Friday, March 9, 2018

Story time: TFW you forget basic division and multiplication

I suspect that the youth complaining about the uselessness of algebra are the same ones who, as cashiers, can’t count the correct change if their registers are down.

I also suspect that basic mathematical skills escape us if we don’t regularly use them.

A few years ago, I went to the fish market to buy $50 worth of clams* for a relative. She was unsure of the cost, but to me that was irrelevant – unless they were like $5 or something outrageous like that and then I’d leave them right in the showcase – because I already knew how much I had to spend.

“They might be $1 per clam,” she says, anyway, “I don’t know.”


I drive to the market, peruse the board for a price but don’t see one and ask the older co-owner how much for her clams.

She replies $3.75.

Per dozen.

And that’s when shit went downhill.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Bishop TD Jakes wants us to SOAR: It's not okay to sit on the runway when we belong in the air

One of my cousins sent me a link to the Bishop T.D. Jakes interview conducted by Pastor Steven Furtick. It was part of the Bishop’s SOAR! series – How to Build Your Vision from the Ground Up – about having “big dreams” with “little resources.”

As a creative writer who’s about to tackle her first rather lofty project, I found the topic timely and relevant. So I immediately subscribed to Pastor Furtick’s YouTube station for near-future viewing, which really meant I filed it with the other videos and podcasts on my ever-growing to-watch-and-listen list. Now if only I can find the video that reveals how everyone else is able to watch TED talks and listen to podcasts daily because I can’t manage without sacrificing project productivity.

Anyhoo, barely a week later, the moderator of a coaching group that I’m a member of posted a link to the same interview, telling us it was so good and full of valuable gems.

So that evening, I settled onto the couch half-expecting to only absorb a slew of scriptures that often come across as more cliché than inspiring, which I now realize is simply a function of the beliefs and ultimate selections of the passages a person chooses to recite to me; they’re not always applicable but that’s a whole other blog post.

Instead I was rather surprised to hear words of self-esteem, strength, abundance and worth, contrary to a more familiar message of "the struggle is mandatory." Within a matter of minutes into the interview, I had to pause the video so I could grab my pen and paper to jot down notable quotables in between an occasional yet inappropriate “Oh shit!” Now this is some motivation! Here’s what I wrote:

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 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, August 10, 2017

It happened to me: I fell victim to the predator-editor

I want to be proud of my words.

This isn’t a sudden revelation, like an Oprah a ha! moment, but it’s the first time I’ve actually verbalized this sentiment and taken a real stance. I officially started my writing career over 4 years ago after listening to a free webinar hosted by Britni Danielle, former English teacher-turned-journalist-author-speaker, who was testing the market for her paid course, “The Write Pitch.” During the teleclass, she explained how she landed her first byline with no published clips. She assured us that being previously-published wasn’t a requirement. Having a lit pitch was.

A month later I had a paid piece on xoJane talking about how folks love to point out how “skinny” I am as if I don’t already know I’m not a full-figured woman. This piece was republished on Clutch magazine, which prompted me to immediately pitch a piece to the latter about my coarse hair and its addiction to the creamy crack.

Both pieces alone elevated my status from emerging writer to “established” writer, even though my bio was a mere month old. But I garnered some attention in my Twitter mentions with invitations to host an NYC natural hair event and appear on a HuffPost Live segment.

I wanted to maintain the momentum.

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 exhaling. “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.