Thursday, September 21, 2017

Story time: 5:08 p.m.

(A variation of this post was originally published in 2013 as part of a 21-day meditation challenge. Like most daily challenges, I didn’t complete it.)


5:08 p.m.

I’m finally trying to meditate. Unlike my former yoga peers who occasionally drifted into light slumber during final relaxation, I’ve yet to master meditation. My mind becomes disobedient because it refuses to silence and my body involuntarily moves because I subconsciously feel a random mosquito grazing on my left elbow, which indirectly causes my nape to itch and my right calf to spasm. Three years later I’ll watch an episode of The Haunting and listen to a woman recount how she went so deeply within that she resurfaced with something dark and dangerous.

I wasn’t trying to end up tormented and traumatized. However as I journey along this intersectional path of purpose and passion, I understand that meditation and prayer are maps to confirmation and clarity.

But fortunately for that particular day’s challenge, my task is to only reflect on my inner dialogue. Deepak Chopra stated that he meditates for two hours but obviously realizing he was talking to mind-control virgins, he quickly added that 15-20 minutes should suffice.

I lay down on my side, my left arm crooked at my not-itchy-in-real-life elbow, my left hand is numb by my heavy head. My heart races. I attribute it to the fact that I’ve just carried an overfilled laundry basket of clean clothes.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday musing: The evolution of Pencil and Chalk

  1. I can’t believe I launched this blog a little over five years ago. 
  2. I’m glad I bought this domain because .blogspot.com didn’t introduce me as a boss bish. I’m also glad I didn’t leave it as The Skinny DC Writer because somewhere along the way, I outgrew DC and longed to live in a new city. 
  3. I’m mad that I didn’t actively defend this space, consequently reinforcing outside opinions that my blog is a mere hobby. I never fully articulated that these words construct my writing portfolio, and this writing portfolio is the lifeline to some semblance of a livelihood. 
  4. I’ve accepted that a majority of my fans will be strangers, at least in the formative years, and that many who know me could never fathom that this “little blog” will ever become a serious space or at least one to rival a larger platform. But I’m learning to not internalize it as rejection or discouragement or see it as a reflection of my true talent because in reality, I’m the shit.
    That time Aunt Dee from Moesha retweeted my essay.
  5. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t in a position to remain consistent. But I stretched myself too thin, opened myself up too wide to even more outside opinions of what else I could do rather than fully immersing myself into what I want to do.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A bout of Bell's palsy



“Are you okay?”

I’ve just completed my weeklong “shift” of hostess duties: drafting and emailing a wedding announcement for the local newspaper, ironing crisp white tablecloths and chair covers, and decorating a spacious venue, to be exact. This is in addition to pulling frequent all-nighters for a daily entertainment writer gig and defaulting to a 24-hour nanny role that I never signed up for. So after the nuptials, I sit quietly, observant near the dance floor in figurative retirement.

If I danced, I would’ve sashayed to the dance floor. But that’s not my thing. I don’t like to be watched and scrutinized, and as the tallest person on the dance floor, I’m almost guaranteed to attract more attention that I can ignore. However, being a wallflower was more noticeable, eliciting a countless “Come on!” with each motion of a curved finger elevating my blood pressure five millimeters of mercury at a time. I remain at the front table with the purses, fuming, while everyone else shimmies, shakes, shuffles, slides, and steps across the dance floor. It sways my response.

“If one more person asks me…” I say before I exhale. “Yes!”

No one else inquires about my well-being, not even the next day during brunch when my physical features literally relax.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Story time: A bully dog and a drug bust

“Is he tied up?” my cousin asks me as we stand behind her friend’s car to remove my bags from the trunk.

It’s late. We had left Northern VA less than three hours earlier, enjoying the last official holiday of the summer along with the smoked ribs, brisket, broccoli salad, and spirits that normally complement it every Labor Day weekend. I had asked her to drop me off at another relative’s house. She’s tired, having to travel another hour or so, but she becomes alert to the gruff bark that belongs to the large golden dog next door.

My cousin has a small dog. Gizmo is his name. He’s an oftentimes shaggy, dirty-blonde Shih Tzu, who occasionally tries to get snippy with a select few of her guests. He yaps at those who cross the back yard because he knows visitors normally approach the door from the opposite side. And he senses the inherent fear or dislike that other guests carry with them toward dogs. As those visitors turn to leave, Gizmo jumps up from his rested position and runs them out the door faster than they intend to walk.

“Gizmo, stop it!” my cousin commands. “Come back here!”

But this owner watches us from a plastic chair on his front stoop at 11 p.m. His golden retriever – I think, because I really don’t know my dogs – is tied to a post with a thin, red, maybe plastic cord.

“Yeah, he’s tied,” I reply. “See the strap?”

But inside I’m a little jittery, too, because this dog is huge, much bigger than Gizmo. If he gets loose, we’ll all be severely injured, including the two passengers in the car. But we’re not going out as punks.

Friday, March 18, 2016

[xoNecole] Go get him! Study shows women who make the first move have better dating success


I’m sitting at the bar enjoying sushi and my second $9 cocktail when one of my friends taps the shoulder of the guy sitting next to me.

“Hi!” she says to him. “What’s your name?”

He tells her.

“Have you met my friend, Tee?” she replies, as she turns her back to us to continue conversing with the group behind us, as if she has just accomplished a major task.

It’s an awkward introduction. He’s confused and annoyed – mainly, I presume, because dude is already engrossed in a conversation with a young woman on the other side of him. So I’m initially horrified because all my friend has done is inadvertently let him know that I’m possibly 1) a relationship reject; 2) incapable of meeting men on my own; or 3) a homewrecker. Then I grow angry because I’m none of the above, and she’s placed me in a humiliating position all because I’m not flirting and mingling to her satisfaction. I’m left seething in my seat, mumbling under my breath that if I wanted to meet dude, I would’ve introduced mydamnself.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

[xoNecole] How I learned the importance of saying 'No' after being diagnosed with Bell's Palsy

Since I was a teenager, I’ve been conditioned to be independent and ambitious. Against some family members and friends’ advice, I applied to a more selective university and was accepted. Upon graduation, I relocated to urban Northern Virginia instead of returning to rural hometown Virginia. And when it came to building a finance career, I was focused on promotions and paychecks. But being a go-getter came with a whole other set of responsibilities that I had to fulfill that weren’t even my own.

In a scene from Tuesday’s “Purging and Cleansing” episode of Being Mary Jane, Kara pretty much tells MJ that she can’t be the head of everyone’s household. MJ not only takes care of her own home, but she also maintains order in her parents’ home, including supplementing her family’s financial downfalls and acting as the family spokesperson to deliver the news everyone else needs to say but no one wants to deliver.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Being Mary Jane" in real life is destructive and emotionally exhausting

As I watch the dinner scene on Tuesday night’s Being Mary Jane unfold – the one where MJ educates her family on money management – I smirk. Here’s the family, finally happy together in one room (with the exception of PJ, who’s back in LA price-rigging on his new job), and MJ feels it’s the best time to tell her folks how to spend and save their dollars courtesy of Suze Orman.

MJ has no chill, I initially say to myself.

But I can’t get annoyed with her – this time – even when she tells her dad that he isn’t buying Niecy or anybody else a car, because something about the whole situation suddenly seems so familiar.

At 15, my mother succumbed to metastasized breast cancer and instead of me continuing to be a teenager, I immediately assumed responsibility for my family’s business affairs. I was the one to interpret the fine print on documents, balance accounts, and dispute and negotiate bill errors.

I vividly remember calling Verizon several times on my grandmother’s behalf over some Miss Cleo-typed calls a relative had placed on my grandmother’s phone. For at least three months, these charges appeared on her bill.

“But she didn’t make them, and we called about them last month, too,” I’d cry to the customer service rep. Finally someone initiated a block and authorized a credit, but it didn’t cover what I had combed through the multi-paged bills and calculated as the “fraudulent” charges, maybe because of taxes and all those additional fees.

“There’s still $27!” I say, exasperated, to the rep.