't see that far. I see a mirage of whoever you are. That's scary because you never know if that paradise will ever come. But you cross that dry patch of hope like a trooper, canteen at hand because you have faith. That's all I got right now. Faith, a hazy image of what I think I know I want, swigs of water to keep me focused, and you on the other side. I think. I hope. I can't wait for the day that you prove my doubts wrong. Be something real, please. Imagining is getting old.  

The Girl You Haven't Found Yet

Day 2:
I fear I won't let myself be great. I can be my own worst critic sometimes. More to come after 11:59.... UPDATE: Okay, so I technically wasn't late for this one, but here's the continuation (#cheatcodes lol). And I rethought my fear. I really fear that I won't recognize a blessing when I see one, because I'm so afraid of a possible mishap and I shade myself from the possibilities. I'm such a cautionary tale with the way I go through life. I don't spend large amounts of money because I fear the feeling of looking at my Bank of America account and seeing single digits. I don't date because I think I may be wasting my time or his because I don't know what I want and don't know what I'm doing. If things are going sour in one area, I say oh woe is me, I keep messing up instead of thinking, maybe this is a sign that this is the end. I don't let people see things or put myself out there because I'm more afraid that it won't receive their blessings than I am excited for the doors it will more than likely open. I know I'm complaining, but I'm entitled to that time of complaint because I know what the solution is. I know what I have to do and how I have to do it. And when I should do it. But I know my pace, and it'll take a while.

Day 1:
I contradict myself when I think I have nothing to write about. If you were a good reader, you saw one of my latest posts about the disease called Writers Block. Can I tell you about how so much has happened that I could write about, but don't know how to approach it. Yesterday, if you engage in social media, you know about baller Kevin Ware's tragic mishap with his leg. As screen shots of protruding bone skated up and down my timeline, I was more intrigued by the GIFs of his grief-stricken team mates crying shamelessly on the court for him. The guy with the long B last name collapsing in a heap on the hardwood. The short one named Smith sobbing into the arms of the much taller teammate that held and consoled him. Then Ware himself, who you can tell was squeezing his eyes hard to overcompensate for the electric pain that was probably shooting down his mangled leg. Yes, it looked mangled. His coach didn't fight back tears either. It was a tragic situation with so much beauty tucked in each corner of the scene. The camaraderie, the brotherhood, real ass emotion. It was all there. You don't get to see that often. Nobody gave a damn that the cameras were rolling, sick paps and onlookers trying to sneak zoom shots of the wound before sideline help used towels to curtain the horrific scene. I saw the hurt and I clutched my stomach. But then I saw the love and cried. I really am too in tune with my inner mushy. I feel too much. Why can't I bring myself to write about that more often?

Monday, March 18, 2013

5 Unrealistic Promises I Keep Making to Myself

The inner jerk in me keeps bribing myself with peach flavored lollipops, luring me in and convincing me that I can keep up with these overzealous, wide sweeping reoccurring promises of mine. BWAHAHA. So not happening.

Warning: This post is littered and laced with all types of grammatical errors. I’m learning to UN-filter myself. It’s gotta start somewhere. 

1. Be more outgoing. 
F*ck it. I’m shy. There it is. I keep lying to myself year after year after year, and enabling you all to lie to me too, about me one day hinge-kicking out of my shell and becoming this loud, exuberant ball of energy. Even on my most inebriated of days, this isn't the case, and we all know how far liquid courage can go. I need to get real so that I can get some real results from some practical solutions. Which pretty much means hang around with more outgoing people and live vicariously through them. I’m sure it works just as well at baiting adventure.

2. Date
Lol. Big LOL. Due to bullet point numero uno, this little internal resolution I faithfully revisit every 12 months falls flat every time. It isn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to spot Mr. Hot Damn from half way across the room, flash a smile and crook my finger summoning him this way (a la Demetria Lucas bka A Belle in Brooklyn bka my Shero). I’m used to more “organic” situations. Mutual friends and casual conversation. But how often does one such earthly and natural acquaintanceship occur? I’m more likely to have to slip some half-interested dude my number right after some edge-less madam busts it open for him in the club. (No shade if this is your story. Love unfolds in many ways.) I have no more classmates to befriend because that class life is over (for now), and at the work place is just no. There are like 5 guys total, at most. And two of them are married. I mean, I’ll try my luck again at the beach and at summer rooftop soirees and networking mixers again. Chances are if something happens, I had three Tequila Sours in a night.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bad Poetry Relieves Stress

I don’t’ know what to do with myself when I am stressed, idle and unable to put into words how I feel. This article I read on ThoughtCatalog (I’ll dive into that a little later) said you have to get out all the bad stuff so you can get to the good. So… this is my rambling, cliché, melodramatic poem:

I’ve never felt so stuck as a writer
Nothing to say really
Forcing a concept until I see it more clearly
Drawing a blank more often than not
Glimpses of ideas one moment. The next… damn. I forgot.
And what is this ‘writer’ title anyway
This name we so swiftly dub ourselves
Without the corresponding resume
Forcing it
Not saying sh*t
Even now as I clutch the pen
It’s apparent that I’m struggling
My prose flows differently than my thoughts go
That’s a problem
How am I both the blogger dying for their first print
And the editor sent to stop them?
My creativity’s getting choreographed
I can much less even describe a laugh
That joy I had when the sun teased me from the window-side
Has vanished as soon as summer went to hide
Desk job leaving me dry
Yet, here I sit. Writing to pass the time
To get me started again
The words were my friends
The paper my mate
But me and this stationary just can’t seem to procreate.

Okay so I guess I made my point that I’ve been going through an awful dry spell. Writer’s block is a heaux. I’m striving to be a woman of less complaint and more solutions, so…. I read this really insightful “advice” article about how to be a better writer. He pretty much said (with extremely witty diction, might I add) to stop reading up on “how to be a better writer.” Just write more, write how you’d normally think/talk and stop trying to be extra.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feelings Schmeelings. And Trayvon Martin.

I’m having a dry spell. A really, really longstanding drought. If you know anything about me, I’m emotional. I like to express my feelings. I’m a smiler. A crier. A feeler. And as of lately, I haven’t been able to connect to anything at all. I’ve never felt so detached from… stuff.

Yesterday, I had a lot going on in my mind... It’s hard to get the thoughts out now because of how major of a blockage there is. A disconnect. None of this is going to make much sense to you. Hell, doesn’t make sense to me either.

But anyway, yesterday.

Yesterday was the closest I’ve felt to being connected my desires to flirt. To sympathize. I won’t address the former too much. I’ve been dead to the whole courtship idea for a minute now. Perhaps that’s what’s been hindering my true Piscean nature.

Alas. The sympathizing. After that moment passed, a couple of friends and I headed over to the candlelight vigil in Union Square commemorating one year since Trayvon Martin’s death. The air was cool and crisp and you could feel that rain was on the way. A few drops wouldn’t faze the tight crowd of chocolate and cream bodies clutching placards with the slain boy’s face. Total strangers chummed it up like family, helping light and relight candles being attacked by the cool breeze. Soft chatter filled the air as they waited for the family of honor to silence the dense circle via the cheap megaphone provided for them.